Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Next Week's Movies

Heartbreaker: My attitude to French cinema is quite similar to the French Football team's attitude to playing in the world cup. We'd both rather be somewhere else. But my favorite film of 2010 is french, so maybe this is the year I'm won over. Hmm. Expectancy Level: 6/10

Killers: Ashton Kutcher can fuck his own face. Expectancy Level: 2/10

The Collector: From the writer and Director of Saw IV, ladies and gentleman. Please strap your torture victims in the correct upright and locked position. Expectancy Level: 4/10

Wild Target: Britcom about a hitman. Trepidation. Still Emily Blunt, Bill Nighy and Rupert Everett is an intriguing cast if nothing else, so I'll enter not expecting entire dogshit. Expectancy Level: 5/10

Shrek Forever After: For Fuck's sake. I'd rather see Killers then this. At least that will be terrible its own unique way, and Shrek will always be the Family Guy to The Simpsons of the Toy Story franchise. Expectancy Level: 4/10

REVIEW: Get Him To The Greek

Jonah Hill is ridiculously fat in this movie. I don't wish to be discourteous but its becoming distracting.

The Apatow freight train keeps on coming. I think we might be in the latter part of its life at this point, as his films seem to expand in length and contract in earnestness and to be honest laughs. You can throw Funny People in my face if you want to, and while its ambition was commendable, it was less then the sum of its parts and I'll stick to Punch Drunk Love for my dose of unexpectedly talented Sandler thesping. Get Him To The Greek is a little more mainstream, a little more generic and certainly the voice is gone. But its still funny, and feels like a well made R-rated studio comedy rather then a distinctive Apatowian one. But who says that's a bad thing, I myself grow weary of entitled slackers being metaphorically told to get off their ass.

The high-concept sees Company man Jonah Hill sent to bring off the wagon rock star Russell Brand back to LA for an anniversary gig at the Greek theater. But he's all drugged up and stuff, so against the clock hijinks ensue. Brand is a better actor then expected to be honest, I thought he would just ride his larger then life persona in place of creating a character, and while he still did that to a certain extent, he didn't bottle the more introspective moments as one would have assumed he might. He's not Steve Buscemi or anything, but I appreciate a celebrity cast for his novelty actually trying to give it an honest shot. Jonah Hill does what Jonah Hill always does, play a fatter, less funny Seth Rogen when Seth Rogen is otherwise engaged. He's OK, but the dude has got a shocking amount of highly exposed roles just from knowing Judd Apatow.

Pleasantly surprising are the female cast members, who aren't just girlfriends and wives but actually get to be funny in their own right, for which Director/Writer Nicholas Stoller deserves credit. Professional reactress Rose Byrne is actually pretty awesome here, I guess three years reacting to Glenn Close is having an effect, playing a Lily Allen type skewed hippy very hilariously. Similarly Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men's Peggy as all the hipster kids will know, does a lot with a throwaway girlfriend role. Why is she Hill's girlfriend again? You could comfortably fit two Elisabeth Moss' in one Jonah Hill so I don't know what that shit is about. Kevin James territory guys, you want to steer clear of that shit.

But because the world is a wonderful place where literally anything can happen, the movie is kind of stolen by Sean 'P Diddy' Combs. Puff Daddy ladies and gentleman, wonderfully self-deprecating and genuinely hilarious. It was a risky casting decision but it payed off in droves. From his lecture on the artistry of mindfucking, to surprisingly adept physical comedy the movie is always better when he's in it.

The film itself is entertaining enough romp, the jokes are a little predictable but I was laughing, and laughing a lot. So fair play. Attempts to raise the emotional stakes toward the end don't entirely pay off but still, a legitimately funny movie is something you've got to appreciate right? Even if it is a bit of a mess. Extra credit for having the stage songs sound at least partially acceptable, when they so often don't in this kind of movie.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 28 June 2010

Breaking Bad: Full Measure - The Only Living Chemist In New Mexico

I hate to be to enthusiastic about TV, about 85% is exactly what you think it is. Derivative and cheap entertainment that consumes your enthusiasm for humanity. A further 13% is full of shows that entertain and amuse a given audience in what we'll call a workmanlike manor. But that remaining 2%, well its doing something we've never seen before. I'd stop short of golden age, because I like to assume that to be always in the future, but when television drama, that detestable lowest of the low, is reaching such heights of intricacy, of storytelling and of greatness well, preconceptions can do what they always do and suck it.

Breaking Bad did all of these things and more in its stellar third season, which I'd call nothing less then a masterpiece of the form. The show that started an intriguing curio, a slightly ponderous and quirky enterprise, has matured into a ferocious powerhouse, so rich in character and dramatic intensity that it will be looked at 100 years from now as an example of how right this shit can really be done. And this deceptively simple finale, which drew its intensity and tragedy from character rather then situation and plot, may be the best its ever been. I've never known anything to so consistently exceed my expectations, which are pretty stratospheric at this point. Holy Fuck.

- Breaking Bad rarely explores Walt's past, generally telling our anti-hero's story from the perspective of who he is now, so it was a great trick to show us pre-Meth cook Walt in all his optimistic, happily married glory. This has always been a stylish show, but loved the identical pan through Walt's house then and Walt's house now. He is simultaneously a ghost of his former self and more then he ever was. Depends on your perspective I guess.

- I loved how this episode expanded the universe. Breaking Bad has generally kept things quite contained in terms of personnel, So I loved spending more time with Gus, Mike and Gale this week. It gave great layering to some of the shows minor players. With the possible exception of Marie, there's not a character on this show that isn't ridiculously well-rounded.

- The opening sequence featuring Walt's peace talks with Gus looked fucking awesome. Some real neo-western iconography up in that shit guys. Loving it. Also featured some great value Cranston, nailing the shit out of Walt's don't kill the pragmatist speech.

- I appreciated that Gus didn't buy it though, and made the decision to get rid of Walt once and for all. It would have been a Dexter style cop-out if he had done, and its the kind of thing this show always avoids. Which is part of what makes it so great.

- I love when the show enters 'that was fucking awesome' territory, and Mike the Cleaner rinsing the cartel scouts was certainly that. Jonathan Banks has really made himself an important part of this show in the last couple of weeks. Its such a wonderfully likable yet brutal performance. Great stuff.

- Similarly, props must go to David Costibile for some seriously great work in this episode. I loved him as Gale earlier in the season, and was slightly irritated when he was dropped from the show quietly, but seeing this I get it now. It's amazing how seeing someone sing along in perfect harmony to Quartetto Cetra makes them a much more relatable a character. But Costabile made Gale a genuinely sympathetic presence, a gentle, cultured human being who sure didn't deserve what he got.

- And how he got what he got. If that wasn't the most emotionally charged moment of dramatic tragedy in recent television history, then I'm not seeing some really good shows. Walt's deduction that the only way to save himself from Gus hand is to kill Gale, his other chemist and essentially force Gus to forgive him, in order to keep production from stopping.

- The fact that it came to Jesse, who despite his own protests is very much the innocent of this show. Is forced to kill this man, who is in the grander scheme of things an innocent, which is worse then anything Walt has ever done. Walt's killed people sure, but they were bad guys, Jesse had to look this sweet, harmless man in the face as he pleaded for his life and end it, and no doubt that innocence and basic morality that he's never been able to shake. It was horrifying because of how much it mattered. Aaron Paul is the shit this season, another emmy nomination is surely due.

- " I saved you're life, can you save mine?"

- Cranston got to pull off his very own John Turturro this week, and manically beg for his life in the face of Mike, one by one giving up all things that mattered so greatly to him. When he gave up Jesse, I thought it was for real, rather then the gambit it turned it to be, and boy was that some great acting. Cranston equals god of acting. End of.

- A truly sublime piece of television, that rose to the heights that it did perhaps because of its simplicity. Walt and Jesse have been through a lot together, to the point that Walt is all that Jesse has, and he's willing to sacrifice his innocence for his friend, and Walt is willing to let him do it. That final shot was as heart-breaking and stark as they come.

- Breaking Bad is a show about consequences as much as anything else, and it seems after this finale, neither one of these characters can ever be the same again. They are steadily being consumed by what they're becoming.

Rating: 10/10

Sunday, 13 June 2010

World Cup And The Problem Of Liking Football Way Too Much

Much to my dismay posting in the next couple of weeks will be light, mostly because of that God of all awesome time-consumers, The World Cup. I'll be watching that fairly religiously, and thus won't get to the number of films I usually do in any given week. I'll still try to get a few reviews and recap on here and there, but content will be noticeably thin, and for that I apologize. Still, I'm sure you guys can survive if you come together and stick it out.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

REVIEW: The Killer Inside Me

Nobody has it coming. That's why nobody sees it coming.

It's almost a shame that all anyone who sees The Killer Inside Me will be able to talk about is violence. It's certainly consumed the release of this film, as people both defend artistic freedom and decry gruesome excess, but I sure hope it doesn't consume its legacy, because its such an interesting film. There's so much here to see, be it good or bad, indulgent or transcendent. There's parts of me that wants to say its all four and more, but taken from a moment to moment basis, The Killer Inside Me does some shit you won't see done better all year.

Michael Winterbottom is an experimental film-maker until it kills him. And a consequence of that is that he'll always try something new at the expense of potential catastrophe rather then do something he knows to work by experience. It makes his films unique but it doesn't always make them good, as Anyone who has seen 9 songs will no doubt testify to. But this is one of his better ones, possibly his best one. A sun-baked southern noir, which revises not only its genre, in which our small town cop isn't a reluctant hero, but a dead-eyed, misogynist psychopath, but also of its setting and gentile code of values. As our resident monster Lou Ford says, if you're not a gentleman out here, then you're nothing at all. There's a wonderful sense of him being the absolute worst man for his time and place, and he continues to walk free because the very idea that anyone could be so abhorrent right here is just inconceivable.

Of course a lot was going to be depend on getting the right actor to play Ford, but Affleck goes beyond right for the role. He's fucking extra-ordinary, giving a performance of such restrained complexity and subtelty in a role that would have been so easy to K.O through exaggeration. I'd say that playing a serial killer is easier then some roles, but there's just so much originality and talent on display in what Affleck does here that any compliment I can think of just doesn't seem like enough. The best performance of the year and then some. Not that far behind him at all though, in a sentence I never thought I'd get to write ( or want to, I saw Bride Wars) is Kate Hudson. Hudson hasn't exactly been particularly proficient in quality since her breakthrough in Almost Famous, but she's fantastic here. Seriously. Kate Hudson. Perhaps the weakest of the stars is Alba, who looks slightly ill at ease with some of the period dialogue, although she's by no means awful and this is comfortably the best performance she's ever given. But have no doubt it won't matter when Affleck's on screen.

To the violence I guess. I get why this is appalling people, but put it this way, if you believe that showing violence with consequences is more morally responsible then doing it Dark Knight style, Then this is one morally responsible film (lol) because the violence in The Killer Inside Me is well and truly hideous. To its strictest definition. One of them in particularly, will be etched in my memory forever as one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen. But the problem is that it does only happen to women. Its the more psychologically honest way to portray it and commenting on misogyny and psychopathy this uncompromisingly is going to lead to a few cries of misogyny. But anyone inclined to this kind of behavior who watches this film isn't going to like what they see. It's going to be a fairly repulsive mirror for them to look in. I get being disgusted by this film, but trying to justify that disgust with principle isn't something that's entirely convinced me. Yet anyway.

The film isn't perfect, and Winterbottom's blatant disinterest with the film's plot does start to take its weight in the film's middle and the worst thing you can do to a semi-complex plot is ignore it, because it becomes more noticeably a weaker aspect of your film, and any time Elias Koteas came on screen I knew it was about to be ten minutes of watching a director showing no interest in his material. I think he jumped on this film for all things pertaining to Affleck's character, and once the film truly gives itself to him, then it becomes something remarkable. Viewed in the right way, which is to say that what's right with it is good enough to allow what's wrong about it not to matter, it might even be something amazing. A film like no other though, that's for sure. A shout out to the bitching credit sequence, which although tonally inappropriate was still frickin awesome.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, 7 June 2010

Breaking Bad ' Half-Measures' Everyone Knows It's Windy

- It's hard to write about Breaking Bad each week and not sound like a broken record. Sure I'll be like groundbreaking this, and fucking awesome that, but its sheer lack of misfires of late leave me nothing to criticize, nothing to bitch at and nothing to whinge about. Which if I recall is kind of the point in blogging about stuff, to impotently rage on and on.

- If a show being so consistently good stifles me somewhat as a blogger then fuck it, let it stifle away. Its a sacrifice I'll gladly make if it means shows like this can go on being shows like this. As you may have guessed, there was yet another stunning episode last night. No more half-measures indeed.

- I couldn't possibly begin with anything other then the glorious cold open, which felt like an awesome five minute film to provide a little tragi-comic levity to what was clearly going to be an intense hour. The Wendy the meth-whore montage, set to joyful hippie anthem Windy by The Association , may be my favorite thing ever to exist in the history of time. I'll say no more in case I overexpose the thing. Awesome though.

- Jesse continues down his path toward inevitable doom, not content with skimming of Gus, he now wants to whack two of his dealers as well. Dude, you can only push a sociopathic crime-lord so far before he, you know, puts a new hole in his face. But Jesse doesn't care, pushed on by the urge to avenge Combo, and somewhat understandably the idea of indoctrinating kids to do your nefarious bidding is kind of not cool. I guess he'd prefer to die his own man rather then live as a stooge.

- Walt however takes a different tack, and when Jesse tells him his plan, he goes all self-preservationy, as only Walt can, ratting him to Gus. Who to his own detraction engages in the episode's worst half-measure of all and instead of just blowing Jesse's head, off tries to intimidate him with clout and his stature. Maybe Gus should have listened to Mike the cleaner, who had a wonderfully humanizing moment in this episode after being a fairly simple tertiary character this year.

- No more half-measures indeed, it seems that since the pilot Walt has engaged in nothing but half-measures, taking problems as they come but ultimately just delaying the inevitable. In particular season three Walt, who did at least attempt to forge his own identity in past seasons, his slide back into the same passive guy, beaten down by everything. Well until he did what he did at the end of this episode anyway.

- Holy shit that was awesome.

- What was awesome you ask? Jesse, pathetically skulking up to the dealers, fresh off a line of meth and clearly about to get shot When Walt saved the Guy from death and from himself as he went right ahead and whacked the guys Jesse was all ready to get shot by, hitting one with his car (his teenage son's car even) and shooting the other one in the face. The camera cowered beneath him as he looked straight at Jesse. No more half-measures indeed.

- Jesse's idiocy has always given him such an innocence, even when he tries to be the bad guy. One could say that Jesse is fundamentally good guy trying to be a bad guy and Walt is a bad guy trying to be a good guy. But I liked the fact that he decided that the preservation of Jesse's innocence was worth his own. Arguably the first selfless thing Walter White has ever done on this show.

- I can't imagine how well all this is going down with Gus though. I sure hope they don't write him out of the show for next year, because he's such an interesting, well-acted character. I should imagine Walt will somehow make a deal for Jesse's safety in the finale, but one thing this show never does is go the way you think it will go.

- Want to know about money laundering? You could make like skylar and try the wikipedia page.

- Here I am, forever the broken record. ANOTHER great, great episode of Breaking Bad, which was both an expertly told character piece and one of those treasured episodes where shit truly goes down. Game changed yet again

Rating: 9/10

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Year In TV: The Ten Best Episodes Of Television Of The 09/10 Season

Or is your empty gun a metaphor for your jaded persona.

The TV season generally follows the school year, essentially, so now seems like a good a time as any to do some kind of small screen wrap-up. I should say I watch next to no British television, despite being British, so if there's any omission in that regard I apologize. But most of it is kind of shite anyway so I'll not be worrying about it. Generally it was a stronger year for comedy then drama, although there were some fucking awesome moments, so much so that I couldn't make room for a single episode of Modern Family, as much as I like that show. Anyways, my ten favorite episodes of TV from this season would go something like this.

10) LA X, Lost

As I will no doubt go into further detail with my Lost finale post, I wasn't crazy about Lost's final season. But it had is moments. The terrific Sundown for one, But the powerful, intriguing season premiere was probably the best of the year, introducing unique concepts that we had no idea would end so anti-climatically and a terrific introduction of the year's villain, played by the great Terry O Quinn. Probably the last out and out great episode of lost.

9) Getting Closer, Dollhouse

Dollhouse first season widely disappointed pretty much everyone who saw it, strong ending or no. So much so that most of its audience ended up giving the terrific second season a miss. Full of ideas, surprises and entertainment, it was as smart as sci-fi TV can be. And yes Eliza Dushku still kind of sucked, but its amazing how little you care about that when you're watching episodes as awe-inspiring as this. They didn't just do that to River Tam.

8) Steve Guttenberg's Birthday, Party Down

If you measure quality to viewing figures, then Party Down may be the most disproportionately awesome show ever to be watched by no-one. Delightfully cynical, dark and hilarious, its a show truly like no other. This episode in particular did perfectly what the show always does so wonderfully, a kind of cruel, point and laugh comedy in a way that cares about the characters. The script-reading scene was legendary.

7) The Table Read, Curb Your Enthusiasm

The seventh year of Curb was far from its best. But this episode was fucking awesome. The Seinfeld reunion arc kind of went away mid-season, but came back with some force toward the end, with this episode both a terrific episode of Curb, yet a treat for fans of Seinfeld, and a glimpse into what went into making that landmark so good. Plus Larry David plays himself better then Jerry Seinfeld ever did. Just saying.

6) Gilead, Sons Of Anarchy

Another victim of the shaky first season curse, SOA was a slightly overwrought show that perhaps thought itself a little better then it was. But holy fuck was this season good. Catching up to its opinion of itself and then some, the show morphed into the most exhilarating pitch black morality tale on TV, with the exception of Breaking Bad. And this ferocious outing was perhaps the most awesome a very awesome season got.

5) The Stakeout, Parks And Recreation

While the American office flounders in its old age, Greg Daniels' other show, which uses the same mockumentary style, found its feet gloriously and while it wasn't quite my favorite show this year, it was consistently hilarious and in this particular episode utilized the genius of Nick Offerman's character for the most deadpan hernia joke of all time. He's Ron Fucking Swanson.

4) Skytanic, Archer

Archer isn't the most insightful comedy on TV, or the most organized, or the cleverest, but based on sheer laughs per minute this is some serious value for money. This particular episode, which features Archer and the team infiltrate a blimp targeted by a terrorist threat is just fucking gold. Yay for metaphors.

3) Do You Know What It Means, Treme

The Treme Pilot was just so elegant, dignified and wonderful in all the right places. The epitome of TV with class, anchored by several great performances perhaps most notably from Wendell Pierce and John Goodman, the show is simultaneously a love letter to New Orleans and a frank confrontation of its problems. The show is yet to surpass its first episode, but boy what a first episode.

2) Modern Warfare, Community

I don't think I'm alone on this. Community is occasionally inconsistent, particularly at its beginning, but its one of the most unique and funny sitcoms I've ever seen and if anything has a shot at dethroning Arrested Development, its this. And if you watch this episode, a riff on Battle Royale, with its perfect cocktail of intelligent reference comedy and intelligent character comedy, you'll see why this is probably the most enjoyable show on TV right now. Or if you just want to see Ken Jeong from The Hangover make like Chow Yun Fat, well. Come with me if you don't want paint on your clothes.

1) One Minute, Breaking Bad

But it was always going to be this, because OMFG.


Believe it or not she's eyefucking Streets of Rage 2. Seriously. Playing some Sega.

I find it a certain kind of awesome that Noel Clarke somehow transformed himself from Billie Piper's wimpy boyfriend on Doctor Who into one of the most commercially and widely critically successful British independent film-makers on the circuit today. I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of his work, but there's an energy and confidence in his films that's pleasing to see. With however, Clarke tries to test his film-making prowess in new waters, and while the swagger might still be there, what is not is the indication that Clarke is a film-maker worth paying attention to long term. It's not bad, but is stuck in a maelstrom of mediocre and saunters toward boring way too often.

Clarke clearly aspires to Tarantino/Guy Ritchie films of yesteryear, with his non-linear, multi-strand criminal odyssey. But some people do that better then others, and too many of his stories and characters are just flat-out dull and you'll find yourself thinking 'Yeah..and?' way to often. The main problem perhaps is that Clarke went all Death Proof with is casting choices, picking his four leading ladies with a firm hotness before acting ability policy and while this is fine and great when he's subjecting them to long sequences of ogling - I believe two out of the fours girls spent at least twenty minutes of their narrative in their underwear - but when it comes time to make us care about these characters and their situations, well its just no dice I'm afraid. One could make the argument that Shanika Warren-Markland brought an entertaining if entirely one-note sass and Emma Roberts does her best Katherine Heigl impression, But the other two are just washouts. It says something to the acting in a movie when the best performance is a 5 minute cameo from Kevin Smith. And that's the Kevin Smith of Cop Out fame people. Dude is a deceptively good actor. Otherwise its all just too stupid and too crass and not exciting enough to justify either.

I would imagine Clarke will retreat back into familiar territory with his next film, but I guess I appreciate the swing, even if it was a miss. He did go for something here and at times the visual style of the movie is bracing, but the whole thing is way too vapid to be credible in any way but empty fun, and at a full two hour running time, its almost too self important to see it that way. Oh well.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 3 June 2010

REVIEW: Death At A Funeral

Martin Lawrence's face defines who he is.

There's plenty of filmmakers who slowly deteriorate over time, there's those who have a single decade of awesomeness in them, wherever that might be in their career, and then there's the worst kind. Those who announce their talent with a spellbinding film, and spend the rest of their careers a bitch to the law of diminishing returns. Most would say M. Night Shyamalan is the epitome of this, and it very much looks like that's going to be the way of Fernando Meirelles and Richard Kelly too. But my point is that people care about these declines, and talk about them with much venom and regret. No-one it seems, cares about the decline of Neil LaBute, who went from being one of the most unique and ferocious voices in independent cinema to directing camp classics like The Wicker Man and whatever the hell this is. A mediocre remake of a mediocre film maybe? Who cares.

Maybe there were too many shouts of misogyny leveled at him, which led to him into adopting the ' Gonna get paid' philosophy of film-making, which certainly this is. Its hard to argue with that, because in good or bad LaBute films, women are either soulless evil or 2D archetypes that the film will have no interest in. But maybe its because of this that he made what maybe the truest, most horrifyingly powerful film about misogyny that exists, the flat-out masterpiece In The Company Of Men. Lending depth to the mindset only made it more horrifying, these were real people doing these things, and if I were to single out the single most soul-crushing film (in a good way) I'd ever seen it would be that. Given what we know about LaBute, it may well have been a piece of self-deprecation rather then a full on attack, but that makes it all the more poignant. The Shape Of Things is also pretty fucking good, but apart from that the guy was on an unstoppable descent of misfires and mistakes that lead us up to now and Death At A Funeral. A broad, gormless farce where people get shat on and Martin Lawrence has a leading role.

This is the kind of film that you might laugh once or twice, but generally you'll be repulsed or bemused. By his own admission, Chris Rock's acting skills are fairly basic, however hilarious a stand-up he is. It doesn't quite translate. Martin 'Big Momma's House 2' Lawrence can fuck off. Danny Glover and James Marsden, each playing an extended one note joke, are probably the best value, with Glover taking glee in swearing at Tracy Morgan and Marsden bringing an innocent pleasantness to his square stoned off his ass character. This is the second time in two weeks I'm going to call Zoe Saldana extraneous to the movie she's in, which annoys me because I don't even dislike her as much as one would think. Still, not as useless as Luke Wilson. I did enjoy Peter Dinklage again, reprising his role from the first film, and his dignified delivery juxtaposes nicely with the character he's playing.

But otherwise it goes as it goes, and given that the sitcom has kind of claimed the farce at this point, it just seems kind of weak. But when there isn't even a single line to make you laugh, something's up in denver. It wouldn't annoy me so much if I didn't know how talented the guy behind it is. So when you complain over whatever underwhelming enterprise Richard Kelly releases, be thankful that at least he gives a shit about it. LaBute has quite simply, had it with this shit.

Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Breaking Bad: 'Fly' & 'Abiquiu' - Spelling it F-L-Y

Due to some outright horrifying internet access issues, I was unable to recap last week's truly stellar episode, and while the traditional me would let that slide in unprofessional ambivalence, It was so good I want to talk about it in some capacity, so I'll be doing a double-bill of recapping this week, with each episode getting a slightly abbreviated space. So without further word count padding, let's do this.


- I love bottle episodes. When writers attempt to save money spent on previous elaboration by using fewer settings, fewer characters and high concept awesomeness. But this might be the best one of these I've ever seen. Seriously. Brilliantly shot by Brick Director Rian Johnson and featuring some of Cranston's best ever work on this show, and that is by no means a thin category, and what began as a quirky chill-out session after the intense plot-mechanics of recent weeks turned into one of the most darkly relevant moments of self-examination that the show has ever provided.

- Basically, the plot of this episode was there's a fly in the meth lab, let's waste the bitch. That's pretty much it. And while this allowed for a near loony tunes type sequence of Walt methodically trying to get the fly as it rose higher and higher within the meth-lab. It was awesome. But what rose this episode above the level of unique curio is the turn it took around the 25 minute mark, when Walt began musing on the night he ran into Jane's father Donald the night she died. It became a pseudo apology for what might still be the most horrific thing Walt has ever done, which was to stand and watch whilst Jane died of an overdose.

- It was tense as fuck, because the possibility of Walt admitting what he did to Jesse was always there and that would have been explosive. But instead it lead to Walt musing on what the right moment for him to die would have been, the night Jane died, coincidentally. This sounds a little smug on the page, but Cranston made it work, and it was of the most sympathetic moments the character has had in a long time.

- It was great to see Walt and Jesse share screen-time for a whole episode again. Many of the more memorable episodes of the show is just these two opposite human beings forced to co-exist, and its always either entertaining or enlightening.

- It's amazing how a show taking a moment to contemplate amidst the carnage allows us to do the same thing, and really appreciate what we are watching. A truly original and insightful episode of television. A testament to what the medium can do when it's forced to be creative

Rating: 9/10


- This one very much followed On from Kafkaesque, in that primarily it exists to lay the pieces in the right places for the final two episodes. But it remained a strong hour, which to be honest every hour of the show has been of late, and depending on your opinion of the dark family drama of the season's beginning, then this year has really been as good as anything I can think of, even the show's own stellar and game-changing second season. That was a hard stable to live up to, but I think the show has done it this year.

- So Jesse's plan to shift his skimmed meth at the NA meetings backfired pretty quickly, because everyone there wants to get better, even Badger and Skinny Pete, who are on step 5 and step 2 respectively. Jesse sets out to show them how to do, but sadly ends up kind of liking his mark, fellow junkie Andrea, and her kid. What a nice guy.

- Well, until he discovers that Andrea's younger brother is the one who shot Combo back in season 2, and the rage of all of his losses comes burning back. Jesse is headed to a dark place, and things aren't looking that great for his future.

- I read somewhere the obvious fact that you kind of forget whilst watching the show, that Breaking Bad, a serialized gangster show on cable, has never killed a regular character. Which is kind of admirable in a way, particularly given the subject matter. Still, I reckon this streak will end painfully, very soon.

- Loved Saul's meeting with Skylar, mostly because it lead to this line.

- " I see Walt has the same taste in women he has in attorneys — only the very best, with just the right amount of dirty.” Awesome.

- Skylar it seems is muscling in on the Meth business, planting herself as runner of the cover business. She gets what she wants does this girl, and if Walt's entire Meth-making adventure came from wanting to regain a little masculinity he's about to be the submissive again. Dissed.

- Another great, if unspectacular episode that leaves me very much looking forward to where this show is going to go. I have truly no fucking idea, and its bliss.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


I don't care if a zombie's eating me, I will hold this camera in the most aesthetically relevant place.

REC was awesome. And while it certainly wasn't the first to use the camcorder as gimmick horror movie, it may be the most viscerally thrilling. I'd still say Blair Witch stays the best, but REC was some tense shit, like a full movie version of the first person sequence from Doom, only not shite. And its late in the day supernatural twist was creepy as fuck. It was so good and impactful, it was remade within 10 months of release and got pretty good reviews. For a horror remake anyway. As for REC 2, well it goes down the Aliens route and basically gives you more of the same only more, and this time guys have guns.

It doesn't quite reach the heights of the original, in part because of the weight of its last reel twist in the first film. And while that worked aces as a from nowhere gut-punch with no consequences, the sequel finds itself slightly boned in the fact that its trapped expositioning the whole demon thing for a while. It should also be said that for all intents and purposes its lead, a kind of demon-busting priest, is an 80's cliche. And in his spinning of hackneyed dialogue and horror movie cliches it takes the chilling, terrifying sense of reality that was present all through the first one. Here its a bit more of horror movie. But, all complaints cease when people STFU and we get to the various sequences of horror, all masterfully captured by DOP/actor Pablo Rosso, who has played the unseen dude holding the camera in both of these films now. He does some good work.

So for sheer spine-tingling adrenaline, REC 2 remains fairly awesome. But sadly in good conscience, I can't give it too good of a review, because like I said some of the dialogue is a little too Roger Corman, and the characters certainly make less of an impact this time around, most notably a sidetrack featuring some teenagers, that comes and goes with no real need or point and seemed to be there just to pad the film's running time, that is still fairly slight. But if you like this kind of thing and can handle the occasional moment of idiocy then you'll forgive it its flaws and just enjoy the ride.

Rating: 6/10

REVIEW: The Losers

I remember when Chris Evans was that douche from Not Another Teen Movie.

I'll admit I was pretty jazzed up to trash the The Losers, the trailer looked to indicate a movie that was suffocatingly hip, in the wonderful ADD Tony Scott way. It starred Jeffrey Dean Morgan, an actor whose appeal has always been lost on me. Dude is fucking boring, and I wait to be refuted otherwise. A weak A Team rip-off that came in the summer of the real thing. But, alas, its pretty entertaining, unexpectedly funny and features a couple of good performances. Its a dumb, useless movie, but a charming one. So I guess I'm going to have to collect my shit, somewhat disappointingly.

This movie owes Chris Evans a lot though. Given a slender comic relief sidekick role, he's hilarious and kind of awesome in a way the movie had no right to expect. Its not Johnny Depp in Pirates Of The Caribbean or anything, but he's a very entertaining presence. And in the scene that no doubt y'all saw in the trailer, in which he shoots people with finger guns, he cracked me up good. I felt kind of guilty afterwards but whatever he made me laugh. Maybe the fact that he shares the screen with the mighty JDM, who just looks too much like a used car salesman to convince as a worldwide badass. I think he was going for an aloof cool, but generally comes across bemused and possibly impaired. The second performance I enjoyed quite a bit was Idris Elba's Roque, and while Stringer Bell himself is always going to be good, he bothers to create the only convincing character in the thing, including Evans who just basically brings the funny, which one always appreciates in such disposable fluff such as this. It girl Zoe Saldana shows up pretty much to fill the T&A category, but does get to waste a couple of guys at least. Jason Patric leaves camp in the dust as the bad guy, and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on Patric's mood.

The plot is just your standard action movie clearing yo' name shenanigans, so that's all fine and good. The action is slick if a little familiar, but what I liked I think was how unexpectedly funny it was, and being funny is something that is always going to go down well in my book. So screw rocket launchers and downed helicopters, this movie is it its based when its characters are pissing about and bantering, particularly Evans. It's not Tarantino or anything, but its fun. Which is pretty much all this movie wants to be.

Rating: 6/10

REVIEW: Sex And The City 2

Lawrence of her labia. Because someone actually says that in this movie. Gag.

After the first Sex And The City movie came out, a certain opening sentence became quite popular with every single male critic who was faced with the daunting task of reviewing it. It would go along the lines of 'Now I know this movie's not for me, but...' And then generally they would go on to give it a tepid review, negative in the politest possible way. Call it post-feminist apologetics, but a large sect of critics didn't slam a movie they hated out of respect for the women who rallied around it, which is either kind of cool or kind of pathetic depending on your view of it.

Not so much this time though. Because this thing has been massacred, so much so that people have actually put forward the theory that critical savaging has actually severely dented its box office, and made critics relevant again. Yay for hate! I want nothing more then to call misogynist conspiracy on this just to be awesome like that, but Sex And The City 2 is pretty horrific. And while reviews that focus on how ugly, bitchy and old they are are bullshit, ones that mention how its sold out on everything that made it unique and in anyway good in the old days are a slight more valid. Jokes are dumbed down, transformed from clever sarcastic wit into broad, groan inducing double-entendres. ( Some reluctant boyfriend snarled a quite audible 'For Fuck's sake' at the ridiculous name of one of Samantha's conquests. Funniest moment of my movie going experience.) What once was at least a semi-insightful look into modern female sexuality is now pretty much an overblown cartoon, complete with a cringe worthy gay wedding set piece, with the most omigod-hell-swallow-me-right-now moment being Liza Minnelli (who was in Arrested Development and thus is forgiven) singing Beyonce's single ladies. What the fuck guys! What the Fuck.

I don't even like the show that much and even I feel somewhat betrayed by how much this movie sells out on what made it what it is. So either fans are so committed at this point that they are going to sing the praises of whatever putridity is thrown at them - Like the people still watching Heroes in its fourth season - or they don't care, and its the experience of the world and the legacy that matters, and whether the movie is good or not really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how wooden SJP is, or the fact that there's a scene where a group of muslim women dressed in burkas take them off to reveal the latest New York spring line underneath. Actually let's think on that for a while......

Faring better I guess is Kim Cattrall's Samantha, who despite being ridiculous does gather a couple of cheap laughs and generally its a good comic performance. The other two the movie could give a shit about, one has a subplot so thin it isn't really a subplot and the ginger just gets to be super-excited tourist. The ginger was your best actress guys, give her something to do. My favorite thing about the thing, and the original show to be honest, is Chris Noth's presence as Big. He brings a cool, a calm and most importantly, a dignity that the movie so desperately needs. Even though he pretty much just sits around an apartment, he still stole the movie for me.

A gross, overblown mess that has no reason to exist other then to premiere the Twilight: Eclipse trailer. There looks to be more fighting in this one, and its directed by the awesome David Slade. So, you know. It'll probably be better then this.

Rating: 4/10