Skip to content

HIMYM – The Ashtray – Review

Image

Carter Bays and Craig Thomas won’t use their plan to introduce the mother at season’s end and make the final season about the group’s adventures pre-mother. The idea had legs, though. “The Ashtray” seems like a good example of what that hypothetical season could be like, i.e. the kind of stories the show could tell. “The Ashtray” uses the basic structure of many HIMYM episodes. One character begins a story, another character tells the same story differently, and a third character tells the true version of the story. Silliness happens in acts one and two. Sweepy clean resolution happens in act three, and everyone smiles, and fans can go to sleep happy.

“The Ashtray” is about Lily, but it takes nearly fifteen minutes for the episode’s story to turn towards Lily. Kyle MacLachan’s The Captain character makes a triumphant return. The Captain was the only highlight of the sixth season of the show. MacLachan took his character’s silliness and ran with it. I never laugh during HIMYM episodes. The Captain got me to laugh. I’d like to think the acting had more to do with my laughing than the writing. Ted receives a phone call from The Captain. The Captain needs to speak with him. Ted worries the reason lies in the last time he saw him, which was at an art show where The Captain displayed furious anger over Ted stealing Zoey from him. Ted remembers The Captain pointing a harpoon gun in his face, mocking him, and making him swear to never steal his girlfriend again. Ted’s side of the story manages to shoehorn in another date of his, a girl that starred in a commercial for boats. The Boats girl begins and ends with the commercial. Ted freaks out about retribution for dating the boats girl because The Captain declared her his one and only.

Ted’s wrong, of course, in his telling of the story. Robin picked up the story and took the audience back to the beginning wherein we learn Ted and his date smoked pot before Ted went to the art gallery. I picked up my copy of Coriolanus as I’m in act three and the action is getting rather intense. Coriolanus should’ve bit his tongue, but those damn tribunes had it out for him since act one. Anyway, I read what I could while Robin told her version of the story. After awhile, the constant re-telling of stories gets old. I already wrote my compliment towards the show’s respect for the oral tradition of storytelling. Robin remembers getting hit on by The Captain (which just roll with it everybody) and the events we saw happen differently than Ted remembered.

Lily’s story is the truest. Ted was high; Robin drunk. Ted ate shrimp and wiped his hands on a waiter. Robin tried to hook up with The Captain throughout the evening. Lily stands by and engages The Captain in a chat about art when he arrives at the art gallery. One of the tricks of telling a good story is pulling back on the big moments and letting them be, like the way someone gardening lets what they put into the ground alone to grow. The silliness is around Lily’s story but its centrality is Lily’s opinion of herself. The Captain shows her a piece of art, which his art consultant considers a masterpiece, but Lily likes a painting of an elephant. The Captain dismisses her opinion because she’s just a kindergarten teacher. Lily steals his expensive ashtray.
Lily’s story is reduced to a simple relatable aspect of life: regret about not pursing the dream, instead settling on something and then realizing what you settled for is permanent. The dream passed the dreamer by. Lily’s mad at herself for only being a kindergarten teacher and not following her dreams in having an art career. Marshall tells her it’s not too late to pursue what she loves. Lily thinks it is. She’s a mother and set in her life. Art passed her by. HIMYM’s always told stories that related to late twenty-somethings and early thirty-somethings. I think this story probably landed with a good chunk of the audience.

The Captain offers Lily a job to be his art consultant (because of course he does; this is How I Met Your Mother). She accepts it. Alyson Hanigan shined in her scene with Jason Segal. Segal spent much of the episode wanting to take a ride on The Captain’s bus, so the turn in the final act was welcomed. Both actors are very good in serious scenes. Hanigan cries and does her best to make Lily’s feeling an intrinsic part of her character, and Segal transitions easily from angry husband to supportive husband. It’s nice to see the actors remember they’re talented once every six months.

“The Ashtray” got me to laugh in ways which reminded me of the good ol’ days of HIMYM. Thus, the episode is a success. Bays and Thomas told a familiar story (like going back to your old reliable pair of jeans), threw in fun gags, one funny piece of acting from Kyle MacLachan, and basically left Barney out until they didn’t. The absence of wedding stories for Barney and Robin was welcomed, as well as the absence of Ted and Jeanette. Lets just hope the good times last this time round.

Advertisements

A Good Day To Review Die Hard

Image

My heart goes out to Bruce Willis. Truly. Six years after successfully restarting the most important character of his entire movie-making career, Willis has to watch it all crash and burn to the ground with this loud, dumb and plain boring fifth chapter, the erroneously-titled ‘A Good Day to Live Hard’. Indeed, while its immediate predecessor ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ banked on a winning formula of old-school heroics with new-age sensibilities, this sequel is firmly stuck in the past – and the worse thing about it is that it would only be passable by the standards of an 80s action movie.

Truth be told, Willis isn’t at all the reason why this fails to be a good day for the ‘Die Hard’ franchise. At the age of 57, the man can still run, carry a mean weapon and kick ass – not to mention his trademark squint and unflappable wisecracking attitude. To put it simply, Willis is still very much the John McClane we’ve loved in the 80s and 90s and even in the very last movie before this one. But much as Willis tries, he is severely let down by a toxic combination of weak scripting and even weaker directing – the former of which by Skip Woods and the latter by John Moore.

Little in either Woods’ or Moore’s filmography suggests that they are capable of rising above mediocrity, and this exercise in blandness is proof of that foolish consistency. Let’s start with Woods’ script, which clearly thinks it can be a ‘Mission Impossible’ by way of ‘Die Hard’ – so instead of putting the New York City detective in his home turf, or for that matter, his home country, decides to transport him all the way to the Moscow to wreak havoc. The excuse? To reconnect with his long lost son, Jack, who has apparently turned bad and is now imprisoned in Russia.

Nowhere in the rest of the story does Woods manage to convince us that the change in location is worth the while. Even though we are now well into the 21st century, Woods still seems stuck in the last, so not only are the good guys and bad guys drawn along the lines of Americans and Russians respectively (cue the stereotypes about both nationalities), the plot has something to do with as archaic an institution as Chernobyl. Oh yes, we’re back to foiling some nasty Russian’s nefarious plan of using the uranium from the site to build weapons of mass destruction.

To make matters worse, Moore is too daft to realise that the very premise in itself strains credibility. How else can you explain why following scene after scene of destruction around the Russian capital, there is no sign of any law and order agency? Are we supposed to believe that the police are too busy or nonchalant to care about some highway chase that decimates pretty much every one of the city’s infrastructure it comes across? Or that no authority responds to some helicopter firing round after round after round into a high-rise building? We like that our action movies are escapist, but not when they ignore every shred of common sense simply for expediency.

The fact that we pay attention to these details is in itself telling, for despite a frenetic pace that goes from scene after scene of action, the movie remains a bore. Shots are fired, things get blown up and people get killed from time to time, but at the end of the day, all that action is staged so unimaginatively that it fails to even interest – let alone excite – you. The pacing within each sequence is too monotonous, the sound seems perpetually cranked on loud, and the weaponry – plus an over-used helicopter – just gets tiresome too quickly. As if to compensate for the lack of any genuine thrills, the climax goes over- the-top, but like the rest of the movie, grows so incredulous – especially in slo-mo – that it is just laughable.

Ironically, what passes as John McClane’s wise cracks is anything but humorous. Most of McClane’s lines are in the context of his father-son relationship with Jack (Jai Courtney), but are hardly witty or engaging. They are also frustratingly repetitive, consisting of John lamenting how Jack nary shows him any respect as a father, or John lamenting how he had expected no more than a vacation in Moscow, or some inane topic like whether they will grow a third hand after stepping into Chernobyl without any protective suit. If John’s lines are horrid, the rest of the characters can be no better – and what really takes the cake is when John’s nemesis Alik (Rasha Bukvic) talks about how he used to be a pretty good tap dancer whom no one appreciated.

Even more lamentable is how this instalment, if played right, could have been an exciting new page for the ‘Die Hard’ series, with John passing the baton to his CIA operative of a son Jack. Yet this fifth chapter is easily the worst ‘Die Hard’ entry and quite possibly might sound the death knell for the franchise. If John McClane had a penchant for landing in the wrong place at the wrong time, then ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ is Bruce Willis’ unfortunate mistake of being in the wrong movie with the wrong people.

Castle – Reality Star Struck Review

Image

Is it just me or does it seem reality shows aren’t just taking over TV, they are taking over our regular TV shows, too?. Seems like every procedural features a reality TV style murder episode. This one wasn’t particularly noteworthy, either, featuring the lamest and worst murderer ever. She gets confronted by the cops, threatens to leave the interrogation, fumbles for her keys in her purse and when she can’t find them — she says the hell with it and confesses! What!? Pretty stupid.

It was inevitable that Laney and Esposito would get back together at some point, so I didn’t really care about that storyline. Yawn. And holy crap, but they have no idea what to do with Detective Ryan anymore. That was embarrassing. I really used to like his character, but he’s useless now. Kind of a shame, really.

The Castle-Beckett stuff was fine, nothing special. No way Gates would be that clueless, though. At least I don’t think she would be.

Yet again I have to unfortunately admit to myself that the show just not GOOD anymore. And I catch myself wondering whether I’d still be watching this if I didn’t want to write these weekly reviews. Or maybe the first 3 seasons were just that good that I secretly don’t want to let go. 

QUOTE OF NOTE:

–MARTHA: “Boy I wish I had these reality shows in my day: no script, over-acting, screaming at everybody — what a gig.”

HIMYM – Bad Crazy: Good or Bad? Crazy Bad?

Lily tells Ted that he needs to date Jeanette for a significant amount of time. They’re both insane and need each other. Ted needs to share his insanity with another person, Lily explains. I would’ve preferred Carter Bays and Craig Thomas walking into frame, telling Josh Radnor and Alyson Hanigan to freeze for just a moment while they break the fourth wall to tell the audience they’re intention to waste time with the Jeanette character because they’re hung up on the introduction of the mother in the series finale. Jeanette represents The Last One. Every person has a last one, I suppose, unless one marries the first person one dates, in which case I’m making a generalization and apologize. Ted will have a moment when he realizes it’s time to stop dating. It’ll involve fire, and the remnants of his upstairs scattered on a New York street. Since the show’s renewed for another season, I assume the relationship will take a full calendar year to get to the fiery ending.

“Bad Crazy” tries to trick the viewer into thinking the fiery ending will be the conclusion. No, Bays and Thomas adore pulling the rug out from under the audience, followed by pulling the rug that was underneath the other rug that had been pulled out, and then there’s a third, and even a fourth, rug that’s pulled out from the viewer. The narrative is unfair to Jeanette until Mike Tyson defends crazy women. Bays and Thomas use Tyson’s reputation for the sake of ultimate irony. Mike Tyson’s the former world heavyweight champion who bit off Holyfield’s ear, raped a woman, went to jail. ESPN’s Bill Simmons created the Tyson Scale to measure an athlete’s craziness. Tyson’s reformed his life. He’s become an example of the value of second chances in America. He was a bad, bad man who’s tried real hard to become a good, good man. The gist of the joke or whatever you want to call it is Tyson should be the last one explaining ‘crazy’ to someone else. Tyson, as it were, wrote the book on crazy.

Ted tells the gang he broke up with Jeanette. She got too crazy for him, and it was best for the relationship to end. Jeanette shows up to the apartment while Ted’s out of the house, looking for a book she left. Ted stressed Marshall and Barney, who were hanging out and playing video games, to not let her in the apartment should she stop by. She stops by; she enters the house; she destroys valuable items in his place. But why? SHE’S CRAZY! No, that’s not entirely it. Remember Bays and Thomas’ addiction to pulling rugs out from under the audience’s feet. Ted’s not truthful to his friends about the situation. I won’t bother picking apart the actions of a thirty-something fictional character who hangs out with the same four people all the time. It doesn’t make a lick of sense for him to withhold the truth from them; however, his friends can be terrible about his relationship fallouts. I wouldn’t tell these folks a gosh darn thing about my personal life.

Ted never broke up with Jeanette. The story’s so damn stupid. I’m embarrassed to even recap it and then comment on it. Ted and Jeanette went to a sports game at the Barclays Center. Jeanette thought Ted wanted to admit his feelings for Lily (Jeanette created a different Lily in her mind–a Lily with a southern drawl) to which Ted passionately kissed her. I don’t know. The scene changes as Ted reveals the truth about what happened. Mike Tyson won’t let Ted off the hook. Jeanette isn’t the crazy girl just because she’s crazy. Barney’s theory that girls just are crazy is disputed by the former world heavyweight champion of the world. Men must accept responsibility for their role in a woman’s behavior. Men send mix signals that make women feel crazy. They lash out. It’s all a mess. Ted accepts his role in Jeanette’s behavior. It’s sort of hard to ignore how she’s destroying his lamps as well as his other personal items. It’s a sitcom, though–his stuff will be as good as new next week. Ted listens to Lily’s advice about dating her. He needs it. His grand romantic arc needs it because he needs to that nonsense romantic element where he realizes he can’t date anymore. Dating’s just too much for ol’ Ted Mosby. Whatever. Abby Elliott is a welcomed addition to the show for however long she’s around for. She’s funny, pretty, sexy, and hopefully the writers let her do more than be stereotypically crazy.

Meanwhile, the less I write about the Robin/baby Marvin plot is for the better. I contemplated embedding a clip of Daniel Bryan yelling ‘NO!’ rather than write anything about the B story. Robin doesn’t want to hold Marvin. She’s forced into doing it but refuses. Mike Tyson is involved and a strip club. The story’s told in flash-forwards. Time passes. Robin reveals a new truth about that day she needed to hold Marvin with each passing year. It’s a mind-numbing device. I was yelling “NO!” each time the title card showed the passage of years. Robin finally holds the baby and likes it. The story is a massive waste of time; it ends in a predictable place. The future if anything depicts a strained friendship. The women seem to meet but once each year. Their conversation is wooden and soulless.

In truth, I didn’t mind the A story which involved Josh Radnor in a Boba Fett suit (If I’m wrong about that, I don’t care) and the return of his red boots as worn by a quite provocative Abby Elliott. The B story was horrible. It really brought the episode down.Image

Recoil – ABC Castle Review

This episode revisited Kate’s mother’s case and focused on a moral dilemma: Should Kate save the man responsible for her mom’s death, or suppress evidence and let him die. I love this idea, and it worked pretty well. I’m well aware that many people, including Lee, are so over this story line, but I enjoy it. I think it’s given us tons of meaty back story and provided us with great insight into Kate’s character. The deeper TV shows delve into that, IMHO, the better.

We’ve seen Kate evolve over time, and a lot of that change is the result of this story line. The other reason is Rick. She chose life for herself, because of him. She chose to celebrate with him on Christmas Eve because she loves him. She’s got a better outlook on life now. She laughs and enjoys living because of Rick Castle.

Then why, oh why, do we get such infrequent Caskett moments? I loved the few we got in this show, with them sharing some moments of quiet conversation and spending time together in Kate’s apartment, but we haven’t seen them hug or kiss since Christmas. Then tonight, at the end of the show, Kate was on the couch and Rick was sitting on chair or maybe an ottoman. Come on, Marlowe! Where’s the love? The lack of intimacy is killing me. I’m not talking about sex, although that would nice. Just cuddling and showing how much they care for each other.

Another beef I had was that Kate doesn’t turn to Rick at the height of her moral dilemma. Oh, no. She goes back to the therapist she used before coming to Rick that rainy night in May in a scene that seemed shoe-horned in. In my opinion, the writers would’ve much better served to have her talk to Rick and break down. Let him hold her. Act like a freaking couple, for crying out loud!

So the bottom line is, this episode frustrated me to no end. I want to see more moments of actual surprise and amazement. Nothing over-the-top Just realistic and not so boring and predictable. But  much like all long-running shows, Castle, in my opinion has hit the infamous slump. I guess the fans have to wait and hope for an early comeback.Image

PS I Love You – The HIMYM Episode not the Movie

Image

P.S. I Love You takes the Canada-extravaganza of How I Met Your Mother to a whole new level. The show consistently makes Canada jokes and references, so I didn’t think we’d see an episode where the usual Canadian humor would be put to shame, but tonight definitely did just that.

The catalyst to the Canadian onslaught is a discussion about stalkers, and whether someone has to be a total nut to become obsessed. Ted likes to reference the Dobler/Dahmer Theory, which says that whether a gesture is charming or alarming depends on the reception.

Robin gets a bit defensive when Barney is bashing stalkers, and confesses that at one time she may have gotten a bit obsessed with someone. When she won’t tell Barney who it was, he reacts in the most normal way possible: he breaks into her apartment, reads her teenage diaries, flies to Canada, talks to all her ex-boyfriends, and eventually finding the tape that everyone’s been waiting for: Robin Sparkles 4!

Underneath the Tunes is apparently the Canadian version of Behind the Music, and they did a special on Robin Sparkles after things were no longer so sparkly in her life. Her hits had propelled her to stardom, but she eventually decided she wanted no more of it, and she became Robin Daggers.

Robin Daggers reminded me a bit of Alanis Morrisette from the start, and that was continued all the way up to having Coulier as one of the interview subjects. The song is about some man that she’s obsessed with but doesn’t want to be with. The song’s target was some kind of big mystery in Canada, but the name that came up the most frequently is Alan Thicke. Because of this, Barney rushes to Thicke’s apartment and attempts to beat Thicke up. Thicke easily subdues him and says he wasn’t the one Robin was obsessed with, he always thought it was Coulier.

 

Once Barney admits that anyone can cross the line, Robin admits that her song P.S. I Love You was about none other than Paul Schaffer. That’s right, her obsession was with the Letterman sidekick, which she claims is a common thing among Canadian teenage girls

The other obsessed person in the episode is Ted’s new girlfriend Jeanette (Saturday Night Live alum Abby Eliot). He first saw her on the train reading the same book as him, but he didn’t have a chance to say anything before she’s gone. He thinks about tracking her down, but Marshall and Lily alert him that he’s sounding like a stalker, and that he can’t force destiny. He decides to not force it, and just then destiny comes his way. He meets the girl from the train outside of his class one day after a fire alarm lets everyone out.

The extent of her stalking keeps being increased from simply tracking him down at the university, to pulling the fire alarm, to starting a fire, and finally all the way to stalking him for a year and a half. Her defense every time is that she couldn’t stand the idea of not meeting him. Surprisingly, Ted eats this line up, and uses the information that she’s been stalking him for that long as an excuse to make out with her.

Future Ted tells us that everyone will make that one big mistake before getting married. Really Ted? One big mistake? Well explain Karen, Blah-Blah, and half the other girls you’ve dated then. The fact he phrased it like that worries me that we may be stuck with a few episodes in a row of Ted with this horrible girl. She’s a funny, one-episode gag, but definitely not a girl I want to watch him with for the next month.

Robin and Barney’s relationship is definitely strengthening. He’s always been a bit jealous, but the fact he was willing to fly all the way to Canada to find out which guy she liked in high school shows that this is really the real thing.

Sadly, tonight will probably be the last time we’ll see Sparkles. With Underneath the Tunes revealing just about everything there is to know about Sparkles, and her career likely falling apart after that horrible appearance at the Grey Cup, I don’t see her coming back. Then again, the show has thrown weirder stuff at us before.

If this is indeed the conclusion to the Sparkles saga, it was a fitting end for one of TV’s greatest back-stories. Every episode where we got to see Robin in her younger, Canadian days has been a treat, and tonight’s is no different. The Behind The Music mode for telling this story is brilliant, and wonderfully executed. Episodes like this one make me glad the show will be back for another season.

Django Unchained Review

DiCaprio in Django Unchained

Django Unchained presents the larger-than-life tale of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who collaborates with Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz)—a German dentist-turn-bounty hunter—in order to rescue his wife from the servitude of a ruthless Mississippi plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). The story begins in the US state of Texas in the year 1858—two years prior to the start of the American Civil War. The tone of the movie is set by Luis Enriquez Bacalov’s original “Django Theme Song” sung by Rocky Roberts—taken as it is from Sergio Cobucci’s Django (1966)—which plays with the opening credits. Django Unchained is Tarantino’s tribute to the visionaries of Western filmmaking—those who conceptualized the decorated genre and more so those who prevented it from dying by reinventing it. The Western genre has always fascinated Tarantino. Right from the beginning of his career it has been his dream to make a Western of his own. Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci are the two filmmakers who seem to have inspired him the most. With Django Unchained, Tarantino finally seems to be living his lifelong dream of emulating his childhood idol. And what makes Django Unchained even more special is the fact that it comes at a time when the Western genre once again finds itself on the brink of obsolescence.

While the classic works of John Ford and Howard Hawkes epitomize the golden age of Western filmmaking, the grotesque, tongue-in-cheeky works of Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci—often referred to as Italo-Western or more prominently as Spaghetti Western—clearly represent its new age. At a time when Western genre was looked upon by most filmmakers as dead and buried, Leone and Corbucci not only rejuvenated it but also changed its very face for the better. The Old West which was once governed by the tenets of pride, honor, chivalry, machismo and idealism got metamorphosed into a brutal realm inhabited by realistic, grey-shaded characters that despite their endless flaws couldn’t be deemed completely devoid of human virtues. While Leone is often regarded as the master creator of Spaghetti Western cinema, people often overlook the indelible contribution made by Corbucci. With movies like Django (1966) and The Great Silence (1968), Corbucci succeeded in adding a whole new dimension to the Spaghetti Western canvas by painting a nightmarish world haunted by fascist ideologies. In fact, Corbucci’s depiction of the Old West was so lurid, stark, brutal and vicious that it made Leone’s portrayal appear remarkably dull and placid in comparison.

There’s absolutely no doubt whatsoever that with Django Unchained Quentin Tarantino consummates his trademark style—built around the uncanny combination of gore, glamour, grotesquerie, and dark humor—which is often described using the adjective “Tarantinoesque”. The movie’s filming style also bears a striking similarity to Sergio Corbucci’s sanguinary, majestic Spaghetti Western masterpiece: The Great Silence (1968). In Django Unchained, Tarantino fiddles with history (but falls short of rewriting it unlike his previous film Inglourious Basterds) to present his own perspective on several delicate issues mainly concerning slavery. Tarantino’s naked display of uncorroborated brutalities associated with the inhumane practice of slavery, especially Mandingo as its extension has given rise to discontent among certain sections of the white community. Likewise, the movie has received condemnation from the likes of Spike Lee and Tavis Smiley for glorifying the n-word in the tradition of blaxploitation films. Django Unchained features special appearances from Jonah Hill, Don Johnson, Quentin Tarantino and Franco Nero who had played the titular role in the 1966 Spaghetti Western classic Django.

Tarantino’s imaginative direction is well backed up by some commendable acting performances from movie’s lead as well as supporting cast. Jamie Foxx delivers his best performance in years, one that is perhaps bettered only by his Oscar-winning portrayal in Ray (2004). Despite bearing several similarities to his multi-lingual part in Inglorious Basterds, Christoph Waltz portrayal easily forms the backbone of the movie. Tarantino once again takes full advantage of Waltz’s polyglot abilities and uses it to great effect at different points in the film. Waltz’s Schultz is basically a representation of all those white men who raised their voice against slavery and contributed to its abolition. Behind his facade of a cold-blooded bounty hunter we discover a righteous human being whose superior intellect is well matched by his great sense of compassion. He inexorable resolve to rescue Broomhilda and his sacrifice in the end inexplicably brings to mind of the great sacrifice made by Abraham Lincoln. Schultz is a symbol of white men’s conscience, courage and virtue in the same way as Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen is a symbol of Black men’s pusillanimity, servility and hypocrisy. Thus, Stephen in many ways is Waltz’s antithesis and the movie’s true antagonist. And to Jackson’s credit, he plays the part with great subtlety, guile and conviction. According to this critic, it’s his best performance since Pulp Fiction (1994). Leonardo DiCaprio, in a rare negative portrayal, delivers a thumping performance as the sadistic Calvin Candie. A megalomaniac who dresses with the perfection of a fop, Candie is quite easily one of the most menacing Western villains of all time. Kerry Washington plays the part of the slave-girl Broomhilda—the only major female part in the movie—with exquisite charm.

Overall, Django Unchained has its flaws and suffers from anachronisms and incongruities, some deliberate and some not so. But, Tarantino still manages to pack a strong punch. From the cinematic point of view, Django Unchained is undoubtedly a lesser work in comparison to Inglourious Basterds (2009). But the audacious yet effective manner in which Django Unchained retraces the history, fiddles with it, and presents its dark side makes it an important work of cinema. Django Unchained is unusually high on style, but luckily there’s enough substance to keep an intelligent viewer interested. Highly recommended!

Remember Me – And You Will

This is probably going to be the most difficult article I’ve written to date ‘because I can’t explain why Remember Me is so brilliantly amazing without letting you in on the biggest spoiler of it. But here are some things I can tell you:

  1. Remember Me isn’t your typical Hollywood romantic drama. In fact, the film’s final act is diametrically opposed to the ending most studio productions would tack on this sort of film.
  2. Robert Pattinson has been hiding his acting talent behind his million dollar pay check from the Twilight Saga. I hate Twilight and everything it stands for as much as the next guy but this film, I have to say, made me a Pattinson fan.
  3. Chris Cooper dazzles yet again, this time as the overprotective ex-cop dad to Emilie de Ravin’s Ally Craig (who looks super cute throughout, btw).
  4. Remember Me has one of the most mind-boggling ending twist in recent cinema.
  5. The beauty of the film is in its serene, often sad and linear progression.
  6. Will Fetters, the writer, is one talented bloke.
  7. Marcelo Zarvos provides a very apt score that doesn’t receive enough credit.
  8. This is one of the most true-to-life and terribly sad films you’ll ever see. And believe me, it will stay with you long after the reel is over.

 

I’d love to discuss and debate the film’s final act, but that would be completely ruining Remember Me. The final 15 minutes or so will seriously divide audiences, and I have to at least give screenwriter Will Fetters and director Allen Coulter credit for not taking the easy road out. They set up the ending from the very opening scenes, and they follow through to the bitter end, obviously aware of how the ending will split audiences.

Love it or hate where the film ultimately takes you, Remember Me will leave an impression. Even non-Pattinson fans will be moved by this bittersweet movie that packs quite a punch and is all about living life to the fullest.Image

Ring Up For The Next HIMYM Review

I’ve badmouthed How I Met Your Mother a lot over the course of this season. It’s not just that we’re waiting for the inevitable to happen; it’s that it hasn’t been all that fun to participate in that waiting for the inevitable. “Ring Up!” however demonstrates a lot of what the show was lacking before. 
 
It’s a very funny episode and it’s funny in a way that the show has always been best at: the gang is riffing off eachother and we get more jokes in this half-hour than we have in perhaps any other episode recently. When Ted walks in with a wrist-bracelet on and everyone begins making great joke after great joke (with wonderful comedic timing) at his expense, it had me laughing more often and more consistently thanHow I Met Your Mother has in a long while. 
 
While some of these jokes will perhaps please some more than others, it’s still at a rate and quality that has me really pleased. I may not have been the most enthusiastic person about the “old people” jokes made at Ted’s expense, but the back and forth between Ted and Barney holds too much chemistry, zippy pace, and go-for-broke feel to not win you over just a little bit. Similarly, Robin’s flashback to musical numbers exaggerating her experiences is a little out of place despite being incredibly charming and amusing.
 
On the other hand, Marshall and Lily’s sub-plot where Marshall feigns being a broke rockstar to roleplay his way to sex during a dryspell in the wake of Marvin’s birth starts out amusing but then gets a little grating and pointless (although the visual of Marshall’s giant hand formed from an allergic reaction to the wrist band was rather funny). 
 
The reveal that the girl Ted hooks up with is Barney’s half-sister was unexpected and jarring, but I have the suspicion this will have implications for how Ted meets the mother so I’m willing to forgive it a bit. Plus Barney staging a wedding for the two of them to feel less tainted by Ted sleeping with his sister was totally amusing and in-character. 
 
This episode will work or not work for you based on whether you found these jokes funny, but for me, this was an early season HIMYM level of joketelling at times, and the series is at its best when it lets its stars just tell jokes and finds ways that allow them to tell as many as possible. There were also some nice visual gags that the series has often gotten away with due to the nature of its narrative (including Robin’s engagement ring acting like the ring from Lord of the Rings). This is the type of storytelling the show does well and I wish it did more often. Though these stories in of themselves aren’t particularly spectacular or special, they’re told well enough and humorously enough to justify themselves. 

Band Or DJ? A HIMYM Dilemma

After coming off its strongest episode of the season in its mid-season finale (something arguably true of last season’s “Symphony of Illumination”), How I Met Your Mother returns for more stall tactics. Now, stall tactics aren’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, many of the best series make an excellent practice of itImage. But HIMYM isn’t exactly the best series at stalling the inevitable; especially when we know what the inevitable is (The show’s title has been spoiling it for us for nearly 8 years now).

 
This isn’t to say “Band or DJ” is bad (it’s not; there’s a couple nice jokes and one excellent, touching scene between Ted and Lily), but it’s thoroughly grounded in saying: “trust me, we’re going to get there, and it will be great … but in the meantime, here’s some stories you don’t really care about to kill time”.
 
The jokes aren’t exactly laugh out loud funny either. There’s some chuckle worthy stuff that’ll put a smile to your face, but very few jokes make you go, “OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT!” But that’s just par for the course for the show since they introduced Zoey. Which isn’t to say HIMYM suddenly got bad in its 6th season; there was a predictable decline going on at times during the fourth (which has one of the series’ weakest episodes in the form of its finale “The Leap”)  and fifth (Don and Robin’s relationship in hindsight is so very, very pointless and ends incredibly abruptly) seasons. But the 6th season changed my expectations of the show completely. The zippy pace and great jokes weren’t there; the use of narrative perspective and time to make jokes wasn’t as apparent. We got storylines that were so very strange and misplaced: particularly Zoey but also the death of Marshall’s dad (which wasn’t a bad story but came so suddenly, unexpectedly, inorganically and just felt cruel to do to the character). Zoey was the worst aspect of it though: she was a very obvious stalling tactic; very early on we’re told she’s not the one, and the show established a relationship we had no reason to root for and made little sense in the first place with the two so clearly always at odds with one another. Of course I still can’t help but love Jennifer Morrison and as big a HIMYM fan as I am, she will always be Dr. Alyson Cameron for me (House MD? Hugh Laurie? No?).   
 
So when a comedy series is stalling, it needs to do one of two things: be really damn funny or earn some nice emotional moments. HIMYM hasn’t really been selling me on either. Just look at “Who Wants to Be a Godparent”. It’s Marshall and Lily hosting a game show to determine who will be their kids God-parent, when we know good and well it’ll end up being all three of them in the end; throw in some very obvious, not particularly funny jokes and you can see why all this stalling is deeply unsatisfying. 
 
So what’s stalling us this week? 
 
Robin finds out Barney didn’t ask for her father’s permission for marriage, and Barney spends the rest of the episode getting the answer we always knew he’d get (although, it’s eventually with the help of Robin who won’t let her father come to the wedding if he doesn’t accept). I mean, there’s more to it than that, but that’s pretty much the gist to it. 
 
Ted and Lily fight over who gets to plan Robin and Barney’s wedding. Ted wants a DJ, and Lily a band. But then the band/DJ thing devolves into a weird metaphor for Ted being unhappy about Robin’s engagement. Lily finally gets episodic time dedicated to a story that isn’t involving Marshall or her new baby (something that hasn’t happened in so damn long! Alyson Hannigan can act people. Give her some more material!), in which she gets Ted to admit he still likes Robin (in exchange for her admitting  how having a kid can be frustrating enough at times that she considers leaving).
 
All in all, we’ve seen worse forestalling the inevitable from this series, and honestly, it was hard to follow up the mid-season finale, so this a good, but not great episode.