Monday, February 28, 2011

Peggy Olson's Promotion in "MAD MEN": (1.13) "The Wheel"




PEGGY OLSON'S PROMOTION IN "MAD MEN": (1.13) "THE WHEEL"

Many fans of "MAD MEN" have made a big deal of Peggy Olson's promotion in the Season One finale, (1.13) "The Wheel". Actually, many have focused upon Peggy's upward mobility from the secretarial pool to her new position as one of the firm's copywriters - a professional. I had just finished watching this episode and another thought came to mind. 

It finally occurred to me that Don had given Peggy that promotion in order to spite Pete Campbell. Pete had informed Don that he managed to acquire the Clearsil account due to his father-in-law being an executive of the company. One could say that Pete was simply being an asshole by trying to shove the achievement in Don's face. But I think that it was simply another tactic of Pete's to win Don's approval.

Unfortunately for Pete, the tactic backfired. I suspect that Don - feeling satisfied and perhaps a little smug over winning the Kodak account - had decided to strike back at Pete for the latter's blackmail attempt in the previous episode, (1.12) "Nixon vs. Kennedy". He promoted Peggy and handed the Clearisil account over to her in order to embarrass Pete. It was one of the most childish and despicable acts I have ever seen on that show. And yet, because Pete was (and probably still is) unpopular with many fans, a good number of fans failed to notice that Don had used Peggy to get back at Pete. I am not surprised that Don would use a twenty-one year-old woman with eight months of secretarial experience to get back at Pete. What I do find surprising is that the firm's owners, Bert Cooper and Roger Sterling, allowed him to get away with this act of spite.

I also find it amazing that both the critics and fans have accused both Betty Draper (Don's first wife) and Pete of being immature characters. Yet, time and again, Don has proven that he could be just as childish or even more so than either of these two or any other character in the series. But so many seemed blinded by his "man's man" facade and good looks that they have failed to realize how emotionally stunted Don could be.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"SENSE AND SENSIBILITY" (2008) Photo Gallery



Below are images from "SENSE AND SENSIBILITY", the 2008 adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel. Adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by John Alexander, the miniseries starred Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield:


"SENSE AND SENSIBILITY" (2008) Photo Gallery














































Saturday, February 26, 2011

"A Convenient Proposal" [PG-13] 2/5




A CONVENIENT PROPOSAL"

PART 2 - Revelations

Evelyn leaned against the door, closed her eyes and sighed. Her body trembled from the furious outburst she had unleashed upon Rafe. Thoughts of the Army pilot produced another swell of anger. How could he possibly think she would accept such a proposal? Or think she would marry him out of convenience?

Well, you were prepared to do the same with Danny, weren't you? Evelyn immediately balked at her inner voice. She tried to convince herself that Danny was another matter. Or that Danny would have never proposed to her out of mere convenience. You would have accepted his proposal for that very same reason. Who are you to castigate Rafe? Evelyn ruthlessly squelched her last thoughts and started for her bedroom. She was in no mood to feel guilty over her temper outburst at Rafe. Not when she had other guilty feelings to deal with.

A voice from the kitchen cried out, "Evelyn? Is that you?" Martha. She and the other nurses must have returned from the base at Pearl. "Hey, Evelyn!"

Evelyn turned toward the kitchen, where she found her three roommates and a fourth nurse, sitting around the table eating sandwiches. "Hi," she greeted the quartet. "I thought you guys would still be at the hospital. Especially with so many wounded still coming in from Midway."

Over two weeks had passed since the June 4th battle between the U.S. and Japanese naval forces near Midway Island. While the country celebrated its first major victory against Japan, many American military hospitals, including the one at Pearl, had to deal with the sudden influx of wounded sailors and pilots.

The blond and sharp-tongued Barbara stifled a yawn, as she reached for a pot of coffee. "You've been gone too long. Our shift had ended over a half-hour ago, thank goodness. It seemed as if we've been living at that damn hospital for nearly two weeks, now."

"How is Rafe?" Sandra asked. The pretty, red-haired nurse removed her glasses. "Did his plane arrive on time?"

The mention of Rafe's name brought upon an unexpected wave of anger and sadness within Evelyn. She immediately squashed it and eased her bulky form into an empty chair. "Yeah, Rafe arrived. And right on time." Her reply drew stares from the other nurses. Evelyn realized that she must have sounded curt.

The oldest of the Navy nurses who shared Evelyn's bungalow reached over the latter's shoulder for a sandwich. Like Barbara, Martha was a working-class young woman from the East Coast who had developed a sharp tongue after years of dealing with life's disappointments. However, unlike Barbara, she had dark hair, a pleasant face and weighed several extra pounds.

"Hey kiddo," Martha began. "Is there something wrong? For a moment there, I thought you were gonna bite off Sandra's head." She gave Evelyn a shrewd look. "Something happened between you and Rafe?"

Evelyn blinked. Good old Martha. Never one to pull a punch. "No," replied curtly. "Everything's fine." Evelyn bit her tongue the moment she spoke. Again, she had responded a lot more sharply than she had intended. For once she wished she would think before opening her mouth.

"Everything's fine, huh?" One of Martha's dark brows cocked upward. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were pissed at him." Her use of profanity drew gasps from Sandra and fourth nurse, whose name escaped had escaped Evelyn's memory. "For crying out loud, you two! Grow up!"

Barbara added, "She's right. It's 1942 and there's a war going on. Besides, you've heard worse in the hospital. Geez!"

Grateful for the distraction, Evelyn smiled and reached for the coffee pot. The fourth nurse, whose name Evelyn now remembered as Clarice, reached it first and filled an empty cup with coffee. She handed the cup to Evelyn, who thanked her.

"Pardon me," Sandra retorted in her usual supercilious manner, "but not all of us are that worldly. My mother had raised me to be a lady. So, if you don't mind . . ."

The exhaustion on Barbara's face immediately vanished. She now looked as if she was ready to establish her own battleground. "A lady?" She snorted with derision. "Get her! I suppose you're trying to say that the rest of us 'worldly minions' aren't ladies?"

Sandra's eyes blazed with anger. "You're twisting my words! All I'm trying to say is . . ."

"Hey!" Martha's outburst interrupted the verbal battle. "You two can go at each other's throats another time. Right now, I'm more interested in Evelyn!" She faced the pregnant woman. "Well? Did Rafe say something to upset you?"

With four pairs of eyes riveted upon her, Evelyn realized she could no longer dodge the issue. Damn! If only Barbara and Sandra's fight had lasted a little longer. Might as well tell the truth. Or the girls will hound her until she does.

Evelyn cleared her throat. "If you must know," she began in a shaky voice, "Rafe had asked me to marry him."

* * * *

The moment Evelyn slammed the door in his face, Rafe found himself frozen on the spot. Her actions had taken him by surprise. He had been certain that she would accept his marriage proposal.

Once the shock wore off, he felt an urge to bang on the door. Demand why she had rejected him. Yet, a mixture of uncertainty and fear prevented him. Nor did Rafe want to attract any unwanted attention, in case Evelyn's other roommates happened to be inside the house. He leaned his forehead against the door, hoping that somehow, she would read his thoughts. When that hope vanished, Rafe heaved a deep sigh and returned to the Buick.

He drove all the way back to Hickam Field and the new barracks that now housed the Army's pilots. When Rafe had first arrived in Hawaii over six months ago, he found himself homeless. He had arrived on a Friday night and most of the base's personnel, including the Quartermaster, had disappeared for the weekend and Rafe ended up at a local motel. Upon his return from the Tokyo raid, he had better luck and was housed with the rest of the pilots in new quarters.

After a twenty minute drive, Hickam Field loomed ahead. Upon arriving at his new quarters, Rafe found a noted taped to the door:

"Rafe,

Welcome back. Meet us at the Hula-La.

Red"


The Hula-La. The bar brought back memories of that last evening of peace, when Rafe had drank himself silly before getting into a fight with Danny. He even recalled seeing his own photograph on the wall behind the bar. Scrawled above were the words - KILLED IN ACTION. Rafe could only assume that his photo had been replaced with those of Danny, Anthony and other pilots who had recently died. He did not look forward to seeing Danny's picture on that wall. Then again, he was not in the mood to spend a lonely evening by himself.

With a sigh, he entered his quarters, took a shower, changed into civies and after climbing back into the Buick, drove toward the pilots' favorite bar. Rafe parked the convertible in front of a gazebo, topped by a thatched roof. Oriental and Polynesian knickknacks decorated the bar's interior and large statue of a Hawaiian girl in a hula skirt rose above the structure. He could hear strains of the Andrews Sisters singing "Rum and Coca-Cola", as he entered the bar.

"Rafe!" "Hey! Look who's here!" "How was the mainland, Rafe?" The young captain smiled, as his fellow pilots cried out to greet him. His eyes fell upon the photographs pinned to the wall behind the Hawaiian bartender. Sure enough, there photos of those who had either been killed during the Pearl Harbor attack last December, or during the Doolittle Raid. Rafe recognized several among them - Billy, Joe, Anthony and Danny. His smile disappeared.

Everyone's favorite red-haired pilot strode forward and slapped Rafe's shoulder. "Welcome back, Rafe. Glad to see you." There seemed to be no hint of Red Winkle's usual stutter.

"Thanks Red, "Rafe murmured. The pair joined the others at the bar. "Hey, everyone. What's buzzing?"

Gooz Wood replied in his usual laconic manner, "Nothin much. We just came back from another patrol. I guess you heard about Midway."

"Who hasn't these days? That's all everyone was talking about, while I was back home." Rafe grew silent. Again, his eyes shifted toward the photographs.

One pilot said, "Man, I would have loved to have been in that action. Midway!" His eyes gleamed with exultation. "Get another shot at the Japs after that Tokyo raid." Rafe and several other pilots stared at him. He was one of the new replacement pilots assigned to fill Rafe's squadron after the Doolittle raid.

"Midway was a Navy operation," said a familiar gruff voice. The pilots stepped aside to reveal the tall, slightly bedraggled figure in overalls. It was Earl, the squadron's chief mechanic, standing in the doorway. "After what you fellas did to Tokyo, naturally the Navy boys wanted their time in the sun."

Rafe allowed himself a slight smile. Army versus Navy. Not even wartime could stop that age-old rivalry. "I doubt that publicity had anything to with that, Sergeant," he said. "The Navy were simply the right people to stop the Japs at Midway. An Army operation probably would have been ineffective."

"If you say so, Captain." The mechanic joined the pilots at the bar. "I hope you don't mind me joining you, sir."

"Be my guest, Earl. Drinks are on me." Whoops filled the air, as Rafe dug several bills out of his pocket. The others soon issued their orders to the bartender, who began serving drinks. Rafe ordered a straight bourbon.

Once the bartendder had served all of the drinks, Rafe, Red, Gooz, Earl and a fourth pilot named Steve McCormick, retired to an empty table behind a beaded curtain. Like the other three pilots, Steve was a survivor from the Tokyo raid. Rafe took a sip of his bourbon and said, "By the way, fellas, thanks for not picking me up, this afternoon. Where were you?"

Anxiety flitted across Gooz's face. "Wasn't Evelyn there to pick you up?"

"Unfortunately, she was."

Red replied, "We ra. . . ran into . . . ran into E-E-Evelyn at the movies. When we told her a-a-abo. . . about you, she asked to p-p-pick you up in . . . instead." His stuttering seemed to have returned with a vengeance.

A sigh left Rafe's mouth. He had not meant to make Red that nervous.

"Evelyn?" Earl's brows quirked upward. "Isn't that Lieu . . . uh, Captain Walker's girl? The Navy nurse?" The sergeant's question drew a heavy silence from his four companions. He frowned. "Did I just say something wro . . .?"

Rafe interrupted. "No, didn't," he said curtly. "She was Danny's girl."

Another stretch of silence followed. Rafe barely paid attention to the tension from the other four men. Or the music blasting from the jukebox. "You okay, Captain?" Earl asked uneasily. "You seem a bit sore just now."

"No," Rafe said, shaking his head. "Everything's fine." His mouth formed a grim line. "Just swell."

Earl gave Rafe a leery glance. "Uh huh. I, uh, I wondered what happened to her. Pretty lady. She must have taken Danny's death pretty hard."

Someone coughed. Red. Rafe poured himself another shot of bourbon. "Yeah," he finally answered. "She did." More silence followed. Rafe found himself wishing he had remained at the barracks. Hell, he regretted a lot of things. Including his marriage proposal to Evelyn.

"If everything is swell," Red asked, "why are you looking so sore?"

Without even thinking, Rafe replied, "Because I had proposed marriage to Evelyn and she said no." His mouth clamped shut the moment he spoke his last word. Dammit! When will he ever learn not to drink and talk at the same time?

END OF PART 2"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: At World's End" (2007) Review




"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END" (2007) Review

When I had first seen the trailer for the third installment of the ”PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN” franchise, I thought I was in for an overblown and possibly unentertaining movie. Quite frankly, the trailer did not impress me very much. And then word came out once the movie was released around May 24-25, 2007 that the movie was either confusing or not as good as the first two. I approached ”AT WORLD’S END” with very low expectations. Thankfully, my expectations proved to be wrong.

Was "AT WORLD'S END" overblown? Yep. In fact, I can say the same about the first two movies. But at least the three movies were overblown in a manner that I found very enjoyable. And this third movie almost seemed to have an operatic quality about it. That operatic quality seemed to be focused around the movie’s two love stories – Will Turner/Elizabeth Swann (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley) and Davy Jones/Tia Dalma aka Calypso (Bill Nighy and Naomie Harris). One would think that the saga’s main character – Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his main nemesis Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) would be overlooked. But these two characters provided both plenty of humor and surprisingly, angst to the movie.

"AT WORLD'S END" did not really have a complicated plot. Thanks to James Norrington’s (Jack Davenport) treachery in ”DEAD MAN’S CHEST”, the world of piracy found itself in danger due to Lord Cutler Beckett’s (Tom Hollander) possession of Davy Jones’s heart. With Jones and the Flying Dutchman under his control, Beckett has the power to rid the seas of pirates and ensure that the British Crown, the East India Trading Company and himself will have control of the world’s seas. The recently resurrected Barbossa seemed to feel that the only way to stop Beckett is to summon the nine pirate lords of the Brethren Court. Both he and the recently deceased Jack Sparrow happened to be part of the Brethren Court. Because Jack had failed to name a successor, Barbossa needs Jack alive to take part in the meeting of the pirate lords. Will, who had witnessed a kiss between Elizabeth and Jack in "DEAD MAN'S CHEST", wants Jack alive for two reasons – he believes that Elizabeth is in love with Jack and he needs the Black Pearl to catch up with the Flying Dutchman. Elizabeth wants to bring Jack back to alleviate her guilt for luring the eccentric pirate to his death in the last film. Tia Dalma, the Vodoun priestess who had resurrected Barbossa needs both the latter and Jack for the “pieces of nine” that represent their positions as pirate lords. Those same pieces of nine could free Dalma from her bodily prison, enabling to become her true identity, the goddess Calypso.

Due to the needs and desires of the main characters, a great deal of double-crossing and back stabbing ensues – especially by Jack, Will and Barbossa. Another pirate lord, Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fat), gets into the act because he wants revenge against Jack for sleeping with his concubines . . . and to ensure his survival against Beckett’s purge.

I thought I would have trouble keeping up with so much treachery being committed. Oddly enough, I never did – aside from a few points. If Barbossa, Will and Elizabeth needed a ship so badly to reach the World’s End (Davy Jones’ Locker), how on earth did they reach Singapore in the first place? At first, I wanted to criticize the writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot for their vague explanation of the curse that had bound both Davy Jones and later, Will to command of the Flying Dutchman. Many fans – including myself – were forced to use the Internet to find out the details of the curse. As it turned out, Elliot and Rossio did include a scene in which Tia Dalma/Calypso had explained the curse in detail to Will. But for some reason, the film's editors decided to cut it out in order to decrease the movie's running time. Idiot editors. All they did was end up confusing a lot of fans, considering Elliot and Rossio confirmed that the Flying Dutchman curse was broken in the post-end credits scene when Will returned to Elizabeth for good. Other than that, I truly enjoy the movie’s story and have to commend the writers for doing a better job than I had anticipated.

The cast was exceptional as always. What can one say about Johnny Depp? His performance in this movie seemed even better than in the second film. I especially enjoyed three moments by Depp – his multifaceted performance of the many aspects of Jack’s personality in the Locker; the serious moment between Jack and Barbossa as the latter pointed out the folly of Jack’s tendency to run from trouble; and his look of horror when Jones managed to fatally stab Will. I had no idea that dear old Jack truly cared about Will.

And Geoffrey Rush came pretty close to stealing the picture from Depp. This time, his Barbossa turned out to be a much more complex and ambiguous personality than he was portrayed in ”CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL”. Sure, we saw more of Barbossa’s villainy and double-crossing in "AT WORLD'S END". But this is the same guy who also had no problems with marrying Will and Elizabeth . . . even in the middle of a sea battle. I swear that was one of the craziest wedding ceremonies I have ever seen on the movie screen. And when he double-crossed Jack for the last time, at least he was kind enough not to put Jack’s life in jeopardy.

Both Naomie Harris (who seemed a bit scary at times) and Bill Nighy provided great pathos as the romantically doomed Tia Dalma (Calypso) and Davy Jones. I especially enjoyed their scene in which each confronted the other with their past betrayals. Tom Hollander seemed to take great pleasure in his portrayal of the villainous Lord Beckett. Quite frankly, I can say the same about Chow Yun Fat, who seemed to enjoy delving into Sao Feng's villainy. I had feared he would end up chewing the scenery, so to speak. Instead, he managed to come off as intimidating as Rush, Hollander and Nighy (and Harris, I may add). My only real complaint has to be Jack Davenport’s presence in the movie. Davenport has allowed his James Norrington to become a sad figure haunted by his ever-continuing love for Elizabeth and his betrayal in the last film. And I thought that he did a marvelous job in conveying Norrington's regrets over his actions in "DEAD MAN'S CHEST". Unfortunately, there was not enough of Norrington in the film. Hell, the guy who portrayed Beckett’s right hand man – Mercer – had received more screen time. And there is something wrong with that.

But I feel that the movie truly belonged to Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley as the young lovers – Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. The pair’s characters and performances really struck a chord with me. Instead of the naïve and sweet lovers they had portrayed in the first film, the pair had become more ambiguous and complex. It seemed interesting to watch these two deal with each other’s insecurities, mistaken beliefs and constant sniping. They actually seemed like a real couple, instead of an idealized one. Most of the movie critics have praised Knightley for her performance. Granted, it was a major improvement over her acting in "DEAD MAN'S CHEST" in which she had seemed a bit over-the-top at times, I do believe that Bloom deserved some of that praise, as well. But because he is a major teen idol, the critics have seemed fit to either ignore him or make insulting comments about his acting. I can only assume that their noses were so far up their asses that they failed to notice Bloom’s obvious talent for pathos . . . or the fact that he can be rather funny – especially in a scene in which he had volunteered to take command of the Black Pearl in the middle of one of Jack and Barbossa’s many shipboard quarrels. I hope that one day, Bloom will finally be appreciated as a good and dependable actor.

The movie has its flaws – especially the vague handling of the Flying Dutchman curse and James Norrington’s character – but I must admit that I was surprised that I managed to enjoy it a lot more than I had assumed I would. I am aware of a fourth "PIRATES" movie that is due to be released in May. I honestly have no idea on how I feel about that. I would say that Jerry Bruckheimer has been lucky to produce three exceptional films. I cannot help but wonder if he is in danger of pushing their luck with a fourth one. Oh well. Only time will tell.


9/10

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Plot Lines for the BOURNE TRILOGY




PLOT LINES FOR THE BOURNE TRILOGY

Ever since its release during the summer of 2007, the critics and many fans have been in rapture over the third "BOURNE" movie. Some have called it the best action movie in recent years. And one particular critic had named all three movies as "the best Hollywood film trilogy ever made". Now, as much as I have enjoyed the "BOURNE" Trilogy, I do not think I would go that far. I do consider the trilogy to be amongst my favorite action films. But do I consider them to be the best? Hmmmm . . . no. In fact, following my second viewing of "ULTIMATUM", I have noticed some plotlines that concern me. In fact, I have a problem regarding a character in "SUPREMACY", as well.


Manheim and Jarda

When I first saw "SUPREMACY", I had assumed that the German-born Treadstone operative in this movie (Marton Csokas) was the same German-born operative who had killed Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper) in "IDENTITY". Well, I was wrong. Apparently, they are two different men. "IDENTITY" had identified three other Treadstone assasins other than Bourne operating in Europe - the Professor (Clive Owen), Castel (Nicky Naude) and Manheim. Out of all of them, Manheim was the only one who had survived. Yet two years later in "SUPREMACY", Bourne meets Jarda, who claimed that they were the only two Treadstone operatives left. What in the hell happened to Manheim? He survived the events of "IDENTITY", yet he was dead two years later? How did he died? And how did Jarda pop up into this mix?

I also have another question regarding Jarda. How did Bourne find out about him? Hell, how did Bourne know where to find him? When did he have the opportunity to get his hands on the files of Treadstone's European operatives? He certainly was not able to do so in "IDENTITY"'s finale. Nicky was already in the process of destroying the files when Bourne and Conklin had their showdown. Bourne certainly had no opportunity to do so in "SUPREMACY". So, how did he find out about Jarda?


Nicky's Comments About Her Past With Bourne

In "ULTIMATUM", CIA Logistics Coordinator Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) had hinted of some past relationship between her and Bourne that had left her shaken. A relationship that Bourne has no memory of. All I can say is . . . what in the hell? Since when? I am aware that both Bourne and Nicky were stationed in Paris before the attempted Wombosi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) hit that left him with amnesia. But recalling Nicky's reaction to Bourne near the end of the film, I never got the impression that they had enjoyed past intimacy with each other. At least not from Nicky. Her reaction to Bourne near the end of "IDENTITY" seemed to be the same as her reaction to the Professor after meeting him . . . namely trepidation. Nor did Nicky bring up any past intimacy between her and Bourne in "SUPREMACY". Aside from her trepidation in "IDENTITY", Nicky had expressed sheer terror when Bourne had kidnapped her in the second film in order to learn more about Treadstone and Pamela Landy (Joan Allen). I get the feeling that screenwriters Tony Gilroy and Scott Z. Burns had added this little tidbit to set the stage for a possible romance between Bourne and Nicky in future films. If this is true, I think it is a cheap shot.


CIA Directors - Martin Marshall and Ezra Cramer

Confusion really seemed to reign over the roles of the two CIA Directors featured in the films - Martin Marshall (Tomas Arana) and Ezra Cramer (Scott Glenn). Martin Marshall's name had briefly came up as the CIA's Director. We got to see him in the flesh in "SUPREMACY". Yet, in "ULTIMATUM", which is mainly set six weeks later after "SUPREMACY", the CIA has a new director - Ezra Cramer. What in the hell happened to Marshall during those six weeks? Someone had claimed that perhaps he had encountered trouble for what happened in Berlin at the beginning of the second film. Frankly, this makes no sense to me. The Berlin operation was big enough to get Pamela Landy in trouble, but certainly not Marshall.

And in "ULTIMATUM", it was claimed that Ezra Cramer had given Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) permission to use the Blackbriar program as a replacement for Treadstone. All I can say is . . . huh? At the end of "IDENTITY", it was Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) who had introduced the Blackbriar program to the CIA. Yes, I am aware that Blackbriar was originally sold by Abbott as a communications program between agencies and later became an assasination program. But when did the latter happen? During the six weeks between "SUPREMACY" and "ULTIMATUM"? Did Cramer give his authority to the Blackbriar program during this six-week period? Judging from the files in Vosen's safe, I rather doubt it.

I had learned that production on "ULTIMATUM" had began before the script's completion. Judging from some of the plot holes and the movie's cheesy ending that little tidbit seemed pretty obvious to me. And as much as I like the "BOURNE" movies, I find it hard to believe that they are the best action thrillers in the past decade or so. And I especially find it hard to accept that "ULTIMATUM" is the best action film this year or the best "BOURNE" movie. I can think of others that are better.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"UNKNOWN" (2011) Photo Gallery



Below are images from the new thriller called "UNKNOWN". Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the movie stars Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Frank Langella, Aidan Quinn and Bruno Ganz:



"UNKNOWN" (2011) Photo Gallery













































Monday, February 21, 2011

"A Convenient Proposal" [PG-13] 1/5



The following is a "PEARL HARBOR" (the movie) story I had written some time ago. It is called, "A Convenient Proposal" and is set several weeks following the Doolittle pilots to Hawaii:


A CONVENIENT PROPOSAL

RATING: PG-13
SUMMARY: Rafe returns to Hawaii after burying Danny in Tennessee and asks Evelyn a very important question.
DISCLAIMER: Yadda, yadda, yadda! All characters pertaining to the motion picture, "Pearl Harbor", belong to Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay, Randall Wallace and the Walt Disney Company . . . unfortunately.

NOTE: Following Danny's death, I've always wondered how Rafe and Evelyn managed to resolve their problems and become the happily married couple shown at the end of the movie.


------

PART 1 - The Proposal


Talk about déjà vu. Evelyn Johnson stood near a gate at Hickham Field and watched a B-25 aircraft circle over the runway. Her hand gently pressed against her swollen belly, as she sighed.

Just nearly a month ago, she had stood at this very same spot, awaiting the arrival of the Doolittle Raid pilots who had returned from China. Evelyn recalled feeling a surge of happiness at the sight of one Rafe McCawley descending from another plane. That happiness had soon transformed into dread when Rafe failed to return her smile. And when the other surviving pilots left the plane, carrying a coffin, Evelyn's dread became grief. Draped over the coffin was Danny's flight jacket.

Danny Walker. A wave of grief washed over Evelyn. Along with guilt. She had been carrying his child for nearly seven months. Ever since that evening inside the hangar, following a flight over Oahu. Evelyn considered that evening a magical time for her. Without it and other times with Danny, she would have never recovered from her heart-wrenching grief that had threatened to consume her, following news of Rafe's "death" over the English Channel. Yet, Rafe did returned and Evelyn's happiness soon became chaos.

The B-25 straightened out as it glided over the runway. The wheels extended and the plane finally touched down. Evelyn held her breath as it rolled to a stop. A minute passed before the plane's doors swung open. Four Army officers - two men and two women descended the stairway. A fifth figure appeared in the plane's doorway. Rafe.

Evelyn let out a gust of breath. Her heartbeat increased ten times its normal pace. A warm flush ignited her skin. Even after all that has happened between them in the past year-and-a-half, Rafe's presence still managed to affect her, since that first moment their eyes met back in New York.

Brown eyes scoured the airfield, until they rested upon Evelyn. An invisible electricity crackled in the air. Evelyn longed to run toward Rafe and throw her arms around him. Unfortunately, her bulky form made that impossible. Instead, she waved. Rafe returned her wave with a smile. A rather dim one, in Evelyn's opinion.

With one hand holding his overnight bag and the other, clenching his Army jacket, the Tennessee pilot strode toward Evelyn. "Hey," he greeted quietly.

Evelyn replied in an equally quiet voice, "Hey, yourself." She reached out to touch his arm. Rafe did not flinch from her touch. Nor did he seem to welcome it, either. His reaction disturbed Evelyn. To cover her feelings, her smile widened before she added, "Welcome back."

"Thanks." Rafe glanced around the field. "Where's Red and Gooz? I had sent them a telegram to pick me up."

"Yeah, Red told me. I asked him to let me pick you up, instead."

A slight frown crinkled Rafe's forehead. "Why?" he asked.

Doubt crept into Evelyn's heart. She began to wonder if he still felt the same for her after all that has happened between them. They had went through so much lately - eleven months apart, her romance with Danny, Rafe's return, the pregnancy, the attack at Pearl, her decision to marry Danny, the latter's death in China. It was a wonder that they managed to carry on a conversation.

Rafe repeated his question. "Why couldn't Red pick me up? I mean, considering your condition . . ."

An answer failed to reach the tip of Evelyn's tongue. What could she say? That the last time Rafe was in Hawaii, grief over Danny's death and the preparations for the burial in Tennessee kept them apart? That she longed to see him again? Remain longer than five minutes in his presence? Evelyn found herself unable to confess her true feelings to Rafe. Fear of rejection or outright laughter prevented her.

Evelyn finally replied, "I asked Red and Gooz to let me pick you up." She gave her shoulders a shrug. "I just wanted to welcome you back." The moment those words left her mouth, Evelyn regretted them. Her heart lurched as disappointment and confusion mingled in Rafe's brown eyes. My God! How lame that sounds!

* * * *

Rafe found himself in mental turmoil. That's it? She just wanted to welcome me back? What about I miss you? Or I love you?

He mentally castigated himself. What in the hell did he expect? An outburst of emotion? Hell, neither he or Evelyn have exchanged a word of love since she informed him of her plans to marry Danny right after the Pearl Harbor attack. Looking at her round belly reminded Rafe of that terrible moment at the motel court. When he learned that Evelyn was pregnant with Danny's child, Rafe realized that he had lost her for good.

"Shall we go?" Evelyn said, interrupting Rafe's thoughts. He stared at her dark eyes. Eyes that merely reflected friendly curiosity. Rafe let out a sigh and followed her away from the airfield.

The couple walked slowly - thanks to Evelyn's pregnancy - to a parked car, a 1937 black Buick convertible. Danny's car. Rafe spotted the bullet holes left by Japanese Zeroes on that unforgettable morning, over six months ago. A frown creased his brow, as he halted in his tracks. "I didn't realize you had Danny's car."

Evelyn's face turned pink. "Danny gave it to me, just before the both of you left for California. You know, when you reported to Colonel Doolittle. After he died . . . well, you and I never really saw much of each other and I found out that Danny left the car to me in a will." She paused, as the pink in her cheeks deepened. "It helped me get around easier. But you can have it, if you want." A slight wariness crept into her eyes.

"That's okay," Rafe murmured. "Danny wanted you to have the car. You should keep it."

"Oh."

Rafe added, "But I wouldn't mind using it every now and then. At least until I'm sent overseas."

A brief, sad smile touched Evelyn's lips. "Hmmm, overseas. I forgot about that. But since you're here," she handed Rafe a set of keys, "you can drive." Evelyn's smile broadened. Looking at it warmed Rafe's own heart and he smiled back. Forever the Southern gentleman, he escorted Evelyn to the convertible's passenger side and helped her climb in. She murmured a quiet "thank you" before he climbed into the driver's seat.

Within a matter of minutes, the Buick was speeding along the Hawaiian countryside. Evelyn instructed Rafe to drive toward a quiet, residential area near the beach, instead of the hospital base at Pearl. When her pregnancy had begun to show, she decided to rent a bungalow near the beach. "I would have rented a smaller house, but the girls decided they had enough of the base and moved in with me." Rafe assumed the girls were Barbara, Sandra and Martha.

Evelyn continued with a detailed description of the bungalow. Rafe barely heard a word. Not even the lush, tropical countryside could grab his attention. His mind focused on the road ahead . . . and past memories.

Hearing Evelyn's voice, seeing her smile and her pregnant state, produced a stream of regrets within Rafe. There seemed to be so many "if onlys" to choose. If only he had never volunteered to serve in the RAF's Eagle Squadron. If only he had more than a month with Evelyn before leaving the States for England. If only he had not been shot down over the English Channel. And if only he had returned to Evelyn before she could recover from her grief with Danny. What Rafe regretted the most was the death of his best friend - the only man he had ever regarded as a brother.

"Penny for your thoughts," a soft voice said, interrupting Rafe's musings.

He blinked and shot a quick glance at his companion. "Huh? What did you say?"

"I was describing the bungalow," Evelyn continued. "Yet, somehow I got the feeling that your mind was on something else."

Rafe gave a nervous cough. "What made you think that?"

"You just passed the road that leads to my house. Even after I told you to turn."

Embarrassed over his mistake, Rafe immediately made a U-turn. He then made a right turn on a small road and the convertible eventually came upon a two-story bungalow built out of whitewashed clapboards. "Well, here we are." Rafe announced after he stopped the car and turned off the engine. "Home."

The sounds of palm fronds rustling in the wind and waves beating against the shore filled the silence between the couple inside the Buick. Rafe would usually enjoy the shared silence with Evelyn. But not today. In fact, he wondered if he would ever learn to enjoy Evelyn's company again. But he had to. Especially after what he had promised his dying friend back in that rice paddy in China.

"Would like to come in for a cup of coffee or another drink?" Evelyn asked, breaking the silence before Rafe could.

Rafe felt his palms grow moist. God, this was difficult!

"Rafe?" Evelyn continued. "Did you hear me? Is everything okay?"

The pilot nodded. "Yeah. Everything's swell. Just swell."

Evelyn frowned. "Are you sure? You seem rather quiet." Despite her seemingly calm voice, Rafe thought he had detected a hint of nervousness.

"Don't worry. I'm fine. I just . . ."

"Just what?" Evelyn added.

A heavy sigh escaped Rafe's mouth. Memories of the past six months began to assault his mind. His arrival in Hawaii. Evelyn's reaction to his appearance at the hospital at Pearl. Danny's reaction. The fight at the Hula-La Bar. The Japanese attack, the following morning. Evelyn's revelation of her pregnancy. His talk with Danny on that California beach. The raid on Tokyo. Danny's death. Rafe sighed one last time. He might as well get it over with.

Rafe reached into the backseat for his jacket. "Uh, Evelyn," he began. "I have . . . well, I have something to ask you."

"Yes?" Dark eyes grew round.

A lump rose in Rafe's throat. He had not felt this nervous since that last night in New York City, when he said good-bye to Evelyn. Rafe reached inside one of the jacket pockets for a small, dark blue velvet case. "I . . . uh . . . hell!"

Evelyn's eyes fell upon the case. "Is that what I think that is?" Her voice projected muted emotion.

Rafe snapped open the case, revealing a small silver ring with a cluster of diamonds surrounding a small sapphire gem. A gasp escaped Evelyn's lips. Rafe had purchased the ring at a jewelry store in Washington D.C.

"Evelyn," he continued, staring into her dark eyes, "would you marry me?" Before she could answer, Rafe continued, "I realize you had expected to marry Danny, but with him gone and you expecting a baby . . . well, I'll be more than happy to take his place."

Evelyn's eyes widened. "You will?" she whispered.

"Of course." Rafe blinked at her unexpected response. Because I love you, he silently wanted to say. However, fear and pride prevented him from expressing his true feelings. Instead, he added, "Danny was like a brother to me. He would have wanted me to take care of you and the baby. And I swear, Evelyn, I'll do just that."

Rafe sat back into his seat, expecting a sign of approval from Evelyn. Instead, he found himself staring into a pair of very dark and angry eyes. Eyes that glared at him. Confusion whirled inside his brain. Why on earth was she angry? "Evelyn? What's wrong?" he asked.

"Wrong?" Evelyn replied in a soft and deadly voice. Rafe felt even more confused when she opened the door and began to climb out of the car. Her large girth made it difficult, but she managed to get out before Rafe had the chance to help her. Then she marched toward the bungalow.

"Evelyn? Evelyn! What's wrong?" Rafe cried as he rushed after her. It amazed him how a pregnant woman could move so fast. "Evelyn! Wait a minute! I just asked you to marry me!"

Evelyn reached the bungalow and inserted a key into the front door. Then she whirled upon him, her eyes flashing. "C'mon Evelyn," Rafe begged. "Talk to me! Dammit, I just proposed to you and now you're acting as if I had sullied your name!"

"You sullied a lot more!" Evelyn snapped, as she opened the door. "And by the way, you call that a proposal? As far as I'm concerned, Rafe McCawley, you know what you can do with your proposal! And where you can shove it!" She stepped inside the house and slammed the door on the face of a very bewildered pilot.


END OF PART 1

Friday, February 18, 2011

"CHARMED: The Parental Style of Penelope Halliwell"




"CHARMED: The Parental Style of Penelope Halliwell"

Considering many of the fans' views on the Charmed Ones' grandmother, what I am about to say may be very unpopular. I believe that Penelope Johnson Halliwell was not a very good parent figure. Many fans have swooned over her wit, style and presence. Yet, I have rarely come across any real criticism of the woman. And I believe that she had done certain acts as a parent figure that I found highly critical.

During the show's early years, both Piper and Phoebe have commented on how Prue had more or less sacrificed her childhood to help their grandmother raise them. Unlike many fans, I did not find this admirable. I found it sad. And to make matters worse, I discovered that it was Penny who had pushed Prue into taking responsibility for her sisters:

"Phoebe: Oh, Prue was driving and she ran a red light. We didn't even hear the other car honk.

Piper: Phoebe was the only one hurt. She was in the hospital for over a week. It scared the hell out of us.

Phoebe: Prue never forgave herself.

Piper: It was a really rough time for her. For all of us actually.

Leo: Why?

Piper: Well, Phoebe and I were teenagers and Grams was extremely over protective.

Phoebe: But she was hardest on Prue. She kind of made Prue take care of us. She didn't let Prue go away to school. She wanted to go back east to be a photo journalist.

Piper: But Grams knew that we were gonna become witches and she wasn't gonna let anything jeopardize that."


When I saw the above scene from (2.16) "Murphy's Luck", I felt pissed off. This woman had forced her oldest granddaughter to give up her childhood and assume responsibilities that Prue was too young to deal with. Even worse, she forced Prue to attend college in the San Francisco area and abandon her ambitions to become a photo journalist. Why? So that Prue would fulfill her destiny to become a witch. Apparently, it was more important to Penny that Prue and her other granddaughters become witches than for them to lead their own lives.

Now many fans would probably make excuses for Penny and believe as she had done . . . that it was important for the Halliwell sisters to spend the rest of their lives being witches and killing demons. I cannot agree with this assessment. In fact, I found this idea more repellent than any demon, warlock or other supernatural baddie that might exist. By insisting that her granddaughter lead a certain life, Penny managed to rob some of Prue's free will.

One of Penelope's less than admirable traits is that she happens to be a sexist. To put it in a nutshell, she dislikes and distrusts men . . . despite being married several times. She viewed men as walking breeding farms to be used by Melinda Warren's female descendants to perpetrate the family line. Her dislike of men had extended to her son-in-law, Victor Bennett. In Season Three's (3.15) "Just Harried", she "reminded" her granddaughters that the women in their family always kept their name . . . even after marriage:

Piper: Sweet dreams. Bye.

(Prue and Phoebe go upstairs.)

Grams: I'll see you tomorrow at 4:00, Mrs. Halliwell. The women keep their names in this family.

(Grams disappears. Piper looks around the room.)


Liar. I do not know about Melinda Warren's past descendants, but Penelope Johnson Halliwell never kept her maiden name. She had been born Penelope Johnson in Boston, Massachusetts. And when she married for the first time, she took her husband's name of Halliwell. And kept it. Her daughter Patricia finally revealed in (1.17) "That 70s Episode" that Penny had coerced the latter to keep the name of Halliwell. And I believe that she had done so to spite Victor.

Another sign that Penelope was a misandrist - one who hates or dislikes men - appeared in the Season Five episode, (5.21) "Necromancing the Demon", when she met her oldest grandchild for the first time:

Grams: Oh, I'm sorry, I'm just so excited. (She steps out of the circle and becomes corporeal. She hugs Piper.) How are you, my dear?

Piper: Excited too.

Leo: Hi, Grams.

Grams: Leo. So, where's the little one?

(Phoebe and Paige walk down the stairs. Phoebe is carrying Wyatt.)

Piper: Right behind you. (They turn around and Piper takes Wyatt off of Phoebe.) Grams, meet the next generation of Halliwells.

(Piper hands Wyatt to Grams.)

Grams: Ohh.

Piper: Baby Wyatt.

Grams: Wyatt? That's a silly name for a girl, isn't it?

Phoebe: Grams. It's a boy. Look at the outfit.

Grams: What?

Paige: You didn't know?

Grams: Well, no, I-I mean I just assumed it was a... What went wrong?

Leo: Wrong?

Grams: Oh-oh, well, I don't mean wrong, wrong. It's just that we've always had girls.

(She hands Wyatt to Leo.)

Piper: Now we have a boy.

Grams: Right. Well, um, okay, well, we've got a lot of work to do before I perform the wiccaning.



"What went wrong?" Is that how one viewed a new grandchild? By treating his gender as some kind of genetic freak? Later in the episode, Leo revealed that she did not even bother to get to know her grandson:

Piper: What are you doing with Wyatt? I thought Grams was gonna spend some time with him.

Leo: Well, she didn't want to.

(Piper laughs.)

Piper: What? That's ridiculous.

Leo: Really? Then why didn't she want to touch him or change him or feed him?

Piper: Well, she's probably just resting before the ceremony. She said she was gonna do it as soon as we get rid of the Necromancer.

Leo: Piper, this has nothing to do with the Necromancer and you know it. Grams doesn't like the fact that Wyatt's a boy and she makes no bones about it.


Penelope eventually learned to accept Wyatt's gender with an open mind. But the matter of the fact is that she should have never been hesitant to accept her grandson in the first place. Penelope came off like some sexist man who is only willing to view males as worthwhile family members.

Another revelation about Penny's role as the sisters' guardian lowered my opinion of her even further in this scene from (7.03) "Cheaper By the Dozen":

"Grams: They were in a much bigger book, thank you. Now, these contain spells I used to use on the girls when they were younger.

Victor: You used spells on my daughters?

Grams: Oh, every now and then. Hey, you try raising three girls by yourself. Keeping them in line. How else was I gonna stop them from misbehaving?

Victor: Gee, I don't know. By talking to them?

Grams: Talking?

Piper: Hey, how's about we just find that damn spell. How's that sound?

Grams: That's your answer for everything, isn't it? I was essentially a single parent. Patty was dead and it's not as if you were ever around.

Victor: You wouldn't allow me to be.

Piper: Okay, do I need to find something to separate you two?

(Piper snatches the book off Grams.)

Grams: You know, your daughters only ended up saving the world every other week. Believe it or not, it might have had something to do with the way I raised them.

Piper: Found it. Spell to resolve sibling rivalry.

Grams: Oh, good, good. I'll get the boys and you call your sisters. We'll get rid of the rivalry and then you can use the power of three to vanquish the demon, okay.

Piper: Great, more magic.

Grams: Do you have any other suggestions?"


This was Penny's idea of dealing with her squabbling granddaughters? Magic? So, instead of forcing the sisters to deal with their differences with a talk, she had cast spells upon them to cease their fighting. Talk about lazy parental skills. What kind of parent was she?

And it seemed she was also responsible for Victor's disappearance during the sisters' lives following the end of his marriage to Patty. One could condemn Victor for staying away between (1.03) "Thank You For Not Morphing" and (3.10) "We All Scream For Ice Cream". But apparently, Penny was responsible for his disappearance during the sisters' childhood.

In a way, Penelope reminded me a lot of Willow Rosenberg from "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER". She seemed to have no qualms in forcing her will upon her granddaughters . . . to the point in robbing them of making their own choices in what they might want to do with their lives. Well . . . she did this with Prue. At least Piper managed to pursue her own career choices. And she used magical shortcuts to deal with emotional problems within her family. And if Victor's comments are anything to go by, she deliberately kept him away from his daughters.

Penelope Johnson Halliwell may have been a witty woman with a lot of style and a formidable witch. But in my opinion, she was a lousy parent.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS" (2004) Photo Gallery



Below is a gallery from the 2004 adaptation of Jules Verne's novel called "AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS". Directed by Frank Coraci, the movie starred Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cécile de France, Ewan Bremmer and Jim Broadbent:


"AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS" (2004) Photo Gallery