Dead of Summer: She Talks to Angels – Ferocious Finale (Review) Spoilers

 ELIZABETH LAIL

Dead of Summer gave us a ferocious season one finale.  “She Talks to Angels” whittles the number of survivors down to three and allows Amy to enter full “Jason” mode. Although to be fair she is possessed by a demon and does not need a hockey mask. She is now the  corporeal form of Malphas  and  seemingly unstoppable.

Jessie, Garrett and Alex end up being chased by Amy and her new minions. (All the people that Amy killed throughout the first season return to help her defeat Jessie.  Even the headless, and bodiless, Blotter shows up to help Malphas win.)

Drew and Blair get the kids out safely and believe that everything is over.  Anton (Allan Fishertells them things are far from over and that they need to return to Camp Stillwater.

Garrett is wounded and has to stay behind while  Alex and Jessie try to defeat Amy.  The all powerful demon takes out Alex, but Drew and Blair come to the rescue.  So too, does Deputy Sykes who actually saves the day with a little postmortem help from Joel.

PAULINA SINGER, RONEN RUBINSTEIN

Amy/Malphas is caught by the last of the pure lake water and Jessie dispatches the demon with extreme prejudice.  Unlike Friday the 13th there is no “double” twist at the end. No rotting Amy corpse rises up to scare the bejesus out of the audience.  The good guys have won this one, for now.

The last look at the camp shows it is for sale once more, as a commercial property.  The demon may be caged  but one gets the impression that this could change. Evil never really dies and the eerie music leaves us with the feeling that Malphas is waiting for another opportunity.

Speaking of music, the eery bit used in this episode was spot on. It evoked a clear feeling that everything had gone completely and utterly south and that Amy was going to be victorious.

There were a couple of “jump-scare” moments.  Both were done well and were completely unexpected. Dead of Summer has not delivered many of these during the season.

The last episode had Amy as full-on boogeyman, once she dropped the facade of being exorcised of Malphas. As she stalked Jessie, the possessed girl never moved faster than a walk, shades of both Jason and Michael Myers here, and dispatched four state troopers with apparent ease.

In terms of continuity; as the show started Amy seemed to chop at Deb a few extra times and Jessie’s hair seemed to have grown a lot in terms of bulk.  The body of Deb was remarkably pristine after being chopped by an axe last week.

As the heroine  Jessie holds her own against the all powerful demon, with a little help from her friends. Initially it is Alex and Garrett who help Braces out but it is the cop who “comes back” to really help stop Malphas in its tracks.

ALBERTO FREZZA, PAULINA SINGER

At one point it seemed that flashbacks equalled death. All three of the survivors at Camp Stillwater had memories of events prior to the camp and two of them died shortly after.  Garrett has a visit from his father who tells him, somewhat cryptically, that “nothing is by accident.”

Alex remembers a confrontation with his mother where he called his dead father weak. She slaps the boy and tells Alex his father was selfless.  Alex proves he learned his mother’s lesson well when he sacrifices himself for Jessie.

Dead of Summer offered up a final episode that was ferocious compared to the slow build up through the rest of the season.  Was it worth the wait? Quite possibly. There was a  villain that seemed to be  omnipotent and incapable of being stopped.  The episode took us right up to the very edge before allowing Amy to be conquered by Jessie.

Kudos for upping the game of FX.  That shot of the axe in the head was very effective.

So Dead of Summer defeated the boogeyman, or woman, and HolyOke was destroyed in return, although a portion of his “light” remained in Jessie and Garrett.  There is a new guardian of the lake now that HolyOke is gone should the demon ever come back.

All in all the series managed to end on a high note.  There was enough tension and action to impress and Elizabeth Lail gave great demon.  To Edward KitsisAdam Horowitz and Ian B. Goldberg, well done. You three really managed to make it all come together, albeit a little rushed in some areas.  

Will the series come back for another season? The show ended with Camp Stillwater for sale. Could a new owner wake Malphas again? It could well be that the demon escapes its cage but it seems unlikely.

Besides,  without the presence of Tony Todd would the show be as scary?  That would be  a definite no. Camp Stillwater and Dead of Summer is most likely a “one off” and should perhaps stay that way.

CAST:

Mothers and Daughters (2016): Mellow-Drama (Review)

Selma Blair in Mothers and Daughters

In many ways Mothers and Daughters should have been a  runaway chick flick hit.  It had a bevy of very talented and beautiful actresses in the lead roles and all have chops for days.  A cast that featured two Oscar winners and one Oscar nominee should have been near perfect.  However the film is more mellow-drama than flat out drama and felt little more than a television “movie of the week.”

The performances were well above adequate, but the storylines were, perhaps, too many to focus on properly.  Thematically too, the film could have been problematic. Daughters and mothers do have very prickly relationships, quite possibly the film hit too close to home for the females in the audience.

Another problem could have been a lack of eye candy for the ladies. Christopher Backus (who has been rocking it as Rick in Showtimes’ Roadies and is the real-life spouse of Mira Sorvino) was not onscreen for long at all. The same fate befell Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. regular Luke Mitchell. (Not only does Mitchell  have even less screen time than Backus, his character turns out to be  bit of a rotter.)

Mothers and Daughters is an anthology film, which means several storylines, or vignettes are meant to be linked by a common thread.  The movie starts with Rigby (Selma Blair) photographing singer Nelson Quinn.

She is a professional photographer who specializes in musicians.   Rigby writes a letter to her mother about her youth and discovery of passion for picture taking. (Natalie Burn plays the young Rigby’s mother.)

Mira Sorvino’s character Georgina is seen next with her boyfriend  Sebastian. Sharon Stone plays a fashion magnate whose daughter has more in common with Georgina than with her own mother.

Courteney Cox  and Christina Ricci have relationship that feels like the female version of Jack Nicholson’s upbringing. 

Susan Sarandon plays opposite her real-life daughter Eva Amurri Martino in a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo. Although Ms. Sarandon rocks her few seconds on camera. 

Directed by Paul Duddridge and Nigel Levy (Duddridge provided concept that Paige Cameron based the screenplay on.) the film tries to cram too much drama into a 90 minute time frame.  But for all the different storylines the overall feeling of the film’s tone is tepid versus tragic.

Blair (A personal favorite since “discovering her” in “Hellboy.”)  has an interesting arc and plays a character we can get behind.  Actually all the characters are “likable” per se but none of them get enough screen time for the audience to really connect with them.

Mothers and Daughters is, in essence, a drawing room drama. One heavy with dialogue and, except for the Cox/Ricci storyline, pretty normal.

A woman has the child she gave up for adoption get in contact with her.  Another gets pregnant and must decide if she wants an abortion or not.  Yet another learns something about her mother that shakes her to the core.

Despite having performers who are brilliant at their craft, each vignette spends too little time on the respective storylines. We never really get a chance to warm to any of the characters.

It is Rigby that we really connect with but that may well be down to her particular storyline and Blair’s portrayal of a woman who lost touch with her mother.

This is not a bad film, far from it, it is just not a great one.  At 90 minutes it is not overly long nor is it boring.  The pace is a little up and down, mostly down, but overall it still entertains.

There are moments where the viewer may need to grab for the tissue box, but not many.

Anthology films, when done properly, like “Love Actually” for instance, are good value for money.  However, this film just does not quite deliver, even with such a capable cast.

On the bright side, Sharon Stone looks brilliant and proves that she can still act, despite the travesty of her role in Agent X.  Blair is endearing, as is Sorvino.

Mothers and Daughters is a solid 3 star film.  Not bad, nowhere near it, but nothing to prompt repeated viewings either. The film is streaming on Netflix right now. Head on over and check it out. Until then take a look at the trailer below.

Difficult People: Cedar Cove – H is for Heimlich (Recap/Review)

Difficult People poster

This week on Difficult People, both Billy and Julie almost get that all important break. “Cedar Cove” sees Julie blag her way into  Christian Siriano’s “clown” fashion show, using comediennes instead of models. Billy gets an acting gig as a baby beaver singing about  toilet functions to children and gets invited to be a “Ten, Ten.”

Last week’s focus on Broadway was left behind as the action also moved on from Hannibal Lector territory and a quote, or two, from The Producers.  “Hashtag Cats” featured off-Broadway theatre, this week it is New York fashion week.

After the show’s open, where Julie is giving blood and demanding more cookies, while Billy complains that gays are not allowed to give blood, the episode segued into Fashion Week. The friend’s bluff their way into a fashion party, “Hey Donatello!”  Once inside, Julie insults the first “fashionista” she sees and ends up getting a modeling gig for Siriano.

This was a tightly written episode.  Billy’s Truman Capote reference in the prologue crops up later in “The Shining” sequence and the Heimlich also shows up at the fashion show.

The baby beaver advert seemed to be a brilliant parody of Barney the Dinosaur. (That big purple creation loved by children and despised by their parents.)  It also served to put Billy into an awkward situation. He went for the job as it was union and would reinstate his medical insurance. Unfortunately, his face will show and this was not the game plan at all.

It was hard to pick a standout scene in this episode. All were incredibly funny, with the exception of the “F*ck you” barrage against the Heimlich instructor.  Two gays and a transgender being incredibly hostile and rude towards one woman was not funny. Like the old saying goes: It was not big, nor was it clever.

Julie gets ill.

Walking down the hallway to her apartment,  the area transforms into the halls of the Overlook from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.  She sees Truman Capote with the dog from the hotel room scene in both the film and the book.  He tells her that sex before 1978 was indeed magical.

She then sees her two beagles decked out as the twins from the film.  At long last she reaches her apartment door. It swings open to reveal Arthur and Siriano. The fashion designer calls her Julie and expresses delight that she is there.

Julie turns into Danny from “The Shining.” Moving her finger she croaks, “Julie isn’t here, Mr. Siriano.”

Hysterically funny.

Arthur and Marilyn bond while doing Julie’s recaps of reality television and the sick woman sneaks off to do the fashion show.  They call Billy who rushes off, in costume as the baby beaver, to help Julie.

As he arrives at the show, Julie is choking on a cough lozenge and requires the Heimlich maneuver. Billy leaps on stage, still in costume, and performs the maneuver causing the lozenge to shot into the lap of a Ten, Ten. (Aka, the Ten Ten’s.)

Julie then vomits into Billy’s beaver diaper.  Siriano misses this as he left when the cough drop became airborne.

Billy picks on Kevin Spacey this week. Implying that he is gay, pretending to be straight. The best gag was the Choking Chucky one where Billy says the open mouthed dummy is Spacey’s pool boy when not doing its day job.

This was brilliantly funny with many “belly laugh” moments.  Although, as mentioned above, they could have lost the “F*ck you,” sequence.  The signposting of Capote and Billy’s Heimlich really made this episode work well.

Difficult People airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  This series left Mike’s Film Talk cold last season but season two has turned the show into a “must see.”  Catch this one and see what you think.

CAST:

Guest starring Christian Siriano as himself and Austin Pendleton as the baby beaver director. 

Jimmy Kimmel Live! Terence Howard, #WhatIHate & Lip-Syncing

Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy KImmel Live! featured Terence Howard, Wolf Blitzer and musical guest Bonnie Raitt.  Jimmy’s monologue included #PickleGate, the MTV VMA awards,  and lip-syncing. He also started the show with another #WhatIHate video.

There were jokes about Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian missing Beyonce’s eclectic, and long, performance at the VMA awards, (They were backstage on their smartphones, presumably uploading that picture that Kim took of Kanye’s smile…)

The highlight of the monologue was the lip-sync gag that Kimmel used to poke fun at Britney Spears’ performance at the VMA. Spears is the lip-sync queen but she was  not alone in her recorded performance. Rihanna was also “syncing” for her opening number.  Nikki Minaj may have been during her bored duet with Ariana Grande.

Regardless of who was or was not singing live, Jimmy’s lip-sync speech was better than either Spears or Rihanna’s attempt on the night. See for yourself:

Kimmel also did another #WhatIHate video. This time it focussed on restaurant servers, which must be millennial speak for waiters and waitresses… It was amusing what these hardworking men and women found annoying about customers and tips, or lack thereof:

Kanye West was also under fire for doing what he does best, boring audiences for prolonged periods of time before either performing or, as was the case on the VMA, showing his latest video. As Kimmel pointed out, West needs to adapt his style to match his Millennial audience.

Jimmy’s first guest was Terence Howard, star of Empire, new father and new grandfather. Howard showed off his “party trick” of writing backwards with either hand. Impressive, although a huge number or airmen in the USAF can write backwards…

Howard was there to plug the new season of Empire, which is entering its third season on FOX (September 21, 2016 is the premiere date.) but Terence did not talk about the show at all. It was all about circumcision and man-boobs.

Journalist Wolf Blitzer was guest number two. Subjects included Bernie Saunders repeatedly getting Wolf’s name wrong and how much Blitzer looks like Jimmy’s dad.

The biggest subject covered was #PickleGate. Wolf expressed disappointment that he missed the story when it broke. Jimmy confessed that it would have been funny if Hillary had not been able to open the jar.

Kimmel asked if Wolf would open a pickle jar to see it the lid “popped.” Blitzer even opened the jar, “very slowly.”

The lid popped.

Granted it was not very loud but there was a pop. Jimmy predicted that social media would now go wild. (In this instance Kimmel was wrong as we checked Twitter and Facebook and #PickleGate is not trending on either platform.) Like, Howard, Blitzer also has a new grandchild. Unlike Terence, he does not have a new child as well.

Bonnie Raitt closed the show with her song “Need You Tonight.” The ’70s blues artist gave a splendid performance that left the audience wanting more.

There was of course no time for Matt Damon. Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at Kanye West and Britney Spears, out of the two, one can easily see West turning to Twitter in retaliation. Spears does not tweet, she is reported to have staff do this for her, so she may remain silent.

It will be interesting to see if #PickleGate continues…

Gene Wilder: The Candy Man is Gone

Gene Wilder in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Gene Wilder, who starred in 29 films including Bonnie and Clyde,Young FrankensteinWilly Wonka & the Chocolate FactoryBlazing Saddles and Silver Streak died of complications caused by Alzheimers in his home on Monday. Wilder was 83 and had not acted for years. It was his role as Willy Wonka, the candy man who invites the holders of golden tickets to his factory that Wilder is best known.

But the actor, writer, producer and director was a personal favorite for his work in not just “Young Frankenstein” but “Blazing Saddles” and the original “The Producers” holding his own against Zero Mostel who played Max Bialystock to his Leo Bloom.

It was his Victor Frahnkenstein however that proved this gentle actor could effortlessly play the comedy, as he alway had, straight and brilliantly.  When “Young Frankenstein” was released in 1974 I and a group of friends watched the film repeatedly. We got so all of us could recite lines from the entire film. (i still know quite a number of them.) It became a contest, to see who could watch the movie the most.

Yes it had a cast to die for, and sadly almost all the cast have passed on. (With the exception of Cloris Leachman – Frau Blücher, “neigh,” and Teri Garr  – Inga,  “What knockers! Zhank you Herr Doctor.”) But it was Wilder who made the film connect, his penchant for comedy was the cohesion the film needed. (The scene where Inga worries he has not “touched his food” and Victor slaps his hands onto the plate and snarls, “There. Happy now?” is just brilliant and example of his magic.)

Wilder had an aura of gentle sadness that pervaded any role he played. With Victor he was an eventual megalomaniac who creates life.  At the start of the film, he is calm and even a little cold, but not genteel or sad. His Frankenstein was different from the other roles he played.

As Wille Wonka, Wilder emitted a sort of whimsical melancholy that shielded a deeper and, sometimes, quite sinister side to this benevolent benefactor.

The love of Gene Wilder’s life was Gilda Radner, an  original alumnus of Saturday Night Live and they were married for five short years before she died from cancer. Wilder eased away from acting after her death and never really returned to his former status.  His last acting role was the voice of Elmer in Yo Gabba Gabba!.

Wilder worked with Mel Brooks three times and costarred with the comedian Richard Pryor in four films.  Brooks, like Pryor brought out the best in Gene. Each had a chemistry together, Pryor and Wilder’s on screen and Brooks and Wilder working as a team in front of and behind the camera.

The iconic comic actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1989, the same year his wife Gilda died.

Wilder wrote and directed, as well as starred in, four films. Arguably these were not on par with his collaborations with Brooks or some of  his movies with Pryor but all were funny. The World’s Greatest Lover, a Valentino-type spoof where Wilder becomes the “new” Rudolph Valentino “Wow, look at those gams…” was poorly received by critics of the day but was a commercial success for the actor.

Gene Wilder may not have been overly prolific but his roles were all memorable. From his first role as the undertaker kidnapped by Bonnie and Clyde in the 1969 film of the same name to his role as Willy Wonka, Wilder crept into the hearts of fans the world over.

He was truly a “one of a kind” actor who has never been replicated.  Wilder had a persona that seemed to be an extension of his “real” self. A kind and gentle man who made people laugh in the cinema.

RIP Mr. Wilder. You made me laugh numerous times at the movies.  Your personal tale of woe with the talented Gilda Radner made me cry.  You were already missed, by your absence on our screens, although you did appear sporadically, it was never enough.

Gene Wilder, gone at 83.  An iconic comic performer who stole our hearts with his Candy Man;  Willy Wonka and made us weep with laughter with his mad scientist Victor Frankenstein has left the stage and can never be replaced. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.

MTV VMA 2016: Minimal Effort for the Millennials (Editorial)

Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj

Perhaps the only thing more annoying than the faux fanboy “influencers” comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele was the minimal  effort expended to entertain the millennial audience.  The show itself seemed to be an extreme answer to the lack of diversity displayed by the academy at the Oscars.

Hip-Hip ruled the night. Amid lackadaisical performances and the overreaction of the tweens in the audience this years video music awards was nearly unwatchable. The older performers were uneasy with their interactions with the younger stars.

Nicki Minaj looked almost hostilely bored during her number with Ariana Grande. Rihanna, who opened the show in a long dance number,  either could not be bothered to lip-sync most of her songs, or forgot.

Beyonce, the big winner of the evening, gave the performance of the evening. A monument to eclectic dance moves and lip-synced lyrics.  The microphone covering the mouth is a dead giveaway by the way.

The MTV Video Music Awards felt geared to a generation who did not cut their teeth on Michael Jackson and may even be tiring of Justin Bieber. This was aimed at the demographic who joined YouTube after  its heyday.  The kids who look blankly when MySpace is mentioned.

It was painfully obvious that the days of truly gifted and spectacular performers like Tina Turner are over.  Beyonce is a personal favorite, but hearing Tina belt out “Nutbush City Limits” was a special treat and not one performance by any female artist on the VMA’s came near that level of power last night.

The show was all about dry ice, flashing lights and a huge amount of dancers supporting the artists.  Perhaps the main problem was that all the music had a sameness to it.  There was no variety.

(On a sidenote, there could have been a lot more of Jay Pharoah)

This year felt sophomoric and apathetic compared to years past.  Miley Cyrus, who made the VMA her plaything was replaced by two comics posing as Twitter poseurs. And just to set the record straight:   Whoever thought  having Kim Kardashian-North present Britney Spears was a good idea?

Spears, the queen of lip-sync (cop the mic over the mouth) performed with G-Eazy who did the lion’s share of the work. The performance, like the show itself, was underwhelming.

The multiple hosts  this year were incredibly annoying: DJ Khaled and Nicole Byer, along with Peele and Key,  put the VMA at a level of irritation never before seen.

More interesting than the actual awards program were the camera shots of the rich and famous in the audience, arguably the best of any MTV VMA.  Kim getting a close of up of Kanye smiling with her smart phone.  West sidled up to Jayden Smith, and that wild hair cut. The clear excitement of the Olympic guests, who later presented an award,  and who all looked around 12 years old.

Jimmy Fallon came out to present the video of the year award and died.  Perhaps the average audience member is not allowed to stay up that late.  (Beyonce won this one, no real surprise there as this was her night.)

Beyonce won a total of six awards by the end of the evening.  Making her the woman of the “hour.” Rihanna kept upping her game and her final performance was her best. Less about the dancers and more about the singing, RiRi killed it.

Rihanna took the Michael Jackson Vanguard Video award after a long winded and slightly rambling intro from Drake. It was here that he declared his love for the singer.

All in all, the evening was pretty blasé.  A sort of masturbatory experience for a privileged few, we are talking about you Kanye and Kim, and  a total yawn fest  without the antics of Miley Cyrus.  When the highlight of the event is Drake declaring his love for Rhianna perhaps it is time to rethink the formula.

Bring back the spectacle guys and dolls, this was a major disappointment.

BrainDead: Season One, Ep 10 – Bug People Unite & Rosemary’s Baby (Recap/Review) Spoilers

BrainDead Logo screenshot

BrainDead “The Path to War Part Two: The Impact of Propaganda on Congressional War Votes” shows the bug people uniting under a common goal. It also borrows heavily, and amusingly, from Ira Levin‘s Rosemary’s Baby.  Not to the extent of old Satanists plotting to bring the devil into the world, but at least hinting clearly that something is not right about Germaine’s new baby girl.

The singing recap took a moment to show Michael Moore in bed with Laurel again, which we know never happened but Moore plays it for laughs and we love it. Thanks to Jonathan Coulton and the creators; the Kings and writer  Lawrence Kaplow for the giggle.

The episode begins with Luke fighting desperately to stop a war with Syria. He also tries half-heartedly to stop having sex with every attractive female he meets or works with.  He tasks Laurel with critiquing the new “anti-war” video as he tries to keep the Senate from voting with Red Wheatus.

It appears that Luke Healy is a sex addict. He cannot stop sleeping with his many paramours even when he tries to break it off. The only one who does not tumble into the sack with him is  the infected Scarlett

His secretary calls Luke a “weak man” and implies that she will be talking to Germaine (Lily Cowles). 

The bug people extremists are urged to unite by both Pollack (Jan Maxwelland Red.  Democrat Noah Feffer (Michael Esper) joins forces with Red’s republican attack dog Jules (Natalie Gold).  This cooperation between factions is a new thing in the world of alien bug people. Before only Red and Ella “joined” very reluctantly so the king and queen could procreate.

“Famous” documentary filmmaker Ben Valderrama (Michael Zegen) cannot stop zeroing in on the “one percent” with his video. He also goes after Gareth and later provokes Noah into attacking him. In the end Laurel recuts the video and it goes viral, just as Luke had hoped. 

Laurel becomes concerned about Germaine’s baby and goes to Rochelle for advice. At one point it seems as though Daudier could be infected.  After learning that the doctor treating Germaine listens to The Cars, “You Might Think” shades of “Rosemary’s Baby ” blend into the proceedings. This makes Rochelle’s actions seem even more suspicious.

Germaine has the baby.

The episode ends with Red’s war against Syria being voted down after Laurel’s video goes viral. Valderrama takes credit for the video and Germaine will not touch her baby. As she leaves the baby’s room, she turns on the mobile above the cot.

The mobile’s bunnies move slowly to “You Might Think”

Tripplet is missing from this episode of BrainDead, this makes the second week that he has been AWOL.  Gareth and Laurel look like they might be rebuilding that burnt bridge and Luke looks to be in danger of infection from either Germaine or Grace (the new baby).

The bug people have united twice and Germaine’s baby may be the first human/alien bug hybrid in Washington.

BrainDead airs Sundays on CBS.

CAST:

Roadies: The Load Out – The Industry is Dead, Long Live Phil (Review)

 Roadies_110_3105.R

Cameron Crowe finished up his 10 episode series Roadies with a clear, yet bittersweet, message. “The Load Out” celebrated the death of the “industry” while stating that the memories of better days would live on through people like Phil. Long live Phil.  Toward  the end of the episode, all the roadies hug the dead man, symbolically embracing the old days of rock and roll.

Days that are, according to Crowe, gone.

At the close of the episode,  Reg (Good old Double D, which does not stand for Due Diligence as  Kelly Ann tells the English patsy.) comes running back to the stadium. He has seen the newly dubbed Pistachio’s latest movie. The normally cold Brit becomes overwhelmed by the imagery and comes to pound on the stage door.

There is no response.  Reg pounds harder and more insistently on the closed door, standing in the rain, head down and determined to come back.

But, Crowe is telling us that we cannot come back. Old time rock is gone, the industry is dead. Killed by smart phones, the internet and millennials who will never really “get it.”

Above all else it is the industry heads themselves who have killed off the notion of bands working the old way. Preston, played brilliantly, if rather sparingly, by Brian Benben, hires Reg to break up Staten House Band. His plan is to set up a solo career for Tom.

Unfortunately, for Preston, Christopher and Tom start speaking, after Chris returns to Janine, and it seems there may be a bit of hope after all. Except after this scene, we have Reg wanting to come back…

The death of Phil signals the death of the industry as we know it.  As  Chris B. Hayner implies, Crowe is using the death of “White Buffalo” as the swan song of Rock and Roll in general.   There is still hope, however.

If Reg can get someone to open that door, he could  become the band’s savior.  He told Preston that he could make it work. The only problem being that no one may actually care enough to bring back the band and an old way of entertainment being killed by greed and apathy.

The theme throughout has been that when the band tried to return to the olden days, Kelly Ann, complaint that they never play the old songs anymore, signaled a beginning of the end for the band.

Crowe is telling us, in essence, that Thomas Wolfe was right. You cannot go back. To do so is to invite ruin and a calamitous end.  Phil “came back” and died. His temerity is repaid with memories and  sudden death.

Another sign that the old ways are gone is Christopher’s symbolic shaving of his beard and his marriage to Natalie Shin.  He knows that to survive, he must embrace the changes and he does so, although Christopher does not look happy at all.

Taken on face value, the season finale of Roadies is bizarre.  Granted there is a heavy focus on music,  the guest list is long and multi-facetted. Jackson Brown, Eddie Vedder,  Robyn Hitchcock and more stop by to pay tribute to Phil. A legend in the industry.

This too could be another message from Cameron Crowe, the legends are gone.  Now that
rock and roll has left the building, it will not return in the way that we know it.  Certainly there are still legends in the industry, The Rolling Stones, for example, but Crowe is telling us that when these go, they will not be replaced.

The creator is probably not too far off the mark. In a time where reality television creates instant “stars” and the Internet slowly changes the way people react with one another this could indeed be the death knell for entertainment as we know it.

Roadies_110_3026.R

On the other side of this coin, how ironic was the final pose of Phil? Standing with his  arms outstretched, the less than pristine (in life) man is given a Christ-like stature in death.  A man who killed two people and stole goods from the victims of Hurricane Katrina is elevated in his death.

Brilliant.

Many things were settled in the final episode of Roadies. Natalie Shin becomes validated as more than a stalker-y fan.  Shelli and Bill become an couple.  Reg realizes that deep inside he belongs in the industry. Bill tells Shelli about that unbroken egg.  Most importantly, however, is Kelly Ann getting her nickname; Pistachio.

Herein lies the last bittersweet tone in the episode.  Kelly Ann has been fixated about not having a nickname.  Lately,  however,  it has become less of a concern as she becomes attracted to Reg.

Phil’s dying breath is used to grant her wish and he gives her a nickname, something she desired so much for so long.  Sadly, It is a name she may never be called as the industry is dying, if not dead already.

Roadies was a brilliant soap opera set in the world of touring bands.  Kudos to the cast, and to the guest stars, for giving this show a feeling of reality, their performances all added depth to this entertaining show.

To Cameron Crowe we say thank you for  this often funny,  and quirky, look at the “backend” of the business.

CAST:

Ray Donovan: Lake Hollywood – Hector’s Lament (Review) Spoilers

RayDonovan_410_0808.R

The body count continues to rise this week and it seems likely that Avi has joined the number of deceased that are dotted across Ray Donovan’s landscape. The bloodbath in Nevada last week has not been matched in “Lake Hollywood,” but things have gotten seriously out of hand in Los Angeles.  Is Ray smart enough to defeat the Russian mob?

Donovan makes the first move, a pre-emptive strike as it were, by taking the art. He tells Waller that if Avi is hurt, Dmitri will never see his art again. Terry wakes up with the cop the morning after and Marisol continues to bother Hector.

Ray circles the wagons, getting everyone, bar Terry, at the house.  Daryll helps out as does Lena, they steal the art, and only Bridget seems to be left out of the loop. Ray gets Bunchy to move Teresa to the house.

Bunchy tells Ray about Mick’s homicidal rampage in Nevada.  Mickey talks to Ray who is not happy about his killing Little Bill. Mick is still upset about the death of Silvie and Ray is unmoved. Mickey tags along with Bunchy and Teresa in the move  to Calabasas.

Sonia has gone off the grid and despite Ray having all his art, Dimitri has Donovan running around in circles. He insists that the action star Butch Kramer be brought to him.  Dimitri ignores Ray’s requests to see Avi.

At the gym, Hector’s wife  Jessica (Audra Griffisand daughter show up.  Jessica  tells him that she and  Stella  (Mattea Quinare going to Montreal. Hector is beyond distraught. He tells Terry that he will back in an hour.

RayDonovan_410_3207.R
Terry attempts to distract Stella

Ray gives Waller the receipts for all the art Sonia’s gallery sold. He tells the lawyer he knows about the forgeries. Waller promises to work on Dimitri although, he says,  it will do no good.

Hector goes to see Marisol and tells her about Jessica and Stella.  She is not impressed. He tells her she smells of jail and Marisol goes to run a bath.  At the Donovan house, Mickey and Abby share a moment as one of Dimitri’s men watches the house.

As Terry leaves the gym to get Hector from Marisol’s house, the boxer drowns  his half-sister in the bathtub. When Terry arrives, Campos tells him she died by overdosing in the tub.

The murder of Marisol is sudden, shocking and disturbing.  It is not, however, overly surprising. Marisol knew which buttons to push and her self destructive streak caused her to destroy her half-brother.

Terry calls Ray.

Ray tells Terry to leave Hector at Marisol’s house. Campos admits he killed his sister and Ray says, “I know.” Donovan leaves.  Terry is shaken by the death and returns to the gym.

Donovan gets Butch to see Dimitri. Ray attends the mobster’s party and Kramer is already there. The Russian mob  boss asks Butch to go outside and he has a bodyguard beat the star up. (Dmitri is upset at Kramer’s latest film, “The Kremlin Bleeds” where his character killed 111 Russians.)

Dimitri may be a little bit insane.

After his bodyguard beats Kramer to the ground Dimitri takes Ray to a room where they are keeping an injured Waller.  The mobster tells Ray that the lawyer tried to intercede on his behalf and then shoots him in the forehead. Dimitri then thanks Donovan for bringing Butch to the party.

Ray heads back to help Hector. First, he takes Marisol’s phone and takes a picture of Hector sitting in front of his dead sister’s body. Donovan does this for insurance. He then takes Marisol’s body and dumps it in Lake Hollywood. Just prior to this, he sends Hector a text from her phone; a suicide text.

Ray calls Dimitri and tells him that he has what he owes the Russian mobster.

It seems pretty obvious that Avi is dead. Despite Ray asking repeatedly,  Dimitri has not produced him alive or dead.  After watching the mobster in action it fits that he killed Avi right after the phone call where he told Ray to deliver Sonia.

There are two episodes left in this season and it seems that Donovan is outnumbered and outflanked by Dimitri.  Previews of the next episode makes things seem quite fraught. Donovan seems to be on top of it, but can he really beat the mobster and save his entire family?

RayDonovan_410_1498.R
Raymond J. Barry as Dmitri

Ray manages to maintain that look of tired confidence  that shows he believes  he will outwit the Russian.  On a sidenote,  one wonders if Lena will make good her threat  and kill Dimitri if Avi really is dead.  The body count in this episode was two, Waller and Marisol. A bit of a comedown after last week’s murderous activities.

There is a lot up in the air in this episode. So far the only thing that has been solved is Hector’s lament. She has been put in the lake, a not-so “lady of the lake,” as it were.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays on Showtime. There are two episodes left, do not miss them as this season looks to be even more intense than season three.

CAST:

Guest starring Raymond J. Barry as Dimitri,  Jack Kesy as Butch and Ismael Cruz Cordova as Hector. 

Jane Got a Gun (2016): Troubled Hannie Caulder Remake (Review)

Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton

It took almost three years for this tepid and troubled remake of “Hannie Caulder” to be released. Taking so long, in fact, that co star, and co-writer of Jane Got a Gun, Joel Edgerton wrote, directed and co-starred in his own film, “The Gift.”

However, apart from the female protagonist being raped by a gang of unpleasant villains, there is little to tie these two films together. Jane, played by Natalie Portman, does not benefit from a Robert Culp type character who spends a good bit of time teaching her how to win in a gunfight.

The villains are not grotesque off-shoots of humanity; all bigger than life and equally disgusting while simultaneously being quite funny.  (The original gang, all three of them, were played by western stalwart Jack Elam and – fresh off their  The Wild Bunch roles as Dutch and the one of the bounty hunters – Ernest Borgnine and Strother Martin.)

A completely unrecognizable Ewan McGregor was the only “name’ in the villain’s camp and unlike the Caulder trio, never seemed to have laid a hand on Jane, let alone anything else. While  Jane Got a Gun went through two directors, one before a single  frame of film had been shot and a number of leading men, it  does entertain.

In many ways it is a superior film to the 1971 Raquel Welch original.  To be fair, “Hannie Caulder” was an attempt to cash in on flat brimmed hats, ponchos and a fast draw who could also dispense witticisms as well as bullets.   It was, after all, the age of the Spaghetti Western.

Jane Got a Gun does not depict Jane as a helpless “little woman.” When her husband comes home, shot to rag doll ribbons, she does not whimper or hesitate. This frontier wife straps on a gun and saddles up her horse. She takes the kid to a neighbors and heads to her  former fiancé’s  house and asks for help.

He refuses.

Rather than plead with the man, she heads to town to stock up on ammunition and dynamite. She is grabbed by one of the Bishop gang, the baddies who raped her and shot her husband.

Dan Frost  (Edgerton) almost intervenes but stops short of shooting the Bishop gang member. Jane does that herself.

Thus begins the long middle part of the film where Dan fortifies the house against the expected marauders and he and Jane share backstories.  Jane’s husband Bill Hammond (Noah Emmerich) has little to do apart from lay flat on his back and drink whiskey for his pain. 

The plodding midway point does hurt the film somewhat. When the gang do arrive, the shootout is somewhat underwhelming. after all that preparation. Apparently the Bishops stopped to pick up a few friends to help out.

Jane Got a Gun has an ending that feels a little tacked on.  Without giving too much away, it has “happy Hollywood ending” written all over it.

Directed by Gavin O’Connor, who stepped in to replace Scottish director Lynne Ramsay (who had a falling out with producers after having a falling out with Michael Fassbender)  does a good job.

The film is too claustrophobic to have much  in the way of panoramic visuals but the few shots which are there to show the desolation of the homestead look brilliant.

Written by no less than three people:  Edgerton, Brian Duffield and Anthony Tambakis,  the film could have turned into a helpless hodgepodge of floating plot lines and ramshackle scenes. It does what is says on the label, however, and delivers a western with a strong female protagonist. 

Jane Got a Gun may have been influenced quite heavily by Hannie Caulder, it is a loose remake after all,  but it takes itself far more seriously. One cannot cast an Oscar winning actress in a role that requires her be a helpless female in any size, shape or form. (Portman’s character does not even cry, Edgerton’s, however, does get very teary eyed.)

It is a bit puzzling that McGregor decided to hide his well known visage behind a black mustache and heavy black eyebrows.  He does, however, “give good villain” although he does not appear too often in the film.

Overall, Jane Got a Gun is a 3.5 star film. It loses a bit for the claustrophobic setting and the lack of gunplay. While there is shooting, it is mostly from the other side and the good guys shoot very little in return.  Also, in the final scene, there is a close up of Jane’s gun. She has just told the villainous Bishop that she has two rounds (or as she calls them, “bullets”) left. The front of the gun’s chambers show all the “bullets” to be unexpended, in other words, the pistol is fully loaded. Oops.)

Jane Got a Gun is on Netflix at the moment and certainly worth watching.  Fans of westerns should enjoy it and fans of Portman may opt to suffer through an unloved genre to see her.