You know what really grinds my gears? When people think St. Louis is the most dangerous city in America. Some newspapers and magazines have stated that the city has the highest crime rate in the U.S., but they are referring strictly to the city of St. Louis. According to Google, the city of St. Louis is populated by 319,156 people. The crime rate amidst these 319,156 people has been the highest in the nation at times, but this statistic is omitting roughly 1 million people that live in St. Louis County.
In the United States, there are 42 cities that are independent from a county. 39 are located in Virginia, and the other three are Baltimore, Carson City, and St. Louis. The city of St. Louis seceded from the county in 1876 and the two entities have been separate ever since. The decision to secede seemed wise at the time because the city was growing at a rapid rate. Ever since 1950, though, the population of the city has declined every single year. On the flip side, the county’s population has grown every year until it stalled in the year 2000.
As for crime rates, there is no doubt St. Louis city’s is very high. For example, there were 143 homicides in the city during 2009. In the county, though(which has about 3x as many people), there were only 36 homicides in the year 2009. While the city’s crime rate has consistently been among the highest in the United States, the county’s rate has been steadily decreasing.
So when you read a statistic that claims St. Louis is the most dangerous city in America, take it with a grain of salt. If the city and county were combined, the crime rate wouldn’t be nearly as high, and St. Louis wouldn’t keep attracting such negative publicity. This isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, though, because the rift between city and county is growing wider and wider every year.
So I’m definitely behind since I just finished season 6 of Dexter, but I thought I’d give my thoughts on it anyway. Most people I’ve talked to didn’t really enjoy season 5 because they didn’t like the ending or weren’t a fan of Julia Stiles’ character. Lumen (Stiles) didn’t bother me too much, but I almost couldn’t watch past the first couple episodes because of the constant drama between Dexter, Astor, and Cody. The bickering between those characters seemed never-ending and I was incredibly happy when they sent the kids to live with their grandparents. I thought the show would take off from there, but the season ended with a simple resolution that would allow Dexter to continue killing without consequence.
When this year began, anything could happen. Season 5 ended in a way that the next one could take any direction it wanted without having to constantly pick up the pieces from the past. So the focus this time around was faith. To put it mildly, I wasn’t very intrigued when my friend told me, “Yeah this season’s all about God.” I have nothing against God whatsoever because I believe in Him, but I couldn’t fathom Dexter’s struggle with faith. The code Dexter’s father taught him is the only resemblance to faith he’d ever learned, and that’s the only morality I can see him obeying.
Those were my thoughts early on in season 6, but Mos’ Def’s portrayal of Brother Sam actually had me believing that Dexter could change. Brother Sam wasn’t nearly as deranged as Dexter, but their friendship still worked because Michael C. Hall and Mos’ Def were very comfortable with each other and their onscreen relationship was believable. However, Mos’ Def was killed off and Dexter’s plan to forgive Nick, Sam’s murderer, ended with Dexter killing again. Then, in an odd turn, Rudy, Dexter’s half-brother who he ended up killing, showed up and led Dexter on a road trip to Nebraska.
The inclusion of Rudy as another of Dexter’s imaginary friends took me back to several episodes of Smallville (and that’s not a good thing). Every once in a while, Clark Kent would encounter another kryptonite-like rock (it was red because it was evil) that would affect his personality, instead of his body. This red kryptonite would bring out Clark’s “dark side” and he would lose his inhibitions and do whatever he wanted (basically it was just a way for Clark to hook up with the other female characters on the show). Anyway, Rudy appeared in Dexter’s world like a cheap rendition of red kryptonite. He was forgotten after one episode and there were no repercussions for Dexter’s foolish slaughter of a motel owner.
Rudy and Mos’ Def’s small parts had no real effect on this season just as season 5 had no real effect on the entire series of Dexter. This season, like #4, used the active serial killer method fairly well, in my opinion, but nothing can top the Trinity Killer. Colin Hanks did an admirable job as Travis Russell, but he couldn’t match the intensity John Lithgow put forth in every episode of season 4. The killings this year were almost Saw-esque in some respects (the angel of death, the bowls of wrath), but the strand of apocalypse-related murders somewhat held my attention.
The polarizing issue this year was the increasingly weird relationship between Dexter and Deb (mostly weird on Deb’s part). From season 1, the unrelated brother and sister have been just that, brother and sister. There have never been any hints of sexual tension or anything other than platonic feelings between the two. But this season, a magical therapist determines that Deb loves her brother, and Deb takes the bait. She stalls for about one episode to deny her feelings, but then she is ready to tell Dexter that she loves him, as more than a brother.
Jennifer Carpenter even performed a fairly decent acting job in this situation, but it’s just too far-fetched for me to wrap my head around. I’m not saying a sister couldn’t love her adopted brother because I’m sure it has happened at some point in time. This particular situation just seems like a cop-out. Think about this. If Deb discovered Dexter’s true nature, why wouldn’t she turn him in? Why would she be able to tolerate Dexter’s “dark passenger?” Because she loves him! This just seems like a calculated move by the writers to keep the show interesting for the next two years. Deb will definitely be torn once she knows about Dexter’s killing history, but since she now loves him, it will be hard for her to make sense of her emotions.
My other main problem with Deb’s relationship revelation (yep, I went there) was how predictable it made the finale. Once Debra realized she loved Dexter, I knew she was going to discover his secret. After nearly unveiling his true nature last season, it was inevitable that she would catch him this time around, but I was hoping it would happen before the final episode. This is the same trick used in last year’s finale, and I was anticipating that the writers would be a little more creative. I guess they flirted with the possibility in season 5, and then had to toy with us in this season, too.
I realize that my review of this season is fairly negative, but I know I’ll be watching again come October. The cliffhanger ending may have been predictable and cheesy (did the final line really have to be “Oh God?”), but it served its purpose. I’ll be coming back for more.
P.S. There were some other nit-picky problems in this season like
Why did Dexter use his own cell phone to make an anonymous tip?
Why would he use the church as his kill room when Deb knew that’s where he would be?
Why was Dexter so reckless with some of his murders?
What is up with Louis and his video game? I realize they will probably address him next season, but this just seemed like a neglected storyline.
Once I finished reading the Millennium series from Stieg Larsson, I watched the three corresponding Swedish films as well as Hollywood’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. After countless hours with Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, I had this question on my mind: Is it possible to really enjoy the movies after reading the books?
As for Larsson’s novels, I couldn’t put them down. I was reading them ‘til 5 AM on several occasions and still didn’t want to stop. Each book had its highs and lows, but it was the unpredictability in each that kept me truly entertained. Every time I thought I had predicted the eventual outcome, Larsson would turn the tables and make my head spin. I won’t ruin the surprise with specific details, but at one point I actually put the book down to take a breather.
Larsson was able to create intense, dramatic situations because he gave the reader a dose of each character’s thoughts and rationalizations from their point of view. He spent the most time with Salander and Blomkvist, but he put a lot of effort into some of the more obscure characters to allow the reader a glimpse into their decision making. This is something that couldn’t fully be translated into the films, and that’s why they were no match for Larsson’s writing.
The movies were entertaining, but in my mind they couldn’t compete with the books. There just wasn’t enough time in the films to go into each character’s decisions and the motives behind them. The films had to skip over countless story lines for the sake of the running time.
I’ve read several reviews of the books where people believe Larsson used too much background information. At times I would agree with them, but I usually enjoyed the extra information because it provided a more detailed description of the characters and their predicaments. Those people may have preferred the film, but I am still partial to the books even though I generally enjoy films more than novels.
Back to the initial question: Is it possible to really enjoy the movie after reading the book?
I decided to look at some other films based on books to see if my preference for the written work was a trend.
(Great pic from an article by Charlie Jane Anders, io9)
I will always watch the 1st and 3rd movies during Harry Potter weekends on ABC Family, but they’re still no match for the books.
Winner = books
The Da Vinci Code
The movie was a disaster.
Winner = books
O Brother, Where Art Thou? - The Odyssey
(Photo from megantaittravels.blogspot.com)
This one doesn’t really count because the two are so different, but I’d still pick O Brother every time.
Winner = movies
So that’s only three examples, but I usually prefer the books over the movies. However, the moral of this post is…I definitely need to read more.
SPOILER ALERT!!! YOU SHALL NOT PASS…unless you’ve seen the movie :)
I have been a fan of Ryan Gosling since his minor role in Remember the Titans, but I believe he left a little something to be desired with his performance in The Ides of March. The movie kept me very much entertained, especially during the final half hour of the film, but Gosling’s performance came in third place behind those of veterans Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In the first part of the film, we are introduced to the charming, quick-witted Stephen Meyers (Gosling), who is a valuable aide to presidential candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney). Gosling is almost reprising his role from Crazy, Stupid Love (which was just delightful) except with a little less debonair and a lot more political know-how. He is the immensely important young mind that will push Morris into the Oval Office and everyone has begun to take notice. I have no problem with Gosling in the first part of the film, but once his character must adapt to an ever-popular scandal, (seriously, why can’t politicians keep it in their pants?) his performance can’t keep up.
When Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) tells Stephen about her one-night stand with Morris, Gosling’s reaction is entirely believable. It is when his character discovers Molly’s death/suicide that I become skeptical of the emotions Gosling is trying to convey.
Throughout the film, Gosling’s character is a positive, good-hearted human being. He is involved in the cutthroat world of politics, but it never seems that he is susceptible to the mind games and backstabbing that Giamatti’s character uses. Right after Molly dies, though, Stephen falls prey to all sorts of political immorality.
Sadly, Our Idiot Brother is not the next I Love You, Man. I truly wanted to find it as funny and engaging as the 2010 comedy with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, but it simply isn’t. The jokes in that film come early and often with Rudd and Segel constantly feeding off each other’s humor. Our Idiot Brother has some funny moments, but it’s missing Segel’s essential sidekick quality.
The film follows Ned (Rudd) after he finishes serving time in jail for selling marijuana, to a police officer. The film provides plenty of examples of Ned’s idiocy and some are genuinely funny, but more are too unbelievable. Maybe it’s because my own brother is a smart person but I couldn’t relate to the character’s complete absurdity.
The female characters in the movie (besides Ned’s mother played by Shirley Knight) are polar opposites of Ned. They are smart and in control but are entirely too insensitive. They berate Ned for their own problems in an attempt to truly cast Ned as not only an idiot, but hopeless. The relationships between Ned and his sisters should create comedy but instead we are left with needless drama.
Hey everybody, welcome to my blog. Basically I’m going to use this to post some of my movie and music reviews, but also to force myself to write. I love discussing films and television shows so I want to put some of these ideas on paper, or the Internet, I guess.
A little about me, I’m a senior at Mizzou and I’m currently looking for a job…yuck. I only have one semester left but I might be going to school for a couple more years (more on that later). I’m from St. Louis, Missouri and went to the U High (what! what!) and I’ve loved mostly all of high school and college. Like nearly everyone else in St. Louis, I’m a huge Cardinals and Blues fan and I love to play nearly all sports, especially soccer and tennis.
Other than that, I’ll discuss some of my favorite films and TV shows during my posts, as well as some of my least favorite (I’m looking at you Along Came Polly).