Tonight, on The Walking Dead

Well here we are kids. The final hours before The Walking Dead finale. Before we’re left for months wanting more, wanting answers; feeling alone and abandoned without our favourite zombie apocalypse. How will the show end tonight? Who will be left standing? And what, in God’s name, is Terminus? 

A lot happened last week, but I won’t bore you with the details. My recaps have become long winded as of late, because I’m not really writing about anything else, and I have zero filter when it comes to words in any form. Seriously, have you ever had a conversation with me? I should have a Britta Filter installed in my face so I’ll keep things to myself.

Anyways, to sum up the happenings of last week, Glenn and Tara managed to finally catch up to Maggie (their reunion was tearjearkingly heartwarming), Eugene made the executive decision to continue with them to Terminus, which they finally reach, Daryl is hanging out with those mean dudes (who shall henceforth be known as The Marauders), and they are hot on the trail of the Grimes’ crew.

Now the finale is set up with a few questions to answer. Most importantly, what is Terminus? Sure they’ve got pretty gardens and were greeted by Tasha Yar, but there’s no way it’s all sunshine and lollipops. That’d be too easy. My guess is it’s a religious cult of some kind. No place is that calm and welcoming without having some cultish undertones. I also think they’re the people who scooped up Beth a few weeks ago, and are keeping her captive for some reason or another. What their sinister motive is, I’m not sure. I doubt they’re walker worshippers, because we just crossed that bridge with Lizzie. Maybe it’s some kind of Handmaid’s Tale deal, and they’re fanatics trying to repopulate the earth. Or maybe they’re super into human sacrifices to appease their hippie god? Whatever it is, these people are going to turn out to be bad news.

On the other hand, it could be all peace and puppy dogs, and The Marauders come in and fuck it up. But again, that’s been done with the two season long showdown with The Governer. I do think that we’re going to see these baddies catch up to Rick, Carl, and Michonne though, which is going to put Daryl in a really tight spot. While it would be shocking to see the confrontation kill a main character, I do think the show runners would be bananas to kill off another member of the Grimes’ family, or do in the fan favourites, Michonne and Daryl.

There’s no way all of the characters will make it out of this season alive though. If past finales have taught us anything, the final episode is where we’re going to feel the most grief. From the CDC, to Shane, to Andrea, the finales have not been kind to our group of survivors. So the question is, who will be featured on the In Memorial tonight on The Talking Dead? My money is definitely on either Sasha or Bob. They’re both minor enough characters that the audience won’t give more than a “aww shucks”, but important enough to someone else that they can act as an emotional catalyst for another character. I also worry about the fate of Beth. Sure we got to know her a lot this season, but was it just to make us hurt more when she dies? It will destroy Maggie, do some serious damage to Daryl, and cause some devastation amonst the viewers. Kind of the perfect recipe for a death on this show.

But in the end, who really knows? Even as a reader of the comics, I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight. All I can say for sure is that I’ll probably be stress eating throughout the hour, I may throw something in the final ten minutes, and the level of profanity coming out of my mouth will escalade as the finale marches on.

Anyone else have any ideas of what will happen tonight?

American Hustle (or, the Golden Globe winning debut of Amy Adams’ sideboob)

Every year I set out to see all of the possible Oscar nominated flicks, and every year I realize that I don’t like being sad all that much, and hate wallowing in white guilt, so I inevitably give up. This year is no different, but I gave up before I even began. I don’t think I could sit through 12 Years a Slave on the big screen without having a complete emotional breakdown (unless I picture Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative from Serenity the whole time, but I feel like that would really ruin the whole point of the movie). One movie I have seen from this season’s crop is American Hustle, and damn, is it fantastic.

(sideboob. image courtesy of imdb.com)

(sideboob. image courtesy of imdb.com)

The movie stars Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a swuave, charming, con-man with an epic combover, who meets Sydner Prosser, (played by Amy Adams (and her sideboob*)) at a pool party and instantly falls in love with her. The pair (along with Amy Adam’s sideboob) join forces in an effort to con a bunch of desperate dudes out of thousands of dollars, with a false promise of a return that will never come. Unfortunately, a con this simple (albeit brilliant) can’t last for long, no matter how great Amy Adam’s British accent is, and how much sideboob she shows.

Enter Richie Dimaso (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent with a fantastic perm, and a plan. Using Rosenfeld’s brains and Prosser’s sideboob, he wants to set up a sting to take down dirty politicians. Knowing it’s their only option to avoid arrest, the pair play along. Over time, Dimaso’s plan grows exponentially, as do their problems. I should take this opportunity to mention that while he’s gallavanting around with Sydney (and her sideboob), Irving is married with a son. His wife Rosalyn (played by the phenomenal Jennifer Lawrence), knows what Irving does for a living, and while she doesn’t know specifics, and always seems to be a dirty martini away from going completely off the rails, she knows enough to be potentially damaging to the con. Add her insanity to the looming threat from the mob, and the fact that they’re criminals working for the feds, well, Irving and Sydney have to figure out a way to come out of this on top.

I loved this flick. And the more I think about it, the more impressed I am. The movie was not at all what I expected. The trailers make the it out to be a fast paced, heist-y affair; like Ocean’s Eleven with a perm. This is not really the case. I really hesitate to use the term “slower than expected” when describing American Hustle, because attributing the term “slow” to a movie seems like a negative connotation. Like saying a beer is bitter, or chocolate is chalky – it makes it sound undesirable. But you know what, some of the best beer is bitter, quality dark chocolate is chalky, and American Hustle is a brilliant, slower, movie.

The slower pace doesn’t come from a dragging plot; the story moves along just fine. But it also takes pause to turn these four, strange people, into fully developed, beautifully tragic characters. And the actors bring them to life with charm and grace. Christian Bale completely disappears into Irving, and not just because of the physical changes from Batman (Bale put on a sexy 40 pounds for the role). His performance is so… all encompassing, that I’ve talked to people that didn’t even realize it was him until it was pointed out.

It’s really the women of the movie that take the cake (and the Golden Globes Sunday night). Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Rosalyn is gorgeous. The character is a little unhinged, slightly intoxicated, and is susceptible to bouts of hysteria. This could easily make her gratingly annoying, or turn her into a poor man’s Karen Walker (because anyone’s Karen Walker would be poor unless they’re Megan Mullaly. Which J-Law is not). But Lawrence manages to find a layer of vulnerability amidst the funny, that makes the audience want to hug her, while cringing the second she comes on screen because you know something could potentially go wrong at any second.

Amy Adams does a similar thing with Sydney. As a lady con artist, Sydney is a woman who has reinvented herself after being broken by the world one too many times. She is hardened, she is clever, but Adams gives her so much depth, and so many layers, that there are moments you can see that she is one catastrophe away from being broken all over again. Plus her sideboob is bangin’. I’d like to note, that I only mention her boobs excessively because I am jealous that she a) has the confidence and b) has the rack, to wear those plunging neck lines the whole movie. Amy Adams is a rockstar.

Then there’s Bradley Cooper, who, since Alias, I have a hard time seeing as anyone but Will Tippin. Even if he is rockin’ a late 70s perm. What can I say? I latch on and refuse to let go. Case and point: I saw Elisabeth Moss‘ win at the Globes last night as a win for the Bartlett family. I have problems and should probably seek counselling. Don’t get me wrong, his perfomance is wonderful, I’m just ridiculous.

Jeremy Renner is delightful as well as the corrupt mayor, Carmine Polito, Louis C.K. is hilarious as Dimaso’s FBI boss, and the rest of the supporting cast sells the story and the era flawlessly.

While this is the only “Award Season” movie I’ve seen so far, I can hardly say “this is the one to see” with any credibility. But I can say that American Hustle is a wonderful movie. The story is great, the characters are fantastic, and the actors blow the whole thing out of the water. If you get a chance, check this flick out. And be sure to throw it some love in your Oscar pool, because these guys will definitely deliver.

*I’ve had a discussion with my male friends over whether or not Amy Adam is showing gratuitous sideboob or cleavage during this film. They all ruled on the side of cleavage, but I prefer the term sideboob so I stuck with it. Suck it.

Well if one thing’s clear, it’s that I’m terrible at updating this damn thing.

I have a million excuses regarding my lack of updates. My laptop has crapped out, work has been crazy, I’ve caught some terrible colds, but at the end of the day it all has to do with self motivation. I’ve had plenty of time to write as of late, but sometimes, at the end of the day, all you want to do is play some Call of Duty and shoot strangers in the face with an AN-94 (although in my case, “get shot in the face with an AN-94 by strangers” would be a more accurate depiction of my nights). When this is your primary thought process, it makes it really hard to keep up with writing and the whole being productive thing.

Over the holidays, however, I got spoiled rotten by my amazingly supportive family. In an effort to encourage me to write more (and stop being so goddamn lazy), my parents got me a tablet, so I can bring my writing with me wherever I go, and my uncles got me a sweet ass bluetooth keyboard. Now the only thing standing in the way of me writing, is me. Since writing more was a New Years Resolution and I’m just sitting down now on the 11th, I really have some work to do when it comes to motivation. But work on it I will, and I have a group of wonderful, inspiring, and motivating people behind me.

Although I can’t promise that I’ll ever be able to turn down my boyfriend when he hands me an Xbox controller and asks, “Want to shoot some shit?” No woman is that strong.

Date Night Movie: Don Jon

As two bartenders in the same bar, it’s very rare that my boyfriend and I get a night off together. Extremely rare I’d even say. So when one of these ellusive nights off occur, we like to do one of two things. We either order in an obsene amount of food, watch terrible TV and play video games, or we go see a movie. Since I’m sure no one wants to hear about how much Chinese food two nerds can eat during a Grand Theft Auto binge session, I’ll be writing a lot about the movies.

While the boyfriend (I know everyone reading this knows me, or us, personally, but in case there are some strangers out there I’m going to leave him anonymous until he gives me permission to do otherwise) and I are very similar, when it comes to movies we do have slightly different tastes. He lives under the philosophy that more explosions means a better movie, while I enjoy a more subtle approach to my film making. However, we do always agree on a comedy, which is how we decided to go see Don Jon last week. That was a long winded intro.

Don Jon (2013)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore)
Written By: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Directed By: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

(image courtesy of screenslam.com)

(image courtesy of screenslam.com)

Continue reading

Mom and Dads

The first two shows on my Fall TV chopping block are the parental sitcoms, Mom and Dads. Or, as I like to call them, “I’m upset these TV shows have the same names as my parents, and you should be too”. While both of these shows contain a star I’m rather fond of (Allison Janney and Seth Green), they’re both stunning examples of cheap, tired comedy that really isn’t worth your time.

Mom (CBS)
Starring: Anna Farris, Alilson Janney, Nate Goddry
Created By: Eddie Gorodetsky, Chuck Lorre, Gemma Baker

(image courtesy of CBS)

(image courtesy of CBS)

Premise: Christy (Faris), a newly sober young mother, tries to get her life back in order with the help of her own recovering alcoholic mother, Bonnie (Janney).

Reality: I’m not sure who’s worse at creating female characters, Chuck Lorre or Christopher Nolan. At least with Nolan his female characters are just barely existing on the sidelines. In Mom however, all we’ve got leading the charge are one-dimensional females.

The premise does have promise; a single mother struggling to stay sober and not follow in her own mother’s footsteps could be a heartbreakingly uplifting show (Yes, that oxymoron makes sense. Shut it). And as we learned from 28 Days or Starved, there’s some comedy to be had in recovery. However, Mom doesn’t rely on subtle, smart, thematic comedy. The show exists for cheap laughs, and plotlines that manage to glamourize alcoholism, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy. Oh did I forget to mention that while Christy is attempting to stay sober with Bonnie breathing down her neck, her own teen daughter gets knocked up? And her mom and grandma are happy about it? It’s a good thing women were only put on this earth to look good and pop out babies while they’re still under age, or some people might find this ridiculous.

The biggest saving grace of the show is the goddess that is Allison Janney. It pains me that the material she has been given is so terrible, but at least her talent is big enough to pull it off. Seriously. She can make anything funny. Even tired jokes about her character’s drinking days render a chuckle due to her brilliant timing, which is a nice counter point to Anna Faris’ “Scary Movie School of Comedy”.

My other favourite part of this show is the restaurant humor. Cindy works as a waitress (oh yeah, I forgot to mention Cindy’s also sleeping with her restaurant manager. Go feminism…?) in a fancy restaurant, and the jokes that come out of her workplace are the funniest ones of the show. Ok, I’ll admit, my opinion on this matter might be biased because I work 40-50 hours a week at a bar, but there’s something about French Stewart‘s chef character that I find hilarious.

Overall, I’d say if you need cheap, easy, girl-time comedy, this show is ok. Bring it On might be a better option, but this will do too. It’s just sad that Mom skips the opportunity to be a groundbreaking comedy about recovery, to rely on cheap jokes, female stereotypes, and Anna Faris’ big eyes.

Dads (Fox)

(image courtesy of Fox)

(image courtesy of Fox)

Starring: Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Peter Riegert, Martin Mull
Created by: Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Executive Producer: Seth MacFarlane (I only mention his EP credit as it was one of the draws to the show to me)

Premise: Two grown men video game designers have to readjust their lives after their fathers surprisingly move in with them.

Reality: Oy with the poodles already. Where do I start with this one?
If there are two men I trust to dance around the line of appropriate, it’s Seth Green and Macfarlane. I love me some Family Guy and Robot Chicken. This show, however, is nothing short of a mysoginist disaster. Seriously. The whole show is made up of pathetic attempts to be edgey that ends up sexist and borderline racist. It’s not dancing around the line of appropriate, Dads has lined up Archie Bunker‘s greatest hits and butchered them. The mysoginist jokes in this swill make Charlie Sheen‘s turn in Two and a Half Men look like feminist literature.

Dads did get two things right though.
1) The two dad characters reaffirm a belief I picked up bartending: the older men get, the fewer manners they hold on to (and the older they get, the higher my desire is to punch them in the throat).
2) The son characters as video game designers sum up how most female gamers feel about the video game industry in general: it’s full of immature dudes who wouldn’t know how to write or treat a female if their life depended on it.

Other that that, this show is not worth your time, unless you have a grumpy old grandpa you need to entertain. But even then, I like to think my Papa has better taste than this. And he still asks me to pull his finger.

Welcome Back, Me.

Once upon a time, I fancied myself a writer. There was nothing I enjoyed more than putting pen to paper, or hands to a keyboard. In my late teens and early twenties, I was a habitual journal keeper, and it was rare that a day went by that I didn’t write something.

A few years back, while working a mind numbing office job, I decided to combine my love of writing with my love of all things pop culture, and share it with the world in the form of a blog. This blog. It started slowly, but soon I was posting several times a week. The feedback I was receiving was generally positive (aside from a Lea Michele fan I really pissed off), and after several celebrity retweets, I was getting a good number of hits a day. Kevin Smith reading my blog still stands as one of my greatest life accomplishments.

As things progressed, I decided to step up my game and attempt to turn my semi-personal food and review blog, into a full-blown TV recap site. It was a huge undertaking, but I was up for the challenge and was loving it. Then the office job ended and I moved back to Toronto to reenter the charming world of the service industry. But you know what’s really hard, guys? Writing and recapping TV when you work nights and don’t have a PVR.

But for a year, I killed my internet download limit streaming all of the shows I missed, stopped sleeping to catch up on my writing (although I was working two jobs on opposite schedules so I wasn’t really sleeping anyways) and made it work.

As you can imagine, this balancing act could only last so long. With two jobs, over 10 TV shows to watch and write about, and a wavering attempt to maintain a social life, I quickly became overwhelmed. Soon, not only was I missing weeks of writing, but also shifts at work. I still don’t know why Starbucks didn’t fire me (it must have been my sparkling personality). I started to feel this self-inflicted pressure to keep up with my own blog, and this thing that I used to love slowly turned into a chore.

When I started looking at my laptop with a sense of dread and loathing, I decided I really needed to take a break.

So, for my sanity, I stepped away from my desire to be a prominent internet writer, and writing all together. Until now that is. In all honesty, I miss it a lot. And I’m also worried I’m losing brainpower by not exercising the old girl as often as I should. See? I started a sentence with a conjunction. I’m slipping. It’s time for a relaunch.

Now I’m back to it. The writing that is. I’m not ready to fully re-immerse myself to the stress of TV blogging on the regular, especially since I’m still bartending nights and am still PVRless. But I will be writing again (much to my mother’s delight), and you will find it all – recaps, reviews, rants, thoughts, and when I’m feeling extraordinarily bitter, lessons to the general public on how to treat people in the service industry – right here.

I guess this was just a very long, self-indulgent way to say welcome to my blog. Again. Or something.

Let’s see how this goes.

A Personal Interest

To put it simply, there’s a lot of great TV out there no matter what you’re looking for. This is known.

Whether it’s tugging our heartstrings with its stories and characters, thrilling and exciting us with its high-action sequences, or inspiring a rabid following to create coverage like this very blog, television has long since left the simplistic label of ‘pastime’ behind and evolved into a full-fledged art form that impacts our day-to-day lives. And in this advanced world of 500-plus cable channels, chances are there’s something on somewhere that will fulfill the needs of every person on earth – even my Dad and his god awful Antiques Roadshow (I’ll admit, I hate this show not because it’s bad, but more because it was on all the fucking time in my house).

But there are consequences for getting too wrapped up in TV, consequences that can impact you as deeply as any other emotional attachment regardless of it not being ‘real’. Eventually, no matter how much money it makes and how many people watch it, a show will run out of story and come to an end. Even the most cookie-cutter, single-serving-episode-based show will eventually play itself out, as the end of NBC’s Law & Order can attest. One day, your questions will be answered (if you’re lucky), your favourite characters will cease their weekly visits, your worries and fears will be laid to rest, and you’ll find yourself with a TV-shaped hole in your heart as the show signs off for the final time. It’s the sad part of loving TV – but, let’s be honest, if TV shows went on forever, we probably wouldn’t care about it as much.

I came face-to-face with such consequences with the end of one of my favourite television shows in 25 years of roaming this earth, Lost. While the end of Lost was supremely unsatisfying to some, for me it was an appropriate ending for a show that was ultimately more about the characters than the plot. And let’s be honest, ABC had more to do with fucking that show up than the writers – had Lost been an HBO show, it’d be rivaling The Wire as the greatest show to ever grace TV (okay, slight exaggeration).

Lost was great for its grand imagination, for its scope; for having the audacity of stringing its audience along with complicated plots and cliffhangers in a world where flashy, bite-sized, dumbed-down television shows are infinitely more popular and profitable (just look at all the American Idol copycats for proof). Lost satisfied me on multiple levels in a way I haven’t felt since the glory years of The X-Files, though both ultimately suffered from trying to take on too much. But we’re not here to haggle over the merits of Lost – we’re here to find out where a post-Lost fan goes to fill that aforementioned-hole.

Which brings us to Person of Interest, the reason you’re reading the words of some random newcomer to My Life As Rach. For those living under a rock, Person of Interest is the brainchild of J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan, the former being a TV and Movie producing rockstar and the latter a co-author for many of the Christopher Nolan blockbusters like The Dark Night and Memento. The show premiered two weeks ago on September 22nd, 2011, and has quickly become the centre-piece of CBS’s new fall lineup, even bumping CSI out of its Thursday night home (where it’s been for over 10 years!).

The show hits many of the same notes as Lost – a grand scale, mysterious characters, a lot of little hints and foreshadowing – and brings back the incredibly talented Michael Emerson as Mr. Finch, a character we know even less about then Benjamin Linus, Emerson’s previous role. Emerson is paired with the Matthew Fox look-a-like Jim Caviezel, who’s more known for his movies like The Thin Red Line and Passion of the Christ than for any TV roles, but likely has the acting chops to match Emerson (who practically carried Lost through its mid-series lull with his incredible range).

The show is based on a simple enough premise: in a post-9/11 world, the government has a machine created to watch and collect information on everyone, everywhere, in an effort to forestall another terrorist attack. With any non-terrorist info being labelled as ‘irrelevant’ (and therefore deleted each night), Finch takes it upon himself to use this ‘irrelevant’ info for good, and hires ex-CIA Agent (and super-disturbed-for-vague-reasons-that-will-no-doubt-play-out-in-time) John Reese (Caviezel) to help.

But even with all the familiar trappings, I’m not sure what to expect out of Person of Interest, long term. It’s hard for me to imagine caring about these characters anywhere close to as much as Lost, and while the plot has a decent enough hook, it’s not like a grand machine that sees everything is an entirely new idea (Eagle Eye, anyone? Heck, even Early Edition touched this note).

Which ultimately brings me back to Abrams & Nolan, two guys who have some serious accolades and are both accomplished story tellers in their own rights. One has to imagine these two would want to do something much greater than the single-serving episodes we see everywhere in primetime (like the 3000 hours of CSIs that play every week) – and with the early ratings for the first to episodes soaring well into the double-digits in rating points, it looks like they’ll get enough leach to explore this world a little more.

The show’s third episode hits this Thursday at 9/8c on CBS (or Citytv for Canadians, or the internet for everyone), and it will be the subject of my weekly feature here on My Life As Rach, as I make those first tentative steps back into the world of television.