This episode was chock full of WTF moments. Some were amazing like a lot of magic, the epic kicking of Madison Montgomery’s ass, and the final revelation of the seven wonders. However, some random choices of the episode felt flat and unsatisfying. A lot of storylines were tidied up but at the expense of narrative satisfaction. We’re feeling blue and not in a way Cymbalta is going to fix.
What-TF are the Seven Wonders?
Concilium (Mind Control)
Transmutation (Teleportation) - It’s worth mentioning that in every other incidence of magic and in real world science transmutation means transformation. Historically, transmutation was the ability to turn lead into gold which was the basis of all modern chemistry
Vitalum Vitalis (Resurgence or Life Balance) It’s unclear as to whether this is the power to bring people back from the dead or to balance someone’s life force. So far Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), and Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) used this ability to breathe a little life into people. However, everyone has said Misty Day (Lily Rabe) has the power as resurgence not Vitalum Vitalis and apparently she and Maddison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) can do it without saying a spell.
Descensum (Afterlife travel)
What-TF are these Awesome Moments?
The episode begins with a really great silent movie style reveal of The Seven Wonders. Finally, after wanting to know all season, we find out at the beginning of the episode.
Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) finally has a vision with her latent abilities and it’s a haunting premonition. All the girls are dead in various ways and Cordelia has been shot in the head.
Queenie has a new magic makeover that's pretty awesome. She uses a whole mess of new powers. She also takes on Papa Legba (Lance Reddick) and rightfully points out that Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) no longer has a contract with him because if she is chopped up into pieces, she can’t fulfill their bargain.
Misty kicks Madison’s ass in a knock down drag out fight we’ve been waiting all season for.
All the witches unite to kill the Axeman (Danny Houston). Although thematically it would have been more satisfying for the person they group kill to be Fiona (because she has been trying to kill them), Marie (because she gave Nan’s soul to Papa Legba), or Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) (because she sucks).
The end of the Delphine/Marie storyline is pretty satisfying. Delphine gets trapped in a hell where she and her daughter must be brutalized forever. Marie is trapped to stay in Delphine’s hell torturing her for all eternity.
The ending leaves us excited for the reveal of the next Supreme because all the girls are primed for the test. However, given how sloppily they wrote the season they probably will just reveal that Fiona was never really dead.
Why-TF Did They Do That?
Why would Queenie want to find Marie Laveau if she left her for dead? Queenie goes on a trip to Hell using the ability of Descensum and ends up at a chicken place? Why are they revisiting the chicken place when it was racist enough the first time? To add insult to injury it's one guy’s hell to never get chicken. #racist
Why did Delphine LaLaurie survive this long? Her entire existence on this show made no sense. She wasn’t a witch, she was just a famous New Orleans killer. After finally cutting up Marie Laveau she goes back to her own house to give tours dressed like a ratchet First Lady?
Why did the Axeman kill Fiona? Allegedly, according to a vision by Cordelia, the Axeman killed Fiona after he found a plane ticket she was hiding in her purse.
What was the point to Marie Laveau? She had no clear motivation. She was immortal but spent her life, at the expense of many babies’ lives, running a haircutting place in the ghetto?
Why are all the girls’ powers growing, but Cordelia is still useless?
Why would Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) pay to have an expert painter do Fiona’s portrait if she hates her?
Why were so many extraneous characters introduced like The Axeman, the witch hunters, and Joan Ramsey (Patti LuPone) if neither they nor the core characters got any character development? We honestly don’t know much more about any of our main characters that are still alive because so many people were on the show. There are only some surface superficial things but no one is any more or less likable than they were when they were first introduced.
Why don’t we know what Cordelia or Myrtle’s powers are? Why haven’t they helped by doing anything magical?
Finally, why haven’t the makers of this show figured out how to avoid so many plot holes? Isn’t it someone’s job to keep track of story elements on the show and to Google things like transmutation?
Who-TF is the Next Supreme?
So far, Madison has manifested the most wonders – telekinesis, pyrokinesis, transmutation, vitus vitalis and technically her flawless resurrection could be considered Descensum. So she is the obvious front runner and therefore a red herring.
However, Queenie and Zoe are the only witches whose abilities are not one of the seven wonders. Queenie’s voodoo doll powers and Zoe’s killer vagina might be a sign one of them is the next Supreme. Also, Zoe undid Marie’s spell earlier in the season. So far no witch has been able to do that.
Ultimately, there’s no reason to believe that Fiona is not the next supreme because it looks like the girls may accidentally or purposefully kill each other through the trial and Fiona will shoot her daughter right through the eyes according to Cordelia’s vision.
Universal via Everett Collection
Lone Survivor isn't a film for the faint of heart. It's a film that beats you down and only lets you up for a few precious moments before the credits roll, but that emotional throttling is what helps make the film such a powerful experience.
Peter Berg's Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, primarily focusing on a group of four Navy SEALs who are sent to the mountains of Afganistan to capture or kill a member of the Taliban. The plan goes wrong, and the team has to fight for their lives to escape the enemy-infested area. The film does a marvelous job of ratcheting up the tension before collapsing into its main action sequence, one that is as thrilling as it is unsettling. The long sequence brings forth memories of the infamous D-Day opening of Saving Private Ryan, except this film's fire-fight stretches out the violence like a medieval torture device. The langourous scene is, at times, hard to sit through. Each moment slips by in coiled tension. It's undoubtedly uncomfortable, and the film makes a point to never make the violence fun or enticing. The action isn't consequence-free, and every bullet fired carries weight, making the scenes brutal and unrelenting because of it. The film takes on the aura of a horror movie that wants you to feel every second that ticks by, and director Berg makes sure that a pressing hopelessness starts to weigh on the viewer just as it does on the soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg is plenty capable as Marcus Lutrell, a member of the SEAL unit that is sent on the mission. The supporting cast plays its parts admirably by believably infusing a diverse set of personalities and values into the soldiers, while still keeping them in tune with the same military culture that governs much of their thoughts and actions. There's a great scene where a difficult decision has to be made, and the viewer gets to see the different directions to which some of the character's moral compasses are tuned. Sometimes the right thing can mean different things to different people when the risk of death is on the table. The real standout in the cast is Ben Foster, whose SO2 Matthew Alexson swirls with barely contained fury. He is darkly intense and has electric screen presence that really starts to manifest when the bullets star flying and things become dire.
Universal via Everett Collection
For all the good will that the film builds up in its first and second act, the final third of the film hits some snags as history demands that the story take itself to a different location, sacrificing some of the tension that it has built up. In the last 30 minutes of the film, there are some odd tonal choices that don't gel with the tension brimming in the first half. A comedic scene involving a language barrier stands out in particular.
The movie makes a point to steer clear of any political judgment, and it doesn't try to lay blame for the botched mission on any one head. And while the film never outwardly states and opinion on the conflicts that America found itself embroiled in during this time period, the searing brutality depicted in the movie highlight that no one should be subjected to the pain that these men were faced with. Made abundantly clear is the soldiers' willingness to drop everything and serve their country the best way they know how. Lone Survivor tries to honor the soldier, but not glorify war.
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Lone Survivor is at its best when it makes you feel the worst. It gives soldiers their due reverence by showcasing the true terror of the battlefield, and while the film does start to sag a bit in its third act, it's still more than worth the experience in order understand the consequences of war, and its toll on the people in the trenches.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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It's hard to believe that this season series of American Horror Story is coming to an end, but alas, it's time to say goodbye to Sistah Jude, Kit Walker, Bloody Face 2.0, and, of course, Ms. Lana Banana. During last week's episode, 2 out of 3 of our protagonists were facing dire circumstances (again): Jude was left in a cell to rot, and Kit lost both (!) of his axe-loving wives. And while it may have seemed impossible during the beginning of the series to wrap up all of its insane plot lines (demons! Nazis! Aliens! Psycho Killers!), Hollywood.com has screened the appropriately titled episode, "Madness Ends," and can confirm that it does so, wonderfully. We won't ruin anything, but for those who are a fan of teases, here are six things to expect during tonight's finale: [SPOILERS AHEAD]
Four Major Characters Bite the Dust: However, don't assume that this is necessarily a bad thing. Some get beautiful endings, while others — well, you'll see. Just desserts, and all.
Lana Banana is Essentially Barbara Walters: You will see a modern-day Lana B., and she's one of the most influential interviewers in her field. One of these things is true: A. She knows Bono, B. She scored the first major interview with Lance Armstrong after his doping scandal.
You'll Get One More Horrific Sequence in Briarcliff: Everyone we know (minus Jude) has left the hellish nightmare that served as the setting (and, arguably, as a major character) of this series, but tonight you'll get a look at the final, shocking exposé that got the whole thing shut down. Somehow, the state of Massachusetts managed to make it worse than when it was run by a Nazi doctor and the Devil.
'The Tape' Will Return: Remember that confession from Bloody Face 1.0 that Lana took with her when she left Briarcliff, the second time? It's back, and deadlier than ever.
Many Deceased Major Characters Return: You'll see flashbacks from Adam Levine and Jenna Dewan-Tatum's ill-fated honeymoon, as well as glimpses of Chloë Sevigny and a few other unlucky folks who may or may not be avenged.
The Alien Plot is Not Really Settled: It's not a huge complaint since the episode was beautiful, but don't expect a tell-all on the little green men. We're still pretty confused as to why they wanted Kit to raise their babies. (The kids are really, really cute, though.)
Watch AHS tonight at 10PM ET/PT on FX, or face a lashing from Sistah Jude.
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[PHOTO CREDIT: Byron Cohen/FX ]
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Easy A a teen sex comedy with no actual sex aims rather conspicuously to plumb the best bits of Diablo Cody and Alexander Payne in its upside-down self-consciously campy take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In the role of its high-school Hester Prynne is Emma Stone the sly husky heroine of last year’s surprise hit Zombieland. Tested by a film that is far less clever than its director Will Gluck or screenwriter Bert Royal would have us believe (and they desperately want us to believe) she passes with flying colors delivering a performance that should elevate her into the upper echelon of actresses possessing brains and beauty in equal measure.
Stone plays Olive the kind of quick-witted hyper-literate teen that our educational system produces in ever-diminishing numbers. (If it ever produced them to begin with.) More knowing and sophisticated than others her age she is nonetheless not immune to the pressure of peers and the dread of being labeled a loser. Under duress by a prying friend (Aly Michalka) to dish the details of her birthday weekend a rather mundane affair mainly spent jumping on her bed to the tune of Natasha Bedingfield’s pop monstrosity “Pocket Full of Sunshine ” she feels compelled to embellish a bit and concocts an entirely fictional account of losing her virginity (dubbed the “V-Card” by Royal trying too hard) to a boy from a junior college across town.
Word of Olive’s deflowering spreads with startling speed aided by the incessant rumor-mongering of a catty Evangelical eavesdropper (Amanda Bynes). Suddenly branded a tramp on account of a seemingly harmless little lie Olive opts to embrace her newly tarnished reputation and put it to good use. In a viciously stratified social environment where even the most awkward acne-plagued pariah can earn respect and even admiration from members of the upper castes for having gone All the Way Olive anoints herself the Mother Theresa of (fake) sluts bestowing her blessing upon downtrodden gents in need of a reputation boost. And she resolves to look the part too traipsing around in scandalous bustiers and affixing the letter “A” to her chest.
There are limits to Easy A’s Scarlet Letter conceit overly Glee-ful tone forced repartee and pop-culture references (John Hughes is invoked so many times he should get a producer credit). Which is why director Gluck must be grateful to have found Stone who handles the verbal calisthenics of Royal’s script with charm and verve and a certain effortless appeal that keeps us engaged even as the film wallows in contrived irony and heavy-handedness. Keep your eye on her.