Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Jim Dale, Ellen Greene
Created by Bryan Fuller
Released by Warner Home Video
There isn’t enough nice in the world. That’s probably the funniest thing you’ll ever read on a horror site, but the facts are the facts. Hollywood would have you believe that nice doesn’t sell, so they’ll take some pleasant characters, set them off to live their lives and then most likely drop a house on them or blow up their cat to watch them harden and become “interesting”. “Pushing Daisies” breaks that mold. Clever writing, unique and obscenely sunny cinematography and an underlying root system teaming with dark humor has made this show a veritable shock to the system, and inexplicably, it happens on a plain old broadcast channel right in the middle of prime time. Whoever made that bold move deserves a healthy pat on the back!
As I’d begun to explain, beneath the high contrast colors and blue skies of this idealized mini-city, we follow Ned (Pace), a pie maker with an odd talent. One might say that gift is the amazing smells coming from his shop, the Pie Hole, but those closest to him would laugh and say his talent for resurrecting the dead is much more impressive, though pies do have their place in the magic of this world. With just a touch, the spark of life leaps back into any dead thing, in whatever shape it was left in when it kicked. Those shapes include flattened, gnawed on, well done, punctured, freezer burned and water logged. This particular talent is exploited by Emerson Cod (McBride), private detective, whose recent string of successes can be linked to the questioning of said dead people. The catch here is that after Ned touches a body, they only have 60 seconds to speak their last, last words before they must be returned to eternal slumber with another touch. One touch, living. Second touch, dead forever. If the clock ticks past 60 seconds, someone nearby loses his or her life.
Also of interest is the lovely Charlotte Charles (Friel), affectionately called Chuck, who was the childhood love of Ned, and then recently deceased … and then recently awakened by Ned, who was so flustered with the sight of her again that he let the clock run long and someone paid the price. Now Chuck lives with Ned, both hopelessly in love but not allowed to touch, lest she be cold and lifeless once more. Tragic! It’s sort of like Shakespeare with brighter scenery and the occasional music number.
Also worth mentioning is Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), who works at the Pie Hole and takes care of Ned’s dog Digby, whom he also cannot touch for obvious reasons, and who is also hopelessly in love with Ned (Olive .. not the dog, though I’m sure Digby’s affections are clear). Finally we have Chuck’s shut-in aunts (brilliantly played by Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz … in an eye patch).
If you’re thinking, “Gee, this sounds silly and, as result, stupid”, then this is not the show for you. Put plain as day, the show is jam-packed with silly and over the top, and therein lies its charm. This is a 50’s B-movie shot with excellent actors gifted with impeccable comedic timing and a whole bag of hysterical expressions to throw at the camera. We’ll call it a surrealistically sweet romantic comedy … with dead people. I’ll also add the director’s obvious love for Alfred Hitchcock which surfaces in the occasional homage to Vertigo, The Birds or <>I>Psycho throughout the show. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the over abundance of cleavage in “Pushing Daisies”. I’m not sure if it’s the director or cinematographer or the costumer who is to thank, but God bless them. It’s magnificent … and everywhere.
Now you’ve fallen in love and want to know what else is packed into this DVD love and death fest. Oddly, the extras center around a pie, and clicking on an episode brings you to 1 to 3 plates of pie with a virtual fork! Clicking a piece opens the extra footage, which mixes scenes from the show and interviews with the cast and crew on topics of characters, scene effects, storylines and even the director’s obsession with Hitchcock. Those involved seem to have a genuine love for the show they are creating, and this comes through on the screen. You can’t help but have a good time watching them search their minds for moments they recall or mess with cast members. 18 mini-features in all are found within your pie slices.
Pre-order is the word of the day, as normally you’d be paying 30 dollars for 9 episodes and your little basket of pie extras, but acting now will get you the set for fewer than $20 on Amazon. Say it with me: ”Wow … what a deal!” Actually, $30 is a small price to pay for a thoroughly original show that you’ll find yourself showing to friends for years to come.
4 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
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