Review: The Walking Dead S4E08 “Too Far Gone”


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“We’re not too far gone. We get to come back.” — Rick Grimes

[some spoilers]

The Walking Dead had it’s mid-season finale over this past Sunday and like previous mid-season and season-ending finales of the past three season this one went for the gut-punch. Season 4 of the show has seen a major improvement in how the writers were finally treating some of the major characters on the show.

The first five episodes were pretty much using a plague situation within the prison community to explore the growth of some of the lead roles in the show. We saw how Rick tried to escape the burdens of leadership by attempting to just be a farmer and a good role-model for his son Carl. It didn’t necessarily work out the way he wanted it to. In the end, Rick finally realized that leadership was what the group needed from him and what he was really best suited for.

We saw a major character shift in one of the show’s less realized characters in the past meek Carol Pelletier. This season we see how she has grown into becoming just as much a cold, calculating survivor as The Governor, but still retaining some of the humanity the latter seems to have lost when the zombie apocalypse happened to the world. It was a surprise to see Carol in such a new light. A person who would do anything to protect the group with special attention to the young children — especially two young girls — who have survived this far into the zombie apocalypse.

Then we had Hershel finally get to have his time in the limelight. Episode 5 has been a near-unanimous choice as the strongest episode of the first half of the season and nothing about the mid-season finale changes that. That’s how good “Interment” really was in the overall scheme of this new season’s first half. We saw Hershel finally become the show’s moral center but one that didn’t have the rigidity of ideals that Dale had. Hershel kept his humanity but also knew that this new world meant having to put one’s life on the line and not just pay lip-service to one’s ideals. I know that Dale would’ve done the same, but we never truly saw him put it all out there. He was great with the speeches, but the writers could never have him act on them. With Hershel they were able to reset the show’s moral compass and write the role properly.

The last two episode saw the return of The Governor. It was a peculiar two-parter which focused only on the return of Season 3’s main villain. Scott M. Gimple and his crew of writers tried to dial back the cartoonish way the character had become a villain by the end of Season 3. They tried to put the character back on the road to redemption. They even gave him a new surrogate family with a young girl who looked eerily like his previous daughter pre-zombie. Yet, while the attempt was an interesting one the character arrived full-circle to the very Governor we first met in the early episodes of Season 3. He wasn’t as mustache-twirling evil that he had become by the end of last season, but that redemption road that episode 6 and 7 was all about ended up being a red herring.

Now, we come to the mid-season finally which literally reset’s the finale of season 3. It was a finale that was underwhelming at best. The war between Rick and the Governor never truly materialized. This was finally rectified with the arrival of the Governor and his new band of camp followers but this time he has a tank. It’s a scene straight out of the comics and it was one that readers and fans of the books have been waiting for years to happen.

“Too Far Gone” marks a turning point for the series in that we finally leave another fixed location but do so with some major characters never to return. It was an episode that started off like a sizzle reel of every complaint detractors have about the show. Dialogue that went nowhere and just seemed to spin the episode’s wheels to fill time. Yet, as the episode progressed the entirety of the first half’s story-arcs began to take shape.

Rick was willing to share the prison with his worst enemy. He wasn’t too far gone that he would put himself as innocent of doing some heinous things to survive. He might not like the Governor, but for the sake of both groups not killing each other he would swallow his pride and accept everyone. The prison has room for everyone and the didn’t need to interact. It’s a major character growth for Rick who always saw his group as the good guys in any conflict. But like any leader he was getting tired of the battles that hurt only the survivors. The real threat were still the zombies who were slowly gathering outside. Hershel’s reaction to finally seeing Rick realize that one didn’t have to sacrifice their humanity to survive in this new world was one of the most poignant scenes in the series to date.

What followed it moment’s later would become one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of the series and one fans of the books were dreading to see.

Hershel was the MVP of this season’s first half and it was only appropriate that he went out in such a memorable, albeit very gruesome manner. It’s not often we see someone decapitated on any tv show. What had been an episode that threatened to meander just the way the finale of season 3 ended up doing instead became a final 20-minutes of intense action that saw both groups fail to hold onto the prison and the survivors scattered to all points of the compass. In the comics, this particular story-arc saw Lori and Judith die just when readers thought they were about to be safe from the battle. With Lori already dead a full season ago the only question which remained during this mid-season finale was whether the writers would actually pull off the unthinkable and do the same to tv version of Judith.

Children have never been seen a sacred cows on this show, yet infants seemed to remain safe. The episode ends with the question of whether Judith is dead or alive hanging in the air. It’s to the visceral power that this show brings to the table that peope will wait the near to three months of hiatus before the show returns of the second half of season 4. The show will remain one that’s obsessed over by the general population while derided by a minority who have valid complaints about it.

“Too Far Gone” could almost be the motto of this show. Any sort of major change on how the show’s stories has been told might be too late to implement. The fans like the show for it’s violence, gore and the soap opera stories. It’s not perfect television, but it is television which seems to have grabbed, caught and held the attention of not just the American tv viewing public but the global tv viewing public. Maybe, it’s just time to just make the that decision each viewer has to make. Either stay on the ride and hold on until the rollercoaster ends or jump off now and forever hold their peace.

Season 4

And finally — here are the Satellite Nominations


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Along with the Annie Nominations and the Gotham Awards, the Satellite Nominations were announced earlier today.  What are the Satellites?  The Satellites are given out by the International Press Academy.  They apparently used to be a part of the Hollywood Foreign Press (i.e., the people who give out the Golden Globes) but then they broke off to form their own organization and give out their own awards.  The Satellites, themselves, are often viewed as being just as unsavory as the Golden Globes while also being far less influential when it comes to determining what films will end up Oscar-nominated and which films will be snubbed.

That said, I still like the Satellites, just because they nominate such a large number of nominees for each category and you know how I am about long lists.

Here are the major Satellite film nominations.  A full list of nominations (including television nominations) can be found here.

BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave”(Fox Searchlight)
“All Is Lost” (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions)
“American Hustle” (Sony)
“Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Captain Phillips” (Sony)
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films)
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Disney)
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)

BEST DIRECTOR
Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films)
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips” (Sony)
Ron Howard, “Rush” (Universal)
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”(Fox Searchlight)
David O. Russell, “American Hustle” (Sony)
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams, “American Hustle” (Sony)
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Judi Dench, “Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color (Sundance)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Enough Said” (Fox Searchlight)
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks” (Disney)

BEAT ACTOR
Christian Bale, “American Hustle” (Sony)
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska” (Paramount)
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”(Fox Searchlight)
Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips” (Sony)
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Robert Redford, “All Is Lost” (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions)
Forest Whitaker, “The Butler” (The Weinstein Company)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle” (Sony)
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”(Fox Searchlight)
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)
Léa Seydoux, Blue Is the Warmest Color (Sundance)
June Squibb, “Nebraska” (Paramount)
Emily Watson, “The Book Thief” (20th Century Fox)
Oprah Winfrey, “The Butler” (The Weinstein Company)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle” (Sony)
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”(Fox Searchlight)
Harrison Ford, “42” (Warner Bros.)
Ryan Gosling, “The Place Beyond the Pines” (Focus Features)
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Prisoners” (Warner Bros.)
Tom Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks” (Disney)
Casey Affleck, “Out of the Furnace” (Relativity Media)
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
“Bethlehem,” Israel
“Blue Is the Warmest Color,” France
“The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium
“Circles,” Serbia
“Four Corners,” South Africa
“The Great Beauty,” Italy
“The Hunt,” Denmark
“Metro Manila,” United Kingdom
“The Past,” Iran
“Wadjda,” Saudia Arabia

BEST ANIMATED PICTURE
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” (Sony)
“The Croods” (DreamWorks)
“Epic” (20th Century Fox)
“Ernest & Celestine” (GKIDS)
“Frozen” (Disney)
“Monsters University” (Disney-Pixar)
“Turbo” (DreamWorks)
“The Wind Rises” (Studio Ghibli)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“20 Feet from Stardom” (Radius-TWC)
“The Act of Killing” (Drafthouse Films)
“After Tiller (Oscilloscope)
“American Promise (Rada Film Group)
“Blackfish (Magnolia Pictures)
“Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (Ironbound Films)
“Sound City (Roswell Films)
“The Square (City Drive Entertainment Group)
“Stories We Tell (Roadside Attractions)
“Tim’s Vermeer (Sony Pictures Classics)

Here Are 2013 The Annie Nominations!


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The 2013 Annie Nominations were announced earlier today.  The Annies honor the best of the year’s animated features and television series.  The race for the Best Animated Feature Oscar is unusually competitive this year so it’s interesting to note that Frozen, Monsters U., Despicable Me 2, and The Croods received the most Annie nominations this year.

Below are the major nominations.  A full list of the nominees can be found by clicking here.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
A Letter to Momo – 
GKIDS
Despicable Me 2 – 
Universal Pictures
Ernest & Celestine
 – GKIDS
Frozen – 
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Monsters University – 
Pixar Animation Studios
The Croods
 – DreamWorks Animation
The Wind Rises
 – The Walt Disney Studios
BEST ANIMATED SPECIAL PRODUCTION
Chipotle Scarecrow
 – Moonbot Studios
Listening Is an Act of Love
 – StoryCorps
Room on the Broom – 
Magic Light Pictures
Toy Story OF TERROR!
- Pixar Animation Studios

BEST ANIMATED SHORT SUBJECT
Despicable Me 2 – Puppy
 – Universal Pictures
Get A Horse!
 – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Gloria Victoria
 – National Film Board of Canada
My Mom is an Airplane
 – Acme Filmworks
The Numberlys – 
Moonbot Studios

BEST ANIMATED TV/BROADCAST COMMERCIAL
Despicable Me 2 – Cinemark
 – Universal Pictures
Sound of the Woods – Acme Filmworks
The Polar Bears Movie
 – CAA Marketing

Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children
Bubble Guppies
 – Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Disney Sofia the First
 – Disney Television Animation
Doc McStuffins
 – Disney Television Animation
Justin Time
 – Guru Studio
Peter Rabbit – Nickelodeon Animation Studio

Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children’s Audience
Adventure Time – 
Cartoon Network Studios
Beware the Batman
 – Warner Bros. Animation
Disney Gravity Falls
 – Disney Television Animation
Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness – 
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Regular Show – 
Cartoon Network Studios
Scaredy Squirrel – 
Nelvana Ltd.
Teen Titans Go!
 – Warner Bros. Animation
The Legend of Korra
 – Nickelodeon Animation Studio

Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production
Archer
 – FX Networks
Bob’s Burgers – 
Bento Box Entertainment
Disney Tron Uprising
 – Disney Television Animation
Futurama
 – 20th Century Fox Television
Motorcity
 – Titmouse Inc.

Best Animated Video Game
Diggs Nightcrawler
 – Moonbot Studios
Tiny Thief
 – 5 ANTS
The Last of Us – 
Naughty Dog

Best Student Film
Chicken or the Egg
 – Ringling College of Art and Design
Kellerkind – Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg
Miss Todd
 – Kristina Yee
Move Mountain
 – Kirsten Lepore
SEMÕFORO – 
University of Southern California
The Final Straw
 – Ringling College of Art and Design
Trusts & Estates
 – CalArts
Wedding Cake – 
Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg

Here Are The Winners of the 2013 Gotham Awards


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The Gotham Awards were awarded earlier tonight.  Here are the winners:

X = Winner

BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave”
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
“Before Midnight”
X – “Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Upstream Color”

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”
Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis”
X – Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford in “All Is Lost”
Isaiah Washington in “Blue Caprice”

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”
Scarlett Johansson in “Don Jon”
X – Brie Larson in “Short Term 12”
Amy Seimetz in “Upstream Color”
Shailene Woodley in “The Spectacular Now”

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR
Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings
Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight
X – Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station”
Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”
Robin Weigert in “Concussion”

BEST BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
X – Ryan Coogler for “Fruitvale Station”
Adam Leon for “Gimme the Loot”
Alexandre Moors for “Blue Caprice”
Stacie Passon for “Concussion”
Amy Seimetz for “Sun Don’t Shine”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
X – “The Act of Killing”
“The Crash Reel”
“First Cousin Once Removed”
“Let the Fire Burn”
“Our Nixon”

The Gothams themselves are not considered to be that strong of a precursor to the Oscars.  However, 12 Years A Slave has been so widely perceived as being such a lock for Best Picture that any time it loses to another film, it’s going to be noticed.

44 Days of Paranoia #15: God Told Me To (dir by Larry Cohen)


For today’s entry in the 44 Days of Paranoia, I want to take a look at the underrated horror/sci-fi/paranoia film, God Told Me To.

This film was first released in 1976. At the time of that initial theatrical run, the film was called God Told Me To Kill. That title proved to be rather controversial and the film was promptly pulled from circulation and then re-released under the new title of Demon. However, since Demon was such a painfully generic title, the name change didn’t do much to help the movie at the box office and, again, it was yanked from circulation and the title was changed for a third time.  Under the name God Told Me To, the film was once again re-released.

Not surprisingly, given this chaotic release history, God Told Me To never quite got the attention that it deserved. Over the years, the film has developed a cult following among those (like me) who have discovered the film on DVD or Blu-ray.  But God Told Me To still remains something of an unknown film.

In God Told Me To, Tony LoBianco gives an excellent performance as Peter Nicholas, a tough New York police detective and devout Catholic.  As the film starts, Nicolas is burned out on his job. He’s separated from his mentally unstable wife (played by Sandy Dennis) but can’t bring himself to divorce her and marry his girlfriend (Deborah Raffin) because it would go against his religious beliefs.

Nicholas finds himself investigating a serious of seemingly random murders that all have two things in common.  First, the murderers are all “average” people, the types who would you never expect to commit such terrible crimes.  Secondly, when captured, each murderer dismisses his crimes by explaining, “God told me to.”  As Nicholas investigates, he discovers that every murderer can be linked with a mysterious figure named Bernard Phillips (played the late, great Richard Lynch).

Nicholas’ investigation leads him to discover that Phillips was the product of a virgin birth, causing Nicholas to both question his own religious faith and to wonder wither or not Phillips is just another crazy cult leader or if he might be God himself…

And that’s about all I can tell you without running the risk of totally spoiling the film.  Let’s just say that God Told Me To is one of those films where nothing is quite as it seems.  Since the film establishes early on that literally anyone could be a potential killer, the viewer is forced to watch every character who wanders through the scene, looking for any hint that he or she is about to snap.  This is a film that keeps you off-balance and, unlike a lot of horror films, it  features a twist that’s both plausible and unexpected.

God Told Me To was directed by Larry Cohen, an exploitation veteran who has been responsible for some of the most thought-provoking B-movies in cinematic history. Like many of Cohen’s films, God Told Me To is something of a mess but it’s a fascinating mess.  Both Peter Nicholas and Bernard Phillips prove to be fascinating characters and, during the film’s final third, Cohen takes both of them in unexpected directions.

God Told Me To is one of those films that every fan of horror and cult cinema should see at least once. If you haven’t seen it, now is the perfect time for you to discover it for yourself.

Other entries in the 44 Days Of Paranoia:

  1. Clonus
  2. Executive Action
  3. Winter Kills
  4. Interview With The Assassin
  5. The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald
  6. JFK
  7. Beyond The Doors
  8. Three Days of the Condor
  9. They Saved Hitler’s Brain
  10. The Intruder
  11. Police, Adjective
  12. Burn After Reading
  13. Quiz Show
  14. Flying Blind

Ghosts of Christmas Past #2: The Jack Benny Program S8E7 “Christmas Shopping”


For the past few months, I’ve been exploring what I used to dismissively call “the old people stations.”  These are television stations like MeTV, Antenna TV, Cozi TV, and TVLand which specialize in showing episodes of old television shows.  Of the old shows that I’ve recently discovered, The Jack Benny Program is one of my favorites.

Each episode featured comedian Jack Benny playing himself and being cheap, egocentric, and annoying.  In many ways, the show feels like a forerunner for shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm.

With this being the holiday season, what better time than to feature a Christmas episode of the Jack Benny Show.  In this episode, Jack attempts to buy a Christmas present.

This episode originally aired on December 15th, 1957.

Enjoy!

 

Artist Profile: Max Ginsburg (1931– )


Max Ginsburg is a social realist painter who, since entering the art world in the 1960s, has been widely acclaimed for his paintings of New York City street life.  Starting in 1980, he supplemented his income through commercial illustration.  Up until his retirement from the commercial field in 2004, Ginsburg painted covers for over 800 titles.  A small sampling of both his commercial work and his fine art can be found below.

C.J.'s FateCried The PiperGray Hawks LadyMementoSuddenly YouThe ChildrenThe HustlerBasketballCaretakersCoffee BreakInvitation_8x11.inddProtest MarchSubway BenchWar Pieta

Song of the Day: Scream & Shout (performed by will.i.am feat. Britney Spears)


Much as with yesterday’s song of the day, there’s no great or secret reason why I selected Scream & Shout.  It’s a fun song and great to dance to and what more can you really ask?

When I’m at work, I’m always tempted to answer the phone with, “It’s Lisa, bitch.”