Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

So, it's been a while since I'd seen the original Wall Street. Since that time I'm accustomed to hearing the lines quoted verbatim in the streets mostly those of Wall Street Huckster Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas). But what really stuck out for me after all of these years wasn't always the quotable lines or the villainous turn by the head baddie himself, it was watching Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) being carted away at the end in handcuffs, crying all over his thousand dollar suit. It's an image I wanted duplicated tenfold in this film and it came really close, but in the end Oliver blinked and lost a major opportunity to say something very important about how our financial system is regulated. I think we all know that Oliver Stone is not just the crazy guy or the mad guy but I would like to think he's the guy that enjoys making the audience squirm a bit in order for them to get a taste of this fucked up system of ours and how it feels to be screwed. You really think he's going to go there with this and that is why it's just so damn sad. He could have tapped into that anger and depression out there about these Wall Street clowns and finally explain the default swaps and the toxic assets that led to the financial collapse in a coherent way. He could have shown the villains true face and explained that these assholes are still there looking to do more damage because they don't give a shit as long as they make their payday. He just didn't do that, and its a damn shame.
Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is an investment banker who finds himself caught in the middle of two pretty difficult situations. On one hand he wants to play with fire and get some revenge on the asshole Corporate Raider, Bretton James (Josh Brolin), who sabotaged his former firm and made a fool out of his beloved mentor (Frank Langella). On the other he's trying to patch up his fiance's (Carey Mulligan) shitty relationship  with her cold as ice father, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), who is seemingly trying to repair that relationship as well as his public one after his fall from grace and nine years of prison. What is a boy to do.
I know I sound harsh, but I really did love the first hour and half of this movie. It was well paced, it was building toward something. How Jake was able to manipulate the stock by making a few phone calls, nice. I liked all the tech references and how they were weaving into the big con. We also get to see the building up toward the collapse in 2008, with bailouts to follow and the slimy bastards that were looking to get their payday, the American people be damned. After the fall the knife begins to turn a bit more thus becoming a movie half about revenge and the other about Gordon Gekko and how he's trying to get his house in order. It wasn't that I disliked this part, I just didn't understand what that had to do with the overall story. From then on Stone had Gekko talking more about the financial gloom of where we are headed as a nation but not really giving much content on why or how. Then we get more into his fucked up relationship with his daughter and then the the Wall Street stuff starts to take a drastic back seat to this unfolding drama.

And now instead of a shining, "Oh fuck", moment like Bud Fox being carted away crying in handcuffs, you get a cushy ending where everyone is happy and nothing is really fixed. The bad guys go to jail and redemption is found. It didn't feel like reality. It's nice to think that there will be justice for people who lost it all due to greedy bastards but that just isn't our reality and it just makes the ending feel even more vacant and surreal. Although there was a nice touch when we see Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) in his cameo and he like most of these Wall Street wolves hadn't learned anything from his incarceration. He was just as slimy as Gekko was in Wall Street with just as big a chip on his shoulder. The performances were great though and it's really wonderful watching Michael Douglas chew out Shia and spit him out a few times. Josh Brolin was also incredibly frightening as the cold as ice Bretton James, great job all around on the cast, including Eli Wallach's crazy old business man. Near the end his little quirks got a little too weird but I was amused with him just the same. I am putting my Bucket stamp of approval on the movie, even though it has its faults. Honestly the first hour and a half is a masterpiece it just starts to crumble a bit after that. But it's a good flick and deserves your attention especially if you are fan of the original.

Grade: 3 Buckets

Fall TV: New Shows I Have Watched and May Watch: Thursday & Friday

I was planning on doing Thursday and Friday earlier in the week but things built up at work and well you know how that goes. But I did get a chance to watch a few of the new shows that aire on Thursday and Friday and may be able to give you an idea of what works and what doesn't. Let's begin:

THURSDAY: So this is probably the only day where my old shows dominate. I only had one new show that I actually got a chance to see. My favorite returning shows on Thursday are 30 Rock, Fringe and The Office. I really want to watch Community, but I've just never been able to find a way to consistently watch it. Last year the wife had to have Gray's Anatomy and so I wasn't able to see it or the Office in primetime. I ended up watching the Office on Hulu thankfully but just couldn't squeeze in time for Community. Cody Dee swears by it and he usually has a good sense for these shows. So fast forward to 2010 and I've convinced my mother in law to DVR Gray's Anatomy at her place now freeing me up for Community. I'm a little behind but from what I understand it's worth it. Community aires on NBC with the block of 30 Rock and the Office starting at 8:00 PM.

SHIT MY DAD SAYS: It's always a bad sign when you make a show for the networks where you can't even use the proper title. Apparently the show has already caused problems with people's DVR cause they don't know how to look up the show cause it starts with $#"!. But what do you expect from a show based on a twitter feed of the same name. The only reason I was giving this show a chance was because I love William Shatner, dude is funny even when he doesn't intend to be. This should be a no brainer, but as I was watching the show I noticed something horrifying. It looks like the showrunners have decided to put a collar on Shatner and his antics. He seems caged in the pilot--they should let the freak Shatner fly, but instead he's just limited to groan inducing one liners. Shatner still emerges at times to give me a chuckle but he seems to be buried under a schmaltzy and mostly unfunny script. The guy playing his kid is almost unwatchable. He's trying way too hard, the show could have promise if the writers were truly interested in channeling Archie Bunker. But it just seems like they are trying to continue to cash in on the shit Dad says on twitter which is pretty hit or miss most of the time. I'm on the fence whether or not I'll check out the second episode but if you are tired of painfully formulaic sitcoms then this show is not for you. ($#"! My Dad Says aires on CBS at 8:30 PM)

There are two other shows that I had some thought about taping but decided against it at the last minute. The one that I'm sort of regretting is Nikita, which aires on the CW at 9:00 PM. The trailer didn't do much for me but then I will admit to you I saw star Maggie Q wearing that red bikini and then I started to think--damn maybe I should give it a shot. In all honesty the reviews have been mixed but most have said it was fun and I do love me some spy shows. I'm a complete sucker for them so why shouldn't I watch this one---maybe I'll watch on Hulu. The other show I considered was Outsourced but now I'm kind of glad I dumped it. The trailer was pretty bad and most of the reviews I read were pretty negative. This show was based on the John Jeffcoat movie of the same name. It's about an American who is sent to Mumbai to manage an American novelties company (fake vomit) Call Center and through his new job he gets to learn about Indian culture. The premise sounds like it could be funny but it seems like they dumbed it down to the lowest common denominator. Did I mention the almost all Indian cast is going to be fielding calls about fake vomit. Yeah, remember what I said about NBC and subtlety. This would probably apply here. But if you want to take a shot let me know what you think cause I don't think I'm going to be adding this to my Must See TV list. (Outsourced aires on NBC at 9:30 PM)

FRIDAY: So Friday, usually is dead air, but that's usually. Last year I enjoyed two truly great shows that aired on what is considered the death knell for tv shows. Friday Night Lights and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. This year I'm still awaiting Friday Night Lights cause I don't have Direct-TV, it'll aire sometime in January I believe. They also moved a couple shows I watched on Wed that are now on Friday Human Target and the Good Guys. (I did a review for the Good Guys a few months ago, click here.) You can check out both of these shows on Fox starting at 8:00 PM with Human Target and the Good Guys at 9:00 PM.

BLUE BLOODS: I just saw this one last night and I really enjoyed it. They've got a great cast with Tom Selleck, Frank Reagan, as the patriarch of a family of NY city Cops: Donnie Wahlberg as the tough as nails Detective Danny Reagan and eldest son of the brood. Danny's tough Assistant DA sister Erin (Bridget Moynahan) and their little brother, former Harvard student, turned rookie cop Jamie (Will Estes). You even have Frank's retired cop father Henry (Len Cariou) to make this a total family affair of three generations of Cops. I really thought it was well written and brought some new flavor to the typical Cop Show. This is a bit of both cop drama and family drama which is important for this show to really work. In the pilot they go right at opposing viewpoints on tough subjects like water boarding. I think you've got some great potential for compelling stories as well as a fun thriller that will keep the viewer on their toes. It's great to see Selleck back on something as smart as this and it's always great to see him sporting the signature stash. I know Friday is the night to party but if you find yourself at home you should really check this one out I highly recommend it.  (Blue Bloods aires on CBS at 10:30 PM

OUTLAW: I actually got to watch the pilot a week or so ago and I wasn't that impressed. I was intrigued with the premise of the show about a Supreme Court Judge, Cyrus Garza (Jimmy Smits), who decides to leave the bench and go back into private practice. The intriguing part was that he is a very conservative style judge who has a very liberal personal life with the gambling and womanizing. Could be interesting right. We learn right off the bat that his very liberal minded father was killed recently in a car accident with Cyrus at the wheel. So in the pilot Cyrus pisses off the right wing because he doesn't tow the line and they try to blackmail him. He seems to be having a crisis of conscience. He gets the jump on their threats and leaves the bench of his own free will. I find it amusing that a guy as Conservative as this would all of a sudden become so liberal minded so quickly, but oh well. Where the show works is it's lead star Jimmy Smits. The guy is a pro and he makes Cyrus very compelling. The problem is the pacing and the overblown ridiculous plot. We are to believe that this guy leaves the bench and helps a convict avoid lethal injection just because he stood up to a judge for five minutes. The guy had been on death row for like 15 years or something and he digs just a little bit and gets him off. The whole thing just felt so contrived. I want to give the show more time but I was so annoyed by the ease in which he solved the case that I couldn't fathom how they could make this show last a whole season without the audience laughing off every triumphant victory. It sort of reminded me of Matlock which is never a good thing. (Outlaw aires on NBC at 10:00 PM)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Easy A

I know what your thinking. Why would I go and see a movie that on the surface looks like yet another Juno ripoff. If you've seen the trailers and if you have an idea about actress Emma Stone's ability to charm your pants off then you, like me, would not have hesitated to see this movie regardless what the pundits were saying. It's a good thing I did too because not only was it funny it also cleverly tripped down John Hughes lane soaking up all of the greatness that was the 80's.
Olive (Emma Stone) is just trying to get by in High School but one little white lie to her gabby best friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) about a hook up with a college kid turns her into the class slut overnight. This balloons into further lies that cast the young Olive even further as a harlot with comparisons to Hester Prynne from the Scarlett Letter. Olive gets cast in the role as whore from the Class religious nut Marianne (Amanda Bynes), who constantly tries to make Olive's life a living hell for her perceived sins.
Couple of things that work off the bat for this film is first, the writing. It's sarcastic, funny and snappy and I'm sure it will be highly quotable at some point. The second is Emma Stone who takes the material and runs with it, yes she's feisty and brash like Juno but believe me when I tell you they are very different characters. Emma Stone is sexy Ellen Page is cute. Nuff said! Also her parents were hilarious. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci had some of the funniest lines in the movie. In fact they were so good you could do a sequel about her parents and their very interesting dynamic and it would probably do very well. You also had some great support from vets like Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow. I think the closest thing to compare Easy A to at least in writing and style is the done too soon Veronica Mars that aired on the CW a few years ago. They dealt with the rumor mill and the sucky nature of high school in similar ways. But both protagonists get by with their wit, charm and sarcasm. It's a fun ride as you watch Olive's fake lifestyle spiral out of control until she decides to set the record straight.  Ironically the only knocks on the film were things I also got some amusement out of. They played the reference and nostalgia card well on early 80's romantic comedies but there were times where they hit you over the head with them. I'm not going to give the ending away but they make a pretty blatant ripoff of a classic cheesy comedy with a certain Patrick Dempsey flick from that era. It was harmless but I did utter a little groan as if they probably went a bit too far. But all of that aside, the film has a lot of heart and some great laughs and I highly recommend for a good time, especially as a date movie.

Grade: 3 Buckets 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall TV: New Shows I Have Watched and May Watch: Tuesday & Wednesday


There are quite a few newbies on Tuesday but so far I haven't really felt much excitement about most of them. Detroit 1-8-7 on ABC at 10PM looks like a paint by the numbers procedural that probably won't make it to mid-season regardless of Michael Imperioli, he's been on a losing streak since Christopher got smothered by Tony on the Sopranos and I'm afraid it's gonna continue. There is also Raising Hope and Running Wilde both half hour sitcoms on Fox at the 9 - 10 PM slot don't look much better. I really like Will Arnett and Kerri Russell for Running Wilde but the promos so far haven't really got me jumping through hoops yet. I kind of dig the premise of an Oil Baron (Republican) tries to woo a girl he knew when they were kids who is an Environmental Activist (Democrat) and then you have a show that basically describes the relationship between Republican pundit Mary Matlin and her Raging Cajun Democrat Husband, pundit, James Carville. Raising Hope looks like an even redneckier version of My Name Is Earl if that's even possible. Showrunner Greg Garcia returns to tell the story of a young man who knocks up what one would call the Female equivalent to a Caged Heat convict who is then forced to raise the youngster himself while the mother is in stir. He turns to his bizarre family for help and therein lies the comedy. I gave up on My Name is Earl around season 3 and apparently so did everyone else. I got tired of the stupid idiotic rednecks that populated the show day in and day out and unfortunately Garcia seems to be trying to tap that well again. So good luck to you Greg, but I won't be watching.

Some of the returning shows for Tuesday that I fell in love with last year was Parenthood on NBC at 10 and the Good Wife on CBS also at 10. Both of these shows are well written and will keep your interest I suggest checking these out when they open this week. So for Tuesday I guess I had only one show that piqued my curiosity, and of course it deals with superheroes.

NO ORDINARY FAMILY: Yeah I know, it's ABC Family and it's basically a live version of the animated hit the Incredibles, but I'm still curious to see how this one turns out. I really like leading man Michael Chiklis who plays the patriarch and invincible Dad on the show. I also have really grown to love Julie Benz after great turns as Darla in Buffy and Angel and more recently as Rita on Dexter. It feels a little Fantastic Four as a family of Four gain super powers after an accident in the water. This thing could go either way honestly, it seems to have a pretty good Showrunner in Greg Berlanti who has done some writing on popular shows like Brothers and Sisters and short lived ones like Jack and Bobby and Dirty, Sexy Money. (No Ordinary Family aires on ABC at 8 PM)


Wednesday is going to be a light day for Prime-time viewing this year. Of the returning shows the only one I'm interested in is Modern Family which comes back on ABC at 9. It's such a funny show and totally deserved all the Emmy love it received this year. If you missed this one last year, don't be a dope and miss it again, it's just too good. So of all the few newbies this year on Wednesday I've only got my eyes on one show. And it's got JJ Abrams name all over it.

UNDERCOVERS: Yeah I'm always a sucker for the spy genre I can't ever get enough. I actually got into that Piper Parabo show Covert Affairs over the summer. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure but it's a fun cast and I really got a kick out of it. Undercovers probably falls in the same category except there is probably a better twist, given that it's JJ Abrams. At least I hope so. They are kind of taking a page out of the Mr. & Mrs. Smith playbook with two former C.I.A agents who marry each other and start a catering business. It's short lived of course and they are thrust back into the agency. It seems like it's a Action/Comedy/Romance, could work. Just looking at the trailers the two spies played by Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw seem to be having fun together, I've got a good feeling about this one. (Undercovers aires on NBC at 8 PM)

Stay tuned for Thursday & Friday.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall TV: New Shows I Have Watched and May Watch: Sunday & Monday

It's that time of the year again where new shows dominate the airwaves. It's especially interesting this year due to NBC's big time debacle last year when they so stupidly tried to run the guy with the chin weeknights at 10PM. They have now agreed with everyone else that it was dumb and have now ordered something like fifty new shows for the fall. Subtlety is not in NBC's wheel house. So I decided to study the new fall schedule check out some of the new shows I wanted to see and listed them here for you. All you have to do now is just set your DVR and enjoy the show.


So there is only one show to watch this Sunday, that is if you aren't watching Football, and it's Boardwalk Empire on HBO. If you've read any reviews on the subject everything is glowing and damn right it should be. This is director Martin Scorsese's first attempt at a TV show and it should be considered a major coup for everyone involved. Although I did hear that of the first 5 episodes Marty's was the weakest. Nevertheless it's Scorsese doing what he does best telling a story about the Mob. This time it's in Atlantic City during Prohibition and it's about how one guy, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), took the reigns of everything illegal in that town and completely ran with it.  There's a young Capone, "Lucky" Luciano, Arnold Rothstein and many others. It's got a great cast, a great group of creatives and it's probably going to win a shitload of Emmy's next year. I shouldn't have to say much more about it cause this one has been the talk of TV for about two straight months now, if you haven't heard about this show then you have no business watching TV to begin with. (Boardwalk Empire aires on HBO Sunday Sept. 19th at 9PM)


It's funny but Monday seems to be a busy night for TV in my house all of a sudden. I never would have thought that a few years ago. So I have the old standard Chuck which is always a must see. Even my brother caught the Chuck bug. He watched all three seasons over the summer and is chomping at the bit for season 4 to begin, as am I. We've got a few newbies to add to Monday's list. One I'm on the fence about but I have been hearing great things is a half-hour sitcom called Mike & Molly. It's a little different from your average sitcom in that the main actors are fairly normal looking, ie they aren't thin as a rail 30 somethings who look like they should be on the cover of GQ. I saw the pseudo trailer and I just didn't find it very funny, but I was going to wait to get the consensus at the end of the week. I can always check out Hulu over the weekend. The big problem is I want to watch Lonestar and the Event and unfortunately I can't DVR all three.(Mike & Molly aires on CBS Monday at 9:30 PM)

LONE STAR:  This is an hourlong drama about a con-man, Bob Allen (James Wolk), who leads a double life in Texas, naturally. He's got a wife (Andriana Palicki) in Houston and a girlfriend (Eloise Mumford) in Midland. He seems to want to go straight and leave the con business and his con-father behind, but he can't seem to shake the double life he's carved out for himself. The trailers have been pretty interesting and I really dig the cast. Especially David Keith as the Con-Man Father trying to keep his kid in the game. I'm getting a real-life kind of vibe that really worked for Friday Night Lights and it's in Texas, again, so what could go wrong? This one has been getting some good buzz but it's always hard to tell with some of the newbies especially when it's a first time Producer/Showrunner Kyle Killen, he's also writing the film the Beaver with Mel Gibson which comes out later this year.  (Lone Star aires on Fox Monday at 9:00 PM)

THE EVENT:  This is also one of those shows that has been talked about to the hilt. The first couple trailers didn't do much for me especially with the entire cast talking up the secret surprise that is the title---the Event--ooh spooky. What is it? Everyone seems to want to know and even --- dum dum dum--the President doesn't seem to know what the fuck it is. I also really hated the editing with the weird cut to actress Laura Innes (ER) goofy face in order to ramp up the intrigue and suspense. Just a little tip, showing this does not enhance my desire to see the show. But as the slew of advertising progressed an interesting premise appeared and they had me curious to what the damn event really is. It seems that a President, Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood), a scruffy looking guy, Sean (Jason Ritter), and Sean's kidnapped Girlfriend Leila (Sarah Roemer) are going to find out what it is the hard way. They knew they would get me now that Lost is off the air and I suppose they decided to go the extra mile and make it look a bit like 24 now that that show is over too. I say smart move--this should do pretty well, as long as you know, no more weird cuts to Laura Innes' weird face. (The Event aires on NBC Monday at 9:00 PM

HAWAII FIVE-O: I have a good vibe about this one, I really do. I shouldn't because on the surface this seems like another crap re-make of a classic popular show. And I should know I have watched my share of bad remakes: Knight Rider, Bionic Woman etc. But this show has what those couldn't dream of having, a damn good cast. Alex O'Loughlin as super cop Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan as Danny "Danno" Williams, Grace Park as Kono and my personal favorite Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho. I loved him on Lost and I'm sure I'll love him here. I used to watch the original when I was a kid in syndication you don't get much better than Jack Lord and of course there is that theme song. This new one has the great cast but it also has the luckiest two writers in Hollywood attached to it, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the guys who wrote the Transformers movies, the new Star Trek and the awesome show Fringe. These guys have been on a roll the last few years it's doubtful that Hawaii Five-O will stop their reign.(Hawaii Five-O aires on CBS Monday at 10:00 PM)

I'll hopefully be posting Tuesday and Wednesday's lineup tomorrow night. Stay tuned.