Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 6)

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The doors closed, shutting out the noise from the lobby.

Who the fuck was that woman? Like a Swiss knife – pocket-sized but very versatile and deadly. Some kind of Swiss Ninja?

And how the hell did she know what I was doing here? Was she connected to Lila somehow?

Lila.

The adrenaline dipped just a fraction – enough to let her in. The love of my fucking life. Hell, I’d even considered asking her to marry me –you know, all traditional, hunkering down on one knee. I’d take her to Tiffany’s on Bahnhofstrasse and we’d pick something together before strolling hand in hand to the lake and stopping for a hot chocolate – the things that lovers do. OK, I’d never have been able to afford Tiffany’s but we could have dreamed. I even knew what she’d have gone for – Lila had a thing for Rubies – blood red rubies; a single ruby surrounded by tiny diamonds. It would have looked perfect on her.

Now the dream no longer existed, replaced by a nightmare.

The elevator was filled with dead bodies. Only Ms. Cold Smile might have been alive but wasn’t sure.

Gritting my teeth to fight the darkness threatening to engulf me I jabbed at the button – Floor 10. It lit up, winking at me and my stomach lurched as the lift jerked into life.

Swallowing bile I wiped my forehead and took a deep breath. My body shuddered and the world tipped sideways. Oh shit, was I going to pass out? I couldn’t! I needed my stuff. What was wrong with me?

It wasn’t me. The lift had stopped but the doors were still closed.

I checked the panel. The number 10 still lit up, the orange circle forming a fiery ring. Looking up at the semi-circular dial above the doors, the hand sat between floors 9 and 10. I jabbed the number 10 again but nothing happened.

A deep rumble reverberated from above and the floor jerked sideways. Losing my balance I fell to the floor. As I struggled to my feet the lift was plunged into darkness save for the orange glow from the 10 button. The sound of metal grating on metal shuddered around me followed by a sharp thud on the roof and the lift plunged downwards before jerking to a halt, throwing me to the floor again. We were now on the 8th floor. The acrid smell of burning grated my senses and a thin stream of smoke crept into the air in the gap between the lift doors. I jumped up to punch open the access above.

Then I saw it.

The elevator cables were melting.

I moved to the edge to assess the damage.

Then I saw a clock. This only meant one thing to me.

A bomb.

And it didn’t take a genius to work out where it had been planted.

PART 7

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 5)

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“Walk faster and do not look back,” said a soft voice behind me.

I turned my head just a little only to see a woman walking just one step behind me. Had I been less confused, grieved or burdened by any other of the million feelings fighting inside me, I would have seen she was an elegant, good-looking woman. But all I could focus on was her smile. Yes, she had fine lips and pearl teeth and all that but it was the cold amusement in that smile that made me turn away.

“Clean-up crew wants to make a mess, huh? Grab your stuff, go around back, be where you need to be. Don’t look back.”

I pushed the elevator door button and then I heard the commotion behind me. There was grunting and panting and some swearing. Still all my focus was on the elevator door as if all the world around me was of no importance. All my life hanged by that door and paid no heed to all that was going behind my back, acting like a rather sweaty ostrich. Finally, it opened with a whoosh.

Then I saw them.

There were at least 10 men inside the elevator. The woman leaped into the elevator with flying punches and kicks. It was so fast and quick, I could have sworn it was all choreographed. In less than fifteen seconds, most of them were lying on the floor. The one particular individual stood in a fighting stance against the woman … Miss Cold-Smile, with the black, soft tights the loose grey blouse and leather ballerinas. She could have been the girl next door if she didn’t have a man’s neck under her armpit. A tall guy in a blue suit slapped her but she just pressed the neck in a weird angle before letting the body drop. That was when the man she slapped had her full attention. One swift blow to his throat was enough to incapacitate him, giving her the opportunity to push her fingers straight in his eyes. The man yelled and took one step back. She twisted her body and grabbed a man coming at her from behind. The man was twice her size but she used his momentum to throw him over her head and onto two of her attackers. Another man stepped over the bodies and came at her with all his bulk. Her hands flew and she hit the man straight in the nose, making it bleed instantly. She grabbed the man by the arm, twisted it till there was a cracking sound and pushed him away. The man landed on the floor and he slipped over the marble floor of the elevator, half in half out.

As if by reflex I pressed the button and the door began closing until it reached the man’s body. With a ding it opened all the way back. The elevator was filled with motionless bodies. Outside the elevator were the men she vanquished from behind my back. She pulled  the unconscious man back through the door of the elevator and planted herself in the corner. Her face was stained with the blood of her enemies. Miss Cold-Smile looked and me for two seconds, likely noticing my frozen posture.

“Fly, you fool!”

PART 6

Top 57 Inconceivable Things in Star Wars Episode 7

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This is not my usual movie review. I’ll post that somewhere else. Overall, the movie did the impossible and rescued a franchise that was in the toilet with the prequel saga. JJ Abrams, through all the pressure from Disney (film, expanded plan of films, merchandise, and new parks) managed to make a good film. The first third and last 20 minutes in particular are really good.

But, I’m going to use this forum to tear the film apart. I recently watched it for the third time and many things stick out as batshit stupid.

1)They cast the gravitas of Max Von Sydow to open the movie as the only person in the galaxy who knows where Luke Skywalker is. Kylo lands and decides since he got insulted he kills the only person who knows where Luke is, which is baffling since this is the plot of the movie. Why doesn’t he mind-torture him? How did Max get trusted with the map? Why is he on the same planet as Rey?

2)Poe Dameron insults Kylo’s mask, but Kylo chooses to torture him instead? Does he know he is a resistance pilot or random villager?

3)How did the First Order know of the site? And … how the hell do they attack only at the moment Max Von Sydow’s character is giving Poe the coordinates? And isn’t there a more covert way to do it? Wouldn’t Kylo want to know what else Max Von Sydow has in his mind? To me, he would be a high value target with a treasure trove of information.

4)When Poe is brought to the ship, why the hell is the only thing Kylo tortures him about is the plans and the droid?  What doesn’t he torture him to get the “best pilot of the resistance” to tell the location of the resistance base? They already plan to blow up some planets with the starkiller laser gun (more on that craziness later). They could instead blow up the resistance too. Unbelievable that Darth Vader is obsessed in a New Hope to find the rebel base, but in Episode 7, the First Order doesn’t care.

5)How does Kylo know Poe is the “best pilot of the resistance?” Is this something he force grabs in Poe’s mind? Like Poe walks around strutting and thinking how awesome he is. Replace pilot with another word. “We have the best cook of the resistance” or “We have the best droid lubricator in the resistance” or “We have the best Calamari Optometrist of the resistance.” Just think about how stupid this is.

6)Kylo then meets General Hux. What? How old is this guy? 25? Is this why the remnants of the Empire have gone to shit? They promote newbies to a General?  In a new Hope, they had Grand Moff Tarkin. He was old and crusty and actually outranked Darth Vader. The Empire was run by the experienced folk.

7)It just so happens on the first battle of Finn’s life, being raised to be a killing machine stormtrooper, he decides he doesn’t want to kill? Or is it the killing or that the is on the wrong side? What makes him think he is on the wrong side? Because to me, it just seems like he is scared. But then later in the movie, he has no trouble killing his old buddies of the exact same division, when he was traumatized when his “friend-trooper” died. So baffling it nonsensical.

8)It just so happens they have the “best pilot of the resistance” and Finn goes in and escort him out? What? Leia was locked up in a dungeon under security. Han Solo was surrounded by a ton of troops. Ok. Alright, you have to get the hero out, so Finn just walks him out and they get in a dang Tie Fighter and nobody sees until it takes off? What?

9)Do Tie Fighters even have a hyperdrive? In a New Hope, they say the fighters don’t have the range to be out there alone right before discovering the death star. Finn, a stormtrooper his entire life (only in training, despite being terribly out of shape if you see the way he runs … but then again sanitation engineers might not do the most PT). Anyways, so Finn is surprised they have to go back to Jakku? Where else are they going to go?

10)The tie fighter crash lands, and somehow the ship lands safely, but in one of the random sand pits on Jakku? What? Talk about bad luck. Finn can walk from the crash all the way to the middle of some random spaceport and find Rey, dehydrated from the sun, and manage to avoid every sand pit? Kind of crazy odds. Maybe it is the force.

11)So Poe is thrown out of the Tie Fighter during the crash, but somehow he takes off his jacket during crash landing? Why would the “best pilot of the resistance” decide to take off his jacket while crashing back down to Jakku? Is it not a lucky jacket? How did Poe live through such an ejection?

12)So we get a scene to where Snoke is introduced and Kylo and Hux talk to him. But they don’t really give a crap who he is. In Episode 5, Darth Vader is bending the damn knee to the master. Snoke must not run a tight ship, or people don’t fear the new Sith Lord. In fact, neither of them really seem afraid of Snoke. Everyone was damn afraid of Emperor Palpatine. Just a mere mention got generals fearful in the original trilogy.

13)Is Snoke pissed off that the “best pilot of the resistance” somehow escaped? Is there any punishment? Or dark side threats? Nope. It is almost like he doesn’t even know, or care. He isn’t like “What? We need to know the location of the resistance base so we can destroy it.”

14)So we get to Rey. She is the only reason why the movie works, because the other characters don’t make any sense. She is the heart and the soul of the new franchise. (To hear the next script is being rewritten to add more meat for the popular new characters is ludicrous). But let me get this straight, so Rey can barely afford to get single packets of food to make insta-green-muffins, but she owns a damn speeder to haul stuff? What is that worth? If she can afford that, then why doesn’t she just leave to go find her parents? She is a grown woman. Who sits in the middle of nowhere to wait forever like a delusional idiot?  So Rey is a scavenger but not a good one currently when we meet her, but at one time, I guess when she was smaller, she could scavenge like a pro to be able to save enough food packets to barter for the speeder.

14)So they create this wonderful looking Cylon, I mean Captain Phasma, yet she doesn’t know how to fire her blaster? What was even the point? How dedicated is she if she brings down the shield instead of meeting her maker? And … how does she even know the code to bring down he shield? Is the First Order that open with their secrets? Why would a ground trooper need to know that? In ROTJ they had to blow up a damn station on the ground. Why couldn’t they just ask the person to turn it off? (At least Ewoks didn’t show up on Starkiller base)

15)So Rey and Finn meet. Then they get attacked and we learn they have so much evasion skills they can out-run Tie Fighters? What? And why did they send tie fighters instead of ground troops? Do they not want to capture them and the droid at this point? Are they not afraid of blowing up the droid? You know, the only damn thing that can show the location of Luke Skywalker? They just went through the whole mind torture thing just to send Tie Fighters to blow up anything in sight. Baffling. So the map is important, but that that important.

16)So Rey and Finn get out in the best scene of the film I think, that chase was awesome and I don’t mind the Falcon was randomly there. But the Tie Fighters know they are in a dogfight with the Falcon but don’t relay the ship is escaping to that Star Destroyer above? What? Why isn’t the Star Destroyer waiting for them? Why isn’t there another dozen Tie Fighers waiting in outer space above? (Props in the scene for at least addressing how BB8 has to adjust balance and position himself when not strapped in).

17)Han Solo, oh how I enjoyed seeing him come back on the ship like it was old times … but how was it that the randomly found the Falcon only after Rey got it? He couldn’t have found it sooner? And he found it before they entered hyperspace? And before the Star Destroyer that doesn’t care the Falcon is leaving Jakku with the droid and map? Crazy dumb explanation to how they randomly found it just there.

18)So Rey doesn’t know how to fix the hyperdrive before Han gets on, but after they are trying to get off the freighter, she instantly figures it out by “bypassing the compressor?” What? Coincidence at an urgent time.

19)Let me get this damn straight, so General Hux, the man with the Starkiller plan flies on a Star Destroyer with Kylo to chase down the map as the base is going through final testing? Is he the commander of the Star Destroyer or Starkiller base, or both? How does a 25 year old looking guy with an anger issue control all of this? How does he also have the time to raise his stormtroopers from a young age instead of using clones? Why does nobody fear him? Every actor to talks to him looks bored. This is such a break from the original trilogy it is downright distracting how bad Hux was cast and acted.

20)Rathtars … that’s all I’m going to say about that.

21)Going into hyperspace from inside a ship. What?

22)So Han Solo finds out they have a map to Luke Skywalker. Who wants the map the most? … I don’t know, maybe Leia. Where should they go? How about a damn watering hole for no reason. Why not take it straight to the resistance? Does he like pissing Leia off that much?

23)Mr.Resistance “Big Deal” decides he wants to find another ship out? Ok. But Rey is so smart she can bypass a compressor but doesn’t realize a “Big Deal” Finn is acting strange by wanting to leave, if part of the resistance?

24)The lightsaber and the visions. What is this? When Luke got Anakin’s lightsaber in a new hope, he didn’t have force visions. Anakin had to dream them in his sleep (or were planted by Palpatine but that’s another blog). (Although the force vision dream was cool to see)

25)I want to know the data plan these people have in the galaxy because they can transport messages past the speed of light to another location like it is nothing. Handheld walkie talkie? Boom, we now have an intergalactic walkie talkie. Then boom, the First Order is there in no time. Then boom, the resistance is there in no time….HOW? What clued them off? And why was it that it happens only after Starkiller base works for the first time. Why can’t the falcon get upgraded to get a comm like that?

26)Starkiller base. Are you kidding me? What the hell is this? Where does the First Order get manpower and resources to build this planet of doom? How does it take in the sun’s flare and not incinerate the planet? Is there some sun-sucking turbine? If they have resources for that, then why not build 1000 star destroyers? Wouldn’t that actually be better? And, why is the first order obsessed with blowing up planets instead of taking them over? Don’t you want to rule over a galaxy or just end the galaxy? Who designed it? Hux? Is that why the base has an obvious weakness that isn’t below ground?

27)If Starkiller base has a shield, okay, I don’t know how you shield an entire planet (in ROTJ they could only shield a death star from the forest moon of Endor). But how does the Falcon have the ability to hyper jump through the shield? WHAT? Did you realize they just randomly jumped in? Then, after showing us this, the resistance unit flying in with the “best pilot in the resistance” can’t do much because of the shield. Why can’t the “best pilot of the resistance” hyper jump through the shield too? Does the Falcon sitting and baking on Jakku have some better technology?

28)The resistance trusts a mission to lower shield on a 70 year old smuggler, a wookie, and an ex-stormtrooper?

29)So where is the damn Star Destroyer in this battle? It flew from Jakku to Starkiller base to Takodana and back to Starkiller base, but doesn’t participate in the battle. What?

30)Why is Kylo observing the starkiller shot (that breaks the speed of light, ironically) from the ship? Does he have a thing against Nazi rallies (Why they dumbed down the parallel and made a straight up Nazi rally in Star Wars is baffling. The whole salute thing was just batshit stupid as well.)

31)Why does the first order hate the New Republic so much? And … why does Hux have some crazy hate?  And why do all those stormtroopers stand out in the cold to listen to him (no microphone or anything) because the guy is like a juvenile with anger issues. Wouldn’t they listen to Kylo more? People actually seem afraid of Kylo at least. Why isn’t Lord Snoke talking to the troops?

32)So Finn gets a hold of the Anakin’s lightsaber and randomly fights the only stormtrooper in the galaxy with a special blaster-shock-cane thing that is as powerful as a lightsaber. WHAT? Why would they have that? How many Jedi have they battled in the last 20 years? What does Kylo think of the a bunch of anti-lightsaber weapons there are. (Also, why does he have to spin it like a toy?)

33)So the battle is chaotic and nonsensical. What are the priorities on each side? To rescue or destroy? On Earth, this could never happen because of all of the friendlies and civilians there. The big high value target, Kylo’s ship, isn’t even targeted. What? That is the one ship to hit. The “best pilot in the resistance” doesn’t recognize it, after seeing it at the beginning of the film? He doesn’t want a little revenge? Or to shoot it down?

34)When Rey confronts Kylo, why doesn’t Kylo force-stop her blaster bolts like in the beginning of the film? Why even put his cross-saber at her neck? Why can’t he just lock her in a freeze instantly like he die with Poe?  He puts her to sleep like he is spock, but he didn’t do that to Poe or Max Von Sydow or Finn or anyone else? What?

35)So the resistance plans the attack on Starkiller base, but they have no ships? The resistance is only like 25 ships in total? What? What the heck? One Star Destroyer with the location of the hidden base could end the whole thing (but nobody seems to care where it is at until later on).

36)So now we have Rey. Good ol’ mystery girl getting mind-tortured by Kylo. He sees her thoughts, but then all of a sudden she is strong with the force? Without training she can get a guard to let her go. Then the security is pretty lax on Starkiller base because now she can sneak around with no cameras saying “who is this girl prancing around the ship?”

37)Finn was a sanitation worker? Really?  Is this why he was such a terrible storm trooper? Is there a ladder of jobs? Droid lubricator, then sanitation worker, then Storm trooper?

38)So they all watch Han confront Kylo. Han meets his end. But then Chewy lands a shot on Kylo? Why doesn’t he freeze that bowcaster bolt? Do Wookies have special powers?

39)So Kylo fights Rey and Finn in the forest. Why doesn’t Kylo just force-freeze Finn? Snap his neck? Throw him? Flip him? Even being shot in his abdomen, I don’t understand why Kylo even fights him? Is he just stupid? How the heck does Finn, with no training, and being the worst stormtrooper ever all of a sudden get a hit on Kylo? Is Kylo that poor as a fighter that he forgets how to swing a lightsaber properly and doesn’t know how to use all the deadly sith tricks? Then Kylo doesn’t kill Finn, but just slices something (maybe his back, who knows). I just know Obiwan slices siths in half (Darth Maul), slices all limps off pupils (Anakin), watches his pupil decapitate Sith Lord (Count Dooku). Are the Jedi more brutal than Kylo? Do we have the story all wrong?

40)How does Rey become a Jedi lightsaber queen in 2 minutes? After never holding a lightsaber she can go toe to toe with Kylo? What? Then, just after she beats him (because he still refuses to freeze her or choke her or throw her again), he just lays on his back.

41)Just when Kylo is defeated, a crack opens right between them? Right.

42)How does Chewie know where they are?

43)How does Leia know who Rey is when they get back to the planet? Does she know something?

44)Why does R2 randomly only wake up when Rey comes back? Does Luke really not give a shit? He doesn’t tell R2 to wake up and tell people where he is at, you know, in case if the galaxy is getting blown up by super weapons again. Luke knows a thing or two about shooting swamp rats on Tatooine.

45)They go to Luke’s island, but Chewy lands at the very bottom? Why not drop off Rey? Why doesn’t Chewy want to see his old friend? How about R2, his old droid? Wouldn’t Luke recognize the falcon and walk down? Wouldn’t that be a safer introduction?

46)Now that the resistance planet is known, and the First Order has faster communication than anyone, why don’t they send a few star destroyers to the resistance base to counter attack? This would be the best time to do it.

47)Is Poe the “best pilot in the resistance” because there are only 4 of them? The story seemed small when all the resistance has are X-Wings but only a few pilots are shown. And there was too much of Grunberg it was damn right annoying. It was like an inside JJ Abrams joke to put in his talentless actor friend in all his productions.

48)Based on the star map they have, how can they not match the coordinates? Like if you gave me a map of Arizona, I wouldn’t need a map of the US to fit it in and discover Luke is hiding in Sedona. Batshit stupid. The map even looked 3D. This was nonsense.

49)Why the hell was Greg Grunberg aka JJ Abrams friend randomly in almost every background shot on the resistance base as if he was photobombing the whole damn third act? I hope there is a fan edit that takes out Grunberg as the movie’s version of Jar Jar Binks. Absolutely distracting and stupid. Does he double as General Organa’s security guard?

50)Does nobody question if Finn can be a plant for the first order, or does all he need is some vouching from Han?

51)HOW THE HECK DOES POE’S JACKET FIT ON FINN? Have you seen the size differential between the two?  Finn is built like a linebacker.

52)After walking through the desert on Jakku, Finn doesn’t sweat enough to leave salt stains? I go to the gym for a couple hours and a have dried salty sweat stains.

53)With Starkiller blowing up, why does Hux have to run back to send a message to Snoke on what to do? For a General, he really is unbelievably stupid. Also, where do they know where Kylo is? Is there some Sith tracker that Hux has?

54)WHAT THE HECK DOES SNOKE DO ALL DAY? SIT ON A CHAIR WAITING FOR A CALL? HE DOESN’T HAVE STUFF TO DO? I mean, those messages travel really fast and he is always in the same spot.

55)Where the heck did Kylo get Vader’s helmet?

56)Where the heck did they get Anakin’s lightsaber and how did it just so happen to be in Maz’s possession. How the heck does Kylo know whose lightsaber that is instantly? Is there some Sith handbook or is Kylo just what you would call a Sith super collector?

57)For someone as special as Rey, why doesn’t any Jedi Force Ghost come back to speak to her? You know, like “Rey, go to the ____ planet and find Luke Skywalker, a great Jedi teacher.”

 

READ WHO I THINK IS THE BEST CHARACTER IN STAR WARS

OR READ ABOUT MY FAN THEORIES ON EPISODE 8

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 4)

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I made it down and into the lobby without a word to my elevator traveling companion. I find it hard to trust anyone who has ever pulled a gun on me. I kept him in my peripheral vision to avoid a stare down. Something here didn’t seem right. Hell, it wasn’t right. It crept in like a whisper and intensified as the floor numbers got lower.

By the time the elevator stopped, it was an inescapable clamor. I had to lose this asshole and get back to the room. How was that going to work? We walked through the empty lobby and out onto the sidewalk. Mr. Mercedes made me nervous enough not to pay any specific attention at first to the fact we were the only people in the hotel. The concierge and clerk who were always at their post were gone. Not a soul in the typically bustling lobby.

This whole thing is wrong and getting wronger. I need to get back up there now.

I tried, “I will meet up with you later, there is something I have to take care of.”

Mr. Mercedes stared back with a scowl, I was surprised when he answered, “How long do you need?”

“Not sure.” I knew he could tell I was bullshitting, I bit my lip to attain some focus. “Give me an hour, I’ll meet you…” The nag of suspicion was blown away by the tsunami of realization. “Fuck me! Everything I have in this country is in that room…my money… my passport…” I knew I was cooked.

Mr. Mercedes showed more surprise than I would have expected but he blurted out “casino, one hour” under his breath before he bolted himself. I considered my options carefully over the next one and half seconds. As the second hand drifted in slow motion in the direction of two, I turned back toward the hotel doors. I walked the fifteen or so steps re-weighing my options.

Out of habit I thanked the door man and stepped into the lobby. It didn’t even strike me as odd until I heard the noise from the lobby which was bustling like an entry gate at the super bowl. “What the ffff….” I said it out loud. A large man bumped into me in the commotion and looked me up and down as if I said it to him. I ducked my head down and tried to press through the crowd toward the elevator.

PART 5

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 3)

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It was only when the door clicked shut behind me did Lila’s death start to sink in. I’d walked into a dream when I’d entered her room, all of it a numb, morbid nightmare. But, now her body was behind me, my shoes scuffing the hallway carpet in an aimless ramble, and the sense welled up in my brain that the vibrant patterns in the rug were about to open into a deep, dark sinkhole.

I wasn’t crying. Why wasn’t I crying? I’d loved Lila so much, it made me dizzy.

The man who’d stuffed the paper in my hand was gone. The address between my fingers had a dark red smear across it now. Lila’s blood was on my fingers.

Yesterday I’d been thinking about asking her to ignore the return date on our airplane tickets, just wander Europe with me. Us. Together.

I threw up in the trash can by the elevator.

Panting, a hazy fog of self-preservation made me pause. What was I going to do? Call the Polizei? What if they thought I’d killed her? I didn’t even speak more than a few words of Swiss German, or French, or… or…

Bubbling up under the fear was anger. What the hell had Lila been involved in? How could she not have told me? We’d known each other for years! Then again… what if she hadn’t been involved in anything? What if that man, that dressed-up, moustached bastard, had the wrong woman when he’d run his hands all over her dead body?

Blood. Sickness. Fear. I was paralyzed, gripping the trashcan, about to scream.

Ding.

The elevator door clicked, swishing open. I turned my head away, dread rising, crumpling the note into my fist so no one could see the red stains. There was a steady stride behind me. A whisper floated to my ears, something polished and soft from a refined gentleman’s throat. “Fühlen Sie krank?” I didn’t know what he said. It wasn’t the Swiss dialect that had been bouncing around my head all week. Perhaps he’d just think I was a dumb, hungover American tourist. Perhaps he’d leave me alone if I waved him away.

I turned.

It was the man Lila had spoken to downstairs. Her old friend. Mr. Black Mercedes. His cold gun barrel pressed against my forehead. “Did you take it?” he hissed. It was perfect English.

I felt the sweat on my neck freeze. “N-no.” My fingernails dug into my palms, helpless fists. “You.” He stared, expression hard. “Did you have Lila killed?”

His eyebrows raised in surprise, the stony look vanishing. The gun lifted, and with a smooth motion, he hid it in his jacket, like it had never been drawn. “No. Why would I?”

“Who the fuck are y—”

“Did you see anyone else?”

His interruption was calm, far too calm for the seething anger and pain I wanted to unload in his face. But something in his gaze… “…No.” It was his eyes. They were cold little beetles.

“Don’t lie.” His hand was quick, a hook around my wrist, snapping it back, making me gasp in pain as he wrenched my fingers open. The paper was in his hands, and I could do nothing to stop him. “Ah. There we are. I thought I smelled them about, the reason why I came back, you know?” His other hand made a careless wave in the air. “But they didn’t take it either, did they?” I guess he saw the despair and confusion in my face, because he smiled. “Good. Lila was always good at hiding things when she needed to. And, I know exactly where she left it.”

“Who are you?” I demanded again. “What do you even want? Why did someone kill her?”

His mouth quirked downwards. “Maybe you’ll find out. You’re coming along.”

“Fuck you. I’m not going anywhere.”

“You try anything else, and I’m just going to shoot you, you know?” He shrugged. “Don’t make me be unpleasant. We don’t have to be enemies. In fact, I need your help.”

There was a hard lump in my throat. Could I get the pistol from his jacket? I’d barely seen where he’d stashed it; his hands had flurried like a magician’s.

“See, what you’re going to do,” he continued lazily, “is help me get the item Lila hid. And then, you and I, we’re going to go to that nifty little address they gave you. And we’re going to kill them all.”

PART 4

 

 

Movie Reviews: Birdman

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Birdman directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu

I’ll say it up front. This was the best movie of 2014.

I’ll say something else. The script was so good, I even read that, just to learn how the heck they pulled it off. If you are into the craft of storytelling, Birdman puts on a clinic. It stars Michael Keaton playing himself Riggan Thomson. To support him, it has Edward Norton playing himself Mike Shiner, a demanding method actor. Zach Galifianakis isn’t the caricature he built for himself. Emma Stone puts on a solid performance as well as Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson’s daughter.

Constructed to flow as one continuous story, the director gambled with a quick film shoot and used every trick in the book to pull off the sequences. I think I know how he did it, but not really. I keep telling myself I know exactly where the cuts are, but it really doesn’t matter. He builds the story around the stage, and on that stage is Riggan, a man with a crisis of conscious, but in a funny way (see Michael Clayton for the boring way). He is so hard on himself and his mind is so sucked in the vortex of the commerciality of art, that he is on the verge of a breakdown before opening night.

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There is an easy way out. Just eat the damn apple and agree to a sequel. But no, Keaton Riggan wants to be bigger than that. He wants to be taken seriously and accepted for being a talented actor. He wants to show his range and prove to his critics that they are wrong about him. He is willing to do anything … even walk in his underwear in New York City.

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The movie wraps up nicely on stage, as intended. Risks are taken, but did Keaton Riggan get the public acceptance he yearned for?

GUEST REVIEW: “THUNDERPECKS” (Rumored former A-list Actor)

I get this. Those who have not adorned massive cod pieces and thunderpecks do not understand the pressure to succeed as a superhero. We have to appease so many rival groups: The die-hard fans who will destroy you for getting something wrong, the teenage girls who who don’t think you’re hot enough to go see the movie with their boyfriends and sinking the opening weekend numbers, the reviewers who will skewer my ass regardless of how much soul I breathe into the character. As actors, we are one big fuck up from destroying our superhero careers (Ben Affleck in Daredevil, Ryan Reynolds in The Green Lantern, Chris Evans in Fantastic Four 2) that there are no second chances unless nobody else “looks the part” and Hollywood comes back to us (Ben Affleck in Batman vs Superman, Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool, Chris Evans as Captain America).

Movie Rating: 10/10 Virtues of Ignorance

Movie Reviews: Tombstone

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Tombstone directed by George P. Cosmatos

What is the greatest western movie ever made? To me, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” is the ultimate western.  After that, “Once Upon a Time in the West” takes the second spot. This movie ranks third.

But don’t get me wrong, Tombstone is a masterpiece.

Think about it. The cast is absolutely awesome. This is some of the best work Kurt Russell has ever done. The movie has Val Kilmer in his best role of all time (screw Batman and Iceman, although he was pretty damn awesome in Willow and Heat). Michael Biehn is in it playing, well, the same role he always plays. Bill Paxton puts in a solid box office assist and added to his resume. Jason Priestly is randomly in it because I guess he was branching out from 90210 (good job with that). Sam Elliot adds gravitas to the cast. Billy “Where is my Wig” Zane plays an actor, before his days on the Titanic. Billy Bob Thornton has a cameo as a blowhard who gets pushed out of his territory (before Slingblade fame). Stephen Lang, one of the more underrated character actors out there plays Ike Clanton (you know him as the over-the-top military douche in Avatar). It even has Terry O’Quinn before he became John Locke. And to add a cherry on top, Charlton Heston is in the film. Wow.

The film is written, paced, acted, directed, and plotted well. Kevin Costner did a version around the same time and it is almost unwatchably-boring. This is a western that is really a bonafide action film. Watch the movie and tell me Val Kilmer is not unbelievably awesome in the film. The wonders he can do with the cup can diffuse any situation.Tombstone_Doc_Holliday_Whiskey_Cup_03.jpg

Just look at Kurt Russell. You know from one look that Hell is coming with him.

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And look, it even has John Locke, er, I mean Terry O’Quinn. For some reason, in my mind I imagine this is where he truly went after turning the Donkey Wheel.

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So why does the film hold sentimental value to me? Well, it’s because at one time, I used to live near Tombstone, Arizona. Yep. I’ve been to the O.K. Corral. I would ditch school sometimes and act like a tourist there. The place is a relic of the past, but at least if you go, you can say you saw where Wyatt Earp got them good.

GUEST REVIEW: TOM THE TOMBSTONE REENACTOR

The historical inaccuracies in this film is too many to write in the limited space Matt has given me. Let me begin with this, the fight wasn’t even at the O.K. Corral. It was six doors down he street. The fight itself was 30 seconds, which if you ever visited Tombstone, you could watch a real actor such as myself reenact this American legend two times a day. I’ve been asked seven times this year if my other name is Daniel Day Lewis. I have no idea what they are implying because my name is Tom and I love reenacting. Being born and raised in Tombstone, I know every square inch of the place and for a nominal fee, I can escort ladies and gents on a walking tour of the hallowed grounds where some say the screams whispers will touch your eardrums and make sweet western love to it. I’m Tom. Believe me. Come on. I have a big thick natural mustache and you can usually find me at the Burger King during my lunch hour drinking milkshakes and signing autographs of my book, “Tombstone Tom: A Memoir.” 

Back to the movie, it is a masterpiece.

Movie Rating: 10/10 Huckleberries