Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Preacher recap "Monster Swamp" S1E4 6/19/16

Here's a very horror movie-esque start to this episode: an underwear-clad girl runs down a deserted street, and then into the woods, looking terrified back over her shoulder.  She runs and runs, passing another underwearing girl in a field.  Men with guns chase them.  They fire and the second girl falls.  The first girl manages to get past, finally pausing for breath in a clearing.  One of the men finds her.  They know each other: she's one of the whores from the local brothel and he's one of the Quincannon Meat and Power douchebags.  He raises his gun and shoots her - it's a paintball game, as it turns out.  She squeals at the sting and takes a few steps back ... and then falls shrieking into a sinkhole.  Oops.

Flashback:  A young Jesse sets up the church for his preacher father.  Church was considerably better attended in those days.

Here and now:  Cassidy tries to tell Jesse about the two weird dudes/angels who are in town to try to pull the Voice out of the preacher.  In typical Cassidy fashion, his story is nigh unintelligible, not only because of that accent that I struggle with so much.  Jesse doesn't believe him or pay much attention, especially once Cassidy starts going on about androids and government clones.  Jesse has things to do and he tells Cassidy to fix the damn A/C and drives off.  Also, it was on the second watching that I realized that in the flood of words coming out of Cassidy's mouth, he admitted to smoking attic insulation.  Which is just amazing.

Out in that clearing, the sheriff's men pull the dead girl out of the sinkhole.  All the whores are there, crying, and all of the QM&P men are there too.  Odin Quincannon makes a speech, basically telling the boys to watch the roughhousing and the girls to watch where they're walking at night.  And that's it.  Tulip is there too, however, and she's bullshit at the lack of pity or responsibility for the girl's death.

Jesse swings by Emily's house and convinces her that they should do a church raffle with a big flatscreen t.v. to increase attendance.  She thinks that's a bad idea, too expensive, but he insists and talks her into picking up the t.v., playing - possibly unknowingly - on her feelings for him.  He promises her that after this Sunday, people will be coming to church in droves.

Flashback:  Jesse's dad catches him smoking cigarettes with a preteen Tulip.  He beats his son with a belt while the other kids watch.

Cassidy goes to the angels' motel room and skilfully manipulates them into giving him more information about this whole Voice situation, and what they plan to do about it, like cutting it out with the chainsaw or drawing it out with "Wynken Blynken and Nod" lullaby.  I love Cassidy: "Ah, the song.  I think he'd prefer that to the saw, actually."  He promises to bring Jesse to them soon and finagles a wad of cash out of them as payment.  Which he promptly blows on drink, drugs and a girl at the whorehouse.  Back at the motel room, one of the angels brings out a steampunk looking Heaven telephone, saying that it's time to let "them" know what's going on.  But the other angel points out that they are down here on earth without permission and without "them" knowing, so it'd be best not to call in and 'fess up.

At QM&P, Odin Quincannon is interrupted whilst playing Q*bert [Q*BERT!!!!] by Annville's mayor Miles stopping by.  The mayor is not a strong person and is no match for Quincannon.  His recent meeting with the Green Acres group has not gone unnoticed by the Quincannon camp and, once Odin brings it up, Miles starts gushing about Green Acre's green/sustainable/etc. business projects, saying that it could be a very profitable relationship for the town should QM&P agree to work with Green Acres.  Odin not only tells the mayor to piss off, he pulls out his dick and pisses into Miles's briefcase.  Meeting over.

That night, the mayor - who has a huge crush on Emily - babysits her kids while she picks up that t.v.  When she gets home, he convinces her to have a glass of wine with him.  She tells him, you know I'm never gonna be with you, right, Miles?  Then she takes off her pants and tells him that he's to be out before morning: "The kids almost caught you last time."

The whorehouse has a pathetic memorial service for the dead whore and Tulip can barely restrain her anger and frustration.  Before things get too heated, the madam says that in honor of Lacey and "her peaceful ways, next hour's on the house."  Tulip sulks around downstairs (and we learn that she's friends with the madam because Tulip's momma was one of the whores back in the day) and when the fuck music starts cranking upstairs, she can't stand it anymore.  She rages into a room with a golf club, thinking that it's Clive (the QM&P employee who shot Lacey with the paintball gun) flailing away on top of the girl.  She beats him and beats him until he falls out the window onto the porch roof, jag of glass plunged into his throat.  Except it isn't Clive: she went into Cassidy's room.  She and the whore bundle Cassidy into a car and drive him to a hospital, Tulip in the backseat with Cassidy on her lap, bleeding profusely from his neck.  She is freaking out.  He tells her to kiss him and she does and he smiles at her.  At the hospital, she tries to rush him into the ER but when she turns back from badgering the admittance clerk, Cassidy is gone from the waiting room.  She follows the trail of blood and finds him slouched against a refrigerator, sucking on a blood bag.  As she stares at him, Cassidy grins at her, gesturing to the blood bag:  "I think you're right, love,  I'm gonna make it."

Flashback:  Jesse and his dad drive to QM&P in the middle of the night.  As Jesse sits out in the hallway, his dad goes into Odin's office.  You can't make out what they're saying but it sounds like a disagreement.  Jesse's dad storms out and Odin calls after him, "Renounce him, John Custer, renounce him!"  Later, on the drive home, Jesse's dad muses, some people just can't be saved.

In the present day, Jesse stops by QM&P and helps Odin with his Alamo model.  He asks Odin to please come to church on Sunday.  Quincannon isn't inclined to do that so Jesse sweetens the pot: the Custer land is the last large chunk in town that Quincannon doesn't own.  If Odin comes to church and doesn't leave feeling godly after listening to the sermon, Jesse will let him have the land.

On Sunday, the church is in fact pretty full, thanks to the t.v. raffle.  Jesse launches into his sermon, in which he basically tells them they're all sinners and it's their own damn fault ... but he can help with that, one person at a time, he'll bring them back to God.  He walks into the congregation and picks out Odin Quincannon, asking him if he will now serve God.  Odin's like, um, no, not interested, he wins.  So Jesse leans in, asks him again, and then tells him in the Voice to "serve God."  And then when he asks Odin again if he will serve God, Quincannon, looking rather surprised at himself, says, well, yes, of course, I will serve God.  The congregation is pretty impressed at that.

The angels wait in their motel room for Cassidy to deliver the preacher, eating vending machine snacks and reading the Bible.  A phone rings and one of them picks up the motel phone.  It's not that phone that's ringing.  They stare in fear at the Heaven phone as it rings and rings and rings.  Oops.

Previously on Preacher / next time on Preacher

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Preacher recap "The Possibilities" S1E3 6/12/16

HOUSTON:  Tulip meets with Danni, handing over the map ("Property of Grail [sp?] Industries") for which she battled through the cornfield in exchange for someone's last known address.  Danni also lays out a scenario in which Tulip could kill her husband for her but Tulip isn't down with that.  The address gives her a flashback: screaming "Wait!" in an alleyway after a fleeing car, an alarm blaring.  In the now, she tells Danni that was the day when it all went bad for her and Jesse.  And now someone's got to pay.  After Tulip leaves, Danni drives to a warehouse and slips into a snuff film festival (we don't see anything but hear screams and power tools).  She hands the map to a white-suited man in the audience, saying that she told him her girl was good.

ANNVILLE:  Sheriff Root is interviewing those two weird dudes in their motel room.  They say that they're after something horrible that got lose, and they're deep undercover, and he's to leave them alone.  "We'l call if we need anything."  Sheriff Root is shaken by imagining what horrible thing is on the prowl in his town.  After he leaves, they start to arm themselves with all kinds of weaponry.  "No surprises" this time.

Emily stops by the brain-damaged girl's house [Tracy? is that her name?].  Her mother is amazed that Tracy's eyes are open and feels badly that she was so rude to the preacher when he told her something was going to change.  The only thing that has changed is that the girl's eyes are open but still, to her mother, different is better.  In another part of town, Donnie speaks to his son en route to the school bus.  The boy apologizes for going to the preacher.  Donnie says that "grownups are complicated ... I love your mom," deeming explaining pain-sex games too difficult at this point.  His son says that he beat up a kid at school who had been talking about the funny sound Donnie made when Jesse broke his arm.  Donnie's all, good - but when the bus pulls up, all the kids are like "It's the bunny-man!" and start squeaking and squealing at him.

Emily finds Cassidy at the church and instructs him to take the recently delivered coffin (whatsisname who cut his own heart out) to the crematorium.  When the vampire goes to get the keys to the van, he finds Jesse skulking in the kitchen.  Jesse: "I wanna show you somethin'."  What he does is demonstrates his power on Cassidy, making him hop, confess a secret, shadow-box, sing Johnny Cash etc.  They learn that the power is limited to what the person can actually do: when he tells Cassidy to fly, the vampire throws himself at the wall but is, in fact, unable to fly.  Cassidy is thrilled but Jesse is pretty close to thinking he's crazy.  "It might feel like a curse ... but it doesn't have to be.  Someone like you, with something like this.  I mean, come on, padre.  You just imagine the possibilities here."

On her way back to Annville from Houston, Tulip gets pulled over for speeding.  She talks her way out of it.  That's about it.

QUINCANNON MEAT AND POWER.  Odin Quincannon likes to listen to the slaughterhouse over the intercom while he has his lunch.  Yeesh.  Donnie reads him a letter from some company ("Green Acres") who is either horning in on QMP's territory or wants to work together.  Donnie's feathers are ruffled but Quincannon doesn't seem too fashed at this point.  Not really sure what's going on here.

Jesse meets up with Tulip on the road in the boondocks.  He tells her again that he doesn't want to get back into a life of crime and she snaps at him, "This isn't crime, preacher.  This is justice."  Jesse stares at her: "Carlos."  And then he has the flashback she had earlier, only he's just shot a security guard in the head as the alarm blares and Carlos drives off, leaving Tulip screaming after him.  "Rat-bastard, money-stealin', child-killin', life-ruinin' sonofabitch," confirms Tulip here and now, waving the address at Jesse.  "Jesse, come on.  Let's go kill Carlos."  And just like that, he's in.

At the motel, the weird dudes are locked and loaded and ready to roll.  On his way back from the crematorium, Cassidy sees them drive by in their black SUV and is all, they found me again.  After the sun goes down, the dudes advance on foot towards the church.  Their goals:  "First the can [that coffee can], then the preacher."  But they don't get very far before Cassidy roars up in the church van and runs them over.  When he gets out to survey the carnage - and they are ALL messed up - he is amazed to see that they look just like the two guys he buried.  "Clones," he decides.  As he walks off to fetch something to clean up this mess, a light flashes; when he comes out into the church, the two dudes are there.  Again.  Cassidy starts beating on one of them with a croquet mallet he found in the closet, growling, "How do you keep finding me?" until the dude who is not getting beaten interrupts, saying "We're not here for you."  And then they have a bit of a sit-down, saying that the preacher has something of theirs and they need to put it back.

Tulip has to stop to gas up her car.  Jesse tries to tell her about what's happening with him but she's all wired, getting belligerent with another gas station patron, so he blows it off and hits the head instead.  In the bathroom, he gets ambushed by a pistol-toting Donnie: "Who's the bunny in the bear trap now?"  Jesse of course uses the Voice to make Donnie shove the gun in his own mouth but just before he forces the other man to pull the trigger, he sort of gives himself a little shake, realizing that he seems to be enjoying this power a little too much.  He says to himself, "I get it," and tells Donnie that he can go.  And when he rejoins Tulip out at the pumps, he says he's changed his mind.  As he starts walking back to town, he tells her that he's staying [in Annville].  She shrieks, "Well, I ain't leavin' without you!" but he just shrugs and keeps walking.

Back at the church, the two weird dudes tell Cassidy that if they don't collect what's inside the preacher, death and destruction will follow.  He questions why they want that power - military, economics, psychosexual mind control - but they're like no, it's not to be used at all.  They tell Cassidy they're from the government but when he, being a good conspiracy theorist, starts rattling off agencies and acronyms, they break in:  "We're from Heaven."  Cassidy: "I see.  Right."  He tells them that they're going about this the wrong way, hunting down Jesse, but if they just take a step back, he'll talk to his best mate and convince him of their mission.  I can't tell if he's playing them or not.

As the episode ends, Jesse and Emily are the only attendees at the funeral for Whatsisname (who cut out his own heart).  The camera pulls back as the preacher gives the reading and the valve on a standpipe out in a nearby field snaps open with a hiss.  What does that mean?

Previously on Preacher /  next time on Preacher

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Preacher recap "See" S1E2 6/5/16

1881:  Let's just start right out with the "whafuck?" moment.  In the old West, an extremely hard-bitten man goes out to find medicine for his sick little girl.  His wife tells him he's got to be back in no more than three days.  En route, a party traveling in a wagon train invites him for supper.  That night, by the campfire, one of the settlers waxes near poetic about the wonder of the West, asking the hard-bitten stranger if he too thinks it to be Paradise out here.  H-BS: "It ain't."  Cut to H-BS riding his horse past a dead tree festooned with hung bodies, men and women, m:ost (if not all) Native Americans, with their brains exposed through over-zealous scalping.

Well now.  I assume that's going to pay off down the line but I have NO IDEA how this connects with the present day goings-on.

NOW, TEXAS:  Jesse, determined to be a good preacher, baptizes his congregation in the churchyard.  Tulip saunters up and asks him to save her.  She winks at him from underwater and when he pulls her up, thanks him for "getting [her] all wet."  (Meanwhile, those two strangers watch through binoculars, confused as to what's going on.)  After the baptisms, everyone hangs out in the [word for the part of a church where the social activities happen], drinking coffee.  Cassidy makes a play for some money for his handyman services; a couple of parishioners mention the guy who cut his heart out in front of his mother last episode; and Jesse and Emily [the church organist] discuss what other good works they should do to drum up business.  Cassidy also has a completely honest, WTF!?! reaction when Eugene comes out of the restroom; Eugene is all, it's okay, mister, it happens all the time.  Cassidy, as non-comics-familiar audience surrogate, asks Jesse what happened; Jesse says Eugene tried to kill himself with a shotgun.  Cassidy:  "And now he's walkin' around with a face like an arsehole?" Jesse chuckles but asks Cassidy to keep a rein on causing trouble, saying that he likes having him around.  Cassidy is clearly pleased to hear this.

A parishioner (Linus) pulls Jesse aside and confesses to having almost "uncontrollable urges" about a schoolgirl who rides the bus he drives.  Jesse is horrified, "She's a little girl!"  Linus agrees, saying that's why he's confessing, since what he tells the preacher is confidential and he wants to be forgiven.  Later that evening, Jesse has a cigarette on the church steps.  A dog barks incessantly.  When Jesse stands up to go inside, he shouts "QUIET" in The Voice (he still doesn't quite know about The Voice).  It is suddenly silent and Jesse looks around, nonplussed.

The next day, a convoy of Quincannon Meat & Power vehicles drive out into the hinterlands.  The head honcho (Odin Quincannon, played by a nearly unrecognizable Jackie Earle Haley), backed by a whole horde of employees - including Donnie with his broken arm in a sling - face an older Mexican couple.  Quincannon makes a speech; the Mexican couple sign a paper; the employees carry a couple remaining pieces of furniture out of the house; and more employees promptly bulldoze the house as the couple looks on.  Again, I assume this will pay off/come back somewhere down the line, because what the hell?

Out on the town's main street, as he and Emily attempt to solicit suggestions on how to improve church, Jesse sees Linus's schoolbus drive by.  It frets him somewhat.  Also, Tulip drives up and goads him a little bit about helping her with the job she's got.  He brushes her off.  Cassidy is waiting for him on the church steps - in the shade - and comments that it looks like it was a rough day at work.  He holds up a bottle of booze and waves it at Jesse:  "Come on - your dinner's gettin' cold!"  That night, they sit in the pews and get hammered.  Cassidy is all, so you think God's got a plan for you?  Jesse says yes, to work hard, help people and be a good guy.  Cassidy says that God's got a plan for him too:  for him to let Jesse know that that plan is the dumbest, most boring plan God has ever come up with.  They get a little heated, calling each other a hypocrite and a loser.  The "loser" comment stings Cassidy and Jesse apologizes, but says that he doesn't think that boring is the worst thing a person can be.  Cassidy:  "I think you're wrong.  I think boring's the worst."  Cassidy tries to probe into Jesse's past but Jesse pushes back, asking what his story is.  Cassidy, for a wonder, tries the truth:  It's pretty typical really.  I'm a 119 year old vampire from Dublin City and I'm currently on the run from a group of vampire-hunting religious vigilantes ... I'm a right-handed Sagittarius ... I've never seen the Pacific and I think The Big Lebowski is overrated."  Jesse giggles, saying that being a vampire sounds like fun.  Cassidy:  "It can be.  Sometimes."  He takes a swig from a tiny flask and Jesse makes a grab for it, despite Cassidy warning him that it's far too potent for him.  Jesse scoffs, drinks some down and promptly passes out after declaring, "I like The Big Lebowski."  Cassidy, stealing Jesse's wallet and keys:  "No.  No, that's a shite film."

To the tune of an excellent Johnny Cash song, the two weird dudes move out from their motel, dragging a huge trunk with them.  They show up at the church, finding Jesse snoring on the floor.  They pull some equipment out of their big trunk - an old music box, an empty metal can - and perform some bizarre ritual, involving singing Winkum, Blinkum and Nod after placing the can on Jesse's stomach.  Whatever they were hoping for didn't work so on to Plan B:  a chainsaw.

They fire up the saw but before they can dig in, Cassidy has returned.  He's all, leave him alone as I'm the one you're looking for, mistaking them for his religious fanatic vigilantes.  And then begins the MOST AWESOME, hilarious and gory fight scene.  I can't even begin to do it justice for you.  Guns, knives, chainsaws, Bibles, the church pews - everything is a weapon.  One of the mysterious guys gets his arm chainsawed off; with the guy's hand still on the throttle of the chainsaw, the blade drags itself towards the still unconscious Jesse ... there is blood EVERYWHERE.  Cassidy finally prevails, including saving Jesse from the chainsaw.  He rests a moment, slurps up some of the blood pooled on the floor, then saws up the two guys and puts them in their trunk.  Unfortunately, the sun is up by the time he's gotten everything mopped up and he can't go out to bury the remains.  It's easily as gory as anything on The Walking Dead but there's an undertone of humor to it all.

TOADVINE WHOREHOUSE:  Tulip hangs out, playing cards and taking all the Quincannon employees' money while doing it.  I forget she's a local.  The madam asks how her uncle is doing and Tulip says that the next time he's not passed out drunk she'll ask him.  She asks the madam if she can borrow a room later tonight.  "Sure you can, darlin'."

Back at the church, Emily sends Jesse off on a home visit with a casserole, remarking that it smells like something died in there.  The home visit is to a teen-aged girl whose skull was crushed when she fell off her horse.  Jesse tries his best and the girl's mom thanks him for his nice words.  But then she basically tells him that words are worthless - the casserole is worth more because at least she can feed it to her dogs.  Jesse's all, well that wasn't really what I was going for.  And to rub salt into the wound, he sees Linus drive by in his schoolbus when he leaves.

The timing/editing is a little strange here because all of a sudden it's night again.  Jesse sees a carseat in the road and when he pulls over to check it out, someone tasers him, kidnaps him and chains him to a bed.  It's Tulip, of course, and she's got him in the room at the whorehouse to try to talk him into helping her with the job.  Despite his protestations, she believes that Jesse Custer is still and will always be a bad man.  She lets him go.  And later, when he's back at the church, trying to hacksaw the chain off his ankle, Eugene stops by, lamenting that he's afraid that the person he is right now is the person God expects him to be - what if he can't change, what if he's stuck?

After Eugene leaves, Jesse takes this to heart: what if who he is now is who he'll always be?  He decides to embrace this and decides to confront Linus.  Jesse goes to Linus's house, punches him in the face a few times and fills the bathtub with scalding water.  Then, directly paralleling the baptism scene that the episode opened with, he forces Linus's head into the water, repeating "Forget the girl!" over and over until the command comes out in The Voice.  The power of the Voice knocks both of them over and Jesse is stunned to realize that Linus now has completely forgotten this girl he was obsessed with.  "What did you do to my brain?" Linus yelps as Jesse flees.

Once the sun has gone down, Cassidy finishes burying the trunk o' body parts.  And back in town, those two mysterious men are somehow resurrected and being interrogated by the sheriff as to what they're doing in town.  "We're from the government," they reassure him.  Wait ... what?

Early the next morning, the preacher has gotten what could be a very bad idea.  He goes back to the brain-damaged girl's house.  He asks her mother if he can pray with the girl.  She rolls her eyes and says she'll start a pot of coffee.  And Jesse goes into the girl's bedroom and sits next to her.  He leans close and says, in The Voice:  "Open your eyes."  I'm afraid that he may have wanted to be more specific than just saying that - but we're going to have to wait until the next episode to find

OMG you guys.  This show is so batshit crazy.  I don't know what's going on half the time and I really, really wish they would subtitle Cassidy/Joseph Gilgun because I think I catch less than half of his dialogue.  And, frankly, Jesse Custer is the least interesting character at this point ... but I think I really like this show.  More crazy, please!

Previously on Preacher / next time on Preacher

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mini movie review: The Scorch Trials

Although there is no longer any maze in The Scorch Trials, part two of The Maze Runner trilogy, there sure is a lot of running.  This sequel starts up mere moments after the end of the first movie and protagonist Thomas and his dwindling band of maze survivors/escapees basically start running and don't stop until the end: running down corridors of the base they're taken to after being "rescued" at the end of TMR; running across the desert; running through city ruins; running through an abandoned mall; running across the desert ahead of a nasty electrical storm; running through the ruins of a fallen skyscraper ... it's exhausting, if only for the sheer repetition.  Instead of giant mecha-spiders, the kids are running from evil scientists who want to experiment on them, from evil gang members who want to sell them back to the scientists and from fast zombies former humans afflicted by whatever virus has decimated the planet.  As such, the tone of the movie swings wildly from chase-thriller to near horror to dusty post-apocalyptic gun battle in the mountains.

Where The Maze Runner was a decent B movie, The Scorch Trials doesn't quite get there.  What dialogue there is is trite and despite having spent two movie with many of the main characters, we still don't really know anything about them.  Lili Taylor is wasted in a small role, while Giancarlo Esposito at least looks like he's enjoying blowing shit up.

Production on the third movie in the series is on indefinite hold, following a stunt accident that injured star Dylan O'Brien fairly severely: concussion and broken bones in his face but not life-threatening.  I'd like to hope the extra time will allow the production team to up their game a bit for the final installment but I'm not hopeful: well-rounded characters uttering meaningful dialogue is probably not going to happen at this point - so if what you like is running and shouting, you'll likely be in luck.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mini movie review: The Martian

I'll just come right out and say it: while this movie is pretty good, it is not as good as the book.   The Martian, by Andy Weir, was a surprise bestseller, a terrific science fiction book where even NASA said that the science was spot-on.  It is a very funny book too, in addition to all the science and suspense, told in first-person by Mark Watney, stranded on Mars after a mission gets scrubbed.  You can read my mini review of the book for plot summary, if you like, because the movie does stick pretty well to the narrative.

The Martian-movie version is a little too long and just not as funny or as suspenseful as the book.  Although he does a decent job, I'm not convinced Matt Damon was the right choice to play Watney.  It's a tough role, seeing how so much of the story is just Watney, alone on Mars, doing calculations and science-ing the shit out of stuff.  The rest of the cast is good, filled by surprisingly big names who don't get all that much to do.  I'm glad I watched it but if you have a choice, read the book.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Preacher recap "Pilot" S1E1 5/23/16

When I finished watching the pilot for AMC's new series, Preacher, this is about all I could articulate:  "Whafuck?"  And so now I'm going to recap it.  I know absolutely nothing about the comics so what we see on the show is what we get.  Please note: this show is best consumed with a glass of whiskey.

OUTER SPACE - In the cheesiest, most mid-century sci-fi way possible, some throbbing thing shoots through the galaxy, heading for Earth.

AFRICA - The alien(?), invisible, throbbing thing bursts into a corrugated tin shack church, slamming into a charismatic preacher just as he holds forth about the Word of God.  The small congregation cheers and applauds the miracle and the preacher intones in a deep, throbbing voice BE QUIET.  Everyone immediately gets silent. The preacher says that he is the prophet, the chosen one.  And then he explodes, drenching the first few rows with blood and guts and bits.  The congregation flees, shrieking, and the alien, invisible, throbbing thing rushes out of the church, looking for its next infiltration.

FLASHBACK - In black and white, a preacher, on his knees, tells his off-screen son Jesse to promise him [something].  Jesse promises and then there's a gunshot.

TEXAS - Our preacher, the now-grown Jesse Custer, drags his hungover self out of bed and into the church.  He voiceovers his sermon - a page of which he inadvertently dropped; and a portion of which hinges on an episode of Friday Night Lights - as the camera moves through the dried-up town of Annville.  He's a terrible preacher and his organist plays him off the pulpit so everyone can get outside to the picnic portion of the church day.  There are a lot of rednecks, drinkin' beer and shootin' squirrels and eatin' potato salad.  A boy grabs a beer out of the cooler and tracks down Preacher Jesse, who is desperate to get away from a sad sack parishioner who is bending his ear about his troubles with his mother.  When Jesse sends the sad sack away, the boy says that his dad is mean and hurts his momma, and he wants the preacher to hurt him - he's heard that before Jesse became a preacher, he "did things."  Jesse demurs because "violence makes violence makes nothin' much at all."  He does offer to talk to the kid's daddy and the kid blows him off, disgusted:  "Right.  Pray for me, preacher."  Jesse:  "If there was anyone listenin', I would, believe me."

Later that evening, Jesse is sitting in his truck on Main Street, drinking straight out of the bottle when Sheriff Root interrupts him.  He asks Jesse to swing by and see "Eugene," who has been asking for him.  Jesse agrees.  He asks the sheriff to talk to the boy's momma, the one who's being beaten by her husband.  The sheriff is all, I will respond to a formal complaint, which of course they both know isn't coming.  Jesse: "Of course.  Don't want to lose the wife-beatin', squirrel-shootin', redneck vote.  I imagine that's a key demographic for you."  The sheriff sort of brushes him off and tells him to drive careful.

30,000 FEET UP - There is a serious party going on in a private jet, heading for Tijuana.  One of the bartenders is a hilarious, nearly unintelligible Irish bartender who is doling out drinks and drugs as fast as his customers can consume them.  When the bartender excuses himself to the bathroom, he finds a heavily annotated Bible hidden in a cabinet. It means something to him because when he returns to the main cabin, he instigates the most amazing fight.  There are more swords, spears and large knives hidden about the cabin than you might imagine and the other men make use of them, but the Irish bartender handily takes them down, using a golf club, a heavy glass bong, a silver tray and empty wine bottles, one of which he throws into the chest of the pilot who has also entered the fray.  The bartender asks "How'd you wankers find me then?"  When one of the remaining men tells him to go to hell, he shrugs - when will you idjits ever learn? - and then plunges his face into the man's neck.  Because he's a vampire, of course.  Alarms start sounding as the plane starts going down, so he fills an empty booze bottle with some blood, grabs an umbrella from the coatrack and throws himself out of the plane with a grin.  I don't know what the fuck is going on here but it's awesome.

TEXAS - Jay, the sad sack, is plaguing Jesse at the diner the next morning as he eats with his organist (also a waitress at the diner), talking about sick parishioners, next Sunday's church service, her love life.

BACK IN AFRICA - Two weird dudes, dressed head to toe in early 20th century khaki safari gear, drive into the village and check out the church.

TEXAS - Jesse goes to check on a parishioner who has missed work.  The old man is passed out on his couch and when Jesse steps into the house, he sees a pistol on the sideboard and hears the shower running.  "Thanks for the warning, Walter," he snipes at the unconscious man as he quickly skedaddles.  A young woman hears the door and steps out of the shower, watches Jesse drive away.

KANSAS, NOT THAT LONG AGO - A muscle car swerves off the highway and through a cornfield as the driver - a young woman, the one who stepped out of the shower at Walter's house - fights with two much larger men who are also in the car.  She kills one of them quickly (he collapses onto the gas pedal, keeping the car going); she struggles mightily with the other guy, biting his ear off.  The car emerges from the cornfield into a farmhouse's dooryard: the man falls out of the car; the girl kicks him in the crotch and then slams two unshucked ears of corn down his throat.  "Gimme back my map!" she says, pulling it out of his pocket.  From behind her:  "Awesome! So awesome!"  Her audience is a couple of little kids:  the little girl informs her that she's ten, and she's in charge.  The young woman quickly assesses the situation and asks the kids if they like arts and crafts.  She is funny and charming and clever and they help her MacGyver together a bazooka out of cans, moonshine and tin soldiers.  The kids are smitten.  As a helicopter approaches, she puts them in the tornado cellar and tells them not to come out until the noise has stopped, "just like a parade."  The camera stays with the two little kids in the cellar and we watch their stunned faces as we hear the offscreen shots, explosions and screams for mercy.  When it quiets down, they come out.  The young woman apologizes for all the mess ... "but fun, huh?"  The little girl asks her name.  "My friends all call me Tulip," she says, and gives them a wink before driving off.  The little girl's face is transcendent, full of hero worship.  I have to say that I'm fairly smitten by Tulip myself.

SOMEWHERE - The Irish vampire is alive, but just barely, body exploded in a crater by the impact when he landed after bailing out of the plane.  A curious cow comes over and the vampire coaxes it closer.  "Come to Cassidy," he coos before grabbing the poor cow.  I guess you need sustenance after, you know, exploding on impact.

TEXAS - Jesse fulfills his promise to the boy from the church picnic, going to talk with the boy's mother, Betsy.  She admits that her husband (Donnie) hurts her - beats her, whips her, scalds her - but when Jesse asks her to make a complaint to the sheriff, she's all, you don't understand.  "I like it.  When he hurts me, I like it."  She seems to be telling the truth and Jesse is all, WTF?

RUSSIA - The two weird dudes, this time wearing huge fur hats, drive up to a Satanist church as a frantic man screams [Russian subtitles] about how the priest just exploded, getting brains and blood all over everything.

TEXAS - Jesse and Tulip meet up.  They've got a lot of history and Tulip tries to convince him to help her with some job, the one with the map she had to kill those guys and the helicopter for.  He rebuffs her, saying that he doesn't do that anymore.  She can't believe that he's back here, in this town, playing straight: "We are who we are ... why waste another minute pretending we're different."  After he leaves her, he goes to the sheriff's house to see Eugene.  The sheriff hands him a disgusting puree of red meat, hot sauce and veggies - "It's his dinner" - and sends Jesse upstairs.  Horror movie music plays as the preacher climbs the stairs ... then the bedroom door is flung open by this young man.  Eugene is a sweet, enthusiastic, open boy - whose face is weirdly, disgusting disfigured [I believe in the comics his nickname is "Arseface," so picture that].  Eugene wants to come back to church because he thinks God has abandoned him because of "what [he] did."  Jesse agrees that what he did was wrong [Are we to assume that whatever Eugene did caused his face to be like that?] but that church is for everyone and God forgives him.  Jesse is very kind to him: "No matter what you done, if you need Him, He has to be there for you ... God doesn't hold grudges."  Eugene thanks him and pulls him into a big hug.

T.V. news onscreen in a bar in town:  Tom Cruise has just spontaneously exploded at a Church of Scientology meeting.  How fucking awesome is that - genius.  As Jesse sits nursing a beer, Cassidy struts in, asking for a bottle of whiskey.  He drinks half of it and then scoots over to talk with the preacher.  Neither Jesse nor I can understand more than one word in three he says.  After Cassidy excuses himself to find a phone (he calls a buddy, asking for money and asking how "they" keep finding him), a bunch of Revolutionary Civil War reenacters walk into the bar.  Donnie is one of them and he wastes no time punching Jesse around for talking to Betsy.  It isn't until Donnie says he's going to have to beat his son for snitching that Jesse takes a stand.  He was willing to take a few punches but only a few.  And then a most excellent bar fight as Donnie and at least four of his buddies try to beat the living shit out of the preacher.  But Jesse can more than hold his own - a slight smile on his face throughout the whole fight - and he puts each of them down, with a very slight assist from Cassidy.  The sheriff arrives to put a stop to things but Jesse is all, "Almost done, Sheriff."  And then he snaps Donnie's big, meaty forearm over his knee and Donnie squeals at the bone poking through his skin.

Later, in the cell, Cassidy is all, WTF kind of preacher are you?  "The bad kind," admits Jesse.  With some coaxing, Jesse says that he came back to keep a promise.  The church organist bails Jesse out and drives him home.  He tells her that he's quitting and he'll tell the parishioners at Sunday's service.  "I am who I am, I guess."  She is bitterly disappointed:  "You were never really here in the first place, Jesse, so what difference will your leaving make?"  After she drives away, Jesse notices lights blinking up at the church.  He goes inside but the power is off and everything is still.  He sits in one of the pews and gives God an ultimatum:  speak to me now or never.  When he gets no response, he shrugs, lights a cigarette and stands up.  Just then, the alien, invisible, throbbing entity enters the church, pushing the wooden pews aside as it moves up the nave.  Jesse stares, dumbfounded, as the entity/force/??? moves closer and closer.  And then it slams into him with a rush, throwing him back up into the altar.

FLASHBACK - Jesse's dad, on his knees, tells him that he needs to be one of the good guys because there's too many of the bad ones.  As off-screen young Jesse sobs, someone shoots his dad in the head.

TEXAS - After being unconscious with a fever for three days, Jesse wakes up on Sunday.  (Please note that he hasn't exploded.)  Cassidy had found him passed out in the church; the Irishman subsequently moved into the church attic and fixed the A/C.  Jesse hurries to get ready for the service and as he walks up to the church, the sad sack catches him again, still complaining about how his mother treats him.  Jesse turns to him and says - in an intense, throbbing voice - "Be brave, tell her the truth, open your heart."  The sad sack stares at him, repeating the words.  Jesse: "Did you hear that?" as car alarms go off in the distance.  But the sad sack is already walking away, repeating Jesse's words like a mantra.

At church, where Tulip and Cassidy have slunk in the back, Donnie is with his family, arm in a sling, and Eugene is sitting next to his dad, Jesse tells the congregation that there's no sermon today, plus he'll try not to punch anyone either.  Then he says that he's let everyone down, that he's been a bad preacher, and that as of right now, he's gonna fight for them, pray for the sinner, avenge the innocent, cool the wrathful, welcome those who are lost and speak forth the Word of God.

Speaking of the Word of God, the sad sack has taken a plane to Florida and then driven to his mother's retirement home, continuously repeating Jesse's words.  He pauses at the snacks table and then finds his mother.  Calmly, he asks his mother to stop criticizing him constantly and although he has been a disappointment to her, he is her only son and it would mean so much to him if she would treat him with respect.  And now, he goes on, unbuttoning his shirt and picking up a huge knife, "I have to open my heart to you."  And he plunges the knife into his chest and rips the still-beating heart out of his chest.

Cut to Jesse:  "For all this I am responsible.  I am that preacher.  This is my answer.  This is why I've come home: to save you."

Cut to: those two weird dudes.  One of them eats a teabag (???!!?) while the other walks up and reports, "It's here."  Now they're wearing big cowboy hats and cowboy boots and they're standing just down the road from Jesse's church.

I mean, seriously, this is the most bugfuck show I have watched in a long time and I watch a lot of weird stuff.  So far, I love it.

Next time on Preacher

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mini movie reviews: Trainwreck and Sleeping with Other People

I'm not generally one for romantic/sex comedies/dramedies so it is a little surprising to me that I ended up watching not one but two this weekend:  Amy Schumer's Trainwreck and Alison Brie/Jason Sudeikis's Sleeping with Other People.  In the interest of full disclosure: I watched the whole of Trainwreck but my faulty Netflix DVD of SwOP crapped out on me with about twenty minutes to go - on the plus side, I can't spoil the ending for anyone!

I thought Trainwreck was a hoot.  Amy Schumer plays a hard-drinking NYC working girl who took her philandering father's life lessons to heart and cannot commit to a monogamous relationship.  Even when her would-be steady guy is played by John Cena (DAAAAAAMN).  She parties hard and picks up dudes as she likes and - other than the sheer numbers of partners - has a very healthy sex life.  She knows what she wants and what she wants, in part, is for the guy to not sleep over.  Amy works for a Cosmo-like magazine and is assigned to do an article on this young orthopaedic surgeon to the pro sports stars, played by Bill Hader.  Since this is a rom-com, these two mismatched people fall for each other, break up and ultimately get back together.  But as written by Schumer, whose Inside Amy Schumer I like a lot, with the gender roles upended, the traditional formula doesn't seem so traditional.  With strong supporting players - Brie Larson as Amy's long-suffering, more stable little sister, Colin Quinn as their aging, ailing dad and scene-stealer Lebron James - Trainwreck is both funny, sweet and fun.

I went into Sleeping with Other People with some confusion: I thought it was going to be a slightly darker take on a rom-com.  And I guess that technically it is but it is much less light-hearted and comic than I presumed.  Alison Brie's Lainie and Jason Sudeikis's Jake first meet in college, where they lose their virginities to each other.  A decade+ later, they reconnect in NYC, each with their own sexual issues:  Jake cannot commit, with a never-ending parade of women traipsing in and out of his bed; Lainie is hung up on this total dweeb of a guy (a nearly-unrecognizable Adam Scott) who is about to marry someone who isn't her.  Jake and Lainie become best friends, speaking honestly to each other, supporting each other and basically becoming a couple - except that they don't have sex with each other.  (I assume they end up with each other in the end? Anyone?)  Brie and Sudeikis have fantastic chemistry and there are very funny moments, but overall I found the tone of SwOP to be a little sad.  Other reviewers thought it was pretty terrific - you should decide for yourself.

  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mini movie review: Captain America: Civil War

#teamcap

That was fun and way better than Avengers: Ultron.  Although there is a lot going on in CA:CW, it didn't seem over-stuffed and it finally felt like you got to spend some time with the characters.  Yes, some didn't get much screentime (Clint, Vision, Scott Lang) but we definitely got to know some of the others (Scarlet Witch) better.  The newest Spiderman got just enough time to be completely engaging - and to act like the enthusiastic teenager I believe Peter Parker is supposed to be - and T'Challa ... Man, I was ambivalent about the Black Panther movie before but now I'm excited for it.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Still alive

But clearly I am going to have to move True Blood S7 up in my Netflix queue because I just don't seem to be watching or reading anything here these days.  I'm thinking about recapping Preacher when it comes on but I don't know anything about the source material so I don't have any idea how I'll like it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mini movie review: The Maze Runner

Here's another post-apocalyptic dystopian YA novel-turned-movie for you, along the lines of The Hunger Games except there's no love triangle (no love interest at all - amazing!) and no one emerging with Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss charisma.  I don't know how much of that is due to the source material, however: THG books are so strong; I don't know anything about The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. Still, TMR is a decent little movie, even if it fizzles out towards the end.

Thomas (our hero) wakes up, retching and amnesiac, in a subterranean elevator as it rocks to the earth's surface.  Once above ground, he is met by a group of boys/young men who are trapped in a wooded glade surrounded by a shifting, murderous stone maze.  The boys have set up a nice little society in the three years they have been there: building living quarters, assigning jobs; following rules.  Thomas (who remembers his name but nothing else in a day or so) immediately starts questions things: who keeps sending boys to the surface once a month in that elevator?  Who were the boys before?  Where are they?  Who made the maze? And most importantly, how the hell do they get out of here?  Thomas earns a job as one of the titular maze runners: fast, brave and clever boys who go out into the Maze every day, memorizing its layout.  Within no time at all, Thomas has upset the status quo by surviving a night in the Maze, killing one of the giant, robotic/flesh spider monsters called greavers, and figuring out how to escape.  As expected, his actions shake up the fragile glade society.  But Thomas has sparked something in many of the other boys and they make a break for it.

None of the characters are all that deeply developed and the dialogue isn't anything to write home about.  But The Maze Runner is a passable entry into the genre, particularly since it isn't dragged down with the romance typically inserted in other YA science fiction.   The plot moves steadily forward; the named characters are distinguishable and relatable; the action, while depending overmuch on CGI (see above re: giant robot spider monsters), is decent, if a little confusing and dim sometimes.  My biggest issue is with the very ending where after keeping my attention for the run-time, the movie has no sort of resolution for its characters, instead going out on a "this story will be continued in the SEQUEL so no point in resolving anything NOW" note.  The Maze Runner did pique my interest enough to add the SEQUEL to my Netflix queue tho, so well-played, movie.