Thursday, May 29, 2008

Remembering VIRGILIA HAZARD




REMEMBERING VIRGILIA HAZARD

My recent viewing of my "NORTH AND SOUTH Trilogy" DVD set, led me to the "Special Feaures" section that featured a behind-the-scene look at the television miniseries trilogy. In it, Patrick Swayze (Orry Main), James Read (George Hazard), Lesley Anne-Down (Madeline Fabray) producer David Wolper and the trilogy's author, John Jakes discussed both the literary and television versions of the saga. I found their recollections of the trilogy's production very interesting and entertaining. What I found surprising were the actors' admissions that they found abolitionist Virgilia Hazard to be their favorite character. Even more surprising was my discovery that John Jakes shared similiar feelings.

In the saga, Virgilia Hazard (Kirstie Alley) was the only daughter of iron manufacturer William Hazard (John Anderson) and his wife, Maude (Inga Swenson) in Pennsylvania. She had three brothers - the eldest sibling Stanley (Jonathan Frakes), the youngest Billy (John Stockwell/Parker Stevenson) and middle brother George. Unlike most of her family, Virgilia became a firm devotee of causes for women's rights, civil rights for free Northern blacks and especially the abolitionist cause in mid-19th century United States. In fact, one could honestly say that Virgilia's devotion to abolition drifted into fanaticism.

Virgilia ended up being one of the most complex characters that author Jakes had ever created. On one hand, her fanaticism, tactless behavior, self-righteousness and bigotry toward all Southern-born whites made her a very unpleasant person. Just how unpleasant could Virgilia be? She had a tendency to air her beliefs to anyone within hearing range, regardless of whether they wanted to listen to her or not. She became so blind and bigoted in her self-righteousness toward Southern whites - especially those of the planter-class that she failed to notice that despite her brother George's close friendship with the son of a South Carolina planter, Orry Main, he had also become a devoted abolitionist and civil rights advocate by the eve of the Civil War. If she had been willing to open herself more to the Mains, she would have discovered another potential abolitionist in their midst - namely Orry's younger Cousin Charles (Lewis Smith).

Her tactless behavior nearly cost George's friendship with Orry, when she helped Grady (Georg Sandford Brown), the slave of the Mains' neighbor, James Huntoon (Jim Metzler), escape from slavery during the Hazards' visit to South Carolina. That same tactless behavior led her to take part in John Brown's 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry and expose herself needlessly to the local militia. And because of this, Grady - by that time, her husband - had rushed forward to save her and instead, ended up dead. One of Virgilia's worst acts - at least to me - was when she had tossed away her convictions and self-esteem to become Sam Greene's (David Odgen Stiers) mistress, following her confrontation with a hospital administrator (Olivia DeHavilland) over a Confederate officer's death. All over a matter of survival. She had no problem with confronting her family and neighbors' scorn over her devotion to abolition. She had no problem with confronting the Mains in her complicity to help Grady escape. But when she faced a murder investigation, she threw her self-esteem to wind and lowered herself to the level of a prostitue to stay out of prison.

But for all of her faults, Virgilia also possessed a great deal of virtues. Why else would the likes of Swayze and Read declare that she was their favorite character? One cannot help but admire her resilient devotion to the abolitionist cause, which was not very popular with most of her family and fellow Northerners. She was open-minded enough to look past Grady's skin color and view him as an attractive man, worthy for her hand in marriage. Many, including most of the Hazards, had excused her marriage to Grady as a political statement. One member of the Hazard family knew the truth - George's Irish-born wife, Constance Flynn Hazard (Wendy Kilbourne). She knew that Virgilia genuinely loved Grady.

And while many "NORTH AND SOUTH" fans may have abhorred Virgilia's habit of speaking her mind, I cannot help but admired it. If I must be honest, I really enjoyed Virgilia's habit of confronting her family and the Main family about slavery and reminding them of the institution's horrors. I feel that it took a lot of guts on her part and I admired her for this. Virgilia's practice of "telling it like it is" seemed very apparent in three scenes:

*Philadelphia Abolitionist Meeting - in which she gave a speech about the practices of slave breeding on Southern plantations. Despite Orry's outraged reaction to her speech, it turns out that Virgilia had spoken the truth. Due to the United States' official banning of the Atlantic Slave Trade in 1808, many Southern planters were forced to resort to the deliberate breeding of their female slaves to either maintain the number of slaves in the South or to make a fortune in selling such slaves when the value of their land depleted.

*Opposition to the Mexican-American War - during Orry's first meeting with the Hazard family, Virgilia made her disgust and opposition to the United States' threat to wage war against Mexico very clear, claiming that many of the war's supporters saw it as an opportunity to conquer Mexican territory and use it for the expansion of slavery. I hate to say this, but slavery's expansion had been a strong reason for those who supported the idea of war.

*Confrontation Over Grady's Escape - this is without a doubt, my favorite scene in which Virgilia confronted her family and the Mains over her disgust with slavery. Hell, I had practically cheered the woman as she made it clear that not only the South, but the entire country would eventually pay a price for its complicity in the institution of slavery. And she had been right.

It took a brave woman to willingly pursue a cause that many found unpopular . . . and make her convictions to others, quite clear. Hell, I think that she had more balls than all of the men in her family. Even more so, she did not hide her beliefs and convictions behind a personable veneer in order to soothe the sociabilities of her family and their friends. I had discovered that both Lesley Anne Down (Madeline Fabray) and David Carridine (Justin LaMotte) had both received Golden Globe nominations for their performances in the first miniseries. Frankly, I find this appalling for I believe that Kirstie had deserved a nomination, as well. Probably even more so, considering that she had a more difficult role. I wonder if both Swayze and Read had felt the same.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"EASTERN PROMISES" Photo Gallery

Below is a gallery featuring photographs from the new David Cronenberg movie, "EASTERN PROMISES". It stars Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl:


"EASTERN PROMISES" Photo Gallery





































Sunday, May 25, 2008

"On the Analyst's Couch" - 6/6



Here is the sixth and last chapter of "On the Analyst's Couch":


ON THE ANALYST'S COUCH - Part 6

A month following Phoebe's first session with Dr. Linnbakker, the latter receives a surprise visitor. Cole Turner.

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CASE #61822 - COLE TURNER (SEPTEMBER 8, 2002):


DR. LINNBAKKER: (Stares at the new visitor in shock) Well! This is a surprise! How did you . . . how did you get away from the Wasteland?

COLE: (Laughs slightly) I do manage to escape once in a while. If all goes well, I might be able to stay away, permanently.

LINNBAKKER: Hmmm! Good luck! (Pauses) So, what brings you upon my doorstep?

COLE: To talk. I haven't talked with anyone in quite a while. Not since that incident with the witch . . ."

LINNBAKKER: You mean, Agent Jackman? (Nods) I heard about that. Of course, I must admit that I'm surprised you sought me out just to speak. You've always been a chronic loner.

COLE: Well, that was before . . . (Pauses) I mean, I haven't really been one in nearly two years.

LINNBAKKER: And so you just decided to seek me out, after two years? I haven't seen you since those months, following the Triad's destruction. (Doubt tinges her voice) And you're telling me that you came to see me, because you're lonely for company?

COLE: (Sighs) Okay, Doc. What do you want? Do you want me to tell you that this visit has to do with more than just me being lonely?

LINNBAKKER: (Sarcastically) Now that would be a nice step in the right direction.

COLE: (Glares at the doctor) This is more than about me being lonely. Yes, I'm lonely. But I'm also frustrated, angry and . . . and a little resentful.

LINNBAKKER: Oh? About what?

COLE: (Sighs) About Phoebe, okay? She wants to get a divorce.

LINNBAKKER: Yes, I heard about that. And I gather you don't want one.

COLE: (Sarcastically) Considering the fact that I'm frustrated and angry, what do you think?

LINNBAKKER: You know, when I first heard about it, I thought it was a bad idea. I even told Phoebe.

COLE: (Uneasily) And now?

LINNBAKKER: Well, think about it. As far as you and Phoebe were concerned, it was a marriage in name only. She was really married to the Source (Pauses) and under false pretenses. Do you really want to continue a marriage that began under such circumstances? Why don't you give her the divorce and start over, again?

COLE: (Frustration builds in his voice) Because I have a bad feeling that she doesn't want to start over, again. I think Phoebe wants to end it between us. For good.

LINNBAKKER: Can you really blame her? She's been through a lot, lately.

COLE: (Angrily) She has . . . What about me? Have you any idea what the past year has been like, for me?

LINNBAKKER: (Gently) Why don't you tell me?

COLE: (Takes a deep breath) Okay. First, Prue gets killed and I had to deal with a grieving Phoebe and Piper, who became possessed with hunting demons. A new sister joins the family - namely Paige. And when she found out that I was Belthazor, she gave me nothing but grief. I lost my powers and had to deal with being - unsuccessfully, I might add - a human for two months. Worst of all, the Seer tricked me into using the Hollow to save Phoebe and her sisters, and I end up getting possessed by the Source. (Sighs) That was the worst.

LINNBAKKER: What was that like? Being possessed?

COLE: (Looks away) It was crap. Just imagine the idea of your soul being trapped within your body, while another takes possession of it. (Pauses) I hated it. I hated being powerless to do anything, while the Source used my body to court Phoebe. Marry her and . . . (Sighs heavily) Well, you get the picture. There were times I felt like screaming, but I couldn't do anything about it.

LINNBAKKER: You managed to . . . at times. (Flips through Cole's file) I believe you managed to save Paige, twice. After that Lazarus demon had seriously wounded her. And when she had been possessed by that power broker. You saved her twice. Despite the Source's best efforts.

(Cole grunts.)

LINNBAKKER: What? You have a problem with the idea of saving Paige?

COLE: No. I mean, I certainly didn't want to see Phoebe grieve over another sister. It's just that . . . Christ! It's Paige. She can be so damn annoying with that holier-than-thou attitude, sometimes. Even before the Source took over me. Prue was nothing in compare to her. I mean, I can understand why all of them would be uneasy having a demon in their midst, but haven't they ever heard of giving someone a chance? (Sighs) I remember when I prevented Piper from killing that innocent, when she became a fury. I mean, I could have killed her very easily. But instead of being relieved that I stopped her from making a big mistake, Leo went into a hissy fit, because I used a fireball on her. (Pauses) And you know what really annoys me? They're only willing to tolerate me, because of Phoebe. They've never bothered to get to know me. Well, I think Leo did, once. (Sarcastically) After I lost my powers.

LINNBAKKER: You can't make them love you.

COLE: (Annoyed) I know that. But it's not only for Phoebe's sake that they tolerate me. They don't mind having me around when they need information on the Underworld. Or if they need a demonic fireball to save their asses.

LINNBAKKER: My, we do sound bitter, don't we?

COLE: (Sighs) Okay, maybe I am a little . . . bitter. I just . . . I don't know! The Halliwells can be pretty damn self-righteous, at times. And Paige! (Rolls his eyes)

LINNBAKKER: Then why do you want to go back to them?

COLE: It's not about the family. It's about Phoebe. Remember Phoebe? The love of my life, who happens to be part of that family?

LINNBAKKER: (Sarcastically) Are we referring to the same love of your life that wants to divorce you?

COLE: Like you said, she went through a lot.

LINNBAKKER: (Stares at Cole with disbelief) Well, I'm blowed! Five minutes ago, you were upset over Phoebe's attempts to get a divorce. And now you understand? (Pauses) You're not developing some kind of obsession over her, are you?

COLE: (Rolls his eyes) No, I assure you. Look, I'm not about to lose the woman I love, because that son-of-a-bitch, the Source, wanted to use my body to conceive some spawn of evil. Can you blame me for trying to fix my relationship?

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) No, I don't. But Cole, what if you fail to win back Phoebe? (Pauses) Okay, say if you finally got that chance to talk with her. And she still wants to go ahead with the divorce and a permanent break-up. Are you prepared to accept that? To move on?

COLE: (Stares at the doctor with mouth hung open) Are you saying that Phoebe will go ahead with the divorce?

LINNBAKKER: (Shrugs) I don't know. Only time will tell. But what if she decides to permanently break up with you? What are you going to do? Continue stalking her, until she changes her mind? Turn into another Leo, so you can win her back?

COLE: (Sarcastically) God forbid. (Sighs) I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do without her. Hell, I sound so pathetic!

LINNBAKKER: Yeah, you do. (Cole glares at her) I realize this is the first time you've ever been in love, but maybe you should take it easy for a while.

COLE: Take it easy? What do you mean? Give Phoebe what she wants?

LINNBAKKER: Why not? Like I said before, you two were married in name, only. She was really married to the Source.

COLE: And what happens, after the divorce? What do I do? Fight for innocents on my own? That's not exactly my style.

LINNBAKKER: Really? You did a good job of helping innocents between the time you and Phoebe started dating and the Source took over you. Saved Paige's life, twice.

COLE: (Sighs) I only did that for Phoebe's sake. You know that.

LINNBAKKER: Okay. (Examines Cole's file) Then what about Amanda Kuhl? She was a powerful witch you were supposed to kill in Seattle, 1948. Instead, you faked her death.

COLE: (Looks alarmed) How did you know . . .? Not even the Source knew about that.

LINNBAKKER: The Founders did. Apparently, Miss Kuhl had told her whitelighter, who informed the Founders. Only two weeks later, the whitelighter was killed by a darklighter before she could spread the word about the mighty Belthazor's compassion.

COLE: (Still looks rattled) What . . . uh, is she still alive? Miss Kuhl, I mean.

LINNBAKKER: Oh yes. Under another name, of course. (Pauses) Why did you do it? Save that witch? Were you in love with her?

COLE: Huh? Uh, no. No, I . . . I felt sorry for her. The Triad had already wiped out the rest of her family. I don't know why. Perhaps the, uh (Takes a deep breath) . . . the Source saw her family as a threat in the future. (Looks away) It was a moment of weakness. I felt sorry for her. (Pauses) Why didn't you bring this up, two years ago?

LINNBAKKER: The Source was still alive at the time. And you had bounty hunters on your trail. (Examines Cole's file, again) And then there was Charlotte Warren.

COLE: Huh?

LINNBAKKER: You remember her, don't you? The mother of Melinda Warren. While that woman, Ruth, had her laying on that bed like a sack of potatoes, you offered her a little comfort.

COLE: (Clears his throat) Oh yes. Now I remember. Sixteen-seventy Virginia. What about her? You know, I was prepared to help Ruth turn that baby into evil.

LINNBAKKER: And yet, you offered her a little comfort, while she was pregnant. You even expressed regret at the possibility of killing her.

(Cole shifts uncomfortably in his seat.)

LINNBAKKER: And of course, there was the Brotherhood of the Thorn.

COLE: (Sarcastically) Are you going to say that I offered comfort to them, as well?

LINNBAKKER: Don't be a smart ass. No, I'm wondering why you bothered to tell the Halliwells about them? You could have kept your mouth shut, after Phoebe killed your brother demon. Instead, you not only told the Charmed Ones about the Brotherhood, you even suggested going after them. Even when Phoebe didn't want you to. Why? You didn't have anything to prove by then. Even Prue was beginning to accept you. Why did you feel the need to tell the Halliwells about the Brotherhood and go after them?

COLE: (Rolls his eyes) What are you getting at?

LINNBAKKER: That perhaps you don't need Phoebe to be the compassionate man, you're capable of being. Or a man with a conscience. Cole, all you have to do is reach inside yourself. All the compassion and goodness is there, within your heart. Why can't you just help someone without worrying about what Phoebe or the others might think? Don't you get tired of trying to be good for her sake?

COLE: (Opens his mouth and closes it, again) I . . . I'm not . . . I don't . . .

LINNBAKKER: You don't what?

COLE: (Blinks) You think I revolve my life around Phoebe?

LINNBAKKER: Well, let's take a trip down Memory Lane, shall we?

COLE: (Sighs) Is this going to take long?

LINNBAKKER: (Sharply) No! I just want to discuss your life with Phoebe, after your little trip to the Old West with Prue. Is that why she didn't want you to use your powers? Because of what Prue had witnessed between you and that cowboy?

COLE: (Rolls his eyes) Oh God! Are we going to go through that again? Okay, I realize that what I did was wrong. And that I could have just shimmered away, instead of fireballing that moron's ass. (Pauses) I guess Prue must have told Phoebe.

LINNBAKKER: Did Phoebe bring up the subject?

COLE: No. But she did insist that I not use my powers. (Sighs)

LINNBAKKER: Frustrating?

COLE: Very. I nearly went out of my mind.

LINNBAKKER: Maybe Phoebe was afraid that you would succumb to evil if you used them.

COLE: I know that! She didn't understand that it didn't matter what powers I had, but how I used them. But she refused to listen.

LINNBAKKER: At least she is aware of that, now.

COLE: (Mumbles) Much good that does me.

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs and examines Cole's file) Let's see. What about . . . Raynor? Meeting him again, must have been difficult.

COLE: (Coldly) I don't want to talk about that son-of-a-bitch! He nearly ruined it between Phoebe and me.

LINNBAKKER: It's a good thing Phoebe finally realized that Raynor had put that spell on you, forcing you to kill that witch. (Flips through Cole's file) And speaking of dead witches - remember Emma? The girlfriend of that witch you had killed?

COLE: (Tenses up) Yeah, I remember.

LINNBAKKER: It's funny how the past can come back and haunt you. When Emma had used that power stripping potion on you? Must have been very traumatic.

COLE: (Mumbles) Very.

LINNBAKKER: I thought Phoebe had got rid of that power stripping potion, after Prue's death.

COLE: So did I.

LINNBAKKER: And yet, (Sighs) she had it around, all that time. I wonder.

COLE: (Stares at her) You wonder what?

LINNBAKKER: I wonder if Phoebe had really forgotten about that potion. Perhaps subconsciously, she wanted to keep a bottle around. Just in case. (Notices Cole staring at her) What happened after you lost your powers? How did you feel?

COLE: (Pauses momentarily) Lost. Incomplete. (Shakes his head)

LINNBAKKER: What?

COLE: I was remembering that time right after I had lost my powers. Phoebe had decided to arrange a little party to celebrate. I guess I wasn't in the mood, between the loss of my powers and her rejection of my marriage proposal.

LINNBAKKER: Rather insensitive of her, wasn't it?

COLE: What are you talking about? Phoebe isn't insensitive.

LINNBAKKER: If you say so. Of course, how do you explain the celebration? You know, the one you weren't in the mood for, after a traumatic experience. Weren't you annoyed?

COLE: (Sighs) Okay, maybe I was a little annoyed.

LINNBAKKER: Hmmm. And how did you feel about being human?

COLE: Well, I hated it. I hated losing my powers. I guess I felt . . . I don't now, incomplete. Like some damn headless chicken. Or an enuch. It's strange. I thought being human would make life more easier. Simple. (Pauses) Well, Phoebe seemed thrilled. I just couldn't share her feelings. And in the, my life became even more difficult, instead.

LINNBAKKER: Hmmm. And now that you're demonic again, she wants nothing to do with you.

COLE: Look, it's more than that. After all, I was the Source of All Evil for heaven sakes. And after what Phoebe had endured, can you blame her for how she feels?

LINNBAKKER: What about you? I'm sure that Phoebe now knows how you were tricked by the Seer to use the Hollow. And yet, she seems to blame you for everything. Doesn't that bother you?

COLE: (Exasperated) Of course, it does! There! Are you happy? I'm pissed beyond belief, because not only has my relationship been blown to hell, I'm being solely blamed for a lot of stuff that was beyond my control! And I'm also pissed off by the unfairness of it all. Last, but not least, I'm getting sick and tired of the Charmed Ones' damn two-faced morality!

LINNBAKKER: Then why in the hell are you trying to win Phoebe back? (Gives Cole a hard look) Why in the hell do you even bother trying to stay with a woman incapable of understanding you? A woman incapable of accepting you for yourself?

COLE: (Looks upset) Because . . . because I love her.

LINNBAKKER: That's admirable, Cole. But I think Phoebe was right about one thing. Love is not enough.

COLE: (Frowns) What do you mean?

LINNBAKKER: I think Phoebe loves you, in spite of herself. But it's obvious that she wants to be with someone whom she feels can make her feel secure. And because of that, she tried to turn you into something you're not. How can you be happy with a woman who will not allow you to be yourself?

COLE: (Pauses briefly and sighs) I don't know. I've got to . . . I just can't give up on her.

(Cole's figure fades slightly.)

LINNBAKKER: (Stares at him) What's wrong?

COLE: The spell I had used to bring me here, is breaking up. I have to leave. (Slips off the chaise and stands up)

LINNBAKKER: The next time you're able to escape the Wasteland, give me a call?

COLE: (Nods) Yeah, I will. Maybe next time, I'll be able to escape permanently. See you around, Doc. (He disappears)

LINNBAKKER: (Murmurs) See you.

(Dr. Linnbakker stares at Cole's file and shakes her head. Then she stands up and walks over to her file cabinet.)

END OF CASE #61822


THE END

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN" (2008) Review




”THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN” (2008) Review

I must admit that it took me quite a while to write a review of the latest cinematic installment of ”THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA” saga. This second installment, ”Prince Caspian”, tells the story of four Pevensie children’s return to Narnia to aid Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) in his struggle for the throne against his corrupt uncle King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). I tried to think of something different about this chapter in compare to the first - ”The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. But it occurred to me that my reaction to this movie seemed more or less the same as the 2005 release.

And what does that say about my feelings about ”Prince Caspian”? Honestly, I thought it was a solid and entertaining film that both children and adult fans of C.S. Lewis’ saga might enjoy. That is all I can really say. There was nothing really unique about it. Like many other adaptations of literary works, ”Prince Caspian” did not faithfully follow its literary counterpart. Considering that I have never read any of Lewis’ works, I was not particularly disturbed by this. The only reason I am aware of any differences between the literary and cinematic versions, is the Internet.

Like the previous movie, the cast is pretty solid. The actors who portrayed the Pevensie children returned for this sequel. Due to the rapid aging of children in general, work on the script began before ”The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was released, so filming could begin before the actors grew too old for their parts. William Moseley (Peter), Anna Popplewell (Susan), Skandar Keynes (Edmund) and Georgie Henley (Lucy) all gave solid, yet slightly uninspiring performances as the four siblings. Whereas Keynes got the chance to show Edmund at his peevish worst in the previous film, Moseley portrayed a slightly darker side of oldest brother Peter, whose dissatisfaction with being back in England had produced boorish personality. Perhaps I should rephrase that. Peter’s boorish, which had been hinted through his handling of Edmund in the first film, was allowed to flourish in this film. It took a military failure against the main villain to give him a boot in the ass to improve his personality. On the other hand, Edmund seemed remarkably changed for the better in this film. One critic had described him as being the film’s ”Han Solo”. I would agree, except Edmund came off as more mature and intelligent than Han Solo. Anna Popplewell had convinced producer Douglas Gresham to allow Susan to appear in the movie’s major battles, because she feared the character came off as too passive in Lewis’ novel. Many fans of the novel were appalled by this. Not being a literary fan of the saga, it did not bother me at all. At least it gave her something to do. Of all the Pevensie siblings, Georgie Henley’s Lucy seemed to have changed the least. Although she seemed less tolerant of Peter’s boorishness than she was of Edmund’s darker side in the first film.

British actor Ben Barnes portrayed the title role of Prince Caspian of Telmarine with as much solid competence as the four actors who portrayed the Pevensies. Perhaps he seemed a little more competent than his younger co-stars in acting skills, but I could not sense anything remarkable about his performance. Portraying Caspian’s evil uncle and the Telmarine’s false ruler, King Miraz, was actor Sergio Castellitto. He made a very effective villain, but lacked Tilda Swanton’s memorable portrayal as the White Witch. Who, by the way, briefly returned to bring a much-needed spark in the middle of the story. If I must be honest, her brief appearance was probably the best scene in the film. But not even Swinton’s spectacular appearance could not overshadow what I feel was the best performance in the movie – namely that of Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin, a cynical red dwarf. I really enjoyed his sharp and caustic take on the dwarf, who is skeptic of the idea of Aslan and magic.

As much as I enjoyed ”Prince Caspian”, I must admit that I found it no more remarkable than the first. Also, I found it difficult to maintain interest in the film’s first half, as it switched back and forth between Caspian’s flight from his murderous uncle and the Pevensies’ arrival in Narnia. Director Andrew Adamson seemed to lack George Lucas and Peter Jackson’s talent for seemless transition between multiple storylines within one film. But once the Pevensies and Caspian finally met, the movie seemed to discover its pace as it flowed toward the heroes’ ill-fated attempt to attack upon Miraz and the final showdown. There were two scenes that gave me a sense of déjà vu – namely the attacks of the trees and the river god upon the Telmarine army. It seemed as if either Adamson or Lewis had a Tolkien moment. The attack of the trees especially reminded me of the Ents’ attack upon Isengard in ”LORD OF THE RINGS: The Two Towers”.

”Prince Caspian” is not the greatest movie I have seen this summer. Nor is there anything unique about it. But if one can overcome the fact that it is not an exact adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ novel, anyone might find the movie quite entertaining to watch. I heartily recommend it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"On the Analyst's Couch" - 5/6



Here is the fifth chapter of "On the Analyst's Couch":


ON THE ANALYST COUCH - Part 5

Paige never pays Dr. Linnbakker another visit. Piper's visits to the analyst, continues. Phoebe wants to divorce Cole Turner, but is unable to contact him. Her frustrations lead Piper to suggest a visit to Dr. Linnbakker's office.

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CASE #71247 - PHOEBE HALLIWELL (AUGUST 14, 2002):


(Phoebe sits back against the maroon chaise, glancing at the painting on the wall, opposite her. Dr. Linnbakker stares at her.)

DR. LINNBAKKER: So, I understand that you're trying to get a divorce.

PHOEBE: (Glances at the doctor) Huh? Oh. Yeah.

LINNBAKKER: (Nods) On what grounds?

PHOEBE: Uh . . . on the grounds of desertion.

LINNBAKKER: Really? How ironic. Especially since that's not what really happened. But I guess you can't tell the judge that Cole is gone, because you and your sisters vanquished him.

PHOEBE: (Takes a deep breath) No, I can't. And since there wasn't a body . . .

LINNBAKKER: I understand. But why a divorce? Why break with Cole for good? Didn't you find out that he wasn't completely dead, during the incident with Agent Jackman?

PHOEBE: (Laughs nervously) I see that you've been reading the file on me. Piper and Paige told me about your files.

LINNBAKKER: And you haven't answered my question. Why are you getting a divorce, if there is a chance of Cole coming back?

PHOEBE: (Blinks) Because it can't work between us. I mean, the past two years have proven that. Marriage between a witch and a demon? (Shakes her head) Can't work.

LINNBAKKER: Many have said the same about marriage between a witch and a whitelighter. As far as Piper and Leo are concerned, the book hasn't closed on them, yet.

PHOEBE: Yeah? (Anger creeps into her voice) At least Leo isn't a demon or the Source of All Evil. (Calms down) He's a whitelighter. He's good. You can't . . . one can't form a relationship between good and evil.

LINNBAKKER: Nonsense. Good and evil have existed side-by-side for centuries. People - including the supernatural - have to live with good and evil within them for all of their lives. Even whitelighters have been known to turn evil. (Pauses) And witches.

PHOEBE: Yeah. I know.

LINNBAKKER: Then why do you have to get a divorce?

PHOEBE: (Sighs and rolls her eyes) I can't deal with it, anymore. Having a relationship with Cole . . . it won't work. We've been trying for almost two years to make it work. It just . . . (Voice trembles) After all that has happened during the last three months we were together, I can't handle it, anymore.

LINNBAKKER: Why don't you tell me about it?

PHOEBE: Isn't it all in my file?

LINNBAKKER: Yes. The Founders provided me with the information I needed. And the Source's Realm.

PHOEBE: (Eyes grow wide) The Under . . . Why would you get files from the . . .?

LINNBAKKER: From the Source's Realm? Because I needed information on what happened, while you were the Source's queen.

PHOEBE: You're in contact with demons?

LINNBAKKER: Of course! (Stares at Phoebe) Didn't your sisters tell you? Some of my patients have been daemons and warlocks.

PHOEBE: Why on earth would demons and warlocks need an analyst?

LINNBAKKER: Are you kidding? Considering some of the crap they deal with, believe me, they need one. Being evil isn't as simple as one thinks. You ought to know from past experience. It takes quite a toll on a person. Of course, many daemons and most warlocks tend to disregard these little side effects from their actions. They get so caught up in achieving power and wrecking havoc that they shove or suppress the consequences out of their minds.

PHOEBE: Has . . . um, has Cole ever been . . . a patient?

LINNBAKKER: (Nods) Two years ago. Around the time you two first started dating. And when he was dodging bounty hunters right after he had destroyed the Triad.

PHOEBE: Oh.

LINNBAKKER: So, are you going to talk about your impending divorce? And the whole mess regarding Cole, the Seer and the Source? (Pauses) And your baby?

PHOEBE: (Angrily) Listen, I don't want to talk about this! I'm not ready.

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) Hmmmm. I forgot that you do that a lot.

PHOEBE: Do what?

LINNBAKKER: Run away from your problems. It's a family trait, I suspect.

PHOEBE: (Angry again) I'm not running away!

LINNBAKKER: Oh? Then what are you doing, Phoebe? Why are you here in the first place? If you don't want to talk about your problems, why are you here?

PHOEBE: (Mutters) Now you're beginning to sound like Prue.

LINNBAKKER: Does that bother you? You almost sound resentful.

PHOEBE: I've never resented Prue. (Pauses) She was my sister. We were very close. My God! She was almost like a mother to Piper and me.

LINNBAKKER: And you've never resented that? (Shrugs) Hell, I would if I had a sister or brother only five years older, who tried to boss me around.

PHOEBE: Look, didn't you hear what I . . . ? (Squirms under Dr. Linnbakker's stare) What? Okay, maybe I did resent her a little.

LINNBAKKER: Only a little?

PHOEBE: Prue could be bossy. A little. (Pauses) And a little . . . judgmental. But maybe I deserved it. Considering the number of times I've screwed up my life.

LINNBAKKER: Phoebe, you're not the only person who has ever made mistakes. We all have at one time or another. Including Prue. In fact, she has made some pretty bad mistakes in her life.

PHOEBE: Not like me.

LINNBAKKER: Why do you do that? Underestimate yourself, all the time? It seems as if you have some kind of inferiority complex.

PHOEBE: Under . . . What do you mean that I underestimate myself? I don't!

LINNBAKKER: Okay. Then how would you judge yourself as a person? Or a witch?

PHOEBE: I'm a good person. At least I try to be. (Pauses) But I'm not always . . . successful.

LINNBAKKER: Meaning?

PHOEBE: Okay, I'm not that responsible. In fact, I'm irresponsible. I mean, here I am, one of the Charmed Ones and I fall in love with a half-demon. I mean, how responsible is that?

LINNBAKKER: No one can't help with whom they fall in love. Falling in love isn't about responsibility. It's a state of emotion. Finding that soulmate, so to speak.

PHOEBE: Maybe. But once I found out that Cole was a demon, not only did I not vanquish him, I lied about it. And when Prue and Piper learned the truth, I continued the relationship, despite my promise to Prue. And you know what? She was right about him.

LINNBAKKER: Are you speaking of the same Prue Halliwell who became attracted to the likes of Brendan Rowe, who came pretty close to killing her? Or the same sister who fell for a mortal that turned out to be a hit man for daemons? The same Prue who once dragged you and Piper to some demonic academy in order to prevent an old high school chum from becoming a daemon . . . willingly? Or the same Prue who failed to see the danger of Leo's plan to marry Piper behind the Founders' backs? That Prue?

PHOEBE: Okay, so Prue wasn't perfect. At least she was right about Cole. (Voice shakes) He's evil. He can't . . . He couldn't overcome . . . (Sighs and brushes away a few tears)

LINNBAKKER: I don't mean to sound harsh, but you know as well as I do that Cole has not willingly embrace evil since he failed to kill you during that business with Andreas. Everything else - that young witch and Raynor, the Seer, and the Source - had all been committed against his will.

PHOEBE: (Mumbles) I know.

LINNBAKKER: Do you? I wonder. Your actions say otherwise. I wonder how Cole will react to you filing for divorce.

PHOEBE: (Angrily) I don't care how he will feel! He's stuck in the Wasteland, anyway. Maybe he'll burn in hell. I hope so!

LINNBAKKER: Phoebe . . .

PHOEBE: (Continues angrily) Look, it doesn't matter how Cole feels. All I know is I can't be with him, anymore. If I so much as think about him, all I do is think of what I went through. Besides, what if Paige was right about him? What if Cole saw the Hollow as an opportunity to become demonic, again? But whether that's true or not, I don't want anything to do with him, anymore. I've suffered enough, already. I mean . . . My God! I chose evil! I chose him over my sisters!

LINNBAKKER: You are aware that you weren't acting on free will, at the time. Right?

PHOEBE: Hel-lo? Of course I was! Look, I may not like it, but I have accepted the fact that I chose evil . . .

LINNBAKKER: (Flips through Phoebe's file) Sorry honey, you didn't. Remember that box of chocolates Cole gave you, right after your wedding?

PHOEBE: (Frowns) Yeah?

LINNBAKKER: It contained a potion made by the Seer that would guarantee you and Cole conceiving an evil child during the Harvest moon. Not only would that child tap into your own inner evil, but would ensure that you willingly choose Cole . . . excuse me, the Source over the Charmed Ones. And it almost worked, except you managed to overcome it and choose good.

PHOEBE: Even so, that potion would not have worked if I wasn't so inclined toward evil. In fact, I'm more inclined than any of my sisters. That's why I have to stay away from Cole.

LINNBAKKER: (Stares at Phoebe with disbelief) What? Where did you get that insane idea that you were more inclined toward evil?

PHOEBE: After I was possessed by the Woogeyman. You do know about the Manor being built upon a nexus, right?

LINNBAKKER: And?

PHOEBE: Well, I'm the only sister who was born in the Manor. This makes me more inclined toward evil than the others.

LINNBAKKER: Who told you that?

PHOEBE: (Hesitant) Well . . . we . . . uh, I came to that conclusion . . . after learning about the manor's history.

LINNBAKKER: (Frowns) I can't believe that you really accepted that piece of claptrap! Did Leo confirmed this?

PHOEBE: (Stares uneasily at the doctor) Uh . . . well, no. I never had the chance to talk about . . . what?

LINNBAKKER: Phoebe, everyone has an equal tendency toward good or evil. I can't believe that you accepted such nonsense! Nor can I believe that your sisters didn't even bother to reject that idea. My God! No wonder you grew up with such a negative disposition! They must not think very highly of you, if they believe that!

PHOEBE: Hey! There's nothing wrong with my sisters! They mean everything to me, you know? Hell, Prue practically sacrificed her life to . . .

LINNBAKKER: (Sarcastically) Yes! I know. To help raise you and Piper. Why Prue saw fit to martyr her childhood in order to act as some kind of psuedo-parent, I'll never know. You already had Penelope. (Pauses) What was wrong with her? She didn't provide the parental guide that you needed?

PHOEBE: What are you talking about? Grams did a great job with us! She was tough when she had to be. And very loving, at the same time.

LINNBAKKER: If Penelope was all this, why on earth did Prue feel she had to help raise you and Piper? Did you ever stop to think that perhaps she was too young to be a second mother?

PHOEBE: (Nervously clears throat) Maybe. Once.

LINNBAKKER: Once? I'm surprised you didn't build up a lifetime of resentment!

PHOEBE: (Shifts uncomfortably on the chaise) Why . . . why should I?

LINNBAKKER: I don't know. You tell me.

PHOEBE: There's nothing to tell. Maybe I did feel a little resentment toward Prue. Once or twice.

LINNBAKKER: Interesting. You went from once to twice.

PHOEBE: (Sighs with exasperation) Okay! Maybe more than twice. I mean, you try living with a big sister who seems to criticize nearly everyday of your childhood and not become resentful!

LINNBAKKER: Ah! The truth finally comes out.

PHOEBE: Look, I'm not saying that I hated Prue or anything like that. Don't get me wrong. I loved her very much.

LINNBAKKER: But?

PHOEBE: (Sighs) Well, it was a burden being reminded that I was the family screw-up. And in a way, I don't blame Prue for thinking that. I mean, I used to get into trouble a lot, in high school. I became a shoplifter. I ran away after Grams died. I fell in love with a powerful half-demon. I haven't done anything responsible, until recently. And I managed to screw that up. You know, Paige had warned me that it would be a big mistake to marry Cole. But I did it, anyway. (Laughs weakly) By all rights, I should still be the youngest sister in the family. No wonder I'm the weakest of the Charmed Ones.

LINNBAKKER: (Frowns) Phoebe, everyone ignored Paige about Cole. And where did you get that ridiculous idea, anyway?

PHOEBE: C'mon! Everyone knows I don't have an active power.

LINNBAKKER: Pardon me, but what the hell do you call levitation? It's a power that requires a great deal of action. And you use it most effectively when fighting.

PHOEBE: Yeah, but it's not as strong as Piper's powers. Or even Paige's telekinesis.

LINNBAKKER: First of all, active powers are not automatically stronger than passive powers. You don't have to inflict physical harm to be powerful. Two, maybe your levitation isn't as strong as Paige's telekinesis, but your premonitions are. I never could understand why the Source didn't bother to steal that power from you.

PHOEBE: He said so, himself. My powers are weak.

LINNBAKKER: This, coming from a daemon who relied upon the Oracle and the Seer. No wonder he was an idiot. (Sighs) Phoebe, your premonitions are a lot stronger than you think. In fact, premonitions can be very powerful. But you've never bothered to develop it. Except maybe once or twice. Remember how powerful the Seer's premonitions were?

PHOEBE: Yeah, but . . .

LINNBAKKER: And having premonitions require a strong, mental discipline. You certainly have that in droves or your premonitions would have driven you to a mental breakdown, a long time ago. You're a lot more strong-willed than you think.

PHOEBE: (Murmurs) Yeah, right. (Looks away)

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) You really have a problem with low self-esteem, do you? Maybe the reason you had resented Prue for so long is that deep down, you felt that you didn't need a second or third mother. Perhaps you needed a sister. And a friend, instead.

(Phoebe sighs and focuses her eyes upon the various paintings in the office.)

LINNBAKKER: (Stares) You're still going through with that divorce, aren't you?

PHOEBE: (Glances at the doctor) Yeah. For once in my life, I need to be happy. Like I said, Cole and I tried to be together, but it didn't work.

LINNBAKKER: Exactly how did you try? By insisting that Cole refrain from using his powers? By keeping that power-stripping potion in the house? Did you really think that your relationship would work with him as a human? It seems that your idea of working at a relationship is not accepting him, as he is. Or was meant to be. A half-daemon.

PHOEBE: (Angrily) Well, maybe because a relationship between a half-daemon and a witch won't work!

LINNBAKKER: It did work, Phoebe! During the period between Prue's death and the end of Belthazor, it worked. Just think about it. If Cole had not lost his powers, the Source would have never had the opportunity to possess him. And all of you could have been spared a lot of pain.

PHOEBE: Well, I went through that pain, anyway! No one asked Cole to use that damn Hollow! A nd besides, I can't deal with it, anymore. Maybe I still Cole . . . I don't know. But I need to be free and get on with my life. I need to be happy, for once. And being married to a half-demon who once tried to kill me and my sisters can't help me. He's hurt me long enough. (Sighs)

LINNBAKKER: (Shakes her head) Okay, Phoebe. I realize that I cannot stop you. Who knows? You might even enjoy a little relief for a while. But I promise you (pauses) in the end, you'll probably become that embittered old woman, after all.

(Phoebe stares at Dr. Linnbakker.)


END OF CASE #71247

Monday, May 19, 2008

"THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN" (2008) Photo Gallery



Here is a gallery featuring images from "THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN", the adaptation of C.S. Lewis' 1951 novel, "Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia".  The movie was directed by Andrew Adamson:


"THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN" (2008) Photo Gallery
































Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Post Season Three Leadership of the Charmed Ones"




"POST SEASON 3 LEADERSHIP OF THE CHARMED ONES"

I am probably going to get bashed for this, but I never thought it was a good thing for the writers to automatically allow Piper to become the new leader of the Charmed Ones in S4 because she because she had become the oldest.

I am sorry, but I do not think that Piper ever had the personality to be a real leader. And I found her "growth" as a character and a leader rather hard to believe. Even by the seventh or eighth seasons. Her idea of leadership was to be curt and bitchy a lot. And to be honest, the Halliwells made some really bad decisions during her tenure as "leader" - Cole's death in "Long Live the Queen", Piper's decision to allow Leo to change her personality in "Oh Goddess!", Phoebe and Paige's theft of Darryl's soul in "Valhalley of the Dolls", Paige talking Richard into stripping his powers, the murder of Rick Gettridge in "Hyde School Reunion", and the deal with the Avatars in "Extreme Makeover".

Phoebe probably would have made a slightly better leader if she had not been so self-absorbed and immature at times. And Paige would have made an even better leader, despite her inexperience in S4. Unfortunately for Paige, Kern and his writers were so hellbent upon turning her into a flake between mid-Season 5 and the series finale.

Do not get me wrong. I like Piper. But unlike Prue, she never really knew how to think matters through. I'm not saying that Prue always did. There were times when she jumped to conclusions. But never at the scale in which Piper, Phoebe and Paige did. Especially Piper. And more than anything, I never understood Kern's decision to turn Piper into Uber Bitch or a second-rate Prue, because she was the new leader. It really seemed to go against her personality. I have no problem with Piper becoming a stronger personality. It is another when Kern's decision to make her the new leader because of her age, ended up turning her into a second-rate Prue or an Uber Bitch.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"On the Analyst's Couch" - 4/6



Here is the fourth chapter of "On the Analyst's Couch":


"ON THE ANALYST'S COUCH"

Within the next four months, Piper continues to visit Dr. Linnbakker. Meanwhile, the Charmed Ones vanquish the Source, Phoebe Halliwell marries Cole Turner, unaware that he has been possessed by the Source. The Charmed Ones, due to Paige Matthews' suspicions, eventually discover that Cole is the Source and vanquish him. Then the sisters face a new Source - the unborn child of Phoebe and Cole/the Source. After the Seer steals the baby, the Charmed Ones then vanquish the new Source, the Seer and several upper-level demons. About three weeks after the sisters save a witch from an FBI agent/witch hunter, Paige encounters Dr. Linnbakker at the South Bay Social Service Office. She makes an appointment to visit the analyst.

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CASE #71231 - PAIGE MATTHEWS (MAY 28, 2002):


PAIGE: (Lies back on the maroon-colored chaise in Dr. Linnbakker's office and glances around uneasily.) Why did I decide to come? I mean, I feel perfectly fine.

DR. LINNBAKKER: Hmm, the lady doth protests too much?

PAIGE: What are you talking about? I'm not having any problems. Lately. Well, not since we found out that Cole had gone demonic. But I wasn't really having any problems. I just couldn't get the others to believe me.

LINNBAKKER: Wow! For a woman who claims to be fine, you sure said a lot. Are you sure that nothing is troubling you?

PAIGE: (Scoffs aloud) Of course not! Everything's fine. We've vanquished the Source, three times. Phoebe's free from Cole. And Piper's pregnant. Best of all, Piper and Phoebe have decided not to give up our powers.

LINNBAKKER: That was a pretty close call, wasn't it?

PAIGE: Huh? Oh yeah.

LINNBAKKER: How is your relationship with your sisters?

PAIGE: (Sighs in frustration) Everything's fine. Piper stopped resenting me, months ago. Thank God. And I'm not at loggerheads with Phoebe, now that Cole isn't controlling her any longer.

LINNBAKKER: You mean the Source, right?

PAIGE: What?

LINNBAKKER: The Source. That was the Source who had Phoebe under his control. Or maybe I should also add the Seer.

PAIGE: (Stares at the doctor) Yeah. (Pauses) Anyway, everything's fine.

LINNBAKKER: Then why are you here?

PAIGE: What?

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) Is there an echo in here? You seemed to be responding to my questions with monosyllables. (Pauses) Why . . . are . . . you . . . here?

PAIGE: Because you talked me into coming!

LINNBAKKER: I don't recall convincing you. I do recall saying to you that if you want to talk, give me a call. Instead, you made an appointment. I guess you wanted to talk, after all. Or is there another reason why you're here?

PAIGE: (Shrugs her shoulders) Okay, I wanted to talk.

LINNBAKKER: About what?

PAIGE: (Sighs) I don't know. Everything seems anti-climatic, lately. (Pauses) I think Piper regrets not giving up her powers. See, we were visited by . . .

LINNBAKKER: (Nods) I know all about the Angel of Destiny's visit. It's all here in the file.

PAIGE: (Frowns) How did you get that info . . .?

LINNBAKKER: From the Founders. Whenever I request information on a witch or whitelighter, they provide it for me.

PAIGE: Huh. Anyway, I think Piper wishes we had taken the Angel of Destiny's offer to become mortal. And now that she's pregnant, she seems a little preoccupied. Sometimes . . . sometimes I think she blames me for wanting to stay a witch.

LINNBAKKER: What do you mean? I thought it was your encounter with that FBI Agent Jackman that finally changed her mind.

PAIGE: Yeah . . . but . . . I don't know. Every time I make a comment about how glad I am to be a witch, she gives me this look.

LINNBAKKER: Hmmm. And I thought she had finally learned to "embrace" her heritage. I guess not. (Pauses) And Phoebe? How are you two getting along?

PAIGE: (Starts twirling her hair) Okay. I guess. At least she's not hostile toward me, anymore.

LINNBAKKER: Are you referring to her wedding day?

PAIGE: (Nods) And when she got pregnant. Of course, I realize that she was under the influence of that evil spawn of hers.

LINNBAKKER: But . . .

PAIGE: I don't know. I guess she still resents that I was right about Cole. Being evil, I mean.

LINNBAKKER: How did that happened, by the way?

PAIGE: What?

LINNBAKKER: How did Cole become the Source? Did any of you ever find out?

PAIGE: I think it had something to do with that Hollow. You see, it's a . . .

LINNBAKKER: (Nods) I know all about the Hollow. So, because of it, he became the Source.

PAIGE: Yeah. He used the Hollow to absorb the Source's powers.

LINNBAKKER: To save you from the Source. Yes, I know about that, as well. But wasn't the Seer supposed to use the Hollow to take the Source's powers away?

PAIGE: (Sarcastically) I guess she was "supposed" to do that. Maybe they had planned the whole thing - Cole and the Seer. Maybe he got tired of being a mortal and decided this was a good opportunity to become demonic again.

LINNBAKKER: Or maybe the Seer convinced him to use the Hollow in order to save you and your sisters' lives. (Pauses) In fact, I believe that is what happened.

PAIGE: (Again, stares at the doctor) How do you know that?

LINNBAKKER: Records from the Underworld. I have patients who happen to be of demonic nature, as well.

PAIGE: You have demons as patients?

LINNBAKKER: Yes, I do. Didn't Piper and Leo tell you?

PAIGE: No. (Pauses) But then they never tell everything. And even if Cole had been tricked into using the Hollow, that doesn't change the fact that he could have fought the Source's influence.

LINNBAKKER: Phoebe could barely fight the Source's influence. In fact, both did a better job of it than your ex-boyfriend. Remember Shane?

PAIGE: (Squirms with discomfort) Yeah, I remember him. At least he wasn't an ex-demon.

LINNBAKKER: Well, that only made it easier for the Source to possess him. Whereas Cole . . . well, he did put up a fight. Saved your life twice, didn't he?

PAIGE: (Sighs) Maybe.

LINNBAKKER: You didn't like Cole, did you?

PAIGE: (Pauses) Why do you ask?

LINNBAKKER: I'm curious. Did you like him?

PAIGE: Not really.

LINNBAKKER: Why? You liked him when you two first met. After he and Phoebe saved you from Shax.

PAIGE: That was before . . .

LINNBAKKER: Yes?

PAIGE: Why are we talking about Cole?

LINNBAKKER: Why aren't you answering my question?

PAIGE: (Huffs angrily) Okay! If you must know, I liked him before I found out he was Belthazor. You know, the demon sent to kill my sisters, two years ago.

LINNBAKKER: Let me get this straight. You liked Cole when you first met him. Even when you knew he was a half-demon with a long past of evil. But when you found out that he was Belthazor, you began to distrust him?

PAIGE: He tried to kill my sisters, remember?

LINNBAKKER: And not even the fact that he has saved their lives on numerous occasions, and saved your life - what? Three or four times, won't change your mind about him?

PAIGE: Look, I'm grateful for what he did, but whatever he has done when I first met him, doesn't change what he did in the past. And like I said, how do we know that he didn't see the Hollow as an opportunity to become demonic, again? Cole lost his powers, became the Source and nearly killed us. I mean, don't you get it? He'll always be evil, no matter what.

LINNBAKKER: Of course he'll always have evil within him. And so will you. And so will Leo, Inspector Morris and your sisters. Good and evil is something we all carry within us.

PAIGE: Oh, come on Doc! I don't exactly consider myself as evil. Or Leo and my sisters.

LINNBAKKER: Really? It's funny. You seem unwilling to forgive Cole for his past. Have you ever wondered if anyone has forgiven you for yours?

PAIGE: (Eyes grow wide) What are you talking about?

LINNBAKKER: Must I bring up your past? Those years in high school when you drank, smoke and literally got into trouble all the time? You must have been quite a burden on your family. And according to your file (peers at Paige's files) you managed to get a good number of your friends into trouble. Serious trouble.

PAIGE: Wait! How did you . . .? Piper told me that your files only covered the years we were witches. I've only been a witch for about a year.

LINNBAKKER: Yes, but thanks to your little trip into the past with Leo, the Founders were able to discover a lot about your past.

PAIGE: Okay, I was a bit of a hell raiser in school, but at least I was never a half-demon who spent over a century, killing others.

LINNBAKKER: The details may be different. And yes, you never killed anyone. But still, you caused harm for a good number of people. But since you were never a demon, I guess you deserve redemption. Is that it?

PAIGE: Aren't you being a little too complex?

LINNBAKKER: I don't think so. But you seemed to have this tendency to judge others, don't you? I shouldn't be surprised. You are a Halliwell, after all.

PAIGE: What do you mean by that?

LINNBAKKER: Meaning, you should take a lesson from Agent Jackman. He's a perfect example of how good intentions can lead a person down the path toward evil. And you seemed to have that same self-righteousness and unforgiving nature. You're a smart young woman, Paige. And you have what it takes to be a talented witch. But if I were you, I'd get rid of that rigid view of good and evil, before it causes you any harm.

PAIGE: (Stares at the doctor) What do you mean, rigid? A person is either good or evil.

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) Have you been listening to a word I said? What did I say? That everyone carries both good and evil within him or her. Life is not that simple, Paige. It's not a fairy tale. Not even in the Wiccan world.

PAIGE: Yeah, but . . . I don't recall any warlocks or demons with a good side.

LINNBAKKER: Of course you have. I believe his name was Belthazor. Come to think of it, your sisters have, as well. Especially Prue. I believe she once became acquainted with a powerful half-warlock named Brendan Rowe. Has Piper or Phoebe told you about the Rowe Coven?

PAIGE: (Shakes her head) No.

LINNBAKKER: The Rowe brothers were three of the most powerful half-demons in existence. The evil counterparts of the Charmed Ones. The youngest, Brendan, was half-human, half-demon and he did not want to become part of the coven. He wanted to be a priest. Prue tried to help him, despite Piper and Phoebe's protests, pressure from his two older brothers, and his attempt to kill Prue. But do you know who eventually destroyed the coven?

PAIGE: (Sarcastically) Obviously not.

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) Sorry. Of course you don't. It was the middle brother, Peter. The irony of the whole thing is that Peter, a full demon, could not stand by and watch older brother, Greg, kill his baby brother. So, Peter threw himself in front of a knife Greg had thrown at Brendan. And before he could die, killed Greg with the same knife. The odd thing is that he threw himself in front of Peter, to protect him. Out of brotherly love. Now does that sound like a demon with no good side?

PAIGE: (Pauses) No. (Another pause) What happened to Brendan?

LINNBAKKER: Brendan gave up his powers to become a priest. So you see, even demons and warlocks are conflicted. Evil as the Seer was, she was a firm believer in following the rules. Maintaining the balance between good and evil. Her problem was that she saw an opportunity for personal power in the Underworld. And she used Phoebe, Cole and even the Source to achieve her goal.

PAIGE: (Sighs) Look, it's a nice story. And maybe you're right about good and evil within all of us. And maybe Cole was also being manipulated. But that doesn't . . .

LINNBAKKER: Doesn't what?

PAIGE: It doesn't change the fact that Cole was the very demon who tried to kill my sisters. It's just . . . I mean, I nearly lost them before I had the chance to get to know them. At least Piper and Phoebe.

LINNBAKKER: (Stares at Paige) Family is very important to you, isn't it?

PAIGE: Of course, it is. Don't you think that family is important?

LINNBAKKER: Sure. But you seem to take its importance to new heights.

PAIGE: Look, if you're going to get into some psychobabble about some obsession I have about my family, you're wrong. Just because I was adopted at birth, had problems with my step-parents before they . . . before they were killed, and spent a year looking for my real family . . .

LINNBAKKER: Don't take this the wrong way, but all you've done is confirmed any psychobabble I might have told you. (Pauses) May I ask you something? After all that has happened this past year, why were you so willing to continue as a witch?

PAIGE: Being a witch is my destiny, isn't it? My duty. I . . .

LINNBAKKER: Spare me the textbook answer, okay? When you first discovered that you were part-witch, part-whitelighter, you weren't that enthusiastic. What changed your mind?

PAIGE: A year ago, Phoebe and especially Piper were treating me as a necessary addition to the Charmed Ones, instead of a sister.

LINNBAKKER: Okay. But why were you so willing to remain a witch, earlier this month?

PAIGE: (Pauses) I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself.

LINNBAKKER: Nice try. But I want a real answer.

PAIGE: You tell me.

LINNBAKKER: Answer this. Does being a witch satisfy your desire to help others?

PAIGE: To help . . . Is there something wrong with helping others?

LINNBAKKER: No. But you've raised helping others to a fine art. Even before you became a Charmed One. Why else would you end up working at a social services office?

PAIGE: This is ridiculous! Are you saying that it's a crime to help others?

LINNBAKKER: Good Lord, Paige! It's not your desire to help others that is the problem. It's that your desire borders on ruthlessness. You seemed to be obsessed with protecting the innocent. And this desire has blinded you to the fact that the world, mortal and supernatural, is not filled with those who are one-dimensionally good or evil. And it's made you judgmental. (Pauses) Does this desire to help others have anything to do with your step-parents?

PAIGE: What?

LINNBAKKER: (Gently) Are you so determined to help others, because you blamed yourself for your step-parents' deaths?

PAIGE: (Stares at the doctor, before slipping off the chaise) I'm out of here. (Walks toward the door)

LINNBAKKER: Well, I was right about one thing. You certainly are a Halliwell.

PAIGE: (Pauses near the door) As far as I'm concerned, that's something to be proud of.

LINNBAKKER: Perhaps. Then again, being a Halliwell can also be a detriment.

(Paige walks out of the office.)


END OF CASE #71231

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM" (2007) Review



"THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM" (2007) Review

"THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM" marked author Robert Ludlum's last novel about the amnesiac CIA agent/assasin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). Considering that the first two movies - "THE BOURNE IDENTITY" (2002) and "THE BOURNE SUPREMACY" (2004) - barely resembled the novels from which they were adapted. One can honestly say the same about "ULTIMATUM". Most diehard fans would obviously be upset over these loose adaptations. But since I am not a big fan of the Ludlum novels, it does not really bother me. But this latest movie does continue the saga that began in the first movie. And in one of the most surprising ways.

Before I saw the movie, I had heard rumors that it began at least six months after the events of "SUPREMACY". The rumor turned out to be slightly false for the majority of the movie ended up being set six weeks later. In fact, the first scene began in Moscow, where Bourne had apologized to Irena Neski for murdering her parents and killed Marie's murderer Kirill after a high speed chase; until the story jumped another six weeks. But screenwriters Tony Gilroy and Scott Z. Burns managed to plant a surprise within three-quarters into the film that has strong connections to "SUPREMACY"'s final scene.

As for the rest of the movie, like its predecessors, it turned out to be high-octane action thriller and mystery. Following his arrival in Paris, Bourne reads an article that revealed his past - including his relationship with Marie - and his connections to Treadstone. The article also featured exposure of a new CIA assassination program called "Blackbriar". Realizing that the reporter Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) of THE GUARDIAN might have a source within the CIA, he heads for London and attempts to help the reporter evade capture and possible death at the hands of a Blackbriar assassin named Paz (Edgar Ramirez) . Bourne fails to save his life and he spends the rest of the film tracking down Ross' source - a CIA section chief named Neal Daniels (Colin Stinton). He also has to deal with a paronoid CIA official named Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), who wants Daniels dead for treason. Vosen also wants Bourne dead, because of the latter's supresssed knowledge of the Treadstone program and the New York training headquarters where both the Treadstone and Blackbriar programs began. Along way, Bourne acquires the help of former Treadstone handler, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) and CIA Deputy Director, Pamela Landy (Joan Allen). I found two sequences well-written and very exciting:

*Bourne's attempts to keep Ross alive in London.

*Bourne and Nicky's adventures in Tangiers, while dealing with Blackbriar assasin Desh (Joey Ansah).

*Bourne's memories of his other self's [David Webb] decision to become a Treadstone assassin.


Most of "ULTIMATUM"'s screenplay is excellent. And I have to take my hat off to Gilroy and Burns for creating an exciting script. But . . . I have to point out one flaw. Namely the finale. The final scenes feature fugitive Nicky Parsons learning about the exposure of the Blackbriar and Treadstone assasin programs on the news . . . and the arrests of Vosen and others involved in the two programs - CIA Director Ezra Kramer (Scott Glenn) and psychologist Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney). Frankly, I found this conclusion unrealistic. Yes, one can consider it a crowd pleaser, but there is no way on earth the CIA would allow its dirty secrets (at least recent ones) to be aired any national news program. And I doubt that Landy would have sent Vosen's secret files to the media - not if she wants to maintain her career. Chances are the CIA would have supressed news of the programs and killed Vosen and Hirsch, and Kramer out to pasture where he can die under mysterious circumstaces.

As for the acting - well it was top notch as usual. In what promises to be his last film, Damon makes the role Jason Bourne [David Webb] as his own. Julia Stiles continued to prove, as she had done in "SUPREMACY" that she and Damon have great screen chemistry . . . despite the discomfort and ackwardness between the two characters. This ackwardness came about Bourne's revelation of his distaste of his role as an assasin and a scene in which Nicky changes her appearance, dredging up memories of Marie doing the same in the first film. Joan Allen was marvelous. In fact, I believe that her performance in this movie was an improvement over the second film. And both David Strathairn and Albert Finney proved to be remarkably creepy and unpleasant. Although I believe that Strathairn was as good as Brian Cox (as Ward Abbott), I found him to be an improvement over the slightly over-the-top Chris Cooper (as Conklin).

Paul Greengrass' direction was just as top notch as Kilroy and Burns' screenplay. But as with the movie's script, I have a complaint. I had barely tolerated Greengrass' handheld photography in "SUPREMACY". In "ULTIMATUM", my toleration nearly went down with the Titanic. I almost had a headache dealing with the shaky camera work. My other complaint deals with this movie's rendention of Moby's song, "Extreme Ways". Quite frankly, I hated it. I hated the changes made to the song's tempo and vocals. Despite all of this, "ULTIMATUM" proved to be just as exciting as the first two movies. And together, Damon, Greengrass, Kilroy and Universal Pictures have themselves a first-rate trilogy and franchise.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"On the Analyst's Couch" - 3/6




Here is the third chapter of "On the Analyst's Couch":


ON THE ANALYST COUCH - Part 3

Piper Halliwell continues to visit Dr. Linnbakker on a weekly basis. However, the good doctor, concerned about the former's husband, asks Piper to suggest to Leo Wyatt that he pay her a visit. He eventually does nearly a month later.


---------


CASE #59884 - LEO WYATT (JANUARY 18, 2002):


DR. LINNBAKKER: (Grins happily at her visitor) Leo! It's good to see you, again!

LEO: (Smiles politely) Good to see you, Doc.

LINNBAKKER: (Smile vanishes) Really? Why do I get the feeling that you'd rather be somewhere else?

LEO: Don't take this personally, but I don't see why you wanted to see me. I know I was having problems, two years ago. But I've over that, now. I have Piper.

LINNBAKKER: The same Piper who is a) grieving over a dead sister; b) resenting the presence of a new one; and c) who has developed an obsession to destroy the Source? Mind you, I have nothing against that last one. (Pauses) Somewhat.

LEO: (Frowns) What did you mean by . . . somewhat?

LINNBAKKER: Well, she has been a little preoccupied with vanquishing demons, lately. Hasn't she? Did you know that when she first visited me, she wore black leather pants? Piper?

LEO: Uh . . .

LINNBAKKER: Never mind that. This is about you. How are you?

LEO: (Shrugs) Fine.

LINNBAKKER: Uh-huh. So, you and Piper aren't having any problems, lately?

LEO: None at all. (Pauses) Well, we did have a little disagreement, recently.

LINNBAKKER: Oh?

LEO: Piper wanted our child to grow up with powers. And . . .

LINNBAKKER: (Looks surprised) Piper is pregnant?

LEO: No, not yet! I'm referring to any future children. Piper and I are thinking about having children, now. Anyway, she thinks our child should keep his or her powers. I want our child's powers bound until he or she becomes an adult. Or adolescent.

LINNBAKKER: (Gawks at Leo) Wait a minute! You mean to say that PIPER wants the child to keep his or her powers? PIPER?

LEO: Amazing, huh? I guess she's finally learning to accept being a witch.

LINNBAKKER: I guess. Or perhaps she wants to ensure that your future children will be protected, in case the Source decides to attack.

LEO: (Frowns again) You think so?

LINNBAKKER: I don't know, Leo. I'm just speculating. Piper failed to mention this little tidbit during our last session. (Pauses) I must admit that I am surprised by your viewpoint on this whole thing.

LEO: Why?

LINNBAKKER: C'mon Leo! I'm surprised that you would want your child's powers bound. You, of all people!

LEO: What's wrong with that? Our child would have a normal childhood, like Piper and her sisters. And he or she won't attract demonic attention. Like the firestarter we had recently helped. Tyler's powers kept attracting all sorts of bounty hunters and in the end, Piper had to give him a potion to bind them. Piper finally realized what I was trying to say.

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs and shakes her head) Oh Leo!

LEO: What?

LINNBAKKER: I can't believe that you, of all people, would adopt such an attitude.

LEO: You don't understand, Doc. I'm a married man. I might have a child, soon. And I have to think about . . .

LINNBAKKER: Oh Leo! You know better than that! Those bounty hunters were after the child, because it's their job. Just like that zoltar who had come after Cole, over a year ago. He tracked Belthazor, whenever the latter shimmered.

LEO: That's why I want our child's power bound. To protect him or her from bounty hunters.

LINNBAKKER: The Source specifically wanted that firestarter. Why would a demonic bounty hunter go after any child of yours?

LEO: That child's mother is a Charmed One. What other reason could there be?

LINNBAKKER: If that's the case, a zoltar would be able to find your child, whether it had powers or not. Without powers, your child would not be able to protect him or herself.

LEO: Our child would have a normal childhood.

LINNBAKKER: Your wife and sisters-in-law had their powers bound as children. And they certainly didn't have normal childhoods. In fact, I'd say far from normal. (Leans forward) Look Leo, I think you're trying to control a situation that's beyond your control. There are other factors to consider. Piper could get killed. You could get killed by a darklighter. And whether or not your child has his or her powers bound, that child will be living in a house where magic is practiced. And where demons and warlocks will be paying a visit to kill the legendary Charmed Ones. Have you considered that?

LEO: (Sighs) No. But Piper and I have made our decision.

LINNBAKKER: (Sadly) Too bad. (Pauses) Leo, do you mind if I ask you something else?

LEO: What?

LINNBAKKER: Are you frightened?

LEO: Frightened of what, exactly?

LINNBAKKER: Well, this decision to bind your child's powers. It's not like you. Are you frightened?

LEO: Other than the usual demonic or warlock encounters, the Halliwells and my other charges might face, no.

LINNBAKKER: Come on, Leo. You know what I'm talking about. Everything has been pretty chaotic these past six months or so. Piper died, thanks to some nut who has a thing about witches. Oh yes, I know all about that. When Tempus turned back time, it failed to eradicate that little incident from my files. Whatever the Founders know, I know. And after time was reversed, Shax killed Prue and that doctor. Piper went into an emotional upheaval. Phoebe practically clinged to Cole for support. And now it seems that you have a new Charmed One to deal with. Paige. And then, what happened next?"

LEO: (Sighs) I know. The Source almost got Piper.

LINNBAKKER: (Nods) He did get Piper. He almost convinced her to vanquish the Charmed Ones' powers. And he would have succeeded if you and Cole had not stopped him. (Pauses) Was that the last straw for you? That incident with the Source and Piper? Is that why you're so frightened, now?

LEO: I'm not . . . (Sighs) Yes. Maybe.

LINNBAKKER: What maybe? Yes or no?

LEO: You have to understand, Doc. It's been a difficult time for all of us.

LINNBAKKER: (Nods) Uh-huh.

LEO: I mean, Piper hasn't really been herself, lately. Sometimes, she seems quite normal. You know, Piper. Other times (Shakes his head) I feel as if I'm living with another version of Prue.

LINNBAKKER: How did you and Prue get along?

LEO: (Shrugs) Fine, I guess. Except . . . there were times when she got a little ahead of herself. And that was . . . God! Annoying! Sometimes, she just won't listen.

LINNBAKKER: I'm well acquainted with Prue's traits.

LEO: With Piper, I feel as if I'm living with two women. One minute, she's herself. You know, nice and sweet Piper. The next minute, she's some avenging angel.

LINNBAKKER: Piper is nice and sweet?

LEO: Well . . . sometimes. (Squirms under the doctor's stare) Okay, she can be a little . . . well, sarcastic at times. And distant. (Pauses) And resentful. But that's Piper. But ever since Prue's death . . .

LINNBAKKER: I understand. It's difficult dealing with a grieving spouse.

LEO: And with the Source resurfacing, God only knows what will happen next. I'm not afraid to say it, Doc. I'm scared.

LINNBAKKER: (Nods) I understand. Have you spoken to anyone about this?

LEO: (Blinks) What?

LINNBAKKER: Have you spoken to anyone about your feelings? Someone other than Piper? What about another whitelighter?

LEO: I've never been that close to the other whitelighters. Except for Natalie. And she's dead.

LINNBAKKER: In other words, your life has basically revolved around the Charmed Ones. I see. Big mistake, if you ask me. What about Phoebe and Paige? Have you spoken with them?

LEO: Phoebe is still trying to get used to being the middle sister. And she's engaged to Cole, now that he's human.

LINNBAKKER: Oh really? I wonder if she would have agreed to marry him, if he had remained a half-demon.

LEO: Of course not! A witch can't marry a demon!

LINNBAKKER: Why not? Everyone used to say the same about witches and whitelighters.

LEO: Huh?

LINNBAKKER: Never mind. What about Paige? Have you talked with her?

LEO: (Shrugs) About her problems. She has enough trouble adjusting to being a Charmed One. I guess it hasn't been easy suddenly finding a family and discovering that you're one of the most powerful witches, ever. And a . . .

LINNBAKKER: A whitelighter. I get it. What about Cole?

LEO: (Frowns) I don't know. He's been acting odd, lately. Ever since he became a mortal. Paige managed to find a job for him with her social services agency. Only he quit, after several hours.

LINNBAKKER: I'm not surprised. The man had lost his powers and he's not cut out for a nine-to-five job. I guess you know what that was like.

LEO: (Sighs) Yeah. But . . .

LINNBAKKER: And if I remember correctly, you were feeling very frustrated at the time. You even ended up begging the Founders to restore your powers.

LEO: Yeah, but there's no one around to restore Cole's powers. He might as well adjust to being a mortal. I, on the other hand, was on probation. (Pauses) Look, I understand that Cole is going through a difficult time, right now. When I had lost my powers, it was very difficult for me. I felt very frustrated and lost. Nor did it help that Piper was dating . . . whats-his-name.

LINNBAKKER: Dan Gordon.

(Leo frowns.)

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) Well Leo, I think you really need to talk with someone. With all this chaos going on, you can't keep your feelings to yourself. All of this is just tearing at you.

LEO: (Squirms) I know.

LINNBAKKER: Do you? I'm beginning to wonder. I realize that you love your wife and her family very much, but you need to talk with someone other than the Charmed Ones. Especially Piper. You need another outlet, badly. Why don't you try getting closer to Cole. Or to that cop all of you are friendly with - Darryl Morris. Or maybe it's time you get reacquainted with some of your fellow whitelighters.

LEO: What about Piper and the others?

LINNBAKKER: I'm not saying that you should ignore your family. But they seemed to be going through their own problems. Have any of them shown concern toward you?

LEO: Well . . . like I said, they've been pretty busy . . .

LINNBAKKER: In other words, no. I get the picture. (Reaches for her notepad) Well, since you can't find someone to talk to, maybe you should pay me another visit. (Scribbles on her pad, tears off a sheet and hands it to Leo) Here is your next appointment. Wednesday, at 11AM.

LEO: (Stares at the sheet of paper) Uh, Doc? I don't know if I'll be able to make it, next Wednesday. There's a whitelighter meeting I have to attend. Maybe we can reschedule for . . . I don't know, a few days later?

LINNBAKKER: (Stares hard at Leo and writes another appointment for him) Okay, how about next Friday? At 10AM. Be there. (Hands Leo a new slip of paper) And don't forget.

LEO: (Gives Dr. Linnbakker a wan smile) I won't. Bye. (Slides off the chaise and leaves)

LINNBAKKER: (Sighs) Well, I won't be seeing him again, for a long time.


END OF CASE #59884

Friday, May 2, 2008

"LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD" (2007) Review




"LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD" (2007) Review

When I had first heard about a third sequel to the 1988 action blockbuster, ”DIE HARD”, I thought that Bruce Willis must be very desperate to revive his career. Aside from the 2005 hit, ”SIN CITY”, he has not appeared in very successful movie in nearly a decade. The last movie in the ”DIE HARD” franchise had been released in 1995. Twelve years seemed like a hell of a time to release a new sequel. And to be honest, successful action flicks about cops have rarely been successful since the dawn of the 21st century. Needless to say, I did not harbor any hopes of this being a first-rate or successful film.

Then other facts and rumors about this new movie began to reach my ears. First came the title - ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD”. It seemed very cheesy to me. In fact, it still does. I also heard a rumor that the John McClane character had left the New York Police Department to work for Homeland Security. Thankfully that turned out to be nothing more than a false rumor, for I had envisioned scenes filled with constant flag waving and patriotic rhetoric. Then I learned of the tidbit that McClane’s character would be battling foreign-born computer terrorists. This sounded oddly familiar. In fact, it brought back memories of the 1995 Sandra Bullock film, ”THE NET”. Well that rumor proved to be half-true. The two main terrorists - portrayed by Timothy Olyphant (“DEADWOOD”) and Maggie Q (“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3”) - turned out to be American-born. In the end, ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD” not only proved to be worthy of its three predecessors, I thought it was just as good as the first film.

Despite its cheesy title, ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD” had the good luck to possess an intriguing and damn good story. A former Federal employee named Thomas Gabriel (Olyphant) decides to attack the U.S. infrastructure during the July 4 holiday, through the use of high-tech computer programming. Before the September 11, 2001 attacks, he had warned his employers that any high-tech terrorist could bring about the country’s downfall through similar attacks. When they failed to listen and ruin his reputation and career, he decides to get his revenge with the help of his assistant and lady love, Mai Lihn (Maggie Q). Gabriel tricked several hackers, including one named Matt Ferrell (Justin Long) to create several programs to achieve goals. Then he proceeds to infect the hackers’ computer systems with a virus before killing them off one by one. When Ferrell hacks into the FBI, the latter sends the NYPD to arrest the remaining hacker still alive – Ferrell. Lieutenant Detective (Willis) is assigned to deliver the young hacker to Washington D.C. What started as a simple, delivery assignment turns into a full-scale hunt and destroy mission to take down Gabriel for both McClane and Ferrell.

Moviegoers and film critics tend to focus upon the action sequences for movies like those in the ”DIE HARD” franchise. But for me, exciting action sequences alone does not make a movie. Certainly not sequences like the one that featured McClane and a military jet. I really could have done without that little moment. For me to truly enjoy a movie like ”LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD”, I also need a first-class story and good performances. Fortunately, the movie possessed all three – a first-rate script penned by Mark Bomback, exciting action sequences and an excellent cast led by the superb and always entertaining Bruce Willis. I want to point out that he was especially assisted by Olyphant, who portrayed a very intelligent and sinister villain; and Justin Long, who as Ferrell, managed to create great screen chemistry with Willis.

And believe it or not, director Len Weisman (“UNDERWORLD” and “UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION”) managed to bring it all of these elements together to create an exciting thriller that left me on the edge of my seat . . . instead of boring me out of my mind. To my utter surprise, Weisman actually managed to keep the ”DIE HARD” franchise fresh. And if he and Bruce Willis ever decide to consider it, I would not mind seeing a fifth movie.