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Friday, March 19, 2010

For Friday: Pixar's Terminator

(via @robinyang)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

TV Watch: Lost, Recon

This episode seems to have hit with mixed reviews from fans, but I'm on the side that really, really liked it. On one level partially because Sawyer remains a pretty interesting character - consistent but unpredictable, likeable but a jackass, smart but good with a gun.

But mostly? Because I think it shows hope that the writers are not going to be holding back as we get into the last half of the last season of Lost. And I think the most interesting bits of this last episode weren't Sawyer.

But SmokeLocke.

This is the guy (or thing) that Dogen called the incarnation of evil. And also killed everyone at the temple who stood in his way. And plotted the backstabbing of Jacob since he himself could not kill Jacob. And I dunno, probably kicked a puppy.

Yet I kinda liked him this episode. And not just in a "wow, that's a cool villain" kind of way. It's impressive that would could otherwise be an amorphous killing machine presented himself in such a human way. Those people at the temple? Out to kill him. He doesn't want to be killed ... so he killed them. His primary goal isn't to destroy but to escape.

And he apparently had a crazy mom. Who may well have been like Crazy French Lady and Crazy Claire Lady. Some have even suggested it is Crazy Claire Lady and through a wild adventure of time travel, Aaron is SmokeLocke. I'm not really buying into that, though I think there is an interesting line of continuity between Walt, Alex and Aaron. Well, some continuity. Walt seemed to have powers, Alex doesn't show any. Alex and Aaron were born on the island, Walt was not.

My guess is that we lost a lot of backstory when Walt was prematurely removed from the storyline due to puberty related acting. There is a lot of grey zone with Michael's past, considering how little we know of Walt's mother ... and if the other island kids are of note ... the mother is the important one to watch here. Vincent, originally Walt's stepdad's dog, has a very loose, potentially non-canon link to the Hanso Foundation via the Retrievers of Truth portion of a previous Lost ARG. So there may be a very tenuous link to DHARMA with Walt's mom, or at least his stepdad. All we really know of Brian Porter is that he was an American lawyer working in Amsterdam (Hanso is HQ'd in Denmark).

Let us remember one of the fundamental themes of Lost: kids are important, and almost all pregnancies on the island end very, very badly. So the identity of SmokeLocke's mom is fairly core to what the hell is actually going on here ... it's unlikely that she is just some random crazy broad.

What's fun is that it once again feels like Lost has almost laid out enough clues in the past to point us in the right direction, bringing some of the old mystery feel to the show again.

The side story also, once again, showed an unlikely pairing ... Miles and Sawyer being both cops and partners. The Girl pointed out that they were both con men in the past (Miles being a somewhat unorthodox one, but still...). Like Alex appearing in an LA school, this is obviously not just the days of their lives if Jacob / The Island weren't a part of it.

My guess at this point? "LA X" as it were, is the island. It might not be tropical, and it might not be surrounded by water ... but everyone is stuck there just as they were in Season One. They may have arrived in a different way, but LA X is the same kind of fishbowl that the entire show has been playing with. Now, I don't know if the writers have any great reveals in mind to connect these two, or to show LA X's artificiality ... or if it will just vanish in a big white light at the end of the show (or what was the color of the exploding sky? Violet?) ... but I'm sure it bears little connection to the "real" off island world.

For the really super spoiler avoiders, stop reading now (though I'm only talking about the previews and not any plot spoilers).

Next week, however, is the episode many a Lost fan has been waiting for ... and if the writing so far has started to form a cohesive backdrop to end this story, then this one will be a milestone. Why? Because it appears to focus on Richard Alpert - who stands at the intersection of many things concerning the island and may have some pretty keen perspectives on what is going on. Certainly not one to miss.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movie Watch: The Last Broadcast

Some people brought The Last Broadcast to my attention after the Paranormal Activity review, and for good reason. The Last Broadcast is essentially a Blair Witch Project prototype, though it is unclear how much influence or inspiration BWP actually got from Broadcast, which was released one year earlier.

It follows a very similar vein as the other movies - low budget, documentary and self-documentary style story telling, more hints at horror than the actual thing. It's not quite as successful - the overall composition feels less tight and there is a lot of relatively boring detail dragged into the background of the murders central to the plot. Occasionally the low budget aspect shows itself in unwanted ways - but these are really just details to be forewarned about before pressing play. The movie is worth watching if not for the place it holds alongside similar films. After watching it, it feels odd if Blair Witch didn't lift from the Broadcast as some many elements are the same - a trip into the woods, a supernatural presence, characters videotaping each other, etc., etc. Oddly the real difference is that Broadcast insists on a more traditional framework in some of the plot in some places ... but I'll leave that intentionally vague as to avoid spoilers.

Basically - if this kind of horror film has interested you in the past, you owe it to yourself to check The Last Broadcast out, even if only as a historical curiosity ... but also because for what it is, it manages to be pretty entertaining.

If, however, you thought BWP was overhyped boring nonsense ... I would probably avoid it.