ravingmadcast, Episode 4

 

….Aaaaaand part 2 of our discussion from last week: Listen as we talk about our goal to watch all of Entertainment Weekly’s “50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen.” Silly us, we thought we coud go through this list in 10 minutes tops! Captain Underestimation! This list has a great mix of films, drama, comedy, horror, documentaries – almost all of which we’ve most definitely never seen. We’ll be posting a written list and link at the top of our homepage as well, to visually track our progress. I know it’s cheesy but we’d love to inspire you to check some out as well! It’s always great to uncover a gem you never knew existed.

~Annie & Nikki

 

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The Killer In Me Is The Killer In You

Dear Dexter,

I want you to know I’ve missed you.  I’ve missed you more than any other show.  I have watched others, but none compare to you.  It’s been several months but it feels like years have passed since I’ve last seen you.  I miss your humor, your intensity, that mischievous sparkle in your eye.  I miss the awkward social situations and late night excursions.  Your careful planning and patient waiting, the meticulous ritual you follow that makes the murders you execute feel more like artistic expressions than vigilante justice.  The attention to detail and appreciation of the darkest corners of our fragile human psyches.  Your brooding, your thoughtful inner monologue, your calm, quiet mannerisms.  I’ve missed everything about you.

You blew my mind last season, stunned me with the graceful, natural evolution of your 2 main characters, Dexter and Deb, the interesting new plot developments and the introduction and development of new characters, some who’ve completed their story arcs, others I know will reappear someday.  Most TV shows become stale by their 5th season (or long before).  But not you, Dex.  No, instead you’ve proven yourself older, wiser and more attuned to the wishes of your viewers.

I waited so patiently, waited for months for you to return in all your dark, sinister glory.  And, this past Sunday evening, as promised, you did not disappoint.  You kicked off the episode (and the season) with the killing of a couple paramedics who let their patients die in order to harvest their organs for profit – you always know how to get me hooked right from the start.  Watching you awkwardly dance to MC Hammer (innocently asking, How does Hammer time differ from regular time?) and catch up with old high school acquaintances, all the while patiently waiting for the opportunity to get a DNA sample from your next victim, the star-football-player-turned-wife-killer, made me giggle with schoolgirl pleasure.  Colin Hanks and Edward James Olmos (and – tell me it’s true – Mos Def!!) have joined this season’s roster and have already declared themselves to the Miami PD, in a brutal and intriguing way, I might add.  Which reminds me, don’t think I missed that excited expression in your eyes when you discovered baby snakes in that man’s disemboweled corpse.  I haven’t seen you have fun like that in so long!  I don’t care that more than a year has magically passed and the entirety of the Batista-LaHeurta union right along with it.  Or that there is no explanation for the absence of Astor and Cody.  Or your sudden desire to explore religion.  I don’t even care that Quinn is now so thin, he appears to have aged 10 years instead of one.  I’m just so damn happy you’re back!

And back in pre-marriage Dexter form, I might add.  Not that I didn’t like Rita, but being a husband and father and blood-splatter analyst AND serial killer was just too much for you to keep up with!  But not now.  You’ve got Batista’s little sister for your nanny, Astor & Cody inexplicably out of the picture, and Quinn (at least for the time being) off your back.  Nothing can stop you.  Let your freak flag fly!  Or, more accurately, let your dark passenger drive, Dexter.  I’m strapped in, ready for the ride.

~Nikki

Anarchy In The CA

You know those commercials on the FX network that boast: “FX has the movies!”?  Well, I disagree.  FX does not have the movies.  What they have are some damn superior TV shows.  I freely admit that I watched Nip/Tuck back when it was good (read: before Sean and Christian moved to Hollywood) and anyone who’s seen The Shield cannot deny its insane, sinfully delicious appeal.  I’ve watched Justified since it began and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia may be the most original and ballsy show currently on TV.  You know how I feel about Louie and Wilfred and now, after having watched the first season of Sons of Anarchy in its entirety, I can say I am completely hooked.  FX is kicking serious television ass.

I liked Charlie Hunnam back in the days of Undeclared and my goodness, has he grown up.  He ably carries the lead role of Jackson “Jax” Teller, the VP of the biker gang, Sons of Anarchy, who all but own the town of Charming, CA.  His deceased father helped found the gang, conveniently called a “club” by its members, and his mother, the fantastic Katey Sagal, is now remarried to the club’s President, the always-intimidating Ron Perlman.  Sagal is such a bad-ass, she more than holds her own in a show almost wholly dominated by male roles; she very often steals her scenes.  And Ryan Hurst, the oh-so-sweet captain of the football team in Remember The Titans, shines as Opie, the guy who just can’t tear himself away from the life of crime.

There’s plenty of action for those of you who like a fast-paced storyline and about as much intense, high-emotion drama as I can handle.  Sex, violence and eye candy (for both genders) pop up in every episode but it never feels cheap.  On the contrary, the story demands it.  Not to mention all the killer music.  Any show that regularly showcases tunes by the Black Keys is okay by me.  And the heavy, bluesy sound matches the tone of the series, which I CANNOT WAIT to continue.  Seasons 1 & 2 are now available on Netflix and Season 3 is due out next month.  That gives me just enough time to get all caught up before the start of the 4th and newest season this fall.  I know I’ll be ready.  How about you?

-Nikki

Is This Love? Is This Love? Is This Love? Is This Love That I’m Feeling?

So, I’ve never been a big Ben Affleck fan.  I’ve never particularly disliked him either; I guess I just haven’t had strong feelings about him either way.  I loved Good Will Hunting back in the day and was super impressed that he and Matt Damon wrote that when they were, like, 25 years old, but the majority of his work as an actor is merely luke warm, in my opinion.

I began to see him in a more favorable light in 2007 when I saw Gone Baby Gone, which he co-wrote and directed.  This was based on the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name and it kind of blew me away.  It wasn’t perfect- parts of Casey Affleck’s performance seemed over-acted to me (though, overall, I thought he gave a decent performance) and it felt a tad slow at times.  But its redeeming qualities, of which there were a great many, more than made up for anything lacking.  Amy Ryan gave an outstanding performance and, though I still haven’t seen Michael Clayton, so I can’t say anything about Tilda Swinton’s Oscar-winning performance, I do wish Ryan had won.  This flick also contains one of the most intense, heart-stopping scenes I’ve ever seen, which made me discover some things about myself that I hadn’t known before.  The plot was well-paced and engaging, and the feel of the low-class Boston neighborhood was dead on.

A couple of nights ago, I finally got around to seeing The Town, the second major motion picture Affleck has directed.  Also one of its writers and the lead star, he managed to solidify the notion I came away with after seeing Gone Baby Gone: that his talents as a writer and director are, by far, his greatest strengths.  Maybe it’s just because he’s all grown up now, but he has really come into his own.

The Town, if you haven’t seen it, focuses on a small group of career criminals who rob banks and armored trucks.  That’s right, they are far from petty thieves.  Rather, very cunning, skilled men who seem to love the thrill of the crime as much as the monetary reward.  Affleck artfully plays the lead, Doug MacRay, who falls for the primary witness in one of their robberies, bank manager Claire Keesey.  Rebecca Hall, of Vicky Christina Barcelona, gives a mediocre performance as Claire, as does the only other female in this flick, Blake Lively.  Or maybe they simply suffer by comparison, since the men- Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Pete Postlethwaite, Slaine, Chris Cooper, and Titus Welliver- are all at the top of their game.

Affleck nailed the feel of the neighborhood, Charlestown, apparently the bank robbery capital of America, and portrayed the two male leads, MacRay and Jim Coughlin (Renner), as far more than one-dimensional criminals.  He captured their friendship and history without blatant explanations or flashbacks, something not easily done.  The suspense and severity were aptly depicted without being overly dramatic.  It wasn’t perfect, I would have liked better chemistry between Affleck and Hall and a little more screen time for Renner, who gave a seriously impressive performance, but it is definitely one of the better movies I’ve seen in a few years and one of the best crime thrillers I’ve ever seen.

I saw on IMDb that Affleck is currently directing another flick, something called Argo, due out in 2013, and I hope he maintains the high standard that now, after seeing Gone Baby Gone and The Town, I’ve come to expect.

~Nikki

I Get Nervous I Get Breathless

I finally watched the British flick Cemetery Junction this weekend, another collaborative effort by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who wrote and directed it together.  This one is much more serious than what they usually come up with, but still quite good.  It was a simple enough story and one we’ve all heard in one form or another before: a young man, Freddie, grows up in a lower-class neighborhood, Cemetery Junction, feeling he’s missing out and struggles to find his own path.  Not only have we all heard it, most of us have felt it.  But that’s not to say it still can’t make for a good movie.  He has 2 best friends, Bruce, the good-looking “bad boy” who’s chalk-full of angst and contempt for his out-of-work father and the town in which they live, and Paul, the overweight, slightly dim-witted sweetheart who’s constantly putting his foot in his mouth.  All three male leads were likable and very easy to relate to.  Christian Cooke (Freddie) and Tom Hughes (Bruce) played their roles very well, so well it took no time at all to find myself championing them in their journey.

Though the film revolves around Freddie, it’s Bruce, so passionately played by Hughes, who stole my attention.  The evolution of his relationship with his father and the cop who’s always bailing him out of trouble held my interest every bit as much as Freddie’s story, which centered around his efforts to get a “real” job instead of ending up working in the factory where both his father and Bruce work.  Freddie reconnects with a childhood friend, Julie, who is the daughter of his new boss.  She also happens to be engaged to the guy who trains him at his new job selling insurance.  Ralph Fiennes plays a small but important role as Julie’s father and I have to say, he’s so good at being the cold prick that I find it harder and harder to like him.  Freddie and Julie have undeniable chemistry and similar hopes & dreams but she’s reluctant to give up the security her current situation offers.  SPOILER: she and Freddie do eventually decide to leave Cemetery Junction and Julie’s fiancee behind them.  I so wish Bruce would have left with them in the end, but other than that, I have no real criticisms.  This is much more of a drama than a comedy, which is what we’re used to getting from Gervais & Merchant.  And, though comedy is their greatest strength, they’re clearly above average in the dramatic arena as well.  Overall, this flick isn’t as monumentally brilliant as The Office or Extras, but it’s well worth a watch.

In my opinion, what makes The Office and Extras and the best parts of Cemetery Junction work so damn well is their impeccable timing.  Gervais and Merchant have this amazing sense of the rhythm of a story; they hook you early on so you’re fully invested in the characters and then string you along so that by the time they finally give you what you want – Tim’s gift to Dawn in the Christmas special of The Office that prompts her to leave her loser boyfriend for him; Andy’s heartfelt apology/confession to Maggie into the camera on that terrible reality show in the Extras Christmas episode; Freddie’s big decision to leave with Bruce and his endearing plea to Julie to accompany him in Cemetery Junction – you’re not only a little convinced it’ll never happen but you’re also so desperate for it, it draws tears from your eyes and gasps from your chest.  Gervais and Merchant are funny, witty, and undeniably clever, but it’s in the timing of their storytelling that their ABSOLUTE GENIUS lies.

-Nikki