Thursday, October 30, 2008

Save The Pie Maker

I don't make impassioned pleas to my extremely limited readership often, except for those begging you not to waste an hour and a half of your life on a worthless movie, but this is different. I'm asking you to spend an hour of your life on a worthwhile TV program.

If you haven't seen it yet, let me tell you about Pushing Daisies. It is whimsical, fun, charming, and unique. The sets, props, and costumes are straight out of the storybooks. The plots are ingenious mysteries that serve to develop and showcase the fantastic characters.

The facts are these...
From Bryan Fuller (Heroes, Wonderfalls) and Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) comes a critically acclaimed series with an unprecedented blend of romance, fantasy and mystery, Pushing Daisies, a forensic fairytale about Ned, a young man with a very special gift.

As a young boy Ned discovers that he can return the dead briefly to life with just one touch. But his random gift isn't without deadly consequences& as he soon finds out. He discovers the rules of his gift early: First touch - alive; second touch - dead again, forever; Keep something alive for more than a minute and something else has to die in its place.

Grown up Ned (Lee Pace) puts his talent to good use by touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavor. He opens a pie shop. But his life as a pie maker gets more complicated when private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) discovers Ned's secret. Emerson convinces the cash-strapped Ned to help him solve murder cases (and collect a hefty reward fee) by raising the dead and getting them to name their killers.

Then Ned is handed the case that changes his life forever. His childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), is murdered on a cruise ship under strange circumstances. Her death brings him back to his hometown of Coeur d' Coeur to bring Chuck back to life, albeit briefly, and to solve the crime. But once reunited with Chuck, Ned can't bring himself to touch her again.

Chuck becomes the third partner in Ned and Emerson's PI enterprise, but she encourages them to use their skills for good, not just for profit. Ned is overjoyed to be reunited with Chuck, the only girl he's ever loved. Life would be perfect, except for one cruel twist: If Ned ever touches her again, she'll go back to being dead, this time for good.

This season Ned and Chuck's relationship begins to change as Chuck yearns for more independence and moves out of Ned's apartment - without Ned's support. Lovelorn waitress Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth) cracks under the pressure of keeping Aunt Lily's (Swoosie Kurtz) deep dark secret -- that Lily is Chuck's mother -- and runs off to a nunnery. Digby gets a new friend when Pigby, a hog with special talents, moves in. And the sudden appearance of mysterious Dwight Dixon (recurring guest star Stephen Root), supposedly an old friend of both Ned's and Chuck's father's, spells trouble for everyone.

Pushing Daisies was nominated for 12 Emmy Awards in its first season. Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Ellen Greene, Swoosie Kurtz and Kristin Chenoweth star in the visually stunning series from Living Dead Guy Productions, The Jinks/Cohen Company, in association with Warner Bros. Television. Tony winner Jim Dale, reader of the Harry Potter series of audio books, is the narrator. In addition to Fuller and Sonnenfeld, Dan Jinks & Bruce Cohen (Academy Award winning producers of American Beauty) and Peter Ocko (Boston Legal) serve as executive producers.

From ABC's Pushing Daisies Site

Go, click the link and watch an episode or two online. Once you do, go here ( and sign the petition to save the show, maybe even send ABC a message via the link under #5. This is the third of Bryan Fuller's series that I has completely absorbed me for an hour every week. I would really love to see this one last.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh So Payneful

Stacy and I went on a long-deserved date last week. We had both been interested by the trailers for the latest video-game-turned-movie, Max Payne. Full of action and valkyries, it looked exciting. Valkyries, for those of you that don't know, are the mythical warrior-maidens from Norse mythology that escort fallen warriors off to Valhalla after they die in battle. Valhalla is an eternal battle during the day and endless feasting at night, just what any warrior would relish in the afterlife. Valkyries are traditionally depicted as big, bold, tough, blonde Scandanavians wearing armor and bearing swords (no, the fat opera lady is not what I'm talking about.)

Like This, NOT


Like This.

While the valkyries in the trailer for the movie looked decidedly un-warrior-maidenlike, I was interested enough to see their variation.

It was a mistake.

I'm going to spoil it for you right now, so you don't get suckered like we did. There are no valkyries. It's all just a stupid hallucination brought on by drugs. Knowing that much and the fact that this movie had a hackneyed plot and you can probably figure out exactly what happens in the movie.

No? Well I'm going to spoil it even further for you now. Only, I'm going to give you the facts straight, unlike the convuluted, nonsensical plot in the movie.

Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a detective relegated to a desk job in cold case after the brutal murder of his wife and baby. Turns out he was just in time to kill two of the three assailants that invaded his home. He has led a secret life pursuing the last killer. He has few friends, an ex-partner (Donal "I'm Awesome But Keep Playing Stupid Parts Like This" Logue) that gets killed by the shady psuedo-organization behind the death of Max's family and his ex-cop, present-exec-at-a-pharmacuetical-company friend (Beau "Dear Lord What Have I Sunk To" Bridges.)

Wait a sec, one of his friends is an exec at a pharmacuetical company? Why, that's questionable right there! There's more! His wife worked at the company. Is it all coming together yet?


Well, allow me to confuse matters a bit. Every time Max gets close to figuring something out about the murder, people get killed. We're led to believe that it's the valkyries doing the killing. The special effects for the valkyries is pretty cool, but ultimately lame by extension of their explanation. No, turns out it's a crazy ex-marine (Amaury "I Hope No One Watches This" Nalasco) hopped up on the drug that exec-friend is shelling out. Highly addictive and a hallucigen, it also makes the user nigh-invincible. Drawback? The hallucinations are always of the valkyries, and terrifying. I've got a few problems with that. Why would it be a popular street drug (and thus motive for the shady goings on I'm about to illuminate) AND why would the hallucinations always be of the same thing? The answer to the first question is simple, because the writer, director, producer, and everyone involved in the creative process of this movie are stupid. The answer to the second is even simpler. They wouldn't be, drugs and hallucinations don't work that way.

On to the stupid conspiracy that you should already see coming from a mile away. Max's wife was about to blow the whistle on the company. Max's exec-friend decided the only way to silence her was to kill her. He's the missing killer Max has been searching for...for...we don't know how long.

We don't know this because the director has no concept of time. We are led to believe that it's been "a long time," yet the house is still cordoned off with police tape, there is no vandalism, and no squatters. Unlikely alone, however, we get the impression from other conversations that Max hasn't been in cold case for long, as well as in his apartment. I think we can guess that for the director, "a long time," is about a month.

Sooooo, Marky Mark Payne doesn't actually figure this out. He is dense enough that when his exec-friend preposterously shows up in the middle of the retarded fight scene with the ex-marine and shoots him cold dead, he still has to be knocked out and explained the entire plot right before he gets "killed" in the frozen river.

Does he die? Oh, you wish. No, he conveniently has a couple of vials of the wunder drug planted in his pocket by his erstwhile killer. Oh yeah, and a B(%^h of an undead wife that won't let him die in peace. "Not yet," my arse, by the time the retarded creative team lets Max finally die, he's not going to want one thing to do with you. Anyway, hopped up on the macguffin, Max single-handedly wades through corrupt and rent-a-cops at the company to reach the exec-friend. Guess what he does there? You got it, the movie is so predictable, Max talks it out with exec-friend rationally and convinces him to turn himself in to the authorities. Roll credits.


He kills him, of course. Big whoop.

One other (did I say one? One in a loooong string of many, maybe) beef I have with the movie was Mila "You-Can-Tell-I'm-Tough-Because-I-Glare-In-All-My-Scenes" Kunis. Her character is introduced as the sister of a soon-to-be-dead hot chick (Olga "Way-Too-Hot-To-Have-A-Major-Role" Kurylenko) that can't keep her hands off of Max. Soon-to-be-dead hot chick, that is, not Mila. Naturally, she's pissed that her sister is dead and blames Max. That soon changes after a lazy plot device and she's suddenly eager to help him. Why? Some lukewarm vengeance for her sister or something. Mila kinda sleepwalks through this film, so it's hard to tell. Mila is a badass, though. You know this because she walks around everywhere with a machine gun. I mean everywhere. I'm sure there is a scene on the cutting room floor of her at the laundromat folding her baby-doll Tees with the gun strapped to her side. The problem is that not only is her motive oddly suspect, but her appearances are as well. Midway through the obligatory one-man assault on the evil corporation, she shows up to bail a hallucinating Max out of the hole he's dug himself. Why? What reason would she have to be there? She doesn't know anything about the company or Max's assault. She had no way of knowing where he would be. "I can hold them off for a while, but if you're going to finish this, you have to get up, blabbity-blah." WHY? Oh yeah, Ludacris, Nelly Furtado, and Chris O'Donnell, because, why not?

And that, my friends, is what this movie left Stacy and I saying at the end. WHY? Why did we pay good money to see this piece O hud? Why did anyone finance this stinker? Why did half the things in the movie even happen? Why didn't we walk out? Why is this post so stinking long?

That's it. I could complain about so many more things about this movie, but I won't. Just don't, whatever you do, see this movie. It's not as bad as Babylon A.D., but it's close, real close. I give this half of a hallucinatory valkyrie out of fifteen hallucinatory valkyries on a scale that I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

To the John Moore, Beau Thorne, and Sam Lake. Next time, more supernatural valkyrie, less hackneyed drug-fueled conspiracy.