TV Review: The Walking Dead 7.14 “The Other Side”


Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was the type of episode that drives me crazy.  It was an episode where hardly anything happened and what did happen played out very slowly.  In fact, I eventually ended up getting so bored that I started trying to imagine how The Walking Dead could ever come up with an episode slower than “The Other Side.”

After giving it some thought, I decided the only way it could happen would be if Terrence Malick agreed to be a guest director during season 8.  As I sat waiting for something to happen in the episode that I was actually watching, I found myself imagining what the Malick-directed episode would be like.

I envisioned Rick standing alone in a vibrantly green field.  The grass is high and the blowing wind creates gentle waves of nature.  Rick looks up to the incredibly blue sky and sees one extremely white cloud floating over.  Rick looks down at the ground.  An egg hatches.  A bird is born.  Rick stares at the bird.  The bird stares at him.  They both flash back to prehistory.  A sabre tooth tiger eats a caveman who looks suspiciously like Norman Reedus.  Rick blinks.  Rick’s back in the field.  Christian Bale walks by, dressed up like a 1930s Oklahoma dust bowl farmer.  He looks at Rick.  Rick stares back.  Christian Bale walks on.

On the soundtrack, we hear Ben Kinglsey’s voice.  “What is this nature of man that refuses to accept that death begins with life and life ends with death?  Will the grass blow for an eternity?”

Rick looks off in the distance.  Walkers are approaching.

On the soundtrack, we hear Jessica Chastain’s voice: “I will wait you at the other end of the river, where the two waters meet in life and diverge in death.”

“Shane, Glenn, and old Dale Horvath,” Rick mutters, “Always you are at war within me.”

The walkers calmly walk by Rick.  Rick notices that a man in animal skins is with the walkers and yet, the man is not eaten because he has returned to a more innocent and primitive state….

And so on and so forth.

Anyway, as for what actually did happen during tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, I guess this was a pretty good example of why I should be careful what I ask for.  For weeks, I’ve been defending Rosita and saying that people should let her attack the Sanctuary.  Well, tonight, she and Sasha finally made it to the Sanctuary and that attack did not go quite as planned.  First off, Eugene refused to go back to Alexandria with them.  (A better name for the Sanctuary would be Stockholm because Eugene’s got a huge case of Stockholm Syndrome, am I right or am I right?  Thank you, I’ll be here all night.)  Then Sasha announced that Rosita needed to go back to Alexandria and ran into the Sanctuary to create a diversion.  With Sasha undoubtedly getting shot up by Negan’s goons, Rosita ran off but then stopped when she saw someone in the shadows.  I’m assuming it was Daryl.

(By the way, I know we’re all supposed to get mad at Rosita for potentially messing up Rick’s plans but seriously, can you blame her?  Rick only has one plan: Do nothing until that’s no longer an option, sacrifice half of your people on a suicide mission, and make sure Carl survives to lose another eye.)

This all happened in the final ten minutes of the episode and it was pretty good and exciting.  But to get to that point, we had to sit through a seemingly endless slog of scenes that mostly felt like filler.  The Saviors showed up at Alexandria and, once again, we had to watch Simon bully Gregory while everyone else stood around and shook their head in disgust.  Because Negan set his last doctor on fire, he decided to take Alexandria’s doctor.

“OH MY GOD!” the audience was supposed to shout, “Maggie’s pregnant and Alexandria has lost their only doctor!”

(Maggie’s been pregnant for a while now and she’s still not showing.  Trying to figure out how much time has actually passed in The Walking Dead is almost as much fun as trying to figure out how long they were actually on the island on Lost.)

And yes, Negan arbitrarily taking someone else’s doctor because he stupidly killed his own does reinforce the fact that Negan is a jackass and something needs to be done about him.  But seriously, it all played out so slowly.  And it’s not like Gregory was going to refuse to hand over the doctor or anything.  Other than Daryl almost coming out of hiding to attack someone, nothing unexpected or particularly interesting happened during all of that.  It was all just more Savior bully bullshit.

When we weren’t in Alexandria, we spent an eternity watching Rosita raise and lower a rifle.  At one point, I was scared that the whole rest of this season would just be Rosita raising the rifle, looking through the scope, and then lowering it.

Fortunately, this episode ended with some action but it took forever to get there.  There’s only two more episodes left in this season so hopefully, the show will pick up the pace a little.  Because, seriously, if season 7 ends with Rick announcing that it’s finally time to attack as he stares at the Sanctuary in the distance, I’m going to throw a fit.

 

 

Advertisements

A Movie A Day #71: Side Out (1990, directed by Peter Israelson)


Monroe (C. Thomas Howell) is a young lawyer who moves to California and gets a job working for his Uncle Max (Terry Kiser).  Max wants Monroe to concentrate on evicting beach bums.  Monroe wants to play beach volleyball.  Together, they solve crimes.  No, actually, Max orders Monroe to evict Zack (Peter Horton), a former volleyball champion who was once “king of the beach.”  Zack agrees to coach Monroe and his goofball friend, Wiley (Christopher Rydell) in a volleyball tournament.  But when Zack misses a match because he is having underlit, PG-13 sex with his ex-wife (Harley Jane Kozak), uncoached Monroe accidentally breaks Wiley’s arm.  Now, Zack has to step in as Monroe’s partner and reclaim his status as king of the beach!

When I was a kid, Side Out was a HBO perennial, which is not the same thing as being a good movie.  There have not been many movies made about beach volleyball and Side Out shows us why.  Beach volley ball is just not that exciting to watch, especially when the main competitors are two out of shape actors.  All the jump cuts and close-ups in the world can’t disguise the fact that neither actor looks like he could get the ball over the net, never mind playing for over ten minutes without getting out of breath.  In Side Out, beach volleyball teamwork comes down to a lot of yelling and whenever Monroe yells at either Wiley or Zack, he sounds just like the “Put him in a body bag, Johnny!” guy from The Karate Kid.

At least Kathy Ireland has a small role.  Also, in the role of Zack’s friend, keep an eye out for Duke himself, the great Tony Burton!

What are you doing here, Duke!?

RIP Bernie Wrightson, Master Of The Macabre


Trash Film Guru

This has been a rough week indeed for comics fans. Already reeling from the too-soon departures of underground legends Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson, just hours ago news broke of the death of Bernie Wrightson, whose lavishly creepy illustrations haunted the imaginations — and found their way into the nightmares — of generations of readers. Arguably (hell, maybe even inarguably) the premier horror artist of our times, the esteemed Mr. Wrightson was a pre-eminent innovator and consummate craftsman whose painstaking attention to even the smallest of details made all the difference in the world and elevated his work from being “merely” great to being both great and memorable. But don’t just take my word for it, feast your eyes on some of his grimly lush renderings and decide for yourself :

As you can clearly see, Wrightson (who for many years omitted the “e” at the end of…

View original post 628 more words

Film Review: Double Mommy (dir by Doug Campbell)


Lifetime followed Mommy’s Little Boy with the American premiere of Double Mommy.

Double Mommy is another Canadian-produced Lifetime film.  This one is a bit of a spiritual cousin to Double Daddy.  Like Double Daddy, Double Mommy starts with a high school party, ends with the arrival of two babies, and finds the time to include some homicide in between.  It’s also something of a class drama, with the rich being very evil and the middle class being very saintly and the lower class being pretty much nonexistent.

In Double Mommy, Jess (Morgan Obenreder, best known to readers of the site for playing Charisma Carpenter’s daughter in Bound) is pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl.  However, she’s not sure who the father is.  She wants the father to be Ryan (Griffin Freeman), her perfect boyfriend.  But she suspects that the father might be Brent (Mark Grossman), Ryan’s former best friend.  One night, while Ryan was away, Brent gave Jess a drink.  He said it was nonalcoholic and the can said “Cola.”  But the way the camera lingered on that can before Jess actually drank it, everyone watching the movie knew that it was drugged.  Jess has only vague memories of the rest of the night but she knows what happened.

A paternity test reveals that one twin was fathered by Ryan and the other by Brent!  At this point, I said, “So, which one is going to be the evil twin!?”

Well, the film never really got around to answering that question.  Instead, it focused on the attempts of Brent’s rich father (Bruce Boxleitner) to pay Jess and her family off.  It turns out that Jess is not the first girl that Brent has raped and his father has been covering up for him.  Jess is determined to expose Brent as a rapist.  Jess hangs banners at school.  She posts Brent’s picture on social media.

Let’s give Double Mommy credit where credit is due.  In the characters of Brent and his father, the film makes a point about how one generation enables the bad behavior of another and how misogyny can be passed down from father to son.  Furthermore, Jess never allows herself to simply be a victim.  She’s a fighter who never apologizes for standing up for herself and who, most importantly, never blames herself for the rape.  But, with all that in mind, Double Mommy would have been so much better (and certainly more empowering) if Jess had gone all Ms. 45 or I Spit On Your Grave on Brent’s ass.

I mean, it’s true that, as a result of Jess’s efforts, Brent loses a scholarship and gets booed at a soccer game.  That’s all good but Brent was such a loathsome character that he deserved much worse.  If there’s ever been a character in a Lifetime film who deserved to be locked in a cage and beaten until he confessed to his crimes, it was Brent.  After an hour of Brent smirking, bragging, and drugging, I was ready to see Jess pick up a gun and blow his head off while uttering a priceless one-liner.  Instead, Brent just got embarrassed and eventually ended up running around with a gun of his own.  What could have been an empowering little revenge flick turned into a typical Lifetime movie.

That said, the film was well-acted and nicely put together.  Mark Grossman turned Brent into a disturbingly familiar villain.  (We’ve all known a Brent.)  I just wish the film had gone a bit further in giving Jess her revenge.

 

Musical Sequence of the Day: “You Never Can Tell” from Pulp Fiction


With the passing of Chuck Berry, today’s musical sequence of the day is a bit of a no-brainer.  This scene, from 1994’s Pulp Fiction, is already one of my favorite dance scenes and, today, it takes on a special poignance.

It’s funny.  Whenever there’s a montage of classic dance scenes, we always get at least a few seconds of John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing at Jack Rabbits Slim.  In fact, I’ve seen this dance featured in so many montages that it’s easy to forget which song they were originally dancing to.  I’ve seen this scene scored with everything from Sinatra to punk to Britney Spears to EDM.  And, every time, it’s worked beautifully.

But really, “You Never Can Tell” is the perfect song for this scene.  Pulp Fiction is so many thing that I think people sometimes forget that, at heart, it’s truly a celebration of Americana.  Seeing John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing to Chuck Berry serves to remind us of this fact.