Monday, March 01, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 19: 24 Season 1 3:00PM-4:00PM

Bob is dead. Jack discovers the angel Castiel is an assassin looking to kill Palmer and Jack. Elizabeth recognizes Castiel when they are all shown the men believed to be behind the assassination attempt. Jack changes his clothing. Jack thinks there is another mole inside CTU. Keith Palmer is angry and wants a meet with Carl about Feragamo's death. The bad guy breaks into the safe house and starts killing agents. Teri and Kim escape. Teri stops the car to get out and look around. The car falls off of a cliff and explodes, apparently killing Kim. Teri passes out. And when Teri comes to, Abby Sciuto pulls over to help her. Damn it, apparently Kim is still alive, meaning I will have to watch her eventually be menaced by cougars.

And thus we begin this season's really stupid storyline. Guess what? Teri has amnesia! Yes, we get Teri wandering around with no memory of who she is or what has been happening to her. Oh, this will be such a great storyline. Oh wait, no it won't. Terrible idea. Just terrible.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 18: 24 Season 1 2:00PM-3:00PM

Jack continues his interrogation. We see some angelic love. Palmer and Jack meet face to face. Teri and Kim make it to the safe house. Teri finds out she is pregnant. And Teri and Kim eat. The majority of the episode has Jack and Palmer sitting in a room investigating the Drazen incident and who is behind the assassination attempt. Palmer gets Bauer reinstated. The episode ends with a death you see coming all episode long.

Another sitting around talking episode, this time between Jack and Palmer. it is still about setting up the rest of the season, and the problem is you cannot rush through the events since the whole concept is real time. It is fun to watch, and they keep some tension going with Jack and Palmer hunting for the men behind the attack. Overall, not a bad episode.

Kim is stupid. First, she wonders how the rape several hours ago already got her mother pregnant. And then she bitches that her parents were trying to get pregnant without telling her. Since, I guess, that is the only way to get pregnant. How did Kim get Rick's phone number when she had never met him before?


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 17: 24 Season 1 1:00PM-2:00PM

Kim and Teri are escorted to a hospital, while CTU takes Jack into custody. The fallout from the first thirteen hours of the season continues. The angel Castiel kills the rest of Gaines' men, including Kevin Carroll. Palmer believes Jack is blaming him for the Drazen incident. Actually, it's the Drazens blaming both of them. One of Palmer's staff is sleeping with Castiel, because of his angelic radiance. Palmer arrives at CTU to talk to Jack.

A talky episode. This is all about the fallout of the first half of the season. Jack is held in custody and questioned the entire hour. Teri and Kim spend the hour in the hospital being examined, joined by Nina to watch over them. And Palmer digs into the whys for the events of the day. It is more setting up the players for the rest of the day, as well as providing filler as the creators of the show realized they still have a lot of episodes left to go.


Monday, February 22, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 16: 24 Season 1 12:00PM-1:00PM

Jack Bauer continues his efforts to stop the assassination attempt on Senator David Palmer. Since last minute, he is running from Gaines after the truck exploded. Teri and Kim remain running from Gaines. And Palmer is still pissed about Feragamo's death. Teri shows that as a woman, she has a hard time following simple directions. And the 24 hours in Jack Bauer's life continues. Tony and Nina eat food, proving they are weaker than Jack, who can survive for days on anger. Ted runs away and Jack kills Gaines. Rick escapes. The episode ends with a second assassin, the angel Castiel, to prove that there are eleven episodes left.

The ending to the Gaines story is exciting enough, and all of the storylines are starting to heat up. Palmer's storyline about his son is getting into cover ups and an angry Palmer. There are several wrap ups as the episode ends, but more loose ends are uncovered, leading to the rest of the season. But, as it's 24, not too much can happen.

Jack kills the asian bad guy. He uses the power of the sun to defeat a sniper rifle. Jack kills Gaines.

Jack ups the body count for the season by two more.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Christopher Chance vs the Pulp Trope

The Human Target, Fox's new show based loosely on the DC comic, has had complaints from fans of the comic about the disparities between the comic and the television. The television show does share ideas with another property, the pulp magazine. The main character Christopher Chance follows the majority of the tropes of the pulp hero of old. Human Target is helping to fill in the void of the pulp storyline for today's modern audience in the manner of the Doc Savage style hero.

Pulps were stories told in a magazine format. They were cheaply priced, printed on cheap paper, the books falling apart soon after the first read through. The pulps featured such characters as Doc Savage. The heroes that grew out of Doc Savage's style of pulp were a specific set.  These heroes would be faced against villains with high stakes on the line. They would often be joined by a variety of assistants each with their own specialized skills. Yet the hero himself would be just as skilled in many of the specializations that him companions are in as well. The companions are loyal to the hero. And the hero would often be faced with bigger threats from new villains in every new issue, with the villain often defeated and the characters back to their iconic set up at the beginning of the next story.

One factor that helped in defining the pulp hero were his fighting skills. Often, they would be trained in multiple martial arts. They would be strong, often stronger than a normal man. They would be faced against masters of martial arts, dispensing with the attackers with ease, proving themselves stronger, faster, and more skilled. They also are shown as intelligent and capable in all disciplines, from science to law to history to whatever else the story needs him to be. He will appear to gain new knowledge and skills as the story dictates, as any problem the hero comes across he will be shown to have full knowledge of the area of study and prove himself more than capable of solving the problem. The pulp hero is all of these qualities and more.

Christopher Chance in Human Target possesses these same qualities. He is capable in a fight with as many men as he can. He has taken on from one trained assassin to a group of crooked police officers. No matter the odds or training of his enemies, Chance has proven himself the more capable. Chance has also proven his driving ability, escaping from pursuers. He proved his capabilities in leading a monastery in prayer, quoting biblical verse. When a pilot is needed on an airline, he took over the flight control, including rolling the plane over to douse flames from the bottom of the plane. When pretending to be a lawyer, he was able to quote court cases that proved his point from memory. And when dealing with an engineer aboard a train, he proved himself her equal in engineering knowledge. He has shown strong knowledge in every area of the person he is protecting. And yet when asked by each person who he is hired to protect, he always tells them he is not whatever profession he is showing expert knowledge in.

The pulp hero also has friends who help him along the way. While the pulp hero is capable in all things, these friends are the best at what they do. They are often the top surgeon in the world. Or they are the world's smartest man. Often, the pulp hero travels with an engineer who can build him almost anything. There is a lawyer who is unbeaten or has only lost one case. Usually there is a strong guy who is sometimes shown to be stronger than the hero, but at other times the hero will match him during play with each other. And oftentimes there might be a faithful companion, who follows the hero and tends to him, much in the same way as Alfred does for Batman. No matter how many or few, the hero's friends usually play a role in assisting the hero overcome the villain and help win the day, even through it is the hero who is given the credit for the win.

Christopher Chance has two such people in his life, who help him through each of his adventures. First, there is Winston, Chance's friend and business partner. Winston is a former police detective, retired but still with the knowledge from the job. He helps set up Chase with his clients as well as supplying support for Chance when needed, using his contacts and skills to assist Chance in each case. He is both Alfred, and more. Chance's second compatriot is Guerrero. Guerrero is a master at computers, he has hooks in all parts of not exactly legal affairs. He is mysterious, and he can solve almost every problem presented with. He has also used his skills and shaky morality to save Chance from having secrets exposed, as well as protecting Chance in other ways. While Guerrero seems to possess no morality, he is fiercely loyal to Chance, as the companions often are.

The last commonality between Human Target and the classic pulps is the larger than life stories. In the original stories, the hero would face some world or city conquering menace. But the important thing was not so much the goals, as the trials created for the hero to pass. Whether the hero was aboard a burning zeppelin, or in an underground base, he would have to use his wits and skills to escape what should be certain death.  While there is no yellow menace (thankfully), each week Chance must help someone get out of a ridiculous situation they have been placed in, often by villains with big plans. From Chance on a speeding train without brakes to an airplane out of control to being chased by the San Francisco poise department Chance must fight these menaces, using his assistants to get him through each problem. He takes control of the situations and finds ways out of flying, speeding, or inescapable deathtraps.

The one thing Human Target is lacking is the nemesis. He does not yet have an enemy who keeps coming back time and again to harass him, although even that has been hinted at, with a mysterious third party having hired Guerrero to steal the files to Chance's first case. While Guerrero accepted the job in an effort to learn the identity of the mysterious villain, the job ended with the contact dead, the files destroyed, and the villain still a mystery from Guerrero and the audience. Whether this person will become a nemesis for our hero or not, only the future can tell.

Looking through the criteria that helped define the pulp hero of the Doc Savage mold, Christopher Chance fits inside of the mold rather easily. He is capable in almost all things, he has companions who assist him during his adventures, and his adventures often contain crazy situations that should lead to certain death and yet he finds a way out. Christopher Chance would find no difficulty in fitting in with the world of the other pulp heroes, and that is what makes his adventures enjoyable.


Friday, February 12, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 15: 24 Season 1 11:00AM-12:00PM

Jack Bauer finds his wife and daughter, saving the day. Of course, Gaines is coming after him and there is still loads of trouble. Also, there is this Drazen guy hanging around to fill in the bad guy role. Green decides to interrogate Nina and Tony. Because the first thing we need the day of a Presidential candidate assassination is to take away half of the CTU work force. Palmer is worried for Keith's therapist, and when he goes to visit, the therapist is dead. Jack calls Green to give his location, and he lets Nina and Tony off the hook. Rick gets shot and Jack helps him escape.

Jack beats up Kevin. He throat punches the fake Alan. He chokes Rick. He is involved in a van chase through the Gaines property. He blows the van up.

Kim sticks up for Rick.

No one dies, strangely enough since everyone is shooting at each other.


From π to Zack and Miri: Part 14: 24 Season 1 10:00AM-11:00AM

Jack Bauer, on the run from the government and hunting down Ira Gaines continues to torture and now kill to get his family back. Ted gets a call from Kevin Carroll, who Jack finds out was the fake Alan. Teri shoots and kills her rapist, then hides the body.

Drazen explains that Gaines was supposed to set up Bauer as Palmer's assassin. Again, there are easier ways to do this. Gaines made it way too difficult. Which is why he fails. Also, we get the line "There's no way you could have seen that coming". Huh? Of course you could, because the whole plan was ridiculous to begin with.

Jack mentions Gulag torture with a wet towel. He disarms Ted's knife and heart punches Ted, killing the other man. He then tortures Kevin Carroll by driving a limo. Yes, torture by limo ride.

Kim declines the gun given to her.

Jack kills Ted. Teri kills her rapist.


From π to Zack and Miri: Part 13: 24 Season 1 9:00AM-10:00AM

Jack Bauer continues the hunt for his wife and daughter and the mastermind (yeah, right) behind framing him for the attempted assassination of Senator David Palmer. Teri, now armed with a cell phone, calls Nina and they start a trace. Jack gets in on the call to tell everyone how much he loves them. (But not that bitch Nina anymore.) The cell phone dies and the bad guy finds it, but decides not to tell Gaines he had it stolen, since he is an idiot. The first Drazen appears flying on a plane. CTU gets told tha Alberta Green will replace Jack as head. Jack gets information on Ted Coffel and kidnaps him in the limousine. Oh, and Teri has her first bout of morning sickness.

Jack hot wires a car. He sets off a fire alarm.  He steals a limo. He would rather spend more time talking to his family while under a car than escape from the police. But the police never bother to look under the cars in the parking lot, nor do they notice him drive out of the parking lot while they look for him.

Kim is given one job, watch out for bad guys. Which she never actually does. Thankfully, the bad guys are loud and they can hide the cell phone.

Jamey dies in this episode from her self-inflicted injuries sustained in the previous episode.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 12: 24 Season 1 8:00AM-9:00AM

The opening no longer tells us that the show takes place in real time. How are we supposed to know if it takes place in real time, then? Jack Bauer, more human than human, continues to fight the man and discover the reason behind the assassination attempt on David Palmer's life. Nina and Tony work to help Jack escape from the police. Because Jack Bauer is above the police. Teri steals a cell phone off of her raper. Jamey slits her wrists with a broken coffee cup to end the episode.

Jack steals a car. He tells a woman he kidnapped "I have killed two people since midnight" and that she should be afraid of him. Jack falls asleep for a brief moment.

Because Kim faked her rape earlier, she gets almost raped in this episode. Instead, her mother Teri gets raped. Way to go Kim. Way to go.

Again, no one dies in this episode. This has been way too many episodes without a death in it.


From π to Zack and Miri: Part 11: 24 Season 1 7:00AM-8:00AM

Jack Bauer, the only hope for humanity continues his mission to rescue his family and save David Palmer while working for the bad guys and falls further into the depths of what he will become. Meanwhile, Nina is still pretending to be good, even getting Tony to capture that traitor Jamey when Jamey lies about Nina, thinking Nina is dead. Tony then calls Aaron Pierce to warn him of Jack being at Palmer's speech. Finally, Jack saves the day and gets arrested for it.

This episode parks the first time the previously on calls it the worst day of Jack's life. Jack also builds a gun for the assassin and attacks a Secret Service agent. Jack keeps it kind of cool in this episode.

 Kim gets led to her possible death when Jack screws up the assassination attempt. She goes almost willingly.

No one gets killed in this episode.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 10: 24 Season 1 6:00AM-7:00AM

This episode marks another first, as it is the first time Jack utters the works "I will kill you". Unlike later on, this is said in a quiet voice, as Jack is saying it to Nina. The fake photographer prepares for the assassination. Jack follows Gaines' orders and heads to CTU. No one at CTU is suspicious of Jack, since I guess he randomly walks around the office talking to himself with his finger pressed to his ear. Nothing suspicious about that at all. Jack kidnaps Nina and throws a jacket on her. Teri escapes from "Alan" and winds up knocking him out and tying him up. But when she calls CTU Jamey answers because Nina is out with Jack. Teri gets jealous, figuring they are having sex again and plots to kill Pa- oh wait, that's not what happens. What happens is Jamey says she is sending CTU agents to pick up "Alan". But, when the agents arrive, they turn out to be bad guys, and we find out Jamey was the mole all along! Of course, I will get back to this later. Gaines has Jack drive outside of LA, and has him shoot Nina. Jack shoots Nina and she falls down a hill. Dead? No! Jack was smart enough to put a flak jacket on her and Nina gets up alive. Of course, if Jack would have just killed her, he would have saved himself from the heartache at the end of the season, but Jack can't think past each hour.

OK, so Jamey is Gaines' mole. So, why couldn't she have just deleted the information on the key card when she first had it? Why do we need Jack to go back and get the key card, making everyone in CTU suspicious of him? Once again, Gaines has a plan that is far too complex. And when we find out what the actual plan is, we have to wonder why not just do it an easier way?

Dead Janet: Still dead.

Jack Moments: Jack steals the key card from under Milo's nose. He kidnaps Nina. He says "I will kill you."

Kim Moments of Stupidity: She fakes a rape with Rick, which ends up causing bad things later. When she fake escapes, she doesn't bother to lock the door behind her. If someone looked, they would have known she was gone without going in. She stops her escape and heads back to the shack to stay kidnapped.

Body Count:

Bauer: 0     Bad Guys: 0

Season Total:

Bauer: 2     Bad Guys: 264


Thursday, February 04, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 9: 24 Season 1 5:00AM-6:00AM

Janet, after flat lining, comes back, and is said to be fine. Jack arrives at the hospital to reunite with Teri briefly. David "One more Major League joke and I will send Bob to kill you" Palmer is angry over the fact that everyone knew about what his son did except for him. Such a close family, keeping secrets from the man who would be the most powerful man in the world! (Once he learns to hit a curve ball.) Mike Novick makes his first appearance, consoling Palmer over the fact that he's oblivious. Gaines calls Jack and uses Kim to force Jack to follow his orders. "Alan" goes to Janet's room and kills Janet. Milo is called in to help with the key card, marking Milo's first appearance. The sun finally rises. And Nina calls Teri and tells her to tell Jack the body belongs to Alan Yorke. But if Alan is dead, then who is in the car with her? Beep Boop Beep Boop.

A strong set up episode for the rest of the current storyline. Jack has to go against CTU and the government to protect his family. And we get more of this set up next week. 

Dead Janet: Flat lines. Has her air cut from her oxygen mask by her fake dad. Dies.

Jack Moments: Steals a helicopter to go to the hospital. Attacks a man carrying a briefcase in the hospital.

Kim Moments of Stupidity: Helps Rick bury Dan. Is left alone to dig the grave.

Body Count:

Bauer: 0     Bad Guys: 1

Season Total:

Bauer: 2     Bad Guys: 264


From π to Zack and Miri: Part 8: 24 Season 1 4:00AM-5:00AM

Jack is at the police station trying to talk to the bad guy. He helps the guy to escape so he can find out about Kim. Teri and "Alan" go to the hospital and find Janet in surgery. Jack gets blocked by Mason several times. Teri is the first person to fall prey to being tired and closes her eyes for a moment. David "Unit" Palmer threatens the reporter to not tell her story yet. She does not give in. The bad guy leads Jack to a car with a body in it. Dan gets killed by Gaines for being stupid.

Poor Janet: Flat lines while in surgery.

Jack Moments: Smothers the suspect. Passes phone number to suspect. Assists suspect in escaping police custody.

Kim Moments of Stupidity: Thrown into a trunk. Gets Dan killed.

Body Count:

Jack: 0     Bad Guys: 2

Season Total:

Jack: 2     Bad Guys: 263


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 7: 24 Season 1 3:00AM-4:00AM

This episode is notable as the first time Jack carries a gun and a flashlight at the same time. Also, Mason asks "What's so special about Jack Bauer?" Tony, being a dick, calls Mason in who initiates a lock down of CTU. Jack escapes and heads to an address that was pulled from the key card. A black female police officer helps Jack in his hunt and gets shot and killed for her assistance. When Mason learns Jack's whereabouts he unlocks CTU and leaves. David "Allstate" Palmer and Pierce convene to discuss safety concerns. The bad guy tells Jack of Kim's abduction.

Poor Janet: Left for dead in the middle of the street. Is almost shot but is saved by ambulance.

Jack Moments: Punches CTU agent. Uses a flashlight and a gun. Uses Spanish and a tackle to catch the bad guy. Gets police officer killed.

Kim Moments of Stupidity: Dragged away from Janet. Tied up in back of van. Persists enough about Janet being hurt that Dan decides to shoot her to make sure she is dead.

Body Count:

Jack: 0     Bad Guys: 1

Season Total:

Jack: 2     Bad Guys: 261

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 6: 24 Season 1 2:00AM-3:00AM

This episode marks the first time Jack yells out "Who are you working for?" Apart from that, the intrigue into the possible assassination of David "Curveball, bats are afraid" Palmer and the abduction of Kim continue on.

Pierce is searching for Palmer. He also has to keep the rest of the Palmer family in the suite, when David's son Keith tries to leave. We learn that Gaines wants Kim for some nefarious plot, which I will get to later. Jack interrogates Nina, but learns that the key card accessed her computer the week that Jack was sleeping with her out of town, so having sex cleared Nina. Palmer delivers a PSA to some hoodlums about rising up out of the gutter and becoming men. "Join the Unit." Kim attempts an escape with cracked up, broken armed, roofied Janet which leads to Janet getting hit by a car. And Mandy's girlfriend gets killed when she shows up without the ID and wants another million dollars for it. Again, why not bring the ID in the first place? Why give it to someone else to bring when you had it yourself, Mandy?

OK, so Gaines wants to kidnap Kim. So, his idea is to get two guys who Kim does not know, have one of those guys have sex with her friend Janet and then convince her to bring a friend along to the furniture store. First, Dan has to sleep with Janet. Then, he has to know she would bring Kim. But it's not like he can say "If you have any friends named Kim Bauer bring them along with you." And we have been told Kim has never met these guys before. So, this is a lot of work and luck to kidnap her and get Teri riding around town with "Alan York". Why go to all of the trouble with the Yorks for this? Why not just grab Kim and Teri at home while they are asleep and defenseless?

Poor Janet: Has a broken arm and has been roofied. Gets shot up with crack. Hit by a car which drives away. Is left to die in the middle of the road.

Jack Bauer Moments: "WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?" Lies to everyone at CTU. Interrogates Nina because someone accessed her computer (It's not like the computers are secure, people run back and forth across them all the time).

Kim Bauer Moments of Stupidity: Allows Janet crack, asks crack whore prostitute boy for help, asks skeevy guy in alley for help, gets prostitute boy beaten (possibly to death), gets Janet hit by a car, gets recaptured.

Body Count:

Jack: 0     Bad Guys: 1

Season Total:

Jack: 2     Bad Guys: 260


From π to Zack and Miri: Part 5: 24 Season 1 1:00AM-2:00AM

The threat on Senator David "Hats for bats" Palmer continues. Walsh, Jack's mentor character gets into trouble securing a key card with information to the conspiracy. The other agent is killed and Walsh calls to Jack for help. Secret Service agent Aaron Pierce makes his first appearance to beef up security around Palmer. Palmer has left his suite, though. Jack acquires the key card, with Walsh dying in the process, setting up the long line of characters near Jack who die. Jack then gets Jamey at CTU to start working on the key card. Jamey links the card to Nina. Is Nina bad? (Hint: she is, but not at this point in the season.) Oh, and Mandy gets naked for no real reason. She also buries the photographer's ID. Again, for no real reason other than to extend the plot out.

The plan, apparently, is her girlfriend is supposed to pick up the ID while Mandy is being driven away by Gaines, and then immediately drive it to where Gaines is driving. I guess it could be to make sure Gaines has the money, but then why have her pick it up so quick? Or why not get the money and then give Gaines the tracking device? Instead, the idea is just way too complicated.

We do get some of Jack in action in this episode, as he kills two of the men attacking Walsh. The intrigue of who is the spy withing CTU is still interesting at this point in the series, as it has not been done yet. And the fact that we bounce between all of these characters feels less like filler and more like it is building to something. Kim gets kidnapped, her first of many. But the series is still trying to find its way. Teri meets with Janet's "father" and the two head out to search for their daughters. And poor Janet gets roofied, then has her arm broken.

Jack Bauer Moments: Jack shoots two of the attackers and cuts off one of their thumbs. Jack leaves Walsh to die.

Kim Bauer Moments of Stupidity: Goes into van with the boys. She gets kidnapped. She then calls her mother when threatened and lies that she is at a party having fun.

Body Count:

Jack Bauer: 2        Bad Guys: 2

Season Total:

Jack Bauer: 2        Bad Guys: 259

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 4: 24 Season 1 12:00AM-1:00AM

On the day of the California Presidential Primary there is a threat on Senator David Palmer's life. Jack Bauer and the rest of CTU(Counter Terrorist Unit) are called in to assess the threat and help prevent the assassination. Meanwhile, a photographer is on an airplane seated next to Mia Kirshner, and Jack's daughter Kim sneaks out of the house to party at a furniture store.

The first thing that shocked me with this episode is how much different everyone looks. Jack Bauer is softer looking, he talks in a calm voice and is believable being in charge of the CTU office. Tony Almeida is thin with a soul patch. And Nina is working for CTU. Oh, and Jack's wife Teris is walking around alive and everything. The other shock is that the season actually begins in Kuala Lampur. Right after we are told everything takes place in real time California time we are then taken to not LA. The second thing is everyone with a laptop is using a MacBook. The last strange thing is seeing how bad cell phone reception was at the beginning of the season, as characters lose reception on several occasions.

Most of the episode is set up of CTU working in the office, Teri being worried about Kim, Kim partying with her friend Janet having sex in a bed in the store, and David "Pedro Cerrano" Palmer preparing for his day ahead with the Primary. The girl on the plane steals the photographer's ID, then jumps out of the plane and blows the plane up, killing everyone aboard, but not before having sex with the photographer.

Jack Bauer Moments: Jack shoots George Mason in the neck with a tranquilizer dart.

Kim Bauer Moments of Stupidity: Kim sneaks out of the house to party with two creepy looking boys she does not know at a furniture store.

Body Count:

Jack Bauer: 0 Bad Guys: 257


Monday, February 01, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 3: 12 Monkeys

From mastermind and former Monty Python Terry Gilliam, comes this film on the nature of mental illness and destiny. The first movie in my collection that I have already watched, it was still just as interesting to go back and watch it again after years. There is so much going on in the movie the next time I watch it there will probably be something new I see.

12 Monkeys stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, a man from thirty years in the future from 1996. At the end of 1996 a virus was unleashed upon the Earth, killing five billion humans, and forcing the rest into hiding underground. Cole is selected to go back in time to learn more about who created the virus, so the scientists from the future can collect a pure sample and develop a cure. The time travel, however, has strong side effects on the mind.

Upon this latest viewing of the movie I noticed just how much of the movie deals with Cole's mental deterioration. Every trip back and forth in time unhinges his mind more. A portion of the movie is set in a mental hospital, and the character fits right in with the other patients. Cole is prone to outbursts of violence, placing police officers and orderlies in the hospital, and even beats a man to death. The character's mental state deteriorates and he loses all sense of reality, being dragged along by others for the final act of the movie, as he is incapable of continuing on his own.

On the opposite side is Brad Pitt's Jeffrey Goines. Goines is mentally unstable, and starts the movie in the mental hospital where his character belongs. While his mental state does not get better, he learns to act the part of the good son, of the animal rights activist leader, and reaches a point where he can operate in society. Meanwhile, under his seeming sanity is the insanity ready to be unleashed.

And then there is the character of Dr. Kathryn Railly. She begins the movie by treating the mental psychoses of Cole and Goines. But, after events with Cole she begins to question his reality and jumps into the insanity, losing pieces of herself in the process. She goes so far as to convince Cole of his reality, leading him along to the ending. She encourages the possible insanity.

While the questions in the movie are not explored, they are asked. One character asks another whether Railly has created her own subversive reality from Cole's. Railly continually questions Cole's grip on what is real. And we learn that Goines, while not fully sane, is at least aware of reality and what his actions are. All of the characters are insane to some point, it is just how they deal with their insanity that sets each of them apart from each other.

Next: 24 Season 1 12:00AM-1:00AM


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 2: 3 Extremes

From Hong Kong director Fruit Chan, Korean director Park Chan-Wook, and Japanese director Takashi Miike comes this anthology of demented stories. An alternate opening sentence can be: it is a movie from those crazy asians.

Fruit Chan's segment "Dumplings" comes first, and it centers on a woman wanting eternal youth and the measures she will go to achieve her goals. She visits a mysterious woman in an apartment who makes special dumplings that are said to restore youth and beauty. As the woman becomes more obsessed with eating the dumplings and regaining her smooth skin from her youth, more about how the dumplings are made is also brought to light. Knowing that the title is 3 Extremes should clue you in on what is going on, but if you don't guess early, hints are dropped in, then you are hit over the head with the cook's other line of work, and then just shown the whole thing. Of course, the story is more about what price beauty than being shocked, and the main character will do anything for her beauty, as is found out while watching this segment.

The second segment is Park Chan-Wook's "Cut", about a director who is nothing but nice to the cast and crew of the horror movie he is making. But when he arrives home, which the movie set is an exact replica of, he is attacked and wakes up to find himself back on set. His kidnapper, already having kidnapped his wife, then begins a mental torture of the director to stop the man from being so nice.

The final segment is Takashi Miike's "Box". This segment focuses on a young writer who was a ballet/contortionist with her sister at a young age, with their finale being they would fold up into boxes and disappear. Like most of Miike's work, this is at times confusing, with strange events and fever dream logic flowing throughout, before leading to a just as strange closing.

The one advantage this anthology has is three top directors working on it. The cameras are set up wonderfully, the lighting works, and the sound design fits. These are three directors at the tops of their game. The actors are also very good. These are top notch productions.

But none of the segments are particularly great. "Dumplings" takes a one note concept and plays it out as far as they can take it. "Cut" is a basic Tales From the Crypt episode. And "Box" is a calm version of Miike. Miike is Miike, love him or hate him. And here he spends long sequences with silence, which as it does in most of his work lead to some strange places later in the story.

Overall, this anthology is one of the better anthology movies out there. There is no overarching storyling forcing things together, nor cheap bookends for the story. Instead, we get three decent tales told one after another, the only connecting point being they are all a bit crazy.

Included in the set is a full feature version of "Dumplings". The feature version lays the clues out stronger starting from the beginning, lines that were cut to keep some measure of mystery are back in, and certain characters are shown to be participating in their activities on extra occasions so as to hammer home what kind of person they are. The feature version is interesting, but suffers from too much extra material, working better in the condensed version.

Next: 12 Monkeys


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 1: π

From writer/director/mastermind/Rachel Weiss plaything Darren Aronofsky comes his feature film. And the future Aronofsky can be seen in this early offering.

Max Cohen is obsessed with patterns. He believes everything in the universe has a numerical pattern attached to it. His theory is there is a pattern in the stock market. His sole friend is another scientist who was attempting to discover a pattern in π. The colleague gave up his quest after a stroke. And he tries to convince Max to give up the chase over games of Go. But Max does find a pattern and predicts the stock market, an event which causes his computer to crash, but not before spitting out a 216 digit number. At first, Max throws the print out away.

But it turns out the number is some all powerful number, and as Max tries to get access to the number again he is beset by all manner of people interested in the acquisition of the number. Max also suffers from headaches and delusions brought on by the headaches, which make certain events of the movie questionable. The ending also plays out interesting, being perhaps the only Aronofsky film that does not try to be a downer.

The acting in the film is decent, about the level of the film as a small budget first time film. The actors are good. But the real shining points are the directing and the sound design. Aronofsky proves he can direct with this film. The image is often stark and locations are interesting, especially Max's apartment.

Then there is the sound design. The music kicks in at the right times, using one general theme but mixing it up throughout to never make it boring. And it always works for what is happening in the movie. The sound in the movie is amazing for the small budget style of the film.

Overall, π is a good movie, and a good start from Aronofsky. I'm glad I watched it.

Next: 3 Extremes