Monthly Archives: February 2009
Survivor: Tocantins continues to plod along as Episode III didn’t deliver much drama or intrigue. Still, as alliances begin to take shape, I think we’re getting closer to seeing some real fireworks between the castaways. Right now, there are simply too many players in the game and in an hour long show the viewer just can’t get close enough to any individual player. This isn’t uncommon and my experience is that usually around Episode V or VI it starts to get interesting so stay tuned.
This week was really about the inner workings of the Timbira tribe as they seemed to get the majority of the screen time. Here’s what we learned…
My pre-season pick, Erinn, is not very well liked by her tribe-mates. Apparently she linked herself too closely to Candace (we know what happened to her) and she is on the chopping block should the group go back to Tribal Council any time soon. This makes me instantly comfortable as the person they highlight early in an episode as a possible outcast never goes home.
We also learn that Army Sergeant Jerry isn’t doing well on a steady diet of baked beans. Who would? Jerry appears to be fighting a losing battle with the legume throughout the episode and by the time his tribe loses both the reward and immunity challenges, Jerry is the obvious weak link in the tribe.
The highlight of Episode III was the comical interplay between Benjamin, the 37-year-old soccer coach who simply goes by the handle “Coach”, and Timbira tribe-mate Tyson, the 29-year old professional cyclist and easily the most entertaining player in the game. In a private moment, Coach (think Steven Segal meets Mr. Miyagi) appoints Tyson his “assistant coach”. Tyson takes the title, but laughs it off behind Coach’s back saying someday he hopes to get promoted to co-coach or have a team of his own.
Later in the show, Coach catches Erinn smiling with delight at the news that Jerry is weakening. This sends Coach in a tizzy and he and Tyson seem ready to send Erinn home.
Another key development in Episode III was the discovery of a hidden immunity idol by Timbira member Brendan. Once again he and Taj found themselves at Exile Island and clue #2 was more than enough to lead Brendan to the Idol…stay tuned to see how this development changes the game.
At the end of the day, Erinn survived to play another day and Jerry was sent packing and hopefully sent a bottle of Beano to help with his stomach ailments.
Looking ahead to Episode IV, look for Coach to continue to put his foot in his mouth and Brendan to start building his alliance now that an immunity idol is in play. Sandy remains the weakest link on Jalapao and while Sierra has endeared herself to her tribe-mates, Erinn still has a huge target on her back.
The Scribe has spoken…
There’s something to be said about mall comic shops – and those words aren’t necessarily good ones.
Still holding an important niche in the world of “collectors,” the mall comic shops, generally, are the poor cousin to the local neighbourhood comic shops. They are filled with high school mallrats drinking biggie-sized Cokes through whistling straws, pawing and pulling at Warhammer game boxes, their heavy, textbook-filled backpacks thrown roughly over unsold back issue bins of horrible X-Force and Youngblood comics, an acrid scent of dust and decay in the air. Now, I don’t have anything against Warhammer or backpacks. I’ve had a hand in both of those items in the past and at one time, I too was in high school. If you look through my collection of comics, you may even find a copy of X-Force #1, buried in a litany of miscellaneous rubbish. The problem I have is that mall comic shops cater to kids with twenty dollar weekly allowances. To stay in business, they require sales in volume. They are forced to stock their shelves with affordable packs of magic cards, hero-click figurines and manga magazines. They have gumball machines at their entrance to entice children and they’re cramped spaces with books and boxes falling over themselves, as they utilizes every bit of square footage to maximize display space.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a fan of the bookshelf display. At any comic book shop I frequent, I need to see hardcover books in numeric and alphabetical order. I need to see them separated by publisher. In this way, I know that I’m in a store managed by someone who knows their comics and cares about them.
On this particular day, at this particular hour of the evening, the mall comic book shop presented its one important attraction: it was open and it was close and that was all that mattered to me.
A heavy foot on the pedal found me at my destination in no time. It had been a while since I had last been to this particular mall in suburban Toronto. In my haste, I parked at the first free space I could find – just wanting to race in, pick up Batman #681 and then race home.
Of course, I parked at the wrong end of the lot. I couldn’t have been any further away.
I made my way through the twisting tunnels of the mall at a near gallop, racing down an escalator, meandering through wayward shoppers, a lost audience to a number of “60% off” advertisements. Me? I was focused. I was as determined as a hawk swooping down on a field mouse. Left and right hand turns were made seemingly automatic. Finally, one last turn and I made my way into the store, ushering my way through a crew of after-school kids fawning over something manga-related just to find myself staring at an empty shelf.
“We sold the last copy hours ago,” the clerk said. “The school kids were here at lunch and picked them all up.” Somewhere behind me, someone sipped the last bit of their biggie-sized Coke through a straw.
“So…does he die?” I asked.
“Do you really want to know?” The reply was one last siren of temptation, mischievously imploring me to steer my ship towards rocks. It was my second death this day. What did it matter now?
Still, something shook my desire for surprise. No. No dashing upon craggy cliffs for me. I’d waited too long to find out the answers of Batman R.I.P.’s epilogue. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to read the comic today. Instead, I’d pick it up tomorrow. I’d wait, but I’d be surprised. I’d be satisfied with an eccentric sense of dignity.
Temporarily defeated, I walked back through the hallways of the mall, back into the cold November night. The long walk seemed fitting in some Greek-tragic way. I texted Andy B on my cell phone to share my defeat and my disappointment. Halfway home I received his reply.
“That sucks” his message read, as I slightly swerved the car, one eye on the blue-glow screen of my phone and the other on the road in front of me. “Why don’t you try the shop downtown? They’re sure to have it.”
Yes! The shop downtown! They would have ordered a whole boat-load of copies. The clock on my dash flashed the time. It was only 8:20 pm. Toronto traffic is notorious. No matter what direction you’re headed, you never know what you’re going to get but I thought that if there were no accidents on the highway and I made all the right turns and found a quick parking spot, I’d be able to make it in and out of the comic store before they closed at nine.
A wave of adrenaline hit me. “I’m gonna do it!” I wrote back to my friend. “Tonight, it is my mission!”
My sails unfurled again and a strong wind filled them, pushing me at (nearly) 120 km an hour, steering me downtown, directing me towards a deserved comic book triumph.
It’s the weekend that every fan of Biff Bam Pop! has been waiting for. The Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience finally arrives in theatres. I know you’re excited. I’m excited. Ok, I’m not excited at all, but this film is going to make some good coin.
A year ago, the Hannah Montana//Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds opened and shocked the industry. It’s opening was just over $31 million, which is good. The real surprise was that it was playing in less than 700 theatres. So it’s per theatre average was over $45,000. It was also an event movie, because it was only supposed to have a limited run. Sold out movie theatres made Disney extend the fun of the film. The Jonas Brothers has the same buzz going for it. This is to kids, as what Watchmen is to adults. It’s an event film. It will play in over 1,200 screens, runs approximately 1 hour and 16 minutes, meaning tons of show times throughout the day, and it will do better than Hannah Montana. I’m predicting that the Jonas Brothers rule at #1 and the film grosses $47 million.
The other major new release is one that no one is excited for. Based on the popular video game of yesteryear – Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li opens in around 1,000 screens, which is small for a film like this. It’s directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, who has not done anything that people really love [Doom is his most notable credit, and I don’t know many people who like that film]. The cast is B-List with Kristin Kreuk and Michael Clarke Duncan being the big names, and it shows the studio [20th Century Fox] doesn’t have much confidence in the picture. I’m sure the film will find a bigger audience on DVD. I’m predicting it opens outside the Top 5 at about $3.5 million.
With not much else opening, there will not be much change in the Top 5. Madea Goes To Jail has been the number one movie throughout the week, followed by Slumdog Millionaire, which will get a bounce this weekend because of its 8 Oscar wins, and because Fox Searchlight is expanding its release. Taken is still doing well [still cannot believe this film is over $100 million domestically], and He’s Just Not That Into You and Coraline continue to impress with grosses of $71 million and $55 million respectively. I don’t know anyone who saw those films making that much money.
So here’s how I see the weekend unfolding:
1) The Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience – $47 million
2) Madea Goes To Jail – $20 million
3) Slumdog Millionaire – $14 million
4) Taken – $8 million
5) Coraline – $6.5 million
As fate would have it, the sickness that felled the Queen last weekend has made its way into my immune system, leaving me snotty and sleepless and home from the day job. With cold medicine coursing through my veins, I was unable to sleep as well, so I thought I’d throw on a DVD to keep me entertained.
My choice was Southland Tales, written and directed by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) and starring Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean William Scott, Justin Timberlake, and a host of B-level actors and Saturday Night Live alumni. The DVD had been in my possession for over a year but I’d been holding off on watching until I finished its graphic novel prequel. Problem is, the Southland Tales comic book that professes to be Chapters I-III of the tale is virtually unreadable. At the very least, it’s horribly boring, which didn’t bode well for the film.
Set in an alternate 2008 where World War III has taken place and the United States government has regulated cyberspace, Southland Tales stars Johnson as Boxer Santaros, an action star with amnesia who has written an apocalyptic screenplay with porn star Krysta Now, played by Gellar. Along for the ride is Scott as a masquerading L.A. cop under the influence of homegrown terrorists.
At least I think that’s the story.
Southland Tales has had a tumultuous history. Rewrites and reshoots, a horrible reaction at Cannes 2006, and a complete burial in December 2007, when it was released in just 63 theaters in North America to both audience apathy and critical ennui. It made no money and was unceremoniously dumped onto DVD last March.
In theory, I would have seen Southland Tales had it made it to a theater in Toronto, but to the best of my knowledge it never screened here. So instead, I spent the 22 dollars on the DVD. Even with all the critical drubbings, I still had faith in Southland Tales. I loved Donnie Darko (not the director’s cut, mind you, but the one that we all first experienced on DVD), and I’m all for entertaining apocalyptic tales.
My mistake. My horrible mistake. There is virtually nothing entertaining about Southland Tales.
First of all, any film that puts Jon Lovitz, Cherie Oteri, and Amy Poehler in prime roles has immediately got it all wrong. The baggage those SNL alumni bring with them does not allow us to take them seriously. And they’re bad actors. That was some horrible casting, Mr. Kelly.
While Dwayne Johnson does decent enough work in Southland Tales, playing against type with his nevous ticks, the problem is the material he’s working with is fucking horrible. I’m pretty sure The Rock left this one off his resume when he started working with Disney. Meanwhile, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who hooked me for seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, does nothing with her underwritten and unappealing porn star character. The more Gellar does outside of Sunnydale, the more I wonder how long it will be until she tries to return.
Then there’s the convoluted storytelling. There’s a heck of a lot of “telling” throughout, thanks to narrator Timberlake, but when an audience desperately needs something explained to them, a filmmaker should know something is wrong. For all the warnings of “danger on the horizon”, I never really knew what was going on. In that regard, watching Southland Tales reminded me of how I felt as a child trying to watch David Lynch’s Dune. It’s that bad.
There are a few good things to say about Southland Tales. For all of its convoluted storytelling, the movie looks great. There’s also a quirky scene that finds Justin Timberlake lip-synching to The Killers “All The Things I’ve Done”. And the typically overbearing Sean William Scott shows himself adept at drama.
But these are just a few pluses in over two hours of excruciatingly awful minuses. In fact, by the end of Southland Tales I think I felt worse than when it started.
Southland Tales – one of the worst films I’ve ever made myself sit through. Please save yourself a few hours and never, ever, watch it.
Let me tell you a story.
Andy B and I have a bit of a tradition. On Wednesdays, I’ll stop by his place on my way home from work. We’ll grab a cappuccino at the corner bar and then meander down to the local comic shop where I pick up my just-arrived monthlies. Andy B doesn’t partake in this exercise, however. He’s a buyer of collections which means that he waits for those monthly series of stories to be bound together in a hard or softcover format. That doesn’t stop him from spending money on impulse purchases each week, however.
Don’t tell his wife – although I suspect she already knows.
I really enjoy our Wednesdays together. I anxiously look forward to my weekly pull list, that excitement of seeing a comic cover for the very first time and taking it off of the shelf to read in the comfortable confines of home. Of course, I also enjoy the company of a good friend as we catch up on the action, intrigue and drama of our lives – or, at least, how the workday went.
On November 26, 2008, the day of Batman #681’s release, the day that the final chapter of Grant Morrison’s highly anticipated Batman R.I.P story run would finally reach readers, the day I had really, really been looking forward to, Andy B, God bless him, bailed on me.
I can’t remember if it was because he was busy, or because he was tired or because he was under the weather. I can remember that I was more than a little disappointed at missing our weekly camaraderie. That said, I figured that I could wait until the weekend to meet up with him and pick up the comic. It had been a long, hard day at work and the sofa was waiting for me at home. My so-looked-forward-to Wednesday, like Batman, was “R.I.P.”
As I lay in front of the television that November evening, flipping channels aimlessly, a deep need started to overtake me. Not knowing if it was a need for food or thought, I flitted from the refrigerator to the computer, perusing comic book websites with the same sense of purpose that I had with the remote control. Glaring reviews of Batman #681 stood out on every site, pleading for me to read them, to be spoiled, telling me how the story ended.
Did DC Comics keep their promise? Did The Dark Knight die? Who killed him?
Now, I love spoilers more than the average person does. It doesn’t bother me to know an ending in advance of seeing a film or reading a book. The journey is by far more important than the destination.
This time, something prevented me from reading the reviews. Some higher power stayed my hand from scrolling down the webpage. Oh, I teased myself! For a good hour, I repeatedly visited website after website – ones that I knew would have articles on the comic in question. I’d read the first sentence of a critique that stated: “Since the beginning of his run on Batman…” then click to another site with another commentary that asserted: “I’ll say this for sure: Grant Morrison knows how to write an…”
Click. Click. Click.
I even tantalized myself on chat boards that contained threads titled: “THE BIG REVEAL IN BATMAN 681” or “R.I.P. Questions (spoilers)”. I actually started shaking with nervousness! I looked at my watch. It was 7:30 pm and the nearby mall – which just happened to have a small comic shop – was open until nine.
I got in my car and headed out into the cold November night, speeding my way towards eagerly anticipated fictional brilliance.
And, like all good yarns, this one is to be continued. Tomorrow
You may recall back in January there was talk that Samuel L. Jackson may not be returning in Iron Man 2 as Nick Fury, a part he played after the closing credits in the first film. You can read that story and my take on it here.
Today Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have announced that Jackson has signed a 9-picture deal with Marvel Studios to portray Nick Fury in Iron Man 2, with an option for other films that will likely include Thor, The Avengers, their anticipated sequels, along with possibly headlining his own Fury/S.H.I.E.L.D film.
Iron Man 2 begins shooting later this year and is due in theatres in 2010.
The Oceanic Six has finally made it back to the island!
Or maybe it’s only the Oceanic Three?
Last week’s episode, “316,” ended (and began, in typical flashback style) with half of the O6 arriving back on the island. I have to admit that I was waiting for another plane crash, especially since we’ve already seen an Ajira Airways water bottle during one of the island’s time-jumps. So can we assume that since the island seemed to have plucked Jack, Kate, and Hurley off the plane that they did the same for Sun and Sayid? What about Ben? He was never on Oceanic 815. How about Lapidus? And what about the marshal’s proxy, or the mystery man who offered Jack his condolences. Me thinks they might have also taken that layover to Lost Island. Here’s hoping they didn’t have anything important in their carryon luggage.
Although the writers have cleverly fast-tracked the show by getting the O6 back to the island in record time, they still managed to leave us with more than a few questions to ponder. As always, I have a few theories.
1. Who told Hurley about the flight? And why is he lugging around a guitar case?
The answer seems obvious to me on both counts. Charlie. Hurley was visited by his ghost once before, at the mental institute, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he returned for an encore performance. Something along the lines of “This is your last chance to join your friends. Oh, by the way, since you need to recreate the original flight, I’m going to give you one of my old guitars.”
Did you notice that Hurley was the only one wearing a sleeping mask? I’m going to go one further and say that Charlie told him to bring that, too. A small, funny nod to the bright light that comes before each time jump.
I smiled when Hurley revealed that he had bought out the rest of the seats on the flight. Clearly he was also of the mind that they’d need to crash to get back to the island. It was just the sort of thing Hurley would do, trying to use his money for good, and to help people at the same time. He truly is the moral compass of the show.
2. Why is Sayid in custody? Who is the new marshal?
This one is a bit harder to answer. Did Sayid let himself get busted for something just so they would have a proxy for the marshal? Not likely. He wasn’t there for that conversation with Eloise Hawking. It’s more likely that Ben, in desperation, called in a favour and got Sayid arrested for something and somehow finagled him onto Flight 316. Why a U.S. Marshal would be taking a prisoner to Guam is beyond me, though.
3. Who is the mystery man Jack met in line at the airport?
Clearly this is someone we’re going to see more of, so it wouldn’t be a big jump to say he made it to the island with the rest of the O6. Maybe the island took everyone sitting in first class. Does that mean Lapidus didn’t make it? I like that guy, even if he doesn’t have his crazy beard anymore. They gave him the best line of the entire episode: “We’re not going to Guam, are we?”
4. Why is Jin wearing a Dharma jumpsuit?
This one is also fairly obvious. After Locke set the donkey wheel back on its axis, the island almost certainly stopped skipping and the remaining Losties got stuck in whatever time period they happened to be cooling their heels in. It would seem that they got stuck in either the 1970s or ’80s, the period when the Dharma Initiative was active. Remember that for the Left Behinders three years or so have passed between the time Locke turned the wheel and Jack and Co. returned to the island. All has probably happened in that time. I’m going to take a guess and say that Sawyer, Juliet, and the rest somehow got themselves jobs working for the DI. That Dharma van looked pretty new, and it sure seemed as if Jin was on some sort of security patrol. I’m betting he’s probably speaking fairly fluent English these days, too. After all, he’s had three years of practice.
As for the rest of the Left Behinders, I’m sure the DI could find a use for a con man, a fertility doctor, a physicist, and a ghost whisperer.
On an island where polar bear attacks are common, and pillars of black smokesmoke can tear you apart limb from limb, the real question is, does the Dharma Initiative offer any medical coverage?
Today might be the worst day for new releases on DVD. I’m going out on a limb and say that no other DVD Tuesday will be as bad as today.
I usually put more effort into DVD Tuesday, but to prove my point, here’s a list of some of today’s releases:
The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice
Breaking Bad: The Complete First Season
NFL Super Bowl XLIII – Pittsburgh Steelers Champions DVD
My Wife and Kids: Season 1
The Haunting of Molly Hartley
What Just Happened
The only thing worth checking out is the latest Direct-to-DVD movie for Futurama.
Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder is the fourth Direct-to-DVD for the franchise. I have watched some episodes of Futurama, and what I’ve watched I’ve liked. Unfortunately, it was never one of those shows that I made time to watch. Fans of the show will pick this one up I’m sure.
Next week will be better. Australia and Beverly Hills Chihuahua come out. Although I’m not a huge fan of Australia, I’d rather watch that then anything on DVD this week.