DVD: Coraline (2009)

Coraline

Coraline strikes me as a children’s movie that should be watched with a parent close at hand. At several points I found myself thinking, “Wow, that would really scare a kid, wouldn’t it?” Unfortunately, there was no child handy to either correct or reinforce my impressions, so I can only guess. I will admit however, that the younger version of me would have enjoyed this movie immensely – but I have been told that I had a somewhat morbid sensibility as a kid. (One I still cultivate, BTW…)

Coraline tells the story of 11-year-old Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning), who moves into a new apartment in a creepy old Victorian mansion. Coraline’s parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) are workaholics who act like caring for Coraline is a burden, hence she is often left to her own devices. In short order she meets a weird local lad called Wyborne (Robert Bailey Jr.) who hangs out with a mangy cat (Keith David). Wyborne gives her a strange old doll with buttons for eyes that resembles her. That night she dreams that a sealed-up door in the living room leads to another world – where lives her “Other Mother” (also Hatcher) and “Other Father,” dream parents who dote on her every whim and ply her with a magical garden and delicious food. But the real difference is, the Other parents have buttons for eyes. Coraline finds herself enchanted by this alternate reality and returns through the portal many times. She is thrilled to be offered the chance to remain in this world – until, thanks to the cat and a morbidly altered version of Wyborne, she realizes that things on the other side may be just a little too good to be true, and staying forever comes at a terrible price.
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HEROES 4.18: Brave New World or Same Old, Same Old?

Claire and Noah

This is how the world of HEROES ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

In this case, it was the literal moan of defeat uttered by Samuel Sullivan. Which is pretty much what’s been wrong with HEROES since the close of Volume One: Things just…peter out. In contrast to the nuclear armageddon and super-battles that climaxed previous seasons, here Claire and HRG convinced a bunch of people to run away from Samuel, and he was rendered powerless, left mewling on the ground.

Um, that was it?
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CAPRICA 1.3: An Adama Named Joseph

Daniel and Joseph

The latest CAPRICA saw some characters undergo big changes: Amanda (Paula Malcomson) was compelled to resign her position at the hospital, and husband Daniel’s (Eric Stoltz) company took a financial pounding even as he endured a physical beating from Sam Adama (Sasha Roiz). The Graystones had been on top of the 12 worlds, but now they are pariahs.

But perhaps no one has changed as radically — and certainly as willfully — as Joseph Adama (Esai Morales). As the bloody pulp that was Daniel gasped “Adams” at his tormentor, Joseph sneered, “It’s ‘Adama’ now,” signaling his transformation from genteel gangster who engaged in polite bribery, into a guy who ordered his brother to pound Daniel; a thug who literally gets blood on his hands. But Joseph is still completely devoted to his daughter, just like any other doting father. In fact, one could argue that Tamara (Genevieve Buechner) and her mother Shannon (Anna Galvin) — or, more precisely, their loss — are fueling Joseph’s descent into the criminal underworld of the Ha’la’tha. And it is a descent that is rapidly spiralling out of control. Witness Joseph casually suggesting to Sam that he should take out Amanda Graystone to “even out” the two families’ losses. That shocking order constituted the second jaw-dropping CAPRICA ending in two weeks.
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DVD: Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Fox-y lady

After actually watching Jennifer’s Body, I have to conclude that this horror movie was itself the victim of some horrible Megan Fox/Diablo Cody backlash, because the flick is really is not bad at all. In fact, it’s a rather good horror-comedy that has some fun tweaking genre conventions as well as Fox’s own bombshell persona. Fox is much different in this movie; nothing like the pure eye candy of the Transformers flicks. Yes, this is a teen horror comedy that is far from horrible.

The story follows sexy Jennifer (Megan Fox) and her best friend, the mousy “Needy” (Amanda Seyfried). After a wannabe rock band bungles an attempt to sacrifice Jennifer to Satan in return for fame, she is possessed by a demon that grants her strength and healing abilities – as long as she feeds its bloodlust. Jennifer sets out chowing down on the boys at school, who are all too easily lured into her honey trap. Problems arise when Needy starts to feel just a little too left out by her pal’s new hobby.
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LOST 6.1, 6.2: Kate’s in a Tree!

Juliet hangs in there…

So, after spending some eight months chewing over the Big Questions left by the LOST finale last May — Did Juliet really detonate the nuclear device? Will the white flash reset the clock? Will Oceanic Flight 815 avoid crashing on the island? Will our friends end up forgetting each other and never meeting? Will absolutely nothing happen? — it turns out the answer is, Z: All of the Above and More.

Jack and Faraday’s plan was to detonate the nuke within the confines of the electromagnetic pocket and “reset” the island’s timeline. And it worked. Only it didn’t.

Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) insisted she set off the bomb (and “It worked”), but the Swan site remained intact. At least, in one version of the story. It would appear that instead of resetting time, the blast splintered reality. I think the show began by showing us Jack (Matthew Fox) on the plane in another universe, one in which Flight 815 avoids the original White Event and lands safely in Los Angeles. Perhaps the close encounter with the island left Jack 2.0 with some kind of vague imprint that made him notice the people he otherwise would have been trapped alongside — Desmond, Rose, Bernard, Sayid, etc. It was great fun to once again see such dearly departed characters as Boone (Ian Somerhalder, now Damon on THE VAMPIRE DIARIES) and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan, now Simon on FLASHFORWARD). Mitchell will be seen again as Erica when V returns. Heck, even goofy science teacher Arzt was worth a laugh. Oh, and the island itself is now underwater.
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Oscar Unseals the (Nomination) Envelopes

Jeff Bridges

So, it will be Avatar, The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds duking it out to climb to the top of the Oscar heap, eh? Should be quite a tussle.

I am going to weigh in today with a few quick thoughts about the nominations; just my initial gut reactions. I will return to the topic with a more in-depth look at some of the categories. Those of you looking forward to a treatise on sound mixing will, alas, be disappointed. (For an overall look at my take on 2009 at the cinema, read this.)

I figure former spouses James Cameron (Avatar) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) will tangle with Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) for the best director crown. My money is on Bigelow, even though I enjoyed Avatar. (The devil in me would love to see the imaginatively titled Basterds get plenty of ink, so people will continue to wonder if the title is a typo.)
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Captivating Caprica

Zoe

There’s something rotten on CAPRICA, and I love it. There’s a palpable sense of menace lurking just beneath the surface of gleaming Caprica City, and that makes it interesting. There’s something festering deep down, and it will be a wonder if the Twelve Colonies last long enough to be brought down by the cylons.

Let’s start at the end of the episode: Amanda (Paula Malcomson) “outing” her daughter as a member of Soldiers of the One, based on nothing more than a piece of jewelry and her own fears. The episode piled up revelation after revelation about Zoe — both for viewers and Amanda. Plus, as as a devoted polytheist, Amanda reacted with shame and disgust at the prospect of her daughter being a monotheist. Lashing out seemed like an obvious release of her shock. If Amanda really did not know her daughter, then maybe Zoe could have been a religious extremist. But was her bruised ego worth turning an entire world against her family?
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