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The Leftovers Series Premiere Recap – Am I Awake?

The Leftovers Poster Justin Theroux

So I realize that my opinion is not a popular one, but I really enjoyed HBO’s new series The Leftovers. While somewhat confusing, I thought it was a great pilot. There were several twists and turns, unanswered questions, and a small reveal that easily set the landscape for an interesting new show.

At the start of the hour, a distracted mother is at the laundromat with her crying baby. While on the phone, she straps her screaming child into the car-seat. The camera slowly zooms in on the baby, there’s a quick moment of peace like he sees something in the sky. He screams again and then silence. The mother turns around and her baby is gone, just gone. She gets out, looks around the car, searches the parking lot, then panicked, she starts screaming. A young boy nearby is yelling for his father while an abandoned shopping cart aimlessly rolls into a parked car. A speeding car, now driverless, slams into another car in the intersection down the street. Where did everybody go?

The show then jumps three years to Mapleton, New York where we learn that 2% of the world’s population, 140 million people, vanished on October 14th. The rest of the world is in this frightening purgatory, unsure of what happened or what it all means. On a similar note, I found myself asking throughout the episode, “what if it happens again?” Because of that paranoia, the pilot reminded me of ABC’s short lived (and greatly missed) series FlashForward, only if it was darker and sexier. FlashForward follows a global blackout in which the entire world loses consciousness for 137 seconds. During those seconds, people see what appears to be a vision of their own life approximately six months in the future. The similarities lie in the pandemonium the blackouts cause and the global uncertainty and confusion.  However unlike FlashForward, The Leftovers isn’t trying to explain why those people vanished. It’s more like a character study on grief.

Backing up to this purgatory situation… I found the religious undertones extremely interesting throughout the episode. Several times, characters asked why God did this or why He chose the people He chose. For example, Gary Busey? Really? The Book of Matthew describes a similar event in which “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Recent Christian theology believes that this is the Rapture. It’s the first real occasion that the believers on Earth will rise to meet Jesus in the sky. It’s also the beginning of the Second Coming, which is a seven-year period where the “leftovers” are stuck in a type of purgatory. During this time there are wars, plagues, then the emergence of the anti-Christ before 1,000 years of peace under Christ’s renewed rule. If this is the case, things are just getting interesting in the fictional world of The Leftovers.

The viewers are immersed into this world through the eyes of one family. Let’s meet the Garveys.

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Papa Kevin Garvey, played by Justin Theroux (Jennifer Aniston, you are one lucky woman), is all kinds of messed up. As the police chief, he’s trying to find order in the chaos while dealing with the town’s most complicated citizens. He’s very apprehensive and hostile towards the town cult, Guilty Remnants (or GR). He’s trying his best with his teenage daughter but they both seem so plagued by grief and anger they can barely function. To make matters worse, it seems like Garvey has several hidden issues of his own.

In the beginning of the episode, Garvey is out for a run when he crosses paths with a dog. As he beckons the dog to come closer, the dog is shot by a neighbor who then speeds away. Garvey puts the dead dog in his trunk and gets ready for the day ahead. On his way to work, he stops by the address on the dog’s collar. While walking up the sidewalk he sees a buck stoically standing in the garden. The owner doesn’t want the dog, she says it disappeared with her husband three years ago. Garvey throws the collar in the trunk with the dog’s corpse and gets a call informing him he’s late for the meeting with the mayor to discuss Heroes Day. Later, Garvey is obviously dreaming (I say obviously because he’s driving in the dream and his daughter was last seen with his car) when he hits the buck. When he awakes, it is to a phone call saying that he’s late for the Heroes Day parade. As he’s leaving for the parade he finds that his kitchen is destroyed. Garvey doesn’t mention it to anyone at the parade. (Side note: The kitchen is traditionally perceived as the mother’s area within the home.) At the end of the episode, he once again almost runs over the buck but is able to stop. He gets out and they share a moment. “Were you in my house last night?” he asks the buck. A pack of dogs come running and begin tearing the buck to pieces. The shooter from earlier in the episode arrives, “Am I awake?” Garvey asks him. “You are now, aren’t you?” and they both empty their guns into the pack of wild dogs.

I’ve gone back and forth on this quite a bit. I think the dog was real. I think anything with the buck was a dream. Whenever he saw the buck, there was some type of lapse in time or miscommunication about when he needed to be somewhere. A few of my friends took the episode as all real but I feel like whenever a character has to ask “Am I awake?” he’s probably not. There’s really nothing I love more than an unreliable narrator (see Hannibal or Homeland). It adds an extra layer to the show’s complexity. Furthermore, towards the end of the episode when asked “where were you when it happened?” Garvey has a quick flashback to hot-and-heavy sex with someone who may or may not be his wife. If it isn’t his wife, who at this point we assume is one of the millions that have vanished, is his relentless guilt leading him on a dangerous downward spiral? Is the buck a symbol of his failed marriage?

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I’ll be honest, The Leftovers had me at “From the creator of Friday Night Lights” but I never thought I’d see Dillon-alum Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland) as a congressman in the premiere episode. Congressman Witten pays Tom Garvey (Kevin Garney’s son, we learn this after he repeatedly ignores his father’s phone calls) to drive him to an undisclosed location to meet a mysterious holy-man named Wayne. When Tom (Chris Zylka) drops the politician off at a ranch (where FNL creator himself, Peter Berg, is one of the guards) it’s clear that they’re not in Mapleton, New York. The pool at the ranch is surrounded by young, bikini-clad Asian girls. We meet one of them, Christine, who seems to have a small crush on Tom. It’s clear that Wayne’s not a huge fan of their friendship and requests that Tom stay the night so he and Wayne can have a special meeting. Later, Wayne enters Tom’s room carrying a knife. He warns Tom to keep his hands off Christine and then shares his own dream in which he believes something bad is coming. “The grace period is over, Tom,” says Wayne. “Time to go to work.”

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The teenage daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) is angry. During field hockey practice, she responds to basic rough play with a hard elbow throw, inevitably breaking the girl’s nose. Her coach let’s her off with a warning but not before asking if things are okay at home after what happened to her mother. Later, Jill and her friend Aimee convince Garvey to give them his car so they can go to a party. This is where things get interesting. At the party, they play a sadistic game of Spin the Bottle that includes options like Hug, Burn, Choke, and F—. Teenagers in a normal circumstance have little regard for their own mortality, post-October 14th they have even less. Why should they be concerned about consequences if God has supposedly already made His decisions? Jill gets stuck with Choke. She lays in bed with her partner, choking him as he masturbates while subtle tears fall down her face and Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” plays over the scene.

Later, Jill is trying to leave the party when she discovers the dead dog in the trunk (leading me to believe that this one part is real). With the help of some guys from earlier in the episode, she buries the dog. We learn that most pets have lost it, they don’t know how to deal with this type of disruption and have gone wild. One of the guys points out that the “same thing is going to happen to us. It’s just taking longer.”

Amy Brenneman The Leftovers Laurie

Throughout the episode we are allowed to assume that the mother vanished on October 14th. It’s revealed towards the end of the episode that the matriarch of the Garvey family is actually Laurie (Amy Brenneman), an active member of GR. This means that she chose to leave her family and let’s face it, that’s so much worse. The GR aim to serve as living reminders of God’s power and that His judgement is upon us. They have taken a vow of silence, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and wear all white. They watch silently from a distance and protest any attempts to move past the events of October 14th. They are openly resented by the rest of the population.

We see Laurie in action as she stalks Meg (Liv Tyler) until Meg eventually retreats to the GR house like it’s a safe haven. I’ve gathered that Meg is a major character in the books, which I intend to read after Bittersweet, but she wasn’t very important for the pilot.

What did you think of The Leftovers? Was it too confusing? Were there not enough answers? Say we don’t find out why those people vanished, would you still watch? In other words, are the chaotic lives of these characters enough to bring you back every week? Let us know because we’ll be watching (but not in a creepy way like the GR).


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New Trailers for ‘This is Where I Leave You’ and ‘The Grand Seduction’

Happy Trailer Wednesday! I actually don’t know if that’s a thing but let’s pretend. Moving on.

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This Is Where I Leave You

The feelings. The laughing out loud. The cast. The Kings of Leon. Whew.

I recently read this 2009 best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper (who also wrote the screenplay) and I laughed/ugly cried the whole way through. ‘This is Where I Leave You’ follows four adult children who return to their mother’s (Jane Fonda) house for a week when their father dies.  With each sibling comes their problems. Judd (Jason Bateman, and our narrator) recently caught his wife Jen (Abigail Spencer) in bed with his boss (Dax Shepard). Wendy (Tina Fey) is a responsible mother in a loveless marriage with Barry (Aaron Lazar). Wendy used to date Horry (Timothy Olyphant) who still lives across the street with his mother due to a brain injury he suffered while dating Wendy. The eldest brother Paul (Corey Stoll) was supposed to be the family treasure. A talented baseball player in high school, he lost his scholarship after being brutally attacked by a dog while defending Judd. Paul now works for the family sporting goods store and is married to Alice (Kathryn Hahn), Judd’s ex-girlfriend. The two are desperately trying to start a family. That leaves Phillip (Adam Driver), the baby and apple of his mother’s eye. Everyone is still waiting for Phillip to grow up and be a responsible adult so when he brings his MUCH older girlfriend home (Connie Britton, y’all) everyone is a little shocked and dismayed.

The Grand Seduction

When I originally saw this title under Taylor Kitsch’s IMDB page I thought it was going to be a lot sexier. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing quite like seeing a guy in a white button-up with the sleeves rolled up (my goodness) but I expected more sexy time. I mean, seduction is in the title.  Still, this movie looks adorable. The film is a remake of the 2003 French-Canadian film, Seducing Doctor Lewis. Kitsch plays a doctor who’s lured into spending a month in a tiny Newfoundland harbor village. The town needs to convince Kitsch’s Dr. Lewis to stay permanently so that a factory will be built nearby creating jobs for the town. Kitsch is knocking them dead lately (he needed to after the tragic year that was 2012). He broke hearts in Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor and recently starred in HBO’s The Normal HeartIt finally seems like Kitsch is playing his cards right.

 

I just realized that between Connie Britton and Taylor Kitsch, this is another “oh my god I love everything Friday Night Lights” post. Sorry I’m not sorry. Clear eyes full hearts can’t lose.


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RPW Can’t Miss This List 2014 – Movies

Ready for 2014 Rock Paper Watchers? To celebrate the new year, we are releasing our “Can’t Miss This List” so you know our picks for upcoming shows, movies, albums, and books.  Check back Monday for our top 2014 book picks!

Labor Day

January 30, 2014

“A story of love, passion, and betrayal as seen through the eyes of a teenage boy and the man he later becomes. Henry looks back on his fateful 13th year, when he lived with his reclusive divorced mother. At the start of Labor Day weekend, while on a rare excursion to town, Henry and his mother encounter an injured man who asks for refuge in their home. Over the course of the next four days, they’re taken ‘hostage’ by a man who ultimately captures them, body and soul.” Source: Google

Reasons to Watch: Sometimes there is something so right about something being so wrong. And can we talk about that chemistry? It’s just oozing between Winslet and Brolin. The scene with the peach pie? Every southern girls dream…..

The Normal Heart

May 2014 on HBO

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Based on the Tony award-winning 1985 play, The Normal Heart details the spread of HIV/AIDS among a group of gay men living in 1980s New York City. The film adaptation, airing on HBO in the spring, was directed by American Horror Story and Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy.  Murphy describes the film as his “biggest labor of love,” and it features a star-studded cast including Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch (be still my heart), and Jonathan Groff.

Reasons to Watch: That cast. The Normal Heart includes some of the finest men Hollywood has to offer all in one movie and under the direction of Ryan Murphy, who is known for pushing his actors out of their comfort zone. The film promises to be powerful, and the performances promise to be spectacular.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

May 23, 2014

Calling all X-Men!

X-Men: Days of Future Past features both the original cast of X-Men and the younger versions of themselves from the X-Men: First Class film.  In the latest installment, Wolverine is sent back in time to help the younger mutants prevent an event from occurring, which will ultimately change the future and save mutants and humans alike from war and destruction.

Reasons to Watch:  With an ensemble cast that features fan-favorites Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Halle Berry (just to name a few!), this movie is bound to be an unforgettable adventure.  And if that wasn’t reason enough for you, in addition to the phenomenal cast of good guys, Peter Dinklage stars in the film as villain, Bolivar Trask.  That’s right people.  Tyrion Lannister in X-Men.  I couldn’t be more thrilled to see my favorite Game of Thrones star on the big screen [no pun intended].

Maleficent

May 30, 2014

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You guys, I’m not going to lie, I am so so excited for this Disney movie!!   Angelina Jolie stars as the evil Maleficent in this modern remake of Sleeping Beauty.  The story we have come to know and love from the 1959 classic is retold from Maleficent’s perspective.  We learn about her past and the things that happened to her that drove her to become the evil villain that bewitches Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning).

Reasons to Watch:  As if Angelina Jolie as Maleficent isn’t enough for you…  Seriously though, the trailer for the film looks fantastic.  And I’m excited about the fact that Jolie is not only starring in the movie, but served as executive producer.  She played a major role in designing her character’s costume and, despite execs pushing back who wanted to take advantage of her beauty, created a menacing and frightening look for Maleficent.  In fact, Jolie in costume was so scary on set that the only child who could play toddler Princess Aurora was her own daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt.

The Maze Runner

September 19, 2014

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Based on James Dashner’s 2009 novel, The Maze Runner begins when Thomas, our narrator, wakes up trapped in “the Glade” with no memories other than his first name.  He is surrounded by a group of boys who live inside a seemingly unsolvable maze that is beyond the Glade.  Every 30 days another boy is delivered but things change dramatically when a girl, Teresa, is delivered with the message that she’s the last one.  From there, the book moves quickly as the boys try to figure out why they’re there and more importantly, how do they get out?

Reasons to watch:  Personally, I can’t wait to see the Maze depicted on screen.  As a reader, you have an idea of how something might look in your head.  When it actually comes to life, that changes everything.  Also, the cast features some of the greatest young actors in Hollywood today like Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

Gone Girl

October 3, 2014

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It’s hard to write this summary without giving too much away, so I’m not going to. If you haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s runaway hit by the same name, stop whatever you’re doing right now and go read. Early into the book’s release, Reese Witherspoon bought the film rights and is putting it to use with David Fincher directing.  When Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, it’s her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) who becomes the prime suspect.

Reason’s to Watch: The novel itself was full of twists and turns, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, David Fincher promises readers of the book will still be even more surprised by the movie’s curve balls.  If it is anything as shocking as the book I can’t wait.  Go read.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1

November 21, 2014

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Everyone LOVED Catching Fire,  and after the cliffhanger, where do we go next?  Without giving too many spoilers away, much of the first part of the book is about Katniss. Our Girl on Fire is pretty much a space case, lost in her own thoughts, scared for her family and Peeta, as well as getting use to a more contained life in District 13. However, during these first nine chapters, she agrees to become the Mockingjay, a symbol of rebellion for the districts which leads up into the rest of story, the Districts rising up in a rebellion.

At this point, here is what we know:

Hunger Games: People Die
Catching Fire: More people die
Mockingjay: A lot more people die.

Its safe to say, no one is safe. So get your tissues ready, its going to be a bumpy ride.

Reasons to Watch: It’s probably the most anticipated movie of 2014 and of course, we are all on the edge our seats wondering what the Girl on Fire will do next. Finally, we get outside of the arena and our characters begin to focus on the rebellion against the capital, not to mention we will get our first look at District 13, a District once thought to be destroyed. One of the big questions still looming is: Where are they going to split the book at? Mockingjay is divided into the three parts, The Ashes, The Assault and The Assassin. My bets are somewhere within The Assault. (Obviously)

Did I also mention one of our favorite girl crushes, Julianne Moore, is joining the cast as President Coin? *Squeals*

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

December 17, 2014

The third and final installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit prequel/trilogy is set to hit theaters at the end of 2014.  Great, we only have to wait one year to find out the fate of Bilbo and the dwarves, the elves, and Lake-town.  (Even though, let’s face it, we all know what’s going to happen).  The film is the final in Jackson’s Tolkien films and fans of the Lord of the Rings will have to say their final goodbyes to the series.  Let’s just hope that the last Hobbit movie doesn’t have as many endings as LOTR Return of the King.  I swear, I thought that movie ended 4 times before it actually did.

Reasons to Watch:  The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was a fantastic cinematic thrill ride (those spiders gave me nightmares!) and I’m excited to see what Jackson has in store for his final Tolkien-based film. It also ended on a MAJOR, major cliffhanger.  Seriously, major!!  The third movie promises to be a wild and insane adventure as the battle with Smaug comes to a conclusion, the love triangle between Tauriel, Legolas, and Kili is decided, and the Necromancer comes into power as the evil Sauron.

Honorable Mentions

The Lone Survivor, January 10

That Awkward Moment, January 31

The Monuments Men, February 7

Godzilla, May 16

A Million Ways to Die in the West, May 30

The Fault in our Stars, June 6

Interstellar, November 7

Horrible Bosses 2, November 26

Into the Woods, December 25


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Monday Man Candy – Kyle Chandler

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This one is loooooooooooong overdue.  Over the weekend, the highly acclaimed film ‘The Spectacular Now‘ made its debut in theaters.  The film stars Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, but more importantly, Kyle Chandler.  Readers of this blog know that I am a HUGE Friday Night Lights fan.  And y’all, I love Kyle Chandler.  Here’s why:

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He is a man’s man.  You can tell he’s not afraid to get a little dirty.

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He looks pretty damn good in a suit.

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The tousled hair, and he knows his way around a kitchen.

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That furrowed brow.

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Those dimples.

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That smirk.

What more could a girl want?  For more Kyle Chandler, check out The Spectacular Now and tune into Showtime for The Vatican, a contemporary thriller about the political machinations within today’s Catholic Church.  In the meantime, I’ll be waiting patiently for the Friday Night Lights movie announcement (please, please, please).


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Another FNL Alum Joins Parenthood for Season 5

jessmerriweatherAnyone who knows me, knows that I am OBSESSED with Friday Night Lights.  I’ve watched the series in its entirety too many times to count and I really think the world would be a better place if everyone watched it.  Really, clear eyes full hearts can’t lose.

Naturally, I’m also a huge Parenthood fan.  I say “naturally” because the creator of FNL, Jason Katims, is the mastermind behind Parenthood.  The film styles and dialogue are similar, as well as the cast.

Speaking of the cast, Parenthood has added another FNL cast member to it’s spectacular line up.  Jurnee Smollett will be joining the team as Heather Hall, a smart, feisty, up-and-coming political dynamo who Kristina hires to be her campaign manager as she runs for local office.  Monica Potter, who plays Kristina, has been the focus of a lot of Emmy upset chatter and we agree!  Kristina’s battle with breast cancer was the focus of season 4 and it would have been great to see the show recognized for it’s talent.

Smollett joins previous Friday Night Lights cast mates Matt Lauria (also returning season 5), Minka Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, Derek Phillips, Angela Rawna and Jeff Rosick who have also appeared on the show.


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Monday Man Candy – Michael B. Jordan

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I first fell in love with Michael B. Jordan when he showed up on the fourth season of my favorite show Friday Night Lights.  As Vince Howard, he was a cocky thug who under the guidance of Coach Eric Taylor became the warmhearted, passionate quarterback for the East Dillon Lions.

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Then on Parenthood he played Alex, a recovering alcoholic who begins to date Haddie and is an essential piece of her transition into adulthood.  I knew Jordan was talented from FNL but his emotional performance on Parenthood stole the show.

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Then I watched the surprise hit Chronicle.  The movie follows three teenage boys who develop telekinetic abilities after encountering a large crystalline object buried in a cave.  Jordan plays popular student Steve who tries to act as the moral compass for the trio.

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Next up, he is in the highly anticipated Fruitvale Station.  The film is based on the true story of Oscar Grant (Jordan), a young man who was fatally shot by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Oakland, California Fruitvale Bay station.  Jordan’s performance has been praised by critics as gentle and tough as “he effortlessly draws the viewer in toward him.”  The film hit theaters this past weekend, check out the trailer below.