TV Discussion: Marvel Studios finally uses it’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. properly

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. logo

Pretty much the whole purpose of this post is to react to tonight’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Spoilers from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and tonight’s episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. are discussed below as well as some prognostication about future S.H.I.E.L.D. story lines.

From day one when ABC and Marvel Studios announced Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, I was down for whatever they were putting together. With every movie that Marvel releases, their Cinematic Universe continues to pull tighter together to the point where now it is now the biggest film franchise in movie history. Tonight, they finally found a way to properly integrate their TV property into the mix and give it a significant (and hopefully ongoing) role to play.

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An evening at Park Restaurant

Original photo credit: @toulastake. Enhanced with Instagram.

Despite being an affluent community minutes away from downtown Montreal, the City of Westmount has very few restaurants (I can pretty much count all of the worthwhile places to visit on one hand). In fact, while not that great a place, The Wellhouse, has recently shut its doors, leaving the area with one less place in which to dine at. On Thursday March 1st, Westmount gets a shot in the arm as Chef Antonio Park’s exquisite Park Restaurant opens it’s doors to the public.

It’s very rare that I’m ahead of the curve when it comes to brand new or happening restaurants in Montreal. I had no idea that Park was arriving, nor did I have any clue that Antonio was secretly holding a two week long soft launch right under my nose so when the opportunity presented itself to try the new restaurant before almost anyone else, I jumped on it.

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An evening at m:brgr

To kick things off – I love the food at m:brgr. I’ve never been disappointed by a visit and this past Saturday night was no exception. I’m very much a fan of sticking with what works. So in the couple of visits I’ve made since it opened in 2008, I’ve stuck with the standard AAA burger, regular toppings, a side of fries and the Moishe’s classic coleslaw. I’ll be the first to admit that with a menu that offers the kind of choice it does, my standard is the least exciting way to go – albeit scrumptious all the same.

Saturday night however, I wanted to try something different. Earlier in the week I put a call out on Twitter to see if anyone had any recommendations for what I should try. I got some great responses and the items I decided to go with were excellent.

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Two days ago the Cirque Du Soleil premiered their brand new traveling show: MICHAEL JACKSON THE IMMORTAL and I was there. It’s a world tour that kick-ed off here in Montreal and will wind its way through North America (circling back to Montreal a second time in March 2012) before heading overseas.

I remember getting my tickets a year and a half ago and thinking: “Where the hell do I put these so that I don’t lose them before the show?” Seriously. A lot can happen in that time, not to mention losing a small envelope with two tickets in it.

I didn’t lose them and am so glad I didn’t cause This. Show. Rocked.
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An open letter to the COEN BROTHERS regarding ABBOTT & COSTELLO’s WHO’S ON FIRST?…

As I admire each of the films in the Coen Brothers’ oeuvre for my weekly Coen Brothers Film Experience entry, I continue to have the same revelation time and time again: Joel and Ethan absolutely have to make a screwball Baseball comedy set in the 1940’s and inspired by Abbott and Costello’s WHO’S ON FIRST routine.

If you continue reading, I’ll break it down for you…
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This week’s film in my Coen Brothers Film Experience is THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE. It was released in 2001, and is two things if it is anything at all. First – it is quite possibly the most beautifully shot film the Coens with fellow cinematographer Roger Deakins have ever created and second, it is unfortunately extremely slow. I’ll say it again, I can appreciate the craftsmanship that the Coen brothers put into each of their films, and in that regard, once again, THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE is a home run. What I find difficult to swallow, for my own taste, is the film’s deliberately slow pacing. I can’t not recommend this movie since it is in fact a treat to watch Experiencing the brothers weave a tale their tale of murder, music, and UFOs the way they do is exquisite. I just wish it moved along at a brisker pace.
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This entry in my Coen Brothers Film Experience was supposed to be posted a week ago. Needless to say, I’m a tad late getting my thoughts together on O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU. The tardiness however is worth it. I hope…

The first time I saw this film was a bunch of years back and I had no idea what to think. I had a very neutral opinion of the film. Upon re-watching it however, I can honestly say that I have a much better appreciation for it now. The problem lies not in whether or not I enjoyed the film, but more in the fact that I can’t exactly say why. Hopefully by the time I come to the end of this article, I’ll be able to put it into words. But be forewarned. Between now and the end, I’m going to have to admit to some pretty serious personal deficiencies surrounding my knowledge of Homer, film and the themes that the Coen Brothers built this movie around.

Hit the jump for the rest.

O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? is based loosely on Homer’s THE ODYSSEY. Three prison escapees evade capture throughout the south during the The Great Depression in an attempt to find a $1.2 million lot of buried treasure. George Clooney plays Ulysses Everett McGill, a Dapper Dan man, who’s the fastest talking member of the threesome and acts as the defacto leader. It’s also his treasure they are hunting down.

It’s their journey to find the treasure where the links to THE ODYSSEY begin…it is also where my ignorance of Homer’s work handicaps me from completely enjoying this film as much as many hardcore Coen fans do. The unfortunate sub-point to this is that it also somewhat prevents me from fully understanding all the themes developed by the Coens in this movie. I can give a fairly basic description of THE ODYSSEY: it is the story of Odysseus, his crew, and his ship as they attempt to travel back to their homeland from war abroad. On this journey home, the ship and crew gets waylayed time and time again by mythical events and creatures on each island they stop at. The most simplistic relations between the source material and O BROTHER are glaringly obvious: Clooney’s character’s name is Ulysses which is Latin for Odysseus. Additionally, as Ulysses and company undertake their adventure, they find themselves up against characters and scenarios reminiscent of Homer’s work: John Goodman as a one eyed con man (a cyclops), and three sirens on a river (umm.. sirens). What I have trouble with is the why?

The movie looks great, it’s wonderfully shot, the music is excellent and George Clooney does a fantastic job. My only criticism (if it can be called that) is that I don’t get the meaning of it all. I have a business background. I like to schmooze clients. It’s not often that we end up talking literature and philosophy, so my knowledge in these areas is fairly limited. Maybe I’m thinking too much into it, but why did the Coens decide to do a film based on Homer’s work, set it in the South, inject it with elements of racism and politics and then mix in a fantastic musical element? (feel free to comment!) The most logical conclusion I can come up with is because they could…

I watched O BROTHER with my wife and she brought up the following, very excellent point. This movie is one of the rare films where George Clooney is actually acting. Take a look at his IMDB page. O BROTHER is one of the few films in which Clooney plays a character that isn’t George Clooney. His filmography is full of roles where he is either an army officer/soldier or a legal/business man. In either case, he usually plays a suave, clean cut guy in a suit or uniform with a great smile that usually saves the day in some way or another. His smarmy, hair gelling, con man Ulysses is indeed a refreshing departure for Clooney. The Coens seem to be able to get Clooney to extend out of his comfort zone since his character in BURN AFTER READING skews to the slightly odd, idiosyncratic side as well.

John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson round out the trio. I have come to really enjoy John Turturro from his outings as various characters in Coen films. He’s an immensely gifted actor and is very adept at getting the Coen comedic pacing and tone. It also helps that he and Nelson are able to do great dimwit faces seeing as they are the slightly less intelligent components of the traveling prisoner trifecta.

A couple of notes:

There is no opening monologue or narration. Instead, the Coens employ a quote directly out of THE ODYSSEY to set the film off.

There is also rare use of massive set pieces in O BROTHER. Instead the Brothers leveraged the gorgeous scenic vistas of the south since most of the film transpires outdoors.

The Bottom Line: 3/5. A good movie but one that I struggle with. Everything about this film is great. I want to like it a ton and agree with critics and peers that it is one of the Coen Brothers’ best films however there is a sizable chunk missing for me. That being said, don’t let my “3” put you on the fence. If you have never seen O BROTHER before. I highly recommend you see it and make up your own mind. Hell, then you can come back here and help me out.

Take a look at this clip. If it doesn’t make you want to give the film a chance, I don’t know what will. It does a great job of showcasing the awesome scenic beauty found in the film, the wonderful Coen dialogue, and the excellent music:

Since one of the elements of this Film Experience is to rank the Coen Brother films, in order of my preference, I’m going to have to put O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? at #5 – right after FARGO and before BARTON FINK. With eight films viewed thus far, here is my list of the Coen’s films:

4. FARGO (1996)
6. BARTON FINK (1991)
7. BLOOD SIMPLE (1984)

Catch next week’s Coen Brothers Film Experience entry on Wednesday, September 21st: THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE. Also, don’t forget to JOIN ALONG! “Like” the Coen Brothers Experience Facebook page!

Where does O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU fall on your list of Coen Brothers films? Can you help me out with some of the symbolism in the film and the ties to Homer’s THE ODYSSEY?

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After an impromptu one week hiatus, the COEN BROTHERS FILM EXPERIENCE is back in full swing. I blame the nihilists of the world.

I’m going to mix things up a bit with this week’s discussion and start out point blank with my Bottom Line:

The Bottom Line: 5/5. If there are only 21 words that you take away from this review and discussion of the Coen Brothers’ THE BIG LEBOWSKI, let them be: “If you haven’t seen THE BIG LEBOWSKI, see it. If you have seen it, see it again! This movie fucking rocks.

There are seriously not enough adjectives in the English language to describe this movie. Stuff like ‘hilarious’, ‘awesome’, and ‘fucking far out man’, while they are accurate, don’t seem to do it any justice. The more I think about how to describe my relationship with THE BIG LEBOWSKI, the more I keep falling upon the word “fuck”. Not in the context of how much sex or nudity is in the actual movie (although it is the first Coen Brothers film to feature both in any great quantity), and I don’t mean in terms of the cuss connotation (even though this film is clearly one of the Coen Brothers’ films that showcase many a meaty expletive). I mean in terms of the word that I feel is necessary to fully describe how awesome THE BIG LEBOWSKI actually is.

I’ll give you some examples: a) whenever someone asks me if they should watch the movie a first or repeat time, my response is something along the lines of, ‘fuck yeah you should”. or b) if someone ever asks me if I would like to watch the movie with them, they’ll get a “fucking A I would!”. In this scenario, there will usually be a mental or literal fist pump if this said person will be experiencing the movie for the first time… And finally, c) throughout the film, as each scene comes to an end, once I’m done laughing my ass off, or giggling like a school girl as I relish what just happened, the music, the characters, or the complete and utter awesome cluster fuck that is THE BIG LEBOWSKI, I’ll generally utter a mental or hushed, “fucking A…”

If you can’t tell by now, THE BIG LEBOWSKI is not only one of the Coen Brothers’ best films, screwball comedy or otherwise, but it is also now my favorite.

Read on if you want to know the details…
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The COEN BROTHERS Film Experience: FARGO

I was in grade eight when FARGO was released. At that time, films like HAPPY GILMORE, BLACK SHEEP, and RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (the first and most amazing Jackie Chan movie I’d seen) were more up my alley. It wasn’t until the 1997 Academy Awards when the film won its 2 Oscars (Best Original Screenplay to the Coen Brothers and Best Actress to Frances McDormand), that it even became a blip on my radar. It was then that I first heard about the wood chipper scene. What teenager in their right mind can resist a good wood chipper scene? I don’t remember how I got my hands on the VHS but when I did, I absolutely hated sitting through the movie. When I watched it for the first time, it wasn’t funny (it’s a dark comedy), it wasn’t any good, (it’s great), it was way too slow (it’s actually fairly brisk), and it was soooooo long (it’s only 98 minutes). Added on top of all this? The sex scenes had no boobies….boooo!

Well. Fast forward fourteen years later: I’m now only slightly more mature (still looking for the boobies…), but I can confidently say that FARGO is fantastic. There is no denying it. It’s also rare that I’m able to find a movie fan that doesn’t rank it near the very top of their list of favorite Coen Brothers films.

The more I think about FARGO in the greater scheme of the Coen Brothers’ oeuvre, it has lots of borrowed scenes from a film that came before it (BLOOD SIMPLE) and very much inspires a film that came after it (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN).

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