Archive for May, 2010

Dennis Hopper 1936 -2010

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 29, 2010 by Will Link

What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans, man? That he had wisdom? Bullshit, man!

 – Dennis Hopper,  Apocalypse Now

If I were to make a short list of the most important or influential films of all time Easy Rider would certainly be on it. It was a film for an entire generation, a film for the counter culture. Its success ushered in a new era in which the studios allowed a new type of filmmaker to take over Hollywood. If Easy Rider had been the only film Dennis Hopper had directed and starred in that would have been enough to make him a legend.

Luckily it wasn’t. He went on to become one of the most interesting and risk taking actors of his generation. His presence in a scene would always add a raw energy that would change a films entire dynamic. Take Speed for example. What should have been just an average action movie villain turned into an obsessive, funny madman.  Other than his performance in The American Friend and a scene stealing role in Apocalypse Now, Hopper fell on hard times in the late 70’s and early 80’s. However, in 1986 he had possibly the greatest acting comeback of all time. He was nominated for an Oscar for Hoosiers. It was a beautiful role that mirrored his own personal life, playing a struggling drunk who finds redemption being an assistant basketball coach. But the other role he had that year might be his greatest and one of the greatest performances ever – Frank Booth. The Blue Velvet villain is one of the most psychotic characters ever put on screen.

If you want to see a great example of Hoppers talent, just watch his scene with Christopher Walken in True Romance. It is a brilliant face off between two amazing actors. In the scene tables are turned again and again and Hopper goes through every type of emotion, knowing his fate and knowing he must protect his son.

So tonight go drink a Pabst Blue Ribbon in honor of one of the all time greats.

Lost Again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 28, 2010 by Will Link

  So right after the Lost finale I posted a blog about how I was emotionally moved and how beautiful the finale was. I also wrote that I didn’t think an explanation was necessary on why it was so wonderful.  I said it spoke for itself. Then I didn’t blog all week because I was too busy talking to people and reading others thoughts on the show. Now I feel the need to come back and write about the final episode and I swear this will be the last totally Lost themed post.

For the most part my friends and family really liked it. Melody said she was moved by it. Larissa told me it made her think about her faith and the people she would need to find again before she “let go.” My mother even watched the episode twice in a 24 hour period, not because she was confused but because she loved it so much. I personally was confused why so many people were confused. I felt it was straight forward in many ways – everything that happened on the island happened. The sideways world was a type of limbo or purgatory in which the characters had to find each other before they could “let go” and move on to the next world. Jack dies restoring the light but Kate, Sawyer and Claire escape the island while Ben and Hurley stay to run and protect it. They died long after Jack. Christian Sheppard says as much – “Some before you and some long after you.”

I have no patience for people who didn’t like it and say watching the show for six years was a waste. That implies the journey was no fun which begs the question why did you continue it? You could have jumped ship in season two when Locke kept pushing that button. I do have a few friends who were underwhelmed or highly disappointed by the finale. These friends seem to enjoy the journey at least, just not the destination. Jason is one of those people. He seemed (and I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong) to like most of the final episode except what the sideways world turned out to be. He felt making it purgatory not only didn’t answer any questions, it was just a way to explain the world anyway the writers chose without really having to explaining anything. He also felt that the sideways world wasn’t really related to the island world except for the characters. I understand what he’s saying and why he is saying that but I personally think he’s wrong.

I think the writers got away with the sideways world because it held true to the themes of the show, redemption and faith. It also held true to a big theme since season one – “live together, die alone.” These people needed each other even in death.  Yes the show had an ongoing mystery but it was equally a character based show. If you don’t believe that then go back and watch the first three seasons. At least half of every episode is devoted to character back stories. There was a time a question like, how was Locke paralyzed was just as fascinating as where did the polar bear come from. And by the way if the next morning you said you hated Lost because it didn’t tell you where the polar bear came from first off you’re an idiot because they did and secondly you missed the whole point.

But saying the purgatory ending is true to theme and character doesn’t help the argument that it had nothing to do with the island. I think it has everything to do with the island. Throughout the whole season we are told that if the smoke monster escapes and if the light that is the heart of the island is put out, basically the world is doomed. They are always vague as to what that exactly means but it seems like life will still go on off the island if the smoke monster leaves – he makes a few allusions to this like that he will kill Penny and so on. What I think all these warnings are about are our souls. If the light is put out our souls will have nowhere to go after we die. Our souls will be doomed and never be able to move on from our own personal purgatories. When Jack goes back and sacrifices himself to turn the light back on, he is giving the sideways world souls a place to move on to. You might think this is a stretch but I think the evidence is there or at least easily inferred. What happens in the last shot of the sideways world? A beautiful light envelops the characters and they move on. What did Jack turn back on? A beautiful light which not only was the heart of the island but was told to be everything. It is life and death, good and evil. I believe this last moment told us it was also heaven…for lack of a better word. To me their souls went back into the light in the island, together, for all eternity. Light in the island and light in the church, it makes sense to me.

I also happen to subscribe to the theory that as he stumbled into the bamboo field to die, Jack’s mind was seeing the sideways world church scene. His mind was transported by the electro-magnetism just like Charlotte, George from the freighter and of course Desmond.  This put him at peace in his final moments, knowing he would see the people most important to him again…including the friends on the plane that flew overhead.   

Look there are a lot of little things never answered, many of which I have theories on based on logical assumptions. Doc Jensen wrote a great column the day before the finale about what kind of mystery Lost is. It’s not CSI it’s more like Mulholland Dr. That David Lynch film is a mystery without a real answer and yet I feel I totally understand it. The things I don’t understand only make the film linger in my memory longer, that’s why it’s easily one of my favorite films of all time.  I liked this finale because it will stay with me thus the show will stay with me. Ten years from now I can call Melody and we can have a talk about why The Others can’t have babies. This is also why I already miss the show. It was fun to talk about every week. No show on television is like it and I think it will be a long time before we find something else that is (and that also makes a connection with an audience).

This series and series finale made me feel and made me think. That to me that is what great art is. It left itself open for some interpretation and allowed people to impose whatever belief they wanted to it. That’s the kind of story I have always liked.  I love that it made me think about the afterlife and the people who are important to me. I’m not a religious person but I do romanticize the idea of faith. I want to be Locke but if faced with the improbable and impossible would probably  turn out to be Jack. This ending made me think about my own faith, not God but faith – to believe in something with strong convictions. I think that’s a beautiful thing and it’s why I really believe that the finale put Lost to the top of the list of my favorite pieces of art and entertainment.

Lost Finale

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 24, 2010 by Will Link

Now that I’m finally done crying I will give you my super fast take on the Lost finale.

I thought it was perfect, beautiful and true to the show I’ve loved for the last six years. Honestly it left me speechless and wiping away tears well after it ended. I spoke to my friend Melody afterwards (as is our Lost tradition) and I think she put it best when she said (and I’m paraphrasing) “it was a finale that made you remember why you loved the show so much in the first place.”

We got the answer to what the sideways world was and in the end it was so obvious. Looking back on the whole season every bit of this world comes into place, just why it was always a little off. This season was about letting go, not just for the characters but us as viewers and the show tied up its themes of love, redemption and faith beautifully.

Sure, I loved the mystery and mythology and as Desmond was being lowered into the light I thought about all of it. But now, for me, whatever “loose ends” there might be don’t matter.  In the end it was about these flawed people, who came together on the island and found peace within themselves and in the life beyond. The final shot was the perfect bookend to what is personally for me, the greatest television series I’ve ever watched.   

I don’t think I can say much more tonight…there are so many thoughts racing through my head. I might write another blog about the episode after I’ve left some space between it… but probably not. I think the series speaks for itself.

Happily Ever After? I Think Not

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 21, 2010 by Will Link

 Shrek 4 (or Shrek Forever After 3D as the kids are calling it) opens today to what I’m sure will be huge business despite poor reviews. Family films always do well because, well, it’s something to do with the family. I will not be seeing it after the abortion that was Shrek the Third. That said Shrek 2 was pretty funny and the first Shrek has its charms. Those charms helped it win the first animated feature Oscar beating out the far better film visually and emotionally – Monsters Inc. I didn’t dislike Shrek but something left me cold about it. Here’s what it is.

So Shrek goes and saves Princess Fiona and she is horrified to see her “Prince Charming” is an ugly ogre. Fair enough. But as they travel back through the woods on their way to get her to marry the tiny guy voiced by John Lithgow the two clearly start to become close. In fact it appears she is developing feelings towards him. How could she…he’s an ugly beast or as ads for the recent She’s Out of My League would say “Can a 10 go for a 6?!?!?!?!”

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it but anyway, she goes off to marry the little guy and Shrek is sad because they had become close. Also apparently at night she transforms into an ogre too because she was cursed. The only way to lift the curse is to get a kiss from her true love which I guess she hopes is Lithgow. Yada yada yada, Shrek breaks up the wedding. Obviously he is her true love, he kisses her and the curse is lifted. But a twist…her true self is an ogre. She is now going to be an ogre forever and will live in the swamp with Shrek and live happily ever after until the sequel.

Fuck you and here’s why. First of all, with all due respect to Shrek, being the ogre is the curse. It has to be because it’s being  a disgusting ogre. But here’s why her turning into an ogre really bugs me. When she was a beautiful Princess she had a choice. She could be with any man in the world. Now that she’s an ogre she only has one choice – Shrek. Now I do believe she loves Shrek but wouldn’t it have been more beautiful, a better message, if she stayed a pretty princess and chose Shrek? They shared a bond that was more than skin deep and she discovered she loved him for who he was. Granted you might say that happened but really, she’s now an ugly ass ogre and Shrek is her best option for happiness. There was no choice to make. Can ogres only be with ogres? Will the less attractive men be with the unattractive women? The answer from Shrek is clearly yes.

So that’s my Shrek beef. You probably think I’m crazy so while I’m on a roll another message in a film I hate is Grease. Yeah the songs are fun but the overall message is: If you are a whore people will like you. Sandy at the end has to “whore” it up wearing leather and becoming someone she wasn’t where as Danny gets to go right on being Danny. He doesn’t have to compromise and although he does for a little while being on the track team or some shit, at the end he gets to be Danny again. Sandy on the other hand has to become a different person. That’s a good messages girls. I mean in reality I don’t mind if you want to whore it up a bit but for the message of a film? Fuck you Grease!

Hair Mismanagement

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 18, 2010 by Will Link

The hardest person to find in life, harder than a good mechanic, doctor or woman, is a good barber.  When I moved to Los Angeles those many years ago, that was what I was most worried about finding. You see I had gone to the same barber shop run by the same old Italian guys all my life. Because I’m the most exciting, risk taking guy around I have had the same hair style all my life. It was easy. I just walked into the shop, sat down and they cut my hair. They never asked what I wanted – they knew. It was great and pressure free.

I hate my hair. Well that’s not entirely true. I think I have nice hair. Woman who have been willing to touch me have often commented on how nice and soft it is. The problem is I hate managing my hair. I don’t understand what bald people are complaining about? They get to avoid this awful daily process. As far as I’m concerned the bald should be revered, not belittled.

When my hair starts to get too long it develops a mind of its own, sometimes staying up like I want it to but often falling down in a mess. The solution would be to put gel or some shit in it but I hate the way that feels, so instead I complain about the length until my next haircut. I hold off on the haircuts now for two reasons. One they have gotten way overpriced ($15.50…to cut my hair?) but more so I am never really happy with the cut I get. Since I spent 26 years not having to explain anything I become nervous and confused when I sit in the barber chair today. I always ask for the sides to be short and to shorten the sideburns. This is met with questions like “a 3 or a 4?” to which I freeze up not knowing what the difference is and how it will look. They ask questions about the back of my head – questions that I had never been asked about a place I never see. The whole haircut goes this way with me muttering on about how I just want a regular normal haircut. This only frustrates the barber…a man by the way who holds scissors dangerously close to my neck.     

So I move to LA and what do you know…there is a small, old fashioned barber shop right down the road. Since I have to get my haircut eventually I take a stroll over. It was run by a tiny and very friendly old Greek man. He had a partner – a quiet, angry, large man with an accent I could not place. The angry man was a horrible barber. I would ask him to cut my hair shorter and he would say “not too short” refusing to do it. The Greek man however gave a pretty decent cut, so I decided to wait for him each time. This is what most customers did and it clearly angered the already angry partner. But then the Greek retired and we were all stuck with the angry man. I didn’t know what to do or where to go – until Steve arrived.

Steve was a middle aged British man who took the Greeks place in the barber shop now run by the angry partner. Steve maybe the best barber I’ve ever had. He gave the first truly great haircuts I had gotten in LA and the conversation, oh the conversation! We talked about everything except my hair because he knew just what to do. He was the way a barber should be.  Then one day I came in for a haircut and didn’t see Steve which was odd because he told me he always worked Tuesdays. I asked “where’s Steve” and the angry man glowered saying “he no longer works here.” I didn’t know what to do. Should I walk out or get the haircut? Terrified of this man I sat down and let him cut my hair (not too short). It was an awful cut. Steve was gone and the angry man would not tell me or Jarrod (who I had call up to the shop and ask) where he was now cutting hair. I tried googling him but since I didn’t know his last name it proved hard. Try googling Steve the barber, you don’t really get answers. Not only was Steve gone but so were my quality haircuts.    

I couldn’t keep going to the angry man and I began to stress. For the last year I’ve been going to Supercuts instead. I went there yesterday and got an okay haircut. Nothing special. Nothing like on Long Island or from Steve. This is what I’ve been reduced to. It’s bad, bad to the point I thought about what I would look like if I went nuts and shaved it all off. I must admit, the thought was cathartic. I have to explain myself each time when they ask what kind of haircut I want. I try to make self-deprecating jokes about not knowing what to ask for. The ladies laugh but only to be polite…only for a tip. You may look at my hair in the next few weeks and say “that’s not a bad haircut” but I know better. I know better.

“See You In Another Life, Brotha”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 17, 2010 by Will Link

 If I were to make a list of my all time favorite things in the world of art and entertainment, the television show Lost would be easily in the top 5…probably even top 3. With the penultimate episode airing tomorrow, the most divisive episode a week behind us and the finale less than a week away I figured it was time I posted about my love for Lost. I said before that if I started writing about Lost I might not stop which is why, for the most part, I haven’t expressed my thoughts on it. Well it’s now or never for me to talk about easily one of the most interesting, risk taking, influential and greatest show in television history.

Yes last week’s episode which gave us the back story of Jacob and the Man in Black did divide viewers. Half my friends liked it and the other half seemed to hate it. Television is a tricky animal…much trickier than any other form of entertainment. It’s impossible for every Lost episode to be on the same level as the greats like “Through the Looking-Glass,” “The Constant” or this seasons “Ab Aeteron.”There are just too many episodes. Television is also subject to more change than any other medium.  For example at Paley Fest (which I was lucky enough to attend) the producers themselves explained and lamented that Mr. Eko was envisioned as someone who would play a role in the end game of the show. But guess what…the actor who played Eko wanted off the show so there was nothing that they can do about it. Same thing with Walt, he grew too fast for them to keep using him which means we will never really get to fully know all there is to know about him (that said we can make logical guesses). The problem with a show like Lost is there are so many mysteries you can never clearly answer them all. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse always joke about how they are attacked on such minor mysteries. A big example is about who the man Sayid shoots on the golf course in “The Economist” is. If that is what you’re concerned about you probably shouldn’t be watching the show. Can’t we just make some guesses on this that work in the realm of logic? Sayid was working for Ben who was in a “war” with Widmore so is it possible that the economist worked with him? Same thing with the Taweret statue – we know people have been coming to the island a killing each other becoming corrupted and so on for millenniums. Since it’s an Egyptian statue it’s completely logical to believe it was built by…Egyptians who came to the island and were corrupted like everyone else. Why would we need to know more than that? The statue is more of a symbol of how long this has been going on and with how many different cultures/people.  

The point I’m making is this: Lindelof and Cuse are not in an easy spot. No matter how Lost ends half its viewership will be unhappy. Just like half The Sopranos audience was left unsatisfied. I was fine with how The Sopranos ended – the show stayed true to how it was for six seasons. What did you want to happen? Did you want Tony to get gunned down? Did you just want him to keep eating onion rings? In my mind I know exactly what that ending meant and I loved it. More to the point I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks upon weeks. People invest so much time into a show, years in fact, that they become hard to know how to end and satisfy all. We spend more time with characters on shows than we do with characters in film or books so we take how they are sent off personally. The creators of Lost have said they have always known how the show would end, just not how they would get there. I have no reason not to believe them. The path changed because of the nature of television. ABC says we need to stretch out our biggest hit so they extend some episodes by adding Nikki and Paulo to the cast. It happens. The overall thing is that Lost is a show that is going out on its own terms. Since they set an end date the series has been nothing but forward momentum. And as far as knowing where they were going, last week flashed back to season ones “House of the Rising Sun” and showed us a scene many Lost fans were already familiar with. Not just the skeletons but the white rock and the black rock. That seems far too specific a detail to have throw into an episode six years ago and not know what it means. From the start Lost knew it was about good and evil or warring “gods” – they just didn’t know how they’d get us back to that cave and those rocks. Last week they did and if you take away anything from the episode it’s that this is where the cycle began. There were thousands of years of buildup to get our characters to this point in time.  

When Lost started on September 22nd 2004 it made an impact on the television landscape. It showed networks that audiences were willing to follow a serialized show with mysteries that might not be paid off for years to come. The next season every network had a Lost type show – all of which failed. They failed because they were trying to copy Lost where Lost was just trying to be its own crazy original thing. Lost stayed true to itself and wasn’t afraid to test its audience with adding mysteries on top of mysteries and having John Locke push a button for an entire season. The payoff for viewers? A show that constantly reinvented itself. Season one had mysteries but it was mostly about character. Season two, the second they opened the season revealing that someone was down in the hatch…well… it became a whole new show. Season three started the same way by opening showing us The Others living in homes. Season four, flash forwards, the Oceanic 6 and the freighter sent to kill Ben and “torch” the island. What’s amazing about all these seasons was that we got introduced to new characters and feel in love with them be it Juliet, Faraday or Desmond. (All but Ana Lucia…I hated Ana Lucia. That said if she pops back up I’ll probably be thrilled to see her.) Season five the show embraced its sci-fi roots more than ever making time travel a key plot devise. This season it’s all about the flash-sideways world which many viewers have been turned off by but I love. This new device has allowed us to see our beloved castaways deal with their issues, be it with their father or their handicap or their desire for revenge. The question is what does the sideways world mean? A world I might add where the island has sunk. (Does that mean the smoke monster has escaped and that “light” has been put out?)   

I could go on and on about theories or what it all means but honestly if that’s what this post was about then I really should have been doing a weekly post because it’s just too much to now cover. I’ll leave that to Doc Jensen over at EW instead. What I think I really love about Lost is that it has allowed me to unabashedly let my geek flag fly. I think it’s fair to say I’ve been a little obsessed with this show and the number one reason is that it’s a show you really can talk about…for hours upon hours. I’ve probably spent as much time talking about theories as I have spent watching the show. It’s fun to be able to sit around with friends and debate how things will turn out. No form of entertainment has captured me in this way. Sure I speculate how this season of 24 might end but that has only a few ways it probably could end. Lost has literally hundreds. I love the show so much because no program has allowed me to have this much fun while not watching it. That’s why I am trying in its last week to milk it for all it’s worth. I’ve been talking to friends daily about their thoughts. I’m even going to the Lindelof and Cuse Q&A that’s being broadcast to movie theaters, just to hold on a little longer. There might never be show like this again and I don’t want to take that for granted. This is also why at the end of the day if all our questions aren’t answered I’ll be okay with that. I want to wake up the morning after and wonder what it all meant. Yes…I want some answers like how the sideways world is related to the island world and so on, but as long as they end these characters storylines in a satisfying way I have no problem with them leaving some mystery. It will give me something to discuss and debate long after the series is done. I don’t need to know why the island is the source of possibly all life, good and evil in the world (if that is what it is). You know why I don’t need to know the answer to that?  Midichlorians…that’s why. When George Lucas tried to explain the force with something called midichlorians it took all the magic away. I accepted that the force was the source of all life, good and evil in the Star Wars universe. If Lost explained the island or the smoke monster in a way like that, everyone who claims they want concrete answers would become even more annoyed. Leave me some mystery…after all that would only be true to the show we love.

But to me mystery is secondary on the show. Sure I like the mystery but Lost is about people. It’s about how the mystery, how the island, affects them. This is a rich cast of characters my favorite always being John Locke. Maybe my love of the sideways world comes from being happy to see him alive again. To me Terry O’Quinn gives maybe the best performance on television as a man who desperately believes in the power and magic of the island. Was he a sucker or was he special? We have seen the characters grow sometimes through love like with Sawyer and Juliet and sometimes by admitting they don’t always know how to save everyone. That last part is the reason I’ve finally come to like Jack. The once self righteous doctor has now come to embraces the magic of the island. He is now a man of faith and has defended the views of his once rival Locke.

I don’t know if I care what it all means because at the end of the day it’s been a great story. Maybe that’s all it will be at the end of the day – just a great story. Not a story about a magical island or a smoke monster but a story about love, redemption and above all faith. To me those are the themes that sum up Lost. Those are the reasons why after this Sunday I will miss this show above all others. That’s what makes Lost the best show on television.

Short Random Stuff Because I’ve Been Lazy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2010 by Will Link

Since I haven’t been doing my due diligence in the blogosphere because of illness, free time and a waaay unhealthy obsession with Lost I figured I would put together a little post commenting on stuff and links and things I don’t feel like giving a full blog post on.

*****

Am I being overzealous to think this is a win for me and my views on Facebook:

http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/05/13/facebook-privacy-creeped/

 *****

So according to Newsweek gay actors are incapable of successfully portraying heterosexuals. Really? You thought publishing that editorial (from a self hating gay writer no less) was going to be okay? To paraphrase Olivier “It’s called acting!” Why doesn’t it work in reverse Newsweek? Was Heath Ledger not convincing playing gay – or was it alright since the character was closeted.  What about closeted gay actors – should they stay closeted for their acting benefits? If he finally decides to come out we should take away Kevin Spacey’s American Beauty Oscar because in retrospect I didn’t buy him as a married man. Stupid ignorant Newsweek. It’s a shame because your political writers are so good.

 *****

I hear Heroes is about to be cancelled. Good…now I don’t have to keep watching it hoping it will return to season 1 form. I don’t know why I watch still. Hope perhaps? I have a strange desire to see these kinds of stories through even if they go off the rails for 3 years. Now that it looks like it won’t come back I feel an overwhelming weight lifted off my shoulders.  Now…if only HBO would cancel Entourage.

 *****

I have been invited to Lost parties but will attend none. I can’t risk people talking during the program and theorizing and all that crap. That’s why God gave us commercials – to talk and piss during. How will I be watching it? Alone, at the edge of my seat, probably crying. Then there will be an inevitable hour long phone discussion with Melody Rock in which we talk/argue about how great it was or wasn’t. This might be the best night of my life. (P.S. It will be great)

 *****

So the theory is that if LeBron loses with Cleveland this year, a consistent playoff team, he will want out and go to the Knicks?  That’s why he would leave…because Cleveland loses? That makes sense since we all know what a competitive team the Knicks have been this past decade.

*****

I haven’t written a blog about the Arizona immigration issue yet because it’s so misguided I get a headache every time I try to write something about it. Phoenix has already lost millions of dollars from organizations boycotting the state. Good. We need immigration reform but this is just unconstitutional racial profiling. The best part is on a whole polls show the country thinks what’s going on in Arizona is a good idea. Ah…what a crappy time to be alive.