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Review: Gone, Baby, Gone

Gone Baby Gone

Patrick Kenzie has two kinds of friends, Cops and Scum, but don’t hold that against him, he’s probably the best detective in the North East. When a frantic aunt calls him to find her missing niece, Patrick finds he has to choose between happiness and honor; a catch 22 that leaves his life in broken bits.

My rating: 5.0 stars
*****

Before I get into this I want to call out a specific actor; as I have loved him in EVERYTHING I’ve seen him in:

Edi Gathegi who plays “Cheese” in Gone, Baby, one, “Big Love” in House and the totally memorable Haitian Cab Driver in Crank.  I really expect and hope to see more from him, as he has the kind of mournful or threatening or easy going presence that a young actor could only hope to put forth.  He’s great here and deserves some recognition as a strong supporting character.

It’s a fine thing to spend some time breaking on Ben Affleck, that he’s uncooth, that he’s a hack, that he has it way better than you and he doesn’t deserve it. I used to agree with this line of reasoning, Affleck always seemed to be the smarmy asshole and I truly hated him for it. Of course, that was because he was a good actor. When Ben wants to play a sympathetic lead or best friend, he becomes likeable and pleasant. When he’s a leading man, cocky and sure, he is. I think Ben Affleck is a fine actor and it’s about time we all just accepted that he is both talented and not just lucky. “Gone Baby Gone” pretty much proves it.

GBG does more for Casey Affleck in terms of acting, but considering that Bog Brother Bed is the director, it goes to show that the Afflecks have got talent in spades.

Casey Affleck plays Patrick Kenzie; a boston boy and detective in the mold of a streetwise Harry D’amour or John Constantine; a magus of the street without the magic.  He works the streets, associating with cops and killers; knowing that the only thing of value he has is his self-respect.  Honorable to a fault, Kenzie is forced to turn on his friends and tear down pillars of the humanity at the cost of his own happiness in his quest for closure.  Faced with moral choices he makes difficult decisions, perhaps in a quest for redemption after he (in his own words) murders a guilty man.

Casey plays Patrick Kenzie with ease; he is almost lazy in his approach, but it betrays a cunning mind behind the eyes (always looking around, always looking at the angles).  The character never seems put on, never a costume, Patrick and Casey are inseperable and while some scenes may have looked emotionless, it was entirely in character; honor over happiness as I stated before.

I was reminded, constantly, of 8MM while I watched this, the situation was very similiar (where Casey plays the role Joaquin Phoenix did in 8MM).  I kept looking for “The Machine” moment in the movie, and when it came down, I was on the edge of my seat, nearly calling for it to happen.  When I realized that nothing was resolved, I applauded the movie.  Gone Baby Gone kept me on an emotional edge for the last hour, constantly hoping for a “happy” outcome; which never really came.

Now, the action was violent and shocking, there was at least one shooting that made me shout out “Oh My God, they shot him” I was absorbed at that point and I don’t think I blinked again until the end of the movie.  It is that powerful.

All of this dances around the specifics of the story, which I have tried to conciously avoid; as I want you to fully enjoy this movie.  It’s a worthwhile movie, certainly something I am going to watch again.

As for Ben, Affleck, you’da bomb in “Gone baby Gone” yo

Review: It won't be easy to Forget Jason Segel

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Jason Segel plays Peter, who is trying to get over his five-year relationship with TV and Film Star Sarah Marshal (Played by Kristen Bell). On the boucen, he decides to visit a resort his Ex loved, where he runs into HIS EX and her new Boyfriend (the Cool and English Aldous Snow).

I love a good romantic comedy, it’s true. I really do. Forgetting Sarah Marshall sets a new high bar for Romantic Comedy, simply by taking the trenchant and making it real. There is a fellatio joke (or two), but instead of being a gag, they are the kinds of jokes we tell each other and situations that we really might find ourselves in.

Peter (Segel) is sensitive and attentive, but unmotivated. Sarah (Bell) is an up and coming film and TV star who wants to move ahead and leave behind the slacker lifestyle Peter has fallen into, resting on his laurels.

Peter takes the news that Sarah has moved on (and into the bed of someone else) very hard, going out to seek meaningless relationships and revenge sex. Being unfulfilled by his efforts, Peter decides (at the encouragement of his Step-Brother (Bill Hader is awesome in this flick) to go on Vacation. Peter, in a foolish move, decides to go to the very resort that his Ex has stated was her favorite.

In predictable, but still entertaining fashion Peter and Sarah meet at the resort. Typical Boy-Loses-Girl-to-rock-star hilarity ensues. Aldous Snow (played by Russel Brand) is cool and thoughtless, playing the easy-going rock star of the new Millennium with an aplomb that make the character a stand-out an memorable feat.

Also don’t miss Jack McBrayer and Maria Thayer as a recently Married couple coming to grips with the fact that they are Religious Virgins who never thought to learn about the birds and the bees before they went on their honeymoon. Utterly magnificent. I cannot recommend “Fogetting Sarah Marshall” more.

My rating: 4.5 stars
****1/2

The dialogue is utterly quotable:

“Oh, the weather outside is weather”

“When life gives you lemons, just say ‘Fuck the lemons,’ and bail. “

“Are those sad tissues or happy tissues? “

“Oh, if they were Sean Jean sweatpants it would be no problem, but because they were Costco brand, it’s the worst thing I could do.

” He turned down a blow job from his ex-girlfriend… mid-blowjob. You know how hard that is for a man? It’s called blue balls. He’s like Gandhi! But better – he likes puppets!

See, GOLD, Pure Gold. All delivered with honesty and without affect. When someone does break the fourth wall, it’s done with ease and class (see Jason Segel do it when urged to jump into the water by super Pixie Love interest Mila Kunis)

My one and only Criticism; the love interest Mila Kunis. Awesome portrayal, I could see falling for Mila Kunis (in modern makeup she’s actually a fairly really pretty girl , but I’m kind of tired of the “different” girl who busts the sensitive guy out of his shell routine. It’s not bad or contrived, but I’m just tired of it. Mila is great and her performance (along with the rest of the supporting cast) is great. I just want something else out of a Romantic Comedy.

Review: Graceling

Graceling

Gracelings are people gifted with abilities far above what anyone could call a talent. Katsa is gifted with the ability to run faster, strike harder and kill anyone better than anyone who has ever lived.

Graceling is the author Kristen Cashore’s first novel. It recounts the story of Katsa; a gifted killer in the employ of a King. Far beyond the norm for a girl; Katsa can run for hours, see in the dark and kill wild lions with her bare hands. She is dispatched to maim or terrify those that displease King Randa, to whom she owes total loyalty and fealty. Her secret rebellion against this world is discovered by another gifted fighter and Katsa joins him on a quest to learn the secret behind a royal kidnapping.

My rating: 4.5 stars
****1/2

For a first novel, this is certainly an excellent first impression; I shared the first chapter with my Daughter as I read it and she was so intrigued that she demanded that I read it to her in its entirety when I was finished with my review.  Graceling is exciting in places, contemplative in others and gorgeous in others.

The “Graced” inhabit a world that loves and fears them; save those that live free on an island kingdom removed from the politics of the mainland.  They are vetted and employed by kings and queens for their skills and live (for the most part) at the whim of others.  I couldn’t help but find a number of parallels between Graceling and 1602 (by Neil Gaiman) where the “Graced” are simple analogs to the Mutant heroes that populate comics (X-Men for example) but set in a Fantasy world. This is not a critical point however; it makes the characters somewhat familiar, not off-putting.

As for the characters themselves, we have the Mysterious Stranger/Love Interest, The Punk Nerd/Best Friend, The Older Man/Trainer, The Mother Analogue, the Overbearing Father and even the “wise ass little sister”.  Again; these are familiar archtypes that I encourage you to discover in the story for yourself, especially the spurned suitor.  Being a Young-Adult novel, complex characterizations aren’t what one would expect.

In the quiet moments, when the characters are just existing and no plot movement is going on we are treated to characters as people instead of archetypes and the author gives us people to sympathize with rather than thin action/adventure caricatures. The Quiet moments inevitably happen during some period of travel, which are as numerous as those in the Lord of the Rings; one could imagine the characters passing a pair of hairy-footed little people and having them curse under their breath “horses, why didn’t we think of horses?”

However; all of the characters save Po and Raffi seem to be dim, waiting on the Graced girl to do their thinking for them, Oll who is the spymaster for a King always seems to be one step behind Katsa.  Katsa may be a skilled fighter, but Raffi (and others) all remarked that she was not the most perceptive of people; but she has built a grand enterprise around her.  This uneven storytelling was off putting at points. Right there on page 183 Po calls out (in so many words) that the council proves that Katsa is much more intelligent than she gives herself credit for, which only enforces my concern with the storytelling regarding Katsa’s character.  We’re constantly given these adolescent characters who are not sure of themselves, but able to draw to themselves these crowds of followers.  Can’t we have a confident character who is also a protagonist?  The self-assured are usually villains and supporting characters, can’t we have a self-assured hero who is legitimate?

It is an old world we are given, with people of fantastic gifts who have become a part of every day life.  The extraordinary made tame if not banal.  Which, I suppose is what would happen; given the circumstances of the story.  People of great ability but limited means used as tools to an end; not quite slavery but not freedom either.  Po represents the departure from that form; his circumstances being exceptional in the world we are presented with.

As for the actual story?  By the later chapters I found myself willing the Author to forgo the very things that made the narriative so compelling, skip the traveling parts I would will the words to just vanish. It’s a well-paced, engaging piece of fantasy.  The characters, while thin at points, are still strong enough to make you want to follow them on.  I sussed the majority of the story early on (it’s a young adult fantasy, how complex do you want it to be) but I wasn’t bored, which is a great accomplishment.  I don’t need a surprise twist to enhance a story, I just need a strong narrative and characters that I enjoy spending my time on.  Graceling provides us with a semi-familiar fantasy setting with a rounded history and believable world that one could easily have loved as a teenager and thought back fondly on as an adult.

This is a review for mini book expo if you a Canadian blogger intereseted in reviewing books on your blog, please do not hesitate to visit.

Fries and a Reuben – Going Negative

Fries and a Reuben, originally uploaded by NiteMayr.

When a political campaign takes to crapping all over the opposing camp, it’s termed “Going Negative” and when it is egregious and possibly slanderous, it’s “Ratfucking”

I’m not about to ratfuck the “Family Restaurant” on Wellington in London, but that is only because I might be forced to eat there again as part of the rodent coitus.

Let me start with the price, 8 bucks for frozen fries and a sandwich. Are you kidding me!?!?

The sandwich might cost about 3 bucks in materials if the meat and cheese are fancy. However, the cheese was “cheese food” – style swiss and the bread was barely rye. The meat was untenable and together with the lack of thousand island dressing made the whole sandwich part of the meal lackluster at best. I also burned my mouth due to the MOLTEN LAVA heat of the meat.

By the time I got to the frozen food product fries I wasn’t really able to enjoy them, due to my injured mouth and ended up just giving up on eating them. Which, if you know me is almost impossible for me to do.

For 8 bucks I expect to enjoy my food.

For 5 I can get a nice salad and the best Chicken Salad sandwich on earth at the King’s Cafe downtown london (near Galleria, next to the Brass Door). I recommend you avoid the “Family Restaurant” on Wellington, south of Grey Street North of Grand Avenue.

And that is Going Negative.

Ten most Shocking Revalations in Star Wars Episode 2

Presented for your entertainment and in no way meant to infringe upon the copyrighted materials we blatently rip off already: The Top Ten Most Shocking Revelations in Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the clones!

10. Luke and Leia were not fathered by Darth Vader as previously revealed, but instead Padme was impregnated by a confused Obi-Wan just back from another “visit” to the bars on Corsuicant.

9. Mace Windu is more than just a bad ass Jedi, he also moonlights as a singer in Jabbas Pleasure Dome.

8. Bobba Fett is a clone.

7. Bobba Fett is not nearly as annoying as Annikan was as a child.

6. Smoking exists in the seedy unerworld of the Republic, however the PFY that pushes them does not have the force powers to push them.

5. Darth Sidious likes to arrange flowers and ballet dance in his spare time between enslaving politicians and kidnapping planets.

4. R2D2 Can climb stairs, fly and repair almost anything, but cannot look DOWN.

3. Ewan Macgregor is a surprisingly convincing Obi-Wan Kenobi, however what was more impressinve is when he played to dual role of Obi-Wan and the New queen of Naboo.

2. Lucas bought the rights to the “sound of music”

1. Anakin Skywalker was a know-nothing, loudmouth bitchy punk.