Pushing Daisies

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I really love describing Pushing Daisies to other people who have never heard of it. “Its a beautiful, colourful, sappy romantic show…” “Oh how lovely!” “…about violent murder and death.” “Whaaaaaaat.”

Created by Bryan Fuller, Pushing Daisies follows the story of Ned the Piemaker (played by the excessively perfect Lee Pace) who has the unique and disturbing power of bringing people back to life with just one touch. The drawback is that if he touches them again, they die again, for good this time.  And if the person is alive for more than one minute, someone else dies. Ned and his powers are enlisted by Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a private investigator, as he can now talk to murder victims, get them to tell him who killed them, so he can then solve the case and get the reward. In the first episode, Ned and Emerson come across Chuck, Ned’s childhood sweetheart who has died. Ned brings her back to life, and then, obviously, can never touch her again.

Sounds pretty morbid, so you wouldn’t expect it to look like this:

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It only ran for two seasons, which is devastating, because honestly I miss this show like a person. Despite the less than comedic premise, Pushing Daisies is both hilarious and heartwarming. Ned the Piemaker, due to his unique gifts, is exceptionally socially awkward, but endearingly charming. In addition to his relationship with Chuck, he also has a hilarious relationship with his employee, Olive (played by Kristin Chenoweth), who is not-so-secretly in love with him. What Olive lacks in height, she makes up for with enthusiasm, and her antics involving her crush on Ned form a lot of the comedic sub plots in the series.

If you were a fan of things like Better Off Ted, Dr Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, or campy shows that are basically the TV equivalent of a warm hug, give Pushing Daisies a chance.

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Be warned though, if you marathon this show, please prepare yourself for the disappointment of coming back to the real world after the cartoonish-ly cheery colour and heart-seizing romance of the world of Pushing Daisies.

Side Note: Bryan Fuller is also the creative developer, writer and executive producer of the American Gods TV series and the Star Trek: Discovery TV series coming out in 2017, both of which I am really looking forward to seeing. In addition to Pushing Daisies, he was also head honcho for the Hannibal TV series which I really loved.

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Power Rangers – 2017

What a time to be alive.

The very first trailer for the Power Rangers 2017 reboot film is out, and I am still screaming into my 5th cup of coffee for the day.

The film is a reboot of the original rangers, and is a retelling of the story of how Jason, Kim, Billy, Trini and Zack gain their powers, and learn how to use them in order to save the world. The power rangers were really important to me as a kid. One of the first movies I ever saw at the cinema was Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (big shout out to my Mum here, thanks Mum), and Tommy Oliver was pretty much my first TV boyfriend. It was very much a formative influence. And I love this trailer. I’m sure lots of people, fans and not fans, will have a bunch of negative things to say about it (they always do with reboots) but I love it. Also look at this!

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And so, on that note, I will leave you with this warning: If Tommy Oliver shows up at any point in the film (maybe in an after credits scene?) I will be talking about nothing else for the following 6 months.

“Power Rangers – BACK TO ACTION!” (I’m sorry I’m just really excited ok).

Flashback Friday: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Well I might be four weeks late, but at least it hasn’t been 19 years between drinks and, as they say, better late than never.Now, without further ado, let us continue on then, with the final installment of the Indiana Jones franchise: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That’s right, the long awaited fourth chapter and sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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(this time we’ve moved on from the Germans, to the Russians! Sigh).

I remember seeing this film not long after it came out, because I was having some kind of ‘thing’ about Shia LaBeouf. It was about the time he was being touted as the next Tom Hanks and was on the cover Vanity Fair… and just about to begin the downward spiral. I still actually really rate him, but he’s certainly made some questionable career moves of late and to be honest, I haven’t seen him in anything since I saw him in Lawless (which I also rated very highly). I think that, no matter what crazy antics he gets up to though, I’ll always love him because of this video. Anyway, I saw this movie because Shia was in it and right from the word go, I was confused. I was confused then because I didn’t remember any of the original films and I am equally as confused now, because I just don’t get how anyone at any studio thought that this film, in this format was a good idea.

I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but there is something about the way that the film was shot that makes me think that some styles of film making don’t carry well over time. Coming from a franchise with this much of reputation and film makers like Spielberg and Lucas makes it even more perplexing because I have seen a lot of their normal fare and this just feels like it was phoned in. It’s not like they have a shortage of talent either – you’ve got Cate Blanchett as the villain, Shia LeBoef as Mutt and John Hurt as Ox, the insane archaeologist. There is no reason that this shouldn’t work. But it doesn’t.

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Indy is looking a little worse for wear in this episode, that’s evident from minute one and really, you have to wonder if Harrison Ford hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew by taking this one on. Thus, we are introduced to his son, Mutt (don’t even start me up on that name). Mutt, it seems, was pegged to  take over the franchise, but I think our friend Shia was equally as unhappy with how the finished product turned out and wasn’t in a hurry to get involved again. On the positive side, I guess, we are treated to the re-emergence of Marion Ravenwood, who I have been rooting for since minute one. Poor Marion, it seems she got the be the mother of Jones’ son, while he was off running around on adventures without a care in the world. Just another example of what a top bloke he is.

What really does me in about this film though, more than any of the others, is the damn ending. Not just because it’s the same as all the others, in so far as Indy not really coming out any better off- spiritually or otherwise, and not just because the special effects are shit… but because of the UFO that launches out of the ground, carrying 12 crystal aliens.

Aliens. Seriously? Come on man! When you stack this film up against the other three it’s not only inferior, it actually detracts from the entire franchise (kind of like Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst, both of which hurt my heart). I know that the mythology of this film is not just the product of Hollywood. I know a lot of the early discussion about the different kind of crystal skulls is based in historical fact, but still, taking the plot from history and adventure into the realm of the paranormal just feels like the wrong choice. I can see why fans of the original films hated this one. You certainly come out of it feeling like you’ve been the unwilling participant in some kind of practical joke. Speaking of the special effect too, what are they all about? I mean they don’t even come close to looking real. Overall, it kind of gives the move a comic-book feel and I don’t see why it needed that.

At least I get my happy ending I suppose – with the marriage of Jones and Marion. ‘How much of human life is lost in waiting?’ Damn it, Ox, that is the most intelligent thing that comes out of this whole film and even though it’s a highlight, I just don’t know if your wisdom is enough to redeem it.

Safe to say, I’ll not be rushing back to watch this one again. The other three, maybe, but 4?? Nope, even Shia isn’t going to get me over the line with this one… and you know, I think he’d be cool with that.

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(you do you, Harrison Ford, this ain’t the franchise for me)

Flashback Movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

In the immortal words of Celine Dion: It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is now very evident that all of my childhood memories – hazy as they were – are actually of this film, rather than it’s superior initial instalment or the sequel. Also (perhaps) unsurprisingly, many of these same hazy memories centre on this scene:

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which we now know is right at the beginning and has relatively little to do with the actual plot of the film overall.

Speaking of plot, I don’t know what was going on in the film world in 1989 (I was 6 and preoccupied with Quantum Leap and my girlish crush on Sam Beckett), but it seems to me like Spielberg, Lucas and the studio got together and decided that they needed a ‘sure thing’ summer box office winner and that pumping out another Jones Film would be a sure fire way to get it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that this is a bad film, or that I didn’t enjoy it and giggle here and there; nor am I saying that I wasn’t happy to catch up with some of my favourite characters – because I did and I was. What I am saying is, that although I enjoyed this third instalment, I think it bears mentioning that it was pretty much the same plot as the first one, except in this instance, Indy’s comic relief is his father; while the romantic lead doubling as one of the villains ensures that Indy gets to flirt outrageously with the one true love of his life – himself.

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Lady… you ain’t got a chance….

Let’s look at the plot of Last Crusade: We open with Indy as a child (played by the iconic River Phoenix – sigh), chasing some grave robbers across the desert and stealing back an elaborate gold cross. ‘This should be in a museum!’ he keeps crying out, as he risks life and limb to preserve the precious piece of history… funny how we are filled with the best of intentions when we’re children isn’t it? Anyway, we encounter Indy as he gets the scar on his chin and meet his father (from the neck down), all the while gathering some back ground on how and why Indiana Jones of the first two films came to be the kind of man that he is – which is to say, a bit of a cad, a bit of an arrogant dick and a bit of a grave-robbing doucher. So far so good…. but then we revert back to the college campus where present day Indy is still a bad lecturer and Marcus Brody is still popping by the classroom just before the end of session and the little girl in the front row still has ‘Love You’ written on her eye-lids in texta pen …and it all seems a bit like de-ja-vu doesn’t it?

Flash forward and we find out the Indy’s father is missing, that he was off on the trail of the cup of Christ (which Indy is sceptical about, despite having already found the Arc of the Covenant, but okay) and that Indy is probably the only man alive who can riddle out the secret code of his father’s research and find both the cup and the old man.

For his part, Indy seems to swing back and forth between wanting to go and not wanting to go, but then a smokin’ hot blonde historian and the NAZI party get involved and he comes good. Safe to say that adventure ensures and the audience is traversing many of the same locales that we got to visit in the first films.

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Connery is always a solid choice for action films and father figures. I like him in most of the films I see him in (except for Entrapment… WTF was that even about?!) and I liked him in this. He does bring a good dose of comic relief to the role and, even when you’re thinking he is a complete twat, you’re often laughing along with him. I liked the scene where he is riding side-car to Indy and they have the argument about the legitimacy of the grail; but the later scene where he suddenly feels very sad that his only son has been killed in a car accident feels a bit forced. I don’t know if I can believe in parents suddenly caring deeply about their children after having spent a lifetime letting them do their own thing and having no apparent interest in them or their life choices.

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this touching side-car moment…

The NAZI’s are back as the true villains of the piece, only this time they are using the saucy blonde minx to throw both Jones Snr and Jones Jnr off their trail. They fall for it too – the pair of them – tsk, tsk boys, you should know better! Of course, the fact that the Nazi’s are back means that other characters get to put in a repeat performance, not the least of which is Sallah – and he is as fat and happy as he was in the original. Bless.

We also get a bit more guts out of Dr. Marcus Brody -who seems to be the only person in the film that considers Jones Snr the kind of friend worth having. I like Brody though, he’s cute in that bumbling and ridiculously ill-equipped way. I feel like he might have had some impact on John Hannah’s performance in The Mummy (I have a ‘thing’ with that movie though, so let’s put it aside for a later date).

It really is a bit of a boys club. Apart from blondie, even the disposable villains are blokes and they’re in no short supply, so I am not going to go into all of them here. Much like the first film, this is one of those adventure movies that works best when you just surrender to the ride. It’s not as annoying as it’s predecessor, because there are no screaming women… perhaps a reappearance from Short-Round would have been a boon though.

Retrospectively, I think I actually think the first film is better than this one, so from here on in, I might reserve my find memories of it. Best not to get ahead of myself though, we still have the 4th and (so far) final instalment to look at next week.

Side bar: Obviously I am late posting this and once again, I can only say I am sorry. This time I was trying to sort my life, which meant a trip to the Gold Coast, an interstate flight, a battle with numerous realtors and then a car trip back – all with only my mobile phone as a source of inter-webs access; and if Halloween taught us anything, it is that mobile phones cannot be trusted when writing important posts on film blogs…

Flashback movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Happy Friday, fellow sci-fi nerds! As promised, we are rolling on with the Indiana Jones saga and looking this week at the second instalment: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Unlike my experience with Raiders of the Lost Ark, I did remember snippets from this film, so I know I have seen it before. Still, those memories where nowhere near coherent enough for me to string any kind of plot together, so it was almost as good as watching it for the first time ever. Once again, I must say that I was very impressed with how well the special effects have held up on this film. I don’t know, maybe we have just gone too far with CGI in the current era, but I just love these old movies with their not quite realistic magical effects. It makes them far more fun.

Anyway, in this adventure, we once again find Indiana Jones, intrepid hero and sometimes professor of history/archaeology, stranded in the wilds of India; only this time, instead of an irate ex-lover and a delightfully jovial old friend, Indy is kept company by an orphaned Asian child and a blonde showgirl. The orphaned child is a sheer delight and provides the bulk of the comedic value of the film. The showgirl is a tiresome punish, but we will get to her later.

Unlike last time, in this adventure, Indy becomes the hero not in service of the government or for the benefit of his museum buddies – but for the benefit of an impoverished village who have had their children stolen, along with a rock/crystal, which is a source of power for them. The power of the rock is wrapped up with a few different strands of religion and mythology. Some well known Indian religious figures, such as Kali, figure into the plot, but then some of it is pure magical fantasy. That’s okay though, you won’t have much of a chance to really focus on that element of the plot – there’s too much action and too much noise going on.

I’ll come right out and say this: I did not like this chapter of the Indy story nearly as much as I liked the first one. I lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of Kate Capshaw.

See, unlike the delightful and feisty Marion Ravenwood of the first film, Capshaw’s Willie Scott is not cut out for any kind of adventure or heroism and as such, spends the majority of the film screaming, crying or scream/crying. Most exhausting. I almost think that Short Round (the orphaned child) was added in purely to balance out the fact that the love interest is so damned irritating. I get the fact that she is supposed to be this pampered showgirl that has never had a broken nail in her lift and I get that she is out of her element and is being forced (against her very strong will) to be brave… but for the love of everything holy! This woman has no sense of when to shut up! I don’t think there is a moment in the film, not even in the final credits, where she takes a moment to put things in perspective. She is far too busy focusing on herself and it is a pure let-down.

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by this point in time, I think Indy is wanting her to end up in the lava pit. the sheer noise she produces must be giving him a migraine. 

Despite what dragging Willie around does to the pace and entertainment value of the film, I did love the scenes in the mine cart, towards the end, where the trio must make their daring escape. The fight scene on the rope bridge is also excellent, although the alligators that are chomping up all the bad guys might have benefited from more attention in the editing room. Still, it’s nothing to get precious about.

Also unlike the first film, the sequel doesn’t have as much international travel, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the isolated location means there is any lack of action – because there isn’t. Also returning in the sequel is Indiana Jones the fumbling hero; so once again we’re seeing silly errors that a man of his intellect should be far too smart (and debonair) to make. There’s a whole extended scene in the opening sequence where Jones and Willie are chasing a poison antidote and a diamond through the bustling cabaret where pandemonium has just erupted. This scene goes on so long that I wanted to headbutt the both of them before it was over. Then there is the whole set of circumstances that gets them stranded in India to begin with… come on, Indy, put two and two together…

side bar: can someone please confirm that it is Dan Aykroyd with the uncredited cameo during the escape from Saigon?

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guess who is STILL screaming…

Once again, Indiana Jones has to have some kind of romantic entanglement with his leading lady… maybe it’s his way of shutting her up? After all, it is hard to whinge when you’re sucking face with the handsome Doc Jones, but damn it, Willie puts up a strong effort. Maybe he is just taking what he can get since certain death seems to be around every corner? Maybe he needs to balance his supreme intelligence with being a cad? Anyway, I didn’t like this match from minute one. I can see what they were trying to do – making her feisty and a bit more sexually available than Marion was in the first film (trust me, there’s no thinking that Willie is the kind of girl that wants to settle down for love or that she will be holding a torn for Jones a decade after their relationship inevitably implodes), but I think she was just too annoying and the chemistry wasn’t there between Capshaw and Ford. The scene at the end where he wraps his whip about her waist and drags her towards him (kicking and whinging) feels more like Jones is wanting to punish himself than anything else. I mean, come on Indy, do you hate yourself? Get home and romance one of the dozens of buxom co-eds that are darting about just dying for you to notice them. At least they’ll be quiet.

All things considered though, I found this to be an enjoyable film (it is very long though… or seems long). It’s not something I would put on high rotation in my house and I am always going to dislike the constant whining of Willie, but at the end of the day I would happily revisit it if the mood and setting were right.Maybe a decade from now I will nostalgically watch it again… okay, half a decade.

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it’ll never last, Indy. You’re still a dick and she’s more work than any man should have to suffer.

This brings us to instalment three of the original series and, purely through my deductive powers, it is this instalment where the bulk of my hazy memories MUST be coming from. I am excited!

See you next week, my darlings, when we look at Indian Jones and the Last Crusade!

Flashback Movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

As promised last week, we are taking the next 4 Friday’s to have a retrospective look back the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy; and thus, we kick off at the beginning with Raiders of the Lost Ark.

First things first and before we get started: it is safe to say that I have no memory of this film, so whatever film I am remembering, it must be one of the later ones, because no part of Raiders of the Lost Ark was ringing any bells. This fact actually made watching it more thrilling because it was genuinely like I was seeing it for the first time.

Next – I can’t believe this movie was made in 1981. Really, all things considered, the special effects hold up quite well (on par with Ghostbusters I would say) and the plot is as enjoyable today as any other action/adventure that is hitting the screens (Marvel Superhero franchise movies not included). Sure, the face melting scene at the end is probably not as believable as it was to the 1981 audience, but I’m a renaissance woman and I appreciate the way that it looks.

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know your villains! frequently they’re members of the NAZI party and/or wearing black leather gloves and a black fedora.

In this inaugural installment of the Indiana Jones franchise we are introduced to intrepid explorer, archaeologist and adventure (and sometimes University professor) Dr. Indiana Jones. In the open scenes we see Indy tomb robbing a golden skull, which is quickly stolen from him by his arch nemesis, Rene Belloq. This scene establishes a theme which I didn’t really remember from the first time I watched the trilogy – that is, that  Indian Jones is really something of a bumbling hero. I mean, I lost count of the times he fumbled the treasure, lost a fight and generally messed up in his plans to outwit and outsmart the bad guys. To a point, this makes Indy the more human and relatable hero – but then again, there comes a time when you think ‘for goodness sake, could anything else possibly go wrong for this guy?’ It gets a bit tiresome. Still, he’s out there giving it his best shot, so I should probably cut the poor guy a break. He does get pretty beat up the the end too.

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no teacher ever had such an exciting life. ever.

Indy is a bit of a dick too – in his relationships with women I mean. I don’t want to give too much away for those of you that have yet to avail yourself of this classic, but there are times when he comes off as totally harsh and a complete dick. Which brings us to of the lady of the film –

Probably the biggest disappointment for me is the scene in which Jones and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) encounter each other for the first time after a bad break up a decade before. The acting in this scene, I felt, was very forced and not believable. Luckily, the onscreen chemistry between the pair improves as they move from the snowy mountains of Nepal to the arid desert of Cairo. By the end of the adventure, I really was feeling their romance and thought they made a cute couple (in that reunited first love kind of way).

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apparently ex-lovers make the best life and death adventure partners. who knew?

I also want to take a moment to bask in the joy of John Rhys-Davies and the character Sallah. Easily he is the most loveable chap in the film. I hope we see him again in the later installments. So jovial. So lovable. Sallah may be pitched as a side kick, but he genuinely seems to have the kind of live we are all aspiring to. He has a great job, a comfortable home, laughing children and the love of a good woman. Now look at this man – this is the face of contentment.

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#blessed

All in all, I did enjoy this movie. I loved the scope of it – the fact that so many locations and characters were included and that they were all relatively well-rounded. I though Marion’s wardrobe was pretty stunning (I certainly had white dress envy over the pirate ship dress and that has never happened to me) and Harrison Ford was really enjoyable as Indiana Jones… possibly, maybe even more enjoyable than Han Solo (yep, I said it).

So, next week we take on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. As I understand it, Karen Allen isn’t in this one, which must mean that her lover affair with Indy didn’t go the distance. That makes me sad in my heart, but I am going to try and not let that disappointment taint me as I go into the viewing.

For those of you playing at home, let’s bust this out together and when we reconvene next week we can discuss our feelings.

**Sorry this isn’t the usual Friday post… it’s actually a Saturday post. IT issues.

 

Another Flashback Marathon!

Wandering around the supermarket with my mother last weekend, I once again came across the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy, neatly packaged into a single, $20, 4 in 1 case. I’ve seen this many times before and have often stopped to  considered purchasing it because, I’ll be honest, I don’t remember too much about the films; apart from the fact that I saw them one long ago day, way back in my childhood. I’ve never been a Harrison Ford fan to speak of, although that opinion has slowly begun to shift since I re-watched the original Star Wars movies earlier this year – specifically Empire Strikes Back – and it occurred to me that in his younger years there really was something to be said for Harrison Ford. In any case, this past weekend, I finally caved into temptation and walked out of Coles with that 4 in 1 multipack in my hot little hand. As a fun exercise, I thought I would re-watch all 4 movies (yes, even the last one, which I have seen and which I know is still probably going to be lame) and then review them for you here. As my memories are so dim, it will almost be like I am coming to the original films for the first time. Won’t that be exciting? Of course it will!

In any case, if you have Raiders of the Lost Ark collecting dust in you DVD collection, maybe you would like to pull it out and watch along with me on this fine Friday eve. I’ll report back on Monday with my thoughts and perhaps we can have an enjoyable chat about it?