Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dexter, Season 1, part 2

Is it wrong to love a serial killer?

Because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dexter. And I should explain that I long ago had to stop watching anything resembling a horror movie because I have nightmares for days afterward that generally result in me forcing my poor husband to scour the house at 3am for intruders because I'm pretty sure I heard someone trying to jimmy a lock three bedrooms away. Motley Husband just loves it. My point is that if the idea of a show based on a serial killer creeps you out, don't worry...Dexter is just the perfect blend of thrilling, humorous and just enough creepy to make it interesting.

We put our lives on hold this week to watch the final episodes this week. Laundry? We'll get to it later. Responsibilities? Who needs 'em. Phone calls? Let them go to voicemail. We had Dexter to watch. I realize this makes us a teeny bit sad, but I'm willing to accept it. The show is that good.

This has to be one of the greatest single seasons of any show in the history of shows, and to top it off, one of my faithful readers tells me that Season Two only gets even better. I can't imagine how. But you better believe we'll be watching it soon. In the mean time, please go watch Dexter and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Run Fatboy, Run

Simon Pegg, how could you, brother?

You're one of my all-time faves. After Shaun of the Dead, I believed you had the power to make even a Lifetime Television movie fantastic. You were perfect, charming and witty. But alas, we have found your Achilles Heel, and his name is David Schwimmer. We liked you as Ross, Schwimmer. But as a director of Run Fatboy, Run you are, um, how do we say this nicely? You're not good, pal. Sorry, but someone needs to tell you.

But Schwimmer doesn't take the fall all alone for this disappointing and predictable film. That blame sadly falls to two people I normally adore, co-writers Michael Ian Black and Simon Pegg. Separately, they're terrific. But apparently when they come together it's like two beautiful people who have a very ugly baby. A real head-scratcher.

Maybe it's because they started with an obvious premise and an even more predictable story line: lovable loser is engaged to a woman who's much, much too good for him. He leaves her at the altar in a panic. Fast-forward five years and we find our loser trying to win her back by besting her newer, handsomer, richer boyfriend. Does the underdog get the girl? Does good triumph over rich and handsome?

I think you can do the math here. Sigh. What a colossal waste of un-funny time. You might consider renting Fatboy if you're just looking for some very mild entertainment-- you know, if the Judith Light movie you were watching on Lifetime just didn't cut it for you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dexter, Season 1

Holy cow, this is an awesome show! I can't believe this slipped under my radar until now. I probably would never have even rented it had I not heard a TV review on NPR in which they compared the crop of new shows on HBO and Showtime to the gold standard, Dexter, referring to it as the 'next Sopranos.'

Who is Dexter? He's a sociopathic serial killer whom you'll find surprisingly likable. Played deftly by Michael C. Hall of Six Feet Under fame, Dexter had urges to kill early on, so his father helped him channel his urges into a greater good for society: by teaching him to only kill other serial killers, murderers and the like. It sounds far-fetched but the story is handled with ease given that Dexter earns a living as a forensic criminalist, giving him front-row-seat access to his future prey.

An interesting cast of characters rounds the show out, giving us a view into how a serial killer negotiates day-to-day interactions with his family and friends. And the main plot is quickly evolving into a tease between Dexter and an equally clever serial killer.

We gulped down the first four episodes of the show like we were dying of thirst. I promise you, you'll be hooked just a few minutes into the first episode. I just raced to my Netflix queue and moved all the remaining discs to the top of my list, which is just fine given that we are in a drought for good movies right now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sex and the City: the Movie

I’ve never been one of those women who “just loved, loved, loved this show!” I watched it. I enjoyed it. I wanted Carrie to marry Aiden too. But that was about it for me. I could never quite get on board with the idea of Kim Cattrall as this ravenous sexual magnet. Let’s be honest, she looks like your alcoholic aunt who was kind of a slut in high school. And every time Cynthia Nixon was filmed in a lustful scene with a man, I’m pretty sure a kitten was murdered.

When it comes to watching the Sex and the City movie, I kept my hopes very tempered, which is precisely the attitude you need to watch this film. The whole movie unrolls exactly how you imagine it will: a costume parade of four cougars desperately trying to appear fifteen years younger than they were ten years ago. Prepare yourself to see some scarily aged hands as compared to the eerily smooth faces above them. It’s a good thing they made this movie when they did, because I don’t think their parchment skin can support their lack of eating anything resembling food much longer.

Although, I have to give props to Sarah Jessica Parker for allowing herself to be filmed with zero make-up and wardrobe in a few scenes where she’s playing a heartbroken and bereft dumpee. It was surprising and not a little refreshing, like a palette cleanser before she jumped back into a parade of outrageous costumes.

The characters of Charlotte and Miranda are mere distractions with half-hearted attempts on behalf of the screenwriter to make them relevant to the story. But my biggest problem with the movie was, no pun intended, Mr. Big, whom we loved on the show because he’s an arrogant, selfish asshole. In the film, his character was relegated to a weepy ragdoll without a backbone. If I heard him say, “I just want you” one more time, I was going to jab a rusty fork in my ears.

In the end, Sex and the City still comes down to the wise words once spoken by Peter Griffin of The Family Guy:

Peter: Sex and the City. Isn’t that the show about those three hookers and their mom?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Smart People

Smart People is a fine movie...except that you've seen it before in at least a dozen iterations. Cantankerous, widowed professor struggles to raise smart-mouthed teenagers and keep his career afloat. Career and parenthood spiral toward the inevitable toilet. Widower runs into a former student. Former student charms the grouchy away and the romance begins. All is merry.

Sound familiar? I was bored about twenty minutes in, and I was even more annoyed that the director resorted to cheap tricks to show us how "eccentric" Dennis Quaid's main character, Lawrence Wetherhold (seriously, Lawrence Wetherhold) was. Oh, look, he parks his car crooked in the parking lot. Now that IS eccentric. What? He will only ride in the back seat of a car? Now I KNOW he's eccentric!

Despite the tired story, the cast of the film had a great deal of promise, but the film let them down by plugging them into all-too familiar roles. Ellen Page plays the same smart aleck she always plays, Thomas Hayden Church plays the goofy, off-kilter and unreliable brother and Sarah Jessica Parker plays the challenging love interest.

A word about Ms. Parker. I realize now why they put her in so many goofy costumes in Sex and the City. It's because if she's just wearing plane-jane clothes, you find yourself spending a lot of time considering how huge and bony that head of hers is. Jesus on the cross, that is the biggest jaw this side of a thoroughbred. I know that's a cheap shot and I generally do consider her to be quite beautiful but the cameraman didn't do her any favors in this film.

There are some funny moments in the film and the interplay of Ellen Page and Thomas Hayden Church is definitely the high mark of the film, but in the end, this is just an uninspired take on a story we've seen a dozen times.