Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father’s Day "Lost" and Stuff

Man, this getting back to blogging thing is tougher than I thought it would be. It’s like I can’t even come up with ideas half the time, and the ones that I do come up with kind of suck. Oh, wait, that’s why I stopped for a while in the first place. Huh.

At any rate, I was completely right about the new Hulk movie, as it pulled in $54.5 million this weekend. I wish there was some way I could bet on shit like this—I’d be like fucking Warren Buffett.

Aside from me being awesome and badass, I also had an idea here on the way home from my Father’s Day activities. I have certainly been lucky to have a great father (and mother, of course, but it’s not Mother’s Day, asshole), but I was thinking, many of our friends and cast members on everyone's favorie sci-fi fantasy drama, Lost, have not been quite so lucky. Either they had dads that sucked, or had problems as fathers themselves, or someone else’s dad hates them. I dunno, there are a just a lot of father issues on the show, so I thought I’d come up with the 13 greatest episodes of Lost that have to do with dad-issues in some respect. This column will warm me up for the much-anticipated reintroduction of “Lost Bloggin’” which will bring some of our awesome insights back for those of you who need some more Lost-related material. So here goes…

13. “Tricia Tanaka is Dead” (Season 3 Episode 10). This is one of the worst episodes of Lost, by far, along with “Stranger in a Strange Land,” which, coincidentally, aired the week before. If you need a refresher, Dave and I did a Lost Bloggin’ on it which can be found here. Basically, Hurley and his largely absent dad (guest star Cheech Marin) work on some old car and talk about dumb shit while Hurley has one of the worst “campfire story” subplots of the series when he, Charlie, Jin, and Sawyer try to jump-start a VW Bus they find in the jungle. So why include it if it’s so terrible? Because if that was the extent of the episode, it wouldn’t even merit a second thought on this list. In reality, the only reason why it is included is that very same VW bus formerly belonged to borderline alcoholic asshole dad Roger Linus, father of everyone’s favorite owl-eyed other. Two deadbeat dads in the same episode? Sign me up!

12. “D.O.C.” (Season 3 Episode 18). Eh. A Jin-Sun backstory focusing on how Jin’s mom is a greedy hooker, this episode was okay. It dealt to some extent with how Jin is ashamed of his father, who seems like a decent Joe, other than his appetite for dirty, dirty hookers. I could’ve easily substituted other Jin/his dad episodes in, but none of them were especially good. Oh well…

11. “Par Avion” (Season 3 Episode 12). The subplot in this episode is really dumb, it’s about how Claire wants to tag some migratory birds in the hopes of rescuing everybody. The reason why it’s on the list is because Claire finds out that Christian Shepherd, better known as Jack’s Alcoholic Father, is also her father. Yeah, I know, what a fucking stud. Even though Jack’s dad is cool as hell, there are still three other things that are even better about this episode. First, the awkward, Brokeback-esque interactions between Charlie and Desmond in this episode are off-the-charts unintentional comedy. It is hilarious. Second, Locke throws Mikhail through the sonic fence, and we’re treated to a human fountain of blood. Third, the ending is fantastic, with Locke, Sayid, and Kate stumbling on the “captured” Jack, who is lounging around, playing football with awkward, fat old Tom. One of the true gems of the mid-to-late season 3 renaissance period of the show.

10. “Three Minutes.” (Season 2, Episode 22). There were a fair number of Michael-Walt eps that I could have included on this list. In fact, I very nearly used the season one character-development episode “Special” in this slot. Instead, I opted to go for the second-to-last episode of season 2. We learn some weird stuff about the Others that has never even really mattered (why do they dress up like hobos with beards? Why build a fake Dharma station? Why do they fuck with the castaways so badly?). It contains a lot of really funny “Where…is….MY SON!” lines from Michael, which were always a hoot during season 2. Also, it’s among the first on-island flashback episodes, which tend to be pretty cool on whole. A fine episode.

9. “What Kate Did.” (Season 2 Episode 9). This episode climaxed in the first 5 minutes, when Kate blew up her father in one of the great house explosions in television history. Also, at the time, everyone had a hard-on to know what Kate did that made the marshall so eager to catch her, so that was a big revelation. Other than that, there’s not too much in this one, but it’s here more for its landmark impact on the series than anything else.

8. “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues.” (Season 1 Episode 11). This is the episode that contains the whole “Jack turns his dad in for drinking on the job” storyline, which is actually pretty monumental in the history of the show, what with John Terry playing Jacob/God now as Christian Shepherd, on and around the island. The other reason it’s so good is that “Other”-wise (I’m terrible, I know) mild-mannered surgeon Ethan Rom is a total, commando-style badass in this one, who nearly saves us all a lot of time here by stringing up Charlie from a tree and leaving him for dead. Very intense action on-island, combined with wonderful character drama off. Why can’t the puff-pieces at least try to follow this blueprint from here on out?

7. “Every Man for Himself.” (Season 3 Episode 4). This was a Sawyer episode, which is always a big bonus. There are many reasons to like this episode, even though the Sawyer-in-prison off-island subplot is kind of stupid. The one-liners are fantastic, from Ben snapping, “It’s from Of Mice and Men! Don’t you read?” to Sawyer’s “I ain’t got no daughter!” to Cassidey. There’s also a big revelation at the end, where there’s another nearby island that the Others “work” on, though I’m not entirely sure what the fuck it really has to do with the series going forward. Still, by far the best episode of the short part of season 3.

6. “Deus Ex Machina” (Season 1 Episode 19). This is the episode where Locke meets his father, “Anthony Cooper,” who pretends that he likes to hang out with Locke and hunt with him and stuff…and then steals his kidney from right under his nose. Great off-island stuff coincides with good on-island action, as Boone and Locke find the small plane in the jungle filled with heroin, and Boone is severely injured, and eventually dies. So important for so many different reasons, it has to be this high.

5. “Two for the Road.” (Season 2 Episode 20). Jack’s dad heads to Australia with Ana Lucia on a huge drinking binge, ostensibly to find Claire. He dies soon thereafter. It’s filled with all kinds of great JAF lines, including a great one-liner when he arrives at the bar where he eventually talks Sawyer into killing a guy. Also, Sawyer fucks Ana Lucia, and in perhaps the second-most shocking ending to a Lost episode, Michael shoots and kills Ana Lucia and Libby at the end. A favorite to any true fan of Lost.

4. “The Man from Tallahassee.” (Season 3, Episode 13). I’m convinced that this is still the best-written episode of Lost to this day. The Ben-Locke interplay is phenomenal, with great lines like Ben’s “No John, we don’t have a code for my daughter is being held at gunpoint in the closet—though we obviously should.” The off-island action is also amazing, with Cooper pushing Locke out of a window, leaving him paralyzed in the process. Oh, and Locke blows up the submarine and we find out his dad is back on the island at the end. Bravo.

3. “The Man Behind the Curtain.” (Season 3, Episode 20). The much anticipated Ben Linus flashback/revelation of Jacob. It all works so well—Roger Linus as the big deadbeat dad who’s offended that he has to be a workman for Dharma, Ben meeting the ageless Richard for the first time, Locke and Ben finding invisible Jacob’s cabin. There’s so much mythology and history combined with a whole new slew of questions in this episode. By the way, Ben kills all of Dharma and throws them all in a pit, where he later leaves Locke to die.

2. Flashes Before Your Eyes.” (Season 3 Episode 8). This one is a fantastic Desmond flashback, with little island action at all. That said, it is phenomenal. The absolute highlight is Charles Widmore’s speech to Desmond about how he isn’t fit to drink the McCutcheon’s. It still might be my favorite scene in the entire series. In addition, we get the first hint of the universe acting in some way to “course correct,” which I am beginning to believe was Desmond’s entire function to begin with. Also, it ends with the first uttering of the immortal line, “You’re gonna die, Charlie!” The whole Widmore dynamic, though, is what really drives this one to near the top of the list.

1. “The Brig.” (Season 3 Episode 19). Could it really be any other episode? There’s so much going on here with regard to Locke having to kill his father, and Sawyer wanting to avenge his own father’s death. The guy who plays Locke’s dad is amazing in this one—by the end, you can understand completely why Sawyer strangles the old bastard. You also learn more about the structure of the Others, and you get the first inkling that Locke might lead them some day. Great, great episode.

That’s it for now.

Questions? Comments? Want less Lost? E-mail the BlogMogger team at blogmogger@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Return, and Quick Movie Reviews

Hello? Anyone there? Jamie? Grant? Jim? Anyone?

You may have heard whispers or rumors for months now, as everyone around the country, from Gainesville, Florida to Los Angeles, California kept asking themselves, "when is the Mog going to come back from its lengthy slumber?" I mean, Jamie’s last piece got nearly universal accolades, and then, just like that <snap>, we were gone.

Well, good news for all of you loyal friends of the Mog out there—we’re back. I think. Sort of. We’ve all been fairly busy recently with all kinds of administrative matters, you know, like graduating and preparing for an unnamed professional examination. Still, if you ever doubted us, like the Phoenix that is the Mog, we are rising from the ashes just to spite you very doubters.

Forgive me if my writing is sloppy and unfunny to begin with. This is going to be like re-learning to ride a bicycle. I hope that these posts are going to be better than, say, this one, or this one.

In order to ease back into blogging like an old man into a warm bath, I figured I’d begin with one of the old chestnuts that people seem to enjoy through the months—quick movie reviews. As always, if you need explanation on the grading scale, look at this post. Without further adieu…

Iron Man: C+. It was a great superhero action movie with absolutely incredible special effects. Robert Downey Jr. gives a phenomenal performance as Tony Stark, and Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t half bad, either. And, since it’s a movie about an egomaniacal, off-the-charts genius billionaire with superpowers, I can obviously relate to the main character.

Why the C+ then? Because even the best superhero movie in this day and age is pretty much going to have a kind of derivative plot that drags in places and is pretty formulaic. I mean, have you seen the trailer for the Hulk movie? It looks absolutely awful. Well, it’ll still probably pull in at least $50 million its opening weekend. Why? Fuck if I know. It just will, that’s all. Well if that's average, Iron Man is better than that, so it gets the nod at a C+.

In addition, (SPOILER ALERT) I just can’t see Jeff Bridges playing an evil corporate genius. It’s like the Dude took the advice of the big Lebowski and did what his parents did, “get a job, sir!” I just don’t like that at all. That miscast keeps it from being even near the B range.

Defending Your Life: A/A-. Sorry if I’ve done this one before, but I just got done writing a paper about it for one of my classes, and I watched it again. It’s just a really great Albert Brooks movie. If you like his sense of humor, it’s great. If you don’t, then fuck you. Besides, I use at least 5% of my brain. Asshole.

Groundhog Day: A. One of those movies that just happens to be on cable a ton, and I absolutely cannot pull myself away from it whenever it’s on. I really think this might be Bill Murray’s finest all-around work. He’s definitely done some better pure comedic work in his day, but Phil Connors is one of the great all-time film roles.

Strange Wilderness: B-/C+. A surprisingly funny movie with some amazingly funny parts. I’ve never fully gotten the whole Steve Zahn obsession that some people have, but he’s good in this one, along with a lot of the players from Grandma’s Boy and other Happy Madison standbys. Much, much better with some adult beverages in you. Still, it stands okay on its own.

Michael Clayton (edited version): C/C-. I know this one got a lot of critical acclaim. I also feel it necessary to preface this with the fact that the version I saw was heavily edited on one of those little personal TV screens on a Northwest Airlines flight. I’ve never heard so many people called godmothers in my life. Of course, it was more like, “you God!.............Mother!....................”, but I digress. Given the limitations, in hindsight, I probably would’ve been better off watching Bee Movie like Jamie and Jim did.

That said, I just couldn’t buy into this movie. I don’t know if this screenwriter has ever worked in a large, corporate law firm before, but there aren’t exactly handsome-yet-shady characters like George Clooney who go around “fixing” problems that their clients have through means that should roughly amount to racketeering. Nor do I buy it that a general counsel would go around ordering mafia-style hits on all kinds of lawyers in the firm that acts as their outside counsel. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I’d like to think that I’m going to be working for an upstanding organization here in a few months, not the fucking Gambino family. It’s just a bit over the top.

No Country for Old Men: B+/B. Yeah, it’s cool how badass some of the characters are, namely Anton Chagur, but the whole thing had a bit too much Coen brothers sort of throwing out, “there’s something deeper here, we aren’t quite sure what it is, but all of you film snobs can go around acting like you’ve figured out some really deep life message out of the whole thing and feel smug and satisfied for the rest of the day.” At times, the suspense is great, and the gunplay is suspenseful as hell, but at the end of the day, I came away feeling a bit emptier than when I sat down to watch it. I guess it was sort of a “salad movie” in that regard. Good, but not as good as a lot of people are saying, and not very filling.

Little Giants: B. Saw this one again the other day for the first time in a while. It gets more and more ridiculous every time I see it. Rick Moranis’ character gets less and less likable every time I watch it. Dude, just talk to the fucking love interest already. It pisses me off that after winning the big game, he finally has enough confidence to ask Junior’s mom on a date! And you can bet your sweet ass that had Kevin won the big game, he would’ve had no qualms about taking Moranis’ gas station and increasing the vertical monopoly of Kevin O’Shea Chevrolet. It just pisses me off how much of a wuss Moranis can be in this one, and he still wins the game. Not the right message we want to send to today’s over-coddled, dodgeball-fearing youth.

That’s all for this time. Stay tuned for more updates (and potentially yet another triumphant return from a formerly-exiled Friend of the Mog). Until next time…

DJGel

Questions? Comments? Wish we would’ve just stayed dormant forever? E-mail the BlogMogger team at mailto:blogmogger@yahoo.com. We might even run a mailbag one of these days, if you’re lucky.