Third Monday Movie Day

Movie of the Month: Following (Christopher Nolan, 1998)

Following is a lean little movie (69 minutes) that's clearly made on a shoestring budget, but first-time director Christopher Nolan knew what he was doing as far as plot, tension and language were concerned. This black-and-white film full of no-name actors won't catch the eye of the average viewer, but it's well worth pulling up on Netflix streaming to see the humble beginnings of a man who would become one of America's premier directors within less than a decade.

The Young Man (Jeremy Theobald, and yes, "The Young Man" is the character's name) has an obsession with following strangers, just to see who they are and what they do. He makes the mistake of following Cobb (Alex Haw, in his one and only film credit), who believes the young man to be a cop about to nail him for his own fetish: breaking into houses and leaving traces of activity, though never stealing anything of note. The Blonde (Lucy Russell, the most consistently working actor in this film, though you won't recognize her) figures into the story with both men, but the more I tell you, the more I ruin.

Following is told out of order, and essentially is about a man with one great flaw who's being used by other people in ways he can't imagine, and he doesn't have long to figure out how. Nolan would soon tell a similar story (Memento) on a much bigger stage and become a household name. His strengths then remain his strengths now, although his one big weakness - his inability to connect the viewer with his characters emotionally, and not just with the plot - remains an unfortunate hole in his game today. Still, he's one of America's great directors, and Nolan completists shouldn't miss this one, especially with the very short running time.

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Otherwise it's been a lean viewing month at Casa de Leche, what with the moving and stuff, although I've also been watching the fantastic British cop show Luther, starring Idris Elba (The Wire's Stringer Bell). It's also on streaming and definitely recommended to fans of cop dramas, and of Elba. The supporting cast is dynamite as well.

What have you seen?

230 thoughts on “Third Monday Movie Day”

  1. I saw five this month.

    Four Weddings and a Funeral: Andie McDowell ruins almost every scene she's in, but I laughed out loud probably a dozen times.

    Exam: A one-room movie where eight qualified people are competing for the same job. They have one hour to complete the exam but there are some rules. One is that you can't spoil your paper. Acting isn't the best, but intriguing premise and not too overblown.

    Moulin Rouge!: Kidman is great and I like about four of the songs. But the plot is really there to serve the spectacle and I was getting pretty bored by the end. "Your Song" was the best part.

    Clue: I wasn't particularly intrigued by the whodunit, but it was creative and a lot of jokes hit the mark for me. Good casting.

    Minority Report: Why Tom Cruise, why? He doesn't ruin the movie, but if you needed star power, Bruce Willis would have been a much better choice. Anyway, interesting premise (detectives stopping crimes before they happen) based on a Philip K. Dick story. Not Spielberg's best, but watchable for sure.

    1. "is it raining? i hadn't noticed..."

      quite possibly the cheesiest, worst delivered line in cinematic history. thanks, andie.

  2. This month:

    X-Men: First class: once the movie started rolling, the first thing that came to mind was "Jamed Bond", and later I read that that was one of the director's intentions, so I'm saying he nailed it. Entertaining. Both RR daughter and I noted the same error towards the end of the film...

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    Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: another movie in the series. It was fine. (glowing praise, eh?) It just seems like the plot is to tie in one cool scene after another, and half ignore any consequences between them. It had its moments.

    Rango: Different. The animal characters were very well animated, and I loved the inside jokes based on other movies, particularly to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and a special one to "The Man with No Name".

    Also saw, on Netflix:
    Serenity (again): watched it with RR daughter. I swallowed a bug.

    Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers Cut): A six-part documentary about the troup, fairly recently made. Cleese comes off a little Mike Nesmith-ish, but there is some great backstory being told. Lots of fun for Python fans.

    bonus: If you haven't seen this old gem, it's all right here, from the looks of it -- 1967 British sci-fi film Five Million Years to Earth (or alternative title, Quatermass and the Pit). It's an ambitious film that was featured in my Science Fiction in Film and Novel class in college, and it seemingly attempts to pull in almost every sci-fi/horror theme into one movie (alien spacecraft, demon possession, paranormal powers, race memory, "little green men", poltergeists...the list goes on). It suffers from hokey effects at times, but when we saw it for the first time, we were all impressed by the film's...ambitiousness. There was at least one other Quatermass film, and a TV (mini?)series as well, I think.

    1. saw X-Men: First Class this weekend with the boy. Good fun, well done (despite Rhu's noted goof, which I missed). Some changes to canon, but acceptable. They did a lot in that film. Wish there had been more time for character development.

        1. both. I'm pretty sure that Xavier states that he designed the helmet for Magneto in one of the earlier films.

          as for the comic book canon, the original X-Men were Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Angel and Iceman. Banshee, etc. come along much later.

          1. Right. I actually know the comic canon pretty well, but I don't know anything about First Class other than the fact that it contains Xavier and the man who will be Magneto.

            I do seem to remember the Xavier creating the helmet thing. That may even have been the first movie.

            1. oh, and in the first movie, Xavier also says that Magneto helped him build Cerebro. Here, the first one is built by Hank. In the comics, Xavier builds the first ones, then Hank improves on the early designs

              /comic geek mode

              1. One of the nice things of never having read the comics or seen the cartoon is that my entire canon is the movies, so I'm much less prone to nerd nitpicking.

                1. I don't think there should really be much nerd nitpicking from X-Men fanatics, who realize that the comic has broken its own canon enough times that it can hardly be called sacred. I mean, there still is nerd nitpicking, but I would hope that big fans would realize that twenty X-Men movies would only scratch the surface of the comic's history.

  3. J and I went to Bridesmaids a couple of weeks back. I was rather impressed, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I have a pretty narrow band of comedies I appreciate, and I'm not generally a fan of anything Apatow related. Definitely cool to see some ladies in leading roles who act like real women. It was a good time.

    I also finally caught up and watched all of season 2 of Bored to Death. This is definitely one of my favorite shows on TV. It has such a strange sense of humor, but it really clicks with me. It's fun, and the main actors are all awesome. Definitely worth a view!

    1. My wife wants to go see Bridesmaids, although I've been iffy about it because of Apatow's involvement. However, a quick check shows he does not get a writing or directing credit, so it couldn't be as bad as his other shlock. I'm still going to hold out because I don't see it as something worth spending the money to see it in a theater, though.

          1. I went to high school with one of the actors on that show, Timm Sharp. He was actually the student teacher for my freshman drama class. I was very surprised to see that he was on TV, though he was a good actor.

      1. No, I don't think he had much to do with it at all. I just kind of cringe at those types of comedies, in general. Despite all the good things I heard about Bridesmaids, I still had those same feelings until the movie started.

  4. I didn't get a chance to see a lot of movies this past month, mostly because it took me almost a whole damn month to watch one movie as the disc was scratched and I had to get a replacement from Netflix.

    So, the only thing I watched was Slither. Nathan Fillion was excellent as usual, and Gregg Henry was quite funny as the mayor and has been very good in everything I've seen him in (this and The Train Job episode of Firefly.) A very enjoyable horror flick.

    1. We saw the last half of Slither on TV when we were in Mexico last fall. We stopped on that channel exactly because we saw Nathan Fillion. I enjoyed what I saw, but I also wasn't too worried about finding and watching the first half that we missed.

    2. I was pretty amused by Slither. I probably haven't thought of it since I saw it, so I guess it wasn't very memorable, but it was an entertaining little gross-out.

    3. I remember liking Slither, but it's been a while, and I can't remember whether I actually liked the movie, or just the people in the movie.

  5. Every friday afternoon when Dr. Chop gets done teaching I throw in the towel on the house and we go to the movies (super cold air conditioning is always appreciated). We'll see anything, Pirates of the Caribbean excepted, but in our current local we're only offered huge blockbusters. None of the smaller movies make it to this market, so we've seen all the comic book movies in the order they were released. Thor was about what i expected, although I loved the comic and was pretty meh about the movie, X-men was totally enjoyable as a popcorn movie, but the green lantern was by far the biggest stinker so far this summer. That movie had no pace what-so-ever, and worse provided no reason to root for our hero. Oh well, the air conditioning was worth it.

    We also finished watching Sons Of Anarchy season 2, and started into Trublood. Good stuff, that.

    1. I was going to say it would bum me out to be in a city where only the blockbusters showed up in the theater, but considering I've been to two movies in the last five years, I guess that's not such a big deal after all. Maybe it'll be different in LA, though if I won't pay to see a movie here, I doubt I'll want to pay for it down there.

  6. We went to see X-Men on Saturday. I really enjoyed the casting - McAvoy and Fassbender made pretty good young Xavier and Lehnsherrs. I was unconsciously comparing them to Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, the older versions of the characters, and I think the progression from one to the next would be perfectly acceptable if you watched the movies in chronological order. I'd really like someone to make a version where Wolverine and First Class was spliced in order. Throw in any flashbacks from the first 3 movies, like when Xavier and Lehnsherr visit the young Jean Grey in XIII. I would totally watch all 5 movies worth of X-Men in one go.

    As far as an origins movie/prequel goes, I think it did a very good job explaining the source of the individual motivations of each of the characters to show how they got to what they were in the first set of XMen movies.

    It was kind of annoying/obvious when they went around giving each other names. And the "Mutant and proud" got a little repetitive to the point you were being beat around the head with it.

    Also, January Jones can barely act, but the requirements for the role were to be an ice-cold bitch and look good in lingerie, so she had that down pat. I don't know if it was the character or her limited range, but was a bit hard not to think "Betty Draper" the whole time.

      1. Despite his longish resume, the only thing of his I've managed to see is Band of Brothers; he was in one episode and I don't remember him. That's strange.

        I never planned on bothering with X-Men: First Class, but even the worst reviews have been average, so I'll probably cave on Netflix.

        1. If I remembered the little bit of Children of Dune series that I saw, I guess I would have remembered him in that. And although he was fine as a lead, Wanted was a pretty silly, formulaic movie based on a stupid premise and totally ignoring basic physics.

          1. totally ignoring basic physics.

            I was sitting there watching First Class completely uncool with how they filmed Banshee's flying scenes. Those wings create no lift, he would have to be screaming nearly constantly to fly with that speed and maintain altitude.

            Then I realized I was OK with shape-shifters, telepaths, teleporters, and people manipulating pure energy and metal, but NO, this flying thing has gone too far. I chilled out a bit after that.

            1. As a screenwriter one thing that's drilled into you is to obey the rules, even if you're the one making the rules. It's the same reason nuking the fridge was such an insane, standout moment; the audience will follow you on a journey that involves regular people meeting the paranormal or otherworldly as long as you obey your world's rules, but if you break those - or rules of our own world - the credibility you've built with your audience is shot. A lot of screenwriters (I realize the Banshee thing was a directing/SFX oversight, but this concept applies) think they can get away with anything, because after all, it's only a movie.

            2. One other thing that bothered me was when the team was training. Lehnsherr was going to stop a bullet that Xavier was going to fire at his head at point-blank range. I don't doubt he could stop the bullet, but there is the matter of the non-metallic rapidly expanding gasses that will cause severe powder burns and still blow half your face off. Brandon Lee was killed by a blank, you know.

              1. Jon-Erik Hexum as well, although that was before your time. 😉

                Sometime I'll need to dig up the fairly recent article in Astronomy magazine that identified the best and worst movies at depicting astronomy and astronomers/physicists. btw, here's a fine list

  7. Sheenie and I saw Bridesmaids (first movie in a theater for me since True Grit. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. That's not to say I would have a strong need to ever rewatch it, but it was at least tolerable which is more than I could say about all the chick-flicks that were previewed beforehand (the new-Muppets movie, excepted because, well, I love the Muppets).

    On Netflix we watched:
    The Fighter: perfectly mediocre and generic movie with strong acting. Not sure how it managed to get nominated for Best Picture, but oh well...
    The Apartment: placed in the queue because of the Bossman's recommendation a few months ago. Very enjoyable and dark for its era. Jack Lemmon is such a great everyman.
    The Invention of Lying: very hilarious premise that sputtered out after about 30 minutes.

    As for TV, I enjoyed the finale The Killing last night because it means that the show is finally over! Thank goodness that crap is over. I would have bailed long, long ago, but Sheenie was very passionate that it would turn into good television. AMC really missed the mark because the show was so dull and generic. Twenty years later, a show on AMC shouldn't look comically simple compared to Homicide: LOTS.

    1. I want to see a new Muppet movie in theory, but the last couple have been pretty terrible. Hmm...time to see who wrote it.

      And, yeah, Jack Lemmon is one of the greats. I'd see anything he was involved in. Not only is he an excellent actor, I can't think of a bad script he's taken on.

      1. I blame Kathy Griffin for everything that has gone wrong with America the recent Muppet movies.

      2. Lemmon is in his salad days in How to Murder Your Wife. While on the stand in his own murder trial, confesses to killing his wife (which he didn't do), but then

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    2. speaking of television, I've taken to watching Burn Notice of late. Featuring the always entertaining Bruce Campbell, but lead Jeffrey Donovan does a good job of carrying the show, and I like Gabrielle Anwar's bloodthirsty character, if not her inconsistent accent (Irish? really? not.)

      I like the device of the lead narrating the action to the audience, although I suppose it will wear thin eventually. The show leans heavily on freeze-frames to do scene transitions, which can get tiresome. But overall, it is head-and-shoulders above what one normally can expect from a third-rate network (USA).

      1. Ah, Burn Notice. Bruce Campbell was supposed to be in Forbidden Fruit, the movie I did, but that much better gig came up and he never got to set.

        Gabrielle Anwar...yeah. She's not very good. Pretty, though. At any rate, it's not a bad show; we're certainly past the days when Silk Stalkings was the best you could expect from USA.

  8. The Runaways: The story of how Joan Jett and Cherie Currie (but most certainly not Lita Ford) started the Runaways. The beginning was really unfocused, the middle was decent, and the ending kind of lost its way. It does hold the distinction of being the only movie where the Twilight chick didn't completely annoy me, though, so there's that.

    The Illusionist: Essentially "the magician movie from that one year that wasn't The Prestige", which is kind of unfair, because I thought it was actually pretty good.

    The Hangover 2: Identical to the first one, only I wasn't drunk when I watched it, and it was slightly less funny.

    Pirates 4: Meh. My mother-in-law is a huge fan of the series. I had no burning need to see this movie, and once I was in the theater, nothing changed my mind.

    1. The Twilight chick, Kristen...Bell? There are two Kristens I always mix up...was actually pretty good as a teenager in Zathura, a Jumanji-type movie in space that has the best two young kid performances I can remember. The movie's forgettable otherwise but I was blown away by the acting.

      The Illusionist got pretty high marks from critics, as I remember, so at least there's that. I've never seen it. In fact, I've owned The Prestige on Blu-Ray for four years now and I've never seen it. The problem is that I was in the break room at work for just a few minutes and it was being watched, so I got into it. Unbeknownst to me until the climax happened, I was watching the last minutes of the film and now I'm pretty sure I've ruined the whole experience for myself.

      1. Kristen Bell is a very good looking blonde actress who was in season 1 of Deadwood in her younger days. More recently she's been in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the lead on "Veronica Mars"

        Kristen Stewart is the not-in-any-way-attractive or able to act girl from Twilight.

        1. Argh, that's it. I don't why I do that with their names, because I really like Kristen Bell.

          Seriously, though, I think Kristen Stewart was fine in Zathura, so she's either lost something with age or she needs a director who can bring it out of her.

            1. Aye, poor source material never brought out the best in anyone, for sure. We actually had a round in one of my college classes where we given poorly-written, little-known scripts and asked to make them interesting with our performances.

            1. Yeah, I was really surprised at how much fun it was, and the two brothers were as good as you can expect from kids. Both are still very successful.

        2. Kristen Stewart in no way attractive? Gees man, you got some high standards. I've only ever seen her in Into the Wild, so can't comment on her ability.

          1. I'm not sure I'm attracted to her per se, but I do find her antics pretty hilarious. She and that dude who plays the really creepy emo stalker vampire in the Twilight movies both seem to be really creeped out by the hordes of obsessed fans and act really hilarious about it. I have no interest in the movies but, hey, good for them.

            1. Yeah, when you land a role like that as an actor, you take the good with the bad. Lucy Lawless is an accomplished song-and-dance girl on Broadway but the majority of people who approach her outside New York are slimy dudes who can't seem to understand that she isn't a warrior princess in real life.

      2. Kristen Stewart, saith Google.

        Edited for coming in second and for Mag's much more complete answer.

      3. Re: The Prestige- watch it once, you likely would've guessed the "twist" anyhow, even without seeing the end already. It was fairly enjoyable for me.

                1. Cheers, man. I'm good with actor names, but those two stymie me despite the strong differences in looks, hair color and talent level. I guess it's because they showed up around the same time or something.

      4. Kristin Bell is also the crazy supervisor of the rival catering company in Party Down. (Uda or Ooda or something to that effect.)

        1. I just introduced The Milkmaid to that show last night. She was never into the whole uncomfortable thing before I turned her on to the genre, but she's already really into it.

          1. I watched the entirety of Party Down on Netflix awhile back. I really only watched season 2 because I felt the need for completeness. It had good moments, and the characters were pretty relatable, but over all it just wasn't my cup of tea. I spend all day at a job I wish I wasn't at, I don't need to come home and watch a whole show about it.

              1. Discounting an entire subdivision of humor seems a bit limiting.

                The only type of humor I can't normally abide is humor of recognition. Like, there's no "joke," but I'm supposed to laugh because "Aww, that same thing has happened to me!" or something. It's possible to do humor of recognition well, but I rarely see it done.

                1. I am definitely not a fan of that kind of humor, either. It is a huge part of why I loathe Family Guy and I am angered every day that Seth MacFarlane is a multi-millionaire off that crap. Ugh.

                  1. I simply couldn't agree with this more, Zack.

                    Yes, Seth, I remember the existence of the Kool-Aid Man. That doesn't mean his mere presence is somehow hilarious when you don't actually write a joke.

                    1. But it's so random! And I totally remember that!

                      Basically every episode of the show I've seen follows this basic structure: Peter does something stupid (lol!), it's implied Quagmire is going to sexually assault someone (lol!), joke that falls flat that drags on way too long (e.g., well beyond the point of "this is going on so long it's hilarious"), the talking baby and the dog do something "gay" (lol!), the daughter is so boring and plain (lol!), "remember that time... [70's movie reference]," the other kid is nearly as stupid as Peter (lol!), "how about when... [80's TV show reference]," callback to random pop culture ephemera (lol!).

                      Where's my $100 million contract?

                    2. Heh. That's pretty much it. My first introduction to Family Guy was at a party where one guy played out the Kool-Aid scene from the first episode. This dude was hilarious, and all we had to do the whole night was say "oh yeah" and everyone burst into giggles. It wasn't nearly as funny when I actually watched it.

                      Carlin did humor of recognition pretty well. It's not as funny now that I'm older, but he had an excellent delivery that helped.

                    3. Actually, I'd heard about those episodes but never saw them. I will have to look them up on South Park Studios and watch them soon.

          1. Whereas I never finished the first one. I got bored with the repetitive missions. Second was a hug improvement. Haven't played brotherhood yet.

  9. not much on my end. rewatched star trek (same feelings as the first time i watched and reviewed it, but peckish jane watched as well this time). the only thing i saw that was new to me was hot tub time machine. it was decent, i guess. checking afterwards, everyone seemed to have given it better reviews than i would have, but it could have been a lot worse, i suppose.

    1. I liked Hot Tub Time Machine a decent amount. It was very self-aware. Some moments were wildly stupid, but at least those moments were stupid by design. I didn't mind it.

      I still haven't gotten to Star Trek.

      1. i'll agree with that. the movie definitely didn't take itself too seriously (i believe i read somewhere that cusack wanted the part based on the name of the script alone). it was amusing, not too stupid, but i didn't have too many laugh out loud moments myself.

        regarding star trek, the re-casting was very well done, the look of the movie was great, and the plot was acceptable. however, my issues were the device that they used to allow them to rewrite canon was really lame in my estimation, and gone was the whole spirit of the original (and supplements), and replaced with flashy effects and fight sequences.

        1. I agree re: Star Trek, although I don't mind losing a bit of the canon. The best dialog and scenes IMO were the ones that paid tribute to the old series, which should give a person a clue that aside from flashy effects and fight sequences, it's not working as well. And sorry, yet ANOTHER lamely acted evil Star Trek movie villain. It's been too long since they've gotten that right.

          1. Again, I haven't seen it, but that's Eric Bana, right? He must be sleeping with someone. There's no other explanation for the fact that he continues to pop up in good movies.

          2. I did get a lot of laughs out of Eric Bana's "evil expressions". Whoever made that casting decision should probably not make those decisions any more.

            Of course, Simon Pegg as Scotty was terrific.

            1. if you’re sick of badly acted star trek villains, i believe they’re considering bringing back khan as a villain for the sequel (not that khan was originally bad, but how bad do you think a reprise of that would be?).

              regarding the canon, i’m not saying it’s sacred, but the way they went about it was horrible.

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              1. I'm less bothered by reinventing the timeline than I am by reinventing the spirit of Star Trek. Roddenberry would roll in his grave if he knew his characters were thrown into the Star Wars universe.

            2. Simon Pegg was great. I'm not a Trekkie by any means, so losing a lot of the background and mood of the precursors didn't bother me that much, but they went a little too far in making Spock "more" human. Spock is way more interesting to me as a Vulcan who always follows the logic than as just another rigid-thinking human, but with pointy ears.
              Oh, Bana's villain was nearly as ridiculous as the plot- good thing there were lots of things blowing up to help cover for those two giant warts.

    1. Hey, someone mentioned my movie of the month!11!1!!!

      And? Did you enjoy yourself?

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      1. I actually watched it late at night and fell asleep on the couch with about 20 minutes to go, then woke up in the last few minutes, having missed what was probably the most important plot element of the entire movie. Needless to say, I was confused as to what was happening. I had to rewind and rewatch the end for it to make sense. I think that sort of spoiled it for me a little, but yeah, I agree with everything you said.

    2. I thought Following was an excellent debut, and certainly marked Nolan as someone to watch. Also thought it funny that an apartment door was festooned with a Batman sticker.

  10. Bought the Man With No Name trilogy. God damn the sound is annoying but can't complain too much at a Spaghetti Western.

    In the western mood, I watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Not the most entertaining of movies even if Casey Affleck was great in it.

    I also saw two in theater. Xmen was good not great. The supporting cast annoyed me and I'm never able to look past Bacon and take him serious.

    And lastly, I loved Abrams latest monster flick. It was funny, and mildly frightening. The cast of kids won me over. Including the 13 year old Fanning sister.

    1. I dug ...Robert Ford. It moves at an, um, "deliberate" pace, but I really enjoyed both the writing and the acting, and it was shot beautifully.

      My dirty little secret: I've seen maybe five minutes of The Man with No Name Trilogy. It's been sitting in my instant queue for ages.

      1. Yeah it was superbly shot and acted. Good art flick, but as for the average consumer kinda dull.

      2. I did finally watch A Fistful of Dollars fairly recently. I hadn't realized how good it is, although I don't know why I never gave it a fair shake. I also managed to watch Yojimbo first, which I assume is not the order most Americans watch the two movies.

    2. Oh yes. I also saw an loved Scott Pilgrim. Even though I never want to see Cera in a non Bluth role ever again. It is from the same director of Shaun of the dead and hot fuzz, so I shouldn't be surprised.

        1. I never want to see Cera in a non Bluth role

          yeah, i was going to make mention of the fact that he's been pretty much playing george michael his entire career.

      1. I like the lady from Scott Pilgrim. Who, it turns out after a quick google, was Lucy Genero in the last Die Hard.

          1. For whatever reason I specifically like her in Scott Pilgrim. She looks like every girl I dated in high school. Well, I should say, what every girl I dated in high school wanted to look like.

              1. I know some people who both watch and like it. In fact, I don't know anyone who's seen it who doesn't like it. Another one for The List. Damn it...

              2. I liked JFC, but it seemed a bit convoluted. By the end of the first season, I had no idea what was going on. I imagine things would have been explained had the show continued, but I can also imagine a lot of people losing interest just because the show was so confusing.

                1. I also had no idea what was going on, but I was loving every minute of it. There's only one show I'm more sad that got canned after one season, and that's the brilliant Terriers. I expect Terriers will gain a cult following once it comes out on DVD a la Firefly. I'm crushed there won't be more, but the season we got was perfect television.

                  1. I have to mention Wonderfalls here. I know someone - E, I think - has mentioned it, but I need everyone to see it so they can be just as pissed off as I am that it's gone.

                    1. I know I've mentioned it. To be fair, it wasn't cancelled after one season; it was cancelled after four episodes. But they had already filmed an entire season.

                      Fantastic show.

                    2. My brother and I watched the first few episodes, and were pissed that it got cancelled (it hadn't actually been cancelled at that point, they just reassigned it to a different time, and we didn't know).

                      Edit: Okay, so I'm remembering something wrongly, here. I do remember a fifth episode being advertised, and then something happened, and then it got cancelled. I still haven't seen the rest of the episodes.

                    3. I'll have to watch this at some point. I believe this is the same fellow who worked on Pushing Daisies (which I loved) and Dead Like Me (which I like and am still working through), right?

                    4. I've definitely plugged it before, too. By turns sweet and sour, weird and whimsical. FOX had no idea what to do with it. I also fell pretty hard for lead actress Caroline Dhavarnas, who wasn't afraid to play unlikable, thereby making her all the more lovable.

                2. I was loving it, too! I'm just saying that might be the reason they lost a lot of their audience. I know some people find HBO programming a bit pretentious at times (it doesn't seem as bad now as it was, but at the same time, I feel like their programming has gotten worse). It just seems like this show might have been an example of them pushing it a little too far and alienating some people.

                  1. I've noticed that people who claim HBO shows are "pretentious" are usually too stupid to understand them. I'm not trying to be a dick, I've just noticed a trend. Also, I'm a dick.

                    1. I can definitely see how people could think that shows like JFC, Oz, or Sex and the City are pretentious. I tend to be somewhat elitist about a lot of things, so pretentious isn't a word I would use to describe much. Still, I can understand someone not liking a show or movie and calling it pretentious. Did they not like it because it was pretentious? Or did they think it was pretentious because they didn't like it? Ultimately, it doesn't matter. If you don't like something, you don't like it.

                      HBO does try to make their shows smart, and they tend to push viewers out of their comfort zones a little bit. JFC was sort of an extreme example of this. I almost felt like HBO was trying to say "We're going to give you a show that makes no sense and we're going to make you like it." I think the show would have been good even if they had removed all the weird supernatural stuff from it. It would have been a nice character driven drama about a dysfunctional surfing family. If you add in a little bit of weirdness, that would give the show some edge and mystery. They added so much though, that it seems like they almost forced people to decide not to like it. I would have been happy if they had added a little bit more explanation. That would have put it more on the same level with, say, Carnivale and would have made it a truly great show IMO.

                  2. No, I can definitely see that. I think it's unfortunate as JFC is a wonderful show.

                    I think Treme is getting a lot of negative reactions because "nothing happens!" I'm glad that HBO is giving them another season, at least, because it's fantastic. So in this case, thankfully, the show's success & run isn't completely tied to viewership.

  11. After starting to watch it three weeks ago I'm at Season 3, Episode 8 of the relaunched Battlestar Galactica. I'd say I'm thoroughly enjoying the series, except the writing of Starbucks' character is terribly sloppy on the military side and I beyond that I find myself hating her anyway.

    Currently we have On the Beach here from Netflix, which I've been meaning to watch for a good while now.

    Mrs. Hayes had never seen the 2000 version of Shaft, so when it was on VH1 late one night last week we just had to watch it. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    1. It's been tough getting into Battlestar Galactica. I probably started at least a month ago, yet still haven't finished season 1. There have been a few really strong episodes, but I am bored to death with Gaius and his cylon problems. I hope that gets resolved sooner rather than later.

      1. I've still only seen the opening movie, which I really dug. I keep meaning to see more.

        Starbuck is definitely annoying already, partially by design, and partially because that actress just tends to grate on me (and apparently others). She's not untalented, but she's a little broad. A sprinkling of subtlety would be nice.

        1. Sackhoff's acting certainly is broad, but then again, I question whether there's any subtlety in the actual character. She's seemingly written as pure, unfiltered id.

          1. That, to some degree, answers my questions for you below.

            She also did the final season of 24. Her acting was broad there too, but so is the show, so I tried not to let that color my opinion of her acting.

    2. I've been stuck in mid-season 3 for quite a while. I love the show, it's just that...

      Spoiler SelectShow

      Also, I agree completely with your comments re:Starbuck.

      1. Ok, now I'm conflicted. I'd like to see what's behind the spoiler, but I hate being spoiled.

        Starbuck is something like the worst qualities of every fighter pilot fetish out there melded with Courtney Love's personality & looks.

        1. I considered that, I don't think there'd be any spoilers for a person who's viewed that much of season 3, but I don't remember exactly where I am, so there might be. Sorry.

          1. I read it and agree. The show's trajectory feels off after that particular plotline, and while there have been snippets of significant interest, I'm not drawn into each episode as much as I was earlier. The "Exodus" episodes were probably the best of that plotline, which makes sense considering it signaled that was coming to a close.

        2. So, I'm curious: you dislike her because she's written poorly, or because she's everything wrong with the worst people in the military?

          I can see it going both ways. Writers on a good show will always attempt to get it right, but if they have no experience in a certain field - and I'm going to go out on a limb and say most good writers are not experienced with the military (Spookymilk Survivor VII winners excepted) - they're going to mess up a lot. On the other hand, it could be that they only write her this way because she's meant to be so rebellious that she's ill-fitting for her profession in some ways.

          I'm interested in your non-spoily take on that, CH.

          1. Actually, the rebellious part of Starbuck doesn't much bother me, other than it becomes cartoonish after a while. Whether that's a feature or a bug of the writing is something I'm not particularly concerned with - I served with a few cartoonish people, so it's not completely beyond the spectrum of plausibility.

            What is, however, implausible, is when the writers decided to make Starbuck both the crack fighter pilot in the fleet and the fleet's most skilled sniper. That'd be like somebody simultaneously being a heavyweight champion boxer and gold medalist in the biathalon. They combined two worlds-different military skillsets into one character when what the cast is noticeably lacking from the military standpoint is a seasoned grunt character. All these pilots running around leading spec ops missions? I laugh every time.

            1. Ah, understood. I have yet to see the sniper side of Starbuck, but I do think that dual expertise would have jumped out at me as a little odd.

              So much of the problem there is with the limits of writing. You can either expend the creative energy coming up with an all new character and then have to create the foundation for every single one of that character's relationships, or you can say "Well, this existing character is also (X)." Unfortunately, given the speed involved in creating episodic TV, the latter tends to win out more often than the former.

              1. True, but I think you'll see as you move along in the series that there's really no restriction for introducing new characters at any time. They do it frequently enough with other characters who become significant, even if they aren't in every episode. That's one of the more remarkable feats of the show's writing, actually - incidental yet important characters don't seem too out of place.

                  1. I always like how after Season 2, Episode 5 of NYPD Blue David Caruso and Amy Brenneman's characters seemed incidental. Good lord that show improved dramatically once Smits and Delaney suddenly joined the cast.

    3. I liked Battlestar Galactica but stalled midway through the 3rd season. It just seemed like it had stalled a bit so I moved on to another show.

        1. +1. I did succeed in finishing a year and a half later though. Everyone talking about the finale got me to continue and I eventually finished. I think it was worth it.

          1. This is a problem I didn't have, but I can see why some people leave the series. It is worth finishing.

    4. I had a roommate and a buddy a few years ago who blitzed through Battlestar Galactica. I was unable to be interested in it and, to this day, the word "frack" makes me see red. At times, I think that word actually had a lot to do with me not being able to get interested in the show because I couldn't get over how lazy I thought the writing was to not just write dialogue without cussing if it wasn't something that could be done.

      1. I don't think it's lazy at all. If a character would swear, then why do something else? I just wish they'd been able to do so in the first place.

        1. I'm willing to accept the possibility that that particular word just grated on my ears so much that it clouded my judgment as to what lazy writing is. I just found it to be a particularly awful word that didn't work in dialogue for me in any way so as to sound forced and awkward whenever uttered.

          1. It's definitely difficult to create a word from nothing and have every member of the audience buy into it. It'a bummer they have to do so. It just amuses the hell out of me that everyone knows what it's meant to signify, but they're not allowed to say it.

              1. For some reason, goram worked for me. I feel like it wasn't overused the way frack was (although I watched the little bit of BSG years ago, so my memory may not be perfect.) and so didn't feel as forced.

  12. In addition to what I mentioned above, I also saw Kung Fu Panda 2, and have started watching Archer.

    Kung Fu Panda doesn't feel like it should have any right to be as good as it is. The villain from the second movie was excellent, and the story manages to go to some pretty dark places without ever feeling like its pandering. It's a shame my wife hates the series.

    Archer is right in my wheelhouse in regards to both both content and humor. I have a feeling I'm going to burn through it pretty quickly.

    1. It takes a lot to shock me these days, but Archer repeatedly got the job done.

      I love, love, LOVE (Archer's voice actor) H. Jon Benjamin. Definitely one of my favorite voice actors, and almost certainly my pick for most under-known comedic actor.

              1. 10 years ago I owned a 1990 Chevy Cavalier with "da moon rules #1" carved into it with a key.

    2. I thought Kung Fu Panda 2 was a much better movie in terms of plot and character development. Whereas the first is much more fun and way more quotable, the second is a more enveloping story.

      And I absolutely love Archer. I quote that all the time. I'll do the "Lana, Lana...LANA!" "What!?" "DANGERZONE!" with the girlfriend, which is nice because her name is short and starts with L, so it fits pretty well.

      1. For some reason, the one quote I've picked up from that show is "Yuuuup." Perhaps because it's one of the only quotes I can say around children.

  13. speaking of horrible movies, I chanced across Ultraviolet on one of my Uverse junk channels the other night.

    ZOMG. was that "film" made expressly to be mocked on MST3000?

    The capsule review on rotten tomatoes sums it up well (although it misses the unintentional comedy, on which this movie is off the charts):

    An incomprehensible and forgettable sci-fi thriller, Ultraviolet is inept in every regard.

    Jovovich's performance in The Fifth Element is Oscar-worthy by comparison.

    1. I don't want this to go uncommented. I saw about two minutes of this one, and...yeah. I figured it was Uwe Boll, which explains everything I need to explain.

      1. It can't possibly be that bad. I've had the misfortune of seeing Postal in its entirety; Mr. Boll is a whole level of suckitude unto himself.

        1. Yes, yes it can be that bad.

          The cheesy CGI effects look like they were done on a 15-year-old Macintosh. -- Jim Lane, Sacramento News & Review

          The only redeeming feature is a production design so outrageously mad that you will genuinely have no idea what you're watching for more than half the time. -- Paul Arendt, BBC

          and my favorite, reminiscent of the famous review of Shark Sandwich:

          Ultra-dumb. -- Philip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News

            1. I might as well use this as an opportunity to complain about something that's always bothered me. Are critics incapable of writing reviews without titling it using a pun with the movie name? Drives me nuts.

                1. While writers don't have final say, they certainly can suggest titles and unless it is really bad or it doesn't fit the space needed for the newspaper, a copy editor will usually use the writer's suggestion, especially given the state of most newspapers, which are woefully understaffed on the desk because that is the easiest way for newspapers to cut costs.

  14. Not much movie watching again for the Twayns, but we are enjoying the new season of Men of a Certain Age. And we're looking forward to the season premier of Breaking Bad on July 17th. On another note, after the Tony's my wife bought the soundtrack for The Book of Mormon. Now I'm going to have to take her to New York to see it on Broadway. Oh, the sacrifice!

    1. Is that a sacrifice? Dude, seeing a show on Broadway is beyond anything a film can provide...especially a Tony-sweeper like that one. If you're lucky, you'll come away from it with stories that belong only to you, like I have.

      1. Hmm, I read that as Twayn being excited about going to Broadway. Just, you know, don't let the wife know, so she thinks you're really only doing it just to make her happy.

          1. What SBG said. This would be our third trip to Broadway, just as soon as we can swing it. The first was for the anniversary of our first date and we saw Titanic. The next time was for the wife's birthday, so I gave her a double header -- a matinee of Aida with the original cast, and an evening revival of The Music Man with Craig Bierko channeling Robert Preston. After the show we went to this little bar near our hotel and ended up partying with the cast of some off-Broadway play and talking the bartender out a pair of Brooklyn Brewery tumblers (a few heavy tips helped). Also, the first time we were there Brian Dennehy was doing Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, but it was sold out for that weekend.

    2. I'm really pumped about the new Breaking Bad season. We still have to get through season 3 to be caught up, but I don't doubt we can do that before then.

      1. I think Season 3 is far and away the best season of the show. It's a show I was watching just for something to watch, but season 3 really, really hooked me.

        1. Wow. Seasons one and two are far from something I watch "just to watch." If season three is better, I have no idea how I'm going to contain myself.

          1. I was really, really frustrated with a lot of stuff that happened in season 2, particularly the finale and a few events leading up to that. I was going to say e-mail me to discuss if you wanted but hey I can put it in a spoiler tag! Warning: this is season 2 discussion.

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            I had heavy reservations starting season 3. In fact, I didn't start until about 6 weeks in because I was so, so frustrated over season 2. I had pretty much given up on it. The show definitely hooked me with season 3, and I'm very hyped for the next season.

            1. Hmm.

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              1. Well...

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                If nothing else, at least Bob Odenkirk is getting steady work that isn't beer ads. Even if the show went completely off the rails this season, I'd probably stick it out for Bob.

            2. I totally agree with everything that Zack says. I absolutely hated the season 2 finale but I thought the season 3 finale was one of the best season finales I'd ever seen.

              After you watch season 2, you should check out this interview with the creator of the show.

                1. Basically, you should be checking out everything Alan Sepinwall ever writes about Breaking Bad, The Wire, Deadwood, Parks and Rec, etc.

                  1. I'm a big fan of Sepinwall, but I almost never watch anything as it's on initially, so I almost never think to go back to that stuff. Maybe now I'll start remembering.

                    1. I did that with the first 3 seasons of Mad Men. Watch a few episodes on DVD, go read Sepinwall to make sure I got everything, and repeat as necessary.

  15. My brother in law is currently at Pixar studios, waiting to find out if he'll be building sets to promote the next movie, which I'm not entirely certain I can talk about. So jealous right now. Then again, this is the guy that's likely to get me work down in LA.

    1. I'm very, very sad they cancelled Newt. I can't wait to see Brave, and I'm pretty excited for Monsters University, but what I'm really excited to see is where they go after that.

      I have little to no interest in Cars 2, so this summer feels empty with (effectively) no Pixar film for me to go to.

      1. Cars was lame as hell, but the early footage I've seen of the sequel makes it look like there's an actual story there. I'll see it, though I doubt I'll see it in the theater.

        For the record, every summer feels empty to me, since the bulk of the movies are dimwitted blockbusters.

  16. I just want everyone to know that I am unreservedly a big fan of both Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad in their entirety from start to finish/to this point in BB's case.

    1. I'm sure I'll go back to BSG at some point. I just needed a break.

      It was a "treadmill" show for me. I have very high standards for my "treadmill" shows as they have to be so good that I'm willing to go into a cold, dark basement and run on the treadmill for 30 minutes while watching it.

      1. Funny, that's exactly how I watched 4.5 seasons of BSG (except it was an exercise bike)

  17. btw, RR daughter has me watching the first post-David Tennent season of Dr. Who off Netflix. Much as I like the show, it bothers me how the writers seemingly come up with a clever plot, and then seem to totally ignore any plot holes that got in the way -- moreso than other SciFi series.

  18. Game of Thrones. I recommend not reading past this point if you haven't read the book or watched the entire season.

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        1. The budget for season one was $50-60 million. I don't think HBO will want to raise it much higher than that. Hopefully a good chunk of that budget was setup and building the sets.

          Hmm, I thought I had heard they were upping the budget since it got excellent ratings. Maybe that was all just people being hopeful more than actual news.

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      Has the HBO series severely compressed the storyline??

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        I don't think it has been severely compressed. Stretching it to 12 episodes might have been more accurate, but I think the series would have plodded along instead of moving briskly once everything gets going.

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