The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Wolverine (2009) — *sigh*


Cool Picture ... Bad movie.

Cool Picture ... Bad movie.

20th Century Fox in the 21st Century — Wolverine

by Bryce VanKooten

It’s a tough gig to be a superhero movie these days. You got a lot of folks standing in your way: the fan boys, the mass media, good movies that have come before you. Generally, I think we’ll all love superheroes till the day we die – their tights and capes speak to us, of course – regardless of their grandeur on the big screen.

Wolverine cleaned house on that big screen this weekend. And, like so many super-dudes before it, will likely be given a sequel (word is, its already in the works). But how will history see these flicks when the smoke and swords clear? Where will Wolverine lie in the vast landscape of superheros  flicks? Wolverine was a … fun movie, sure, but it was also a disappointment – the worst kind, too.

Wolverine was a terrible movie that performed well. Let’s all take a collective gasp together now…

When I sat myself into my theater chair on Sunday afternoon, I knew the movie wasn’t going to be great. I’d seen the first 20 minutes on that leaked copy online and decided that watching an action movie on a teeny monitor was just about as rewarding as playing dunk hoops with a 6 foot hoop: same product, not quite the satisfaction.

Liev Schreiber was great as Sabertooth and Hugh Jackman was as good as he could be – most of the dialogue was just short of campy – reprising his role as the early version of our beloved Wolverine. The action was cool, I guess, but for 150 million bucks, shouldn’t it be amazing? The storyline — which if lifted from the comic’s themselves would have been fantastic — was brutal, of course. So where was the rub? Why the odd taste in my mouth as I left the theater? I mean, I knew what I was in for, didn’t I?

In the last couple of day’s I’ve tried to pinpoint my feeling towards Wolverine and I think I found it: 20th Century Fox. Let’s recap, shall we?

Fox’s top ten superhero movies:

  1. X-Men Last stand
  2. X2: X-Men United
  3. X-Men
  4. Fantastic Four
  5. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  6. Daredevil
  7. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (its only been out a week)
  8. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
  9. Elektra
  10. My Super Ex-Girlfriend

What character comes to mind first when you look at that list? The X-Men folks of course. And who more specifically in that group … Wolverine. Here’s the deal: the Wolverine story might be one of the coolest in comic book history. All the hype, all the anger, the healing, and the betrayal – it’s the stuff movies are made of – perfect for the big screen. But, we sit through this saga of quick cuts, childish dialogue and sub-par effects and we leave like, “eh, I mean, I guess there were some cool parts?” I think its safe to say that Fox is very talented in ruining movies. Coming off the heals of The Dark Knight (both fun and smart) or even strictly fun movies like Iron Man, or Hancock, Wolverine just comes as a dissapointment.

Have we lost our standard? Has the bar been lowered? Removed?

How easily we are pleased as Americans and as fans. When a gritty, gruesome movie is stripped of its essence (i.e. guts), regurgitated PG-13 for the masses and downgraded to a 1 hour and 47 minute mash up of CGI claws, clueless character and campy (yes, I know the second time I’ve used that word) dialogue, the only thing you can hope for is a terrible opening to stop the massacre of great stories by horrific studios.

Alas, we dream on.

I’m going to let history speak for itself here. Here’s a list of Fox’s adapted, fan boys movies (excluding above list) since 2000. You tell me how many are great — not good, not doable (like ham on Thanksgiving), but great.

Planet of the Apes, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, Titan AE, The Day After Tomorrow, I, Robot, Eragon, Max Payne, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Alien vs. Predator, Live Free or Die Hard, Hitman, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Jumper, Babylon A.D., The Happening, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, The Day the Earth Stood Still.



May 7, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LOST Live Blog: LaFluer

Our Boy Sawyer Jim James LaFluer

Our Boy Sawyer Jim James LaFluer

Lost Live Blog

Rules: I will say whatever comes to my mind when and how it comes in. Koppin in my roommate. He may be interjecting thoughts as well if I deem them fit for print. This is un-doctored, straight-from-the-hip first thoughts.

Let’s do this.

9:00: we’re starting, let’s do this. It’s the recap from the last couple. Faraday is talking about dislodging themselves from time. I’m gonna dislodge someone’s dome if I don’t get some answers. Still recapping…

Charlotte just died. That really pissed me off.

Locke is talking. Locke, if anyone can do it; you can. Get me back to the island Jesus.

9:02: the recap is over. The ep is beginning. Hollerluejah. Miles is becoming intriguing.

Holy whaaaa?? We just saw the massive Atlantis/Sphinx guy. Holy Hannah Montana.

I think we’re seeing a different perspective on the folks while John was in the donkey wheel chamber.

Is the episode starting? Sheesh. I need a clue. I need four to six clues.

Our four-toed ancient friend...

Our four-toed ancient friend...

Okay, never seen this. I think we’re rolling.

Are sawyer and Juliet going to be together soon? Nose bleeds stopped… that’s good. Maybe they’re set. Maybe the record is a runnin’.

9:05: Jin is the coolest around. He’s like the black guy this show doesn’t have any more. The quiet one with the one-liner wisdom.


9:08: Dharma creeper(s) are dancing in the room. ‘Hoot-i-nanny’, what a word. We need to throw that in more. One’s named Jerry. Prediction: These guys are going to die.

Ben’s dad is drunk and wandering. Horace is Ben’s dad right? No. Horace is … who si Horace? He’s throwing dynamite like a fraternity boy.

9:10: Okay, sawyer is LaFluer. That’s creepy as all get out. That is also awesome.

COMMERCIAL 1 – WTF, I’m going to kill myself. Koppin: WTF.

9:14: Myles is a Dharma, too? Horrace is the leader? Horace is about as capable as a box of crayons.

9:16: okay, so everyone has lived on the island for 3 years after the oceanic 6 left. Got it. The 6 are living on the ‘mainland’ and the leftover folks are living on the island.

She’s having her baby. Whoever she is. I think I missed something.


9:18: What the FRICK is going on. Are we really doing this? Back and forth and forth and back? There’s faraday. I like faraday. Make everything better faraday; you’re my boy.

Charlotte cannot be DEAD. I will be beyond pissed. There she lay on the ground. Faraday is not doing so good. He should be on suicide watch. Or … maybe … time travel watch. Eh??

9:19: “Charlotte ‘moved on’ and ‘we stayed’. Its over. Wherever we are now, whenever we are now (cliché!?!?) – we’re here for good.” – Daniel ‘kill-myself’ Faraday

9:22: Koppin: this show sucks.

“Maybe when you get there; you’ll want to go back to the orchid again, then back to the beach, and then back to the orchid. It’s the only plan you guys have…” – Myles.

Slow, steady and cynical wins the island race – just ask Ben. Thank you Myles. Someone finally said it. Sawyer is being a douche leader. Hence forth, he shall be known as ‘Sir Walkabout’.

9:24: Someone is screaming. It’s … I don’t know who it is… its some random lady. Some dudes are holding a gun to her brain.

“We don’t even know when they are…” – Myles (no way! Time travel!)

Who-knows-who is about to shoot someone else until Sawyer and Juliet cap em'.

Who-knows-who is about to shoot someone else until Sawyer and Juliet cap em'.

9:25: Sawyer just killed him. Holy, nope! Juliet just killed him. NO! Sawyer killed the other dude.

“Juliet is bad ass, dude.” – Koppin

Guess what – they’re going to go back in time and those two guys they got shot are NOT GOING TO BE DEAD! Called it. Done. Nailed it.

COMMERCIAL 2 — One side comment, this Charles Schwab commercial just said, “who’s bailing you out?” That’s a good point Charles … that’s a very good point.

9:26 (I’m a little off): there is a TON that Juliet knows and she isn’t saying. Which makes me want to beat her with a set of deer antlers until she talks. Or we could blackmail her with a make-out with BEN. Money. Make her talk. Whatever it takes.

9:27: We gotta bury them? Will the monster get them? The dead guys?

Jin. Again, comin through. He said he’d carry the dead guy. Jin is legit. If Locke is Jesus, Jin is John the Baptist.

Apparently either Sawyer or Juliet killed this lady’s husband. That’s a grave deal.

9:28: Okay, we’re back to these mushroom smurph things. Sonic fence or something? Yeah, try a time travel, time warp, brain shredder thingy. Freaking lady. She’s starting to piss me off. Turn it off woman.

9:29: “okay its off” – the lady. She’s a lying sack of hammers.

Koppin: you walk through it first, sister

Sawyer: you walk through it first.

Bryce: mmm hmmm

Here they go. They walked through. They’re down. She pulled something from her ears. She is a tool. I hope she dies in childbirth. Man, her face is so creepy.

The Smurph Fence

The Smurf Fence

9:31: They got an intern delivering a baby. Standard. Seems logical to me.

Koppin: Juliet is working on cars. That is so hot.

9:32: Juliet’s got a few jack issues. (They’re going to kiss [Juliet and Sawyer]… nope didn’t happen). Everything Juliet tries she fails at, in regard to women. A little like jack right? Juliet has a thing for jack. Sawyer is falling for her – they’re gonna kiss!

No, they didn’t again. I’m out of my league here. I want to pre-call something so bad.

Jin’s back — in a dharma suit. I like Jin. Have I said that?

“I pulled Juliet out of retirement.” – Sawyer (cool)

9:33: So Jin and the guys are looking for the oceanic 6!? I like. I like very much.

Juliet delivered the baby. Hollerluejah. Sawyer looks like a proud papa. That’s funny.


Update: Is anyone going to see NEXT, wait, its called KNOWING, with Nick Cage? Isn’t that the same movie? I might take a girl to this. It would make me look so good. And by good I mean bad.

Koppin: I will go and see that movie. I hate the title, but I will go and see it.

Bryce: I will watch it streaming on netflix.

9:34 (a little off, again): Horace is a bit of a douche. Sawyer is calling himself James LaFluer. That’s sort of cool. Nice Southern Louisiana name.

9:35: Horace hasn’t heard of the Black Rock. Well news flash, Horace is LYING. Either Horace is literally retarded or he’s lying. Okay, he could be retarded. We all know Jacob runs the show.

9:36: “you are not dharma material” – Horace-suck.

That’s right captain America. Sawyer is not Dharma material. Sawyer is legit. He just can’t lead very well.

9:37: Oh, Juliet used to be an ‘Other’ … sort of. See, Juliet knows crap. Myles needs to read into her dead mind and tell us what’s going on.

“Daniel, no more flash?” – Jin.

Heck yes, no more flash. Keep that blood in the nose. Now bring Charlotte back.

Faraday sees Charlotte! She bounced back to when she was young! Yes! Does that count as calling something?!

9:38: Sirens. I think the monster is coming. I’m positive. Well, maybe. Either that or a hostel invasion … I think.

Koppin: hahaha, creepy FREAKING lady. She has an assault rifle in her hand in the kitchen.

RICHARDS BACK! He puts the proverbial and literal stake in the ground. A man that never ages with good style. Man, so many chicks and dudes want Richard.

COMMERCIAL 4 — Thoughts: what if this is the night that the others attack? And they upset it or something? What if they change time? I don’t even care. Charlottes back. Faraday n’ Charlotte 4 Life. I may or may not be getting that as a tattoo.

9:43: Horace doesn’t stand a chance to Richard. Man, Richard is legit. He should be the face of L’Oreal, right?

9:44: Sawyer just called Myles ‘banzai’, hahahhhaha.

9:45: “It’s a good thing I ain’t asking your permission.” – Sawyer ‘I-think-on-my-feet-and-it-gets-me-in-trouble’ LaFluer.

Koppin: if my wife looks like that (Juliet) at 45 … I will be a happy man.”

9:46: Sawyer and Richard. Having a heart to heart on the bench. “Did you burry the bomb?” sawyer has inside info. Nice. Finally he’s not talking with his Season 5 belly.

9:48: “Two of my men are dead and my people need some kind of justice.” – Richard.

Rich and LaFluer have a beer together on a bench, talking about the days of 2001

Rich and LaFluer have a beer together on a bench, talking about the days of 2001

So kill Horace? Geez, who gives a case of mango’s about him. They’re going to take the baby aren’t they. Richard’s folks are going to take the baby. Nope, I was wrong. They’re talking Paul’s body. I don’t … I just…

I’m LOST. I’m going to punch Koppin’s TV.

9:50: She’s going to take a minute with the body. They’re playing that theme song – ‘Life and Death’ from season 1. I’m going to starting bawling. She took Paul’s wooden cross. Hmmm.

9:51: Juliet and Sawyer-suck on the dock. Juliet’s going to leave. I can’t say I’m surprised. Its 1974. Wow. Bell bottoms and disco. Can’t say I blame her.

Oooooohhh, “what about me” – sawyer. They’re in LOVE. Potentially. They’re going to kiss. I know it. Two weeks sawyer says. Gimme two weeks. Sawyer looks like a proud pappa, again.

Sawyer convinces Juliet to throw her life away.

Sawyer convinces Juliet to throw her life away.

Side note: This could be the worst decision of Juliet’s life.


9:53: it’s been more than 2 weeks, Juliet. Whoooops.

Koppin: I just want to point out right now that if Juliet is in this room right now, Sawyer will have gotten with both the women that Jack has been interested in.

9:54: hahah, there’s Juliet. Brilliant! Nice sunflower Sawyer, are you going to give that to Kate when she comes back and you become peanut butter in her dirty hands? Tell me I’m wrong … I dare you.

They pecked, that counts. Ha HA! They kissed. I was right. Okay, they just full on open-mouthed. I was right. However, for the record, this was too easy to count as a pre-call.



9:55: Whoa, whoa. The L word. They’re in love apparently. Well there’s nothing on this freaking island. I’d go for a 45 year old washed up surgeon, too.

Side note: Sawyer wants to lead, but Jack is the leader and always will be. Jack wants the girls, but Sawyer always get them, and always will.

9:56: Horace is a daddy. It’s a boy. I don’t like Horace. Sawyer looks like the proud papa again.

9:57: “it’s only been three years. Three years since he’s (Paul/KATE!) been gone. Is that really long enough to get over someone?” — Horace

Bingo was his name-oh. The answer to that is no. Sawyer is in love with Kate and when he sees her it will be like Zues and Athena.

News flash Sawyer, Jim, James, LaFluer: she IS comin’ back. Sawyer hears Horace’s penetrating wisdom and now looks like a depressed father.

9:58: phone rings. What if that is Kate. Gosh I hope it is. I’m the biggest fan of Jack/Kate, but I don’t think I know the subconscious emphasis I have that leads me down the Sawyer Kate path. Hmmmm. We’ll see. (This whole episode has been so lovey-dovey. Where’s the smoke monster? Where’s crazy Rousseau killin’ her friends?

9:59: Hurley, Jack, (the car!), Jin – Sawyer realizes she’s there…

Sawyer sees what he knew he'd see someday.

Sawyer sees what he knew he'd see. Perfect.

KATE. Bam. Who’d a thunk it? I would. We all did. Nicely done.


March 5, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Lost, News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Love You, Man (2009)

Peter (Paul Rudd, left) and Sydney (Jason Segel, right) rock out to Rush in the Man Cave.

Peter (Paul Rudd, left) and Sydney (Jason Segel, right) rock out to Rush in the Man Cave.

I Love You Too, Man

by Bryce VanKooten

For most in this country, it may never happen at all. But for the few million who happen to live in LA — this hotbed of fanfare and traffic — I suppose it a bit more attainable. I’m still getting use to the fact that it’s feasible to see movies before their release. And the opportunity to shoot the breeze with the Director after the film just comes as an added bonus I guess; the ala mode, if you will. Either way, when I got the invite to Brown University’s alumni screening of John Hamburg’s I Love You, Man (Hamburg is an alum), I jumped at the opportunity. Seeing a movie four weeks before its release is like talking to the starting quarterback before the big game: you’re as close to affecting the movie’s process as you can be without actually affecting anything. It’s the little dose of thrill we all need. I hope I never get used to it.

Hamburg — who wrote Zoolander, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers [coming soon: Meet the Little Fockers] and wrote/directed Along Came Polly has an enviable career, to say the least. He has perfect style and the ability to convey reality in a witty and original way. “I just wanted the film to look and act as real as possible. I wanted the characters to be people we all knew and not just [guys and girls] saying cliché jokes”, he recalls. I Love You, Man is a smart satire. Nailed it.


We nearly missed the movie, actually. My friend and I sat in the wrong theater on the Paramount lot for about 20 minutes before we realized we were in the wrong theater. When we finally sprinted to the right one, the curtains pulled to reveal what we all needed: guy and girl find another guy – the perfect spin to the romantic comedy.

The movie opens with Peter (Paul Rudd) proposing to Zooey (The Office’s Rashida Jones). The very next scene takes us on the car ride home where Rashida calls her best gal pals to tell them of the wonderful news. We soon realize that Peter has never had a best guy friend. This poses a problem for the wedding. Who’s going to play the Best Man? Throw in Peter’s younger, gay brother Robby (Andy Samberg) — who’s best friends with his father (hilarious) — a terrific supporting cast, including Jon Favreau and Jaime Pressly as the venomous, bickering married friends and you’ve got yourself a fantastic hour and a half.

There were quite a few scenes worth noting, but of course, I’d never dream of spoiling the surprise. In the end, the poker table scene takes the cake – in an array of drinking games, male bonding and an inexperienced drinker – as the hardest I laughed (or cringed). But there are other moments that are guaranteed good times, including Rudd’s air-guitaring ‘slappa da bay-eez’ and any moment Peter’s new found friend Doug (Reno 911’s Thomas Lennon) shows up. I repeat: Thomas Lennon = hilarious.


Rudd’s dedication to his character’s emphasis on this new found friendship (he wants it to work so badly!) provides much of the film’s laughs. Even after the film, Hamburg revealed, “I knew when I wrote the script I wanted Paul in the lead. There are certain lines that only Paul can say.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Paul Rudd finds the perfect balance between apologetic awkwardness and consistent hilarity. And as it turned out later, his awkward appeal was only spurred on by the crew surrounding him. “In the scene when we were filming Paul’s goodbye to Sydney”, Hamburg recalls, “we knew that Paul was going to say ‘see ya city slicker’ or something random and awkward like that, but I couldn’t help it. Once we got rolling, we just left him out there. We must have done forty-two takes of that signoff — him walking out the door saying anything that came to mind, each time getting longer and more awkward. He was dying. We were all laughing. I think it turned out really well.”

Not to be outdone was the rest of the film’s cast. Rashida Jones fit perfectly in the role of Peter’s fiancé and Jason Segel – who ruined comedy for me when he penned last year’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall (only to have it resurrected by Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder) – managed to regain some strength with his normal, all-too-familiar portrayal of everyman’s friend, Sydney Fife. Fife is the guy every man hopes to have – honest, easy going, plays an instrument – and the best man most men end up with – loose-lipped, unpredictable, but by your side.

Amidst all the puke, pillow talk and premarital shenanigans in this homo/hetero-nuetral parade, there are some redeeming moments in this colorful tale of romantic reality. A lesson in love, this film manages to tell a new story with a nice twist on the fairytale ending. In a genre often lost to poo, potty and porking, I Love You, Man is the friend we all need: fun.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LOST: Episode 6 — Doubting Thomas, The Island and Proxy’s.

Jack (Matthew Fox) finds himself where everything started.

Jack (Matthew Fox) finds himself where everything started.

It’s back to the land of the LOST. Except this week – it’s not so cut and dry. I mean, the castaways are back. Some of them at least, but this time the rules have changed. As always, Thursday morning was met with a recap of the previous night’s episode. I’ve heard many takes on this week’s (218/09) sode’:

You [we] learned absolutely nothing in 58 minutes of Lost that you didn’t know in the first 2. Complete filler.”

“It was good not great – talk about a bunch of biblical references.”

“I like the bible stuff – the writers are so smaaaart!”

“This may be my favorite episode of the season, thus far.”

And to think that the first and last comment came from two people who use to be dating.

It was really until this morning that I realized that this episode really was something great. Granted, it was a caught-in-the-middle-of-a-much-bigger-story episode, but was that all? This week we opened with what we all thought was a flash back to the pilot. It was not. And we soon realized – crap, they made it. They made it back!? Then we got one of those 52 minute story’s explaining how they got where they just told us they’d be. Part of me felt like we could have done without that. Let me get straight to the point, though.

The most intriguing thing about last night’s episode was the fact that each person onboard the flight had to recreate the original flight sequence. We saw this clearly play out with jack putting his father’s shoes on Locke’s dead body in order to recreate the original flight. We also saw this when we noticed that Sayid was handcuffed to an officer of the law in order to become a proxy for Kate – who was in a similar boat on her maiden flight. And I thought that was it. That must be that Jack was himself, Hurley the same and Sun, too, right?


Think about it. Here we go.

Locke = Jack’s daddy – coffin-ized

Sayid = Kate, cuffed like a renegade.

Hurley = Charlie, with his guitar and carefree spirit (I made the second part up)

Sun = Sayid, who was looking for a lost love

Ben = Hurley, both ended up being late to their flights

Jack = Jack, because he is weak, and the only person weak enough to play Jack, is Jack himself. Pussy.

And now for the kicker….

Kate = Claire (Kate is prego with Jack’s baby from the night before). Whooooaaaa.

What is going to happen to the extra business classer’s that we got to meet briefly in last night’s episode? It hurts my mind to think about. I’m sure they’ll somehow find a gun, point it at someone and die – or they’ll shoot at someone in a raft as they’re paddling away, just before they jump points in time – wait a second!? Eureka!

As for Ben and his gladiator face, I think it’s obvious that he tried to kill my love, Penelope. Can’t you just see Ben about to execute Penny the same way Widmore’s boy Keamy did in Alex? And then, in walks Desmond – all excited because he just told Ben he wasn’t going to The Island. And then as Dez realizes that Ben always gets the best of everyone, Ben softly says, “Desmond, this doesn’t concern you. But if you stop me, I will hurt you.” What’s the only way Desmond will go back to the island – if Penny’s in trouble right? Maybe she dies, or is really hurt and the only way to save her is to go back. Back from where he once came.

Side note: Jack’s character arc coming on around with the inclusion of doubting Thomas (Jack: someone like me exists?!) and the Good Will Hunting-esque, “it’s not your fault” moment from Ben — of all people — was outstanding.

This is all turning out to get very good. Geeeeez, I love LOST.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Lost, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lost Through Four Episodes: The Little Prince

LOST Season 5 -- four down, thirteen to go.

LOST Season 5 — four down, thirteen to go.

“I’ve always been with you…”


Such is life. Such is LOST. The all-consuming, abusive relationship I’ve been in for the past 5 years. To be honest, I couldn’t feel more at home with last night’s episode. It was one that fell through the cracks, sure, but when push came to shove – old habits die hard.

We’re 4 episodes in to LOST’s season 5 saga and I can feel the uneasiness building in the air. The premier was a bit weak. The follow up was stronger, but still lacked that spice of answers we all hold hope for. How bad does the audience want answers? Last night I was busy. So … I woke up at 6am this morning to watch last night’s episode. Is there a stronger word than obsessed?

I’ve always been with you LOST.

The 4rd episode – Jughead – did wonders for all of us. We felt like we got some info penciled into a few questions, learned a little about our boy Widmore and managed to make our way back a few decades and see some terrific footage of a blond cutie that may or may not be married to someone, may or may not be someone’s mother and may or may not be in love with Widmore. Answers? Eh, it’s a start. Any time we get Desmond on screen, we’re in for a solid single. Join that with Faraday’s theories of time travel, his professed love for Caroline and a hydrogen bomb hanging feet from the ground and we’re off to a good start. Jughead = money. My favorite episode since last year’s, The Constant. Season 5: I like where its going.

Then we hit last night’s episode: The Little Prince

Sitting there with my cup of morning coffee in hand, it seemed to me that the ‘ol LOST writers were getting back to their old tricks. Did anyone think for a moment that Ben wasn’t suing Kate? Do we need to hear Jack say, “I can fix this” one more time? Does anyone not know by now that Sayid is a little unstable and will be either bleeding, shooting or both in every episode until the finale? The answers to all of this is of course not. We’re fans. We’re loyal fans. We get it.

But then I stopped. Could The Little Prince be a look into something deeper? Probably not, but its worth a look. Thanks to the last two ep’s we know can see where this is going. Faraday (my boy!) and Caroline are falling in love faster than the DOW is falling past 7,000. Jack, despite his inability to see what we all see, refuses to stop trying and will forever fight for Kate – this could come into play big time if we’re in a LOST-esque gun-to-the-head scenario. And Aaron — our hapless hero caught in the middle — could play a KEY role. He’s seemingly the only person BORN on the island (that we know of)…. right? Op, Rousseau’s daughter — but she’s dead, dead. There is a high chance I’m going insane.

I’m growing more and more intrigued to the Faraday/Caroline storyline — I won’t lie. And I finally want Jack to suck it up, have some faith, and trust someone else — I’m almost rooting for him. That’s a first, I think. I want Locke to start killing everything in sight. And finally – maybe I’m the only one – does it seem like Juliet’s into Sawyer?

Ben’s into Juliet. Juliet’s into Sawyer. Sawyer’s INTO Kate. Kate’s … into me … okay, she’s mostly into Jack. And Jack’s into his Dad, because Jack is gay. But he loves Kate. So he’s into her, supposedly. So at least that’s clear as mud.

I’ve always been with you LOST.

Last night’s saga (and all four ep’s this season) have proven to us all that we’ve always been with Lost. We’ll always be with LOST. No matter how many times it betrays us, no matter how much abuse we take, we’ll be right there … loving it.

Millions of questions to answer. 30 episodes left.

I’m so there.

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oscar Is A Friend of Mine

The world watches on ... well, some of us do.

The world watches on ... well, some of us do.

Ugh. I’m doing a horrible job the past few days of being anything but apathetic to my present state. Every night I go home and stare at a list of 5 (make that 15) films I need to see and an even longer list of to-do’s staring me in the face sceaming at me to get done. Let me start over.

I just got back from the Bahamas.

I know. I know. It’s a tough life over here for Uncle Bryce, but the fact of the matter is, just like the last time I returned from those southeast isles (embrace for onslaught of fruit), I returned less motivated than when I left. I was in a pretty good place too, before I went. I was working out. I was eating great. I was watching great films. I was reading great books.

Then the cruise hit me. Or should I say, I hit the cruise. Rather, I hit the buffet line on board the cruise. Ugh. Do you see where I’m coming from now? Do you see the self-induced apathy that comes in the wake of such pithy living!?

Well, here we are in Oscar season and I must admit: I do love myself a good ol’ unwatched telecast. Isn’t that the case? Didn’t just over 13 people watch them last year? I did. Well, on DVR, two days later.

I’m the perfect critic, I know.

I wanted to sign on and let the first round fly as I give my Shoulda Win But Won’t Oscar nods. Without further bloviating, the first one that comes to mind is The Dark Knight. It was my favorite film of this year and the only film that I saw three times in the theater. I saw WALL-E four. I saw Kung Fu Panda two, but one of them was on a cruise ship. Okay, that was the last mention, promise. Pinky swear.

I wish The Dark Knight would win Best Picture, but it won’t. I wish that W. – George Dubya – would get some face time on stage to defend himself from the masses (if only he could be heard above the boo’s). And I wish that somehow, Borat would make an appearance. Oh, when dreams come true.

Side note: if you think about it, the Oscars are one big fashion show and Bruno – Baron Cohen’s newest character – is in the business of crashing those fateful parades. So eh, you never know?

Before I go, I want to be honest with you, the reader (heck, its about time I was honest with me, the writer). I haven’t seen any of the potential Oscar nom’s yet. I’m being serious. I’m going to pause to let that soak in. I literally have seen nearly zero of them so far — Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Doubt, Gran Torino, Slumdog, Milk – none of them. I feel horrible, but I needed to get it in writing. Soon, very soon, things will change. I’ve been neglecting my writing. I apologize. I just gotta get this dang tan toned down first, its killin’ my rep.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Day After — President Barack Obama

Barrack Obama elected as the 44th President of the United States of America

Barack Obama elected as the 44th President of the United States of America

Well, it’s the day after and here I sit taking in all the wonderful sentiments surrounding me.

Only days ago, only a few feet away from my cubicle, a cry rang out through my aluminum walls, “I hate Elizabeth Hasslebeck! I HATE her!” It was Evie, my twenty-something coworker down the hall. “If she says one more word, I’m gonna, its just … everything about her, just AHHH!”

It very well could have been my candy-induced, Halloween lull, but for reason (unlike my fellow coworkers) I felt calm in the early months of November. I work in a decidedly liberal environment, but had managed — remarkably — to keep a cooled temperament. Could this be the first signs of maturity?  No?! I managed to stay steady despite the all the animation around me. I’m like a European living in Texas: tea in hand, never getting too worked up over the 9-1 football squad.

After last night’s charades, I came into work this morning alive to the possibility of happiness that would come from my fellow coworkers.  I knew they’d all be on the verge of ecstatic (which is a good thing) and on my way in, I tried to prep myself with a little soul-searching of my own. It was in that morning mist that I tried to make good on a mental promise I had made some years ago: I wouldn’t be ‘that’ guy. Although I don’t agree with the President elect’s policies, I do agree with his sentiments. Fact: It’s tough to say that uniting the country is a bad thing.

It wasn’t really until early September that it hit me that Barack Obama was going to be our next President. I had held out till then, at least, tried to hold back the wave of intoxication that would follow in that single thought’s wake. ‘Barack Obama (coined ‘Barry’ by many already), our 44th President‘, will take some getting used to. And all this jumping and jiving makes me think I need a break from it all. It’s been a long campaign, has it not? There’s been a lot of firsts: a black man elected as Commander and Chief. A female presidential contender. And a VP I came to concede that I was legitimately attracted to. The 2008 run (which seemed to last the better part of two years) has finally come to a close. The dust has settled across the nation as the masses scamper home to their beds. The rallies are over. The microphones are shut off, for now. The voice of the people, although never silent, can rest awhile.

I don’t know that many of us could have done what these two men did: run rampant for 24 months, fighting back strict personal prying, holistic investigation and uber-stressful schedules amidst a raucous and crumbling economy, national pride and foreign policy. It surprises me that McCain made it this far. To be honest, by my calculations he should have died somewhere between the second and third debates. And as I sat in front of the television watching his secession speech last night, I couldn’t help but whisper to my roomate, “I wonder if he’s just sitting there, breathing deep, thinking, ‘its over…its finally over…’”. The face of a man who had just lost an election faced the nation, like many before him, with pride and dignity. He appropriately quieted the crowd when they booed, and eloquently made way for the star of the night. It may have been his only play, but still, nice job John; classy final move.

But where’s the rub? Why all of this now? Is this to make lemonade of a the lemons of loss?

Absolutely not.

For the past year, maybe more, I’ve been a proponent of change – right change. Well, more specifically, correct change. I’ve been proclaiming a better, cleaner, simpler America. I was never a supporter of Barack Hussein Obama and I don’t know that I’ll ever be thoroughly enthralled by his every move. I am, however, an American. Which is to say, there’s a price attached. As an American we’re given a choice: the option to choose right or wrong, pro or anti, lover or fighter — or maybe both. Those opportunities are given to us by a history of blood, sweat and tears and although sometimes lost amid the wear and tear of the daily grind, they should never be far from our daily living. Yep, it’s important to remember both where we came from and where we’re going. It’s important to have a dialogue with everyone around us in order to serve them, love them and enhance that daily living. But I do have a few questions. At what point though, does discussion (as arguing is so often believed to be) become divisive? Its true, there are three sides to a discussion: the mouth and the two ears. At what point do we instill confidence in our leaders by giving them our trust first and questions later? At what point do we give them trust, in accordance to the respect they deserve?

The past decade, for better or worse (and there’s been plenty), we’ve eliminated respect from the American equation. Like it or not, the people have spoken. Barack Obama is the resounding favorite in an election of divided truths. I think its time to stop and think, to sit and listen for a change. I’m not a big fan of protesting democracy.

Three years ago, after an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I vividly remember sitting on my couch speechlessly disgusted at what I had just heard: a 60 minute diatribe of hate, disrespect and rage towards our current President, George Bush. One man, damningly proclaimed responsible for all the evil in the world, was left to rot in a never ending sea of spite and purified rage. Sure, who hasn’t been ashamed of Bush at some point? Who hasn’t been ashamed of all the presidents, at some point, that have held office in my lifetime? Problem is, at that moment, listening to one of America’s citizen’s speak so fervently hateful words, I was disgusted of this country’s citizen(s). What if the rest of the world is watching this? I felt like the father that looked behind his shoulder to see if the kids were watching, immediately ashamed of what was on.

Then a light bulb went on.

What about my thoughts towards the Clinton administration? How much legitamate hate did I have stored up in my hypocritical head? And that’s where it began … I promised myself on that day, come November 2008, I wouldn’t be ‘that’ guy. Whatever it looked like, I’d work towards common ground. I wouldn’t be filled with spite. I’d discuss with two ears and one mouth. And as this attitude rose up in me — the evangelical Right — it’d fall gently on a more beautiful America.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pride and Glory — Loyalty and Legacy

A Cold Winter of the Soul

by Bryce VanKooten

I’m never far from a mental shutoff. Sadly, it only takes one corny line of dialogue or an ill-timed rant to turn my eyes from the scene to screen. I wish it weren’t this way, but I’m still fairly fresh to the movie scene — it’s taken me three tries to get through Citizen Kane and after try number two, a friend spoiled it for me, so I’m still a bit reluctant to finish it. I went to an early screening of Pride and Glory with a sneaky thought in the back of my head: Just another cop drama. I spoke with my friend before the film and prefaced, “I really like (Edward) Norton, so I’ll see it — just like I’ll see anything Tom Cruise is in – but I hope this isn’t like the rest of ‘em. I hope they don’t get lazy on us and just keep asking us who done it…”

The movie begins with a glorious scene – a football game in upper New York – striking each hit with interweaving subtleties of the opening credits. The cold holiday season had come upon me full force and the silence left ample space for the clashing of bodies and poignant opening dialogue. It’s NYPD vs. Detroit Metro and the NYPD has the easy edge; they have Jimmy Egan. Jimmy, played by Colin Farrell, leads to football team as well as his men (as sergeant) in the local 31st Division and hits just about anything that moves – on duty or not — in this twisted, rage of a film. Jimmy has a certain way of doing things. He’s married into a long line of cops, all members of the same division: Francis Tierney, Sr. (Jon Voight), Francis Teirney, Jr (Noah Emmerich) and Ray Teirney (Edward Norton). Hard work is not something given out, but a choice made daily, a choice the whole family subscribes to. The same goes for integrity.

Jimmy’s final tackle of the game is met with a phone call – four police officers shot and killed – and it is from the outset that we begin the manhunt for their murderer. Ray, his daunting past behind him, his marriage in shambles, is enlisted by his father (against his will) to serve on the Taskforce Team and assist with the investigation into the murders. The search begins and the facts are followed. Its from this outset that the movie picks up and seldom slows down.

Pride and Glory has a wonderful feel to it. Its ‘slow and steady wins the race’ above ‘fast paced wins the audience’. Sitting there in my own chair I couldn’t help but notice the focus that went into the story. Simply, it really wasn’t that thick? There isn’t a double-cross to speak of, let alone a mastermind. What a wonderful change from the standard cop script! The eloquent style of director Gavin O’Conner shows real attention to detail and don’t worry, Gavin, I got it: nearly half the film was shot using mirror, a subtle gesture that every action is a reflection on yourself and everyone you love – nice touch, very neat.

Without spoiling anything for anyone, I can’t help but point out the perfect, dramatic balance beam that the script managed to mount. Far too often, Hollywood is concerned with making a buck as opposed to making a movie that will make a buck. I can’t say I blame them (a guaranteed buck is better than a buck by itself), but I can complain in resistance. I’m not sure that there is much need for a PG-13 rated, hard drugs crime movie any longer. To be frank, is that the world we live in? In a land where lies reign and addiction run perverse through the streets, is there room for such a tapered reality? Pride and Glory rides the line perfectly. It portrays evil for what it is – whether gangster or cop. It shows lies on both sides and revenge in light of the dark spiral it promotes.

It’s not often that we’re able to find the line between rough and redeemed, but Pride and Glory makes a giant leap in the right direction. There are a few scenes not worth missing – the baby and the iron (which I’m sure you’ve heard about so far) as well as a ruckus (and altogether hilarious) table speech from Teirney, Sr. Its not Norton’s best work, nor is it Voight’s or Farrell’s, but be that as it may, Pride and Glory is not another cop drama. It’s not another NYPD murder mess. It is a graceful approach towards truth and justice, family and legacy, in hopes of bringing principles back to the big screen.

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , | Leave a comment

Feature Video:

My days are generally separated and looked back upon based on three categories: stories, quote and videos. Each new day typically brings either a new story from a friend, a new quip for the Scott House Quote Board or a new video found on the World Wide Web. Today, September 30, 2008 will be remembered as the day I was given The Dancing Video. Or enjoy it in HD, here.

Many of you have seen this video. Many of you have participated in this video. It was not until today that it was put in front in front of my nose. The video is the story of Matt Harding, a 32-year-old, ex-video-game-creator-and-player. In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he’d saved to wander around Asia until it ran out.

A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea. They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said “Hey, why don’t you stand over there and do that dance. I’ll record it.” He was referring to a particular dance Matt does – the only dance Matt does, really. This turned out to be a very good idea.

A couple years later, someone found the video online and passed it to someone else, who passed it to someone else, and it finally got passed to me. The response to the first video brought Matt to the attention of the nice people at Stride® gum. They asked Matt if he’d be interested in taking another trip around the world to make a new video. Matt asked if they’d be paying for it. They said yes. Matt thought this sounded like another very good idea.

In 2006, Matt took another trip – a 6 month trip through 39 countries on all 7 continents. In that time, he danced a great deal.

I’ve done some traveling in my day, but not in the same universe as Matt. This video inspired me beyond words – to a point where my parents could be legitimately concerned for what may come in its wake.

Watch it. Write him. Dance happy.

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LOST in the…Two Moments

Lindeloph (left) with Cuse (center) in their home -- the editing bay

Lindeloph (left) with Cuse (center) in their home -- the editing bay

Well, it’s all happened at once now hasn’t it? What used to be my wishful thinking has all come crashing down in a heap of escaped dreams. If only I had had the chutzpah – if only I were Jewish. Prepare yourself for the letdown…

A couple weeks back, as I was leaving my place of work, I was walking down a long stretch of road — no cars, no people to speak of, just me and another bloke. As we walked towards each other – we were both trying to exit the premises – all I could notice was the fact that he looked like he was from the east coast. He had on a big coat, his cap, and was holding a briefcase. The only other thing I immediately noticed was his glasses – black, hard rimmed glasses on an unforgettable face; well, unforgettable for a few.

You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s absolutely no way? Well, considering I am in Burbank, CA, close by to many of the major studios, I suppose, in reality, there actually is a way. I continued on my line. The closer we got to each other, the clearer the face and facts became. I’ve done it. I’m walking stride for stride with Damon Lindelof. This is unreal.  Consider the facts here for a moment if you will:  I write nearly every week about LOST — the show the consumes my thoughts, invades my personal sleep and generally spites me around every turn. I created this blog to vent about my glee for the show and combined cynicism it brings to my Wednesdays, and I was now walking in step with its masked man; its proverbial Wizard of Oz. It all happened so fast.

And then we just kept walking. And walking.

To say that my brain was going crazy would actually be false. He was on his phone, I was listening to my Ipod — let’s be honest though, I had it on pause, just kept the ear buds in to be cool. We walked step for step for the next full minute. The entire time I was deliberately looking away from him, as if to say I didn’t know it was him. As we walked — it must have been a block or so — I made the strict decision not to say anything. I wouldn’t bother him. In an ideal world he would have handed me the summary of Season 5, but it probably would have just been too weird, so we just kept our pace. I wasn’t going to say anything. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to be that guy. Oh, my spider-senses were tingling.

For the next couple weeks I milled that night over in my mind. It’s been my dream for 4 years to be a writer for LOST, to start wherever possible, shouldn’t I have said something? I feel as though I made the right decision – nah, I know I did – I just wonder what would happen if I saw him again.

I did.

Two weeks later, I got a call from my roommate who works at the Disney/ABC Lot in Burbank. He invited me over for lunch and we walked down to the Disney cafeteria. On our way over, we walked right past the LOST writer’s offices and I decided it would be best to just take a deep breath and not focus on the past. We kept walking. I kept thinking. I settled for a salad at the cafe (what?!) and we made our way outside. We hadn’t sat down for more than 5 minutes when low and behold, out of the commissary, five feet away, the entire LOST writing crew plops down, save one: Carleton Cuse. I looked at Todd and he at me as I mumbled the words, “Well, that makes twice…” There I sat, trapped in my own skin, this time confronted with the option of not ruining a phone call, but a large group lunch.

Out walks Carlton.

Son of a…!

I wish I could tell you all that I did the proper thing, just a ‘thank you’ or a ‘I love your work’ type of quip. I wish I came bearing great news of great joy, but I don’t. I sat there like a lump, afraid of burning any future bridges and focused on professionalism – its all very elitist and lame, isn’t it? If I had to live it over, I would’ve done it differently. What exactly this different thing would be, I do not know, but I can say this: The next time I see Mr. Cuse or Mr. Lindeloph, they will know the name Bryce VanKooten. I vow to you on the foundation of this blog. I hereby swear that nothing on this side of Saturn’s rings will keep me from telling them that they can keep their money; I’ll work for free. I’ve never wanted anything more than a position within the LOST writing community. The next time I see their face(s), I’ll make it happen. Perfectly honest, I’ll make it happen, you can bet that freeeaking island on that one.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments