Thoughts on Passengers

I’m sure that everything that’s needed to be said about the movie Passengers has already been said, but I finally had the chance to see it this weekend and simply had to get some thoughts down on digital paper about it. It spurred a discussion between Wes and I that spanned two days, which I think makes it remarkable because really, how many movies do that?

For those unfamiliar with the story, SPOILERS Continue reading

True Detective: Season One and Season Don’t

Trust me, watching the finale will make you feel like the people in this picture.

Trust me, watching the finale will make you feel like the people in this picture.

When Wes and started watching season one of True Detective, Wes was surprised to find I was hooked. “What about this show interests you so much?” he asked me. It was, after all, a slow-moving story line, precisely the kind I’ve proved allergic to in the past. Shows like The Wire and Battlestar Gallactica, shows that most people love, bore me silly. To say Wes gets frustrated by my impatient taste is neither an understatement nor an overstatement. It is, simply, the truth.

Why, then, should True Detective be any different? I wasn’t even much of a Matthew McConaughey fan, and the story wends and weaves through twenty years of secrets and mysteries. Sounds like classic Erika eye-roll territory.

I decided then and there that what I want most in a show is the following:

Interesting people doing interesting things in an interesting way.

It must have those three components or I just can’t seem to sit still or engross myself in the story the way I want to. Season one of True Detective had all these in spades. I loved what they did with that story and the acting was perfection. I tuned into season two hoping for much of the same. I actually liked all the actors in season two, so I was optimistic that I’d enjoy season two as well.

No. Such. Luck.

I suppose I need to add a new component to my  list:

A cogent story line with an ending that justifies the story’s means.

There’s just a level of trust a viewer invests in a show’s writers. Trust that the long journey will be worth it in the end. Trust that the heartbreak and sacrifices made along the way will prove worth it. Trust that, even if we don’t get it in the beginning or even in the middle, that it will all make sense in the end and we will finish the last episode grateful to have hung in there.

Whoever was responsible for the story of season two violated that trust in every single way. I agree completely with the reviews that say the second season could have benefited from a room full of writers as opposed to just the one guy at the helm. I’d like to think a collaboration of writers might have saved it from itself.

Maybe not, though. I don’t know. All I know is that my list of qualifications for enjoying shows is getting longer and that’s a tad worrisome. Maybe I’ll just stick to reruns of Scrubs, The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, House M.D., and Arrested Development...

Jurassic Lark

It’s been a busy couple of days for me in blogger land! I had two guest posts go up on writing blogs within a day of each other. If you’re of a writer-ly bent and have some time to burn, head on over to Writer Unboxed to read my advice on handling awkward author situations, or click on over to Live Write Thrive to learn how to craft suspense in a novel. I’m really proud of how they both turned out, let me know what you think!

I was also interviewed on A.C. Fuller’s podcast Writer 2.0 last week (told you it’s been busy!) and the resulting episode is really fun. We cover all sorts of interesting topics like why my first book, PWNED, sucks, whether North Korea is a real threat, and a bonus conspiracy theory about beloved 30 Rock characters. Check it out, if only to hear how often (and loudly) I laugh.

It's okay if I touch you. I'm gonna tell the others later that our presence must be antiseptic, but I'm special and the rules don't apply to me.

“It’s okay if I touch you. I’m gonna tell the others later that our presence must be antiseptic, but I’m special and the rules don’t apply to me.”

In non-Erika-is-everywhere news, Wes and I watched The Lost World (a.k.a. Jurassic Park 2) and you know what? I remember that movie being a lot better. And making some sort of sense. Then again, I was a child when I saw it for the first time so that might explain the disconnect.

Seriously, though, unless a twelve year old wrote that script, how did that ever pass muster at a major studio? And for that matter, how did Crichton feel about them turning his awesome female lead character, Sarah Harding, into a self-righteous imbecile?

I mean, one minute she’s feeling up a baby Stegosaurus while she arrogantly assures Malcolm she’s been living around predators since she was twenty, the next minute she’s bringing a baby T-Rex back to their trailer and then acting all shocked when the baby’s parents come looking for it and beat the crap out of all of them. Afterward, she concludes that her actions changed the T-Rex’s perceived territory boundaries. Why didn’t she think of that before absconding with their baby? It’s okay, she had a lot on her mind, what with wearing a jacket stained with baby T-Rex blood through a jungle. It’s hard work making it that easy for vengeful two-story tall predators to find you so they can eat you.

I remember The Lost World being a solid, entertaining read. I even recall liking it better than Jurassic Park. Here’s hoping Jurassic World is able to live up to the legacy of mind-rupturing awesomeness set by its predecessor. I seriously still, to this day, get goosebumps listening to the Jurassic Park theme music. Amazing.

Save us, Chris Pratt. You’re our only hope!

What to Expect When you Weren’t Expecting Anything

You know you’ve been married for a good long while when having sole discretion over what to watch when you’re by yourself is somewhat…overwhelming. This is not to say that Wes is come kind of TV programming tyrant who rules our household with an iron fist. Far from it! It’s just that we usually talk about our options before settling on one, and I’m quite out of practice when it comes to having that conversation with just myself.

Wes was gone on business last night, and as I wrestled my children into bed, I couldn’t help but wonder: What to watch?

what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-blu-ray-cover-89After ruling out anything too violent or scary, I settled on American Hustle. I’ve wanted to see it ever since one of the presenters at the FBI seminar I went to recommended it as being pretty accurate. I poured a glass of wine, got comfy, and then turned the movie off after about forty-five minutes because I just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t for me.

On a lark, I decided to give What to Expect When You’re Expecting a try, because a friend had mentioned it on Facebook, and I was surprised , SURPRISED, by how much I enjoyed it. I’m normally not one to enjoy “chick flicks” but for some reason this one was the right movie in the right place at the right time for me.

So now, in the cold light of day, I have no choice but to wonder…What does it say about me that I’d rather watch a Cameron Diaz movie than a Christian Bale movie? American Hustle was bursting at the seams with quality acting talent and yet…Snoozeville. What to Expect When You’re Expecting, on the other hand, was light and fun and enjoyable to watch. It wasn’t high cinema by a long shot, but it was entertaining and that was primarily what I was looking for.

So again I ask, Have I become some kind of Facebook-addicted, lowbrow Philistine who’d rather be entertained than challenged? And if so, why don’t I feel bad about it?

Heady questions, friends. Heady questions.

Captain America 2’s Writers Give a Darn

captain-america-2-poster-fullWes and I had the pleasure of seeing Captain America 2 last week. I’m happy to say that we, along with 99.8% of the other people who have seen the movie already, really enjoyed it. Excellent pacing, plenty of intrigue, and some breathlessly intense scenes that were tremendously satisfying.

This may sound weird, but I really appreciate how much of a darn the writers of the Marvel movies seem to give about their movies. Given the fan momentum and merchandising revenue they’ve already accrued, they could easily phone in a half-baked, lazy contrivance of a movie and people would still fork over money to see it.

Instead, they’re being really bold with their story lines and taking some risks. The new Captain America movie proves that you can’t take anything for granted in the Marvel universe, which I find refreshing.

It’s funny, the more I write, the more I notice about the structure of story telling. Much like an architect can probably get a good sense of what a building’s blueprint looks like just by looking at the finished product, I can see a story’s bones as I watch it unfurl. I think this skill makes it even more satisfying to watch a good story told well.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, go see the new Captain America movie if you haven’t already. It’s well worth the money. Here’s hoping that when you do go see it, the people behind you decide to leave their six year old kid at home. Seriously, why are there little kids at a violent movie like this???