Posts Tagged ‘Justified
Justified has shown a great amount of depth and progression each year it has been on the air. The first season was largely plot-driven, but managed to utilize interesting characters to its advantage. It could be slow at times, but it was never boring. The second season improved on the first in various ways. The story became more character-driven, and each person affected the plot in their own way. Nothing felt contrived or forced. The third season managed to mesh what worked in the first and second seasons, and create something unique and memorable.
The 2006 instant classic The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage has quite a few valuable lessons to teach us. Here’s a list of the things I took away from this thought-provoking cinematic masterpiece.
1) You don’t need good acting when the dialog is this amazing - Seriously, the dialog is stellar. It’s so goddamn good, they could have filmed the pages of the script and it would have been just as exciting. For example, in the very first scene, a waitress asks how a customer is doing. He answers, “Sorry, my mind was wandering” to which she deftly replies, “If I ate one of those burgers, I’d totally be in a trance, too.” Hilarious! A few moments later, Cage’s cop character pulls someone over and he asks, “You know why I stopped you?” The driver says, “Yeah.” And – scene! Amazing! Are we sure this movie wasn’t directed by Hitchcock?
2) It’s best to be as literal as possible - Cage gets a letter from Willow stating her daughter Rowan has been missing for 2 weeks. He talks to another cop, we have no idea who he is, but presumably he’s Cage’s boss or something. He explains the letter and says he is going to the island of Summersisle to investigate. The friend asks, “Who is she? An ex-girlfriend?” Cage answers, “No, we were engaged.” That’s right. Not an ex-girlfriend, an ex-fiance. How can we expect to live in a functional society unless we are being as literal as possible? I, for one, applaud Cage for being completely specific. If we don’t abide by the rules, then we are living in anarchy.
3) Drinking is good for you - Cage drinks mead almost immediately after stepping onto the island. What we didn’t see were all the deleted scenes where he got hammered on mead. In fact, Cage was probably drunk on mead the entire time he was filming The Wicker Man. How else could he have turned in such an inspired performance? Substances must have helped him along the way. And to be completely honest, drunk on mead is the only way to watch The Wicker Man.
Justified Season 2
The first season of Justified was really good. Definitely one of the best shows in an otherwise barren wasteland of TV mediocrity. While the pacing was a bit slow, there were great characters, an interesting story, and nice action sequences. The second season improves on all of those things. The relationships between the characters becomes the driving force behind the series, and it is a pleasure to watch. Most captivating of all is the interaction between Raylan and Boyd. They are simultaneously friends and enemies. The villain this season was particularly good, Mags Bennet (played flawlessly by Margo Martindale), the head of an Appalachian drug cartel really upped the ante in terms of amazing villains. The plot became more intricate than in the first season, as we simultaneously follow Mags, Boyd, a few other characters, and Raylan’s investigation of everyone. There was hardly a single thing wrong with this season. It was great TV at its best. It reminds me that there is still hope out there, that people can still put together good television if they try.
A movie from 2011, this film is meant to portray 14th-century England during the Bubonic Plague. Hints are dropped that this may be a film with a supernatural bend to it. Sean Bean (who probably walks around in full armor and broad sword in real life) has been charged by the Bishop to investigate a sleepy northern village which is rumored to be untouched by plague. What we learn later is that there is a witch in the town, and he has been charged with killing her. The supernatural-medieval angle seemed kind of cool to me, but that storyline went nowhere, as it turned out that witches don’t really exist. This is certainly not the best movie I have ever seen, but by far not the worst. Some of things it does well include: casting Sean Bean, taking time to make things look realistic, attention to detail, and good performances all around. What it doesn’t do well include: very bleak, very heavy-handed directing style which becomes a burden to the movie, showing shots of rats every time someone mentions “the plague”, teasing us with one battle scene only to never have another, and killing Sean Bean. Why does this dude have to die in every movie he’s in? I actually like this guy. Just once I’d like to see one of his characters survive a movie. Or does he have some kind of death wish in real life?
Where the Whild Things Are
I remember being fairly pumped for this movie when it was being promoted for theatrical release. It was directed by Spike Jonze who had also directed super awesome movies Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. It was based on a famous children’s book, and it boasted very unique character/monster designs. I never got around to seeing it in the theater, but Mrs. Brik and I checked it out on DVD a few nights back. I’m glad we saved our money.
This is one of the most boring and pointless movies I have ever seen. Basically, there is this whiny bitch of a kid named Max. He cries when his “igloo” gets crushed in a snowball fight, and then he trashes his sister’s room. He gets mad at his mom when she won’t come play with him while she’s working. He yells at her while she’s trying to get it on with Mark Ruffalo. He runs away from home after biting her. Then he hangs out with a bunch of imaginary friends (the aforementioned “Wild Things”), lying to them, bitching and moaning, throwing tantrums, and being a general nuisance. Eventually, he gets “homesick” and leaves his imaginary friends to return home to his mother. His mother welcomes him back with open arms and everything is A-OK.
Excuse me, but this is fucking bullshit. In what universe does a 9 year old boy scream at his mother, bite her, run away from home, and when he comes back he isn’t punished? I guarantee you, if this was reality, he would have been grounded and/or beaten mercilessly. You aren’t being an effective parent if you aren’t beating your children on a regular basis. I’ve never read the book on which this movie is based, but I imagine it tells children it’s OK to be disobedient, whiny liars. I’m glad I didn’t read the book as a child so I could grow up to be a belligerent asshole instead.
This movie has no climax, no resolution, no moral, and all the stuff with the imaginary friends was utterly pointless. He learned nothing from them, and they learned nothing from him. Pointless, boring, and worthless. I’m guessing that the only reason Spike Jonze’s previous movies were awesome was due to them having been written by Charlie Kaufman.
As the movie was getting started, I saw the “MTV Films” logo appear on the screen. Immediately, I knew I was in for a non-stop shitfest. This movie is ridiculously crappy. It opens with some home video montage of a bunch of soldiers fucking around in Iraq. Next, we are subjected to some stupid asshole (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, sorry Mrs. Brik) wailing and playing a guitar (badly). From there the movie is shot on actual film stock (thank god). We see men going into an Iraqi city, getting ambushed, and several of them dying. Finally, the survivors all go back to Texas, their tours of duty completed.
The main character, played by Ryan Phillipe, is shocked to find he can’t leave the Army because he’s been “Stop-Lossed.” Meaning, in his contract they can re-enlist him without his consent. He immediately goes bat-shit insane, and goes on the run. Unfortunately, going on the run isn’t very exciting. Most of the film features him driving across the country and chatting leisurely with Channing Tatum’s girlfriend.
With about forty minutes remaining, the DVD started to hang and the screen got all pixellated. Since it came from Netflix, it was scratched all to hell, and the remainder of the film was unwatchable. I was really disappointed I wasn’t able to finish this cinematic masterpiece. You can only imagine the hours of sleep I lost at night wondering what ultimate fates befell those characters.
The only good thing about this movie was that it had Timothy Olyphant. He played a badass. He always plays a badass because he’s really good at it. The whole movie should have just been Timothy Olyphant going around the country rounding up soldiers who went AWOL because they got Stop-Lossed. And if they didn’t go with him, he’d shoot them. That would be a kick ass movie.
I’m not exactly sure how to describe season 4 of Fringe. Season 1 was pretty good, although the early episodes were bland and directionless. Seasons 2 and 3 were totally awesome as they focused on the war between two parallel universes. The third season ended with a powerful episode and a massive cliffhanger. Given that Fringe had been firing on all cylinders for two full years, it was probably an impossible task to keep up that level of writing for a third consecutive year. The writing is still good, the acting top-notch, and the ideas interesting, but it just doesn’t live up to the quality of the material that came before it. Season 4 could have continued to expand upon the series mythology, but instead it was bloated with a lot of needless filler. I suppose if I was hard pressed to use a word to describe this season, that word would be: squandered.
Justified Season 1
This show is great. The main character is Raylan Givens, portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, and based on the same character who appeared in two Elmore Leonards novels and one short story. He is a U.S. Marshal, but fancies himself more of a modern-day cowboy. If given the chance, he’ll quick-draw on an enemy and shoot him down. Raylan also gives steely-eyed stare-downs, and plenty of badass lines to give Clint Eastwood a run for his money. The show has Raylan moving back to his home state of Kentucky after a debacle in Miami. There, he gets entagled with a group of Neo-Nazi drug dealers. It sounds bad, I know, but it is executed flawlessly. There is intricate layering to the story, and the character’s have dynamic interpersonal relationships and are fully realized. The acting is terrific. While the pacing of the series can be rather slow at times, only punctuated by short bursts of action, if you have the attention span to get through it, you will be rewarded with excellent characters and story.
I refuse to write out this movie’s full title, since it is nothing more than a cog in the machine for Marvel’s stupid fucking Avengers movie/shitfest. Traditionally, superhero movies are terrible. Only in recent years have they become even remotely watchable. Captain America decides that the notion of a watchable superhero movie has become a cliche, and goes back to the days of really shitty superhero crap. This is one of the cheesiest, hokyiest, worst superhero movies I have ever seen. There isn’t anything good about this movie. For example, Nazis have ray guns, people are always mugging for the camera, Hugo Weaving chews so much scenery you eventually don’t have any props left, and of course Marvel’s favorite shtick: LOL LOOK THERE IS TONY STARKS DAD AND LOOK THERE IS SAMUEL L JACKSON THIS MOVIE TIES IN WITH ALL THE OTHER MARVEL MOVIES LOL! This movie is incompetently directed, horribly paced, terribly acted, and is all in all a cheesefest of monumental proportions. And not the good kind of cheese. Not tasty cheese. Moldy, rotten, nasty cheese that the rats won’t even touch. Fuck this movie.