11.30.2005

Lost “The Other 48 Days”

Cool: The episode’s opening sequence. First comes the crashing tail section, shattering the calm of the tranquil beach. Then comes a jittery, post-crash chaos as survivors wade to shore and tend to the injured, all of it goosed by shaky handheld camerawork and jarring jump cuts (thank you, Saving Private Ryan).
Cooler: At last we find out who Boone was talking to on that radio conversation from last season. “No, we’re the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815!” Poor Boone.
Coolest: The Others had a list of people to take. That’s definitely goosebump–worthy. But then comes Goodwin’s explanation that only the good people are taken (“Nathan’s not a good person... that’s why he wasn’t on the list”). The implication seems to be that only the amoral, guilty, and sinful are left behind, which conforms to the fan theory that the island is a kind of purgatory where the characters are allowed a second chance at redemption. Trippy.
Huh? The tail-section survivors are terrorized by the Others in a way that Jack, Kate, Locke et al never were. Why is that, aside from the fact that the Others seem to target lesser known actors who get smaller paychecks from ABC? Did the tail-section survivors simply have the bad luck to wash up on the wrong side of the island closer to the Others’ camp? At least these guys can handle themselves. Charlie shot Ethan, but the tail-section survivors manage to kill four Others with their bare freakin’ hands (and one sharp stick).
Throwaway that May Be Important Later: What’s the deal with that 20-year-old Army knife Ana-Lucia pulled off the dead Other? Is the military involved in this somehow? Agent Mulder wouldn’t be surprised, that’s for sure.
Best Line: “If I were a savage I would’ve cut off his finger already. That’s tomorrow.” – Ana-Lucia explaining her theory on the complex intersection of compassionate civility and prisoner interrogation to Goodwin. A runner-up here would be Goodwin’s reply: “We’re not savages.” Is he perhaps trying to send a message about the Others? Are they simply misunderstood victims in all of this?
Rising: Ana-Lucia – In a remarkable turnaround, Ana-Lucia reverses several episodes’ worth of irritating negativity by proving herself a decisive woman of action. Sure, she got it all wrong with locking up poor hapless Nathan. But she sure made amends by correctly sussing out Goodwin’s true identity and then dispatching him in a manner worth of a Die Hard movie (see "sharp stick" reference above).

11.25.2005

Lost “Abandoned”

Cool: It’s a pretty creepy moment when tail-section survivor Cindy somehow disappears from the group as they’re working to hoist Sawyer-in-the-stretcher up a hill. One moment she’s with the group and the next she’s not.

Cooler: Television network promos often play fast and loose with the facts (e.g. NBC’s unending promise that next week’s episode of The Apprentice will bring us the most shocking boardroom moment ever). So it was with jaded skepticism that The Cheese Fry watched this episode of Lost, which ABC marketing wizards insisted would feature one character getting “lost forever.” Surely it would be some minor character like last season's Artz. They even stuck in the Cindy red herring to throw us off the scent. In the end, it was Shannon who died, accidentally shot dead by Ana-Lucia in the final moments. Shocking. True, she's not Matthew Fox, but she's no day player either.

Coolest: The look of rage Sayid gives Ana-Lucia when he realizes Shannon is dead (this just moments after he proclaimed his love to her). Sucks to be Ana-Lucia.

Huh?: If the Walt Ghost is clearly urging Shannon to “shush” with his finger to his lips, why does Shannon instead go running into the trees shouting his name? It's that commotion that draws Ana-Lucia's fire. Though Shannon’s flashback about her Evil Stepmom and ther Crushed Dancer Dreams added dimension to her character and created some real sympathy, she must bear at least some responsibility for her own untimely death. Insert your own blonde joke here.

Geek Factoid: In this episode, no Jack, no Kate.
Rising: Locke – Actor Terry O’Quinn is so mesmerizing that a rather minor subplot suggesting the beginnings of a Locke-Charlie power play over Claire’s baby was completely riveting. O'Quinn always does a lot with very little.
Falling: Michael – no surprise to say that he remains as annoying as ever. In the middle of a crisis with the tail-section survivors and Sawyer dying, there’s Michael blurting out “They took my son!” just to make sure no one forgot. Dude, we get it. If only he’d been the one “lost forever.”

Red State, Blue State, Purple State

An interesting page here that uses a number of maps to look at the 2004 U.S. Presidential election returns. America isn't as dominated by Red States as Republicans may like to suggest.

11.23.2005

Ode to T-NBC

Surf dudes with attitudes / Kinda groovy / Laid back moods
Sky above, sand below / Good vibrations / Feelin' mellow

Don't give it up / Don't wanna stop

Don't wake me up / Don't wake me up if I'm dreamin'
California dreams / Just let me lay here in the sun / Until my dream is done
* * * *

When I wake up in the morning
And the 'larm lets out a warning
I don't think I'll ever make it on time
By the time I got my books I give myself a look
I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus slide by

It's alright cause I'm saved by the bell

If the teacher pops a test I know I'm a mess
And my dog ate all my homework last night
Riding low in my chair she won't know that I'm there
If I can hand it in tomorrow it'll be alright

It's alright cause I'm saved by the bell

11.18.2005

Movie attendance is shrinking, whether studios want to admit it or not

From the November 18, 2005 issue of Entertainment Weekly comes this little tidbit buried away in a small text box on page 109: Exhibitor Relations states that overall movie theater attendance is down 8% in 2005. That's on top of an already widely reported - and widely disputed - account that box office grosses are down 6.1%.

There's been dozens of heated debates about whether or not box office grosses are truly down. Statistics can say just about anything you want them to say and this summer, some reporters seemed to have a lot of fun poking a stick at the Hollywood studios and their so-called "slump" (the string of many weeks in the spring and summer in which 2005 box office grosses each weekend failed to match their counterpart weekend from 2004). Those stories drew attacks from Hollywood insiders who claimed the numbers were misleading, which then drew counter-attacks. Blah blah blah. In a town where creative bookkeeping is artform, it's hard to know what's really going on in the exchange of money between exhibitors, distributors, and studios.

The Entertainment Weekly blurb notes also that thanks to a 2% increase in ticket prices this year (the average is now $6.34 per ticket) it now takes fewer moviegoers to spend the same amount of money as they did in 2004. Which means that about 102 million fewer tickets have been sold in 2005 when compared to 2004. That's a lot of people. Multiply 102 million times $6.34 and you get $646 million in lost revenue.

Even taking into account the fact that statistics can be twisted, these two facts (box office down, attendance down) may well suggest that the movie business is about to be in trouble. The evidence seems to be becoming less and less anecdotal and more impossible to ignore. People aren't going to the movies the way they used to. Whether it's because of bad movies, competition from the Internet and video games, or the growing phenomenon of thousand-dollar home theater systems, it's hard to say. Big branded event films can and will still draw huge crowds, whether it's a giant ape or a wizard named Harry, which is why Hollywood is more and more trying to turn every single movie into an "event" that has to be seen. Soon, though, there will be some real audience fatigue and smaller films will increasingly get lost in the shuffle.

We're at a brink of a huge transformation in the movie business. No one can say for sure where this is going, but the old days are over. Whether Hollywood likes it or not.

11.11.2005

Lost “...and Found”

Cool: We get here our first real glimpse of the Others – aside from the late spy Ethan – as they walk through the jungle right past Mr. Eko and Jin, who’ve hidden themselves in the bushes to avoid detection. Eko had earlier said the Others “don’t leave tracks,” a fact that seems borne out by the fact that the Others seem to tread very, very quietly. Weird. They are human, right? Right?

Cooler: Perhaps the episode’s most indelibly unsettling image is that of a beat-up teddy bear being dragged along the ground by a child in the group of Others.

Huh? Sawyer makes a reasonable request in asking the tail section survivors why they’re all so scared. But they (more specifically, unofficial bitch leader Ana-Lucia) refuse to answer the question, demanding instead that they walk first and talk later. How difficult can it be to just tell our heroes what’s going on? Just say it! This is clearly one of those irritating logic hiccups required by the needs of the story. The writers don’t want us knowing too much just yet so the characters can’t say too much just yet, whether it makes sense or not.

Rising: Mr. Eko – Yeah, it’s awfully convenient that this set of survivors has their own version of John Locke, the strong-but-silent bad-ass who knows how to track. (How many trackers were there on Flight 815?) But actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje sure is a lot of fun to watch.

Falling: Ana-Lucia – As annoying as this character is with her needless sarcasm and tough-girl posing, the real problem here is the casting of one-note Michelle Rodriguez who’s clearly trying to make a career for herself playing the same sneering tomboy character as many times as possible.

11.08.2005

Lost “Everybody Hates Hugo”

Cool: Though it’s certainly enjoyable to see Kate step naked out of a shower all wet and clean, letting Jack accidentally walk in on her as she’s doing so feels like something out of a late-night Cinemax movie.
Huh?: Why would Jack put Hurley in charge of the bunker’s food supply? He can't be serious with that.

Best Line: “You want me, Hot Lips?” – Sawyer's sneer to Anna Lucia, who clearly doesn’t like him.
Falling: Charlie – He’s fast becoming the show’s annoying kid brother. Here we get to see him whine and pout and stomp his feet over some stupid peanut butter. Like there aren't any other, more pressing issues to be managed first.
Rising: Hurley – It’s an unexpected, though completely understandable, moment to learn Hurley didn't immediately cash in on his winning lottery ticket, choosing instead to carefully consider the consequences. He correctly guesses that his humdrum (though pleasant) life will change forever.

Lost “Orientation”

Cool: You have to love the grainy, faded 1970 Dharma Initiative “orientation” film, which answers a few questions and raises many others. Clearly, something very weird (and very purposeful) has been happening on the island.

Cooler: This is a good time to give gold stars to the show’s distinctive sound cues: the gradual “whooshing” that signals the beginning and end of flashbacks and the resonant “booms” that accompany the act breaks going into commercials. Both are subtle elements that add to a feeling of creepy unease.
Huh?: I can understand Michael and Jin being a little gullible, but how does a streetwise con man like Sawyer get so easily get duped by Anna Lucia? She persuades him to hand over his gun, at which point she turns it on him. She seems suspicious the moment she shows up. Prime example: she says she’s been out in the woods all alone since the crash 40 days ago, but she sure doesn’t look like someone who’s been living off the earth for over a month.
Best Line: “We’re going to have to watch that again.” – Locke, after seeing the orientation film with the look on his face of a thirsty man just handed a frosty glass of Vanilla Coke.
Rising: Sayid – His soldier skills are on fine display here as he gets to work trying to fix Desmond’s broken computer without wasting time to ask for details about why it needs to be fixed. He just attacks the problem. This is a guy you want on your side.

Lost “Adrift”

Cool: Did you notice that weird octagon logo on everything in Desmond’s bunker? Suggests that something corporately wicked is involved somehow and may point towards a shadowy, X-Files-style conspiracy.
Cooler: Another one of those sublimely hair-raising endings: Michael and Sawyer stagger to shore, exhausted but alive... and then here comes Jin running out of the jungle, beaten and bloodied, tied to a post, and jabbering in Korean. It’s not clear what he’s saying until you hear the one English word – “Others.” Cut to a group of wild-looking people wielding clubs, charging at the camera, silhouetted by the sun. And then cut to black. End of episode.
Huh?: The writers inexplicably rely on a number of clichés in this episode. The Cheese Fry can maybe let slide the stale, familiar custody battle legal showdown with Michael and his ex, but not the decision to let Kate escape from danger by using an air vent. An air vent? Seriously? That hasn't been believable since the 1980s.
Falling: Michael – He’s still by far the most irritating character. Despite the fact that Sawyer gave Michael CPR and arguably saved his life after the raft sank, Michael doesn’t hesitate to give Sawyer all kinds of snotty self-righteous, poor-me attitude. If only the Others had taken him instead of Walt.
Rising: Sawyer – When’s the last time you saw a guy in prime time dig a bullet out of his arm? Exactly.

Geek website:
Sledgeweb’s Lost Stuff