Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I know I said I'd do this, but I got behind.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a film I won't name and was so bad I almost wanted to take a Brillo pad to the eyes and pipe cleaners to the ears (and not the pansy-ass craft kind; the real, metal ones that work). It was worse because I'm a fan of the franchise. I shall not name the flick, hoping it goes back to whatever circle of hell spawned it.

Fortunately for me, last week, I saw Pineapple. Because of the content, it should have had the same effect. But it didn't.

Which is a testimony to solid execution on the film's part.

What's the film about?

Wrong question.

What happens in the film is Andrew (Steven Chester Prince), struggling with a broken marriage, unwillingly estranged daughter, and clean from his past addictions, falls back into those addictions. And falls hard.

What the film is about is kind of open.

The acting is pretty good throughout. Steve Prince (full disclosure: He's my coach) is solid and genuinely engaged throughout. Most of the rest of the cast is as well, though there is some rockiness in a couple of line deliveries. I can't tell if this is from editing, but in at least two instances it felt like they started with a line without having built the precursor conversation in their head.

Scream queen Eliza Swenson ("Crystal") does a mostly fantastic job, and Skye McCole Bartusiak ("Alex") blew me away (that's one talented kid).

This is a tough film about which to talk in detail for a number of reasons.

First, it's pretty layered in its duplicity, so to say too much would create spoilers. I can say for the most part the film pulls off the redirects subtly and well, so I was surprised by most of them. One of the big ones was obvious to me shortly into the film, and another, when the first clue was dropped, I thought was the reveal (and made the right conclusion), so the "real" reveal at the end was a bit anticlimactic. Most importantly, however, I never felt like I was given a red herring to divert my attention from the truth (that's just insulting when films do that).

Secondly, this film deals with some rough stuff. Hard core addiction, addict stripper love interest (with lots of on-location scenes, and, uh, friends), domestic violence, and broken families are all portrayed honestly and brutally. This is not kiddie or family fare, but it's important stuff.

Despite the rough content, the film delivers very well. I think films have merit by nature of having been made, and when they hold up a magnifying glass to very real (even if very dark) reality, that's an incredibly important and needed side-effect.

Someone involved with the film said reviews had been all over the map, because "people who have life experience get the film, and people who don't, don't."

This is generalization that falls apart for a couple of reasons.

First, living people, by definition, have life experience.

Secondly, even if what he meant was "People with this kind of life experience get the film", there are lots of other reasons for folks to like or dislike the film.

Like I said, it's pretty tough content. For some people, that can be too much of an off-put to support the film. I also know folks who have come out of the backgrounds portrayed in Pineapple, and because of where they are in the healing process, they don't want a detailed reminder of what that was like.

And people like me, blessed with not having that background, still gets the film, and think it's important, because it reminds me of what people have gone through or are going through. A film that builds empathy is pretty big deal.

I say the film is very much worth seeing. For me, it's kind of like Se7en -- a great, tough film that (because of content) I won't see all that repeatedly. But I'm glad I saw it.

UPDATED: I'm so embarrassed I forgot to talk about the music, because it's a massively well-done part of the film. The score is from Brian Vander Ark (lead singer for The Verve Pipe, and the writer behind one of my favorite songs, "The Freshman", and new fav "Another Good Man"; uh, neither of which are in this film). There's also stuff from Smackola (dIRTy WoRMz), who's a key character in the film, and Vehicular, and Alpha Rev (including Casey McPherson).

This is freaking amazing musical talent, and even more so for an indie film.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I'm still watching this show. And, for the most part, it keeps getting better and better.

The initial roughness is tightening up, some of the uneven acting is getting less so, and it's a new way to scratch the comic book itch.

The second half of season 1 started out steeply, so folks not familiar with the first arc were probably left in the dark. Weird, since this is a known thing to avoid killing a series prematurely.

That said, NBC has probably the best network Website, and you can watch full episodes online. This'll probably go away, because as Season 1 winds down, I'm sure the DVD boxed set is on its way, and the network isn't going to cannibalize those sales.

Check out the series. There are some strong actors on board, and it's fun, (mostly) non-bubble gum fiction.