Monday, December 31, 2007

reVIEW (35)

And, on the heels of my Blade II review (to be found elsewhere in the Iguana’s Archive), here’s one of Blade: Trinity, back from the boneyard.

Okay. First, score card.

Based on the adventures of the Marvel comic book vampire hunter, Blade was written by David S. Goyer and directed—using the term very loosely here—by Steve Norrington. For my money, the only saving graces of the film were Udo Kier and Stephen Dorff.
Then Blade II came along, and Goyer wisely wrote a script that allowed Wesley Snipes to do what he does best: kick a$$.
What’s more, as film is, in the end, a director’s medium, Blade II was fortuitously blessed with the presence of Guillermo Del Toro—the man behind Cronos, El Espinazo Del Diablo (The Devil’s Backbone), and most recently, the Oscar-nominated El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth)—who filled that canvas chair admirably, serving up a popcorn horror film smothered in butter, blood, and adrenaline.
And, along with a host of talented artisans, Del Toro had artist Tim Bradstreet—who worked on, among other things, a role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade—along for the ride as Vampire “Look” Consultant. With that much brilliance in its corner, Blade II pretty much hit the bull’s eye dead-on.

Then there was Blade: Trinity, with Goyer returning, not just as scriptwriter, but as director as well.

“In the movies, Dracula wears a cape, and some old English guy always manages to save the day at the last minute with crosses and holy water. But everybody knows the movies are full of sh!t.”
-- Hannibal King

That little bit of voice-over opens Blade: Trinity, and ironically enough, truer words were never spoken.
The plot (such as there is) involves a group of vampires led by Parker Posey’s Danica Talos, who have just discovered the progenitor vampire (TV’s John Doe, Dominic Purcell, currently on Prison Break), who has gone by many names in his long existence, including… Dracula.
They’ve woken him up from his self-induced slumber to, 1) hunt and kill Blade (the raison d’etre of the Bloodpack in Blade II), and 2) perhaps make them able to walk abroad in daylight as well (Deacon Frost’s motivation for hunting Blade in the original film).

Kick-starting their anti-Blade campaign by framing the vampire hunter for a crime he mistakenly commits, Posey and her Fang Gang manage to place Blade in a dangerous position, where even the government and local authorities are actively seeking him out as a menace to society.
This might have been an intriguing angle from which to approach the story, if it hadn’t turned out to be a mere plot device to introduce Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, from the TV series that began life as Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place) and his Nightstalkers, most of whom, predictably enough, turn out not to be characters at all, but rather, motivation for Abigail (Whistler’s daughter, played by Seventh Heaven’s Jessica Biel) to continue her vampire hunting.

Thus armed with a script that freely ransacks elements from his own closet of already-produced ideas, Goyer ends up giving us a film that serves generic, by-the-numbers action, when it should be knocking our proverbial socks off.
There is no sense of the frenetic movement Del Toro brought to Blade II here in Trinity, and even the action sequences, normally a trademark of a Blade film, seem half-hearted, as if they’re there precisely because they’re expected, and not because there’s anything particularly new or even worthwhile to put on display.

Additionally, any film of this sort needs a good, charismatic villain. We had that in Blade II’s Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann) and Nomak (Luke Goss), and as I mentioned earlier, Blade’s only good points were Kier and Dorff as baddies.
Trinity’s Drake hardly registers as a character, much less an antagonist to be fearfully respected, or the ages-old bloodthirsty creature he’s supposed to be. He’s simply there, and it’s not just the performance that’s lacking; the script really doesn’t give him any sort of presence.
As it is, Posey’s Danica is a far more amusing (and engaging) villain to watch, thus making Drake’s final confrontation with Blade obligatory, rather than something the audience looks forward to with relish. Even Wesley Snipes, who has always brought a raw physicality to the role of Blade, seems abstracted here, as if he’s not all there, as if his heart isn’t really in it this time out.

To be perfectly honest, after having seen the not-too-thrilling Trinity trailer, my biggest motivation for actually watching it boiled down to Parker Posey. (What can I say? I love her.)
Even then, we hardly see enough of her in the film, as a significant portion of screen time is handed over to Biel’s Abigail, the oh-so-cool-I-listen-to-hip-music-on-my-iPod-while-vampire-slaying hunter whom Marvel is hoping will beget a spin-off, as Jennifer Garner’s Elektra did from another woeful Marvel production, Daredevil.

Having mentioned Posey, it’s interesting to note that it took two of indie film’s best and brightest, Posey and Natasha Lyonne—who plays blind Nightstalker Sommerfield—to offset one WWE superstar (Triple H, as vampire Jarko Grimwood, who follows in the footsteps of fellow wrestlers The Rock and Rob Van Damme, in making a bid for big screen stardom).
Two-to-one. Sad, but true.

Ultimately, Blade: Trinity joins two of my personal lists.
It settles snugly beside Scream 3 and Josie and the Pussycats, on my list of Films Where Parker Posey Is One Of The Few Saving Graces, and joins the ranks of Bad Comic Book Films, where I’ve relegated other Marvel movies like Daredevil and Ghost Rider.
To make matters worse, Trinity is also a stake in the heart for vampire movies as well. (Or maybe just a crapload of garlic.)
Sadly, it may take a while for me to wash the taste of stale blood from my mouth.

Parting shot: Reviews of Blade II, Ghost Rider, Elektra, and Guillermo Del Toro’s El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) can be found in the Archive.
Reviews of Hal Hartley’s Fay Grim, which stars Parker Posey, Mike Mendez's The Gravedancers, which stars Dominic Purcell, David S. Goyer’s recent film, The Invisible, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, for which Goyer wrote the screenplay, are also in there somewhere.

(Blade: Trinity OS’s courtesy of

(The above is a slightly altered version of a review originally published under the title, “Stale Blood, Rusty Blade.”)

reVIEW (34)

With Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army coming rapidly down the pike, I thought to look back at his immensely enjoyable Blade II.
And as an added bonus, I’ve also resurrected a review of
Blade: Trinity, which is somewhere in the Archive.
Sorry, but I’m not enough of a masochist to actually endure Steve Norrington’s
Blade again just so I can write a review of it. That’s for far braver souls than I.

Now if you’re a regular ‘round here at the Iguana, you’ll know that I love me my vampires, so I’m rather picky when it comes to my suckheads.
Well, I was pretty underwhelmed with Steve Norrington’s stab at the genre with the original Blade. Though it did have Stephen Dorff and Udo Kier in it, the movie itself was fairly unimpressive.
Not so with Guillermo Del Toro’s Blade II.

To begin with, this sequel’s actually got a director behind the wheel, someone with a clear and focused vision of the film he wants to make, and the skill and creativity to bring that vision to celluloid life.
That director then has a script by David S. Goyer, who, apparently realizing that a Blade movie is, in essence, a Wesley Snipes action vehicle, throws out all that bush league vampire politicking from the original, and serves up a high-flying, kick-a$$ ride, with crateloads of crazy, wonderful toys that make nasty undead meanies go boom.

Aside from Del Toro and Goyer, there’s a whole bunch of other key personnel involved that make Blade II have the big, sharp, and formidable teeth that it does.
There’s the triple threat of cinematographer Gabriel Beristain (The Ring Two and The Invisible), long-time David Cronenberg collaborator, production designer Carol Spier (who also worked on Christophe Gans‘ ultra-creepfest, Silent Hill), and costume designer Wendy Partridge (who also dressed up the bizarre residents of Silent Hill, as well as the weirdoes on Del Toro’s Hellboy).
Then there’re artists Tim Bradstreet, who serves as Vampire “Look” Consultant, and Mike Mignola, who serves as Visual Consultant. (Mignola would, of course, collaborate with Del Toro again for the Hellboy films.)
Tippett Studios (founded by special effects wizard Phil Tippett) then provides creature effects, bringing the film’s Reapers—vampires who feed on other vampires—to hideous, hellish life.
With all this top caliber talent behind the camera, Blade II looks effin' fan(g)tastic (sorry), and feels like you’ve walked straight into a Vampire role-playing game, with a whole lotta guns and testosterone, of course.

And in front of the camera, you’ve got the one-two Big Baddie punch of Thomas Kretschmann and Luke Goss, as vampire ancient, Overlord Eli Damaskinos, and Reaper Jared Nomak, respectively. This pair bring the necessary gravity to their antagonists’ roles that make the film’s bad guys substantial and worthy opponents, with a presence that cannot be ignored nor dismissed.
Kretschmann would, of course, go on to appear in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist and Peter Jackson’s King Kong, while 80’s music junkies may—or may not—recall Goss as part of the duo, Bros. (Goss returns to Del Toro-landia as Prince Nuada in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.)

Anther key performer is Ron Perlman, as Bloodpack member, Reinhardt. Perlman had previously worked on Del Toro’s debut feature Cronos, and would, like Mike Mignola, re-team with the director for the Hellboy films. As part of the Bloodpack, Perlman’s Reinhardt has been training two long and hard years to take down Blade, only to have to work alongside him, to deal with the Reaper problem. The macho antagonism between Reinhardt and Blade make for some interesting and amusing moments in Blade II.
Among the Bloodpack, you’ll also find Donnie Yen, as Snowman. Yen, is of course known for his work on the Hong Kong martial arts scene. On Blade II, Yen also handles the martial arts choreography, resulting in some awesome fight sequences, the best in fact, in the Blade trilogy. (Yen would subsequently be seen as Sky in Yimou Zhang‘s visually ravishing Ying Xiong (Hero). This year he headlines Wilson Yip‘s Dao Huo Xian (Flash Point), and next year, Gordon Chan’s highly-anticipated remake of the supernatural thriller, Painted Skin, which revolves around “a vampire-like woman who eats the skins and hearts of her lovers.” Yum.)

But for all those impressive pluses, there is a rather glaring minus, in Leonor Varela, who plays Damaskinos’ daughter, Nyssa. At this juncture, I’d like to point out that in the old tongue, “Nyssa” means “She Who Does Not Know How To Act.”
It’s sad that Varela is given one of the bigger supporting roles in Blade II, as her performance is far from convincing. Kretschmann and Goss manage to emote far better from beneath Nosferatu-like make-up appliances than Varela does with her flawless, God-given skin.
Still, even with that drawback—and some sequences where the CGI isn’t quite pixel-perfect—Blade II is still light years better than either Norrington’s original, or Goyer’s Blade: Trinity.

That singular moment, early on in Blade II, when Snipes leaps off a rooftop, and the camera twists and turns along with him in his rapid descent to the street below, then tags along with the bullet as it speeds towards an escaping vampire, is the moment when it all fell into place for me. In that bravura, CGI-assisted move, Del Toro pulled me onto the kinetic ride that is Blade II, instantly imparting an instinctual knowledge that I could trust him, because he knew exactly what he was doing.
And he did.
This is one of the few Marvel movies that actually has the brazen and ballsy energy of the best comic books out there, and in this day and age, should serve as an important touchstone, when audiences seem content to allow limp entries like Ghost Rider and the Fantastic Four films to actually turn a profit.
Thus far, this also remains Del Toro’s best Hollywood movie to date. We will, of course, have to re-evaluate after Hellboy II: The Golden Army, but until then, you’d do well to take Blade II in, ‘cause Del Toro slathers enough butter, blood, and adrenaline on this popcorn movie to make it all worth your while.

Parting shot: Reviews of Blade: Trinity, Ghost Rider, the Fantastic Four movies, Guillermo Del Toro’s El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth), the Hellboy animated film, Sword of Storms, as well as Hideo Nakata’s The Ring Two and David S. Goyer’s The Invisible (both of which were shot by Blade II cinematographer Gabriel Beristain), can be found in the Archive.

(Blade II OS courtesy of

Sunday, December 30, 2007


The 2007 British Independent Film Awards were given out last November, and it was a big night for both Anton Corbijn’s Control and David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises.
Below are the nominations and awards both films garnered. (Wins are in bold.)

Best British Independent Film

Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film (Sam Riley)
Best Performance by a Supporting Actor or Actress in a British Independent Film (Toby Kebbell)
Best Performance by a Supporting Actor or Actress in a British Independent Film (Samantha Morton)
Most Promising Newcomer (Sam Riley)
Best Screenplay (Matt Greenhalgh)
Best Director of a British Independent Film (Anton Corbijn)
Best Achievement in Production
The Douglas Hickox Award (Anton Corbijn)
Best Technical Achievement (Martin Ruhe, Cinematography)

Eastern Promises:
Best British Independent Film
Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film (Viggo Mortensen)
Best Performance by a Supporting Actor or Actress in a British Independent Film (Armin Mueller-Stahl)
Best Screenplay (Steve Knight)
Best Director of a British Independent Film (David Cronenberg)

Also recognized for BIFAs was…

28 Weeks Later:
Most Promising Newcomer (Imogen Poots)
Best Technical Achievement (Enrique Chediak, Cinematography)

Congratulations to all. You can check out the complete lists of nominees and winners at

Parting shot: Reviews of 28 Weeks Later, Control, and Eastern Promises can be found in the Archive.
Sunshine, which also has a review in the Archive, also won for Best Technical Achievement (Mark Tildesley, Production Design) and earned a nomination for Cillian Murphy for Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film.

(Images courtesy of [BIFA 2007 banner]; [Control French OS]; [Eastern Promises DVD cover art]; and [28 Weeks Later OS].)

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Though Haute Tension director Alexandre Aja has implied that his upcoming Mirrors is more re-imagining than remake, it still found its origins in Kim Sung-ho’s Geoul Sokeuro, so I figured why not make the return trip to the haunted (and awkwardly-named) Dreampia Department Store, and its multitude of mirrors which hide a frightening and fatal secret.

Looking back…

It’s been awhile since I last saw Geoul Sokeuro (Into The Mirror), and I’d somehow managed to forget what a fascinating hybrid it is, succeeding in taking several elements that sometimes prove to be disparate and contrary in other lesser films, and making them work hand-in-hand. Here, you’ll find the supernatural co-mingling with the psychological, while some corporate double-dealing is going on, all of these aspects functioning within what is ostensibly a police procedural.

Wu Yeong-min (Yu Ji-tae) is a former police officer who, following a fatal on-duty shooting incident, is now Security Chief for the about-to-re-open Dreampia Department Store. It’s a made-up post for Yeong-min, a disgruntled courtesy from his uncle, Jeong Il-seong (the ubiquitous Gi Ju-bong), who owns Dreampia.
But just as the young man is a troubled sort, so is his current place of employment. A fire, some injuries, a death; all of this a year past, yet cause for a picket line from family members seeking just compensation.
Now, what seems to be an apparent suicide of a Dreampia employee threatens the planned grand re-opening, though Officer Heo Hyeon-su (Sorum’s Kim Myeong-min) suspects otherwise. And while we, the audience, also know it wasn’t suicide—this is the effective opening sequence of the film—we also know it isn’t as simple as the suspected serial killer.

Writer/director Kim Sung-ho takes this fairly straight-forward set-up, peoples it with borderline stock characters (the troubled, disgraced cop; the greedy businessman), and then proceeds to take the narrative down some rather interesting avenues. With a script stuffed to the brim with fascinating notions, and which remains constantly aware of the thematic and narrative possibilities of its central image, Kim assembles a movie that is decidedly and defiantly not in the vengeful, long-haired contortionist ghost School of Asian Horror.
Kim is also cognizant of the visual possibilities, so, given that the film delves into the nature of mirrors and reflections, we have a whole lot of symmetrical shots and doubling, with a load of sleight-of-hand, computer-assisted mirror trickery, and naturally, twins.

What’s also interesting about Geoul Sokeuro, I feel, is that it’s arguably a tad too cerebral to be as scary as, say, a Ringu or a Ju-on, that it is, perhaps, far more interested in constructing a sense of mystery than scaring the living daylights out of its audience.
Though that may very well be the case, what does stick after a viewing of the film, is the disturbing nature of mirrors, of just exactly who—and what—is reflected there. For my money, that’s a far more potent legacy than some transitory jump scares.
Admittedly, the nearly two-hour running time, coupled with its purposeful pace, may make Geoul Sokeuro seem longish and slow to some, but as I pointed out, this isn’t your average Asian horror film.
So if you’re open to something different from the scene, Geoul Sokeuro has got all of that going for it, and it’s got a climactic death scene which is not only thematically apropos, it’s also worthy of Argento.
What else do I need to say?

Since then…

Yu Ji-tae has been in a number of movies since Geoul Sokeuro, though most film geeks will recognize him from Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy and Chinjeolhan Geumjassi (Sympathy For Lady Vengeance).
Meanwhile, Kim Sung-ho went on to direct a segment in the omnibus film Nunbushin Haru (One Shining Day). Commissioned for the 60th anniversary of Korea’s liberation, Numbushin Haru’s narratives dealt indirectly with the relationship between Korea and Japan.

Looking forward…

In a interview, Alexandre Aja said this of his upcoming remake/reimagining: “I think we all have a special relationship [with] mirrors. The idea was to really find a way to make a movie that will change a way of watching yourself in the mirror and try to do something scary. I wanted to do something that falls in line with The Shining—that's my favorite movie ever. For me, when New Regency came to me with the concept of Mirrors, I felt like I could try to explore something in the vein of The Shining. Greg [Levasseur] and I decided to start from scratch and not connect with the original Korean movie. I think we have something really scary."
He also went on to say that his initial director’s cut was "very graphic" and "takes the shocking gore and violence of survival horror and applies that to the supernatural thriller. I'm happy with the movie we made and in our genre you have to be tough and not make compromises. A lot of times you're asked to pare back and trim down the gore, but I'm fighting to keep it in—to make the movie I want to see as a core audience member."

Sounds promising.
And given that I’m a big fan of most everything in Haute Tension, except for that needless climactic plot flip, and I felt that Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes remake lacked the unbearably taut thrills of his previous outing, I’m still in the market for that Aja film that will completely and utterly kick my a$$.
Here’s hoping Mirrors will be it. (And if it isn’t, there’s always his next project, his remake of Joe Dante’s Piranha…)
Aja’s Mirrors stars Kiefer Sutherland, Amy Smart, and Jason Flemyng.

(Geoul Sokeuro OS courtesy of; Into The Mirror DVD cover art [2-disc UK release] courtesy of


Sweet Yeti of the Serengeti! They’re back, baby!
And I honestly hadn’t realized how much I’d missed Fry and Bender and Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth and the rest of the crew till a few minutes into the opening sequence of the direct-to-DVD movie, Bender’s Big Score.
It’s only here, apparently, when the crew finds out that they were cancelled two years ago! And it’s only now that Farnsworth actually remembers to inform them that they’re fired.
It seems that the “brainless drones” and “asinine morons” at the Box Network (or is that Fox Network?) saw fit to pull the plug on Planet Express. But fret not, for Farnsworth gets a call and is informed that they’ve all been renewed again, and all those drones and morons have been “ground up into a fine pink powder,” which has a million and one uses, and becomes a running joke through the length of the hilarious Big Score.
It was also only here, after Farnsworth gives us all the good news, when I realized I’d missed that signature theme too.
Oh, the little things…

Bender’s Big Score is a sweet ride that should be a blast for all you Futurama junkies out there. It’s got some familiar faces, the debut of the alluded-to-but-never-before-seen Chanukah zombie (voiced by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill), some neat and catchy tunes, a rather familiar-looking rabbit, and the reason why Al Gore lost the presidency in 2000.
It’s got time paradoxes and spam and inevitable doom and true love and New Scamadonia and remote-controlled solid-gold Death Stars and Kitten-class attack fighters.
Oh, and more Benders than you can shake a rusty wrench at. Plus, “the ancient and terrible secret of Fry’s buttocks”! What more could you want?!

I think we all know it’s a big universe out there. Massive. But it feels that much bigger without Zoidberg, doesn’t it?
So go on. Get ‘cher new Futurama fix, out on DVD. Now.

And if you’ve never seen Futurama before, well, all 72 episodes are out on DVD, meatbag, so go make those Fox… errr, I mean Box Network morons happy and flash those credit card digits. So says Hypnotoad.
And don’t worry. This ain’t no scam. (You can leave your email address at the door.)

Parting shot: There’re three more straight-to-DVD Futurama features scheduled for 2008, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game, and Into the Wild Green Yonder.
All four features will then reportedly be edited and slightly reconfigured to serve as a score of half-hour long episodes which will then air on Comedy Central; some reports say 13 episodes, some, 16.
(Okay. Whatever. Just so’s I got me my Bender…)

(Futurama: Bender’s Big Score DVD cover art courtesy of; images courtesy of

Friday, December 28, 2007

Season 1 Episode 10
“Chuck Versus the Nemesis”
Written by Chris Fedak
Directed by Allison Liddi Brown

“It’s looking like a limb torn off,
Or altogether just taken apart.
We’re reeling through an endless fall.
We are the ever-living ghost of what once was.”
-- Band of Horses
“No One’s Gonna Love You”

Just to establish this up front, that wasn’t a clone or a look-alike we saw in the previous episode’s cliffhanger: that apparently was the real Bryce Larkin.
Which leads us into this great installment, which not only allows the Buy More subplot (involving the post-Thanksgiving consumer rush of Black Friday) to merge nearly seamlessly with the main Bryce plot, but also incorporates Thanksgiving season madness—and the Morgan-Anna thing—into the mix.

So apparently, Bryce wasn’t rogue CIA at all, but had actually been roped in by Fulcrum, an agency inside the CIA, that is working against it from within. Bryce was resuscitated by Fulcrum only so that they could get access to the Intersect, which Bryce made them believe was inside his head, so they kept him alive in that capsule. But the capsule was intercepted and now, Bryce wants to come in from the cold, but he doesn’t know who he can trust.
So he reaches out, first to Chuck, then to Sarah, and when Chuck flashes, thanx to the Intersect, it seems Bryce’s story checks out. But this, only after, a) Chuck sees Bryce and Sarah kiss, in his bedroom, and b) Casey shoots Bryce again.
Thankfully, Bryce is wearing a bullet-proof vest. (This scene, plus Bryce and Chuck’s geeky knowledge of Klingon, plus shop protocol pertaining to unforeseen disasters like earthquakes and the like, will set up events at the climactic face off at the Buy More.)

So, to help Bryce turn himself in, and to ensure that the CIA agents Bryce does turn himself in to aren’t Fulcrum, the exchange goes down in a very public place, with hordes of civilians around: at the Buy More, during Black Friday. Of course, things don’t quite go as planned, and a Pineapple Situation goes into effect, forcing a mass evacuation—and an apoplectic fit from Big Mike.
This does however, clear the store for the great showdown between Fulcrum operatives and the goodies, and in a great scene, Chuck sees the Dynamic Duo of Bryce and Sarah in high-flying, a$$-kicking action. (As an aside, this episode has some of the best action sequences since the Pilot.)
And when the NSA cleaners arrive, there’s even a cover story of a gas leak, to give them enough time to clear up the damage—and bullet holes—within.

After an off-screen debriefing, Bryce gets his new assignment: deep cover, off-the-radar stuff, as he sets off to infiltrate and take down Fulcrum. There’s some loaded goodbyes, and a cryptic “We’ll always have Omaha,” from Bryce to Sarah.
As it turns out—when Chuck asks Casey what that was all about—the Omaha thing was Bryce reaching out to Sarah, giving her a chance to join him, if she wanted. (At least according to Casey, because, tellingly, the military operation Chuck was deemed a prime candidate for, was codenamed “The Omaha Project.”)
The final scene, played out to Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You,“ sees Sarah at her place, passport and gun on the bed, while the landline rings (it’s Bryce) even as her cell does (it’s Chuck), and she stands, staring at Chuck’s pic on her cell, indecisive, a great cliffhanger to a great episode.

There’s a bunch of fantastic stuff in this one, from Big Mike spazzing out over Black Friday to geek knowledge saving the day to how the subplot converges with the main plot—unlike some previous installments where the subplot seemed extraneous and peripheral—to how the character relationships are once more the sturdy backbone of this show.
And that aspect is ably supported by some solid performances from principals Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski, and guest star Matthew Bomer. These three convey the complicated relationships between Chuck, Bryce, and Sarah, in the limited running time of a 40+ minute TV show—one hour with commercials—all the while shooting at or getting shot at, by the baddies; none too easy, that.

And though there isn’t—as I’d hoped—an intense sit-down as Bryce and Chuck hash out what the hell happened to them, there’s a lot of emotion flying about here, from Bryce hearing how he ruined Chuck’s life (from Morgan) to Bryce telling Chuck “I’ve got one friend; you’ve got a house and a store full of them.” And of course, there’s the Bryce and Sarah thing, which clearly tears Chuck apart to glimpse.
So, even if Bryce does end up off-the-radar for the time being (which seems to be the case), there’s still a lot of unresolved issues there, and I’m hoping we get back to that, as well as more of the Stanford years, in upcoming episodes.
As soon as the strike is resolved, that is.

“But someone,
They could have warned you.
When things start splitting at the seams, and now
The whole thing’s tumbling down.
Things start splitting at the seams, and now
If things start splitting at the seams, and now,
It’s tumbling down,
-- Band of Horses
“No One’s Gonna Love You”

(Images courtesy of; Cease To Begin album sleeve art courtesy of

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


It’s that time of year when Top 10 lists breed like rabbits, and though the sheer number do make the head spin, I still check out a lot of them, just to see what others have to say about the shows that I love (if and when my top choices happen to coincide with theirs).

Time had two lists of top TV shows, and Lost crashed into the #2 spot on Time’s Top 10 Returning TV Shows, while Pushing Daisies took root in the #5 spot of their Top 10 New TV Series.

#2. Lost (from Time’s Top 10 Returning TV Shows)
Like a boulder on a desert-island mountain, a Lost season starts slow, but after a dithering first six episodes, season 3 was an awesome force. This spring's episodes delved deeper into the mythology of the mysterious island, then vaulted years ahead in an astonishing, forehead-smacking finale that set the bar even higher for next season. In between, we got Desmond's mind-blowing premonitions, invisible mystic island honcho, Jacob, and the moving death of doomed romantic junkie Charlie. What more could you want? Only more Lost, and soon.

#5. Pushing Daisies (from Time’s Top 10 New TV Shows)
It's whimsational! It's twee-riffic! It's preciously precious! In this grown-up fairy-tale, a piemaker (Lee Pace) can raise the dead with a touch, but kills them if he ever touches them again. This complicates matters when he resurrects the love of his life, whom he can never kiss, at pain of her life. Playful, fantastical, and art-directed within an inch of its life in candy colors by Barry Sonnenfeld, Daisies is as romantic as it is outlandish.

Pushing Daisies also sprouted in the #2 spot on Entertainment Weekly’s Best TV Shows of 2007.

2. Pushing Daisies (from Entertainment Weekly’s Best TV Shows of 2007)
Filled with mermaid divers and windmill farms, Pushing Daisies is a fantastically fantastical, bubble-gum-colored fable about a pie maker named Ned (Lee Pace), who magically brings his childhood love, Chuck (Anna Friel), back to life with his touch but will kill her if he ever makes contact again. Between solving oddball mysteries involving puppy cloning and scratch-'n'-sniff empires, Chuck and Ned banter and moon at each other. (As Ned's gruff detective buddy, wonderful Chi McBride undercuts any excess sweet.) When so many TV couples are bickery brats, there's something strangely mature about this chaste pair. It's easy to whip up a juicy drama about evildoing bastards — it takes a boatload of creativity to make all this niceness so mesmerizing.

Congratulations to all involved with Lost and Pushing Daisies. Onward, ho, to 2008. And let’s get the WGA strike resolved soon so we can all breathe easier…

Entries quoted above are from and To see the other Top 10 shows, the complete lists can be accessed from the links above.

(Images courtesy of abc, [Lost] and [Pushing Daisies].)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Debra Morgan

Season 2 Episode 7
‘That Night, A Forest Grew’
Written by Daniel Cerone
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa

So thanx to Lila, Dex is evolving into a newer, purportedly better version of himself.
The good news: he hasn’t had any recent urges to “use,” the quaint (and necessary) euphemism he replaces the word “kill” with, during his talks with Lila.
The bad news: there’s fallout.

Dex is suddenly improvising: he goes out on the Internet and cuts and pastes blog material from various sources, producing a 32-page “presto, manifesto,” which he sends off to the Miami Tribune.
Designed to plunge the Bay Harbor Butcher Task Force into chaos (by presenting a confused and false amalgam of the Butcher’s personality), the manifesto initially does that, till Lundy sniffs out the game, and comes to the conclusion that the Butcher’s law enforcement, since he apparently knows exactly how this concocted manifesto will keep the Task Force spinning its wheels.

Dex also utilizes “creative problem solving at the expense of others” to get Doakes off the board, after Doakes begins to harass Camilla for the files regarding the crime scene at which Dex and his brother, the late Ice Truck Killer, were found.
He lies to Doakes at a crime scene to get the detective to lean on an innocent man, and waits till Doakes is making the man suffer during interrogation when he springs his trap, planting a blood report on Doakes’ desk to exonerate the suspect.
LaGuerta chews Doakes out, but Doakes realizes that Dex set him up, making him look only more obsessive in LaGuerta’s eyes.
And when Doakes confronts Dex in his office, Dex headbutts him, then casually walks out into the main section of the station, where an enraged Doakes tackles him, and starts wailing on poor Dex in front of the entire department.
LaGuerta has no choice but to suspend Doakes right then and there.

Over on the Deb front, there’s an encounter with a naked Lila, whom Deb instantly disapproves of (calling her a “skank”), reminding Dex of his responsibility, if not to Rita, then to her kids.
A conversation with Lundy regarding Chopin also gets Deb to consider her feelings for both Gabriel and Lundy, and she breaks up with the former, and finally admits to herself (and to Lundy) her feelings for the latter.
Lundy of course, initially argues about the age thing, but in the end, reacts rather tenderly to Deb, so we’ll see where this thing goes. (And to be honest, I’d never have guessed when Lundy was first introduced that this was where we’d end up.)

While on the Rita front, the kids and Rita suffer under the Gail regime. But Rita finally puts her foot down and kicks Momma out (sniff… bye, JoBeth) when Gail punishes the kids after Cody makes a covert phone call to ask Dex to attend his Saudi Arabia report at school.
Dex attends the school report, to the silent disapproval of Lila, who finally reveals herself (to us, at least) as the lying, loony, co-dependent b!tch she really is.
After having sold her “cannibal” sculpture for an obscene amount of cash, she calls Dex, who’s watching Cody’s report at the time, so he switches his cell off. In retaliation, Lila blowtorches her art, including the piece she’s just sold and a considerable portion of her studio.
She finally gets through to Dex as he accepts an invitation from the kids for some ice cream. When he hears about the fire though, he rushes off to Lila, to Rita’s silent disapproval.
When he gets to Lila’s place, she lies and says the piece just caught flame while she was working on it. All huggy and fake teary, Lila says not to ever leave her again. Dex, the blind fool, agrees.

(Image courtesy of


Ukraine, 1944.
The German Army Scandinavian Volunteer Division: SS Panzer Division Wiking.
Separated from their unit. Lost and freezing.

This is how Anders Banke‘s Frostbiten starts, with a promising WWII-set sequence, but that quickly proves to be mere backstory, as we soon flash-forward to the present-day, where single mother Annika (Petra Nielsen) and teen-aged daughter Saga (Grete Havneskold) have just moved to a new town in Northern Sweden, where polar night is all the rage, and Annika has a job at the local hospital.
She’s here because of her interest in genetics, and the pioneering work of one Professor Beckert (Carl-Ake Eriksson). Beckert, you see, was one of the young men we saw in the opening sequence, and he’s at the heart of the matter that will serve as the crux for the events of the film.

Now, due to the tone and execution of that WWII Ukraine sequence, what I wasn’t quite prepared for in the main bulk of Frostbiten, was the humourous streak that stretches down through the rest of its running time.
I’ve talked about the downside of horror-comedy mash-ups before, and sad to say, Frostbiten only gladly bumps into that downside. The funny just really isn’t that funny here, if you know what I mean. (I will, however, cop to getting a kick out of the talking animals. That’s about it, though.)
What’s worse, the film boasts a little too many subplots for its own good, as in the latter half, we cut back and forth between narrative strands and characters to the detriment of the film, and the annoyance of the audience.

Thus, not only does the opening section fail to set the tone for all that follows in its wake, but the sequence of events that lead to the main problem of Frostbiten is annoyingly juvenile. Pile onto that the slipshod journey to the end credits, which is an irritating hopscotch voyage of scenes that aren’t really allowed to breathe and flow naturally into one another, and you have much of what is wrong with Frostbiten.
Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, by the time we do reach the end credits, there are a number of subplots left open and dangling (and I’m not even referring to the happy family in the ambulance nor the cops in trouble bits), so much so that the feeling of dissatisfaction—already considerable to begin with—gets even more magnified.
And while there are perhaps one or two scenes that are effective, and the design for the main vampire is passably interesting, there are bits in here where the use of dodgy CGI makes for less-than-stellar results.

I’m aware that Frostbiten has gotten nods at some of the festivals it’s screened at, but in the end, it really doesn’t have much bite for me.
As I’ve said before of some other horror-comedy mash-ups, the horror half isn’t that bloody or gory and doesn’t offer anything new, and the comedy half isn’t all that funny either.

Parting shot: I rather like the DVD cover art for Frostbite, but again, it does nothing to indicate the horror-comedy mash-up nature of the film. That image just screams straight-forward horror to me.
And the tag line makes you think the whole polar night thing is a central plot element that comes into play more than it actually does.

Parting shot 2: Now if there’s one recent vampire movie that’s worth your time, it’s David Slade’s 30 Days of Night, which, incidentally, utilizes the whole month-long night scenario in a far more effective manner. (See review in Archive.)

(Frostbite DVD cover art courtesy of

Saturday, December 22, 2007


“Take this sinking boat
And point it home;
We’ve still got time.

“Raise your hopeful voice,
You had the choice;
You’ve made it now.”
-- Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
“Falling Slowly”

Once, which follows an Irish busker (Glen Hansard) and his growing relationship with a young Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova), is one of those little films that catch you by surprise with its earnest depiction of bruised souls reaching for something better in their lives.
It’s also a musical, though I should hasten to qualify, it’s not the sort of musical where gaudily-outfitted people suddenly burst into boisterous song and energetic choreography. As Once’s main characters are both musically-inclined (Hansard’s character plays the guitar, while Irglova’s plays the piano), all the film’s songs arise organically from the on-screen action.

What makes Once even more noteworthy is the fact that the songs written and played and sung by the characters are actually written and played and sung by the stars. And not only can they write and sing, they can also act.
While Irglova’s earnest and straight-forward immigrant is commendable in her certitude and quiet self-possession, the eye-opener here is Hansard. There’s a sense of genuine honesty in his performance that paints a very real portrait of a young man haunted by the ghost of the woman who broke his heart, the woman he never quite got over. The legacy of pain she left in her wake still fuels his artistic drive, even after years have passed. (In one of the film’s songs, Hansard describes his character as a “broken-hearted Hoover-fixer sucker guy,” since he helps his father at a hoover shop, and still wants the girl who cheated on him and, well, broke his heart.)

Then, as if Once wasn’t commendable enough for all that, the principals’ rather realistic performances become even more laudable when you realize that both Hansard and Irglova are not professional actors, but rather, musicians by trade.
Hansard is the lead singer and songwriter for Irish rock band of long-standing, The Frames, while Irglova is a Czech pianist Hansard collaborated with on the album The Swell Season.
Initially, Once’s writer and director John Carney—who had been The Frames’ original bass player—had asked Hansard to write some songs and play busking consultant for the film, which was meant to star Cillian Murphy (from 28 Days Later and Breakfast on Pluto, though perhaps most widely known as Batman Begins’ Scarecrow).
But somewhere along the way, Murphy fell out of the project, and just as it looked like the production would collapse, Carney hit upon the notion of asking Hansard to take the role. Hansard, who had only appeared previously on film in a small role in Alan Parker’s The Commitments, agreed. (Then 17-year old Irglova was already in place by this time, having gotten there through her past collaboration with Hansard; in point of fact, three tracks from The Swell Season found their way onto Once.)

What has emerged from that set of circumstances is a film shot on digital in 17 days for $150,000, that has gone on to capture hearts—and awards—around the world. (Amidst a number of nominations, some of Once’s notable wins were the Audience Award at this year’s Dublin International Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival, where it was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.)

“I really did think when we made this film that we had made a film that very few people would want to see or maybe only people who are interested in music would want to see, and it turns out to be something quite different, which is great.”
-- John Carney

Now if the track “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy” isn’t enough of an indication, it should also be noted that Once has its own simmering sense of humour, a rogue twinkle in its eye, amid all the emotional and moving bits.
What’s interesting though about those “emotional and moving bits” are that they’re very quiet and understated. In that sense, Once plays by a set of rules that are diametrically opposed to those of a standard Hollywood musical, where everything is overblown and operatic, where emotions are larger than life, and twice as loud, and always come with an accompanying dance number.
So let’s call Once an anti-musical then, shall we? Or perhaps, a quasi-musical. If it needs a label, then maybe that’s it.

Whatever you call it though, what I am certain of is this: Once is a heart-achingly brilliant piece of cinema about fortuitous accidents and being touched and changed by the strangers who enter our lives.
And ultimately, it’s about needing to mend old wounds, and exorcise old ghosts, with the pure and liberating power of music.

“Falling slowly,
Eyes that know me,
And I can’t go back.
Moods that take me and erase me,
And I’m painted black.

“Well, you have suffered enough
And warred with yourself;
It’s time that you won.”
-- Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
“Falling Slowly”

Parting shot: Once has been nominated at next year’s Independent Spirit Awards for Best Foreign Film. Congratulations to John Carney and company!
Winners will be announced on February 23, 2008.

(Once OS courtesy of; The Swell Season and Once soundtrack sleeve art courtesy of


36.1 PIMP MY BOOK (5)
Chapter 10 is up at the Pelicula website, where you can find out exactly what goes on at all those Manila Basketball League games. Mosey on over to the website to see what the frak I’m blathering on about.
And thanx to everyone who’s checked Pelicula out.

Unlike the Golden Globes, which is on shaky ground with the on-going WGA strike, next year’s 14th Annual SAG Awards (scheduled for January 27), looks to be a go, though whether or not nominees will cross the picket lines to attend the show remains to be seen.
At any rate, the SAG award nominees that got my attention are:

Motion Pictures

Away From Her:
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Julie Christie as Fiona)

Eastern Promises:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff)

Lars and the Real Girl:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Ryan Gosling as Lars Lindstrom)


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series (Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Rhys Coiro / Billy Walsh
Kevin Connolly / Eric Murphy
Kevin Dillon / Johnny Drama
Jerry Ferrara / Turtle
Adrian Grenier / Vincent Chase
Rex Lee / Lloyd
Jeremy Piven / Ari Gold
Perrey Reeves / Mrs. Ari

SAG has also established a new stunt award category for both film and TV, with the respective categories looking like this:

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
The Bourne Ultimatum
I Am Legend
The Kingdom
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
The Unit

Congratulations, one and all, and hurrah for the stunt people!

You can check out the entire list of nominees for the 14th Annual SAGs here, a list which features a frighteningly thorough fact sheet, and the SAG Award histories of the nominees. So if you always wanted to know whether or not George Clooney won an Actor for his work on ER (he won four Actors as part of the show’s ensemble, but failed to win Actor in a Drama Series the two times he was nominated; sorry, George), this cheat sheet is the place to go.

And congratulations to C.S. Lee (of Dexter and Chuck) and Pushing Daisies’ Orbit, for making’s The Underrated of 2007 list.
Recognizing the sometimes overlooked supporting players of our favourite shows, the list did well to note Orbit’s very tangible contribution to Pushing Daisies, as Ned’s faithful golden retriever, Digby.

Yeah, Orbit! Break down those gender barriers! You go, girl!

The complete Underrated of 2007 list can be found here.

(Image from Pelicula website, website designed by Carl Vergara, Habagat icon designed by Ian Sta. Maria; other images courtesy of and SAG [SAG crest]; and, showtime, and abc [C.S. Lee and Orbit with Kristin Chenoweth].)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Season 2
Volume Two: “Generations”
Chapter Nine: “Cautionary Tales”
Written by: Joe Pokaski
Directed by: Greg Yaitanes

As a counter-point (in more ways than one) to the previous chapter, this exceptional episode focuses on the major characters absent from “Four Months Ago…”: the Bennets, Mo, Parkman, and Hiro.

Spurred on by his discovery of Maury’s involvement with the previous generation of powered individuals, Parkman stumbles on a new aspect of his Jedi mind tricks: the Jedi mind trick!
Finding he can make people do what he wants them to do by giving them a mental nudge, Parkman decides to use this power to get Granny P to tell him who the Mystery Woman in the Photo Who Looks Like Joanna Cassidy is.
Thus, another great scene with Cristine Rose, as Parkman does a Jedi interrogation and pries loose some stuff from the old days. Despite Granny P demanding a little respect for herself and the rest of her generation, who “mortgaged their souls” for ingrates like Parkman, and goading Parkman to get over his Daddy issues, he digs into her mind, and her struggle is so valiant, she gets an awful nosebleed.
Apparently, Granny P made a promise to the Mystery Woman in the Photo Who Looks Like Joanna Cassidy, who just wants to be left alone. Granny P warns Parkman, if he steals this secret away from her, he isn’t just like his father, he is his father.
The next time we see Parkman, he’s got a Post It stuck to the photo, indicating the Mystery Woman in the Photo Who Looks Like Joanna Cassidy’s name: Victoria Pratt.
(Parkman is such a twat.)

In a great parallel to Mo bringing Papa Suresh’s ashes back to India in Volume One’s “Seven Minutes To Midnight,” we join Hiro at Papa Sulu’s funeral.
Distraught, Hiro is unwilling to eulogize his father, and instead, travels one week into the past, on the day of Papa Sulu’s murder. After seeing the exchange between Granny P and Papa S (in which she slaps him), Hiro tells his father he’s come from Takezo Kensei’s time, and oh, by the by, I’ve also just come from your funeral.
Thus, Papa S understands this is his fate, but Hiro is unwilling to accept that, so he ‘ports both of them back to the day of his mother’s funeral, the saddest day of Papa S’ life.
Hiro just wants Papa S to understand the grief he’s going through, to make him see why Hiro needs to save his life. Instead, Hiro gets to talk to little Hiro, and therein lies a great emotional pay-off, as Hiro comes to understand that he needs to honour his father’s wish that fate be allowed to unfold as it already has.
So after paying their respects, Hiro and Papa S ‘port back to the Deveaux building, and say their teary goodbyes (another nice emotional pay-off), moments before the apparently flying killer arrives. And as Ando comes on the scene, and murderer and victim tip off the rooftop, Hiro freezes time, and says, if he can’t save his father’s life, he can at least see who the killer is.
We, of course, by this time, already know that the killer is one Adam/Kensei, so I guess he didn’t really fly, but simply leaped off the building, taking Papa S with him, knowing he’d heal from any damage taken from the fall anyway. (Though he must heal instantaneously, as when Ando rushed to look over the edge, all he saw was Papa S on the pavement, with no sign of the baddie.)

And in the section of the narrative that has another great bunch of emotional pay-offs, Claire is adamant about staying behind, even as the other Bennets are packing their stuff in preparation for the move.
It’s a fantastic opening scene, and everyone is brilliant here, Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Ashley Crow, and Randall Bentley. The tension and emotion here is genuine and potent, and it’s great to see Mrs. B put her foot down and act as mediator between father and daughter. It’s also during this head-to-head that Claire accuses Mr. B of abducting West when he was just 12 years old. (Lyle: “Dad doesn’t `abduct’ people.”)
Claire later talks to West, telling him that there was no sinister plan and that she’s not working with her father, but West doesn’t really buy it, so he flies off, putting an end to the discussion.

Mr. B realizes he needs to talk to West, so he asks Mo to get Molly to find West. Unbeknowest to Mr. B, Mo is already in Costa Verde, with Bob and Elle, who is Mo’s new partner. Bob also finally cops to being Elle’s Daddykins.
Bob’s plan: abduct Claire, “take care” of Mr. B. Mo’s suggestion: talk to Mr. B first. Bob agrees to go with Mo’s plan.
Meanwhile, Mr. B can’t wait around for Mo to get back to him, so he decides to drive off to Claire’s school to find West, but Flyboy takes matters into his own hands and zips by and picks Mr. B up, soaring way up into the sky.
He asks Mr. B if Claire is working with him as a tag team, and Mr. B tells him that Claire lied to him about West, so West must be important to her.
They hit the ground when West can’t sustain holding Mr. B’s weight any longer. Mr. B tells West that the family is leaving Costa Verde tonight, with Claire.
Just then, Mo rings Mr. B, and says he knows where West is, giving Mr. B a location that is nowhere near where they are at the moment, so Mr. B knows Mo is lying to him. Mr. B knows Claire’s in trouble too, so he asks West for help. (Hah! Surprise team-up.)

Over at the school, Bob shows up to talk to Claire about the Debbie incident, and during their conversation, calls her “Ms. Bennet.” It’s an unfortunate slip, and again, I thought Bob was smarter than this.
So Claire runs off (apparently all the way home as isn’t the status of her car still stolen?) and warns Mrs. B about Bob, who arrives and whom Mrs. B recognizes as the Regional Manager of Primatech Paper.

Back with Mr. B, the meet with Mo goes down, and Mo tells him they just need to take Claire in for her blood, which can help save a lot of people, but Mr. B won’t have any of that. Mo, taking matters into his own hands, holds Mr. B at gunpoint.
When Mr. B asks who Mo’s partner is, Elle shows up, Elle whom Mr. B recognizes, of course. She’s charging up when who should arrive to save the day, but Flyboy! West zooms in and slams Elle against a car, knocking her unconscious.
The distraction allows Mr. B to grab Mo’s gun and bop him on the nose yet again. Mr. B looks like he’s about to shoot Mo in the head, but West asks him what he’s doing, and he desists.

Back at the Bennet homestead, Mrs. B’s tied up, and Mr. B lets her free just as West comes in with a very unconscious Elle.
Mr. B once again reverts to Company Man and ties Elle up, placing her feet in Mr. Muggles’ doggie bath, so she gets a nasty zap when she tries to use her powers.
Mr. B then insinuates that Elle was a normal girl once, until Bob used inhuman amounts of electricity to turn her into what she is today. (Torture which she can’t remember, but then again, memory loss comes hand-in-hand with electroshock therapy, right?)
So that’s interesting, since a) it could be true, and Bob is a cold and calculating baddie, willing to go to extreme lengths for what he believes in; b) this could be entirely false and be psychological warfare to turn her against her father; or c) this could be a version of the truth to suit Mr. B’s ends. Maybe little Elle was already exhibiting sociopathic behaviour, and electroshock is, after all, still considered an acceptable treatment for mental illness by some…
At any rate, a deal is made for an exchange, daughter for daughter, but not before Bob extracts an indeterminate amount of Claire’s blood. (Hey, she can regenerate quickly, so he could have gotten a lot in the two hours before the scheduled exchange.)

At the swap—where West successfully argued for his presence by saying he was the fastest way to get Claire out of danger—Elle hears Mr. B tell West that as soon as they get Claire, to fly off with her.
So, when the exchange is made, and West flies Claire off, Elle zaps him, and they crash to the ground, Claire voluntarily taking the brunt of the impact, saving West’s life.
In retaliation, Mr. B shoots Elle in the arm, then is about to shoot Bob—Mr. B claims the Company will die with Bob’s death—when bam, Mo shoots Mr. B in the eye, just as the Isaac painting decreed.
What follows that shocker (bad Mo! Bad Mo!) is another bunch of wrenching moments, as first, Claire realizes the last thing she said to her father was “I hate you,” and that at the time she said it, she meant it, and second, she breaks the news to poor Mrs. B.

There’s a montage which winds the chapter down, as Hiro’s tribute to Papa Sulu serves as VO, as he talks about a parent living on in the actions of a child, as we see the episode’s entire cast of characters in the aftermath of choices made: Mo with the gun that he used to shoot Mr. B; Parkman with the photo identifying Victoria Pratt; Bob trying to comfort his wounded daughter, even as Elle processes what Mr. B revealed to her; Claire being comforted by West; Mrs. B being comforted by Mr. Muggles.

The chapter’s coda doesn’t come as a complete surprise, given that Bob had gobbets of Claire’s blood with him, but still, it’s nonetheless a kick-a$$ cliffhanger as we see Mr. B’s eye regenerate, just before he comes back to life!
I wonder though, if a) Bob and company will brainwash Mr. B and make him into a good little Company Man again, and b) if having Claire’s blood in his system will either give him some kind of power, or alter his physiology just enough that he becomes more physically sound, or maybe give him a Wolvie healing factor too.

So this was a great episode, arguably one of the best of this season, and certainly better than the previous chapter.
Not only did this prove that there’s a lot of narrative mileage that can be drawn from genuine human conflict (without needing to resort to massive—and repetitive—threats like viral apocalypses), particularly the sturm und drang of filial relationships, of fathers and sons, and fathers and daughters.
Then there’s the interesting parallel of Claire and Elle, that Elle is the reason why Mr. B is adamant the Company not get their hands on Claire. That Elle is, in effect, the Anti-Claire.
This is quite possibly the most thematically cohesive script of the season thus far, and props should go to Joe Pokaski, who brought this baby home in style, and Greg Yaitanes—who’s worked on everything from V.I.P. to CSI: Miami to Nip/Tuck to Lost to the short-lived Drive—for some really interesting shots and angles.

Oh yeah, bring on the next chapter!

(Behind the scene images courtesy of; TV Guide Heroes cover art [4 of 4] by Tim Sale, courtesy of

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Season 1 Episode 9
“Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami”
Written by Scott Rosenbaum and Matt Miller
Directed by Jason Ensler

“It’s the old story. You know, guy gets super computer in his brain. Beautiful CIA agent is sent to protect him, and then she tells him while under the spell of truth serum that she’s not interested. I get it. But for me, the emotional roller coaster is a little much, so I think I’d rather find something a little less common, like, say, I don’t know, a real relationship?”

Chuck’s fake break-up with Sarah is proving a little tricky as a) Sarah really does have feelings for Chuck that she adamantly refuses to admit, and b) Chuck’s currently dating Lou.
But it turns out that Lou’s ex, club owner Stavros Demitrios (Theodore Zouboulidis) is the son of shipping magnate/smuggler, Yari (Forever Knight’s John Kapelos), who’s involved in not just smuggling in assorted meats and sausages for Lou, but also a “volatile package” which is “time sensitive,” all indications that the item in question could be a biological or chemical weapon of some sort.
So Chuck and Lou’s second date is orchestrated/instigated so Chuck can get close to Stavros to find out more about the package.
Needless to say, the whole dating Lou thing quickly gets wonky.

And when Chuck confronts Lou, thinking she’s in on the weapons smuggling (but actually just sneaking in meat for her sandwiches), he not only pisses her off again, but ends up—along with Sarah—kidnapped by Stavros.
In order to rescue them both, Casey turns to Lou, and tells her that he’s an FDA agent, and that she can go to jail since Stavros is also smuggling weapons, but he can look the other way if she helps him by telling him which dock Stavros receives his shipments at. In so doing, Casey also pretty much indicates that Chuck’s an undercover FDA agent too.

Casey rescues Chuck and Sarah, and they both arrive at what they believe is a bomb, with a timer with less than a minute to go. There really isn’t any time and as the timer runs out, Sarah suddenly kisses Chuck.
It isn’t a bomb though. At this point, they still don’t know what it is, though Sarah does know it’s an awkward moment. Not so for Chuck.

Chuck goes to Lou’s shop, and she tells him she knows he’s an undercover FDA agent, and wonders if there was anything real between them. Chuck says she’s everything he’s looking for, but right now, he can’t be looking.
So they break up.
For real.

Chuck then calls Sarah, asking her to go out on a real date with him.
But at that moment, Sarah and Casey are opening up the package. Apparently, the timer indicated oxygen amount for whatever was contained within.
And when the package opens up, it turns out to be some kind of capsule containing… Bryce!

Okay, now that’s a cliffhanger.
From the Pilot on, I’ve been hoping that somehow, Bryce was still alive, and that he’d come back into the picture, so we could see into his relationship with Chuck, into what now lay between these once-best friends, following the apparent betrayal at Stanford, the ensuing years of silence and resentment, and exactly why Bryce emailed Chuck the Intersect.
And now we’re here! Yahoo!
(That better not be some clone or spy double…)

Parting shot: The Buy More subplot involves Morgan getting it on with Anna, though these peripheral threads are becoming increasingly distracting.
Oh, and I hope there’s more Rachel Bilson on the way, as two special guest spots is a piddling amount of face time.

Parting shot 2: Congratulations to Josh Schwartz and everybody involved with Chuck, for the Satellite nomination for Television Series, Comedy or Musical, and to Zachary Levi, for the Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical nom. (Check out Afterthoughts (35) in the Archive for the 2007 Satellite nominees and winners.)

(Images courtesy of

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Season 1 Episode 6
Written by Chad Gomez Creasey and Dara Resnik Creasey
Directed by Allan Kroeker

This is a fantastic episode, something that you might get if Tim Burton and Alfred Hitchcock had a dalliance on the set of CSI, with some Big Love thrown in for good measure.
The set up: dog breeder Harold Hundin (The Soup host, Joel McHale) is apparently stabbed to death in his office, but when Ned and company have their one-minute chat, they find out the stabbing was not the true cause of his death, but rather, the cyanide in his coffee. And when asked who gave him his coffee, he answers, “My wife.”
But a clam happy Emerson deflates when it’s discovered that Hundin was a polygamist, with four, count ‘em, four wives!
Further investigating ensues—a brilliant story idea where Ned, Chuck, Emerson, and a delighted Olive each go undercover to speak with one wife to uncover the identity of the poisoner. And since each wife is also a dog breeder, Digby is also utilized in the investigation. (Yay, Digby!)
What soon emerges is an intricate web of money and sinister motivations as other key players surface: rival dog breeder Ramsfield Snuppy (Mark Harelik; Will & Grace and Prison Break), and Hundin’s prize pooch, Bubble Gum, a col-a-dor-russell-poo (a super-hybrid collie/Labrador/Jack Russell terrier/poodle; incidentally, the favourite breeds of each of his wives), apparently run over by dog trainer wife Simone Hundin (Home Again‘s Christine Adams).

The whole dog lover aspect of the episode provides a humourous avenue to explore the personalities of the show’s characters: Emerson winds up with Simone, whose relationship with Hundin was strictly financial, thus attracting Emerson like a moth to a flame; while Ned speaks with dog psychiatrist wife Heather Hundin (The Proud Family’s Lydia Look) introducing himself as Mr. Digby, and his dog “Ned,” serving us a neat twist on the “I’ve got a friend whose problem is this, but I’m actually talking about me, but then you already know that, right?” scenario.
It also manages to play with the idea that a person’s preferred dog breed reflects on the pet owner’s personality.

And, as if that weren’t enough, there are also some great nods to Hitchcock that just send this one over the top.
Director Allan Kroeker (who’s also helmed some Battlestar Galactica, and recently, “Chuck Versus the Wookie”) sails the Technicolor visual seas of Pushing Daisies with ease, giving us yet another brilliant hour of TV eye candy whose whimsical artificiality belies the warm, very human heart that beats beneath its Crayola surface.

Parting shot: The brief stop-motion segment at the top of the episode was also fantastic. And yes, heart-breaking too.

Parting shot 2: Loads of congratulations go out to Bryan Fuller, Lee Pace, Anna Friel, and all involved in Pushing Daisies, for the Golden Globe and WGA nominations, the Satellite win, and the AFI nod. (See Afterthoughts (33) to (35).)

Pushing Daisies will also be honoured by the Paley Center for Media at the 25th annual William S. Paley Television Festival in March 2008.

(Images courtesy of


The International Press Academy has just conducted the 12th annual Satellite Awards, which honours special achievements in film, television, DVDs and games.
There was a lot to get stoked about here, so without further ado… (Wins are in bold.)

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media (nominee)
Visual Effects
Sound (Mixing & Editing) (nominee)

Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media (nominee)
Visual Effects (nominee)

Children of Men:
Best Overall DVD (nominee)

Eastern Promises:
Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Viggo Mortensen)
Motion Picture, Drama (nominee)
Director (David Cronenberg: nominee)
Screenplay, Original (Steven Knight: nominee)
Original Score (Howard Shore: nominee)
Film Editing (Ronald Sanders: nominee)

El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth):
Best Overall DVD (nominee)

Little Children:
Best Overall DVD (nominee)

Original Song (“If You Want Me”/Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: nominee)

The Prestige:
Best Overall DVD

The Silence of the Lambs:
DVD Extras (Collector’s Edition: nominee)

Actor in a Supporting Role, Drama (Brian Cox: nominee)
Screenplay, Adapted (James Vanderbilt: nominee)
Cinematography (Harris Savides: nominee)

The next batch are from films I’ve yet to see, though have mentioned ‘round here at the Iguana.

Away From Her:
Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Julie Christie: nominee)
Motion Picture, Drama (nominee)
Director (Sarah Polley: nominee)
Screenplay, Adapted (Sarah Polley: nominee)

El Orfanato (The Orphanage):
Motion Picture, Foreign Film (Spain: nominee)

The Golden Compass:
Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media (nominee)
Original Song (“Lyra”/Kate Bush: nominee)
Cinematography (Henry Braham: nominee)
Visual Effects (nominee)
Sound (Mixing & Editing) (nominee)

Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (Ellen Page)
Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Screenplay, Original (Diablo Cody)

Lars and the Real Girl:
Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (Ryan Gosling)
Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (nominee)
Screenplay, Original (Nancy Oliver: nominee)

And these are from films whose reviews you’ll find in the Archive.

Art Direction & Production Design (nominee)

Visual Effects (nominee)
Youth DVD (Two Disc Special Edition: nominee)

And now onto TV…

Television Series, Comedy or Musical (nominee)
Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical (Zachary Levi: nominee)

Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made For Television (David Zayas)
Television Series, Drama
Actor in a Series, Drama (Michael C. Hall)
DVD Release of a TV Show (Season 1)

Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made For Television (Masi Oka: nominee)

Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made For Television (Michael Emerson: nominee)
DVD Release of a TV Show (The Complete Third Season: nominee)

Masters of Horror:
DVD Extras (Season 1: tied for the win with Borat)

DVD Release of a TV Show (Season 4: nominee)

Pushing Daisies:
Television Series, Comedy or Musical
Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical (Anna Friel: nominee)
Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical (Lee Pace: nominee)

Twin Peaks:
DVD Release of a TV Show (Season 2: nominee)

And then there were the special awards, two of which were the Mary Pickford Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to the Entertainment Industry, which went to Kathy Bates, and the Tesla Award in Recognition of Visionary Achievement in Filmmaking Technology, which went to Dennis Muren.

To one and all, congratulations!
You can find the complete list of nominees and winners here.

Parting shot: Reviews of 300, Eastern Promises, El Laberinto Del Fauno, Sunshine, Transformers, and Zodiac, can be found in the Archive, where episodic recaps and reactions to Chuck, Dexter, Heroes, Lost, and Pushing Daisies also lurk.
And though the Satellite for DVD Extras went to Season 1, the reviews of the 13 episodes of Season 2 of Masters of Horror are just waiting to pounce from the darkness of the Archive as well.
There are also reviews of Beowulf and Once already written and raring to go, but at the time of this posting, have yet to be released into the wilds of the world wide web. (Though if you’re reading this way after I actually posted it, then those reviews should be in the Archive too.)

(Images courtesy of [Eastern Promises]; [The Prestige DVD cover art]; [Dexter]; [Masters of Horror]; and [Pushing Daisies].)