Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lost finale: Are we more lost than before?

No spoiler alerts, folks. I despise 'em. Besides, if you're a true fan you've already seen the season finale of "Lost."

Here's my take on what's going on with the island gang, in their order of appearance on (hey, I had to pick some type of logic for my list, and this one made as much sense as the show itself.) Just consider this an open letter with some very good suggestions for the show's writing staff on what we want to see happen next season.

Sayid: He killed Ben but he didn't kill Ben. He got shot and will surely die but oh wait may not really die because everything that happened may not ever happen since "the incident" now never really happened.

Wha-wha-what!? (Insert needle off the record sound effect here.) It's a complete and utter mess, I know, but my guess is that we won't get rid of Sayid that easily. Besides, if he's dead, who will head the Guatemala chapter of Habitat for Humanity?

Jack: All of the sudden Jack has climbed on board Locke's "everything is our destiny" bandwagon and thinks that the island wants him to right all of the wrongs of the past. But maybe what Jack considers wrong is really what the island thinks is right?

And can we now say that the will of the island is really the will of Jacob since we've gotten a little peek at him and his meddling ways?

Hugo: Still fat but no longer filthy rich, he remains a constant source of comedy relief - and perhaps the only real constant on or off the island.

Sawyer: He's bedded the two hottest women on the island (since Maggie Grace was killed off two seasons or so ago). In light of this fact, as far as I'm concerned everything that Sawyer does is GOLDEN.

I sincerely hope he can still hook back up with Juliet again whether they remember each other or not next season. That pairing just seemed to make a whole lot of sense. Having him chase after Kate again would seem contrived.

Jin: Always a bad ass and remarkable at quickly picking up a new language, Jin will be reunited soon with Sun. To do otherwise would cause mass rioting amongst the "Lost" faithful.

Sun: A little bitter since she left the island, hopefully reuniting with her husband will temper her anger a bit (see previous entry).

Kate: Let's just say what everyone is thinking: Just go back with Jack and stop torturing us all! The love triangle is sooo season three.

Locke: Well it looks like the real Locke really is dead - but are we supposed to buy into the whole shape shifting impersonator story line?

And who is Jacob's nemesis anyway? And where did those two come from? Obviously next season we'll find out the answer, but did we really need to pose such major questions this late into the series?

Claire: At this point she's been out of the picture so long I'm not sure I even care anymore. I do want Kate to find her and reunite her with Aaron, though. A promise is a promise. On a side note, did anyone think that Claire's mom was a little on the young side? She could have been Claire's slightly older and hotter sister. Just sayin'.

Charlie: Oh, Charlie, I miss you so. We didn't get enough "back from the dead" guest appearances from you this season. By the way, are they ever going to tell us why Hurley sees dead people? Did Cuse, Lindelof and Abrams watch "The Sixth Sense" too many times?

Ben: Ben got bitch-slapped a lot this season, which was niiice. I like having him around just to see people like Desmond kick the shit out of him. I think he should have a bruise, cut, or splint in every episode, kind of like the ubiquitous band-aid sported by Les Nesman on "WKRP in Cincinnati."

Desmond: Des, let me just sat that you are one bad-assed dude. You have time traveled, sailed the world, gotten shot and lived, and battled an evil multi-millionaire, and still ended up with the girl of your dreams. Can you tell that I can't ever get enough of Desmond - which means that they will probably kill him off early next season. Perhaps even before the opening credits.

Juliet: Keep wearing those white tank tops and bending over to pick things up and you'll be just fine. Plus it's good for the ratings.

And don't give up on Sawyer so easily. Jeez, she folded like a house of cards as soon as Kate showed up. Did anyone else think that seemed a bit out of character? At least she was able to detonate the bomb down in the well to remind us that she's no wimp. Oh, she'll be back next season. They can't kill Juliet that easily. The "love quad" will live on.

Shannon: If the incident never happens and the plane never crashes then she's still alive, right? ABC, please just give us one more sunbathing bikini scene...

Boone: You can stay dead.

Vincent the dog: Does anyone really care about the dog anymore? I did at one time but now I'm over the little mutt.

Walt: The show at one time seemed to revolve around him but he's barely a footnote now. Is this by design or poor story development? Walt is one loose end that drives viewers more crazy than the origin of the smoke monster.

Daniel Faraday: He's too interesting to kill off and too knowledgeable about the island to lose. He has to come back next season. He is the professor to Jack's skipper.

Miles: He became a lot more likable this year but does little to advance the plot, so I'm sure they'll bring him back next season just to irritate me.

Mr. Eko: Does he walk the island along with the other dead characters? And why? Do the dead characters hang out together and think of ways to torture the living ones? Could be a spin-off show.

Ana Lucia: Her cameo this season was spot-on, but we don't need to see any more of her midriff bearing antics.

Libby: Please bring back Hugo's love interest. The poor guy is overweight, recently poor, and it doesn't look like his "Empire Strikes Back" script will ever make it back to the mainland. Throw the guy a bone, will ya?

Rose and Bernard: They're living on the beach in seclusion all lovey dovey and don't have a care in the world. They don't even mind if they die in a nuclear holocaust. A little too neat and tidy, but I guess it works for me. Could Bernard please fashion a comb out of a coconut husk and tame that wild hairdo, though? Whoof!

Richard Alpert: Let us in on who he is, how old he really is, and what his true purpose is already. We can handle the truth.

Charlotte: You knew once she died that Daniel wasn't far behind. He had nothing left to live for.

Tom: Am I the only one that wants a little back story on "Mr. Friendly?" And why he throws a football like a girl?

Rousseau: Okay, we saw young Rousseau go nutty but we don't know why. A little help, here?

Jack's Dad: The undead need to be explained thoroughly early in season six or we're all going to smash in our plasma screens.

Okay, I'm pretty far down the list on Internet Movie Database and there are still a boatload of characters I haven't mentioned. I guess I don't really care about the rest of them.

By way of conclusion I'll say that there definitely is a hole in my life every Wednesday night until next season's premiere that won't easily be filled by DVR'd episodes of "Entourage" and "Tru Blood." I will, however, find some way to carry on until then.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quick bites on entertainment

Here's a few quickies on what's entertaining and what's not lately:

"Biggest Loser" - This show gets big ratings and has low production costs so it isn't going away anytime soon. If you like watching fat people cry about how they gain weight because they "eat all of their aggression and pain," you'll love this show. I wonder how many people are motivated to lose their own weight by watching this program, and how many others watch the show while they polish off a quart of chunky monkey ice cream.

"Rescue Me" - This FX show finally came back after being gone for a year and a half due to the writer's strike. Well it's back and just as good as ever. Denis Leary and Peter Tolan (the writer/producer/actors) behind the show haven't lost their touch.

"Tropic Thunder" - I finally saw this about a year after everyone else by downloading it to my XBOX in high-def. I got a lot of yucks out of it, especially in watching this cast of big Hollywood actors lampoon the very industry that provided them all with such a lavish lifestyle. I wonder though: Do they all really get the joke?

"Battlestar Galactica" - Yeah, I know this show is over, but I sometimes pine away for it like I would an ex-girlfriend who provided me with some of the most entertaining evenings imaginable and other times bogged me down with stories that weren't very exciting. And I think the "Caprica" prequel will suck, by the way. Who wants to watch "Dallas" in space?

"Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and the Damned"
- This expansion pack for the popular video game is a blast and gave me just the right excuse to go back to playing the "guilty pleasure" title known to fans as "GTA4" on the XBOX 360. - I just discovered this video streaming site that allows people to broadcast video from their televisions, gaming systems, video cameras, or webcams live via the web for FREE! I broadcasted one of my son's hockey games and I can't wait to find some other applications for this great site.

Twitter - I'm tired of hearing about it on the news. I have an account but nothing to report; regardless, I gain followers daily. Try and figure that one out.

"Hell's Kitchen" - I still love this show even though every season is pretty much the same. I never get tired of hearing chef Gordon Ramsay tell someone to "piss off."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Movie review: State of Play

This former BBC series turned into an American feature film provides some interesting parallels to real life in its portrayal of political intrigue and corruption in the wake of the current war on terror. A decent group of actors, led by Russel Crowe as a grizzled veteran reporter who woefully awaits the demise of the print media to make way for more viral "blog based" Internet news, does a good job of moving the plot forward believably. He is paired up with Rachel McAdams, the cub reporter who represents the future of news via blog gossip journalism.

There is no romantic spark between the two, just a mentor relationship that works for the most part despite questions of how realistic it would actually be. The love interest in the film (if you can call her that) is the beautiful Robin Wright Penn, whose turn as a tortured politician's wife is worth the price of admission. The other part of the Penn-Crowe triangle is Ben Affleck, who plays an ambitious and talented rising star in congress, despite his shaky marriage and lack of any friends besides the slovenly hippy-dippy reporter played by Crowe. (By the way, it was kind of nice to see a sloppy overweight Crowe in this role after he made so many men feel inferior with his cut physique years ago in "Gladiator.")

Without giving anything away, the plight of the modern newspaper business and the controversy over privatizing war (read: Blackwater) are examined and the ethical, moral, and political questions pondered in the film give the audience some decent substance to chew on. I have to also note how much I enjoy watching Jason Bateman, who plays a sleazy, morally and sexually ambiguous Washington D.C. PR guy. Whether Bateman is playing drama for laughs (as he did in "Juno"), comedy (TV's "Arrested Development), or straight up drama (as he does here) he's always a joy to watch.

"State of Play" has shades of a modern "All the President's Men" without the level of drama or story of that film, but still achieves what it sets out to do. In a side note, as a former newspaperman, I felt that the end title sequence showing the newspaper making its way from filed story to printing press all the way to the delivery truck felt like a fitting epitath to the current state of the industry I grew to love during my time there.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention there's also adultery, murder, and possibly a plot twist? And that Helen Mirren plays the newspaper editor? I still haven't figured out how a Brit became editor of a major U.S. newspaper in our nation's capitol with an Australian for her star reporter, but I still give "State of Play" three by-lines out of five.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Random entertainment thoughts

Wow, I haven't been very busy writing lately so I've got a lot to catch up on. For starters, the "Battlestar Galactica" finale is tonight and I have to say I can't really quantify how I feel. I'm not really that sad that it's over since the last few episodes have been so bland. I also have no idea how they're going to tie up all the loose ends. Let's just pray that the producers and writers don't "Frak it up."

"Lost" is still interesting and the answers to some big questions are being answered while yet other new ones are being posed. I continue to be incredibly entertained and anxious to see what happens next. It remains the highlight of my viewing week.

On a side note, I'm happy to see that FX's fantastic series "Rescue Me" will be back the first week of April, giving me another show to look forward to. After a looong hiatus due to the writer's strike, I'd like to refresh my memory and catch up with what Denis Leary and the gang have been up to.

If you haven't seen "Hell's Kitchen" on Fox yet, watch last season on their website, or this season's first seven episodes to get caught up. If you're a reality TV fan, (even if you don't care much about cooking, like me) this is still a major blast to watch and this season is as good as the previous ones. For the uninitiated, the show follows foul-mouthed U.K. Chef Gordon Ramsey as he takes two teams, one comprised of women and the other men, and puts them through their paces each week, slowly eliminating the weaker chefs until only one remains. His ire is entertaining to watch as he dresses down the contestants, often calling them names and dropping the F-word in for good measure. And,as in any good reality show, the chefs who are competing have been chosen for their unique character traits, weaknesses, quirks, and egos, which makes for good TV.

On the movie front, I managed to wrangle a free subscription to several premium channels when I moved the old DirecTV to my new house, so I've been catching up on films as well. First out of the gate, "10,000 BC" was interesting but at times slow and during the whole film I was thinking: "I've seen all of this before," but it helped me pass the time while I hung out at home with the kids one Saturday afternoon.

I also re-watched the classic, "More American Graffitti," which didn't have the exact same punch as the original George Lucas masterpiece but still delivered the fun on several different levels. I recommend it when you're at Blockbuster and have already seen all of the new releases, or put it on your NetFlix.

My favorite film on cable as of late has been "30 Days of Night," the vampire extravaganza that despite being the 4 millionth film of the genre, still had a dark, brooding tension throughout with interesting characters and an intriguing storyline. Without giving any spoilers, it took some stock horror film premises and gave them some fresh life without bowing to the typical Hollywood formulas. I recommend it.

For those of you who grew up in the 80s, you would appreciate (or perhaps groan at) the fact that I re-watched "Enemy Mine," a sci-fi send up of a World War II movie about two enemy pilots who end up stranded together and must learn to work with each other to survive. This version stars a young Dennis Quaid and a heavily made-up and unrecognizable Louis Gossett Jr. (yes, Chappy from "Iron Eagle!") as a lizard-like creature who is trapped on an uninhabited planet with Quaid in outer space. It's a little dated but still fun if you grew up during the early days of HBO where I first saw this film.

Gosh, I'm sure I've got more to report about in the entertainment world but will have to wait for another day. Until then I bid you all to try and find your next favorite show or movie.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Friday the 13th sneak preview

Every time I hear about another movie remake, re-imagining, or retooling of a classic film, especially one in the horror genre, my first reaction is always to cover my ears and repeatedly say "la-la-la-la" in an attempt to block out the news and pretend that Hollywood has not once again resorted to cannibalizing another cinematic success story in an attempt to cash in.

So it was with great skepticism and furious cynicism that I attended an advance screening of the new "Friday the 13th." My first prayer was answered once the opening scene was over and I realized that this wouldn't be a shot for shot remake similar to other newly remade horror films like 1998's "Psycho."

And I have to say, I was pleased by a couple of other choices made by the producers and director Marcus Nispel as well. First off, they kept the film moving along well, paced just right at under an hour and thirty minutes. In addition to the tight direction, the art direction, sets, and quality of acting was above standards for the genre.

Most importantly, producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form of Platinum Dunes, the same company that successfully re-imagined "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Amityville Horror," and "The Hitcher," decided not to take the Hollywood low road of dummying down their film to a PG-13 rating to pimp more ticket sales, but instead went full bore with an R-rated gore fest filled with gruesome kill scenes and gratuitous sex.

That was the other pleasant surprise: a return to the days when an attractive cast is set against a bloody, sexy backdrop, reminiscent of the good old days of the 80's when I cut my cinematic teeth simultaneously on teen sex comedies and slasher pics. The new "Friday the 13th" was a pleasant combination of the two time honored traditions and should satisfy Gen Xers who grew up with a steady diet of this type of fare at the cineplex and in subsequent releases during the early days of HBO and Cinemax.

With a cast picked more for their attractiveness and willingness to appear topless, there are still a few familiar faces -- Jared Padalecki from TV's "Supernatural," Amanda Righetti from "The Mentalist," Willa Ford from "Dancing with the Stars," and Aaron Yoo from "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist," "21," and "Disturbia" are a few you may remember. But "Friday the 13th" is more about who will be killed and how than it is about individual performances, so better known actors would have detracted from the fun. The casting seemed spot on to achieve the desired effect.

Is this art? Probably not? Will it be successful? Surely. Was I entertained? Yes!

I give "Friday the 13th" three Jason masks plus one machete out of four. It ain't "The Reader," or "Slumdog Millionaire," but it hits all the right notes for the avid slasher movie fan. See it this Friday, Feb. 13.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

TV is fun again

I've gotta say, things are really clickin' on the boob tube these days. Here's a rundown of a few of my favorites:

Now in their final season, long suffering fans are finally getting more answers than questions each week. This show's writing, acting, and direction are definitely at the top of their game, making it difficult to wait 7 days until the next installment. Oh well, at least there are a myriad of strange theories on about 100 LOST message boards to help fill the time...

During every other episode of this series I'm about to give up completely on this show, but something keeps bringing me back. Let's hope this latest incarnation can deliver the same thrills that season one had. The change of showrunner will hopefully spark some excitement in the story lines. I'm not holding my breath as of yet.

Another show in it's final episodes, BSG continues to deliver some solid drama, plot twists, and fun. With Earth a burned cinder, the identity of the final Cylon divulged, and the fleet in the midst of a civil war, what will happen next? What is left to do? How can they tie this all up in a neat package with only a half dozen or so episodes left?

I can't wait for the return of "Rescue Me," "True Blood," and "Entourage." *SIGH*

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

BSG is back and just as good as ever

Friday, Jan. 16 marked the return of Battlestar Galactica on the Sci Fi network, now in its final 10 episodes. What has been heralded as "one of the best shows on television" by many critics didn't fail to deliver in this season premiere episode, revealing the identity of the final Cylon as well as whetting our appetites for the next nine episodes. We should be in for quite a wild ride as the weeks progress, with the answers to questions such as what exactly Starbuck is, what happened to the 13th colony, and the fate of the human race hanging in the balance. Friday night TV will be fun again, at least for a couple of months.