Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bullet Points - The Calm before the Storm

As usual, the summer is the season of high budget action flicks.  Star Trek was exhilarating, I'm excited to watch The Man of Steel, and I can't wait for Pacific Rim.  However, before we discuss the annual Blockbusters, I have to share the films I saw in theater earlier this year:
  • Identity Thief:  Of this group of movies, Identity Thief was my least favorite... Both Jason Bateman and  Melissa McCarthy are funny people, but the story was kind of weak.  Basically McCarthy stole Bateman's identity, spends his money, the police don't do anything.  In order to stop this debacle, Bateman has to physically lure and capture McCarthy himself.  There's a few laugh-out-loud  gags (especially punches to the throat), but I wouldn't consider this a blu-ray buy.
  • Mama:  As I somewhat alluded to earlier, I love the mind of Guillermo Del Toro.  Even  though he didn't direct this film, there is some fantastic imagery.  For example, the imagined animalistic  movement of two girls  raised in isolation by a ghost during the early years of their development truly sent shivers up my spine.  Other than the visuals, this movie didn't have the best story in the world.  However,  it was a fun little horror flick that I got to enjoy and watch with my sisters.  Besides, it's kinda cool to see Jessica Chastain as a punk rocker...
  • Side Effects:  I know we're all curious how long Steven Soderbergh will stay away from film... But before he "retired," he made this interesting drama starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, and Channing Tatum.  It opens as an intriguing  psychological thriller, however loses momentum when it makes a political statement about the use and advertisement of pharmaceutical drugs. Although this movie will never land a spot in my Top Twenty, it's definitely a solid movie you could watch and enjoy.  Other than that, there's not much else I can share without spoiling the story.  I guess I could describe it as a mix between Requiem for a Dream (I promise not near as depressing) and Primal Fear.
  • Warm Bodies:  It seems everybody loves zombies... and I can't disagree.  Although I prefer the Romero approach, Warm Bodies put a fun spin to the genre.  Rather than viewing the apocalypse from the point of view of a human survivor, we get the story from the perspective of a zombie.  With an awesome soundtrack and comedic overtones, this was a fun horror flick.
  • Mud:  Prior to last year, if you mentioned Matthew McConaughey, I'd probably avoid the film.  But lately, rather than starring as the leading role of a Rom Com, he's really showing off his acting chops through some very intriguing characterizations.  Mud (played by McConaughey) is a fugitive of both gangsters and the law who makes sanctuary on a small island off the Mississippi River.  Waiting to meet up with the love of his life (played by Reese Witherspoon), he is discovered by two boys who were exploring the island.  Although Mud's a suspected criminal, the boys develop a friendly and caring relationship with him.  For a slice of life tale, I really enjoyed this film and wouldn't be embarrassed to watch this with the entire family (as opposed to Killer Joe and The Paperboy; gripping films I plan to talk about in the near future).  From the mind of Jeff Nichols, I really want to see how he directs Michael Shannon in Take Shelter.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Killing - This Time... No Twin Peaks Comparison

I pretty much love every original show that comes from AMC (however, I'm not a fan of their reality shows).  Although this season of Mad Men has been intense, I've been needing a little more "crime" in my TV viewing.  Luckily the return of The Killing has satisfied my hunger...

I truly enjoyed the first two seasons of this detective drama.  However, I agree with the masses and thought the story was too drawn out.  Believe me - I loved Twin Peaks.  But just as Laura Palmer's murder overstayed its welcome, Rosie Larsen's death lasted a season too long.

Luckily, AMC developed some really cool characters:  Detectives Linden and Holder (played by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman).  Unlike TNT's "last-named-shows" (i.e. Rizzoli & Isles, King & Maxwell, Franklin & Bash), The Killing is a title with true character development happening in a single overarching case.  Despite complaints from critics, AMC had the guts to throw their awesome duo into a different situation rather than just canning the show.

So with a light drizzle outside and a Cup of Joe in my hands, I thoroughly enjoyed the Season 3 premiere.  From what I've seen so far, here's a couple of reasons why I think this season will be successful:
  • Linden's obsession:  Like many detective characters, obsession can be their downfall.  This season presented how Linden is building herself back up to a "normal" life.  But as we've learned in seasons past, Linden is obsessed with justifying the victim.    With a series of murders paired with a M.O. familiar to her back story, this provides the perfect setup of getting Linden back into the game (or quite possibly her demise).
  • No son:  I liked the "little man," but it helps having him live in Chicago with his father.  This way Linden doesn't have to worry about her son and can focus on the case at hand in Seattle.
  • A Serial Killer Story:  This story is dark (including the imagery).  Previous seasons lingered on conspiracies involving the Rosie Larsen case.  This time, it involves a series of murders involving child prostitutes.  Yes, this is pretty dark subject matter, but it's intriguing and even has a Seven vibe. 

So there you have it - I can't wait to see how the rest of the season plays out!  I have very few doubts, so hopefully it does well.. so we can have another "killing" season.