1.22.2008

Remembering Heath Ledger

Heath in happier times

I was going to write a post entitled 10 Things to Remember about Heath Ledger before I realized I didn't know 10 things about Heath Ledger to begin with. And that realization partly explains why his death is so tragic; Heath was one of the guys you didn't see in the tabloids or hear about in nasty rumors. He had a private life that seemed devoid of the indulgences and scandals so common with other young stars and starlets. Heath seemed like one of the "good guys."

I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain (though I plan to) but I know Mr. Ledger took his job seriously. I know he took roles like Casanova to keep his fans happy while he yearned to explore more complex characters. In the New York Times article describing his death, one of his quotes summed up his acting ambitions:
there are many stories inside of me and a lot I want to achieve outside of one flat note.

The Dark Knight is due out this summer and by that time more information about the conditions surrounding Heath Ledger's death will be available. No matter what details may arise, nothing will prevent this from being a sad and tragic event.

1.19.2008

Lost Character Analysis Part 2

I'm working my way through all the major Lost characters from A-Z (by last name). Check out Part 1 here. Now enjoy Part 2:

I wonder if I'd look that good after 48 days without a shower

Ana Lucia Cortez - In retrospect it's a little ironic that Michelle Rodriguez got to play a disgraced ex-cop, but she's made a career out of tough chick roles and the character of Ana Lucia was no big departure from her previous work.


Ana Lucia was at her best as the militant, tortured (slash torturer -- zing!) leader of the "tailies" in "The Other 48 Days." I'd even go so far as to say that that was one of my all-time favorite episodes because it captured much of the same horror and fear of the unknown that we saw in the original series pilot. In fact, "The Other 48 Days" may have been better than the pilot in some ways since it was like watching all of Season 1 condensed into a single episode and then mashed together with the violence of a survival horror flick. Ana Lucia was a great leader for the "tailies" because she seemed to have a bead on what was going on, but in reality she was as vulnerable as her less aggressive survivors and their dark fate was a nice contrast to the relatively easy-going existence of the "middlies."

I'm going to pause a moment here because I think the Season 1 version of the Others deserves special mention. Remember how they were barefooted boogeymen with super strength and a disturbing, but nameless, purpose? Back then the Others were almost like a physical manifestation of the island's strangeness -- made even more threatening than the smoke monster because the Others pretended to be like you.

It's pointless to imagine Lost going in another direction than the arrogant, talkative bunch they later morphed into but I still get shivers remembering the way Ethan looked at Claire with his dead, cold eyes before absconding with her and Charlie and then leaving him to test a tree branch's tensile strength with his neck.

Pause over.

Once Ana Lucia made it to the "middlie's" camp her character was pretty much dead in the water. Other than killing off dead wood like Shannon, she floated by on the periphery without making much of a splash except for that time she raped Sawyer. Good times.

Ana Lucia's backstory was never completed before her death at Michael's hands, but I don't see her contributing in any significant way in the rest of the series. R.I.P. muchacha.

Biggest Questions: Did she get caught for shooting that dude in cold blood? Does it even matter if she did? Do you miss the old version of the Others as much as I do?

Yeah, Michael Dawson rocks the man-bag.
And if you laugh at him he'll straight up sell you to the Others


Michael Dawson - I'll admit that I grew tired of Michael's oft repeated line: I want [gasp] [gasp] my son [sad eyes] back! [spittle leaks from mouth] so I was perfectly fine with his departure in Season 2.

Back in Season 1 I was never entirely satisfied with the Michael-Walt domineering parent dynamic, but at least their relationship progressed some (I'm looking at you Kate and Jack). And when we saw more of Michael's back story in which his wife forced him to give up custody of Walt, I actually developed a soft spot for Michael. Let's just say that my family's ties are pretty darn strong so watching Michael's wife ask him to give up his son and then suggest his reluctance was borne out of selfishness made my ears practically smoke. The nerve of that woman!

I also liked the emotional impact Michael suffered through in Season 1's cliffhanger when Walt was taken by the Others. Like I said before, this was back when the Others were mysterious and threatening and "Mr. Friendly's" laugh was pretty damn spooky.

Unfortunately, by Season 2 Michael was like a robot that could only scream and moan about his son and all the respect and empathy I had built up for him over the first season got blown out like the "smoke monster" erupting from my hienie. Then he finally went psycho and killed off Ana Lucia, who didn't serve much of a purpose at that point, and Libby, who was just becoming interesting, and then he ran off again with Walt. Good riddance, I thought at the time.

But by now you've probably heard how Michael will return as a full cast member in Season 4. One big question now is whether Michael will play his part in the "present" or the "flash future" or both. Of course, there's also the possibility that Michael was the body in the coffin which would also account for Kate's dismissal of him, though like I said before there are simply too many variables to settle on just one dead body definitively.

My guess is that Michael will return to the island in the "present" because the flash forwards, and even the flash backs (I've read they'll both be in Season 4), won't offer enough air-time to warrant full time cast membership. In storyline terms, Michael will probably be messed up emotionally and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Walt died or that they're somehow separated again because if Michael and Walt are together, then Michael would have nothing to do with the other "losties." Something is going to have to drive him back into the lives of Jack and Kate and that something has to be big to reunite a guy with the people he sold out and left for dead.

Biggest Questions: What has Michael been doing since he left the island? What will he do when he comes back, wherever, and whenever, that might be? Will he ever shut up about Walt?

Don't worry ladies, I'll post a pic of Paulo in a thong or something

Nikki Fernandez - Nikki is my personal, hands-down winner for hottest Lost castaway. Sure she was a greedy, manipulative she-dog of a woman, but what a great looking she-dog she was.

I watched Season 3 in maybe three or four days, so I didn't have an issue with her and Paulo's sudden appearance on the island though I can understand the regular audience's anger. Everyone must have felt they were wasting time on these newcomers while more important mysteries remained unsolved and more important relationships remained unconsummated (that's you again, Kate and Jack).

I did enjoy Nikki and Paolo's death episode if for no other reason than we got a short breather from the heaviness of the other island mysteries. Seeing Nikki in a sequined bikini didn't hurt either. I thought her death was very Edgar Allen Poe-ish and it felt almost satisfying to see the "Losties" killing somebody else for a change, even if it was one of their own.

Biggest Questions: Will anybody else on Lost wear a bikini as well as Nikki did?

[More to come]

1.17.2008

Lost Character Analysis Part 1

If you’ve stopped by The Spoon anytime in the last couple of weeks you know I’ve been watching Lost nonstop like Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange. Except I’m not being re-conditioned for anything – at least, I don’t think I am. Lost has made me doubt a lot of things about myself. For example, sometimes when I fart I’m not sure if it’s actually me or if it’s the “smoke monster” trailing behind my buttocks. And I can’t remember if I was the person who set my alarm clock to go off every 108 minutes and play “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” Yeah, I’m kind of messed up.

In any case, I’ll be breaking down each of Lost’s major characters according to my thoughts, theories, and occasional whims. Lost has a huge cast so I’ll divide this discussion into a few parts and post a new section every few days. Just to mess with you all (not unlike Lost), I’m going to write up the characters in alphabetical order and leave Jack Shephard for last.

[Editor’s note: this breakdown is getting larger than my last outbreak of hemorrhoids. Expect multiple posts]

[Cue opening Lost music]

Unfortunately, Evangeline Lilly wasn't wearing this outfit when I met her

Kate Austen – I actually “met” Evangeline Lilly several months ago when she picked up an order at the bookstore I was working at. Of course I wasn’t watching Lost back then so I didn’t recognize her as anything more than a short, cute brunette with huge sunglasses. However, my co-workers knew her and so while they chatted I just stood nearby and smiled and vaguely nodded whenever she said something. But enough of my eye-banging Lost cast members.

In the first season Kate was one of the strongest, take-charge characters and provided a nice balance to the otherwise testosterone-laden Lost cast. I’m no Susan B. Anthony, but I’m very disappointed Kate’s character has slowly morphed over the course of seasons 2 & 3 into a generally helpless piece of eye candy.

None of this should be pegged on Evangeline since she has continued to put in excellent performances by mastering the quivering lip and pained expressions so integral to a (emotionally) tortured girl on the run. I realize that sounds really sarcastic, but I assure you it’s not. However, I do question the writers’ decision to take the most established and “resourceful” female lead and make her 1) Get caught and beaten down so often and 2) resort to clich├ęd angry sex to fill the emotional void in her life. But I guess hot girls like Kate have needs even if the sensitive doctors they pine for are too blind to satisfy them. Can you guess who I want her to end up with?

I knew about Season 3’s flash-forward even before watching the final episode so some of the drama was lost (heh, heh) on me. I still really like this direction and it adds a totally new wrinkle to the show that should make for some interesting story developments.

The flash-forward shows that Kate makes it off the island, but since we don’t know exactly when the flash-forward takes place there’s still a ton of room to theorize. I’ll discuss this more with other characters, but any thoughts on who “he” is that Kate says she has to get back to? The automatic answer might be Sawyer but their current relationship doesn’t really account for the fear (?) or apprehension in her voice when she says this to Jack. Still, because the time frame for the segment is so unclear, virtually any number of events could take place to make any number of characters fit into that reference. In conclusion, I don’t have an effing clue.

Biggest Questions: Who is the “he” Kate is shacked up with in the flash-forward? Does she ever find true love? Is she preggers? (I don’t think so.)

For a chuckle, check out Evangeline peddle a singles hotline in her pre-deserted island days.

Evangeline Lilly Dating Commercial



Hold me back before I kick her face in

Juliet Burke – God I hate her stupid smirk. It looked sexy on Gillian Anderson but I want to send a running knee into her face every time I see Juliet’s lips curve into that damn annoying Ellen Pompeo smile.

Her smirk aside, I actually think Juliet is one of the more intriguing major characters in Season 3. She’s the perfect “wild card” since her back story shows a very powerful drive to get back to her supposedly alive sister (which I believe) and yet we still don’t have the entire reason why she’s still on the island, which makes her complicity with Ben Linus somewhat more believable. I just wish she would stop switching sides – and wipe that stupid look off her face.

Biggest Questions: What did Ben Linus do to make her so “loyal” before she “betrayed” him? Has she truly betrayed Ben Linus? And how the hell did she turn from a meek researcher into a kung-fu warrior?

"We make incest now?"

Boone Carlyle – I have to agree with the decision to kill off Boone. Sure, he looked good naked (I assume) and he had that weird incestuous thing going on with Shannon, but he didn’t bring much else to the table. Even though I agreed with the concept of his death, I didn’t like the way it was carried out since it felt almost arbitrary.

I’ve read theories that say Boone’s death caused Locke to bang on the hatch and therefore save Desmond’s life which ultimately led to the “Losties” entering the hatch, entering the numbers, and then blowing up the hatch, and thereby saving the world. True. But Locke could have also tripped and fallen on the hatch while pooping in the jungle and the effect would have been the same so once again, I say that Boone’s death was poorly executed, pun intended.

Even Boone’s backstory, which naturally was intertwined with Shannon’s, felt separate and insulated from the rest of the “Losties.” I hope something incredibly relevant about Boone and the island shows up in another flashback/forward or else his character was merely one big plot device that wasted a bunch of air time that could have been used showing Kate skinny dipping in that pool filled with dead bodies.

Biggest Questions: Was Boone a complete waste of time?

[More to come]

1.14.2008

Bring it on Lost

I finished watching the first three seasons of Lost as of last night. Wow. Wow. Wow.

I've been busily reading up on fan theories to see what other people predict for Season 4 and I plan to write up a lot of my own thoughts on what's happened so far and what I expect to see in the future. But first I have a couple more applications to finish.

Don't you hate it when planning for your future gets in the way of the really important stuff like theorizing about a television show?

Do Kate and Jack return to the Island? Who cares?!? I want to know about the four-toed broken statue

1.05.2008

Getting lost in Lost

Possible alternate title: Confused

Let's see, my application for Columbia is due in less than 48 hours which gives me almost enough time to watch the rest of Lost if I don't sleep, eat, or forgo my urine bucket.

Rest assured I'll eventually finish my application (two down already, three more to go), but I'm still blasting through Lost episodes faster than Britney Spears' child custody lawyer can say "I quit."

I just finished the 11th episode of Lost and here are a few of my observations on the series so far. Feel free to agree, disagree, or call me stupid -- just don't spoil anything for me. It should go without saying that I'll be spoiling things for anybody who hasn't watched the show.

Observations

-According to IMDB, Matthew Fox was born in Pennsylvania but doesn't his accent sound Canadian at times? This is one of my biggest peeves of the show because nobody can be a leader sounding like a Canuck, much less organize and rally the survivors of an airplane crash on a remote tropical paradise while talking like a Bob and Doug McKenzie skit (that's right, I went there).

-My favorite characters in no particular order: Hurley, because he pulls off the stereotypical funny large man very well. Locke, because he has the kind of cool vertical eye-scar that plastic surgery just can't provide. Sawyer, for his backstory that was by far the most interesting, partly because I didn't know anything about it and partly because he has a bonafide personality that is complex without relying on Matthew Fox's constant wild-eyed craziness to emote "passion."

-In the last episode, All the Best Cowboys have Daddy Issues, Jack and co. failed to rescue Claire but managed to save Charlie's life after he was hung from a tree. Call me crazy, but why would anyone try to stop a doctor from saving somebody's life? I realize it's improbable to resuscitate somebody after they've been hung for who knows how long, but what do you have to lose by trying? Absolutely friggin' nothing. *Cry* *Cry* "Stop trying to save Charlie's life Jack. It's making me too sad. *Cry* *Cry* -- In the words of a large black woman, "Woman, please."

-Watching Jin act like a doting suitor to Sun in their flashback episode was difficult. That dude just looks mean.

-Who's the most attractive Lost castaway? First of all, this could be a post in and of itself, and maybe I'll do that once I see the cast size increase (I know about the "Others"). The obvious choice would be Shannon since she's blonde and hot, but I'd have to throw Claire and Sun up there too for their Australian charm and appealing submissiveness (just kidding, kind of), respectively. I'll leave the male castaway comparisons to any female (or curious male) readers out there.

Is Claire the hottest Lost castaway? Excuse me while I consult with my crotch

-Favorite Episode? It's hard not to cheat and just pick the two part Pilot, but I'm going with Claire's flashback episode, Raised by Another. I didn't necessarily like her dream terrors, but the deal with the psychic was otherworldly in a manner that meshed with the creeping supernaturalism at Lost's core. But the real reason I liked that episode was for the final few minutes when Hurley announces that Ethan wasn't on the flight manifest. That was one damn good bombshell.

Somebody made a figurine of Shannon. Apparently I'm not the only one with messed up priorities

Okay, I'm off to watch another episode before hitting the sack and getting back on that Columbia application. Did you know Matthew Fox graduated from Columbia University? I'm no psychic but that seems like a pretty good omen.

Catch you all later.

1.03.2008

Lost Appeal

I still don't have cable and my next movie review (Persepolis) is still percolating in my brain, but ABC has finally given me something to write about by putting all 3 seasons of Lost on their network website.

I know as much about the series as anyone can without watching more than twenty minutes or doing a single Google search and even with my cobbled-together expectations I was still impressed with the pilot episode (part 1 at least -- I haven't seen part 2 yet).

I can see why Lost was such a phenomenon; this is a show that takes a unique premise and owns it. Primal themes like death, survival, and compassion are eloquently put into a visual language that is startlingly original. I know Lost has been written about and theorized to death so I won't go into that, but this show doesn't resemble anything I've ever seen. You can't say that about very many programs these days.

A couple of scenes stood out for me and neatly exemplify what I find so appealing about the show. The first was when Kate slips a dead passenger's shoes off to wear into the island's jungle. She does so almost reverently and, as a viewer, the experience goes from "Cool, they're stuck on an island" to "Holy sh*t, she's stealing shoes from a dead guy to survive." I love those small human touches that add a huge measure of authenticity. That particular scene gets even better when Kate glances at Locke's grim face and he smiles around an orange peel in an attempt to cheer her up. Except Kate isn't a little girl that such a gesture would work on, and both lapse into dark moods that are even more somber than before as a result of Locke's clumsy gesture. Just one more example of superb storytelling.

The jury is still out on Matthew Fox in the lead role of Jack. His absolute lack of charisma could be calculated since he seems like the "everyman" type of guy that viewers are supposed to relate to. Or he's just not that interesting a guy. On the one hand, I loved his character's introduction and how long it took him to snap out of his airplane-crash fugue before helping the other survivors. During his initial hazy march you had to wonder if he was just going to ignore his fellow survivors and take care of himself first. You could literally watch his character and personality take shape right before your eyes in the most immediate and definitive manner. I just hope he becomes a more complicated character down the road.

I generally prefer watching serial shows like Lost on dvd but ABC.com's arrangement is nearly as convenient. It's only the first (half of the first) episode, but consider me hooked.