A Perfect Getaway lies to its audience

The following paragraph closes out Chapter 1, Part 1 of ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie:

“Constance Culmington, he reflected to himself, was exactly the sort of woman who would buy an island and surround herself with mystery. Nodding his head in gentle approval of his logic, Mr. Justice Wargrave allowed his head to nod… He slept…”

Christie was an accomplished mystery writer, and she understood both the importance of leaving clues in the text for the audience to find, and how difficult it was to fool an astute reader. In single point-of-view novels, traditionally told from the POV of the detective this can be relatively simple to accomplish – since the reader doesn’t get access to any of the suspects’ thoughts, anything they say can later turn out to be a lie. It’s more of a challenge when dealing with a multiple POV narrative, when we’re let into the minds of each character, including the killer’s. How do you let the reader know what the killer is thinking without giving away their identity? Hack writers, like Tom Savage, lie, having their characters say, think, and do things they they never would simply to make them more or less suspicious, depending on the need of the story.


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Joseph-Gordon-Levitt Edition

JGL proved a competent host last night, comfortable live on stage, using excellent comic timing to avoid drowning amidst a sea of mediocrity. Yes, even with a competent host the writers of SNL couldn't manage to offer a decent program, making me wonder if this might well be the worst season in the history of the program.

But we're not here to chronicle SNL's slow descent into oblivion, that's what the rest of the internet is for. We're here to examine their insultingly cavalier treatment of objectionable subject matter, which is less exhaustively mapped out.

So, with no further ado, welcome to the RapeWatch!


Criminal Minds Episode 120: Charm and Harm

There’s two things this killer loves: Murder and steak! First he eats steak, then he kills the woman he’s got tied up in a chair across from him! That’s quite a theme, huh? Yeah, maybe not. Let’s see where they go with this.

Where they go is to the office, where the team teases Elle about their theory that she’s got a new boyfriend. They head to the office and find out about Steakman’s crimes! That’s right, he’s already been identified as a serial killer who loves to kidnap women and drown them in hotel bathtubs – and the police need the team’s help to find him!

I’m not sure why they don’t need the media’s help more, but I guess we’ll see after the credits.


Deadwood Hills Abuses the Flashback

This film has one of the strangest structures I've ever seen. The film opens in 1979, as mysterious figures are burying a chest in a basement, but not before laying a cross on top of it. So obviously there's a vampire inside. That goes without saying.

Then the film jumps forward to the present day, where a man is returning to a small town to find out who killed his identical twin brother when they were children. I'm not going to detail his quest here, because it's so plodding and dull that I doubt I could stay awake while writing it. I could barely stay awake watching it. Suffice to say that the film is maybe 50% longer than it needs to be.


Can we get even a stab at continuity? Please?

So I'd rented the movie 'Year One'. Because yes, I'm an idiot. A morbidly curious idiot. Anyhoo, I rented the movie, and saw one of the most egregiously bad examples of poor continuity editing that I've ever encountered.

Remember that scene - and if you haven't seen the film, I'm asking 'remember the trailer' - where Michael Cera, dressed as a guard, announces that he was never given a sword, and didn't know that's what the scabbards were even for?

Here's a screenshot from seconds before that line happens:

Can we get a close-up of that, Alex?

You know it, voice I pretend is there so I can give off an air of sexy, sexy, schizophrenia!

That's Michael Cera. There's his scabbard, and the sword that's in it.

How do you miss something this obvious? There's a joke about this like ten seconds later! Just how incompetent was every single element of this damn movie?

God damn it, I hated Year One.


Criminal Minds 119: Machismo

In Mexico, they celebrate something called ‘the day of the dead’. I’d get into the social importance and history of it, but it’s not key to the episode except inasmuch as it’s a thematically interesting time for a serial killer to show up and murder someone.

Which is exactly what happens. There’s some family drama when a disapproved-of son comes home drunk for the holidays, and is then thrown out. A little later, his mother is murdered. Could he be the killer? Of course not. There’d be no show if he was. The killer is someone she feels comfortable enough to invite into her home, though, even going so far as to have the mother admit she needs more help around the house! But who would she ask for help?

That question answered, and more, after the opening credits!


The CSI Trilogy: Las Vegas

This episode opens in a security office, as cameras show a woman frantically trying to escape from someone. You’d think that she was safe once she reached the elevator, but no, after a group of drunks get on with her and press all the buttons, she flees to the stairs rather than waiting around. I don’t know, unless there’s a bomb about to go off, it seems like that’s a pretty safe place to be.

The fleeing girl heads for the lobby and then runs out the front door, putting on her shoes and then being attacked by a woman who stays just out of frame so as to prevent us from being able to identify anything but her long dark wavy hair.

Also she seems to be wearing a dress and carrying a purse. But it’s not on the camera, so the cops don’t know anything yet. The hooker is dead on the ground with her throat slashed, but the CSIs can’t start investigating because they don’t know where Larry Fishburne is. I thought there was a rest of the team, but whatever.


The CSI Trilogy: New York

Okay, admission time – I’ve never watched CSINY. I caught the crossover episode of Miami, and I think I saw one episode where they had to find a rat that had eaten evidence out of a corpse or something like that, but other than that, I’ve got no idea. So you’ll have to bear with me, since I don’t know any of the characters’ names or have any idea about their relationships, this might be a little rough as reviews go.

So let’s start!

A trucker, played by the man who killed Brandon Lee, is driving somewhere with a person locked in his cab. What this has to do with the punk and the missing girl from Miami, I’ve got no idea. But presumably it’ll be explained soon. At the same time a jealous dick is driving over to his ex-wife’s house, and causes an accident because he’s too busy drunkenly arguing to notice that a truck had swerved through the concrete divider onto his side of the bridge. The trucker was distracted by his victim escaping from a poorly-padlocked cupboard, FYI.

So he’s good at killing Brandon Lee, but bad at taking hostages. Good to know.


The CSI Trilogy: Miami

The show opens with a woman trying desperately to escape from… something? It’s not clear just what, but it’s bad enough that she’s driving on four flat tires. Her mother turns up at the police station, looking for help, and finds Horatio, the person in which the concept of ‘help’ lives. They quickly find the abandoned bar, but no sign of the girl. Looks like a mystery’s afoot, right after the credits!

Oh, and in a weird note – the car is found by an army guy.

For no clear reason. Weird, right?


Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: January Jones Edition

It was a depressing return to form tonight for SNL. Not the show was particularly rape-y or anything, but rather that it was just sickeningly mediocre.

Much of the failure was due to the utter unpreparedness of host January Jones to perform on live television. She giggled and stammered her way through the sketches, her demeanor vacillating between uncomfortable and deer-in-headlights. It was only during a pre-tape that she showed any capability at all, and even then she was just playing Betty Draper.

Usually the show’s writers have some facility for aiding inept hosts, keeping them out of most sketches, sidelining them in the ones that feature them – the George Foreman special. Apparently everyone on the show this week assumed that Jones was going to be able to handle herself and wrote her a series of big parts. This proved a critical flaw.

But we’re not here for a sketch-by-sketch review, are we? No, we’re here to chart the show’s ongoing trivialization of a horrific sexual crime!

So let’s get started!


Criminal Minds 118: Somebody’s Watching

The Criminal Minds team is headed to LA! Which is actually pretty easy, since the show is filmed there! Mandy and Elliot are at a gallery showing, which is owned by a high school friend of Elliot’s! They quickly meet the episode’s guest star, a TV star! And then it turns out that Elliot’s name is actually Reed, and I’ve been getting it wrong for a few episodes now. Huh. How about that. Then it’s time to establish the episode’s theme (stalking), when a papparazzo shows up and snaps some pictures of the starlet.

Reed and the starlet flirt for a while (he’s socially inept at it, of course), while Mandy spends time with one of the starlet’s artist friends. They explain that they’re in town to give the LAPD a class on serial killing. In an amazing coincidence, on the very day they’re giving this seminar a masked killer with a really, really small gun turns up at the house of an actress, then proceeds to kill both her and her boyfriend.

It may seem like I’m making too big a deal about the gun, but believe me, it’ll be important later.


The Makers of Alien Raiders would like you to know...

That they’ve seen “John Carpenter’s The Thing”

Seriously, that’s the only piece of information that they would like you to have. Based on the film I just watched, it may be the only piece of information that they actually possess. How do I know this?

Let me remind you of something – You know that scene from The Thing where Kurt Russell ties everyone up in the rec room so he can prove, through his blood test, who’s an alien and who isn’t?

Cool scene, right? Yeah, I know.

So why am I reminding you of that scene? To save you the 90 minutes it would take to watch Alien Raiders. Because the film only exists to remind you of how great that scene was.


The Ultimate Method of Dealing With Vampires

Kiss of the Vampire, or "Immortally Yours", depending on which title you prefer, is a recent direct-to-video film that acts as sort of a bizarro-world version of Twilight. Instead of the story of a human woman who falls obsessively in love with a vampire, leading to her wanting to become a vampire, and then nothing happens, it's the story of a vampire who falls obsessively in love with a human woman, leading to him wanting to become human, and then far too much happens.


Last Week's CSI Miami

You may notice that CSI: Miami skipped the end of October, robbing us all of the joy of discovering what Horatio Caine would dress as for Halloween. It’s not a cheat, though. Apparently they just don’t have Halloween in Miami. Who knew?

Someone’s in a costume, anyway, as a bride freaks out because her husband and his groomsmen have yet to appear for the wedding ceremony. Obviously she doesn’t know that she’s on CSI: Miami, or else she’d understand that weddings tend not to go well there. Although at least for once it looks like the bride isn’t going to get shot on her wedding day.

Hey, the father of the bride is that guy from Murder One! Neat!

As anyone who’s ever seen a television show can predict, the wedding turns out to be nothing but hitches, as some groomsmen are lying, unconscious, in a fountain, surrounded by human blood! And they’ve got no idea where the Groom is, but that’s probably his blood!

Oh, look! Someone in the CSI: Miami writer’s room saw The Hangover during the break!


Credit Ads Finally Get It Together

Wow, is that a load of my mind. I’m not sure why it took so long, but here’s a credit ad that conveys a clear message. Green=good, red=bad. Hell, they even listened to me and did away with that confusing blue strip that was ‘worse’ than green.

Well, credit agency people, you’ve finally gotten there. You may still be employed by one of the most corrupt and pointless parts of a disgusting, rotting-from-the-inside industry, but at least you’ve reached the point where you’re as good at crafting banner ads as a jerk with no design or computer training of any kind.



Saturday Night Live RapeWatch: Taylor Swift Edition

Oh, god damn it, SNL. Here we are, just one episode from me calling the whole thing off, and you go an resurrect the sketch that led me to start the thing in the first place!

Do you even want to turn into a less abhorrent mess?

So, time for the count- In addition to the horrible 'scared straight' sketch, where Kenan Thompson (and Taylor Swift in drag) recount the plots of films and then uses those plots as the basis for clever turns of phrase by which they threaten petty criminals with brutal gay rape, there was an offhand joke in the news segment about an adorable puppy being raped by another adorable puppy.

It was small enough a reference that I was going to let it slide had the rest of the show been clean, but that scared straight sketch just sickened me. So now I'm back chronicling just how low SNL can sink.

On the upside, it was a light wee for Homophobia, with just threatened gay rape in the Scared Straight sketch counting. Smuggy Smuggerson even managed to make a joke about the election's anti gay marriage referendum without taking a shot at gay people. Good for him.

Final joke tally:

Rape - 2
Homophobia - 1


Criminal Minds 117: A Real Rain

It’s raining in New York, and a doughy man tapes tin foil to the windows of his apartment to keep the voices from getting into his head. With that done he heads out onto the street (where the voices live, apparently), and gets in a cab. The doughy man has this cabbie drive him out into the middle of nowhere, then murders him with a pistol!

By shooting him, in case you were wondering. What so strange about this murder? The killer also blindfolded the cabbie and stabbed him in the ear with an icepick. There are two other murders with the exact same MO, but there are no leads of any kind!

While on the way to way to New York the team pauses for a little character stuff, including blonde girl flirting with Reed, but none of it is relevant to the case, so we’ll keep going.

Trips to the crime scenes reveal that the killer had the murders meticulously planned out. Unfortunately they don’t have enough evidence to put together a helpful profile, and only manage to waste the time of the police and the audience alike. Their conclusion? That he’s a white guy who has a day job (because he kills at night). Great. Way to narrow down the field.


Joy Ride 2: We were unable to secure the return of Buffalo Bill from Monk!

This isn’t meant as an overall complaint about the film, which is an utterly servicable thriller and perfectly fine follow up to the first Joy Ride, which is notable for being the last film J.J. Abrams wrote during the ‘hack screenwriter’ phase of his career, before moving on to the ‘genre visionary’ phase. It was also the second time that year Paul Walker had appeared in a film with Ted Levine, although in Joy Ride Ted just did a voiceover once production was finished.

The plot of this film is fairly similar to the first, in that people driving through the desert get menaced by a trucker, but differs in the villain’s incitement to action. This time, rather than the main characters going out of their way to mess with a stranger and earning his ire, it’s a random, somewhat understandable error that causes the problem. This leads to kidnapping and sexualized violence/humilation, as you see more and more often in film these days.

My problem with the movie comes right at the ending, and it’s kind of a key one – the sequel setup.


And The Credit Score Ads Just Get More Confusing

Here’s another two ads that I grabbed in the last couple of months.

Okay, let’s look at this one for a second. They’ve made the odd choice (like the dinosaur ad before it) to associate different levels of credit-score-having. In an apparent attempt to avoid my criticism from last time they’ve kept the animals from having expressions that might be mis-interpreted. Instead they all have the same flat, vacant expression, like they have no idea what they’re doing in a credit ad. Sadly, I have no explanations to offer them.