Apparently, New York’s unbridled derision for its sister state to the south dates back at least as far as the 1920s — as Manhattanite Arnold Rothstein tells Atlantic City resident Nucky Thompson early on in this week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire, “New Jersey [is] a state I have little interest in or affection for.” Prohibition might not have lasted, but that sentiment sure did.
Rothstein is none too pleased with Nucky due to the events that closed out last week’s Boardwalk: Gyp Rosetti’s seizure of Jersey’s Tabor Heights, an important stopping point on the route of alcohol delivery between Atlantic City and New York City. Nucky begs for Rothstein’s help in disposing of Rosetti — initially, Rothstein is unwilling, due to the various parties to whom Rosetti links him presently; still, he seems to appreciate Nucky’s point that the man is hardly a reliable business associate. Or at all an entirely stable human being.
In fact, we get a glimpse into Rosetti’s off-kilter personal life this week: in addition to making hyper-aggressive catcalls at small town waitresses, Rosetti enjoys his share of sadomasochistic extramarital affairs, relishing in a painful choking. Depiction of this pastime, which bookends the episode, becomes his undoing towards the end when a screaming-like-a-banshee Bugsy Siegel (on Rothstein’s command) busts in on the incapacitated Rosetti and shoots up his entire Tabor Heights residence. Both Rosetti and Bugsy make it out alive, but several of the former’s men (not to mention his lover and an innocent paper boy) are killed. A man of passion if nothing else, Rosetti does seem to take personal issue with the murder of the paper boy, whom he had met and “befriended” (in his own horrifying way) earlier on in the episode.
So now that Rosetti had pledged an inevitable vengeance against the regimes of Nucky and Rothstein, Boardwalk’s leading man is in for his share of professional, and mortal, conflict. Adding of course to the marital (and extramarital) troubles Nucky has been having of late: Nucky’s affair with vaudeville actress Billie Kent is brought to the attention of Margaret this week when she walks in on the two of them shopping at the fancy garments store where she used to work. In a subsequent conversation, Margaret highlights the reason why Nucky might have a bit more difficulty working things out with this one: she’s independent and self-made — not in need of his rescue. But that doesn’t sit well with Nucky, whether he’s up to admitting it or not.
A Schubert play in which Billie is set to star has two problems going for it, in the eyes of Nucky Thompson: it’s destined to fail, and it casts an overly handsy actor in a romantic role opposite his girlfriend. In order to kill two birds with one stone (in a rare turn for this show, that’s just a metaphor — no killing is involved), Nucky arranges it so that the famed stage actor Eddie Cantor will usurp the male lead. At first, Cantor tells Nucky he is unwilling, due to a previous commitment to a New York production. But as we all know, when someone on this show says, “I knew you’d understand,” it’s likely that the person he or she is talking to doesn’t exactly understand at all.
Nucky sends Chalky and Dunn Pernsley to pay Eddie a visit, tacitly endorsing the breaking off of the actor’s New York commitment and the joining of Billie’s show (to keep it running and box out Mr. Handsy). And so, Nucky can view himself a damsel in distress’ knight in shining armor once again. But as Eddie ominously tells Billie at the end of the episode, getting romantically involved with Nucky is hardly permanent, and is always trouble, citing the long-gone Lucy Danziger as proof.
But it's not as though Margaret is entirely innocent in this area either: lest we forget her affair with Owen Slater, or ignore the new longing in her heart: one for Dr. Edward Holt, the House-ian physician who begins teaching Margaret's prenatal care classes this week. As he is just about the only other enlightened human being at the hospital, and one who finally drops his gruff exterior to extend appreciation for Margaret's dedication to the teaching of women, she is visibly disheartened to learn that he is engaged. He might be Dr. House, but this hospital love triangle in the making is straight out of Grey's Anatomy.
Over in Illinois, it seems as though Van Alden’s former life is catching up with him — with “seems” being the operative word. That fed he met in the bar a few weeks back has taken to leaving Van Alden his business card, both at his office and at his apartment, haunting the former detective with ideas that he might have been found by his old administration. Van Alden tries to warn his wife Sigrid about what dangers might come, but she insists (through her broken English) that she knows the truth: he was a good, innocent man who got caught up accidentally in the doings of criminals, and had to move out to the Midwest to avoid their wrath.
Her devotion shines through the episode when the speakeasy fed comes to visit Van Alden, revealing his true intentions: Van Alden sold him a faulty iron, and he simply wants reimbursement — but what he gets instead is clocked in the head with a frying pan and suffocated to death when Sigrid misunderstands his reason for coming, assuming that he is one of the “bad men” — an idea she maintains after the married couple disposes of the threat (through the help of the florist whom Van Alden befriended in the season premiere).
Finally, we actually see a bit of humanity in the most unexpected of places this week: Gillian Darmody, who seems to be clinging desperately to the idea that Jimmy is alive. Not only on the surface, to keep up appearances, but behind closed doors — Gillian can’t handle the idea that her son has been killed. The sage prophet Leander Whitlock visits Gillian, explaining that her whorehouse is costing more money than it is earning. Gillian suggests that she will mortgage her home, but Leander says she can only do this by declaring her son (the house’s owner) legally dead… something she refuses to do. As such, Gillian drops her strict codes about business and does everything she can to earn the necessary funds — even if it drags her down, she will never admit that Jimmy is truly gone. As sick and twisted as she may be, as much of an anchor she might have provided to her son’s life, she clearly does care for him.
Overall, this stands as one of the stronger episodes of the season so far, if only for its interesting examination of each of the characters: Nucky is desperate to see himself as a hero, Van Alden is desperate to keep his old life behind him (at any cost), and Gillian is desperate to believe that she is not alone. Sensing a pattern?
[Photo Credit: HBO]
NYCC 2012: 'The Walking Dead' Panel Proves Little Ladies Love Chandler Riggs
'SNL' Recap: Christina Applegate Gave Her All, Usain Bolt Grabbed the Comedy Baton
Leanne's Spoiler List: 'Smash' Will Shake Things Up, 'Vampire Diaries' Gets Intense
Crystal Lake. Dumb kids in the woods. Sex drugs booze. A hulking maniac in a hockey mask wielding a machete. Yeah that about sums it up.
Are you kidding? The new Jason Derek Mears probably fares best among the actors because he doesn’t have a single word of dialogue. Everyone else unfortunate enough to stumble in front of the camera – Jared Padalecki Amanda Righetti Danielle Panabaker Travis Van Winkle – is basically fodder for the slaughter. Some of them get naked. Most of them get dead. Some die more gorily than others. No one dies quickly enough. Having previously (and woefully) directed the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre helmer Marcus Nispel does his best – and worst – to resurrect yet another popular horror franchise from the past. He also adds absolutely nothing new to the formula. Quite frankly anyone could’ve directed this film. Judging by the results anyone did. This is the 12th Friday the 13th film for those keeping score at home and with any luck it’ll be the last. Of course it won’t be. But we can always hope.
Yet another in a LONG line of teenage sex comedies this one manages somehow to be fresh and appealing -- despite the formu-lay-ic premise. That’s right another horny 18 year-old boy (Josh Zuckerman) is determined to lose his virginity any way he can. Ian can’t seem to become a “man ” upstaged by a Lothario of an older brother Rex (James Marsden) and his even more successful 14 year-old younger brother. He is constantly humiliated by the giant donut costume he wears for his job at the mall and can’t even get to first base with Felicia (Amanda Crew) a girl who thinks of him only as her best friend and nothing more. With the pressure of going to college as a sexual outcast what’s a hot-to-trot young dude to do? In this case -- using encouragement from pal Lance (Clark Duke) and with Felicia along for the ride -- the threesome take off in the unsuspecting Rex’s prized Pontiac GTO for a cross-country drive Ian thinks will end with the payoff of sex with a hot blonde named Ms. Tasty (Katrina Bowden) he met on the Internet. Unfortunately the one-day outing turns into a three-day nightmare for the trio with brother Rex on their trail and friend Lance getting a little too cocksure for his own good. Oh and did we forget to mention the Amish farm they manage to work into the tour? In the obligatory Jason Biggs role Josh Zuckerman is totally winning as a sex-starved high school graduate looking desperately to tame his out-of-control libido. With sharp comic timing and no end to the ways he is willing to humiliate himself for the sake of his art Zuckerman should have a bright future. Although the casting of his friend Lance played by the pudgy Duke would seem to be an attempt to emulate the Michael Cera/Jonah Hill teaming of Superbad Duke’s go-for-the-big laughs approach feels like we are seeing this kind of goosed-up sex maniac act for the first time. As the female “best friend” Felicia Amanda Crew is very appealing and thankfully grounded in reality. Marsden is hilarious as dopey Rex who prizes his vintage GTO and his own sexual prowess even more than the love of little bro. Seth Green has some funny bits as the sarcastic Amish man who somehow seems to know how to fix hot rods. Bowden is gorgeous and devious as the Internet hottie who may not be all Ian hoped for. Special mention also to Charlie McDermott and Mark Young who as a recurring kind of geek chorus playing two inept high school girl magnets. NOT. Director and co-screenwriter (with John Morris) Sean Anders manages to infuse what could have been a stale leftover piece of American Pie with new life and that’s largely thanks to some very funny VERY raunchy situations he dreams up for these likeable and recognizable characters. The premise of a so-called Sex Drive also offers ripe opportunities in this genre and Anders gets a lot of play out of it particularly from Duke whose uninhibited acting grabs most of the big laughs. Although they crank the gross factor way up the film doesn’t lose sight that it’s mostly a coming-of-age comic look at a rite of passage most young guys -- and girls -- will identify with. Although much is predictable Sex Drive has a strong sense of what it wants to be and in the end even turns sweetly romantic something most films of this stripe rarely do.
In other words The Holiday probably falls under the “guilty pleasure” category. Its not a classic romantic comedy by any standards but darn it it still makes you smile more often than you want to admit. The story centers on two women: Iris (Kate Winslet) a British newspaper columnist hopelessly in love with a man about to marry someone else and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) a highly successful L.A. career woman who just broke up with her latest cheating boyfriend. Being at the right place at the right time these two gals meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Shortly after arriving at their destinations both women find the last thing either wants or expects: A new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris' handsome brother Graham (Jude Law) and Iris with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach) mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles (Jack Black). Oh just go ahead and take a big gooey bite. It’s good for the soul. The biggest problem in The Holiday is unfortunately the casting—which is real shame because you really want the chemistry to zing. They get it right with Winslet and Law who are both trying something a little different as romantic leads. Winslet in fact admitted to Reuters this was one of the more nerve-wracking parts she’s ever played because she couldn’t hide behind an American accent or a costume playing someone closer to well herself. But you would think these two Oscar-nominees had been making these type movies all along especially the insanely gorgeous Law who should have every woman swooning with his sensitivity. Where they get it wrong is with the Americans as the Brits just act giant circles around them. Black is clearly out of place. Although being very charming and funny looking like he made Winslet laugh a LOT (and who wouldn’t with that guy around?) their connection on screen is somewhat amiss. Diaz comes off looking even worse. Even though she’s the veteran of the romantic comedy (There's Something About Mary My Best Friend's Wedding) her screechy neurotic klutzy Amanda is in no way appealing. You have to scratch your head wondering why Law’s Graham would fall so hard for her. What does make The Holiday work however is writer/director Nancy Meyers. She’s proven herself quite adept at the genre with films such as What Women Want and Something's Gotta Give under her belt. With The Holiday Meyers skillfully crafts individual moments of refreshing comedy as well as heartening scenes of blossoming romance. The initial seduction scene between Amanda and Graham is particularly sweet and quirky with the crisp dialogue flying at a nice clip. And isn’t it comforting to see a holiday movie minus feuding neighbors commerciality or any sort of mean-spiritedness? But Meyers has the tendency to go more for the superficial rather than dig deep with her characters. The Holiday has a one of those glossy rosy glows whose only aim is to make you feel good. True the film will mostly speak volumes to the women in the audience (that’s a polite way of saying its a “chick flick”) but oh well. It’s fluff may be a nice reprieve during the hustle and bustle of the season.