Tag Archives: Massachusetts

ONCE UPON A TIME: Ridiculously Bad Life Choices (S4:E20 – Insert obligatory weed reference here)

sees her

Regrets. We all have them. Sometimes they are little, like the time you drank too much and said those things you weren’t supposed to say. Sometimes they are big, like the time you ruined a friendship or broke the heart of someone you loved.

Sometimes they are friggin’ huge, like the time you kidnapped a baby, turned it into the biggest asshole ever, and dumped it through a time portal . . .

ouat 4.2 snow baby

Oh, so you are saying you never did that last one? Maybe that’s just Snow and Charming . . .

This week’s installment of Once was all about the balance between taking responsibility for our own crappy mistakes and understanding that there are some things in life that simply cannot be changed . . . well . . . unless you happen to know an Author who can conveniently erase your mistakes for you, thereby allowing you to f*ck up to your heart’s content.

Also this week on Once, Swan Queen road trips, car chases, kids who change nationalities when they become adults, a heart that gets tossed around like a hot potato, and a baby conceived under the creepiest circumstances ever, and I’m not even talking about the one that hatched out of an egg . . .

Let’s review, shall we?

Black Smoke Monster Cometh!

Bet you didn’t know the Black Smoke Monster from Lost is also the Sorcerer on Once Upon a Time. That sure is one busy time traveling fart . . .

text smoke

As the episode begins, Old Hairy Homeless-Looking Mickey Mouse is pleading with the Black Smoke Monster Sorcerer. “Please don’t vacuum me up into fart oblivion like you did to the drug runner on Lost. I really didn’t mean to play a part in sucking all of Emma’s assholeness out of her and putting it into Lily. It just sort of happened.”

Sorcerers_Apprentice

“Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. I don’t know what I expected, hiring a dumb unkempt hobo to be my apprentice. I blame that Author, which is why I locked him in a book forever, where he will never be found, until those meddling kids release him 30 years or so from now. . .”

Thirty years later . . .

Cruella’s Dead. It’s Vacation Time!

Our gang mourns Dead Socio Cruella for the required three minutes and twenty seconds (I wonder whose job it was to scoop up her squished body from the bottom of that cliff?), before heading back to Granny’s to get wasted. “I’m going to kill Rumpel for making me kill Cruella,” Emma says, her eyes filled with Asshole.

Once-Upon-A-Time-Episode-4-19-Lily-once-upon-a-time-38404452-500-333

“Whatchu talkin bout, Dark!Emma?”

“Hey, ease up on the killing talk, Killer,” offers Snow. “That’s just the Asshole in you talking.”

“Shut up, I still hate you and your hideous haircut,” replies Emma.

“This has been fun and all, but I have to go rescue my boyfriend from his wife . . . the fake one, obviously,” Regina explains.

Enter Maleficent. “Hey guys. I’ve decided I want to change teams.”

mal

“You’re going to become a lesbian?” Emma asks.

“No, silly. I was always a lesbian,” explains Maleficent. “Think about it, I asexually reproduced my daughter in an egg. I’m talking about joining Team Good Guys. I think you can help me find my daughter, Lily, somewhere in Massachusetts. You might remember her from back when she was a Latina girl in that flashback. She’s no longer Latina, since her face turned into another actress. But I’m sure you can find her anyway.”

lily and emma together

“Well, this is awkward,” says Emma, when she sees the 30-year old birth announcement Maleficent found of Lily. (How did she know it was the same Lily, especially considering the girl changes nationalities every few years? Did the birth announcement mention she cracked out of an egg?)

baby dragon

“I was kind of an asshole to that little asshole, back in the day,” Emma admits.

“Aint’ fate a bitch,” offers Regina sympathetically. “Hey, I’ve got an idea, Emma. You and me can road trip to Massachusetts to pick up Lily, then New York to pick up Robin Hood, then Disney World to ride the scary Snow White ride, where you and I can both get out all of our aggression against your awful mother and her ridiculous hair.”

fate a bitch
“I’m sitting right here,” Snow White chimes in.

“Nobody cares,” Regina and Emma say in unison.

Regina and Emma quickly make arrangements for their road trip. Regina hires Maleficent to guard Belle’s heart from Rumpel. And Emma grudgingly hires her parents to watch Henry. She also sexts Captain Hook some naughty pics of her to keep him warm while she’s away. Just kidding, but they do share some serious PDA as she’s leaving and admit that they are part of one another’s happy endings . . .

pda

It’s all very sweet. Captain Hook is going to be a brilliant housewife someday . . .

You can check out the rest of this recap HERE!

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“I’ll see you again, on this side or the other.” – A Review of the film “The Town” (contains some spoilers)

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.  I used to have a massive crush on Ben Affleck.  I mean MASSIVE!  Just to give you an idea of the intense LOVE I had for this man . . . up until very recently, I had a rather large poster over my bed that may or may not have looked something like this . . .

 . . . and a smaller one in my living room, that may or may not have looked something like this . . .

Then something happened.  A little movie came out.  For argument’s sake, lets just call that movie . . . Gigli.

All of the sudden, it was considered less than “cool” to have a “massive crush” on Ben Affleck.  Friends who used to be fairly supportive of my little obsession, started teasing me mercilessly about it.  And whenever I had boys over (not that THEY ever really liked those posters anyway), my fandom was a subject of constant ridicule.

And yet, I stuck with my guns, and hung on to those posters . . . for a little while longer, at least.  Then, shortly after I moved back to New Jersey, I sold them to a lovely gay couple at my Aunt’s Summer Yard Sale.  I like to believe they are in a better place now . . . one free of judgment and Gigli-related abuse.

Now, I have yet to see Ben Affleck’s directorial debut film, Gone Baby Gone . . .

. . . but I’ve read enough reviews and watched enough award shows to know that (1) it was pretty spectacular; and (2) much of its spectacular-ness can be attributed to what I would like to call “Ben’s Mad Directorial Skills.”

So, when the trailers for The Town started showing up in theaters, and I saw that it was, not only directed by, but also starred my former love,Ben Affleck.  And when I saw that the cast included the Dapper Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm . . .

. . . the enigmatic, Jeremy Renner . . .

 . . . and Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively, playing a strung out, much dirtier, ho bag than Serena van der Woodsen could EVER be . . .

. . . I just knew that I HAD to see this film!  And, let me tell you, I am THRILLED I did!

Based on a novel by Chuck Hogan, entitled Prince of Thieves . . .

(which the publishers have since cleverly renamed The Town, and slapped Ben Affleck’s pretty, but gritty, mug on the cover)

. . . The Town follows career criminal, Doug McRay (played by Affleck), as he tries repeatedly to “go straight.”  But when you live in a town like Charlestown, Massachusetts — which churns out bank robbers and crooks, like Yale University churns out lawyers and politicians — and when your best friends are THESE GUYS . . .

 . . . “going straight” is easier said than done. 

The film begins, as most films of this genre tend to begin, with a “routine” bank robbery.  And it only takes a few minutes, for us viewers to realize just what good criminals, McCray and his crew are.  From the creepy face-obscuring masks they wear on their mugs, to the inside men who disable the security cameras immediately upon their arrival, to the way they torch the place upon leaving, to destroy all the evidence, it’s clear that these are NO amateurs. 

That is one UGLY nun!

Yet, despite all of their painstaking preparation and skill, McCray’s crew runs into a little snag during the heist, and is forced to take a hostage.  They decide on Assistant Bank Manager, Claire Keesey (played by Rebecca Hall).

 They blindfold Claire, and pack her into the getaway car, but, ultimately, let her go.  Afterward, some of the crew express concern about Claire, and her ability to identify them to the FBI.  These concerns are intensified when a look at Claire’s driver’s license (which they stole) reveals that she lives in the neighboring town, just a few blocks away from the crew’s headquarters.  McCray’s best friend, the hotheaded, but loyal-to-a-fault, Jem Coughlin (played by Jeremy Renner), whose idea it was to take Claire as a hostage in the first place, offers to “take care of her.”  McCray, however, doesn’t want to see Claire get hurt (if such a thing could be avoided) and offers to take care of the situation, himself.

So, McCray stalks Claire a bit, and figures out that she leads a fairly solitary life (no quirky “Best Gal Pal” in this movie).  Eventually, he follows her into a laundromat (where all the cutest movie couples meet), charms her a bit, and asks her out for a drink.

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next. Of course, they fall in love!  (Duh!)  But what’s interesting about the way this plotline is acted and directed, is that, while certainly cliche, the relationship between Doug and Claire doesn’t seem all that contrived.  Affleck and Hall have a real natural chemistry.  Right away, you can see what appeals to these two characters about eachother. 

Claire is quietly unassuming, and incredibly straitlaced, without seeming judgmental or self-righteous.   She gardens during her spare time, and volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club.  Doug, for all his tough beginnings, and dark past, is surprisingly shy and sweet.  He listens to Claire when she speaks, and genuinely expresses a desire to take care of her. 

And I’ll be darned if this odd couple didn’t end up having a remarkably normal courtship!  They go out to dinner together.  They take walks in the park.  They go out for coffee.  He buys her a pretty diamond necklace (probably with dirty money).  They have nice gentle sex in Claire’s Pottery Barn-decorated bedroom.  Bank robberies and hostages-takings aside, Doug and Claire are probably a lot like you and your significant other.

Suddenly, Doug’s desire to get out of the “racket,” becomes more than just an empty platitude.  Now, he really means it.  Because, now, he really has something, or, rather, SOMEONE to lose if he fails.  Now, if he could just get through this “One Last Job”  (well . . . maybe two).

It may sound odd, but, believe me when I say this: The Town is the perfect date movie.  It’s got enough action, chase scenes, explosions, and crook versus cop shoot-em-ups to please even the manliest of men.  At the same time, it boasts an intelligent script, complex likeable characters, some VERY pretty faces, and a surprisingly adorable romance, all of which are sure to satisfy even the girliest of females.

In addition to great plotting, exciting action, and a heartwarming romance between its two leads, The Town also offers a very strong supporting cast.  Jon Hamm is wonderful, as the tough-as-nails, gruff, and very-un Don Draper-like FBI Agent, Adam Frawley.  A lesser actor could have made this a very forgetable role.  But Hamm’s charm, intelligence, wit and natural grace, help make the Frawley character more likeable than a cop in a film about a criminal-with-a-heart-of-gold has any right to be.

Speaking of characters that you like more than you should, Jeremy Renner does a remarkable job of making Jem Coughlin a three-dimensional and tragic figure.  In many ways, Renner’s character is very similar to the one Affleck himself inhabited back when he played opposite Matt Damon in the spectacular Good Will Hunting (except Renner’s character is armed and dangerous).  Unlike McRay, Coughlin has resigned himself to a life of crime, running from the cops, and being relatively poor.  And yet, despite his knowledge that his best friend is smarter than he is, and perhaps destined for a better future, Coughlin still remains loyal to McRay.  He would literally do anything for him, even if that meant going to jail or losing his life.  Though you might not agree with his lifestyle choices, you’ve gotta respect a guy like that.

And then there’s Blake Lively, who absolutely impressed me with her portrayal of strung out ho-bag / baby mama, Krista Coughlin.

I’m SERIOUS!  This was NOT an easy role to play.  In the wrong hands, this role could have been at the very least, annoying, and at the worst, positively laughable.  But Blake brings Krista to life.  Her Boston accent is authentic.  Her breathy intonations, and pathetic attempts at seduction, speak to a life spent on one’s backside, screwing crooks, popping pills, and inhaling toxic fumes.  Blake more than held her own, during her scenes with Affleck, Hamm, and Renner. 

And you know what else?  Blake was FUNNY!  A few of her lines had me laughing out loud.  I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

Of course, no crime caper would be complete without Pete Postlewaite, of The Usual Suspects fame.

There’s just something about this guy’s face and demeanor — a hidden menace, perhaps.  Whatever, it is, the dude always manages to scare the stuffing out of me, even when he is doing nothing more exciting than cutting the thorns off a rose.

In short, The Town is highly entertaining and intriguing film.  The acting is nearly flawless, the plotting is tight, the action is high octane, and the directing is commendable.  Its enough to make me almost wish that I never sold those Ben Affleck posters .  . . almost.

The Town is in theaters now.  Will YOU see it?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under Ben Affleck, Movie Review, The Town