The Path: Season One Premiere – A Cult by Any Other Name (Review)

The Path premiered on Hulu Wednesday bringing season one out with a flourish of foreboding and tendency to disturb. The Meyer Movement, a cult by any other name, may not rely upon the Almighty to bludgeon believers into behaving, but it does have a “Jim Jones” feel to it.

Aaron Paul as Eddie Lane in The Path

The Path premiered on Hulu Wednesday bringing season one out with a flourish of foreboding and a tendency to disturb. The Meyer Movement, a cult by any other name, may not rely upon the Almighty to bludgeon believers into behaving, but it does have a “Jim Jones” feel to it.

The founder, we learn, is comatose in Peru while his “right-hand” man Cal  Robertson (Hugh Dancy) tells the members that the man is “on lockdown” transcribing the last three rungs on the ladder.  Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan) was born into the movement and could be seen as “royalty” per se. 

Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul), Sarah’s husband, returns from a Peruvian  retreat, the same place that Dr. Stephen Meyer is laying unconscious hooked up to medical machines and a drip,  where the participants take hallucinogens in order to feel the light. Lane’s trip is not a pleasant one.

His dead brother, who committed suicide, shows Eddie, through an “out-of-body” experience that the leader is either in a coma or brain dead in a hospital bed. This trip upsets Lane and he returns from the retreat with his faith badly shaken.

He contacts someone who tells him that the movement is a lie and Sarah believes that Eddie is cheating on her which is called “transgressing” by members of the movement. Cal is the charismatic yet disturbing leader of the “East Coast chapter” of the cult.

The man is deep and capable of great violence. Cal is also, apparently, taking lessons on salesmanship, or selling techniques, to make him a more potent recruiter to the cause. Robertson has history with Sarah, the two were lovers before Lane came on the scene and he offers to help Eddie’s wife if she needs him.

The Path feels more “evil commune” than religious cult.  It fact, the “movement” is not, in essence a religion at all, hence its title of movement. Based loosely, it seems, on a variation of meditation, the “I’m okay, you’re okay” therapy of the ’70s and 80’s and a sort of zen psychiatry (with a measure of vegetarianism and warped “flower power) the cult, or movement, feels like Waco on E.

There is, however, an undercurrent present from the start, when the Meyer Movement group go to aid victims of a  community leveled by a tornado  in New Hampshire. A small convoy of three SUVs  roar into the flattened neighborhood, horns honking. Mary, a girl who is either in shock or suffering withdrawal (later it is proven to be the latter) watches the vehicles approach.

Once the movement members arrive, they begin to pick and chose survivors to bring back to their town. One of these “adoptees” is a young lady going through withdrawal and she along with a baby and few others are taken to the movement’s compound, in essence  they are kidnapped.

Monaghan’s character believes that her husband has cheated on her and insists he take the “program” a 14 day brainwashing exercise. Eddie denies an affair as he is in fact meeting with a former movement member whose husband was murdered, she says, by the cult when he attempted to leave.

Eddie does not reveal this to his wife.

Abe Gaines (Rockmond Dunbar) is intrigued about the movement and its taking people in from the tornado struck community.  He places the group on a special watch. In the movement, Mary tells Cal that her father sold her to his friends for sex starting when  she was a child. 

After this, Cal takes Mary to  see her father  and beats him into the hospital. Eddie learns that his contact’s husband was murdered.

Robertson is called to a rich believer’s house where the couple ask his movement to cure their son of drug addiction.  The boy’s mother is the believer and her husband is not. By the end of the program, Cal kidnaps the young man and tells the father that he does not want money, but his faith.

Hawk (Kyle Allen) Eddie and Sarah’s son wants to leave school and gets into a fight after visiting a female classmate’s house.  Eddie verifies that   his contacts husband  is dead, although records indicate he committed suicide and   Lane  panics.  He  decides to admit to the “affair” rather than keep talking to the late Jason Kemp’s wife. 

Cal does an interview on local television and later tells the unconscious Stephen Meyer about it.  Eddie completes his 14 day brainwashing program and admits (lies about) having an affair with an old flame.  Three men from the movement arrive at the house of Miranda Frank (Minka Kelly), the old flame in question, and take her away. These look to be the same three men who met Jason Kemp’s widow at her grandparents. 

Mary, who has been obsessed with Cal from day one, shows up after the beating of her father and performs oral sex on Robertson. He stops the young woman and suggests that she join up with another young man, a novice named Sean Egan.

The group target the miserable  and lost of society in order to grow their membership.  Using a method called the “ladder” the members climb metaphorical rungs to get closer to enlightenment.

The Path is a disturbing look at a pseudo religion based on sociology and psychiatry where the members attempt to be so open with their feelings and emotions that it mimics a sort of hive mentality.

Dancy proves to be mesmerizing as “the man who would be king” and Paul is convincing as the member whose vision has placed him in danger. Monaghan is forceful and equally convincing as the lifelong member of this movement.

Show creator Jessica Goldberg gives the viewer an unsettling look at organized brainwashing and what feels like a not too far-fetched story of new-age religion. Director Mark Cahill manages to frame many shots as though  the camera is spying voyeur, a move that makes the audience feel slightly uncomfortable.  It adds to the ambiance of menace quite nicely. 

The Path airs Wednesdays on Hulu. This promises to be an excellent little thriller try not to miss it.

Need for Speed (2014): Aaron Paul’s Video Game Film

Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall in Need for Speed
The 2014 film Need for Speed could be seen as a film made to cash in on Aaron Paul’s Breaking Bad popularity or an effort to capitalize on the video game of the same name. While the movie did make a decent profit, production costs were $66 million and the worldwide box office came to $203 million, critics panned the movie almost universally. The film’s biggest crime seems to have been, apart from starring television actor Paul, not being 2 Fast 2 Furious or part of that long running franchise.

Directed by Scott Waugh, stunt coordinator extraordinaire turned director, and starring Aaron Paul, Brit actors Imogen Poots and Dominic Cooper (Cooper is currently working steadily as Tony Stark’s daddy in Agent Carter on ABC) along with Mr Robot‘s Rami Malik and pre – 50 Shades of Grey Dakota Johnson, the movie is an action film based, very loosely on the video game and features fast cars, a little humor, and some thrills and spills along the way. Michael Keaton has a splendid cameo as Monarch, the former Formula 1 racer with a dickey heart who sponsors the De Leon race.

Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a racer who yearns to win the De Leon and whose small cadre of friends stick by him and help out in his late father’s business. Cooper is Dino Brewster, professional race car driver, rich guy and all around heel. The two do not get on, mainly because Dino stole Tobey’s girl, Anita (Johnson) whose little brother Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) is Marshall’s best friend. After taking a contract to modify a car for Brewster, a Mustang that is later sold to Julia Maddon’s boss for a cool $2.7 million, Dino challenges Tobey and Pete to a race and the heel kills Pete with a pit maneuver during the race.

Tobey is framed for the crime and put away for manslaughter. When he gets out, Marshall vies to get Monarch’s attention and get an invite to the De Leon where he wants to beat Brewster once and for all. Maddon joins Tobey as they drive across country with a bounty placed on their heads by Dino who wants to stop Marshall from entering the race.

That Aaron Paul has got some enormous acting chops goes without question. Just the fact that he held his own against master craftsman Bryan Cranston for the whole of Breaking Bad is proof positive that the man can act. Critics who had their long knives poised to sink into Aaron’s performance in this video game action racer were doing so because he dared to leave the small box. Had they paid attention, these “experts” would have noticed that Paul gave his usual meticulous performance.

Granted the storyline itself had some pretty glaring plot holes and Poots manages to look younger each time she is on screen, and there is not nearly enough Michael Keaton, but…

Malik shows just how he got the part of Elliot in Mr Robot, Poots showed just why she should be in more films and Cooper made a impressively nasty villain. The Brit actor showed just how to make the bad guy a truly nasty bit of stuff and that, in turn, helped to make Paul’s hero look even better.

Waugh did a good job in his second feature length film as director and the film looks great. Everything felt right and while not as glossy or OTT as the 2F2F franchise films, the stunts delivered the requisite amount of oohs and ahhs and made all the scenes crackle with excitement.

Certainly Need for Speed feels a little like a red headed step child to the “Furious” saga but overall, the film delivers. This is a 4 out of 5 star film, earning an extra star for the casting of Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper. It is Streaming on Showtime at the moment and worth watching despite its rather long runtime of over two hours.

Exodus: Gods and Kings Ridley Scott Epic Moses (Review and Trailer)

Exodus: Gods and Kings Ridley Scott Epic Moses (Review and Trailer)

Out of the two religious themed films released this year, as in epic retelling of bible stories versus the feel good films also hitting theatres in 2014, Ridley Scott, with his epic tale of Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings, is to be congratulated for having the moxie, or belief in his subject matter, to allow his biblical vision to actually mention the “big guy” or God. The film, which the English director dedicated to his late brother Tony, feels almost like a homage to David Lean, another English director, sort of a Lawrence of Arabia meets Moses of Canaan, if you will.

Better Call Saul: Greetings From the Set Teaser (Video)

Better Call Saul: Greetings From the Set Teaser (Video)

Better Call Saul sent a greetings card of sorts from the set in the form of a video behind-the-scenes teaser and it was posted not only on AMCs Internet site but on their official YouTube channel titled, AMC. The only people who may not know who Saul Goodman is have either been hiding under a rock for the last six years or never felt the urge to watch Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013) on television or Netflix, or even iTunes. Bob Odenkirk played the savvy lawyer to Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, aka Heisenberg and Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman a sort of three muskateers scenario without out the fourth unless counting Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring as the temporary additional musketeer.

Aaron Paul Takes on Florida Mom Yeah B*tch

Aaron Paul Takes on Florida Mom Yeah B*tch

While Bryan Cranston saw the humorous side to Florida Mom Susan Schrijver starting a petition to take down the Walter White and Jesse Pinkman action figures from Toys R Us shelves Aaron Paul did not find it the least bit funny and he took on the woman with his own petition and as one @JessePinkman tweet might say, “Yeah B*tch.” Fighting fire with fire, @AaronPaul tweeted a link to another online petition asking the toy store to put the Heisenberg and Jesse Pinkman six inch action figures back on the shelves.

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