Saturday, October 30, 2010

"When Irish Eyes Are Talaxian" [R] - 8/9




"WHEN IRISH EYES ARE TALAXIAN"

Part 8

Tom accompanied B'Elanna all the way to Engineering. In fact, he felt tempted to remain there and assist in completing the repairs. Until he remembered that he had a ship to run and a missing captain to find. Besides, one glance inside the bustling Engineering section told him that he would simply be in the way. Tom exchanged a brief kiss with his wife and left.

Ten minutes later, he reached his quarters on Deck 3 and strode inside. He heaved a sigh of relief and began to unfasten his jacket. Then he spared the chronometer a quick glance and gasped. In another three hours, Gamma shift would end. Which meant he, Ayala and the others assigned to Beta shift had been on duty for nearly thirteen long hours. Hopefully, the other crewmembers will recover from the Valax just as fast as B'Elanna and Megan. And those who had been on duty for nearly two shifts will finally get the rest they deserved. What he deserved.

A noise from inside the bedroom interrupted Tom's thoughts. He frowned and strode toward the other room. Unless B'Elanna had transported from Engineering, there was no way she could have . . .

Tom stopped short at the sight before him. Sprawled on the large bed was Kathryn Janeway, clad only in a 19th century petticoat skirt and camisole. Unbelievable! First Harry, Seven and Jenny and now, this. Only, Tom suspect that he was not meant to be a voyeur in this situation. "Captain?" his voice croaked. "What . . . uh, what are doing here?"

Janeway slithered off the bed and walked toward the stunned pilot. "What does it look like, Mister Paris? I'm here to see you." One of her slim, pale hands began to caress Tom's forearm.

"Uh . . ." The words caught in Tom's throat failed to break free. He found himself in one of those rare moments in which he could not speak.

A seductive smile curled Janeway's lips. "Cat caught your tongue, Tom?" She leaned forward, her mouth inches away from his. "Lucky cat."

To Tom's horror, Janeway moved in for the kill. She swiftly planted her lips on the pilot's. Tom tried to pull away, but the Captain grabbed hold of his tunic front and jerked him forward. "Don't fight me on this, Tom," she whispered in a husky voice. "You don't know how long I've waited for this mome . . ."

"Tom!" The familiar voice from the cabin's main room immediately chilled Tom's blood. B'Elanna. "Tom, if you're still here, could you search for my lucky sonic spanner? Tom?"

Panic finally spurred Tom into action. He grabbed Janeway and her discarded clothes. "Computer," he ordered in a desperate tone, "lock onto my combadge and initiate a site-to-site transport to Deck Two, Section Five, Cabin 2b." To his relief, a familiar tingle surrounded him and Janeway, transporting them to the latter's cabin.

The auburn-haired woman giggled. "That was exciting! Talk about a close call!" She thrust her face in front of Tom's. "What do you have planned for an encore, Lieutenant?" Her hands roamed suggestively over his broad chest.

Tom gently pushed the Captain away. She pouted. "Sorry Captain, but I don't have any encores planned at the moment."

A secret smile replaced the pout. Before Tom knew what happened, Janeway hooked one of her legs around his, causing Tom to fall on the deck. Janeway then threw herself upon the hapless pilot before he could recover. "Now I've got you!" she purred triumphantly. "You are one difficult man to get, Mister Paris. But not anymore." She lowered her mouth upon his.

For a brief moment, Tom felt a shot of desire. But only for a moment. He also remembered that: 1) the Captain was intoxicated; 2) he was married to a jealous and possibly very possessive half-Klingon; and 3) although Captain Janeway's lips felt great, he preferred to feel his wife's, instead. Keeping these thoughts in mind, Tom mustered up a great deal of determination and wrenched his mouth away from his commanding officer's.

"What the . . .?" Janeway's gray eyes slitted dangerously. "Why are you being so difficult, Mr. Paris? I must tell you that you're not helping your career."

Think, Paris, think! Find a way to keep this woman from ravishing your body and get her to drink the Doc's little concoction. Tom gently forced Janeway to roll off his body and stood up. Then he took the Captain's hand and helped her to her feet.

"Sorry about that, Captain. I . . ." He heaved a heartfelt sigh. Giving the older woman the benefit of his eyes, he continued in a gentle voice. "Don't get me wrong. I think you're a very attractive woman." Tom smiled wistfully. "I always have. It's just that . . . well, you're the Captain. And you really took me surprise with that little maneuver, a few minutes ago."

Janeway stared at him with a longing expression he found embarrassing. "Huh?" was the only word she managed to croak.

"What I'm trying to say, Captain, is that although I find you attractive, I have to consider other matters. Like you being my commanding officer. And my marriage." Dear God, Tom thought, please, please let her see the light! And allow me to escape from this room.

However, no amount of prayers seemed to help Tom. Kathryn Janeway seemed determine to keep her chief helmsman by her side - and for her pleasure. She threw herself into Tom's arms, knocking him onto the sofa. "Oh Tom! Surely we can forget about all that? At least for tonight. Can we?" She began planting small kisses all over Tom's face. And much to his embarrassment, he found himself becoming aroused. I have to end this now, he thought desperately. Before everything goes out of control. Okay, Tommy Boy! Time for the performance of your life.

Tom broke away from Janeway's embrace. "I . . ." He hung his head low and dramatically bit his lower lip. "I guess I can." Sheer delight lit up Janeway's eyes. She leaned forward and planted a few more kisses. Until he stopped her with a few choice words. "But let's not rush into this," he said once again searing the older woman with his best puppy dog gaze. "Not now." Tom added in a seductive voice, "How about a little drink to start with?"

Again, Janeway purred. "Hmm, good idea. Too bad I don't have anymore Valax." She pressed a slim hand against Tom's chest. "Maybe we can replicate some wine. Say, a bottle of Bollinger '51?"

"How about Irish coffee?"

Janeway's eyes blinked. "Irish coffee? That doesn't . . . exactly . . . sound . . . romantic."

God, it's me again. Please make sure that B'Elanna never learns what I'm about to do. Tom leaned toward the auburn-haired captain and unfastened camisole's top button in a lightning move. "You mean, you've never huddled in front of a roaring fire, sharing cups of Irish coffee with a loved one?" he whispered in a husky voice. "For shame."

Janeway let out a gust of breath. "Well . . . maybe . . ."

"Neelix made some for today. With Valax." Tom unfastened the next button. Janeway's chest heaved in and out. Then Tom lightly caressed the small patch of soft flesh revealed by the gap in her chemise.

A moan escaped from the Captain's mouth. She gulped and whispered, "Irish coffee sounds like a fine idea."

"Great!" Tom jerked away from the Captain, unaware of the sudden frown on her face. "I'll replicate two cups for us." He shot up from the couch and walked over to the replicator. "Meanwhile, why don't you change into something, uh, more comfortable?"

Janeway shot back, "What could be more comfortable than this?"

Tom glanced over his shoulder and grinned. "Use a little imagination." Janeway grinned back. Then she stood up and headed for her bedroom.

A moment after the bedroom door closed behind her, Tom's grin disappeared. He tapped his combadge. "Paris to Neelix. Where are you?"

The Talaxian responded, "Neelix here. I'm in the Mess Hall."

Tom sighed with relief. "Good! Is there anymore of that coffee left?"

"Yes, of course. I have some left over . . ."

"Beam two cups of that coffee to the replicator inside the Captain's private quarters," Tom ordered.

A pause followed. "You've found the Cap . . ."

"Later Neelix," Tom interrupted. "Just beam it over. Now!"

Less than a minute later, two cups of coffee materialized inside the replicator. The moment Tom grabbed hold of them, the bedroom door slid open. His eyes nearly bugged at the sight of Kathryn Janeway clad in a sheer pink pegnoir that revealed every inch of her body in all of its glory. If only Chakotay could see her now, Tom thought. Then he remembered that the First Officer had already experienced a similar moment in the Hydropondics Bay. Too bad the poor sap will never remember.

"You like?" Janeway purred, as she struck a pose in the doorway.

Tom almost responded with an enthusiastic, "Me like!" Until he remembered his goal. And the wedding ring on his finger. Instead, he gave the Captain his most seductive smile. "Very nice. And very lovely. Your drink, Captain." He handed her one of the cups. "Sorry, no whipped cream."

"It would only get in the way." Janeway stepped forward, her body millimeters away from Tom's. "By the way, you forgot to stop calling me Captain. Remember, my name is Kathryn. And your name is Tom." Her mouth inched toward his.

Panic filled Tom. He had to do something to prevent another mouth-to-mouth contact. In a desperate move, he raised his cup to his lips. "A toast?"

Janeway heaved a frustrated sigh. "All right. If you must. What shall we make a toast to?"

"To the best captain in Starfleet," Tom declared, grinning like a schoolboy.

Auburn-colored brows arched upward. "That's it? Not the most attractive woman?"

Tom quickly added, "That too." He took a sip of coffee. It took a great deal of effort not to gag from the nauseating concoction.

On the other hand, Captain Janeway seemed to enjoy it. "Hmm, this is delicious!" she declared. "A first for Mister Neelix's coffee. He has really outdone himself, today. Perhaps it is the Valax." She took another sip, followed by one more. Before long, she had drained her entire cup. "My! That was delicious! Don't you agree?" Then Janeway heaved a sigh and swayed a bit, before she finally passed out on the floor.

The pilot immediately placed his coffee mug on a nearby table. He then picked up the unconscious woman, carried her to the bedroom and gently lowered her on the bed. Mission accomplished. Tom felt his spirits soar. He could finally put the nightmare of Neelix's Talaxian whiskey behind . . .

"Tuvok to Paris."

Ah, relief! A silly grin appeared on Tom's face. "Paris here. I gather you are awake, Commander. How did you get your combadge back?"

"I did not. I am using Ensign Lang's combadge. However, I do wish to know one thing," the Vulcan continued.

"Shoot."

Silence. "I beg your pardon?"

Tom sighed. "Never mind. What do you want to know?"

Tuvok continued, "Could someone please explain why I am inside Mister Sullivan's establishment, on the holodeck? Wearing only my undershirt and trousers?"


END OF PART 8

Friday, October 29, 2010

"CHARMED" 10th Anniversary Season Three Episodes Gallery



This month marked the 10th anniversary of two Season Three episodes from "CHARMED" - (3.01) "The Honeymoon's Over" and (3.04) "All Halliwell's Eve". Below are photos from both episodes celebrating this landmark:


"CHARMED" 10TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON THREE EPISODES GALLERY

The Season Three premiere episode, (3.01) "The Honeymoon's Over" first aired on October 5, 2000. Directed by Jim Conway and written by Brad Kern, it marked the first appearance of Julian McMahon as the half-human/demon hybrid, Cole Turner aka Belthazor.

(3.01) "The Honeymoon's Over" Gallery




































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The fourth episode of Season Three featured an episode about Halloween. It also turned out to be a time traveling story in which the Halliwells learn about the origins of their ancestor, Melinda Warren. Directed by Anson Williams and written by Sheryl J. Anderson, the episode aired for the first time on October 26, 2000.


(3.04) "All Halliwell's Eve" Gallery
































































Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"THE AMERICAN" Review




”THE AMERICAN” Review

With the disappointing summer movie season of 2010 finally over, moviegoers received one of its first releases for the fall season. The movie in question happened to be a tight little thriller about an American assassin working on a job in Italy called ”THE AMERICAN”.

Directed by Anton Corbijn and starring George Clooney, ”THE AMERICAN” is a film adaptation of ”A Very Private Gentleman”, Martin Booth’s 1990 novel about an assassin named Jack, who is hired to construct a rifle for another assassin in a small town in Italy called Castel del Monte. During his stay there, Jack befriends a friendly, yet observant priest named Father Benedetto; and falls for a young prostitute named Clara. He also tries to prevent himself from becoming the target of another assassin.

I had mixed feelings about going to see this movie. After watching it, my feelings about it remained mixed. One, I managed to predict the end of this movie before I even saw it. And I have never read Booth’s novel. The ending seemed even more apparent, considering the movie’s style and story. Two, the pacing struck me as being unnecessarily slow in some scenes. Now, I am not demanding that Corbijn should have paced ”THE AMERICAN” with the same timing as any of the recent Jason Bourne movies. After all, it is basically a character study of an assassin who has come to realize that he has been in the killing game too long. But there were moments when the camera lingered too lovingly upon some of Jack’s more mundane tasks that I would not have minded avoiding. One last complaint I have about ”THE AMERICAN” is that Rowan Joffe’s screenplay never made it clear who was behind the attempts to kill Jack in Sweden and the assassin who stalked him in Castel del Monte. Mind you, I had a pretty good idea on the person’s identity. Unfortunately, the script never really made it clear.

But there were aspects of ”THE AMERICAN” that I enjoyed. I found George Clooney’s portrayal of the world weary assassin well done. In fact, I could honestly say that he did an excellent job in portraying Jack’s mixture of professional wariness, emotional bankruptcy and hopes of a romantic future with the prostitute, Clara. The role of Jack might prove to be one of his better ones. Both Paolo Bonacelli and Violante Placido, who portrayed Father Benedetto and Clara respectively, gave Clooney excellent support. So did actress Thekla Reuten, who portrayed Mathilde, the assassin that commissioned Jack to construct a rifle for her. However, there were times when she conveyed the femme fatale persona just a bit too thick.

Joffe’s screenplay almost seemed to strike a balance between an in-depth character study and a small, taunt thriller. I say almost, due to the movie’s occasional slow pacing and a vague subplot regarding a threat to Jack’s life. But director Corbijn did effectively utilize some tense scenes included in Joffe’s script. The two best scenes featured Jack’s final encounter with the assassin hired to stalk him around Castel del Monte and the explosive finale that featured a slight, yet surprising twist.

”THE AMERICAN has its share of faults. Nor would I consider to be one of the year’s best movies. But I must admit that George Clooney’s performance as the world-weary assassin, Jack, might be one of his better roles. And director Anton Corbijn managed to strike a nice balance between an in-depth character study and a tense-filled action thriller. I could honestly say that ”THE AMERICAN” might be one of this year’s more “interesting” films.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Top Ten Favorite "LOST" (2004-2010) Episodes



Below is a list of my ten favorite "LOST" episodes from its entire six season run from 2004 to 2010:


TOP TEN FAVORITE "LOST" (2004-2010) EPISODES




1. (2.07) "The Other 48 Days" - This is the episode that made me a full fledged fan of "LOST". I had seen some of the early Season 2 episodes, but this one caught me, hook, line and sinker. I had yet to see the Season 1 episodes on DVD. After nearly five years, this story about the Tail Section survivors' first forty-eight days on the island remains my top favorite.






2. (5.08) "LaFleur" - This wonderful episode featured a combination of a time travel adventure and character study of con man James "Sawyer" Ford and about how he, Juliet and a few others become members of the Dharma Initiative in the 1970s.






3. (3.22-3.23) "Through a Looking Glass, Parts I and II" - This is my favorite Jack-centric episode. It centered on the Flight 815 survivors' attempt to contact the inhabitants of a freighter some 80 miles away from the island and deal with a kidnapping threat posed by Ben and the Others. Not only does this episode marked Charlie Pace's death, but also an ending that surprised many viewers.






4. (1.22) "Exodus, Part I" - In the first of a two-part episode in which Danielle Rousseau shocks the survivors by showing up with a dire warning about "the Others" who are on the island, and the black smoke that precedes them. Meanwhile, Michael, Sawyer and Jin ready the raft for sailing. In flashbacks, we see the survivors final moments before they boarded their fateful flight. This episode features some of the series' more emotional moments.






5. (6.14) "The Candidate" - This emotionally driven and action packed episode featured the survivors' attempts to escape the island for good and dealings with a double-cross that lead to great tragedy.






6. (1.17) " . . . In Translation" - For the first time, fans discover that Jin Kwon is not the overbearing and dangerous husband of Sun that many had assumed him to be. Jin and the other survivors also discover a surprising fact about Sun. My favorite episode about the Kwons.






7. (2.11) "The Hunting Party" - In this episode, Jack leads a small party to find Michael, who has left camp to search for his kidnapped son, Walt. This episode is not very popular with fans, but for some reason I like it . . . a lot. I especially enjoyed Jack's interactions with the two men who have rubbed him the wrong way - Sawyer and Locke - and the flashbacks that featured the break up of his marriage.






8. (5.05) "This Place Is Death" - This well written episode featured Jin Kwon's encounters with a young Danielle Rousseau in 1988, Ben Linus' attempts to convince the Oceanic Six to return to the island; and the time traveling began to affect the remaining castaways on the island with tragic results.






9. (2.08) "Collision" - Ana-Lucia Cortez has always been my favorite character in the series, and this episode featured the violent consequences of her accidental shooting of Shannon Rutherford. The flashbacks featured Ana-Lucia's troubles as a cop in Los Angeles and the episode ended with reunions between the Flight 815 survivors. A personal favorite of mine.






10. (3.18) "D.O.C." - After learning that the Others' pregnant women died before giving birth on the island, Sun-Hwa Kwon allowed former Other Juliet Burke to examine her in the Dharma medical station in this fascinating episode that revealed a betrayal from the past on her part.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"KICK ASS" (2010) Review



Below is my review of the recent Matthew Vaughn spoof on costumed heroes movies called "KICK ASS":


"KICK ASS" (2010) Review

When I first saw the 2004 crime thriller, ”LAYER CAKE”, I thought that Matthew Vaughn would be spending the rest of his directing career in helming movies with a similar genre . . . and become a rival for his colleague, Guy Ritchie. Vaughn proved me wrong. Three years after ”LAYER CAKE”, he directed a fantasy comedy called ”STARDUST”. Then earlier this year, his latest directorial effort hit the theaters – a spoof of the superhero genre called ”KICK ASS”.

Based upon the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., ”KICK ASS” told the story of an ordinary New York teenager named Dave Lizewski, who sets out to become a real-life superhero by calling himself "Kick-Ass". However, Dave gets caught up in a bigger fight when he meets Big Daddy aka Damon Macready, a former cop, who in his quest to bring down the evil drug lord Frank D'Amico, has trained his 10-year-old daughter Mindy to be the ruthless vigilante, Hit-Girl. Big Daddy and Hit Girl’s murderous actions against D’Amico’s operations led the gangster to believe that Kick Ass was endangering his operation. His son, Chris, volunteers to become another costumed vigilante named Red Mist and lure Kick Ass to his doom.

I had considered seeing ”KICK ASS”, when it was first released in the theaters last spring. However, the movie slipped my mind and I never got around to viewing it, until it was released on DVD. After seeing the movie, I must admit feeling a bit of regret that I never saw it in the theaters. I enjoyed it very much. In fact, I would go as far to say that it has become one of my favorite movies in the superhero genre. Adapted for the screen by writer Jane Goldman and Vaughn, ”KICK ASS” provided plenty of laughs, action and pathos. Watching an unskilled high school teenager try to fight hardened criminals through the guise of a costumed vigilante struck me as one of the funniest and absurd things I have ever seen on film. Another bizarre scene that remained stamped in my mind focused on Macready/Big Daddy training his daughter to withstand a bullet to the chest, while wearing a ballistic vest. One would think it would be difficult to laugh at a movie filled with so much graphic violence – even violence directed at adolescents and a 10 year-old. And yet, Vaughn and Goldman, along with the cast, managed to strike the right balance between the laughter, the drama and the violence.

Speaking of the violence, I must admit there were times when I found it slightly hard to bear. One of the scenes I especially had difficulty dealing with centered around Kick Ass’s first attempt as a vigilante – an attempt that led to him being stabbed and severely beaten. It just seemed a bit too much. I could also say the same for the torture that both Kick Ass and Big Daddy endured at the hands of D’Amico’s men and the latter’s death. And I also must admit that at times I found Hit Girl’s murderous rampage against D’Amico’s men rather graphic. The idea of a ten year-old girl killing so many men . . . just seemed a bit too much. But the hardest scene to watch turned out to be Hit Girl’s confrontation with D’Amico. I suppose one could laugh at the idea of a ten year-old girl in a brutal fight against a grown man. But watching it on the screen made it difficult for me to laugh.

As much as I enjoyed ”KICK ASS”, the idea of an ordinary teenager believing he could face hardened criminals on the street without any self-defense training strikes me as being too absurd. Frankly, if I had known someone like Dave Lizewski in real life, I would begin to wonder about his mental capacity. If you really think about it, Dave truly had to be either be a mental gourd or simply a nut case – like the idiot who jumped off that skyscraper at the beginning of the film. A person could argue that Dave was nothing more than a fictional character like Peter Parker aka Spider-man. But would Peter Parker really be stupid enough to face hardened criminals on his own without any super abilities or self-defense training? Even Macready made sure that young Mindy would be trained as a skillful fighter before setting her loose against D’Amico’s men.

If there is one thing that Vaughn could be proud of was the exceptional cast that helped drive ”KICK ASS”. No one felt more surprised than me to learn that Aaron Johnson, who portrayed Dave Lizewski aka “Kick Ass”, was British born and raised. I felt surprised because his portrayal of an American teenager was spot on. Johnson captured all of the emotions, desires and angst of his character with sheer perfection. Another performance that blew my mind came from Nicholas Cage, the soft-spoken former cop and vigilante Big Daddy, who also happened to be an angry and murderous man determined to seek vengeance against mobster Frank D’Amico for ruining his life and career. I believe his role as Damon Macready might prove to be one of the best in his career. I do not know if mobster Frank D’Amico will prove to be one of Mark Strong’s best performances, but I must admit that he did a superb job. He kept the D’Amico character from being a one-dimensional villain and did a great job with the character’s New York accent. If she plays her cards right, ChloĆ« Grace Moretz might become more than just the talented child actress that she is at the moment. Her portrayal of the tough, 11 year-old vigilante, Mindy Macready aka “Hit Girl” was not only entertaining, but almost as frightening as Strong’s villainous turn. The funniest performance, in my opinion, came from Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who portrayed D’Amico’s son, Chris and fake vigilante Red Mist. He provided plenty of laughs as the mobster’s slightly sarcastic son torn between a penchant for costumed heroes and a desire to follow in his father’s footsteps into a life of crime And his fight scene with Johnson nearly had me in stitches. And both Michael Rispoli and Lyndsy Fonseca gave strong support as D’Amico’s cool and clever lieutenant Big Joe and the feisty object of Dave’s desire, Katie Deauxma.

Aside from Vaughn and Goldman’s first-rate script, ”KICK ASS” benefitted from Ben Davis’ colorful and original photography. The film was not only rich in color, it provided some interesting shots that subtly reminded moviegoers that the movie was based upon a comic book series. At least three shots struck me as reminiscent of comic books and one reminded me of another comic book hero movie from the 1990s. One scene featured Macready’s former partner examining drawings that revealed the Macreadys’ tragic acquaintance with D’Amico and how they became a pair of murderous vigilantes. Another featured a close up of Big Daddy on the verge of death, after being tortured by D’Amico’s men. And the last and most obvious featured D’Amico’s death at the hands of Kick Ass. And in a very funny scene that featured Kick Ass and Red Mist's escape from one of D'Amico's burning warehouse brought back memories of the very last shot from the 1995 movie, "BATMAN BEGINS".

Despite my initial reluctance toward ”KICK ASS” and some of its violence, I found myself enjoying the movie. In fact, I will go one step forward in stating that I found it to be one of the better movies this year . . . and one of my favorites in the superhero genre. For the third time since becoming a director, Matthew Vaughn ended up impressing me very much. I cannot wait to see if he can top himself after ”KICK ASS”.