Stitchers: All In – Family Business (Review)

EMMA ISHTA

Last week Liam Granger became another fatality in the long list of Stinger related deaths.  “All In” has the stitchers team doing just that as they attempt to pull Kirsten out of a honey trap.  Stinger has flown the coop yet again but proves to have a far reaching influence on Kirsten and the team. He is, as suspected, behind the glitches in Kirsten’s stitches since he has a quantum computer (one of five in the world).

By the end of the episode, Nina (Jasmin Savoy Brown) learns the truth about Cameron and Linus learns that his parents have always known he is NSA. Linus’ parents were actually approached by Les Turner and Baptiste while he was still in high school.  

More importantly, Kirsten learns that her mother is still alive.

(This was the episode being filmed while Mike’s Film Talk was on set in January this year. The scene were Blair orders the team to stop was being shot and observed by this writer “on the day” and, needless to say, the final cut  looks even better than I imagined it.)

The second season has been all about Stinger and Kirsten. As the series has progressed Ms. Clark has become fixated on finding her father and making him pay for his actions. This year has been a focus on Stinger and his murderous activities.   It seems that Daniel Stinger is the big bad in this scenario after all.

Or is he?

After Liam’s death last week, with a carefully aimed bullet sent through his memory cortex,  Kirsten stitches her ex and we are treated to a fragmented view, because of the bullet, and Liam is talking to…Who? Stinger?

(Stinger is played by C. Thomas Howell and in these tight close ups of “Stinger’s” eyes and nose,  it becomes apparent almost immediately that this is not Howell’s Daniel.  Blue eyes  instead of brown and the voice, as well as nose,  is all wrong. So who is this mystery-man – who looks more John Stamos than C. Thomas Howell?  It is  Jonathan Emerson, who  has either been drafted in to “shemp” for Howell, or he is the new Daniel Stinger.)

There is still the question of the female giving messages to Kirsten in the last season finale. That was not Stinger, could it have been Ivy? Did Daniel really opt to kill Liam via a bullet in the brain to keep him from talking?

Kirsten is coming loose at the seams in this episode. The stress of looking for her father is taking its toll. While she shares her frustration with Camille, in her ” Beautiful Mind” bedroom she realizes that someone moved a string. She looks accusingly as Camille.

“Don’t look at me. I don’t come in your room when you’re gone. This creeps me out.”

The entire team, with the exception of Fisher who is possibly patching things up with his wife, is coming close to breaking point. (Arguably, Cameron is  doing “all right” but with that close connection to Kirsten, his may be a temporary peace.) Maggie has learned something distressing about her son,  Camille has a full-blown case of the guilts because of Liam and she reached out to Quincy only to learn about his wife coming back into the picture. Linus looks precariously close to losing his Baba and Blair, a recent addition to the team, is a bully and an *ss.

Back to the episode plot line, Ivy did move the string. This was to lead Kirsten to her father. When she arrives, Stinger has fled and Ivy feels betrayed. It appears that there is a mole in the stitchers group who warned Brown that Kirsten was not alone.  Before she leaves for questioning, Ivy reveals to her half-sister that Ed Clark did not tell her everything. Kirsten’s mother is still alive.

Kirsten confronts Blair and it ends badly for her. She then goes to speak with Cameron and they prove that those feelings (regardless of Nina) are still there. Kirsten comes home and  tells Camille that she feels alone.

A slightly inebriated Camille helps Kirsten to backtrack information and they discover that Ed did leave Kirsten a clue about her mother. The urn with his ashes had a binary clue that was an address and an entry code.

The two head to the location and discover a hibernation unit with a doctor inside. He is dying and does not make it past the point of discovery.  Linus learns that his parents have always known what he does and who he works for.

Kirsten and the team go to stitch the dead doc and Blair (John Billingsley) bursts into the lab to stop the proceedings.  He orders Maggie to halt and she ignores him. The new “big boss” is escorted over to Camille and ordered to watch.

The glitch reappears and it is young Cameron again.

(A quick sidenote here about the young actor playing young Cameron; Willem Miller. This lad has done three other projects, one of which was his playing a young Tom Sawyer in “Band of Robbers” and this youngster is one to watch for. Great performances with an adult nuance in each and every gesture and look.  Brilliant actor here and one that will go far.)

This time the group try to map where the signal is coming from and learn that it is coming from Stinger’s quantum computer.  Kirsten learns that the young Cameron is not the real Cameron and they realize that Stinger had been hacking them the entire time, Kirsten is taken from the stitch by young Cameron.

Captain Stamperson and his thugs arrive to shut everything down and disarm Quincy and he takes time to taunt Cameron.  Tim (Cameron Britton) steps up to save the day, a’la last season where he stepped up and saved everyone, with a polite “Excuse me” and a right uppercut which launches Stamperson into the air with a hard floor landing. The NSA goons are overpowered and the team try to extract Kirsten. 

In the stitch, Stinger has lead his daughter deeper into her own mind.  Using avatars of her as a child and of her mother, he forces Kirsten to get caught up in a childhood moment. Kirsten does not want to leave this memory and Stinger encourages her to stay.

The team hijack the hack and allow Cameron to interact with Kirsten via his younger avatar.  The show ends with Cameron reminding Kirsten that her real family (her friends at the lab) love her and want her to come back. The camera pulls back and fade to black.

Pop Culture References:

Samwise Gamgee and Frodo – a double reference. Not only does this reflect the “Rings” trilogy but it also references “The Interview” where  James Franco’s character calls Seth Rogen his Samwise Gamgee to his Frodo.

Frodo again.

Let’s light this candle – Alan  Shepard astronaut “The Right Stuff.”

C3PO – requires no explanation.

Final Thoughts:

This episode was a recap of all the pain felt by Kirsten throughout the series.  There were some funny moments. (The scene where she hears herself speaking to Liam and says, “did I really sound like a robot?” Cameron suppresses a giggle and says no but Camille pipes up with “An angry robot.”)  Mostly though the episode was about how the search for Stinger was isolating her.

Blair turns out to be miles worse than the late Les Turner. The new program head is a major douche who was not afraid to belittle his greatest asset.

“All In” finished with Kirsten still inside her own mind and Cameron holding her hand.  We still do not know the fate of Maggie’s son and it looks like “Baba” is not going to make it. This was, as promised,  a darker season and how disturbing is it to think that Daniel Stinger would imprison his daughter in her own mind.

This has been a brilliant second season and Freeform need to greenlight a third season…Right now. “Stitchers” equals great television, entertainment on a level above and beyond the mediocrity on offer elsewhere.

 

Happy Anniversary: Has It Really Been Three Years?

Author's photo 2013
Sitting here recovering from being forced off the road on my bicycle Tuesday, my Internet came up briefly to show I’d gotten a trophy from WordPress. My connection then disappeared for hours so I hobbled around and did dishes and continued to put frozen vegetables on my swollen legs and ankles. Later, it came up long enough to reveal a Happy Third Anniversary award had been bestowed upon my little blog and the first thing that came to me was, “Has it really been three years?”

Really??

So much has happened in that short time span. Injury at, my then, work, returning to work, heart attack, ill-health retirement, Guardian Liberty Voice, South Africa, USA, Las Vegas, Arizona…

Sadly, throughout the Guardian Liberty Voice and Vegas time frame, I ignored my little WordPress baby. There were so many people I met in the business that should have been written about here. Stupidly, I put too much effort into an organization that was never going to amount to its owners’ claims.

This is about my blog, however, and not about shysters conning writers into over producing articles in a sweat shop content mill that pays less than nothing. I did take one thing away from my experience that hopefully will make my little blog a better place to hang out, I’ve gotten better at coming over here and posting.

While I’d like to say that I am also a better writer, my ego will not let me make a claim like that without laughing so instead let’s just say my confidence level has increased exponentially and leave it at that. And as you can see, I still have a tendency to write paragraph long sentences, so that has not changed!

But at least one thing has. My profession has gone from Prison Officer to professional writer. While I never made a fortune writing for my former employer I was paid to write. On the same token, it tickled me to death that I was paid to watch films and review them, something I did for free before and I also got to interview some awesomely talented actors, like Tony Todd, Tiny Lister, Terry Kiser, Stephen Bishop, Jordan Hayes, et al.

I got to meet some great folks at conventions and I was not paid to do that, it was expected that I attend all the con’s scheduled days, meet and greet and write a minimum of three articles a day. That never happened, and, somewhat unsurprisingly, despite what had been agreed upon, which was one article per day, this was not where the publisher saw the paper going, it was content mill or nothing.

All the fun I was having being duped into believing that what I was doing was crucial in building up a solid entertainment section kept me from my own “words and music.” My reasoning was that if I was getting paid to write, I had no time to write for free.

This from a guy who was writing, for quite a while, 8 to 10 500 word-plus articles a day. Now I have made up my mind that the only thing which will keep me from stopping by daily will be lack of Internet or death. Although I probably should make an allowance for healing time, as I just now put another bag of frozen broccoli on my leg.

I will say, again, how much I appreciate all those folks who have come along for the ride. Those who started off with me, only to leave through frustration, and then came back; I thank you for returning. You must have been checking up on me occasionally. That pleases me no end. For those who stop by to comment I also thank you. I have learned a lot from folks who took a moment or two to let me hear another point of view.

I raise my metaphorical glass to you all and I will try to never desert you, or my little blog again. Oh, and if the editors of WordPress ever feel the need to award my little blog another Freshly Pressed, I wouldn’t say no.

Just saying…

Cheers!

21 March 2015
Quartzsite, Arizona
USA

Being Paid to Watch Movies: The Dream Job?

Seth Rogen and James Franco in The Interview

Anyone who knows me or has read my blog will know that I am a devout cinephile. I adore films and all the creativity and magic that goes into making them. So while I worked as the Entertainment Deputy Managing Editor I was, essentially, paid to watch new movies and then to write what I thought of them. The dream job?

Pretty damn close…

Except…

There were a huge amount of “non press only” screenings where the critics and reviewers had to share the cinema with the “general” public.

Except…

General public was not really the correct term for the “people” who attended these early screenings. Speaking to the studio reps who ran these events, along with the local radio “personalities” and online film clubs, et al, there was a core group of folks who attended as many of these “free” shows as humanly possible.

This was a problem. You would think that getting to see films for free, some of which were not due for release for weeks, would be a great deal all on its own.

Wrong!

There were little groups, or subsets of cinema goers who felt “entitled.” Let me explain.

In the screenings, the studio reps and the folks who helped to set up the non press only screenings, certain rows of seats were cordoned off for the press and VIPs. Generally anywhere from one to four rows would be reserved. When I first arrived in Vegas, it had become standard practice for any press or VIP seats still vacant before the feature started to get filled by the general public.

This became a real problem where certain members of the public would hover around the empty seats and if one were, for example, being saved for a press member who had gone to the toilet (yes we do use the restroom) there could be scuffles. In one instance a journalist was punched by a member of the public.

That particular incident resulted in the rules changing. There were still people who, despite getting a film for free mind you, felt entitled to sit in the “good seats.” Their perception was that these seats must be better as they were reserved. Not so. They were just a few rows set aside without consideration as to viewing or position. Full stop.

It seems that Vegas was the exception and not the rule. Studio reps from Phoenix were amazed that the cinemas in Nevada had this problem. But then, Arizona reps had never opened up the press seats to the general public. Their viewpoint was that Mr and Mrs Public with their kids and neighbors were already getting a free film so “Shut up and sit down.”

The other “problem” in Las Vegas was that the huge amount of disabled viewers who got their free films, would argue over where they were going to sit. Despite the fact that there were places set up specially for them, they would complain and get quite angry if they had to sit in their motorized carts. Rather than take it up with the cinema owners, who are responsible for the amount of disabled seats, they would rip into the reps.

I learned quickly to despise the screenings that were not just for the press. In the beginning I did not mind the presence of “civilians” with attitude. Then they became intrusive, annoying, loud, talkative and were not even watching the film. At one point in a rather serious film, the fat couple behind me and another reviewer would not stop talking, loudly, throughout the entire film.

Finally I could take it no longer and turned around. “Do you mind?” “No,” the fat man retorted. I looked him in the eye. “Oh really?” He looked away and thankfully he and his wife shut the hell up. Afterward the studio rep told me off and said you should have told me, they would have been removed. I thanked her and said the next time I would.

What is amazing about the whole thing is that with cinema prices that go through the roof why not enjoy your free film? Why go there to talk to your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbor, et al. You are there to watch a MOVIE.

Even worse was that these “entitled” idiots would fight to sit with the press, and once they got their way, they would would invariably make so much noise that you could not hear the film. Or constantly text their mates or keep getting up and down to look for folks they knew so they could brag about their great seat.

I remember explaining to one mentally challenged individual, he must have been as no one can be that stupid…can they? That most of us were paid to be there, it was our job. He sneered, “It must pay good.” One local critic sniffed and replied, “If you call $10 per article good, then yes!”

The whole thing had a Catch-22 feel to it. On the one hand, having a “real” audience in the cinema was, in a lot of ways, preferred. You could gage how well the film went over with the masses. This was especially important at “kids” films. It was easy to see which studios got it right. There were no, “Mummy I need to wee, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty.” You were also hard pressed to hear parents saying, “Sit down, five more minutes, let’s go out for a minute.”

Other times, the audience were an intrusion full stop. At one film, which was supposed to be a drama, a man and his family sat and laughed uproariously throughout. In that particular instance, I did complain to the rep and was told, “Sorry, he’s a regular and somewhat special.”

The one drawback to “press only” viewings was that your colleagues in the cinema, which was deserted except for the few of us who could make it, were mostly a jaded bunch. If the film was comedic in nature it was rare to hear anyone laugh. I suppose I broke all the rules and would, if it warranted it, really react to the film.

If it was funny I laughed. Sad, I cried (Yes, I cry at movies, silly old sop!) and if the film was really special and required a myriad of emotions, I provided all the reactions necessary. As I said, I love films. Even the “bad” ones.

Very few of my reviews were negative. I alway try to point out the positive things in movies although there are exceptions to this, I do try. My good friend Jacob Tiranno, and fellow member of the Nevada Film Critic’s Society, (and my “movie buddy”) liked the fact that I tried to see the best of the productions and would not slam a film that tried but did not deliver.

On the subject of Jacob, he does a podcast, on iTunes and on YouTube, head on over and give him a listen. I’ve done a few with him and he has a great show. Tell him I sent you. Also, stop by and check out the Nevada Film Critic’s Society a great site where a number of folks give their view of films on offer.

So in essence, being paid to watch movies was the dream job. Despite the intrusive audience. Although to be fair, there were a few folks who were great finds. A young and gorgeous civil rights lawyer was so nice I found myself wishing I were years younger…and taller. There were others, people who were cinephiles, or the next best thing to, and could intelligently talk about what they had just seen.

Like the interaction with the celebs I miss the free movies (Who would not?) and hopefully I’ll soon have a set of wheels that can get me to some Arizona cinemas as the reps still email me with offers of viewings. Until then I’ll watch my DVD collection and dream of that perfect job.
4 March 2015

The Interview Movie: Giving the Finger to Kim Jong-un

kim-jong-un-the-interviewI will be very honest here, I adore Seth Rogen and James Franco as a team and in The Interview movie, where they give the finger, or more accurately a tank round, to Kim Jong-un these two prove yet again, just how good they are together. Long introductory sentences aside, the point about the film is this, a feature does not have to be high art to be popular, period. Yet we have a score of “film critics” who are now pontificating about the merits, and lack thereof, of the film and its plot, characters, etc, etc, etc…

Does anyone really care? I know that for the last year (Its not really that long but I’m too lazy to work out the exact time period.) I’ve been an illustrious member of the Nevada Film Critics Society. I can hear you in the back, “Well look at you!” It is not that impressive, to explain let’s just say that the average cinema goer dislikes the fact that the press get their own roped off section in the theatre and leave it at that. Still it is a great, non paying gig, and I’ve met some great folks who have opinions about films.

Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to speak to any of them about the film so let us talk, for a very, very short time, about the movie The Interview, which does indeed give Kim Jong-un the metaphorical finger, or two fingers if you are British. First of all, it should be pointed out that Sony and Rogen have hit ironic gold with this film. Secondly, it should be pointed out that even with out the North Korean threats and cyber terrorism, the film would have run “mad crazy” at the box office.

Seth Rogen and James Franco in The Interview

It is a great film. (I’ve watched it no less than four times since purchasing it.) I adore it. It is a brilliant combination of clunky humor intermixed with black comedy merged with all the signature references that people have come to expect from a Rogen film. Think Pineapple Express and This is the End here.

Even parts of the film not related to North Korea are funny. The scene where Eminem declares, no less than four times, that he is gay is hysterically funny. The dead pan delivery sells the humor here and it leaves the viewer wondering just how many takes that one took to “get it in the can.”

The film is full of such short punchy comedy. James Franco, waking from an epic ecstasy and booze filled party, shouting about his “stink-d*ck” while the CIA listen in for example. Even the longer bits are funny, the scene with the tiger had me in stitches, not to mention reaching for the rewind button the second it finished. The entire scene with the rocket is worth the price of admission, or not admission if you watch it online.

This was, quite possibly, the best Christmas gift ever. Brilliantly funny, not intellectually so, but, repeat after me children, “film does not have be high art to be entertaining.” The Interview movie is not just giving the metaphorical finger to Kim Jong-un, it is telling the world that Rogen and Franco as a team are unbeatable. The film can be rented or purchased online from a few outlets, do not look for it on Amazon or iTunes however as they lacked the cojones to stream this film.

At around $6 to rent, or $16.99 to purchase, The Interview is worth a look. If you are fans of Rogen to begin with and even if you are not, take a look to see what got Kim Jong-un’s knickers in a twist. This is a real 5 out of 5 star film here, it pretty much hits all the cylinders square on.

Kim Jong-un in The Interview

Michael Smith

Top Five: A Chris Rock Take on Celebrity (Review and Trailer)

Top Five: A Chris Rock Take on Celebrity (Review and Trailer)

Written, directed by and starring Chris Rock, Top Five is his take on Celebrity with its pitfalls, problems, fears and since this is Chris Rock, the comedy behind the fame. This is the second time that the 49 year old stand up comedian, actor, writer, director, and producer has donned three hats for a film. In 2007, Rock was also a “three man band” on I Think I Love My Wife and that film, which was a romantic dramedy, was pretty much panned by critics upon its release. This is Rock’s third time directing a feature length film and his fourth time directing, when including one episode of his television comedy series Everybody Hates Chris.