Archive

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Firstly, I am a MASSIVE fan of Showtime’s Dexter’, and what’s not to love?  A likeable blood-splatter analyst by day, and a serial killer driven by a certain code of ethics, plenty of blood, an expletive-filled step-sister, some of the best villains on television and an amazing script and cast make this both a very entertaining and thought-provoking show.  And, now with the last season’s premiere broadcast on the 30th of June, I thought I would count down the things that I want to see or how I want to see this brilliant show brought to an end.

10: More Cody and Astor: Although their appearances have been few and far between since the end of Season 4, they have all been memorable, especially Astor’s drug use and Cody’s swearing.  After watching them ‘grow up’ for seven seasons, it would be nice if the writers could somehow involve them in the action, and not just Harrison.  Therefore, they could not just become more and more minor, but be given the spotlight that they deserve, seeing that they were major characters in the first couple of seasons.

9: More development of Harrison as a character: While the new trailers suggest that Harrison will be jeopardised during the season, I would like to see him to mean a bit more than Dexter.  It always just seemed that he was either there for the ‘cute factor’, or just to give Dexter something to care about, other than his various sexual partners.  Perhaps, he could talk more and become not only a consequence of Dexter’s actions, but a shaping force of them.

8: More explanation of Nadia’s trip to Las Vegas: I was so annoyed when one of my favourite characters of Season 7 (so many to choose from), Nadia, was quickly rushed off of the show near the end of the season.  Joey’s love interest just up and left Miami to go to Las Vegas to find a new job.  Once again, a character which had lifted the, at first, boring and stupid Quinn to a loving, caring and selfless guy, is just thrown out for silly convenience.  I either hope she returns for at least one episode, or we find a little bit more about how she is doing.

7: No rushed explanation of LaGuerta’s death: I swear Miami Metro Homicide has to be one of the least effective and stupid police force in the world.  Let’s go through each season: Season 1: Debra can’t tell her fiancee is a serial killer, Dexter kills Brian.  Season 2: The department thinks Doakes is the Bay Harbor Butcher and close the case based on very thin evidence.  Season 3: They miss Dexter by ‘that much’ and Dexter kills the Skinner and Miguel’s death is basically forgotten about.  Season 4: Trinity walks right past Lundy and right into the station, Dexter kills Trinity.  Season 5: Liddy’s death basically ignored, Debra was in the exact same room with Jordan’s corpse, Dexter and Lumen and still didn’t have the balls to bring them in.  Season 6: So many not-followed-up deaths, including Brother Sam, Nick, Louis.  Travis luckily escapes the cops and Dexter kills Travis.  Now, Dexter and Debra’s luck needs to run out, there needs to be more of a thorough, well-explained investigation of LaGuerta’s death.

6: Someone in the department finds out: Leading on from the last one, I want to see someone in the department to discover a crucial piece of evidence and be morally conflicted about whether or not to report it.  Preferably, I would like either Masuka or Batista, but ultimately, it should be Quinn, after spending so much of Season 5 searching for ‘Kyle Butler’ and then just mysteriously liking Dexter again after being very suspicious.

5:  Either make Evelyn Vogel a complex character rather than a simple antagonist or have a really good villain: A high point of all Dexter seasons (except for Season 3, fuck off if you liked Miguel Prado) is their villains, the most memorable being of course Brian Moser and Arthur Mitchell, and to an extent, Isaak Sirko (who I think is one of the best character of the whole series).  Therefore, there should either be a more complex antagonist or they should make Vogel the main antagonist, while either creating a ‘twist’ or just complicating her ‘arc’ past just the predictable discovery of Dexter and her murder by his, or maybe Debra’s, hands.

4: More creative kill-rooms: Now, I don’t mean re-creating the tableaus of Season 6, but the season is being hyped up to be based upon the concept of legacy, i.e. what Dexter leaves to the world and indeed his family (Harrison, Cody, Astor and, possibly Deb).  Therefore, the writers should continue the exponential increase of creativity in Dexter’s kills (i.e. Ray Speltzer, Victor Baskov).

3: More of Debra crying: The trailers for Season 8 are definitely focusing on the low point that Debra has fell to following LaGuerta’s death, and rightly so.  However, the writers should not only show her downfall from Dexter’s perspective, but highlight her strange relationship with Dexter, remnants of memories of Lundy and her connection to her father, and how all of this is exacerbating her confusion about who she now is.  Therefore, I would like to see more scenes a la the scene at the crime scene of Lundy’s death in Season 4 or her confession of love for Dexter in Season 7.  Jennifer Carpenter is, I think, the best cryer in acting I have ever seen, HANDS DOWN.  After seeing her as this strong, almost invincible super-cop, this season should portray her as fragile, vulnerable and utterly broken after the Season 7 finale.

2: A sad and chaotic ending: Now, you are probably all wondering how I want the show to end.  Firstly, I think the focus should be on creating a solid final season, regardless of the ending.  Secondly, no matter on how it ends, no one will be completely satisfied.  However, I think that the only way that it can logically end is either him killed, incarcerated or escape then incarceration.  There can be no happy ending, and there shouldn’t be one.  After 8 seasons, I and indeed all fans should want a definitive ending, even if it is sad, but still should remain hopeful.  I think a happy ending where Dexter walks off into the sunset with Hannah or Deb or some other romantic interest would lose the dark edge that the series has been creating for the past 11 years.  Either way, the ending should be bloody and filled with chaos, both narratively and visually.

1: More Hannah: I know I am just saying I want more of certain characters, but they are really what hold this show up.  This applies especially to Hannah of Season 7 (my favourite season, if you haven’t noticed), who, while not having a extremely complex story arc, she was more of an impact on Dexter than anything else.  She changed everything in Dexter’s life and showing her out of prison at the end only hints that she may play a large part in Season 8.  The writers should have learned from the rushed disappearance of Lumen in Season 5 that you can’t just rush a forced, albeit interesting explanation, of why a character has to be axed.  But, especially because Hannah changed Dexter, even to the extent where he considered marrying her and being happy without killing, her character should be either enlarged or given a proper ending (either by death from Dexter or Debra or a legitimate reason for her leaving).  I think a character that transformed the way the audience sees the protagonist should be kept for as long as possible.  If she has to leave the show, she has to leave Dexter a changed man, by either destroying or hurting him in some way, or leaving him a better person than before: there is no middle ground.  If there is some loosely based explanation in the first couple of episodes concerning her leaving, some heads will roll.

So, with that said, what do you want or expect to see from the upcoming season of ‘Dexter’?  Do you love it?  Do you hate it?  Do you want to see it end?  I know I don’t, but it has remained one of the best shows on TV and it will be sorely missed for its confronting violence, black humour, complex characters, striking visuals, haunting score and the demented ‘Dark Passenger’ we all love.

What can one say about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey that has not already been said?  Not much, as it is one of the most talked about films and there is no real unified interpretation on its meaning.  Yet, I guess the more relevant question is: Does it still stand up today?  Sitting in the completely full Astor Theatre in St. Kilda last night, I can safely say that it still holds the same special place in the ‘cult following’ niche of film.  Never will a film divide film buffs as much as this film and it is not hard to define why.

The majority of the film centres around Dave Bowman and Frank Poole, two astronautical scientists, who are on the spaceship Discovery, on the way to Jupiter on a highly confidential mission, related to a strange alien, rectangular prism found buried under the Moon’s surface.  Accompanying them, is the H.A.L 9000 computer, a seemingly perfect machine which controls all parts of the ship.  Yet, as suspicions rise between Dave and Frank about H.A.L, their mission may be plunged into jeopardy.

The stand-out feature for all who view this film is the ground-breaking special effects and Kubrick’s obsessive attention to detail.  The landscapes of the Moon and indeed the initial shots of space are seamlessly presented, transporting the audience to the time and setting perfectly, even jumping from ‘The Dawn of Man’ in one of the most ingenious jump-cuts in film history.  However, it is the notorious ‘Stargate’ sequence which exemplifies the evolution of special effects that this film incited. Without 2001, there would not be the green screens of CGI which is ubiquitous in the present mainstream film landscape.

However, a film can not stand alone purely on its special effects.  It seems that a film that is itself set in the year of 2001, should be evaluated based on how well it predicted how life would be 12 years ago.  This is where one can realise the film as both timeless, yet extremely dated.  One only has to see the ‘Picturephone’ and the complex computer screens for landing, as well the film’s obsession with IBM, to see that it is not as accurate as it had hoped, regardless of the several experts on hand during filming to ensure accuracy.  Yet, this also provides the film with a certain charm: to see Floyd reading the instructions for the toilet and the liquified and processed food necessary for space travel provides a little chuckle deep in today’s audience.

Now, the first thing that one can notice as soon as the film begins is that it is excruciatingly, painfully,  and almost beautifully SLOW.  This is probably the point where the film loses a majority of its potential audience.  As Kubrick lingers just a moment too long on a shot or a sequence, one can see that 2001 is a film to immerse yourself in.  That is not to say that it is impossible to understand.  In the first sequence, the various establishing shots, while maybe excessive, do display the desolate landscape.  Even, without dialogue, bar the grunts of Moonwatcher and his clan, the audience can piece out exactly what is going on, except for the meaning of the monolith.  The consequent sequence, while still remaining one of the film’s most famous sequences, accompanied by the non-synchronised ‘Blue Danube Waltz’, another landmark feature of the film being its use of classical music rather than a score written to suit the visuals, can become grating even on the most enthusiastic of film buffs.  While the visual clarity and contrasts remain stunning, the sequence remains, like many others, just a little bit too long, so that people begin to stop paying the attention needed.  This opinion could be based upon the fact that I was raised with fast-paced action movies, and the current generation is predetermined to stop caring without sex, drugs and violence.  However, in order to view this film properly, one needs to be in a certain state of mind, a rare position where you are neither over-analysing each aspect of each shot, or submitting to the atmosphere, but rather a thin middle-ground between these.

Perhaps 2001 is over-rated in terms of how good of a film it is.  Perhaps it is better to think of it as a visual experience than a narrative story.  It is definitely and will remain to be the quintessential ‘art film’ and indeed the beginning of one of the most popular generic movements of the 20th century.  Without 2001: A Space Odyssey, there would be no Star WarsStar Trek would not be the massive franchise it is growing to be, there would be no Alien series (albeit all of these being hybridisations of science-fiction).  It has shaped popular culture forever (with the H.A.L. 9000 glowing red eye easily recognisable and the popularisation of Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra).  Therefore, everyone interested in film or in science-fiction should watch this film at least once.  While it may not remain as relevant in a scientific standpoint, its thematic foundations of the evolution of man, the dangers of technology and the possibility of extraterrestrial life are as relevant as ever.

I know a very small amount of you will have seen this, or will ever see this film.  In Australia, it has only got a very limited release, despite grossing 54 million dollars worldwide on a 17 million dollar budget.  Hopefully, it will get a wider release here.  However, this film does not show the imminent change in the film industry, but rather the power of cult followings in the pervasive media landscape, as well as a misleading marketing campaign.

Evil Dead is essentially about 5 friends (having every relationship being shoved down our throat in the first 10 minutes) who go to a cabin in ‘the woods’ in order to ‘cold turkey’ detox the protagonist’s sister from her cocaine addiction.  While the characters are pretty bland, with the manly David, the ‘nothing to say about’ Mia, the strong nurse Olivia, David’s ‘again nothing to say about her’ girlfriend Natalie and the English-teacher Eric.  However, things turn from bad to worse when they find a ritual site in the basement, complete with dead cats hanging from the ceiling and the subtle smell of burnt hair (fresh from last night’s tasty immolation) and a book wrapped in plastic and barbed wire.

This is where the first stupid decision is made: the seemingly most logical of the group, Eric, cuts off the barbed wire, opens the book, finding strange inscriptions and translations warning him to not read the book or to continue.  He then finds the dark scribblings over letters over strange indentations, goes on to reveal them by shading in a piece of paper over them.  Then, the cherry on the cake, READS THEM OUT LOUD (in dramatic extreme close-ups).  Now, one would think he would stop at least once and think: Now, this doesn’t seem normal to me, maybe I should stop.

Then, the normal chaos ensues, with possession after possession and feigned normality after feigned normality, until ones eyes would hurt from rolling them so much.  Yet, this can’t be taken so simply, it is a refreshing re-visiting of the camp of the 80’s horror films, as well as a smart marketing ploy.

Now, firstly, this is not a good film, but it is a good or, perhaps more importantly, an effective ‘movie’.  The distinction here is between film and movie; where the former is taken as a piece of art (an expression of the views of the director and other people), whereas the latter is taken as a  medium sold as a product to the drooling masses.  This is predominantly the latter, and can only be seen as a film as it is a remake of the 1981 cult classic ‘The Evil Dead‘.  Yet, with a tagline such as, ‘The most terrifying film you will ever experience.’, it is still trying to be it’s own monster.

This is where it contradicts with itself: trying to find the balance between ‘fan service’ for the middle-aged fanboys of the original and trying to appeal to the usual couples who see horror films (i.e. the downward spiral of the Paranormal Activity franchise, and unfortunately the Saw franchise).  Yet, I thought it balanced it really well, while doing more than it had to do, in order to fulfill both demographics.  However, this is not a horror movie, it is a full-on slasher, packed with gore, a downpour (literally) of blood and too many horrible lines to shove a chainsaw through.

While all of these things work to the movie’s advantage, it also adds to the detriment.  Having read many reviews on IMDb, a majority are bad, even giving them 1 star.  People obviously need to re-watch the original: filled with horrible acting, bad decisions, a weak plot and cheap gore.  This film too has some horrendous line deliveries, as well as nonsensical lines, moronic decisions, an improved plot (which, despite being more fleshed out, allows for more plot holes, strangely enough).

Having recently entered the Evil Dead universe, loving the first 2 and enjoying ‘Army of Darkness’, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, while also understanding how I also hated it.  The important distinction that those who call this film an abomination both on the original and on horror as a genre is that this is a “movie”, not supposed to be critiqued, but enjoyed as a product.  It needs to be seen and evaluated based on its intentions and how it satisfied them.

I think it shows a step in the right direction; maybe even that Hollywood will again embrace the 80’s camp of slasher or horror movies, while also creating new archetypes of the sub-genre.  The great atmosphere of the setting, interesting cinematography, stunning and refreshing organic effects, great sound effects (albeit, with a repetitive and predictable score) and an intriguing (while confusing and forced) enough plot, all add to the movie’s style.

I definitely recommend that everyone should see this movie, if only to ignite the fire under Sony Pictures Australia ass, as well as see people get brutally murdered.  Best feel-good movie of the year?  Probably not, but with a self-dismemberment with an electric knife, this should satiate the thirsts of those who love gore and an adequate addition to the Evil Dead franchise.

Hello whoever may be reading this,

Firstly, thank you for taking even the smallest amount of time out of your day to read this, and I hope I can entertain you in the short amount of time I have before both my and your attention span fades.  My name is Matthew Sims, I am 18 going on 19, single, living in the outskirts of Melbourne.  I am currently a first-year undergraduate at Monash University, studying in Journalism.  Therefore, this blog is an attempt to be semi-professional and “get myself out there” (if you will), although, I have wanted to do something like this for a long time.

I am interested in films, TV shows, books, music, video games, and general world issues, and thus, this blog will most likely revolve around these, or they could just be rants.  I don’t know where this will go, or if anyone will even read it.  So, I guess you can expect movie reviews of movies I have recently seen (either old or new), TV show discussions, book reviews, rants about what annoys me and makes me happy, and general expression of who I am.

I hope that you will continue to read my blogs, and possibly contribute to the community I wish to incite.

Thanks.

Matthew Sims (Simzy)