Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DVD: Battlestar Galactica

Okay, so not only am I a bad blogtress for not posting on here at least once a week (remember when I wanted to post once a day? ahh, the ambitions of youth…), I'm also way behind in things I wanted to share with you, poppets! I have no excuses, other than to say my new job actually makes me earn my paycheque and slacking is not something that comes easily here.

Anyway, on to the point of the post: Battlestar Galactica. All right, so I was late to the party. In fact, the party was well over before I even arrived. I watched all four seasons of BSG this fall, in rapid order, and I've got to say… it was frakkin' fantastic. Seriously. Maybe even better than - dare I say it? - ST:TNG! *gasp* Having recently rewatched all seven seasons of TNG, I think I may have to say that, yes, BSG is a far better show - in terms of acting, production values, plots, all of it. It never becomes kitsch, there are no musical numbers and any humour is like the kind we find in life - incidental. I have no idea why BSG failed the first time around, but I can see why it was such a success this time.

If you're scared off by the sci-fi aspects, don't be. Again, any sci-fi is incidental. This is high drama, political intrigue, covert espionage… this is an epic mystery that just happens to be set in space. If you're not hooked after watching the three-hour opening mini-series … well, I can't imagine such a scenario, so I can't devise a consequence. BSG is full of characters that you love, you hate, you despise… mostly, though, it's full of characters that grow and I can't think of a better compliment than that. It also has a depth of characters from which to draw, allowing secondary personnel to move to the forefront and become integral to the tapestry of the show and then fade away again - all without feeling forced or contrived. The plot itself was tight: I didn't find a single shark-jumping or island-moving moment (I'm looking at you, Lost); it was neat, clean and well-played.

Finally, the acting. Wow. Everyone - and I mean everyone - really checked in when they signed on for this show. Standouts for me were Tricia Helfer (6), James Callis (Baltar) and the dynamic duo of Mary MacDonnell (Roslin) and James Edward Olmos (Adama) - these guys really stretched themselves. I think one of my favourite line uttered on a TV screen has to be: "No. Not now. Not ever. Do you hear me? I will use every cannon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eye teeth to end you! I swear it! I'm coming for all of you!" … damn! I won't tell you who says it, but I think you'll guess who's capable before season one is done. Seriously - the acting was just brilliant.

Go watch it. I think it's some of the best TV ever made.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Now Playing: 2012

You see, poppets, somewhere in the cold caverns known as my heart, there is a warm, mushy spot reserved for crazy, popcorn-munching, landmark-decimating movies. Also, somewhere in there, is a tiny crevice kept aside for John Cusack (he shares it with his sister, whom I adored in a certain muppet movie). Never have these two phenomena had cause to overlap... until today. I give to you: 2012.

First of all, and let me clear about this, this movie is the disaster to end all disaster movies. You want earthquakes? It has earthquakes. You want volcanoes? Ditto. Tsunamis? check. In fact, it had just about every natural disaster that would make for scary moments in there, except tornadoes (but there is a joke about it!). And that's not all. I mean, what disaster movie would be complete without the obligatory obliteration of beloved man-made structures... so, as a gift to you, 2012 includes the destruction of the White House, the Vatican and Las Vegas. Finally, what disaster movie would be complete without a few noble sacrifices, and 2012 does not fail us here: it comes complete with the US President staying behind to join his late wife, the dalai lama ringing the last two gongs and, of course, a brilliant third world scientist who is sacrificed by a greedy politician. All this, for the low, low price of one admission.

So, really, what was wrong with 2012? Well, for me, it all comes back to the screw upon which this movie turns: an ancient Mayan prediction about planetary alignment and catastrophe. ...really? I kind of wish they would have made a joke about that instead and had this all happen in 2013 or something. Alack. So, from the get-go, I was sceptical. Then there's John-Cusack-as-action-movie hero... in a word? No. Just... no. Finally, there's the absolutely unbelivability of the Chinese actually helping us out in a time of crisis. I mean, that stretches anyone's suspension of disbelief to a snapping point. So, while the action was unrelenting and the CGI simply fantastic, 2012 never rose, in my humble opinion, to anything higher than a case study in blockbuster entertainment.

I think this movie would have done much better in the lazy, hazy days of August, when our brains are soft and all we want to do is chill in an air-conditioned movie theatre. I also think we could have used some Will Smith. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

the end approacheth

I happened to be reminded of my new year's resolutions this past week and am a bit disappointed in myself. Sure, I went more green and, with the help of a new work wardrobe, have definitely upped the glam factor. Less needy and needed? Check, with two nights a week dedicated to having my cell set to vibrate. Spend less money? Weelll… not so much. Though there have been responsible purchases (e.g., new work wardrobe) and preapproved expenditures (NFLD, NYC, etc), there have also been an exorbitant amounts spent on outside food. The biggest disappointment this year, however, has been my writing.. or lack thereof. Blog posts dwindled, fiction writing was nonexistent and the familial memoirs I had thought to get started on never emerged. I know, I've been busy. Still, I feel like I need to make more time to do this. Sometimes I can feel my writing skills leaking out of me and I'm afraid - deathly afraid - that I'll never get them back.

I'm thinking I will try and roll all three of these things together, maybe have memoir blogs and fiction posts. To do so would mean to wear my heart on my cybersleeve… and I think I may be too chicken shit to do that. We shall see if a backbone emerges in the next few months.

On a completely unrelated note: I watched Drag Me to Hell recently. In a word? Don't.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

sunny days

All I need to take the edge off a rough week is a lime-green trench coat, Dior shades, Muse in my ears and a sunny walk to work. I miss this commute.

So, what's a rough week? #3 threatens to go above my head for a vacation approval when all I said was that it would be tight. #5 can't understand that her hours being cut isn't a personal punishment but a fact of the times. #6 - my favourite - is being sent back to her home position at the end of the year due to budget glitches. #4 is a two-faced keener who only looks like he's doing a lot of work, but is really as lazy as they come. and #2? Well, she's eighteen months away from retirement, so she is just refusing to keep up with the system as she doesn't see the point. sigh.

Those twelve minutes of walking with a purpose through construction zones and past fenced-in-parks are the best twelve minutes of my entire week.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

DVD: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer & Angel

Let me set my cards on the table, poppets: I hate Angel. For a long time, I thought I just hated David Boreanaz; alas, no. I should have clued in since I do like Angelus (he's awesome) but it took me until Bones to realise that David is not the issue. It really is stupid Angel and stupid soul, which he treats like some sort of curse (which, technically, it is) and who whines a whole lot… Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Rewind to May 2003. I was graduating from my undergrad, fretting about being a grownup and, to make matters worse, Buffy was off the air. I was late on the Buffy bandwagon, only being enticed by Spike in the fifth season. I have since re-watched Buffy (twice) and am a complete and total convert. A few gush-worthy notables: the witty scripts, the creativity (hello, musical!), the character development and, of course, Spike.

I decided to watch the last season of Angel, but I remember being bored and not caring. It's not my fault: I had no investment in these characters; their lives (or, more appropriately, their deaths) held little meaning for me. Worse, the one character I did like (Spike) was completely emasculated in order to keep the other ensouled vampire in the spotlight. All in all, a forgettable experience.

Which brings us to Summer 2009. I want to watch Buffy (yes, again) but I think "this time, I'll give Angel a go" too. You know, watch all the episodes in their original airdate order. This sounded like a great idea on paper. What I didn't foresee is the limited stamina of my companion in this journey or the horrible, dragging nature of Angel, especially when held in direct comparison to Buffy. I was not looking forward to watching Angel's season 5 without sweet, sweet Buffy to cut the bitter dregs. How Angel had higher ratings than Buffy, I'll never know.

What a delicious surprise to find that Angel5 is the probably its best season. Discuss. Of course, if you haven't done the watching and you'd like to still be surprised, stop reading and check back in after you've done so. For the rest of the class: sure there's Gunn's amped up lawyer-brain, which just made him sexier (if possible) and Wesley's distinct turn-for-the-darker… but is it just me or was trading Fred for Illyria the cleverest thing ever? I can't say I had any love for the awkward-Texan, perpetual-damsel-in-distress Winifred Burkle, but it wasn't just the death that made me happy (and what a beautifully acted death scene it was). No, it was the wonderful blue-tinted goddess that took her place. I love that Whedon kept the actress for this whole new character, adding a poignant layer of torment that we would otherwise have lost. It's too bad she's only in the last 5 episodes of the series - she was almost worth slogging through the other 100+ episodes. Also: love love LOVE her "training" exercises with Spike. Fun!

Was it worth it? Hmm… I suppose, just so I can bash Angel with some credibility. As for Buffy.. I'm sure I'll return to Sunnydale again.