Truebies, this is it… the end is here. We have to impatiently wait until next summer before we can sink our teeth into next season of True Blood. So, grab a hefty box of kleenex to wipe your blood-stained tears away. Waiting sucks as much as being staked in the heart, right? Okay, well ALMOST as much!
But before we say goodbye to our vamp-pals and fairy gals down in Bon Temps, let's chat about this last episode's gory antics.
Party and Bulls**tAfter Terry's burial, Sookie invites Alcide to wander through the graveyard with her when Alcides were-senses start tingling: all the now-uncaged vamps are high on Warlowy blood, basking in the sun, stripping and screwing. Party on baby!
But one guy's not in the party mood. Bill's left in disarray after his near-dance with death. No longer does he feel Lilith's pull, he's the real Bill again. So naturally, he's back to feeling guilty for Sookie and wanting to put a halt on her wedding and turning. He recruits Jason– and Violet follows of course– to fetch Adelyn so they can jump to the fairy plane and save Sookie.
You're a Monster!Warlow's decked out the fairy plane with fancy-schmancy chandeliers and delicate flower ornaments for his wedding with Sookie, but Sookie's all like, hold up. Why don't we try to be a normal couple and date for a little before I become your fairy-vampire bride? But nope, that doesn't do it for Warlow: he ends up slapping Sook and chocking her. Warlow, that's no way to treat a lady!
Well, Warlow's not only clueless with chivalry, but also is a "monster" according to Sookie. Yep, it's a bummer, alright. He's not the swoon-worthy hunk Sookie's made him out to be… not even close! He's just a power-hungry, evil vampire that wants to use Sookie for her blood and her bod. Ugh, men these days!
The Return of Grandpa Niall! Well, uh, Adelyn doesn't exactly know how to get to said fairy plane. But with a little help–well, intimidation– from Violet, the ultimate crew (Jason, Andy, Bill, and Violet) bust in, kick Warlow's ass, and jet on out to save Sookie's mortal life. Ka-pow! Now that's what I call teamwork.
Unfortunately, a now powerless Bill is no match for Warlow, who easily slips away, bursts into the Stackhouse's and grabs Sookie. But before Warlow can even spit out a proper threat, Grandpa Niall pops out of his portal, Jason stakes Warlow, and Warlow shrivels into a pile of bloody blegh. Wahoo! Sookie, you're a free b*tch baby! Eric! NOOOOO!!!!Well, the death of Warlow also brings the end of his magical blood for all. Yep, no more fun in the sun for all the vampers, especially Eric! While lounging naked on a glacier and enjoying a good read– because why not– Eric instantaneously fries up. Gah! No! Eric, you can't die. Hell to the no. Seriously, Eric is the REASON I watch this show. Ugh, not cool. But hey, at least we got to see him naked, right?
Six Months Later...Then we flash forward to six months later, Bill's become a best-selling author of "And God Bled". Who would've guessed that outcome? And finally, Sookie and Alcide are together! I repeat… FINALLY! Took long enough for these two destined-lovebirds to realize they are perfect for each other! Also, it seems that Violet and Jason are Really enjoying each others company… well, kind of. Jason hasn't scored in the sheets with Violet quite yet. Hopefully you'll hit one out of the park soon, kiddo!
And guess who's become mayor… Sam Merlotte! Well, at a town meeting, Merlotte not only holds Hep. V tests, but suggests for all non-infected humans to forge a relationship with a vampire so they can exchange their human blood for protection from a vampire. With bands of ill-fed, Hepatits V-infected vampers scavenging through town, humans need as much safety as they can get.
Barbeque at Bellfleur'sSo, church-goers that are down with this plan head over to Bellfleur's– yep, Merlott's has been renamed– and mingle with friendly vamps. At the shindig, Tara's mom apologizes for never caring for Tara during her mortal life, but shares how she wants to make up for those days of neglecting now. So, she lets Tara feed on her, because afterall, what are mommies for?
Similarly, Jessica tries to make amends with Andy and offers to protect him and Adelyn, but Andy's nowhere near accepting of this idea. I mean, you did kill like three of his daughters, so can you really blame him for rejecting you? Sorry, chica!
And then, right when the party's in full swing and it seems that this vampire-human co-existence is totally alrighty, Bill and Alcide sniff out a pack of Hep. V-infested vampers headed into town, and yup... they're licking their lips and looking ready to pounce! Until next season...
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Forget that the latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's sweeping romance novel comes from the man who brought us the slick-but-stuffy Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Every frame of director Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is a wonder to behold overflowing with visual spectacle and roaring performances. Keira Knightley Jude Law Aaron Taylor-Johnson and the rest of the cast fit perfectly in the high drama epic but it's really Wright's playground. Following Hanna an artful spin on the action movie Wright returns to the period drama but injects it with dazzling daring choices. A book like Anna Karenina could once fit in reality but its larger-than-life legacy precedes it. Wright acknowledges that from frame one approaching the film like a grand ballet or opera where grand gestures broad emotions and overt theatrics are commonplace. That vision clicks transforming Anna Karenina into an exhilarating moviegoing experience.
The storyline of Anna Karenina isn't far off from a daytime soap: It's 1874 and Anna (Knightley) is floating through existence as the wife of influential government player Karenin (Law). But when her brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) summons her to Moscow to save his marriage Anna's entire world is shaken up. She meets Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson) a cavalry hunk who finds himself smitten with the taken lady. She's in the same boat: The two strike up a flirtatious relationship that evolves into one of sexual passion. A scandalous affair would incite trouble in the preset day but in the 19th century it's the ultimate crime. Quickly Anna's life comes crumbling down.
The intertwining melodrama of Anna Karenina earned the novel its classic status but Wright uses the material as a launching pad for imagination rather than a tome to translate to screen. Many of the scenes are staged in a theater creating an instant awareness of the production. Sets shift and are reconstructed into new rooms; actors costume change in the span of single shots; action sequences like a thrilling horse race are conducted on stage with special effects you might see on Broadway. Wright works this sort of stylization in the other direction too; a character could walk an empty stage open a door and suddenly be on a snow-covered hill. Anna Karenina isn't the first film to use the effect but in Wright's hands it's exhilarating.
The movie is Wright's third collaboration with Knightley and easily their most successful. Knightley never struggles to stay on the same page as the heightened material whether she's nailing a dance sequence or breaking down in a flood of tears. Casting an ensemble around Knightley is no easy task but Taylor-Johnson gives his best work yet as the debonair love interest and Macfadyen steals the show with moments of physical comedy.
We have expectations of the texture and structure of period romances. Anna Karenina defies them. Masterpiece Theater it is not.
Based on Ian McEwan’s equally stirring novel we begin the story in 1935 on the cusp of WWII. Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) a 13-year-old fledgling writer lives with her wealthy family in their enormous English country mansion and on one hot summer day she irrevocably changes the course of three lives including her own. It seems the housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) carries a torch for Briony’s older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). And on this warm day it becomes clear she feels the same way; their love ignites. Little Briony who harbors her own secret crush on Robbie witnesses the beginnings of this love affair and not understanding its meaning feels compelled to interfere going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit. He is arrested and whisked away eventually forced into the British army but thankfully the two lovers have a moment before he goes to war to reconnect. Cecilia promises to wait for him urging him to “come back” to her once the madness he is about to become immersed in is over. Meanwhile Briony (played in adult years by Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave) has grown up regretting every single moment of that fateful day and in desperately trying to seek forgiveness finally finds a path to understanding the power of enduring love. The performances in Atonement are nothing less than captivating beginning with the young Irish rose Saoirse Ronan (who is also set to play the lead in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones). Since it is primarily Briony’s story Ronan must make the first most indelible impression and set the tone for the rest of the movie--and she succeeds on every level. From the moment you see Ronan’s pale face clear-blue eyes and steadfast gait you immediately recognize Briony’s need and determination to make everything in her life just so. Indeed Briony is a strongly focused child and Ronan so embodies the character an Oscar nomination is almost a certainty. As the 18-year-old Briony Garai (Dirty Dancing 2) does the best she can following such a tough act as Ronan but can never quite match the same intensity. On the other hand Redgrave who comes in at the very end as the much older Briony nails it right away adding her own nuances to a character who has lived a full life. Of course Knightley and McAvoy are no slouches either vividly capturing the passion bubbling up between Cecilia and Robbie then turning around and showing the heartache as their love is ripped apart. McAvoy is particularly effecting as his Robbie must also witness some truly horrific wartime scenes. Actually Oscar nods should come fast and furious for everyone in Atonement. With Pride & Prejudice and now Atonement director Joe Wright may have just established himself as the new James Ivory (of Merchant/Ivory fame). Wright is a real visionary for the romantic period piece expertly delivering truly spectacular vistas. From set design to costumes to cinematography the look of Atonement is at once verdant welcoming and then startlingly grim. The first half of Atonement at the Tallis’ country home is certainly the film’s most defining peppered by an effective musical score which uses the sound of a typewriter like a metronome. Through a soft lens Wright displays the general idleness of summer day at a country home like a sunny floral motif that belies an undercurrent of sweating bodies wilting flowers stagnant pools--and an imminent tragic event. Then once Wright moves with Robbie into WWII he actually paints an even more grim view of war then maybe seen before. The one continuous shot of the historical Dunkirk--a French beach on which thousands of British soldiers were forced by the Germans and then waited to be evacuated--is absolutely stunning and surreal. Atonement does drag ever-so-slightly in the middle especially as Briony trains to be a nurse in London but overall this is a film Academy voters eat up with a silver spoon. Expect to be hearing about it in the months to come.
In 1960s England a young pregnant woman is arrested and sent to a facility for the criminally insane for casually butchering her philandering husband and his mistress. Flash forward 43 years to the tiny hamlet of Little Wollop where fed-up vicar's wife Gloria Goodfellow (Kristin Scott Thomas) is ready to ditch her earnest hands-off husband Walter (Rowan Atkinson) in favor of buff American golf pro Lance (Patrick Swayze). That is until the advent of new housekeeper Grace Hawkins (Maggie Smith). Like a gray-haired Mary Poppins Grace quickly sets about putting Gloria's life to rights from helping timid son Petey (Toby Parkes) get over his fear of bullies to encouraging Walter to spice up his sermons. The fact that Grace's methods are rather er unorthodox is hardly surprising and neither is the film's ultimate resolution--although getting there is amusing enough. Most of Keeping Mum's success can be attributed to its two female stars. Scott Thomas and Smith are both consummate professionals tackling their somewhat standard-issue roles with game enthusiasm. Smith (aka Professor Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter movies) plays Grace with a determined twinkle that could simply be a prim elderly woman's possessive affection for her adopted clan--or just as easily the glint of a madwoman on a mission. And Scott Thomas as always does English upper-middle-class to a tee. Neither Atkinson nor Swayze really tackle any new ground character-wise: Swayze's whole performance seems to build up to the point where he gets to take off his shirt and Atkinson's Walter goes so far as to blunder into a Four Weddings and a Funeral-esque malapropism at one point. But the men aren't the main attraction here. With Keeping Mum writer/director Niall Johnson follows in the footsteps of several other calculatedly eccentric comedies about quirky English folks from The Full Monty and Calendar Girls to Waking Ned Devine and Saving Grace. Like its predecessors the film is often charming but unlike many of them it unfortunately never really hits its comedic stride. Much of the humor is more likely to elicit mild chuckles than belly laughs mostly because very little of what happens is surprising. For a black comedy Keeping Mum is neither particularly dark nor particularly funny--it's diverting enough while you're watching but in the end it's about as memorable as another misty day on the English moors.
Successful architect Jonathan Rivers' (Michael Keaton) peaceful existence is shattered by the unexplained disappearance and death of his wife Anna (Chandra West). But that's not the worst of it. Jonathan is then contacted by a man who claims to receive messages from Anna through Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) a form of clairvoyance in which the dead can communicate through such electronic devices as radio television and computers. Well that's just plain crazy talk! Not to Jonathan who is soon convinced EVP is the real deal. He becomes obsessed with it setting up his own EVP den of snowy white noise-filled televisions computer screens and recording devices in hopes of hearing from his beloved. Problem is--and it's a rather major problem--the further he probes into this paranormal activity the more he opens himself up to hearing from all the dearly departed some of whom aren't so dear. In fact there are more than a few on the "other side" who are downright psychotic and none too happy about being meddled with. They're heeeeeeere!
Just where the heck has Michael Keaton been? Although he turned in a powerhouse performance in HBO's Live From Baghdad in 2002 the actor has been out of the movie limelight for quite sometime save for a brief and wasted appearance as the President of the United States in last year's tepid First Daughter. White Noise regrettably doesn't do the talented actor any justice either but at least he's back in the driver's seat. To his credit Keaton is convincing as the bereft Jonathan grasping at whatever he can to ease the pain but he has a tougher time once the film veers off into Poltergeist territory. In the supporting roles Deborah Kara Unger also does a nice turn as Sarah a kindred spirit who finds closure after contacting her dead fiancé but whose life is in danger once she gets wrapped up in Jonathan's obsession. But the most dead-on (pun intended) line comes from Jonathan's young son Mike (Nicholas Elia) who asks "Are you going to be all right daddy?" From the mouths of babes …
EVP is a bonafide practice. There are people and organizations all over the world devoted to this little-known but growing paranormal activity. Now whether you believe in EVP or not the idea of it is still very fascinating and one could see how making a film about it could be chillingly entertaining. Unfortunately however screenwriter Niall Johnson and BBC-TV director Geoffrey Sax in his feature film debut muck it up and turn White Noise into a contrived muddled mess. Perhaps if the film concentrated on the Poltergeist-meets-Ghost aspect as Jonathan gives into his obsession and lets the nasty entities take over it could have worked. But like the dreadful 2002 Dragonfly in which a man is sent on a rescue mission directed by communications from his dead wife White Noise takes a sudden shift as Jonathan's wife guides him to hunt down a serial killer. This tacked-on hackneyed plot point obviously devised to heighten the suspense only brings the film down. Even White Noise's look is unoriginal with its very antiseptic water-dripping and cold-concrete sets. Been there done that.
Based on a true court
case first tried in 1953 Evelyn recounts the story of a man on a mission. Rumpled pub-crawler Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan) has a streak
of bad luck when he loses his wife to another man the day after
Christmas and then loses his three
children Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur) Maurice (Hugh McDonagh) and Dermot (Niall Beagan) to the Catholic
church and Irish courts. That he's without a wife and a regular job prompts the courts to place the tots in an
orphanage which he unsucessfully tries to steal them from. This of course was not a good move. He
gets caught and the courts see this as a strike
against him. Doyle does not give up--instead he gets his life together. But it
turns out that an obscure law that has never
been tried in the courts before requires that Doyle's estranged spouse give him
custody of the kids so he enlists several lawyers (Alan Bates
Aidan Quinn and Stephen Rea) to help him get
In the end the story ends happy ever
after but not without its up and downs. Doyle must
face the hardship of living without his children and
his children must suffer through living in a miserable
Although this story line is based in predictibility-land the actors
still come out on top. Brosnan's character with his native Irish accent anti-Bond dishevelment and
pitful story is charming. Each time he leaves the
screen he leaves you wanting more. It seems
as though this role was made for him. We are used to seeing
him in the coolly unrealistic role of James Bond and this is a refreshing change. He shows the
true acting skills that he really has as a father in
agony. Julianna Margulies
also surprises with her protrayal of Bernadette
Doyle's love interest. She is charming and feisty as
a bartender who enlists her solicitor brother's help to put the devastated father's family back together again.
He may be a double Oscar nominee but Bruce Beresford's directing here is mediocre. The director whose only decent film in recent years was 1999's Double Jeopardy makes a script that is already too obvious painfully so. Pacing is a little slow some of it is corny (ie: rays of sunshine representing faith) and some of it seems unnecessary (a love-triangle plot). The great acting and chemistry between Doyle and his kids especially daughter Evelyn is the best part about this movie.