Category Archives: 24

Homeland

I’m a latecomer to this show. I tried watching it during its first season and just couldn’t get into it. My mom-in-law was enjoying it, so I gave it another shot, this time, getting through two episodes, and not digging it because I found t too predictable.

Then Emmy time came around just before the start of the second season of “Homeland.” The show was a big winner, and I had friends who were surprised I wasn’t watching, saying it was right in my television wheelhouse. I relented, and watched the whole first season streaming in about a week.

I was wrong. It’s really only predictable for about four episodes, after that I was irrevocably hooked. The second season has been as just as good as the first, something I wasn’t sure it could keep up.

There are problems however. The first was something I thought only I was seeing, but as a recent “Saturday Night Live” sketch brought to light, Claire Danes’ overacting and crazy unblinking eyes when having an anxiety attack skate the thin line between reality and over the top almost to the point of laughing out loud. Her crazy face jumps the shark every time she makes it.

Brody’s daughter is the current equivalent of the daughter in “24,” where you have to ask, why do we care? It’s subplot just for the sake of subplot, rather than efficient storytelling. These last two points make me wonder if we’ll get a third season despite how amazing everything else on the show is.

Time will tell. Despite what I’ve said, I’m glued to my TV every Sunday night.

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The Three Stooges 2012

The Three Stooges ~ I love the Three Stooges. I grew up on the Three Stooges. Everybody loved the Stooges when I was a kid. We would all race home from school to see the shorts on local channel 29. We all loved them, and being a guy (it does seem to be a gender thing), I loved them a lot. And unfortunately I was also a casualty when parents groups shut them down in the early 1970s.

Like most kids, I was aware of the difference between fantasy and reality, and knew you didn’t try any of that stuff the Stooges do on TV. Unfortunately those nosy parents who always seem to have too much time on their hands first had the wonderful shorts of the Stooges edited down to almost nothing by taking out the perceived violence (and essentially the humor too), and then by removing them from the air completely. You bastards, you took my Stooges away.

Let’s face it, the 1970s was a very bad time for kids television. Parents had a lot of time apparently to ruin it for kids. They took our superheroes away, our Warner Bros. cartoons, our Little Rascals, and our Three Stooges. These were all too ‘violent.’ Heck, we knew the difference. And from then on, children’s television had to watered down, have a message at the end, be educational, and conflict had to be solved through thoughtful discussion rather than Batman punching the Joker, or Moe poking Larry. I’m still not sure about Larry, but trust me, the Joker needed a punch.

Fortunately the video age saved us all, or at least the Three Stooges from this terrible time. On video, we could see the shorts in their original form, uncut and unedited, and we could see what geniuses the Stooges truly were. Today, several cable networks show the shorts on a regular basis, and the Stooges are enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. And perhaps that is what has spawned this new movie, The Three Stooges.

When I first heard of the Farrelly brothers making a new Three Stooges movie I have to admit I cringed. These are the guys responsible for such masterpieces as Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary among others. Not that their work is bad, but even when it’s good, there is always some quantity of potty humor and slob comedy. Humor for ten year olds is what it is, and although I don’t want to think it – it’s the perfect team to return the Stooges to the big screen.

When I first saw the trailer, I was iffy, and as a Stooge fan, I was extremely wary. I am here today to say I have seen the film, and wow, I had no reason to worry, as a matter of fact, it was one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time. I laughed until there were tears in my eyes. Yeah, baby, it’s that good.

The movie follows the boys from childhood into a Blues Brothers like plot of trying to raise money for their orphanage, and it’s done in three episodic segments stylized like the shorts of old. The new Stooges do wonderful jobs of imitation and homage. Many of the stunts, the effects, and even the gags are directly from the old shorts and done with respect and humor. The first two segments are flawless Stooges extended shorts. The third segment does move into French farce as well as slapstick, but that’s okay, I still dug it.

The nearly unrecognizable Sean Hayes as Larry, television veteran Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe (I’ll never be able to watch “24” with a straight face again, and Will Sasso from “Mad TV” as Curly are all stellar morons in the best sense possible. Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson and the cast of “Jersey Shore” are all terrific but for me, the movie is stolen by Larry David every time he appears on screen as Sister Mary-Mengele.

Yeah, I loved this, more than I should have, and more than I ever would have believed either. The only thing that brought it done was during the end credits when the Farrelly brothers appear on screen to show how stunts were done and to tell kids not to try this at home. It may have been done tongue in cheek, but it brought that original 1970s bad taste back into my mouth. Stupid parents groups. Leave the Stooges, any Stooges alone. Still, this newest edition of the Three Stooges is highly recommended, bring the kids, be prepared for a little potty humor, but mostly Stooges goodness.

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The Event

Seems like since the success (and fall) of “Lost,” the various television networks have been searching for the next quirky overly hyped blockbuster. There have been a lot of attempts. “Fringe” has been, at times, interesting. “Flash Forward,” also on the ABC network came the closest in my opinion, but unfortunately it was canceled before it could really start rolling.

The newest contender, and the one that wins hands down in the overly hyped category at least is “The Event.” A lot of folks tuned in for that first episode just because they had been hammered for months with constant advertising by NBC of “What is The Event?” with the weird stylized backwards ‘E.’ When the pilot aired, it was bad, except for the last two minutes.

As a matter of fact, I thought it was so bad that it was almost unintentionally funny. The flips back and forth between scenes and time frames got to be monotonous after a short while. It became a joke. If the producers were planning to do an outright parody of shows like “24” or other such one hour drama thrillers, they succeeded too well.

The hook, that last two minutes of the pilot, that dramatic special effect that comprised the cliffhanger rocked the house. It was reminiscent of the final moment of the first episode of “Heroes,” shock and awe. Two problems with that – following episodes got weaker and weaker with their cliffhangers, and much like “Heroes,” it could not top that moment. That NBC used that moment to hype the next episodes didn’t help either, especially in a world of Tivo and DVR, where that commercial spoiled it for most of the nation.

“The Event” in the weeks that followed lost much of its audience. It might be an interesting concept, but unless they keep our attention on a regular basis, I see it as the next “Heroes,” and not in a good way.

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Dennis Hopper 1936-2010

Actor, filmmaker and Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper has passed away. He was 74.

I used to have this thing for sixties movies when I was a kid. Don’t ask me why, but I was into hippies and drugs and bikers waaay back then. As you can imagine, when local WPVI channel 6 showed Easy Rider on its Million Dollar Movie Friday nights at 11:30 PM – it was an event for me. I stayed up and marveled at the psychedelic exploits of Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and this shaggy headed rebel named Dennis Hopper. This was the first time I had run into the man. He was a one-liner, comic relief almost, in Rider, but little did I know then that the man co-wrote and directed the flick. And the flick was one of the new wave of youth-oriented films that changed the way Hollywood made movies.

Hopper once again slid into my tunnel vision with his frightening performance in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Nightmarish, charismatic and dangerous – he had a lasting effect. I became a fan, and slowly became aware of his long and storied career.

Dennis Hopper, reputedly one of the bad boys of Hollywood was also one of its new wave of geniuses to come out the late 1960s. His career before Easy Rider was primarily in television and almost stretched back to its beginnings. After lots of TV westerns and some dramas, he jumped to the big screen in 1968 and began a long string of brilliance, whether it was a small part, or larger role in front or behind the camera – Hopper was one of the greats. He seemed to vanish in the 1970s but reemerged quickly in the early 1980s, thanks to roles like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.

After that it didn’t matter what you saw Hopper in, whether it was as the bad guy in Speed or the television series “24,” or in just silly stuff like Space Truckers or Super Mario Brothers – you knew you were going to get a hell of a performance. We have lost a true Hollywood legend in Dennis Hopper, and he will be missed.

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Quickies 4-2-2010

Gran Torino ~ As much the story of an Asian family under assault from gangs as it is about Clint Eastwood’s Oscar nominated performance as a stubborn racist widower. Eastwood was nominated but it’s the supporting cast that is really phenomenal. Highly recommended.

Captivity ~ This should have much better than it actually is. Someone’s watched far too many bad Saw sequels. More gross than suspenseful or scary. And if I wanted to hear Elisha Cuthbert scream this much I could just watch early “24” reruns with my finger on the rewind button.

The Hangover ~ Disturbing slob comedy that could have been so much better and so much funnier but it doesn’t seem to know what kind of film it wants to be. It’s part Dude, Where’s My Car? and part Very Bad Things (and not the good parts of either), and far far too heavy on the Zack Galifianakis. The Dan Band is fun for about two minutes toward the end. Pass on this one unless it’s free and you can’t reach the remote.

24 Hour Party People ~ A brilliant, funny and insightful docudrama that takes the viewer on a musical journey following the story of Factory Records in the 1970s. Steve Coogan is terrific. If you love the music, you’ll love the movie, and even if not, you’ll be entertained and informed. Worth seeing for the brief appearance of baby-faced young John Simm as New Order’s Bernard Sumner if nothing else. Recommended.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ~ As if I needed more proof that Matthew McConaughey is a slimy womanizer, he plays yet another one in this throwaway flick. An unoriginal lift from the Dickens school of helpful ghosts, this movie just bored me. Even though there was at least comedic potential, this is just massive fail. Avoid.

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Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes ~ Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film version of the master detective has had fans up in arms. His action hero take starring Robert Downey Jr. in the title role with Jude Law as Dr. Watson is just what was needed in my opinion. There’s a generational gap here, and while I’m a fan myself, I doubt that many of the younger generation even know who Sherlock Holmes is. Ritchie’s attempt is the shot in the arm to get the ‘kids’ interested in this classic hero.

Similar to this year’s re-imagining/sequel/prequel of Star Trek, this flick is rarely still, constantly moving and always engaging. And engaging is something I really liked about it. Much like the early “24” or every episode of “Dexter” or “The Wire,” you have to pay attention. It doesn’t slow down, or explain things in baby talk – you are either in the movie, or you might as well be at home twiddling your thumbs watching “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The new Sherlock Holmes is not TV for dummies or for the lazy viewer.

Downey and Law are great together, and it makes the film. So much so that when they are not together, the screen suffers. Bromance, buddy film, hetero soulmates, whatever you call it, their relationship, their chemistry, is amazing, worth the price of the ticket right there. Their performances, as well as Ritchie’s work, obviously were inspired by the three’s respect and love of the Jeremy Brett version of Holmes as well as the original source material.

The rest of the cast are excellent too, but let’s be honest, they pale in comparison to the two leads. Robert Maillet, formerly known as the wrestler Kurrgan, does stand out physically as almost a French Ted Cassidy. And Rachel McAdams plays an intriguing yet seductive Irene Adler. The cast’s performance is locked in by the atmosphere, a realistic yet just this side of steampunk Victorian London.

The Hans Zimmer score is impressive and completely suited to the film as are the songs by Isobel Griffiths and the Dubliners (tragically left off the soundtrack). There were also very cool sound effects used during gunshots and explosions – muffling effects as would really happen to the ear in those situations. Brilliant.

I really enjoyed this film. Fun, exciting, and essentially faithful to the source material. I am constantly reminded of this past year’s Star Trek, and if I had seen this in 2009, this new Sherlock Holmes would have easily been in my top five. Recommended.

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San Diego Comic-Con Wrap-Up

It’s Monday and Comic-Con is over. So what happened? To be perfectly honest, not much, at least not comic-related. When San Diego began, it was a comic book event, but now and in recent years it has become more of a Hollywood event – more about promoting upcoming movies and television series than about comics. Lucky thing that many comics are becoming films and TV shows.

There were screenings and sneak peeks at projects like District 9, Where the Wild Things Are, Legion, “Hero Up,” and amazing new video games from both Marvel and DC Comics. There were panels and buzz about “24,” the final season of “Lost,” “ Caprica” and “Smallville” the last of which promises Metallo, Zod and the Justice Society of America in its next season.

In comics news, Marvel made the intriguing announcement that they have secured the rights to Marvelman. On the other side, DC has similarly announced that they now have the rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. We truly live in interesting times.

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24: The Real Redemption


In its first season, even its second and third, “24” was my favorite television series. Its concept of real time action as well as its edgy and ever-intense plots and subplots made it something special in the beginning. Then it got old, and then it got copied, and then it just got boring – a parody almost of itself.

I really wasn’t sure I was going to watch the current seventh season at all, and based on the mini-movie “24: The Redemption” that aired recently and repeated last week, I was pretty sure I was done with Jack Bauer and company. It was unwatchable, even with Robert Carlyle guest-starring and he’s one of my faves. For me, “24” was over.

On a whim, just in case, I dvr-ed the first two new episodes of “24” earlier this week. Then I started to hear good things, surprising things about it, and from folks whose opinions I usually trust. I figured I’d better check it out. Wow. Guess what, baby, “24” is back!