“Analyzing Love in the STAR WARS Prequel Trilogy”

0023t364

 

“Analyzing Love in the STAR WARS Prequel Trilogy”

I am curious as to why people think they can analyze love, whether between fictional characters or in real life. And why do many assume that love and morality is one and the same?

If Anakin Skywalker, in the STAR WARS Prequel Trilogy, had been the model Jedi who could do no wrong, people would have never questioned why Padme had fallen in love with him, or why she married him. But since Anakin is presented as being a flawed person, people come up with all kinds of theories and reasons (which usually has nothing to do with love) as to why she fell in love with him in the first place.

The problem is that people harbor the mistaken belief that love is about perfection or near perfection. Or that no one would fall in love with someone with the potential for evil. They also believe that one can only fall in love with someone after a certain period of time. Unfortunately, love does not work like that. Love is dangerous, unpredictable and very confusing for all. You cannot pinpoint on why someone will fall in love with a certain person.

One thing I have always admired about Padme was her willingness to love Anakin for himself. Yes, some people like to theorize that she became his wife, because she mistakenly believed that she could “reform” him. I cannot help but laugh at such a theory. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the true reason Padme fell in love with Anakin was because he brought up feelings within her that no one else has ever been able to?

When you love someone, you have to be willing to accept that person is and always will be flawed – and will always have the potential for both good and evil within. Not only was this true of Anakin, but of Padme as well. She has not always been perfect. In “The Phantom Menace”, Padme had allowed her anger and frustration with the Galactic Senate to be manipulated by Palpatine into declaring a vote of  “no confidence” against Chancellor Valorum. This act led to Palpatine’s first step into a position of real power. And it also proved that Padme was just as capable of making a disastrous choice on the spur of an emotional moment. Anakin, himself, discovered how arrogant and pushy she can be upon their arrival in Naboo, in “Attack of the Clone”.  During their time on Padme’s home planet, he realized that she was not the symbol of angelic perfection that he had perceived. Yet, he fell in love with her, more than ever.

In the end, I think we must realize that we cannot really judge why Padme fell in love with Anakin. She knew that he was capable of great darkness. But she also knew that he could be a good man. But I think that in the end, what really mattered was that he made her feel something that no one else could. And when you find someone like that – why ignore it? Even if the relationship might end in disaster or tragedy?

Advertisements

“STAR TREK” (2009) Review

atrailer034

Below is my review of the new movie, “STAR TREK”, directed by J.J. Abrams:

 

“STAR TREK” (2009) Review

Many fans of the ”STAR TREK” franchise seemed to be in agreement that its last television series – ”ENTERPRISE” (2001-2005) – had more or less killed the franchise. That opinion proved to be false with the release of its latest film – ”STAR TREK”, directed by J.J. Abrams.

Not to be confused with Robert Wise’s 1979 movie, ”STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE”, this latest installment in the franchise is about the early years of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 from ”THE ORIGINAL SERIES” (1966-1969). In other words, the movie is about how James T. Kirk became captain of the Enterprise and Spock, its first officer. What made this particular story unique is that the film’s opening sequence – an attack upon the Federation starship, U.S.S. Kelvin in 2233 led to an alternate timeline for the rest of the film.

When a supernova threatened the galaxy in 2387 (nine years after the U.S.S. Voyager’s return to Earth), Ambassador Spock piloted a ship carrying “red matter” that can create a gravitational singularity, drawing the supernova into a black hole. Before Spock completed his mission, the supernova destroyed the planet Romulus. Captain Nero (Eric Bana) of the Romulan mining ship Narada blamed Spock and the Federation for his planet’s destruction and its inhabitants, which included his wife and unborn child; and attempted to exact revenge on Spock. But both ships are caught in the black hole’s event horizon and travel to different points in the past. The Narada arrived first in 2233 and attacked the Kelvin. The attack resulted in the death of the Kelvin’s commander, Richard Robau (Faran Tahir) and first officer Lieutenant George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth); and James T. Kirk’s (Chris Pine) birth aboard a shuttle fleeing from the damaged starship. The rest of the movie featured both Kirk and Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) early years, their subsequent first meeting at Starfleet Academy and their clashes aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, commanded by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Meanwhile, Nero has survived and 25 years following Kirk’s birth, is still seeking to exact revenge upon Spock.

Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman managed to pen a solid adventure filled with time travel, plenty of action and strong characterization. Which is not surprising, considering that the story strongly reminded me of the Season Four episode from ”STAR TREK: VOYAGER” (1995-2001),(4.08-4.09) “Year of Hell”. But there were differences. Whereas ”Year of Hell”dealt with the moral ramifications of time travel, ”STAR TREK” merely revealed what happened after the timeline was changed. After all, it is more action oriented than the majority of ”TREK” episodes. I had no problems with that. Somewhat. But this slight difference deprived the movie of the depth found in ”Year of Hell”. And I did have problems with other aspects of Orci and Kurtzman’s script.

First of all, James Kirk’s rapid ascent from senior year Starfleet Academy cadet to the captain of the Enterprise within such a short space of time seemed ridiculously unrealistic. Even for a work of fiction. I realized that Pike saw great potential in Kirk’s future with Starfleet. But to promote a cadet so high in the ranks . . . and so fast bordered on the ridiculous. I also had a problem with Nero’s desire to exact revenge upon Spock. Instead of taking the opportunity to kill the Human/Vulcan hybrid in order to save his homeworld and family (which were the motivations of the villain in ”Year of Hell”), the Romulan wanted Spock to remain alive and witness the destruction of both Vulcan and Earth. Again, logic seemed to quickly disappear in what I believe to be an irrelevant plot twist.

Now, due to Nero’s presence in the 23rd century, the following happened:

*George Kirk died on the very day of his son’s birth and did not witness the latter’s graduation from Starfleet Academy.

*Kirk joined Starfleet Academy at the age of 22, instead of 17.

*Kirk became part of the same Starfleet Academy class as Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldaña) and Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban).

*Spock and Uhura became romantically involved during her years at Starfleet Academy.

*Both Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) and 17 year-old Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin) were already Academy graduates and Starfleet officers serving under Christopher Pike during Kirk, Uhura and McCoy’s last year at the Academy.

*Nero managed to destroy Vulcan and its inhabitants, using the same ”red matter” that the older Spock used in an attempt to destroy that supernova in the year 2258.

*Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson (Winona Ryder), was killed during the destruction of Vulcan.

Ironically, the movie ended with these changes in the ”TREK” universe still in place. Most fans might not have a problem with this. When it comes to time travel stories, they seemed to have a problem with the plot device known as”the reset button”. Many fans certainly bitched a lot when this plot device was used at the end of ”Year of Hell”. Not only have I never had a problem with”the reset button” plot device, I was not particularly happy that Abrams and the screenwriters failed to use it at the end of ”STAR TREK”. I do wonder if he or the next director plan to finally use it in the much ballyhooed sequel. I hope so. Because I do not exactly find this altered timeline particularly appealing. Especially since it featured the too rapid ascent of Kirk’s Starfleet career and Amanda Grayson’s premature death. I had feared that the movie would also affect another ”TREK” character – namely Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok (portrayed by Tim Russ) from ”VOYAGER”. Fortunately, Tuvok had been born on a Vulcan colony and not the planet, itself.

One last problem I had with the script’s altered timeline was the Spock/Uhura romance. Abrams and the screenwriters had decided to include this little romance, due to their discovery that Uhura once had a romantic interest in Spock in the early episodes of  ”THE ORIGINAL SERIES”. If I must be frank, this new Spock/Uhura pairing lacked chemistry. Period. Neither Quinto or Saldaña are to blame. Both had the bad luck to attempt to create romantic chemistry between two characters that are basically introverted. They simply lacked balance as a couple. On the other hand, Saldaña and Pine were like a basket on fire in the scene that featured Kirk’s attempt to seduce Uhura upon their first meeting at a bar in Iowa.

The movie’s true strength seemed to be the characters originally created by Gene Roddenberry, and the new cast of actors hired to portray them. Both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto did excellent jobs in creating the genesis of the Kirk/Spock friendship. They also managed to re-capture the essence of both characters without parodying William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy’s past performance. Zoe Saldaña’s Nyota Uhura seemed a little more fiery than Nichelle Nichols’ interpretation, but I thought she was great as the Communications officer. Her only misstep was that she had been forced to attempt some kind of romantic chemistry with Quinto. And as I had stated earlier, both were doomed to fail, due to the characters they were portraying. And so was Karl Urban as Leonard McCoy. Granted there were moments when he seemed to be aping DeForrest Kelly, but I had enjoyed his performances so much that I tolerated those moments. John Cho was deliciously cool and slightly sardonic as Sulu. And I thought it was a great touch that the screenwriters remembered Sulu’s penchant for fencing . . . and used it in a great fight scene. Anton Yelchin made a charming and energetic Chekov with probably a more authentic Russian accent than Walter Koenig. However, I found his role as a 17 year-old commissioned Starfleet officer rather questionable, considering that Chekov has never been portrayed as some kind of ”boy genius” like Wesley Crusher. I hate to say this, but I found Simon Pegg’s interpretation of Montgomery “Scotty” Scott disappointing and rather annoying. Pegg tried to infuse the character with a lot of broad humor. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too broad. His Scotty was so over-the-top that I found myself longing for another character to shoot him with a phaser.

I had seen ”THE ORIGINAL SERIES” first pilot, ”The Cage” only once in my life. Which means I have vague memories of the late Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayal of Christopher Pike, Kirk’s predecessor aboard the Enterprise. However, I thought that Bruce Greenwood’s portrayal of Pike in the movie to be definitely memorable. Clifton Collins Jr. gave admirable support as Nero’s henchman, Ayel. Both Winona Ryder and especially Ben Cross were believable as Spock’s parents – Amanda Grayson and Ambassador Sarek. I would not exactly call Nero one of the best villains in the TREK franchise. But I must admit that Eric Bana had given it his all with a performance that infused the character with a great deal of passion, malice and complexity without going over-the-top. Last, but not least, there was Leonard Nimoy portraying the late 24th century Spock. There were times when Nimoy seemed to be struggling with the role due to his age (he was at least 77 years old when the movie was filmed). Fortunately, these moments were very few and his Spock was a warm and more matured character who finally seemed to be a peace with his mixed heritage.

Daniel Mindel’s cinematography, along with the visual and special effects featured in the movie seemed pretty solid. However, I found nothing memorable or exciting about them. If the movie does manage to earn Oscar nominations, I will be very surprised. On the other hand, I rather liked Dawn Brown and Kevin Cross’ set designs – especially their work on the Enterprise. A good number of fans have complained that they were not an exact replica of the Enterprise’s interiors from the series. Frankly, I prefer these new interiors. As for Michael Giacchino’s original score . . . I have no memories of it. I found it that forgettable.

In the end, ”STAR TREK” is a pretty solid action film that is sure to provide a great deal of entertainment for moviegoers, this summer. It is not the best”TREK” film I have seen. I believe that “STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK”, “STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME” and ”STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT” are better. And as much as I liked Orci and Kurtzman’s script, I had a few problems with their handling of the time travel aspect of the story, along with the backgrounds of characters like Kirk and Chekov, along with the Spock/Uhura romance. And the story seemed like a slightly inferior remake of the ”STAR TREK VOYAGER” episode, ”Year of Hell”. But the cast, led by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, was first-rate, aside from Simon Pegg’s hammy performance. And in the end, I would say that J.J. Abrams . . . did a pretty good job.

“On the Analyst’s Couch” – 2/6

Charmed412_520

Here is the second chapter of “On the Analyst’s Couch”:

“ON THE ANALYST’S COUCH – Part 2

Several months later, Prue Halliwell is killed at the hands of the demonic hitman, Shax. Her death leaves the remaining Charmed Ones in a state of sorrow and despair. Especially the new oldest sister, Piper Halliwell. Several months later, Piper continues having difficulty in dealing with Prue’s death. She is also has trouble with the introduction of the newest member of the Halliwell family, Paige Matthews. Piper eventually becomes Dr. Linnbakker’s newest patient.

————

CASE #71200 – PIPER HALLIWELL (DECEMBER 22, 2001):

DR. LINNBAKKER: (Smiles at Piper) Good afternoon, Piper. How are you?

PIPER: (Rolls her eyes) Fine. Which is why I don’t understand why I’m here. (Leans back against the chaise in an uneasy manner).

LINNBAKKER: You don’t? Then why are you here? In this office?

PIPER: Leo talked me into this. Look, maybe I’ve been having a few problems lately, but I’m fine now.

LINNBAKKER: Are you? (Opens Piper’s file) Then why have you been acting in an obsessive manner, lately? Almost aggressive. Not quite the Piper Halliwell we all know and love.

PIPER: (Peers at the file) I don’t recall us knowing each other and what is that? My dossier or something? Where did you get that from?

LINNBAKKER: It’s your file. Or your dossier, as you like to call it? It’s a record of your behavior and actions as a witch for the past three-and-a-half years. Why? Does it bother you?

PIPER: Well, yeah! And just how did you get all that information?

LINNBAKKER: From the Founders, of course.

PIPER: (Sarcastically) Of course.

LINNBAKKER: You really dislike them, do you? The Founders, I mean.

PIPER: (Shakes her head) I don’t dislike them. Just resent them. A little. (Pauses) Most of the time. (Another pause) Maybe some of the time.

LINNBAKKER: In other words, you don’t like them.

PIPER: All right! So, I don’t like them at times. Why shouldn’t I? After all they put Leo and me through!

LINNBAKKER: But you got married, after all. Even your grandmother and mother were able to attend the wedding.

PIPER: (Sarcastically) Yes, and I’m truly grateful. It’s too bad the Founders didn’t allow me to marry Leo some four months earlier.

LINNBAKKER: You and Leo were about to get married behind their backs. And break the rules. There could have been disasterous consequences for all of you. Who knows how the Founders would have reacted?

PIPER: Isn’t that what love is supposed to be about? Taking chances? Risking everything?

LINNBAKKER: (Peers at file) And yet, your first reaction to Leo’s proposal was to reject it. What did you call it? Unholy?

PIPER: (Gasps) How did you . . .? (Glances at file) How did the Founders know about that? They didn’t find out about Leo’s plans until the ceremony.

LINNBAKKER: I know. After he was found out, Leo was forced to tell the Founders everything. Including your earlier rejection.

PIPER: (Sighs) The all-powerful, all-knowing, Founders. It’s too bad . . . (Pauses)

LINNBAKKER: It’s too bad, what?

PIPER: Nothing.

LINNBAKKER: Come on. What did the Founders fail to do? Save your mother? Penelope? (Pauses) Prue?

PIPER: (Angrily) This has nothing to do with Prue!

LINNBAKKER: Really? Then why have you been acting like a woman possessed, since her death?

PIPER: I haven’t been acting . . .

LINNBAKKER: Piper, have you taken a good look at yourself, lately? Look at how you’re dressed! Granted a dark brown blouse and black leather pants might suit Prue, but you? Do you feel that you have to dress in Prue’s style to be the leader of the Charmed Ones?

PIPER: I’m not . . . (Glances at her clothes and sighs) Okay, maybe my taste in clothes are a little dark . . .

LINNBAKKER: Are you kidding? You’re a borderline dominatrix, right now. I don’t think even Prue’s outfits have ever been so . . . in your face.

PIPER: (Flippantly) Then this has nothing to do with Prue, does it?

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) Oh, you Halliwells! You never change, do you? I’ve never known a family so reluctant to face their feelings.

PIPER: I . . . Oh, never mind.

LINNBAKKER: Why don’t we move on to another subject. Like Paige.

PIPER: (Frowns) Paige? What does she have to do with this visit?

LINNBAKKER: You tell me. You’re the one who keeps treating her like the bastard child.

PIPER: (Coolly) That’s funny. I could have sworn she was.

LINNBAKKER: And it’s her fault?

PIPER: I didn’t say . . . that it was.

LINNBAKKER: Then why do you treat her as if it was? Because Patty was in love with her father and not yours? Do you blame her for that? Do you, like your father, feel that Patty’s feelings for Sam ruined her marriage?

PIPER: Of course not! I know that it was Dad’s fault. That he left her . . . us.

LINNBAKKER: (Sadly) Do you really believe that? You know, it takes two to break up a marriage. Granted, I can’t give Victor Bennett any points for deserting you girls for so many years. As for him and Patty, he can only take half of the blame. Your parents’ problems started a long time ago. Patty forgot to tell him that she was a witch before they got married. And Victor has resented her being one, ever since. Sam . . . well, he was just a result of their unhappiness. You can’t blame him for their break-up. And you can’t blame Paige.

PIPER: (Angrily) I don’t blame her for that!

LINNBAKKER: Then what do you blame her for?

PIPER: (Takes a deep breath) I . . .

LINNBAKKER: You what? You blame her for trying to take Prue’s place?

PIPER: Oh God! Are we back on Prue again?

LINNBAKKER: Why not? You’ve been in an emotional tailspin, ever since her death. Why not bring up Prue, again? You blame the Founders for not giving Leo the ability to heal her, after Shax’s attack. You blame Phoebe for going after Cole when all three of you were needed to vanquish Shax for the second time. And you blame Paige for taking Prue’s place as a Charmed One. But worst of all, you blame Prue, don’t you?

PIPER: (Tears form at the edge of her eyes) Why would I blame Prue?

LINNBAKKER: Well, she was the one who insisted upon leaving the manor to track down Shax. It would have been more prudent to remain behind and wait for him to reappear. Not a very wise decision, if you ask me.

PIPER: (Wipes the tears from her eyes) Oh? And you call going to the Underworld to save a half-demon boyfriend, wise?

LINNBAKKER: (Smiles) Ah, so you do resent Phoebe for going after Cole. You feel she’s to blame for Prue’s death?

PIPER: I didn’t say that I resented Phoebe for . . . (Pauses and sighs) Okay, I did blame her a little.

LINNBAKKER: I understand. If Phoebe had been around, you would have had the Power of Three to vanquish Shax after time had been reversed. And Phoebe would have been able to summon Leo in time to save both you and Prue. But you must admit, leaving the Manor to vanquish him without the three of you was also pretty stupid.

PIPER: It wasn’t . . . we managed to stop him, anyway. After all, Prue was the strongest . . .

LINNBAKKER: Actually, she wasn’t. Not after you received your second power.

PIPER: (Murmurs) Oh.

LINNBAKKER: Is that all you can say? Oh? Why don’t you try accepting the fact that Prue was never perfect? Or the super witch you claimed she was?

PIPER: You don’t understand! Prue raised us. Well, she helped Grams . . .

LINNBAKKER: Piper, Prue was seven years old when Patty died. Have any of you ever stopped to think that she was too young to be a mother figure? She was at least a year-and-a-half older than you. Not a decade.

PIPER: I know.

LINNBAKKER: And have you ever stopped to consider that maybe you relied upon her just a little too much? Weren’t you ever capable of thinking for yourself?

PIPER: Hey! I’m not an idiot or anything! But I’m also not perfect.

LINNBAKKER: No, you’re not. But you’re not helpless. You can think for yourself. Piper, you have to stop expecting others to think for you. It’s time you accept the fact that Prue is gone and you’re now the oldest.

PIPER: (Grits teeth) I’m aware of that.

LINNBAKKER: Then consider this. Just because you’re now the oldest, doesn’t mean you have to act like Prue. Be the oldest sister the way Piper Halliwell would.

PIPER: (Picks at her blouse and murmurs) I understand.

LINNBAKKER: Do you? I wonder. (Pauses) How’s Leo?

PIPER: (Glances sharply at Dr. Linnbakker) Leo’s fine. I think.

LINNBAKKER: You think?

PIPER: (Shrugs) We’ve been a little busy, lately. And I . . .

LINNBAKKER: Oh, I see. Not much in the romance department, lately.

PIPER: I didn’t say that.

LINNBAKKER: You didn’t have to. Your expression alone spoke a thousand words. Busy vanquishing demons?

PIPER: (Shrugs) More like Leo is busy looking over Paige.

LINNBAKKER: Ah, we’re back to Paige, again. The interloper.

PIPER: She’s not . . . okay, maybe I’ve been . . . you know, a little short with her.

LINNBAKKER: And why is that?

PIPER: (Sighs) Because I thought she was trying to take Prue’s place. Because she’s a reminder of my parents’ failed marriage. Because Leo seems more interested in her . . . I better end this.

LINNBAKKER: In Leo’s case, I think he’s just excited to work with another whitelighter. Well, half-whitelighter. But Paige isn’t trying to take Prue’s place, you know. You do know that, right?

PIPER: (Another sigh) Yes! (Pauses) Yes, I know.

LINNBAKKER: I think she simply wants to be part of a family, again. And this is her second chance.

PIPER: (Sadly) Yeah. I guess that after her foster parents’ deaths . . .

LINNBAKKER: I see that you finally got my point. (Examines Piper’s file) By the way, do you still have this urge to become mortal?

PIPER: (Stares at the doctor) What?

LINNBAKKER: Well, according to your file, the Source almost destroyed the Charmed Ones by exploiting your desire to become mortal. Do you still have those feelings?

PIPER: (Squirms uncomfortably) Of course not. I’ve re . . . uh, I’ve finally learned to . . . accept my Wiccan heritage.

LINNBAKKER: (Stares hard at Piper) Really?

PIPER: Don’t you believe me?

LINNBAKKER: I don’t know. Remember the time when the Source had kidnapped you? Just before that happened, Cole uncovered a chameleon in your house. And instead of investigating the matter, you decided to attend a baby shower. Even worse, the Source exploited your “inner” desire to give up your powers. I don’t know about you, Piper, but that doesn’t sound like “embracing one’s heritage”. More like running away.

PIPER: (Resentfully) Everything turned out fine in the end. Leo and Cole managed to save me from the Source. And besides, I don’t regard being a witch as some kind of hindrance, anymore. I now (unconvincingly) consider being magical as . . . well, special.

LINNBAKKER: Uh-huh. (Reaches for her pad and scribbles on it) Let’s see. I’ll be available for another session, next Tuesday, at 2:00 in the afternoon. Is that okay with you? (Looks at Piper)

PIPER: Wait. You want me to see you, again? (Pauses) That didn’t exactly come out right.

LINNBAKKER: It came out fine. And yes, I do want to see you, again. Whether you realize it or not, you need someone to talk to. And I don’t mean your husband or your sisters. Here you go. (Hands Piper a slip of paper) Don’t forget to be on time. Two o’clock in the afternoon, next Tuesday.

PIPER: (Looks stunned) Yeah right. Thanks.(Stands up and heads for the door) See ya.

END OF CASE #71200

“HOT FUZZ” (2007) Review

000dara4

“HOT FUZZ” (2007) Review

I have never never seen “SHAUN OF THE DEAD”. Nor have I ever seen “SPACED”, the TV series that first made British comics Simon Pegg and Nick Frost well known. And if I must be honest, I never really had any intention of seeing “HOT FUZZ” in the theaters. Until I saw the commercials for the movie on television. Thank God I had changed my mind.

“HOT FUZZ” tells the story of New Scotland Yard police constable, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), whose uber-dedication to law and order, spotless arrest record (400% superior to his colleagues), and no-nonsense personality drives his superiors (which include Bill Nighy and Steve Coogan) to promote him to sergeant . . . and reassign him to the supposedly crime-free village of Sanford. Feeling like a fish out of water, Sergeant Angel struggles to adjust to rural crime fighting (like arresting underaged drinkers and a drunken future partner; and searching for a missing pet swan) and the slightly offbeat citizens of Sanford – especially his new partner, the affable Constable Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). What starts out as a mind-numbing experience for Angel, becomes intriguing when Sanford is rocked (well, as far as the intrepid police sergeant is concerned) by a series of grisly accidents. Angel eventually uncover the truth behind the so-called accidents. With the help of the eager Butterman (who happens to be an action movie fan) and the seemingly inept Sanford Police, Angel brings the . . . uh, guilty party to justice in a blaze of action-stylle gunplay.

Not only is “HOT FUZZ” one of the funniest movies I have seen in years, the screenwriters (director Edgar Wright and star Pegg) have created an array of eccentric and memorable characters that include Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (who plays Danny’s equally affable chief of police dad, Frank Butterman) and Billie Whitelaw (“THE OMEN” fame) and BAFTA nominee Anne Reid (“THE MOTHER”). Also portraying some of the villagers are a collection of British talent from famous action-adventure sagas – Timothy Dalton (the 4th James Bond), Edward Woodward (“THE EQUALIZER”), Paul Freeman (Belloq in “RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK”), David Threlfall (“PATRIOT GAMES”) and Stuart Wilson (“LETHAL WEAPON 3”). Even Pegg has appeared as an IMF computer tech in “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3”. And they are all hilarious . . . especially Dalton’s smarmy supermarket owner who reminds me of a stock villain straight out of “THE PERILS OF PAULINE”.

I must admit that I truly enjoyed watching Nick Frost’s Danny get under Angel’s skin. Not only was he extremely funny – and witty, but he was also so charming that it was easy how he managed to break down Angel’s chilly exterior and befriend the London cop. And his penchant for American action films has endeared me to his character more than ever. I suffer from the same penchant.

But the real revelation – at least for me – turned out to be Sergeant Nicholas Angel, portrayed with such humorless zeal by star, Simon Pegg. Straight arrow types usually turn out to be the hero or anti-hero’s long-suffering superior or rival in many action films. And it is usually the screw-up or anti-social characters who turn out to be the main character that end up being transferred away from the action. But in “HOT FUZZ”, Angel’s zealous competence causes him to lose his girlfriend (Cate Blanchett in a cameo), but earn the antipathy of his Scotland Yard colleagues (who are eager to get rid of him). I cannot explain it, but is something about Angel that I found very appealing and funny. I guess I simply found him fascinating. In real life, this guy would have seriously annoyed me. But thanks to great writing and Pegg’s tight performance, I found myself rooting for him. The ironic thing about Nick Angel is that he will eventually discover that his nemesis is just as anal as he. Danny Butterman turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.

Some critics have complained that “HOT FUZZ” seemed to long for a comedy with a running time of 121 minutes. Considering that the movie was a send-up of action movies, which usually ran at two hours, I saw nothing wrong with the movie’s length. To be honest, I was too busy laughing to notice. I have to say that without a doubt, “HOT FUZZ” is one of the funniest movies I have seen since . . . one of Danny Butterman’s favorite movies, “BAD BOYS 2” and “STARSKY AND HUTCH” (both were released in 2003). It has become increasingly difficult to find a comedy that is smart and filled with rich characterization. “HOT FUZZ” can also boast some memorable scenes that I will never forget:

-Sergeant Angel’s New Scotland Yard superiors giving him the news about his reassignment
-Angel’s first night in Sanford (which includes arresting his future partner)
-David Threlfall and Lucy Punch’s hilarious take on “ROMEO AND JULIET”
-Police Constable Doris Thatcher’s witty repartee after dealing with one of Simon Skinner’s employees
-Danny Butterman’s send up on a scene from “POINT BREAK”
-Angel and Skinner’s crazy hand-to-hand fight amidst a model of Sanford.

“HOT FUZZ” managed to reach American theaters at least two weeks before the start of the Hollywood summer season. And already, it has become one of my favorite movies of 2007. It is a hilariously rich and sharp tale about murder, consipiracy and a great friendship. Thank you Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright.

10/10

”MAD MEN”: The Specter of Intolerance

07

 

”MAD MEN”: The Specter of Intolerance

Matthew Weiner’s acclaimed television series, ”MAD MEN”, has addressed many issues that American society had faced in both the past and today. Issues such as class, sexism, religion and race have either reared its ugly heads or have been brushed upon by this series about an advertising agency in the 1960s.

The center of ”MAD MEN” is mainly focused upon advertising executive named Don Draper. But the series also focuses upon his co-workers at the firm he works at – Sterling Cooper – and his family in the suburb of Ossing, New York. But this article is about two of Don’s co-workers – namely a junior copywriter named Paul Kinsey and the firm’s office manager, the red-haired Joan Holloway.

In the series premiere, (1.01) ”Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, Joan was engaged in the task of introducing the newly hired secretary, Peggy Olsen, around to Sterling Cooper’s other employees. One of the employees happened to be Paul Kinsey, who briefly hinted that he and Joan had a romantic history in the past. This was confirmed several episodes later in (1.12) “Nixon vs. Kennedy”, when Joan and Paul had a bittersweet conversation about their past romance during an election party (Election of 1960) held at the office. Apparently, Joan had ended the romance when Paul revealed too much about their relationship.

Joan and Paul’s relationship – or should I say friendship – took an ugly turn for the worst in Season Two’s (2.01) ”Flight 1”. Although this episode mainly focused upon another Sterling Cooper employee, Pete Campbell, facing his father’s death; it began with a party held by Paul at his apartment in Montclair, New Jersey. Paul’s guests not only included co-workers from Sterling Cooper, but also some of his African-American friends (or neighbors). One of those guests included Paul’s new girlfriend, a black woman named Sheila White. Paul introduced Sheila to Joan as his girlfriend. He also added that Sheila worked as an assistant manager at her local supermarket. Then he briefly dismissed himself to see to another guest. Once Paul left, Joan turned to Sheila and said the following:

””When Paul and I were together, the last thing I would have taken him for was open-minded.”

In one sentence, Joan managed to stake her claim on Paul as a former lover and make a racist comment. Sheila merely responded with a polite compliment about Joan’s purse. She must have eventually told Paul, because within a day or two, Paul angrily confronted Joan on the matter. She merely responded by accusing Paul of using Sheila to look bohemian and ”tolerant” to his friends and co-workers. She also managed to conveniently forget that Sheila worked as an assistant manager at the Food Fair and dismissed the latter as a mere check-out clerk. Too angry to respond, Paul stalked away. Later, he got his revenge by stealing Joan’s drivers’ license, making a copy of it and posting that copy on the office bulletin board. He did this to expose her age (which was 31 years).

Paul and Joan did not share any scenes together until the recent episode, (2.10) “The Inheritance”. In this particular episode, Sheila paid a visit to the Sterling Cooper office to meet with Paul for lunch. She also wanted Paul to join her on a voters’ registration trip to Mississippi. Did Joan notice the brief kiss exchanged between Paul and Sheila? Yes. Nor did she look particularly happy about it. This episode exposed Paul’s blowhard attempts to make himself look good in the eyes of others . . . especially in the eyes of Sterling Cooper’s black elevator operator, Hollis and the other members of the entourage he and Sheila accompanied on their trip to Mississippi. But I feel that it also exposed Joan’s own feelings about Paul’s relationship with Sheila . . . again.

Don Draper gave Joan the opportunity to exact revenge upon Paul. In ”Inheritance”, Paul and accounts executive Pete Campbell were ordered to Southern California to recruit future clients in the region’s aerodynamics industry. At the last minute, Don decided he would replace Paul on the trip. He ordered his temporary secretary, namely Joan, to inform Paul in a memorandum that he would be taking the latter’s place on the trip. Instead of informing Paul by memo, she verbally told him in front of the other Sterling Cooper employees, during a baby shower for father-to-be Harry. And publically humiliated the copywriter, in the process. Joan got her revenge . . . for something she had set in motion, when she insulted Sheila in an earlier episode. Curious.

And yet . . . most of the fans of ”MAD MEN” seemed to sympathize with Joan and vilify Paul, in the process. Many of them seemed so intent upon pointing out Paul’s pretentious behavior or claiming that he does not really care for Sheila that they have ended up ignoring Joan’s racism. And there have been those who claim that Joan is not a racist. They insisted that she simply wanted to expose Paul’s poseur attitude. My question is . . . why? Why would Joan even bother? Both the series’ viewers and Joan received a firsthand glimpse of Paul’s pretentiousness back in the Season One episode, (1.12) ”Nixon vs. Kennedy”. In that episode, Paul had Salvatore Romano and Joan performed his one-act play that he had written, during the office party for the 1960 elections. The viewers also received an example of how dark Paul’s poseur streak can be when he expressed jealousy that Ken Cosgrove managed to get a short story published in ”The Atlantic Monthly” in (1.05) “5G”. Why did Joan wait until she met Sheila to point out Paul’s pretentiousness? Why did she not do this earlier? I have asked this question on several occasions. Most fans either ignore my questions or insist that Joan is not a racist . . . while at the same time, continue to deride or make a big deal out of Paul’s pretentiousness.

In a ”Christina Hendricks Interview”, the red-haired actress had expressed dismay over the possibility of Joan being a racist, when she read the script for ”Flight 1”. Series creator Matthew Weiner told her that Joan was not a racist. He added that Joan was simply trying to expose Paul’s pretentiousness over his relationship with Sheila. Like many of the series’ fans, Ms. Hendricks accepted Weiner’s explanation. But after viewing ”Flight 1” and ”The Inheritance”, I can conclude that the writer/producer did a piss poor job of conveying Joan’s intention . . . or he had lied to Christina Hendricks. Right now, I am inclined to believe the latter.

Best Moment in Each Bond Film

31

“BEST MOMENT IN EACH BOND FILM”

What do you consider to be the best moment in each James Bond film? I had discovered this question on a Bond forum and decided to ask it on my blog. Below is a list of my choices. What are yours?

DR. NO – Professor Dent’s death

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE – Grant reveals SPECTRE’s plot to Bond (although I do find it to be a little illogical)

GOLDFINGER – Bond’s discovery of Jill Masterson’s body

THUNDERBALL – Fiona gets the drop on Bond

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE – Tiger Tanaka and his ninjas attack Blofeld’s volcano

ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE – Bond’s escape from Piz Gloria

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER – Bond/Peter Franks fight in Tiffany’s apartment building

LIVE AND LET DIE – Boat chase through the bayou

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN – Bond and Goodnight have lunch with Scaramanga

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME – Anya discovers that Bond had killed her lover

MOONRAKER – Bond saves Manuela from Jaws

Mnrkr_407

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY – death of Emile Locque

OCTOPUSSY – Bond/Orlov confrontation at East German railyard

A VIEW TO A KILL – Zorin’s men attempt to kill Bond on racetrack

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS – Mujardeen attack on Soviet airbase/Bond confronts Pushkin

LICENSE TO KILL – Fight at Barrelhouse bar

GOLDENEYE – Bond and Natalya escape from General Ourumov

TOMORROW NEVER DIES – Bond/Dr. Kauffman confrontation

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH – Bond confronts Elektra about possible connection to Renard

DIE ANOTHER DAY – Bond and Jinx raise havoc at Cuban clinic

CASINO ROYALE – Stairwell fight/Torture sequence

QUANTUM OF SOLACE – Aerial dogfight over the Bolivian countryside

QuantumOfSolacetrailercapture25

“LOST” and the Art of Hypocrisy”

meetkevin207

“LOST” and the Art of Hypocrisy

The eighth episode of “LOST”‘s Season Four featured the backstory of one of the original Flight 815 passengers, Michael Dawson. Back in Season Two, he left the survivors’ camp to search for his missing son, Walt, who had been kidnapped by a group of mysterious people called the Others. Desperate to get his son back, Michael left the Losties’ camp and conducted his own search. Unfortunately, he ended up captured. The Others gave him a choice – either help them capture four of the castaways and find a way to release their captured leader, Ben Linus, or never see Walt again. Michael chose to cooperate.

In the end, Michael murdered one castaway – Ana-Lucia Cortez – to help Ben escape. He accidentally killed another – Libby. Then he led four other castaways – Jack Shephard (the leader), Sawyer aka James Ford, Kate Austen and Hurley Reyes – into a trap set by the Others. As the Others had promised, he finally got Walt back and left the island on a boat given to them. In early Season Four, Michael’s character returned to the series in the episode, “Meet Kevin Johnson”. The episode told in flashbacks of Michael’s experiences between the time he and Walt had returned to the United States and Michael’s return to the island as a crew member of a freighter, whom some castaways see as their rescue from the island.

Two days after the episode aired, a reveiwer named Billie Doux, posted her review of the episode. There is one particular passage that caught my attention:

“I am completely and totally down with what Sayid just did to Michael. Michael is still basically unlikeable and unsympathetic, a murderer and a traitor as well as weak and selfish. Even his obsession with Walt is also selfish at its base because it is less about Walt’s welfare, and more about Michael’s. Especially if Michael actually burdened Walt with a confession about what Michael did to Ana Lucia and Libby. That Mama Cass song we heard twice in the episode absolutely haunted me, and not because Mama Cass is dead, like Patsy Cline is dead. I think it was a musical echo of Michael’s double murder in the Hatch, because the first thing we heard in the Hatch at the beginning of season two was a Mama Cass song. (Not the same one, though.)”

I am going to be frank and state that Miss Doux’s comments had really PISSED ME OFF. She had pissed me off. She had a right to be upset over Michael’s murder of Ana-Lucia and Libby. I certainly did not approve of his actions. What pissed me off was her claim of the possibility that Michael was more concerned about his welfare than Walt’s. I want to call her a name, but that would be childish.

However . . . I am beginning to wonder how much she had allowed herself to be blinded by her feelings about Michael. What in the fuck did she mean that Michael was more concerned about himself than Walt? Everything he DID was for Walt’s welfare. Had her memories of past episodes eluded her? Ever since mid-Season 1, Michael had been determined to get Walt off the island and to the relative safety of the States. That is why he built that damn raft. That is why he took every opportunity possible to find Walt after he, Sawyer and Jin returned to shore. That is why he ran off into the jungle in search for Walt. And the latter was the reason why he betrayed the other Losties and killed Ana-Lucia in cold blood (Libby was an accident).

Michael is not the first to commit a crime in cold blood for the sake of another relative:

*Lostie Shannon Rutherford had tried to murder fellow castaway John Locke, because she held him responsible for stepbrother Boone Carlyle’s death.

*Sawyer had murdered a man in Australia, whom he mistakenly believed was the con man who drove his father into an act of murder/suicide. When faced with the real con man – Anthony Cooper – he allowed his rage to get the best of him and murdered the guy in cold blood.

*Charlie Pace had murdered one of the Others, Ethan Rom, for kidnapping Claire, a fellow castaway that he was in love with. And as I recall, Ethan had not been in a position to defend himself.

*Jack Shephard tried to murder Locke, because the latter had killed Naomi Dorrit – a woman from the freighter S.S. Kahana, now situated 80 miles off the coast of the island. Whether he called himself acting as judge, jury and executioner or simply being pissed at Locke for nearly ruining a chance for rescue, Jack tried to commit cold-blooded murder.

*Ana-Lucia Cortez had deliberately allowed a convict named Jason to go free from the L.A. jails so that she could hunt him down and kill him in cold blood for shooting him and killing her unborn child. She also tried to assault Goodwin, one of the Others, and ended up killing him.

*Desmond Hume, a survivor from a boat shipwreck, had assaulted another island inhabitant named Kelvin Joe Inman out of anger and ended up killing the guy.

*Kate Austen is an enigma. Many fans claimed that she had murdered her father (whom she had originally believed to be her stepfather) to save her mother from spousal abuse. But she admitted in an soliloquy that she murdered Wayne because she could not endure the idea that he was her father. Then she went on to use his death to commit insurance fraud.

Considering the number of characters with blood on their hands, why was Billie Doux that determined to vent her wrath upon Michael Dawson? In her rant, she called Michael a “traitor”. As a matter of fact, I have come across the posts and comments of many fans who seemed to harbor the same view of Michael. In the eyes of Miss Doux and these other fans, Michael committed the ultimate crime of betraying Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley to the Others in return for Walt. He betrayed “the Group”. He went against Society” for the sake of his son and his fears. And that is a big no-no in the eyes of many. I find it so hypocritical that Michael is condemned more for betraying four castaways to the people they consider their enemies than for killing two women. The old “the needs of the many over the needs of the few” belief from “STAR TREK”. This told me a lot about Miss Doux, these other fans and many people in general.

Frankly, I never gave a rat’s ass that Michael had betrayed those four castaways to the Others. Why should he be more loyal to them than to his own son? Jack and the other Losties barely did a thing to get Walt back from the Others. Well, Sawyer had fought to prevent Walt from being kidnapped, while on the raft. But once he had recovered from a gunshot wound, he showed squat concern over Walt. It was not until Michael had returned to the Others’ camp at the end of “S.O.S.”, in late Season 2, that Jack even considered swapping Ben, who had become the Losties’ prisoner, for Walt. Why in the fuck did it take him so long?

Many fans claimed that four days had passed between Walt’s kidnapping and the return of Michael, Jin and Sawyer to the Losties’ camp. In their view, it was too late to bother sending a search-and-rescue party after Walt. Yet, when Ana-Lucia, Sayid and Charlie went on an expedition to find evidence regarding the identity of the Others’ leader, Ben Linus aka “Henry Gale”, NO ONE HAD COMPLAINED or pointed out the potential futility of this action. Hypocritical much?

In “Meet Kevin Johnson”, Sawyer had gone into full rant against Michael for killing Ana-Lucia and Libby. He especially commented that Michael did all of this to get off the island. I knew that Sawyer was guilty of a lot of things. But I never realized that hypocricy would turn out to be one of his failings. This is a man who had committed three acts of cold-blooded murder. His third victim happened to be the very member of the Others who had kidnapped Walt at the end of Season 1 – Tom. Sawyer claimed that he had killed Tom for Walt’s kidnapping. But considering his failure to realize that Michael had committed his crimes to get back Walt and get the latter off the island, I am beginning to wonder. I am beginning to wonder if Sawyer’s true reason for murdering Tom was good old-fashioned revenge . . . for being shot by one of the Others in “Exodus, Part II” and for his incarceration as one of the Others’ captives in early Season 3.

Many fans have condemned Michael because they viewed his victims – Ana-Lucia and Libby as “innocents”. Yes, they were innocents . . . at least in regard to Walt. But does this mean I am supposed to excuse the other castaways’ behavior because their victims were dubbed as “villains by the fans? I do not think so. Murder is murder. Whether the victim is a protagonist or “decent” sort or a villain, he or she is an innocent. Ana-Lucia and Libby were innocents. But so were Ana-Lucia’s victims. Especially the convict she had murdered in revenge for her unborn child’s death. The three men that Sawyer had killed – Tom included – were innocents. Sawyer had killed all three when they were not in a position to defend themselves. Ethan was an innocent. Locke was an innocent – at least when both Jack and Shannon tried to kill him. Wayne was an innocent. Kate had murdered him while he was sleeping. Whatever intentions that Naomi Dorrit may have had, she became an innocent when Locke murdered her in cold blood. All of these people . . . these victims were innocents, because when they had been murdered or nearly became a victim, when they were not in a position to defend themselves.

But many “LOST” fans – including Ms. Doux – seem incapable of understanding this. They want to condemn Michael not only for the two women he had killed, but especially for betraying four castaways. And because of this, I can only come to the conclusion that they are nothing more than hypocrites.

This hypocricy has also led me to speculate the real reason behind many of the fans’ dislike of Michael. Do they dislike him for his crimes? Or do they dislike him for being a father? The jokes of his cry for Walt – “WAAALT!” has been going on for over two years. Why do many fans make fun of Michael’s anxious desire for Walt’s return? Someone had posted on the LOST-TV site that Claire Littleton will finally become an interesting character once she and her infant son are separated. Hmmm. Why is Claire only capable of being interesting without a child by her side? Does being a parent rob a character of any glamour in their eyes? Is this a by-product of this society’s desire for eternal youth?

Do I condone Michael for murdering Ana-Lucia and Libby? No. It was the wrong thing to do. He could have found another way to free Ben. Do I condone him for betraying Jack and the other Losties to the Others? Honestly? No . . . but I refuse to condemn him for this action, as well. I see no reason why he had to be more loyal to the other Losties than to his own son. But I will say one more thing . . . I find the views of Billie Doux and many other “LOST” fans rather hypocritical when it comes to Michael. I find no reason to condemn Michael for his actions and make excuses for the actions of other characters. Either all should be condemned . . . or not at all. In my eyes, one of the worst things anyone can be is a hypocrite. And in the “LOST” fan base, I seemed to have come across a great deal of hypocrisy. Especially since late Season 2.