Monthly Archives

February 2010

LOST: Don’t Care Much About “What Kate Does”

by Sarah Carbiener

There’s only one thing I hate more than filler episodes of Lost, and it’s filler episodes that revolve around Kate (Evangeline Lilly). Even after learning of the episode’s title, “What Kate Does,” and lowering my expectations for it, I was still pretty disappointed by the final title card.

Most of my frustration was derived from the “flashbacks” to Kate the fugitive. (Those of you caught up on the show know why flashbacks is in quotes. Those of you who aren’t should be intrigued…) To me, Kate the fugitive was never half as interesting as Sayid the torturer or Charlie the has-been musician or even Jack the spinal surgeon with a god complex. In all the ways that the season premiere reminded me why I initially loved all these characters, this episode served as a reminder of all the reasons I didn’t love Kate. Despite that, the little details, hints, and callbacks in the flashbacks were really fun to watch for, and I wish there had been even more of them.

Back on the island, even in the scenes without Kate, they repeated other aspects of the show I grew tired of several seasons ago. Over and over again, the Oceanic survivors demanded answers from a group of mysterious captors who ignored their pleas for information. Thankfully, the episode did end with a mysterious, powerful figure being straight with Jack, and although it was a juicy reveal, it was too little too late.

This episode did set a lot of character dynamics, mysteries, and plot lines in motion for the rest of the season. If you plan on watching it all on DVD, you probably won’t even be bothered by how little happens here because the next episode won’t be 167 hours away.*

If you love Kate and Evangeline Lilly, I look forward to reading your comments defending her and her tracking skills. If she frustrates you like she does me, let it out!

*This observation would have been so much cooler if there were, say, 158 hours between episodes. Or 1623. Or 4.

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Book Review: Marcus Sakey’s THE AMATEURS

by Eric Edwards

Wanna know how I can tell I’ve read a good book? When I’ve done it in one sitting. Marcus Sakey’s The Amateurs made my bum sore from sitting on the couch all day.

Alex, Mitch, Jenn and Ian are four people in their 30s who have come together mainly because their real friends have all married and had children, or become too wildly successful to deal with people who are neither married nor even mildly successful. These rejects share the common bonds of nowhere careers and the lack of interest or funds to change their lives. They aren’t losers, just stuck in life and can’t seem to go forward. So they drink, and form the Thursday Night Drinking Club. It’s during one of these weekly social engagements that they hatch a plan they believe will increase their fortunes and better their lives.

“Except for one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“We’re not criminals.”

The big man’s smile widened a notch. “Exactly.”

“Huh?”

Ian said, “That’s just it. We’re not criminals. We’re normal people. No one, not the cops, not Johnny, no one would look at us. It’s like if four people robbed the liquor store down the street. Would you start by checking to see if a trader, a travel agent, a doorman and a bartender were involved?”

So sets the stage for a disastrous caper that brings them closer together while ripping their lives apart.

Sakey’s style could probably be a bit leaner, but where it isn’t succinct, it’s realistic. He taps into an everyman way of speaking when letting us in on a character’s inner thoughts. For everyone who has ever played by the rules, gotten nowhere and finally thinks, What if I don’t follow the rules? Sakey has written a cautionary tale of what could happen when you cross that line.

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I’m a Big Fat Liar

Within the last week or so, two of my blogger friends, le0pard13 and Poncho, kindly bestowed on me the Creative Writer Award (Poncho also gave me the Kreativ Blogger Award), with the real implication being they think I’m a bald-faced liar. Which I take as a huge compliment! It takes a lot of talent to be a convincing liar, I’ll have you know.

One of the rules in accepting the award requires me to post statements about myself—some lies, some truths—and have readers guess which is which. I also have to thank the people who gave me the award and then give it to seven others.

So here goes: Thank you, le0pard13 and Poncho, for telling me to my face how you really feel about me. People who call me a liar behind my back are cowards and need to be whacked repeatedly with nunchucks.

As for nominating seven other bloggers, I only know about five and they’ve all received this award already (thanks a lot for picking me last, guys; what is this, kickball?). So, I will pass it on to only one other blogger, the divine Ms. Shell Sherree, who does beautiful illustrations, schools me on Australian lingo, and is a gorgeous friend.

Now for the statements:

  1. I once provided backstage security for Duran Duran at a concert.
  2. Mel Gibson and I once shopped for books together.
  3. I was in Germany when the Berlin Wall came down.
  4. Several years ago, I finished the New York Marathon right behind P. Diddy.
  5. I’m a crack shot at the firing range.
  6. I have a black belt in tae kwon do and once trained with Chuck Norris.
  7. I was voted Most Likely to Win Hot Dog Eating Contest in high school.
  8. I worked briefly for the FBI after college.
  9. I’ve skydived out of a C-130.
  10. I once played Charlie in a school production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Think you can figure out which statements are true or false? Have at it! Extra points if you tell me why you think something is a lie or truth.

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Winners of Ben Sherwood’s THE SURVIVORS CLUB

With Random.org‘s help, I drew the following 5 names to receive a trade paperback copy of this book from Hachette Book Group:

  1. Alana (Whitman)
  2. Lydia
  3. le0pard13
  4. WotV
  5. Elizabeth (APMonkey)

Congrats! Please DM or e-mail me your address (click on “contact” tab at top of page) and I’ll pass it along to the publisher. If I don’t hear from you by 5 p.m. PST Sunday, alternate names will be selected.

Thanks to all for entering and telling me what kind of survivor you are. Stay tuned for more giveaways soon!

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Movie Review: FROM PARIS WITH LOVE

During most of the Luc Besson-produced From Paris with Love, I had no idea what was going on. Oddly enough, being a fan of plot-driven movies, I still found it to be a blast, and I’m not just talking about the explosions. It’s because of John Travolta having more fun than I’ve ever seen him have on screen, making it impossible for me to not enjoy the ride with him.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a junior CIA agent living in Paris with a cover job in the U.S. Embassy, doing little more than grunt work and eager to take on more dangerous assignments. He gets his wish when the agency teams him up with loose cannon agent Charlie Wax (Travolta) to take down drug dealers and terrorists. You don’t need to know more than that because it’s irrelevant. Do you remember what the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was about? No, but you’re probably still chuckling about Johnny Depp’s performance as Captain Jack.

And so it is here with Travolta’s portrayal of the profane, badass, bald, goateed, tattooed, beefed up Wax with even beefier guns. When he first appears on screen, I thought, “Oh no, he just graduated from the Nicolas Cage School of Hambone Overacting.”

But the actor quickly won me over with the sheer joy he exudes in playing this character. Watching him take down bad guys and blow things up is like watching a child get exactly what he wants on Christmas morning. (I couldn’t help but also think that since this movie was shot while his son Jett was still alive, it may be a long time before we see Travolta this gleeful again.) And a movie with so many explosions, car chases and shootouts—done in spectacular “Aw, YEAH!”-inducing style—needs a big character like Wax to anchor it. Anything less would have been blown away with the scenery.

Nerd verdict: Fun adventure in Paris

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Getting Lost in LOST

by Sarah Carbiener

The Lost final season premiere felt like an effort to not disappoint any one segment of its fans and thus risked disappointing all of them. Showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse seemed determined to have their cake and eat it, too, but that was all right with me.

Of all the shows to write about, this is possibly the hardest to discuss without spoiling it. Any scene reference, almost any single line of dialogue, is enough to give away something huge. This has always been a show where every detail matters, even if it never makes sense or never ties back into the overall plot. So, know that I’m going to do my best to keep it spoiler free but read on at your own peril if you are several seasons (or even an episode) behind.

The fifth season ended with Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) detonating the bomb at the bottom of a chasm that in the future would be the swan hatch that Locke broke into and Desmond later blew up. OR, the fifth season ended with more time travel, with all the main characters leaving the 1970s and those crazy hippies running the Dharma Initiative behind in the past and reentering the present timeline. We don’t know what happened because the whole thing flashed to white and we were made to wait many months until Groundhog Day 2010 to find out what actually happened.

The season premiere gave us many answers to that cliffhanger question, and what I liked most about the eventful—sometimes stressful—two hours was that it reminded me of all the reasons I enjoyed Lost in its first season. I was reminded of who these people were before they crashed on the island, and all the reasons I had to root for them and their happiness. Furthermore, the direction in which this season seems to be going doesn’t negate everything we’ve seen in the last five. It’s building on all the pain, suffering and beautiful moments these people have had together over three years, thirty days, and impossible lengths of time because of so much time travel.

I don’t know if the creators will be able to pull off eating their own cake all season, but I’ll be glued to a television set every Tuesday night, hoping that they do.

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2010 Oscar Nominations & Script Giveaway

By now, you’ve heard the Oscar noms (you haven’t? click here) and have probably dissected them with your friends, but I’ll throw in my two cents anyway and then get to the script giveaway.

The nominees were mostly predictable so my excitement was muted (it was also wayyy early when nominations were announced), and the few surprises were not happy ones. Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart? Someone needs to explain that to me. No way was she better than Melanie Laurent’s subtly seething performance in Inglourious Basterds or Marion Cotillard’s wife whose heart is breaking in Nine.

And I liked The Blind Side, mostly (only?) because of Sandra Bullock’s performance, so I’m okay with her nomination, but the movie has no business being in the best picture race. Neither does A Serious Man, which HAS NO ENDING! Why have the Coen brothers decided it’s okay to put their characters through all sorts of travails and then resolve nothing? They did that with No Country for Old Men and again with Serious Man. I am done with their films for now.

OK, rant over, let’s get to the giveaway. First of all—it’s open to international readers. I will e-mail a script from one of this year’s Oscar-nominated films to everyone who can get 3 people to subscribe via e-mail to this site (if you’re already a subscriber, you only have to get 2 others). If you can get 6 people, I’ll e-mail you 2 scripts. I don’t spam or give out the list to anyone.

After they subscribe, just send me their e-mail addresses so I know which ones to give you credit for, then tell me which script(s) you want. There’s no time limit to this giveaway.

Available screenplays:

  • Avatar by James Cameron
  • Crazy Heart by Scott Cooper
  • An Education by Nick Hornby
  • The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach
  • The Hurt Locker by Mark Boal
  • Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino
  • Invictus by Anthony Peckham
  • Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire by Geoffrey Fletcher
  • A Serious Man by Joel & Ethan Coen
  • Up in the Air by Jason Reitman
  • The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke

What did you think of the Oscar nominations? Who will you be rooting for on March 7?

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