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Sunday, June 26, 2011

TRUE BLOOD RETURNS



TRUE BLOOD returns to HBO tonight and you can color me excited! I recognize we are all hitting the high time where supernatural TV shows with themes of vampires, zombies, mutants, aliens and everybody else is due to suffer a cultural burnout any day now. As for me and the other “Truebees” I think we will survive just fine. Tonight kicks off Season 4 and while I won’t give away too many secret plot points (Witches? Check! Do Sookie and Eric hookup finally? Yup!) I’ll just say I’m psyched to see where the show is going next.

Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse.

Based on the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries series of book by Author Charlaine Harris, TRUE BLOOD hit the scene like a lightning bolt in 2008 and has grown in popularity exponentially ever since. Since Executive Producer and show creator Alan Ball optioned the show following his run on SIX FEET UNDER he has vastly improved over the stories in the books to create a mature, sexy show full of exciting plot turns and the high production value HBO programming is known for. Honestly I tried reading the books and got about through two and a half before giving up. The writing of the show is so superior to the books I’d say don’t bother with them at all unless you feel you need to. Every season has elements of the plot marrow of those books, but is vastly different overall.

True Blood does a lot of "viral" marketing heh.

The majority of the cast is back with star Anna Paquin as the telepathic fairy Sookie (now married to her costar) and Stephen Moyer as the brooding  Vampire Bill Compton.  Two of the main story arcs of season four will be Sookie's growing relationship with Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgaard) as well as her other suitors and usual enemies, plus some new ones. Although the series definitely has its moments that are too campy and silly for words, they are balanced perfectly by the sexuality and violence of the world of the greater ensemble cast. There are also underlying themes in the show such as racism, sexuality, misogyny, gay rights, ethical relativism, philosophy and politics which from time to time take over and give the program more emotional depth than your average show.  

Last fall at Boston University, The School of Communications welcomed in the shows’ Executive Producer Greg Fienberg to visit the school and host a presentation. He detailed how episodic television shows run during production, script writing and also to talked about the coming season. He also revealed some key insights to how the show continues to reinvent itself and grow which has added to its popularity. He talked about the how the roles of staff are defined and how intensive a show like TRUE BLOOD works behind the scenes. 


Another thing I really love about the show (and this is true of most HBO series) is the brilliant advertising and marketing campaigns leading up to every season has tied in perfectly and energized the fans. From the minisodes leading up to tonight’s’ premiere as well as the Twitter hash tag #waitingsucks that really suck (pun intended) in the fans. I predict as long as the show remains interesting it will last and considering the axing of many recent fantasy/sci-fi programing like V and HEROES last year, TRUE BLOOD is your destination for amazing story telling.   

Saturday, June 25, 2011

PALESTRINA

"if  I can't have everything  then  just  give me a  taste"
Tall as the trees
and twice as graceful.
You danced like a feather
trying not to catch fire.


Entranced by you.
Eyes, lips, arms and hips
write a silent plea in the air.
Telling tales of a secret pact.
Everyone captivated by
a dazzling display of symmetry.
A narcotic has less traction on the soul.
A narcissist to the very last drop.

Only one saw the soft underbelly.
Past the desperate longing
and through to the pain.
When we met I was a child.
You were the learner.
Another was the master.
The mentor to your mission
gave encouragement and accolades.
But not the love you needed.

Spurned, yet sanctified.
Your pursuit doubled in effort.
Already a slave to unrequited passions.
They threatened to engulf you.
Caught up in the moment
a declaration is made.
A vow hangs in the air unanswered
and now you can’t take it back.
A promise made is a promise dead
when a promise wasn’t required
in the first place. 



Saturday, June 11, 2011

UNSUB

Fixated.
I can't control it.
Blinding rage.
Speaking to me from within.
A spark in the darkness of chaos.
Irrepressible emotional noise.
One way to own it.
You are the thing I must possess.
I covet what is inside.
I wish I could forget.
What has been done.
Just like the rest.
Shunned by society.
It makes no difference now.
Watching your every move.
Biding my time.
Nothing is chance.
Guided by fate.
Others will do in the meantime.
Placeholder replicants.
Disposable clones.
I consume them like breathing.
The hunt is just a game to me.
Proof of my superior intellect.
I am the most cunning warrior.
While you are less than nothing.
Until it's time to strike.
Briefest moment possible.
You will  be special to me.
Be patient and take my time.
You will go quietly.
I will take a trophy.
To honor and remember this.
And you will not know peace.
Even as you beg for it.
Just a means to an end.
What I do is feed the beast.
To keep it at bay.
To satiate the hunger.
But you already knew that.
Too late.

You are witness to a great and powerful becoming...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: SUPER 8 (some spoilers)

Directed by J.J. Abrams (Bad Robot Productions/Amblin Entertainment Paramount)

In sleepy Lillian Ohio in 1979, the town is upended by mysterious events that send all of its inhabitants on a collision course with destiny and perhaps the end of the world as they know it. One little boy holds the key and knows too much.

The movie opens with the wake for Elizabeth Lamb, killed in a terrible accident at the local steel mill where most of the town is employed. Left behind to pick up the pieces are the Sheriff’s deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) and his monster movie obsessed early-teen son Joe. Joe (Joel Courtney) and his best friends Charles, Carey, Preston and Martin spend all their time working on Charles’s zombie horror movie with a Super 8 camera. They hope to enter it into a prestigious teen film contest and it is a campy and fun effort by the teens. Normally shy, Joe is very talented at horror makeup and model making. The kids sneak out at night to film scenes unbeknownst to their parents. One night while out filming a pivotal scene with recently recruited Alice Dainard (Ellie Fanning, younger sister of Dakota), the kids accidentally witness a spectacular crash of an Air Force branded train. The train was carrying alien materials and “something else” across the country from a decommissioned building in the famed Area 51 secret base, in Roswell New Mexico. Joe sees that “something else” and it's living and monstrous in one of the crashed train cars escaped, but can't make out what it is. Barely surviving the falling and exploding wreckage with their lives, the kids discover that their crotchety science teacher in fact drove his truck into the path of the train to derail it on purpose. Barely alive, “old man” Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman) tells them to speak nothing of what they saw or the Air Force will kill them all. The teacher brandishes a gun and the kids drive away just as the Air Force arrive armed to the teeth to survey the scene.
Something survived the crash....
This opening, one of the best I have seen in years, is expertly crafted by J.J. Abrams (STAR TREK/CLOVERFIELD/MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III & IV/televisions LOST, FRINGE and ALIAS) who does the slow paced, deliberate exposition like few modern story tellers. He does a great job of using the camera to imply visuals and creates suspense the good old fashion way: with a mix of giving you something and taking it away or showing the reveal shot. In the classic "bubble" style of alien and monster movies of yesteryear, Abrams does some of his best directorial work ever. He is practically Hitchcockian or Rod Serling-esque in his laborious effort to tease, scare and thrill. Great pacing, lighting and camera work also highlight the film. The period piece elements are tremendous from authentic language, fabulous musical cues (BLONDIE, THE KNACK, LIONEL RITCHIE, ELO oh my!), wardrobe, production design and awesome props (a real Sony Walkman!).


J.J. Abrams- great job!
As for the story, mysterious things happen in the town like all of the dogs running away at once, disappearances and murder of towns people, electrical disturbances and blackouts, destruction of property and theft. You feel the walls close in on you in the audience as the entire population of 1200 denizens of Lillian are thrown in to a frenzy. Now Sheriff Lamb, played well by Chandler carries the load with the sheriff disappeared. As the situation grows more dim and the town is terrorized by something with unstoppable force, the military takes over and creates a bluff to evacuate the town to the Air Force base and begins a plan to engage the enemy full force.  There are shades of modern conspiracy ideas everywhere here as the distrust builds among everyone, forcing unlikely alliances. The children, especially Courtney and 
Fanning give great performances, as the gang of kids in a cross between STAND BY ME, THE GOONIES and a SCOOBY DOO mystery try to solve the case and discover the nature of what was in the train. Normally child actors leave me cold, but these kids had the gravity and maturity for the parts and do a yeoman job throughout. You feel their wonder, excitement, depression, anxiety and fear which are emotions all kids feel, but hard to convey at times for child actors. 

Ellie Fanning and Joel Courtney. 

Other notable performances are Noah Emmerich as the ruthless Air Force Colonel Nelic and Ron Eldard as Alice's hapless and drunken dad Louis. For those who remember CLOVERFIELD a bit too well the alien is done really well in my opinion and not cheesy (okay, a tiny bit). The ending of the movie hearkens back to the simpler first films of the genre like the original THE DAY THAT EARTH STOOD STILL and even a later gem like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Of course that last reference is fitting (as is a slight nod to E.T.) with Steven Spielberg in the producer/co-writer chair. While I fear the unsophisticated modern movie goer may miss some of the visual and verbal cues due to impatience, the smart sci-fi fan will eat this movie up.

Super 8 has many nods to classic sci-fi pathos.

GRADE: A