Television Spotlight: Dexter (Season 1)

Dexter’s 2nd season begins tonight at 9pm ET/PT, but since I am slow, I offer my review of the first season’s first two episodes. Enjoy.

Who me?

Based on the Jeff Lindsay novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Showtime’s Dexter follows the adventurers of Miami’s most likeable serial killer. Wait, a likeable serial killer? Yes indeed, because he only kills murderers, rapists, or the type of people you’d generally call “bad guys.” And Dexter is very good at what he does. Very good. He should be since he began honing his craft as a wee lad, but now he’s all grown up and a member of the Miami Police force as a blood splatter expert (ironic, yes?), a position that grants him an excellent way to scope out his next victims.

Being based on a book seems like a blessing and a curse for Dexter. The blessing is the darkly comical premise that is darn near brilliant. The clichéd anti-hero as a grizzled loner who barks and growls but secretly harbors a heart of gold gets thrown out the window and replaced with a cold-blooded murderer flashing a saccharine smile. Dexter is gloriously free of regret, guilt or any semblance of a conscious. But his twisted code of honor allows him only to kill the bad guys and therefore necessitates his ever-cheerful smile and clever tongue to hide his complete disregard for all human life other than his cop foster sister and possibly his girlfriend.

The smog in Miami looks horrible

Much of the book’s fun was seeing Dexter struggle to keep his monstrous instincts safely hidden within his boring disguise and the show is no different in that respect. Hearing Dexter’s true inner thoughts as he fends off his girlfriend’s amorous advances (monsters like him aren’t interested in sex) is one example of an absurdly entertaining scene. And when I described Dexter as a cold-blooded murderer I was not exaggerating in the slightest. Dexter mutilates, chops up, and fillets his victims every chance he can get. We never see the complete carnage but there’s enough blood and squishy sounds to bother the squeamish (ie: me).

Dexter captures the bright colors and vivid contrasts that CSI:Miami has made synonymous with Miami television shows. Also standing out is Michael C. Hall in the role of Dexter. He's good-looking, charismatic and still manages to growl and grimace like a murderer. His cop sister, played by Jennifer Carpenter, is goofier than expected but her earnest performance is growing on me.

Dexter’s dark humor and intriguing mystery have successfully transitioned onto the television screen but here’s where the curse comes in: by sticking so close to the book’s material the show frequently slows down and scenes feel like they're filled with dead air (no pun intended). I may be coming from a biased perspective but the book was so fast and fun that by comparison the show feels slow and plodding.

If later episoes sharpen the dialogue and kill off (hehe) some of Dexter’s endless sighs and looks of befuddlement, then there’s enormous potential for the show. Increasing the frequency of Dexter’s inner thoughts would help keep narration brisk and up the comedy quotient which is already good but not great.

Dexter shows promise and I’ll do my best to keep with it but so far the book has been the more entertaining option.


New Computer

I don't want to brag, but I am now the owner of a brand spanking new (ok, technically it's refurbished but still) 2.2 GHz Macbook Pro with the Intel Core 2 Duo /brag. I'll be back with some new updates on Dexter and The Kingdom but for now I'm going to play with my new toy.

Have a great weekend!


Ridley Scott's Blade Runner Interview

Don't read Ridley Scott's Wired interview if you haven't seen Blade Runner yet. And then smack yourself in the head for not having seen Blade Runner.

"You want to know why my eyes are glinting? For the same reason I smoke weed: my glaucoma."

For enlightened souls who have seen Blade Runner, the interview shares the director's motivations for creating the film as well as some of his conceptual inspirations. It also explains how Scott wanted to make certain, um, ambiguous details very clear but had to buckle to outside pressures.

Hearing Ridley Scott's explanations on the ambiguous detail in question (wink, wink) makes me wonder why he took so long to clear the air (I know he broached the subject several years back, but only now do his explanations sound definitive). I'm eager to hear all your thoughts on the topic and if you don't know what I'm talking about then I strongly suggest watching the sci-fi masterpiece that is Blade Runner. Now.

P.S. Watch the director's cut, not the original version. Trust me.

The Problems with Accepted

I honestly enjoyed watching Accepted except for one minor, little, eensy weensy detail: no effing way could a few kids create a passable imitation of a real university without accidentally killing a few dozen “students” from malnutrition, asbestos poisoning, industrial accidents, and so on. It's not that I’m being a movie snob, it's just that my suspension of disbelief got stretched a little too far with Accepted and I’ll tell you why.

1) Housing

I’ll be conservative and say that there were 500 students at the South Harmon Institute of Technology, aka SHIT. I did a little research and found that hospitals (and by extension mental hospitals like the one in Accepted) could include the necessary housing for each student. So if there are 300 rooms and 500 students are expected to share them, there are more than enough rooms to go around, right? Wrong. It takes time to learn how to submerge the immediate, naked hatred all people feel for their roommates, and without any supervision the students of SHIT would be free to judge, ridicule, and switch roommates to their heart’s content. Naturally this would leave roughly one third of the student body crying in the bathrooms (and we haven’t even gotten to the sanitation issues there) with another third attempting to coax a hottie into rooming with them and the final third busy crying out back in the bushes. Without administrative support, SHIT wouldn’t get settled for at least two days or more likely a week.

2) Disease Risks

One of the movie’s early gags showed Justin Long’s character rushing to keep his mother from seeing SHIT’s germ and disease-ridden bathroom. I think it’s reasonable to assume that all the bathrooms were like that (and probably a fair number of the dorm rooms because, after all, nobody was supposed to use them). Rampant outbreaks of tetanus and hepatitis, not to mention the expected invasion of STDs, would ravage the collective student body. The CDC would be called in within the first week, turning SHIT into the set for Outbreak.

3) Injury Risks

Skateboard ramps. Authorized dorm room renovations. Telekinesis classes. Now tell me with a straight face that these activities won’t end up in blood and fractured/decapitated limbs? I didn’t think so. I’ve seen real college students take such innocuous items as Elmer’s glue and a Latin textbook and still inflict great bodily pain. Replace the textbook with a sledgehammer and SHIT’s going to get broken.

4) Food

Granted, I didn’t watch the final half hour of Accepted so I didn’t see the team of cooks preparing food for the “university” but for the hour and a half I did see, only one guy was feeding the entire student body. And one guy cannot prepare enough food for 500 people. Heck, one guy can’t make enough food for 100 people, or maybe even fifty people. I can't really offer a reasonable estimate since I can barely feed myself.

Without enough food to eat, you know some of the skinnier students are going to very quickly begin resembling those kids in the African adopt-a-child programs. Even the students with an extra layer of cushion aren’t going to be eating the right combination of foods – the freshman fifteen is very real and rarely the result of too many vegetables – so add scurvy to the list of rampaging diseases on campus. Throw in the occasional case of food poisoning from the under-trained cook(s) and the fake campus isn’t looking so hot.

5) Unwanted Pregnancies

Even if the entire student population is slowly dying from food poisoning, blood loss, and hepatitis, the circle of life will go on. Usually college students are less likely to get pregnant, but remember, these aren’t real college students. And if one of the classes is watching girls sunbathe it’s pretty easy to imagine what the practicum would look like. It wouldn’t be long before SHIT listed Lamaze techniques on its big board of classes.

I’d give SHIT about two weeks before dissolving into a cesspit of disease, malnutrition, and untreated injuries. Any longer than two weeks and the South Harmon Institute of Technology would look an awful lot like a ghetto. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to be accepted into that SHIT.


Heroes Season 2 Premiere: Questions

I fell off the Heroes bandwagon midway through the first season, not because I grew bored with the series but because I am better at sprouting wings and flying than adhering to a strict television schedule. So I skipped ahead to the first episode of the second season and naturally I have a few questions.

(It should go without saying that I can and will spoil plot developments.)

Question number 1: What happened to Sylar?

Last I saw, Sylar had broken out of his paper building prison and seemed likely to confront Peter Petrelli. Based on previews of a sunbathing Sylar and a few comments in Monday’s premier, I gather that Sylar is now “dead.” I use quotations because I find that highly unlikely. Much more likely is that he suffered some kind of defeat and now he is licking his wounds before making an “unexpected” return partway through the second season.

Question number 2: What happened to Peter Petrelli?

Last year Peter was learning to control other Heroes’ powers (and failing at it). His lack of control was somehow turning him into a bomb; very likely the same bomb that Isaac foresaw blowing up New York. Obviously New York is still around so Peter didn’t destroy my future city of residence (in less than 2 weeks!) but he did manage to lose his memory and clothes in addition to getting himself shipped to Ireland in an empty crate. Peter also has some kind of projectile attack now, which is good for him. I always thought videogame fighters who didn’t have projectile attacks were severely disadvantaged.

Question number 3: How and why did Claire and her family successfully move to California?

Quick aside: Claire’s dad’s observation of the tall, hot girl at Claire’s new school was hi-larious. I hope to see more of that humor. And here I thought the Haitian had ripped out Claire's father’s memories to help her escape but now it looks like Claire’s father knows what’s going on and is now actively trying to bring down his old employers. I could be wrong about that, but why else is he hiding? I also predict that Claire’s regenerative powers and her new friend’s flying ability will be revealed to the public very soon.

Question number 4: Who is Matt’s new friend? And who is she afraid of?

Apparently Matt, Mohinder, and Claire’s Dad are all in cahoots in an anti-anti-Heroes campaign. Matt’s new adopted child seems part of this arrangement, if not for any inherent powers (I didn’t notice any) but for her connection to a powerful new enemy. Or is it just Sylar again, reshaped in some new way?

Question number 5: Who is the new Mexican girl and what is her power?

She kills people dead and that’s a pretty cool skill. I predict more killings in the future.

Question number 6: Where are all the other Heroes?

I liked being able to focus on just a few Heroes in Monday’s premiere. But what about all the others? I figure some of them had to die off, but is the show now going to alternate storylines? Stretching plots out like that would seem like a risky proposition. As with all my other questions I guess I’ll have to watch next week to find some answers.

Unless you have some answers for me? Hint. Hint.


Chuck Recap and Impressions

If you’ve been to the movies in the last twenty months then you’ve already seen NBC’s entire fall lineup, including the comedy/spy thriller Chuck. You probably also know that Chuck is about a guy named (what else?) Chuck who is a computer geek by day – actually, he’s always a computer geek – and he’s also the United States government’s newest, and improbable-est, secret agent. Stop me if you’ve already heard this one.

I know this is the wrong Chuck, but with the right one I couldn't say this: There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.

But before you write Chuck off as just another rehash of an unlikely hero thrust into hilariously unlikely scenarios, take a moment to see just how gosh darn likeable Chuck is.

Chuck went to Stanford, so he’s smart, but he also works at Buy More (a play on Best Buy) so he’s also an underachiever. He’s shy around women (he tries to hide from girls during his own birthday party) yet he can still be charming. He wears Converses but also a tie. See where I’m going with this? Chuck straddles the line between working stiff and slacker in a way that makes him eminently likeable without being Carson Daly bland. Think of a young Tom Hanks in a comedy spy thriller and you can see Chuck’s potential.

Is it just me or is Tom Hanks wearing a decapitated arm? It looks pretty good, whatever it is

Besides Zachary Levi’s goofball charm in the lead role, a number of behind the scenes players help make Chuck a comedy thriller that’s actually – gasp -- funny.

Writer/producer Josh Schwartz cut his teeth on a little television show you may have heard of called The O.C. This was THE young person’s soap opera during my college years and while Rachel Bilson may have used her super vixen hormones (it’s my understanding that Bilson’s hormones are currently being studied by the government for their potential uses in biological warfare) to attract a legion of drooling viewers, it was some sharp, witty dialogue that kept them glued to the screen week after week. Chuck shares a lot of the same sharp wit, thankfully streamlined for greater comedic appeal.

This is what the army calls a "flanking maneuver"

Directors McG (The O.C.) and David Solomon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) bring some snappy camerawork to the table. There’s plenty of movement and action to remind viewers that Chuck is no sitcom and the pace isn’t so fast as to induce epileptic seizures.

The on-screen talent isn’t too bad either. Yvonne Strzechowski and Adam Baldwin star as Chuck’s “covert co-workers.” Yvonne displays some nice chemistry with Levi in the two lead roles and her blonde good looks are sure to keep guys happy. And every show is better off (ie: funnier) for having Adam Baldwin in it as proven by his work in Firefly. Chuck’s co-workers and friends, played by Joshua Gomez, Vik Sahay and others seem like they’ll be playing a larger than expected role in the series and their deadpan banter evokes memories of The 40 Year Old Virgin though toned down enough for a television audience.

Monday’s pilot episode did everything right in setting up Chuck’s character. There were a few clichés (why must everyone go to the beach to contemplate deep thoughts?) but overall the show was sharp and fresh and the chemistry between the principal actors was on target. It’s hard to see exactly where Chuck is headed and this lack of long-term focus may be a problem down the road, but for now I’m simply happy to watch, and laugh, at what happens next.

Television Update - Chuck, Heroes

I saw two "new" shows last night. The first was Chuck. It's about a dude named Chuck who accidentally receives an email that embeds thousands of CIA secrets into his brain. He's got to handle government agents who want his head in addition to a video game addiction, a clingy best friend, and a computer tech job that would drive a sloth to tears (I'm not sure what I mean by that, but I'd really like to see a sloth cry). It's also quite funny.

The second "new" show I saw was Heroes. I know this is the show's second season, but I stopped paying attention once I missed an episode in the middle of last year so last night's premiere was a bit of an eye opener. I'm still not sure I understand the recent developments, but my interest is once again piqued.

Later today I'll put up some recaps and impressions on both these shows.


Quick Movie Review - Resident Evil: Extinction

Every couple of years a new Resident Evil movie comes out and every couple of years I go see it, only to forget what the heck happened five seconds into my post-cinema urination. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the ultra-light, ultra-action-packed earlier films and I also enjoyed Resident Evil: Extinction, the third and latest installment in the franchise, but that still didn't stop me from forgetting everything I saw by the time my hand reached for my zipper.

Everything looks cooler -- and meaner -- in Japanese

Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, the superhuman defender of – hell, who am I kidding? It doesn’t matter who Milla is or what she wants, her entire purpose is to look good and kick ass and she does both quite well. If anything, I wish she could have kicked more ass. If it’s the third episode of a trilogy and I can’t remember what happened in either of the first two films then I know I can expect more violence than a Hayden Panettiere interview – Zing!

Extinction is loosely based on the Resident Evil video game franchise, but I’m pretty sure none of the games featured a ragtag group of humans struggling through a post-apocalyptic world. Still, fans of the series will recognize the creepy bloodhounds, zombies, and a certain bad guy that is big, pulsating, and almost impossible to kill.

The latest Resident Evil film also has its fair share of special effects. Explosions, mutant crows, and gun shootouts are all here, but the special effect that stood out the most was Milla Jovovich's face. Milla’s face practically glowed throughout the film and I later learned that she and Extinction writer Paul W.S. Anderson (no relation to either Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson) are an item and expecting their first child. I can tell you her pregnancy didn’t interfere with her ability to kick ass, but was it responsible for her glow brite face? You’ll have to tell me your opinion.

"I am a pregnant woman. Now get me some Cheetos."

If you’re down for Milla-mania, zombies, and ass kickings check out Resident Evil: Extinction, but whatever you do, stay out of Hayden Panettiere's way.



I know I promised a movie-related post today but I just received some news that supersedes it.

One of my favorite authors -- if not THE favorite -- of my formative years has a huge following for his monumental and incredibly rich fantasy series that he began writing almost twenty years ago. This series, known as the Wheel of Time, is already eleven books long with a twelfth and final installment as yet unfinished. Now it will never be completed because its creator, James Oliver Rigney Jr., though better known as his pen name Robert Jordan, died this past week at the age of 58.

The artwork: crappy. The story: not so much

I remember picking up the first of Mr. Jordan's WoT (nerdspeak for Wheel of Time) books in an airport many years ago. I was about twelve and the prospect of a long, boring flight listening to my brother snore spurred me to look beyond the hokey cover art and buy The Eye of the World. Ever since that day I continue to judge books by their covers but now I try to give them the benefit of the doubt because within the EoTW's crappy cover art lay the beginning of the most intricate, expansive, and complete fantasy series I have ever read.

In my opinion, neither Herbert nor Tolkein can inspire the same pure, unadulterated enjoyment found in the WoT series and lesser authors like Terry Goodkind can only dream of having a quarter of Jordan's talent. Only George R. R. Martin approaches Jordan's ability to mix history, drama, adventure and prophecy into a transcendent whole. Robert Jordan's stories have shaped the way I read and enjoy books today and I'll never forget him.

I'll miss you Mr. Jordan.


Moving Update

Only one more day of work! Of course, my flight to New York isn't for a couple of weeks but I plan on using the intervening time to prepare my resume, seek out potential employers, connect with NY folk, and sleep - a lot. Once I get to the Big Apple I predict that I'll need a vast reserve of stored sleep to draw upon, like an obese person needing to eat extra jelly donuts to build up a healthy, natural layer of protection before a wilderness excursion.

I will also be participating in the most emasculating of activities: shopping. I'll be back later today or tomorrow with a movie-related post but for now I will be waist deep in socks, underwear and all the sundry items I need to not stink or look stupid.

Wish me luck.


2046 Movie Review

Watching 2046 made me think of a book I’m reading. It’s a writing book called Bird by Bird and one of the writing principles it frequently refers to (as do many other books on writing) is how characters need space to grow the same way dogs and horses do. An author can lay out the most precise, detailed plot outline but if her characters resist their prescribed paths then their story will ring false. If an author can allow her characters to make their own decisions and the plot tags along for the ride, then every word and detail will add to the story’s natural depth and richness.

The Asian Clark Gable doesn't give a damn

I get the feeling that 2046 director and screenwriter Kar Wai Wong read the same book I did, or one very much like it. Because 2046 is nothing if not a collection of characters -- characters so fully realized that, whether they are on the screen for two hours or two minutes, watching a sliver of their lives gives the impression that once the film ends, their lives will still go on.

Much of this pervading sense of authenticity must be credited to Kar Wai Wong’s habit of filming without detailed scripts. Male lead Tony Leung, dubbed the “Asian Clark Gable,” describes acting sans script as “demanding” but also notes how “it keeps me from thinking and allows me to just be in my character.” His powerful performance, smoothly flowing from light-hearted to ruthlessly arrogant and everywhere in between, reflects the truth of his words.

Previously I described 2046 as “an emotional gauntlet with a Chinese/Japanese pseudo sci-fi twist.” I’m not sure if this description makes much sense, but I refuse to describe the story in any more detail. This isn’t because I’m being cruel or a tease but I think you will better enjoy this film with an open mind.

Ziyi Zhang, like the Pillsbury Doughboy, enjoys a good tummy rub

Keeping an open mind will also help you keep perspective. Kristen of The Critical Lass commented that the film left her with impressions of colors and moods rather than memories of plot or character and I can see where she is coming from. This is a film that forces you to experience some very strong emotions and it will leave some equally strong impressions on you, many of them emotionally taxing. Additionally, you will want to yell at the characters many, many times. They may be acting true to themselves (and trust me, this is a good thing), but watching them may drive you a little bit crazy.

If I haven't made this clear yet, 2046 isn’t for everyone. It is introspective in the extreme and what it lacks in bombs and explosions it more than compensates in regret and tears. There are also periods of tenderness and even happiness, but no more then you would expect of troubled characters given the freedom to live out their own troubled lives.


Movie-Writing Casting Call (And Quiz)

You all know I love movies. And you also know that I love writing about movies. And now you know that I love writing about loving to write about movies.

But what about you?

The other day I encouraged everyone to make comments without fear of criticism or stalking. Today I'm going to take it one step further and ask if anybody would like to contribute to The Spoon.

Jonathon Lipnicki: I'm not a boy, not yet blessed with pubes

I'm not planning on making The Spoon a permanently collaborative effort, but if you have always wanted to write a movie review or start a discussion about something movie (or entertainment) related but haven't had the proper forum, this could be the perfect opportunity.

I don't have many requirements and if you read here regularly then you also know my standards aren't very high. If you want to write something funny, great, but as long as you mean what you say then your piece has a spot in The Spoon.

Leave a comment if you're interested in contributing or send me an email here.

And just to keep things interesting here's a Romance Movie Quote Quiz. I scored 3 out of 10 but if anyone asks say I scored -5.

I have a reputation to protect.



If you feel like wringing yourself through an emotional gauntlet with a Chinese/Japanese pseudo sci-fi twist, I heartily recommend 2046.

I promise to provide more details, if not a full review, but I think I'll try to get eight hours of sleep for once.

Me so sleepy and cuddly

'Night everybody and I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.


Discussions in The Spoon

I was going through some recent comments when I was struck with a sudden realization: hardly anybody disagrees with me. Now I'm not so conceited that I believe I'm always right, and I know for a fact that I'm not because I totally got called out on my exclusion of some big name child stars in yesterday's post about the trials of childhood stardom.

Andersoncm brought this lack of -- how should I say it? -- "vigorous" debate in The Spoon into focus when he disagreed with my negative review of Balls of Fury and opined that the film was "hilarious" with a "great cast" and a "hot chick." He also called me a douchebag, but that's beside the point.

Balls of Fury is a source of much debate in addition to being a source of much testicle grabbing

In response to his comments I wrote:
I go into every movie hoping to see greatness and my reviews are my honest opinions. I may be critical of some movies (like BoF) but that doesn't mean I'm criticizing your or anyone else's taste in movies.
Immediately after typing this I realized I was telling the truth. I know that people shouldn't be judged by their taste in movies -- hell, I liked Failure to Launch so what does that say about me? -- so I hope nobody is avoiding disagreeing with me for fear of criticism or my incessant tendency to stalk. As long as we're all respectful I welcome any and all discussions at The Spoon.

Come with me if you want to discuss movies

Consider this an open invitation to disagree -- or agree -- with me anytime you darn well feel like it.


Child Actors

Earlier tonight I saw the first twenty minutes of a Spanish subtitled movie called Valentin. It’s an endearing story about a precocious eight year old boy named – you guessed it -- Valentin. Growing up in 1960s Buenos Aires with a caustic, widowed grandmother has given the boy an unusually mature outlook on life, which he uses to understand and help those around him. One such effort involves asking his uncle for girl advice; not because Valentin needs new pick up lines – his "crush" is made up -- but because he thinks such “manly” discussions help his uncle feel useful.

Cute kid

While watching Valentin, I was continuously impressed by Rodrigo Noya’s ability to portray such a complete character while (presumably) never having experienced the same situations in his own life. Older actors may be able to train themselves or draw upon similar life experiences, but what do child actors do?

Was Rodrigo simply mimicking how he imagined an adult would act in each situation and the resulting display of maturity coupled with his naturally childlike mannerisms created the impression of precociousness? Or did he actually “become” an eight year old boy who also happens to act like an adult? Linda Blair has demonstrated how this may be possible.

I am so frightened of doing a Google image search for The Exorcist that I'd rather look at a naked Burt Reynolds

Shirley Temple, Macaulay Culkin, and Haley Joel Osment are (or rather, were) some more remarkably skilled child actors (say what you will about Home Alones 1-34 but Macaulay forever proved himself beyond reproach in Uncle Buck). They too were able to channel more intelligence and charisma into their film roles than most children display in all the years preceding high school (during childhood, I was too busy exploring my own nostrils to be anything other than disgusting). Yet no child star that I know of has proven him or herself to be an equally successful big person actor.

Macaulay Culkin, you poor bastard

Does this mean that the child actor’s instincts, which work so well in little person roles, do not prepare them to play more physically (but not necessarily emotionally) mature characters?

If I were forced to answer my own questions, I’d say that two major reasons prevent child actors from enjoying a successful career as an adult.

The first reason deals with development. A child’s acting ability can be likened to certain kinds of athleticism. Some youthful runners have blazing speed relative to other members of their age group but peak before they reach adulthood. They may still grow up to be fast adults but some of their previously slower rivals will pass them by. Child actors may similarly outgrow their talent.

The second setback for child actors is marketing. Shirley Temple is now an old, haggard looking ex-diplomat but if I were to mention “Shirley Temple” to you, chances are you’d think of an adorable, tap-dancing little girl, or, if you were an alcoholic, a really, really slow way to get drunk. My point is that once an actor’s persona gets burned into the public eye, it’s very difficult to change that image. I think Vanessa Hudgens is going to learn this the hard way.

Still, I imagine that if child actors worked at their craft as hard as four-fifths of all waiters in Los Angeles do, then they’d have a legitimate shot at maintaining a successful acting career. The odds would still be against them, but the odds are against anyone who wants to act for a living. An acting career is like an eighty year old man trying to get it on with a prostitute; sure you might get lucky once or twice, but good luck trying to keep it up for a while.

Natalie, if you're reading this, I want you inside me

I just thought of an exception to the Logan’s Run principle of child acting: Natalie Portman. I think Natalie has broken the mold partially because she started out older (she was 13 in Leon), partially because she’s an extremely talented and intelligent young woman, and mostly because she’s hot.

What do you think?


Why I Love the Movies: Reason #31

Reason #31: Movies are short enough to watch without having your butt fall asleep

I need a doctor to explain to me why I can sit for up to three hours in a movie theater without a single toe napping on me, but heaven forbid I spend more than three minutes on the toilet seat before I morph into a grumpy, constipated paraplegic. I’m moving my feet around about the same amount whether I'm in a theater or a restroom, and if anything my backside is getting more exercise on the porcelain throne. So what gives?

Much of my best work is accomplished right here

Toilet ranting aside, movies really are the ideal length for casual entertainment. They're much shorter than books, which is great because it's impossible to stay comfortable while reading anything not written by Dr. Seuss. I also like to lie down while reading so it’s very important to cock the elbows at just the right angle so they don’t suddenly fall asleep. No matter how well you position yourself, however, you’ll always have to keep moving to stay comfortable. For example, I can also lie belly down on my bed with only my head and arms (and book) hanging over the edge. This takes pressure off my arms and lets the blood rush back into them. Unfortunately this has the side effect of making my head swell and I need to return to my original position within a few minutes or risk sporting the creepy red shade usually found on alcoholics. Advantage: movies.

Well played, iStockphoto

Regular readers have probably noticed that I’m a big fan of the comedies, which tend to be shorter than movies in other genres. This is because comedies parlay the unexpected into laughs and it's difficult to stay fresh for two straight hours, or even just one and a half. Conversely, dramas draw their energy from suspense which comes from buildup and anticipation which both require time. As a result, dramas tend to be longer than comedies. I'm about 65% certain that I'm not making this all up.

Early movies were measured in seconds, then minutes, before eventually becoming their current average length of 90-1000 minutes (LotR). I suppose movies could be shortened again, but with roughly two hours of material, audiences nowadays get a far more complex story that can make for a more rewarding and entertaining movie-going experience. And after all, entertainment is the name of the game.

When is a movie too long or too short for you? And how can I poop and keep my legs awake at the same time?


New York Update

My move to New York is in full effect! I haven't purchased my plane ticket yet but I will most likely be flying out in early October. I've also been able to reconnect with some old friends in the area so the transition is looking better and better.

When I hear "New York," I think about the movie New York Minute, which makes me think about the Olsen twins, which makes me think about lesbian pirates

Of course, things would be boring if everything happened according to plan and so my brother's current landlord was kind enough to spice things up by setting a new move out deadline: the end of September. Fortunately my brother's roommate talked the landlord into pushing the move out date to the end of October. And here I was thinking that moving to a new city with no job lined up was going to be exciting enough. Nope. Now I get to help search for a new apartment from thousands of miles away.

Thanks again for everyone's continued support. I'm going to hoard it all up and store it for later because I hear it gets a little nippy in NYC during winter time and I might need some extra padding.

I have a couple new movie reviews up for 3:10 to Yuma and Shoot 'Em Up. Check them out if you haven't seen them or, if you have, read them again for the first time. I also have a new post up on The Athlete's Footnotes about this past week in football.

Take care everyone and keep on keeping on.


Shoot 'Em Up Movie Review

Screenwriter Michael Davis’ earlier films run the gamut from passable (Eight Days a Week) to laughable (Double Dragon) but he successful breaks off his longtime relationship with mediocrity to write and direct the ferociously outrageous and frequently clever shoot ‘em up flick appropriately titled, Shoot ‘Em Up.

Two things prevent Shoot ‘Em Up from enlisting in the faceless army of by-the-numbers action movies: 1) Endlessly inventive violence -- it’s quite the kiddie pleaser these days -- and 2) a tongue that never strays far from the proverbial cheek.

Bullets and ass kickings are in fashion and available in the all the latest styles; like the traditional mid-air, twin uzi, simultaneous mow-down of multiple baddies, the slightly more daring mid-coitus firing exhibition, and the truly experimental cranial incision via carrot. The only person who won’t be thrilled to death with Shoot ‘Em Up’s extensive menu of killing blows is a pacifist.

Although said pacifist should be happy to know that Shoot ‘Em Up’s de facto hero, Mr. Smith (Clive Owen), is an enthusiastic proponent of gun laws. Not to mention social etiquette, especially when it pertains to handicap parking or child rearing, the latter of which is the reason Mr. Smith transforms into a one-man army in the first place. To describe the plot in greater detail than saying Mr. Smith is saving the life of a baby and a hooker one fantastic death at a time would be a disservice to the film’s camp-infused spirit.

John Lennon originally wrote, "All you need is a hooker" but it didn't rhyme so he changed it

You may be wondering, “Does Shoot ‘Em Up’s plot even make sense?” Yes it does, kind of. But the more important question is, “Should you care?” The answer: not at all. If you expect produce to be eaten and the laws of physics to remain an impartial bystander in the fight against bad guys, then Shoot ‘Em Up is not the movie for you.

If, on the other hand, you can make those concessions as well as accept a gleefully over the top Paul Giammati as a family man criminal mastermind, then make your way over to the local cinema. Shoot ‘Em Up will deliver the goods, one gory, outrageous, carrot-riddled death at a time.


3:10 to Yuma Movie Review

Despite being set in a post civil war Arizona frontier, 3:10 to Yuma is not a Western. And despite being riddled with shootouts it isn’t really an action film either. 3:10 to Yuma is actually pretty difficult to classify since it so adroitly avoids every label except one: that of a damn fine movie.

Much of the film’s versatility stems from masterful performances by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale that transcend genre stereotypes. Both actors play quietly desperate, resourceful men forced to confront each other from opposite sides of the law.

Kumbaya never sounded so good

Russell Crowe is notorious outlaw Ben Wade, a gang leader as intelligent and urbane as he is ruthless. Wade has stolen dozens of lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars during his nefarious career and as 3:10 begins, his latest robbery is set to increase both his totals. But then the most amazing thing happens.

The infamous Ben Wade is captured.

On the surface, 3:10 to Yuma is the story of a rag-tag group of men – Christian Bale among them – attempting to bring a fearsome killer to justice. But this description is as inadequate as “western” or “action film.” Each of the central characters are so complete, so complex, that watching their physical and mental struggles is engrossing beyond anything a frenzied chase or chaotic gunfight could hope to match.

This isn’t to say that 3:10 is a plodder of a movie. Chases, gunfights and tense standoffs abound but they never detract from the continued brilliance of Crowe, Bale, and the supporting cast.

Elmore Leonard penned the source material for 3:10 to Yuma back in 1953 and his short story was turned into a film just a few years later. This first adaptation starred Glenn Ford and Van Heflin and has been described as one of the best westerns ever filmed. Despite my aversion to labeling the newest version of 3:10 to Yuma as a Western, I don’t doubt that it’s even better than the first.

For those of you who have seen it, do you agree?


Nut Smacking Montage

Sometimes watching sore nuts just feels right.

Have a great weekend!


Behind the Scenes at The Spoon

Over at The Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin’ Blog, SQT has revealed the secrets behind her posting magic. This inspired me to write my own behind-the-scenes look at The Spoon’s daily schedule.

10:00PM: Finish nightly soak at the hot tub. Time to begin the creative process.

10:10PM – 10:30PM: Brainstorm post topics while depositing massive bowel movement in toilet.

10:30PM – 10:40PM: Admire massive bowel movement.

Mmmm, this brownie looks really tasty

10:41PM: Flush massive bowel movement.

10:42PM – 11:00PM: Check IMDB for celebrity birthdays. Browse random movie information.

11:00PM – 11:30PM: Read other blogs. Compare previously brainstormed post topics with posts from other blogs. Liberally borrow/borderline steal ideas from other blogs.

11:30PM – Midnight: Write eloquent, informed post about recent film with a careful eye towards the educated tastes of The Spoon’s readers.

12:01AM: Accidentally delete eloquent, informed post.

12:02AM – 12:10AM: Write post about massive bowel movement.

12:11AM – 12:15AM: Admire post about massive bowel movement.

12:15AM – 1:00AM: Search for appropriate accompanying picture. Steal it.

1:00AM – 1:10AM: Write caption for picture.

1:11AM: Publish post.

1:15AM: Go to sleep confident that the world is a slightly more disgusting place because of The Spoon.

P.S. Thanks for everyone's support!

Thanks for the support!

Thanks to everyone who responded to my desperate cry for help. With your support and advice, I'm about 90% certain to make the move to New York City within the next few weeks. Most likely I'll be searching for an internship to get my foot into the "writing" door while paying the bills with another job that doesn't tap into my awesome potential.

This is how I would look right now if I were an albino dog

If you're not the commenting type but you still have some advice about living and working in NYC, I'd be eternally grateful if you emailed me here.

Thanks again everyone!


Thursday's Shout Out and Desperate Cry for Help

As I continue to recuperate from Tuesday's bowling extravaganza I offer an enthusiastic shout out to The Movie Queen. I still remember how difficult it was to launch a new movie blog; your dad always making you take out the trash and yelling at you to "get a life" while your mom constantly nags you to wash your sheets and change your underwear daily. Yeah, starting a movie blog can be a real pain in the ass.

That's why I'm happy to share the love with The Movie Queen. Check them out for their witty reviews and stay for their snarky snark-fests. And be sure to tell them I sent you so they feel obligated to give me candies and a woman's gentle touch.

Now for the Desperate Cry for Help portion of today's post. If you don't want to hear about my personal life, I offer you my Balls of Fury movie review or perhaps some observations of the Roddick vs. Federer matchup at my sports site, The Athlete's Footnotes.

Thanks to all you poor souls bored or depraved enough to continue reading.

You see, I'm seriously contemplating a move to New York City to live with my brother and begin a career in "writing" (possibly in reporting/publishing/scriptwriting/"Will dance for food"sign writing). I'm still pumping myself up to make the move but what I'd like to hear from you, dear sexy readers, is any useful info or advice you might have to offer to somebody needing an apartment and job - fast. Especially super would be any responses from people currently living in NYC.

Since you put up with my shouting and begging, I have some eye candy to reward you with. I hunted down a sweet pic of the hottest male and female model around.

I hope you like it.


Movie Quiz!

I spent all night bowling so you know what that means - I'm mailing in today's post, aka it's Movie Quiz Time!

Today's quiz comes from The Fun Movie Quiz. You get one screen shot from a movie and it's your job to enter the movie's title in the adjacent line. I'll give you a hint: sometimes the article is in the title and sometimes it isn't (eg. The Sound of Music vs. Sound of Music).

Click Here to play the Movie Quiz.
(I promise it's not porn)

Post your scores because I believe many of you should beat my paltry 19/30. I only have myself to blame for my poor showing. And alcohol. Can't forget to blame alcohol.


Balls of Fury Movie Review

If movies were people and humor (aka the “funny”) was money, then Balls of Fury would be a tightwad pizza delivery guy; he’s got a few hundred dollars carefully stashed in his hooker jar but gives exactly 11.5% tips at TGI Fridays. The fact that he’s a pizza delivery guy is completely irrelevant except for the fact that I like pizza. And hookers.

Speaking of hookers, a key ingredient to successful comedies such as Talladega Nights and Knocked Up -- other than the fact that they’ve got genuinely funny material – is that jokes get tossed around with a casual confidence that anticipates a continual flow of punch lines and sets a positive tone for the entire film.

Every movie could benefit from a half-naked Will Ferrell. Even The Godfather, you ask? Especially The Godfather.

Balls of Fury handles it’s jokes like a big wad of pizza dough (pizza!); pulling, squeezing and stretching each joke as far and wide as it possibly can before letting you eat it (figuratively speaking of course). Instead of projecting confidence, this method of joke inflation sends the audience a very different message: enjoy this battered testicle gag for the next couple of minutes because you don’t know how long it’ll be before the next battered testicle comes your way.

And the dearth of laughs is the real crux of the issue. Writing/acting/pretend gay/directing duo Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant have taken the ginger stepchild of ESPN sports -- ping pong -- and modeled it after similarly wacky sport comedies such as Talladega Nights, Dodgeball, and Blades of Glory, but rarely venture beyond the most obvious shticks. The handicapped coach, the hot chick girlfriend, and the creepy bad guy are new comedy staples and there’s very little to distinguish the versions found in Balls of Fury, with the exception of the blind coach’s (Jame's Hong's) consistently amusing performance.

Lennon and Garant also forgot to make it possible to relate to anyone in Balls of Fury, unless of course you’re an ex child ping pong prodigy whose father was killed by the Chinese Mafia for failing to pony up on a bet lost on your crushing Olympic defeat to a militant German champion. Actually, that would be pretty cool.

My Balls of Fury highlight was watching this man flex his nipples. That didn't sound as masculine as I thought it would.

I realize I’m criticizing a flick that flaunts male bosom jiggling for not having relatable characters, but I think it’s a legitimate complaint. Jokes fall flat if you don’t care about or understand the people involved, which is why Will Ferrell is so damn good in Talladega Nights and just about any other movie he’s in. The guy can play ten kinds of imbecile but you never doubt that his heart is in the right place and that makes us care when his wife leaves him or laugh when he tears his nut sack. Balls of Fury’s Dan Fogler seems likable enough and demonstrates a knack for physical slapstick, but there’s just not enough material for him to get beyond a fat, slobby caricature.

If you’ve seen the previews, you’ve already seen the best parts of Balls of Fire. My advice is to be a tightwad and save your money for pizza.


My new sports site - The Athlete's Footnotes

Check out my new sports website (I think "blog" sounds dumb) entitled The Athlete's Footnotes. It's clever, right?

The Spoon may be my baby, but The Athlete's Footnotes is kind of like the red headed stepchild of the family, but cooler. Shoot, now that doesn't sound very cool at all. Okay forget about the red headed stepchild -- they're never cool -- but still check out The Athlete's Footnotes.

Red headed stepchild: not cool.
The Athlete's Footnotes: cool


Comedy Quote Contest Winner

The Comedy Movie Quote Contest is over and the winning quote has been chosen! And that quote is:

"It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care."
from Office Space

Office Space - It's funny because it's the sad, sad truth

With more than twice as many votes as the runner up(s), the popularity of Sadie's Office Space quote clearly proves that The Spoon's readership is both lazy and careless. God bless you all.

In addition to being the contest winner, Sadie is also the proud owner of a brand new house. At least, that's what I hear. In other news, she gets a $10 Amazon gift certificate for winning this contest.

To all the participants, thanks for playing and to everyone else, what was your excuse? Maybe the next time when I offer a "prize" for a contest, people won't automatically assume I'm going to send nudie pictures of myself.

Enjoy the weekend everybody!