WARNING: Spoilers in this article so please be warned!
The 4th season of Boardwalk Empire made no concessions and no excuses. The new bad guys – Narcisse and Knox – wreaked havoc but got some comeuppance. I really liked Narcisse, but felt that the connection to Marcus Garvey should have been made clearer a little earlier in the story. Knox was a real badass and hard to pin down until the end when we realised indeed how incredibly crazy he was. Eli once again went through hell because of his twisted, complicated relationship to Nucky. The tragic Gillian is allowed to come back from a serious heroin addiction to be condemned for her murder back in Season 3. Then there was the whole Chalky storyline with the brief but legendary Oscar near the end of the season. I love how they are evolving Chalky and how more and more of his character is revealed to us. Fortunately, we got a look at Margaret’s life post-Nucky and at the very end we see that Rothstein is taking care of her…interesting twist for S05. Nucky’s dealings in Florida were kind of interesting being that I am from there but the real focal point for me of the season was the closure of the Richard Harrow story. On the after buzz.tv podcast, they surmised that the actor playing Richard (extraordinary work!) probably got a few Hollywood offers and needed to be removed because otherwise, he was really my favorite character in the whole show. His lonely death at the end (foreshadowed by his confession of love for Jimmy’s son and now his ward Tommy and his goodbye to his wife). Overall, it was an outstanding season full of action where we also see Van Alden getting in tight with Capone’s mob who himself accedes to the top of the pack in Chicago. Exciting possibilities for next year. Excellent writing and direction end-to-end. I would be loath not to mention the wonderful singing of Daughter Maitland who I suspect we will see again.
Posted in TV Series
Tagged al Capone, boardwalk empire, Chicago, Hollywood, Marcus Garvey, Narcisse, nucky, postaweek, reviews, Richard Harrow, television shows, TV series
The SciFi this year has been, well, disappointing to say the least. Some had hinted that Ender‘s Strategy would continue the upward shift since the great Gravity helped make up for the disasters of Star Trek Into Darkness and Elysium. Well, I was not impressed. It was just me this time around so I’ll have to ask my readers to comment and give their opinions, but I found the movie a little boring to be honest. Now, admittedly, I did not read the book (oh, honestly I didn’t even know it was a book before), but this just seems like Spy Kids in space or something. The main actor was OK but a bit scrawny for such a supposed badass. Harrison Ford‘s character was predictably sinister and his acting was a bit flat. The Ben Kingsley character towards the end was just OK. His tattoo and story reminded me a little too much of that of Harvey Keitel in The Piano to be honest and despite the fact that he is an exceptional actor, I felt that his role here was a bit static and plagued by awkward, boring dialogs. Plus it looked like he had just woken up from a coma all the time. And why is it that all aliens these days have this insectoid form like in Enterprise Season 3? Well, it just seems that the really evil ones do – these ants looked pretty nasty but how would they ever have developed any technology without thumbs? They didn’t seem to have any subservient species doing their handiwork for them. OK, so they had some kind of psychic power that allowed them to sort of speak with Ender through his dreams but could they fabricate an entire intergalactic fleet just with brain power? Hard to believe I think. I also got bored with all the good kids-bad kids and the space version of Quidditch that repeated over and over again in the film. I didn’t think this was as insultingly stupid as Man of Steel or Pacific Rim, but it was disappointingly stale in terms of screenplay and character development – way too black and white. Plus, I just didn’t like the stupid ending where he takes off like Noomi Rapace at the end of Prometheus into deep space to recolonize some other corner of the galaxy with the ant babies. Bitch, please! A little originality please. Too highly derivative for me. 2.0/5.0.
Posted in Movies
Tagged Ben Kingsley, blogging, Ender Wiggin, Enders Game, Harrison Ford, Harvey Keitel, movie reviews, Movies, Piano, postaweek, Quidditch, reviews, Star Trek Into Darkness, writing
Who says history is boring? And who says classical music died with Wagner? Well I have actually always liked history but was largely unfamiliar with 20c classical music until I read Ross’ excellent The Rest is Noise. Alex Ross does an amazing job of writing the history of the 20c in classical music starting at the waning but overwhelming influence of Wagner on early 20c composers like Schoenberg and Stravinsky through the onset of atonal music and on through the wars and the crazy 60′s. I had NO idea that classical music was so incredibly rich and interesting particularly in the previous century. I don’t want to spoil anything here because it is incredibly readable and you will learn on nearly every page. I am still trying to get through all the recordings that he posted on his book’s website (http://www.therestisnoise.com) which could serve as a fore-taste of how great this book is. Don’t walk but run to amazon and grab a copy. I liked it so much that I bought the sequel Listen to This…happy reading.
Posted in books
Tagged Alex Ross, Arnold Schoenberg, Arts, book reviews, books, Classical music, Music, postaweek, reviews, Ross, Schoenberg, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
M.poulet, Phi, and myself went to see the new Alfonso Cuarón film Gravity a little while ago and I am just now getting around to blogging about it. Admittedly, my memory might be a bit foggy, but I’ll give you my impressions and hope you’ll comment back about yours if you have seen it. I found that it had some spectacular special effects and some breathtakingly beautiful footage – the fetal spinning of Bullock in the first airlock and the destruction of the two space stations (oops, spoiler – but you KNOW this is gonna happen in the space version of Speed right?) were particularly incredible. Fellow moviegoer m.poulet has a natural aversion to Sandra Bullock in general and despite her acting being decent here (other than the sappy daughter story), she did have some makeup issues and it was hard to believe her as an astronaut. On the other hand, every time I saw George Clooney in the movie, I couldn’t help but think BUZZ LIGHTYEAR every time! (I told that to a friend for whom it nearly ruined the film because he couldn’t get that image out of his head LOL). He was funny and charming and well-cast here. As for the story, it was edgy and exciting and kept us on our toes from beginning to end. The film really never lets up and yet never really errs too far into sentimentality or gratuitous action – there is a feeling of increasing doom throughout (although we KNOW that she will make it in the end) kind of like in Aliens 2 (oh no, it couldn’t get worse! Oops, it just did!). All three of us really enjoyed it in terms of both entertainment and storytelling and found it was a FAR better scifi flick than Star Trek Into Darkness or anything else so far (I haven’t seen Snowpiercer or Ender’s Game yet). And again, the spfx were over the top awesome. I’d give it a solid 4.0/5.0.
So, did you see it and if so, what did you think?
Posted in Movies
Tagged 2001 A Space Odyssey, Alfonso Cuarón, blogging, Bullock, BUZZ LIGHTYEAR, george clooney, Gravity, movie reviews, Movies, postaweek, reviews, Sandra Bullock, Snowpiercer
Way too much TV and not enough time. I am a bit late with these reviews but here goes.
The Bridge with Diane Kruger and Damién Bichir was a pretty gripping police drama about the corruption and abuse that is rampant on the border between El Paso and Juares. The acting was excellent with Diane Kruger playing a socially handicapped cop with brio and Damién Bichir playing her pseudo-corrupt police partner from the other side of the border. The plot was a bit asymmetrical as it started out really great about a serial killer but that plotline resolved itself in about episode 10-11 and a lower plotline about a missing girl was picked up. There was also a grifter storyline with Annabeth Gish and Brian Van Holt that kind of distracted from the main story line. At one point, the story of a journalist with a very shady past played by Matthew Lillard intersects with the serial killer bit, but I felt there should have been more of a tie-in. I liked the show overall – most likely because I liked the Hank Wade character played by Ted Levine and the cameo performances of the awesome Lyle Lovett and especially the theme song from Ryan Bingham – but I will admit that it had its weaknesses as well. I worry that season 2 will get a bit lost in the weeds picking up the new plotlines of Marco’s revenge and the fallout of the Millwright deal with Fausto Galvan (a very strange character chosen as a villain by the way). I would not put this above the masterpieces of Top of the Hill or House of Cards, but it was still pretty intriguing for a first season.
Ray Donovan was another freshmen this fall and did a decent job of entertaining. The main character is played by an electrifying Live Schreiber as a guy from Southie making it in LA with his family as a fixer with a dirty past. The acting from Jon Voight as Ray’s father Mickey was over-the-top in terms of complexity – he was evil yet devoted in a twisted way and even endearing despite being capable of great violence. I thought that it started out really strong, wandered through the middle of the season and then ended on a better note. I thought that Bunchy (played outstandingly by Dash Mihok) finding theabusing priest there in the neighborhood in LA was a bit of jumping the shark. I did however really enjoy Ray’s employees – the excellent Steve Bauer as the ever-resourceful Avi and Katherine Moenning as the sensuous and crafty Lena. I guess I would have liked more backstory in season 1 as to how these three got together and how the whole Sean-Ezra-Ray setup of Mickey had gone down. There was a also a huge loose end left open – the blonde girl that was in love with Ray just kind of disappears from the story after she is freed from the cuffs in Ray’s other apartment. What was that about? I would put this on the same level as The Bridge: interesting and entertaining without being overly innovative or breakthrough – good writing, great acting but a plot that deserved better writers overall.
And that brings us to the end of Dexter. After eight years, it was about time for Michael Hall to retire America’s favorite serial killer. I have written about this show’s previous seasons (having caught up about two years ago) and found that – although slightly better than the abysmal S06 and S07 – this one was a bit of a letdown. OK, Charlotte Rampling was really good as Dexter’s mentor, but she got killed off too early in my opinion. I thought there was lots of leaping sharks here was the plot just kind of went all over the place. Like when Deb FINALLY admits that she loves the hapless (and idiotic for leaving the much hotter and more stable Jaime) Joey – just before getting it in the gut. Plus the hurricane hitting Miami just as Dex is supposed to make his big getaway? I has a really hard time getting behind all of the setup here. I guess I was no longer rooting for Dex and Hannah, I was more impatient to see the story end than to see a happy ending for them down in Argentina (?!?). I wonder what macabre show Michael Hall will do next – after playing a gay undertaker in Six Feet Under and a serial killer in Dex, where does he go from here? At least no more Dex which is a bit of a relief. This show should have just ended after S04 or S05, the prolongation out to S08 was a bit unfortunate.
Let me know what you thought of these shows and what you are watching now. Here’s my list: Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy, Low Winter Sun, Homeland, and - for the moment – The Michael J Fox show. The Walking Dead will naturally be added starting on Sunday…
Posted in TV Series
Tagged Annabeth Gish, blogging, Brian Van Holt, Charlotte Rampling, Dash Mihok, Dexter, Diane Kruger, postaweek, Ray, Ray Donovan, reviews, television, television shows, TV series, TV shows