S6:E3 This episode of Dexter asked the question of just how long Dexter can expect to keep killing by presenting to us an elderly serial killer, whose life and attitude are horrible because he’s physically incapable of murdering anyone anymore. It made Dexter consider the reality that one day his body will also betray him, and that one day he will be unable to do what he loves.
“Why are you doing this to me?” – Nathan
We open on Travis telling Nathan -- the man he kidnapped at the end of last week’s episode -- that he would be freed when he sincerely repented for his sins. Nathan (who is chained to the floor) cries and begs for forgiveness from God, and when Travis leaves the room he tells Professor Gellar that Nathan is just telling them what they want to hear so he can convince them to let him live. Travis says he is uncomfortable with letting Nathan believe he was going to be released, and Professor Gellar appreciates that Travis has a good heart and doesn’t want to prolong Nathan’s suffering. After what is probably several days worth of tugging at his chains, Nathan finally manages to unhook himself from the floor and wanders until he finds himself in an empty church that had been converted into a workspace full of wood and paints. He walks towards the front door but a horse startles him and knocks him on the ground. Travis grabs Nathan and tosses him back into the room he just emerged from and makes him beg for his life.
“Tooth is chipped.” – Dexter
We met Dexter at a crime scene where the victim was a prostitute who was strangled and hit in the head with a blunt object. As he is inspecting the victim’s face, Dexter notices her lateral incisor is chipped, and this reminds him of a serial killer he was obsessed with as a child. And so after he tucks Harrison into bed that night, Dexter opens up an old journal that’s filled with newspaper clippings of serial killers he admired. He stumbles upon several articles that profile The Tooth Fairy, who was known in the 80s in Oregon for killing prostitutes and then ripping out their lateral incisors to keep as souvenirs. After skimming through the clippings and confirming The Tooth Fairy was never caught, Dexter realizes The Tooth Fairy probably murdered the woman with the cracked tooth from that morning’s crime scene, too. Since the murders took place around 30 years ago, Dexter assumes Tooth Fairy is in his 70s now, and so he goes to a retirement home and checks some computer records and narrows in on a man in his 70s named Walter Kenny, who came to Florida from Oregon five years ago. But instead of immediately striking up a relationship with Walter, Dexter goes back to the station so he can attend Deb’s first briefing as Lieutenant. The case under discussion is the murder of the prostitute with the chipped tooth, and Dexter is relieved when Deb steers the investigation towards pimps who the woman could have owed money to, or any disgruntled Johns she may have serviced (because it means he can go find the real killer).
“Worst mistake I ever made was moving down to this piss fuck corner of the country.” – Walter Kenny
Later that day, Dexter grabs his golf clubs and inserts himself into Walter’s life by offering to be Walter’s golf partner. Walter complains all through the course about how terrible Florida is and how awful it is to get old until the game is cut short when Walter throws his back out. The partners go to the bar for some beers and Dexter catches Walter using his tongue to play with his loose lateral incisor as he enjoys the rear view of a waitress. When Sam from the auto shop calls Dexter and tells him his car is ready, Walter asks him if he can come back tomorrow and help him run some errands. Dexter agrees, and goes back to his office and learns that Walter’s mother used to beat him in public – she even once hit him so hard that she knocked his tooth out.
“Here’s my prescription. Can you just pick it up for me? Oh, and a six pack of beer from the liquor store, and the latest Teen Ass, Nipple Parade, and Spanked.” – Walter
The next day Dexter drives Walter to the pharmacy to get his prescription (and some other things, naturally). The next stop they make is to a storage facility, where Walter quickly gets out of Dexter’s car with his porn and then scurries down towards one of the units. Back at the office, Deb is completely overwhelmed with all her new responsibilities as Lieutenant, and is unhappy that Quinn is making it really hard to work with him (now that they are no longer together) by showing up to crime scenes with hot blonds on his arms and by hitting on Vince’s forensics intern. So Deb pulls him aside and asks him if he’s uncomfortable with her as his boss. Quinn says there’s no problem and that he finished packing up all of her stuff and putting it in the local dumpster. Quinn indicates he believes Deb chose her promotion over being with him, and Deb could do nothing but let him turn around and walk away from her.
“Two hours in that storage facility. I’m guessing he wasn’t organizing his Penthouse collection.” – Dexter
Dexter waits until Walter came out of the storage unit and watches as he gets on the bus. Then he wanders over to Walter’s unit and breaks in, only to find a box full of teeth and Dexter officially confirms Walter is The Tooth Fairy. Later that night, Dexter is in his car driving to where he’s preparing to kill Walter when Walter calls him and asks if he can come pick him up because he’s lost. Dexter agrees and drives to Walter’s location with a smile on his face because of how easy he believes this kill is going to be. But the second Walter climbs into the car he pulls a gun on Dexter and instructs him to drive until he says to stop. On the way, Walter confesses he knows Dexter works with the police and he knows Dexter knows he’s The Tooth Fairy, and because Dexter figured out his real identity, Walter says he has to kill him. Dexter drives as he’s told but purposefully crashes into a fence and knocks Walter unconscious, which makes it easy for Dexter to strap him down to a table and wrap cellophane around him and regain control of the situation again. Dexter then whips out his phone and shows Walter a picture of the woman he most recently killed and asks why he did it. Walter replies that he was tired of starring at his collection of teeth and wanted to see if he could still kill – but expresses disappointment in how it took him 10 minutes to kill her and 20 minutes to try and take her tooth. Dexter praises Walter for eluding the police for so long, especially when he even dumped one body on a deputy sheriff’s lawn. In his head, Dexter pictured the act of leaving his victim on an officer’s property as an exclamation of The Tooth Fairy’s prowess, but Walter said he only dumped her there because he got too drunk and didn’t feel like driving her body all the way to the highway to get rid of her. Dexter is disappointed with himself for admiring Walter for so long, and then Walter says Dexter is going to end up like him one day. Dexter promises himself out loud that he won’t, but then Walter asks what he’s going to do when he physically cannot kill anymore because he’s too old. Dexter can’t take where the conversation has gone and so he finally smothers him with a pillow because he says he wants Walter to die “a sad, old, man.”
The episode closes on a truly epic scene of two horses galloping down the street with a combination of human limbs sewn together with mannequin body parts, and blood dripping down from Nathan’s head (which is mounted on a mannequin’s body).
I was pretty pleased with this episode because it indicates the writers are beginning to have Dexter contemplate what his future looks like. It also signifies they are planning to answer some of the questions we’ve had for a long time, which are “how is Dexter going to be a good father to Harrison when he goes out and kills people at night?” and “is Dexter really planning on killing people for the rest of his life?” and “is there anything that will make Dexter stop killing?” It shows that the series could start evaluating the more practical aspects of Dexter’s life, and might even finally have Deb finally realize that her brother is a serial killer.
“Review Proof” is a phrase that gets tossed around from time to time when a film in question is clearly made to be enjoyed on a basic level. It implies that the filmmakers behind it knew they were making a less-than-stellar movie but it didn’t matter because they also knew that they had a built-in audience that wouldn’t care about all the problems that emerge along the way. Basically “Review Proof” is code for “If you didn’t like it it wasn’t made for you.”
I however do not think that any film is “Review Proof.” It doesn’t matter if you’re making a feature adaptation of a fake trailer about a Mexican day laborer (Danny Trejo) out for head-chopping revenge against the man who framed him for murder (Jeff Fahey) and the man who killed his family (Steven Seagal) or a film about the liberation of a concentration camp. All films even the silly ones need to deliver on a fundamental set of criteria of dynamic characters involved in an interesting storyline that’s edited together coherently. If any of those elements are too far out of line it cripples the entire thing.
With Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis' grindhouse throwback film Machete there’s nothing wrong with the characters. Trejo was born to play the eponymous all-that-is-man stoic hero but the glue that holds the often messy film together are all of the supporting players particularly Fahey Jessica Alba Don Johnson and Seagal each of whom is having a ton of fun chewing into their extreme characters (no one can be just a federal agent or just a racist sheriff or just a drug lord; they have to be the most outlandish these-colors-don’t-run version possible). The film’s story isn’t exactly original but the “framed for an assassination” plot is a tried and true staple of the action genre for a reason so it hardly holds the film back. That pinpoints the weakest link in this rather simple chain as the film’s editing.
Unless one is curious as to how long a certain scene was one should never be motivated to look at their watch during a movie. But during Machete I couldn’t help but find myself constantly reaching for it as though it were some kind of lifeline wondering when the minute hand would discover the magic number that could rescue me from the increasingly grating affair. It’s disappointing that a film with as many decapitations and naked Lindsay Lohans as Machete can be boring but sadly that is the case here. Much of the film slogs through a swamp of story arcs that were seen coming from miles away completely forgetting that a movie of this nature needs to sustain its high (which essentially comes whenever Machete picks up well any object) without any dragging
distractions to kill the buzz.
It’s easy to admire Robert Rodriguez’s intended goal with Machete - to make the kind of offensive politically incorrect film that played in grindhouse theaters in the ‘70s and ‘80s - but good intentions only go so far. In a strange way Machete is almost too faithful to its ancestry. Sure the violence is awe inspiring (at one point Machete repels down the side of a building using someone’s intestines for crying out loud) and its adamant refusal to keep things comfy and PC is more than welcome but its pacing gives the film too much slack rope with which to hang itself.
Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) doesn’t know how lucky she has it. She’s smart beautiful and married to Gerry (Gerald Butler) a passionate funny and impetuous Irishman who loves her with every breath in his body. But when that breath runs out--Gerry dies unexpectedly from an illness--Holly’s luck runs out. Barely coping her salvation arrives in the form of letters from Gerry that come to Holly in unexpected ways--letters he wrote to her before he died to help her get through the pain and move on with her life and letters that always end with “P.S. I Love You.” A saint huh? Holly’s mother (Kathy Bates) and best friends Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow) begin to worry Gerry’s letters are keeping Holly tied to the past but in fact each letter pushes Holly on a journey of rediscovery and to show her how a love so strong can turn the finality of death into new beginning for life. Tissues please! Swank will be damned if she pigeonholes herself into always playing serious women who don’t wear makeup. P.S. I Love You is her stab at romantic dramedy and while the genre may not suit her best the Oscar-winning actress still has fun playing a spirited woman who wears designer clothes cute hats and gets to make out with a strapping Irish hunk. Actually Swank gets to bed TWO strapping Irish hunks in P.S. I Love You: The first is the yummy Butler of course and the other is Gerry’s old bandmate William played by American Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who’ll be seen in the upcoming romantic comedy The Accidental Husband with Uma Thurman). Lucky girl. Butler however is the one the ladies will sigh over the most. Having already given a powerhouse performance this year as the Spartan king in 300 the Scottish actor turns the tables to show his soft underbelly as the adorably romantic and fun-lovin’ Gerry. The abs still rock though. One can easily see why Holly is such a mess after he dies. Gershon and Kudrow add some genuineness as Holly’s friends (someone please find a Kudrow a TV show) as does Bates as Holly’s hardened mother. Harry Connick Jr. however seems out of place as Holly’s would-be suitor. She just needs to stick with the Irish guys. Hilary Swank teams up with her Freedom Writers director Richard LaGravenese once again for P.S. I Love You and it’s clear they have a symbiotic relationship. Swank probably likes the way LaGravenese accentuates her best features turning her into a glam leading lady while LaGravenese obviously enjoys gazing at her through his camera lens. Unfortunately the two really haven’t found the best material. Freedom Writers is the mother of all teacher-gets-students-motivated retreads while P.S. I Love You--based on a novel by Cecelia Ahern and adapted by LaGravenese and Steven Rogers--is just pure fluff with very little substance behind it. Not that the film won't inspire some romantic feelings or work up tears but its only real strengths are: 1) the players who somehow rise about the triteness of it all especially Butler and 2) the gorgeous landscapes of Ireland which should send any woman in her right mind straight to the Emerald Isles to find her perfect man. Seriously ladies book your trips NOW.
Pretty people just don’t understand—you’re not safe anywhere and all the sadists are after YOU! As the two geniuses in The Hitcher Grace (Sophia Bush) and her boyfriend Jim (Zachary Knighton) learn real quickly a cross-country trek to New Mexico in a beat-up car is especially risky. During their first night out on the open road it’s raining cats and dogs when they almost run over a man (Sean Bean) who’s standing aimlessly in the middle of the street his car apparently broken down. The young couple decides against lending him a helping hand with it pouring down rain and all. Bad move. When they stop for gas later Jim and Grace cross paths with the man who goes by the name of John Ryder. He asks the couple if he might hitch a short ride with them to a local motel. This time they oblige. Bad move. One aspect the studio must’ve loved about The Hitcher: Being shot primarily in a car the cast cannot feasibly be more than three deep—four tops. That also means that said cast must wear the tension well if the camera is to be on them throughout. Bush (TV’s One Tree Hill) the movie’s biggest asset as far as its target audience is concerned shrieks well and most importantly is smokin'. And when it comes time to fight back she doesn’t look so bad doing it even if there’s scant giggling in the theater at the now clichéd image of a weapon-wielding hot chick. As the hugely sadistic villain Bean (GoldenEye the LOTR movies et al) is more than adequately creepy. There’s something to be said with most of The Hitcher’s viewers’ inability to recognize him because an A-list movie star just wouldn’t work in this role. Obscurity aside Bean his face lurking around every corner will simply creep the crap out of the young audience. As for Knighton he seems and looks like the garden-variety up-and-comer and try as I might there’s nothing wrong with his biggest role to date—except a scene of um tug-of-war that is tough to watch or look away from. Veteran actor Neal McDonough also pops in with a brief role as a sheriff caught in the proverbial crosshairs. These days it’s tough to come up with anything new in a horror film—so directors just don’t bother. Save for neo-horror maestro Eli Roth there’s no originality to be seen especially when seemingly 99 percent of horror movies are remakes and when they’re not remakes they’re Primeval or Turistas. The Hitcher is much better than those two but director Dave Meyers truly eliminates most of the psychological aspect of the original 1986 Hitcher in exchange for a polished contemporary feel. Of course Meyers is one the most renowned music video directors of the past several years so it's no surprise when he mistakes volume for thrills; in fact the decibels will be the chief reason for almost all of the audience’s screaming. Not that there aren’t scary moments however. The writers Jake Wade Wall (When a Stranger Calls) and Eric Bernt (Romeo Must Die) actually get the film off to a brisk smooth start but they ultimately turn John Ryder into more of a Terminator-like character and ask for too many leaps of faith and suspensions of disbelief—again not that their intended audience won’t indulge them. At least the studio had the guts to retain the intended 'R' rating!
Based on H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger's bestselling book of the same name Friday Night Lights tells the true story of the dusty West Texas town of Odessa where nothing much happens until September rolls around. That's when the town's 20 000 or so denizens pour into Ratliff Stadium the country's biggest high school football field every Friday night to watch the Permian Panthers Odessa's "boys in black " take to the field. All the town's hope and dreams are pinned on the padded shoulders of these young gridiron heroes--including insecure quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black); cocky self-assured running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke); headstrong self-destructive tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) who must contend with an overbearing abusive dad (Tim McGraw--yes that Tim McGraw the country singer); and the team's spiritual leader middle linebacker Ivory Christian (newcomer Lee Jackson). The Panthers begin their season with one thing on their minds--winning their fifth straight championship for the first time in the team's 30-year history--but for their coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) it also means instilling a love and joy of the game in the boys' hearts amidst tremendous pressures and expectations. Easier said than done.
There isn't a false note in any of the performances and no one falls back on clichéd versions of their characters as is so easy to do in rah-rah sports movies. Thornton does a particularly good job as Gaines keeping you guessing whether he's going to be a hardass insensitive to his players' emotional needs (like so many movie football coaches before him) or if he truly means to coach his boys in a fair and decent way. Gaines too has to deal with his own pressures especially from the townsfolk who are likely to string him up if the team loses the championship. As for Gaines' players Black (the oh-so-serious kid from Thornton's Sling Blade) is all grown up and buffed out and still very serious. It works for the young actor though as the beleaguered Winchell struggles with the love-hate relationship he has with his chosen sport. Other standouts include Luke (Antwone Fisher) as the star player Boobie whose cocksureness leads him to an injury; Hedlund as the volatile Billingsley trying desperately to please his father; and McGraw making his film debut as the father a former Permian Panther champion who sure hasn't given up his competitive spirit basically beating it into his son. First Faith Hill (McGraw's real-life wife) in The Stepford Wives and now McGraw--who knew country singers could act?
From All the Right Moves to Varsity Blues to Remember the Titans Friday Night Lights unfortunately doesn't completely distinguish itself from the pack of football movies before it--like those this is all about how the young players--be they underdogs second-string nobodies or stars--rising above the mounting pressure and playing the best they can bless their hearts. Still there's no question the sports genre--particularly football--always gets the juices pumping with FNL being no exception. It might have something to do with our sick fascination with watching bone-crunching hits and body-punishing tackles. It's dangerous out there for these guys; no other sport (besides maybe hockey) can elicit such wince-inducing emotion and actor/director Peter Berg (The Rundown) exploits that. Obviously influenced by Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday Berg effectively paints his own gritty documentary-style picture of the competitive sport without relying on too many trite gushy over-the-top moments. And to give it credit the film does not necessarily have a feel-good "let's win one for the Gipper" ending; it is based on a true story after all and as we know real life isn't all sunshine and roses especially in the bloodthirsty world of Texas high school football.