Playing Catch-Up: Crisscross, The Dust Factory, Gambit, In The Arms of a Killer, Overboard, Shy People


So, this year I am making a sincere effort to review every film that I see.  I know I say that every year but this time, I really mean it.

So, in an effort to catch up, here are four quick reviews of some of the movies that I watched over the past few weeks!

  • Crisscross
  • Released: 1992
  • Directed by Chris Menges
  • Starring David Arnott, Goldie Hawn, Arliss Howard, Keith Carradine, James Gammon, Steve Buscemi

An annoying kid named Chris Cross (David Arnott) tells us the story of his life.

In the year 1969, Chris and his mother, Tracy (Goldie Hawn), are living in Key West.  While the rest of the country is excitedly watching the first moon landing, Chris and Tracy are just trying to figure out how to survive day-to-day.  Tracy tries to keep her son from learning that she’s working as a stripper but, not surprisingly, he eventually finds out.  Chris comes across some drugs that are being smuggled into Florida and, wanting to help his mother, he decides to steal them and sell them himself.  Complicating matters is the fact that the members of the drug ring (one of whom is played by Steve Buscemi) don’t want the competition.  As well, Tracy is now dating Joe (Arliss Howard), who just happens to be an undercover cop.  And, finally, making things even more difficult is the fact that Chris just isn’t that smart.

There are actually a lot of good things to be said about Crisscross.  The film was directed by the renowned cinematographer, Chris Menges, so it looks great.  Both Arliss Howard and Goldie Hawn give sympathetic performances and Keith Carradine has a great cameo as Chris’s spaced out dad.  (Traumatized by his experiences in Vietnam, Chris’s Dad left his family and joined a commune.)  But, as a character, Chris is almost too stupid to be believed and his overwrought narration doesn’t do the story any good.  Directed and written with perhaps a less heavy hand, Crisscross could have been a really good movie but, as it is, it’s merely an interesting misfire.

  • The Dust Factory 
  • Released: 2004
  • Directed by Eric Small
  • Starring Armin Mueller-Stahl, Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Kelly, Kim Myers, George de la Pena, Michael Angarano, Peter Horton

Ryan (Ryan Kelly) is a teen who stopped speaking after his father died.  One day, Ryan falls off a bridge and promptly drowns.  However, he’s not quite dead yet!  Instead, he’s in The Dust Factory, which is apparently where you go when you’re on the verge of death.  It’s a very nice place to hang out while deciding whether you want to leap into the world of the dead or return to the land of the living.  Giving Ryan a tour of the Dust Factory is his grandfather (Armin Mueller-Stahl).  Suggesting that maybe Ryan should just stay in the Dust Factory forever is a girl named Melanie (Hayden Panettiere).  Showing up randomly and acting like a jerk is a character known as The Ringmaster (George De La Pena).  Will Ryan choose death or will he return with a new zest for living life?  And, even more importantly, will the fact that Ryan’s an unlikely hockey fan somehow play into the film’s climax?

The Dust Factory is the type of unabashedly sentimental and theologically confused film that just drives me crazy.  This is one of those films that so indulges every possible cliché that I was shocked to discover that it wasn’t based on some obscure YA tome.  I’m sure there’s some people who cry while watching this film but ultimately, it’s about as deep as Facebook meme.

  • Gambit
  • Released: 2012
  • Directed by Michael Hoffman
  • Starring Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courtenay, Stanley Tucci, Cloris Leachman, Togo Igawa

Harry Deane (Colin Firth) is beleaguered art collector who, for the sake of petty revenge (which, as we all know, is the best type of revenge), tries to trick the snobbish Lord Shabandar (Alan Rickman) into spending a lot of money on a fake Monet.  To do this, he will have to team up with both an eccentric art forger (Tom Courtenay) and a Texas rodeo star named PJ Puznowksi (Cameron Diaz).  The plan is to claim that PJ inherited the fake Monet from her grandfather who received the painting from Hermann Goering at the end of the World War II and…

Well, listen, let’s stop talking about the plot.  This is one of those elaborate heist films where everyone has a silly name and an elaborate back story.  It’s also one of those films where everything is overly complicated but not particularly clever.  The script was written by the Coen Brothers and, if they had directed it, they would have at least brought some visual flair to the proceedings.  Instead, the film was directed by Michael Hoffman and, for the most part, it falls flat.  The film is watchable because of the cast but ultimately, it’s not surprising that Gambit never received a theatrical release in the States.

On a personal note, I saw Gambit while Jeff & I were in London last month.  So, I’ll always have good memories of watching the movie.  So I guess the best way to watch Gambit is when you’re on vacation.

  • In The Arms of a Killer
  • Released: 1992
  • Directed by Robert L. Collins
  • Starring Jaclyn Smith, John Spencer, Nina Foch, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Sandahl Bergman, Linda Dona, Kristoffer Tabori, Michael Nouri

This is the story of two homicide detectives.  Detective Vincent Cusack (John Spencer) is tough and cynical and world-weary.  Detective Maria Quinn (Jaclyn Smith) is dedicated and still naive about how messy a murder investigation can be when it involves a bunch of Manhattan socialites.  A reputed drug dealer is found dead during a party.  Apparently, someone intentionally gave him an overdose of heroin.  Detective Cusack thinks that the culprit was Dr. Brian Venible (Michael Nouri).  Detective Quinn thinks that there has to be some other solution.  Complicating things is that Quinn and Venible are … you guessed it … lovers!  Is Quinn truly allowing herself to be held in the arms of a killer or is the murderer someone else?

This sound like it should have been a fun movie but instead, it’s all a bit dull.  Nouri and Smith have next to no chemistry so you never really care whether the doctor is the killer or not.  John Spencer was one of those actors who was pretty much born to play world-weary detectives but, other than his performance, this is pretty forgettable movie.

  • Overboard
  • Released: 1987
  • Directed by Garry Marshall
  • Starring Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Edward Herrmann, Katherine Helmond, Roddy McDowall, Michael G. Hagerty, Brian Price, Jared Rushton, Hector Elizondo

When a spoiled heiress named Joanne Slayton (Goldie Hawn) falls off of her luxury yacht, no one seems to care.  Even when her husband, Grant (Edward Herrmann), discovers that Joanne was rescued by a garbage boat and that she now has amnesia, he denies knowing who she is.  Instead, he takes off with the boat and proceeds to have a good time.  The servants (led by Roddy McDowall) who Joanne spent years terrorizing are happy to be away from her.  In fact, the only person who does care about Joanne is Dean Proffitt (Kurt Russell).  When Dean sees a news report about a woman suffering from amnesia, he heads over to the hospital and declares that Joanne is his wife, Annie.

Convinced that she is Annie, Joanne returns with Dean to his messy house and his four, unruly sons.  At first, Dean says that his plan is merely to have Joanne work off some money that she owes him.  (Before getting amnesia, Joanne refused to pay Dean for some work he did on her boat.)  But soon, Joanne bonds with Dean’s children and she and Dean start to fall in love.  However, as both Grant and Dean are about to learn, neither parties nor deception can go on forever…

This is one of those films that’s pretty much saved by movie star charisma.  The plot itself is extremely problematic and just about everything that Kurt Russell does in this movie would land him in prison in real life.  However, Russell and Goldie Hawn are such a likable couple that the film come close to overcoming its rather creepy premise.  Both Russell and Hawn radiate so much charm in this movie that they can make even the stalest of jokes tolerable and it’s always enjoyable to watch Roddy McDowall get snarky.  File this one under “Kurt Russell Can Get Away With Almost Anything.”

A remake of Overboard, with the genders swapped, is set to be released in early May.

  • Shy People
  • Released: 1987
  • Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky
  • Starring Jill Clayburgh, Barbara Hershey, Martha Plimpton, Merritt Butrick, John Philbin, Don Swayze, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Mare Winningham

Diana Sullivan (Jill Clayburgh) is a writer for Cosmopolitan and she’s got a problem!  It turns out that her teenager daughter, Grace (Martha Plimpton), is skipping school and snorting cocaine!  OH MY GOD!  (And, to think, I thought I was a rebel just because I used to skip Algebra so I could go down to Target and shoplift eyeliner!)  Diana knows that she has to do something but what!?

Diana’s solution is to get Grace out of New York.  It turns out that Diana has got some distant relatives living in Louisiana bayou.  After Cosmo commissions her to write a story about them, Diana grabs Grace and the head down south!

(Because if there’s anything that the readers of Cosmo are going to be interested in, it’s white trash bayou dwellers…)

The only problem is that Ruth (Barbara Hershey) doesn’t want to be interviewed and she’s not particularly happy when Diana and Grace show up.  Ruth and her four sons live in the bayous.  Three of the sons do whatever Ruth tells them to do.  The fourth son is often disobedient so he’s been locked up in a barn.  Diana, of course, cannot understand why her relatives aren’t impressed whenever she mentions that she writes for Cosmo.  Meanwhile, Grace introduces her cousins to cocaine, which causes them to go crazy.  “She’s got some strange white powder!” one of them declares.

So, this is a weird film.  On the one hand, you have an immensely talented actress like Jill Clayburgh giving one of the worst performances in cinematic history.  (In Clayburgh’s defense, Diana is such a poorly written character that I doubt any actress could have made her in any way believable.)  On the other hand, you have Barbara Hershey giving one of the best.  As played by Hershey, Ruth is a character who viewers will both fear and admire.  Ruth has both the inner strength to survive in the bayou and the type of unsentimental personality that lets you know that you don’t want to cross her.  I think we’re supposed to feel that both Diana and Ruth have much to learn from each other but Diana is such an annoying character that you spend most of the movie wishing she would just go away and leave Ruth alone.  In the thankless role of Grace, Martha Plimpton brings more depth to the role than was probably present in the script and Don Swayze has a few memorable moments as one of Ruth’s sons.  Shy People is full of flaws and never really works as a drama but I’d still recommend watching it for Hershey and Plimpton.

A Movie A Day #91: Ruby (1992, directed by John Mackenzie)


Of all the stars to come out of Twin Peaks, Sherilyn Fenn’s star briefly shined the brightest and sadly, she was the most misused by Hollywood.  While it is true that Fenn has worked regularly since Twin Peaks went off the air, she has rarely gotten the great roles that someone with her talent deserves.  Instead, her performances have far too often been the best thing about an otherwise mediocre film.

For example, Ruby.

In this very speculative biopic about the strip club owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald and whose organized crime background has put him at the center of a thousand conspiracy theories, Danny Aiello plays Jack Ruby and Sherilyn Fenn plays his only friend, Sheryl Ann Dujean (or, when she’s stripping in the Carousel Club, Candy Cane).  The film portrays Jack Ruby as being a low-level mobster who is never as valuable or as important to his superiors as he thinks he is.  In this movie, Ruby is always on the outside looking in on the conspiracy and, when he kills Oswald, it is because he wants to prove that he is more than just a small time hood.  Candy, who was a composite of several Carousel Club dancers, maintains a strong platonic friendship with Jack and is always there for him to talk to, except for when she goes to Vegas to perform for and sleep with the President.

Ruby came out as the same time as JFK and it often seems like a fanfic based on Stone’s film.  Low budget and overwritten, Ruby never works as a movie but Danny Aiello is perfectly cast as the bombastic but insecure Jack Ruby.  Unfortunately, Ruby‘s screenplay often does not seem to know what it wants to say about its main character.  As Candy, Fenn is not given nearly enough to do but she still manages to show the same natural spark that made her a star on Twin Peaks.

Sherilyn Fenn is not the only Twin Peaks cast member to have a role in Ruby.  Keep an eye out for a post-Twin Peaks, pre-X-Files David Duchovny, playing the role of J.D. Tippit.

Review: True Blood 6.6 “Don’t You Feel Me”


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Before I review tonight’s episode of True Blood, I have to apologize for not reviewing last week’s episode.  For the past six months, I have been basically working, writing, and dancing nonstop and last week, it finally caught up with me and I nearly collapsed from exhaustion.  I’m still in the process of recovering but hopefully, I’ll be more active this week than last week.

Going into tonight’s episode, I knew that there had been a lot of speculation online about the possibility of one or more major characters dying.  A lot of people though that it might be Lafayette, especially since he was in the process of trying to drown Sookie when last week’s episode ended.  Some people thought Alcide would kill Sam and still others insisted on breaking my heart by speculating that Eric might experience the true death.

Instead, it turned out to be Terry.  That’s right.  After spending all of last season dealing with that stupid Iraqi fire demon and then spending most of this season feeling guilty for having murdered his friend Patrick, Terry appeared to have finally found some peace tonight.  Arlene and Holly recruited a vampire to erase Terry’s memory (which is really what they should have done in the first place) and Terry was cheerfully taking out the trash when his friends kept their promise to him and shot him in the neck.  Arlene rushed outside and held Terry as he died, no longer aware of why he had asked to be killed in the first place.

To a certain extent, Terry’s death was not that surprising.  If there was any major character that True Blood could afford to lose, it was Terry.  And, hopefully, his death will mean we won’t ever have to hear about that Iraqi fire demon ever again.  However, even if it wasn’t totally unexpected, it was still a perfect example of how True Blood, at its best, can so gracefully walk across the thin line between heartfelt melodrama and over-the-top satire.  We all knew that Terry was doomed as soon as he told Arlene that he had never been happier but the scene worked because both Todd Lowe and Carrie Preston gave such heartfelt performances in the roles of Terry and Arlene.  Even if there was little left for the show to do with Terry as a character, I will still miss Todd Lowe’s likable presence.

However, Terry was not the only character to meet an abrupt end tonight.  After putting himself into a coma and having a typically cryptic meeting with Lilith, Bill drank a vial of Warlow’s blood.  Now even more powerful than before, Bill confronted Governor Burrell and demanded to know why he had been having visions of all of the vampires being burned to death in a white room.  When Burrell didn’t answer quickly enough, Bill responded by ripping the Governor’s head off of his body.  And while Burrell certainly deserved the punishment, I doubt that’s going to do much to help human/vampire relations.

Governor Burrell was played by Arliss Howard and, in just six episodes, Howard had transformed Burrell from simply being a standard evil politician to being one of the best villains in the history of True Blood.  While I knew that Burrell was too evil to eventually not suffer some sort of violent death, I was surprised that it occurred at the mid-point of this season as opposed to the end of it.  I have a feeling that Sarah Newlin will take his place as the main human villain and I’m sure that Anna Camp is more than up to the job but I’m still going to miss Arliss Howard’s brand of evil.

Meanwhile, Sookie continues to consistently make the worst choices in men.  After Warlow saved Sookie from being drowned by the possessed Lafayette, Sookie took Warlow to a fairy dimension where, after she tied him up to keep him from losing control, she proceeded to let him feed on her and then did the same to him.  As they made love, their respective lights glowed together and it would have been a beautiful image if not for the fact that we know that the only Sookie gave herself over to Warlow was because Bill’s found religion, Eric’s prison, and Alcide’s off searching for Sam.

As for Eric, after he and Pam refuses to fight to death gladiator-style, Gov. Burrell forced him to watch as Nora was injected with some sort of vampire virus known as Hep V.  Then, like a typical short-sighted villain, Burrell left before Nora actually died.  While Burrell was busy having his head ripped off, Eric was summoning Willa and getting her to free both him and Nora.  Disguised as a guard, Eric discovered that the all of the new Tru Blood is being spiked with Hep V.

Jessica is also in the prison.  Sarah Newlin attempted to force her to have sex with a new vampires named James.  I don’t know if we’ll ever see James again but I hope that we do because, seriously, he’s really hot and, as opposed to every other male character on this show, he actually seems to respect women.

Meanwhile, Jason has infiltrated the LAVPD.  I just loved Ryan Kwanten’s performance tonight as he attempted to out-fascist the fascists.

Finally, Sam and Nicole … wow.  Just typing the words “Sam and Nicole” makes me want to close my eyes and go to sleep.  Seriously, I love Sam and all but he doesn’t need to be running around with a new girlfriend when Luna hasn’t even been dead for more than a week.  Anyway, Sam ended up giving Emma back to Martha and Alcide allowed Sam and Nicole to leave town but told them that if they ever returned, they would be killed by the pack.

Tonight’s episode pretty much epitomized everything that I love about True Blood.  It was over-the-top and melodramatic but, if you weren’t touched by Arlene singing as Terry died, then you just don’t have a heart.  That was True Blood at its best.

Finally, the Emmy nominations were announced last Thursday and, not surprisingly, both the Walking Dead and True Blood were pretty much ignored.  (Instead, space was made to honor the predictable political blathering of House of Cards because I guess the Emmy voters love to feel smart without actually being challenged.)  The lack of respect for televised horror ultimately say nothing about the quality of shows like True Blood and everything about the lack of guts on the part of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

What’s important is that we, the viewers, know what the best shows on television truly are.

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 42
  • Before I watched True Blood, I had to sit through a  commercial for the Newsroom.  I was just like, “Oh yay!  A chance to relive Occupy Wall Street!”  BLEH!
  • Can Lafayette ever go for two episodes without getting possessed?
  • I want to do bad thing with you, Eric.
  • I love that Jason responds to his name by saying, “The one and only.”
  • That was a sweet scene between Andy and his last remaining faerie daughter.  I would have named her Bernadette, after the patron saint of asthma sufferers.  (I’ve been praying to Bernadette a lot this past week…)
  • Arliss Howard made a wonderfully hissable villain.
  • “I just think we have the type of friendship where we  can give each other keys!”
  • “I love you, brother.”  “I love you, sister.” *Sob*

Review: True Blood 6.4 “At Last”


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(BEWARE!  SPOILERS!)

I knew it!

Seriously, I suspected the truth from the minute that Ben (Ryan Kazinsky) conveniently first showed up.  And it was even more obvious when Niall (Rutger Hauer) just happened to find Ben hanging out in that field.

Even before I saw Ben open up his veins and allow his blood to drip into Jason’s open mouth at the beginning of tonight’s episode, I knew that Ben was Warlow.

Fortunately, for once, Sookie (Anna Paquin) figured things out ahead of time as well.  After inviting Ben to her house for dinner, Sookie ended up in her underwear, straddling Warlow on the couch, and holding a ball of deadly faerie light in her hand.

Of course, before all this happened, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) ended up drinking Warlow’s blood and then started having a dream where he helped Warlow shave. (Jason’s panicked reaction — and the way Kwanten played that panic — was a definite highlight of tonight’s episode.)

Niall (Rutger Hauer) also attempted to kill Warlow but, for all of his trouble, he ended up getting tossed into another dimension.  Hopefully, this won’t be the end of Niall because Rutger Hauer’s permanently disheveled appearance has been a highlight of the season so far.

As I said, I’m not surprised that Ben turned out to be Warlow.  His sudden appearance at Bon Temps was just too convenient.  I am, however, happy that Sookie figured everything out on her own for once.

While the revelation of Ben’s true identity was the main thing that happened last night, it was hardly the only thing.  It wouldn’t be True Blood if there weren’t a hundred little subplots running through every episode.

First off, in the storyline that I really don’t care about, Alcide and the werewolves continued to search for Emma while Sam and Nicole continued to bond.  I’m not a huge fan of Nicole’s self-righteous character, nor am I that happy about the idea of Sam getting a new love interest when it’s only been a few days since Luna died.  I also don’t care much for the one-dimensional way that Alcide’s been portrayed this season.

Far more interesting was what went on between Eric and Willa Burrell tonight.  Having escaped from the governor’s storm troopers, Willa asked Eric to turn her into a vampire.  Eric proceeded to do just that in a scene that proves — as if there was any doubt — that nobody makes blood sucking as sexy as Alexander Skarsgard.  If season 5 underused Eric, season 6 is definitely making up for it!

Once Willa was transformed into a vampire, Eric ordered her to go to her father and show him what she had become.  This angered the previously virginal Willa who, now that she had been transformed into a vampire, had discovered the joys of being decadent.  However, Eric pulled the “as your maker, I order you” card and Willa went to confront her father.

When Willa arrived at the governor’s mansion, she discovered Gov. Burrell (Arliss Howard) with his lover, Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp).  The governor was shocked by what had been done to his daughter and, for a few brief moments, it was obvious that the usually smooth Burrell had no idea what to do.  However, Sarah handled Burrell’s hesitation by grabbing a gun and shooting Willa with a silver bullet.

Meanwhile, Bill (Stephen Moyer) has kidnapped Dr. Takahashi, imprisoned him in a laboratory and ordered him to synthesize a new form of blood.  Bill sent Jessica (Deboran Ann Woll) to kidnap Andy’s (Chris Bauer) four faerie daughters.  Andy’s daughters, of course, are aging at the rate of several years a day and, by the time Jessica tracked them down, they had magically transformed from being a group of mildly bratty 12 year-old to a bunch of wild teenagers.

(While I’ve been critical of this storyline in the past, tonight’s episode made perfect use of the faerie girls, as both a plot device and as a symbol of the parental fear of waking up to discover that your children have become strangers.  Add to that, there are four wild faerie girls and there are four Bowman sisters.  A coincidence, you say?  Well … yeah, probably…)

However, after getting the faeries to the mansion, Jessica lost control and ended up attacking all four of them.  As tonight’s episode  came to an end, Jessica and Bill were in the mansion, surrounded by four apparently dead faeries.  Meanwhile, Andy — having figured out where his daughters were taken — was outside, holding a silver-loaded shotgun and demanding that Bill come outside.

And that’s how things ended tonight.  Between Eric being all sexy and dangerous, Sookie seducing Warlow, and Jason acting like Jason, it was a pretty good episode.

But, seriously, here’s hoping that Rutger Hauer isn’t gone for good…

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Scene Count: 52
  • For those keeping count, the latest two vampires to be captured and arrested for breaking curfew are Nora and Pam.
  • Gerald Webb, one of my favorite actors and a veteran of several Asylum and SyFy films, had a small role in tonight’s episode!
  • Rutger Hauer kicks so much ass.  He needs a show next fall where he solves crimes.
  • I loved how hyper Jason was after he first woke up.
  • I related to Andy’s faerie daughters tonight.  Waking up and discovering that you apparently developed big boobs overnight?  I know what that’s like.
  • Sam made a regal horse, didn’t he?
  • “We might be thirty by the time we wake up!”
  • “Is it going to hurt?”  “Not the way I do it.”
  • “What happens next?  Are we going to fuck!?”

Review: True Blood 6.3 “You’re No Good”


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I just finished watching the latest episode of True Blood and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, Bill’s acting evil again and I hate it when Bill acts evil.

On the other hand, Eric is being all dangerous and sexy and you know how much I love that.

So, as often happens when it comes to True Blood, I’m conflicted.

After spending most of the previous episode in a catatonic state, Bill spent most of this latest episode acting like a jerk.  First off, he decided to test his new powers by standing outside while the sun rose and ignoring Jessica as she pleaded with him to come back inside.  At first, it looked like Bill might actually be onto something but then the sun actually rose, Bill burst into flames, and barely managed to make it back inside the mansion.

Once Bill had healed, he sent Jessica to kidnap one of the men who first created true blood so that Bill could force the man to synthesize a new type of blood.  Not surprisingly, this involved Jessica dressing up all trampy (though I have to say that I own that same outfit and I’m thinking about being Jessica for Halloween this year, again) and flirting with the man until they were alone and she could grab him.

Bill’s plan also involved finding the perfect donor for this new blood and, as always, this led to him showing up at Sookie’s.  Even though Sookie refused to invite him in, Bill was able to enter her house and cause Jason to float in the air while he talked to Sookie.  Only after Sookie emphatically refused to be his donor did Bill leave the house.

However, Sookie isn’t the only faerie around.  As Bill walks back to his home, he runs into dumbass Andy.  While Andy explains to Bill that the governor’s curfew is in effect, he lets slip that he now has four half-faerie daughters.  A small smile comes to Bill’s lip as he congratulates Andy on his luck.

See what I mean?  Bill is acting totally evil!

Meanwhile, Eric has gained entry to the bedroom of Willa, the Governor’s daughter.  Despite initially saying that he’s going to kill her, Eric instead kidnaps her and, with the reluctant help of Pam and Tara, holds her prisoner.  Willa (who actually looks a lot like Eric’s “sister,” Nora) doesn’t really seem to mind the idea of being Eric’s prisoner and you know what?  I don’t blame her!  Seriously, for those of us who love True Blood when Eric is being all sexy and dangerous, tonight’s episode was for us!

Along with all of that, we also had Niall (played, perfectly, by Rutger Hauer) attempting to recruit a faerie army so that he could defeat Warlow.  However, it turned out that Warlow had already found most of the faeries before Niall did.  The only faerie that Niall was able to find and recruit was Ben, who — with Bill crazy and Eric kidnapping — appears to be destined to become Sookie’s love interest for the season.

Speaking of love interests, Nicole and those annoying activists showed up in tonight’s episode but the majority of them ended up getting killed by the werewolves.  A wounded Nicole was last spotted (by Sam, who was there to rescue Emma) stumbling into the woods.  Saying that Nicole needed their help, Sam followed after her.  As I said last week, I think Sam could do better.

And finally — Rev. Newlin’s back!  In case you were wondering what happened to everyone’s favorite spokesvamp, he’s currently being held prisoner and interrogated about Eric by the creepiest government doctor that I’ve ever seen.

As I said, I had mixed feelings about tonight’s episode.  On the one hand, I could tell that it was obviously laying the groundwork for something pretty spectacular.  On the other hand, Bill’s evil and I don’t want that.

So, as of this writing, I’m conflicted but hopefully, things will be a bit more clear after next week.

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Unofficial scene count: 58
  • Alexander Skarsgard is so freaking hot.  I know I point that out a lot but seriously…
  • Whenever I watch True Blood, I’m reminded of how happy I am that I don’t cry bloody tears.
  • Did anybody else instantly hate Nicole’s boyfriend?
  • Unlike Jessica, I was actually surprised when Bill burst into flames.
  • As far as fan service goes, I got Eric seducing the governor’s daughter and Arleigh got Jessica’s entrance at the lecture.
  • “The girl is sleeping with me because I don’t trust you not to kill her!”
  • “Fuckin’ science!”
  • “Do they have names?” “Right now, I’m just using numbers.  It seems to work.”
  • “You’re not God, Bill.  You’re just an asshole!”

Review: True Blood 6.2 “The Sun” (dir by Daniel Attias)


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After last week’s anemic season premiere, I have to admit that I was a bit worried about the direction of season 6 of True Blood.  I watched that episode and I thought to myself, “I don’t want to have to spend an entire season with Bill acting weird, Eric not having sex with Sookie, and Jason chasing around Rutger Hauer.”

What a difference a week can make!

Tonight’s episode was a return to form for True Blood.  Tonight’s episode reminded me of what made me fall in love with this show in the first place.  In short, tonight’s episode was True Blood the way I wanted it to be.

It helps that this episode featured a lot of Eric acting like Eric.  But I’ll get to that in a minute.

First off, tonight’s biggest revelation was that, despite what he said last week, Rutger Hauer is not Warlow.  Instead, he’s Sookie and Jason’s faerie grandfather and he’s specifically come to help Sookie defeat Warlow.

And I have to say that this is brilliant casting.  We, as viewers, have been so conditioned to automatically view Rutger Hauer as a villain that it’s actually surprisingly refreshing to see him playing a good guy and Hauer seems to be having a lot of fun with the role.

Anyway, Grandpa explains to Sookie and Jason that Warlow is obsessed with the Stackhouse family, specifically because the Stackhouses are actual royalty (making Sookie into a literal faerie princess).  However, Grandpa explains, Sookie can defeat Warlow by harnessing all of her light and literally going supernova.  The only side effect is that Sookie can only do this once and she’ll no longer be a faerie after doing so.  Sookie, who spent most of last season trying to deplete all of her power, immediately starts practicing harnessing her light.

And that’s probably a good idea because Warlow is already in Bon Temps.

Speaking of Sookie, before she meets her grandfather, she meets another faerie.  This one is named Ben (Rob Kazinsky) and when Sookie comes across him, he’s lying on the ground after being attacked by vampires.  Sookie nurses him back to health and it becomes obvious that the two of them are attracted to each other.  I have to admit that I groaned a little when Ben showed up.  It’s not that Rob Kazinsky isn’t cute, because he is.  And it’s not that he and Anna Paquin don’t have a lot of chemistry because they do.  However, Ben is not Eric.  For that matter, he’s not even Bill.

Speaking of Bill, he began tonight by going into a catatonic state and he remained that way for most of the episode, despite the best efforts of Jessica to wake him up.  At one point, Jessica even brought in a hilariously trashy prostitute named Veronica so that Bill could feed.  Even in his catatonic state, Bill still ended up graphically drawing out every drop of blood from her body.

While catatonic, Bill has a vision where he stands in the middle of sun-drenched field and talks to Lillith.  Lillith explains that Bill’s purpose is to save all the vampires from destruction.  The scenes between Bill and Lillith were perfectly filmed and acted, with an obvious emphasis being put on the fact that the bright sun was effecting Bill and Lillith not at all.  When Bill finally does wake up, he tells Jessica that he can now see the future.

And what is that future?

Every vampire in Bon Temps being herded into a stark, white room where, once the roof opens up, they are all burned to death by the sun.

Meanwhile, Eric has also taken it upon himself to try to prevent the future that Bill has seen.  Eric sneaks into the Governor’s mansion, confronts the governor, and attempts to hypnotize him.  The Governor (and have I mentioned how much I love Arliss Howard’s villainous performance) responds by laughing.  It turns out that the Governor is wearing special contact lenses that make it impossible for him to be hypnotized.

After managing to escape the Governor’s armed guards, Eric tracks down the Governor’s daughter, Wilma.  In a nicely gothic touch, Wilma looks out her bedroom window and sees Eric floating outside her window.  Eric asks for permission to enter and she gives it.

And seriously, who wouldn’t?

I got so caught up with the vampires tonight that I nearly forgot that some pretty important things happened to Sam as well.  I always feel bad for Sam because he literally cannot catch a break and tonight was not any different.  First off, he found himself being harassed by Nicole, a political activist from L.A. who wants Sam to come out publicly as a shape shifter.  (I have to admit that I have a sinking feeling that, with Luna dead, Nicole is going to become Sam’s new love interest.  I’m not looking forward to this development because Nicole is kind of self-righteous and annoying.)  Then, Sam ended up getting beaten up by Alcide, who has taken it upon himself to make sure that Emma is raised among the werewolves.

Seriously — bad Alcide!

I loved tonight’s episode.  If last week’s premiere felt like True Blood fan fiction, The Sun felt like true True Blood.  Hopefully, the rest of Season 6 will follow its example.

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Unofficial Scene Count: 53
  • That precredits sequence with Warlow appearing on the bridge was pretty effective, I thought.
  • Rutger Hauer deserves an Emmy for his delivery of the line “I am your fucking faerie grandfather.”
  • Alexander Skargard is so hot and sexy!  Oh.  My.  God.
  • The sudden appearance of Patrick’s wife reminded me of how much I disliked last season’s Iraqi smoke monster subplot.
  • I’m sure that the writers of True Blood meant for the Governor to come across as some sort of right-wing boogeyman but, to be honest, he reminds me more of our current President.
  • I love the way Jason got so excited when he said, “That makes me a faerie prince!”
  • It’s interesting to note that both True Blood and the Walking Dead feature a villain called “The Governor.”
  • “They attacked the Chuck E. Cheese yesterday.”
  • “You’re not going to read me my rights?” “You don’t have no rights, vampire.” “Well, that’s not nice.”
  • The performers on True Blood never get enough credit.  Tonight’s standout was Deborah Ann Woll.  Jessica’s episode ending prayer is definitely the highlight of the season so far.

Review: True Blood Ep. 6.1 (“Who Are You, Really?”)


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True Blood (or, as my aunt calls it, the show with all the naked people) is back!  Last night saw the premiere of the first episode of the sixth season of the venerable HBO series.  That also means that, for the next ten weeks, we’ll be reviewing each episode here at the Shattered Lens.

Last night’s episode started right where last season left off.  Bill drank the rest of Lillith’s blood, was reborn as some sort of blood-covered demon, and then proceeded to go on a rampage through the Authority HQ.  While all the characters that we care about — Sookie (Anna Paquin), Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), Jason (Ryan Kwanten), Pam (Kristen Bauer Von Straten), Tara (Rutina Wesley), Nora (Lucy Griffiths), Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), Sam (Sam Trammell), Luna (Janina Gavanker), and Emma (Chloe Noelle) — manage to get out safely, it appears that crazed Bill kills everyone else in the building and then, for good measure, blows it up.

Soon after escaping, Luna asks Sam to take care of Emma and then dies of her wounds.  Luna’s death was a genuinely surprising moment, though I do have to admit that I wish Sam could at least have an episode or two where something either weird or terrible didn’t happen to him.  Sam takes Emma back to his bar where they run into Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Sam watches a TV news report on how Louisiana’s governor (the wonderfully sleazy Arliss Howard) is declaring martial law on all vampires until the True Blood shortage is taken care of.

(At this point, I realized that I couldn’t remember whether or not Lafayette still has that demon inside of him.  Was that resolved last season?)

Meanwhile, Andy (Chris Bauer) is a still a dumbass but he’s now also a father of a bunch of faery kids who are aging very fast.  I have to admit that I’m not really that interested in Andy’s subplot, though I’m sure that the vampires of Bon Temps will be very interested in having all that new faery blood to choose from.

Alcide, meanwhile, is now pack leader, which means that he gets to eat his enemies and have sex with anyone he wants to, as long as he remembers that Rikki (Kelly Overton) is his “number one bitch.”  I’ve read comments from a few reviewers who have complained that Alcide’s scenes felt gratuitous.  Over on the A.V. Club, they complained that the only reason Alcide was in last night’s episode was so we could see Joe Manganiello naked.  To those reviewers, I say, “Shut up!”  Seriously, it’s not True Blood without Naked Alcide.

And trust me, we needed some Naked Alcide last night because the main storyline was kind of depressing.

After Eric, Nora, Sookie, Tara, and Pam all agreed that they would kill Bill if they had to, Jessica found herself being summoned to Bill’s mansion.  It was there that they discovered Bill, looking very normal.  After Bill explained that he was still Bill Compton but that he was also something much more, Eric attempted to attack him.  Bill easily defended himself, just to then be staked from behind by Sookie.

And how did Bill respond?

By removing the stake from his chest.

So, apparently, Bill is now a demigod of some sort.

After Bill ordered everyone but Jessica to leave, Sookie and Eric returned to her home.  After Eric signed the house back over to her, Sookie then took away his invitation and forced Eric to leave.

Meanwhile, Jason — who had earlier run off on his own after escaping the destruction of the Authority HQ — was picked up by a passing motorist.  Now, as soon as I saw that motorist, I knew he was going to be trouble because he was played by Rutger Hauer.  And sure enough, it turns out that Hauer is playing Warlow, the same vampire who previously killed Jason and Sookie’s parents.  Before vanishing, Warlow says that “nothing will keep me from getting Sookie.”

So, to summarize:

Sookie is trying, once again, to live a life free of vampire drama, Eric is thinking about abandoning Bon Temps all together, Bill is acting strange, Jessica is being used as a pawn, and Alcide’s naked.

The more things change, the more thing’s stay the same, right?

Overall, I had mixed feelings about last night’s episode.  After the excitement of last season’s finale, it’s hard not to be disappointed that tonight’s episode didn’t offer up much of a resolution.  In many ways, it felt more like an episode that you would expect to find in the middle of a 24-episode run, as opposed to the start of a 10-episode season.

That said, this episode did feature Alcide naked so who am I to complain?

Random Observations:

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 45
  • Last night’s episode was directed by Bill Compton himself, Stephen Moyer.
  • “I’m your number one bitch,” is something that I often say, as well.
  • Where’s Rev. Newlin?
  • With the death of Luna and the “possession” of Bill, last night’s episode was unusually somber.  I hope that’s not going to be the way the rest of this season is going to play out.  True Blood is always at its best when mixing comedy with melodrama.
  • This is the first season without Alan Ball as showrunner (though he’s still an executive producer on the show).  It’s tempting to say that Ball’s absence is why last night’s episode felt somewhat off but, of course, it’s still to early to say one way or the other.
  • Because of Anna Paquin’s pregnancy, this season is only going to last 10 episodes.
  • And I’m looking forward to reviewing all ten of them!