TV Review: Castle Rock (2018-)

TV Review: Castle Rock (2018-)

Quote from Castle Rock by Ruth Deaver: “Life used to go in one direction, forward, like one of those people-movers at the airport.  But somehow I got off it.”

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I was looking forward to this show coming out on Hulu during the summer.  I didn’t get around to it until August, then took me even more time to get back to it in September, and finally finished the last episode not too long ago in October.  For Stephen King fans who can forgive his wordiness and copious description in his books, this will be the show for you because he can do no wrong.  Now for those who have never read a book of his or cared for his movie adaptations that are centered around evil and good, life and death, sane and insane, have and have nots, well this probably won’t be the show for you.  In other words, this isn’t the best adaptation of King that had been made.

The issue is not that it isn’t compelling because it grabs your attention.  The issue is there are so many parts to it that you can’t keep left from right, up from down, and front from back.  It’s a show where everything including the kitchen sink is found, and because of it, it’s highly confusing for someone who hasn’t and some that have read his books.  Not saying you have to explain everything that every character does, but without adequate explanation you are left with too many unanswered questions.  It needed a little more purpose for the back and forth between the past and present.  The randomness of minor and major characters was okay, but the transitioning caused unnecessary confusion.  There were times I was thinking so X happened, then why did Z happen?

The universal themes of the show such as future uncertainty, past influences, past mistakes, drug addiction, allure to darkness, different personas, effects of prison, and fear of the unknown are not what you have to grapple when the show ends.  It’s the significance and meaning of the character played by Bill Skarsgård.  I won’t go into detail of his character, but it begs a lot of questions: those with deeper meaning or possible multiple meanings.  There’s basically spooky stuff going on throughout the show.  It took me a while to be invested.

The actors who shined the most were André Holland as Henry Deaver, Bill Skarsgård as The Kid, and Adam Rothenberg as Reverend Matthew Deaver.  Sissy Spacek as Ruth Deaver, Melanie Lynskey as Molly Strand, and Scott Glenn as Alan Pangborn deserve applause too.  There were many additional cast members such as Francis Conroy, Rory Culkin, Aaron Staton, Terry O’Quinn, Ann Cusack, and Charlie Tahan.  With this in mind, there are 10 episodes with a length of 60 minutes to see these characters interact together.  It has a TV rating of MA (Mature Audience).  I’m curious what Season 2 will bring.  It has been renewed, but no release date yet.  I would like to see fewer ideas jam packed into the next season or at least, have more of a direction of the different plots, and if they do intersect, see more definitive answer(s).  I feel a little guilty about my rating because King is a master storyteller with great understanding of human interaction and problems.  I’m glad I stuck with it to the end, but this is a watch one time only show for me.

Pisaries Creator’s Rating

Castle Rock gets Three Fingers with 75%.

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One Sheet by Bad Robot/Warner Bros.

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Two Colorings

My day off project that resulted in compiling various designs and coloring these two.

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Movie Recommenation: Hush (2016)

Quote from Hush by Man : “I can come in anytime I want.  And I can get you, anytime I want.  But I’m not going to.  Not until it’s time.  When you wish you’re dead… that’s when I’ll come inside.”

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Producers: Jason Blum, Philip Dawe, Michael J Fourtiq Sr. Kate Lumpkin, Trevor Macy, Melinda Nishioka, Couper Samuelson, and Jeannette Volturno

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writers: Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel

Major Cast: John Gallagher Jr, Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan, and Emma Graves

Rating: R for strong violence, terror, and some language

Running Time: 1 hour and 21 minutes

Hush is a horror/thriller about a deaf writer who lives in the woods to find solitude and a place to write away from her family and friends.  This is a low budget horror film, but done well enough.  There isn’t too much to dissect as it’s a story about trying to survive when someone is crazily trying to kill you.  The difference for Maddie, played by Kate Siegel, is she’s missing one of her senses, her hearing, but for the most part she adapts well without it.  You are with her all the way as she fights to live.  There is nothing redeeming about the mysterious man, played by John Gallagher Jr, and he’s creepily good.  The ultimate reason for watching this is to find out whether Maddie will survive through it all and how bad of an ending it might be for the Man.

Hush gets Three Fingers with 80%

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Movie Recommendation: Ex Machina (2014)

Quote from Ex Machina by Ava: “You learn about me and I learn nothing about you.  That’s not a foundation on which friendships are based.”

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Producers: Eli Bush, Caroline Levy, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Tessa Ross, Scott Rudin, Jason Sack, Joanne Smith, Jarle Tangen

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland

Major Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, and Sonoya Mizuno

Rating: R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references, and some violence

Running Time: 1 hour and 48 minutes

Ex Machina is a sci-fi drama about artificial and human intelligence.  It begins with a young man named Caleb arriving at a remote place by helicopter.  He is introduced to Nathan, the genius creator behind his android prototype named Ava.  He is also the CEO of the company Caleb works and is now a part of an experiment.  As Caleb spends more time getting to know Ava and her capabilities, he realizes things about himself, sometimes disturbing but understandable.  While he knows robots can perform actions and be programmed to feel, Caleb finally learns the true purpose of him being there.  As of right now androids will never be able to feel emotion and react as a human being could, but for this remote possibility the movie is frightening.  There was a little bump in the road for me near the end, but might have been a case of I don’t ask questions so I don’t care.

Ex Machina gets Four Fingers and One Thumb at 98%

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Bad Ones! Hardly Good Ones! Oh, the Horror!!!

As October 31st comes creeping around the dark corner, here are 10 horror movies  decent to watch for either their cheesiness, gore, hilarity, and in a few cases suspense.  Not everyone needs to die and blood doesn’t need to be shed to be a Halloween movie, but it sure helps.  I pretty much kept it to the so bad it’s so good or looks good but was okay movies.   Here is my list this year, in no particular order, I watched (most again/a few for the first time).

Dr. Giggles (1992)

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Terrifier (2017)

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House of Wax (2005)

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Six Souls (2010)

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American Psycho II: All American Girl (2002)

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Children of the Corn (1984)

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Pumpkinhead (1988)

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Sacrifice (2016)

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People Under the Stairs (1991)

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Cult of Chucky (2017)

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Movie Recommendation: Borg vs McEnroe (2017)

Quote from Borg vs McEnroe by John McEnroe: “You can’t be serious!  You cannot be serious!  The call was on the line!  Chalk few all over, man.  The chalk flew up!  He saw it.  That’s why he’s walking all over it.  Everyone saw it was in.  You cannot possibly call that out.”

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Producers: Peter Bengtsson, Tomas Eskilsson, Sanne Glaesel, Olli Haikka, Kristina Hejduková, Jarkko Hentula, Tim King, Lone Korslund, Pavel Muller, Jon Nohrstedt, Gustav Oldén, Ageneta Perman, Birgitte Skov, Ina Sohlberg, Olof Spaak, Anna Lo Westlin, and Fredrik Wikström

Director: Janus Metz

Writer: Ronnie Sandahl
Major Cast: Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård

Skarsgard, Tuva Novotny, Leo Borg, Jackson Gann, Scott Arthur, and Ian Blackman

Rating: R for language and some nudity
 
Running Time: 1 hour and 47 minutes

Borg vs McEnroe is a sports drama about the competitive relationship of two tennis players,  Björn Borg and John McEnroe.  It weaves back and forth between their childhoods, similar in some respects, but opposite in other ways.  Borg reached fame and fortune at a young age with his coach Lennart Bergelin never shying away from putting him in his place.  McEnroe had just as much athletic prowess, but never found a way to contain it when on the courts.  Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf portrayed the tennis stars to perfection.  You never could accurately match Borg’s facial expressions to his feeling once he stepped into the spotlight, thanks to Gudnason.  You always knew when McEnroe was angry and had a no nonsense attitude, thanks to LaBeouf.  The time leading up to their 1980 Wimbledon match, with all its pressures and excitement, captures the tournament just as effectively.  These two men couldn’t have been more different at face value, but as you learn they are cut from the same stone.  One just learned to suppress it and coped with it via destructive ways.  The other didn’t suppress it, but had an equally hard time with relationships.  Their game is regarded as one of the best games of the 20th century.  Borg left the sport in 1983 and McEnroe in 1992.
 

Borg vs. McEnroe gets Four Fingers at 90%

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Book Recommendation: Evil

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Publisher: Basic Books

Publication: Reprint edition (September 8, 2004)

Page Number: 288

I didn’t plan to recommend this book in October, but it’s fitting since Halloween is often associated with things that lurk in the darkness.  Yet, evil is not rooted in Christianity or any particular religion alone.  It goes beyond one person being evil through their thoughts and then actions (often resulting in death).  It goes beyond a concept or idea that projects itself into society (by a persuasive person or group of people).  The phenomenon of evil exists and is pervasive as much as any other concept that intrigues and scares people.  Lance Morrow takes evil and shakes up how we view it and what it may actually encompass.  It highlights how we mold it to fit into our own lives so it makes sense.  

From my own experience, evil is not a figure with horns, but one with a human face and body.  There are certain things I view as downright wrong, but not completely drenched in evil.  The areas where evil lurks, light and dark corners alike, is not the same for everyone nor is it found at the same time.  The days are long gone of only wishing and hoping things get better.  Results stem from movement and action these days, and while it may not be what you thought it would be, they are results just the same.  It can also be applied to learning where you push your boundaries, inspect your beliefs, and break away from those things that no longer make sense.

From what angle do people, in general, use to understand evil?  For those who are viewed as evil, where did they find the justification for their actions and what punishments should result?  Who is the most evil person have you met and why do you think this?  These are questions that popped in my head as I read this book.  It’s easy to label something as evil, but much harder to see why and what is behind these four letters.  This is the purpose of this book.

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Book Recommendation: The Science Book

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Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Publication: March 28, 2006

Page Number: 528 pages

This book is for all those who are interested about science and not just the traditional natural sciences as it also includes some social sciences.  Put another way it’s a nice source of material for a brief overview of the achievements and concepts found everywhere on this planet and in some cases in the whole solar system.  Each page discusses a scientific topic or something that is clearly related to science in brief overview and goes in chronological order by time.  For those of us who desire a quick overview without getting lost in the intricacies and layers of scientific patterns, predictions, and properties, this is the book for you.  Nothing more and nothing less.

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Because People Like Coffee and Tea

“What goes best with a cup of coffee?  Another cup.”

-Henry Rollins-

“I am sort of a tea addict.  I structure my day by cups of tea.”

-S.T. Joshi-

“Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”

-Turkish Proverb-

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”

-Chaim Potok-

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Three Midlife Quotes

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1990s Were How Long Ago? One Movie for Each Year!

I look back at the 1990s with some fondness. There were many good movies that poured out of the studios in this decade. Here are my ten movie picks, one for each year, that are still great to watch.

Misery (1990)

Paul Sheldon should count his lucky stars he has such a huge fan base. He was doing so well until Annie Wilkes came into his life. She’s the nightmare all writers fear. Heck, she’s the nightmare everyone fears. This is based from the Stephen King novel of the same name. James Caan plays Sheldon and Kathy Bates plays his crazed number one fan. Good thing you don’t need your legs for inspiration or to write.

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Cape Fear (1991)

Max Cady is not someone you want to mess around with in either the 1962 version or this one. Sam Bowden learns the hard way when Cady is released from prison and seeks revenge on his family. It stars Robert DeNiro as Cady, Nick Nolte as Bowden, Jessica Lange as Leigh (wife), and Juliette Lewis as Danielle (daughter).

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Bram Stokers: Dracula (1992)

Everything is not right in love and dracula. This is an adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola with Gary Oldman as Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina, and Keanu Reeves as Tom Harker. This centers around Dracula’s longing to love again and becomes fixated on Mina. The soundtrack is really good too and Tom Waits has a small role.

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Ba wang bie ji (original title)
Farewell My Concubine (1993)

This is the longest movie I’m recommending because it spans quite a bit of time. It’s an adaptation from Pik Wah Lee’s (Lillian Lee) novel that focuses on two performers in the Peking Opera. It follows their lives, competitive in career and love, as they navigate their way through the political turmoil in China. It stars Leslie Cheung as Chen Dieyi, Fengyi Zhang as Duan Xiaolou, and Li Gong as Juxian.

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Léon (original title)
Léon: The Professional (1994)

The first movie that Natalie Portman starred in and as a 12-year-old girl named Mathilda. She finds life again under the tutelage of a hitman and her emotions don’t run deep for her parents and sister. Her brother is a different story, and this is why she pesters Léon to the point of him teaching her how to hold a gun and shoot properly. Little does he know the only thing she wants is revenge. You can’t go wrong with Jean Reno and Gary Oldman either.

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The Usual Suspects (1995)

This remains one of my favorite Benicio Del Toro and Kevin Spacey movies. The whole cast is great and the interaction among them all is first-rate. The whole time you’re trying to figure out why everyone is there and if you’ll actually find out who Keyser Söze is by the end. Sometimes the truth can be right in front you, but sometimes it is very far away.

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Sling Blade (1996)

The second movie Lucas Black was in and complete in his underwear. He plays Frank Wheatley who befriends a man named Karl Childers who was recently released from a mental hospital. This movie was written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton and stars himself as Childers. It’s a great drama with great small roles played by Robert Duvall, John Ritter, and Dwight Yoakam.

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Le cinquième élément (original title)
The Fifth Element (1997)

We zigzag back and forth from the 23rd century to the past, about 5,000 years, when the people with good intentions are still battling those with only evil intentions. All will be lost if the four stones aren’t found, but have no fear because Korben Dallas played by Bruce Willis and Vito Cornelius played by Ian Holm come to the rescue, sort of. Milla Jojovich as Leeloo is the Fifth Element.

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Lola rennt (original title)
Run Lola Run (1998)

This movie is for all those girlfriends who have boyfriends who can’t stay out of trouble and put them in predicaments they’d rather not be in. Lola played by Franka Potente has to fix her boyfriend’s screw up. She’s a woman who keeps running in order to get 100,000 Deutschmarks so Manni doesn’t get killed or have to rob a bank. There are many different ways this day could end and all in 20 minutes.

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Being John Malkovich (1999)

This gem of a movie is written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It deals with getting inside someone’s mind, and in this case, John Malkovich. As the puppeteer who found this portal, Craig Schwartz, he begins to ponder the true meaning of life and all it has to offer him. He shares his secret with others and this soon leads to problems for everyone involved. It stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and of course, John Malkovich.

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Cheers versus Frasier

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When I made the decision to watch all the Cheers episodes despite not having any interest in bars or baseball, I was completely hooked in the first season.  I loved the back and forth between Diane and Sam.  They were very strong-willed characters, each trying to capture the essence of what they once were as children, and faced with the reality they were now older and facing adult pressures and expectations.  The show’s success wasn’t only due to the cast and it had an amazing cast, and the story lines were realistic.  The writers were not shy about discussing taboo topics as they sometimes could be in the 1980s.  I would say my favorite characters after Diane and Sam were Cliff, Carla, Coach, and Norm.  After Diane left and Coach died, Rebecca and Woody replaced them along with Frasier, Lilith, and Paul taking on more central roles. Cheers ran from 1982 through 1993 for 11 seasons.  My top picks from each season are the following.

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Season 1 = “Friends, Romans, Accountants” is the 7th episode where Norm throws an office toga party at the bar.

Season 2 = “Manager Coach” is the 8th episode where Coach becomes a ruthless baseball coach to a young baseball team.

Season 3 = “The Mail Goes to Jail” is the 17th episode where Cliff doesn’t rescue Norm when he is arrested for helping him on his mail route. 

Season 4 = “Woody Goes Belly Up” is the 2nd episode where Woody overeats when his high school sweetheart visits.

Season 5 = “The Proposal” is the 1st episode where Sam proposes to Diane on his boat after her insistence he do it properly.

Season 6 = “My Fair Clavin” is the 11th episode where Cliff and his date, Sally, go to the bar so his friends can meet her.

Season 7 = “The Cranemakers” is the 16th episode where the Frasier and Lilith go camping to be one with nature.

Season 8 = “Death Takes a Holiday on Ice” is the 7th episode where Carla learns her husband is dead and has kept a secret from her.

Season 9 = “Rat Girl” is the 1st episode where Lilith finds out her beloved lab rat has been thrown into the garbage.

Season 10 = “An Old-Fashioned Wedding” is the 25th and 26th episode where Woody and Kelly marry at her family’s estate.

Season 11 = “Is There a Doctor in the Howe?” is the 16th episode where Frasier is upset that Lilith has left him for another man.

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Then, I made the decision to watch all the Frasier episodes because how could you not like his character?  I did and was completely hooked in the first season.  Frasier had a pompous attitude, but he was charming as well.  He offered good and bad advice on his radio talk show.  He was the quintessential Freudian therapist complete with the dead mommy and son issues, but also with glaring father and son issues. The character of Lilith was supposed to be an integral part of the series, but Bebe Neuwirth did agree to come back for a handful of episodes.  I can’t put one cast member ahead of another.  They were all equally great.  The relationships between Frasier and Niles, Niles and Daphne, Daphne and Martin, Martin and Eddie couldn’t have been any better.  It was weird to see people who were just breaking into Hollywood as talking extras or had a role for a few episodes.  Frasier ran from 1993 through 2004 for 11 seasons.  My top picks from each season are the following.

Season 1 = “Give Him the Chair!” is the 19th episode where Frasier gets rid of Martin’s chair and replaces it with a new one.

Season 2 = “Breaking the Ice” is the 20th episode where Frasier and Niles compete for Martin’s affection on an ice fishing trip.

Season 3 = “The Adventures of Bad Boy and Dirty Girl” is the 7th episode where Frasier and Kate try to ignore their attraction for each other.

Season 4 = “Ham Radio” is the 18th episode where Frasier stages a radio murder mystery with the help from the whole gang including Niles.

Season 5 = “The Ski Lodge” is the 14th episode where Frasier, Niles, Daphne, Martin, Annie, and Guy go to the ski lodge for a getaway and a love polygon ensues.

Season 6 = “The Seal Who Came to Dinner” is the 8th episode where Niles holds the Gold Apron Award at the clubhouse he once shared with Maris.

Season 7 = “The Cranemakers” is the 16th episode where the Frasier and Lilith go camping to be one with nature.

Season 8 = “Motor Skills” is the 11th episode where Frasier and Niles goes to evening class to learn more about cars and where Martin overextends himself with Roz’s new dog.

Season 9 = “Bla-Z-Boy” is the 7th episode where Martin accidentally spills oil on the carpet, which sends Frasier into a frenzy of revenge.

Season 10 = “Proxy Prexy” is the 3rd episode where Frasier tells Martin to run for President of the Condo Board.

Season 11 = “The Doctor is Out” is the 3rd episode where Frasier follows Roz’s new boyfriend into a gay bar and realizes everyone thinks he is now gay.

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After watching Cheers and Frasier, I would say they are pretty neck and neck in terms of story lines and content within each character.  I saw more of the issues play out in person between and among people in Frasier.  Yet, there was more variation in characters with Cheers and I laughed more overall.  When push comes to shove, I conclude that Frasier edges out Cheers by a dog’s hair.

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