I said it last week, and I'll say it again this week: this show sure is hitting its stride. A lot happened in this whopper of an episode, all set against the fatalistic (though slightly forced) background of a simulated air raid. Where to start?
Well, Ethan seems like a logical choice; he seems happily domestic with Virginia (you almost forget that he punched her). But all's not well – he learns he is effectively fired from the hospital. A quick confrontation with Scully reveals that it was Masters' poor performance review that barred Ethan from being hired. Thinking jealousy over Virginia is the root of it, he gets into it with Bill, only to find that it was instead Libby's near-immaculate conception that got him the bad rap. He puts Masters in his place, telling him scathingly, "I'd do it again." *Mic drop*
And speaking of the Scullys, Margaret Scully is back! After she's forced to realize that divorce is not really an option for a middle-aged woman (mid-century, remember?), she promptly decides to fix her marriage. Bless her soul, she heads back to the bar and strikes up a conversation with a prostitute, in the hopes of picking up "some of the tricks of the trade." Yep, and if looks could kill ... but after a few words, the prostitute's won over, and agrees to help. After Margaret outlines her husband's likes and dislikes (LIKES: Opera, Agatha Christie. DISLIKES: Looking at her during sex, topless Tahitian women), the prostitute gets right to the skinny: "He's queer!" Margaret's response? "It's very queer, yes." After some tough talk and a couple of giggles, she heads home. The subsequent scene is pure heartbreak – she grabs one of Barton's ties and curls up into the fetal position.
The next time we see her, she's going for a cathartic swim. Who else should she run into but Dashing Dr. Langham? He's also had some pretty world-bending news: he's just found out that one of his partners in The Study (it earns capitalization, right?) is pregnant. Player-douche that he is, he's done absolutely nothing about it, but even so, he claims he's had a worse day than Margaret. (Sorry buddy, think Margaret takes this one.) Despite their messy break-up, they're able to find comfort with each other as they float and contemplate falling.
Virginia, on the other hand, is a woman of action. She tracks that poor pregnant woman down, and hands her a fat envelope of cash. She also has a chance meeting with Dr. DePaul, and she's finally able to charm her: next time we see DePaul, she's dolled up with her hair down from her severe bun. Poor thing does her best "Virginia" in hopes of receiving more funding from the chancellor, but doesn't quite get it right ("What a delightful necktie – what would you call that color?"/"Red" *crickets*). And in addition to befriending DePaul, the ever-astute Virginia has managed to put together the pieces: Masters' demeaning attempt to pay her for "conducting research" with him + new knowledge of Libby's pregnancy = something fishy. She confronts Masters, and accuses him of carrying on a not only physical, but emotional affair with her; an affair he guiltily (and cruelly) wrote off by paying her for it. She's hit the nail on the head, of course, and she tops it all by admitting that she paid the pregnant woman out of their research funds, promptly quits her job, storms out on him...
...and walks right into Dr. DePaul's office and hires herself. After hearing of DePaul's failed attempt at catching a fly with honey (as opposed to her usual vinegar), she informs her of their next strategy. It's moments like these (excellent) ones between Virginia and DePaul that remind us that Masters of Sex is one of the few shows on air with a female executive producer (go Michelle Ashford!). As the show reaches its climax (I didn't even mean that sexually, I swear), we're all on tenterhooks to see where the final two episodes will take us.
* Jane and Lester (yay?) I'll ship anything.
* (Regarding golf): "What's your wife's handicap?"/"Stella had polio as a girl..." may have been one of the best pieces of dialogue ever.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
On the surface Kevin Smith has crafted a clever concept a ragtag group attempts to make a porno film in order to get some quick cash. The underlying story is the platonic relationship between roommates Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) whose friendship goes to a whole new level once they find themselves out of cash and decide to cast themselves in their own triple XXX film. After meeting a gay adult film actor at a party Zack comes up with the get-rich quick idea to make a porn movie enlisting Miri’s help and convincing her that it will not affect their friendship. They set about casting the rest of the film with a disparate group of participants including the very self confident sex maniac Lester (Jason Mewes) superstud Barry (Ricky Mabe) gorgeous blonde bombshell Stacey (adult film icon Katie Morgan) and daring kinky Bubbles (legendary Traci Lords). What seemed like a simple proposition turns complicated when Zack and Miri in the heat of simulated lovemaking and in front of the whole crew discover they may be more than just friends. Even considering his great work in Knocked Up Zack is Rogen’s most accomplished character to date a lovable loser who uses last-ditch initiative to turn his life around and in the process discovers more than he ever bargained for. Chemistry is a tricky thing but Rogen certainly has it in spades with co-star Banks who takes what could have been a broadly sketched role and turns Miri into a three-dimensional woman who doesn’t even realize her true soul mate may be right under her nose --literally. You root for these two all the way. The wonderful supporting cast is unique to say the least including adult film star Katie Morgan making her mainstream debut as the ditzy Stacey. After some 200 “real” XXX films she graduates to the big leagues in style and shows she may have a future outside of her niche. Lords who made that leap some time ago niftily sends up her own former image and shows fine comic chops and a willingness to dress deliciously inappropriately. As for the guys Mabe is very funny but Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob) lets loose with a hilarious and totally uninhibited portrayal of a sex addicted tattooed dude willing and able to do anything on camera. Also nearly stealing the show is The Office’s Craig Robinson a married crew member who is excited to help out buddy Zack because he wants to see “titties.” And in extended cameos Justin Long as a gay porn star and Superman Brandon Routh have a great time sending up their straight movie images playing bickering boyfriends. Kevin Smith has always gone for the jugular challenging the ratings boards and pushing the envelope in his films ever since the classic “dirty movie” Clerks made him famous. But not since his early films such as Chasing Amy has he showed such style and maturity as a filmmaker as he does in Zack and Miri his most outrageously hilarious and accomplished movie to date. Yes he does continue going for shock value (there’s a laugh-out-loud moment involving a certain bodily function natch) but his story is grounded in reality recognizably human and engaging. He milks this genius comic premise for all its worth but gives it an extra dimension that makes it different unexpected and finally memorable. Mostly though it’s just plain fun.
Sascha Petrosevitch (Steven Seagal) is an undercover FBI agent posing as an international car thief. When Sascha and his partner in crime Nick Frazier (Ja Rule) get busted by the Feds Sascha agrees to serve time at the newly refurbished Alcatraz in order to keep his cover. The prison happens to house a criminal by the name of Lester (Bruce Weitz) who robbed an armored vehicle of some $200 million worth of gold that has never been recovered. A group of mercenaries calling themselves "the 49ers" decide it would be a good idea to break into the prison and somehow force Lester to divulge the booty's whereabouts. When their plan backfires they begin taking hostages--including Justice June McPherson (Linda Thorson). To save the day Sascha must rally the inmates against the commando force. Half Past Dead is a stock actioner complete with lame story flashy stunts and lots of folks pointing guns at one another. It is also a typical Seagal pic so if you have ever watched any--including the Under Siege movies--you've seen this one too.
Once again Seagal (Exit Wounds) is the archetypal defender but instead of portraying a brooding silent hero he simply comes across as bored. Or maybe this is just Seagal's rendition of what happens to a man after he flatlines for 22 minutes. Seagal's partner in crime Nick is played by rapper-turned-actor Ja Rule (The Fast and the Furious). The two actors barely have any chemistry and the "brotherly" relationship they talk about incessantly never comes through on screen. Morris Chestnut (Like Mike) plays Donny aka 49er One the leader of the mercenaries. It was a refreshing change to see Chestnut--who has played nice-guy roles in a throng of romantic comedies such as The Brothers Two Can Play That Game and The Best Man--portraying a sociopath with absolutely no redeeming qualities. He does it charmingly well. As Chestnut's fellow commando 49er Six Nia Peeples manages to create a character that despite her tiny stature is convincingly intimidating. Tony Plana is exceptional as the bad-ass prison warden El Fuego; it's too bad his character has such a small role in the film.
With this movie actor/screenwriter Don Michael Paul who appeared in a bevy of little-known films in the late '80s and early 90's makes his directorial debut. It's obvious that Paul put more focus and energy into the film's visuals than into the story. Half Past Dead's new Alcatraz setting is ultra slick complete with state-of-the-art execution chambers yet still retains the dark and gritty feel that a prison should. But while Paul has chosen all the "right" ingredients to build an action flick he hasn't put enough thought into the story's logistics. In one scene for example Seagal parachutes out of a helicopter that's only about 200 feet above sea level. It's hard to buy into a stunt that is so far from plausible. Furthermore the proliferation of buddy action movies has simply grown tiresome. Like its many predecessors Half Past Dead tries to draw laughs and create chemistry by pairing two opposite characters and while that worked for Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour it fails miserably between Seagal and Ja Rule. Viewers will only cringe when Nick tries to teach Sascha the Ebonics version of all right ("aight").