Wednesday, January 20, 2010

John From Cincinnati

Piggybacking off the wide acclaim of Deadwood the people at HBO allowed David Milch to do another show.

This one was not quite as good in my opinion, but there were certainly a lot of underlying themes happening in this show.

John From Cincinnati is about the Yost family, a family of surfers who were once pretty popular. Mitch Yost (Bruce Greenwood) is the father of the family, and a knee injury knocked him out of surfing for the most part. Butchie Yost (Brian Van Holt) is Mitch's son and an unbelievably popular surfer who flamed out and became hooked on drugs. Shaun Yost (Greyson Fletcher) is Butchie's son who was actually raised by Mitch and Cissy Yost (Rebecca De Mornay) because his father was a drug user and his mother, Tina (Chandra West), was an adult porn star.

As we meet the family they are already torn apart. Cissy is completely strung out and Mitch is trying his hardest to find something of meaning. Then we meet John Monad (Austin Nichols).

The people who meet John believe him to be slow as he is only able to take what he hears and use that in his everyday language. He seems to have no real ability to think or speak on his own. Butchie sort of takes John under his wing.

Linc Stark (Luke Perry) meanwhile is trying to sign Shaun to Stinkweed Surfing, the same guy who signed Butchie years earlier and allowed him to flame out and become addicted to drugs.

There is really far too many things going on in this show to list here. Which is pretty amazing since it only lasted one season and just 10 episodes.

I enjoyed the show, it was confusing yet also made you think to be able to follow everything that was happening. I enjoy shows like that, but I am not sure I even got everything out of the show that it was trying to portray.

This show came on the air just a few years after Deadwood completed. And just like Deadwood it had an abundance of characters. Many of which actually followed Milch over from Deadwood.

Because it was only one season and just 10 episodes I can't give this that good of a grade, but I feel there was way more to come out of everything that was happening that Milch just wasn't able to tell during those 10 episodes. The final episode, however, was sort of like an ending - I am not sure if it was meant to be a season or series finale though.


Monday, January 18, 2010


During the summer I took a literature course at college that was basically using television shows as a form of literature.

The teacher was great and constantly said, "What makes good television?" The course was amazing and I came away with a number of new shows that I had never seen, but was now interested in viewing.

The first of those shows that I watched were all five seasons of The Wire and I curse myself for never watching it. However, I was very happy to be able to watch all five seasons consecutively without having to wait.

Well, I tossed in the second series that I found interesting during the course and that was Deadwood. I have never been a huge western fan, but I have to say I was immediately drawn to the characters in this show. And there were plenty.

The show focuses on the new town of Deadwood, South Dakota in the late 1800's and for the most part tries to be pretty close to true events. The shows characters are based on real life characters from that time frame, including well known characters that pop up like Wild Bill Hickock and Wyatt Earp.

The main characters of the show are Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Sol Star (John Hawkes), Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie) and Alma Garret (Molly Parker). The show, however, is very eclectic with its characters as they stretch out almost as much as The Simpsons.

This show only stretches three seasons of 36 shows. It is very unfortunate that the show was canceled after the third season. Deadwood was amazing right from the start, however, the third season really was a gem and was building to something special - but it ended without a real conclusion. I feel season four would have been epic.

It is kind of fun to watch a town build out of nothing with no real rules, but some of the men around camp take it upon themselves to police the town - as long as it is in their own best interest.

There were rumors of a pair of Deadwood movies coming out, but that report has been squashed and it now appears that the show is finished as it is. It saddens me now that I have seen all of the episodes because like I said, the final season was building to an all-out battle between the Deadwood camp and George Hearst.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quick Rant: Steroids

Well, it has happened again. Another high-profile athlete has admitted to using steroids. And, yet again, it is the story of the week.

There is only one problem: I DON'T CARE!!!

Mark McGwire, former Oakland Athletic and St. Louis Cardinal, admitted using steroids during his playing career. The only real reason McGwire finally came clean is because he is coming back to baseball as St. Louis' hitting coach this season. Instead of this being an ongoing distraction, McGwire came clean and hopes the story would go away.

So do I.

It appears that every month now another athlete (mostly baseball players) are coming clean or getting caught using steroids. The glamor of these stories, however, has just plain wore off.

When the first stories came out, sure I was interested, it had never happened before and the athletes that we have been watching were proven to be cheaters.

Now, there is just no real story. It doesn't surprise me anymore. I just don't care. I watch sports to be entertained, just like I watch movies and television. Actors and actresses continually have plastic surgery or modify their looks so they can be in the game longer or get certain parts. Are steroids any different?

I don't plan on having any plastic surgery soon, nor do I plan on shooting up steroids in my bathroom tonight. But, some people choose to live that way - more power to them.

As far as sports, I watch because I enjoy the game. Most of these athletes, if not all, are professional athletes anyway, without the drugs. There are just some that look for a little more edge. They look to get back into the game from an injury, or perhaps prolong a career.

The problem is the media. Any time anyone of any importance is even mentioned in the same breath as steroids it is the news for a month. I can't take it anymore. This is not news to me, I want to hear about next weekends playoffs. I want to hear about the basketball games from last night and if Kobe Bryant's injury is significant - I don't care about a baseball player who used steroids but hasn't been in baseball for over seven years. It is not a story.

I will never get my wish. Especially because 103 players tested positive for steroids back in 2003 and ever so slowly, like nails to a chalk board, the names will get released and we will back here talking about it for another month.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I should be ashamed of myself, but I was completely unaware that Bolt was a Disney film. What was I thinking? The movie stars Miley Cyrus, of course it has to be a Disney film. Don't they own her?

Anyway, over the weekend we finally decided to watch this film. My son had seen it about a dozen or more times now, so he already knew everything that was going to happen. It was almost easier to watch that way, without the millions of questions he is accustomed to asking during movies - especially those I have never seen before.

So, Bolt stars Miley Cyrus as Penny a young girl who happens to make it big on a television series. Her co-star happens to be a dog named Bolt (John Travolta).

The Director (James Lipton) has managed to do every single shot of this television series in one take. As far as Bolt knows, he truly does have super powers and Penny continuously is getting in trouble and is now kidnapped by Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell).

At the conclusion of each day, Bolt is taken to a trailer with Penny and fed until it is time to shoot again the next day. On one day, however, the Director leaves the audience with a cliffhanger, as Penny is kidnapped. Bolt is taken to his trailer, but busts out in order to save Penny.

He accidentally gets shipped across the country to New York where he kidnaps/befriends Mittens the cat (Susie Essman), who begrudgingly volunteers to help Bolt get across the country and meet up with Penny. Along the way, Bolt still believes he holds his television powers. They meet up with a hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) and the trio set out to finish their trip across country and rescue Penny.

This was a pretty cute movie. I was definitely surprised by the lack of voice talent, however. In these types of films I love going in not knowing who is voicing the characters so I can try and guess who each one was. I didn't even know who half of these stars were. With the exception of Travolta, Cyrus and McDowell the cast is a bunch of no names, and the inclusion of Lipton really threw me.

Overall, another great family film that had a handful of laughs, thanks to Rhino, and some adventure as well.


Monday, January 11, 2010


I had been looking forward to seeing what Mike Judge's new full-length feature had to offer. Office Space, and to a lesser extent Idiocracy, have both become cult classics in the DVD-world.

I am a huge fan of Office Space and I enjoy Idiocracy on occasion, so I had to love Extract as well, right?

Well, I did not.

Extract was just not funny at all. I watched the entire film without once laughing, and that is hard for me to do. This film should have been hilarious, it starred Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, David Koechner and Kristen Wiig - but the so-called comedy actually came out of Ben Affleck, who played Bateman's hippie best friend.

Let's get into the movie. Cindy (Mila Kunis) is a con-artist/thief. She uses her looks to get in with men in order to get a huge pay day. Lucky for her, Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.) has just lost his testicle in an accident at Russel's Extract plant. Joel (Bateman) is the owner of the plant, and Step has already agreed to take the insurance money due to his injury - until Cindy gets involved.

Joel is having his own issues at home. His wife, Suzie (Wiig), hasn't given him anything in months. He tries his hardest to get home before 8 p.m. because once Suzie gets the sweatpants on, they are not coming off.

He first believes that Cindy is flirting with him, and starts to contemplate cheating on his wife. But, being the nice guy that he is, he can't get himself to do it. But his buddy, Dean (Affleck), gets Joel to hire a male prostitute to seduce his wife and see if she would cheat on him - therefore opening the doors for him to cheat on her.

There are just too many stories going on at the same time in this film that only runs just over 90 minutes. It almost feels like two films at once. Plus, too many funny people are just wasted in the film - Simmons and Wiig are way funnier than either of them were able to be.

Overall, I was just not pleased with the overall film. It wanted to do more than it should have, and went in too many directions with the plot. Focusing on one or the other may have given the plot more of a purpose and allow Judge to sprinkle in many more jokes that were just lacking in the final product.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The last new film we watched over the weekend was G-Force. This was the movie that my wife tried to take my son to in the theater. It was his first time ever going to a movie.

He apparently made it through about half of the movie before wanting to leave. But, he was very attentive to the final part of the movie this time around.

G-Force is a secret side project for the FBI led by Ben (Zach Galifianakis). He has managed to train animals to become FBI agents as well as a chip that allows animals and humans to speak to each other.

It was fun trying to figure out who was voicing each of the animals, but unfortunately I was only able to figure out two of them. The main G-Force animals are guinea pigs, Darwin (Sam Rockwell), Juarez (Penelope Cruz) and Blaster (Tracy Morgan), as well as a mole, Speckles (Nicolas Cage). I was only able to pick out Morgan out of that group, I mistook Cruz for Salma Hayek. Along the way the meet up with another guinea pig, Hurley (Jon Favreau) and a hamster, Bucky (Steve Buscemi). Now I was able to pick out Buscemi, that was not too hard.

This was actually a pretty cute film that had a pretty decent premise. I was not too excited about the twist ending, I felt that something else could have been better, but I will take it.

The film had some comedy and loads of action, and kept the family entertained throughout which is always a plus.



My son is really getting into movies lately, and he has especially gotten into Pixar films. We watched Up a few weeks ago, and I was expecting a lot more out of the film than I came away with. After hearing so many wonderful things, and with the name Pixar on it, I was hoping for something that just wasn't there.

So, I went to the final Pixar movie I had yet to watch, Wall-E. I didn't know what to expect due to the enormous praise this film also received when it was released. A lot like that of Up.

What I found was that Wall-E was truly amazing. A movie that has so little talking was truly able to speak to its audience.

Wall-E is a robot that is left on Earth to cleanup the enormous amount of trash that has accumulated due to humans. The Earth's population is now living on a man-made space planet, and they have become so obese and lazy it is ridiculous (but also on point).

Wall-E is very self sufficient. He takes the garbage he collects and makes small squares out of it and stacks them into skyscraper-like forms. He also appears to have grown a personality and a heart. He has befriended a small cockroach and collects different types of garbage to take back to his home with him.

One evening a ship lands on Earth and leaves behind a very clean looking robot known as EVE. It is EVE's job to see if Earth is no capable of supporting life again. During her trip she befriends Wall-E and Wall-E falls in love with her. His main goal is to hold her hand just like the people in the movies he watches.

EVE finds a small plant in Wall-E's home and contacts the ship to come and get her. As the ship comes Wall-E doesn't want EVE to leave so he grabs ahold of the ship and heads into space.

The visuals, especially in space, are gorgeous. They did a top-notch job capturing the beauty of space.

Like most Pixar films, this one had a message and it wasn't hidden either. They hit you smack in the face with it, and I am ok with that. Two major problems in the world today are obesity and pollution and this film shows the extreme to where things may be headed.

With so little talking Pixar may have ruined its streak of having John Ratzenberger in each of their films, but sure enough one of the obese passengers on the man-made planet is awoken and the streak was able to continue.


Funny People

So, after my last list of movies I have watched in my Quick Shots, I realized I have been watching way too many romantic comedies. Now, I don't mind watching them, but I need to mix it up a little. So, I did my best over the three day holiday to steer clear of them.

But, I sort of unfortunately backed into one accidentally. It isn't a full blown romantic comedy, but the core of the film has a lot to do with relationships.

I tossed in Funny People not expecting too much. I had heard from numerous people that they went in expecting a top of the line comedy and came out majorly disappointed. So, I went in expecting nothing and hoped that would help me understand and enjoy the film much more.

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is your typical stand-up comedian that hits the big time and then becomes way too big even for himself. He has grossed millions of dollars in big-budget comedy films, has the biggest house he could ever want, loads of free stuff and people that basically take care of his every need.

Simmons, over time, has sort of become too big for himself. However, he has just found out that he has a rare form of leukemia (I believe that was the disease, I am not 100% sure) and begins to realize that his life is empty.

Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) is a low on the totem pole comedian. He is just starting out and works in a cafe at a grocery store to make ends meet. He is also staying on his friends pull-out couch. He lives with two other friends, Mark Taylor Jackson (Jason Schwartzman), who has hit it somewhat big with his television show Hey Teach!, and Leo Koenig (Jonah Hill), who is also a stand up comedian, but is a little better at it than Ira.

One night while doing stand up, Simmons bumps Wright to do a short set, but manages to just tell depressing stories to the audience. Wright follows him and begins to make fun of Simmons' crying - "What does he have to be sad about?"

Despite being made fun of, Simmons feels Wright has a bit of writing talent and signs him to be his assistant and write jokes for him.

To me, the meat of this movie was about the relationship that forms between Simmons and Wright. There is also another relationship between Simmons and his ex-girlfriend Laura (Leslie Mann). In that relationship, Simmons feels that the reason he is not happy is because he cheated on Laura and lost her. Again, I feel that that storyline only really strengthened the relationship of Simmons and Wright.

I went in expecting nothing and I feel I did enjoy it a little more than I would have if I was expecting a full-fledge comedy. That being said, it still wasn't the greatest - it was sort of blah. A nice watch, but nothing spectacular.

I did laugh-out-loud a handful of times though. The movie did have some great jokes that kept it flowing, but it just wasn't enough for me.