24: The Clock Stops Here

Monday, May 24th 2010 at 8PM EST Fox will air the two-hour series finale of the most groundbreaking network television show of the past decade.  The ticking clock, which at times seemed eternal, will stop once and for all on Jack Bauer and 24.  It’s time to look back and share your favorite 24 memories as The Schleicher Spin bids a bittersweet and fond farewell to an old favorite.

Take yourself back, if you will, to the fall of 2001.  Fox had a daring idea to create an action-thriller that took place in real-time over the course of an entire day where each one hour episode would be one hour in the crisis-filled life of counter-terrorism guru Jack Bauer.  The premier was delayed, however, when the ultimate act of terrorism occurred in real life on 9/11.  Wanting to remain sympathetic to a mourning populace still in a state of shock, Fox chose not to air the first episode until November.  And thus the most groundbreaking network television show since Twin Peaks debuted quietly under subdued hoopla with a sequence featuring an uber-hot terrorist (played by Mia Kirshner, whose character would become the greatest reoccurring villain on the series) casually leaping from an airplane in mid-flight and setting off a bomb that would kill everyone onboard.  It was a sobering moment of fiction that eerily mirrored an even more imaginative and horrific act of mass murder still too fresh on people’s minds.  And it was this moment that set off a spiraling series of events that would shape the television landscape and American pop-culture psyche for the next decade. 

24 plowed on from there with feverish intensity…and it caught on eventually with all its split-screen formatting, cell-phone dialing, satellite re-tasking, bomb defusing, and cliffhanging fun.  Jack Bauer would live another day…and another…and another…as the series went on ad-infinitum for what has seemed like an eternity.  Continue reading

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Ridley and Russell Sitting in a Tree

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first.  Russell Crowe is in his mid-forties and playing the “younger” Robin Hood — you know, as is the trend these days to show us how the men became the legends.  He’s utterly mis-cast in the role.  Being such a chameleon of an actor in his younger days has taken its toll on Mr. Crowe, and he hasn’t aged well.  He’s reached that point in his career where he now only plays Russell Crowe — you know, that bullish, overweight, talented dude full of piss and vinegar on and off the screen.  Thankfully, his old pal Ridley Scott still loves him, and you have to give the director some props for not giving a damn about the age thing (hell, Sir Ridley is in his seventies himself) and casting ol’ Russell in the title role of his revamp of Robin Hood.  He then had the good sense to cast (shouldn’t she be Dame by now?) Cate Blanchett as a feisty Lady Marion, and for fans of old school Hollywood epics, it’s a real treat to see two accomplished Oscar winners create palpable chemistry and act against each other within the comfortable context of well-worn characters.

Ridley Scott has traversed many genres, but he — more than any director out there — knows his way around historical epics.  Let’s not forget it was his first marriage to Russell Crowe in Gladiator that brought the two their biggest hit — and deservedly so.  His Robin Hood (though I already can imagine a bloated director’s cut coming to Blu-Ray) is surprisingly quick-footed.  Continue reading

Sideways in Bucks County

This past Saturday (amidst all the crisp sunlight and gusting winds) was spent on a self-guided wine tour of Bucks County.  It was our little Pennsylvania version of Sideways as we hit many of the spots along the Bucks County Wine Trail, but unlike Paul Giamatti’s character, we did drink some Merlot. 

We visited five wineries in Bucks County (sorry, no pictures for this day-trip…too busy drinking)…and I’m confident in selecting Crossing Vineyards and Winery on Wrighstown Road in Washington’s Crossing as the best of  the Bucks County bunch.  

It was the first on our stop and features beautifully appointed grounds and interiors, warm and friendly service, a fantastic “tasting” set-up amongst the wooden barrels and giant steel drums, and most importantly…the best wine we tasted that day.  The Crossing Vineyards prides itself on presenting the best possibilities of Pennsylvania wine and has won numerous awards.  Their White Viognier and their Specialty Le Nouveau were the highlights for me, and I happily left with a bottle of each to take home. 

Other great wineries along the trail in Bucks: Continue reading

Favorite Films about Yo Momma

Let’s face it, it’s still a man’s world, especially in Hollywood.  Sure, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female director to take home that little gold statue this year, but it was for directing a war film about men.  I had a sudden notion, in honor of Mother’s Day, to invite everyone to share their lists of their favorite films about mothers.  There’s no shortage of father-and-son films — hell, you could make an argument 90% of all films made are in some way thematically tied to the bond or lack thereof between fathers and sons either symbolically or literally — but I’ve been wracking my brain to name even just ten films about mothers or Mother and Child— hey, there’s a plug for that new Naomi Watts/Annette Bening film that just opened in limited release this weekend to good reviews.

Sam Jackson asks Naomi, "Hey, girl, when you gonna lemme take you for a spin down m***** f****** Mulholland Drive?"

So what did I think of?

  • The film that sunk Faye Dunaway’s career and made her a camp queen, Mommie Dearest
  • Albert Brooks’ sardonic Mother Continue reading

Spotlight on the Independent Arts: Uptown

***This is the third post in a new feature I plan to showcase here at The Schleicher Spin called Spotlight on the Independent Arts.  

The goal is to give exposure to, encourage collaboration with, and provide honest critiques for independent artists.  I hope to feature filmmakers, writers, photographers, painters and musicians.  As an independent author, I feel it’s important to support and celebrate those working independently to forge their careers in the arts.   

If you are an independent artist interested in having your film, book, music or art considered by The Schleicher Spin for a Spotlight feature, please submit a comment. 

The third entry will focus on the true indie flick, Uptown

Chris Riqhuina and Meissa Hampton star in UPTOWN.

Independent Film:  Uptown

The Lowdown:  An aspiring filmmaker (Chris Riquinha) goes on a date with a young woman (Meissa Hampton) he hopes to cast in his new film only to find out that she is married, a startling fact he doesn’t let get in the way of making an emotional connection. Continue reading