Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.7 The Initiative

The Dish: Riley Finn is after a bunny in the sack.

Everyone's favourite TA, Riley Finn, sits in the caf with his friends Forrest and Graham, listening to them comment on hot female co-eds. Buffy in particular draws Forrest's attention, and he asks Riley for the scoop on her. While Riley admits Buffy's physically attractive, he finds her 'peculiar'. However, in class, when Buffy calls out Professor Walsh for being a bitch to Willow, Riley discovers a new-found respect for the brazen Slayer. Later, when he catches up with his bros, Forrest asks Parker about his time with Buffy. True to asshole form, Parker takes the opportunity to tell the 'difference between a chick and a toilet' joke. Riley doesn't approve of this, and clocks Parker in the face. That's when it dawns on him -- Riley has feelings for Buffy.

But approaching Buffy romantically makes Riley nervous so he enlists the help of Willow. Unforunately, Willow's visiting Depressed-ville and doesn't have much interest in helping a new romance bloom after her own relationship with Oz just crashed and burned around her. Still, Willow recognizes that Riley is a non-poophead good guy and tells him that Buffy likes cheese. Riley's grateful for any little bit of help and leaves Willow to crawl back into her cage of misery.

Hopefully there's room in that cage for Xander and Giles. The two gents lament about their lack of standing in the Scooby Gang. Buffy correctly assumes they have nothing to do that night, and puts the dudes on patrol duty, as she plans to take Willow to a party to cheer her up. Even though Willow agrees to be dragged along, it's clear she doesn't want to be there. But she quickly locates Riley and gives him tips on flirting with Buffy. Riley musters up his courage and approaches the Slayer...and is a complete buffoon. At least he offers her cheese.

Remember when Spike got tased by the commandos last week? Well, the blond vamp wakes up in his own cage of misery...an actual cage. The vamp next to him tells Spike that scientists are feeding vamps drugged blood, and then taking them away to perform experiments. When the vamp mentions the Slayer, Spike goes ballistic as he perceives Buffy to be the one behind his imprisonment. Not one for being locked in a cage -- especially one without chains -- Spike promptly breaks out of the facility. With nowhere to go, he crawls back to Harmony. She almost takes him back, but when Spike mentions wanting to kill the Slayer, Harmony gets hella-pissed and kicks her blondie bear out.

In a fit of empowerment, Harmony decides to burn all of Spike's possessions he left behind. Xander happens upon her during his patrol and the two engage in the girliest brawl the world has ever seen. They eventually call a truce, and Xander runs off to find Buffy and tell her that Spike is back in town. He bursts into Riley's party, majorly cockblocking the poor TA in the process, and catches Buffy up to speed. Infuriated that her night off is ruined, and just sick to death of Spike in general, Buffy decides that tonight she will kill Spike once and for all.

Back at the party, Forrest and Graham located Riley and tell him that there is trouble. The three fellas get into a secret elevator and head down into...the demon experimentation facility. There they are met by a lab coat-wearing Maggie Walsh. Turns out they are part of a government military operation that specializes in demons. Walsh is in charge and Riley is the head special agent. The professor informs Riley and his squad team that 'Hostile 17' -- Spike -- has escaped and they need to track him down.

Meanwhile, Spike is trying to track Buffy down. He goes to her dorm, but instead comes across Willow, who left the party early. Spike tries to bite her, but then gets an excruciating pain in his head. He tries again, same thing. Embarrassed and confused, Spike assures Willow he never has 'trouble performing' and she comforts him before realizing she has the opportunity to escape. Unfortunately, the commandos burst in, having located Spike via the tracker they implanted in him. They grab him and Willow, planning to take them back. That's when Buffy arrives on the scene and fights them off, protecting her friend. In this melee, nobody can see anyone or anything, as the commandos killed the lights, and Spike gets away. Riley aborts the mission and the commandos disappear, leaving Buffy and Willow very confused.

Back at HQ, Maggie is livid that Riley and the troops failed to capture Spike. However, Riley informs her that Spike's 'chip' is working and he can't hurt another living creature. Guess they did do some experimenting on Spike after all. After the debriefing, Riley dons his civilian clothes and runs into Buffy. This time, the conversation goes smoothly and it looks like Buffy might like Riley back. Even if he is a little peculiar.

Liz's BITES:
* While 'The Initiative' didn't blow me away, it was fairly entertaining and answered some mildly burning questions. Like who the commandos are -- Riley and his friends, Bore and Snore. And they work for a demon experimentation lab lead by...Maggie Walsh? Crazy! I really like how there's a gray area surrounding these guys and their organization. On the one hand, they're doing good, hunting demons and getting them off the street, just like Buffy. But on the other hand, they've gotten in Buffy's way several times, and even wanted to take Willow, a civilian. It'll be very interesting to see how this develops.

* Now we finally have the skinny on Riley. Turns out he has a much meatier role to play, other than just to give sympathetic pep-talks that nobody asked for. It's kind of funny that Riley is a high-ranking military officer but he still clams up when talking to Buffy. What a chivalrous doof.

* We get it, Riley is the sweetie-pie. But the dude's a straight-up terrible TA. In a one-day period, Riley punches out Parker, drops in on Willow unannounced and sits on her bed, and romantically pursues Buffy...and all three of these people are his students. I don't know what kind of fun-house UCSunnydale is running, but that kind of malarkey would not fly in most post-secondary institutions.

* Maybe the powers that be at UCSunnydale have their hands full looking for better security. Spike broke into the same musty-as-hell records office that Buffy and Xander broke into in the premiere, with I'm guessing no trouble. I'd also wager a bet that Spike ain't exactly a computer whiz, but was still effortlessly able to find what dorm Buffy lived in. I mean, really!

* So Spike has been neutered and can't hurt any living creature. As intriguing as this development is, I much prefer badass Spike. I could watch him slam Harmony into a wall all day long...

* Though I will acquiesce, Spike's chip was the fodder for one of the most hilarious conversations the show has ever seen, between Spike and Willow. It was beautifully laced with sexual double entendres, like how Spike can't 'perform' and vamps only want to bite Willow when Buffy's not around, because they only like her as a friend. I love these two together, and did anyone notice a bit of sexual tension?

* Poor Willow, wallowing in her post-breakup misery. But I was really proud of her for getting past the pain enough to help the sweet Riley pursue Buffy. It looks like Willow really thinks Riley will be a positive element in her BFF's life.

* It certainly wasn't a good night for Willow's other BFF, Xander. Did I not mention last week that this season, Xander and Giles have been reduced to a couple of losers? Their sole purpose this week was to commiserate over that very fact, to the point that Xander actually suggested they cause some Hellmouth mischief just so they can save the day and be relevant to the Scoobies again. I really like both Xander and Giles, and I just want more for them, dammit.

* Though Xander's loserdom gave way to a fantastic girly fight between him and Harmony. Well done, actors. That was comedic gold.

* I do have to say, however, that the episode's most epic fight was Buffy vs. Professor Walsh. Daaaaaamn, the Slayer had some balls, calling out the evil bitch monster of death. Maggie's reaction was classic, 'I like her'.

* I like her too, Walsh, and especially her fashion sense. Buffy receives this episode's Fashion Slayer award for her 'slutty' -- her words -- backless party tank. No wonder Riley couldn't keep it together when talking to her.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Shocked at the big reveal that Riley is a commando? Want things to work out between him and Buffy? Think Willow should seriously consider Spike as a rebound? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.6 Wild at Heart

The Dish: Oz gets inside the wolf...and her name is Veruca.

After a long period of misery over Poophead Parker, things are finally coming up Buffy. She's keeping the campus safe from vamps, acing Psych and unbeknownst to her, getting saved from Spike's wrath by the commandos, who taser him and take him away. Buffy even gets to enjoy a relaxing night at the Bronze with the whole Scooby Gang...even Giles!

Too bad Shy is playing that night...Veruca's band. Once again, Oz goes all horndog goo-goo eyes for the bewitching songstress, and Willow notices in a big way. Even though she's adjusted marvelously to college life, and even joined a Wicca group, all Willow can do is notice the increasing sexual tension between Oz and Veruca. When they all bump into each other at lunch, Willow feels like a third wheel.

At least Oz won't be able to drool over Veruca for the next three nights -- it's wolfie time. He locks himself in his new graveyard cage, but this newer model proves to be no kink cage -- god I miss that thing -- and Wolf-Oz gets out. He chases Professor Walsh across campus before running into...another werewolf? Walsh is quickly forgotten about as the two werewolves scrap and claw at each other. When the sun rises, Oz wakes up to find that the other werewolf is....Veruca.

It turns out that Veruca believes that werewolves should embrace their inner beast and roam free, not be caged up like Oz. She blatantly comes onto him, and though he rejects her, it's obvious that Oz has lusty wrong feelings. Things grow very tense between him and Willow, when she turns up at his place looking for sex, and he has to turn her down because he's covered in scratch marks from Veruca. Willow is now in official panic mode over Oz's lack of libido and seeks advice from Xander who tells her to be honest, and tell Oz how she feels.

That night, Veruca meets Oz at his cage and the sexual tension is at a fever pitch. This time, Oz doesn't reject Veruca but violently kisses her. The two make wolf-love as they transform. The next morning, Willow goes to Oz's cage and is absolutely crushed to find him with Veruca. She confronts Oz about his desire for Veruca, and when he can't deny it, Willow runs off in tears. The redhead is so distraught, she almost gets hit by a car but is saved by Riley. Buffy comforts her in their dorm and vows to stop Veruca before she does any damage.

A very frosty Buffy finds Oz and together they go in search of Veruca, desperate to find her before the full moon. Oz picks up her scent but it leads them to a pile of her dirty clothes. The were-bitch purposely threw Oz off the scent so she could get to...Willow. Oz and Buffy run back to the dorm, but Buffy collides with a commando and falls behind.

At the dorm, Willow starts to perform De-Lusting Spell 2, on Oz and Veruca, but stops at the last second. That's when Veruca shows up and attacks Willow. Oz bursts in just before he and Veruca change. The two wolves go at it again -- this time pure violence -- and Oz kills Veruca. Buffy gets there at the last second, and shoots Oz with the tranquilizer before he can hurt Willow.

When the dust settles, Oz realizes that Veruca was right about the animal always being inside him. He's terrified of what he could become, and needs to find a way to deal with that. In other words, he needs to leave. Oz tells this to a heartbroken Willow, vowing that in his whole life he has never loved anyone but her. And then he leaves.

Liz's BITES:
* I have never ever been able to get through this episode without bawling my eyes out. Willow and Oz were my favourite couple of the entire series, and seeing them break up is just a boot to the soul. But it just goes to show, as amazing as Willow and Oz were together, they weren't perfect. Despite the Hellmouthiness of their circumstances, their problem was starkly real -- two people happy and in love, but Oz's lust for another woman just got in the way. 'Wild at Heart' was such a fantastic episode because it had so little to do with supernatural monsters, but real human darkness.

* Like Oz's. Oh Oz, we hardly knew ye. Despite the superb quality of this episode, it's kind of a piss-off. I have been clamoring for more exploration into Oz as a character and now that I finally get it, it's too late because Oz is gone baby gone. Other than the recent Halloween episode, we never got to see Oz's fear of his dark wolfie self develop. Then I would have bought his hasty departure, instead of thinking 'golly, they sure rushed Seth Green off the show'.

* I have to say, I absolutely adore the bedroom cuddle scene between Oz and Willow at the beginning of the episode. I thought they were so cute and natural and sexy. It's clear things between Oz and Willow have been hot and heavy for a while and I think it's so awesome because it means the nerdy, wallflower Willow is the most sexually experienced of the young Scoobies.

* But, Willow? 'If you're doing it, you should probably be able to say it'. I love that scene between Willow and Xander for two reasons. One, Xander vocalizes what I've been thinking for two episodes in a row, 'Willow, TALK TO OZ and tell him how you feel about Veruca!' Two, it shows that Xander has real value in the group. Willow's a college chick with a bright, shining future but she still needs her BFF Xander.

* Goodness gracious, anyone besides me feel that every episode in Season 4 is a competition between Xander and Giles for who's a bigger loser? Giles wins this week by a mile. Going to 'gigs' with the teens and watching daytime TV? We're six episodes in now, he really needs to find a purpose.

* As much as I love hot mess Buffy, it's nice to see her back on her feet. She's really got the college experience working for her, acing papers and slaying vamps who are polite enough to rumble with her in a secluded area of campus, away from the masses. Plus I loved the role reversal of Buffy being the supportive best friend to Willow. The scene in the dorm was so similar to Buffy crying over her breakup with Angel. When Buffy says 'I love you' to Willow, oh how it choked me up. And then when Buffy gave the cold shoulder to Oz...ooooh what a good friend.

* I think the Sunnydale vampires are losing their edge. First they're letting Buffy call the shots on where to fight, and then they're letting a werewolf just set up shop in a fancypants mausoleum? WTF? They need a badass vamp to get in there and show them how it's done.

* Like Spike? They really set it up at the beginning to make it look like he would be the villain of the episode, but after he got captured, that's the last we saw. At least now I'm interested in the commandos. I knew they were set up to play a bigger part in the season but I honestly didn't give a shit about them until now.

* Rot in hell Veruca, you skanky bitch.

* My strong feelings toward the girl-wolf make it all the more painful to give Veruca the Fashion Slayer award, but do that I must. Were-bitch was all kinds of hot in her black bra and panties.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Heartbroken and soul crushed at Oz's departure? Thinking Giles needs to get back on his feet ASAP? Wondering where the eff Spike went? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Oscar Nominations 2015

Hello my lovely readers. Some of you may think that the Christmas season has come and gone but you are wrong, foolish mortals. Christmas season is in fact, OSCAR SEASON, my most favourite time of year. The Golden Globes just occurred, the SAGs are around the corner and early this morning, the nominations were announced for the big mofo of awards, the Oscars.

As with every crop of nominations, there are mindblowing shockers and rage-inducing snubs. I'l cover all these for Oscars 2015. I'll also rank all films nominated in major categories in order of importance, ensuring you'll be the smartest person in the room come Oscar night.

Shockers and Snubs

SHOCKED! American Sniper for Best Picture
Before this morning American Sniper was barely on my radar. It wasn't nominated for any Golden Globes or SAGs. I honestly thought it was a 2015 film, but here it is front and centre.

SNUBBED! Foxcatcher for Best Picture
The Academy gave Foxcatcher a lot of love in the other major categories, including the coveted Best Director nod for Bennett Miller. Normally Best Picture/Director nods go hand in hand, making this a reverse Ben Affleck/Argo situation. Don't get me started on that one...

SHOCKED! Whiplash for Best Picture
To me Whiplash is one of those movies where a dynamic performance, in this case JK Simmons -- a lock to win Best Supporting Actor -- overshadows the movie as a whole. But I was pleasantly surprised to see Whiplash getting so much love from the Academy. It's too bad they couldn't have found room for Damien Chazelle on the Best Director list.

SNUBBED! Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) for Best Actor
The Oscar hives were abuzzing when Jake Gyllenhaal unleashed his charming psychopath Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler. Both the Golden Globes and the SAGs found a spot for Gyllenhaal but the Academy left him out in the cold. Unlike TV, I guess they are not ready for a dark antihero. Instead, they prefer an all-American hero like...

SHOCKED! Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) for Best Actor
I had no idea everyone was freaking out about this movie and performance so much, but it makes sense. B. Coop is turning into quite the Academy doll, this marking his third year being nominated. Plus, the Academy tends to eat up any portrayal of a 'real-life hero' like the deceased Chris Kyle. Then again, they didn't nominate...

SNUBBED! David Oyelowo (Selma) for Best Actor
Selma managed to nab a Best Picture spot, but it looks like David Oyelowo will have to be content with his Golden Globe nod, because the Academy showed no love for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. His absence from the category has generated a wee bit of controversy, as some are not too pleased about the vanilla-ness of the acting categories -- all twenty nominees are white.

SHOCKED! Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) for Best Actress
Nobody was predicting the French beauty would join the Best Actress race, as she was not nominated in any other major awards show. I recall some mild buzz for her performance at TIFF this year, but normally a foreign film has to generate mass levels of Life is Beautiful buzz to be recognized in any acting category.

SNUBBED! Jennifer Aniston (Cake) for Best Actress
On the other hand, the buzz for Jennifer Aniston's first nomination was huge. She was the talk of TIFF and the Globes saw fit to recognize her performance with a nod. Personally, I think that Aniston has to have a few more Academy-friendly performances under her belt before she'll get recognized, and make the leap from regular presenter to regular nominee. I really thought the fifth Best Actress spot would go to...

SNUBBED! Amy Adams (Big Eyes) for Best Actress
So the film didn't get amaaaaazing reviews, but Amy Adams has been an Academy favourite, having been nominated five times in the past decade. Add the recent Golden Globe win -- back to back years for the redhead -- another Academy nod seemed the obvious next step.

SHOCKED! Laura Dern (Wild) for Best Supporting Actress
Though Laura Dern was praised for her performance, no other major awards show gave her any recognition. I think the Academy got this one right, and I'm happy to see Dern in the mix.

SNUBBED! Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) for Best Director
The Academy seemed to give the unexpected American Sniper every nomination but the kitchen sink, but no love for favourite Clint Eastwood? Has he still not been forgiven for Jersey Boys?

SNUBBED! Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) for Best Adapted Screenplay
The book was a smash-hit bestseller, the film garnered rave reviews, Rosamund Pike got the Best Actress nod AND Gillian Flynn was nominated for a Golden Globe, an awards show that only recognizes five screenplays where the Academy recognizes ten. Gone Girl got American sniped right out of the Best Adapted Screenplay race.

SNUBBED! The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature
This adorable little film was a darling with masses and critics alike. Not only was it sure to get a nod, but it was the favourite to win. I guess everything's NOT awesome.

Most Important Films to See

1. Boyhood
Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke), Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette), Best Director (Richard Linklater), Best Original Screenplay (Richard Linklater)
With representation in five of the major awards, and a probable win for the coveted Best Picture, Boyhood is the one to beat -- and the one to see. Richard Linklater's twelve-year film experiment will likely see him win the Best Director prize for his efforts, not to mention a Best Supporting Actress win for Patricia Arquette.

2. Birdman
Best Picture, Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Director (Alejandro G. Inarritu), Best Original Screenplay (Alejandro G. Intarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., and Armando Bo)
Birdman co-leads the pack of nominations with nine in total, six in the major categories. This flick -- my personal favourite of the year -- is a safe bet on the Best Actor win for Michael Keaton, as well as the Best Original Screenplay award. Don't miss it.

3. Whiplash
Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (JK Simmons), Best Adapted Screenplay (Damien Chazelle)
With JK Simmons arguably the safest bet of the night, as well as all the unexpected love from the Academy, you won't want to miss this intense, white-knuckle drama.

4. Still Alice
Best Actress (Julianne Moore)
Not a ton of Academy glory for Still Alice, but Julianne Moore is the favourite to win the Best Actress race. It's a crime she hasn't won already, and you'll want to make sure you catch the flick that finally gets her the win.

5. The Theory of Everything
Best Picture, Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Actress (Felicity Jones), Best Adapted Screenplay (Anthony McCarten)
A good show in the major categories, and the most heated race of the night will be between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne, for his exquisite portrayal of Stephen Hawking. Both gentlemen won Golden Globes so be sure to catch this flick as well.

6. The Imitation Game
Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Best Director (Morten Tyldum), Best Adapted Screenplay (Graham Moore)
Beloved by both critics and masses alike, this is one flick that won't feel like homework. Though it's not likely to win any major awards, it's still represented in five of the major categories, meaning you'll be able to say 'I saw that one!' at your Oscar party.

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Picture, Best Director (Wes Anderson), Best Original Screenplay (Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness)
Tied with Birdman for most nominations, with nine apiece, you'll want to catch this one, especially if your main priority is to catch all the Best Picture nods. Between The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, it just goes to show, don't put all your eggs in the end-of-year Oscar season basket. Earlier flicks with buzz can kick ass at the Oscars. Just ask Cate Blanchett who Best Actress last year for Blue Jasmine, a summer flick.

8. Foxcatcher
Best Actor (Steve Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Director (Bennett Miller), Best Original Screenplay (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman)
A major shift from Steve Carell's usual lighthearted fare, and a strong showing in four major categories makes Foxcatcher a good flick to have under your belt come the big night, even if it's not likely to see a win.

9. American Sniper
Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jason Hall)
Nominated in three major categories, American Sniper was quite the upset this morning. Cross it off your Best Picture list and see if it's worth all the Academy love.

10. Selma
Best Picture
You'll be able to throw your two cents in when it comes to the David Oyelowo snub controversy and complete your Best Picture list when you see Selma.

11. Wild
Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon), Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern)
No wins predicted for the memoir-inspired flick, but you'll get to see two incredible performances, including the surprisingly nominated Laura Dern.

12. Gone Girl
Best Actress (Rosamund Pike)
Along with The Imitation Game, this will be another fun one for you to see. Plus, Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris has a small but important part in this thriller, so you can be sure he'll mention it in his opening monologue, and you'll want to be in on the joke.

13. Two Days, One Night
Best Actress (Marion Cotillard)
There's a good chance you haven't heard of this film before today, which means your fellow Oscar-watchers probably haven't either. Catch this foreign flick, and you'll be the cool, in-the-know person at your Oscar party. When Marion Cotillard loses, be sure to shake your head in disgust for extra film buff street cred.

14. Nightcrawler
Best Original Screenplay (Dan Gilroy)
Be sure to catch the twisted thriller that (I'm guessing) made Jake Gyllenhaal yell 'WTF ACADEMY?!' this morning. Then, when they list Bradley Cooper's name for Best Actor, you can roll your eyes with all the other arthouse hipsters and actually know what you're talking about. Unlike the other arthouse hipsters.

15. Into the Woods
Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep)
Watch the musical that earned Meryl Streep her ten millionth nomination. Even if musicals aren't your thing, the flick is a cinematic cornucopia of A-List stars. Plus Colleen Atwood did the costumes and she'll likely win the Oscar for her efforts.

16. Inherent Vice
Best Adapted Screenplay (Paul Thomas Anderson)
I'm guessing Inherent Vice was expected to get a lot more buzz than it did. It was written and directed by the formidable Paul Thomas Anderson, and saw the first re-teaming of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon since Walk the Line. But the film practically snuck into theatres, and the result is only the screenplay nomination for Anderson.

17. The Judge
Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall)
Watch Robert Duvall lose the Best Supporting Actor race in the heartfelt family drama that garnered tepid reviews from critics.

There's your list of shockers, snubs, and what to watch. What did you think of the nominations, my lovely readers? Who were your shockers and snubs? What Oscar flick is at the top of your list? Post a comment and let me know.

The 87th Academy Awards will be televised live on Sunday, February 22nd at 7PM E.S.T, on ABC/CTV. Be sure to catch it. You know I will.

Dish later;