Sunday, August 30, 2015

Falling Skies 2011-2015

For five seasons during the summer months the 2ed Mass fought bravely against alien attackers known as The Espheni. This group of men, women and even children were at the front line of combat as they tried to save earth and to restore normalcy to its human inhabitants. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle, the reason I started and continued to watch) a college history professor before the war, took his three sons, Hal (Drew Roy), Ben (Connor Jessup) and Matt (Maxim Knight) and became their leader and a force to be reckon with. Mason along with Col. Weaver (Will Patton) transformed the people they found along the way into soldiers and each did what they could to fight and survive. Whether it was a group of skitters or Overlords they bled and died for each other.

Tom Mason who lost his wife, pre-series was the heart and soul of the 2ed Mass. He did his best to keep everything and everyone under control.

Hal, his oldest son, always by his side and defended his father whenever someone disagreed with Tom’s tactics.

Ben, the middle one, who went missing early on in the war only for the aliens to make him more like them by implanting spikes down his spine and forced him to work for them. Tom found him early in the first season and quickly learned that they could communicate with The Espheni through the spikes.

Matt, the youngest who just wanted to help his father and learned everything he could along the way.

Col.  Dan Weaver, was Tom’s number two go to guy. We all cried when he found his daughter only to lose her after being partly turned into a skitter.

Anne (Moon Bloodgood) who was a pediatrician before the war lost her husband and son pre-series became the 2ed Mass doctor. Fell in love and married Tom then became pregnant and gave birth to a half human half alien girl, Lexi, who had a growth spurt only to die while helping her father destroy Espheni space “headqueters”

John Pope (Colin Cunningham) who was never a team player and whose dislike of Tom would be his downfall

Maggie (Sarah Carter), kickass loner who fell for Hal

And (my favorite) Cochise (Doug Jones), a commander of the alien species known as The Volm. A separate group of aliens who are fighting the Espheni alongside the humans. A great help and friend to Tom

There were others, of course, who came and went throughout the series and all just as good as the last. Even when they were separated they found new ways to continue the fight knowing that they would be reunited and stronger then before. Falling Skies was a wonderful show with a great cast and I looked forward to it and enjoyed every moment each season. I raise my glass for one final toast and goodbye to the 2ed Mass., they were all heroes, the best of the best in humanity and we shall never forget them.  


Friday, August 7, 2015

Southpaw-A touching, satisfying (and for me unexpected) story

From Ranging Bull and Rocky to more recent Cinderella Man and The Fighter boxing movies have always pulled on the heartstrings of movie audiences (and Oscar voters). Me on the other hand prefer baseball or even golf flicks, and really aren’t ALL sports movies the same (A man or woman trying to prove his/her worth to self, loved ones and the sport). Then an actor I admire made a film in which he plays a boxer and being the person I am I had to see it.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua and Written by Kurt Sutter Southpaw is that film. The wonderful, amazing and not bad to look at Jake Gyllenhaal plays Billy Hope a successful boxer, whose name comes with its own catchphrases and is on top of his game until tragically hits his small close nit family. Now Billy must find a way to pick up the pieces and figure out how to move on with his life.

At the center of Southpaw is a story about the love and devotion between a father and his young daughter but there is a little bit more. There is love between a husband and wife, anger of a young girl who cares so much for her dad and just wants him in her life and frustration for that dad who doesn’t know how to cope and what to do next. While watching this film I didn’t expect to feel so much emotion for these characters (I was surprised when I cried). Newcomer (from broadways Mitilda) Oona Laurence plays Leila Billy’s daughter who just wants to support him during his fights. The scenes (one in particular where she is becomes so mad at him that things get physical) between Laurence and Gyllenhaal are so genuine and beautiful they put you right into the middle of the story. As for Gyllenhaal himself, well you know you are watching a good performance when the actor seems to disappear and all you can see and care about is the character (Seeing Billy still in pain from head to toe the morning after a fight helped me understand what these guys go through for their career).

In fact every scene felt raw and real. While watching the first fight scene I got a little dizzy and realized why I’m not a boxing fan. By the time the final fight came along it was as if I was watching a horror movie as I hid my eyes and watched through my fingers, there is a P.O.V shot from Billy that had me ducking (with him) behind the seat in front of me. Then there is there music, I’m sure each hip-hop song was chosen particular for the scene it accompany ( I admit I got into the rhythm of the music) and although it’s hard to hear (because the viewer rarely does and I will pay closer attention next time) I’m sure the late James Horner’s music made the film better.

The film also stars Forest Whitaker as Tick Wills a former boxing trainer turned local gym owner, Rachel McAdams as Maureen Billy’s longtime supportive wife, 50 Cent as Jordan Mains Billy’s boxing promoter and Miguel Gomez as Miguel Escobar a boxer as good as Billy. All are great and make the film the perfect piece of art that it is.

 I wasn’t expecting to like the movie but do to the director, cast and crew’s credit I really enjoyed each second of every frame, although I don’t think I will be watching another boxing film anytime soon (I’ve seen enough bloody faces) unless of course Jake Gyllenhaal makes a sequel to Southpaw.





Thursday, August 6, 2015

My love affair with Jon Stewart (as host of The Daily Show)

I became a fan of Mr. Stewart during his short lived 90s MTV talk show called...The Jon Stewart Show. In 1999 when he became host of The Daily Show, I had just started college and was a long way from home and needed some cheering up. A year later the nation knew who to turn to at our time of crisis, thus Indecision 2000 was born. Since then the show helped us get through a lot, including the most stressful times of our modern history known as The Bush Years. We laughed, we cried, we got to learn a lot about Jon like who his friends are, his gremaphobia, how he hates it when someone eats pizza with a fork and knife and loved his many bad impressions. I don't think I would have made it through without him. As a student I even saw his live act when he came to perform at SUNY Fredonia and opened his act by asking “Where the hell am I” while smoking (afterwards I added make Jon Stewart laugh to my list of goals in life) .

On a personal note…
The year was 2002 when I made the trip to NYC to see a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It was my second time in the big apple and first (and only time) to watch “live” a show I had watched every day since its premiere and I was so excited. You see it took me (someone who hates talking on the phone) a couple of tries before I was able to get a date on which I could actually attend and how I convinced my sister to come with/take me I’ll never know but when we got off the train and were surrounded by tall buildings I knew I wouldn’t want to leave.

We didn’t have to be at the studio until 5pm so we had the day to walk around and had a quick bit to eat in a nearby park before we had to get in line. It was hot for late June so standing in a line of people for an hour before the show started was not easy even when an ice cream truck stopped by. When we finally entered the studio I remember thinking how small it looked compared to on TV but the closer the production team lead us to our seats the happier I got, there was Jon’s desk and the purple couch for his guest. I’m not sure how long we waited but when the warm up guy was over there was the man himself. There was a quick Q&A with him and I don’t remember any questions but wish I could have come up with a good one at the time. When the 1st segment started so did the laughter and I didn’t stop till the closing credits (I swear there are times during the episode you can hear me laugh and during the credits there is a quick shot of the audience and I’m sure that’s me and my sister sitting along the railing) Although it was a rare episode without a correspondent we did get to see Paul Sorvino as he was promoting the Hey Arnold! Movie. When it was over I walked as slowly as I could out of the studio taking it all in and wanting to remember every minute.
It was the best day of my life so far (only one life event could be better and when it happens I’ll tell you about it)

Every segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was a joy to watch from Produce Pete with Steve Carell, Even Stepvhens, Out at the Movies, Dollars and Cents, Back in Black with Lewis Black or a conversation with any of the correspondent from all over the world (mostly by green screen) or talking about Women’s issues with Kristen Schaal, African American issues with Larry Wilmore or British issues with John Oliver. In the end whether he was interviewing comedian friends or The President he always knew how to act, what questions to ask and read every book he was given. The show won’t be the same without Jon Stewart and it shouldn’t be but I will still watch. Good Night and Good Luck to him as he moves into farm life and with whatever he does next