This week's Sayid-centric episode was as straight-forward as "Lost" can possibly be, and the result was perhaps the most satisfying, intriguing hour of the final season, one in which control of the island clearly passed from Jacob's disciples to the Smoke Monster.
That last scene was great, wasn't it? Smokey's assault on the temple was intense, Sayid's choices were tragic, and Claire's ghostly rendition of "Catch a Falling Star" was as creepy as anything the show has ever shown us. Even Benjamin Linus ran in fear, hiding from Smokey and Sayid as they purged the temple, just as Ben helped purge the island of the DHARMA Initiative all those years ago.
I refuse to join those in the media who seem to be eulogizing Roger Ebert. The reason is simple: He is not dead.
He proved that today on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," testing the new digital incarnation of his voice and giving his predictions for what he correctly called a very predictable Oscar telecast. While cancer has claimed his jaw and his abilities to eat and speak, it hasn't claimed his smile, or that bright gleam in his eye -- one we've rarely seen after Gene Siskel's death.
What I couldn't believe was that Winfrey treated this man -- this friend -- who is very much alive like a dying, demented charity case. I had to turn away from the TV this morning, not because Ebert is hard to look at (he really isn't) but because I couldn't bear to watch Winfrey dote over him like a sick puppy, or tell her audience in her trademark, sing-song delivery that he's "CANCER-FREEEEEEEEEE!"
Hurley and, to a lesser extent, Jack have often virtually played the role of the audience on "Lost," expressing the same frustrations that we sometimes have while watching our favorite show. The main arc in "Lighthouse" put those two characters together, then tested their (and our) patience with an adventure whose objective was unclear, even though Jacob could have simply told Hugo what he was up to.
But such is the nature of "Lost," always striving to show, not tell, even when telling would seem to be the easy way out.
Potential Spoiler Alert.
You may remember seeing trailers for Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" last summer, advertising its October release. Despite its prestigious pedigree and an Oscar field with room for ten best-picture nominees, Paramount Pictures decided to push the creepy Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle to Feb. 19, which looks like a smart move now that its opening weekend's box office receipts have been counted. ($41 million, according to Box Office Mojo.)
Hollywood vulture Nikki Finke first reported the shifting release date, and Paramount explained that DiCaprio would not have been available to promote the film overseas, and that the studio couldn't afford to mount an awards campaign for a movie that certainly deserved one. They also didn't want "Shutter Island" to get lost amid the usual crop of crappy October releases that inexplicably make money; the mini-phenomenon of "Paranormal Activity" probably would have buried Marty and Leo at the box office.
But I don't think Paramount would ever admit what I think was another big reason for the delay: That first trailer just plain gave away too much.
"Two players. Two sides. One is light. One is dark."
-- John Locke, "Pilot"
Five television seasons later, an ancient entity posing as John Locke walks into a cave with James Ford, and spots a scale. On the scale: one white rock, one black rock. Locke's impostor picks up the white rock and skips it across the ocean. "Inside joke," he tells Ford.
At last, I feel comfortable enough in presenting a top-ten list. I have now seen all 10 of Oscar's best-picture nominees -- "The Blind Side" is the worst film I can ever remember making the cut -- and this weekend I also knocked out the critically acclaimed trio of "Crazy Heart," "Moon" and "Tyson." I still have some biggies to see. "In the Loop," "The Cove" and "Anvil" will be arriving via Netflix in the next week, but I figure waiting any longer on this list is really pushing it.
It was a tremendous year for animated films. How tremendous? The highly acclaimed entry from Pixar was probably only the fourth-best movie of its kind in 2009. It was also a great year for sci-fi of both kinds: small and thoughtful, and hugely entertaining.
I have seen 55 of the hundreds of films released in 2009. These are the ten best:
When the Kate-centric episode is this good, it's pretty hard not to think this last season will be the big pay-off we've all been waiting for.
"What Kate Does," a title that recalls the Season 2 episode "What Kate Did," is one of those episodes that rewards the truly devoted fan by referencing and building upon material from each of the previous five seasons.
Though Google's mini-masterpiece of storytelling was obviously the best of Sunday's Super Bowl commercials, Coca-Cola's two memorable ads continued the company's recent tradition of classy, inventive short films that just so happen to be selling you something.
Every few months, a new Coke ad appears before the trailers at your local movie theater. I actually look forward to these. Their movie-theater ads over the last decade have cut across filmmaking genres and conventions, and are, sadly, often more creative than the films that follow.
So says spinal surgeon Jack Shephard, speaking to crippled tourist John Locke in an LAX waiting room, in what is apparently a parallel dimension -- a dimension in which Desmond Hume suddenly appears and disappears aboard Oceanic 815, which lands safely in Los Angeles. A dimension in which Hugo Reyes is the luckiest guy he knows. A dimension in which Charlie Pace wants to die. And a dimension in which the island sits at the bottom of the ocean.