Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

TV Review: Big Love – “Damage Control” Part 2

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Season 2, Episode 1: Aired on June 11, 2007

Part 2 (Pt 1)

Welcome back! Let's get this bitch started.

Bill and Barb on the phone. He tells her that he hasn’t been liking how the neighbors (Pam and Carl) have been looking at them. So, he made dinner plans! Barb is as confused with this plan as we are. But Bill talks right over her concerns, telling her that he understands that she’s embarrassed and that she’s “been humbled.”

Barb gets this look on her face like, “Oh no he didn’t!” And, seriously. It’s not like she’s a polygamist all on her own and it’s not like it’s all her fault that they got exposed. “Humbled” my ass.

“Do I have a choice?” she asks him. “Of course,” he says, “but it would sure please me if you would just say, ‘On it!’” Oh, Bill, you ass. I hate it how he says one thing and then completely negates it with his next sentence. He does shit like that a lot and it makes it really hard for me to like him.

Barb says she doesn’t think she can do it, which should be the end of the conversation. But, because she’s talking to Bill, it’s not. He tries to manipulate her into doing it by complimenting her on how good she is with people. Barb finally puts her foot down and just says she can’t and hangs up.

Margie, who has been in the background doing chores this whole time, admits that she believes it was Pam and Carl who exposed them. Barb seems shocked.

Margie unsteadily gets through her confession, clearly upset and guilty and a whole mess of other things. “So, Pam knew that … Nicki was a polygamist. And I defended Nicki and that made her suspect me and then, I guess, you.” She pauses and looks like she’s about to burst into tears. “And … I think it’s all my fault.” Barb tells her that she’s sure that’s not true. Can I just say? Ginnifer totally kicked that scene’s ass.

Barb is swimming again. Much more intensely this time, though. In fact, she appears to be swimming as much as she can without coming up for air, which is slightly worrisome. Nicki watches her from the window and gets this look on her face. I don’t know what it means, but it creeped me out. It was kind of an evil look, y’all.

Juniper Creek. Adaleen, Roman’s wife and Nicki’s mother, is watching a news story about a fugitive polygamist, whose name is approximately Orline Abbott. He’s on America’s Most Wanted List for trafficking underage girls over state lines. Roman walks over and bitches about these “stupid, greedy perverts ruining it for the rest of us.” Well, there’s just nothing I can say about that.

Then we cut to a weird scene where there’s this crazy woman outside some assembly hall, screaming about how Roman is the one true Prophet and everything else is sin and crap. I … don’t even know what she’s talking about. Why is she even here? She needs to get off my screen before I start drinking. And it’s not even noon.

We see Joey, Wanda and Lois approaching, so this is apparently Wanda’s hearing. She’s clinging to Joey like a little kid and it’s pretty sad. Lois tells Crazy Lady to shut up. Heh. Lois kicks ass.

Inside, Wanda is standing in front of everyone and Roman is telling her to answer the questions on the questionnaire. Wanda says it was in the morning and she doesn’t recall what Alby was wearing. Why does it matter what he was wearing? Curious minds want to know.

Then, out of nowhere, “LIES!” Joey and Lois jump in their seats. Hee. Alby comes rolling in to the hearing, decked out with the latest trendy wheelchair. For a dead guy, he’s looking pretty good.

As he rolls down the aisle, he babbles about witnesses seeing his truck outside her cabin for 6 hours and then seeing her and Lois driving his truck. Oh noes. Then he gets all smug. “You didn’t know that, did you?”

You know, if Alby wasn’t so creepy, he’d be kinda hot. What? I’m just saying.

Wanda could not care less about Alby and his wheelchair and says she’ll just have to stand by what she’s already said. Alby then stands up and turns to the audience, asking who else was involved in the attempted murder of him. What’s really funny is that behind him, Wanda is all leaning to one side so that she can still get a good view of the Alby Show.

Sister Wife Central. Piano music plays, as Barb does her crossword and tells Nicki that dinner was delicious. Nicki has the decency to say that Margie helped. Barb looks over at her kids and it turns out that Ben is playing the piano. Did we know that he could play? I don’t think we did. Sarah is watching him and Teeny is singing “Hound Dog.” The girl has good taste. And hee.

Elsewhere in the room, Bill is educating his and Nicki’s sons, Wayne and Raymond, about Mormonism. He tries to engage Barb in conversation about visiting the Holy Lands, but she’s too distracted by the fact that she doesn’t think the school wants her to come back and teach.

Bill wants to know if they actually said that, but Barb flat out says she can’t go back there. That Julie woman was at the ceremony and everyone knows. Bill argues with her, which I’m not sure is the best course of action in this particular situation.

Ben chooses this opportunity to approach his mother with the news that he wants to join the Navy, but that he’d need a Congressional recommendation to attend the Naval Academy and like do you think that’d be a problem with you and Dad being big polygamists and everything? I have no idea what he’s smoking, but how could he not realize that this was NOT the time?

Barb brushes him off and goes on to list all the people that could have exposed them: Wendy, the neighbors, Nicki throws out Barb’s sister and Barb shoots back with Nicki’s father, Roman. Of course, no one pays particular attention to that suggestion, even though it makes the most sense. Bill says they’ll knock them down one by one, starting with Pam and Carl, and then he starts back in on the damn dinner. Barb cannot believe the assness of her own husband.

She storms out of the room as the phone rings. Margie answers and she and Nicki follow Bill and Barb.

Bill: This didn’t just happen to you, ok? It happened to all of us.
Barb: I know that!
Bill: And I am trying to make it better for all of us. The life we’ve chosen leads to eternity, but yes, there are consequences.
Barb: We’re not in eternity, Bill. We are here, in Sandy, Utah and I don’t think I can live this life in Sandy, Utah.
Barb: You may be our priesthood holder, but I still have a say in what goes on in this house!
Bill: We are going to dinner at the Martins and that’s final.

He goes to get the phone and Barb looks positively scandalized. She barges past Margie and Nicki, who is trying to block her way, and goes upstairs.

That was a great scene, particularly for Jeanne. You can really feel how desperate she’s getting.

On the phone, Joey and Lois panic about Wanda and basically demand that Bill fix it. Lois goes as far as blaming Bill for the whole situation. You know, sometimes I forgive Bill for his assy behavior because he has to put up with this lot.

Bill’s going to send them an actual attorney and basically threaten Roman with the State coming in to Juniper Creek. Lois just doesn’t want to go to jail.

Barb sits in her car for a few moments before starting it up and presumably leaving.

Sister Wife Central. Bill, Marg, Nicki, Wayne and one of the other little boys (no, I don’t know which one) watch TV. The phone rings and Margie gets it. She walks slowly into the living room and hands Teeny, who is sitting on the floor, the phone. She sits down and looking straight ahead, like she’s scared something horrible is going to happen, whispers, “It’s Barb. She’s left.” She’s at Peg and Don’s and she’s not coming home. She needed some space. “From who?” Nicki asks, but by the way her and Margie both look at Bill, I think we know the answer.

Bill tells Teeny to give him the phone and Margie warns him in this hysterical, almost sing-song voice, “She doesn’t want to talk to you.” Nicki takes charge and just grabs the phone from Teeny, which was rude.

Barb: I cannot deal with him tonight, Nicki.
Nicki: Fine. But come back, stay at my house and we’ll just lock the doors and we won’t let him in.

HAH! Only, it’s kind of ruined when she looks at Bill and shakes her head all, “Not really, baby!”

Embry House. Don knocks and Barb turns to look at him. She’s clearly in one of the kids’ bedrooms and – Beaver! Oh, how I’ve missed me some Kyle Gallner. He says he needs his cleats and ducks into his closet to get them. Barb waves awkwardly.

Margie is now on the other phone. “But you’re gonna come back, right?” Margie asks. Nicki piles on with, “You can’t just walk out on this marriage just because you’re mad at Bill. You’re throwing Marg and me out with the bath water. How do you think that makes us feel? Awful! Irrelevant!

Barb: Good grief, Nicki.


Margie leans over and tells Wayne to ask Barb when she’s coming home. “When are you coming home, Mother Barbara?” Hahaha. I love it. But that kid creeps me out with his formalness. No one calls her Barbara. And the whole “mother” and “father” thing squicks me out, too.

Barb knows that was Margie’s doing and calls her on it. She just tells them that this is what she has to do and she hangs up.

Margie and Nicki look at Bill accusingly, but he doesn’t seem worried, telling them to let her have her space.

Now we’re back with the fugitive polygamist story on the news. The police got a tip that seemed credible, but yielded nothing. The family looks concerned.

The next morning, Nicki is making breakfast and no one is talking. Wayne is strangely just kind of hanging on Ben, whose hair, by the way, is substantially longer than last season. It only bothers me because only two weeks is supposed to have passed. They couldn’t have given Douglas Smith a haircut?

Sarah approaches the table and gives Bill a Look. Ben is staring at his dad, too. Wayne asks if there’s vanilla. Vanilla what? Extract? I… don’t know what he’s talking about. The point seems to be that everyone ignores him, including his damn parents, Bill and Nicki. Ben waits to see if any of the grownups are actually going to take care of their children before getting up to go look. I’m not sure what that scene was about. Besides making all three parents look pretty bad, especially Bill and Nicki, given that Margie is preoccupied with one of her own kids. It was just … weird.

Bill’s phone rings and in a nice touch, Sarah immediately looks at him, clearly hoping it’s her mother. It’s not. It’s Lee, the maybe-lawyer. He found a guy at the First Lady’s Office who is willing to ask around and meet with him.

Barb is at a college, registering for classes.

Margie is at the playground, watching her boys just kind of sit there, because they’re really too little to actually play. She has that weird calm thing going on, like when she got the red crayon on Bill’s white suit, then almost blew up her washing machine and then calmly smoked a cigarette and told her boys that they couldn’t live there anymore. I think I see another slow meltdown coming.

She calls Barb, who is still at the college but lies that she’s shopping. Margie tells her that she has a plan, which involves her going over to Pam and Carl’s and making up and finding out what they know. She would apologize for breaking up with Pam.

Barb: Apologize for what?
Margie: I don’t know … because I was wrong.
Barb: Wrong about what?
Margie: You know … I will figure that out.
Barb: Margie, this goes so much deeper and so much further back than just dinner with the neighbors.
Margie: I know! But will you be home tonight?
Barb: No.
Margie: Barb, I don’t know if I can be married to Nicki and Bill if I’m not married to you.

Awwwwww. I love Margene!

Barb just hangs up. Another excellent scene from the two strongest actors on the show, in my opinion. Margie is trying so hard to hold it together, but she desperately needs Barb to come home. Because seriously? Who would want to just be married to Nicki and Bill? Not me! And Barb feels guilty because she loves Margie, but she also needs to do what’s best for her. It’s a difficult situation all around and I applaud the show for making me sympathize with both sides.

Oh my god, we’re only halfway through this damn episode. Part 3 is on the way!

Miss Cordy is a senior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She is seeking a double-major in Political Science and Advertising / Public Relations. She has written for her local newspaper, focusing on the world of entertainment — movies and television. Her favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings series and her favorite TV shows are Heroes, Lost, The Amazing Race and Dancing with the Stars.

Movie Review: Punk’s Not Dead

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Growing up in Washington, D.C. in the early 1980s, I was able to witness an incredible moment in punk history first-hand. I fell in love with punk rock as a teenager and began photographing bands like Minor Threat, The Circle Jerks, UK Subs, and Stiff Little Fingers, to name just a few. –Director Susan Dynner

In the mid-nineties, I was in Tower Records Boston with former Bad Religion drummer Bobby Schayer. He pulled out a book about the history of punk and excitedly turned to a page that showed the crowd at a Black Flag gig. “That’s me in the crowd,” Bobby enthused. “I was about 15.” He insisted on buying me the book. I knew I wouldn’t read it though I realized I probably should.

The punk I like is The Clash, Buzzcocks, The Ramones, Green Day, The Offspring, Rancid, Social Distortion, and My Chemical Romance.

Punk, as we know it, celebrates its 30th anniversary, and this film provides the ideal showcase for it. Punk’s Not Dead blasts through the 30-year journey from underground to mainstream. Live concert footage from bands such as The Exploited, GBH, Minor Threat, The Addicts, Fugazi, and UK Subs are interwoven with interviews fomr legendary punkers like Derek O’Brien of Social Distortion, Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra, UK Subs, Joe Escalante of The Vandals, The Subhumans, and Bad Religion, to second generation punk rock’s Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Dexter Holland of Offspring to the reactionary and defensive third generation punk bands like The God Awfuls, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, and My Chemical Romance. (Of these bands, Newsweek’s music critic Lorraine Ali nails it: “They’re pop and they have some punk trimmings.”).

I’m surprised it took as long as it did with punk. The music was so intense it delayed the inevitable mass embrace. I figured it was going to happen sooner or later because the music was too good. –Jello Biafra, Dead Kennedys

Punk’s Not Dead deftly asks and answers many questions about punk and its influence on our culture. It also leaves plenty to discuss and brood over. There’s the DIY spirit to the Vans Warped Tour. There’s the creation of indie punk labels like Epitaph and Dischord to major label deals for some. When Buzzcocks had hits with songs like “Love Song,” many called sell-out. Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks said, “Love is still an important thing in the whole scheme of things. We were as political as The Clash and The Pistols in an existential way.”

If you decide ‘I’m the most punk guy in the world and I’m going to have nothing to do with corporate America,’ you’ll have to sit in your house and never go outside. –Jim Lindberg, Pennywise

Documentarian Susan Dynner addresses how punk started, the act or art (however one may interpret it) of “selling out,” and what really defines punk and makes a punk band. Clips from Quincy M.E. (“That music I heard was a killer.”) and a classic Donahue with a pierced, Mohawk-ed teen and his exasperated parent present the fear that punk provided. Then there’s the cool quotient as evidenced by The O.C’s Marissa Cooper spieling off names of bands she listens to (The Cramps, The Ramones) “because she’s angry and a Gilmore Girl explaining the educated punk rockers: “the guy from Bad Religion is getting his PhD in molecular biology from Cornell.”

Those who consider themselves punk have different interpretations. Often there’s even a competition among fans to be as “punk” and DIY (read: sometimes slumming it) as can possibly be. Some bands are that way too. Is it a look or an attitude?

Punk’s Not Dead is a provocative, electric film.

Amy is a film fanatic, music lover, over-educated/ under-utilized Gen-Xer living in Boston. Amy has a bachelor’s degree in English from Simmons College and a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University.

DVD Review: Bandidas

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek are two of the most beautiful women on the screen today, and they serve up a double helping of South of the Border sex and sizzle in Bandidas. The story is definitely B-grade, but once expectations are properly dialed in, it’s a hoot watching Cruz and Hayek chew up the scenery as they play mismatched and hot-tempered Mexican women of the 1880s who are out for revenge.

Cruz stars as Maria Alvarez, the daughter of a dirt-poor farmer, while Hayek plays spoiled Sara Sandoval, the daughter of the region’s richest man. When they first meet, neither of them like each other. But when Maria’s father is gunned down and left for dead while their farm is taken from them and Sara’s father is murdered in cold blood, they gradually bond for revenge.

Country star Dwight Yoakam stars as the bad guy, Tyler Jackson, whose in charge of getting a railroad ran through the heart of Mexico by whatever means it takes. Sam Shepard plays Bill Buck, a former bank robber who teaches Maria and Sara to rob banks and forge a friendship. Steve Zahn stars as Quentin Cooke, a forerunner in forensic detection that gets caught up in Maria and Sara’s schemes. The film was produced and co-written by Luc Besson, who has headed up several action pictures such as The Professional, The Transporter, and Kiss of the Dragon.

Seeking revenge, Sara and Maria start robbing all the banks Tyler Jackson has taken over. Each of them bring skills to their efforts. Maria has a trick horse that she plays tic-tac-toe with and can talk to. The horse also tells other horses what to do. She’s also a great pistol shot. Sara, though she can simper over a manicure, is also a great planner and can be driven to see things through on a large scale.

Although this film isn’t going to change your life or address any social problems in a meaningful way (although there is a line in the movie that basically says the United States should keep their noses in their own affairs), Bandidas is easy on the eyes and fun to watch. The plot takes predictable turns, but that’s made up by the pacing. You see everything coming, but it happens so quickly that you’re already onto the next thing in record time.

The predictable cat-fighting that goes on between the two leads doesn’t get tiresome because it never takes itself seriously or overstays its welcome. Likewise with the kissing scene (although Steve Zahn must have loved the retakes) where they competed for Quentin Cooke’s attention.

Everything comes comfortably together within ninety minutes, and the movie is a romp that involves sexy clothing, girls fighting, some real fighting, feats of derring-do that involve riding horses up ladders, swinging across courtyards, and blowing up buildings. The dialog is brisk and fun.

Bandidas is a great buddy flick, and maybe even one for a light couples night because there’s enough comedy and action to satisfy everyone.

Mel Odom is the author of over 100 novels. Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award for 2002 and runner-up for the Christy in 2005, he’s written in several genres, including tie-in novels for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Without A Trace, and novelizations of Blade, XXX, and Tomb Raider. Thankfully, he’s learned to use his ADHD for good instead of evil.

DVD Review: The Illusionist

Friday, June 15th, 2007


The Illusionist is a great film filled with enchantment, mystery, and real emotion. Edward Norton delivers a stunning portrayal of Eisenheim, a magician who has captured the attention of audiences throughout Europe with his masterful illusions and sleight-of-hand. Jessica Biel co-stars as Sophie, and Paul Giamatti is an absolute delight as Inspector Uhl.

The movie is narrated by Inspector Uhl throughout, and that device — so much like Sherlock Holmes’s Watson — is at once deceptively trustworthy and likable. Everything we see and hear is filtered through Uhl’s perceptions and own involvement with the principal cast.

The movie opens up with Eisenheim performing one of his nightly routines, and Norton is at his seductive best in this opening. His voice, his mannerisms, and his look drew me in and put me in one of those seats. I was astonished to watch what he did.

But the story only began there. It quickly segued back into Eisenheim’s childhood, and his adolescent romance with Sophie. According to Uhl’s account, Eisenheim was the son of a carpenter who barely made ends meet. Then one day the boy met a magician who showed him some magic tricks. Seized by what he had seen, the boy taught himself magic, created tricks, and learned from anyone who knew anything.

During that time, he met Sophie. The children played together, but Sophie’s parents found out and took her away, telling the boy he wasn’t good enough for her.

Now, in Vienna, Eisenheim and Sophie’s paths have crossed again, and they find that the love they had for each other has never wavered. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a love story, and this one was so well done it just takes the breath way.

Part of what makes The Illusionist work so well is the period piece costumes and sets. Even the camera work, with its sepia tones and use of what looks like natural lighting, is beautiful. The movie made me feel I was back during those times, watching the story unfold.

Of course, for a love story like this to work properly, there has to be a villain. Rufus Sewell play Crown Prince Leopold, the man who desires Sophie’s hand in marriage. Leopold also has a reputation for abusing — and perhaps murdering — the women in his life.

To tell anything further would be a crime. The Illusionist is an elegant story that has fascinating twists and turns, an elegant sense of pacing, and a story that is timeless.

Mel Odom is the author of over 100 novels. Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award for 2002 and runner-up for the Christy in 2005, he’s written in several genres, including tie-in novels for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Without A Trace, and novelizations of Blade, XXX, and Tomb Raider. Thankfully, he’s learned to use his ADHD for good instead of evil.

David Chase.

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

What a prick.


That's David Chase's idea of what happens when you get your brains blown out: Nothing. (So much for Tony's "There's something beyond all this.") Tony has earlier looked into Uncle Junior's empty eyes and seen that our one shot at quasi-immortality — memory — ain't shit either.

Paulie was the double-dealer. Working with Little Carmine, probably.

Up until the end, the episode was comic, anticlimactic "life goes on." AJ was easily bought out of his military resolve.

Although we've roved around in an omniscient point of view, at the moment of Tony's death we're (arbitrarily, because David Chase is such a prick) solipsistically trapped in his point of view, so we'll never know what happened to the rest of his family. We can assume they were all blown away except Meadow (so much for "something has to happen to Meadow"), whose life was saved by her inability to parallel park. (Somehow it makes me feel just a little better about my own deficiencies in that regard.) But that would be just an assumption. The blank black screen is the ultimate Rorschach blot, and the ultimate "f*ck you for caring."

You can't even be 100% sure Tony got blown away. 99%, okay. 95%? But it's also possible Chase just pulled the plug. THE END. What happens next is everybody's guess.


In other words — I loved it. (Okay, I'm a masochist.) The way it empowers and disempowers the viewer at the same moment? Like life, the bitch, to the end. And, when you think about it, the one and only way to make the series live on.

A deep bow to that f*cking prick.

I commented over at Althouse:

I started out assuming that was Tony's death. By the end of my own post, I was less and less sure.

I think it was the perversely perfect ending. Sort of like — for a totally absurd comparison — the way the pilot ends up drawing a sheep for the Little Prince: just a box with holes

This guy gets it:

The episode was brilliant, and here's why … From the moment that Tony sat down in the diner booth and "Don't Stop Believin" started playing, my heart was racing. It was pounding like crazy. The episode was almost over. The series was almost over. This was it.

Every person in the diner became a suspect. Every time the door opened, I was on the edge of my seat. I was thinking "when is it going to happen?" Is the guy at the counter going to kill him? Has Carlo given them enough to put Tony away and are the feds on the way? Who are those two shady guys that just walked in? Then I realized it. I had become Tony Soprano. … That paranoia, that tension, that suspense that I felt watching that scene, was the same paranoia that Tony lived with every day.

The Misfit disagrees. I LOVE this. "Build up your image as an artist, and if you then piss on your audience they'll thank God for the refreshing drizzle."

[The next morning] You know we're kidding ourselves, right? Tony's dead. That's Chase's idea of what it's like to get shot in the brain. A pretty good death, though it doesn't leave you much time for a "life review." Just as well in Tony's case, probably. Although he had his moments of self-reflection, and that's as much as someone like him (or anyone) can ask for. But I don't remember him using a one of them for remorse, and that's why there was justice and inevitability in his execution.

The show, and the viewer, too, were shot in the brain — put out of their misery. [After writing this I find that commenter Ed at Althouse said, "Tony doesn't get whacked. The audience gets whacked." Perfect!!] Of course, the .01% of doubt (isn't the banality of going on a worse sentence than death?) is sadistic genius. Leave room for wishful thinking, let the fools make fools of themselves thinking there's life after death or life after The Sopranos.

If Chase ended it this way because he's keeping the door open for a movie, I'd think a bit less of him artistically, but it would certainly be human: he always wanted to make movies, always hated television, which makes it supremely ironic that his imprisonment in television forced him to burst its bounds and make something you could never cram into a movie, no matter how many sequels, something Dickensian in form, if Shakespearean in girth and loft. (What I'm trying and failing to evoke with those words is the sense of exhilarating expansion, of lung-bursting spaciousness, you get from the greatest works the way you get it from being in the mountains.)

But then, a Sopranos movie would not have to follow the series in time. It could be set in one of the long lacunae of the series. It could even begin with Tony's rubout, and be a flashback, a life review, an alternate reality.

I hope not. Let the dead rest. I hope Chase gets to make his movie (he's earned it), and that it's about something entirely else.

TV Review: Big Love – “Damage Control”

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Season 2, Episode 1: Aired on June 11, 2007

Part 1

Previously on Big Love: The whole damn first season. But, in case you wanted specifics, here’s what HBO thought we should know, even though some of this doesn’t even come up in this episode.

After my tape briefly freaks me out by randomly cutting to ABC, we get to the good stuff: Roman, the prophet, wants his 15% of the newest Hendrickson’s Home Plus, but Bill insists that it’s a separate entity, so Roman can basically go screw himself. Nicki, Bill’s second wife, doesn’t understand why Bill can’t just like her evil, evil father, who just happens to be Roman. “I don’t want him in my homes!” we hear Bill roar again.

Then, they take us way back to the first episode where Bill’s dad, Frank, is sick. Barb says that they swore they’d never go back to Juniper Creek and that she meant it. Anyway, we found out that Frank had been poisoned with arsenic.

In other sister wife news, Margene, Bill’s third wife, watched Love Actually with her nosy, but sweet neighbor, Pam. Ben, Bill’s hot teenage son, basically tore into her, telling her that she had to be careful with who she had over, protecting the family, and blah blah blah. Finally, he asked her if she was unhappy, and in response, Margie launched herself into his arms, for a sweet, if more-than-slightly inappropriate hug.

Barb told fellow First Wife Peg that she’s having an affair with Bill and was promptly and bluntly chastised by Peg, and told that Bill was not going to leave his other wives, so Barb should just stop pretending that the situation is something that it’s not.

Speaking of Peg and Don and the other two sister wives, Wendy from Hendrickson’s Home Plus suspected Don of being a polygamist and told Bill so, not realizing that he himself is a polygamist. Don expressed concern with being “stuck in bed with Juniper Creek.”

Bill thought he’d washed his hands of Roman, but boy was he mistaken. So, he wanted eyes on the UEB Council and approached a guy named Earnest Holloway, and essentially took his seat on the council. Roman got angry.

Meanwhile, Margie’s friend Pam started to suspect Nicki of polygamy and Teeny put Barb up for Mother of the Year, a position that would very much put her out in the public eye. Oh, and Margene’s pregnant.

Then, we had the annoying Rhonda, who was to be sealed to Roman, even though she’s not even 16. She seemed very excited about marrying the Prophet. But, you know who wasn’t so much with the excitement? Heather, Sarah’s LDS friend, who told Sarah that it was wrong and that something needed to be done. Sarah quite understandably freaked at the prospect of Heather potentially outing her whole family.

Additionally, we have the Wanda-is-crazy plotline, where she has this little problem where she sort of poisons people. Yup, it was she who poisoned Frank and now she’s poisoned Roman’s son, Alby. She claims she does this to protect her husband, Joey, who also happens to be Bill’s brother. Roman got angry.

And finally, Roman outed the Hendricksons as polygamists, right as Barb was about to accept her award as Mother of the Year. She was disqualified on the spot and led off stage in front of the entire audience, including her children, in a horrifying scene that was very hard to watch. “I got what I deserved,” Barb despaired to her fellow sister wives.

Whew. Got all that? I may have to look into compiling a FAQ for new viewers. Let me know what you think about that in the comments.

Two minutes of previouslies? Really, HBO? Luckily, this was the premiere, so it’s unlikely they’ll do that again, but geez. On to the actual episode.

Credits. God only knows how Jeanne Tripplehorn really feels about Waterworld.

We open up on blue skies and pan down to Sister Wife Central, settling on Barb’s house, where Nicki and Margene are figuring out the weekly chores. Margene keeps piping in and saying she can do things, but Nicki keeps shooting her down with flimsy excuses, like “You have enough to do.” She won’t even let Margie cook dinner. Have I mentioned yet that I can’t stand Nicki? No? Well, I can’t. Just so you know. Also, Ginnifer Goodwin looks like she’s lost some weight that she really didn’t need to lose. Particularly in her face. Maybe that’s just me, though.

Bill wanders in, talking on the phone. We focus on a radio that’s giving a report on the Third Annual Safety Net Meeting that was held at the University of Utah, where representatives from seven communities of polygamists met with the Attorney General’s Office. I’m not sure what this has to do with anything currently, but since they focused on it, I figured I would, too.

Bill looks out the kitchen window and watches Barb do some pretty vigorous laps in the pool. Jeanne looks fantastic, by the way. But I still feel as though she probably wasn’t thrilled with the underwater shots of her thighs wobbling past the camera, all “Hi, mom!”

Bill dusts whoever he’s talking to and talks to some guy named Lee, who I think is his lawyer. He tells him he needs to find out who exposed them and wants Lee to find a contact at the First Lady’s Office. They’d need to talk to the First Lady’s Office because she’s the one who put on the Mother of the Year thing.

Nicki and Margene. Margie actually needs a new back door mat for her OWN HOUSE, so she obviously tells Nicki to let her do it. Nicki practically rolls her eyes and is all, “Margene,” as if she were talking to a child. Now, I know that Margie is immature and needs to be handled every once in a while, but MY GOD. It’s just a back door mat. How can she possibly screw that up? To me, Nicki’s behavior toward Margene all goes back to her being furious that she’s not the Boss Lady, so she figures she can just control Margene the way Barb controls everything else.

Bill walks in and tells them to get the mat at Home Plus and Margie tells him that Teeny needs to be registered for summer school, so she’ll take her.

“No, you won’t,” Bill argues. “Barb will. Guys, it’s been two weeks and she hasn’t left the house. All she does is these crosswords.” Nicki quietly says that she doesn’t seem ready. “Well, this isn’t healthy for her! I don’t think we can indulge her anymore, or coddle her. And I mean it! Either of ya!” Why is it that Paxton sometimes whips out this semi-southern accent? Also, why is it that he delivers every single one of his lines as if he’s pissed off at the world? He’s just so rude to his wives, particularly in the way he speaks to them. There was no reason for him to get all pissy just there.

Nicki waits for him to leave and then immediately moves all of her stuff over to Barb’s usual seat at the head of the table. Margene does a facial stutter and sort of looks back and forth between Nicki’s old seat and her current position in Barb’s seat. Nicki just hums cheerfully. Hee.

Barb is in her bedroom when Bill walks in and too casually asks about her swim and whether she’ll be taking Teeny in to summer school registration. “I plan on it,” Barb says tersely.

Bill: Good. (awkwardness) Okay. I’ll … see you later then. (pause) Our world can go to Hell in a hand-basket, but as long as we stick together, we’ll be alright.

I hate it when Bill does that – goes all preachy and philosophical. And it’s usually out of nowhere. Yuck. Barb clearly agrees with me because she totally doesn’t even acknowledge his existence.

Bill leaves Sister Wife Central, but is caught off guard when Nosy Neighbor Pam and her husband, Carl, wave to him hesitantly and generally act all around goofy.

Hendrickson’s Home Plus. Bill greets his employees and then he and the infamous Wendy end up walking side-by-side. Here’s what they actually said and what they really said:

Wendy: Mr. Hendrickson. How are you this morning? (I so know that you are practicing that dirty, dirty polygamy, you pig!)
Bill: Never been better, Wendy. (I will cut you.) Thank you. (Fuck you.)

It turns out that Bill has had Don ransack her desk, complete with photocopies of all of the dirt she’s pulled up on Bill and his family, as well as records of her emails and Internet activity. Bill jumps right to “She was targeting me!” But Don tries to calm him down by pointing out that all they know is that she was interested. Bill can’t handle all of this drama, so he wants a basis to fire her by the end of the week. Don hems and haws, forcing Bill to admit that he’s not 100% sure that it was she who outed them.

“But I’ve got ten souls in my charge,” he argues. “And if I can’t protect them, what kind of man am I?” Because I am a dork, I did the math on my own and he is right. For once.

Now he wants Don to tap her phone. “Tap her phone?! I can’t tap a phone!” Heh. But Bill walks all over him just like he walks all over his wives.

Summer school registration. Summer School Lady, Julie, apologizes for what happened at the Mother of the Year thing. “We were rooting for you,” she tells Barb. And I really thought she was being sincere here. But then she asks if Barb was planning on getting back to teaching any time soon. Barb falters a little and says that she hoped to. Julie just makes an “hmm” noise and smiles awkwardly at Barb, without saying anything. Barb is concerned.

Home Plus. Joey has stopped by to update Bill on the whole Alby-getting-poisoned thing. He’s been transferred to a private clinic and rumors have been flying. First, it was that he’d had kidney failure, then that he’d gotten a kidney transplant, then that he’d died on the operating table. And Joey rattles all of this off as if it’s not completely absurd. Heh.

Bill seems to be following until the dying part and gets all, “whoa, whoa, whoa,” explaining that you can’t get a kidney that fast and that they’d obviously have heard if Alby had died.

Apparently, Wanda is going to be questioned at a Good and Welfare Meeting. That sounds like a fun thing, but apparently it’s not. Bill is not really concerned and Lois is not really sympathetic to Crazy Wanda. We learn that Wanda has done this before, to Joey’s boss in Phoenix. Joey thought she was better, due to “vitamins and exercise.” Isn’t that what Tom Cruise prescribes for his patients?

Bill says they’ll get her some real help and also points out that she could obviously be arrested, as could the three of them for being accessories in a cover-up after the fact. “His kidneys could still fail,” Lois adds hopefully. Bill just sighs, all “Why me?”

Sister Wife Central. Barb and Sarah come home and Sarah suggests that not everyone knows or cares. Barb admits that when she thinks about the look on Sarah’s face at the Mother of the Year thing, she “just wants to die.” “It’s okay, Mom,” Sarah assures her. “I get called Plyggy every day at work.” Hee. Barb doesn’t think it’s as funny as I do.

“I don’t want the choices that I’ve made – the things that have happened to me – to ruin your life.” Sarah tells her to stop, but Barb plunges forward, asking her if she’d like to change schools or go out of state for college. “I want you to have choices.”

But Sarah is having none of it, telling her mother to take her off her worry list. She’s okay. Barb does not look like she feels any better.

Home Plus. Margene is shopping (yay Margie!), when she sees Nicki up ahead of her. She catches up.

Margene: What are you doing here?
Nicki: What does it look like I’m doing? What are you doing here?
Margene: Nicki! I said I would do the shopping.
Nicki: No, Margie, I said I would do it.
Margene: Maybe you’re not the only one who can do things.
Nicki: Don’t get snippy. (oh, is that the pot calling the kettle black, or what?)
Margene: Well, you asked for it.
Nicki: There’s gotta be a strong center or things will not hold. The way Barb is going, who knows when she’ll be back on her feet. So, whether you like it or not, this is a role that I have to take on. It’s for Barb, it’s for Bill. It’s for all of us.

I get her point, but she needs to delegate, like Barb did. And she needs to stop acting like Margie is one of her kids instead of her sister wife. Also? It’s a nice touch that Margie has the mat in her cart. I luff continuity. ConYay!

Anyway! Nicki sees Wendy standing a bit away and looks like she’s about to go psycho on her ass. And if you remember the smack down she gave Barb’s sister last year, you know she means business. Margie intervenes, however, and they continue their shopping. But not before Wendy notices them, too.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Miss Cordy is a senior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She is seeking a double-major in Political Science and Advertising / Public Relations. She has written for her local newspaper, focusing on the world of entertainment — movies and television. Her favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings series and her favorite TV shows are Heroes, Lost, The Amazing Race and Dancing with the Stars.

DVD Review: The Outer Limits – Volume One – The Original Series

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

The Outer Limits was a science fiction anthology series created by Leslie Stevens, with some help from Joseph Stefano (who also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho). It came into being towards the end of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone run, it began in 1963, while Twilight Zone ran from 1959 to 1964. The two shows have a lot in common, first and foremost strong writing, the anthology format, the twist, and being able to stand the test of time. As I watch, realizing just how good it is, I recognize that there is no way that it would get made in today's television climate. Not to say that there are no shows today that can match its quality, it is just that television has changed, the landscape is a vastly different, and in many ways rockier terrain to navigate.

Smartly written, The Outer Limits was a series that aimed to raise a mirror up against society and perhaps make us question things around us, things we take for granted, make us look at the world from a slightly different perspective. The episodes tend to lean towards the talky side, lots of dialogue can be found strewn throughout the running time, that is the first thing that would be nixed today, way too many words, and considerably less action than we are used to today. Another factor towards it not surviving today is the anthology aspect. It seems that current television is leaning towards the long story arcs, serialized stories that last anywhere from a few episodes, to seasons, to multiple seasons. Yes, I know that there was a second run that lasted seven seasons, ending in 2002, but it never reached the heights of the original, and never made it to any of the major networks (actually, I am not sure what network it was on, Showtime?).

Each episode began the same way, narration from the Control Voice:

"There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits."

What followed were episodes that presented us with creatures from outer space ("The Galaxy Being"), beings from beneath the sea ("Tourist Attraction"), experiments gone awry ("The Sixth Finger"), time travel ("The Man Who Was Never Born"), and others. Each episode offers up a different take, not quite as twisty and ironic as the the Twilight Zone series, taking a more straight up approach as the characters deal with the variety of strange situations that they are faced with.

This set contains the first sixteen episodes of the first season spread across two double-sided disks, four episodes on each side. Each episode is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio and in glorious black and white. The accompanying audio is the original mono track. Overall, the 40+ year old episodes look quite good, there is nice separation in the colors, offering a nice detail level. This is in addition to the nice cinematography, direction, and music employed in the initial creation of the series. There are no extras included, no featurettes, no interviews, no commentaries, nothing. This is a big missed opportunity, as I am sure there are plenty of folks involved in the show available to talk to, not to mention historians and television scholars that would be willing to discuss the impact and importance of the series.

Bottomline. This is a wonderful series, and anyone likes science fiction, speculative fiction, or the like should definitely give this series a spin, if you haven't already. The 16 episodes here are all worth your time. The series has a wonderful look and feel from the music, cinematography, and storytelling. I may prefer the Twilight Zone series, but there is no denying the place that this series holds.


Christopher Beaumont spends much of his time writing about entertainment when he isn’t sitting in a movie theater. He is known around the office as the “Movie Guy” and is always ready to talk about his favorite form of entertainment and offer up recommendations. Interests include science fiction, horror, and metal music. His writings can be found at Draven99’s Musings, as well as Film School Rejects.

Movie Review: Broken English

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

I sat down to watch Broken English not expecting too much. The storyline has been done before: the 30-something single woman living in New York struggling with men. But Parker Posey, who will always stick in my head as Mary from Party Girl (1995) brings vulnerability, humor, and realism to a role that has been done before but never this good.

Parker Posey plays Nora Wilder in what is being called "a startling mature and nuanced performance." The opening scene of the movie shows Nora applying lipstick, picking the perfect dress, and fighting an internal battle over her anxiety medication. We see a close-up of her pulling on her sandals and the lost lonely look in her brown eyes. I was instantly hooked.

broken english oneNora works in an elegant downtown hotel dealing with the VIPs who come through. She is competent and in control when she meets an actor who is staying in the hotel. She unbends enough to accept a date and as a result gets burned. But this experience leads her to meet the very charming and handsome Julien, a Frenchman working on a movie in New York for a short time.

Julien, played by Melvil Poupaud, is sensitive, with a passion for life and the world around him though he is recovering from a failed relationship. They spend a few blissful days together and while Julien might not understand Nora completely there is an easy companionship between the two, a chemistry that is magnetic. When he returns to France Nora is devastated; the scene where they say good-bye is heart-wrenching, the emotion jumps off the screen at you.

broken english twoNora decides she must got to France to find Julien. With her best friend Audrey (Drea De Matteo) in tow, she searches Paris up and down for any sign of him. But as the days pass Nora starts to look at her life differently; she begins to see herself as someone else, someone unafraid of being alone.

And just as Nora has resigned herself to not finding Julian, on her way to the airport to return to New York, she finds him. This last scene is beautiful. I was glued to the screen as the final moments played out and when the credits rolled I let out a sigh. Simply beautiful.

broken english threeBroken English, written and directed by Zoe Cassavetes, is funny but it is not the slapstick humor of some romantic comedies. The humor here is real, genuine, everyday funny; a Frenchman mispronouncing a word or Nora and her friend Audrey’s conversations. But while there are bright jewels there are dark here as well. Nora’s struggle with her anxiety is sad to watch, hard to understand if you have never experienced a panic attack, and heart-wrenching if you have.

I can not recommend Broken English highly enough. It was as close to perfect as any movie I have watched in the last few years.

Mrs. McNeill works for a non-profit agency where she is thankful for any internet time she can squeeze into her day. In her free time she reads one of the thousands of books she has stacked in her tiny apartment. Her husband is sure the books are a fire hazard and threatens daily to call the fire department.

DVD Review: The Amazing Screw-On Head

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Mike Mignola doesn’t invent your typical run-of-the-mill hero. Nor does he set their adventures in the everyday world or even a world most readers accept as everyday. Instead, he gifts his fans with side treks through strange and unknown places.

Most everyone knows about Hellboy, his premiere creation. The comic has done well and continues, and has even spun off sequels. The movie franchise is gearing up for a second movie.

The Amazing Screw-On Head is a prequel of sorts to Hellboy. Taking place in the 1860s, the story provides something of a history for the action in the pages of the Hellboy comics and movies.

The artwork of the 22-minute feature shows Mignola style. Heavily inked, edgy characters, and with some of the color drained away to make the artwork look more severe and stark, The Amazing Screw-On Head looks as though it exploded right out of the pages of a comic.

The dialogue is a hoot. Fabulously twisted, anchored in today’s world with tongue firmly in cheek, the characters speak and act in a mix of 19th and 21st century actions. The strange machinations take root and spread across the screen, offering a visual treat at every turn. A case in point is when President Lincoln refers to a man who was kidnapped by “two old women and a monkey.” Of course, one of those old women also turned out to be a werewolf.

Since there is only the 22-minute episode and special features that almost double the viewing time on the disc, The Amazing Screw-On Head may seem expensive to some. But Mignola fans and people who have heard about the show are going to step up and pay it anyway.

I had a blast with the episode. So did my nine-year-old, who loved the jokes and repartee. Buy this one out of love, not economics. I promise, you’ll watch it more than once. And when you do, you’ve already doubled your return on your initial investment!

Mel Odom is the author of over 100 novels. Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award for 2002 and runner-up for the Christy in 2005, he’s written in several genres, including tie-in novels for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Without A Trace, and novelizations of Blade, XXX, and Tomb Raider. Thankfully, he’s learned to use his ADHD for good instead of evil.

DVD Review: Hannibal Rising

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

By Iloz Zoc

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste…
If you meet me, have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste…
The Rolling Stones

How does one give sympathy to the devil? That's the challenge Thomas Harris faced when writing his background story on the birth of one of the most riveting fictional human monsters, Hannibal Lecter.

Of course, the first question to ask is why do it? Giving tea and sympathy to a consummately evil character that sends shivers down your spine with just that look and just that smile is quite an accomplishment. Why ruin it? When the Borg where humanized in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the franchise lost a perfectly frightening bunch of monsters with no redeeming social values, and future stories lacked the visceral fear of being assimilated without remorse, of losing all that you hold dear in the wink of an eye and there was nothing you could do about it. Bad call there.Thomas Harris made a bad call here, too. Not only does he try to explain why Hannibal is a cannibal, but he chooses to do it prosaically. His characters speak with flowery-mouth intensity appropriate for literature, not screen dialog. And for a laconic character that's short on words but long on cuisine, that's not a good thing; a known unknown evil is more worrisome and scary than a known known evil, definitely.

Hannibal01Director Peter Webber also makes a bad call by ponderously posing every scene with self-conscious importance. This slows the pacing throughout the movie, and scenes of visceral intensity, where Hannibal begins to succumb to his guilt and insanity, are held back because of it. And don't get me started on those James A. Michener-styled background tableaux. With near-risible martial arts aunt, offerings to ancestral samurai, and a poorly thought through revelatory exposition that is capped by Hannibal crying "You ate my sister!" I imagine lots of popcorn bounced off theater screens everywhere as audiences chuckled and shifted uneasily in their seats — for all the wrong reasons.

Adding to this undercooked cinematic souffle, Gaspard Ulliel postures a lot, as if doing a Vogue layout for Hannibal Lecter fashions. His ominous leering and malicious grinning doesn't evoke any of the uncanny calmness of Anthony Hopkins later, more menacing portrayal. It appears the look of the film was far more important than the substance.

Great care is taken to preserve that look, and visually, the film is beautiful when it should be ugly. Hannibal's growing insanity, growing thirst for revenge looks so beautiful, but it has no life of its own, no building tension buzzes around him.

It's Word War II, and young Hannibal, and his younger sister, are fleeing the Nazis. Their parents thought they had a safe haven in the woods, but that turns out to be a magnet for the war's atrocities. Before they're settled in, tragedy strikes and both his parents are killed. He and his sister must now face the long, cold winter alone in a hostile environment.

More of the war's chaos walks into their home in the form of mercenaries looking for food and a warm place to stay. Food. Where to find it? Starvation sets in, and more and more those hungry eyes stray toward the children. Eventually the hunger is too much, and it's now a quick cheek pinch here, an arm tug there to find which, boy or girl, has more meat on their bones. Hannibal's sister loses. He's helpless as she's brought outside to be slaughtered.Hannibal0It's now eight years later. Hannibal has lost everything, including his dignity, as his home is converted into an orphanage for bully-boys that grow tired of his nightly screams while he dreams. Soon he's off to Paris, to look up his aunt (Gong Li). She's Lady Murasaki Shikibu, who prays to her ancestor's samurai-suited shrine, and teaches Hannibal the fine art of hitting each other with a stick while wearing copious padding. Hannibal, of course, takes a fancy to her long and sharp katana, and enjoys rubbing it with clove oil to keep it sparkling.

An encounter with a fat butcher at the local market sets him off down the non-vegetarian road of self-destruction. He takes time away from his medical school training to return to his crumbling home to retrieve the dog tags of the vile men that ruined his life and ate his little sister. He begins tracking them down one by one, dispensing his unique brand of justice; and cooking up a tasty treat of cheeks and mushrooms — Emeril Lagasse take note!As the body count piles up, along with Hannibal's growing culinary prowess, Inspector Popil is hot on his trail. With insightful observations like "It's vanilla. He reacts to nothing. It's monstrous," when viewing Hannibal's polygraph test, and "What is he now? There’s not a word for it yet. For lack of a better word, we’ll call him a monster," I had no doubt the inspector would not get his man.

Hannibal03Hannibal eventually tracks down the men who ate his little sister, Mischa. Either beheading them, or drowning them, or munching on them, there's little revulsion generated by the whole mess. There is no tension, no suspense, and amazingly, no hint of that complex web of genius and madness shown in the adult Hannibal.In the climactic confrontation between the man who led the others in their hunger-driven madness to consume Hannibal's little sister, and the revenge-consumed Hannibal himself, the resolution is oddly passionless. Even when we find out why Hannibal is guilt-ridden also, the revelation is drowned in the good-looking but empathy-lacking scene. His cry of "you ate my sister," didn't help that scene much either.

Even the extra featurettes on the DVD are glossy-nice to look at, but lack real bite. For the hardcore horror fan, they offer no insight and no interesting background information. They're brochure-quality promotion pieces, not in-depth discussions of the film.Hannibal Rising is like one of those plastic fake food displays that look so mouth-watering good. Just don't shove one of them in your mouth expecting a great taste and texture experience, and don't watch Hannibal Rising expecting a shuddering, emotive experience either. Plastic is just plastic.

iamlegend is the full time chief editor and blogger for several blogs, but confesses that The Haunted Report is his favorite. It covers the haunted house/horror market. Basically, if it tries to scare the crap out of you… we cover it.