Monday, August 1, 2011

Leverage - "The Carnival Job"

This is a review that I wrote for another site. They did not want to post it as is, so it is posted in what I consider to be a very different form elsewhere. Having written it, I also wanted the satisfaction of posting it... So... I hope you caught the episode because it was great!

REVIEW: Leverage: “The Carnival Job”
Rating: 4 stars

Airdate: July 31, 2011, 9/8c on TNT

          “The Carnival Job” has lots of twists and turns to keep everyone guessing and on their toes – both on the team and in the audience. Like last week, this episode begins with a legal issue – which may be the perfect hook for me! This week they get the legal issue more correct than they did last week. A company can claim anything you work on while at work belongs to them – in this case a computer chip -  if you are employed under a work-for-hire contract. But the writers on this episode, M. Scott Veach and Paul Guyot, quickly shift our expectations about how the issue is going to play out when Connell (Erik Jensen), this week’s mark, actually steals the computer chip at issue for himself.
          The episode puts us a bit off kilter right at the outset by having Hardison (Aldis Hodge) run the interview with the client with Nate (Timothy Hutton) instead of Sophie (Gina Bellman). It makes sense, of course, because Jeffrey Thorne (John San Nicolas) is trying to retrieve the computer chip he designed. The team prefers to go after bad guys, so as the story unfolds and it appears Connell has a hard luck story himself, Sophie points out “That’s not greed we’re looking at, that’s grief.” Eliot says “I thought we were supposed to hate the guys that we take down?” Nate clarifies it’s “Not a requirement. A Perk. Usually.” As so often happens, Nate, Sophie, and Eliot find something in Connell’s story to relate to.
          Eliot ends up guarding Molly (Lea Zawada), Connell’s daughter, as his cover. She turns out to be wise beyond her years, but also bitter and lonely because of her father’s withdrawal after her mother’s death. Christian Kane turns in a wonderful performance as Eliot is not quite sure what to make of her, but quickly forms a bond with her – no doubt seeing himself in her prickly exterior. For her part, Zawada does a terrific job hitting all the marks as hurt daughter, smart kid, and scared hostage.
          As with every episode, there is a lot of humor in the episode. Sophie and Nate as over the top house designers/architects are hysterical. I love it when they play off each other, seemingly goading each other into increasingly outrageous behaviour. The other running gag in the episode is Hardison’s new invention, the Parker 2000, which he made to help Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and even based it on her. Parker is convinced he made it to replace her.
          The plot gets a little predictable when Molly gets kidnapped – at the Carnival – and the team suddenly switches teams to help Connell get his daughter back from the Russians who were supposed to buy the computer chip. And so it becomes “The Carnival Job.” I pretty much pegged Daria (Anna Lieberman) the Eastern European nanny as being up to no good the second she suddenly appeared from seemingly nowhere.
          What really saves this episode from a predictable ending, however, is the masterful direction of Frank Oz. I’ve long been a fan of his directing, so I was excited from the moment I saw his directing credit. The scene that focuses on Eliot talking to Molly and trying to get an idea of where she is, is fantastic as Oz just keeps the camera circling Eliot at high speed. It reflects Molly’s terror and disorients us and reflects Eliot’s desperate attempts to be looking everywhere at once for her.
          I’m always happiest when we have a spectacular Eliot fight scene and the one in the hall of mirrors may be the best one yet. Again, hats off to Oz for this beautifully shot sequence – with mirror everywhere! And hats off to Kane for doing a good portion of the scene with his eyes closed! Maybe he was cheating, but they sure looked closed to me! It’s a beautifully choreographed and executed fight. I’m also pretty sure Kane doesn’t cheat the shot in which he bursts a balloon with his back to it by tossing a dart over his shoulder. But I would like to know how many takes it took!

We have a week’s hiatus and then Leverage returns with two episodes.

Tune in to Leverage Sundays at 9/8c on TNT.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunset Is Upon Me

So, I've neglected this blog something fierce over the last few months. My only excuse is that I've been trying to squeeze in and soak up as much LA as possible before I ride off into the sunset in a little less than two weeks.

So why now? I want to put down a few thoughts - over the next couple of weeks - about my time here and where the adventure goes from here.

Someone asked me recently "Why social media?" What's the interest for me there? And it's an interest that's as much about the law as it is about social media in general.

I think the answer for me, is that it's like the wild, wild west. It's still a relatively new frontier which makes it exciting and unpredictable. Anyone who knows me, knows I've always been a cowboy - right down to the love of horses and a good bottle of whiskey.

So, I like the excitement. I like that it lets everyone into the mix. It helps to level the playing field and it's kind of fun to watch the big guns struggle to keep up when they aren't that much bigger than the little guy. It's a way for everyone to have their say and get involved - to really make a difference.

And the law is exciting because of that lack of hard and fast boundaries. And that includes that nebulous boundary that is created by the invasiveness or pervasiveness of the Internet. It's a global phenomenon, so it requires global thinking in a new way.

Coming to terms with all that is one of the adventures that I can see keeping me busy and excited... and on the road, checking out those new frontiers...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chicken and Egg Question

Another lightening post in the hopes that it can get me into the blogging habit...

So which came first - the chicken or the egg? Or is this just a case of a bad game of chicken? Who is the bad boy in the "war" between Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre?

And why is America so willing to forgive Charlie Sheen for his blatant disregard of the law?

I think it's that age-old fascination of watching a train wreck - or a public hanging. Sadly, we just love to watch others suffer - certainly helps to explain why torture-porn really is unlikely to fall out of public favour completely any time soon.

We don't care that Charlie pulled a knife on his ex-wife. That he's obviously a boozehound and possibly a drug addict. That he hangs out with prostitutes. That he spends money like it's merely sand pouring through his fingers...

And I have to admit that up until this week, I felt bad for him - that he was obviously so troubled that he had to self-medicate. And then he attacked Chuck Lorre. Not cool. But then I heard about Chuck Lorre's vanity cards this week. Both of which were pretty much attacks on Sheen. I think both public displays are simply indicative of that part of the iceberg that we, the public, are not privvy too.

The question now is whether Charlie Sheen has managed to at least commit career suicide even if he hasn't managed full-on suicide just yet. The question of whether any production could ever get insurance to cover the liability he represents had already occured to me. Now one has to wonder if the studio is faced to choose between Sheen and Lorre, who would they choose? The employee who is on the verge of imploding anyway but represents a huge financial check - for one show OR the employee who just keeps on delivering successful show after successful show.

Me. I'm hoping for a miracle. I'm hoping that something brings Charlie Sheen to his senses before he actually does kill himself. I can't imagine what that could be at this point. I can easily foresee a Two and a Half Men that found another man...

At the end of the day, I think that Sheen's bad behaviour can be explained by his problems - maybe not excused, but at least explained. Lorre, I'm sure, has been driven to distraction by Sheen's behaviour - always waiting for the day he couldn't show up to work - and having two other shows to worry about on top of that.

And then there's the adoring public who is happy to sit back and watch ALL the shows - both the scripted and unscripted ones.... For me? I'd like to see less egg slinging.....

Here are links to three pertinent vanity cards:

There is, of course, another issue here. One you've heard me talk about a lot.
Free speech - which is never without a price.
I'll be interested to see who ends up with more bacon at the end of this one....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Producing Credit

I know I have been woefully absent here, despite my best intentions. I promise to come back with more "meaty" things to say about LA, but this is a ninja post on an article just tweeted by The Hollywood Reporter.

Apparently, the Producer's Guild of America (I didn't even know about this one) wants to start a system whereby Producers on films would actually have to "produce" in order to be given the designation p.g.a after their name and to be considered for awards as producers of films - for Oscars for example.

As always, I'm seeing both sides to this. I think that it is ridiculous when you see a movie win a prestigious award and the stage is swarmed by 20 people. It's ridiculous when the credits roll and there are 20 people listed as producers. I think those people who are doing all the hard work producing, and suffering the many stresses that go with the job, deserve the credit.

On the other hand, if you are financing a movie and putting up huge amounts of case or if you are agreeing to star in a movie for less than you normally would, you deserve some compensation for that too. Particularly for those financing movies, it's a great little bonus to have your name up there on the big screen and have the possibility of hitting the stage at the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, or any other awards show. Without that sort of incentive, will there be a negative impact on the already floundering stream of financing trickling into Hollywood?

It will be interesting to see what the impact of this is in the future.
Here's the link to the article for those interested...