Category: 2000


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Chinatown is arguably one of the five greatest American films ever made if not the greatest period, and while the subtext of cruelty and random violence exists alongside a masterful deconstruction of the elements of classic noir, Chinatown‘s genius primarily resides in being an excellent story perfectly told. It has those elements of being about more than the story of Jake Gittes as well as great characters, but unlike most of the films I herald as “the greatest ever made,” it’s story is 99% of the draw. Chinatown is practically the Platonic ideal of great screenwriting, and 2000’s Memento from director Christopher Nolan is the greatest neo-noir since Polanski bowled us over 40 years ago.

Memento‘s reputation as “the movie told in backward chronology” kept me from watching it for many years. As someone who’s found Christopher Nolan’s work to be very good but not as great as many others seem to believe, I assumed the film’s gimmick was its only draw. That isn’t the case, but even if it had been and there weren’t any more layers to Memento other than its tightly-layered narrative, Memento would have been one of the most expertly paced and structured crime thrillers of the last decade. But by becoming a commentary on how we remember things and what we choose to remember (as well as a slick discussion of the emptiness of revenge), Memento is so much more than its gimmick.

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Though it is more than its gimmick and as sharply scripted and clever as any film of the aughts, Memento‘s unique structure provides half of the thrills of any first viewing. Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3) plays Leonard, a man suffering from a severe (and not medically accurate but I honestly don’t care in this film) case of anterograde amnesia. Leonard’s wife was raped and murdered, and during the assault, Leonard was given serious brain damage. He can remember everything before his injury with perfect clarity, but Leonard no longer has the capability of producing short term memories. Before long, Leonard forgets everything that’s just happened to him, and the only way he’s able to function is through an elaborate series of tattoos and photographs that direct him towards his next action.

Leonard’s sole raison d’etre is to find and kill the man who murdered his wife and left him with his condition. And the film begins with Leonard killing the seemingly friendly Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) because a photograph of Teddy that Leonard is carrying says he is the one and that he must kill him. And from there, the film continues to unravel back towards the beginning as we find out that maybe Teddy wasn’t him, and we get to know a dangerous femme fatale (Carrie Anne-Moss) that is helping Leonard and his photo says that he can trust her, but can he really? And what secrets are being hidden from this man who is constantly meeting people for the “first” time?

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Part of Memento‘s clever conceit of being told backwards is that it is actually a perfectly “structured” story of the Syd Field/Robert McKee vein. Yes, we’re getting all of the facts in backwards order, but if Memento were told from start to beginning, it would be a terribly structured tale with the revelations in a jumbled, poorly paced mess. Memento is a classic mystery/noir based around picking apart what is the truth and what are the lies in the life of Leonard and why he kills Teddy at the beginning and whether or not he should have done that. And few films can match Memento on a twist-by-twist basis as you navigate the minefield of its mental gymnastics. But, from a point-of-view of pure structure, it follows the classic mold to a tee; it just warps and plays with it to its own (and the audience’s) delight.

But Memento distinguishes itself by having more to say than just your traditional crime thriller. And that’s funny because I was almost content to give this movie perfect marks before I realized what the film’s real point was. I can’t talk too much about what this film is about without ruining some of the major twists of the film’s final act, but Memento is a stark subversion of your average revenge tale (as any film about revenge should be). Leonard can’t remember more than 20 minutes of his life at once, but he functions perfectly during those moments of time. And that means he can fall prey to human vice and human flaws, and are the facts that Leonard has written on his body really facts at all? Or do we simply remember what we want to even when we can barely remember anything at all?

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The worst that can be said about Memento is that it is not a visually imaginative film. With the exception of The Prestige and Inception, Nolan’s films are rooted in a gritty realism, and Memento‘s visuals are no exception. Although the claustrophobia of anonymous motel rooms and abandoned buildings works to Memento‘s advantage as it adds a level of disorientation for the viewers that matches Leonard’s state of mind. And, the black and white sequences that are running concurrent to the main story (without following the backwards tale [I don’t want to spoil this too much]) is a nice if perhaps too simple way of segregating these lanes of Memento‘s story.

Guy Pearce’s performance is one of those rare performances that you might think is stale and boring at first (because he’s a dude who literally can’t remember more than 15 minutes ago) but you grow to appreciate it more and more as the film progresses until you reach the end. But, as the layers of his character are revealed, you see the obsessiveness and cold brutality that is lying beneath the seemingly lost exterior of Leonard, and Guy Pearce (and Christopher Nolan) peel back these characters with laser precision. Carrie-Anne Moss also shines as the femme fatale whose real motives are constantly up in the air.

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For those, like me, who found the cult of Christopher Nolan to be a bit insufferable, Memento may likely be the only film capable of changing your mind. For those whose itch for neo-noir can never be fully sated, Memento and its labyrinthine layers will keep your brain working long enough to scratch that itch. Great story is so rare in today’s world of sequels, remakes, and reboots, and while Christopher Nolan has never managed to live up to this remarkable second feature, it’s one of the most refreshing and intellectually invigorating stories of the 2000s and a true can’t miss for any real cinema lovers.

Final Score: A+

 

 

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As a child, it’s possible that I was exposed more to Don Bluth films than I was to traditional Disney animation. I know for certain that I enjoyed movies like All Dogs Go to Heaven and An American Tail more than most of the Disney output of the 90s (The Lion King and Aladdin two massive exceptions). Even as a kid, I think I recognized the darker and more subversive undertones in Bluth films (though certainly his powerful storytelling and richly drawn characters had more to do with it then) compared to their Disney counterparts. An American Tail was a heartbreaking and terrifying tale of childhood abandonment mixed in the Russian Jewish immigrant experience in the United States in the 1910s. No company would try that today. 2000’s Titan A.E. was the last Bluth film to make it to theatres. It was a massive flop at the box office, and along with Treasure Planet, it sort of killed traditional hand-drawn Western animation. Thankfully, a cult audience has formed around this film in the last decade.

Although, in many ways, Titan A.E. isn’t as great as Bluth’s output of the late 80s and early 90s. I would go so far as to simply say it isn’t a great film, though it was a very good one. Part of the problem is that this was one of the rare Bluth films where Bluth wasn’t the sole director. It was also directed by Gary Goldman, who (with the exception of All Dogs Go to Heaven) was mostly involved in a lot of the less than stellar Bluth films of the 90s. The movie was in production for a long, long time and many writers were involved with the project, and a lack of a cohesive vision for the film is painfully apparent. The movie does have a lot going for it. The Titan A.E.-universe is very appealing, and thanks to Joss Whedon’s work on the script, the characters are great. It is also arguably one of the darkest and most violent children’s films I’ve ever seen. I just wish the story held together better and that there was a more unified vision for the film.

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Titan A.E. is the definition of a cult children’s film so I won’t be surprised if most of my reader’s haven’t seen it. In the 31st century, Cale (Good Will Hunting‘s Matt Damon) was orphaned as a child when an alien species made of pure energy, the Dredge, destroyed the planet Earth and his father escaped on the ship Titan with an undisclosed mission that could be the hope to save humanity. 15 years later, Cale is a brash young man with no human identity doing repair work on a remote mining station with only his alien mentor for company or friendship. That all changes when Captain Corso (Torchwood: Miracle Day‘s Bill Pullman) arrives informing Cale that he, not his father, is now humanity’s last hope. A ring given to Cale by his father right before the destruction of Earth is a map to the location of the Titan ship, and Cale must answer the call to find his destiny and save the human race.

And, thus, Cale is whisked away (not without a dramatic and violent escape from the mining station) by Corso to his ship where Cale meets Corso’s eccentric and border-line insane crew. The obligatory (and sort of terribly developed in terms of their romance) love interest is the human colonist Akima (Irreconcilable Differences‘ Drew Barrymore). You also have Preed (Nathan Lane), the lascivious dog alien with a less than subtle attraction to Akima (or any female it would appear). Grune (Romeo + Juliet‘s John Leguizamo) is the ship’s turtle/E.T. looking scientist with a strange, almost sexual reaction to the gadgetry and scientific mysteries of the film. And lastly, you have Stith (Reality Bites‘s Janeane Garofalo), the beleaguered ship’s weapon specialist, who mostly likes to complain about the fact that she has too many degrees to be doing the work on the ship she does.

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As you can tell, Titan A.E. has a refreshingly quirky cast that generally doesn’t fit into the “quirky” archetypes of your average kid’s movie. And with the notable exception of Drew Barrymore (because when has she ever given a good performance), the voice-acting is great across the board. Obviously, Matt Damon’s Cale isn’t as demanding a part as Good Will Hunting or The Departed but it’s a kid’s movie for fuck’s sake. The two best voice-over performances are Bill Pullman’s Corso as a wonderful gruff mentor figure who shows some remarkable range in his performance (that I can’t get too far into without spoiling a late game plot twist) and John Leguizamo’s Grune just for the sheer oddity of his takes on an almost literal mad scientist. Most of the laughs from the film (cause it’s mostly dramatic) come from Grune.

And, as I said, the universe of Titan A.E. is consistently welcoming. As I watched the film, I pretty much constantly wanted to know more about the world our heroes were exploring. Part of that can be attributed to the film’s wonderful art-style. There’s a section on a planet of bat-like aliens that is just stunningly gorgeous. But, and this is the film’s biggest problem, the story seems to run purely on getting from one crazy scrape to the next. And, the individual set-pieces are awesome and endlessly inventive, but the plotting of the film borders on patchwork at best and totally illogical at its worst. For example, at one point, the Dredge are holding Cale captive and he breaks out of their prison in the most insultingly simple way imaginable. Also, at one point, Cale and Corso survive being exposed to Outer Space in just their regular clothes by holding their breath. That…. is not how that works. They would have frozen to death. Of course, I know I’m putting too much thought into a sci-fi film where there is an alien species made of pure energy.

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I’m going to draw this review to a close. I wound up sleeping like 15 hours last night which means I probably haven’t eaten in like 19 hours. And I am huuuuungry. I also want to watch Twin Peaks even though this season seems to have more twists per episode than most shows have over the course of an entire season. Season 2 of Twin Peaks is crazy y’all. I may not have fallen in love with Titan A.E. as much as I did The Land Before Time or Bluth’s other best works, but it was an enjoyable ride for the 90 minutes it lasted. The only other substantive complaint one could make about this film is that it is in no way, shape, or form suitable for children. It is violent. And, not in some surface way. It is just super violent. A character gets his neck snapped, one character is shot and explodes into green goo, blood is seemingly omni-present. It’s just violent. But, if you’re older and have fond memories of Bluth, this is a fun way to pass an evening.

Final Score: B+

 

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Although horror generally doesn’t fall under the purview of films that I attempt to review for this blog (which is a thousands films long list of award-nominated movies), I make a special attempt to sneak them in here when I get the chance. Ever since I was a child, horror has been a guilty pleasure of mine, and the nights I wasn’t able to sleep in elementary school after my parents mistakenly let me watch A Nightmare on Elm Street still stick with me nearly 20 years later. And, over this blog’s two and a half year lifetime, I’ve often mused about what was the greatest horror film ever made. I’ve reviewed classics like The Shining, The Exorcist, and Poltergeist, as well as modern greats like Let the Right One In and Paranormal Activity. But after much thought and debate, I think my heart belongs to 2000’s American Psycho.

Perhaps it’s unfair to even discuss American Psycho in rankings of the great horror films because under any real inspection, American Psycho is a horror movie in only the most superficial and surface ways. Because despite the buckets of blood, slasher film tropes, and skin-crawlingly creepy performance from Christian Bale, American Psycho is as much a pitch-black comedy and satire of the greed, narcissism, and general misogyny of the 1980s as it is a retread of the familiar serial killer tale. In fact, were the film meant as a straight horror, it would be mediocre at best because it’s not scary in the slightest, but as a brutal evisceration of the dark underbelly of the Reagan years and Wall Street avarice, American Psycho turns itself into a horrific, dark mirror of the worst sides of American life.

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Patrick Bateman (The Dark Knight Rises‘s Christian Bale) is the embodiment of the 1980s American dream. He’s a young successful Wall Street executive on the rise. He has a perfect body, perfect skin, and the perfect NYC high rise apartment. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon), a willing mistress (Samantha Mathis), and absurdly rich friends whose biggest problems in life seem to be whether or not they can get a reservation at the swankiest New York City restaurants and passive aggressively loathing one another over who has the best business card.

But, beneath his perfect exterior, Patrick hides a dark, dark secret. He is a serial killer and an absolutely unhinged one at that. Taking great pride in beating and mutilating prostitutes and the homeless, Patrick unleashes his misogynistic, anti-woman hatred out whenever he can. And when professional jealousy towards one of his colleagues (Jared Leto) ends in a Huey Lewis & the News preceded murder, Patrick finds himself tailed by detective Donald Kimball (Faraway, So Close!‘s Willem Dafoe) who is investigating the man’s disappearance. Will Patrick be able to keep his dark nature in check or will he explode in an orgiastic bloodlust of violence and mayhem?

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Christian Bale has become one of the most consistently intriguing and promising stars of his generation, and alongside the much earlier Empire of the Sun, this was one of the films that put Bale on the map. Alongside his role in The Fighter, I still believe that American Psycho is the premier performance of Bale’s career. Some might be put of by just how bizarre his characterization of Patrick Bateman becomes. This odd combination of yuppie misogyny, misanthropy, and vanity alongside a terrifying milieu of true psychotic behavior seems outrageous at first, but it’s this same horrific otherworld-ness that comes to define how fantastic Bale is at playing men on the fringe of sanity.

Mary Harron’s direction places American Psycho right alongside Wall Street and Bonfire of the Vanities (the book, not the god-awful film) as one of the most accurate satirical looks at the Reagan years. With long, lingering shots of suits, business cards, lavish parties, fancy restaurants, and even fancier apartments, American Psycho has the attention to detail of a Merchant/Ivory film or Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, but within that framework, the film never fails to remind you of the hollowness of these characters’ existence.

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Because American Psycho is a pitch-black comedy/satire, you would be forgiven for thinking that its humor wouldn’t be of the “laugh-out-loud” variety. But it most certainly is. There’s a moment late in the film where Patrick discusses eating the brains of some his victims; I’m not sure if it’s meant to be as funny as I found it, but at that moment, I found myself laughing absolutely hysterically. I was on the verge of tears. And the film is full of little moments of subtle humor that are played just right to elicit big laughs. An ATM machine tells Patrick to feed it stray cats, the insanely narcissistic poses he makes having sex to Phil Collins’ “Sussudio.” The list goes on.

I watched this several nights ago and have been writing the review off and on for a couple days now. Work has kept me from finding the time to actually finish it so I’ll draw this review to a close. I haven’t given this score out in a while. In fact, it’s been three months since I reviewed my last “A+” film, The Master. But American Psycho totally deserves this honor. I am unable to come up with a single flaw to this film, and having watched it dozens of times at this point in my life, it keeps getting better and better. If you want to watch what I believe is the greatest horror film of all time and arguably one of the best satires of the last twenty years, American Psycho is it.

Final Score: A+

 

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I could listen to this song on repeat for days. FOR DAYS! It is, almost without question, the greatest hip-hop song of all time. I don’t quite think that Outkast is the greatest maker of rap music ever (that’s still Kanye West or A Tribe Called Quest), but they definitely made what was probably the greatest rap song ever and one of the best songs of the 2000s period. I am of course talking about “B.O.B.,” sometimes known as “Bombs Over Baghdad.” This was the hip-hop song that saw into the future in a terrifying way. I mean, holy fuck this song is good. I wanted to deny how excellent it was for the longest time just because it upset my long-held belief that good hip-hop had stopped being made the minute Tupac and Biggie both died. I was wrong. I was an asshole and thank god I was taught otherwise. I break into the most awkward bouncing white-boy dance every time this song comes on. I look like an even skinnier, white version of Andre 3K in the scene in the song’s video where he’s doing a ridiculous dance. Anyways, this song is literally perfect. Enjoy.

 

A sniper who has shown no hesitation to kill a man for money has in his sights the Mafia don who has ordered his execution. Suddenly a bird lands on the barrel of the high-powered rifle obscuring the scope. Rather than getting angry, the sniper pauses to enjoy the beauty of the smaller things in life. In fact, prior to the arrival of the mafioso, the sniper had passed the time using his rifle’s scope as binoculars to bird watch. Such quiet moments are the rule and not the exception of Jim Jarmusch’s cerebral crime drama, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. As a darkly comic subversion of the noble assassin picture, Ghost Dog manages to have its cake and eat it too by poking fun at the archetypes of films like Leon: The Professional or Le Samourai while still painting a well-chiseled existentialist portrait of one man’s attempt to rise above the meaninglessness of life.

It may seem surprising to characterize a film about an inner-city assassin who lives his life by the strict code of the bushido as “art house,” but long time fans of Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man) expect no less. Taking a pastiche of three popular turn of the century genres as inspiration (the assassin film, the “gangsta” film, and the mafia movie), Jarmusch avoids simply producing a hackneyed amalgamation of the genres and instead creates a piercing look into the social and cultural identities at the heart of each culture. Except that barely begins to do justice to the nimble ways that Jarmusch not only explores genre archetypes but cleverly spins them on their heads (including a hip-hop loving Mafia boss or a 10 year old inner-city girl reading Rashomon). While the film is often meant to be satirical, Jim Jarmusch’s own insights into obsessions with faded cultures nearly undermines his own sense of humor.

After being saved as a young man by Mafia capo Louie (John Tormey), Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) takes on the mantle of a samurai and lives his life according to the rules and philosophies of the ancient Japanese text, Hagakure. As payment for saving his life, Ghost Dog becomes the “retainer” to Louie who pays Ghost Dog to act as a mercilessly efficient hit man for the mob. A samurai is loyal to his boss, and although Ghost Dog is basically a kind soul, he has no qualms about killing to repay his debt to the man who saved his life. When Ghost Dog is assigned to kill a disloyal capo to local mob boss Roy Vargo, the hit features a major road bump. Roy Vargo’s daughter witnesses the kill. To deflect the fact that he ordered a made man to be killed (and to try and save face with his daughter), Vargo orders Louie to kill Ghost Dog which sends our noble assassin on a quest to save his own life without causing any harm to his retainer.

While the mobsters and Ghost Dog all leave a stream of bodies in their wake, the film never leaves you excited or titillated by the violence. Ghost Dog’s assassinations are methodical and often over before they even begin. While he has what some would categorize as a vain habit of twirling his gun as if it were a samurai sword before he puts it back in its holster, it’s all part of the ritual that is so important to his lifestyle (and a potential symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). As a basically decent human being, you may find yourself shocked by how coldly Ghost Dog commits these contract murders, but by the film’s end, you finally see the psychic trauma his murders have taken on him. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai lives in a world where violence begets more violence and stone cold mafiosi killers get their jollies by watching cartoonish violence like Itchy and Scratchy.

The first sign that you’re not watching a typical action movie should come when you realize Jim Jarmusch plans to have Forest Whitaker read several pages straight out of the Hagakure with the words as a visual backdrop as a recurring framing device for the themes of the film. Nearly every scene is bookended with a new homily from the Hagakure which goes on to either explain what just happened or what will happen. While these sections can be a little too obvious (and Jarmusch regularly becomes so philosophical that you can forget that at least half the film is meant to be satire), it allows the film to ask grander questions that aren’t always apparent in other assassin films which lend an air of faux-philosophy to their proceedings. There’s another moment where Ghost Dog carries on a conversation with a little girl named Pearline about their shared love of classic books that contributes to the film’s overall literary tone.

As a long-time fan of the Wu-Tang clan, it shouldn’t be shocking that the film’s urban and atmospheric score by the RZA was one of the film’s most powerful assets. When you listen to Enter the 36 Chambers, RZA’s production always made you feel like you had stepped right into New York City in the 90s. Along with the on-location shooting, RZA’s score accomplishes the same goal. Considering the prevalence of Caribbean characters (and familiar streets), I’m fairly certain the film is meant to take place in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Although certain elements of the film felt slightly ridiculous (an Asian man kung-fu kicking away a thief), it felt like the Brooklyn I know and love. RZA’s score isn’t just a hip-hop production to match the urban setting but something far more ambitious which nails inner-city culture but aspires to something higher.

Forest Whitaker was well-cast in the title role (though his slightly over-weight nature does make it difficult to believe that he is a fastidiously trained assassin). Whitaker has always possessed one of Hollywood’s most subtly emotive faces. Particularly when he was younger, if you needed a young man who looked like he was carrying all of the weight and pain of the world on his shoulders, Whitaker was your guy. Like the rest of the film, there is nothing flashy about Whitaker’s performance. When all of his pigeons (which he uses to deliver messages) are murdered by the Mafia, Whitaker turns in a wonderful scene with no grand outbursts. He just becomes a man who is slumped over by the weight of the world that’s coming after him and when he starts speaking to his last pigeon, you know that he means serious business.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a wonderful, smart, and often pensive film, but if you read too deeply into it, you’re falling right into Jim Jarmusch’s seriocomic intellectual games. His own subtlety and existentialist queries work to undermine his own attempts to show how silly these types of films are in the first place. I guess it’s “Truffaut Was Right” in action. If you’re looking for a stylized action-thriller where the bullets rain as much as so called “deep thoughts,” look elsewhere. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is nearly the anti-Boondock Saints. Yet, if you like films that ask a little bit more (even if doing so violates one of the main conceits of the film), Jim Jarmusch should keep you entertained.

Final Score: B++

(A quick aside before I get into the actual review (because I desperately want to try and sound more professional and like a real film critic on here but there are occasional points that I need to make that don’t fit into my actual reviews). A lot of my personal friends have made fun of me for the way that I compiled the list for this blog. I spent a week or so eating into every last second of my free time to craft a massive list of every film that was ever nominated in specific, major categories at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Independent Spirit Awards. Then I added every movie from my NY Times 1000 greatest movies book. Then I picked movies that somehow didn’t end up on any of that which I enjoy and thought would be fun to review. To top it all off, a year and a half after making the initial list (which I had to make twice because at one point, I lost the original list. Now, it’s saved in the Cloud), I added another 1000 films from the 10001 movies you have to see before you die list. There’s obviously a lot of crossover here and I delete duplicates. Still, there’s thousands of films on my list. They aren’t all winners (*cough* How to Marry a Millionaire *cough*), but there are moments when the hassle of making my list and sitting through the occasionally shitty award-bait film pays off. I would have never heard of Conversations With Other Women let alone watched it had it not been for my list, and the same goes for British indie Nil by Mouth, but they’re now two of the rare films to get perfect scores on this blog. I have another film to add to the list of movies that would have completely escaped my attention had I not started this blog, and it would have been a shame if I had missed Kenneth Lonergan’s You Can Count on Me because it has one of the strongest scripts I’ve ever seen.)

In a world of Fellinis, Bergmans, and Malicks, it can be too easy to undervalue a film whose strengths rely solely on those old-fashioned concepts of a strong script and human performances. How many times have you heard someone say they liked a movie but they found it to be visually uninteresting. Without coming out and stating it directly, many find a lack of cinematic artifice in modern film-making to be a deficit of character. There’s an easily explainable reason for this. While I refute the naysayers that believe we’ve completely exhausted the well of truly original storytelling (one need look no further than the ouvre of David Lynch or Charlie Kaufman to see that isn’t true), it’s safe to say that the old stream of inspiration has become a trickle of staid reboots, remakes, and sequels. These days, directors have to wow an audience with head-spinning, post-modern mental gymnastics to stand out from the pack because some variation of their story has already been told.

Occasionally though, a film slips through the cracks with such a pure and honest reflection of the world that originality and style be damned. It pierces that great veil of the human experience and exposes truths we’ve kept at bay and begs a solution to questions we didn’t know we had. Gary Oldman’s highly autobiographical Nil by Mouth was British poverty and addiction and abuse rolled into brutal and terrifying package. The overt (and some say distracting) style and haute couture of Tom Ford’s A Single Man couldn’t overwhelm the haunting tragedy of a closeted British professor on the day he’s decided to commit suicide. Kenneth Lonergan’s 2000 family drama You Can Count on Me is as straight forward and direct a film in terms of style that’s ever been made. Yet, Lonergan’s script cuts closer to the truth of family, disappointment, and coming to terms with our own limitations than any film I’ve ever seen. Whether you’re a cinephile or a casual film lover, its power is astonishing.

If there’s ever a genre that’s been beaten to death, it’s the family drama. Watching a dysfunctional family fight and heal is one of the oldest stories there are. However, its themes are so universal that if its done well and given the proper perspective and veracity it deserves, family dramas can transcend their humble origins to be something so much more. Perhaps because Kenneth Lonergan (who also wrote the script) isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel and perhaps because he doesn’t try to use any of the typical cinematic tricks to distract from any potential shortcomings in his script, You Can Count on Me becomes on of those pictures. Focusing his lens on a brother and sister who were bound by the death of their parents and then torn apart by life, it’s an intimate search into forgiveness and understanding but with the honest grasp that sometimes reconciliation is beyond our abilities.

When they were small children, Samantha Prescott (The Savages‘ Laura Linney) and Terry Prescott (The Kids Are All Right‘s Mark Ruffalo) lost their parents in a car accident. Samantha decided to stay in their small Catskills town of Scottsdale where she got knocked up and abandoned by the layabout father of her now 8 year old son Rudy (Scott Pilgrim‘s Rory Culkin). She just manages to get by with a dead end job as a loan officer at the local bank where the new boss Brian (Ferris Bueller‘s Matthew Broderick) is forcing her to stop digging into her own lunch hour to take her son to the babysitter after school. She has a loveless sexual relationship with a local man, Bob (Jon Tenney), that satisfies a deep seated need for male approval and distracts her when her son starts asking awkward questions about his disappeared father.

Terry on the other hand walked a more exciting but troubled path. Raging against the conventionality of Scottsdale (and the classic small-town rebel complaint that there isn’t anything to do), Terry left town as soon as he could. He wandered the country, a transient nomad, picking up small-time jobs here and there. Though he seems to love Alaska, he could never stick in one place for long, and eventually, a stint in jail in Florida and an exhaustion of his funds (which were indirectly implied to be supplying a serious drug habit) sends him to his sister’s doorstep to ask for some money. When Terry’s girlfriend tries to kill herself in his absence, Terry decides to stay with Samantha indefinitely. Though the flawed but ultimately lovable Terry instantly bonds with Rudy (who desperately seeks a father figure), his spite and irresponsibility mean its simply a matter of time before he ends up hurting everyone around him yet again.

The phrase “fully realized characters” has rarely meant as much as it does in You Can Count on Me. Terry and Samantha (and to a lesser extent supporting players like Rudy and Brian) are multi-layered, endlessly dynamic creations who never act in the way you expect but always (and I can’t emphasize that enough) follow the logic created for them within the context of the script. While on the surface, the gainfully employed, loving single mother Samantha may seem like the more well-adjusted of the siblings, but you quickly learn throughout the film that she can be just as impetuous and self-destructive as her brother. And despite Terry’s spiteful ways, he’s seemingly more intelligent than his sister and has his own (tragic) philosophy on how to view the world. These characters learn lessons but don’t change. If they have character arcs, they are slow and shift changes that simply strip away to a new layer of these fascinating creations.

The performances are as subtle and powerful as the script. Laura Linney (one of the most under-appreciated actresses of her generation) is flawless as the beleaguered Samantha. She gives Samantha a desperate tenderness. Throughout the film as one criticism after another is laid at her by her boss, by Terry, or by her son, Samantha flashes a nervous smile and her face belies the wounds of harsh words. Despite all of the tragedy that has befallen her (and her constant mishandling of life’s situations), Samantha still exudes a natural warmth. Though she often messes up, it is never done to intentionally hurt someone (the opposite of Terry’s behavior), though she often does. With Linney’s natural and complex performance, Samantha weaves in out as a repressed single mother, a dispassionate lover, a scorned and upset sister, and an angry woman, hurt by the way the world’s treated her.

Mark Ruffalo is no less impressive. In one of the film’s best scenes, a drunk Terry wanders into Rudy’s room (which used to be Terry’s when he was a child), lights up a cigarette, and proceeds to “educate” his nephew on the truths of the world. Shattering his nephew’s illusions about Rudy’s father once and for all, Mark Ruffalo gets right to the heart of Terry. Which is to say, a brutally honest survivor who has internalized his fatalism and deep-rooted suspicions that nothing will ever end well into a cynical shield that protects him from the world around him. That would be sad but fine except he’s hell-bent on converting every other soul around him to his jaded world view. Ruffalo captures Terry’s intellectual spark, his endless reservoir of anger, and his manic energy. As Terry shifts and twitches in his seat, you see the restless soul that will never find a place to call home.

Few films have so successfully realized on scene after scene of great individual moments without sacrificing any unity of the final picture. Still, You Can Count on Me is full to the brim with memorable scenes that all add to the greater portrait of the Prescott family. In one of the climactic moments of the film, Terry (without Samantha’s approval) decides that it would be wise to introduce Rudy to his real father, and although it’s as disastrous as you’d imagine, it nails the dichotomy of Terry’s character where he’s trying to do something good but makes things worse in the end. In Samantha’s most defining scene, she sits down with her priest (played by the film’s director, Kenneth Lonergan) to discuss her angst about cheating on her boyfriend with a married man (whose wife is pregnant), and she seeks punishment and anger for all of the flaws in herself she can’t seem to correct. Whether it’s these moments or Terry taking Rudy out to play pool at a bar or Samantha’s battle of the will’s with her boss, You Can Count on Me is the rare film where every scene is a winner.

The old movie adage, “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry,” is overused and meaningless, but Kenneth Lonergan’s script delivers a soul-baring emotional ride. It is a warm and hopeful film (but honest in our human limitations and cognizant that we can only change so much) which is refreshing when so much cinema focuses solely on the negative sides of life. Lonergan has often been called the great American playwright of his generation (where he’s done much of his work), and perhaps it’s his single-minded focus to tell about this family and their pains, but he’s managed to do so much more. He created one of the best American films of the 2000s and one of the most impressive observations of American family life and small town angst that has ever been made.

Final Score: A+

I’m not going to lie. This review is probably going to be a little short and a little hazy. This was the post that I was working on Friday when the power went out, and it’s been three days since I’ve watched any Angel, and I’ve seen one episode of a TV show I’m going to be reviewing (True Blood), a movie (you’ll see later), read a whole book (Catching Fire), and read a quarter of another (Mockingjay) since then. Obviously, there’s a lot of shit bouncing around in my head right now, and some things are going to get lost in the mix-up. I should have followed my gut-instincts about just writing the reviews in Microsoft Word and then copy & pasting them on to here, but I didn’t expect the electricity to be out the entire weekend. It was a bad gamble on my part. And now there are just a million stories, thoughts, critiques, and non-sequiturs just floating around my skull. We’ll see if I can’t get anything meaningful out of it. I tried to play the PSX Resident Evil today (and yesterday. I own a lot of PS 1 games on my PS3), and I discovered it to be nearly non-playable. If Chris Redfield is supposed to be an elite special forces soldier, why does he control like he took all of the world’s barbiturates at once? I don’t know what that has to do with Angel, but like I said, non-sequiturs.

This disc was very Darla-centric (except for the last episode and even then her presence weighed heavily on the proceedings). We finally discover what the plan with Wolfram & Hart concerning Darla and Angel ultimately was (I think because Holland Manners sort of implies later on that their plans are a little bigger than that). When they brought Darla back, she was brought back as a human. She’s no longer a vampire, and now she has a soul. Although you’d think that would mean she’d suddenly begin to feel guilty about the atrocities she committed as a vampire, it takes a while for any of that to set in, and initially, she’s still evil. Wolfram & Hart’s plan is to use Darla to give Angel “true happiness” and thus make him Angelus and use him as a force of darkness instead of a soldier for the Powers that Be. When Angel first sees Darla outside of his dreams, she pretends to be someone else to make Angel (and Cordy and Wesley) think he’s going insane. She even sets a trap to frame Angel for murder and further destroy his relationship with Kate Lockley (who finally returns to the series’ fold). However, by the end of the first episode, Darla is showing some stirrings of remorse and it’s clear that her conscience is returning. In the second episode, Angel takes a backseat (though still has plenty of screen time) as Wesley pretends to be Angel (to save Cordelia’s life) and agrees (at gunpoint) to protect the daughter of a wealthy magician/businessman. Meanwhile, Angel tries to get advice from a swami after he is unable to stop obsessing over the return of Darla and how to help her now that she has a soul (if she’s willing to be helped).

The third episode, entitled “Darla,” was the best episode of Angel yet (more on that later) and finally provided some much needed backstory for Angel’s sire (and I’m sure there’s more to come). Darla is beginning to snap under the weight of the guilt for the probably hundreds of murders she committed when she was a vampire. With the help of Lindsay (who continues to show signs that despite choosing Wolfram & Hart over the path of good, he’s not completely evil), she escapes Wolfram & Hart’s clutches and hooks back up with Angel. While Angel tries to help her come to terms with what she’s done over the years (and that the only way to deal with it is to accept what you’ve done and try to atone for your past sins), we get a series of flashbacks that chronicles Darla’s life before being turned (she was a prostitute dying of some terrible disease in the 1600s when she was turned by the Master), her early years gallivanting with Angel, Spike, and Dru, and her sense of betrayal when Angel was finally re-ensouled. However, by the end of the episode, Darla doesn’t choose redemption. She wants an easier path. She wants Angel to turn her back into a vampire which he refuses and she runs away. In the final episode, Angel’s obsession with what’s happened with Darla is stopping Angel Investigations from doing any business so Cordy and Wesley help Angel get what they think is an easy case: stopping a group of demons from robbing a mystic shroud from a museum. However, the mystic shroud is indeed mystic and its power drives anyone who comes near it crazy. When Kate gets on the case and thinks Angel is finally a criminal, she nearly gets what she wants when a crazy Angel (though he was actually faking it to save her life) feeds on her.

Like I said, I’ll try to keep this short because it’s been so long since I’ve really watched this. “Dear Boy” was probably the weakest episode of the disc but at a solid “B+” that’s okay. Julie Benz has been fantastic this season as Darla. Honestly, I might have said this in my last Angel review but I don’t remember so I’ll (possibly) say it again. She is infinitely more interesting and dynamic as the morally complex and dark Darla than she ever was as the very bland Rita onDexter. Having Trinity kill her off remains one of the ballsiest things that show ever did. I still haven’t really warmed up to Gunn on this show yet. He needs more backstory or something. “Guise Will Be Guise” was great because it was the episode where Wesley officially stopped being a putz (or at least a total putz) and became more of a bad-ass. Wesley has probably become my favorite character on the show so far. Which is so weird. Alexis Denisof has just really made the role his own and the writing of the character has become exceptionally sharp. Had it now been for the power outage, I probably could have written a whole paragraph about “Darla” but I’ll do my best. It was Tim Minear’s first directed episode, and it was a grand slam home run. The way that we saw both Angel and Darla (Angel in flashbacks) struggling with what it means to have a soul and ultimately taking different paths at the end of the day was very compelling. Also, we learned that Angel wasn’t instantly a paragon of good after getting his soul and in fact fed on humans to try and re-earn the trust of Darla for a bit after he got his soul back. “The Shroud of Rahmon” was myth-arc lite but it was cool to A) see a play on the heist film and also B ), you saw another of the many, many teases this season that Angelus could be returning any minute now. I would love to see that happen because David Boreanaz is always at his A-game when he’s playing Angelus.

Like I promised, this will be short (if you call 1300 words short). I still have three other posts to put up, and I’d like my movie review to be fairly in-depth because I think it’s going to shock people that I think so highly of the film. I want to save my energy for it so to speak. Anyways, after a rock start to this season of Angel, I actually thought the show really picked things up in this disc by providing the best episode of the series so far (even managing to edge out the excellent “I Will Remember You”) and two other great episodes (and one good ep). I’m really curious where this whole Darla story is going, and I’m wondering if Joss Whedon is just teasing us with all of these flashes of Angelus. He’d better not because that would be an abuse of his foreshadowing privileges otherwise. Next disc will finish us up with the home half of season 2 of Angel, and I’m feeling really good about where this season is going.

Final Score: A-

Well, after the misstep with the third season of Mad Men (where I only reviewed the entire season rather than each individual disc of the series), we’re back in Los Angeles for the second season of Angel. That’s my current TV on DVD set-up for the blog. I’m going back and forth between Angel and Mad Men (as a regular recurring break in between my movie reviews as well as the current season of True Blood). It feels like ages since I finished the last season of Angel though I know it’s only been about three weeks. I really enjoyed the first season. While it was certainly better than the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I still didn’t feel like I was more invested in Angel by the end of that season than I was in Buffy. It’s probably an unfair comparison to make because I had seven season of Buffy to fall in love with the Scooby gang. Wesley has only been around half a season by the end of season 1 and Gunn was there for four episodes. So, what I’m hoping happens this season is that I form a deeper emotional connection to these characters. That’s the primary benefit of TV (as I’ve harped on again and again on here). I finished the first disc last night before I went to bed (my current nighttime reading material is the newest Dark Tower book, The Wind Through the Keyhole. Expect a review soon), and while I wasn’t wowed by any of the individual stories on display, there is definitely a sense that the show is in complete control of what sort of program it wants to be and how these particular characters fit together.

I should have mentioned this in my review of Salvador but now is as good a time as any to bring it up. Long time readers may have noticed a subtle change to the format of this blog. The pictures in the post are bigger instead of being smaller versions of larger photos. I just didn’t like how small and unclear the pictures looked (unless you clicked on them to make them bigger). I think this set-up may be more engaging to the eyes. Feel free to let me know how you feel about the change. Anyways back to Angel. In the first episode, the gang has had to relocate their offices temporarily to Cordelia’s (and Dennis the ghost’s) apartment. After failing to stop Wolfram & Hart from resurrecting Darla (though Angel still doesn’t know Darla’s what was resurrected), Angel has gone on a crusade to stop all of the evil in L.A. that he can. However, when one of Cordelia’s visions sends him to confront a demon, he kills the demon only to discover that it was good like him and protecting a pregnant woman (whose unborn daughter will grow up to be an important soldier in the fight against the darkness). Angel then has to take up the mantle of her new protector until she can find sanctuary. During all four of these episodes, Angel is having very sexual dreams about Darla and we discover in the fourth episode that Darla is using some special magical herb to control Angel in his sleep (at the orders of Lindsay from Wolfram & Hart). In the second episode, Angel Investigations investigates a 1950s hotel with a history of murder and the supernatural (and a connection to Angel’s past). When they finally defeat the demon that has haunted the hotel for 50 years, Angel decides to make the Hyperion Hotel the new headquarters for Angel Investigations.

In the third episode, Cordelia’s visions are again unclear enough to ultimately cause problems for everyone. She has a vision of Gunn fighting for his life. Because Angel is under the dream influence of Darla and Wesley is simply AWOL, Cordelia goes to investigate on her own and accidentally attacks (but doesn’t really injure) one of Gunn’s men who he was sparring with. However, Cordy knows that she was sent to Gunn for a reason and vows to stay with him until whatever threat to his life appears. As they search together for Angel’s stolen car (which was taken when Cordy went to save Gunn), we get a deeper look into why Gunn does what he does as well as his own death-seeking heroism. When they vanquish a demon that Gunn had been hunting at the episode’s end (with the intervention of Angel and Wesley), Cordelia reveals to Gunn that the demon wasn’t his threat. He’s his own worst enemy and he has to learn to control his temper and his desire to be exposed to danger if he wants to stay alive. In the final episode, we meet a young psychic named Bethany who (unbeknownst to her) has been targeted by Wolfram & Hart as a potential psychic assassin. One of Cordy’s visions send Angel to rescue her but her uncontrolled psychic powers make her kill the would-be rapists (actually sent by Wolfram & Hart to test what would happen to Bethany under stress). As Angel tries to help her control her powers and come to deal with the personal demons (the metaphorical variety) that caused her powers to manifest, he has to deal with the scheming of Wolfram & Hart as well as the continuing thrall that Darla has placed him under.

In all of that recapping, I forgot to mention my potentially new favorite character on the show. He’s some type of benevolent demon known as the Host (also known as Lorne) that runs a karaoke bar because if people sing in public, it allows him to see into their future (at will unlike Cordelia’s uncontrollable visions). He is fairly flamboyantly gay and absolutely fabulous. He adds some much needed levity to the program (and has provided some of the season’s most memorable moments so far but more on that shortly). Joss Whedon works so well (compared to other popcorn supernatural programs) because of the pop literacy of his writing (and his team’s writing) as well as that of his characters. Cordelia had been the only one providing that sort of awareness because Angel is nearly completely pop culture illiterate and Wesley has more of a British leaning (obviously). Lorne brings some of that pop culture joie de vivre to the proceedings and I just think his character is a fun new addition to the cast. He’s far more interesting right now than Gunn. Side note on Gunn, no one on this cast knows how to write an African American character (not that they have to be written a specific way but what I’m saying will make sense in a second). They try really hard to make him sound “black” and “street” and wow do they not do it well. It seems pretty forced and artificial when he talks, and that’s almost never the case for the dialogue on a Joss Whedon project.

As for the individual episodes, they were consistently good even if none of them (except for perhaps the last one, of course directed by Joss Whedon himself) were actually great. The season premiere, “Judgment,” was good in the way that we saw a moment where Angel wasn’t doing good for good’s sake but because he was angry. He was “keeping score” and it cost him when he didn’t think before acting. Also, it sort of grounds us in the fact that it’s going to be a long time before the Shanshu prophecy (where Angel’s good deeds will eventually make him human) can ever come true. The second episode, “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been,” is a fan favorite (although I’m not sure why). The parallels with the McCarthy hearing were pretty cool, and the moment where an ensouled Angel leaves a group of humans to be murdered and tortured by the demon controlling the hotel (in the 1950s after they tried to lynch him for a murder) was really interesting. I just don’t think the rest of the episode held up that well. “First  Impressions” gave us plenty of Cordelia. She’s become far more serious and likeable of a character this season (though still occasionally having the more traditional “Cordelia” moments) and I’ve enjoyed watching her grow. Unlike with Spike, watching her become more sympathetic hasn’t robber her character of any of its strength. Same with Wesley. He’s now fare more of an interesting character now that he isn’t an incompetent twat. However, that episode also gave us a lot of Gunn and so far he isn’t clicking with me. The final episode “Untouched” was the best.Angel is all about redemption and coming to terms with our dark sides, and that episode added a layer of dark sexuality to the whole proceedings. Also, I’m really interested to try to figure out what Wolfram & Hart’s whole plan with Darla is. They’ve been teasing that out very slowly and I’m ready for some more information.

Well, I still need to review last night’s episode of True Blood (this season has been fairly uneventful but at least it hasn’t been outright bad like last season) so I’ll draw this to a close. After a semi-disappointing third season of Mad Men, I’m really hoping that this season of Angel can still deliver the goods that last season sent my way. Otherwise, I’ll be in for a slump of TV. The season’s not off to an amazing start, but it’s been good, and I can see how the season is laying the pieces for things to get better. Once again, I’d love some feedback about using these larger pictures instead of the smaller 300 X 200 pics that I was using before. Feel free to check out my Anchorman review to see an example of the posts with smaller pics. It’s a change. Angel was a bad post to use an example of for these because there are very few decent quality pictures of this show on the internet for whatever reason (I had a similar problem with Buffy).

Final Score: B+

Kid A

Everybody who is a real music lover can remember the exact album that forever changed the way that they listened to music. This is the album that would ultimately redefine the limitations that they believed music to be hindered by. When I was younger (read “high school”), that album was The Beatles Abbey Road, although it’s originality and value has been tarnished by decades of rock bands trying to capture the sound of The Beatles without being able to capture the spirit or talent that made The Beatles so transcendent. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I would ultimately be exposed to perhaps the most important band to come along since The Beatles. This band of course was Radiohead, and it is their magnum opus Kid A that I have decided to write my initial blog post about.

It should be stated very clearly that when I first heard this album, I absolutely loathed it. It was in such direct confrontation with everything that I thought I understood about the way music was to be composed, played, and presented to the masses, that my brain simply couldn’t process the majestic undertaking that it truly was. But I forced myself to listen to it a couple more times, and then suddenly, I gained this amazing awakening about the true beauty and complexity of the album and the way that I listened to music would be changed forever. My biggest problem in enjoying this album was that I had been trained to listen for “singles”, to enjoy music that I only had to have pay attention to, not digest like a complex novel. When I simply listened to the music, allowed myself to become lost in the sonic waves that Thom Yorke and company set forth and freed myself from other tasks or distractions, I discovered an album that was beating with such energy and sheer beauty that I was in shock that I had disliked it so much in the beginning.

I literally get chills every time I hear the opening notes of the albums first track “Everything In Its Right Place” and am nearly hypnotized by Yorke’s passionate assertion that “There are two colors in my head.” From the nearly rock sounding “National Anthem” to the electronic masterpiece “Idioteque” which serves as my favorite track on the album, Kid A constantly serves as a guide on a fantastic voyage into the possibilities of music. If you have the ability to just sit down and listen to this album the way it deserves to be listened to, you are in for what is easily one of the greatest albums ever made and is without a doubt, the best or second best album of the 2000′s.

Final Score: A+

 SPOILER ALERTS

 Well I’ve finally finished the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and hopefully, this will be the last that my blog hears about the show until I’ve had time to watch some other things and restore the balance to the Force. I think I’m mixing my metaphors here. Anyways, the fifth season of the show has turned out to be its best by such leagues that if I didn’t know better, I would wonder if the same crew had been making it the whole time. Joss Whedon (to paraphrase Peter Jackson) proved that fantasy was no longer the “f” word of pop culture and combined an epic fantasy battle between good and evil with mature and sophisticated storytelling. Along the way, he elevated a show that was previously just a fun diversion into the pop-culture literate imagination to something far greater and I’m thankful that I started watching this show all of those years ago.

After Glory discovers that Dawn is the Key, the Scooby gang has no choice but to get the hell out of Dodge before Glory can catch back up with them, kill them all, take Dawn, and cause the apocalypse. They are obstructed in their escape when the Knights of Byzantium arrive like its the Crusade. They’re basically an ancient holy sect dedicated to destroying the Key to prevent Glory from destroying the world. It is here that you discover that the kindly medical intern we’ve seen all season, Ben, is the only key to destroying Glory as his mortal form is her only weakness since they share bodies. Before learning of Ben’s secret, the gang has him show up at their hide out to cure Giles who was wounded in battle. He switches into his Glory form and kidnaps Dawn. Buffy spends an entire episode catatonic battling her inner demons as she confronts the reality that she, Dawn, and all of her friends may very well die because defeating Glory is so impossible. Finally, in the epic finale, Glory is defeated thanks to Willow’s magic and the giant Thor-like hammer the troll dropped a while back, but one of her minions (the fabulous Joel Grey) performs the ceremony to to open the portal to all dimensions. Buffy is forced to sacrifice her life in order to save the world, and the season ends with a shot of Buffy’s tombstone.

“Spiral” does something I love about Buffy which you don’t see very often which is an exploitation of its rather deep and detailed mythology. We had seen the Knights of Byzantium briefly earlier in the season and the foreshadowing of returning with an army was fulfilled. Also, the giant battle with the RV against their Crusade like army of horses and macemen and crossbows was a nice juxtaposition of the modern world with the ancient and esoteric. “The Weight of the World” also does something I love that Joss Whedon proved he was quite capable of achieving which was being a psychological head-trip of an episode. While it didn’t reach the insane, David Lynch style heights of “Restless” last season, it was an appropriate penultimate episode for the season that really nailed all of the identity issues that had been plaguing Buffy the entire season. I can easily say that “The Gift” is one of the best season finales since Lost‘s “Through the Looking Glass” (although that is still top dog in the jaw dropping department, but I did call the whole flash-forward thing. Just saying). The whole killing Buffy thing would have probably carried more weight since she had died once already on the show but that was only for a couple minutes. She has a tombstone now. I know she comes back but it was still an emotionally powerful moment and the scene at the end where Spike breaks down upon seeing her corpse definitely had me in tears.

The fifth season is definitely the best season of the series, and I think one of the main reasons besides the overall quality of the writing and storytelling was the seemingly endless number of jaw-dropping moments throughout the back half of the season. Most seasons of Buffy were lucky to have one big moment, like Angel turning bad or the arrival of Faith. This season had them in spades. Buffy got a new sister. Riley left town. Joyce died. Spike fell in love with Buffy. Willow became an incredibly powerful witch (which will be the primary dramatic thrust of the next season). Finally, Buffy herself dies although she comes back pretty early next season. Instead of relying on primarily episodic storytelling, Whedon took the risk (ratings wise) of moving to more serialized and myth arc heavy story lines. While that rewards fans who watch every week and pay attention to all of the little details, it makes it harder to introduce new fans or even old fans who can’t watch every week. However, it was the right decision for the series and it improved the final product endlessly.

So, I promise that I will not write another review for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that I will not start Season Six until I watch the movies that I have at home from Netflix. They need to get watched. This blog needs to stop being my own personal diary of my Buffy experience, and I need to return my movie roots. However, it’s just an incredible testament to Whedon’s strengths as a writer and director that I have become so engrossed and enchanted with the series. I can’t remember the last time a TV show ate up so much of my time and energy. I never reviewed any of the other TV shows that I’ve watched for this blog as quickly as I have these last two seasons of Buffy. So, after I watch my movies from Netflix, I’ll devour Season Six and then jump into the last season. Now, I just need to buy the Season 8 comic books. Although I don’t know if I’ll actually review them on here; we’ll see.

 Disc Score: A-