Ali Spagnola

In Episode 147, Germar welcomes Ali Spagnola - yep that Ali Spagnola with the 8 billion Twitter followers, and the trademark, and the drinking and the dancing, and the touring and guitaring . . . .

Zaena Morisho

International recording superstar celebrity Zaena stopped by for an interview.

DIONNA!

In Episode 171, Dionna stops by to discuss modeling, life, love, and hate. She's smart. She's talented. She's beautiful.

Game of Thrones

Reviews

Big Movies

Reviewed

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sony’s cancellation of The Interview: cautious or cowardly?

by Melissa Scott

Not even the funny sexy Seth Rogen or the sexy sexy James Franco can save the cancelled release of Sony Entertainment’s The Interview. Set to premiere on Christmas Day, the American action comedy involved a journalist and his producer (Franco and Rogen) who managed to obtain an interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. The CIA asks the duo to assassinate him. Rogen explained in an interview that he intended the film to work as a political satire against North Korea’s totalitarian regime, as well as a comedy.

While the North Korean government issued complaints over the film for months, it wasn't until late November that a group, identifying themselves as the “Guardians of the Peace,” began to attack Sony Entertainment more seriously. The group hacked into the Sony database, and leaked private data, including confidential company documents, a number of unreleased Sony films, and the script for the forthcoming James Bond movie, Spectre. After making it clear that the attack was a result of The Interview, the hackers continued to release the names, social security numbers, and addresses of staff members.

The hackers also targeted private emails, which included embarrassing conversations between Sony employees. Hollywood producer Scott Rudin and Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal apparently shared a few racial jokes about Obama. Rudin’s accompanying description of Angelina Jolie as a “minimally talented spoilt brat” made headlines. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin also took the heat after his leaked dismissal of female-led Hollywood roles as being less challenging than their male equivalents.

The hackers turned to violence, threatening terrorist attacks on the Sony employees and cinemas if The Interview screened as planned. “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places The Interview be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” they wrote. “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.” Barely a day later, FBI officials confirmed their belief that the North Korean government was behind the cyber attack and threats.

Following the threat, Rogen and Franco pulled out of all of their future promotional appearances, including guest spots on “Watch What Happens Live,” “Late Night with Seth Myers,”  “The Tonight Show,” and others. Finally, Sony’s decision to pull the film altogether cemented as too many of the biggest movie theater chains in the US (like AMC and Regal) publicly cancelled their showings. They based their decisions on safety concerns for staff and movie-goers. “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” Sony said in a statement. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.”

Hollywood fired back at the decision, scorning Sony’s submission to “terrorist” demands. Judd Apatow retorted: “It is disgraceful that these theaters aren't showing The Interview. Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” Rob Lowe simply stated, “Wow. Everybody caved. The hackers won.” Jimmy Kimmel agreed, calling the decision an “un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.” However, George Martin, Game of Thrones author and owner of Santa Fe’s Jean Cocteau Cinema, promoted his own theater’s interest in screening the film, vehemently affirming his disgust at North Korea’s control over US entertainment. “I haven’t seen The Interview…It might be hilarious. It might be stupid and offensive and outrageous. It might be all of the above,” he admitted. “That’s not the point, though…it astonishes me that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers.”

George Clooney also slammed Sony power players for withdrawing the film. In an interview with online trade publication Deadline.com, he angrily revealed that no one would sign a petition he and his agent circulated to top Hollywood figures supporting the film’s release. Clooney also criticized the media’s circulation and greater interest in the scandal of the Sony employee emails leaked, remarking that the country should be focusing on the real problem--the censoring power of North Korea. “We’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have. This affects every part of business that we have,” Clooney said. “We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-Un.”

Even President Obama spoke out against Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel The Interview. “Sony is a corporation…There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake.” He admitted, “I wish they had spoken to me first. We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship.”

The celebrities are right: movie-goers should have a right to decide if they want to see the film, and screen-writers should have a right to decide what film they want to make. While caution needs to be considered following the threats, North Korea still shouldn't be able to dictate our freedom of speech, and censor our entertainment. The theater chains were clearly fearful of the risk of terrorist acts, but pulling The Interview does set an ominous precedent. Studios will likely be much more cautious concerning movie ideas.  The mix of fear and self-expression could be a troublesome creative cocktail.

American Horror Story: Freak Show – “Orphans” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

Taking a step back from last week’s gore, AHS gave viewers an emotional rollercoaster ride. A distraught Pepper rattles her betrothed, Salty, with no response. Maybe the Pinhead passed away from a stroke during the night. His wife mourns the loss, remaining near his lifeless body. Stanley is all too eager to help dispose the corpse. Once he gets his hands on Salty, he severs the head to sell to the gallery. Desiree tries her best to comfort Pepper, and Dell takes notice of her effort. He pleads with her for a second chance, but Desiree turns him down. Desiree leaves the tent and informs Elsa of Pepper’s grief. Miss Mars relays the Pinhead’s tragic tale.

Abandoned at an orphanage by her sister, Pepper comes to meet Elsa as her first freak show recruit. Mars takes the young girl under her wing, giving Pepper the love she’s never known before. As time passes, Pepper becomes restless with maternal instinct, prompting Elsa to barter an exchange with the Maharaja of Kapurthala for the tiny angel, Ma Petite. With her maternal needs fulfilled, Pepper's unrest still grows. Again, Elsa steps to the plate, discovering a fellow Pinhead. The moment Pepper and Salty meet, the connection is kismet. Elsa recalls the merry ceremony as the two Pinheads wed.

Bringing viewers back to 1952, Maggie performs a reading for Desiree and her new lover, Angus. The con artist uses her talent of observation to give the happy couple a pleasant prediction, until her emotions get the better of her. She enters into a fit of self pity, declaring that their love is destined to fail. Love always does. Desiree confronts the girl, and Maggie confesses to the partnership between her and Stanley. Returning to her tent, Maggie is greeted by Dot and Bette. The twins offer her the finances to post Jimmy’s bail, but she’s reluctant. Jimmy is unaware of the help outside, and Stanley doesn't miss a beat. He heads right to the prison to make the Lobster Boy a deal. He tries swindling Jimmy into giving up his hands in order to pay for the costs to retain a lawyer.

Elsa knows that with her departure to Hollywood soon, Pepper will need a stable environment. Taking her to Sudbury, Massachusetts, Mars reconnects Pepper with her long lost sister, Rita. Unfortunately, Rita isn't too keen on taking responsibility for Pepper. Elsa pours her heart out to the woman, declaring just how precious Pepper really is. Once her sister finally caves in, Pepper and Elsa share a tear-jerking goodbye. Finally, Elsa’s kindheartedness shines through. Her love for Pepper is undeniable.

The same cannot be said about Rita. Season two’s Asylum collides with Freak Show as Pepper’s story further unfolds. Turns out, Rita and her husband Larry aren't taking too kindly to Pepper’s presence at their house. After Rita gives birth to a deformed baby, Larry convinces her to do the unthinkable. The pair can’t stand living a life with the two freaks, so Larry kills the newborn. Rita goes to Briarcliff Mental Institution, informing Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) of the recent tragedy. Larry and Rita fabricate a story to the police, declaring Pepper responsible for the grisly murder. The poor, innocent Pinhead finds herself locked away in the asylum as a result.

Meanwhile, Maggie takes Desiree on a fieldtrip to the American Morbidity Museum, showing her Stanley’s murderous handiwork. The little body of Ma Petite is on display beside Salty’s severed head. Then, the curator reveals the new exhibit during their tour. Maggie passes out in horror at the sight of the two “lobster” hands in the display case.

After the continuous blood baths dominated the beginning of the season, it’s refreshing to see the change in atmosphere. The entire episode of “Orphans” is dedicated to strict character development. Credit goes to Naomi Grossman for her stunning performance as the Pinhead Pepper. She’s given only a few words of dialogue throughout the entire show, and yet her physical mannerism enraptures the audience. Grossman’s ability to project such virtue and sincerity with a mere expression is unparalleled. AHS’s casting is perfection. Any viewer that doesn’t feel their heart wrench while watching this episode, should check their pulse. The wave of emotions, and the combination of Asylum’s world, makes this one of the best of the Freak Show season.

American Horror Story: Freak Show – “Orphans” Episode Rating:  A +

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

by Simon Mansell, Writing Intern (with Germar Derron)

One of the biggest and most highly-praised franchises of all time has likely come to an end. After almost thirteen years of stellar film-making, by director Peter Jackson, it is hard to say goodbye. But more importantly, is this a fond farewell to Middle Earth’s time on the big screen?

The film picks up where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off. Smaug is going to burn down Laketown, leaving Bilbo and company, stranded at The Lonely Mountain. Bard kills Smaug with the black arrow.  But Laketown survivors are left without homes or money. Bard gets nominated to lead the survivors to salvation. They then decide to go to the mountain, in search of the gold to rebuild their society.

Meanwhile, at The Lonely Mountain, Thorin has caught dragon sickness, leading him to become obsessed with the Arkenstone. He becomes angry and controlling. He argues with his friends and feels that they are deceiving him. Bilbo, who is hiding the Arkenstone from Thorin, is unsure about giving it to him, or keeping it hidden. Back in the Village, the Elves, led by Thranduil, come to help them and also recover a precious silver necklace hidden in the mountain.

When they approach the mountain, they realize that Thorin will not allow anyone to enter it.  When he doesn't let Bard in, the war between the Dwarfs and Elves begins. When Thorin’s cousin and an army of dwarfs come to help Thorin, both armies are halted by an army of Orks. These Orks are of course led by Azog the Defiler. They aim to take the mountain as their refuge, and build their own society. This all leads to an epic battle between the five armies to take control of The Lonely Mountain, which will cause devastation to, and death in, Middle Earth.

The film has a great cast, full of talented actors and actresses that have become etched in our memory. We get Richard Armitage, who returns as Thorin Oakenshield. Once again, he is fantastic in this role. He brings great intensity to his transformation from a loyal friend, to a power hungry, possessed leader.  Thorin continues to be my favourite character, due to his complex nature and story arcs. His development has been consistently excellent throughout all three features.

Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo Baggins. Like Armitage, with Thorin, Freeman completely embodies the character of Bilbo Baggins. His subtle humour, his tone of voice, his facial expressions, and his physical movements, perfectly depict a young Bilbo Baggins. Whenever he’s onscreen, he is fully engaging and entertaining. He mixes in great humor, with deep drama that hits big time—every time.

The “supporting” cast includes Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom and Luke Evans, who portray Gandalf, Smaug, Legolas and Bard the Bowman respectively. Of course, McKellen is fantastic as Gandalf the Grey once again--intense and entertaining in the role. Cumberbatch, even though present in only the first fifteen minutes of the film, has great presence, with his distinctive dark voice.  Evans comes into his own as Bard, and Bloom gives his best performance yet as Legolas. Other cast members include Lee Pace, Evangeline Lily, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Manu Bennett, and Graham McTavish.

There are many positives and many negatives in this film. Again, Peter Jackson directs beautifully. I am a huge fan of his interpretation of Middle Earth. Add in the gorgeous cinematography and a heart-warming Howard Shore score--it really does create an amazing atmosphere. But the visual effects seem “all over the place.”  Smaug and Azog are beautiful, but often the effects appear overdone—cartoony. It reminds me of watching video game cutscenes.

The film is at its best when it is close up and personal, as opposed to long shots that feature a million animated characters. Sometimes the screenplay offers truly heart-wrenching dialogue. But often, the film cuts quickly to Gandalf who narrates and describes every single thing. It was noticeable and annoying.

Overall, I give The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies an 8.2/10. The good outweighs the bad. This is an epic, enjoyable, and fitting conclusion to a very long journey on Middle Earth and Earth Earth. Farewell. See you in twenty years, for the inevitable reboot.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nightcrawler; Plus Male Privilege, Nah Men Just Suck

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
In Episode 172, Germar drops a big fat F-BOMB or two for the first time, so here's the WARNING for EXPLICIT CONTENT. The podcast is supposed to be an examination of race and media in the film Nightcrawler. But it's mostly a rant about how absolutely awful men are to women. It also includes mad props to black women and a peek into Germar's current love life situationship thing (she thought it was sweet).

Monday, December 15, 2014

From the vault: Antichrist (2009)

by Germar Derron


The 2009 film Antichrist is appropriately titled. Although it's not necessarily a religious movie, it is definitely “against” Christ. I did the usual amount of homework before deciding to walk to the local indie theater. I learned of the pornographic scenes, sexual brutality, flying-dying babies and talking animals, but I didn't hesitate. I ran to The Loft (in Tucson) to catch the last showing.

The film received a rare anti-award at the Cannes film festival for misogynistic views. So . . . there's that.

The movie begins with baby suicide . . . . That's not a spoiler because the first scene includes a baby, an open window, and a heavily intoxicated amorous couple, so lost in lust that they forget the kid walks and lacks depth perception or fear.   

Willem Dafoe stars as the anti-doping-shrink-father-father figure-boy toy. Dafoe must be one of the most under-appreciated modern actors. But for some reason, I expect to see him on a glider, talking to himself, and blowing things up. In Antichrist, his character gets everything he deserves for cheating on his wife with Madonna. This is a sequel to Body of Evidence right?

Charlotte Gainsbourg plays the once heavily medicated, infinitely depressed mother, and nymphomaniac. If I'd written this movie, I'd title it Nymphomania, It's Not as Awesome as You ThinkIn the second act, the director gets very comfortable with Gainsbourg's body, and decides that pants are optional for the remainder of the film.   

At this point, you might be thinking that I'm a prude or a bit "square;" that couldn't be further from the truth. I've advocated for pornographic scenes in legitimate big-budget Hollywood productions since my days in film school. The problem with Antichrist is a lack of necessity.  When I witness the enlarged details of a man's genitalia, I need motivation. The graphic sex scenes aren't titillating, and do nothing to progress the story. They provide some shock, and less awe. The lovely lesbian couple seated in front of me mumbled things like, “oh no” and “not again.” Two of the ten attendees left the theater. Every man sat with their legs crossed--no clinched--for various reasons. 

The story? Yes, I believe there is a story. The woman displays symptoms of all known psychological issues. She mopes, pops pills, sleeps a lot, is hypnotized, is abusive, and also climaxes early and often. Her partner happens to be a new-school, natural-no-drugs therapist. He convinces her to flush the pills and try an all natural healing in the mountains.  Will it work?  Will she be able to keep it together?  Will someone die? Is there a ridiculous M. Knight like twisted ending?

The sincerest success of this movie is the unintentional comedy. I mentioned the talking animals previously. I did not mention that they act as Shamans, and guide the couple in moments of need. The premise is comical. If you missed your workout, wait for the scene with the black bird that won't shut up; it’s a serious calorie burner.

I rarely regret seeing movies. I'm a half-full film enthusiast. I enjoy backdrops, extras, camera angles, and allusions. I'm rarely startled, grossed out, offended, or even surprised.  Antichrist haunted me. One scene features a stream of blood, actually an eruption of bodily fluid; you will not like that shot.


The purpose of this review was to summarize and entertain, but most importantly dissuade.  Unfortunately, the introduction included “pornographic scenes.”  Fifty-percent of the readers won't complete the article. Seventy five-percent of the readers are searching Netflix for Antichrist.  And now my mom won’t speak to me for like a week. 

Wild (2014)

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern        

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Wild brings new meaning to the phrase “walk it off.” Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, the film documents a period in the true life of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon), a lost soul wandering with a purpose. Constantly capturing brutal angst, tension and inescapable misery, Wild also portrays hope and the potential beauty of travelling the wrong path--a few times.

After the devastating loss of her mother, the deterioration of her marriage, and the downward spiral that became her life, Cheryl decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The movie begins at what could be considered Cheryl’s most discouraging moment. At the peak of a mountain, she loses her shoe and appears just about hopeless. From there, countless trials and triumphs, from the hike and Cheryl’s previous life play out. Flashbacks, and a fascinating inner monologue, contribute to an understanding of Cheryl’s need to escape from her life and herself.  

Each flashback evokes anxiety. Obviously, bad things happen--repetitively. Cheryl’s early home life is exceptionally rough. Self-destructive is a polite way of describing her behavior as an adult. Audiences are left to guess how and why certain events occur, because of the way Vallée staggers the past and present. Most things are made clear as the movie progresses, but the guessing game continues in many areas. I may never understand Cheryl’s relationship with her brother, based on the film alone. It may be unfair to expect everything to be perfectly tied up by the end of a movie like this, but an update would be nice.

With the exception of unnecessary loose ends and a bit of confusion, Wild perfectly portrays a woman desperately looking to grow up, and transform from nail to hammer. Witherspoon wonderfully represents Cheryl, from grief to divorce to losing toenails. A practical parade of creepy men along the hike does not help in easing her mind. And what really sinks hearts, throughout the film, are the depictions of Cheryl’s relationships. We see her strive to be more like the love of her life, her mother, who goes through the same struggles as Cheryl. But she sees them as important stepping-stones to obtaining her difficult yet beautiful life. We see Cheryl detach from her seemingly loving husband, and cling to meaningless sex and drugs as a sort of distraction. Audiences disapprove of Cheryl’s coping methods, but connect to the genuine hurt in her heart.

The movie offers two ways of looking at sorrow and dysfunction: dwelling and embracing. Cheryl often chooses dwelling, which actually seems valid most of the time. It would be difficult to blame Cheryl for her everlasting heartache. Embracing, the better way, is proven to be much more challenging. While her mother did it with ease, Cheryl must learn to not think of her downfalls as regrets, but vital events leading to future successes. A journey of 1,000 miles is a combination of single steps; life is the result of infinite small occurrences and seemingly meaningless choices. Cheryl wraps her head around this--in a very literal way.

Overall, Wild is a transcendental journey that goes deep into the especially dark moments in life, and the drastic ways in which people cope. It offers a unique perspective and challenges audiences to theorize about life as a whole. Wild shows that it is never too late for a coming-of-age story. There is always time to become your ideal self; sometimes it takes walking a thousand miles.         
           


Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Inbetweeners 2

by Simon Mansell, Writing Intern 


The Inbetweeners--a mega successful British comedy sitcom—had the whole nation bursting out with laughter. It combined childish and relatable antics with a reminiscent high school backdrop. I loved this TV show, but I wasn't a big fan of the first film. It was funny, but on repeat viewings, it simply doesn't hold up. Is the sequel any different?

Once again, the story follows Simon, Will, Neil and Jay, but now on their separate paths—university, Australian celebrity, etc. When Simon and Neil visit Will, at his university, they get a totally “believable” message from Jay about how much he loves Australia (editor’s note: he lives in a mansion, is the continent’s #1 DJ, and has an unlimited supply of sex from thousands of beautiful women). So, they decide to go and visit him.

When they arrive, they realize Jay is lying or delusional or a delusional liar.  Will meets up with an old friend. The entire expanded gang travels the country, while Will attempts to get with the old friend. After the boys realize Jay’s real reason for moving to Australia, they attempt to find his ex-girlfriend who also happens to be in Australia (somewhere). However, their foolish determination will put them in a dangerous predicament that will test them like never before.

The group perform perfectly in their roles once again. They epitomize British social outcast life. Because we all know someone like this, it makes it all that much more relatable. They have great comedic timing and great chemistry; it drives the film throughout. The film also brings back show favourites such as Belinda Stewart-Wilson, David Schaal, Greg Davies and Alex MacQueen. The new additions, Emily Berrington, Freddie Stroma and David Field keep pace with the high standard set in the series.  

The series creators, Damon Beesley and Ian Morris, take over in the director’s chair from Ben Palmer. They are excellent. Of course, this is their creation. They understand these characters like an extension or exaggeration of themselves. They understand how to progress a story arc, with humour. Speaking of the humour, for me, this is one of the funniest films of the year.

Of course, I went into this with preconceived excitement. I love these characters. I was excited to see them back again on the big screen. However, I didn't let that blind me and watched as objectively as possible. Yes, there is some use of toilet humour, which I don’t usually enjoy. But if you know these characters, it works. Also, there is very organic humour throughout. The re-introduction of Jay, near the start of the film, is one of the funniest sequences in a film ever. 

Overall, I give The Inbetweeners 2 an 8/10. It’s a fantastic comedy and a perfect ending to one of England’s greatest comedy franchises. The film’s strength resides in the great cast of characters, and the actor’s brilliant performances. The film isn't perfect. Too much toilet humour. A few characters didn't have much impact overall. However, I strongly recommend this film to any die-hard of the show, or for people who love a good comedy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Nightcrawler

by Simon Mansell, Writing Intern (with Germar Derron)

Simon Mansell is a new blogger, who reviews movies primarily for his site, YMB-YourMovieBlogger.  He will contribute periodically to Look to the Cookie.

One of the most anticipated films of the year, for fans of those “Oscar-worthy” films, is Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The film follows Louis Bloom, a downbeat, yet driven man, looking for work (editor’s note: or a big score) in Los Angeles. After seeing two men film a car crash, Louis believes he too could make a career out of that. He purchases a camera, hires an assistant, and chases down accidents and incidents in the LA area. He then sells the footage to Channel 6 news. After a particularly disturbing shooting, Louis films the aftermath. But then he decides not to show the news station, or the police, footage of the people who committed the crime. Louis then tracks down the murderers and causes another shooting--in an attempt to gain more footage. Louis must then decide what is more important to him--money or doing the right thing. People will feel the consequences of his decision.

The film is one of the best of the year. It combines a wonderful cast, direction, and story. Jake Gyllenhaal gives an amazing performance as Louis Bloom. He is one of my favourite actors, with perfect portrayals of emotion and excitement. He has never been better than in Nightcrawler. He is creepy and unstable. That edge-of-your-seat unpredictability is why his performance was so amazing to view.  

Other cast members include Rene Russo (in a wonderful revival), Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton, Ann Cusack, and Kevin Rahm. The entire cast is fantastic, but absolutely overshadowed by Gyllenhaal. Also, Dan Gilroy does an amazing job in his directorial debut. Mostly known for his writing and story credits, Gilroy took the challenge of directing his own movie and clearly it paid off. His style is very engaging. Additionally, the writing and editing was wonderful. The film flowed very naturally. It felt organic.

Overall, I give Nightcrawler an 8.8/10. Is it worth watching? Definitely. Is it worth buying on DVD/Blu-ray when it comes out? Definitely. Did I already call it one of the best films of the year? Yep. Okay, just go see it already.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

American Horror Story: Freak Show – “Tupperware Party Massacre” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

It doesn't take much to imagine what might be in store based on the episode name. A familiar figure pays Maggie a visit at her tent. The deeply deranged Dandy comes seeking help through means of her supposed gift of intuition. After killing his mother, Dandy Mott begins wondering if his “indiscretions” will catch up to him. These plaguing thoughts don’t stop him from continuing his murder spree. He decides to bludgeon an Avon cosmetics rep to death before decapitating her. Still unaware of his involvement in the clown kidnappings, Maggie assures Dandy that his future looks promising. Meanwhile, Jimmy continues in his alcohol-fueled downward spiral. He drunkenly flirts with Ima Wiggles, the morbidly obese woman Elsa just hired. Jimmy manages to snap out of his trance long enough to catch sight of Dandy leaving the fairgrounds. Completely inebriated, Jimmy ambles over and confronts Mott, informing him that he knows all about his involvement with Twisty. Dandy brushes off Jimmy like a bad tick, vowing that he will destroy Jimmy’s life for taking the twins away from him.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Stanley and Elsa manage to track down Dot and Bette. They promise to bring them to the surgeon that can separate them from one another. No one else knows of their whereabouts, so everyone at the freak show continues in their search for them. In the midst of their investigation, Maggie and Desiree stumble upon Jimmy having drunken sex with Ima. An argument ignites, and an upset Maggie gives Jimmy a good slap across the face. Things only worsen for the lobster boy from there. The local ladies, who call upon Jimmy for his pleasuring skills, find him arriving at their Tupperware party completely hammered. The head of the household sends him away, only to receive an unexpected guest following Jimmy’s departure. A charming gentleman knocks on the lady’s front door, claiming car failure. She happily invites the handsome young man inside. Trouble arises when the stranger is revealed to be none other than Dandy Mott.

The husband of the Tupperware party hostess arrives home soon after, coming to find the aftermath of Dandy’s handiwork. To call the massacre “a pool of blood” is being quite literal. Dandy returns home scot-free, reveling in the thrill of his latest kill. After filling a tub full of his victims’ blood, he prepares to take a dip when Regina, his housekeeper’s daughter, barges in on him. She informs him that she has contacted the authorities, in regard to her mother’s disappearance. Dandy tells her flat-out that he in fact killed her. It’s only then that Regina notices the blood-spattered room. Dandy blithely confesses all his crimes to her. He believes that this blood lust is his true calling. Regina obviously doesn’t take the news well. Dandy corners her. Convinced that he’s a god, and therefore untouchable, he allows Regina to go free.

Dell continues to suffer with his inner demons, having been blackmailed into killing Ma Petite. Shamed by his transgressions, he finds himself pushed past his breaking point. He writes a suicide note and hangs himself in his trailer. Desiree stumbles upon the incident, cutting him down before the deed is able to claim his life. Regina comes back to Dandy’s mansion, this time with a detective by her side. He happily welcomes the pair into the manor. Dandy’s pride appears to get the better of him, as he confesses to the murders of both his, and Regina’s, mother. Just as Regina believes she’s found resolution, Dandy bribes the detective with a one-million dollar payout. The catch? He must shoot Regina, and work for Dandy. The officer is all too obliging. He kills the young woman on the spot.

As Dot and Bette await the arrival of the “doctor,” the two finally have a heart-to-heart. Bette tells Dot that she’s willing to sacrifice her own life, if that means making her sister happy. Realization settles in, and Dot realizes that she cannot part ways with Bette. They leave before Stanley has the chance to get them alone, and the pair head back to the freak show. Jimmy crashes into his own trailer and finds Dot and Bette waiting for him. Dot pours her heart out to him, professing that she’s loved him since they first met. Jimmy reluctantly turns her down, admitting that he’s fallen for someone else. Heartbroken, Dot leaves the camper, but her sister shows her truest support as they walk out holding hands. Sirens begin wailing in the distance not a moment later. Jimmy exits his trailer, seeing a group of squad cars roaring up into the fairgrounds. The detective that Dandy now has in his pocket arrests Jimmy for the murders of the women at the Tupperware party. Maggie pleads desperately with the police to release him, but Jimmy is handcuffed and taken away.

Once again, Finn Wittrock’s portrayal of Dandy steals the show. He commands every second of screen time that he is given. He even manages to outshine the likes of Evan Peters. In the world of AHS, the lines between protagonist and antagonist are most definitely blurred. Wittrock, however, solidifies Dandy’s status as a pure villain, which is utterly captivating to watch. With his charisma, mercurial temperament, and severely unhinged frame of mind, this man-child demands viewers’ attention. The heinous nature of his crimes is undoubtedly appalling, but his air of whimsy is bizarrely alluring. With Freak Show’s rising body count, dirty secrets, hidden motives, and colorful cast of characters, it continues to thrive in its plot. 

American Horror Story: Freak Show - “Tupperware Party Massacre” Rating : A - 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pretty Little Liars: “How the A Stole Christmas” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images
It’s that time of year again. Bring in the Santa hats, the Christmas trees, and the…knife-wielding psychopath.

Considering Toby’s car accident, Spencer’s arrest for murder, and the recent fatality to hit Rosewood, the Liars didn't have the happiest of Thanksgivings. Deaths are fairly commonplace in shows like Game of Thrones. In the world of PLL though, being a main player in the series pretty much guarantees protection from taking a dirt nap. That safety net tore apart however in the form of the “Fatal Finale” when Janel Parrish’s Mona is declared dead by police after a bloody confrontation in her house, despite there being no body. Clinging to short-lived relief that Mona faked her death, and staged the murder scene, terror sets in as she’s displayed with frozen features, in the trunk of A’s car.

A month later, everyone’s still trying to recover. Mona takes the opportunity to reach out to a couple of people from beyond the grave. As the Liars take a stroll through downtown Rosewood, Hanna receives a message from Mona, via lawyer, as part of her last will and testament. Inside the envelope are blueprints to Alison’s house, pointing out all her hiding places. The team devises a plan, with this new information, hoping that they can dig up evidence on Alison to vindicate Spencer of Bethany’s murder.

It wouldn't be Christmas without the notorious A giving the girls a proper holiday greeting. Whoever thought a snow globe from a charity Santa could be so creepy? Alison isn't getting off scot-free either. The ghost of Christmas past comes to haunt her, in her sleep, in the form of Mona. As everyone in Rosewood should know by now, secrets always have a way of unearthing themselves. Even with a brutal blizzard moving into town, Spencer can't help but sweat. Having made bail, she’s more determined than ever to prove her innocence before finding herself locked behind bars for good.

In order to keep an eye on Alison, the Liars attend the DiLaurentis Christmas Eve Ice Ball. After confirming Alison’s arrival, Hanna and Spencer slip out of the bash and sneak into Alison’s house. As Emily and Aria stay behind, Aria catches Alison kissing someone dressed as Santa Claus. Once on the prowl, she realizes Detective Holbrook just so happens to be there, donning a Saint Nick suit of his own. Among those revelations, Sydney and Jenna reveal their true motives for befriending Alison. They, along with everyone else, suspect Alison killed Mona, and that fear forces them to play nice with her to stay off her hit list.

Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
With Toby’s leg still recovering from the car accident, he’s bound to a wheelchair. He still doesn’t let this disadvantage hold him back from being put to good use. Staying up in Spencer’s bedroom, he serves as a lookout because he can view the DiLaurentis house from her window. As Hanna and Spencer canvass Alison’s home, Toby spots the infamous hooded figure, A, lurking in the downstairs. Toby tries to warn the girls, but Hanna doesn't get the message since she left her phone in the family room. Sauntering about the DiLaurentis house with some serrated steel in hand, A thankfully doesn't spot Spencer hiding behind a nearby couch. The same luck doesn't follow Hanna, as she winds up confronting the knife-wielding A in the attic.

Upon hearing Hanna’s scream, Spencer races up to her and finds her passed out on the floor. A escaped through a window. Despite the nasty bump on her head, Hanna proves the mission was well worth it. She uncovers a letter among Alison’s things that proves Alison didn't only know Bethany, but that she also lured her to the DiLaurentis house on Labor Day. This could be Spencer’s get-out-of-jail free card, as it creates enough reasonable doubt to shift suspicion to Alison for Bethany’s murder. As the girls revel in their victory, Mona continues to haunt Alison in her dreams. This ghost of Christmas future foretells of Alison’s death, causing Alison to wake up screaming from her sleep. 

The blizzard rolling into Rosewood takes an ugly turn, and the Liars find themselves snowed in at Spencer’s house with Toby, Caleb, Ezra, and Paige also in attendance. The gang celebrates the holiday together, taking pleasure in each other’s company. A lonely Alison wanders into the yard and steals a look inside Spencer’s kitchen window, seeing the group in all their merriment before she heads back to her own house next door.

Now, it wouldn't be a Pretty Little Liars Christmas without a perfect A send off. Bells toll from outside Spencer’s place, causing the gang to go and investigate. As they head out to the back porch, they're greeted with a beautiful, decked out Christmas tree in front of Spencer’s barn. The gorgeous sight soon turns grim as the words Merry Christmas, Bitches – A light up in massive letters beside the tree.

As per usual, Pretty Little Liars continues to balance teen drama, romance, and suspense in its perfect blend of contemporary television. The plot manages to be taut while expanding to everyone’s storylines. The costume designs are exceptional in this episode, particularly Emily’s ball gown. It’s also a pleasure to see Janel Parrish’s return. Obviously, she’s having all too much fun playing Alison’s feisty conscience. With the long wait since August’s “Fatal Finale,” “How the A Stole Christmas” gives fans quite the happy helping of all the things we love to see, as it builds anticipation for the show’s January 6th return.

Pretty Little Liars: “How the A Stole Christmas” Rating: A (how appropriate)