Rapture

July 1, 2014

Simply TV: The Leftovers

AGAIN

The Leftovers – Again

Whenever there is a new show premiering on HBO it always seems to be an event. One, their marketing team could make a show about a misplaced sponge seem interesting and the fact that TV has pretty much overtaken film as the medium of choice for A-list actors, writers, and directors says a lot. Two, HBO gives no f*cks when it comes to outlandish ideas and taking risks that no other network does, outside of FX perhaps. Three, and most importantly, HBO has two series’ ending this year, “True Blood” is mercifully coming to an end after six seasons, and surprisingly, “Boardwalk Empire” is ending after only five seasons, the latest being one of the strongest seasons to date. Bottom line, HBO needs some new programming that is going to stick outside of “Thrones” and they just might have it with “The Leftovers,” again another series that is a huge risk, but can pay huge dividends.

What we know about “Leftovers” after the first episode is that on October 14th, 2% of the Earth’s population suddenly disappeared. The series seems like it will take place primarily in Mapleton, USA, and follow the town’s police chief, played by Justin Theroux, and features antagonists like the “GRE” a chain-smoking cult which doesn’t speak, and Wayne, a mysterious man who people come from all over country to seeks his guidance. There are also wild dogs, a cool phone app on the iPhone, and high schoolers using the “c-word.”

Created by Damon Lindelof, of “Lost” and “Prometheus” fame, or infamy, depending on how you look at it, and Tom Perrotta, who wrote the novel in which the show is based, leave a lot of questions on the table in the series pilot, but any good show will do that. If you are looking for immediate closure on plot lines that are just opened after one episode, than this show isn’t the one for you. Plenty of interesting characters are introduced, and just as it was done in “Lost” we catch brief glimpses of flashbacks when characters are introduced. There is also a certain “Twin Peaks” creepiness to the town of Mapleton. Even with it’s idyllic nature, there seems to be a dark underbelly that is being hidden by the officials in charge.

While some people give Lindelof a bad rap, I’ve never had a real issue with him. Yes, I think he can bite off a bit more than he chew as seen with “Prometheus” and “Cowboys and Aliens” but that isn’t to say that the guys doesn’t have a vision. As frustrating as “Lost” might have been for millions, that didn’t stop those millions from seeing the entire show through. With Perrotta as a co-writer on the show, and helping Lindelof with the showrunning duties, I believe that “Leftovers” can be an interesting watch, as long as you’re willing to commit yourself to the show.

Bottom line, I think there is a lot to like about “Leftovers.” I enjoyed the performances for the most part, sure, there is some overacting, namely by Theroux, and Liv Tyler isn’t exactly showcasing her “range,” but I think Amy Brennaman is going to be one to watch along with Christopher Eccelston, who I think is criminally underrated and I’m surprised he hasn’t found more work in Hollywood. As long as HBO is willing to see this series through (I see maybe 2-3 seasons tops to finish the narrative that Lindelof might have in mind) I believe both “Leftovers” and a little show called “True Detective” will be able to carry HBO through some thin times that I see in 2015.

Fun Fact: A study in 2012 reported that Americans throw away nearly $165 Billion in leftovers, annually.

February 10, 2014

Matt Simply Loves Anna Kendrick: Rapture-Palooza

EXERCISE

Rapture-Palooza –Exercise

They say in love that you have to love someone completely.  It’s one of those rules that greeting card companies made up so many years ago.  Despite my surly demeanor most of the time, I sincerely subscribe to this notion.  I believe that you need to know a person inside and out to really love them.  However, it’s sad when that person you feel so much affection for stars in films that just seem below them and you can tell they are sleeping-walking throughout.  Anna, darling, why “Rapture-Palooza?”  It’s truly an exercise in “meh-filmmaking.”  It’s like when you see someone like Morgan Freeman in “Edison Force” or Tommy Lee Jones in “Man of the House.”  You shake your head, not because you’re upset, but because you’re disappointed.  My dear Anna, my Academy Award nominated Anna, 2013 should have been a great year for you, but instead we get “Rapture-Palooza.”

I know I sound disappointed, but I’m trying to hold it together.  “Rapture” is the story of Lindsey (Kendrick) and her boyfriend Ben (John Francis Daley) who are living in post-Rapture Seattle with a dream of running a successful sandwich cart.  After their cart is demolished by giant Apocalypse meteorites the couple have no choice but to put their plans on hold and try and work for The Beast/Anti-Christ (Craig Robinson).  After seeing Lindsey, The Beast decides that she will be the one to bear his next child.  With time running out, and their families lives on the line, Ben and Lindsey have to come up with a plan to stop The Beast.

The unfortunate part about “Rapture” is that it was overshadowed by another End of the World comedy in 2013, “This is the End,” also starring Craig Robinson.  However, the bigger problem with “Rapture” is the dragging nature of the film.  Daley doesn’t come off as someone who can carry a comedy, and is much better suited in ensembles like “…Waiting” and “Freaks and Geeks.”  Kendrick, while charming, is merely a vessel for the film to have some sort of fan appeal, and she doesn’t really have much to do in the film besides react to Robinson’s outrageous version of the Anti-Christ.

The star of “Rapture,” however, is Robinson.  Whenever he opens his mouth it’s pure solid gold, if said gold was covered in sex and cum-drenched jokes.  What makes his performance work is a combination of two things.  One, since Robinson is so likeable he can get away with saying some of the most offensive things you can say to a young, virginal, girl and you don’t feel bad laughing.  Two, Kendrick’s reactionary performance gives Robinson room to take his dialogue to the lowest of lows, and its hilarious throughout.

Outside of Kendrick and Robinson, the rest of cast is rather dull.  Rob Corddry plays a typical Rob Corddry character; he’s rude, vulgar, and at some point will yell something crazy about drugs.  Ana Gasteyer doesn’t bring much to the proceedings either.  The one surprise is Thomas Lennon as the undead neighbor of Lindsey who is obsessed with mowing his lawn.  It reminds me of one of Lennon’s many characters from his days as a member of “The State.”

At the end of the day, or world for that matter, “Rapture” is an exercise in love and patience, for me at least.  The film is rather ordinary and suffers from long droughts of exposition and not very thoughtful or funny dialogue. Only clocking in at 85 minutes, the film isn’t that long, but seems better  suited as a short film you might find at a student-run film festival. Without the performances of Kendrick and Robinson, “Rapture” would have been entirely forgettable.

Fun Fact:  The term “rapture” is never mentioned in the New Testament, but rather the term “caught up” in 1st Thessalonians 4:17.
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