Too … many … ideas … so I’m just going with links because a lot of stuff has piled up. Sons of Anarchy finale review down at the bottom in case you haven’t seen it yet and don’t wanna spoil it. Not that there is much exciting to spoil. This one’s long, pack a lunch.
That was quick. Director Patty Jenkins has left Thor 2 over the time-honored “creative differences” excuse, which sounds like she wanted someone, anyone, in the movie to have something resembling heart. At that point she was laughed at and kicked to the curb almost immediately. Thor was one of my biggest movie disappointments of 2011. Natalie Portman did her best to ruin it in one of the worst performances of her career. Has anyone followed up an Oscar-winning year with such a crappy year? No Strings Attached, Your Highness (she killed it) and Thor (she double killed it) — that’s a brutal Black Swan follow-up. She had a baby at a perfect time so she can rid herself of the memory of this year.
Hey everybody, look! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has finally caught up to the 80s and 90s with its inductees! I know! I’m as shocked as you are, but here we are. You’ve still got your Donovans, your Faces and both of those are fine by me. I’d put The Faces in just for helping create the most fun ending credit sequence in movie history in Rushmore. Chili Peppers, Beasties and G’n'R — these are bands I can get behind. I can also get behind the debate over the next three months about whether this will lead to a full, true G’n'R reunion, which has the potential to be a complete Dumpster fire. A hysterical, crazy, awesome, can’t-turn-away Dumpster fire that could very well lead to Axl deciding 30 seconds before the show that he’s not going on. Fingers crossed! It will be just as cool if they all get along and show up to perform. I’m thinking this might be in the setlist.
Boy, the deck sure is stacked against Melancholia, huh? Director Lars Von Trier gave everyone a reason to boycott his movie when he made an offhanded Hitler comment at the Cannes Film Festival in May. You know, one of those “offhanded” Hitler comments, which are usually followed up by random abortion jokes, mindless 9/11 funnies and the hysterics of devil worshipping. Then there’s, umm, Lars Von Trier, so that’s another reason to not see the movie. I hate Lars Von Trier and his movies, btw. Those are two pretty big reasons to avoid it, but now comes yet another reason, that people are suffering from motion sickness watching Von Trier’s patented-but-brutal hand-held cameras. Kim Fisher, the general manager at the Pocono Community Theater, which is showing Melancholia right now, said she hasn’t fielded any complaints about motion sickness, or about the movie itself. Which is weird, since it’s Lars Von Trier and everything. You figure someone would randomly just seek out the manager to say how much Von Trier and his movies suck. I would.
This journalism thing is a cutthroat business. Everyone wants to be the first to write on a certain subject — even if they’ve signed something promising they wouldn’t. And that’s where we are right now with the New Yorker and its early review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which broke what we in the biz call an “embargo” — the date a story can be published. I get three or four things a week that have embargoes on them, and have always respected those dates. It’s not so much a tool to keep things out of the public, it’s a tool to keep the playing field balanced for media outlets. The biggest one I routinely get is the monthly state unemployment report. It’s released to the press a day before it’s released to the public, but no one is allowed to publish/broadcast it until the next day because of an embargo. That keeps the state from having to answer questions like, “How come you released it to media outlet X when you didn’t release it to us?” In the case of the Dragon Tattoo review beef, the producers are the ones sounding like the big, bad meanies in this, but I will guarantee with 99.999999999999 percent certainty that producer Scott Rudin only put the pressure on the New Yorker because he was worried about every other news service in New York City that complied with the embargo emailing him within five minutes of seeing the early review with the subject line, “what the frigg?” It has nothing to do with early publicity — this whole fight is about keeping the media happy. Weird, right? So for Fincher to short-sightedly say he doesn’t want to give out his movies for early screenings is just crazy. Movies would SUCK if that happened. No one would ever make a good movie again, it would just be stuff that could make huge money its first weekend. I don’t wanna live in that world.
OK, enough picking on the New Yorker. Hey, at least the magazine came up with a pretty good top 10 TV list, right? I can see four shows on there that will definitely be on my top 10 list (coming soon, probably weeks from today) and three more that I’m not sure whether I’ll include or not. Point is, good list.
For those in the Hollywood business who stick to the adage, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” they’ve apparently never seen the headline “Sorvino to star in Syfy movie ‘Jersey Shore Shark Attack’ with Jersey Shore star.” If they did, someone would probably ban use of that phrase forever and ever and ever. Kinda disappointed that my favorite movie villain William Atherton (the weasley bad guy in Die Hard, Ghostbusters and Real Genius) has picked this project to stage a well-deserved comeback. One of Sorvino’s reps contacted me a couple months ago looking for me to pump an appearance of his where he was singing opera at a concert hall in Newark or something. I’m always up for publicizing anything one of our few famous locals are doing, so I said I would. I did it with a warning though — if I interviewed him, I would no doubt be bringing up The Trouble with Cali, the movie he produced and directed five (!) years ago, funded with public money (double !) and still hasn’t been released. Part of the movie was filmed in Monroe County (I was there in 2006 for one of the weirdest days I can remember working). He’s been really chippy about the movie when (rightfully) dogged about it by The Scranton Times, so I knew this would be a sticking point. Normally I wouldn’t say a thing about that, but I really didn’t feel like getting hung up on by Paul Sorvino. The response I got back from the PR person was something along the lines of “shouldn’t be a problem, I’ll set up a time for next week!” That was before Halloween, and I haven’t heard from anyone in the Sorvino camp since then. I don’t expect to, either.
After watching the watered-down version of The Hangover on TBS two or three times this weekend and still laughing like crazy, I’ve decided I’m just going to watch Hangover II and not expect anything despite it being the same exact thing as the first. I’ve been putting it off for that reason, but I’ve decided to temper my expectations and see what happens. Regardless, it’s encouraging to read that the third is supposed to be completely different and not the same “Wait, we got drugged AGAIN!?!?!?” motif that has now made about $1 billion box office dollars (right around $1.05 billion, actually).
As usual, it’s get in the car and drive if you’re desperate to see that early six-minute prologue for Dark Knight Rises. It’s attached to Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, which is coming out on Dec. 16, but only on a handful of IMAX screens across the country. The closest it’s coming to here is a showing in New York City, one in Philly and one in … wait for it … Harrisburg. Harrisburg! In their defense, the IMAX theater at the Whitaker Center is bad @ss, but Harrisburg??? Personally, I love Harrisburg. I think it’s a busy, fun city that, as long as you stay downtown close the river, is pretty safe. But when you look at the list of cities where you can see this six-minute preview … I mean, c’mon! Harrisburg sticks out like a sore thumb, right? Chantilly, Va., is the only other non-recognizable town, but it’s a suburb of Washington, D.C. Is it getting an NFL franchise next? Even better — wanna know how the Whitaker Center publicized this? By not putting the news on its website. Woo hoo! On the center’s Facebook page, a fan posted the link last Friday and asked how to get tickets. This person has yet to be answered, even though the center has posted 12 items since then. I’ve used this information to determine this theater should not be considered a worthy landing place for the Dark Knight Rises preview. That is all.
SONS OF ANARCHY SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
FINALE WATCH, SONS OF ANARCHY: Let’s start with the good on SOA, shall we? The comeback it made this year after a C+ season last year is almost unheard of. How many shows are there in TV history that can actually say they got worse in Year 2 and then even worse in Year 3, but came back in season 4 with their best season? One? Two? You can argue that something like Mad Men had its best season in its fourth year — debatable, but there’s a good case for it — but since the show didn’t have a precipitous dropoff over the first three years, it’s just staying consistent. But for Sons of Anarchy to fall so far in season 2 and then season 3 to the point where I was considering cutting bait if there wasn’t significant improvements this year, to make those improvements 10-fold has been absolutely impressive. I’m back in, no questions asked on season 5. That, however, is despite Tuesday’s season finale, not because of it. OK, more good on just the finale: Charlie Hunnam was incredible. This may have been Jax’s best episode in four years. And while SOA has been criminally ignored at the Emmys, Ray MacKinnon, who plays the investigator guy, is worthy of at least a guest starring Emmy for his work this year. And … that’s it with the good. Buckle up. There have been very few annoying things about this Sons of Anarchy year — but they all manifested themselves in one slap-happy 60 minute episode that felt more like a lesson in government affairs than the most intense show of the year. Over and over again, I kept thinking of one of my favorite Beavis and Butthead lines, making fun of a video with subtitles — “If I wanted to learn, I’d go to school.” If I wanted to learn about CIA and FBI and federal investigations, I’ll read a Kennedy assassination book or something. What I won’t do is trust Sons of Anarchy to get all the intricacies of a complicated government investigation right, and for them to easily explain it and wrap it up in a half-hour. What’s wrong, the welfare department couldn’t get in on this action? What about the post office? You know what else I won’t do? Leave viewers without closure. Kill Clay. Don’t kill Clay. Whatever. But let’s get a consensus of the show’s players about whether they ever will or won’t kill him, OK? Then we can put this four-year battle to bed and move on. I’d say kill him, but I also want him around for the new regime. He can be the new Piney, the old grouch who mucks things up just by his general demeanor, but someone we don’t hear that much from. That stuff pales in comparison to the most annoying part of the season — hearing Jax and Tara, over and over again, proclaim how it was a done deal that he was getting out, no questions asked, just after this and after that and … never. It’s one thing if he just said it a couple times and let it go. But he practically reached out to the viewers, grabbed all of our necks and said, “I’m getting out, I mean it!” We knew that wasn’t happening. And if it did, we knew he would be coming back as the prez by the fourth episode of next season. There’s a chance, albeit a small one, that Jax saying over and over again that he’s getting out was yet another SOA reference to Hamlet — “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” — because apparently we weren’t smacked over the head enough with them this year. In case you still hadn’t realized that SOA is a modernization of Hamlet by the end of the season, creator Kurt Sutter just went ahead and called the two-part finale To Be. Get it? Like, to be or not to be? You know, from Hamlet? Anyway, maybe Jax saying he was getting out so much was him protesting too much and we all should have seen his ascension to the throne coming for that reason. but that’s one hell of a stretch. Or, maybe we should have seen it because THERE WAS NO EARTHLY WAY HE WAS GETTING OUT OF CHARMING!!! And yeah, I just went CAPS and bold there. C’mon, how dumb do you think we are, Sutter? It’s not very exciting to see what we all knew was going to happen then happen anyway. So to try and make it exciting doesn’t work. Fantastic season. Lackluster finale. FINALE GRADE: C-. SEASON GRADE: A-, and it was an A before the finale.