Orphan Black – “Entangled Bank”

April 16, 2014

Season One, Episode Eight

orphan-black-entangled-bank

Grade: A-

This episode ended with a jaw-dropping occurrence, which strangely hasn’t been a constant for these season one episodes. Orphan Black doesn’t usually end with such a cliffhanger that will have you screaming. Usually, they show a subtle reveal or an addition character gets in the loop with what’s actually happening. But in “Entangled Bank,” the purest thing in Sarah’s life gets hit by a car. Poor, innocent Kira. After she’s persuaded out of the house by Helena, she crosses the street to return to her mom but gets struck by a car in the middle of the street. It’s a troubling scene to witness.

In this episode we move forward, jumping from Sarah, Alison, Cosima, and even Helena. Sarah and Paul have each other’s trust while Felix fends off the police detectives, but they’re finally onto what they can only assume are Beth’s twin sisters. Alison is still paranoid as hell and sleeps with Ainsley’s husband, then fights her in the middle of the street. But Sarah finally tells Mrs. S about everything that’s happening, with Alison with her. It’s a lot to take in but Mrs. S takes the news very well. My suspicions about her have all faded away.

Meanwhile, Dr. Leekie tells Delphine to speed up her process and to get him names of the other clones Cosima has been in contact with. After sleeping with her, Delphine is shocked to discover Cosima is in contact with several other clones. There are two important things about this discovery: First, Dr. Leekie seemed very intrigued/surprised to hear Sarah Manning’s name and second, Delphine leaves out Kira’s name. Why? It really cannot be determined yet.

Despite what her handler is saying to her, Helena isn’t willing to kill Sarah just yet. She still believes that Sarah is someone special, but her creepy fascination towards her and her daughter is definitely alarming. I assume we’ll get a quick answer whether or not Kira is alive and that will certainly change the game entirely. We know Dr. Leekie is up to something, but what exactly? He doesn’t seem to know who’s killing the clones while using Delphine to monitor Cosima. In addition, who the hell is Alison’s monitor? And how long will it take until Art pays Felix another visit?


Game of Thrones – “The Lion and the Rose”

April 14, 2014

Season Four, Episode Two

GoT-lion-and-rose

Grade: B+

The war is never over. Apparently, Game of Thrones hates weddings. It seemed obvious something was going to happen after Lady Olenna gave her sympathies to Sansa saying how awful it is to have death at a wedding. It does seem like she’s the one who poisoned King Joffrey’s goblet, though Tyrion is the perfect scapegoat. But after tormenting his uncle, I can’t imagine any viewer without a huge grin on their face while watching Joffrey take his last breath. Finally, karma has come back to the Lannisters.

This obviously had to happen sooner than later, but now things get a lot more interesting. Tyrion is in immediate danger as the suspect of Joffrey’s death. As for the land living in peace after conquering many battles, what’s there to say when the most powerful family in the world gets torn up from the inside? Tywin knows things are about to get chaotic, and I’m sure Cerseia and Jaime knows it too.

But how great was the final ten minutes or so between Joffrey and Tyrion? The banter back and forth was full of tension, then naturally Joffrey takes their dispute to another level of douchebaggery. For the last time we watched as many viewers’ favorite character was being humiliated by everyone’s most hated character. So now what?

The rest of the episode shows Bran still traveling with his group, Stannis and Melisandre still burning people at the stake for the Lord of Light (will his daughter be next?), Theon completely broken by Ramsay Snow, She being shipped away from King’s Landing, and Bronn training Jaime how to fight with his left hand. It’s funny how such a big event happened at only the second episode this season. While it didn’t come close to the impact of The Red Wedding, it’s still a major development for the season. If there’s one thing to take from this episode, is that do not get married in Westeros.


Orphan Black – “Variation Under Nature”

April 13, 2014

Season One, Episode Three

orphan-black-variation-under

Grade: B+

I’ve decided to pick up this highly acclaimed television series from BBC before the season two premiere this Saturday, and boy am I happy I did! In short, Orphan Black is about a troubled woman named Sarah Manning who steals the identity of a woman she witnesses killing herself at a train station, to steal her money from the bank as a flawed but passionate plan to take back her child and restart their life. But there’s just one thing, the woman who killed herself looked like an exact copy of Sarah.

One thing leads to another and we learn alongside with Sarah that her situation is much more complicated than we could’ve imagined. Yes, it didn’t help her cause that she decided to fake her own death and steal the identity of Beth, a detective with a handsome boyfriend and a strict partner. But we also learn in the beginning of this third episode that Sarah, Beth, Alison, the Russian and Cosima are all clones, and that there is someone hunting them down, which towards the end we discover it’s another clone. It takes Sarah some convincing, but she finally decides that stealing Kira from Mrs. S is an awful idea and that she’s definitely better off with her than she is with herself, especially with all this clone killing going on. I’m sure Alison also had a part in her decision as she was terrified for the safety of her family while she’s being hunted.

Orphan Black has made quite an impression on me. As someone with no idea what I was getting into, aside from hearing great things about the show, I admit that this show is right up my alley. The sci-fi aspect is super appealing, and then add on the broken family drama with the police procedural, and then the fish-out-of-water comedy… Orphan Black is a home run! And there aren’t enough things to say about how great Tatiana Maslany is in this show. She’s able to play the handful of clones all by herself and I never felt confused about who was playing who, which is super impressive because of how often Sarah is playing Beth. I cannot see anyone else in her role, or at least anyone playing it better.

It’s also beneficial that the series is slowly rolling out how complex the conflict is for Sarah and the rest of the clones. Specifically, Sarah has a lot on her plate, but there is still the bigger picture of these clones being hunted down that Sarah has finally bought into and is willing to try and help. But from the looks of things, they’re in for a hell of a time with the curly blonde with scars all over her back. She’s someone I wouldn’t want to mess with.

So three episodes in and I’m hooked! I’ll try to post a recap/review whenever I can as I briskly burn through season one. Oh, one more thing, even though I found Felix annoying during the first episode, he’s a great source of comic relief and I genuinely believe the attachment both Felix and Sarah have for each other.

Last but not least:

  • Do I trust Mrs. S? Not entirely.
  • Do I trust Paul? Definitely not.
  • When is Art going to suspect that his partner isn’t who she is? Never? Sarah is doing a damn good job at being a detective, even if she doesn’t know how to use the radio.

Movie Review: Noah

April 8, 2014

Noah (2014)
138 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson

noah-poster

Grade: B-

Aronofsky is best known for his works on small, creative films such as The Wrestler and Black Swan, but the question that exists with Noah is, what kind of movie would he create with a budget over $100 million? He tackles the Biblical story of Noah to a general success, despite its flaws. The biggest problem that Noah has is finding out what kind of audience the film is made for. Its budget and grand special effects suggest it’s a blockbuster, but the religious tale combined with the dark, emotional impact is as far away from a blockbuster as possible. Unfortunately, this cut of Noah is as confused as we are.

The story of Noah has somehow turned into a recognizable children’s tale, but let it be warned that it would be a mistake for any parent thinking about bringing their children to see this movie. Aronofsky’s adaptation is a grim and violent movie, one that children would not enjoy.

After a very sluggish beginning, the film picks up when Noah gains the trust of the Watchers to help him build the ark for the upcoming disaster. Mixed in are themes of family, war, and how God must punish mankind for his sins, with Noah as the sole person that God has entrusted to carry out his wishes. Noah is an epic and it sure feels like one, part because there are two major story-lines that take place before and after the storm. The before story-line is well-known, with the enormous ark that stores hundreds of animals to protect the innocent while God wipes out all living creatures on Earth. But after the storm things are just as tense.

The acting is spot on throughout the film, led by Russell Crowe who has the build and conviction to be convincing as Noah. Anthony Hopkins has a small role as Noah’s father, but makes the most out of it by providing the film with its only source of comic relief. Jennifer Connolly plays the role of Noah’s wife quite nicely, a strong and caring woman who is desperate to keep the family together despite Noah’s requests. And rounding out the cast is Logan Lerman, the tormented son of Noah, and Emma Watson, an orphan that the family saves.

There are great visuals throughout, specifically the visions and dreams that Noah has. In addition, the colors in the film are as bright and clear in this naturally dark and cloudy environment, something Aronofsky is always so meticulous about. While the films suffers from being too preachy at times, overall it’s a movie full of symbolism and faith, not only in God but for the good in humanity. After all, we all make decisions every day that are just stepping stones to a greater outcome, but there are also those who will continue to sin. Nonetheless, we all have one thing to cling onto during the worst of times, and that’s hope.

 


Game of Thrones – “Two Swords”

April 7, 2014

Season Four, Episode One

GoT-two-swords

Grade: B+

After watching some episodes from the marathon on HBO2, the season four premiere felt very scattered, like a montage of all the characters and where they are now. “Two Swords” takes place not too far after when the season three finale ended. The Lannisters are still in power and enjoying a hiatus in the war, though Jaime warns them that the war never ends. While there isn’t any direct battles that involve the Lannisters, they’re far from feeling safe and happy.

While Jaime was one of the most hated characters in the early-going of the series, he’s worked his way into our hearts especially since he’s been cut down to size without his right hand. Sympathy was something I thought I’d never feel for Jaime, but after his time on the road with Brienne, he’s a character that I don’t completely hate anymore. So when he has his conversation with Cersei, I felt the cold breeze from her words as they stung Jaime right in the heart.

Also at King’s Landing, Tyrion and Sansa are still trying to figure out their marriage, but how could she when all she can think about is the brutal murder of her family from the Red Wedding. Tyrion does his best to try and be sympathetic, but to no avail. Also, Tyrion seems to be losing Shae in more than one way. Let’s see how Cersei takes the news that Tyrion and Shae are in love with each other.

Meanwhile, we get snippets of our other main characters. Daenerys marches on with her army; Jon Snow is back at the Wall and warns his superiors of the danger that is coming its way; Ygritte’s people are joined by the Thenns who roast a human arm; and Arya and the Hound search for food. The final scene involving Arya, the Hound and a handful of the King’s men was full of tension with a happy outcome when Arya seeks revenge and finally gets Needle back. For a moment watching the scene, I wasn’t sure if Arya was going to jump in and help the Hound, or if she was going to cower in the corner. But I’m sure glad she did spring into action!

Like every season, it’ll be fun to track how the chess pieces move around the board before the show hits us with another huge battle or another stunner. We’ll have the big wedding to look forward to, along with the defense of the Wall and the journey of the Hound and Arya. And for those who hate the Lannisters, let’s just hope that this is the beginning to the end of their ruling.


How I Met Your Mother – “Last Forever”

March 31, 2014

Season Nine, Episode Twenty Three
Season Nine, Episode Twenty Four

himym-last-forever

Grade: A

It’s been nine years that we’ve followed Ted and company hang out at MacLaren’s and during the series finale, it all came back to that bar, which didn’t seem probable halfway into the episode. I was wondering how the episode would unfold, since they were dedicating an hour to the moment Ted meets the Mother, and it made sense that they would flash forward year by year after Ted meets Tracy McConnell (yes! she finally has a name!). But in the end, it had to do with what happened at MacLaren’s, and that is the moment when Ted meets Robin.

Yes, Tracy did in fact get sick and she did pass away in 2024, six year before Ted started the epic tale of how he met Tracy. While it is in fact sad that Ted loses his wife this way, there wasn’t any emotional tugging that would evoke tears from our eyes. It was all about meeting her, falling in love, having children, and years later finally getting married. Even if their time together was cut short, there’s no doubt that Ted and Tracy were in love. You could tell from the first glance in the beginning of the episode when Ted stares at Tracy as she’s performing with the wedding band. It’s no coincidence that it’s the same glance he gave Robin in the pilot episode.

The first major surprise was that the paradise between the married couple wasn’t quite what Barney and Robin predicted. Robin was a world famous TV journalist, but her career forced her to travel all over the world, leaving Barney to pursue in his own business, a lifestyle blog. Yes, Barney did give up a lot for his wife, but she was always the one with passion for her career so it made sense that Barney would give up his life in New York and Goliath National Bank. Unfortunately, getting drunk and having sex only saved their marriage for three years until they mutually divorced. The perfect moment here was when Barney reminded Robin how much he loved her and how he vowed to never lie to her again.

The years keep passing by and the friends slowly kept growing apart. Marshall and Lily had their third child, Marshall finally became a judge (Judge Fudge) and then ran for a seat on the Supreme Court (Fudge Supreme), Ted and Tracy live in the suburbs and have two children, and Barney achieved the Perfect Month (31 women in 31 days). But Barney gets the last woman pregnant and although we never see that woman (or even find out her name), he finally changes when he holds his baby girl in the hospital for the first time. She becomes his everything and right there, Barney grows up.

But while everyone is moving forward in their lives, Robin isn’t. She just doesn’t have time to with her career, but she finally spills the beans at Marshall and Lily’s “farewell apartment” party (which happened to fall on Halloween). Robin admits that there is no more gang. Everyone has moved on and is living their own lives with their own families, and it’s too hard for her to feel included anymore. It’s just like what was said in “Gary Blauman,” that no matter how much someone meant to you during one part of your life, it’s easy to have those friendships and relationships fade away through time. In this case, Robin was the odd-man out. The perfect scene here is when Robin says goodbye to Lily in the empty apartment. The show has spent all of its years through that apartment and seeing it stripped down to nothing but a hardwood floor and empty walls was marking the end of an era, which is exactly what Robin was saying. Their time hanging out as a gang was over.

Ted finally wraps up his story about how he got the nerves to talk to Tracy at the train station, and how that led to great things like the marriage and the children. It was at this moment I was wondering why they haven’t mentioned anything about Tracy dying, but in the montage he did mention how Tracy got sick and then showed Ted reading to her in the hospital. But there just wasn’t any time to feel sad because Ted told the story with so much life and happiness. And that was how Ted met Tracy.

“It was at times a long difficult road. But I’m glad it was long and difficult because if I hadn’t gone through hell to get there, the lesson might not have been as clear. See kids, right from the moment I met your mom I knew: I have to love this woman as much as I can as long as I can, and I can never stop loving her, not even for a second. I carried that lesson with me through every stupid fight we ever had, every 5 a.m. Christmas morning, every sleepy Sunday afternoon, through every speed bump, every pang of jealousy or boredom or uncertainty that came our way, I carried that lesson with me. And I carried it with me when she got sick. Even then, in what can only be called the worst of times, I can only thank God. Thank every God there is or every was or will be and the whole universe and anyone else I could possibly thank. That I saw that beautiful girl on that train platform, and that I had the guts to stand up, walk over to her, tap her on the shoulder, open my mouth and speak.”

But after it was all said and done, the children were smarter than Ted expected. They realized that there had to be a reason why he told them the story, whether he was conscious of it or not. “Mom’s hardly in the story. This is the story about how you’re totally in love with Aunt Robin and you’re thinking about asking her out and you want to know if we’re okay with it.” In the end, the kids gave more than just their blessing to date Aunt Robin, they gave him their support. And that’s what finally provided him the green light to stand outside of Robin’s apartment with the blue French horn.

As much as the finale was about Ted, it was also about Robin, and hasn’t that been the case for the entire series? Also, since this show has been compared to Friends, isn’t that the way sitcoms are supposed to end? You had Ross hanging out in Central Perk (their hang-out spot) when Rachel barges in wearing a wedding dress during the pilot. In HIMYM, you had Ted in MacLaren’s when he first spotted Robin across the bar. They went through so many ups and downs throughout the series, it only makes sense that they wound up together at the conclusion of the show.

While I am surprised that Tracy dies in the story, it never became something too heavy that the show couldn’t handle. This is mainly because of how HIMYM has never been afraid to tackle difficult life situations throughout their 9-year run. To me, that is what will remain as HIMYM’s strongest attribute for a truly memorable series, how real its crucial moments felt. The way Marshall was crushed by his father’s death, how Lily felt like a terrible person when she admit she sometimes wished Marvin was never born, the anguish inside of Barney when he dumps Nora and finds out Robin was still with Kevin, how Ted would do anything just to make Robin happy even when she was engaged, and so on. These are real situations every day and HIMYM presented it with class and care.

And it wouldn’t have been successful without the impeccable chemistry of the main cast. I saw a little bit of every one of my friends in the five characters on HIMYM, and I’m sure everyone else did too. That’s what made the show so fulfilling and it’s what will make it legendary for years to come.

Well done.


Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

March 31, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
100 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody

grand-budapest

Grade: B+

It has to be stated that this is a Wes Anderson film. I hate to bring it up, but there are plenty of people who simply do not enjoy his work, and of course there are many who adore his movies. I am in the latter group and therefore I thoroughly enjoyed Grand Budapest Hotel.

Here’s the setup: a woman approaches a statue in a cemetery and begins to read a book from the deceased man. We cut to Tom Wilkinson decades prior playing the author. He’s talking directly into the camera about a past experience he had. The film then flashes back another 20 years to the lobby of the Grand Budapest Hotel, a once great and famous landmark but now is barren. The author, now played by Jude Law, interviews Mr. Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham) who is the hotel owner. Mustafa then tells the author of how he became the owner. We flash back to the 1930s and finally get into the bulk of the story of when Zero Mustafa was just a lobby boy at the hotel, working for M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes).

Gustave and Mustafa go one quite the adventure, stemming from an elderly woman that Gustave was romantically involved with who ends up dying. In her will she passes down the priceless work of art, “Boy with Apple” to Gustave, which greatly upsets her family especially Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and Jopling (Willem Dafoe). They go to great depths to try and regain the painting back from Gustave.

Grand Budapbest Hotel is a fast-paced film mainly because you don’t know what direction the film will turn to next. One minute it’s a master and protege story, then it’s a prison break story, then it’s a story about young love, and it somehow finds a way to fit in a chase scene and a shoot out. Expect nothing less from Wes Anderson, who masterfully weaves every scene in and out with confidence and style. Sure, it’s a bit slapstick and a bit quirky, but it’s definitely a film that’s on Anderson’s wall of his personal best.

It wouldn’t have been so successful without the exuberant performance of Ralph Fiennes. Gustave is always the perfect gentleman, neatly dressed and pleasantly fragrant all the time, but he’s also a man of wisdom and being proper, which he passes down to Mustafa. Fiennes is a fireball, often speaking a mile a minute and acting out in flamboyant and cartoonish ways. It’s perfect for this film.

Like always, Anderson includes a number of cameos from the likes of Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum and others. While it’s less mainstream than Moonrise Kingdom, it’s certainly address for mature audiences with a good sense of humor. I’m thankful that there are people like Wes Anderson in the movie world to provide audiences a break from the traditional Hollywood stories. With Anderson, you never know where the movie is going, but you never doubt it’s going to be anything less than compelling.


The Walking Dead – “A”

March 31, 2014

Season Four, Episode Sixteen

walking-dead-a

Grade: B

Season Grade: B-

As the season finale of The Walking Dead showcased two major events, which coincidentally happened to be the only two action sequences, I couldn’t help but smile at the attempt the show-runners are making. The show was always been good at action sequences from the very beginning. The Walking Dead’s strength has been when the characters aren’t talking, but when they’re doing something like killing walkers or traveling on the road. While this might seem like a compliment, it’s not. What good show is best when there isn’t any dialogue. Yes, that has always been problem number one with The Walking Dead.

But back to the season finale, we get the showdown between Joe and his men tracking down Rick with Carl and Michonne. While it was a very tense and suspenseful scene, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times are Rick and Carl going to escape death? Sure, for the first two seasons, Rick was the leader and the main character on the show and he really displayed conflicts, motives, and likability for fans to support. But for the last two seasons, it’s been the same cycle of emotions for Rick. He wants to be a leader, he doesn’t want to be a leader, he’s trying to protect Carl, he’s trying to allow Carl to grow up into a man, and again. At this point, I believe it’s best for the show to kill of Rick because I simply don’t see his character evolving anymore. Maybe I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen any signs of improvement during the last two years.

So after Joe’s men goof up their attempt to seek revenge for one of their buddy’s death, Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Daryl survive the attack. No surprise there. Then they reach Terminus and unlike Glenn and his gang of misfits, they’re a lot more cautious. They don’t enter through the front gates and follow the smell of barbecue food, they sneak through the back and confront who I assume is the leader of Terminus, Gareth. He greets them with kindness and has one of his men give them the whole routine about the sanctuary, until Rick realizes that one of the men has Hershel’s pocket watch, the same one he gave to Glenn. This was a neat sequence because you immediately know that something went wrong when Glenn and company walked into Terminus from the last episode. No, you don’t assume they’re dead because this is The Walking Dead and they wouldn’t do that. What we find out is that Glenn and company have been trapped inside a railway boxcar, and now Rick and them have been forced inside as well.

What’s in store for our group of survivors? Rick’s confident that they’re going to somehow break out of the boxcar and dominate the establishment of Terminus, with their sharpshooters on the roof and men throughout. And heck, it’s impossible not to believe him because without them, there wouldn’t be a show right? There are still plenty of issues the show has that were really exposed during the second half of the fourth season. While I admired the idea of breaking up the group for most of the second half, it revealed how many characters aren’t developed. You had Daryl (the fan favorite) with Beth, arguably the least developed character on the show. When she gets kidnapped, you care a lot more for how Daryl reacts than worrying about what’s actually happening to her. I’m sorry, but that just seems wrong to me.

Then there was Glenn and Maggie’s story-line of trying to find each other, which made you realize that all they’ve been for over a year are the two characters in love. Nothing more, nothing less. And sadly, those two were more developed than Sasha, Bob, and Tara combined. This has always been a huge issue with The Walking Dead. They’re searching for a balance between cool ways of killing zombies and a carefully developed story with rich characters. I hate to say it but I truly believe the insane success creates this obstacle even more difficult. Without the fast pace and constant killing, would most of the fans stick around? Yet they’re trying to separate itself from just been a campy horror flick to something with essence. Unfortunately, The Walking Dead is failing at that.

So where does that leave us? Well, right were we were from the beginning of the show. The Walking Dead is never going to have the great consistency. It will have the occasional brilliant episode here and there, but for the series as a whole, it’s always going to be more of the same, over and over again. It’ll be consistently inconsistent with a few strong characters, a lot of weak dialogue, and questionable acting. But hey, it gets ratings.


Movie Review: Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

March 28, 2014

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
89 minutes
Not rated
Directed by Isao Takahata

grave-of-the-fireflies

Grade: A

This post contains spoilers.

I’ve never been one with an interest for anime, but there has always been a handful of movies that many request to me, telling me they are “must see” films. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the kind of film that Grave of the Fireflies was.

Yes, it’s an animated film but that doesn’t make it less emotional and real as a live action movie. Set during the days near the end of World War II, we see Japan with their paper-thin houses and a culture of people who believe that Japan is the greatest empire in the world. We follow Seita, a young teenager, and his little sister Setsuko as they flee from their house during an air raid. They soon find out that their mother has passed away from the attack and with their father in the navy, they travel to a nearby aunt for food and shelter.

After the aunt is cruel to the two children they leave and settle in a hillside cave. Seita does everything he can to provide food and to entertain Setsuko to distract her from the war and their rough living conditions, but they can only live like that for so long. For anyone who has a younger sibling, it’s easy to relate to how Seita cares for Setsuko and how he wanted to keep her innocence and imagination. He also didn’t want to tell her that their mom passed away, but the aunt ended up ruining that act. Everything that Seita did had to do with the survival for him and his sister.

There is a great scene after they move to the hillside on the first night away from their aunt. While Setsuko cries that it’s too dark at night, Seita gathers as many fireflies as he could and releases them in their netting, illuminating the dark cave and providing enough light for Setsuko to feel safe. It was a magical moment and it was visually beautiful, certainly being enhanced with animation. But the feel-good moment quickly fades the next morning when Setsuko digs a hole and buries all the dead fireflies together, like how their mom was buried with the hundreds killed in the attacks. It’s heartbreaking to see such a young girl be put through the trauma of war, but whether you like it or not, it’s their reality.

This is an excellent example of how animation can truly be the right medium for any kind of film. Hollywood continues to make animated films with walking, talking animal characters along with a great deal of comedy to keep the kids entertained. Would Grave of the Fireflies be as effective if it was a live action film? I doubt it. For starters, you would need very talented young actors to pull off the mental sting of lost innocence, which would probably be played by older actors and therefore lose the importance of the children’s ages. Also, a live action flick would most likely concentrate a lot of time and energy on the air raid scenes, which would be very costly. More importantly, the film isn’t about surviving the bombings, it’s about surviving during the war and the affects it has on the communities, families, and children.

It amazes me how this film was released 26 years ago, because decades later Grave of the Fireflies still has an impact after you watch it, and that is proof for a great movie. It is unfortunate how this film hasn’t been seen by more people (as of March 2014, Grave of the Fireflies has 85,000 IMDB user votes while The Dark Knight, which was released in 2008, has over 1.1 million). It did take me until now to watch this classic and I’m sure glad that I did. Better late than never. For those who haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it as it’s far more than you can imagine from an animated film, and as Ebert stated, “it belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made.”


How I Met Your Mother – “The End of the Aisle”

March 25, 2014

Season Nine, Episode Twenty Two

himym-end-of-aisle

Grade: A-

As HIMYM is winding down it’s still bringing up old gags and episodes into the current story-line, something that I’ve always enjoyed. So even though it was a bit of a stretch for Robin to mention the locket, I accepted it. Ted comes in to calm down the freaking out to-be-bride and all she wants is a sign that she’s doing the right thing and that Barney is the right man. If only he gave me the locket. And then Ted’s eyes widen as he does the right thing, hands the locket over to Barney and tells him to give it to her.

A handful of episodes ago Ted and Robin shared a moment on the beach and that’s when Ted finally allowed himself to let Robin go. If it wasn’t for that moment, Ted might have given the locket to her himself and ran off with her to Chicago like Robin proposed. But he’s too good of a person and friend to ever go through with that. While his intentions were good, Robin knew that Ted was the one who found the locket for her. Isn’t that the kind of person she wants to marry? The person who would met her in the park in the rain and helped her search for the locket without even asking? The person who traveled across the country for her locket and had to confront two of his exes. The person who jumped into a river to retrieve it? Robin doesn’t want to marry someone who’s entire life is based on lies. It’s hard to argue with that.

But Ted understands that there’s more to Robin and Barney’s relationship. Love isn’t logical and no matter how much it makes sense that Ted and Robin get together, love is something you feel with your heart. Of course that doesn’t convince Robin as she runs out of the room, locking Ted inside, and sprints for the door when she runs into the Mother. She’s the last of the gang to meet the Mother and hers might be the most important one of all. She tells Robin to close her eyes and take three deep breaths. And when she does, Barney is standing in front of her.

Which brings me to the B-story where Barney had trouble writing up his vows for the wedding. Lily and Marshall steps in to help him but then Barney shreds their vows apart, pointing out how long it took them to break their vows. This set up two points at the ending: First, that Marshall and Lily declared new vows to each other that are a lot more relevant to their current situation, such as Marshall not disturbing Lily while she’s dropping a deuce. It was typical Marshmallow and Lily Pad cuteness.

Second, it made Barney realize that there is no vow as important as telling Robin that he will always tell the truth. That’s all Robin needed to hear and the happy couple finally got married. Oh, and yes there was a ring bear! While this episode wasn’t all that funny, it packed a huge emotional punch for the viewers. Now that the story-lines have seemed to wrap up for everyone except for Ted, can we look forward to an hour of how Ted finally meets the Mother? Will they answer if the Mother dies? I’m confident that the loose ends will be tied by the end of next week because HIMYM has done a great job up to this point at doing just that. It’s sad to think there’s only one episode left, but all good things must come to an end.


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