“Did You Hear About The Morgans?”

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That was probably uttered by what’s left of Miami Metro Homicide. The Morgans are all gone: vanished at sea.  Did you hear about Debra Morgan?  Shot and left a vegetable, her body mysteriously disappeared during the hurricane evacuation.  Did you hear about Dexter Morgan?  The remains of his boat were found after Hurricane Laura passed.  (Ooh, Laura…his mother’s name).

And Sundays are good no more.  It’s the end of an era.  Coincidentally, just as the first Sunday passed with no more Dexter, I got a new iPhone and my alarm is the Dexter theme no longer, but rather a nondescript alarm tone.  The end of an era indeed.

I feel the need to do a postmortem on my favorite TV show of all time, like it’s eponymous protagonist forensics geek.  I’m sad that Dexter ended but even sadder about the way it ended.  I liked it but I didn’t like it.

I didn’t expect there to be a happy ending for all.  After all, we were told seasons ago, “Monsters don’t get a happy ending”.  But I didn’t expect there to be no happiness for anyone.  And I didn’t think 8 seasons of Dexter getting away with it would all be for naught.  All so he could end up on the ultimate guilt trip in a cabin alone in the woods.

I was secretly hoping the show might actually end like the fantasy at the end of season one: a parade in Dexter’s honor.  Either that or he gets caught.  Otherwise, why did we invest all that time and energy?

This season began asking a lot of questions:

Will they get caught?

Will Deb ever forgive Dex?

Will she ever be the same?

How’s it going to end?

There was so much promise in this season.  But it didn’t live up to the greatness of seasons past.

Seasons 1-3 were my favorites, especially season 2.  So I found myself comparing every season to those, and they never measured up.  Season 5 was new and exciting, but by season 6 there wasn’t much new ground to cover, and when the writers dreamed some up it just didn’t work (semi-incestuous brotherly love that goes nowhere).

Season 2 was simply a masterpiece.  From beginning to end.  That’s what the final season should have been.  We were promised (via interviews) that we would learn more about Dexter’s past.  Dr. Vogel was a big reveal, I’ll give you that, but I would like to have learned more about Dexter’s birth parents.  They were barely touched upon in seasons  1 and 2 and then were abandoned all together, which makes me think the writers are definitely more nurture than nature-oriented.  I wish season 8 was either like Dexter: Origins, or Dexter: The End, where he actually gets caught.  How interesting would it be to see the world react to him the knowledge that there is a Dexter.  Someone hiding in plain sight, right under our noses.  Granted we get glimpses of that in seasons 2 and 7, but the writers never go all the way with it.  What better season to do that than the final season??

Instead we get a bunch of red herrings, plots that go nowhere and side character sub plots we don’t really care about.

Oh, Deb has a week of therapy and she’s all better after heavy drug use, multiple murder and attempted fratricide?

Dexter’s going to teach young Zach the code?  Oh, he’s dead now?  Never mind.

Oh, Masuka has a sperm daughter?  We don’t care.

Joey and Jamie are having problems?  Yawn.

Oh, um, Hannah and Deb get along now?  Deb is cool with everything?  Right.

Not to mention how they completely glossed over the aftermath of Laguerta’s death–the riskiest move Dexter’s ever made.  Why would they let him work that crime scene after, um, she publicly accused him of being a serial killer?  No one uncovered that the guy who shot her was the killer of Dexter’s mother?  No trace evidence of Debra was found after she ran up and hugged Laguerta??  Too many plot holes.  It’s insulting to our intelligence.

I appreciate the twist of making us think the brain surgeon was dead and then making him Dexter’s “spiritual brother”….but we already did the brother thing.  Remember Biney?  An “unchecked version” of Dexter, a killer without a code.  We also already did the mirror/soul mate thing.  Remember Lila?  Seasons 1-3, people.  It’s all been done.

Earth to Dexter: You fucked up.  But not by being a killer.  By NOT being one.  Deb died because you didn’t kill Saxon.  Just like Rita died because you didn’t kill Trinity.  Haven’t we learned our lesson?  Killing good.  Mercy bad.  I loved the way he finally exacted justice on Saxon, all in the open like that, but it was too little too late and Saxon deserved a worse fate.

And Dexter is now the worst dad ever.  Leaving his son with a wanted felon on the lam in another country, telling his son he’d see him soon and abandoning him forever.  You’re surely creating a mini-me.

In a way it was a haunting and poetic ending.  As Doakes predicted in season 2 before his demise, Dexter’s Dark Passenger is like a cancer, and it was spreading.  It all but destroyed Deb, and had other casualties as well.  (The irony is that he beat cancer in real life).  Like other addictions, Dexter’s DP hurt most people he came in contact with.

But why did he have to take Deb’s body and dump it in the ocean with all his victims?  Is he saying she’s his final victim?  CUZ SHE’S NOT!  SHE’S SAXON’S FINAL VICTIM.  He could have legally Terry Schiavo’d her, being her next of kin and all.  But he had to be all dramatic and rob Quinn of the opportunity to properly bury her, or even hope for her recovery.  Shitty, Dex.  And because Hannah also stopped killing for love, Elway knows she’s out there with Dexter’s kid.  Good job not killing, guys!

The music that started right after Saxon’s death was beautiful and haunting.  That was probably the best thing about the episode.

How should the greatest show on television have ended?  I’m not sure.  But not the way it did.

Can we get a wrap up movie?  Please?


I’ll Settle for James Marsden.

Let’s get one thing straight: James Marsden is a bonafide hottie.  Those eyes, those lips…sure he’s not that tall in real life, but what actor is?  So why does he always get cast as the guy women settle for?  Strange typecasting.  What these women always say about James’s character while they’re off loving some other guy is, “He’s a good man.”

Then they have Superman’s baby.

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1. The most blaring example is ‘The Notebook’.  Marsden vs. Gosling.  Tough competition, I must say.  One is handsome and rich, but the other one built her a house (and is Ryan Gosling).

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Good…

 

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Better

2. In ‘Enchanted’, James loses out to “McDreamy”.  That one I don’t get.  James is a Prince and Patrick Dempsey is just a regular guy.  Then again, the princess is played by Amy Adams, so consider the prize.

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3. In ‘X Men’, Jean Grey is with Cyclops, but she secretly lusts after Wolverine.  I’m not quite sure why aside from the muscles.  Really piercing eyes or super strength and claws??  Decisions, decisions.

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4. In ‘27 Dresses’, the competition gets more stiff.  Ed Burns is a formidable dream boat.  He is the unattainable boss and James Marsden is the annoying writer Katherine Heigl hangs with begrudgingly.  She settles for him when she can’t have her boss.  She got a pretty good deal.

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5. ‘Superman Returns’ is most difficult shadow for James.  He’s a “good man”, but his wife used to bang a Superman.

He’s still hotter.

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James, somewhere out there, you’re someone’s first choice.


Name that Genre!

I recently saw the film ‘Disconnect’, which I enjoyed very much, and before it even began I posted on Facebook that it was “‘Crash’ with technology”.  I was right about my assessment and it occurred to me that this film belongs to a genre without a name:  An ensemble drama featuring many stars and a few different subplots that are (sometimes loosely) connected.  Usually there’s a socially relevant theme.  ‘Disconnect’ touches on bullying as well as our techonology-driven lack of personal connection; ‘Crash’ explores racism and prejudice as told through our vehicles.  Don Cheadle has a great line: “It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

‘Babel’ and ‘Traffic’ belong to this nameless genre as well.  ‘Babel’ shows us what happens when we are lost in translation and ‘Traffic’ illustrates the way drugs infiltrate different social classes.  All films showcase very talented and famous actors who aren’t showboating too much despite their fame.  Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle (twice), and Cate Blanchett, to name a few.  All films also explore the negative side of human nature but also the triumph of the human spirit.  Each film has a dramatic climax during which each of the sub plots are connected.  In ‘Crash’, people died.  In ‘Disconnect’, the moment when there could have been multiple tragedies there were near-misses instead.  The films are somber and somewhat depressing, but still well done and thought-provoking.  To simply call them ensemble dramas is too simplistic.  The only name I can think of that might be suitable is “Intersection drama” because the characters and plots intersect, even though it may not be obvious how initially.  Just goes to show, when you Babel in Traffic, you Crash and Disconnect (aka don’t talk on the phone when driving).

 

 

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Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called__________!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…but it’s not very flattering if you make a movie and try to pass it off as original when it is clearly a rip-off. I’m not talking about sequels, prequels, remakes or reboots. I’m talking about movies that pretend to be unique when they are so obviously similar to movies that already came out. David Spade had an SNL skit about this phenomenon: “I did a movie called ‘Black Sheep’. Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Tommy Boy’!” I’ve compiled a list of some such movies. If I didn’t mention the more obvious ones, I probably haven’t seen them.

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Maybe you saw that the first time, when it was callled….

1. ‘The Crow': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘The Wraith’!

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Probably not. Few people have. ‘The Wraith’, 1986, starred Charlie Sheen (shortly after his appearance in ‘Ferris Bueller’s day off’), Sherilyn Fenn, and ‘The Notebook’ director Nick Cassavetes. ‘The Crow’ was much more of a cult classic, and it inspired years of Halloween costumes. But the plot similarities are difficult to ignore.

‘The Crow': A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée’s murder.

‘The Wraith': Jamie, killed by neighborhood thugs, returns as a mystical figure named Jake (The Wraith) to gain revenge.

The main difference is the spirit vehicle. In ‘The Crow’ it’s a bird; in ‘The Wraith’ it’s a car. There are even similarly-named thugs: In ‘The Crow’ there’s Skank and Funboy; in ‘The Wraith’, Skank and Gutterboy.

Both films had some awesome lines:

‘The Crow': “Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.”

‘The Wraith': “I’d rather move to Nogales, and have the Gutterboy’s cretin children.”

2. ‘Friends with Benefits': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘No Strings Attached’.

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Hey, this is dirty!

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Rom coms (both2011) in which two inordinately attractive young and successful people decide to hook up on a fuckbuddy-type basis. Then, oops–shocker! One buddy falls for the other buddy who resists until they eventually realize they DO love the star of ‘That 70’s Show’! The life-imitates-art irony of this example is that the two stars of the respective films–Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher–are now dating in real life. You could also do a ‘Maybe you saw it…’with Ashton’s ex Demi Moore’s movie ‘About Last Night’.

3. ‘The Prestige': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘The Illusionist’!

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…so you should just see ‘the Illusionist’!

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Ok, they only came out about a month apart in 2006, but come on. Same movie! Two dudes doing some magic + a chick. They both happened a long, long time ago and they both bored me so much I can barely remember them. Also, Christian Bale starred in ‘American Psycho’ and Ed Norton starred in ‘American History X’. Another funny thing is, both movies have chicks who slept with Justin Timberlake. That’s magic!

4. ‘The Fast and the Furious': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Point Break’.

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‘Point Break’ (1991) is about a young undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of bank robbing surfers, falls for a girl in the gang, likes the gang and lets the bad guy go in the end. (Spoiler alert. Whoops, too late, sorry!)

‘The Fast and the Furious’ (2001) is about a young undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of heisting racecar drivers, falls for a girl in the gang, likes the gang and lets the bad guy go in the end.

Keanu Reeves is to Paul Walker as Patrick Swayze is to Vin Diesel. ‘Fast’ upgraded in the girl department, at least, by replacing the Lori Petty character with Jordana Brewster. The world of street racing and the surf culture are explored, respectively, and are kind of like characters in themselves.

The irony is that Paul Walker was in a surfer movie (‘Meet the Deedles’) and Keanu Reeves was in ‘Speed’.

5. ‘Road Trip': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Overnight Delivery’.

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It always annoys me when films are a box office success when they get their premise from another, more obscure film. Such is the case of the above mentioned films. 1998’s ‘Overnight Delivery’, starring Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon is about a college guy who, thinking his long distance girlfriend cheated on him, sends her a nasty break-up letter and a staged picture of him with another girl. Then he finds out he was mistaken and has a short window to intercept the package. Hilarity ensues!

‘Road Trip’, released in 2000, is about a college guy who, thinking his long distance girlfriend cheated on him, accidentally sends her a not-staged video of him sleeping with another girl. He, too, has a short window to intercept the package. Hilarity ensues! Of course, ‘Road Trip’ featured the brilliant Tom Green and had the line, “Are there any guys out there that are just NORMAL? HUH??!”

‘Overnight Delivery’ was just funnier and ‘Road Trip’, and ‘Road Trip’ had unnecessary unfunny humor featuring prostate-milking, Whale-on-toothpick action and Tom Green ass.

6. ‘Indecent Proposal': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’.

Only a year apart, both movies are about a couple in love who go to Vegas and gamble, but when they lose money, an older man offers a large sum of money to sleep with the woman. ‘Honeymoon’ is silly and funny and ‘Indecent Proposal’ is more sexy and depressing like most Adrian Lyne films. In both movies, the women fall for the older man but we don’t know if it’s because she a gold-digger or because their men pimped them out! Either way, the moral of the story is, don’t gamble when your ass is broke!

P.S. Demi Moore being offered $1 Million is way more realistic than Sarah Jessica Parker being offered $65,000. Or even $1.

7. ‘Dead Man on Campus': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Dean Man’s Curve’ (aka ‘The Curve’).

Hard to say who stole from who since they both came out in August of 1998, but ‘Dead Man on Campus’ was the only one I remember being in theaters. ‘Dead Man on Campus’ was the more comedic of the two, while ‘The Curve’ was a bit darker. Both films are about the clause that says, “If your roommate dies, you get an A”, but the end goal is approached in different ways in each film. I hope that after these films came out, colleges changed that rule, if it ever existed to begin with.

8. ‘The Hangover': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?”
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Granted, there are quite a few differences between these two films.  In one comedy the immature set of friends were looking for their car; in the other they were looking for their buddy.  In both, though, they spend the whole next day retracing their steps because they can’t remember what happened the night before.  Same premise, minus the hot aliens.  ‘Dude’ had some one liners I still use: “And theeeennnn?”; “I’m sick of walking, dude!” but it ended on a pretty stupid note.  ‘The Hangover’, though is a misnomer.  It wasn’t a hangover at all, it was a blackout in both films.  Hangover implies drinking only, but those guys were roofied.  That’s cheating.  At least the’Dude’ dudes had the decency to actually be drunk.
9. The Other Woman: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called John Tucker Must Die.
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The Other Woman’ is like a higher-budget, grown up version of ‘John Tucker Must Die’. Both films are about a three-timing philanderer who gets caught by the women he’s cheating on who then team up to ruin his life. The main differences in ‘The Other Woman’ are: 1. All the women are blonde instead of diverse, like John Tucker’s girlfriends. 2. An actual marriage is at stake (real funny!) 3. The cheater in recent film is also a thief and an all-around bad person instead of the boyish charmer John Tucker is. 4. ‘John Tucker’ incorporated a 4th woman that the other three used as a weapon, which was a nice touch. ‘The Other Woman’even borrows the plot lines of the brother-as-consolation-prize and the spiking of the male’s drink with female hormones. John Tucker was a little refreshing in that the girl who was used as “bait” was doing it to get revenge on all the John Tucker’s her mom (played by Jenny McCarthy) dated. Mommy issues are always intriguing to me.
10. ‘Avatar': Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Pocahontas’.
Handsome white man who is a stranger in a strange land meets brown/blue girl who first resents his presence and then falls in love with him and he saves everything, blah blah blah. This similarity is mentioned too often to be original, so I guess I’m as phony as all these other idea-stealing phonies!
But at least I don’t claim to be the first movie-plot-comparing blog that ever lived. Maybe you saw this blog the first time, when it was called ___________?

Dorner and Doakes: They Have a Lot in Common

Another case of life imitating art.  My friend Sam aptly pointed out that there are some strange similarities between Christopher Dorner and James Doakes.  And I don’t just mean this one:

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But seriously, isn’t it weird that Dorner and Doakes:

1. Both have last names that start with “Do” and contain 6 letters

2. Are both highly trained ex-military men turned cops (though I’m not sure if Dorner was black ops)

3. Both stalked and targeted fellow law enforcement personnel (Doakes stalked Dexter)

4. Both got fired from the police force

5. Both (supposedly) met their ends in a CABIN (wtf?!)

6. Both burned to a crisp in said cabin (one in the Everglades and one in the Mountains)

It’s also kinda weird that the cops have been parked in my building since the murders because a target supposedly lives there.  Hmmm…Now why would that be weird?

The only difference between the two is that…Doakes doesn’t really smile.

Your ex-cop and my ex-cop should get together and go bowling!

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Ferris Bueller is a Sociopath

"Empathy, in my opinion, is not good."

“Empathy, in my opinion, is not good.”

Okay, so technically he can’t really be a sociopath because you can’t diagnose that in a teenager since the part of the brain that regulates conscience isn’t fully developed yet.  But he is definitely a sociopath in training and would probably be diagnosed with Conduct Disorder (especially if Principal Rooney had his way).  His parents and the rest of society certainly enabled his antisocial behavior.  According to the professionals, sociopaths have at least three of the below attributes:

1. failure to conform to social norms (check)

2. deceitfulness, manipulativeness (check, mate)

3. impulsivity, failure to plan ahead (impulsivity, check, but Ferris put quite a bit of planning into his day off; though he didn’t plan how he would support his teenage cheerleader bride)

4. irritability, aggressiveness (yes, on the one or two times he almost didn’t get his way)

5. reckless disregard for the safety of self or others (check, especially Cameron’s Dad’s classic car)

6. consistent irresponsibility (check…I’d say, “NINE TIMES” is consistent)

Ferris is also a pathological liar.  Abe Frohman; faking a fever; he even had his girlfriend fake a death in the family.

The most convincing trait, though, is the “glib and superficial charm” that sociopaths possess that allows them to seduce other people, literally and figuratively.  Everyone was in love with Ferris.  But Ferris seemed to love no one but himself.  His best friend and girlfriend are both mere accomplices, accessories and admirers.

His sister, Jeannie, was the only one who saw through him (aside from Rooney).  Jeannie Bueller is to Ferris as Doakes is to Dexter.  Immune to their charms and resentful of what they get away with.

It would take another sociopath in the form of a drugged-out Charlie Sheen (redundant?) to distract Jeannie from her bitterness.

You’re probably thinking, “Ferris Bueller didn’t kill anyone”.  But contrary to popular belief, not all sociopaths are violent criminals.  Many are characterized by their tendency to use people as a means to an end without guilt or remorse.  Many sociopaths are in finance or politics.

I used to think I was just being a paranoid player-hater like Jeannie Bueller, but when I saw the Bio channel’s special on the making of the film, the director himself said that the original cut was much darker, the protagonist a much less benign character.  They changed it to make it more fun and teen-friendly.

So there you have it.  I was right all along.  Anyone agree with me?  Anyone?  Anyone?


When you’re left ‘Home Alone’ you become a “Party Monster’

“Maternal abandonment causes serious deviant behavior, it certainly fucked you up, it made you have sex with a psychopath!” – Billy Loomis in ‘Scream’

Okay, I kinda think Kevin McCallister was a sociopath anyway.  Some of them are born that way.  But the abandonment by his entire family during Christmas pushed him over the edge.  Image

He took WAY too much pleasure in inflicting what should have been deadly pain on two burglars!  And he didn’t even seem scared of them.  That’s a sociopath.  What looks to the world like an adorable, precocious tow-head is really a bundle of pain (you heard me, Dakota Fanning!)  Why was this a fun family comedy?  Kevin McCallister was a childhood Jigsaw (of the ‘Saw’ franchise).  If his violent behavior wasn’t enough, wasn’t it weird how he explained his hygiene regimen to no one in the bathroom mirror just like Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’?

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Then he went on to commit credit card fraud and more violence in the sequel, where he felt awfully at home in New York City.  Sociopath!  I’m sure he’s not the only sociopath who uttered the words, “I made my family disappear” with a satisfied smirk.

Then he committed infanticide over his mommy issues, killed a dog, caused a massive car-pileup and aimed to kill his sister and mother in ‘The Good Son’.

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Finally he graduated to killing his own drug dealer in ‘Party Monster’.  That’s just the lowest of the low.  Killing your drug dealer because you don’t want to pay up!

So parents, it’s 10 pm.  Do you know where your children are?

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This could happen to you.


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