REVIEW: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

CAST

Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)
Isla Fisher (Burke & Hare)
Ellie Bamber (The Falling)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Laura Linney (Mystic river)
Andrea Riseborough (Birdman)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Neil Jackson (Push)
Jena Malone (Saved)

The opening sequence of the film is of several obese women dancing naked in slow motion.The Real World

Angeleno art gallery owner Susan Morrow receives the manuscript for a novel penned by her estranged ex-husband Edward Sheffield along with an invitation for dinner during Edward’s upcoming visit to Los Angeles. Marred by her deteriorating marriage to unfaithful businessman Hutton Morrow, Susan becomes consumed by the novel, which is both dedicated to her and named Nocturnal Animals after Edward’s nickname for her.

The Novel

Tony Hastings is a peaceful man who runs afoul of three local troublemakers – Ray Marcus, Lou, and Turk – during a road trip through West Texas. Forced off the road, Tony is powerless to stop Ray and Turk from kidnapping his wife, Laura, and their daughter, India, and leaving him with Lou, who forces him to drive Ray’s car to the end of a road where he is abandoned. Tony manages to evade Ray and Lou when they return looking for him and makes his way to a nearby farmhouse to call the police.Detective Bobby Andes is assigned to the case and discovers the bodies of Laura and India near an abandoned shack, where they had been raped and murdered. Tony is wracked with guilt. He is contacted by Andes a year later and is asked to identify Lou, who is charged as an accomplice in the murders of Laura and India.Turk has been fatally shot in a botched robbery, leaving Ray as the final culprit to be brought to justice. Andes arrests Ray, but is ultimately forced to release him as they only have circumstantial evidence of his involvement. On the verge of retirement and having been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Andes decides to take matters into his own hands and with Tony’s help abducts Ray and Lou. Andes shoots Lou when he attempts to escape, but Ray succeeds in getting away. Tony tracks Ray down on his own to the shack where Laura and India were killed and the two have a violent confrontation, in which Ray admits to raping and murdering Tony’s wife and daughter, calling him weak. Tony fatally shoots him, but is blinded when Ray hits him on the head with an iron bar. Tony stumbles outside, succumbing to his brain hemorrhage, and dies after falling on his gun, shooting himself in the stomach in the process.

The Real World (cont.)

Shocked by the dark content and raw emotion of the novel, Susan reminisces about meeting Edward in college and their blossoming relationship, which Susan’s domineering mother Anne Sutton objected to, claiming that Edward was not worthy of Susan’s affections and that because of his romantic worldviews, he lacked the drive to actually achieve his goals; Susan ignored her mother’s objections, ultimately marrying Edward.After finding further evidence of Hutton’s extramarital affair, Susan resumes reading the manuscript. Susan begins to recall her troubled marriage to Edward, which was strained by her frustration with his fledgling career and her dismissive attitude towards his literary aspirations, and culminated with Susan cheating on him with Hutton and ultimately divorcing Edward to marry him. Edward attempted to repair their relationship, but ultimately cut ties with Susan upon learning that she was pregnant with his child but secretly had an abortion to ensure the divorce proceeded. Susan realizes that the novel is an allegory for the loss Edward endured during their separation and that he dedicated the novel to her as a form of revenge, having sent the manuscript to prove to her that he was capable of writing a successful novel. Susan reevaluates her current behavior and contacts Edward. She arranges a meeting with him in hopes of mending their relationship, but Edward does not show up.Tom Ford, the celebrated fashion designer who made his film debut with A Single Man, makes a fantastic return with his second film here, both as a director and a writer, adapting Austin Wright’s 1993 novel, Tony and Susan. The script is wonderful, the look of the film is beautifully dark, and it just all feels so purely cinematic. One of the best thrillers in recent years.

REVIEW: THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

CAST

Henry Cavill (Man of Steel)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Alicia Vikander (Jason Bourne)
Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby)
Jared Harris (The Quiet Ones)
Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
Luca Calvani (When In Rome)

In 1963, professional thief-turned CIA agent Napoleon Solo extracts Gaby Teller, daughter of Dr. Udo Teller, an alleged Nazi scientist-turned United States collaborator at the end of World War II, from East Berlin, evading KGB operative Illya Kuryakin. He later reports to his superior, Sanders, who reveals that Gaby’s maternal uncle Rudi works in a shipping company owned by Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra, a wealthy Nazi sympathizing couple who intend to use Teller to build their own private nuclear weapon and give it to lingering Nazi elements. Due to the potentially world-ending nature of this crisis, the CIA and KGB have reluctantly teamed up, and Solo and Kuryakin are ordered to stop the Vinciguerras from succeeding, with both men secretly assigned to steal Udo Teller’s research for their respective governments.

The trio travels to Rome, where Gaby and Kuryakin reluctantly pose as an engaged couple, and Solo pretends to be an antiquities dealer. Solo deduces they are being monitored and instructs Kuryakin not to defend himself from muggers so as to preserve this cover. Despite their hostilities towards each other, Kuryakin heeds his advice and does not react when his father’s prized watch is stolen. Later, at an auto racing event promoted by the Vinciguerras, Solo and Gaby flirt with Victoria and Alexander, respectively, in order to lure out information about Teller. Meanwhile Kuryakin acquires evidence the Vinciguerras were recently exposed to radiation, indicating that their weapon is near completion.

Solo and Kuryakin begrudgingly join forces to break into a Vinciguerra shipping yard, in which they find traces of uranium. After accidentally setting off the alarm, they escape into the water only to find their way blocked. During the ensuing scuffle with the guards, Kuryakin nearly drowns in the waters but Solo escapes, only to surprise himself by returning to save Kuryakin. Although a suspicious Victoria pursues them with her henchmen, Solo and Kuryakin manage to slip past into their own rooms undetected, and Victoria and Solo spend the night together. The following day, Gaby meets with Rudi and Alexander to discuss a job, but unexpectedly betrays Kuryakin and Solo to them, forcing Kuryakin to escape, while Solo is drugged and captured by Victoria and taken to a nearby warehouse to be tortured in an electric chair by Rudi, who is revealed as an infamous Nazi torturer. Solo is saved by Kuryakin, who straps Rudi into the electric chair, in order to intimidate him into talking. Rudi reveals that the weapon is hidden in an island fortress, where Gaby has been reunited with her father, which is where Solo and Kuryakin head off to, with Rudi unintentionally being burnt alive due to the electric chair malfunctioning. To protect Gaby, Dr. Teller pretends to resume work on the weapon, which has a tracking system left over from when the warhead was non-nuclear, so that a second missile can home in on it for added impact, but although Gaby attempts to help her father escape and sabotage the warhead. Victoria quickly sees through this deception, and has Alexander imprison Gaby, as an extra incentive for Dr. Teller. Teller quickly adds the finishing touches to the bomb, but is then shot in the head by Victoria as soon as he does.

Meanwhile, Solo and Kuryakin are approached by Alexander Waverly, a high-ranking MI6 operative who flies them on a Westland Wessex to HMS Ark Royal (R09) and reveals that Gaby is an undercover agent under his employment. He and his Special Boat Service commandos help Solo and Kuryakin infiltrate the Vinciguerras’ compound. Alexander Vinciguerra attempts to escape with Gaby and the warhead, but is intercepted and Alexander is killed by the duo. Solo secretly retrieves the disc with Teller’s research, but the warhead Vinciguerra was taking with him was the non-nuclear secondary missile, allowing Victoria to leave undetected on another boat with the real warhead. By Gaby’s suggestion, having heard the weapon system explained, Solo is able to contact Victoria via radio and keep her on the line long enough for Waverly to locate her and launch the homing missile, simultaneously destroying the nuclear weapon and the boat, apparently taking Victoria with it.

Afterwards, Kuryakin confronts Solo in his hotel room, intending to kill him and steal the disc for the Soviet Union, but changes his mind when Solo produces Kuryakin’s father’s stolen watch, which he had retrieved. The two instead choose to share a drink on the terrace and burn the contents of the disk, so as to not give either of their countries the upper hand in the arms race. They then reunite with Gaby and Waverly, who reveals that the trio has been reassigned to a new international organization under his command. He then announces a new mission to Istanbul under their new codename: U.N.C.L.E..Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and would recommend it for anyone who enjoys spy movies, or action/comedies.

REVIEW: AMERICAN DAD – VOLUME 7-9

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Wendy Schaal (Small Soldiers)
Scott Grimes (Robin Hood)
Rachael MacFarlane (The Batman)
Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Curtis Armstrong (Return To The Batcave)
Jeff Fischer (Happy Feet)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Richard Gant (Rpocky V)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe)
J.B. Smoove (Date Knight)
Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls)
Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)
Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight)
Elmarie Wendel (3rd Rcok From The Sun)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie)
Daisuke Suzuki (I Am Gangster)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights)
Azura Skyke (28 Days)
Carl Reiner (Two and a Half Men)
Alice Evans (The Originals)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Beth Grant (Child’s Play 2)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
CeeLo Green (Sparkle)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Kristen Schaal (The Boss)
Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family)
Sally Struthers (All In The Family)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Hulk Hogan (The Ultimate Weapon)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Edward Hermann (The Lost Boys)
Kat Purgal (Her Story)
Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad)
Amy Sedaris (Elf)
George Segal (The Goldbergs)
Elisabeth Shue (Piranha)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Kathy Griffin (It’s Pat)
Wayne Brady (How I Met Your Mother)
Alan Rachins (Stargate SG.1)
June Diane Raphael (New Girl)
Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher TV)
Rupert Grint (Harry Potter)
Eric McCormack (Free Enterprise)
James Karen (Wall Street)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Jill Talley (Little Miss Sunshine)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Alison Brie (The Lego Movie)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Mariah Carey (Glitter)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss bang Bang)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Sean Hayes (Will & GRace)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Sinbad (Jingle All The Way)

American Dad returns for more unconventional family. The comedy carries on this season as the series prepares to celebrate its 100th episode with an unexpected Smith family wedding. Highlights in this Volume are.

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100 AD: Jeff continues to try to get Hayley back until Stan and Francine confront him and tells him to leave her alone. Taking Reginald’s advice to give Hayley some space, Jeff decides to confront Hayley once and for all. It is later revealed that Jeff and Hayley ran away and Stan and Francine offer the public a reward of $50,000 to stop the wedding. This causes mass hysteria with 97 people killed off in a freak bus accident. Later on, they are eventually found, and Stan and Francine are tricked by Jeff into giving him the $50,000, thus letting Stan allow them to get married. Meanwhile, in response of Jeff and Hayley’s marriage announcement, Roger and Steve dress up as Wheels and the Legman (from the episode Haylias) and try to stop the wedding and get the reward themselves, until Roger is under the influence of Turkish amphetamines, landing them in Shanghai.

SON OF STAN: Francine and Stan have a clash over how to raise Steve in retrospect to Hayley running away. Francine wishes to be more lenient, but Stan is convinced that they need to be firm with him. Stan creates a clone of Steve, named Steve-A-Rino, to determine who has better parenting skills. Steve grows up as a lazy, fat video game player, but Steve-A-Rino grows up as an athletic genius. Steve-A-Rino runs away and Francine declares herself as the better parent. However, she finds decapitated cat heads in Steve’s backpack, and Stan declares himself as the better parent. The Killer turns out to be Steve-A-Rino. With his identity exposed, Steve-A-Rino now plans to kill the original Steve. Francine and Stan find Steve-A-Rino’s lair as he is about to kill real Steve. After a fight, Stan and Francine decide Steve needs both of their parenting style, and Steve-A-Rino is shot by a cat. Meanwhile, Roger selfishly decides to go after Hayley and Jeff to steal the money. When they refuse, Roger begins to repeat the annoying noise; “Myah!”. The couple embark on a cross-country trip in an effort to escape Roger, only to find he somehow catches up to the two every time. Hayley finally surrenders when Roger corners them at the Great Wall of China, however it becomes apparent that Hayley and Jeff have used all the money already, in their attempts to get away from Roger.

Image result for american dad best little horror houseBEST LITTLE HORROR HOUSE IN LANGLEY FALLS: After years of hosting the scariest haunted house in the neighborhood, Stan finds himself outdone by a former design and development specialist for Disney theme parks named Buckle (first seen in An Apocalypse to Remember). Francine makes things worse when she finds herself returning with wet pants and declares that it is impossible to beat him. Depressed, Stan goes to Roger for advice and Roger suggests he use his CIA influence to get real body parts and instruments. Stan decides to pull in five of the most dangerous serial murderers in the area. However, the killers sitting in their cell fails to scare anyone so Roger decides to turn them loose, forcing Stan, Francine, Roger and Klaus to take cover in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Steve and his friends take Akiko trick-or-treating while a frustrated Toshi refuses to take up the samurai costume his mother got for him. Toshi eventually does wear the outfit, only to chase down Steve when he fails to hold a promise with him. After Steve defuses the situation, Toshi leaves him alone and instead takes out his rage by brutally murdering the five serial killers after they chase Stan, Francine and Roger out their house all the way to an abandoned factory. Roger brings home one of their severed heads as a souvenir.

THERE WILL BE BAD BLOOD: The Smiths prepare for the arrival of Stan’s half-brother, Rusty’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) family for Thanksgiving. However, it gets subdued because of Steve’s brattiness following Hayley and Jeff’s eloping. They decide to go to Rusty’s to see what their home is like. However, it is revealed that Rusty is rich after discovering copper from a land given from his grandfather (Ed Asner). The Smiths try to pull the old switcheroo on Rusty, resulting in getting trapped in the desert. However, they are saved by Hayley and Jeff. In the end, Stan lets Hayley and Jeff move into their home after what they’d done.

THE PEOPLE VS MARTIN SUGAR: Stan Smith anxiously awaits his annual jury summons. But when Roger is the defendant in the trial where Stan is the foreman, he is finally in a position to make Roger accountable for his misdeeds. Roger gets the last laugh when he escapes from prison. Meanwhile, Jeff and Hayley move in with the Smiths, and Francine tries (and fails) to get Jeff to clean up his act due to him needing to be stoned in order to keep his libido in check.

FOR WHOM THE SLEIGH BELL TOLLS: Stan gives Steve a gun for Christmas, even though Francine warns him that Steve is too young. After Steve accidentally shoots Santa, he sends the North Pole into a tizzy and jeopardizes Christmas, triggering a massive gunfight between the Smiths themselves and all the elfs and reindeer from the North Pole with Santa Claus himself leading the charge.

STANNY BOY AND FRANTASTIC: Finding that they have no friends that like the both of them, Stan and Francine steal tickets to a show from Hayley and unintentionally make friends with a younger couple. Soon, their (highly dangerous) life style proves too much for Stan and Francine; they sabotage their birth control products to force them into being less active. However, this causes the couple to break up and reconcile their differences once Stan and Francine reveal the truth to them, losing their friends.

A PINATA NAMED DESIRE: Roger asks Stan to attend an acting class, but tempers flare when they audition for the same role, which Hayley believes is underlying sexual tension between the two. Meanwhile, Steve and his friends have their last slumber party as kids.I AM THE WALRUS: Steve challenges Stan for dominance, with Stan winning as he does the one thing Steve will never have. Meanwhile, Jeff and Hayley try marriage counseling — and end up being held hostage by Principal Lewis.

SCHOOL TIES: Stan arranges a plan to get a raise through a favor of U.S Senator Buckingham (Burt Reynolds). The first part of his plan is to send Steve to the private school where Buckingham’s daughter, Cookie, goes to (though Steve refuses to go, so Stan uses Roger). The second part is to meet Buckingham there and talks him into playing golf with him. Stan gets his favor, but then he is enraged that Roger sold Cookie to drug dealers, while they were high on Cocaine. He gets her back, and he takes her back to Buckingham’s house for dinner, even though Buckingham knew about Cookie’s drug issue. Meanwhile, Steve is out of school because of an Asbestos outbreak, and after refusing to go to the private school, he joins a gang of Spanish thugs. He is arrested for robbing a pharmacy, prompting Stan to use his favor to release him from jail. However, this causes Stan to frame a student from the private school for the armed robbery. He is seen riding away with John Q. Mind (Randy Spears) to have further adventures.

JENNY FROMDABLOC: Steve tries to cheer up Snot after Hayley rejects him — so he convinces Roger to dress up in his best teenage girl persona and give Snot some confidence back. However, when Roger starts dating Snot under his new persona he starts to take the relationship too far which leaves Steve extremely disturbed and Snot becoming egotistic about finding love before his friends did. Meanwhile, Stan tries to live like a man of the 1960s by making Francine serve him martinis after work, despite that Stan can’t hold his liquor.

This season is honestly one of the funniest and entertaining I’ve seen!! The writers managed to find the perfect balance so that each character got their fair share of screen-time.

American Dad  the animated series that follows staunch GOP supporter and CIA agent Stan Smith (Seth MacFarlane) and the misadventures of his unconventional family in Langley Falls, VA, returns for a hilarious eighth volume. In this volume the highlights are.

HURRICANE!: Stan tries to protect his family from a hurricane that’s hitting Langley Falls, but every increasingly poor decision Stan makes endangers the family more than the actual storm.

THE WORST STAN: When Stan realizes that he might never fulfill his dream of becoming a best man, he convinces his last single friend, Principal Lewis to marry the school’s Superintendent (played by guest star Anjelica Huston) and to choose him as his Best Man. Stan invites Lewis’ old friend from prison to the wedding only to discover a secret that could prevent the wedding from happening at all. Meanwhile, Roger finds the perfect pair of shorts in a strange room inside a Ross Discount Clothing Store and vacations in Miami, where he meets Latin pop singer Ricky Martin.

VIRTUAL IN-STANITY: After discovering that he has never been there for Steve while growing up, Stan decides to use the CIA’s avatar system to pose as a hot, blond teenage girl — whom Steve plans to have sex with at the school dance. Meanwhile, Roger starts his own limo service, and when a group of frat boys “drive and dash,” he goes on a manhunt to get his revenge.

THE SCARLET GETTER: When Stan runs into his former crush from CIA boot camp, his affection for her resurfaces, which drives Francine into a jealous frenzy. Francine convinces Roger to take up his best bachelor persona to try and separate the two. It works, until Stan discovers that Scarlett (his former crush) is actually the best alien hunter in the CIA who knew Stan was harboring Roger. Meanwhile, Steve (in a rush to get dressed for school) slips on Hayley’s panties and is stricken with good luck — until Snot takes them away to satiate his obsession for Steve’s sister. When Steve accidentally reveals to Hayley that Snot has her panties, she breaks into Snot’s bathroom and brutally beats him up to steal them back.

SEASON’S BEATINGS: In this year’s Christmas episode, Stan finds himself excommunicated from Christianity after news hits that he beat up Jesus (or rather, Roger dressed up as Jesus) during the town’s Christmas pageant. Meanwhile, Hayley and Jeff adopt a child who may be the spawn of Satan.

THE UNBRAVE ONE: After being branded a coward by Stan for not helping him during a movie theater fight, Steve takes Roger’s advice and dresses up as a superhero, but the plan goes pearshape when Roger is the one who reveals that he’s Langley Falls’ local crimefighter. Meanwhile, Francine worries over being pregnant and gets dubious advice from an Internet physician known as “Dr. Vadgers.”

STANNY TENDERGRASS: Stan puts Steve to work at the Harvercamp country club as a groundskeeper to show him the true meaning of hard work. Steve then discovers the owner of the club, Mr. Vanderhill, is actually one of Roger’s personas and also the only one Stan can’t see through. Meanwhile, Francine — with Klaus’s help — tries to come up with a memorable catchphrase. Their final result is “Looks like things are getting too spicy for the pepper!”

OLD STAN IN THE MOUNTAIN: While waiting in line behind an old man to get hiking equipment for a trip with Steve and Hayley up Mount Kiliminjaro, Stan begins rudely insulting an elderly man in a wheelchair. The man, visibly angered, utters a latin hex that curses Stan to live as an old man. Unable to cope with the lifestyle of the elderly, Stan goes to drastic measures to reverse the hex. Meanwhile, Roger takes Francine on a road trip to a dance competition — which turns out to be a plot involving a dead redhead, Roger’s tenacious desire to have an authentic red wig and one of his old personas. Francine reaches a breaking point.

THE WRESTLER: When Barry threatens Stan’s old high school wrestling record, Stan enlists Roger to beat Barry and defend his small claim to fame. However, Stan is caught off-guard when Roger (under the persona of a fake Russian wrestler named Demitri Krotchliknioff) turns out to be the threat to Stan’s high school record. The two promptly duel for 10 days on the wrestling mat. Eventually Francine shows up and reveals she talked Roger into breaking Stan’s record to prove a point to Stan.

RICKY SPANISH: While going through his costumes in the closet, Roger finds the costume of the worst persona he’s ever done: Ricky Spanish. Meanwhile, Stan and Francine’s sponsored child from Africa comes to visit them and eventually drives them mad.

This is a great product. Much like the other 7 series of American dad the 8th is funny, outrageous and above all highly entertaining. Its a great buy for any American Dad or family Guy fan.

Take a “Stan” against boring, bipartisan comedy with this all-new collection of hilarious American Dad! episodes from the infinitely creative minds of Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.The Highlights this volume are.

LOVE, AD STYLE: Roger develops a crush on Hayley after he recruits her as the main entertainer in his new crooner’s bar, and ends up kidnapping her when she tells him that she cannot be in love with him because she is already married. Meanwhile, Stan (once again) tries to prove his manhood by negotiating a good price for an SUV he wants, and tries to sell his black SUV to get money for the new one.

KILLER VACATION: The Smith’s family’s tropical vacation turns out to be anything but relaxing when Stan is assigned a mission to kill the activities director at their resort, whom his boss at the CIA insists is an ex-war criminal. Meanwhile, Hayley and Jeff try to revive their dead sex life and meet a swinger couple, Steve joins a British boy (guest star Rupert Grint) to find a nude beach, and Roger (posing as an old widow) falls for an old widower.

AMERICAN STEPDAD: Stan invites his mother to come live with the family after Stan’s stepfather, Hercules, dies, and tensions rise when Roger is forced to share his attic with her. But Roger and Stan’s mom quickly fall in love and get married, and Stan is forced to deal with Roger as his new stepdad, which goes very well once Roger actually makes fatherly advice to Stan. Meanwhile, Steve and his friends discover a mysterious plane crash while on a bike ride and come across a long-lost script of a Fast and the Furious sequel that reveals a shocking truth about the entire series.

WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS?: Stan decides that Snot is not cool enough to be Steve’s friend, so he attempts to separate them by staging a shooting at an ice cream parlor, of which Snot is the only witness and is then placed in the CIA Witness Protection program. Meanwhile, Roger hires Jeff to clean his attic for extra cash, but keeps robbing him every time he goes back to Hayley’s room.

ADVENTURES IN HAYLEYSITTING: The Smith family’s regular babysitter, Lindsay, breaks her leg in a soccer match, so Stan and Francine are forced to leave Steve with Hayley, despite her track record of being extremely irresponsible. When Hayley teases Steve about being a dweeb, Steve is determined to prove her wrong and sneaks out of the house to go to a party with the cool kids.

NATIONAL TREASURE 4 – BABY FRANNY: SHE’S DOING WELL – THE HOLE STORY: When Greg and Terry’s new talk show does a news story on the 35th anniversary of the rescue of “Baby Franny”, Francine begins to feel guilty over wasting her life while the fireman who rescued her from a well died in her place. Meanwhile, Stan and Roger team up with Toshi’s dad Mr. Hideki Yoshida to invent and market sexy shoes for male strippers. However, the deal sours when Hideki double-crosses Stan and Roger and keeps all the royalties for their creation to himself.

BLOOD CRIETH UNTO HEAVEN: In this parody of the Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play “August: Osage County,” Francine throws a birthday party for Stan, which brings back bad memories of when his father abandoned him. Meanwhile, Roger (playing a black maid named Edna) kills off the love child had between Avery Bullock and Hayley.

MAX JETS: A waitress gets her claws on Roger’s philanthropic character Max Jets, who’s just gotten out of prison and is helping the Smiths with their financial woes.

FOR BLACK EYES ONLY: In this follow-up to season four’s James Bond parody “Tearjerker,” Sexpun T’Come (Francine) is shot and killed by Black Villain (Principal Lewis). Stan must now team up with Tearjerker (Roger) to stop Black Villain’s plan to melt the Arctic glaciers, even if going through a clone of Sexpun T’Come, who is black instead of white.

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THE MISSING KINK: Unsatisfied with missionary sex, Francine finds out she has a spanking fetish when Stan tries to punish Steve. Meanwhile, Hayley tries to move on from Jeff being sent into outer space and agrees to go out on a date with Snot.

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LOST IN SPACE: Months after the events on “Naked to the Limit, One More Time,” Jeff—still on a spaceship owned by Roger’s race of aliens that was originally intended to return Roger back to his birth planet—must prove to the emperor (voiced by Michael McKean) of the alien spaceship that he’s truly in love with Hayley so as to get back to Earth.Image result for american dad LOST IN SPACEThe continuity of excellent, boundary pushing, controversial comedy from the warped mind of Seth MacFarlane and his team is absolutely fantastic. Huge fan of all MacFarlane comedy. Helps to lift your mood on your “down days”.

REVIEW: MIRROR, MIRROR (2012)

 

CAST

Julia Roberts (Closer)
Lily Collins (The Blind Side)
Armie Hammer (The Social Network)
Martin Klebba (The Cape)
Jordan Prentice (In Burges)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Michael Lerner (Barton Fink)
Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Nathan Lane (The Producers)

The First and Good Queen, Snow White’s mother died in child birth, and her father the King (Sean Bean) marries once again with an evil and powerful sorceress named Clementianna (Julia Roberts), the most beautiful woman in the land and raises Snow White. One day, the king leaves to fight a great evil that has invaded the land but never returns. Queen Clementianna rules in his absence and keeps Snow White in the palace.

Ten years later, Snow White (Lily Collins) having turned eighteen years old, desires to see her kingdom. Defying Queen Clementianna’s orders, she leaves the palace. Arriving at a forest, she meets Prince Andrew Alcott (Armie Hammer) who has been robbed by thieving dwarves. She and the Prince are drawn to each other, but go their separate ways. Snow White arrives in the town, and finds the once-happy town folk are destitute due to Queen Clementianna’s greed which she tells her baker friend Margaret (Mare Winningham).

Meanwhile, Prince Alcott finds his way to the palace. Queen Clementianna realizes he comes from a wealthy kingdom and throws a ball to woo the Prince to solve her financial problems and to avoid a suggestion to marry the Baron (Michael Lerner). Snow White secretly attends the ball, planning to ask the prince to help her restore the kingdom. Queen Clementianna notices them dancing and orders her manservant Brighton (Nathan Lane) to take the princess into the forest and feed her to the Beast that lives there. Brighton takes Snow White to the forest, but he releases her and urges her to run. Snow White flees the Beast and collapses at the door to the Seven Dwarves’ house. She wakes up to find the dwarves Grimm (Danny Woodburn), Butcher (Martin Klebba), Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno), Napoleon (Jordan Prentice), Half Pint (Mark Povinelli), Grub (Joe Gnoffo), and Chuck (Ronald Lee Clark).

Queen Clementianna levies another tax among the starving people to pay for the parties she throws for Prince Alcott. Brighton collects the taxes, but, on the way back to the palace, the dwarves rob Brighton and steal the money. Snow White sneaks away to return the money. The townspeople and the Town Magistrate (Alex Ivanovici) are overjoyed to have their money back and Snow White lets the Dwarves take credit for it, earning them the people’s acceptance and gratitude.

Meanwhile, Queen Clementianna informs Alcott that Snow White is dead. When the Prince finds out that the bandits have robbed Brighton, he goes after them, unaware of the awful things the Queen has done. In the forest, Alcott discovers that Snow White is alive and in league with the bandits. Each believing the other to be in the wrong, Snow White and Alcott duel. Alcott returns to the Palace defeated and informs the Queen that Snow White is alive.

Queen Clementianna goes to her Mirror House, within which lives her reflection, the Mirror Queen (Lisa Roberts Gillan). Displeased that Brighton had lied about Snow White’s death, Queen Clementianna has the Mirror Queen temporarily turn Brighton into a cockroach. The Queen requests a love potion so she can make the Prince fall in love with her. The Mirror Queen repeatedly warns Queen Clementianna that there is a price for using dark magic, but Queen Clementianna refuses to listen. The potion, however, turns out to be a ‘puppy love’ potion and the Prince becomes devoted to her like a puppy dog. Under this spell, the Prince agrees to marry Queen Clementianna. She then uses dark magic to create two giant wooden puppets in the forest and uses them to try and kill Snow White and the Dwarves. Snow White is able to cut the strings of the puppets and break the spell.

Snow White and the Dwarves crash the royal wedding and capture the Prince before Queen Clementianna and Brighton arrive. When Queen Clementianna arrives, the Baron tells her what happened and that if she can’t deal with Snow White, then the gentry will have the Queen deposed. Back in the forest, the still-cursed Prince wishes to return to the Queen. Snow White kisses Alcott and the spell is broken.

Snow White encounters Queen Clementianna who reveals that she can control the Beast (Frank Welker) that has been plaguing the forest and sends it after Snow White. Prince Alcott tries to save Snow White, and after the struggle, the Beast captures the princess. However, the Beast hesitates in killing her and Snow White sees that it wears a necklace with a moon charm on it similar to the one the Queen wears. She cuts the chain with her father’s dagger and the Beast suddenly becomes engulfed in light. Queen Clementianna begins to age, and the Mirror Queen says this is her consequence for using dark magic. The Beast turns out to be Snow White’s father, who has no memory of the last ten years.

Grateful to Alcott for his assistance, the king agrees to let him marry Snow White as Brighton starts a relationship with Margaret. After Snow White accepts the Magistrate’s gift, a crone in a hooded robe appears and offers Snow White an apple as a wedding gift. At first, Snow White accepts the gift. As she is about to bite it, she realizes that the crone is Queen Clementianna. Snow White pulls out her knife and cuts a piece from the apple and gives it to Queen Clementianna, saying that that sometimes you must admit that you’ve been defeated. Accepting defeat, Queen Clementianna takes the apple piece as the Mirror House shatters upon the Mirror Queen declaring that it was Snow White’s story all along.

The film’s epilogue reveals what happened to the Dwarves: Grimm becomes a teacher again and writes a book of fairy tales, Napoleon becomes a hairdresser, Wolf “returned to his pack,” Half-Pint finds a girlfriend, Butcher becomes a flyweight champion, Chuck joins the royal circus, and Grub continues to eat. Now they can live happily ever after just like any other fairytale. During the credits, the cast, led by Snow White, engage in a Bollywood-style musical number.

it’s difficult not to point out the simplistic nature of this movie. The plot isn’t anything especially new, and is a little predictable sometimes as a fairytale would be, but I think the abundance of creatures and laughs makes it easier to look past this. I also loved Sean Bean had a cameo.  Definitely worth a watch.

 

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1-3

Image result for veronica mars tv logo

MAIN CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Tina Majorino (Bones)
Julie Gonzalo (Dodgeball)
Chris Lowell (The Help)
Michael Muhney (Columbus Day)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Corinne Bohrer (Police Academy 4)
Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer’s Body)
Lisa Thornhill (The Family Man)
Kyle Secor (The Purge 3)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hilock (Villains)
Patrick Wolff (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Bradley Joseph (A Cinderella Story)
Duane Daniels (First Strike)
Paris Hilton (Bottoms Up)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Paul Marshall (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Under Wraps)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Lisa Rinna (Melrose Place)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Steven Williams (The Blues Brothers)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Erica Gimpel(Roswell)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & CCLark)
Jonathan Bennett (Van Wilder: Freshman Year)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Man)
Christopher B. Duncan (Three Kings)
Anthoyn Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (The Client List)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Cynthia LaMontagne (That 70s Show)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and The Furious 3)
Erin Chambers (Happy Feet)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Smallville)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kevin Sheridan (The Closer)
Jeffrey D. Sams (Soul Food)
Charisma Carpenter (Buffy)
Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
David Starzyk (Bones)
Ari Graynor (For A Good Time, Call..)
Kristin Dattilo (Dexter)
Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Rick Peters (The Craving HearT)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Joss whedon (Angel)
Rodney Rowland (The 6th Day)
Taylor Sheridan (Sicario)
Jason Molina (Alpha Dog)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Curtis Andersen (Sabrina: TTW)
Jessy Schram (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Michael Cera (Juno)
Kayla Ewell (The Vampire Diaries)
Patrick Fabian (The Last Exorcism)
Jason Beghe (G.I. Jane)
Samm Levine (Not Another Teen Movie)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Chastity Dotson (Single Ladies)
Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Ryan Devlin (Weather Girl)
Armie Hammer (The Social Network)
Lindsey McKeon (One Tree Hill)
Ed Begley Jr. (Batman Forever)
Parry Shen (The New Guy)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Krista Kalmus (North Shore)
Adam Rose (Up In The Air)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Charlie Weber (Buffy)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Michael Grant Terry (Bones)
David Tom (Pleasantville)
Charles Shaughnessy (Stargate SG.1)
David Blue (Stargate Universe)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Robert Ri’chard (The Vampire Diaries)
Jesse James (Jumper)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a GIrl)
Ed Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Travis Van Winkle (Meet The Spartans)

Veronica Mars is set in Neptune, California, a town without a middle-class. Everyone’s either a millionaire or works for one, and the man largely responsible for Neptune’s unparalleled success is Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), the resident billionaire software mogul. Kane and his family are still reeling from the murder of his daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) some months earlier, and as if that loss wasn’t enough, the beloved Kane family was doggedly pursued by a county sheriff convinced that they were hiding something. Public sentiment turned against Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who was ousted from office and abandoned by his wife.

Cue the title character. His daughter Veronica (Kristen Bell) had already lost her best friend with Lilly’s death, but standing by her father also cost Veronica her friends, her social status, her house…even her mother. Veronica had already been unceremoniously dumped by Lilly’s brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn) shortly before her friend’s murder, and a defiant visit to face her former friends at a party weeks later led to Veronica being drugged and raped. Despite having lost so much, Veronica is resilient enough to move on with her life, and as her father struggles to stay afloat as a private eye, Veronica puts her smarts and determination to work to help ease the caseload at Mars Investigations. She also puts her talents to use to help her classmates with their troubles — for a price, of course. To cap it all off, Veronica’s faced with a couple of her own mysteries to solve. What convinced Lianne Mars to abandon her family, and where is she now? Who was it who drugged and raped Veronica last December? Also, is her father right — did someone other than disgruntled Kane Software employee Abel Koontz murder Lilly? If there is, who orchestrated the conspiracy that led to Koontz’ confession and why?

The dialogue in Veronica Mars has the same sparkle as Joss Whedon’s work…arguably better, even, since Buffy sometimes sounded like a deliberate attempt to be hip, whereas Veronica Mars manages to be witty and clever without feeling quite so forced. The writing doesn’t skew as young as one might expect from a TV show set in a high school. If anything, the target audience seems to be twentysomething — I don’t know how many fifteen year olds would be able to appreciate references to Archie comics or 21 Jump Street, f’r instance. Characterization is another strength of the series, and part of the reason Veronica Mars works as well as it does is that the audience truly does care about the characters. Despite having a seemingly endless array of talents, Veronica isn’t some sort of idyllic Mary Sue. She’s not always right. Her investigations frequently take morally questionable turns. Things don’t always go the way she wants. Not every episode has a happy ending.Image result for veronica mars return of kaneAlong with the cases that are solved in the space of forty minutes and change every week, a couple of mysteries are introduced in the pilot that are gradually explored throughout the entire length of the season. That’s right — unlike the hydra that is Lost, where answering one question spawns ten more, all of Veronica Mars’ mysteries are resolved by the time the season finale rolls around. (The finale tosses out a couple questions of its own, but if a second season hadn’t gotten the green light, it still would’ve been a fitting end to the series.)

Veronica Mars has a capable cast to match the quality of the writing. Veronica is strong and cynical…bright and sarcastic…and even though all of the trauma she’s suffered over the past year has aged her somewhat, she’s still an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl. That’s a lot to juggle, but Kristen Bell is talented enough to make such a colossal task seem effortless and captivating enough to carry a show on her shoulders. Of course, Bell is joined by a strong enough supporting cast that she doesn’t have to shoulder it all herself.

After cutting down Wallace (Percy Daggs III), the new kid at school, who’d been stripped naked and duct taped to a flagpole, he and Veronica become best friends. In teen-TV land, it’s an immutable rule that people of different genders can’t just be pals…there’s this endless temptation to couple everyone. Veronica Mars manages to resist, resulting in one of the few platonic friendships like this left on television.Enrico Colantoni, who plays Veronica’s father, is another fan favorite, able to shift from warm, loving, and borderline-goofy to secretive and deadly serious when the situation calls for it. There’s also Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of a local biker gang from the wrong side of the tracks who engages in some mutual backscratching with Veronica.

The character who stands out the most — aside from Veronica, of course — is Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Like Kristen Bell, Dohring is endlessly engaging. He’s introduced as an “obligatory psychotic jackass”, but as the season progresses, Logan’s humanized without being watered-down; even when he’s doing something as thoroughly loathesome as bribing a homeless vet to join in on his homebrew Bumfights video, there’s an undercurrent of understanding why Logan is the way he is. The character changes throughout the season, but the shift feels deserved and natural, not just because that’s what’s scrawled on the whiteboard in the writing room.Other guest stars throughout the season include Napoleon Dynamite’s Tina Majorino as computer whiz Mac, Aaron Ashmore as a love interest with a shady past, Logan’s movie star family (played by Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan), Anthony Anderson, Zachary Ty Brian, Joey Lauren Adams, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, in a shameless bit of stuntcasting, Paris Hilton. The fact that the second episode of Veronica Mars manages to be really good despite a Paris Hilton guest spot really is a testament to how good a series this is. Oh, and, in true Laura Palmer fashion, just because Lilly Kane is dead doesn’t mean that Amanda Seyfried can’t rear her head in nearly every other episode.The conclusion to most of the mysteries caught me by surprise. Throughout the entire season, the only time I correctly guessed the culprit was in “Lord of the Bling”, and even then, the motivation and execution were well out of my reach. The many twists the stories take are clever, and watching these episodes a second time, I could spot all sorts of clues and hints that didn’t seem that important the first time through.  Veronica Mars is a series that’s easy to dive into as a marathon, but for viewers catching these episodes for the first time, I’d recommend drawing it out a bit.

The central arcs of Veronica Mars’ first season were all intensely personal: Veronica being abandoned by her mother, not to mention every one of her former friends, roofie-fueled date rape at a party a year earlier, and the brutal murder of her closest friend, Lilly Kane. How do you follow up a season like that? t’d be nearly impossible to craft another set of stories that’d resonate in quite that same way without retreading familiar ground, so season two of Veronica Mars takes a different approach, shifting the focus away from our plucky junior detective and more towards the sticky underbelly of Neptune, California as a whole.Mayoral candidate Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) has a vision for the glorified country club that is Neptune. Incorporating Neptune would have a Tide with Bleach effect, making the whites whiter and the rich richer as property values are boosted and less desirable elements are rezoned onto someone else’s doorstep. Woody’s plan is announced as the tensions between the haves and have-nots are already boiling over in Neptune.Logan Echols, the cocky son of an aging Hollywood action hero, has walked away unscathed from accusations of stabbing a Hispanic biker to death, prompting a series of vicious attacks from both sides. The stark differences between the classes are also apparent after a school-sponsored trip; the rich kids hop in a limo and ride back in style, and the not-so-privileged cram into a rank schoolbus and careen off the side of a cliff. The town is torn apart by the tragedy, and Veronica, who’d barely missed the bus and was very nearly among the dead, is determined to find out if the crash was a terrible accident, suicide, or something much more ominous.Image result for veronica mars driver edIt’s a hectic season, with a bus crash, two murder trials, class-slash-racial tensions throughout Neptune, a sheriff race, the possibility of Neptune incorporating, the ambiguity about Wallace’s family life, a coma-baby, Beaver following in his shamed father’s footsteps as he tries to get his own real estate endeavour off the ground, the strife former baseball star Terrence Cook and his overbearing daughter Jackie (Tessa Thompson) bring to Neptune, the newly-introduced clan of Irish drug-peddlers known as the Fitzpatricks, and the machinations of Dick and Beaver’s scheming stepmother Kendall (Charisma Carpenter). There’s enough to follow The season plays a lot better on DVD; it’s easier to keep the scores of characters and plot points fresh in the mind over the course of a few days as opposed to the better part of a year.In its third — and ultimately final — season, Veronica Mars steps away from any season-length stories. Slightly truncated to twenty episodes, season three is neatly grouped into three distinct chunks of episodes. The season opens with Veronica settling into her freshman year at Hearst College, but the campus continues to be plagued by a spree of sexual assaults. Mac’s bubbly roommate Parker (Julie Gonzalo) is the latest victim to be roofied and raped, with the attacker leaving his calling card by shaving her head. Having suffered through the past couple of years as a rape victim herself and unwittingly in a position to have caught Parker’s rapist during the attack, Veronica’s grim determination to put an end to this reign of terror makes up the first and the lengthiest of the season’s arcs.The season’s second arc picks up a couple of months after the grisly final shot of “Spit and Eggs” as the police have shrugged off the death of someone close to Veronica as a suicide. A devastating emotional blow delivered just hours earlier, a gunshot to the temple, a vague suicide note typed on a PC…it’s tragic, yes, but the pieces fit neatly together just the same. Still, it’s a scenario lifted directly from a paper Veronica penned for her criminology class on how to commit the perfect murder. Throughout the course of their investigation, Veronica and her father become entangled in a pair of other murders, among them the death of one of Veronica Mars’ most enduring characters.Facing cancellation and attempting to make the largely serialized series more accessible to new viewers, Veronica Mars draws to a close with a set of five standalone episodes. There aren’t any overarching investigations, although some threads leak from one episode to the next, including a sheriff’s race between Keith Mars and an unlikely contender.

The season premiere introduces two other Hearst students who’d go on to stick around for the rest of the year: Wallace’s roommate Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) and Mac’s roomieImage result for veronica mars welcome wagonThe hunt for Hearst’s rapist, which runs for the nine of the season’s twenty episodes, is the highest point of the set. It’s the most engaging of the season’s various arcs, which is impressive considering that these episodes have to juggle the weekly mysteries, the overarching search for the rapist, and introduce the new characters and Hearst College as a whole. There seems to be some connection between the rapes and the Greek system at Hearst, pitting Veronica against a group of feminists determined to bring the frats down, forcing her to defend the same lecherous halfwits she thought were tied to the rapes last season, and clawing her way into the Zeta Theta Beta house. This first half of the season also gives the supporting cast a reasonable amount of screentime, including Wallace and Logan on opposite ends of an Abu Ghraib-inspired prison experiment, Logan stumbling onto a life-changing discovery when trying to find out why his trust fund is dwindling so quickly, and Keith making the same sorts of excuses with a married client as the skeevy men whose infidelities pay his rent. The arc comes to a close with “Spit and Eggs”, which, in true Veronica Mars form, plays like more of a thriller than a mystery, and it’s by far the most intense episode of the season. Veronica Mars was an excellent a show spread across 3 seasons and become a great cult show, and with the arrival of the movie saw resurgence in its popularity.

REVIEW: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

 

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman)
Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Justin Timberlake (Friends With Benefits)
Rooney Mara (Her)
Rashia Jones (I Love You, Man)
Josh Pence (The Dark Knight Rises)
Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries)
Lacey Beeman (Power Rangers Time Force)
Jason Flemyng (Snatch)
Jessie Heiman (Chuck)
Riley Voelkel (The Originals)

David Fincher’s The Social Network is a business procedural played with the intensity of a thriller and the ingenuity of a screwball comedy. It’s something of a departure for the filmmaker, whose pictures lean toward visual pyrotechnics and darker, more disturbing themes. Handling a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin that consists primarily of people in rooms talking, and in which the violence is purely psychological, he curbs his occasional excesses and cooks up his most satisfying film to date. Though mining (with some significant departures from the official record) the origin story of Facebook, a presumably of-the-moment phenomenon, Fincher and Sorkin have made a movie that is about more than its ostensible subject. Yes, The Social Network examines, at least implicitly, the cultural moment that precipitates the explosion of a site that aims specifically to make the social experience a virtual construct. But where the film strikes oil is in understanding the kind of guy who would want to create that experience.

His name is Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and the opening scene that introduces him is a whiz-bang Sorkin special–a flurry of rat-tat-tat dialogue and cranked-up interplay in which characters talk non-stop while revealing themselves only accidentally. Zuckerberg, a smug Harvard sophomore obsessed with the university social hierarchy that he cannot penetrate, is out with his girlfriend Erica (Rooney Mara); he clearly sees himself as smarter than her (she attends lowly Boston University), but she’s so adroit at conversational maneuvers that before he realizes it, she’s broken up with him. Depressed and half-drunk, he goes back to his dorm, blogs some hurtful things about her, and concocts a website called “facemash” that pulls pictures from campus sites and lets students rank the women against each other. Fincher gives this embryonic sequence the finesse and energy of an action scene–particularly as he intercuts the rich and powerful “club” kids living the life Mark longs for, the velvety seductiveness of the haves in sharp contrast to the laptop tappings of the have-nots.

The program crashes Harvard’s server and gets him called on the university carpet, but it also catches the attention of would-be power broker Divya Narenda (Max Minghella) and irritatingly entitled rich twins Tyler and Cameron Winlevoss (both played by Armie Hammer). The trio approaches Mark with an idea for a new networking site–“The Harvard Connection,” a school-wide apparatus for profiles, pictures, and so on. Mark jumps in, but decides almost immediately that he can do this thing better than they can; he builds on the concept, hits up his best friend–and occasional conscience–Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) for a grand or so in start-up funds, and launches his version, “the facebook.”

The complex saga of the rise of Facebook (and of Zuckerberg) is told in interlocking depositions (“I’m currently in the middle of two lawsuits,” Mark explains, somewhat impatiently), which sounds like the dullest imaginable framework for a narrative. But the picture gets a kick from Sorkin’s distinctive conversational rhythms and considerable skills as a wordsmith. The Social Network is a whirlwind of talk–invigorating, intelligent, fast-paced dialogue, from the throwaway lines to the occasional loquacious show-stopper. Every Sorkin script has one (Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” bit in A Few Good Men is the obvious example, though Baldwin’s “I am God” speech in Malice is nearly as quotable); here, it comes when the Winlevosses’ lawyer asks Mark, “Do I have your full attention?,” unleashing a perfect storm of Sorkinian attitude, snark, and barely-contained impatience. “You have part of my attention–you have the minimum amount,” Mark snaps. “The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”

Performances are universally strong–Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman) is immensely likable and marginally heartbreaking, Hammer’s double-playing is simple but effective, and Timberlake, as the well-connected but semi-flaky Parker, handily sells his multi-layered portrait of the guy who knows all the angles but can’t quite hide his own rough edges. But Eisenberg’s is the breakthrough performance; as good as he’s been as shy, stuttering, would-be intellectuals in Adventureland and Zomiebland, this is a darker and more complicated piece of work. His performance here is somehow both showy and deftly underplayed–you get the sense, from that very first scene, that he’s already tired of always being the smartest guy in the room.

When The Social Network was announced, it seemed such an oddball project that snickers and jeers were the prevailing response (. But from the unveiling of its mesmerizing trailer, it was clear that this wasn’t just “the Facebook movie,” any more than Citizen Kane was a film about newspapers.