Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Short Guide To Downloading

As yo all know by now, I am a very large supporter of the concept of downloading media, and though i agree that if you enjoy something, you should buy it, but only if you feel its worth it, after all, to many tiems these days we buy a CD or go to a movie only be let down by it. These days money is tough for everyone around the world, not just here in the states, and feel as a "try before you buy" average, filesharing is excellent.

It also serves as a means to allow the more picky person, like myself, to discover movies, music, and television from around the world. To often american television, and i'd assume other countries feel the same way, that television gets boring when all you see is the same boring things, over and over, filesharing allows you to expand yourself, and your entertainment, be it musically, or television, or movies, there are so many things we just can't get otherwise, and really it just makes things so very very amazing and enjoyable.

With that said, i felt for the fun of it, I would like to share with all of you, abit of my download habits, and sort of my source book for downloading, in hopes that maybe anyone thats alittle unsure of how to go about this endeavor might have a guide. So with that said, lets go to it...

First off, you need a torrent downloading client, there are many, but I have found that the best is Utorrent, which you can download here. Its very high rated and praised, and rather easy to set up if you've ever set up a filesharing client of any sort before, its pretty straight forward.

Now we get to the meat of it, the actual sites that I find to be the best for this manor of downloading...Some of these might require registration or sign up via attempting via sign up limited period, or invite, but those aren't all that hard to get done.

first off, General Use Sites; this is where you'll find everything, movies, television, music, programs, video games, ect..these also have a large amount of direct downloads, meaning you can download the file directly from the post and bypass the torrents completely.

Scene Release
Release Blog
The Pirate Bay

Next is Movie Sites, now movie sites are pretty general as well, you can get alot of tv at them as well, but mostly these are for movies, so use as such...

Cinemadeddon (the BEST grindhouse movie site on the net)

And here is Television Sites, these are sites that deal in television from around the world, alot of these are sign up sites, mostly because they're specialized in stuff from certain countries, and well that stuff is kinda regulated.

Diwana (aussie and new zealand tv series exclusively)
TheBox (the best british television site of all time! stuff from now and the past insanely sourced)
UKNova (british stuff only, huge listings of uk radio as well)
Asian Torrents (all asian television and movies torrents)
D-Addicts (all Asian Drama series torrents)
Asia Torrents (all asian television and movie torrents)
BoxTorrent (anime)
Tokyo Toshokan (anime)

And thats it for now, there are others out there, I'm just having issues finding good foreign langauge ones, like spanish and greek and such... but with alittle energon and alot of luck, you'll find them out there..

but for now, that is all, hopely this is a help to you all, i'll be back tomrorow with torrents.. see you then!



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Torrent Picks 1/24/10

So its sunday again, and that ofcourse means the return of my weekly movie picks, and because i do love to do this ever so, once again we'e going back to the 1930s for a lovely romp through the world of pre-code hollywood, where things were a whole different world before the invoking of the ratings systems and eventually lead to the creation of the genre known as film noir. So lets go back once again, to the early days of hollywood... because next to grindhouse, i do love it ever so...

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Henry "Harry" Jekyll is a well respected member of London society. In his personal life, he is pre-engaged to Muriel Carew, the daughter of a brigadier general. In his professional life, he is a medical doctor, scientist and academician. He theorizes that in each man is a good side and an evil side which can be separated into two. In doing so, the evil side can be controlled and the good side can live without worry, in combination leading to the betterment of society. In his experiments, he uses himself as the subject to test his hypothesis. His evil side, who he coins Mr. Hyde, escapes into London, and terrorizes party-girl Ivy Pierson. Jekyll, aware of Hyde's goings-on, decides to stop his experiments because of the suffering he has caused Ivy. What Jekyll is unaware of is how ingrained Hyde is in Jekyll's life. This film is great in the fact that for its time, its lavishly done, and amazingly, there is some strong sexual content, so much so that when the production code was instilled in hollywood in the late 1930s, 8 minutes of film had to be taken out of the film when it was re-released in 1936, 5 years after its first release to theaters. It is other great sign of just how awesome the early years of hollywood was.

Arsène Lupin: When John Barrymore got out of his contract with Warner, MGM wasted no time in signing him and even lesser time in putting him in a film with his brother Lionel. This was the first of five films they'd make together and their easy to spot rivalry really makes this film the charming gem that it is. An elderly detective (Lionel) is convinced that the Duke of Charmerace (John) is the infamous jewel thief known as Arsene Lupin. The detective will stop at nothing to prove his thoughts and that includes bringing in a sexy spy (Karen Morley). The story itself isn't anything ground breaking or Oscar-worthy but it is good enough to build up two nice characters and then stand back and let the actors do all the work. Fans of the brothers will certainly get a kick out of seeing the two men working together as both deliver very strong performances and they really make this film worth seeking out. What works best is the comic timing that the two men bring to the table as well as their rivalry. Each scene that the two men are in you can tell that they are trying to out act the other and this adds a charm that no two other actors could have captured. Just take a look at the sequence at the start when Lionel arrests John thinking that he's lying about being the Duke. Just watch this scene and then compare it to a later scene where John is holding Lionel captive until he can prove that he's really a cop. Morley also fits into the threesome quite well as she has an undeniable sexual tension with John and some fun comic touches with Lionel. The scene where she introduces herself to the Duke while naked in his bed is a pre-code gem. Some could argue that a stronger "story" would have helped matters and it might have but the cast doesn't even bother to speak with French accents so there's no doubt that the studio was just trying to get the two men in the same film. The ending packs a terrific punch as everything gets closed up very tightly and in a way that everyone, including the viewer, wins.

Born To Be Bad: Letty, a young woman who ended up pregnant, unmarried and on the streets at fifteen is bitter and determined that her child will not grow up to be taken advantage of. Letty teaches her child to lie, steal, cheat and anything else he'll need to be street smart. We meet Letty when Mickey is 7-1/2. Mal enters the picture when his truck and Mickey, who is hanging on to the back of a delivery truck and being pulled along the streets on his roller skates, collide. Mickey is not injured badly, but when Letty discovers that Mal is rich, she concocts a scheme to take Mal to the cleaners. When her plot is uncovered, Letty is also discovered for the unfit parent that she is, and Mickey is taken away from her. Mal and his wife Alice, unable to have children of their own, take Mickey in and give him a father's love, a true mother's love, and a home he can call his own. Letty is jealous of Mickey's growing attachment to these two good people and she still sees Mal as a ticket to riches. Letty seduces Mal, records the seduction and then plans to blackmail Mal. Her plans are upset when Mal immediately tells his wife, and Alice accepts the relationship. Letty learns a painful lesson in selfless love and finally sees that what is best for Mickey is more important than her own plans. This is one of those lovely films that gets lost in the shuffle alot of the time, and when you dig it up, you are so very glad you did, its just so very very good, its the perfect mix of the film noir era that would be to come, as well as the daring, brave, and at times taboo for the time period, storytelling of the 1930s before the production code came long. Truly a thing of beauty this is.

The Locked Door: Frank Devereaux, son of a wealthy businessman, takes Ann Carter, his father's secretary, to a floating cabaret under innocent circumstances and locks her in a private dining room; the club is raided, and their picture is taken by a news photographer. Anne leaves her job and gets another with Lawrence Reagan, whom she marries and with whom she lives happily until Devereaux begins to call on Helen, her sister-in-law. Reagan is informed by Dixon that Devereaux ruined his home; and during a confrontation between Reagan and Devereaux, the latter is accidentally shot. Ann, who is discovered locked in the room with the body, confesses to the crime; then Reagan admits his guilt; Devereaux, however, reveals on his deathbed the actual circumstances. This is one of those films thats just so lovely, its got everything you can want from a movie going back to 1929, its got that pre-Veronica Lake look to all of the women, that smart and flashy style to the leading men, and all the murder, sex, violence and mobsters than you could jitterbug in your best zoot suit too.

The Divorcee: The film is "pre-code," which is to say that it was made during a handful of years in the early 1930s when Hollywood's self-censorship was more the subject of jokes than of reality, and THE Divorcée was among the first Hollywood talkies to openly address both female sexuality and the sexual double standard. The story finds Jerry (Norma Shearer) and Ted (Chester Morris) happily married--but on their third anniversary Jerry discovers that Ted has been unfaithful, something that Ted dismisses with the words "it doesn't mean a thing." Angry and hurt, Jerry responds by having a one night stand of her own--and then is astonished by Ted's hypocrisy when he declares that her infidelity "isn't the same thing." The same story has been told so often that today we take it for granted, but in 1930 it was extremely controversial, and the cast plays it out with considerable intensity. Most notable is star Norma Shearer; although changing styles have left her sadly neglected, in her own era she was considered among the finest actresses on the screen and noted for her unusual beauty, memorable speaking voice, and tremendous star quality. In THE Divorcée she gives it everything she has, and her power is such that most viewers will find she quickly transcends the stylistically dated aspects of both the film and her own performance.

well thats it, i hope once again, you enjoy our trip into pre-code hollywood, and i hope you enjoy the unique joy that it brings to very viewer. So until next week, I hope you all enjoy as much as i enjoyed making this list.



Monday, January 18, 2010


When They're So Very Bad, They Are So Very Good

Among the most prominent genres of Grindhouse Films is that of what we call "sexploitation", a genre that still to this day is a staple of the B-Movie industry, the field that grew out of The Grindhouse, normally they'd be a thriller of drama that had excessive nudity and what would be considered by as late as the early 1980s to be risqué dialog, or in the case of many of the films from Europe, the latin countries, bollywood and Asia, completely upfront sexuality, now don't let that put you off the genre, infact some of the best films to come from the Grindhouse era were sexploitation, infact, I'd like to talk about one of those films right now, a little known outside of groups of Auteurs well versed in the genre, but one that is so hilariously bad, its become a beloved classic to those in the know. I'm speaking ofcourse, of the trainwreck that was 1968's Candy.

Yes, Candy, the hilariously bad but so very good at being so classic, that proves that it doesn't matter how much star power you pack into a film, a bomb, is going to always be just that, a bomb. Now, to understand Candy, you have to first understand where the film came from, its story of pure naivety and curiosity in the ways of the world was first told in January 1759, back then it was called "Candide" and was written by often overlooked old world french wordsmith Voltaire, who tends to be lost in the shuffle when speaking of his contemporaries, in Candide, the main character is a male who lives in an edenistic paradise of harmony and bliss, who is forced to venture out into the world which he has never known and discovers that his idealistic ways and his dreams of how he sees the world, are not how the rest of the world sees things, its a painful eye opening road that Candide has to travel in the book. The story would lay forgotten and obscure in the annals of literature until 1958 when writer Maxwell Kenton (pseudonym of Terry Southern, the screenwriter for Barbarella, Easy Rider, and Doctor Strangelove among others), where he spiced up the story, and made it the controversial story of a beautiful young girl named Candy Christian, aged eighteen, is an extremely pretty and desirable but naive young woman, who finds herself in a variety of farcical sexual situations as a result of her desire to help others. The men in her life, regardless of age or relationship, wish only to possess her. And though this alters the story greatly from its 200 years earlier original, the book goes into graphic detail of how every man she meets wishes to obtain her, and follows Candy's travels as she travels around the world looking for a place where her effects on men will do her no harm, tragically that never happens, and she is forced to admit to herself in the end, that she is a beautiful woman, and that no matter what, she will have this effect on men. The novel is ranked as the 22nd most sexually arousing book of all time and is infact the only comedy on the list. Now, with such an interesting history, and an interesting evolution, you would think that the movie based on this would be an excellent film right? You're wrong.

1968's Candy starred what, on paper, was a brilliant cast; Marlon Brando playing a supposed sexual guru from India, Walter Matthau as a completely repressive and way uptight army general, John Huston and James Coburn as new age doctors who treat operations like theatrical events, Richard Burton as MacPhisto the horribly bad new age poet and author who's hair and scarf are literally aways blowing in the wind, Charles Aznavour as a hunchback juggler, Ringo Starr as a young mexican gardener who's family is a mexican biker gang, John Astin (Gomez Addams, from The Addams Family) in a duel role as twins Jack and T M Christian, Jack is Candy's father an uptight repressed english teacher and T M is a wild sex drugs and rock and roll loving swinger, and finally often forgotten swedish beauty Ewa Aulin as Candy. Honestly, with a cast this heavy, its very hard to fathom why it would fail, I mean logically, this should have been to sexploitation comedies what The Graduate is the sexploitational drama, but it wasn't ment to be, they were expecting Lawrence of Arabia, and ended up with Ishtar, and if you get what that reference means, you get 200 cool points in the happy days board game that is life.

Before I get into why Candy failed and became the joked about classic that it is today, let me tell you about the story itself, which is pretty funny in itself. The film starts out with a ball of light coming down from the heavens, landing in a white robe like outfit, and with a flash of light, we see Candy standing there. There is no reason for this to be here, it just is, kinda like that topless scene at the start of "The Beast Of Yukka Flats", but with a hot blonde girl, next we see Candy in school, daydreaming as every teenager does, she's then let out of class to go to a special assembly, the high school has invited beatnik poet MacPhisto to give a reading of his work, Candy has no idea who he is, so she gets up onto a high landing to get a good look, MacPhisto notices her, and her effect on men takes its effect on him, as he reads his poetry, and plugs his book, as his hair and scarf constantly blow in the wind, he becomes entranced with Candy, and after the reading he asks her if he can drive her home, she says ok, slightly star struck a famous writer would ask her to go anywhere with them. MacPhisto gets more and more drunk as they drive, saying many things that could be deemed of a sexual nature, though Candy being naive as she is, doesn't pick up on this fact. They eventually get to Candy's home, where MacPhisto invites himself in for another drink, he continues to get more and more drunk and starts to ramble off his horrible poetry, when Emmanuel, the Mexican gardener comes in to ask a question about the yardcare, somehow which is never really explained, macphisto's poetry incites Candy and Emmanuel to have sex, they are then caught by Candy's father, and it all results in a huge scandal, which Candy's father decides its best to send her away until it all dies down, as her father and twin uncle, along with the uncle's girlfriend, drive Candy to the airport in the middle of the night to sneak her away, they run into Emmanuel's family, a group of leather clad Mexican bikers, who try to intimidate the Christian family as Emmanuel yells "I'm a good boy!" repeatedly, this intimidation leads to Candy's uncle T.M, to utter some of the funniest lines in the film in reference to their threats, and I quote "Now look you people! This isn't some godforsaken border town where you can just, uh, go about as you please and, and bother innocent people and do... do... do... Mexican things!". After that nugget of cinema brilliance, the bikers are chased away and Candy is able to leave to start her adventure that is life. Each adventure involves her falling into some sexually precarious situation or another, it going to far and she's either left running in shame and horror or running to get away from her own effect on men, it gets absurdly formula but the one liners and comic banter is hilarious. Walter Matthau rambling about how someone giving a member of their family a blood transfusion is laugh out loud hilarious, and the idea of Marlin Brando as a sex guru makes me laugh every single time. So though its not a good movie, its still a good laugh, because as they've always said, sometimes a bad movie becomes so bad it becomes good, and thats what the case is with Candy.

Now, on to why this film failed. Its simple, the director Christian Marquand, a french actor who in the 1950s would have been the french counterpart to James Dean or Caesar Romero, who for some reason in the later years of his fame felt the need to try and direct films, none of which were really all that good, Marquand is sort of the french Uwe Boll of his time, and as is customary with his work, he completely botched this film. He relied to much on Ewa Aulin's sexuality and popularity as one of the models that helped bring the mini-skirt into vogue to sell the film rather then making it make any sense, the scenes all seem forced together and don't really fit or make a complete story, and the scene in the bar bathroom makes absolutely no sense what so ever. One of the most important things to remember when doing an oddball style comedy such as this, it can be as off the wall and strange as you like, but it has to make sense too, if the story doesn't make any sense, the comedy will be lost because people will be trying to figure out whats going on, you want to focus on the laughs, not leave everyone in the theater lost and trying to find their way to where the story is at, that'd be like watching The Money Pit and wondering why the house is falling apart or something.

So there you have it, in a nutshell the story of Candy, one of my favorite bad movies of all time, the story of a beautiful young girl, who is just too trusting, and just too sexual for her own good, and the men who take advantage of her as travels through her life Forrest Gump style, only to end up at some super trippy happening cira europe 1968 with bright lights and ribbons and hippies, and you're left wondering what the hell does this have to do with the film itself. Well that part is simple, its put there to prove that even the greatest actors, sometimes make horrible choices in roles, but lucky for us, when they do, they become beloved for just how bad of a choice they made. Remember, even a bad movie can be good, but when its a super bad Grindhouse film, it spins all the way back around to excellent.



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Torrent Picks 1/12/10

Well its been awhile sense i've had time to do this, with holidays and winter and various other bits of drudgery getting in the way, I just never could find the time, but here we are, a brand new year, and a its time to get back to business as usual, and making my sunday movie picks again, because after all, i do love to do it ever so much, and hope that all of you enjoy it just as much... so with that said, lets get down to it... shall we?

The Lovely Bones: This film is just breathtakingly good, the story is uplifting and dark at the same time, the story of a murdered young girl who doesn't want to go to heaven until her murderer is cause, its also the story of a family and its love and devotion, and its the story of the evil that men do unto one another, and how in the end, justice finally comes to bare. This film is uplifting and beautiful but its also as dark as the very night itself, and I love how a film can be so contrasting, one moment beautiful and vibrant and breathtaking with its beauty and happiness, and the next down right terrifying with its darkness. Its just so amazing, and so emotion invoking, when a film can bring about such a gambit of emotions with in you, that is truly a excellent film that does exactly what its supposed to do. If you need more convincing, you can read my review of the film right here on site.

The Day Of The Triffids: Based on the book by John Wyndham, The Day Of The Triffids is a classic science fiction thriller. Following a spectacular meteor shower, Bill Masen (Howard Keel) is one of the few people left on Earth who can see.The shower had blinded all those who stared in wonder at the sky, yet Masen missed the event as he was undergoing eye surgery. The chaos that ensues allows the Triffids - poisonous walking plants that landed in a previous shower to attempt to take over the planet. Aided by Christine Durrant (Nicole Maurey), Masen fights to save the planet with a string of other people, including a child and an alcoholic. This is one of those super awesome old British sci fi films that just refuses to stay in the past, there was a book, then this movie, then there was the radio drama, and then there was the 80s tv series, and now the 2009 series, this is just one of those great bits of sci fi that just transcends ages and times. So love it.

The Guitar: "The Guitar" is a story of one woman's spiritual, emotional and creative transformation. One morning, "mouse-burger" Melody "Mel" Wilder is diagnosed with a terminal illness, fired from her thankless job and abandoned by her boyfriend. With nothing left to lose, given two months to live, she spends her entire life's savings renting an empty palatial loft in the Village. Thinking she'll never have to pay the piper, she lives off her credit cards, fills the loft with the fanciest products, sensually engages both the parcel-delivery man and a pizza delivery girl and teaches herself to play the electric guitar she's craved since childhood. These life affirming experiences transform her irrevocably. This is one of those great films that you almost look past the first time, and then you feel like an idiot when you finally see it and love it.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johannson) are friends who travel to Spain from the U. S. They get invited to live in a beautiful home in Barcelona with Vicky’s pal Judy Nash (Patricia Clarkson). Vicky is busy doing thesis research, while Cristina just wants some sexual activity. Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a painter, comes along and woos both girls. Vicky does not care for him at first, although Cristina does. They end up in a messy threesome, complicated by the arrival of Juan’s former wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz), who complicates the relationships and emotions even more. Unpredictable problems occur among the four people. This is a great watch on an afternoon when you have the need to watch a nice relaxing movie thats not super deep or super stupid, its a great film for a time like that, and its rather enjoyable, which really makes it great to.

Pan's Labyrinth: This adult fairy tale from the mind of Guillermo del Toro blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Set in 1944, during the Spanish civil war, a young girl named Ofelia travels to the countryside with her pregnant mother. She is to live with her stern stepfather, an officer in Franco's army, charged with rooting out a local rebel militia. What she discovers is a world of mystery centered on the ruins of an ancient labyrinth. In order to claim her destiny as princess of the fairy realm, she must complete three challenges set forth by the fearful faun who lives in those ruins. This film exemplifies the stark contrast between the horrors of war and the fantasies of a young girl. Despite the fairy-tale trappings, this is not a movie meant for children.

Well thats it for now, i'll be back next week with some more picks of movies maybe you haven't seen or forgot to see, or always wanted to, or never heard of... so till then... blessid be



Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Librarians

The Librarians:
Offbeat Comedy Aussie Style

In my travels around the globe via its television and movies, I've learned many things, and come across many different things that I really doubt most of the world would actually know about unless they went looking, I tend to call these things hidden gems or sorts, and like any good pirate, I have found myself a treasure trove of such gems. One of which is a small understated offbeat dark comedy from Australia, called The Librarians, its a comedy about the inner workings of two friends Francis O'Brien and Christine Grimwood, and how no matter what one does, the other is constantly ruining her life. As told through current time and flashbacks, you discover just how deep and complicated at times, their life is, and though you know you shouldn't, you can't help but laugh at it all. After all, in the words of the great sage Homer Jay Simpson "Its funny because its not me". We all secretly like to laugh at when bad things happen to bad people, and though its truly Christine's fault the Francis turned out as bad as she did, even if it was with out Christine's knowledge, the fact remains, they're both bad people, and we all, deep down like to laugh at the misfortunes of bad people. Its that dark little place inside of all of us that this show aims its humor at, and though I'm not sure many pick up on that at first, it most certainly hits its mark dead on the bulls eye.

Set at a public library in Melton, Victoria, Australia, a city just outside of Melbourne, you discover that its not only Francis that has issues at her place of work, though hers tend to get in the way of others, you discover that really its everyone. Dawn, the now crippled assistant head librarian who can't seem to drive her wheelchair right. Matthew their resident book stacker who believes himself to be the greatest writer in the world. Nada the local translator and culture specialist, its strongly implied that Frances doesn't like her because she's arabic. Ky the token super gay asian. Lachie, a dyslexic underwear model who was hired to work the front desk in the first series and leaves to model in the second, Francis has a huge crush on him and you find out, that crush is the reason Dawn's crippled. And finally Neil, Neil is a criminal ordered to do community service by helping out at the library, he tends to just float around, not doing much of anything at all, he takes a romantic interest in Christine when she arrives, even though she states to him many times she has no real interest in him, he still continues to do good things for her, even at one point violating his sentence for her. Other members of the cast are Francis' confusing and sexually repressed husband Tom, who has a rather big masterbation addiction, Father Harris, a preist who Francis confides in, though he wishes he would just leave him alone, and though they are never actually seen, Tom and Francis' horribly daughters, who happen to be referred to as holy terrors, having been kicked out of every private school in the area. Francis has a rather loose grip on all of these factors and people and she feels she's doing a good job until Christine shows up and begs her for a job, which Francis eventually gives her out of pity, and how long she's known her.

Though the plot and subplots twist around everyone involved, normally filling in some backstory that happened before the main story, but it all centers around Francis and Christine, each episode fills in abit of their backstory and how what started out as just an innocent friendship became a horribly traumatic downward spiral into the life Francis feels she has no choice but to live now, how she was forced to pay for a mistake that Christine had made when they were in their late teens, and how that lead to Francis' marriage, which actually trapped her and her husband, and the downward slide into unhappiness that each of their children's birth pushed them toward. But through it all, even if they do not wish to admit it, they are friends, and infact the only one that each other can rely on. They grudgingly admit this at the end of the second series when Christine gives birth to a baby she had with her imprisoned for selling drugs former boyfriend, the episode that has them both screaming about everything wrong they've ever done to each other and why they blame one another for where they are in life. Its actually both heartwarming and funny all at once.

I understand that alot of people might not fully get this series, like i said, its a dark comedy that allows us to laugh at the horrible things that happen to people that are horrible to each other, something that not many programs are willing to do, but they do it with ease. Its also a great introduction to the seldom mentioned genre of Australian/New Zealand comedy, which isn't as watered down as american comedy, or have the subtle and sharp wit that British and Canadian comedy has, its kind of a hodgepodge of all of them in a way, the out and out laughs of american, the subtle and sharp of British and Canadian and just enough blunt sarcasm to make it unique, its truly something all its own, and I honestly love that. I know alot of people won't get the references unless you know people from Oz or the surrounding areas there in, but if you pay attention it won't be hard to figure out, plus its a rather dark bit of hilarity, so it won't matter much. So if you haven't had a chance, or you've never heard of it, give The Librarians a chance, and laugh at the bad that happens to bad people, even if the world thinks we shouldn't..



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jay Leno can go to hell...

There isn't a corner of the world that hasn't heard about the recently war ignited over the late night talk show genre here in America, everyone's taking sides and expressing opinions on the matter, because, well when something of this nature happens, apparently more obscure people of note have an opinion on it then have an opinion on Michael Jackson's death. So with all of these former, forgotten and faux celebrities come out of the woodwork to express their ideas on the matter, and while my inbox is getting bombed with emails asking my opinion, I figured its time to finally break my silence and say what I think, after all, this is the internet and well, thats what its for, people to bitch about things they have no control over as if their opinions matter... well that and porn. Anyway, put on your protective gear cuz this is gonna look like an abattoir by the time I'm done.... Ready? here goes..


No, I mean it, is this 2010 or have we traveled back in time to 1990 somehow? Has no one learned from the last time this happened? Does no one remember when Johnny Carson retired, and Jay bitched, wined and schemed till he got his way back then too, honestly, how many people have forgotten that Johnny's first choice for replacement was then Late Night host David Letterman, and NOT Tonight Show fill in host Jay Leno? Oh yes, how often we forget the past in the entertainment business, and ironically, as its always been said, those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it. And guess what? We are repeating it, right now, and whats worse is, it looks like changes are, it'll end the exact same way as it did 20 years ago, which ofcourse means that NO ONE has learned a lesson from this. And honestly, that just depresses the hell out of me.

For those that don't know about the late night wars of the early 1990s, let me give you a short recap, legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson decided after somewhere in the area of 30 years or something, it was time to take his final bow, he felt he had run his course and that it was time to pass the torch to a younger generation of comedian to allow his show to grow and continue, Johnny's original choice was the man who's show followed his on the late night roster, former weatherman turned comedian David Letterman, he felt that Letterman had the right edge, the right feel, and was ready to take the big chair on the longest running highest rated late night talk show of all time, there was only one problem, Tonight Show fill in host, failed actor and failed comedian Jay Leno, who for some reason felt that because he was back up, he deserved the job, even though ratings on nights Leno hosted would drop a moderately noticeable amount. Carson tried to talk some sense into Jay, explaining that it was time for a younger generation to take over his show, and just as Jack Parr had passed the torch to Carson, whom he deemed to be the perfect man for the job, that it was Carson's right, and his duty to give the iconic talk show over to who he felt was the correct person to lead it into the future, Carson felt Letterman was the man to rest that responsibility on the shoulders of. Leno ofcourse decided to take a fit over this, because lets face it, Jay Leno is just a bitchy child who takes tantrums until he gets what he wants, which could be why Jay never really got anywhere in real hollywood, he was a supporting actor in like two films, and at this point had also been dropped by Doritos as their spokesperson all because people refused to work with him anymore given his annoyingly bad "I'm better then you're treating me" attitude, so against the wishes of the great Johnny Carson, Jay protests with the network to allow him to take over the show, in the press its made out that the struggle for power as an executive at NBC who, like many before and after, ignorantly said Leno was the right choice and painted Letterman out to be the one taking a fit. Letterman claims it to be untrue, and scathed the network in his monologues, Jay gets his way, and is named the host of the tonight show, and Letterman heads off to CBS where he crushes Leno in the ratings, proving that NBC picked the wrong choice, and the great Johnny Carson, as the professional that he is, kept silent and gracefully retired to play golf and enjoy watching the new generation of comedians grow and become what he saw in them when he'd featured them on his show. Ever the professional and not wishing to give anyone ill will, Johnny never publicly spoke of the late night wars, though his final appearance on television being on David Letterman's show, delivering a Top Ten list, as well as the fact Johnny stated not long before he died that he would send Letterman jokes to use and gave him permission to use his old sketches, firmly states where the now late king of late night's allegiance lay. Johnny Carson picked Letterman, the fans picked Letterman, the critics picked Letterman, but NBC picked Jay Leno. NBC were morons, their only good move in the whole debuckle was to name then Simpsons' writer Conan O'Brien as the replacement of David Letterman as the host of Late Night, though as we all know, that will eventually come to bite them in the ass.

So now, we fast forward to 2009 and after announcing afew years before that he was going to retire from his ill gotten place as the host of what was, until he took over, the crown jewel of late night programing, Jay Leno finally says he is stepping down. Jay announces he will pass the reigns to Late Night host Conan O'Brien, a man that many praise the same way that Letterman was praised, and has been called the future of late night comedy, ironically, Jay did what Johnny had tried to do, Conan names Saturday Night Live has been Jimmy Fallon as his replacement on Late Night, and moves himself, his family, and his whole crew to Los Angeles, reuniting with former sidekick Andy Ritchor, and spends the summer months preparing for the take over, Leno finishes out his run, and unlike when Johnny retired years ago, there is no fanfare or hype made about Leno's final show hosting the tonight show, there are no major guests, there are no tributes, there is no Bet Middler with her giant chest squeezed into a little black dress singing Wind Beneath My Wings to Jay while he bawls in joy and sadness that his time is over, nothing, Jay's final show goes unnoticed by anyone that didn't know it was the final one. Which honestly speaks volumes in itself I think.

Over that summer though, while Conan prepped for realizing his childhood dream, the dream that every comedian dreams for, to host the iconic Tonight Show, the show that been the starting point for so many different comedians, and sent so many on to to become superstars, Jay had other plans. Jay decided somewhere a long the way, that he didn't want to step down, because, apparently, he learned nothing from Johnny Carson's talk with him about knowing when the end is at hand, and that its time to pass the torch. jay starts to wine and cry and throw tantrums again, much as he had in the early 1990s, using the same backstabbing, underhanded tactics, and though they will not give him back The Tonight Show, NBC gives Jay the 10pm slot every weeknight, to allow him to basically retire from the tonight show so he can host the tonight show, but on earlier and called "The Jay Leno Show", The Jay Leno Show debuts to what we in the business call "curiosity ratings" meaning they are high out of curiosity, not because people want to see the show, after its first two weeks, The Jay Leno show tanks in the ratings, and NBC, like the morons they are, continue to back the wrong horse in this race, claiming the first two weeks ratings are average instead of looking at the sliding decline that they have been doing after that peak. Conan's Tonight Show debuts to mad rave reviews and continues Conan's unique offbeat humor and his love of obscure, lesser known music acts from a very broad range of genres, and comedians blended with star power that made his version of The Late Show such a hit, he also brings back old sketches and bits from his time before reunited sidekick Andy Ritchor left the show years before, much to the delight of the fans.

But sadly, with Jay on at 10pm and basically doing the same show as The Tonight Show, Conan's ratings aren't the blockbuster NBC wishes they were, and instead of looking at the real problem, which is ofcourse Jay Leno, his stale comedy and his ego, NBC points blame at Conan, who privately damns the network and Jay for what they've done, and how it seems like Leno is trying to ruin his career just to get the spotlight back, but professionally says very little, and does not point fingers, because unlike Jay, Conan is a respectable professional, who will not dispresect another to get ahead until he had no other choice or is forced to do so. At this point Jay's ratings become even lower, and the show is bombarded with lawsuits from every major comedian, even Howard Stern who blasts the show for stealing their NFL preview bit that involves former NFL player turned commentator Terry Bradshaw and a chicken, Stern and his lawyers send video tape from Howard's old program to both NBC and The Jay Leno Show, proving they ripped off the bit, which does not go over well with the network who discover that its true, Jay's been stealing jokes, as the ratings sink more, and less and less stars wish to go on Jay's new show, in January of 2010, 7 months after this whole horrible mystery ride began, NBC decides its time to pull the plug on The Jay Leno show, they rush series to fill the 10pm slot weekly into production and state that after their coverage of the Olympics, there will be some shake ups with the network.

Thus takes us to where we are now, Jay Leno, unwilling to give up the spotlight to a younger, funnier, critically loved and beloved by fans comedian, who rightly deserves the job, and NBC stuck with their thumbs in their asses on what to do about it all, Jay refuses to do the right thing and retire, even threatening to leave for another network many times in his monologues, and Conan pissed that he was only given 7 months to do the job he was promised and uprooted his entire life for, NBC makes an offer to give Leno 30 minutes each night, and Conan from midnight to 1am, pushing back Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Conan finally speaks out, and claims that he will not stand by and watch as an iconic and important series such as The Tonight Show is run into the ground and held captive by a washed up, broken down old failure of a comedian who can't let go of the spotlight, and that if they give Leno that timeslot, he will leave. Conan finally stands up for himself, his friends, and his fans who have supported him the whole way, and thus, the internet roared with joy for him. There are, at this time, no final choices made, there is no definitive answers to who is going, who is staying and where others are going, but one thing is clear, Jay Leno can go to hell.

Now don't get me wrong, I have no real ill will toward Jay other then in a professional sense, he does alot charity work, he does alot of benifits things like that, which is great, but as a professional, and as a comedian, I find him lacking, i find his professional attitude and how he does business deplorable, he's sneaky, underhanded and backstabbing, he thinks he is owed alot more then he is in this business, when infact, he is nothing more then a failure, he got the fill in host job because Johnny felt sorry for him, not because Johnny believed in him, and yet, he will not open his eyes to see that, because he doesn't understand that he isn't all he believes himself to be, he thinks he is bigger then the show, when infact, he is so very below it. I also find his comedy unfunny, he reminds me of those old parodied comedians working some backward hotel in the middle of nowhere, you know the kind that need a rimshot for every job and actually think "take my wife, please" is a funny punchline still. There is a reason that Leno stopped doing his stand up engagements at Foxwoods and other places like that, because he wasn't selling tickets, because no one finds him funny anymore, though to be truthful, not many ever really found him funny.

So if you can't tell by now, I'm rather "team conan" on this one, honestly, I find him funny, i find that he is willing to research and find just the right style of joke for just the right bit, and he hits a vain with just about every demographic he's aimed at, which really is what a comedian should do if they are in that place, or just winging it and making stuff up as he goes off random in a way that never seems to fail, Conan is the better choice, he is the better comedian, he is the better professional, and well, Jay Leno can go to hell.



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13:
What Would Happen If The X-Files Were Funny

What happens when you mix american sci fi stalwart the x-files, with the saucy and sexy nature of modern ratings juggernaut Bones, and just enough of the mostly forgotten Friday The 13th The Series' concept of having to collect haunted an enchanted objects? Well simply put what happens is Warehouse 13. A smart funny series about the tracking down and reacquiring of odd artifacts of mysterious nature and mysterious powers, each connected to someone or something of not in history, its all a thrilling and fun ride though the comical side of sci fi, where things aren't exactly what we expect them to be, and that stuff you wouldn't think would be of any real danger, really is. Things like Lewis Caroll's Mirror with the entrapped mentally unstable real Alice Liddel inside, not the Alice we knew from Alice In Wonderland, or the mirror ball from Studio 54, or a famed ancient sword, or a gun created by Nikola Tesla, or a tea kettle that makes wishes come true, or just gives you a ferret, or any number of other things, The Warehouse is a place of limitless imagination, limitless size and strange and magical things all existing together in some weird balance of harmony.

The cast is as follows; Peter Lattimer (Eddie McClintock), a "rule-bender" Secret Service agent. Agent Lattimer is smart, handsome, athletic and has a knack for quick thinking. He's an alcoholic with several years of sobriety under his belt. He has a deaf sister who taught him lip reading. He has a sixth sense in regards to immediate dangers and a weakness for cookies. Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly), Lattimer's "by-the-book" partner. She has more book smarts and an eye for details. She takes her job very seriously and has many clashes with Lattimer. She even names her pet ferret Pete because they are both 'cute and annoying'. Myka has a troubled relationship with her father in whose bookshop she grew up. Dr. Arthur "Artie" Nielsen (previously Arthur Weisfelt) (Saul Rubinek), the Secret Service agent in charge of Warehouse 13. A former cryptographer, most of his personal past is shrouded in mystery, except that he was once convicted of treason for selling state secrets to Soviets. Serious and methodical, he is frequently annoyed with his subordinates, who are relative newcomers to the warehouse and its artifacts' peculiarities. He has a fondness for baking cookies. At the end of the first season finale, Artie appears to be killed. Leena (Genelle Williams), the proprietor of the bed-and-breakfast where Lattimer and Bering stay. She has the ability to see a person's aura. Leena has been aware of Warehouse 13 for quite a while and has known many of the Warehouse agents that have died. It is revealed in the first season finale that she has been working with MacPherson. Mrs. Irene Frederic (C. C. H. Pounder), the director of a secret government organization, who is older than she appears. She is a shadowy figure and is usually accompanied by her bodyguard. She is apparently Artie's superior. Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti), a "young, hip, brilliant techno-wiz" whose brother was believed to be dead. She hacked into the warehouse computer systems and kidnapped Artie so that he would help her bring back her brother and now works in the warehouse with Artie. However, in the season finale, she left when Leena and Mrs. Frederic accused her of taking objects in the warehouse and giving them to MacPherson. It was later revealed that it was actually Leena stealing the items, disguised as Claudia. And because no series is good with out a main villain, James MacPherson (Roger Rees), former Warehouse agent and arch-nemesis of Artie. He is from England (although the actor is from Wales) and has great knowledge of paranormal artifacts and uses them for nefarious ends. His loyalties and intentions are not entirely known. He is also Artie's former partner. Still on the loose as of the first season finale.

The series starts out with Myka and Pete working together on a detail that both are running for the Secret Service, they encounter a man who was using an ancient Aztec Bloodstone that controls anyone who's blood comes into contact with it, as they go to stop him, Pete first encounters Artie, who after giving him a zap of a flash bomb, disappears. The next day Myka and Pete discover they've both been reassigned to South Dakota, unaware that each other was set there, this is where they meet Artie, and tells them of The Warehouse, what is in it, what he does, and what the bloodstone they encountered was. He then tells them their new jobs are working for him directly, and that they are to not have any contact with their former boss, or tell anyone what they're doing, for it is super top secret, and honestly, most people wouldn't believe it anyway. Artie tells them of how they work for an organization that works high above the government, but works with in it as well, and after they grudgingly accept their job working together, are quickly sent after an artifact, they're handed a two way video communicator created by the man who created the television and a stun gun created by Nicola Tesla, and after being explained how they bag items to be brought back, they're sent on their way. After they complete their first mission they decide to stay onboard, and accept their job working together.

As the show goes on, you eventually meet Claudia, and Leena, and their boss the mysterious and seemingly supernatural Mrs. Fredric, who appears out of seemingly thin air, along with her large Chinese bodyguard/driver, who happens to have the same gift. You also meet James MacPherson, a rogue former agent of the warehouse who has decided that it would be important to track down and acquire objects that belong in the warehouse both for his personal use, and for whomever is willing to pay him the most money for it, and even then he normally will trick them and take it for himself, as the show progresses it changes from a single contained episode involving one or many objects used in the acquiring of a certain main object, to using all at their disposal to stop MacPherson and his followers, which actually makes the show great, it sets it apart from its contemporaries in this respect, and allows it to go off on it very own. Which i felt was a brilliant idea, it makes it stand out on its own and not fall into the mundane and monotonous plotholes that other series of this nature have done. They also stand out in the fact they pick objects that are realistically possible to exist assuming magic is able to be attached to real objects connected to anyone of note in both history and science, which really is a pretty awesome idea.

So if you are looking for something thats fun, and different and new, if you haven't seen it yet, give Warehouse 13 a change, you'll be pretty glad you did, unless that is, you don't want to have an enjoyable time with a unique concept and predicable, as well as just amazingly sharp writing, which is always a total joy.



Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Recreating A Forgotten Sci Fi Classic

When it was first announced that the BBC was going to revive one of what many concider to be a hidden gem among their sci fi collection, Terry Nation's brilliant 1970s series Survivors, there was, as to be expected, alot of debate on the matter, was this really the right time? In an era where we all live in fear of a biological warfare attack that so many strategists say is looming over our heads, was it the right time to remake a mostly forgotten series where a biologically created super virus wipes out 99.7% of the world's population in less then a week and the remaining 0.2% have to rebuild the world on their own? Or could this all backfire in their faces and become a PR nightmare. The BBC walked a very dangerous tight rope on this, which is not very characteristic of them, but with out a doubt, it paid off for them in spades. Even in this day of growing fear of Swine Flu and other things that are in that same category, that speaks alot for the show and its following, a mixture of old original fans, and new ones that weren't even aware of the show's older incarnation, sort of like the fanbase of BBC's other giant sci fi hit Doctor Who, only difference being Survivors fans don't have homemade 1950s style blue police boxes in their living rooms.

Survivors tells the story of Abby Grant, the maternal protagonist and moral compass,[8] is a woman who – having lost her husband David to the virus – is determined to find her missing son Peter, who she insists throughout the series has survived the pandemic. She is very concerned about Peter's well-being, as he was in remission from leukaemia and was enjoying an outdoor adventure holiday at Castle Crag Adventure Centre in the Peak District when the virus took hold. Abby has been told by Callum Brown, the last surviving instructor and sole survivor at Castle Crag, that Peter was one of the first boys to be taken ill and had been taken to hospital by another instructor named Phil Emerson. However, Abby failed to find Peter at the hospital and her son's present whereabouts currently remains unknown. With her inherent virtue, Abby unites the series' first group, within which she strives to maintain peace and welcome new characters – as well as looking for any lead, no matter how small, that will one day reunite her with Peter. She is the only character to have survived the virus without immunity. the Rest of the cast is as follows...

Greg Preston: Greg first encounters Abby on the motorway. His original wish is to be self-sufficient and alone, but as Abby convinces the other survivors to come together he decides to remain within the group. Greg is shown to be more prepared than most to survive in this post-virus world, having immediately assembled a range of necessities from an army and navy surplus store. The idea of a relationship between Abby and Greg is hinted at in the first series, with moments in which he seems to have feelings towards her.

Dr. Anya Raczynski: Anya was a doctor in a busy city hospital when the virus struck, and watched hundreds of patients die of the virus, including her friend Jenny Walsh. After helping a severely wounded Tom, she joins the group. In an internal struggle to rationalise why she has survived, she rejects her medical profession. She discloses that she blames herself for having been too inexperienced to save any of her patients, particularly Patricia, her former lover. With the encouragement of Abby, she composes herself, and goes on to successfully deliver a breech birth.

Tom Price: Tom Price is a toughened criminal who was serving a sentence of at least twenty years for murder in HM Prison Wandsworth when the virus struck. He and the rest of the prisoners were isolated under orders from the Prison Governor, i.e. locked in their cells, to try to prevent the virus spreading, but it was no good. Eventually, Price found himself alone with the last surviving prison officer, Gary Wilson; the other prisoners and prison officers, along with prison physician Dr. Colin Thompson (and, presumably, the briefly-mentioned but unseen Prison Governor), having all died. In spite of the fact that prison rules and regulations now no longer applied, Wilson refused to release Price who, as far as he was concerned, was still a prisoner of Her Majesty's Government. Wilson resented the fact that Price had survived the virus, and was determined to do his duty and ensure that his prisoner served the remainder of his sentence. Price escaped after killing Wilson and made his way home, only to discover that his mother had died from the virus. Fearless and strong, Price is able to kill without remorse. Largely through his relationship with Anya, becomes quite loyal to the group. He is not a conventional team player as he is always willing to fight to ensure his comfortable place within it. Throughout the series, it has been hinted that he may have had a previous military background, which possibly may have had direct or indirect connections to his incarceration.

Al Sadiq: Al is the son of an immensely wealthy father, and had only known fancy hotels and a workless and materialist lifestyle. He had spent the night with Simone, a girl he had met at a nightclub, and got a terrible shock when he discovered the next morning that she had died from the virus. Al was unprepared for life without modern technology, but after finding Najid alone in the city, Al took him along, soon developing a paternal relationship with him.

And finally the youngest of their group, Najid Hanif: Najid is an 11-year old boy and a devout Muslim, who is shown to be praying at the time when the virus eradicates the remainder of the world. He awakes in the mosque to find the entire congregation, including his parents and the rest of his family, dead. Najid runs away, and meets Al. After establishing that Al is not a paedophile, Najid accompanies him as the pair joins the group. Najid's father had told his son that if he should find himself alone, he should tell the authorities that he has cousins in Blackburn, but as there are no longer any authorities, Najid does not known his cousins' address and there is no guarantee that they are still alive, he is set to remain with the group for the foreseeable future. Shown to be a friendly and considerate boy, Najid is adopted into the group with the most ease, and makes close bonds especially with Abby, Al and Anya.

Along their way together they encounter other survivors notedly, Samantha Willis, the last surviving member of the British government, who has built a colony on what she says was a safe house built for the British government and royalty incase a global catastrophe happened, her colony has running water, heat, electricity and all of the things life had before the virus decimated the world, however it is not the peaceful heaven on earth she wants you to think it is, with swift and brutal justice with out compassion or fair trail, those who cross Samantha and her colony often find themselves dead rather then let to go about their lives, Samantha later tries to form a larger colony, enlisting local thugs as security and taking down the names and what each person did before the virus to see who can be used where. Sarah Boyer, who has a very uneasy and at times not existent place in Abby's group, before the virus she was a spoiled party girl who lived a life of privilege and excess, when she's found in a warehouse for a local food supplier by Greg, you learn she's been living there in exchange for sexual favors to the man who ran the warehouse before the virus, Bob. Bob breaks his leg and Sarah leaves him there to die going off with Greg to join Abby's group, its later discovered that Bob survived and is working for Samantha. Sarah betrays the group to Samantha by telling her that Anya is a doctor, the group fights back when Anya is taken from them because Samantha decides the colony needs more doctors. And finally there is Dexter, a small time thug who runs what is left of Manchester city, he and his band of thugs are armed to the teeth and cause many problems for Abby's group, they later become a security force for Samantha when she decides to expand her colony and encompass all the survivors in the area. Tom has an almost animalistic hate for Dexter, and has stated many times, as well as coming close, to killing him.

The series really is as brilliant and groundbreaking as it was in the 1970s, we, as a people are still literally hanging on the edge of a pandemic flu that will wipe us out on a daily basis, there is always some virus thats just barely missing a mutation that can turn it into a super incurable illness that'll spread like wildfire, its a fear that was turn in the 1970s when the late great Terry Nation wrote the book then created the series, and its still true to this day. it also makes you wonder, in those days that turn into weeks, that turn into months that turn into years after a virus that wipes out almost all of the human race, what will happen to those left behind? When society falls, will we all descend into an anarchistic lifestyle of raids and pillaging and taking what and who we want by force? The series tries to answer these questions and many more as it goes on, and whats interesting is, as it answers questions, it leaves more unanswered or brought to mind, I love when a series makes you think about the global impact instead of just whats effecting the people it focuses on, after all these shows have entire worlds they happen in, its not just a bubble, specially when its a world thats eerily close to our own.

So if you're interested in an interesting take on what could very well be the future of the human race, or are just a fan of post doomsday stories that are deep and at times down right terrifying with how possible their fate is, you should give Survivors a shot, I doubt you'll regret it.



Monday, January 11, 2010

Cast Offs

Cast Offs:
Breaking New Ground Is Risky As Hell

When I first read the synopsis of Cast Offs, I must admit, I was shocked, dismayed and mildly offend at the very idea of what they were doing. After all, when you make a show about 6 disabled people on a deserted island off the coast of Scotland where they have to fend for themselves for 90 days, most people would assume that you're doing so to make fun of them and their disabilities, that whole freak show aspect, but after actually seeing the program, and reading about what it is, i can tell you in all honesty, it is very far from that, there is no carnival or freak show aspect, there is no exploitation of the disabled or any of that patronizing false "we're all special" stuff no one believes in, infact, its quiet the opposite, each of the actors is infact, really afflicted with the disability they have in the series, and are not, as Mat Fraser, a well known musician/performance artist/political activist and also the man who plays Will in the series states, "Blacking Up", meaning for a regular actor to play a disabled person, instead of giving the role to someone with the real disability, each actor draws from that inner knowing and strength of what they go through in everyday life to bring a sort of chilling at times, but mostly 100% authentic performance. This in all honesty is groundbreaking on so many levels, first, its giving a disabled actor a chance to show that they can act on a national, and probably international level, but it also is groundbreaking in the fact that it takes away the vale of stigma that we all have when it comes to those who are different, it shows that we are all really the same regardless of if we are disabled or not, and I think that is the bravest thing i have seen on television in a long time, the courage to do that.

Cast Offs tells the story of six disabled people who are forced to live and work together on an island off the coast of scotland, they're given a shelter, cooking supplies, and animals they must care for and protect against the wild animals of the island because they are infact their food supply, they are also given a versatility phone to use incase of an emergency, or to admit defeat and ask to be taken home off the island. The cast offs themselves are; Dan (Peter Mitchell), sportsman, 26 years old, paraplegic, Tom (Tim Gebbels), actor, 39 years old, blind, Will (Mat Fraser), political activist, 46 years old, thalidomide affected, Gabriella (Sophie Woolley), mother-to-be, 32 years old, deaf, April (Victoria Wright), research scientist, 34 years old, cherubism, and Carrie (Kiruna Stamell), unemployed, 29 years old, dwarfism. As the show goes on, each episode focuses on one of the cast members, and tells their story of the year before they are placed on the island, except for Carrie's, which takes place after she's returned and also serves as an epilogue to the series itself.

The first episode focuses on Dan as well as everyone's arrival on the island, you discover that Dan was in a car accident, which left him with out the use of his legs, and that he's now a wheelchair basketball player, and that his father is very over protective of him in his current state, he's on the island to prove to himself, and to his father, that he can be anything he wants to be still, even if he is just a "man in a chair". Its also very evident him and Carrie are attracted to each other, something that everyone else notices and jokes about right off.

The second episode focuses on Tom, the quick, but dry witted blind actor turned blind marksman, Tom makes a living teaching people with sight, how to act like you are blind, his name is a play on the term "uncle tom" which Will calls him afew times believing he's sold out his own people, Tom lives with his best friend and caretaker, whom he fights with before leaving because Tom had asked his blind exgirlfriend out on a date, tom cooks for her, she then sleeps with him and leaves him the next morning, leaving Tom depressed, a state he hides with his quick twit. Tom actually is the keeper of the riffle and at one point shoots a fox dead to keep it from attacking their chickens.

The next episode focuses on Will, Will is probably the most heartbreaking of the stories, it talks about his life as a political activist for disabled rights, and justice for those, like him effected with thalidomide caused birth defects, it also tells the story of his love for his son who cares for him greatly and sees nothing wrong with him, and how his exwife worries for him and that he's not caring for himself properly, and of how his mother is near death, and how he's not been able to see her in years, and how he drowns the sorrow of all of his mistakes and failures in beer, Will's mother dies while he is on the island, he tucks away his grief and keeps it to himself.

Next is Gabby, the pregnant deaf girl who's here to prove she can do things on her own, and because she feels she needs to prove to herself that she is not a screw up. Gabby's story starts when she was about to get married, she is happy, she is joyful, until an exboyfriend whom she hadn't invited shows up, he had treated her badly and left her, but she still loved him deep down, and in Gabby's words "he showed up just to hurt me, he's a prick that way.", his appearnce not only sets off Gabby's soon to be husband, but also sets Gabby to drinking, she spends the day drinking heavily, and when she confronts her ex out behind the house in private, her soon to be husband misunderstands the situation and assumes that Gabby is going to have sex with him sense they were hiding out of the sight of everyone else. Gabby tries to explain, but he doesn't listen, this causes her to sneak out a window and leave over the distrust. Gabby gives birth on the island, Will and Carrie deliver the baby.

Next is April, April tries as hard as she can to fit in, dispite her disability, she tries to live a normal life, even if she knows it is almost impossible given her abnormality, she has recently lost her husband Andrew, and will not admit to anyone that she's deeply deressed about it, she keeps to herself, and her two co-workers Brian and Keven, both of which have decided to get her to try something new each week, along with the two of them, even forming a facebook group with a large following dedicated to it, with each person trying one new thing a week. Will overhears the production people talking about a birthday and mentioning April, so he thinks its her birthday, stating that she is always in the background and deserves to be center state, he sets about putting together a birthday party, only to discover that its the birthday of April's dead husband, not hers. When Will says he's sorry, she tells him her husband's dead, they then talk, she admits she doesn't want to leave the island, and they make up.

Finally there is the story of Carrie, the sarcastic foul mouthed aussie dwarf, her story is told after they have all returned to civilization stronger as a group, reunited with Gabby and her baby, and not wanting to leave each other, as the others walk together joking about how everyone is looking at them, even having fun with it, Carrie the one that was always quick with a joke stays behind them all and was very quiet. You find out that months after they've returned, Carrie's life is still not really going anywhere, she is still out of a job, and has trouble with every day life, and more so, she's not called Dan, even though by the end of their time on the island, everyone knew they were perfect for each other. We find Carrie attempting to be, of all things, a clown that does children's parties, we follow her to clown class, and to a friend of her's child's party, her first gig as a professional clown, you discover that apparently, even Carrie's closest friends don't have any faith in her, stating all of the jobs she's had over the years, and how they just haven't fit, they book another clown, who happens to be Carrie's teacher, this causes Carrie to get angry, and realizing she needs to finish atleast one thing in her life, she preforms for the children and they love her. She then storms outside, and is sitting on the curb in her clown outfit as Dan wheels up, stating she called him so ofcourse he's come to see her, they embrace and then the scene cuts to each of them talking about where they think everyone else is months later, the last line is Will saying "Oh Dan? He's still pining after Carrie..".

Cast Offs really is a brilliant hidden gem of a series if you take it and look at it as a whole, it makes you laugh, it makes you sad, but more so, it makes you think, it makes you open your eyes and look at the world differently, that we're all that different in reality, just on the surface, it also makes you rethink the way we each treat those who are different, though I'm sure the main idea what to tell us that life really isn't all that different for disabled people, except for the staring and in Carrie's case, the yelling of sexual things by regular sized people, who apparently are into dwarfs. It is truly a brilliant look into words that others are scared to look at, and scared to admit we all wonder about, and is just so very brilliant in its production and concept and writing. Honestly if you haven't seen this series, you are missing out on a great thing, even if for nothing else the hilarious bickering between Tom and Will and Carrie and Gabby, which are always hightlights of each episode. Honestly, give it a try, you'll be glad you did.



Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones: 
A Story Of Family, Devotion, and The Evil That Men Do..

More times then should in this world, the movie industry tosses around terms like "life changing", "awe inspiring", "Masterpiece" and the like, but of all those times, often, its misleading and untrue, more then likely the movie will be flat, and uninteresting and be swept under the red carpet until awards season, where we will all marvel at how it even came to garner so many awards. Thankfully, in the case of The Lovely Bones, this isn't the case at all, it is well deserving of all the praise and adulation that comes its way, long time readers will tell you thats not exactly a statement I toss around lightly, or much at all honestly. Peter Jackson, the man behind such films as the modern adaption of Lord Of The Rings, as well as last year's awe inspiring epic District 9, once again steps to the plate and hits a home run, proving more then ever his flopsterpiece 2005's King Kong was nothing more then a fluke. Jackson carefully and as faithfully as possible to the book on which this film is based, takes us into a beautifully tragic and surreal world, where we see not only life in the world we know, but shows of what the hear after is like, both are done in beautiful detail, you find the other world just incredibly surreal and breathtaking, and you truly feel that the real world cira 1973, really is a small town in Pennsylvania in 1973, which I personally love, if something looks out of place it totally takes me out of the story, and I just can't find myself getting back into it at all, but thankfully, thats not the case here.

The Lovely Bones is the story of Suzie Salmon, like the fish, its the story of her life, the story of her death, and the story of her watching those who she left behind, how she never forgets them, how they never forget her, the love that bonds them all, but it is also the story of vengeance for Suzie's death, and how she doesn't feel she can leave until that has happened. The film starts with us meeting young Suzie, she narrates an early scene in her life, then fast forwards to her current age, 14, its 1973, before children were put on milk containers and before people canvased the neighborhood looking at the neighbors when a child goes missing, Suzie tells you of her life, her love of photography, her dreams to be a famous wild life photographer, her love of her family, her special relationship with her grandmother, and her love for a young man named Ray Singh. You find yourself drawn into Suzie's life, her warm loving family, her younger sister, her younger brother, and all the funny they are, you also find of her love of her father, who teaches her how to build ships in a bottle, just like his grandparents and parents taught him, a family tradition as it were, and though you find yourself loving Suzie's life, and smiling and laughing at it, Suzie then tells you of what happened on December 6th, 1973, the day she was raped and murdered, by a man that no one expected, because back then, no one expected the strange creepy man who lives near by.

On the day that Suzie died, she was running home late from school, she had joined a film club so she could be closer to Ray Singh, a british boy whom she liked, and who liked her, after Ray asks her on her very first date, and almost gives her, her very first kiss, she rushes home, cutting through a field where she crosses paths with Ruth Conners, a girl who lives alone near an old farm with a sinkhole that everyone drops old broken things into, its said that Ruth can see things that others can not, in that field Suzie also encounters her murderer, George Harvey a dollhouse maker who lives near her and her family, he convinces her to have a look at what he calls "a clubhouse" he built underground for the children of the neighhorhood, so they "could have a place that was just their own". Suzie goes down underground with him, but she never comes out alive. George murders Suzie down there, underground he cuts her throat with an old shaving razor, she dies down there, where no one ever hears her scream, George then caves in the underground structure, one week later all they find of evidence is Suzie's hat and alot of blood, this revelation, with out any idea of who her murderer is, her family starts to fall apart, her parents drift apart, her younger brother and sister both talk about how they can see her, her younger brother Buckley, taking on an almost Sixth Sense like role, stating many times "Suzie is in the in-between" and talking of her coming and kissing him before he sleeps, her younger sister Lindsey saying similar things but to a lesser extent, at this point Suzie's father starts to obsess over her death, investigating on his own feeling the police are not doing enough, this causes Suzie's mother, who hasn't delt with her death at all, to leave for awhile.

From limbo, which is referred to as "the in-between", "the blue horizon" and "her own personal heaven", Suzie watches as her family falls apart, and feels sad, sad because she misses them all, and sad because she's powerless to stop what is happening to them. At this point Suzie meets a young asian girl calling herself Holly Golightly which she states is "a borrowed name", after Holly tells Suzie they are dead, and that they need to go to heaven, Suzie says she can't yet, that she's not ready, there are things she needs to do first, Holly decides to stay with her in the in-between, where they become best friends, and are happy together, even though Suzie constantly watches her family, and she also watches Ray Singh, who sits at the spot in The Mall that she and him were to meet, hoping that maybe she would appear and it would all be just a dream, this is where Suzie watches as Ruth meets Ray, handing him the poem he'd tucked into Suzie's book, stating she found it, and believed it belonged to him. She then tells him that she can see Suzie, that she doesn't understand how, or why, but she can see her, feel her, hear her, Ray and Ruth grow close as the film goes on, bonded in their grief over Suzie, Ray always carries a picture of her with him which he takes out and looks at often, talking to it, wishing she was there.

As the film progresses you watch as Suzie watches her loved ones grow up and change, but you also see that she watches George Harvey, the man who killed her, as he thinks he's gotten away with his crime, she watches as he torments himself and ponders what he'd done, almost as if in his own twisted way savoring it. She watches as the police interview George, and how he basically confesses what he's done, even though the police don't notice, you find yourself yelling at the screen how his words are giving away the fact he's telling them, in a sense, putting you in Suzie's place as she watches this all going down. As the film goes on, you go more and more into George's mind, and how demented it is, as the film progresses, you see that Suzie's sister, and then later her father, start to suspect George, leading to her sister getting the information that proves he killed her, and discovering that George had plans to kill her as well. Before this, it leads to Suzie's father first accusing George who panics and runs into his house, causing her dad to leave a large hole in his door, and then later a scene where Suzie, from the other side, wills her father to seek out vengeance for her death, shadowing and then following George into a cornfield where he watches teenagers go to have sex, its implied that he plans on killing two of them as well as Suzie's sister.

Once George is found out, he panics, and runs, and all the peaces come together, Suzie finally is able to face the house that its said she can't go to heaven with out walking through, which happens to be George's house, she discovers he's murdered many others, two adults, but mostly teenage girls, the only exception being a 6 year old girl, she discovers that her friend Hanna was the girl George had killed before her. With knowing the truth, and knowing her family was going to find peace and justice for her murder, she can finally go to heaven, where she is greeted by all of George's other victims, who embrace her for finally making their killer known. As they're about to go, Suzie stops, she looks to Hanna and says "I have one last thing to do.." she then descends to earth, taking over Ruth's body, she says her good bye to Ray, who tells her he still loves her, she tells him she loves him, and she finally gets the first magical kiss that every girl her age dreams of getting. The film ends with George at a roadside all night cafe trying to lure another woman for him to kill, who promptly tells him to go to hell, as he yells that he was just trying to be a nice guy, a large icecle falls down his back, and as he tries to get it by shaking his shirt and moving around, he falls off the edge of the parking lot into a creekbed, hitting alot of rocks breaking his body the whole way down, George's body lies frozen down there, in the bottom of the creekbed, and Suzie does the final beautiful but bittersweet narration as you see how her family has grown up and gotten older and stronger and still miss and love her, and how she finally decided it was time for her to leave for heaven, though she still watches over everyone from where she is.

The cast is just amazing, Mark Walberg plays Suzie's father Jack Salmon, the obsessive accountant who will not give up on his daughter is just incredible, Rachel Weisz as her mother Abby Salmon really feels natural and real, you feel her greif most of all, Susan Sarandon's job as Lynn, Suzie's grandmother is just incredible and funny in so many ways, but the stand outs in this are definitely the great Stanley Tucci as demented child killer George Harvey, you start to find yourself believing he is capable of actually murdering someone and keeping their body as he does, but even above that is mostly unknown Saoirse Ronan as Suzie Salmon herself, she is just amazingly good as the dead girl who everyone doesn't want to be dead, you truly believe she is in the in-between, not ready to go to heaven and not ready to let go of her life and loved ones.

There are many differences from the book, there is no mention of the brutal rape that George does on Suzie before he kills her underground, just that he killed her, there is also no mention of his rape of the others he killed, just that he killed them, I personally find that a good move, if you sell George as a child rapist as well as a murderer, it just makes the character over the top in this film, he is a horrible enough person, which fits the role just fine. The final scene with Suzie and Ray where Suzie takes over Ruth's body is different in the book as well, they have sex after they kiss in the book, where in the movie they just kiss and embrace one final time. There are other differences too, the disposal of the body is different in the book and the film, and afew other things that really aren't overly important, so they won't really ruin the film for you if you've read the book. The film is, itself, an all around great film with the makings of a cult hit. So if you haven't see it yet, please do, you will not regret your choice.



*note: If you click on the images, they are all insanely beautiful super hi-rez photos that just look so very stunning when viewed on their own.