The "T" stands for "Twilight"

Posted by Sean Stangland on Mon, 03/29/2010 - 18:15

The MTV Movie Awards, a show long on entertainment and understandably short on deserved accolades, is now an entirely democratic enterprise. The public has always voted on the show's winners, and now (literally, right now) you can vote for the nominees in each category. MTV offers many choices for each award, and provides a write-in prompt. Best Kiss, for example, has 22 contenders to pick from, including two same-sex snogs and one inter-species kiss. (I expect the creepy Internet dwellers of America to make Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning winners in this category.)

Friday Playlist, #1

Posted by Sean Stangland on Fri, 03/26/2010 - 06:08

Welcome to a new weekly mini-feature in which I'll give you five songs that have dominated my headspace for the last week. Enjoy.

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Long live constructive criticism

Posted by Sean Stangland on Thu, 03/25/2010 - 02:22

This has been a pretty rough week for anyone who passionately discusses or writes about film.

"At the Movies," the film-review show made famous by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, will end its 24 years of national syndication in August.

LOST: Dissecting "Ab Aeterno" (6x09)

Posted by Sean Stangland on Wed, 03/24/2010 - 00:49

"Think of this wine as what you keep calling Hell. There's many other names for it too -- malevolence, evil, darkness. And here it is, swirling around in the bottle, unable to get out, because if it did, it would spread. The cork ... is this island. And it's the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs."
-- Jacob

The hardcore fans expected tonight's "Lost" to be one of the best episodes of the entire series since they first read about it on spoiler sites, and they were not let down. "Ab Aeterno" -- which means "from the beginning of time" in Latin -- was the most ambitious episode since Season 3's game-changing finale, "Through the Looking Glass," and delivered on the promise of ABC's endless promos. "The time for questions is over," they said. And now we have the answers.

Tim Burton™

Posted by Sean Stangland on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 17:06

With the oddly lifeless "Alice in Wonderland" making him a record amount of money, Tim Burton has, it's safe to say, officially become a brand.

Movie fans can spot a Tim Burton™ property from a mile away. If I told you someone was making a 3D "Addams Family" remake in stop-motion animation, you would immediately assume that someone was Tim Burton. And you'd be right. We might as well assume Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter will be voicing Gomez and Morticia, and Danny Elfman will be writing the music. (And perhaps Sir Christopher Lee will collect a check by bellowing "YOU RANG" into a microphone.) The director whose dark visions were too much for the Disney animation department in the early '80s now has Disney to thank for elevating "Alice" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" to marketing nirvana.

LOST: Dissecting "Recon" (6x08)

Posted by Sean Stangland on Tue, 03/16/2010 - 23:37

The strangest episode of this final season, "Recon" tried to surprise and move us, but most of its revelations landed with a thud. The kicker was especially weak: "We're not taking the plane, Kate ... we're taking the sub." And ... ?

Since the narrative hit warp speed in Season 4, the show hasn't been able to afford us a lighter, comical tone, and much of the alternate timeline scenes in "Recon" try to give us a taste of that. It sure was fun seeing Jim Ford hop out of one bed into another (Charlotte's, no less) and fight crime with Miles. Having "LaFleur" be Jim's safe word in the opener was cute, but do we really want "Lost" to get cute with us at this point?

For those about to rock

Posted by Sean Stangland on Sun, 03/14/2010 - 01:11

I've wanted to be in a band ever since my dad got a white Squier Stratocaster for his 45th birthday. I was playing Metallica and Nirvana riffs by ear, badly, then I learned what a power chord was. Then I played those riffs, only louder. Today, I'm way better at Guitar Hero then I ever was at actual guitar, but I still have a fairly decent singing voice. But anytime the opportunity to be in band presented itself, I chickened out; one such opportunity came in college, with a band that went on to be the most popular on campus for, oh, two years or so. But who needs a band when you can sing "Jeremy" and "Take a Picture" every single week at the Thomas Hall open mic night?

So when opportunity knocked again a few weeks ago, I knew I couldn't slam the door again. Two practices later, I'm singing in a band with a former colleague and his buddies, and it looks like we're going to play a 30-minute set in the South suburbs in April.

LOST: Dissecting "Dr. Linus" (6x07)

Posted by Sean Stangland on Wed, 03/10/2010 - 03:29

With his life hanging in the balance, Benjamin Linus confessed to Ilana that he killed Jacob because he felt his island god had forsaken him. Years of following orders, of committing unspeakable acts in what he thought was Jacob's name, had finally worn Ben down. A little push from Smokey was the last straw.

Amazingly, this confession saved Ben's life. Ilana, who said Jacob was the closest thing she had to a father, seemed to understand why Ben did what he did. One has to wonder what Ilana has sacrificed for Jacob, and how often her devotion to him has been tested.

Meanwhile, the island's man of science, Jack Shephard, committed his most explicit act of faith, trusting that Jacob wouldn't let him and Richard die in the Black Rock. He was right, and now Jack, who has been truly lost since reading Jeremy Bentham's obituary, is ready to lead once again, ready to rebuild his life on the beach.

"Dr. Linus" realizes the full potential of this final season's premise, showing us the duality not only of Ben and his alternate life, but of Jack and his own instincts, of morality, and of faith, in all its forms. It is the deepest, most thought-provoking episode of the season.

The Internet likes something!

Posted by Sean Stangland on Tue, 03/09/2010 - 14:29

Everything I like is bad. Just ask the Internet, which can't seem to agree on anything -- every single thing on Earth is both the best thing ever and the worst thing ever.

But today, the cyberworld appears to be united in its enthusiasm for this:

Disney's "Tron Legacy" shouldn't work. It probably shouldn't even be made. But this trailer certainly has me excited.

In defense of "unobtanium"

Posted by Sean Stangland on Wed, 03/03/2010 - 19:28

Look, I'm not gonna argue that James Cameron is a great screenwriter or anything, and the King of the World certainly doesn't need any help from the likes of me, but I feel compelled to defend him when it comes to that one word in the "Avatar" script that everyone seems to laugh at: unobtanium.