I Wanna Get Lost In Your...Plots & Roles?

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I am in love with Lost again. I mean…yes the show isn’t as good as the first three (in particular the first two) mega seasons of mystery, but it’s come back from the fourth and fifth season slumps in just a few short episodes. The flash sideways feature is a nice twist on the flash forward, and allows us to somewhat envision what we never envisioned before – life after Flight 815, with a twist of course.

Is there still way too much shiz going on and way too many answers resulting in more questions? Sure! Is Josh Holloway still an overdramatic sour puss of an actor? Sadly yes! Is the return of familiar faces in unfamiliar ways awesome? Definitely! I’m giddy with excitement at obsessing over Lostpedia again and sharing theories (although right now I have few, compared to last season’s dead giveways re: Ellie and Daniel, Miles and Pierre, etc.). I also had a fun time checking out Lost gear available on the interwebs, and I’m more than a little tempted to purchase a piece of Dharma clothing (perhaps the lab coat for a warm Halloween costume) for myself.

Meanwhile though, I still find myself harkening back to just over a year ago when the boyfriend and I took on the very ambitious task of watching the first four seasons in about a month and a half prior to the fifth season debut. Overall, Lost is a better show to watch on DVD, plain and simple. While getting wrapped up in the theories while watching it in present time is great, frustrating, fun, it’s also very hard to follow the show from week to week – especially as they take us back through five long seasons of mythology (don’t forget, the show premiered in 2003…it’s been awhile). For example, this last episode, the woman interviewing Locke played a ‘fake’ psychic in an earlier flashback…I can’t even remember who the psychic was working with, but like…who catches that?

On the flip side, I can see that with the show ending, the conclusion of what is the island will be revealed and thus – much like with The Sopranos – people won’t jump at watching it. Still, I’m interested in purchasing the DVD set for myself down the road so I can relive the magic and pick up the clues and try to puzzle out the answers to things that aren’t answered this year. I’m hoping the creators consider putting some almanac out when all is said and done, much like how Harry Potter fans are eagerly awaiting the Harry Potter encyclopaedia, to answer the final questions.

Here’s the thing though, I’m not holding my breath for some amazing finish that wraps things up fully. There is no logical explanation for Lost, as the show continued to expound upon as the seasons went on. The leaders aren’t the leaders. There is a blurry line between good and bad. Destiny is both real and imagined.

Ultimately I think the creators maybe bit off more than they could chew, particularly with the JJ effect of his vision being distorted upon leaving for his next project. It’s impossible to keep up the level of mystery the first two seasons presented us with, so they tried to do it by bringing in more mysteries and groups of people with their own mystery (the tailies, the boat people, the others, Dharma, the Ajira folks, the temple others, etc.). What we have is a too wide cast when we really care about the core and fringe (like Rose and Bernard) 815 characters.

But I’m still happy to be on the Lost train. For now anyway.

Till later,

Britt’s On

Gold Medal Television

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Let me just say this: The Olympics are one of the greatest reality shows of all time. I’ve loved watching days 1 through 4, and I’m generally proud of Canada’s effort (and colour scheme) for this event…aside from the weather and luge incident. Every event is breathtaking, every medal is up for grabs, favourites will fall, twists will happen, conspirators will oust others. It’s great. It’s equally great that CTV has gone bananas for the Olympics and is airing every event in one way or another...although it makes catching up on my regular programming tough.
Moving on, I have had time to watch a few things in the last week, including the always addictively horrible Toddlers & Tiaras, the always addictive frustrating Lost, and the perennial favourites The Amazing Race and Survivor, both of which kicked off new seasons this week.

Survivor’s 20th instalment, Heroes vs. Villains promises to be one of the best seasons, perhaps the best all star season ever – at least by premise. There are a few notable faces missing and two questionable female choices in terms of bringing back ‘characters’, but the first episode so far has lived up to its hype. There were tons of great sound bytes and interactions, and the 1 to 1 victories for the heroes and the villains made for a great swing of power. I’m not in the minority when I say the villains tribe is more interesting (and sort of who I’m rooting for), but there are a few heroes I’ve got my fingers crossed for (I have a major love for James and JT…the two of them in one season is almost too much). I’m also not in the minority when I say Russell’s boasting fell a little flat next to the other competitors past history and prowess, and Parvati’s immediate assessment of his character (although she did seem a tad too informed).

Moving on to TAR. I’m very disappointed that the ads pitched this season as a high-def one, based on the high-def ads – why can’t we do hi-def TAR? How can this billion-time-emmy-award-winning show not broadcast in hi-def? Seriously! I’m a big fan of the bitchy network of blogs (although I long ago gave up on Big Brother after Janelle failed to win two seasons), and that link will take you to her assessment of the first ep of TAR. I didn’t watch BB but the two BB contestants seem like morons, and her assessment that they cast the biggest idiots on the planet to join them was awesome. The boyfriend has the single/gay brother duo as his team so by default we’re sort of cheering for the lost paintbrush boys, and I am secretly cheering for team miss teen ‘such as the Iraq’ to show the calibre of education it takes to win this show is very low indeed. I don’t have high hopes for them, and I’m pretty certain team BB won’t take it based on rumblings.

Anyway, I am excited to watch the moron parade play out, am uber excited to watch Survivor evolve among the first episode character refresher, and am hoping Lost will finally answer some of my damn questions. Oh yeah, and let the Olympic torch shine for another week and a half!

Till next time,

Britt’s On

Sadness For Fun & Profit

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I recently finished Dave Cullen’s incredible, agonizing book ‘Columbine’ and it got me thinking (and crying), namely about the nature of tragedy in the media. Where do we draw the line on profiting off the misfortune of others?

This came to mind specifically with Columbine because in one of the ‘basement tapes’ with the killers confessing all, the discussed who they would want to helm a movie adaptation of the attack. Spielberg and Tarantino were tossed around as names. In actuality the attack they had been planning was much larger – it would have been the largest terrorist attack in America, up until 9/11 anyway. So perhaps there would have been a movie.

But where do we draw the line? I sincerely doubt anyone will ever make a movie on Columbine, because it would essentially be giving into the killers wishes – to be famous for mass destruction. But then, with the actual world’s largest terrorist attack – 9/11 – we’ve had several movies come out and fare not horribly (United 93, World Trade Centre). They aren’t commercial runaways because it’s just too painful to process, or they focus more on the action and heroics over the facts…but they’re out there, and within a short time frame of the attacks. Conversely another large, infamous bombing – Oklahoma – has never had a film made about it to my knowledge.

I suppose the argument could be made that the 9/11 films focus on heroics while making a movie about a story where there really only is a villain wouldn’t fare well. Case in point – Karla, the ill-fated movie on one half of the infamous ‘school girl killers’, starring Laura Prepon as Karla Homolka, was considered so tasteless it basically got shut down before it was released. I believe the families saw it though, and I remember seeing ad for it in the papers once.

But again, let’s move back over to Monster, the film Charlize Theron won best actress for portraying a mass murdered. There were no heroics, maybe a bit of sympathy cast for Aileen (played by Theron) as a prostitute who’s life is endangered when she takes her first stab at murder. Somehow this movie was marketable. As are several other true crime / tragedy films – Natural Born Killers was shorthand for the Columbine killers’ plans, they often wrote about “NBK” coming soon.

We’ve also got Bowling for Columbine, one of the world’s most successful documentaries of all time. The movie wasn’t just about the incident, it was really about larger issues of violence and gun control in America, but it certainly was boosted by the national attention to the attacks (that are still prominent today). Certainly though, I can’t imagine a re-enactment of the attacks will happen ever…I get chills and lightheaded from just thinking about that book.

So circling back, the book. There are many books written on tragedies. In the case of Columbine, they are successful almanacs when it comes to debunking myths and setting the story straight (which Cullen, as a journalist guilty of many of the media-proliferated myths, admirably does). The book is Cullen’s opus, ten years of exhaustive research compiled into one, solid, readable (yet painful) tome that tries to find answers in a thankless situation. I say, Cullen deserves the hefty pay cheque that will likely come from the sales of this book. But I also wince and realize that the psychotic, messiah complexes of the killers would be tickled at the idea that a guy spent a decade to write a book about them (and even then probably didn’t get it ‘entirely right’) and their senseless acts.

Having a book written, vetted, and fact checked means the truth is out there – which is great. But the concept that select individuals are profiting off of tragedies bothers me, not so much in that it’s insulting to the victims, but that it’s giving credence to the initiators that spawned these acts of terror.

That’s a hard one to swallow.

- Britt’s On

Really Oscars?

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There's a cool slideshow on Entertainment Weekly today about Oscar snubs you can't believe this year.

I'm mostly up there in the (500) Days of Summer category. Not a single nomination? Not even screenwriting? Seriously? That's all kinds of brutal. Ultimately the ten-picture thing makes it a bit exciting this year...not so much in the sense that the squeakers are going to actually win, but it does make a case for fan-based campaigns to influence things in that way.

Let's see where my picks stacked up against what was actually nominated:

Avatar - 95%
Duh, especially after the Golden Globes big wins. Probably in the top 3 to take the cake at this year's Oscars. I feel like Lost...it's a question of 'faith' (a heart-pounding story like The Hurt Locker) vs. 'science' (for the technical wizardry of Avatar).

The Hurt Locker - 100%
Another duh, and also in the top 3 to take the top honours. I liked this movie and it brought home the Iraq war like nothing I'd ever seen, but I'm not sure it was as spellbinding (or rewatchable) as winners in past years.

Inglourious Basterds - 80%
And thank god for that or I would have been livid. Having seen most of the top 10 at this point, I would have been super choked if this film had been left it. MY pick for best of 2009.

Precious - 100%
This film has lost a lot of its early steam, but it might win Best Picture to avoid an Avatar / Hurt Locker upset. It will likely fare best in the Supporting Actress category for Mo'nique again.

Up In The Air - 100%
Another no-brainer, although like Precious, it has lost a lot of its early awards-season prestige for just being labeled a good movie. Hurt Locker and Avatar have really taken centre stage.

(500) Days of Summer - 60%
In my opinion, the biggest snub of the Top 10. It was a critics and fan favourite (although slightly more obscure than other nominated tripe), and unlike virtually every film nominated this year, completely and totally rewatchable, if not more enjoyable upon repeated viewings. WTF OSCARS.

The Hangover - 0%
Someone in the EW slideshow named this as an upset (after winning the GG, I guess), but I'm not surprised. This movie wasn't even that good people. Seriously.

It's Complicated - 10%
Another non-surprise that basically squeaked into the Golden Globes on pre-movie hype and expectations (similar to 'Nine').

Julie & Julia - 75%
I'm most surprised by J&J and (500)'s exclusions. I guess the Julie part of the movie was really that unlikable. Critics have noted that giving the Blindside a best picture nomination has given Sandra Bullock an edge in the Best Actress department. I'm not sold either way.

Nine - 40%
After the continual panning of this musical, there was no way Oscar could save it from its doomed Golden Globes performance.

So two of my 'likely' top six didn't make it. What are the remaining movies that did then?

The Blindside - 60%
I noted that this movie had the lowest tomato rating of the potential Best Picture nods, and it's something many critics have pointed to in perhaps the biggest upset of the nomination season. It's the Academy's equivalent of throwing the audience a Hangover-ish bone I guess...it's also one of two movies I haven't seen because I really didn't think it would get nominated. I'm blaming the Blindside for ousting (500) Days as I gave them both a 60% chance of getting in.

District 9 - N/A
I didn't even consider District 9. Granted I liked this movie, it had a ton of positive coverage this summer, and I'm happy to see it on the list, but it just never occurred to me this would be the audience bone for the dudes (I would have tapped Star Trek perhaps). It takes a bit of shine off of Avatar's alien / Sci Fi lustre in the category, which I appreciate. I'm not anti-Avatar, but technical wizardry does not a best picture make (at least not alone).

An Education - 60%
I'm surprised this made it when all was said and done. There are really, really great performances in this movie, but it's such a small film compared to all the other nominees - in terms of visibility, box office take, star power, and plot. I would have rather seen (500) Days here but I think it's more deserving than The Blindside or Julie & Julia.

A Serious Man - N/A
Another movie I didn't give a thought to. Of the two 'man' movies I've heard much more about "A Single Man" than this one. My parents saw it just before noms came out and were unimpressed - apparently it's a very insider film in terms of Jewish culture. I'm not actually looking forward to watching this AT ALL, so thanks Academy, for continuing to kiss the Coen Brothers' butts and making me shill out money to see this at the cheap seats. I've heard it's underwhelming.

Up - N/A
I didn't think about this one either because it lacked the same level of fervor around it as Wall-e did last year. That being said, I'm very happy that being a best picture nom doesn't eliminate this fantastic film from taking home Best Animated Film. Cause it deserves that one at least. I'm not sure it's peak Pixar (I ranked it at #9 on my top 10 rankings), but Pixar slightly off-peak is better than 99.9% of movies hope to be.

Other snubs I'm *right there* with the angered fans out there? Emily Blunt in 'The Young Victoria' is classic Oscar fare. Helen Mirren's role is so invisible it's insanity that Blunt didn't nab that final spot on decorum alone. I know Christoph Waltz is (deserved) Aces, but his costars also deserved some nods in the supporting categories. I also wished 'The Messenger' made it to Best Picture status because it'd be more likely to actually appear on our screens here and I really, really want to see that one. Sigh.

I'm done dwelling on the nominees for now. I'm two films away from completing my Oscar route and many posts from determining who will win. Right Avatar has the momentum post-Globes, but Hurt Locker is on DVD and might snag a larger viewing audience in the coming weeks. Plus don't forget other top contenders Precious, Inglourious (FTW), and Up In The Air!

- B

Gramarama: Grammys 2010

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I wasn’t looking forward to last night’s Grammy awards. I’m not a fan of awards shows that stack musical interludes and honorary awards in front of actually giving away awards – and the Grammy’s are notorious for that, putting together extremely obscure pairings for what they call ‘once in a lifetime’ and I call ‘stupid’. However, I obliged the boyfriend last night and watched the entire thing from start to finish. I will point out that when we caught up with our PVR, I made him watch a TLC program on the world’s tiniest girl (about the size of a cat if you can imagine, and she’s two). We managed to watch that whole program between catching up with the Grammy’s and were still done watching them at about 10:35.

Anyway to my surprise, last night was a good show. I thought I’d maybe touch on several of the performances – ones that I feel qualified to comment on for one reason or another – and give my grades to the winners and losers of the night.

Lady Gaga – kicked things off with a bang as per usual, but also as per usual? Gaga was at her best when vamping on the piano with Elton John, stripped away from the hysterics of her OTT dance-y number, complete with Gaga mannequins and flashy MC. I’m a little surprised Ga didn’t get to grab an award on stage.
Grade: B+

Pink – easily one of the best performances of the night. Glitter in the Air is one of my fave tracks off Pink’s last album, and she sang it perfectly with some genuine emotion (did you SEE Keith Urban tearing up when he went to present the next award)? Add to that a breathtaking acrobatic performance where she STILL managed to sound awesome and you’ve got a winner. I respect Pink, as she’s really just kept on doing her own thing from when she first showed up on the scene to today, and she’s still popular. She’s not #1, but she’s continually out there.
Grade: A+

Beyonce – tied for best performance with Pink. “If I Was A Boy” has/had the potential to be a really boring power ballad, but Beyonce’s utilitarian interpretation had her rocking the crowds, putting a big smile on her hubby’s face, and showcased her voice without too many intense vocal gymnastics. Add to that the inspired ‘Oughta Know’ interlude (go Canada go) and you’ve got a stellar, unexpectedly awesome performance.
Grade: A+

Michael Jackson Tribute – despite a relatively ragtag band of performers – Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Carrie Underwood, and Smokey Robinson – they did a really solid job of delivering this tune along with Michael’s angelic vocals. The 3D didn’t quite work (we had on non-Grammy-sanctioned glasses that came with our copy of Coraline), and it mostly resulted in guffaws as the boy and I laughed at the starlets wearing their specs, but it was a nice effort. I felt like Carrie Underwood was kind of the weakest here, surprisingly, but loved her realistic, extension-free hair.
Grade: A-

Black Eyed Peas – Imma Be isn’t my fave song off The E.N.D. but it did lend itself well to the build-up in this futuristic blast of a performance. Plus there is NO WAY to not bop your head and enjoy ‘I Gotta Feeling’ – it would have worked well as a show closer in my opinion, although the ‘good night’ would have been over by then I suppose.
Grade: A

Lil Wayne / Drake / Eminem – Probably the best of the ‘true’ hip hop / R&B performances of the night, although the lyrics were more muddled than the clear cut sound of the actual track. I commented, in regards to Gaga and Drake, those two are living the dream. A couple of years ago they were just doing their thing in a NYC club and ‘wheelchair’ respectively, and now they’re performing with legends in their genres on the Grammy stages. Drake looked a little too happy to be hardcore, but his performance was great – it was good to see Eminem in a positive, supporting role. Perhaps they bonded over their similar struggle against expectations vs. reality (Degrassi Star? Vs. Talented!).
Grade: B+

Taylor Swift (w/Stevie Nicks) – Taylor’s weakness is her live performing, but what she lacks in vocal power she makes up for in charm and energy. The Stevie Nicks middle duet was the most painful part, while the countrified version of ‘You Belong With Me’ was a highlight – imagine, Taylor Swift singing pure country?
Grade: B

Green Day (w/musical guests) – I had no idea Green Day was putting together a musical of ‘American Idiot’ but I am tickled pink at the idea. So is the rest of America I bet, after the brilliant PR move of having cast members from the musical rock out with the band. For the rest of the show, we both commented on how every musical group would be clamouring for their own stage show now. The performance lacked the bells and whistles of others, but it was still solid.
Grade: B+

Bon Jovi – The little three-song condensed set the guys played went on an upward slope, from the weak opening by Richie Sambora through to the fan-selected ‘Livin on a Prayer’. Yet BJ seemed a little, dare I say it, bored? Their energy level wasn’t nearly as high as some of the others last night.
Grade: C+

Maxwell – Apparently this guy is famous down in the US of A. I don’t know him. He had a nice voice but his performance was standard power ballad stuff, which Beyonce managed to overcome…Maxwell did not, and thus I skipped this one.
Grade: C

Jamie Foxx – Another performance I skipped about half of. Foxx’s vocals were buried in auto-tune and there wasn’t really anything special (enter hoochie girls after the operatic debut), unlike the stripped down Eminem/Wayne/Drake performance later that evening.
Grade: C-

Lady Antebellum – The boyfriend is a big fan of these folks, having partied all night with them last time they were in town. There wasn’t anything flashy about their performance, nor did they have any surprise special guests…and it was nice. I’m not super familiar with them, but they are solid performers / songwriters.
Grade: B

There were a few other random performances in there. Zac Brown Band who stole the best new artist award from MGMT – I don’t really have much to say on them. The old person David Foster-helmed soul performance which was pretty snore-y. Dave Matthews band was okay but a little ‘much’. You can do a lot without needing a full jamboree on stage. Jeff Beck and Imelda May started out enchanting but failed to live up to the star power that dominated the stage that night.

Overall though, glad I watched it. Pink and Beyonce were definitely the ladies that rocked the stage, but it was Taylor’s fairy tale and continually surprised gushing that captured our hearts.

- Britt’s On

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