Monday, March 26, 2012

Never Let Me Go

This is a story based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same name. He is also the author of The Remains of the Day, a story which I love in both book and movie form. I love slowly paced movies with little dialogue (see Spider with Ralph Fiennes) and I'm in a somber mood and have enjoyed dark stories as of late, so the stars were aligned for me to love this story.

Too bad I hated it.

It's set in an alternate past in England where people are bred to be organ donors to the point of donating until they die. The main characters are Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightly). They all attended the same boarding school for donors and the audience is supposed to believe they're friends/become friends. I suppose one could call their relationships with one another friendships, but yikes. Kathy is a sweet and sensitive girl who befriends raging Tommy. Kathy likes Tommy, but Ruth, her best friend, makes him her boyfriend and Tommy just goes along with it for SEVERAL YEARS.

They have to leave the boarding house when they're 18 and wait for their turn to start donating. (Kill me. Writing about this is just as boring as watching it.) They move into a house with other graduates and hang out. And are all weird and intense sometimes and go on walks and Ruth and Tommy have sex and Kathy keeps to herself and lets Ruth be a bitch to her until Kathy decides to apply as caretaker (don't ask) right around the time Ruth and Tommy break up.

They separate for about 10 years and Kathy comes across Ruth who's on her deathbed and who apologizes. They go find Tommy and Ruth dies during her second donation. Kathy and Tommy have a go at it for a short time since he's already donated twice and will probably die with the third. He does. Then Kathy gets notice that she's going to have to start donating soon.

This whole, boring movie is a set up to get to a point that Kathy makes at the very end: Nobody figures it out (life) and fucks up a lot trying to do so and not do so and it doesn't matter if you're a sheltered donor who is killed in your twenties or you live until your nineties.

It's a comforting message, but I didn't need over an hour and a half of not much to get to it.

This story needed either more back story about the situation or more interactions between the characters. I just had a hard time accepting the complacency of the donors. They wear electronic monitoring bracelets, but damn, make a run for it. Even if it was impossible to get away, I would have a good time until my donation notice and then figure out a way to kill myself that wouldn't allow for my parts to be harvested. A big ole "fuck all y'all" to the powers that be.

It didn't help that I kept thinking about Minority Report and kept saying, out loud, "That's the new Spiderman? Really?"

I don't recommend this movie, but I still highly recommend The Remains of the Day, in both mediums. I probably should've read the book first. Live and learn.

Martinez-Macklin 03-17-12

Middleweight Fight for (eye roll) WBC Diamond Middleweight Title

While I wish Martinez were fighting a higher caliber fighter, Macklin is eager and aggressive. Most boxers spend the first round slowly feeling out their opponent. These two are actively trading punches.

So far, halfway into the second round, they seem about equal, with Martinez having an edge by being a little less hesitant. And Martinez gets Macklin with a left, similar to the left that knocked out Williams. Macklin is shaken. Martinez gets two good punches in the second. Macklin still trying to move forward.

Martinez is more focused and it shows in the accuracy of his punches. I just wish he were more serious. Macklin throws a great combo in the fourth. Martinez does not look like the 10-1 favorite. And he gets in a hard left as I wrote that last sentence. Macklin answers with a hard right later on in the fourth.

Macklin gets in several great rights in the fifth, but Martinez goes in hard at the end of the round and the boxers trade punches. Macklin definitely won that round. Either Martinez is reining it in so as to entice the cowardly Mayweather or Macklin is benefitting from the power of St. Patrick’s Day.  Whatever. It’s better than watching a one-sided fight.

Macklin hits Martinez with a right. Martinez’s stumbles and his right glove touches the ground. It’s ruled a knockdown. That’s legit. The middleweights are starting to slow down in the seventh round. Martinez fights hard at the end of the round.

Martinez showing why he’s the favorite a little more in the eighth. Macklin isn’t just taking it, though. Martinez is hitting HARD.  Damn Irish chin! You gotta give it up to the Irish. They can take a punch, literally and figuratively.

I’m surprised by the lack of combinations. Even counterpunchers throw combos. Macklin has a disturbing blank look on his face, but his body is still reacting. Martinez makes the Irishman wobble, but can’t drop him.

The fighters are going at it. Macklin looks spent and like he’s going on with sheer force of will. Martinez has great head movement. Macklin isn’t moving side to side enough. Martinez finally knocks (back and then) down Macklin with a perfect straight left to the chin. Standing eight count for Macklin. Martinez knocks him down with another left, this time to the jaw, at the bell. Another standing eight. Macklin’s corner throws in the towel. Man, I love middleweights: stamina AND heavy hands!

I enjoy Martinez. I think he’s a classy and skilled fighter. But I can’t stand the hands down fighting stance. It annoys me to no end. Much credit to Macklin. His punch stats and performance were impressive. I think he could have a future on American television. I’d watch him on Boxing After Dark.

On a personal Irish note: I did see old Irish favorite, John Duddy, fight in Madison Square Garden on February 21, 2009. He was on an undercard for Cotto-Jennings/Pavlik-Rubio. That was the night I met Bert Randolph Sugar!

[I wrote this review last week and I remember thinking about what a great night it was at Madison Square Garden and meeting the great Bert Sugar. I was saddened when I heard news of his passing yesterday. I'm so glad I was able to meet him when I did and where I did. One of my fondest memories. He will be missed!]

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Walking Dead: Beside the Dying Fire

Oooooh. There’s that helicopter again. And that’s what set the herd of walkers on their quest to Hershel’s farm. Note to self: in case of a zombie apocalypse, chain link and barbed wire > wood.
Everyone back at the farm is worried about the group out to find Randall and Andrea wants to go looking for them. Lori says no, because if Randall came back, Andrea would be needed. Validation that you are the resident badass. Way to go Andrea! Darryl makes an observation that hints at Shane’s motives. I doubt the rest of the idiots picked up on it.

Rick is saved from confessing his ACT OF SELF-DEFENSE to Carl by the walker herd. How are the walkers already near the barn? I must not understand the layout of the farm.

“This is my farm. I’ll die here.” – Hershel Um, did I miss something? Is Hershel’s farm named the S.S. Titantic? I DON’T THINK SO!

Are the cheap fire effects and complete disregard for chemistry a throwback to old school zombie movies?
Some of the group gets into separate cars (and sexy Darryl on his motorcycle) and start acting like they’re at a carnival shoot out booth. What a waste of ammo! They can’t get all of the walkers and shooting some isn’t a deterrent. It’s not like they kill ten and the other 200 are like, “Oh, gee, we could die. Let’s turn around, guys.” *shaking my head*

“What should I do?!” – Lori, in response to not being able to find Carl in the house. Be a better mother, you worthless shrew!

Jimmy is an idiot. Once he felt Rick and Carl jump on top of the RV, he should’ve started driving. Or Rick should’ve done two taps on the windshield or something. I would say that it’s poor planning, but it’s just no planning.

Hershel looks awesome! The doctor becomes the assassin! Carol remains worthless, of course. Maybe she was running to what she thought was laundry that needed folding. Andrea saves her only to be left behind. Man, would I be pissed! After all I had done for the group and they ditch me. And Carol gets a ride on the back of Darryl’s bike. There is something horribly wrong with the universe.

I love that Maggie and Glenn are in the same car. It’s so couple-y!

I really, truly, madly, deeply thought that Hershel was going to get it. My heart was slowly starting to break as the walker approached. I didn’t like Hershel for the longest and I almost wrote him off when he took that jaunt to the bar in town. I may have hated the man who went into that bar, but I loved the man who came out. But poor Hershel. His illusionary utopia went up in flames.

I can’t imagine any viewers having ill will towards Rick for putting down Shane, but I think if you save a doctor’s life, you get a pass if you kill an asshole.

This is what every girl dreams of . . . hearing I love you with zombie smears on the window behind your head and what looks like a bloody head print behind your boyfriend’s. And all kinds of blood on the windshield. The ROMANCE! Glenn finally telling Maggie he loves her. Despite the circumstances, it was great, because it did steady her. She was on the verge of becoming seriously untethered.

Meeting up at the last place a group remembers being together is an excellent idea at Magic Mountain, Disneyland, Raging Waters, and during the zombie apocalypse. In this group’s case, it has to be the last safe place they were together: Sophia’s rendezvous spot. Well, I guess it wasn’t the last safe place, but it was the last place they were together before the barn. Man, seems like a million years ago. 

Hahahahaha! Oh, Hershel. Hey, maybe he’s right. Maybe Christ’s promise to resurrect the dead was really about zombies. Hmmmmm??? Bible class would’ve been a lot more interesting.

Lori is with Beth and T-Dawg. She wants to go back to the Sophia rendezvous point. T-Dawg doesn’t. She threatens to jump out of the car if he doesn’t go back. T-Dawg, KICK HER OUT OF THE CAR AND SPEED OFF! Do it!

Rick is about to leave the spot then Darryl and Carol roll up, then Maggie and Glenn and T-Dawg and Beth and blech. Rick admits that Shane is gone without saying how. The group wants to look for Andrea, but Rick says no and they go on their way. Rough.

On a personal note, Andrea’s predicament is why I’ll be adding miles to my runs. You never know when you’ll need the endurance. And I believe that speed and agility will be more useful than strength. Especially if it’s those damn 28 Days Later f*%@ers.

Running out of gas??? From the beginning, there should’ve been full gas cans in every car. Couldn’t they all fit in Maggie’s car? Sit on some laps, people. I agree that they shouldn’t split up, but they’re not on high ground. They’re as close to sitting ducks as can get. 

Darryl tells about how Randall wasn’t bit and had still turned. Rick reveals what the doctor told him back at the CDC. That everyone is infected and turns when they die (not of a head wound). People are all butt hurt about it. So? He’s right. How does it make a difference? How does this change their reality? I would be grossed out by the new knowledge, but would forgive the guy for keeping it to himself.

Rick walks off and Lori follows him. She gets all cozy and wifey and supportive about his decision to keep the universal infection a secret. Then Rick confesses to killing Shane IN SELF-DEFENSE. Lori pulls away in utter disgust. Are you f*%@ing kidding me??? I hate this effin beyotch!!! She practically goads Rick into killing Shane. Then gets Shane all riled up. If anyone’s hands are bloody, it’s hers. In The Talking Dead, the executive producer says that she’s upset because she feels like it’s her fault, but that’s not what I get from her reaction. Pulling away from Rick when he reaches out to comfort her and that look of contempt she gives him. Even if it is just because Carl had to kill a walker he knew, IT’S HER FAULT FOR NOT KEEPING A BETTER EYE ON HER SON! I hope she’s torn in half by walkers. Even if I have to wait ten seasons, it’ll be worth it.

Oh, hello, Michonne. Thank you for saving Andrea’s life. I’m looking forward to YOUR badassery next season.

All of a sudden, Carol decides to have an opinion about how the group should function and what type of man/leader she wants. Shut up, Carol. Does she want to be the new Shane? It’s the end times. I don’t want a man of honor. I want a man of action. The thing is, people can do whatever they want. Maggie can say, “I’m leaving, who’s coming with?” Carol would go. Glenn, too. Hershel and her sister would probably go, too. That’s not a bad group. Go on. Don’t let a zombie bite your ass on the way out.

Rick confesses to killing Shane to the group. He maybe should’ve been a bit clearer about the circumstances and Darryl could’ve jumped in, but at the least, the old ways have finally died. It’s about time for a Ricktatorship.

Oh, my. What’s that in the near distance? Is that a prison? THE prison? Dun, dun, duuuuuuuuun. I think we all need a break, because things are about to get serious! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Passage by Justin Cronin

In a nutshell: Like Stephen King’s The Stand with vampires.
I swear this is a pretty good read. It just takes a while to get there.  The initial individual stories are a bit disjointed, but the reader winds up with a clear picture of how the end of the civilization comes about.  

There’s an expedition in Ecuador. They’re looking for the fountain of youth? A virus? (I didn’t remember by the end.) The government gets involved. There’s a criminal. Then there are some feds. Then some more criminals. Then a young mom. Then nuns. Then nuns with a little girl. Then the feds with the little girl. Once the story seemingly comes together, the reader is transported 100 years into the future to a new story. Then it’s great for a while.

The descendants of a group of survivors have created a world and lives for themselves. There are old feuds, love triangles, and even hopes and dreams. Considering the number of pages, it’s disappointing that some of the characters weren’t more developed. Some of them realize that they can’t stay within the walls forever and a group set out on a quest: to find more survivors; to find the source of a radio beacon; to discover the world outside of their walls. They find all that they desired and more.
I don’t mind some characters being killed off, but not almost all of them. And don’t create extensive backgrounds that seem to be leading somewhere if they just lead to nothing. I prefer books that deal with character development rather than plot. Apocalyptic stories tend to center around the dynamics within the group of survivors. There wasn’t a whole lot of that here. Justin Cronin spends too much time with the set up. Though there are multiple points of view in this story, the reader only gets to know one character in depth.  This book is supposed to be part of a trilogy. The second book comes out in October. I’ll probably read it. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Walking Dead: Better Angels

Shane, Andrea, T-Dawg, and Darryl in a truck . . . I would watch a spin-off of that group on their own, trying to make it in the zombie world.

I disagree with everything Rick said in his eulogy. Just because somebody died, doesn’t mean you have to live your life they wanted to live theirs. That’s just tyranny from beyond the grave.

Rick re-takes the leadership role and makes some great initial decisions.  He even includes everyone, though he’s still na├»ve when it comes to Shane. Asking Andrea to babysit Shane is like asking Rihanna to babysit Chris Brown.  I do love Andrea’s sass, though.  Feisty! People might start shaking off the molasses now that they have defined duties and some sort of schedule.

I don’t like Lori opening up to Shane. She doesn’t need to talk to Shane at all. If she feels like expressing her thoughts, she needs to talk to Rick. What the hell kind of wife is she?
[I love the Mad Men promo with The Walking Dead theme.]

I would brave The Walking Dead world for some face time with Darryl. Yum.

I now involuntarily tune out interactions between Rick and Shane. I have to strain to hear them, but, even when I do, it sounds like gibberish. Two guys spewing bs. I don’t  even care. I prefer Shane and Rick just beating the hell out of each other.

Wow. The talk that Rick gave Carl would’ve been so great without the Lifetime movie of the week piano soundtrack. Silence is golden, AMC.

So, Shane is pretty good at coming up with plans. Too bad he uses his power for evil rather than good. Randall’s right. Shane would “fit in good” with a bunch of rapists. Hmmmm, I guess Shane doesn’t know about everyone being infected with the virus and turning into walkers when they die.

Oh my Daryl is so smart! I really like Glen and Daryl together are quite the team, though I find it hard to believe that one walker could get the upper hand for even a moment against them. I’m going to chalk it up to Randal being fresh.

Beautiful cinematography in the Rick/Shane showdown scene. (Is it called that for television, too?) Holy smokes! I did not see that coming!!! I thought Darryl and Glen would find Rick and Shane, see what’s happening, and then one of them would put Shane down. It doesn’t make sense for Rick to care so much about killing Shane. Rick killed Sophia and Shane was just as sick as she was, just in a different way. In relation to Rick, Shane was an attempted murderer and Rick had a right to defend himself with equal force. And, finally, Carl makes himself useful. [Note: In the comics, Carl kills Shane outright when Rick and Shane are arguing.]

Looking forward to the next episode. Bummed that it’s the season finale! I won’t have any shows to watch until True Blood and Boardwalk Empire start. Ack! Mad Men is interesting, but I don’t get sucked into it the same way.

The Walking Dead: Judge, Jury, Executioner

Daryl seems to be a believer in the John Yoo definition of torture, as in it’s not torture if you’re trying to get certain information. Daryl does get information. Turns out that the marauder, Randall, was part of a group of about 30. They have a lot of weapons and don’t mind raping teenage girls in front of their father.

Rick decides they need to get rid of Randall. Dale, of course, disagrees and spews about humanity, blah, blah, blah . . . Hey, it’s a shoot first, ask questions later world.  Deal with it. Then Dale runs to Andrea and asks for help. He convinces her to guard Randall to prevent Shane from just killing him. She doesn’t think Dale is right, though. Then why? (Andrea was a civil rights lawyer?! I guess I missed that along the way.)

I can’t believe anyone buys Shane’s bs. His is so patently manipulative.  Then he warns Carl against the prisoner being manipulative. Sounded like he was talking about himself.

Oh, my gosh! I cannot take anymore of Dale’s proselytizing. So over it!!! Um, Dale? Civilization IS over. Carol’s still a sap. Carl is turning into a sociopath, which might actually be useful. He seemed to snap Carol out of herself for a moment. And how is Carl just allowed to wander off? What a dumb *$@%.

Beth is still like a depressed invalid in bed. I thought she chose to live? Hershel and Glenn have a nice heart to heart and Hershel gave Glenn his blessing about being with Maggie. Nice! I can’t help but be wary. Every nice gesture in this show has a suicidal undertone for me.  

Man, this group loves to talk, talk, talk. They could just put the prisoner on trial. Andrea could guide them. He could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The people he was with tried to kill Hershel, Glenn, and Rick. He was a part of that group. He could also be charged with murder. His friends died while they were committing a felony. Or something like that. It’s hard to think that there are laws in that world. Mores, sure. Personal ethics, yeah. But not a set of laws.  If they want to kill the prisoner, they should have a firing squad of whoever agrees with it. One shot each.

Okay, now I feel kind of bad about hating Dale so much. Not really. It's just the expected sentiment. They should’ve told him they didn’t kill the prisoner. Something nice for the end. And they should’ve gone for a shot to the side of the head. Not something so in his face. It was so sweet of Daryl to step in for Rick. After all, Rick shouldered the burden of killing Sophia when she came out of the barn. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Walking Dead - 18 Miles Out

“The pain doesn’t go away. You just make room for it.” - Andrea

[flash forward] Shane and Rick are being surrounded by walkers. Oh, and the guy from the marauder group is in restraints trying to get to a knife. Interesting. Shane runs into a bus and has to hold the door shut against a grip of walkers. I like Shane in a can. I hope the walkers bust open that bus like it’s a can of tuna fish and Shane is delicious albacore. [end flash forward]

Rick confronts Shane about how he killed Otis and about how he screwed (and possibly impregnated) his wife.  “You can’t be the good guy and expect to live.” – Shane. True, but you don’t have to be a bad guy. Just willing to make the hard decisions and Rick recently has.

Lori and Maggie have calmed down a bit from their previous melodramatic nonsense. Lori is the big advice giver this episode. Better her than Dale. 

Turns out, guy from the marauder group went to school with Maggie and knows where the farm is. Bummer. That’s rich, Shane calling that guy a piece of garbage. Shane has made it so easy for Rick to make a “hard decision” about him. Especially now that Andrea is making strides at being Rambo, Shane can easily be taken out of the picture. He has no relatives, loves, or any ties other than Rick to the group. He lifts right out.

I love Andrea so much for that wicked burn on Lori! However, both Andrea and Lori have valid positions on their situations. They’ve had different experiences with the end times, so they’re bound to look at things differently, but it doesn’t mean that either of them is wrong. Having something to live for is very personal. Parents, siblings, a semi-stable life can be reasons to live for one person and not another. However, I’m surprised Andrea is so pro-choice (suicide or life) as she was talked out of killing herself and has gone on to be a badass and not suicidal. It’s also Lori’s prerogative not to want anyone to commit suicide on her watch. Tough call.

Maggie’s reaction to Beth’s request for a double suicide was brilliant. The perfect balance of horror and sadness.

Well looky who seems to be on the sucky end of a hard decision . . . Muhuhahahaha! Too bad it was a fake out for the audience and Rick was just going to find a way to rescue Shane. Wrong decision, Rick! Wrong. Decision. Of course, with Rick’s luck, if he had left Shane, Shane would’ve figured out a way to escape, make it back to camp, and vilify Rick.

This was a great episode! Forward movement. Character development. Changing group dynamics. Dale, Daryl, Carol, and T-Dog were all missing. I think the streamlined cast helped the storyline a lot. Can’t wait ‘til the next episode!

(You know, I thought one grew desensitized as one grew older, but I am having a really hard time with the gore. I guess I’ve grown soft in my old age.)