Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SOMETHING WEIRD eligible for Innovative Theatre Awards!

So SOMETHING WEIRD...IN THE RED ROOM, that dynamite double feature that ran in October, that you hopefully saw, made up of two tales of spine-tingling insanity, is eligible for nominations and voting at the Innovative Theatre Awards. So if you saw and loved SOMETHING WEIRD...IN THE RED ROOM, now is the time to show your support. It's simple to vote, but first you must register (for free) here, follow the link that will then appear in your email, click the vote tab on the left, choose "Audience Ballot," select the show SOMETHING WEIRD...IN THE RED ROOM, or any other shows you may have seen, and then vote your heart out for all the different categories.

SOMETHING WEIRD...IN THE RED ROOM, co-produced by Junta Juleil Theatrical Productions, LTD., Rachel Klein Productions, and Mr. Spiro, Inc., is comprised of two short plays, Sean Gill's AENIGMA (with Junta Juleil's own Jillaine Gill) and Benjamin Spiro's SIR SHEEVER. Both are directed by Rachel Klein.


SOMETHING WEIRD Off-Off Online Review

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Film Review: RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985, George P. Cosmatos)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 97 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, James Cameron (he wrote the first draft of the script- our man Stallone finished it), Jerry Goldsmith (he did the music on everything from STAR TREK to GREMLINS), Jack Cardiff (he shot everything from Powell & Pressburger's THE RED SHOES to CAT'S EYE), Mark Goldblatt (co-editor here, editor of PREDATOR 2, and director of DEAD HEAT).
Tag-line: "What most people call hell, he calls home."
Best one-liner(s): "Mission... accomplished." [thrusts knife into table]
Best Exchange: "How will you live, John?" "... Day by day."
Element that would have made this the best movie ever: According to the documentary WE GET TO WIN THIS TIME, the producers considered teaming up Stallone with his STAYING ALIVE protégé John Travolta as Rambo's young partner in rescuing the American POWs. Stallone nixed this idea when he decided it would be better to make the film a solo project, thus robbing the camp gods of what could have been a true jewel in the crown.

Imagine if CASABLANCA had a sequel that started right where the first one left off. Rick and Renault go straight from the airport to the armory. They grab machine guns, proceed to the front lines and kill like 5,000 Nazis and end World War II right. The comparison is warranted. FIRST BLOOD is survivalist, psychological, morally ambiguous, practically an art film. RAMBO is a balls to the wall action film. And it's a damned good one. The first shot of the movie is an EXPLOSION. Right off the bat!

BOOM! The only other instance I can think of something like this happening is Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE, which opens immediately with someone getting shot in the head. No set up, no establishing shot, just BOOM! We later get the main title. The word RAMBO is enormous and in FLAMES.

Quite a turnaround from FIRST BLOOD appearing over the muted, misty landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Rambo is offered a chance to do Vietnam Part II, his only caveat being: "Do we get to win this time?" Yeah, Rambo, we do. Cause we're taking the muzzle off John Rambo. We're not going to stay true to the bureaucratic spirit of those damned pencil necks in Washington-screw the paperwork, damn the torpedoes, and send in Rambo. There are two shots in particular that really sum up the film.

One is a loving, leisurely pan from Rambo's glistening bicep, slowly down his forearm to his serrated steel blade as he sharpens it. The other sees Rambo in the jungle as he senses a threat. He whirls around, a snake's neck in his hand. He pauses a moment, considers everything, and lets the snake live. Hey, he's just trying to survive, too. Not like these Communist hordes trying to cling to the last vestiges a war that they wanted, started, loved, and STILL love. Guess they shouldn't have made their villages so flammable. (Also of note: the brief local love interest, Co Bao, speaks lines like "Expendable? What mean expendable?" with perfect enunciation and diction.)

But in the end, it's all worth it just to see the Luddite Rambo destroy an enormous computer with machine gun fire for about two minutes. And don't worry, there's a little bit of context. It's about frustration and revenge and "The Man," which should be easily discernible from the expression on Stallone's emotive face.

Four stars of Jingoist fun. Hey, I'm just along for the ride.

-Sean Gill

Monday, November 24, 2008

Film Review: W. (2008, Oliver Stone)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 129 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Josh Brolin, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, Toby Jones, Stacy Keach, Noah Wyle, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce McGill, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Marley Shelton.
Tag-line: "Get ready."
Best one-liner(s): "There's an old saying in Tennessee- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee- that says, fool me once, shame on- shame on you. Fool me- you can't get fooled again." (also said by the actual President Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002)

"Mr. President, what place do you think you will have in history?" "History?... In history we'll all be dead!" The road to hell is paved with good intentions, sustained by voraciously-devoured turkey club sandwiches and bowls of pretzels, and washed down with buckets of Jack Daniels (this film has got to set a record for Jack Daniels consumption) and eventually a bottle of O'Douls. Oliver Stone's W. is equal parts picaresque, grotesque, Great American Tragedy, and farce. It's just a pity that it had to play out on the world's stage with all of us as spectators and the fates of nations hanging in the balance. Josh Brolin is magnificent as W., and deserves all the accolades he receives for his tragicomic portrayal. Not receiving as much praise, but equally deserving, are Scott Glenn (who plays Rumsfeld as an unhinged, dazed sociopathic old man), Stacy Keach (as Bush's spiritual mentor and head of a burgeoning Texas megachurch), and Ellen Burstyn (as the equally bullheaded but slightly classier Barbara Bush). W. is defined by his food: removing the lettuce from his sandwich during Cheney's E. coli metaphor about WMDs, choking on a pretzel and nearly losing his life, chewing with his mouth open during most first impressions, and giving up pecan pie as a sacrifice for America's bravest giving up their lives. Stone's W. is not depicted as an evil man; instead he's an easily frustrated good old boy who was well-suited for a life of eating snacks, watching the game, playing fetch with dogs, and going on vacation- but not for holding the reins of a nation. Stone takes a bold first step in analyzing a man whom history will have no choice but to condemn, and there's hardly a thing about it that rings false- a true achievement for a film that's largely conjecture.

-Sean Gill

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Film Review: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987, John Carpenter)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 102 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Donald Pleasence (playing Father Loomis here- perhaps a relation of his HALLOWEEN character?), Victor Wong and Dennis Dun (both BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA alumni), Jameson Parker, Alice Cooper, Peter Jason, Alan Howarth, Larry J. Franco.
Tag-line: "Before man walked the slept for centuries. It is evil. It is real. It is awakening."
Best one-liner(s): "Hello... Hello... I've got a message for you... and you're not going to like it." [body splits open to reveal insects]

John Carpenter takes the ball from the Twilight Zone episode "The Howling Man," and runs with it. And, boy, does he run with it. A lot of people have problems with this one: "It's too wordy, too scientific, too slow a build, etc." If that's gonna be a problem, then get the hell out of here right now. Carpenter masters the slow build on this one; he puts the screws on the audience classic-Hollywood style. We've got Satan in a jar of green goo. We've got Donald Pleasence and a host of Carpenter regulars. We've got ALICE COOPER as the king of the homeless people (and using some of his PERSONAL gore props from his stage shows).

We've got Jameson Parker of "Simon and Simon" sporting the most intense moustache in Carpenter's entire filmography.

We've got maggots, zombies, other dimensions, graduate students, and Peter Jason playing the mouth trumpet. And if there's one thing Carpenter KNOWS how to nail, it's an ending. From DARK STAR to THE THING, he's delivered denouements that bring appropriate closure, abruptness, and unease. And Carpy gives us one hell of an existential doozy at the end of this one. I will say no more about it. Here's five green-goo-dipped stars. Keep 'em in that ancient vial, and please keep any graduate students from nosing around.

Also of note: I think it's the only movie trailer I've ever seen where the title of the film itself emerges unexpectedly as a 'scare.'

-Sean Gill

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Film Review: FIREWALKER (1986, J. Lee Thompson)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 104 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Chuck Norris, Lou Gossett, Jr., Will Sampson, Sonny Landham, John Rhys-Davies, Ian Abercrombie.
Tag-line: " A pair of down-and-out fortune hunters cash in on high adventure!"
Best one-liner(s): Will Sampson watches "I Love Lucy": "I don't know why he puts up with her. If she were mine, I'd cut off her nose."

"Stop acting like such a dad-gum sissy. You're getting as bad as that fruitcake girl." Hoo boy, what an unadulterated mess. And it's from the director of THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and the original CAPE FEAR. To be fair, he was well into his 70's, but come on! He could still get it up for Bronson in DEATH WISH 4: THE CRACKDOWN. Why so lazy here? Calling this an INDIANA JONES or ROMANCING THE STONE knockoff seems far too complimentary. Clearly this is an ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD knockoff. This movie is all over the place. The editing is incomprehensible, there's not much action to speak of, there's a fake brass-heavy MIDI soundtrack, the jokes aren't funny... and why is this movie called FIREWALKER, anyway? I guess they say the word "Firewalker" like twice, and then there's a poof of smoke and flash paper at the end. I guess that was enough. But don't get me wrong, there is a whole hell of a lot of walking in this movie, accompanied by terrible banter. Maybe they should have just taken the word "FIRE" out of the title... Oh. How clever. You see what I did just there? Yup. That's about as clever as this movie. And I think they may have blown the budget on John Rhys-Davies (who has a puzzling Southern accent) just so they could pretend it was RAIDERS?

And why does he have an earring? Lee van Cleef had an earring in THE OCTAGON. Is Chuck so egomaniacal that he makes any co-star worth his salt be subtly feminized by forcing them wear an earring? It wouldn't surprise me. Anything else they had left was spent on Oscar-winner and then hot property Lou Gossett, Jr. (who followed his Oscar win immediately with JAWS 3-D). We got awful Kathleen Turner knockoff Melody Anderson,

an emaciated Will Sampson playing an offensive stereotype,

and PREDATOR's Sonny Landham completely wasted as the villain who gets about 4 minutes of screentime.

Why did I give it 3 stars, you ask? Well, Chuck and Lou dress as priests for one scene.

Which lends itself to hilarity when they have to speak Pig Latin as the last rites over the corpse of a political prisoner. Yeah, that's why I like this movie. Cause it's tasteful.

-Sean Gill

Friday, November 21, 2008

Film Review: MISSION TO MARS (2000, Brian de Palma)

Stars: 1 of 5.
Running Time: 114 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Kim Delaney, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Jim & John Thomas (the writers of PREDATOR, PREDATOR 2, and...WILD WILD WEST; MISSION TO MARS effectively buried their careers for good), Ennio Morricone.
Tag-line: "Let there be life."
Best one-liner(s): "The genetic difference between men and apes is only three percent. But that three percent gave us Einstein, Mozart-" "...Jack The Ripper."
Hip, shortened, promotional abbreviation: M2M. "Hey, man, remember that summer ID4 came out? That was a good one." "Yeah, but it couldn't compare to the spring M2M came out, or even the summer of M:I-2. But it was definitely better than the winter of AVP2."

A 1999 letter retrieved from the Buena Vista department of records:

Dear Mr. De Palma,

We're pleased to say that we're greenlighting your picture, giving you a budget of 90 million, and packing it with A-list stars. We strongly believe that there is a market for a new 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY updated with a little APOLLO 13 flavor and sprinkled with a touch of SPACECAMP. I also must say that I agree with your comments about the ending. I concur that we should show the alien as much as possible.

This was the biggest flaw in 2001. We didn't get to see any aliens. But we can't blame Kubrick too much, he didn't really have access to all of this wondrous CGI.

Also regarding the ending: though the script specifies that the creation of life on Earth and subsequent fast-forwarded evolution sequence should be shown visually, we both know that that would be a mistake. We should have the astronauts narrating it, and explaining everything that is shown. This will be majestically beautiful, and I doubt there will be a dry eye in the house. If there still is, we should have the astronaut hold hands with the alien and that will take care of even the staunchest, most resolute, and emotionally barricaded viewers.

I think it's safe to say that it will be child's play to make this better than Kubrick's frankly outdated 2001. If all else fails, keep showing the alien. I have faith in our CGI and your masterful directorial faculties.

Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures

-Sean Gill

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Television Review: THE LETTER PEOPLE, EPISODE 1- MEET MR. M (1974, Elayne Reiss-Weimann & Rita Friedman)

Ah, the Letter People. Part educational tool for burgeoning readers. Part low-budget Lynchian puppet and variety show. Part blurry childhood nightmare. Part purveyor of cryptic social messages. It all adds up to something greater than a half-remembered dream and something less than a concrete piece of culture. Yet thanks to bootlegging, DVD-burning, and YouTubing, those who maintained disbelief for so many years can no longer deny that it did, in fact, exist. And now I have the singular opportunity to review select episodes of this truly whacky series for the thirsty masses. Before I begin, let's hash out an overview. Created in 1972 and first airing in 1974, there were episodes for all 26 letters of the alphabet, and the performance of songs accompanied most of them (Mr. R and Mr. X being notable exceptions, though their songs do exist, in audio-only format). There were extra episodes relating to words and sentences, sometimes taking the form of the game show-within-the-show entitled "The Catching Game," and sometimes taking the form of multi-episode adventures or mysteries. All of my reviews will refer to the original 70's series, as subsequently, in the 1990's, many of the characters were politically corrected. As it stands, most of the Letter People harbor bad habits, poor attitudes , and a penchant for junk food. Others, however, provide eccentricities and refreshing contrast, not only to their brethren, but in some cases, the social mores of the time. The 21 consonants of the alphabet are all male, the five vowels are female. Of the 21 Letter People men, almost all are either frightening pedophiles or flamingly gay. All five of the Letter People women embody ridiculous female stereotypes, but possibly for satirical reasons. As my analysis continues, I believe that the creators of the Letter People and their motives will come more and more into focus.

Episode 1: Meet Mr. M
Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 15 minutes.

Our first taste of the Letter People gives us a great deal of the essential qualities that will eventually become both familiar and lovable: a lasciviously-narrated introduction, emphasis on eating unhealthy foods, stock black backgrounds, low-budget puppets, and unskilled operation of said puppets.

It also gives us one of the most rockin' songs from Letter People Land, with an infectious bass line, sweet drum breaks, groovy Hammond organ refrains, a bumpin' guitar solo, and an echo effect. There's also some kickass graphic overlays and quick edits which officially confirm that this is the missing link between Sesame Street and the Monterey Pop festival.

Now to the man himself, Mr. M. When I said every male member of the Letter People was either a pedophile or flamingly gay, I was not telling a lie. Mr. M clearly falls under the former category, with his round, untrustworthy face; brown suit and nasty 70's tie; oddly-spaced eyeballs; creepy orange toupee; awkward arm movements; and proclivity toward munching whatever he can get his unhinged, toothless mouth on.

Furthermore, he a serious eating disorder, perhaps borne of pedophilic self-loathing, which is ceaseless- from morning to midnight, from midnight to morning:

"I'm Mr. M, with a munchy mouth! My mouth must munch, munch, munch; my mouth has lunch, lunch, lunch! I munch from morning to midnight, midnight to morning; Munchy Mouth, I'm Mr. M! Meatballs, macaroni, mashed potatoes I adore! Marshmallows, maple syrup, melon, milk, there's room for more...for Mr. M with a Munchy Mouth. My mouth must munch, munch, munch; my mouth has lunch, lunch, lunch! I munch from morning to midnight, midnight to morning; Munchy Mouth, meet Mr. M! Milkshakes, marmalade, mayonnaise I adore! Muffins, mushrooms and molasses, more and more and more and more! I'm Mr. M, with a munchy mouth! My mouth must munch, munch, munch; my mouth has lunch, lunch, lunch! I munch from morning to midnight, midnight to morning; Munchy Mouth, I'm Mr. M, with a Munchy Mouth, I'm Mr. M! MUNCHING MOUTH! (fadeout with echo effect, perhaps to give the illusion that you are, in fact, entering his mouth at the finish of the song?) "

So it's the first Letter People episode. So much was said, yet so little. It's a more 'what you see is what you get episode,' in contrast to some which surreptitiously stretch the boundaries and limits of body and mind. Later we'll get into character interactions, complex sets, celebrity lookalikes, more rockin' songs, and the true face of terror.

-Sean Gill

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Film Review: ACTION JACKSON (1988, Craig R. Baxley)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 96 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Carl Weathers, Sharon Stone, Vanity, Craig T. Nelson, Robert Davi (SHARKY'S MACHINE, THE GOONIES), Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from BACK TO THE FUTURE), Sonny Landham.
Tag-line: "NAME: Jericho Jackson. NICKNAME: "Action." HOME: Detroit. PROFESSION: Cop. EDUCATION: Harvard Law. HOBBY: Fighting Crime. WEAPON: You're looking at 'em."

Best exchange: Craig T. Nelson: "You have this nickname - what is it, excitement, enthusiasm, esprit de corps...?
Carl Weathers as ACTION JACKSON: [cutting him off] -It's ACTION!

Though COACH is merely being facetious, I feel as if ESPRIT DE CORPS JACKSON would have been a film well worth seeing.

"How ya like your ribs?" FOOOOOOOOOOSSSSH. Carl Weathers just roasted a dude with a flamethrower. Watching this film is kind of like peering into an alternate dimension where Carl Weathers, not Schwarzenegger, Stallone, nor Gibson, was king of the 80's action flick.

Weathers is a benevolent monarch in this dimension, and ACTION JACKSON is just one work in his enviable oeuvre. Unfortunately, in our dimension, after ACTION JACKSON, Weathers was no longer seen as a qualified driver of star vehicles. In my mind, however, Weathers justifies his legend yet again. Weathers IS Action Jackson. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School who frequently disregards the limits of acceptable use of police force. Like this one time he jumped over a taxi that was trying to kill him. And this other time he proved his mettle in a fight the DVD chapter stops called: "Getting Ballsy in the Poolroom." Once he drove a sports car through a black-tie affair, wrecked it, and then started whaling on dudes- just to make an entrance. Craig T. Nelson is evil incarnate. At one point, you get to see him kung fu fighting Weathers as they both don tuxedos.

Vanity finally gets to show off her years of vigorous training under Stanislavski and Prince. Sharon Stone's around, too, but she's playing second fiddle to Vanity, which I think marked the last time anyone or anything was playing second fiddle to Vanity. All in all, a solid flick. I mean it's no TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. or LETHAL WEAPON, or even a KUFFS, or even a RED HEAT or a DEAD HEAT. Actually, I'm kind of puzzled as to why I gave this four stars. Oh, yeah. Carl Weathers. "How ya like your ribs?" FOOOOOOOOOOSSSSH.

Important side note: note the eerie similarities in cover art between ACTION JACKSON and BLIND DATE.

-Sean Gill

Monday, November 17, 2008

Music Review: LIFE AT THE OUTPOST (1979, Skatt Bros.)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 4 minutes.
Best line: "Hup.../ Shoot 'em up/ Hup.../ Ride / Hup.../ Shoot 'em up/ Hup Hup Hup/ Riiiide"

Now, Jacques Morali's The Village People are a pretty good band, I'm not going to deny them that, but by 1979, it seemed that they had appropriated mustaches, leather vests, aviator glasses, cowboy hats, male bonding, tight jeans, and whacky occupational costumes for their own homosexual subcultural ends, things that had always been mainstays of the straight male beer-swilling, football-watching, arm-wrestling crowd. And it was all well and good to let the gays lay claim to these things for about two years, but by 1979 it was time for straight men to reclaim them. To re-appropriate them. And it took a bold Canadian band known as the Skatt Brothers to take the first steps to doing so with their cowboy disco classic, LIFE AT THE OUTPOST.

The setup is almost genius in its simplicity. It's just about a bunch of guys hanging out at this cowboy bar, the Outpost. Some of them at least are on shore leave, and they're all just sitting back, playing pool, kicking back a few cold ones, and singing a song trying to entice the local ladies, including the tempestuous spitfire Miss Lilly, who happens to also be the night bartender at the Outpost.

The Skatt Bros. were even able to enlist the services of the young up-and-coming actor, Matthew McConaughey, who delivers one of his best, early, impassioned performances. Not until BOYS ON THE SIDE in 1993 would we see such a nuanced, pitch-perfect McCounaughey.

In order to properly reclaim these masculine traditions, LIFE AT THE OUTPOST was charged with the difficult task of showing what it was NOT. Hence, the inclusion and pivotal role of Miss Lilly in the proceedings. But it also had to remind its audience who it was reclaiming these traditions from, hence the inclusion of what could be interpreted by some as homoerotic imagery. But it's also a story song. It indeed does tell a tale; the tale of the underdogs versus the system, a common theme in 1970's works from SERPICO to ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.

The song begins with a plea from the Skatt Bros. to the local ladies: "Give your love to a cowboy man/ He's gonna love you as hard as he can can/ Give your love to a cowboy man/ He's gonna love you as hard as he can." But then the tale begins, a tale a of a ruthless taskmaster determined to stamp out individualism. It is in light of this cruel Sergeant-at-Arms that we begin to understand the source of the men's fieriness and fervency. "Oh, the Sergeant-at-Arms had masculine charms/ he could keep all the ladies waiting/his black leather boots kick the butts of recruits/ what a way to keep up your rating!"

A Skatt Brother is appalled at the abuses suffered at the hands of the evil Sergeant-at-Arms.

There's definitely an allusion, a parallel being drawn between the Sergeant-at-Arms and the cruel Master-at-Arms John Claggart from the Herman Melville classic, BILLY BUDD. In addition, he threatens the men, because furthermore, his masculine charms could steal away the vaunted Miss Lilly, so he becomes doubly frightening. And what a sadistic, calculating, monstrous man- to charm the ladies and then keep them WAITING, when the Skatt Bros. are here, ready, and willing to charm the ladies and sweep them off their feet forthwith, with no wait whatsoever.

Then we come to the venerable Miss Lilly. "The enlisted men/ they all had a yen/ for the lady they called Miss Lilly/ Struttin' around on the cavalry ground/ Just as hot as a love struck filly."

Miss Lilly, the epitome of class, serves drinks to the libidinous clientele of 'The Outpost.'

The men of 'The Outpost' hoist their drinks, fists, boots, and sneakers in honor of their love for Miss Lilly.

Miss Lilly represents what is good in their world. What they all strive for. What tight jeans, cowboys hats, mustaches, and leather vests have always strived for (except for that brief, dark period from 1977-1979), which is heterosexual bliss.

You almost can't tell, due to a preponderance of graphic overlays, but Miss Lilly has succeeded in snaring and riding a cowboy, complete with miniature saddle.

As if to drive this message home, the men become increasingly unhinged as the song reaches its sweaty conclusion. Choreography is discarded in favor of pure energy, one of the men sings the refrain with an almost impossibly deep voice, and McConaughey begins to truly shine as he makes his final, deranged plea for cowboy love in the face of adversity.

All in all, one of the best social message records of the 70's and a historic one at that.

-Sean Gill

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Television Review: MY OWN WORST ENEMY (2008, Jason Smilovic)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is a dark week for Slater enthusiasts and followers of the Slater Factor alike, as some sniveling, cigar-smoking wanna-be hotshot down at NBC has canceled MY OWN WORST ENEMY with one swift, vicious stroke of the pen, thus reducing the Slater Factor to its lowest point in recent memory. Let's hope it doesn't send him on another two-year bender.

I wrote the following review before news of this catastrophe reached my ears, so forgive my misplaced, childish optimism.

So it's MEMENTO meets TRUE LIES meets... the Slater factor?! Yeah, you heard me right. The SLATER FACTOR. In my reviews and in my life, I do a fair amount of pontificating on "the Slater factor." Let me break it down for you: the Slater factor is when Christian Slater gets a little nutty.

In this promotional photo, the depth and poignancy of Slater's dual personalities is wonderfully illustrated by his artful reflection in the car's hood.

He turns on the Nicholson voice, he tosses around one-liners and eyebrows with reckless abandon: in short, the man starts acting like the lunatic he was born to be. It's the Slater of HEATHERS and KUFFS, the Slater who got arrested for leading cops on a car chase and assaulting them with his boots (1989), taking a gun on a plane (1994), biting a cop on the belly (1997), and drunken assgrabbing (2005). Anyway, my point is this: the show's premise revolves around the Slater factor. His character has two personalities: nice guy family man Henry Spivey and psychopathic secret agent Edward Albright, aka the Slater factor (also note they're the first names of Jekyll and Hyde, respectively). As the pilot began, I was slightly disappointed. It was trudging a tedious middle ground between bad BOURNE IDENTITY knockoff and straight-to-video Steven Segal flick. But then, as the switches between personalities began to intensify and the show's premise became more concrete, the Slater factor was allowed to shine. By the end of the pilot, the communication scenes between personalities were clever, well-done, and I daresay had at least a crumb of emotional pull. And that is because Slater is a fine actor. The show's creators have pulled a brilliant narrative coup- spotlight the Slater factor by creating an anti-Slater factor. Play them off of each other. Poof! Genius. Plus we got Madchen Amick from TWIN PEAKS as the missus. So, I'll be watchin' the rest of the season. And when I'm not, I'm gonna be sittin' at home. In the dark. Thinkin' about the Slater factor.

-Sean Gill