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American Horror Story: Halloween (Part 2) review

3 Dec

At this point, the show has lost me as any sort of a fan. I honestly feel like some sort of scientific observer, watching to see what they are going to do with their narrative and discovering that it seems, everything is more interesting if they just make most of their characters ghosts. There is something inherently flawed if your ghosts draw more sympathy than your protagonists. That is, after all, why they are called protagonists.

At this juncture I honestly don’t care what happens to Ben (Dylan McDermott) or Vivien (Connie Britton).  She’s the biggest whiner in the world outside of a certain former sister-in-law that I have and he is essentially a lying, cheating borderline sociopath.  And who doesn’t recognize a foreign penis inside them unless the Rubber Man’s is the exact size and shape of Ben’s which I highly doubt.  What Vivien doesn’t realize is that Hayden (Kate Mara) would be doing her a favor if she cut her fetus out).

What I find, well, ridiculous is that the dead can walk through the night on Halloween, but the dead from the house also seem to be able to walk around wherever they want as well.  It is certainly convenient that the dead can walk free on the night Violet (Taissa Farmiga) and Tate (Evan Peters) finally have a date.  SPOILER  ALERT:  That way we can confirm what we have been suspecting for awhile now – that Tate is also a ghost.  Apparently, an impotent ghost when it comes to really liking a girl.  He blames it on his meds (can meds even work on a ghost?) when they are at the beach and he can’t get it up, but it’s obvious that something else is bothering him.  I’m sure his girl/mommy issues (because there are ALWAYS mommy issues) will slowly be revealed in coming episodes.  Furthermore, while he might be impotent with his – appendage, he seemed to do fine with a substitute phallus, the gun he used to kill several of his classmates at a high school shooting over a decade before.

Speaking of phallic symbols in this episode, Ben’s phallic substitute of choice is the giant knife he keeps grabbing to not only defend himself and his house but to destroy the individual (Hayden) who he already sullied with his own phallus which has come back to — bite him in the ass.  Furthermore, the phallic symbolism continues when Hayden acquires a large piece of long broken glass to substitute for a knife to cut out Vivien’s demon seed.  A symbolic phallic abortion?  But no… Hayden does not get to do this in time.  Ben appears, mans up and confesses he cheated on poor Vivien just a bit more.   Ben is now screwed.  Vivien kicks him out of the house by the end of the episode.  Then Luke (Morris Chestnut), the security guy, takes Hayden to the local authorities only to discover she disappeared in the back of his car at sun-up.  Violet must also deal with the knowledge that Tate is not only Constance’s son (Jessica Lange), he’s a mass-murderer.  Quite a pick to lose one’s virginity with.  At least she’ll have stories to tell, if she survives the deflowering and the actual relationship.  Perhaps Tate will kill her as well and she and Tate will end up in the horror house forever.  Not my choice of destiny but I guess it works for them.

Sons of Anarchy: Brick Episode Review

9 Nov

Karma.  It will get you every time.  And right now, karma is coming after Clay (Ron Perlman) and Gemma (Katey Sagal).

SPOILER ALERT:

If you have been wondering for years exactly what happened to John Teller and if Clay and/or Gemma was responsible, the good news is:  it looks like we are in the process of finding out this season.  Actually we do find out that Clay killed John Teller.  We don’t have all the details quite yet but we know Gemma obviously knew this and that Wayne (Dayton Callie) helped cover it up, although he did it because Clay lied to him about his motives.  It turns out that Clay is a ruthless, self-serving bastard that doesn’t care so much about the club or anyone else, he cares only about his hunger for power and control.  Yes, he also cares about Gemma.  That’s about it.  It’s essentially like watching a Shakespearian tragedy play out in a motorcycle club.

It is closest to Hamlet.  Especially since the central bones of the narrative is about Jax (Charlie Hunnam) butting heads with Clay at every turn, negotiating his life with his over-bearing mother, Gemma, and, at least in the first three seasons, it was about Jax finding his place in the club, and in the family.  Also, growing up enough to have a somewhat mature relationship with Tara (Maggie Siff), his high school sweetheart and the only female strong enough to stand up to Gemma, mostly.  Anyone who has had an overbearing insane crazy mother-in-law with a strange attachment to her son (that would be most mothers I’ve met in my lifetime) will understand that a prospective daughter-in-law can only stand up to her future mother-in-law to a point.  Then she must play her and allow her to believe she is an ally (which is what Tara was doing until Gemma’s discovery of the letters this season).

Now Tara has become a central player in the power struggle between Jax, Clay and Gemma.  She has been forced to enter into the politics of the motorcycle club in order to maintain her status quo in the family and in turn, hoping to use Piney’s (William Lucking) hatred of drug dealing and loyalty to the memory of John Teller, not to mention his strong idealism regarding the founding doctrines of the club.  Of course, Tara has been exposed because no matter how clever she is, she isn’t quite as cunning as Clay and Gemma:  two individuals who might be less educated than Tara but far more street smart.  In this episode we don’t see much of Tara but we learn that Clay has plans to eliminate her if he can get his hands on the letters she’s hiding.  Gemma tries to take a kinder tactic reminding him that she’s with Jax and she’s the mother of their grandchild.

We also learn a bit more about Wayne.  His ultimate loyalty is with Clay, most probably due to their shared guilt of covering up the murder of John Teller but he is secretly in love with Gemma.  He will do almost anything to stay in her favor but will betray her in order to still stay loyal to Clay.  Watching the game of musical letters this week and the lies that were told between Gemma, Clay and Wayne were some of the most interesting scenes in the episode.

Juice (Theo Rossi) has his own drama playing out.  Potter (Ray McKinnon) sends down the order that Juice must get a sample of the cocaine they are trafficking.  He almost gets caught and has to hide the kilo and smuggle it out of the room it is hidden in.  He falls asleep before he can return it and as the episode ends and the Sons are doing a count, everyone realizes a kilo is missing.  It’s guaranteed someone will die next episode.  At least Tara can’t be blamed for that mess.

American Horror Story: “Home Invasion” Episode 2 Review

15 Oct

We’ve entered the second week of American Horror Story and it isn’t any clearer what the show is really about.   The one message coming through pervasively, however is that women are evil and a threat, selfish and conniving.  The men just seem to be horny.  And prone to hearing things and sleep-walking.

SPOILER ALERT:

The show’s narrative signature trope seems to be a death-a-week related to the house.  This week’s death involves nurses (one is apparently a nursing student) and a psycho, literally.  If you aren’t sure, the music from Hitchcock’s Psycho screeches as the creepy madman stabs the virgin nurse in the back as we watch.  Since he hates women and he comes at her from behind, if you were a psychoanalytic film theorist, you would claim that is symbolic for anal penetration of the most violent kind.  Notice that fate is bestowed upon the more attractive, skinnier of the two.  Psycho guy’s sexual choice for his games.  The overweight nurse gets drowned in a tub in her uniform.  Either way, both women probably wished they’d gone with their roommates to see The Doors at the Hollywood Bowl.  It is 1968.  Who stayed at home in 1968 when there were groups like The Doors playing?

Ben (Dylan McDermott) has a new patient this week, Bianca (Mageina Tovah), who knows all about his house since it is a famous Los Angeles murder house and she informs him it’s on the murder house tour.  In her session she recounts a dream she keeps having about being chopped in half by an elevator door.  It’s hard to tell if she is making this up or she really does have the dream but one thing is clear:  she’s a weirdo.  Ben receives a call from his former lover/student, Hayden (Kate Mara) informing him that she’s pregnant.  He lies to Vivien telling her that he’s going to visit a suicidal patient in Boston.  Honestly this is a bad call.  He shouldn’t go to Boston to be with her, even if she is having an abortion.  That signals that he still has feelings.  But it’s painfully clear that Ben is never going to be completely faithful.  Even if he says he will just sleep on the couch.  The betrayal in this instance began when he lied to Vivien (Connie Britten) and continued when he arrived in Boston AND stayed at Hayden’s place.  It begs the question:  what kind of a psychiatrist is he?  Certainly not one that has learned healthy boundaries.  The man walks around the house naked at night with a teenager daughter living there.  That’s just creepy.

Right before Ben leaves, Constance (Jessica Lange) bakes cupcakes she poisons with ipecac (she has Addy spit in them for good measure), which is originally meant for Violet (Taissa Farmiga).  Vivien and Constance share a moment about her pregnancy and Constance says all her children were born with defects with the exception of the one who died.  Vivien tries to share one of the poison cupcakes with Constance but she rebuffs her about weight and age.  Then Ben tries to eat it.  Finally, the cupcake helps save Vivien and Violet who get into a fight.  Violet puts the cupcake outside her door.  Then Bianca (Ben’s new patient from earlier) and two of her friends break into the house to re-create the 1968 murder we saw at the beginning of the episode.  Tate (Evan Peters) hides in the house and helps Violet.  Bianca eats the poisoned cupcake and later killed Tate kills her with an axe as she vomits.  The police make a comment once the body is found that she was almost sliced in half (so her dream was real or maybe the house liked the idea).  Her two cohorts are ultimately killed by Tate in the basement.  Ben leaves Hayden’s abortion to rush home to his family.  We discover Tate is Constance’s son and Tate, Constance and Moira (Frances Conroy) agree to clean up the mess since it isn’t “the first time that’s happened” after Tate shows them the bodies.

Perhaps the only disturbing element to this show is the strange level of violence related to the female characters.  It’s as if female desire has run amok and displaced the order of the world in Los Angeles.  If you aren’t sure, watch the scene between Constance and her young lover (Michael Graziadei) as she ignores Addy’s pleas for help and locks her in a closet so she can have sex.  Or the fact that Vivien doesn’t notice she’s been impregnated by a stranger in a rubber/latex suit.  Even Violet seems to be attracted to Tate, who is essentially a murderer and possibly a ghost.  The home invasion is caused by Bianca’s sick desire to follow the cult of a perverted killer and even Abby wanders unchecked through the house and talks to ghosts, desiring freedom and chaos.  Moira, who could possibly be a ghost herself, seems to be quite a slut when the opportunity presents itself.  So, are the problems of the house related to this female problem?  I’m wondering… Time will tell.

American Horror Story: Pilot Review

13 Oct

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, creators of shows such as Nip/Tuck and Glee, are attempting to bring a Horror/Thriller/Melodrama, American Horror Story, to the small screen on fx.  The premise begins simply enough, Boston couple, Vivien (Connie Britton) and Ben (Dylan McDermott), have marriage problems. She had a miscarriage and withdraws emotionally. He had an affair with one of his students and she caught him. They move their maladjusted teenage daughter , Violet (Taissa Farmiga) with them to Los Angeles for a fresh start. I guess nobody has informed them that you never get a fresh start in Los Angeles.

SPOILER ALERT:

The house they buy, as we see in the opening sequence, is evil.  People go in and they die (we get to see two twin boys murdered in 1978 – I personally thought they deserved it after vandalizing the house).  If they don’t die, they kill other members of their family.  Either way, you seem to be screwed if you go into that house.  The Keepers of the House seem to be a trio of women:  Constance (Jessica Lange, in her first TV role that we are reminded of non-stop) who is a neighbor and a failed actress; Addy (Jamie Brewer), Constance’s daughter who has Down’s Syndrome and is obsessed with the house; finally, the real housekeeper who comes with the house somehow, Moira (Frances Conroy) and a younger version of herself (Alex Breckenridge).  These women seem to have some strange control of the house or commune with it.

The pilot follows the trials and tribulations of the Harmon family adjusting to the house and their new Los Angeles lives.  Violet meets one of Ben’s patients (her dad is a psychiatrist), Tate (Evan Peters) who is quite frankly, terrifying.  He doesn’t fit in at school and has fantasies about killing people he likes.  Because THAT is really healthy.  He likes Violet.  He promises to help her with girl bullies.  She tells him she doesn’t scare easily until he gets her to take one of the girl bullies down into the basement.  Then through a very choppy editing sequence, we see that Violet is attacked as well as the girl bully.  After that, Violet tells Tate she never wants to see him again.  Hmmm.  I wonder what he does once he doesn’t like you.  Oh yes, and there is some trolly sort of creature involved in the attack and you cannot be sure if it is Tate as well as the trolly creature or an actual trolly creature that was Tate.

As we learn in the beginning of the pilot, Ben can’t keep it in his pants.  And if he claims that Vivien was pushing him away and he looked elsewhere for some comfort, I think we can all see he is really a pig and a horndog as he gets excited as soon as he sees Moira, the housekeeper.  Now, while we see Moira as an older version (Frances Conroy), and that is the version of her Vivien meets and sees, Ben sees her as a younger version of herself, who is quite frankly, dressed like a French maid ready to get it on.  Ben walks in a bit later on the young Moira, let me see how I shall say this… playing with herself, which makes him immediately have to go jerk off in the other room.  A short time later, she shows up in his office, exposing her breasts to him and asking him to touch her when Violet walks in.  Because maids always do that.  Okay, maybe they do in Hollywood considering the scandal surrounding a certain former California Governor.

Vivien doesn’t get left out of the sexual chaos in the house.  A man (she thinks it’s Ben) shows up in a Latex suit covering his face and they end up having sex.  In the meantime, Ben is sleepwalking and somehow woken up by the neighbor, Constance, who is wandering in his backyard.  I’m guessing Frances has something to do with Latex Man.

Finally, Ben gets visited by a former tenant of the house who tells him they have to get out.  The house/voices in the house got him to kill his wife and daughters.  Ben gets angry and tells him to leave him alone.

The premiere of this pilot did very well in ratings for fx.  It beat the Nip/Tuck premiere and the Sons of Anarchy premiere for their respective pilots, so unless the ratings plunge, I’m guessing American Horror Story will be around for at least this full season.

On a sidenote:  Ryan Murphy is working on a Hitchcock project (a documentary possibly from what I can gather) and apparently he is obsessed with the music from Vertigo.  If you watch the pilot, whenever you hear the creepy Bernard Herrmann music you will know something bad is happening.  Just like in Vertigo.

Sons of Anarchy: “Una Venta” Episode Review

11 Oct

This week’s episode was far from compelling. I’m not sure I even need a spoiler alert because quite honestly, nothing of true significance occurs. This is one of those episodes that functions to set up many payoffs later in the narrative. Gemma (Katey Sagal) befriends the new police chief’s wife and gets Tara (Maggie Siff) to agree to be on the wife’s committee to save the community garden from developers. Yes Gemma has her own agenda including some weed growing but that’s beside the point.

SAMCRO accompanies their first drug/gun shipment to Tucson in force.  It ends up calling attention to law enforcement but they manage to evade the ‘tail’ by blowing up some used oil drums.  They make their first delivery and receive loads of cocaine to take back.  Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) doesn’t seem pleased.

Clay (Ron Perlman) plays a hypocrite when he discovers the SAMCRO counterparts in Tucson are dealing meth.  Isn’t it a little late to be self-righteous at this point?  He interferes in their club’s business and creates a rift with the current ‘management’ who will most likely get ex-communicated after their stunt.  Finally, Clay has a lot of trouble with his hands and riding which just reinforces the need for him to exploit the drug running business and get out while he can.

Piney (William Lucking) has a health scare in Tara’s office and they have a discussion about John Teller.  We discover that Jax (Charlie Hunnam) likes to keep a journal and really, that’s about all that happens.  I’m hoping for far more next episode.

Sons of Anarchy: “Dorylus” episode review

29 Sep

This week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy is full of great moments.  Yes, it took a couple of weeks to get there but it was worth the wait.  By the end of the episode, lines have been clearly drawn.  Clay‘s desire to take SAMCRO into the drug business has tested the limits of both personal and professional/brotherly relationships.  Most of all, it appears there could be the beginning of a rift between Clay (Ron Perlman) and Gemma (Katey Sagal) that might not heal.

SPOILER ALERT:

Clay plays every angle he can, from sweet-talking Tara (Maggie Siff), who doesn’t believe him when he tells her raising Jax is the best thing that ever happened to him and he’s pleased she’s marrying into the family, to telling Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) he will be President after he leaves the club no matter how he votes, to  killing (we’ll get to that shortly).  While we have seen Gemma excessively manipulative, I feel like this is Clay’s worst side yet.  Because even though he’s done a lot of bad things, he hasn’t seemed like such a bad guy at points, but this week something in Clay switches off.  First we watch him smother the guy on the Indian Reservation who has been unlucky enough to get chosen as the receipt of slow-death by flesh-eating ants.  Clay’s really done him a favor by suffocating him as the dying man was eavesdropping on Clay’s and Bobby’s conversation to screw their ammunitions contact out of the profits for running drugs for the Mexican cartel.

Gemma’s obsession with Tara’s knowledge about Maureen’s letters drives her back to Tara’s office to snoop.  She gets caught by Tara’s boss, who later lets Tara know.  When Gemma returns, she decides on the direct approach, telling Tara some version of the truth about her early relationship with Jax’s dad, in hopes of keeping Tara on her side.  By the end of this episode, it is fairly obvious sides are drawn, maybe only along club lines now, but after Piney informs Gemma they are running drugs for the Mexican cartel, things are going to change.  At least I believe they are since Gemma calls it “their club” to Clay to which he informs her she isn’t a part of it.  Probably not the best idea since it was Gemma who is really the heart of the club.  When Clay pushes her out of the way at the end of the episode and tells her to stay out of it, I am guessing something will turn in Gemma because Clay has shown where his true loyalties lie, not with Gemma or the club, but with himself.

Sheriff Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) pulls Juice (Theo Rossi) in for a talk.  He informs him that law enforcement knows that Juice’s father is black (which would mean ex-communication from the club, or whatever you might call it) and possible death.  Roosevelt offers for Juice to meet his father if Juice, uh, does a few favors for them.  Looks like Juice doesn’t have much of a choice.

Finally, Jax is looking more like a true leader for the club when he must fix Kozik’s (Kenny Johnson) screw-up, allowing their truck with a crate of the Russian’s guns heading for the Mexican cartel to get jacked.  Jax and the crew track down the missing guns to a fence, Vivica (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) who is slightly reminiscent of the Weeds mother/dealer, Heylia James (Tonye Patano), who Jax later says would give Gemma a run for her money when the mom/fence discovers her sons went behind her back and bought the guns.  They should bring her character in a bit more, it added not only a little comic relief but another layer of complicated morality to the show.

Sons of Anarchy Episode Review: Booster

19 Sep

SPOILER ALERT:

Apparently, I should not be looking for an adjunct teaching position in English Composition or Film and TV.  I have seen the light in this episode and I should pursue the rather lucrative field of gun running and drug trafficking.  I just need to be able to personally hijack about a half a million dollars worth of illegal arms shipped by the IRA.  I guess it would help if I knew some criminals.  Until I make some key criminal allies, I guess I probably need to stick to looking for the teaching jobs.  That is probably a good thing considering what happened on this week’s episode of Sons of Anarchy.

I didn’t have to wait long for what I knew would be a clusterfuck this season.  I’m not sure why SAMCRO didn’t consider that the Russians might retaliate in a very nasty way for say, shooting a bunch of their guys, but more importantly, stealing all the guns they were running.  First, Jax admits to Tara that they were responsible for the Russian’s deaths but he can’t get too far into the explanation since Gemma shows up to babysit, and later, snoop everywhere for those letters from Maureen.

In a completely opposite scene, we see Opie lie to Lyla and say they had nothing to do with the Russians deaths.  Oh Opie, that’s no way to start a second marriage to your porn star wife who isn’t too bright.  I’m guessing, however, even if he was truthful with her, that she could not actually process the information she was given and keep quiet as Tara can.

Local law enforcement isn’t pleased with the dead bodies at Charming Heights.  Neither is the mayor/property developer.  Sheriff Roosevelt (Rockmund Dunbar) is so mad that he goes to the club and wrecks the place with a fire axe, landing the first blow on the wall of member’s portraits.  I predict a grisly demise for Sheriff Roosevelt.  One that equates the disrespect he has shown to SAMCRO.  When will law enforcement ever learn they are all just a couple of steps from being criminals themselves?  Wayne Unser can at least face that reality head on.

Jax and Opie go on an ill-fated ammo run and discover some of their ammo guys dead and end up getting taken hostage by some very pissed off Russians.  Things are already tense between Opie and Jax when Opie discovers Jax backs Clay’s new drug trafficking scheme.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the Mayans/the Mexican Drug Cartel has your back and comes in and blows away half the Russians.  I know I would never want to be on the bad side of Mayan’s leader, Romeo (Danny Trejo).  It isn’t hard to tell though, that this new relationship with the Mayan’s will probably implode by the end of the season due to the dysfunctionality of SAMCRO.  And their past history with the Mayans.  But it was a fairy great scene to watch all the bundles of cash being handed over for the newly cemented relationship between the two clubs.  Or should I say one club and one club+drug cartel.

Things between Tara and Gemma are also starting to heat up.  Gemma finds Tara’s stash of letters from Maureen in Belfast.  She also discovers something she wasn’t expecting – the police report that details John Teller’s accident leading to his death, signed by everyone’s favorite crooked cop, former Chief Wayne Unser.  Obviously there will be a showdown between Gemma and Gemma, Junior.

Finally, what I find most interesting about the ending of this episode is the women.  Because even though it is a men’s club, it is really Gemma’s beliefs that held the club together and kept it thriving through her manipulation of first John and then Clay and her attempts to do so through Jax.  And while Gemma looks at the disaster the soon-to-be dead Sheriff Roosevelt has left in his wake, it is Tara who steps up and brings the club together, announcing her engagement to Jax.  Funny how two women who are not allowed to be members because they are women are unconsciously what kepts SAMCRO going in their greatest time of need.  I can’t help thinking that if Gemma and Tara ran SAMCRO, then everyone would have to be very afraid.

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