Monthly Archives: April 2011

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the “Game of Thrones” Pilot

Dear Frank,

So because you and I are both literate adults, students and appreciators of fine pop culture, we are both very in tune with HBO’s tradition of quality television. What does a series stamped with the HBO brand promise? Extreme violence, plenty of boobies and power struggles (the power struggles are what make it classy). Does the first episode of Game of Thrones deliver? Hell yes it does.

The Game of Thrones pilot, based on the books by George R.R. Martin, is, like many pilots, a bit of a shakedown cruise — there’s a roughness to the characterization and the performances that will likely no longer be there in a few more episodes (not to mention a crap-ton of exposition), but is worth forgiving in advance because oh man already so many power struggles! There are pretty much three storylines, which I’ll attempt to summarize quickly and succinctly: Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Arthur” (Not the Remake)

Dear Frank,

So there’s often talk, when an older movie gets remade for modern audiences, if said remake is unnecessary or “too soon” — the answer usually being affirmative on both points. But what a remake does give its source material is some additional awareness– what I’m saying here is that I wouldn’t have watched the original 1981 Arthur this weekend if some Hollywood duder hadn’t said “Original scripts are lame! Let’s insert Russell Brand into some old movie! Are there any classic comedies where the protagonist has a substance abuse problem?”

For the moment, let’s leave the issue of the remake aside; the important thing is, I watched the original. And I enjoyed it! Arthur is, simply told, the story of a very rich guy who’s known nothing else — his name is Arthur, and his tale is told to the soothing beats of Mr. Christopher Cross’s classic tune “Best That You Can Do (Is Fall In Love).” Frank, let’s make this an audio-visual experience today, shall we? Play the below YouTube video so that you can listen to the theme from Arthur while we discuss it. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In Every John Grisham Novel Ever

Dear Frank,

So sometimes, all it takes for an old passion to be renewed is something as simple as Netflix adding The Pelican Brief to its Watch Instantly service. The Pelican Brief AND The Client! What a glorious day that was.

You may not know this about me, Frank, but a large part of my early teens were spent obsessively reading John Grisham legal thrillers. They were my first independent taste of adult fiction — adult fiction that nonetheless can be read by a thirteen-year-old with a very bare-bones understanding of how sexytimes are supposed to work — and from them I gleaned my very shaky understanding of the court system and an odd fondness for jury duty.

But after watching all the Grisham Netflix had to offer and commencing a reread of The Runaway Jury (the only one of his novels I still own, mostly because it’s a weird “traveller’s edition” I bought during a trip to Europe in 1996) I’ve been reminded of why exactly I stopped reading Grisham novels after the age of fifteen — Grisham figured out one story he was good at writing, and while his early novels do enjoy some variation and creativity, he quickly fell into a pattern that has suffered from repetition.

In short, Frank, reading one Grisham novel means that you probably have a good grasp of every other novel, which is part of what made him such a popular author during the 90s. But really, it’s not so much that Grisham wrote the same book over and over again — it’s that many of his books, especially those written between A Time to Kill and The Brethern, take place in a very specific universe.

Here are just some of the Grishamverse’s qualities: Read the rest of this entry

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