The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes never lets me down. I’m serious. I go to check out what theater is closest — it uses Flixster, (the RT affiliate app on my iphone) and gets me there. What’s coming out next week? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s not worth 13.50-plus in IMAX? Same result every time. Rotten Tomatoes is genius!

Well, tally one in the let-me-down category now.

Recently, I made a mistake of checking for the first review of Iron Man 2 — the apocalyptically anticipated sequel to the 2008 blockbuster Iron Man. I found a review. It was from the floundering paper mill, The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of our good friend (I don’t know him, who does?), Kirk Honeycutt.

“Well, that didn’t take long. Everything fun and terrific about “Iron Man,” a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel.”

Kirk Honeycutt, you’re a douche misinformed.

I do a little more research. This is the guy that LOVED:

Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D

Death at a Funeral (yep, the new one)

The Back-Up Plan

Clash of the Titans

Remember Me

Green Zone

The Lovely Bones (arguably the most dismal movie of last year).

I’ve been bamboozled! I keep looking around….WHAT?! He HATED Brothers and Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been duped! So here it is; my attempt to rid the world of that dastardly first review.

Iron Man 2 was a total blast. The villains weren’t quite up to The Dark Knight standards, but this isn’t Batman’s world is it? We’re dealing with a new hero here. Rich, charming (oh man, is he charming), hilarious, and the king of any situation…drunk in the Iron Man suit — no problem!. He’s smarter than you. He’s got more money than you. He’s needs nothing you have and has whatever you might want. He is the perfect superhero and IM2 is his fueled, dying, sarcastic stage. The show lasts two hours, please stay through the credits.

IM2 also weaves the perfect intro into the “Avengers Era”. Clues throughout, a brilliant Easter Egg at the end and intertwining characters make it the perfect kickoff to the films leading into The Avengers, the anticipated superhero Magnus Opus set for summer 2012.

There were a few things wrong with this movie. Don Cheadle just seemed out of place. I’ll be honest, its tough to compete with Robert Downey Jr. on any screen at any time; he’s pure entertainment. Cheadle’s Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes was, ‘mehh’. Terrance Howard didn’t steal the show, neither did Cheadle; we’ll call it a draw. Why can’t Stark just control both suits? There’s our fix.

Scarlett Johansson was perfectly cast as the busty poised Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff and played it coolly across the entire movie. She had her scene. It was neat. It was quick. It was nothing new. Though, for some reason, we had to watch our boy Jon Favreau go all Mike Tyson and box some random security guard! I’m trying to watch Scarlet get her kick on!? I couldn’t’ focus during the fight anyway… I kept thinking Elektra…Elektra….why do I keep think … The suit! It’s the leather suit! Yep, got it. Elektra continues to ruin my life annually.

Once we got back to our boy Tony, everything in the world seemed right again. Oh! One more note — I love Sam Rockwell, I hope to never give him a negative review as long as I live. He was great as the “outcast younger brother” Justin Hammer. Well done, as always. And Mickey Rourke in tats wielding long blades of lightening … I’ll take it. But that’s not why we came to see the movie is it. We came for the man of the hour: Indiana Jones, Jack Sparrow, Jake Sulley!

This is Tony Stark, the most loveable playboy/superhero/billionaire on Earth — hopelessly in love with Pepper Potts almost as much as he’s in love with himself.

Kirk Honeycutt, you just…you really screwed the pooch on this one.

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May 4, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Lost, Movies, Television | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Informant!

The Informant!, A Case Study in Lying.

Whitacre (Damon) lays tape... one of hundreds.

A Case Study In Lying

by Bryce VanKooten

The Informant! — with a little jitter at the end — is a quirky movie. Its a spectacle of laughter and stress for just under two hours. When I walked out with my buddy Bryan, we both looked at each other and said, “I’m exhausted … But that was pretty good.”  Now, even hours later, it still seems like a fair assessment.

Matt Damon (and his extra 30lbs, on the ol’ tummy) came out swinging a little slower (re: different) than in his previous Ocean’s or Bourne flicks, while reuniting with his old pal Steven Soderburgh. The Informant!, along with a couple nice new faces to dramedy – the versatile Tony Hale and Joel McHale — finds a niche like an itch you can’t scratch. Never the ending spoiler, I was tossed and turned by this faux Crime Caper so frequently that I must have changed seat positions to three positions on loop: laughter, cringe, horror … Repeat.

Infiltrating the life of whistle-blower-turned-FBI-informant Mark Whitacre, The Informant! keeps it’s pace like a bad summer camp relationship — giggles, realization, anger. There was no room for sympathy. There was no room for understanding. How do you understand a pathological liar? As Bryan and I sat there through the film, we couldn’t help but slowly see ourselves get more and more angry at the pathetic and despicable display of humanity on screen. And he got me! I didn’t know he was lying! And it was so obvious the whole time! I will admit though, I do love a good foolin’.

There’s a couple scenes that make the movie worth the price of admission. Sadly, many of them were spoiled in the trailer (a curse I’ve coined “Being Fox’d”, for its similarity to 20th Century Fox and Megan Fox’s reputation for impeccable previews and horrific results), but a few remain on the screen. Matt Damon’s spot-on execution of all of the ‘bugged rooms’ scenes are brilliant to the core and his portrayal of the ghastly 1990’s ties are pastel-perfect. Props to the Costume Department … (pun). There’s a mid-level biochemist somewhere in the world right now tickled pink, guaranteed.

The most pivotal of all Whitacre’s moments onscreen was between his unflinchingly loving wife Ginger (Melanie Lynskey) and the charming, beaten down FBI Agent Shepard (Scott Bakula). Finally caught in a web of lies, Whitacre is confronted by the consequences of his actions. He is, indeed, a pathological liar, among others things … including a felon. It has that Beautiful Mind twinge to it, you know? That feeling that, the truth is out, but reality just somehow got more confusing.

The lesson to be learned for Whitacre is not ‘telling the truth’ – he’s been told, advised, coerced, arm-wreslted, pleaded with, bargained for that countless times – the lesson here, one would surmise, would be to figure out his motivations leading up to his felonious actions. A man who seemingly had it all – countless cars, land, money, a loving wife and kids – risks it all … for what?

And that’s something we never get. I still don’t get it. Fame? Variety? Spice? Sheer boredom?

Why do I like this movie?

I just do.

It’s quirky and funny and well written and sharp. All the actors are spot on and it nails the evanescent truth about lying. I can hear my father’s words now, “I can’t promise you you’ll get caught, but I can promise you one thing: you tell me the truth and you won’t get in as much trouble as you will if you lie to me about it.

Plus, Joel McHale, first major feature role? Come on…

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , | 1 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.

9:06THREE YEARS LATER

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.

THREE YEARS EARLIER

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.

COMMERCIAL 3

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.

THREE YEARS LATER

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.

Bow-chica-bow-wow

Bow-chica-bow-wow

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.

L O S T

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.

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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.

man

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 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…”

–Kate

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

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

Pineapple Express (2008)

(Left to Right) Seth Rogan, James Franco and Danny McBride walk back from a long, crazy night.

(Left to Right) Seth Rogan, James Franco and Danny McBride walk back from a long, crazy night.

One Crazy Night

High as a kite — eh, a great summer escape.

by Bryce VanKooten

There I was, back in high school, watching two grown men wander the streets of their hometown in search of friends and foe, drugs and dreams. I didn’t have to try very hard to see them walk through their front door to standing parents, awaiting their arrival; their disapproving looks saying it all. Before speaking they pause, minds spinning from the night’s many adventures, they rewind, trying to start from the beginning.  Then, very slowly and seriously, they begin, “You guys…I can explain. This could have happened to anyone.”

Armed with a throwaway job as a Process Server and a mediocre high school girlfriend (the very cute, Amber Heard), Dale Denton (Seth Rogan) has his daily sites set on two things: getting high today and preparation for his high tomorrow. Generally, the only thing deterring him from these goals are the minor obstacles in his path – new costume ideas for the next ‘serve’, scraping together enough cash for tonight’s purchase, calling his girlfriend – and even they rarely seem to keep him from his hazy utopia. In Denton’s eyes, he lives in the pinnacle of life’s glorious drag, sucking down joints like yesterday’s leftovers. Its comic genius, I must admit and no joke is lost among the laborious scenes of everyday puffing.The mellow attitude with which the film opens is only enhanced after we meet Saul Silver (James Franco), Dale’s just-as-lazy drug dealer. If Dale’s a pothead, I’m not sure where that puts Saul — maybe, Dale in a decade?

**Spoiler(s) ahead**

The movie stays in its smoky saga only long enough to paint the scene. After Dale witnesses a cop’s murder by the hands of a crocked dealer (Gary Cole) and leaves a joint of the infamously rare Pineapple Express at the scene of the crime the movie switches gears after he finally begins fearing for his life after realizing the rare weed’s traceability and just like that, we’ve got a full blown mouse hunt on our hands. Between Silver’s lackluster zeal for much of anything and Dale’s predisposition to practicality, the jokes are brilliantly normal and the comedy perfectly understandable. What did we expect, really? Every Apatow movie to date has been about the average man; each time finding himself in an increasingly more improbable, but never impossible, situation. Pride yourself on cleanliness and 1980’s comic books and you could be a 40 Year-Old Virgin. Hook up with a girl out of your league and both of you could very well be unhappy and Knocked Up. Follow around high school boys trying desperately to swipe the V-card and successfully purchase alcohol with a fake ID and I guarantee you the footage will be Superbad. Pineapple Express is no different. Smoke enough weed in a short period of time and this could actually happen to you, there’s not a doubt in my mind.

Don’t read me wrong here, this movie becomes more and more outlandish with each passing turn, but the jokes are never too far – save the fighting ninja warriors, those were a bit much, I suppose. After these modern-day Cheech and Chongs realize their notorious stash of PE can be traced back to them, they decide to sprint for the middle man — tweener-dealer Red (Danny McBride) and easily the funniest character of this film (and maybe the entire last year).

Each twist of fortunes finds Red fighting against someone else and by the end of the film the now-famous clip of the neck brace-wearing Red chirping, “thug life…” has never rang truer. With the dealer’s goons (The Office’s Craig Robinson and Superbad’s Kevin Corrigan) hot on their tracks, the three underdogs embark on the save-all-except-themselves mission using the PE to finance the necessities: Slurpees and snacks. After Dale gets arrested for blatantly selling to minors, their plan seems thwarted — all hope lost. Arms behind his back, trying to explain to the driving police officer, Dale glances up to see his counterpart – a Slurpee-holding Saul – standing directly in front of the speeding vehicle, willing to take a hit for his friend. The slushy drinks erupt, mostly on the windshield, make the Police cruiser now both their getaway and a seemingly obvious hit-and-run homicide. Misconception…all one big misconception, but hilarious nonetheless. I wouldn’t want to spoil the rest of the film for you, but bottom line: it’s worth a watch if you feel like a night off from responsibility.

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lost: Season 4 Finale

LOST Finale

As it all goes down, fans wait, watch and wilt till next season.

There’s No Place Like Home: Part 2 & 3

By Bryce VanKooten

Well, its all over. At least for now. How do we all feel? Can we describe it all in one word? Legit. Two words: deceptively inspiring? I suppose we need a time machine to get out exactly how we feel.

This year we saw lots and lots of things happen. Wait, no we didn’t. The season started with the ever-fateful ‘the folks on The Freighter are coming to get us’ and ended with the incredible twist: ‘the folks on The Freighter, although tricksy little hobbits’s––did not get us’. Granted, we got to meet Faraday (awesome, eccentric, all good things) and Charlotte (hmmm) and I’ll be the first to admit that I like them, but frankly––when all was said and done, plot wise… It was a simple season.

Remember first season when we saw a Hatch and were entertained just by the thought of it for about 15 episodes? Or when we saw only the feet of The Others walking by––just a glimpse––and we had more Goosebumps than a 6th grade library? Those were the days when nitwit fans were mixed in with the rest of the nuts and left to fight amongst themselves as to who would get the last handful of theory crumbs. Nowadays though, where do we live?  What is it going to take to get us back to that state of wonderment without that nostalgic sense of hate we so often feel? Can it be that we are too smart for our own good?  Always thinking outside the magic box, we can only be duped if hand-fed lies? I say nah, but that’s closer than not.

If ever there was a breaking point for me, it was the end of Season 3. It was the first season where I had to moan along with the rest of the world week by week (or should I say, week off to week on) because I had used up my luxury of DVD seasons (see previous post Lost: The Logic-Free Fee). It was then when I sat back and said, “Lost, I hereby swear I will disown you like a right-wing father to his hippie son if you don’t impress me beyond belief.” And like a true nonconforming child, it did. There I was, watching Jack drink his life away–– popping pills like a MLB All-star thinking to myself, “Well, it looks like this is it. I have to quit. I gotta shut er’ off.” And then it happened. They took me to the future. And like Never, Never, Land, I was hooked again.

When this year’s finale rolled around, I can’t say I was in as angry of a place, but I can say that I wanted some movement. When Desmond did his Marty McFly bit in The Constant, I went wild. When Keamy went from ‘not that tough’ to ‘okay, he could be tough’ by going hard as The Wire and shooting Ben’s daughter, I coincidentally wanted to jump up and scream, “That’s what I’m talking about!” You can’t have anyone to really love if you don’t have anyone to really hate. Throw in a loathsome person like Benjamin Linus (who we all love, lets be honest) and you have a terrific show. Leverage that dynamic with the island’s properties and now we’re talking. The Season 4 finale did just that. It didn’t do everything I had hoped (i.e. reveal to us the/a time machine, show where the island went after it ducked below the surface, give us more insight into where Ben goes after banished, etc, etc), but it did enough. I liked how the island disappeared. I liked how Sun sold out for her final scene with Jin (fyi; that was heart wrenchingly painful to watch and I likely won’t watch it again; I liked Jin, I did…. I did). I liked how Sawyer was the man, again––if only for a little while. He kind of went to that hey-don’t-forget-I’m-still-Sawyer place where he does things, almost subconsciously, just to show how much cooler than Jack he is. I thought his jump was well placed and perfect. And if you didn’t hear what he said to Kate in the whisper, you can hear it here.

Bottom line, this finale was like a punch in the belly button. A good punch, though. It hurts a bit; torments you for a while, but its good to know that you can still feel. You can still hurt–– and they still care enough to take the time and effort to punch you.

June 3, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Lost, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments