Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Friday, September 23, 2011

And away we Go!

The Fall Television season has started so I'm back reviewing my favorite show "Criminal Minds". It has been a long summer. The behind the scenes drama is finally over and the band is back together.  Our collective squeaky wheels got the grease. The CBS executives went back to their offices leaving CM to do what it does best ..telling stories.

Last year's season finale left Prentiss (Paget Brewster) "dead" at the hands of Lachlan McDermott who killed Prentiss to avenge the death of his son.  Meanwhile,JJ  (A.J. Cook) is forced to leave the team and take another position at the insistence of Strauss, who continues to throw wrenches into Hotch's (Thomas Gibson) team.

The new season opens with the Team suspended and flung to the five corners. Morgan, Reid and Garcia are desperately searching for the man who "Killed" Prentiss.   Hotch is on assignment in secret desert location. Seaver (Rachel Nichols) has moved on. (Silent Yippee!).  Ross, calls in JJ, when it's discovered that Lachlan's son Declan is alive and has been kidnapped.  Morgan has brought in his man but must now use Lachlan to lure the kidnappers out of hiding.

Hotch comes back to oversee the operation, but also to come clean with the team. He has lied to them, and in some of the team members eyes, he has betrayed them. He ordered Prentiss's death faked to protect her from Lachlan. The coming season will deal with the betrayal and the fact that the team may be back together, but can they regain the trust in one another.

It was a long summer and I kinda got out of the habit of watching CM. I have watched the DVD's so many times I needed the break. I was really looking forward to the season premiere. I was so glad the cast was back together, but the episode for me was a little anti-climactic.  Maybe I built my anticipation up so high, nothing could have reached it. I also think I just have to fall in love with CM all over again.  That's the Yin & Yang of summer. You get involved with other things because TV is all reruns, but you also lose touch with great shows and have to get to know them all over again.  I know I will rediscover the joy that is CM, because I want to. "Wheels Up"!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't touch that Knob!

My Reel of the week is the Medical Thriller "Contagion".  Beth Einhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns
home to her husband and son from a business trip to China with a touch of what she thinks is the Flu. It quickly progresses to seizures, blurry vision, difficulty swallowing and finally death. By this time she has come in contact with countless people and objects.
This is the start of a chilling and all too real mystery to find the origin of a fast acting,  fatal disease, which is spread by indirect contact. It  quickly becomes an epidemic.
Dr. Ellis Cheever, played with calm authority by Lawrence Fishburne is a head honcho with the CDC, who guides Dr Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) as she conducts her first in the field investigation.

Alan Krumweide (Jude Law) is a Blogger, germaphobe and conspiracy theorist, who is way ahead of the game when it comes to disease outbreaks.He challenges the efficiency as well as the truthfulness of the CDC and the pharmaceutical  companies (Imagine that !)  He serves as the movie's conscience and cautionary tale teller.

"Contagion" was chock-a-block with solid actors giving solid performances. Matt Damon was excellent as Mitch Einhoff. Protective and vulnerable at the same time.  It was good to see Sanaa Lathan who played Dr. Ellis Cheever's fiance. She's underused as are a lot of Black actresses.

There were moments of tension and excitement, but in the end it was just an OK movie, not great, not "Oh my god , you have to see this", but OK. I left the theatre squirting sanitizer into my palm and avoiding touching my face.

Monday, September 5, 2011

High Tea, with a decidedly bitter aftertaste

The Reel of the week is 2006's  "Amazing Grace" .The  story takes place in 18th century England and recounts the adult life of William Wilberforce (Iaon Gruffudd) a member of British Parliament who along with his best friend William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch), the youngest Prime Minister in history,who take on the other members of Parliament, who own plantations and slave ship,s to abolish slavery in England.    
They are thwarted at every turn by Wilburforce's illness and the underhanded tricks of the members of Parliament. Defeated again and again, Wilberforce's spirit is crushed and he returns to his home. He meets Barbara Spooner (Ramola Garai) who shares his belief in the inhumanity of slavery, they fall in love and she spurs him on to continue the fight. With the help of abolitionists, his friend the Prime minister and the former slave Olaudah Equiano (Youssou N'Dour), who bought his own freedom and penned his memoirs in a book entitled "The interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano". Wilberforce is reinvigorated to jump back into the fight. Along the way, he meets John Newton (Albert Finney), a former slave ship owner whose conscience , in the form of thousands of the souls of Africa haunting his every waking moment, cause him to renounce slavery and pen the song "Amazing Grace" and dedicate his life to repenting his sins. 
The movie was a bit plodding at times, but overall informative and watchable. Iaon Gruffudd was well cast and likable as was Benedict Cumberbatch.
What I did find rather strange, was the fact that this was a movie about slavery, but the entire movie contained only two black actors and only one had any lines. I think the movie could have really used some of that perspective, which would have balanced the film a bit more.
Also as aside if you enjoy Ioan Gruffudd I highly recommend his "Horatio Hornblower" series, which is out on DVD. It's fascinating series, I was totally hooked. Also Benedict Cumberbatch in "To the ends of the Earth", excellent!

If you are looking for an evening of informative history, I recommend either of these films.