Dr. Royce Clemens's Published Articles
TV Review: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ S2, Episodes 6-8
November 5th, 2009 at 8:27 am | |
TV Review: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Season 1 DVD & Season 2 Preview (Ep. 1-5)
Sons of Anarchy S2, Eps 6-8
Created by Kurt Sutter
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior, Maggie Siff and Ron Perlman
Now airing on FX
SPOILERS: This is not to be read until after you’ve seen the 10/28 episode. But if you haven’t watched this show, I have to ask what the hell you’re doing here?
The story so far…
The Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club-Redwood Original (or SAMCRO) rules over the town of Charming, California with a hard but benevolent fist, keeping huge corporate development out of the town, gaining even the respect of the town sheriff. They finance their activities by running guns. Naturally, this runs afoul of the ATF.
The ATF troubles loom behind them (particularly Agent Stahl, played by Ally Walker), but now they’re caught up with the threat that white separatist Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin) and his crew pose [...]
September 8th, 2009 at 3:23 pm | |
Sons of Anarchy
Created by Kurt Sutter
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, Maggie Siff, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior
Twentieth Century Fox
Season 1 DVD release date: August 18, 2009
Season 2 premiere date: Tuesday, September 8, 10 EST/9 CST on FX
The handiest and dandiest nutshell in which to describe the FX show Sons of Anarchy is “Hamlet with Bikers.” It’s not the least accurate metaphor in the world: You have a Claudius, you have a Gertrude, and even the hero of the show, Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), has blond hair and blue eyes, looking as Danish as Danish can be. Hamlet with Bikers isn’t the worst kind of thing for a show. There are a whole ton of shows that don’t have Shakespearean allusions or dirty, smelly bikers, so can’t we have one that does?
But the more cynical way to describe Sons of Anarchy is “The Sopranos with Bikers,” but it’s too early to call on that one. The show needs six more seasons to overextend itself and a ton of out-of-place dream sequences to live up to that. That show got so bored with itself that it ended in mid-sentence to go and do something else.
Sons of Anarchy is the latest, and arguably best, drama to come out of the basic cable network FX, beating out other shows like Rescue Me, Damages, and the recently concluded The Shield (which is that show poor people had to make do with when they couldn’t get The Wire on HBO). In fact, I would go so far as to call Sons of Anarchy last season’s best new show in all of television. It took a little while to get its groove on, but it veered quite close to great in its second half. That’s something even the best shows on TV rarely do [...]
DVD Review: ‘Mad Men’ Season Two
August 9th, 2009 at 2:39 pm | |
Mad Men: Season Two
Special Collector’s Edition
Created by Matthew Weiner
Starring Jon Hamm, Elizabeth Moss, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery and Vincent Kartheiser
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 14, 2009
It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once posited that the things that people are ashamed of are the things that make the best stories. Fitzgerald, had he come later and not, y’know, drank himself to death, would have been proud to have come up with Mad Men. It was last year’s Emmy winner for Best TV Drama, and if my estimation of last season’s complete and utter swill that called itself television is correct (a year that spawned a disappointing third season of Dexter, a godawful season of Weeds, and the advent of the neon storm of ass that calls itself “True Blood“), it will win again this year. They should just rename the Emmys “Let’s Throw Gold Shit at Matthew Weiner and Tina Fey for Three Hours.” ‘Cause if I’m a fan of anything, it’s honesty.
For those of you who have yet to fall head-first into Mad Men like the unbearable hipster jackass at the record store told you you should have by now, allow me to set the scene:
In the early 1960′s, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is an advertising executive at the New York agency Sterling-Cooper. He has a lovely wife named Betty (January Jones) and two darling children and a big expensive house. Naturally, someone who has all these things should have deep problems and Don most certainly does. He’s a serial philanderer, has barely any love for his wife at all and bears a huge secret that haunts him at every turn. From season to season, Draper attempts to build up his success while his baser natures do everything they can to tear it all down.
Mad Men has gained a reputation, somewhat, as “That Show Where Everybody Smokes.” And it’s true that, in order to reflect the tenor of the middle of the twentieth century, everyone has a cigarette in his or her hand. As a smoker, no show has ever sent me into crazier nicotine fits. I go through smokes watching this show like fat children go through Tootsie Rolls…
DVD Review: ‘Weeds’ Season Four
June 26th, 2009 at 12:24 pm | |
Created by Jenji Kohan
Starring Mary Louise Parker, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Last year at about this time, when I reviewed Season Three of Showtime’s Weeds for this very website, I complained about how the DVD case trotted out that it was made from 100% recycled materials. I wondered who they could possibly market that fact to. People who hadn’t seen the show who felt they HAD to buy it because, well, those seasons of Six Feet Under wouldn’t allow them to be better people by having ITS packaging made from recycled shit? People who like the show and were gonna buy it anyway, even if the packaging were made from poodle ass and baby seal hymen? The point eluded me then and it eludes me now. I’m not saying you can’t make your stuff out of other folks’ leftovers, but quit being a dick about it.
Sure enough, another year, another packaging issue. Not with the packaging itself, I don’t give a fuck about that anymore, and yet I am mystified by the pull-quote from The Miami Herald that they put on the back of the box:
“Smart… Smug… And habit-forming.”
“Smug?” That’s what you’re saying to pull folks in? They… They know what that word means, right? I’m not necessarily saying the show isn’t smug (as mentioned, the show actively markets that its DVD sets are recycled), but there’s some shit you just don’t share with the rest of the class [...]
The Doom Dispatch: The Ten Best Directorial Debuts of the Decade
May 29th, 2009 at 12:46 pm | |
DVD Review: Driven To Kill
Before we start, a couple of rules that I followed while making this list:
-Documentaries don’t count: Watching the scene and setting the scene are two different things. If you made a documentary before you made your dramatic debut, the dramatic debut is the one I’m counting.
-Your movie had to be distributed: Every once in a while, a feature makes the film festival rounds without actually getting picked up and distributed. If your second film was released in theaters in America, that’s the one I’m counting.
-No Donnie Darko: That movie is actually an episode of Quantum Leap with shitty emo “Kill Yourself” music packed in. Sorry, kids.
So now then…The Ten Best Directorial Debuts of the Decade [...]
May 24th, 2009 at 1:55 pm | |
Driven to Kill
Directed by Jeff King
Starring Steven Seagal
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 19, 2009
If people in Hollywood were wise (and with rumors of a Guitar Hero movie on the horizon, there is no reason to believe they are), Steven Seagal‘s long, precipitous fall from grace would be utilized as a horror story for young actors: a hefty, pony-tailed boogeyman toiling under the beds of these hair-gelled sissies they call movie stars nowadays.
“See that, young Shia? That’s what happens when you act like a dick and defy men such as I!”
“Jesus! I’ll do whatever you say, Mister Katzenberg! I’ll do whatever you say! JUST DON’T PUT ME IN A MOVIE WITH DMX AND TOM ARNOLD! I’M TOO PRETTY TO DIE!”
Fifteen years after his prime, Seagal is still breaking wrists, throwing people out of windows, and running like a goddamned girl without any hint of irony or self-effacement. Only now it’s in Straight-To-DVD Land, where the least amount of collateral damage occurs.
In truth, I looked at the apparently thriving Seagal DVD market like I looked at the fur trade: I know it’s going on, and I know I vaguely don’t approve, but it doesn’t really have any bearing on my life. So let bygones be bygones for whomever is into that kinda thing [...]
DVD Review: Paramount Centennial Collection: ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and ‘Sabrina’
November 25th, 2008 at 11:01 am | |
In my mind, there is a Holy Trinity of filmmakers. Three directors who, among all their work, you could find any and every reason for watching a film. There’s Akira Kurosawa, there’s Stanley Kubrick…
And then there’s Billy Wilder.
Wilder lived the longest, died the latest, won the most Oscars, displayed the most versatility and yet somehow, for some strange reason, is the most underseen and underloved among this recent group of self-styled movie geeks. Yeah, everyone’s seen The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, and yes there are some who try to boost their cred by watching Seven Samurai, but it’s depressing to see how few have seen at least one Wilder film…. Or even name one.
With the possible exception of Howard Hawks (who made films as dissimilar as The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, His Girl Friday and the original The Thing), no mainstream Hollywood director has ever shown Wilder’s utter refusal to be pigeon-holed into one kind of movie. Wilder made films as disparate as The Apartment and Double Indemnity. As Stalag 17 and The Seven Year Itch. As the long lost Ace In The Hole and the woefully underrated The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.
The Doom Dispatch: Payne vs. Payne: Great Games, Terrible Movies
October 24th, 2008 at 12:03 pm | |
Adapting video games into films should not be this hard. Books and plays are turned into good movies on a nearly monthly basis. Christ, even direction is a form of adaptation. The director has both the right and the necessity to cherry-pick and omit from a written screenplay. There is no such thing as “an original film.”
And yet, like trying to pole-vault without an actual pole, the evolutionary link between video game and film has yet to be cleared.
Now to be fair, I liked Silent Hill. It was an atmosphere engine which would have been a whole lot better if an actual script was used.
And as I may have unwisely mentioned in my review of Max Payne at filmarcade.net a week ago, I liked the Doom movie. Don’t blame me… The game came out when I was eight… We were on an anti-poverty board in Chicago together… The parties were hosted by the Annenbergs… SHUT UP!
But other than those, we have been treated to miserable failure after miserable failure. Super Mario Bros., both Tomb Raider films, anything with Uwe Boll’s name on it, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter. They all suck [...]
DVD Review: ’30 Rock’ Season 2
October 20th, 2008 at 7:51 pm | |
DVD Review: ‘Dexter’ Season 2
This is what the kids these days call “The Hard Sell.” I can open up with floweriness about some other crap like I usually do, but I’m just going to be blunt and to the point:
30 Rock is the best show on television. Hands down. Bar none. You buy now.
So funny is 30 Rock that this review was delayed significantly because I had to watch each episode three times. Once to watch. Twice to pick up on all the jokes I missed from laughing the first time. And a third to listen to the audio commentaries (Sorry, Eve). In all my experience, I have NEVER listened to an audio commentary for a movie or a show all the way through. I’m not the biggest fan of “the official view” or telling schmoozy stories, but everyone involved with this show is so inherently funny that there are gems in the commentaries that are worth watching.
The Emmy-winning, ratings-challenged show stars Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, the creator and head-writer of a sketch comedy show on NBC [...]
September 3rd, 2008 at 12:32 pm | |
Dexter is a show that works beyond all the expected ways it could be anticipated to work. The first season involved Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, a serial killer who works forensics on the Miami Police Department. His targets are criminals and people who use the normal parameters of the law to their own ends instead of justice. In an unfair world, Dexter acts as an equalizer.
But, more than that, it’s about a man, admittedly dead to the world, fumbling and futzing his way towards humanity and a soul. For someone like Dexter, who freely admits that he has no emotions, he sure does develop a lot of attachments. To his girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz) and her two kids; To his sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), who’s also a cop and has no luck with romance. Through his interactions with others he finds out, much to both his joy and dismay, that he was human all along. Kind of like The Wizard of Oz in Dante’s ring of murderers.
And this was all in the first season. Here we are with the second season, now on DVD, and I think it’s better than the first. Instead of trying to capture lightning in a bottle yet again, it’s a continuation of the central themes and a continuing evolution of Dexter as a character.
Yeah, so he has a soul. NOW what?…
DVD Review: Postal (Unrated)
August 26th, 2008 at 7:55 pm | |
DVD Review: Fortress
Of all the filmmakers that have had cults spring up around them, from M. Night Shyamalan apologists to people who think Michael Bay is the savior we’ve been waiting for, none have deserved it any less that Uwe Boll. He found out one day that he had talent in the negative integers, and tried turning THAT into a marketing ploy. But even at this level of self-awareness, he gets all bent out of shape and starts fights (both verbal and physical) with people who don’t automatically agree with the sub-amateur shit he opts to pump out. At the drop of a hat, he turns into a kind of Teutonic Yosemite Sam.
So, sure enough, a bunch of quasi-retarded, uber-ironic film geeks have surrounded him, calling him “honest” and “a rogue.” In the Cult of Boll, the actual movies he makes become secondary. Wow… I guess you can’t underestimate the power of stupid people in medium-sized groups, either…
August 16th, 2008 at 11:28 am | |
DVD Review: Doomsday (Blu-ray)
Christopher Lambert plays John Henry Brennick, a war veteran in the year 2017 who tries to sneak himself and his pregnant wife out of the country, because you can’t have more than one kid in 2017 America (their last one died). They get caught and chucked into prison, in the only instance ever recorded on any plane of existence where a Frenchman was kept out of Canada.
This prison, run by a corporation that apparently does nothing but manufacture prisons and make everyone’s life a dystopian hell, is presided over by Prison Director Poe, played by Kurtwood “BITCHES LEAVE!” Smith. He fits all the prisoners with “Intestinators,” which are little bombs set inside the intestines that go off whenever you try to escape…
July 29th, 2008 at 9:02 am | |
In 2008, a virus breaks out in Scotland. It can’t be cured, so they build a huge wall on the Scotland/Britain border. The healthy stay on the English side to get rich and snooty. The sick stay on the Scottish side, where they eat all the food before they start eating each other, and they fall prey to savage violence and even worse fashion choices.
So yeah, Doomsday is COMPLETELY FICTIONAL!
Anyway, the virus strike sin England again after thirty years, and the government sends their biggest badass, Major Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) to go over the wall and find the one renegade doctor who might have a cure (Malcolm McDowell). The gangs of Post-Apocalyptic Punk-Cannibals roaming Scotland ensure it will not be easy.
Where Doomsday differs from all the other crap is in the presentation. The writer/director of this little lark is Neil Marshall. His past efforts include Dog Soldiers, which is the only decent werewolf movie released since the eighties. They also include The Descent, which is a film (and my myspace friends will tell you this) that I legally married at the end of 2006.
DVD review: ‘Weeds’ Season Three
June 8th, 2008 at 4:45 pm | |
Book Review: Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal
Mary Louise Parker, Kevin Nealon, and Elizabeth Perkins star in Season Three of this ShowTime series, now out on a 3-disc DVD.
May 23rd, 2008 at 12:41 pm | |
Dr. Royce reviews this 400-page tome by AICN writer Vern dedicated to all things Steven Seagal.