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Archive for March, 2010

Geeks can rejoice. The trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Edgar Wright’s filmic adaptation of the fantastic comic book series, is quite good. It doesn’t shatter expectations, but it at least suggests that the movie is faithful to its source material. Having read the series, I can say Edgar Wright seems to have captured the jaunty, tongue in cheek tone.

Release date is set for August 13, 2010.

The poster for the film is also inspired by the epic art style of the comics.

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After a year on hiatus, the highly anticipated United States of Tara begins its sophomore season with a disappointing step. The episode meanders for twenty three minutes until it reaches a climactic reveal that is as predictable as it is miscalculated. Additionally, the subplots barely attempt to add resonance to the rest of our familiar characters, ultimately creating an underwhelming thematic base for this week.

The reason that this episode is a disappointment is because the show does have heart. Despite the haters that rip on the show primarily because of Diablo Cody’s involvement, the series is quite strong.

Its characters are some of Cody’s most well-defined; Tara, a mother who has dissociative identity disorder, isn’t just an outlet for Cody to imbue one-dimensional, hipster wit, but rather an interestingly damaged person. At times the show does suffer in strengthening its background characters, but rarely does this become an annoying problem. Yes, however, easily alludes to these hindrances with almost meaningless subplots for Tara’s kids, Marshall, a sexually confused teenager, and Kate, a rebellious teen who decides to graduate from high school a few months early.

All the while, Tara becomes traumatized by a neighbor’s suicide, a tenuous Deus ex machina that’s implemented to bring Tara back to face off against her multiple personalities. What makes Tara’s transition from normalcy to inevitable abnormality is the great acting from Toni Colette. The show balances drama and comedy so well, and Colette rises to the occasion every time. Her surprising yet completely deserving award of Best Actress in a Comedy at the Emmys last year is bolstered by her portrayal in Yes. She isn’t given much to do, but she manages to provide a superb performance.

I’m glad to have United States of Tara back on television. Despite the premiere’s misstep, season two has the potential to provide the show’s most endearing moments. Our characters are already established, and I wholeheartedly believe in and love them as a family. The second half of season one is particularly compelling, and I was hoping for that momentum to carry over to season two. So a minor stumble in the premiere is an obvious disappointment. But hey, there’s always next week.

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The first two seasons of Breaking Bad took a fish out of water and turned it into a shark. The show’s once benevolent, almost sheepish protagonist, Walter White, mutated right before us into a callous, immoral man. Seeing him go so far into moral decadence has made the show’s tragic experience some of the best teleivision ever.

At the beginning of season one, we met a man-an underappreciated and overly qualified chemistry teacher-whose life began deteriorating due to lung cancer. Later on, we met that same man-a desperate husband-who started cooking Crystal Meth in order to secure his family’s wealth when he passes away. At the end of season two, we met that same man, yet he, himself, was no longer the same. Over the length of twenty episodes, he transformed into a liar, a murderer, and an experienced drug trafficker. Now, at the start of season three, what part of Walter White’s complexity do we meet?

We meet a man in denial. He refuses to acknowledge the blood on his hands, and he manipulates the perspectives of those around him into thinking that the bloody domino effect that has occurred because of his decisions is not that horrible. Surprisingly, he owns up to his wife, Skyler, when she accuses him of drug dealing, but he again turns fabrications into a tactical defense. This time, it doesn’t work.

There is trouble from multiple angles heading Walt’s way. All of his family ties are obviously breaking, and his wife’s knowledge of his work only brings him closer to the hands of his brother-in-law, an agent of the DEA. His refusal to take the $3 million offer from Gus, an extremely professional and low-profile kingpin, won’t be taken politely, despite Gus’ deceptively cordial understanding. There are two ominous killers searching for Walt’s alternate Meth-cooking persona, Heisenberg, and as made evident by this episode, they have no problem taking care of anyone that stands in their way.

All of this danger that surrounds Walt is peripheral, but what’s most important is that he first focuses on the internal. Will he hide behind foiled rationale or will his guilt fully manifest into something destructive? His partner in crime, Jesse, returns from rehab in this episode, and he certainly accepts that “I am the bad guy.” What will Walt come to accept about himself? Whatever his conclusion is, he must come to it quickly because the dangers that are coming will need to be dealt with.

No Mas continues the Breaking Bad tradition of being incredibly strong. Television’s standards have risen over the past few years, but Breaking Bad breaks even those expectations. In my mind, it is the best currently airing program on TV; yes, even better than Mad Men or LOST.

It’s unfortunate that not too many people watch this show. For those who’d like to know, Breaking Bad is quite akin to such films as No Country for Old Men, or Traffic, or even The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly . I can only give it my fullest recommendation.

Embedded below is a six minute recap of everything prior to the season three¬† premiere. Those interested yet fearless of spoilers or those who have forgotten what happened in the first two seasons should give it a look. It’s a slick video.

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One thing this trailer expertly captures is Tony Stark’s vulnerability. It shows our protagonist, a charismatic, seemingly invincible narcissist, at the mercy of a menacing villain(s) and, more significantly, his own hubris. Particular struggles that make the hero’s chance at victory seem slim, such as the ones suggested by this trailer, are what make great super hero movies.

Two years ago, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. surprised us with Iron Man, a highly polished action film. Hopefully, they can deliver an equally satisfying sequel this Summer.

Release date is set for May 7, 2010.

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Artist Tavis Coburn takes us back to the 1950’s with his retrospective interpretation of five of the ten Best Picture nominees. Fantastic stuff!

Click to enlarge.

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Weekly Poll #11

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To help raise money for Haiti, Quentin Tarantino and the Weinstein Company hosted an art exhibit that featured several artists and their Inglourious Basterds inspired works. These pieces are all unique, riveting, and extremely mature; it’s too bad the film’s actual marketing campaign couldn’t go this scenic route.

Click to enlarge.

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