The TV Week That Was

spoilers

Good day.  It is time for the TV Week That Was once again.  We are racing toward the start of the Fall TV season.  Entertainment Weekly came out with its Fall Preview issue this past week, highlighting some of the shows that are returning as well as the new ones to look forward to.

Image result for colbert emmysTonight is the Emmy Awards on CBS.  Stephen Colbert from the Late Show is the host this year, and that should be fun to see.  There are some very difficult categories to pick this year, but I will be cheering for Feud in the Mini-Series categories.  Will Julia Louis-Dreyfus win once again for Veep or will the Academy find another female comedic performance worthy?  Will Alec Baldwin earn an Emmy for his Donald Trump imitation from SNL?  How will newcomer series such as Atlanta, The Handmaid’s Tale, This is It, Westworld, The Crown do against some of the old Academy favorites such as Modern Family, House of Cards or Veep?  How much will Colbert roast Donald Trump?  Many questions to answer tonight.

Image result for unabomber discoveryManhunt: Unabomber ended its run by doing something that you would never think it was possible to do… it humanized and made me feel sorry for Ted Kaczynski.  Part of that was the situation he found himself in and part of that was a tremendous performance from Paul Bettany.  It was important that, near the end of the show, the Unabomber’s victims reminded us of the horrors that he had unleashed upon them, or else there might have been an outrage with the way he was seemingly railroaded into a confession.  The show was a great hit for Discovery and I hope we get more Manhunt shows with other real life cases.

Image result for schmoedown championship murrell harloffThe Schmoedown team tournament has a final match, scheduled for this upcoming week.  It is Team Action, who knocked off the number one seed in Top 10, vs. Above the Line, who defeated the Wolves of Steel.  Team Action vs. Above the Line will vie for the tourney championship and for the title match with the Patriots in December this coming week.  But the biggest news coming from the world of movie trivia is they have a new Movie Trivia Schmoedown Champion.  “The Commish” Kristian Harloff defeated “Dangerous” Dan Murrell in a low scoring but very competitive championship match.  Murrell, who comes over from Screen Junkies, announced his retirement from the Schmoedown after the match completed.

Image result for the orvilleLast Sunday night, I watched the pilot for the new Seth MacFarlane series on FOX, The Orville.  The Orville is a Star Trek spoof and debuted on Sunday before eventually heading to anchor FOX Thursday nights.  I must say that I was surprised that I did not hate this.  The pilot has created a great deal of divisiveness in the online community, but I found the show smarter than I thought it would be.  I went in expecting humor like was found (and I use the word humor loosely here) in A Million Ways to Die in the West.  I am also not a fan of much of the Family Guy type humor so I anticipated not liking this.  However, though some of that humor was in effect, it was more subtle than I thought and felt more of an homage to Star Trek than a spoof.  It was enough for me to look into the second episode and see if it continues to interest me.

American Horror Story: Cult had its second episode and it seems to be finding its footing pretty well.  The use of the killer clowns is extremely topical these days as It is completely crushing at the box office.  Plus, with the inclusion of the political world we face these days, the feeling of horror is truly in place.  The show has yet two more great performances from Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson, long term cast members from the anthology series.

Things are slowly heating up as the temperatures down down outside.  Fall season is right around the corner.  Happy viewing!

 

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

I was able to attend a Fathom showing of the 35th anniversary of the Steven Spielberg classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial today, and I wondered if, since this was a movie that I have not seen for years– check that–decades even, this was a film that would not hold up upon my considerably older eyes.

Well, those eyes, full of tears, witnessed the fact that E.T. is an indomitable classic that easily holds up from the day it came out.

Everyone knows the story.  The little space alien gets accidentally left behind on earth and finds himself in the backyard of 9-year old Elliott (Henry Thomas).  Elliott lures ET out of the shed with Reese’s Pieces and into his bedroom, where they bond, quite literally.  As ET begins to show signs of illness, Elliott, along with his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and his precocious sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), strike up a plan to help the alien “phone home.”

This is simply a magical experience.  EYG Hall of Famer Steven Spielberg at the high of his powers.

Sure, today, the little rubber suit wearing alien may not look as realistic as the CGI creatures we see on a daily basis in Hollywood, but that is part of the charm of this film.  It adds to the feeling of the childish wonder that is a major theme of ET.

Spielberg also does some outstanding shooting of the film, with the camera shooting behind the adults, showing the point of view of the children.  In fact, with the exception of Elliott’s mother Mary (Dee Wallace), we see no adult head-on until the third act of the movie.  It is an intriguing choice that really works, creating a world of child-like wonder.

There is another EYG Hall of Famer who does some of his best work on this film.  The score of ET is done by John Williams and is hauntingly beautiful and unbelievably uplifting.  Although Williams has a huge resume to his credit, the score of ET has to be near the top as his greatest of all time.  The music is transcendent.

The film does not work if not for the performance of young Henry Thomas.  Elliott is clearly a pivotal role, and he is tremendous.  The boy goes through the gamut of emotions, from joy and wonder to heartbreaking sadness.  There were some times when he felt too whiny, but that felt real for the situation he had been placed in.

And yet some would argue that the best child performance of the film belonged to 5-year old Drew Barrymore.  You could see the sparkle in the eye of the little girl every second she was on screen as she delivered each of her lines with such a realistic flair that she was a danger for stealing every scene she was in.

The film rocked the emotional roller coaster, easily making you laugh just moments before it tore your heart out.  E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial not only holds up today, it also shows what a treasure of a film that is was.

It is absolutely a…

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American Assassin

I found this one boring.

Tragic events led to a horrible loss for Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’ Brien) sending the young man into a quest for revenge.  With plans on finding the terrorists responsible, Mitch catches the eye of the CIA.  The CIA sent the talented man to their special camp for assassins led by top agent Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), who did not, at first, see what the other agents saw in Mitch. A major international danger sent the two into a mission whether they were ready or not.

I truly found myself bored by this movie.  There were so many typical plot steps here that I could almost call out what was the next thing to happen.  The idea of the old agent training the young up and coming agent is over used and here, it continues just as you would expect.

Now, I think Dylan O’Brien was quite good as Mitch Rapp.  I actually thought to myself as I was watching this that he would make a great Nightwing in the DCEU.  And Michael Keaton is always good.  There are a few moments here of really over the top scene chewing that is just glorious Michael Keaton.  The problems of this movie are not with their two main stars.

The story was generic.  The set up almost made you think of the Punisher, but at least Frank Castle had a background in the military to fall back on.  Maybe I missed it, but I thought that Mitch Rapp was just a child who had been a troubled youth, whose parents died in a car crash when he was 14.  Where did he get these amazing assassin skills that he developed rather quickly?  Was there a reason he picked them up so well?  Is he a prodigy?

There are some fine action here too.  Sure there are many moments where the credibility is stretched beyond the limit of belief, but you get that in most action movies.

Taylor Kitsch as the film’s villain, Ghost, a character that had his ties to Stan Hurley, was at best okay.  While I am not a Kitsch hater, this role is not a memorable one.  This could have been any number of actors taking the Ghost character.  The relationship between former mentor Keaton and Kitsch was just lackluster.

American Assassin was definitely a dull and cliched film that wasted a couple of strong performances from its lead actors in a story right out of the typical spy action movie.  Nothing special here.

2.4 stars

mother!

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I had to reflect on this one for awhile.

The film mother! is the new film by Darren Aronofsky, who previously gave us Requiem for a Dream, Noah, The Wrestler and Black Swan, and it is absolutely an artsy film that requires you to think about what it is saying.  Nothing is what it seems and everything, and I do mean everything, is a metaphor for something.

Jennifer Lawrence is a woman married to Javier Bardem, a poet, and they are livingin a house in the middle of nowhere that we find out was Berdem’s home that had previously been damaged in a fire.  Lawrence is repairing it while the poet Bardem is trying to resume his writing.  Soon, a man arrives, played by Ed Harris, followed by his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer, who bring chaos into the serene utopia that is the home of the couple.

I knew almost nothing about this film going in.  I did see the trailers, but they did not stick with me, so I was uncertain of what the film was meant to be.  I had heard that it was a horror/thriller type of film.  After seeing it….

It is not a horror/thriller.

In fact, the film is a full out allegory.

At this point it is difficult to talk about the film without spoiling it, so…

SPOILERS

One of the main metaphor running through the film is that Javier Bardem is God and Jennifer Lawrence is Gaia, Mother Earth.  These characters do not have actual names in the film which, oddly enough, I did not even realize until the end credits.  The religious metaphor is very heavy handed, including the arrival of Harris and Pfeiffer, aka Adam and Eve, into the idyllic home (aka Eden) to cause trouble.  We even get a Cain and Abel pair as their sons show up (real life brothers Brian and Domhnall Gleeson play them).

Later still we get a whole Baby Jesus metaphor that is about as disturbing as it can possibly be.  Let’s just say that you’ll never look at Communion the same way again.

However, the God-Earth metaphor was not the only one that was showing its head in mother! because there were many others as well.  To say that metaphors were being mixed would not be too broad of a statement.

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky reportedly gave out a statement prior to critic screenings of the film trying to lay the groundwork for the film.  He spoke about how the film is dark and is a response to the horrible things going on in the world and how he wrote this in five days.  I expect fully that there will be a lot of people who absolutely hate this movie.  I think there are those who will really appreciate the artistic nature of the work Aronofsky pulled off here.  I don’t think I am going out on a limb stating that this film will be divisive.  Aronofsky knew it would be divisive, because he specifically commented on it.

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are really good in the film, especially Lawrence, who has so much put upon her throughout the film.  If you do not catch the Biblical reference, it will seem as if Lawrence is caught in an abusive relationship.

Which brings up another point.  I believe that it is absolutely possible that someone else could watch mother! and read something completely different into the allegory than the Biblical one.  You could look on this as a commentary on famous people and the lives that they live.  Or it could be how some people are trapped and cannot escape from certain situations.  The subjective nature of the symbolic storytelling is another reason why this film required serious reflection for me before I wrote this review.

(By the way, as an English teacher, I am having a heck of a hard time typing the title of this movie without a capital letter— mother!.  )

There is no doubt that this movie will spurn a series of debates and discussions about exactly what it is.  It is an amazingly well made film with great performances.  The story itself may stick with you, upset you, or anger you.  I’m not even sure how I can grade this because the film is challenging.  I respect the use of allegory in this film, but I feel as if they overused the metaphors too much.  There are many disturbing images and the film does feel too long.

It might be one to have to see a second time to really see what the film is saying, but it feels as if there are too many messages here.

2.8 stars

 

 

 

Zodiac (2007)

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This upcoming week will see the end of the Discovery series Manhunt: Unabomber and so I thought this was a good enough reason to watch and review the classic David Fincher movie, Zodiac, that starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo.

I have always had a soft spot for the mystery of some serial killers.  I enjoy shows and films dealing with the mysterious, such as Jack the Ripper and, in this case, the Zodiac Killer.

This is perhaps the best movie dealing with a true life serial killer ever made.

The Zodiac killer terrorized the West Coast for several years starting in the late 1960s by murdering several people and then bragging about it in taunting letters to the police and the newspapers.  Despite years of investigation, Zodiac has never been arrested or revealed.  However, this movie features several aspects of the investigation and it looks at how that investigation impacted the individuals’ lives who were doing the investigating.

Start with Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), who wrote a specific book and named the individual whom he believed was the Zodiac.  Graysmith was a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle when the Zodiac letters started to appear and he found himself obsessed with trying to solve the puzzle of the identity of the killer.  At first, it was just an attempt to solve the case, and later it was for his book.  Graysmith is shown becoming as obsessed with Zodiac as a man can be, having it cost him his job and his second marriage.

Next up is Paul Avery (Downey Jr), a hard drinking reporter for the Chronicle who is in search of the story of the Zodiac and is just as obsessed as Graysmith.  Avery uses drugs and alcohol to cope with the obsession, and when Zodiac sends him a letter threatening his life, Paul starts to go downhill quickly, spiraling into the depths.

Police Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) worked the case of the Zodiac since the murder of the cab driver Paul Stine in San Francisco.  Toschi was the face behind the investigation for years, but he was hardly the only cop involved.  The problem was, at the time, the Zodiac’s murders happened in multiple districts leading to multiple agencies in charge.  The sharing of information between different agencies was not done smoothly and it shows how much that hampered the case Toschi was trying to build.

These three actors are tremendous in this film, showing the devastation of the investigation of the Zodiac on their lives. the frustration of trying to work within a system that seemed to be working against them and how some individuals caused suspects to be dropped over the slightest things.

The film does have an implied Zodiac.  Arthur Leigh Allen, nicknamed “Lee”, is the film’s choice as the Zodiac.  The film does highlight both sides to the case, though it does make Lee (John Carroll Lynch) look very much like the killer.  Allen is the suspect that Graysmith named as the Zodiac Killer in his book.  In the film, Lynch is amazing as the unbalanced Allan, creating an amazing tone of suspense and eeriness.  You believe that this guy could easily be the Zodiac killer just after a few scenes with him.

Other suspects are investigated though.  One specific suspect, Rick Marshall, leads Gyllenhaal to the home of movie theater owner Bob Vaughn (Charles Fleischer) and one of my absolutely most favorite scenes of all time.  I am not sure the reason it was included since it had nothing to do with the Lee investigation, but it is the creepiest, most frightening few minutes of the film.  Fleischer is as scary as any monster movie creature, and he is nothing but a stoic man.  When he turns off the light in the basement, I feel the same desire to run away as was consuming Graysmith at that moment.  It does not go anywhere, but the scene is just unbelievably epic and atmospheric.

The atmosphere of this movie is unlike any you have seen before.  You feel your skin crawl as these moments unfurl before your face.  The different Zodiac attacks, the interview of Lee at his work, the searching of his trailer, the basement scene, the isolation felt by Robert as he is slipping into his obsession… all of these scenes create such a feel for the movie.  The film is also shot so beautifully as every image in the film helps to create that same feeling of uncertainty and nervousness.

You, as an audience member, can’t help but feel the same way.  There is a distinct feeling of awkwardness or uneasiness as these characters go about their jobs.

The use of the song Hurdy Gurdy Man by Donovan is another example of how the mood of this movie is transferred to the audience.  The song is very creepy and fits perfectly in the movie.

Zodiac is one of my favorite movies of all time.  It is a wonderful film that involves the audience in the mood like few movies can.  There are great performances throughout the film, including some great work that I haven’t mentioned yet such as Anthony Edwards, Bryan Cox, Chloë Sevigny, Dermont Mulroney, Elias Koteas, Phillip Baker Hall, and John Terry.

David Fincher’s masterpiece is certainly a…

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The TV Week That Was

spoilers

Hey all.  Welcome back to the TV Week That Was.  We are nearing the new fall TV season and there are several new shows that look interesting.  How many of these actually pan out is a crap shoot each year but it is the feeling of new that is always exciting.

imageLast week saw the end of Twin Peaks which I already discussed in its own post.  After some time to reflect, I believe that two part finale was even better than I had thought.  It certainly created buzz.  There are countless theories online about what was going on in episode 18 and many of them really work out slickly.  The thing is… we will never know for sure because Showtime has not renewed the series and it is unknown if they are planning on it.  The third season of Twin Peaks is one of David Lynch’s greatest creations and will be examined and debated for years to come.

image.jpegManhunt: Unabomber had its penultimate episode this past week where the FBI was able to get the search warrant from the judge and get Ted Kaczynski out from his cabin in the woods in Montana.  The final episode looks to have a face off with Fitz and the Unabomber in court over the legitimacy of the warrant.  I have been really enjoying this series, even with having to watch it on the Discovery Go app.

image.jpegThe Gong Show returned this week with a new episode that included former Friends star Courteney Cox.  The acts this week were really good as the show ended in a four-way tie, the most of the year so far.  The winner this week was the very entertaining FlashPants.  There was also a 16 year old rapper who rapped on broken glass.

image.jpegThe NFL season kicked off with a shoot out in Foxboro.  The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the World Champion New England Patriots on Thursday night 42-27.  It was an unexpected start to the season.  Today has a full slate of games in the NFL.

Monday Night Raw continues to feature a showdown between John Cena and Roman Reigns.  These two polarizing figures in image.jpegthe world of pro wrestling have been slamming each other verbally for the past few weeks on Raw and on social media, Twitter in particular.  The match, being dubbed a Wrestlemania quality match, between Cena and Reigns is scheduled to take place at No Mercy.

image.jpegTuesday saw the first episode of the new season of American Horror Story: Cult.  The Ryan Murphy series started off with the most infamous night of the last year… The 2016 Presidental election.  The series also included the return of Twisty from AHS: Freak Show along with other killer clowns.  Riding on the coat tails of the new movie, It, AHS is off to an okay start.  The first episode was fine, but I have seen better starts to the anthology series.  Rumors indicate that the second episode picks up really well.

Image result for IT actors on SchmoedownThe team tournament of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown continued this week.  We are down to the final four:  Team Action vs. Top 10 and Wolves of Steel vs. Above the Line.  The tournament has been entertaining so far despite having a few blow out matches this past week.  Next week’s match with Team Action and Top 10 should be a heavyweight battle for sure. They added a celebrity edition of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown this past Monday as well featuring the young actors from It.  Finn Wolfhard won the Free-for-All format of the Schmoedown.

Emmy Awards are out next week.  Happy viewing.

 

 

Home Again

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Well, this one was pretty harmless.

Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon, is kind of a rom-com about a recently separated woman and her two daughters and they invite three young men who are trying to write a script for their movie to stay at their house.  Witherspoon’s character, Alice Kinney, is the daughter of a late Hollywood legend and Candice Bergen.

Yeah, there are a lot of strangeness involved here and it is not the most realistic movie ever filmed.  However, there is a strong cast and it is fairly okay.

Maybe that is not a rave review, but I did not hate this.  There are plenty of issues with the film.  The dialogue is very poorly written.  The characters are thin.  The story is not anything special.

Still, I did not hate this.  I think the strength of Home Again was a fairly engaging cast of young actors playing off the typically solid Reese Witherspoon performance.  Nat Wolff, Pico Alexander and Jon Rudnitsky play the three males in the meta-storyline of the writers/actors trying to get their movie funded.  These guys are fine, albeit, unimpressive.

I did enjoy seeing Candice Bergen again, despite the fact that she is not given much to do in the film.  It is her idea for the guys to move into the guest house, but that is about all she gets to do- besides babysit the girls.

In the end, there was not much to this movie.  You have seen most of it before and the overall production was average to below average.  And yet, I did not hate it.  The strong cast make up for a lot of the problems of the film.  However, not quite enough for me to recommend this one.

2.6 stars

 

It

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I had really high expectations heading into the new adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, It.  I have enjoyed all the material leading up to the release of the film, I was a fan of the 80’s mini series (especially the iconic turn of Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown) and the images of the new version of the clown were impressive.  I probably have not been as excited to see a film since Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Unfortunately, many times expectations are not met, when they are this high.

After seeing the film, I can say that It exceeded my expectations dramatically.  This movie knocked it so far out of the park that it is in consideration for my favorite movie of 2017.

The little town of Derry, Maine is a horrible place.  Kids are disappearing at an alarming rate while the adults turn a blind eye.  A group of kids who call themselves the Loser’s Club come together to confront an ancient evil responsible for those disappearances.

This movie was not just a horror film.  It was a tremendous coming of age story (much like Stephen King’s film based on a short story, Stand By Me) and it was also a thriller.  It did not just scare you (and, boy howdy, did it scare you) but it also created some much tension and suspense that you could practically feel it creeping under your skin and pounding your heart.

The film needed to have a successful Pennywise, because Tim Curry is such an icon, if it was not a great new version, the film would fail.  Thankfully, Bill Skarsgård is up to the task.  His portrayal as Pennywise was amazing.  Not only was he tremendously frightening, he was compelling as could be.  This was not just your typical horror movie villain.  He had layers.  He tormented you.  He was brutally vicious.  Skarsgård, who some criticized early because of the look of the clown, is masterful at taking the classic character and making it his own.

But, on the other side of the ledger was the Loser’s Club.  This group of kids could have been a troupe of one-note, disposable characters, but they were anything but.  In fact, the reason this film succeeded as hugely as it did was because of the skills of these young actors and the chemistry between them all. They spoke like real kids.  They had major problems in their lives.  Each one had a home life that was simply painful, and yet they were able to find one another and give the strength to their friendship.

These young actors were led by Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent, Book of Henry, Midnight Special) as Bill, whose brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) disappears at the beginning of the movie.  Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) is the smart-mouthed Richie.  Wolfhard is one of the standouts among the kids and is consistently the funniest of them as well.  Sophia Lillis plays the bullied and harassed Beverly, who befriends this group of boys despite her reputation.  Jack Dylan Grazer is Eddie, the boy whose mother is so overprotective that she drove him to be constantly worried about his health.  Grazer is another extremely entertaining young actor here.  Chosen Jacobs plays Mike, the boy whose parents died in a fire, and who is struggling to find his own way in life.  Wyatt Oleff (young Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy) is Stanley, the son of the local rabbi who finds his Jewish faith to be a challenge.  And Jeremy Ray Taylor who plays Ben, the new kid in town who has been investigating the strangeness of Derry.

Hell, even when you see the group of bullies who were tormenting the Loser’s Club, you think that they were nothing more than the bully stereotype, and then you see the leader of the group, Henry (Nicholas Hamilton), being humiliated and emasculated by his policeman father.  He went from being an out of control figure you hate, to a villain that you can almost connect with.

I wanted to make sure that all of these kids got their due in this review because they were so magnificent here that they truly were the reason this is elevated above the typical  horror films.  The script wisely takes its time and lets us get to know these kids and develop deep and rich characters who everybody can relate with.

Many of the typical horror ideas and concepts are flipped on its side here as well.  The story is so well told and so beautifully executed that you must give credit to the director Andy Muschietti.  The look and the feel of the film was stronger than you expect for  a horror movie.

The film is rated R and it certainly earns that R rating.  It has some extremely violent scenes and It does some things to the young cast that you just would not think that the film would do.  The rating also allowed these kids to talk like real kids talk.  When they are away from adults and with their friends, kids can have the foulest mouths of all.  This film showed this aspect of the kids perfectly.

I was emotionally tied to most of the young characters as they were being tormented by what they feared the most.  I was astonished at how downright awful the adults in these kids’ lives were.  I have not read the book, but I have heard that the awfulness of the adults of Derry was a theme.  If that is the case, then this film nailed it, because every adult that gets any lines at all are at best creepy and at worst unbelievably violent and cruel.  I am not sure how many times I actually shivered from the underlying “ick” factor many of the adults had here.

The film is 135 minutes, but I never found myself bored.  Just the opposite, I was riveted the entire time and it felt as if the time just flew by.  On the other had, I have been in 90 minute films this year that seem to take an eternity.

This is easily the best horror movie of the year so far, but it transcends horror.  After several weeks of ho-hum films at the theater, It is poised to have a monster weekend at the box office and very few films this year deserve it more than It.  This movie is completely engaging, an entertaining thrill ride from start (poor Georgie) to finish.  Whereas the It mini series from the 1980s had a brilliant performance by Tim Curry and was pretty campy otherwise, this version of It feels like the vintage version the material deserves.  I was worried that the film would not be able to live up to the high expectations that I had for It, but I found that It actually shattered them.

Of course, if you have a fear of clowns, you may want to question whether you want to see It.  It certainly won’t change that fear for the better.

5 stars

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

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Happy Labor Day everybody.  So in honor of Labor Day, I watched a movie that featured some of the greatest labor force in movie history.

The Oompa-Loompas.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is based on a book by author Roald Dahl and contains one of the great performances by the late Gene Wilder.

Reclusive chocolate maker Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) sent out five Golden Tickets in his chocolate bars, giving an opportunity to whomever finds the tickets to come for a tour of his mysterious Chocolate Factory.  Local kid Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) finds the fifth ticket and joins a group of rotten little children in the tour of the factory.

As soon as Gene Wilder limps out of the factory door, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory becomes a magical fantasy.  Not that this is strictly a kids’ movie, because there are multiple moments of darkness involved.  Not only the dubious disposal of the rotten children, but some of the wording that Willy Wonka gives indicates his pessimistic view of the kids whom he had invited into his world.

Each kid paid the price for their greed or their selfishness, their punishments fitting the crime.  Each punishment accompanied with a song from the Oompa-Loompas.

Wonka has some of the greatest quips and one liners in movies.  He quoted Shakespeare.  He made funny quick jokes.  Gene Wilder’s timing was perfect.  Wilder has had some amazing comedic performances in his career (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy), but there have been few roles more perfect for an actor than that of Willy Wonka.

Jack Albertson’s Uncle Joe provides a nice balance to Charlie, and his dance during the song “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” is a highlight of the film.  Wilder’s “Pure Imagination,” however, is the most iconic song from the film.  “Candy Man” is another well known song from this soundtrack.

I love this movie.  It is funny, a magical trip of music and childlike wonder.  It is Gene Wilder’s greatest performance.  It is absolutely a….

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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

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I wish I would have reversed the viewing, because watching Fire Walk With Me would have given me some more insights on the Twin Peaks finale on Showtime.  Despite being 25 years apart, it is clear that David Lynch’s vision continued right where he left off.

Fire Walk With Me was heavily included in the new series, including scenes straight from the film.  When this first came out, there was some outrage at the choice of making a prequel to Twin Peaks instead of dealing with the aftermath of the second season finale.

Plus, as with much of David Lynch’s work, this was tough to understand.

After seeing the third season on Showtime, Fire Walk With Me makes considerable more sense.  Many of the images, from the green owl ring to the Black Lodge fit in nicely with the narrative from the series.

There are plenty of unanswered questions, but you are going to get those in anything by David Lynch.  Chiefly among them include what ever happened to Special Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaacs), who was assigned to investigate the murder of Teresa Banks.  The Banks killing was the first known victim of Bob (Frank Silva).  This “Blue Rose” case was the beginning of the movie before it abruptly switched to the last week in the life of homecoming queen and all around great girl, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).  Laura was not what she seemed.  She was involved in a second life of sex and drugs.  As she spiraled out of control, she desperately reached out for someone or something normal.  Her best friend Donna (Moira Kelly) she had to distance herself from when she realized that she might be dragging Donna down with her.  And her secret love James (James Marshall) did not understand the complexities of her life.

Laura had been sexually abused and raped by Bob since she was 12 years old, and when she discovered that Bob was possessing her father Leland (Ray Wise) and that Leland had been the one abusing her, things went off the track.

The story of Laura Palmer is a tragic one, full of violence and sadness.  Watching the movie after seeing the series places a new emphasis on many thing, including the role of Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) in what happened.  One wonders when she became what we saw in season three.

I do not think you can understand or appreciate this movie without having seen the Twin Peaks series.  The first two seasons for sure, but the third season helps as well.  That limitation does make this a niche viewing, though the basic story of Laura Palmer and her descent into darkness transcends the series.  You will have a deeper understanding if you are a Peaks fan.

There is little to no humor in the film that one could say is repeatedly depressing.  In fact, it does look upon some very disturbing ideas and images that simply do not include humor.  In this way, it is considerably different than the Twin Peaks series.

Looking back on the film, I thought this was better than the last time I saw it.  Perhaps the increased knowledge of the mythology of Twin Peaks may have helped that out.  There was so much darkness here that you must be in the proper place to deal with such a tragic story.

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Twin Peaks: The Return

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I just finished watching the season finale of Twin Peaks and I am all adrift in emotions.  I’m not sure how I feel.  There are so many emotions washing over me, from confusion to anger to regret to amazement.  Nobody can mess with you like David Lynch.

The original series finale ended with an unexplained cliffhanger, Cooper staring into the mirror only to have Killer Bib staring back, so I should have guessed that the third season would be no less as anger inducing.  Of course, right now as I type this, there is untold amount of angry hyperbole going on on Twitter and other social media outlets.  People earned their right to be frustrated, especially those who watched the 18-hours of Twin Peaks only to end with more questions.  Was it worth it?

I have been watching Twin Peaks all day today.  Showtime was showing the season three marathon and I have been watching since 7 AM this morning (with about two hours of a break to head to the comic shop).  Watching these episodes for a second time gave me a real new appreciation for the art that was Twin Peaks season three.

Did we need one?  Absolutely.  Did Mark Frost and David Lynch mess with us.  Constantly.

The first several episodes were slow and prodding.  We had a ton of characters we did not know and those who we did know were different than we thought.  Most frustrating of all, Special Agent Dale Cooper was able to escape the Black Lodge, but, instead of being himself, he was trapped int he body of a man named Dougie Jones.  Some fans hated Dougie.  I did too, at first, but I grew to appreciate Dougie.  It did take a while though.  Now, however, I truly loved the Dougie character because without him, we never would have gotten the perfect Cooper return that we got in episode 16.  When Cooper was back 100%, you could feel the chills.  Without the excessive Dougie story, we do not have near that emotional response.

By about episode six, I had even stretched my patience to the point of breaking.  I was not going to stop watching it, but it had stumbled from my must see, like Preacher has.  Episode six did not feel like Twin Peaks to me.  On re-watch this morning, though, it felt considerably different to me.  Then, episode seven had a uptick for me, and the tone felt once again like Twin Peaks.  I was renewed.

Then came episode eight.  The most mind blowing episode of television maybe ever created.  We got the origin of Bob and an extended stretch in the past where we see the Woodsmen for the first time, some weird frog bug creature, and some of the most disturbing yet transcendent imagery you have ever seen.  Episode eight was a master class in art and creativity.

The plot started to pick up as well.  Dougie was becoming more than just a lump of nothingness.  People who were finding themselves in Dougie’s world were finding themselves better off than before.  Janey-E started realizing what she had with her husband.  Naomi Watts was simply brilliant as the wife of the tulpa.

The introduction of the idea of a Tulpa was fascinating as well.  According to Tulpa.info a Tulpa “is an entity created in the mind, acting independently of, and parallel to your own consciousness. They are able to think, and have their own free will, emotions, and memories. In short, a tulpa is like a sentient person living in your head, separate from you.”  This helped make sense of some of the really unknown aspects of two Coopers running around.

Kyle MacLachlan is Emmy worthy in his roles as Dougie Jones, Mr. C (evil Cooper, Bob, the Doppelganger..whatever else you may want to call him) and then eventually Dale Cooper.  MacLachlan shows his tremendous range with his distinct characters.  The arm wrestling scene of Mr. C is one of the best moments of the season.  The return of Agent Cooper to 100% might BE the best moment of the season.  Dougie had his share of moments as well.  MacLachlan led the way with these people.

Among the new characters, the Mitchum Brotehrs, Bradley and Rodney, became fan favorites.  Played by Robert Knepper and Jim Belushi, the Mitchums went from evil casino owners to criminals with hearts of gold when they befriended Dougie.  Belushi was very funny with his one liners throughout the series, and truly became great in the last few episodes.

Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn) was one of the most beloved characters from the original and her arc in this new series really frustrated fans.  First, she did not show up until the end of episode 12, which drove many people crazy.  The story implied that Audrey was the mother of big time bad boy Richard (and also implied that Bad Cooper was the daddy).  Then, when they brought Audrey in, she was shrouded in mystery in some weird scenes with her “husband” though she claimed to be in love with someone named Billy, a character whom we have never met (or at least, we don’t know if we have met him).  Then, after heading to the Roadhouse and doing her dance in front of the whole crowd, Audrey seemingly woke up in some white room.  Mental institution?  Had she been in a coma?  Alien abduction?  The White Lodge?  No one knew, but surely this would be a major plot answered in the two hour finale, right?

Um… wrong. Audrey did not appear in the finale at all.  This is probably the biggest slight the internet crowd will scream about.  The ending of Audrey waking up in this weird location and looking at the mirror reeks of the ending with Cooper at the end of season two 27 years ago.  She had no resolution to her character at all.  We have no idea where she is or what has happened to her.  We do know for certain that Richard was her son with Mr. C, believed to be a product of rape.  This explained why Richard was such a horrible character who ran down a kid with his truck and beat up his grandmother for money.  We did get a satisfying end to him, as he was electrocuted into nothingness by the false Lodge entryway, sent to his death by his own father.

The show used its characters amazingly well, even those that had since passed away.  Both Miguel Ferrer, Warren Frost and Catherine Coulson died after taping had concluded, so their inclusion was very bittersweet, but even those actors whom died before the series shot were represented well.  We had David Bowie, Frank Silva, and Don S. Davis appeared despite their final passing.  We also saw a flashback including the wonderful Jack Nance and the still living, but retired Piper Laurie.

We got some happy endings.  Big Ed and Norma finally got together when Nadine gave Ed his freedom from their long time loveless marriage.  Loveless is not the right term, because there is clearly a lot of feelings between them, but we all know that Big Ed and Norma have been the tortured couple for decades.  It looked as if Nadine was ready to move along with crazy internet blogger Dr. Jacoby and his golden shovels.  We also got a happy end for Janey-E and her son Sonny Jim, who were surprised with a brand new Tulpa courtesy of Dale Cooper and Mike, the one armed man.  Yes, Cooper replaced himself with another Tulpa so the little family could be happy together.  That was one of the nicest and happiest moments in the finale.

Lets talk about the finale.  The first hour was amazing!  Stunning!  Extremely exciting.  Bob got his comeuppance thanks to Freddie and his Hulk glove.  We had all the heroes coming together at the Twin Peaks Sheriff Station to confront Mr. C.  Mr. C sitting in Frank Truman’s office as Frank was on the phone with Dale Cooper was as tense as it was going to possible be.  I did not see Lucy being the hero, stopping Mr. C from shooting Sheriff Truman (no not that one).

Speaking of Sheriff Truman, the absence of Harry Truman, Michale Ontkean, was felt consistently through the series.  Now, take nothing away from Robert Forster, who played Frank Truman, but the Harry Truman-Dale Cooper bromance was one of the biggest selling points of Twin Peaks, and the show did feel his absence.  Also noticeably gone was Donna Hayward, Lara Flynn Boyle.

The first hour of the finale had everything.  It had reveals (such as the real Diane showing up), exciting action (hello Freddie), unexpected heroes (I already mentioned Lucy), funny quips (Jim Belushi) and a great Kyle MacLachlan performance as Bob gets taken care of.  Then, Agent Cooper seemingly goes back in time to scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (literally, scenes from that movie were used) in an attempt to save Laura from her fate of being wrapped in plastic.  At first, it looked like Cooper had done just that, but the episode ended with him losing teenage Laura to the Twin Peaks forest, echoed by Laura’s scream.

That first hour was everything anyone could have wanted, sans Audrey, of course.  It was ballsy to potentially take the most iconic scene of your original story and change it up with time travel.

However, as we all know time travel causes more trouble than it is worth, and then we get the final episode of the series.  It wound up asking more questions than it answered.  Cooper and Diane have sex for some reason and she leaves a strange note the next day and disappears.  They had already traveled somewhere, through the electrical magic of the world.  Back in time?  Forward in time?  Different universe?  It is impossible to tell.  Cooper, after Diane leaves, winds up in Odessa, Texas finding an older version of Laura Palmer alive and well, although not calling herself Laura Palmer.  She seemingly did not remember anything about being Laura (and the totally unexplained dead body in her house did not seem to bother Cooper).  He took her back to the Palmer house (after multiple minutes of nighttime driving scenes), but now apparently, the house does not belong to the Palmers.  There is a different family that owned it.  What year is it? asked Cooper before our maybe-Laura leaves us with one more classic scream.

Show fades to black.

I am afraid that Twin Peaks has once again chosen to leave the story unanswered instead of wrapping it up in a bow.  They completely ignored Audrey, and taking Cooper and maybe-Laura into a time line somewhere does not leave someone with good feelings.  No one can accuse David Lynch of fan service, that is for sure.

The second hour definitely felt like a step down from the dramatic and fast paced first hour and I am sure that was intentional.  The second hour without shame moves the story to a different level.  I may not be sure how I feel about it, but I do respect the creation of said story.  There certainly is material for a season four, but it is not certain that there will be a season 4.

Kyle MacLachlan, Naomi Watts, and Laura Dern should, at the very least, receive Emmy nominations for their roles in this, if not wins.  They were, all three, sensational.  Episode eight should win every technical Emmy award available for a transcendent episode of television.

After spending all day in Twin Peaks, I understand the joys and the sorrows, the anger and the happiness, the surprise and the frustration that comes along with challenging television.  I have always enjoyed a show that does not feel like it needs to explain every little detail to people, a show that expects its audience to be smart enough to fill in the blanks.  However, Twin Peaks may take that idea too far.  Just like they take everything.

Thank you David Lynch for giving us something that we will never forget… and may never forgive.

The TV Week That Was

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Happy Labor Day to all!

I am currently watching the Showtime all day Twin Peaks: The Return marathon.  We are into episode 11 on the way to the evening’s two part finale of the series.  I have already had some pie, and anticipate having some more later tonight.  I am very exciting about the finale, and I plan on writing up an article here with my thoughts over the whole Image result for twin peaks return of cooper episode 16series.  However, I would be remiss if I did not mention last week’s episode, the 16th of the return.  It was such a brilliant episode, giving us everything we wanted.  The sequence leading to the return of Dale Cooper was such a perfect piece of story telling that I can’t imagine it possibly being better.  Plus, the Audrey stuff at the end, the Richard Horne resolution, the gunfight at Rancho Rosa, the Diane revelation… it was possibly the best episode of TV of the year, and certainly of the series.  Tonight cannot get here soon enough.

Image result for inhumansI made my way to the IMAX theater Friday night for the debut of the first two episodes of Marvel’s The Inhumans.  The special showing in IMAX was meant to be a big deal.  Unfortunately, much of the bad word of mouth must have done some damage as there were not very many people at my showing.  I could see why.  The show was extremely disappointing.  The acting was wooden and dull.  The dialogue was trash.  The look of the show, with a few exceptions, was amateurish.  It was not good television and certainly does not kick off the Inhumans on the right foot.  Now, it wasn’t the worst thing I ever saw either, but with Marvel, the expectations were considerably higher. I did not enjoy Black Bolt. I thought his facial expressions did not fit the character and felt too jokey.  Medusa’s hair?  Ugh.  Triton?  Terrible.  Crystal?  Weak acting.  What did I like?  I enjoyed Karnak (possibly because he was played by Ken Leung of LOST fame) and I thought he was portrayed decently.  Lockjaw was pretty good.  I think this could be good if there are some serious overhauling done.  Scott Buck is the showrunner and he also was in charge of Iron Fist.  Iron Fist was the least loved Marvel anything … until this came along.  I plan on watching Inhumans (Friday?) when it starts on ABC, but I certainly hope the quality picks up.  At this point, it feels like a low quality sci-fi movie on SyFy Network.

Image result for manhunt Unabomber episode 6 college brainwashingThere was also the best episode of the season for the Manhunt: Unabomber.  This episode was a Ted Kaczynski stand alone episode, showing his back story and how he came to be a near hermit in the wilderness sending bombs through the mail.  There were remarkable scenes that really caused you to feel a connection to this serial killer that we had never had before.  The brainwashing attempts by the professor at the college were heartbreaking and were nearly predatory.  “Ted” brought a deeper understanding of the controversial figure, and it makes the series as a whole more interesting.

Image result for rick and morty season 3 episode 6Rick and Morty were back with their new episode, “Rest and Ricklaxation” last week.  Rick and Morty were feeling as if they needed a break from their constant adventuring and so they headed off to a galactic spa of some sort and had their “toxins” removed, but their toxins turned out to be sentient and ready to take over their lives.  Meanwhile, Morty was enjoying his new life without the toxins polluting him.  It fell to Rick to try and make everything, and every one, united again.

This coming Tuesday is the debut of the latest season of American Horror Story: Cult.  The series sees the return of Twisty from AHS: Freak Show.  It is also rumored to be a satire of the political election of 2016.

 

Image result for jerry lewis labor dayOf course, Labor Day used to be synonymous with the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.  I would watch many acts of the show and enjoy the call of “timpani” by Ed McMahon.  The last few years without the telethon has just not felt right.  We lost Jerry Lewis just recently, as the 91 year old comedian died.  After so many years of raising money for those who needed his help, Lewis deserves to be considered a great humanitarian.

So excited for Twin Peaks finale tonight.  Happy viewing!

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 40th Anniversary Release

Forty years old.  I had a chance to go to the theater and see Steven Spielberg’s classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the big screen.  It is a wonderful science fiction story, even though Spielberg himself in an interview that proceeded the movie claimed that it was not a Sci-fi film.

Line worker Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) was involved with a shocking encounter with a UFO one night and he found that his entire life had changed.  He became obsessed with the sighting and was determined to recreate the moment.  Despite the pleas of his wife Ronnie (Teri Garr), Roy seemingly was slipping deeper and deeper into the world of madness.

Roy was not the only one.  Jill (Melinda Dillon) and her son Barry (Cary Guffey) also wound up having the same encounter, and Barry soon disappears.  Jill’s cries of alien abduction were seen as a potential cover story, but she was just as obsessed with finding her son.

The visions of the Devil’s Tower tormented both individuals, to the point where Roy’s wife and three children were fleeing from him in fear, not for their safety, but to avoid his apparent insanity.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a beautiful movie with amazing visuals.  Honestly, this is the main driving force for the film, because the story itself was really pretty cruel. Roy’s basic choice of the UFO over his own family is a dangling thread that is never fully dealt with in the movie.

There is also no reason given for the aliens to be doing what they are doing.  They are abducting people, but they seem to be friendly and like to play music.

And what music.  EYG Hall of Famer John Williams does tremendous work here, creating such a musical backdrop that rivaled the visual imagery on the screen.

I have to say though, I am still wondering about the fate of the children left behind and deserted by their father.  I thought Brad (Shawn Bishop) was especially compelling in his performance seeing his dad lose it and understanding what that meant more than his younger siblings.  What would happen to this boy?  How would this situation affect him? It is a question that I haven’t been able to get out of my head, and this is one of the reasons why Close Encounters does not translate as well to today’s world…at least in that area.

The rest of the film was wonderful and beautifully done.  The special effects for 1977 were amazing and they still hold up today in the world of CGI.  This is one of Spielberg’s great films and most of it truly deserves that credit.

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Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 40th Anniversary Release

Birth of the Dragon

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I came away with one unmistakable thought when I saw the movie, Birth of a Dragon.

I didn’t know that Bruce Lee, EYG Hall of Famer, was such a dick.

Now, this movie is clearly a fictionalized rendition of a real life fight between Lee and Shaolin monk master Wolf Jack Man which has become stuff of Urban Legend.  Since very few witnesses to the actual fight are still alive, this allows the filmmakers to give this “true story” a bit of a “historical fiction” aspect to it.

Wolf Jack Man (Xia Yu) was a legendary Kung Fu master who had come to San Francisco after a fight had gone wrong in China.  Wolf Jack Man was in search of a way to cleanse his soul and he found it in washing dishes.   Young and brash Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) was teaching others Kung Fu, and believed that Wolf Jack had been sent to spy on him.  Lee had been training non-Chinese people Kung Fu, and this was frowned upon.

However, the film takes a bit of a turn here.  One of Lee’s students, Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen) meets a girl who was beholden to a local crime boss for money to repay bringing her in the country and he falls in love with her.  She is not allowed to speak English or to interact with other people, but they still come together in the star-crossed lovers story that we have seen a million times.

This story becomes the driving force behind the movie.  In fact, the movie makes it that the fight between Lee and Wolf Jack has to do with freeing the girl instead of personal issues between them.

I’m not sure the reasoning here, but Steve truly does become the main protagonist in this movie that features what was a major— legendary fight between two masters.

I am not sure the reasoning here.  Were they just trying to make it so neither Lee or Wolf Jack had to look bad?  If so, they failed, as I mentioned earlier, Lee is portrayed as quite the jerk in much of this movie.  It is not as if the character of Steve is the most engaging and enthralling personality on screen.  He is basically milquetoast and one-dimensional.  The relationship with him and the girl Xiulan (Jingjing Qu) is shallow and unimaginative.  There is no reason that the character of Bruce Lee has to be reduced to a supporting character in his own movie.

Both of the actors playing our two main martial artists are pretty good.  The Bruce Lee portrayal is even exceptional.  The action scenes, including the fight between them, are really well done and visually enjoying.  There could have been an epic movie here dealing with two characters on different ends of the Kung Fu spectrum with differing thoughts and styles facing off.  If you are going to fictionalize it anyway, why are you adding this boring love story that makes no sense and dumping this dull Steve character in the middle of the film?

The pessimist in me says it is because Steve is white and the studio believed that they needed a white guy for the audience to connect to.  I sure hope that is not the reason, though I will admit that I thought it might be.

This movie was not a bad watch, but it could have been so much better.  There was no reason why Steve and his girlfriend should have taken one minute of screen time away from Bruce Lee or Wolf Jack Man, but that is what the ton of studios involved (there were about six studios identified at the beginning of the film) has gone with.  Too bad.  Because Bruce Lee and Wolf Jack Man could have been more than enough to make this an exciting film.

2.5 stars

The TV Week That Was

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Another big week…

SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!

Image result for th etick amazonYes, The Tick is back.  This time it is on Amazon Prime and it dropped the first six episodes of season one this past Friday… and it was AWESOME!  I was unbelievably thrilled by the series.  Being a big fan of the animated series from FOX Kids and the short lived live action series, I was very happy to see The Tick become one of the pilots that Amazon put up last year as a potential series.  Fans would vote to see if they wanted to see the pilot move to full series.  I knew the Tick fans would come through despite the pilot itself being a little less than expected.  However, from episode two on, the Tick series was gold!  So many great moments.  It was laugh out loud funny.  Peter Serafinowicz is perfectly cast as the Tick.  His voice and innocent presence captures the character to a tee.  Serafinowicz takes the best from Townsend Coleman and Patrick Warburton, the previous Ticks, and adds to the character.  It is a singularly wonderful performance.  Yet, the top performance of the show might just go to Arthur, played by Griffin Newman.  Arthur is the driving force Image result for th etick amazonbehind the plot, trying to prove that ancient villain, The Terror (the constant scene-chewer Jackie Earle Haley) is still alive and Newman fills the twitchy and neurotic Arthur with so much humanity that you can’t help but love him.  And the episode six ends with the Terror yelling “Cliffhanger” after capturing Arthur.  I can’t wait for more of this show.  There are several of the meta jokes here.  When the Tick design changed from the pilot to make him bluer and more flexible, Arthur said to the character of the Tick in episode two , “You look different” and the Tick responded, “Thank you.”  Nothing further.  I loved that joke.  This show has become one of my favorites of the year.

Image result for big ed and norma 2017Twin Peaks is soon to be reaching its ending as last week we got episode 15, and we got what looked like a happy ending for Big Ed and Norma.  I know, right.  Who saw that coming?  After all of these years, the chance to see these two original character with a chance to be happy really was a highlight form last week’s episode.  We also saw Dougie watching TV when Sunset Boulevard came on the screen.  When Dougie heard the name “Gordon Cole” mentioned in the film, something triggered in his subconscious and he stuck his fork into the wall socket.  Could this electric shock be the final jolt to bring back Dale Cooper?  I don’t know, but I sure hope so.  There was also some tremendous scenes with the wonderful Log Lady.  Related imageMargaret called Hawk and told him, “Hawk, I’m dying . . . You know about death—that it’s just a change, not an end. Hawk, it’s time. There’s some fear—some fear in letting go. Remember what I told you. I can’t say more over the phone, but you know what I mean. From our talks, when we were able to speak face to face. Watch for that one. The one I told you about. The one under the moon on Blue Pine Mountain. Hawk, my log is turning gold. The wind is moaning. I’m dying. Good night, Hawk.”.  It was such a surreal and beautiful scene because the actress who played the Log Lady, the brilliant Catherine E. Coulson, who was a close personal friend of Twin Peaks director/writer David Lynch, was actually dying at the time of the shot.  She was in bad shape with cancer, but she did come back to shoot these episodes for Lynch.  RIP Margaret.

Image result for chip esten whose line returnChip Esten made a return of his own, this time to Whose Line is it Anyway.  Chip, who currently stars on Nashville, spent several years as one of the rotating fourth seats on the improvisation show, really showing his worth in musical numbers.  He had not been seen with the crew since the last days of Drew Carey’s Improviganza.  Chip seemed to step right in beautifully, performing with Wayne Brady and Jeff Davis in a version of Greatest Hits.  Unlike most “special guests” on Whose Line, Chip was a welcome return and I hope we don’t have to wait for another 5 years before we see him again.

Related imageSummerSlam was last Sunday night and it was a long and reasonably enjoyable show.  However, the biggest match was the huge hoss fight that closed the show with Broick Lesnar retaining his Universal Championship against Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe.  Braun Strowman looked like a star in this match and the crowd was firmly behind him despite him not being the face.  At one point, Brock and Joe were on the floor and, from out of the frame, flew one of the announcer’s chairs.  It had been thrown by Strowman and it was really funny.  Strowman was a massive beast, but Lesnar was able to survive by giving an F5 to Reigns.  On RAW the next night, they announced a one-on-one match between Strowman and Lesnar for the next PPV, Hell in a Cell.

Image result for alec baldwin weekend update trumpOn the SNL Weekend Update Summer Edition, we got another performance of Donald Trump from Emmy nominated Alec Baldwin.  This skit was the cold open for the show and it made fun of the Arizona rally that was held this past Tuesday by President Trump.  Baldwin came out with sunglasses on joking about how he had looked at the eclipse earlier this week (which the real Trump is photographed doing without any eye protection despite all the warnings.)  It was great to see Baldwin again with his attempts to skewer the President of the US.

Image result for critically acclaimed vs late to the partyThe Movie Trivia Schmoedown Ultimate Schmoedown Team Tournament has begun on Collider Video.  The 16 team tournament will culminate with a new #1 contender for the Patriots, the team of “Little Evil” JTE and “The Insneider” Jeff Sneider in December.  With round one starting, the first week saw a major upset as the team of fans known as Late to the Party knocked off tournament favorite Critically Acclaimed in a close and tense match.  Other winners included Team Action over Deep Cuts, DC Movie News over Six Degrees and Team Trek defeating Cinema Blend.  The remaining matches of round one will be completed and shown on YouTube next week.

There was another Gong Show repeat this week. *SOB* I still watched the proper sing-a-long.  Not sure what I am going to do when this goes away.

Oh, I know that there is a Game of Thrones finale tonight.  I am happy when TV Talk then does not have to talk about Game of Thrones every episode all week long.  That is excellent.

This Friday is the debut of Inhumans on IMAX screens.  I am not sure if I will be able to see it yet, and I sure hope it is better than it appears.

Happy viewing!