The Fault in Our Stars

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Today was supposed to be my day with Tom. I was going to eat popcorn. He was going to die. I planned on getting blasted by 3-D. He was going to die. I was, finally, going to appear in public wearing my Cocktail shirt. And he. Was going. To die. Alas, it was not meant to be. The movie theater didn’t have a 3-D Edge of Tomorrow (crazy, I know). And I only see movies before noon. That left only two options. See DOFP for the fourth time — worth it just for the feels when Jean and Scott pop in — or watch The Fault in Our Stars with an estimated sixty female high school students. One thing’s for sure, tears were going to be shed.

Based on John Green’s best selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars centers around two teenagers who have the all too common misfortune of living with cancer. It’s a story we’ve all heard before, but one no less potent. I was intent on not crying during any point of the film. It was a bold task, this I know, but one I deemed possible. Let’s be honest here. If I can sit through A Walk to Remember without sobbing, this should be amateur hour. Oh yeah, that’s right. I cried uncontrollably at the end of the Mandy Moore classic.

There’s no excuse for letting my guard down back in 2002. I will, however, defend my emotions getting the best of me earlier today. You get the feeling right from the start that there won’t be a happy ending. Terminal cancer is terminal. The film’s acting could have been shoddy, the dialogue stiff, music grating. As it happened none of this was the case. But it wouldn’t have mattered. When you’re dealing with cancer, something every one is or will be affected by, you are going to strike a chord.

At the head of that chord is Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort). I usually cringe when people use the term “chemistry” between two actors. But in this case, there was something there. It piques my curiosity. Why were these two so good together? Did they hang out on the set all day? Before shooting even began? Are they dating in real life like Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone? Or maybe they’re just really good at what they do. I’ll be the first to admit how tacky the relationship between Jamie and Landon is in A Walk to Remember. Don’t get me wrong. I watch it every time it’s on TBS. Yet I won’t deny rolling my eyes at more than a few scenes. And honestly, not once during the two hours did I guffaw during this. Believe me, there were opportunities. But Woodley and Elgort were fantastic. I’ve yet to read the book, so I’m unaware of the accuracy of the casting, but man did I buy every second of what those two were selling.

Willem Dafoe pops up for a bit as Hazel’s favorite author. The character happens to be a huge asshole and Dafoe plays it well. Nat Wolff appears as Isaac, a friend of Gus’s who’s losing his sight to cancer. Much of the comedy comes from Isaac, despite all the laughs Gus received from the teenagers in my audience.

Some of the hardest scenes to watch included Laura Dern and Sam Trammell. They were Hazel’s parents in the film. As good as I believe Woodley and Elgort’s acting was, they weren’t the reason for my watery eyes. They just legitimized it when all the girls in my theater went “awwwwww” every fifteen minutes. No, it wasn’t them or their characters. The parents were what killed me.

The only thing worse than dying of cancer at 16 is being the parent of a kid who dies of cancer.

Hazel says this, or something of the sort, in the film. Maybe my feelings about the quote will change if, I should say when , I get cancer, but until then I’m in full support. Credit to Dern and Trammell. If it weren’t for them I’d be saying how I didn’t hate Hazel and Gus all that much and Willem Dafoe is awesome. With them I’m saying it’s a film worth watching.

This is a solid movie and a sad tale, but not as sad as it’ll be made out to be in the coming weeks. There’s hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands who die of cancer without meeting the love of their life. Most will die alone. There won’t be trips of a lifetime to Sweden. No losing virginities. Just the constant reminder of death slowly upon them. That, to me, is the ultimate sadness. That’s the story I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Because that’s sorrow and despair. And life. The Fault in Our Stars is a fine movie and I’ll be the first to admit I shed tears. But I’ve also cried during Sarah McLachlan’s SPCA commercial. They resonate with me no longer than someone saying “okay”. Okay.

Women Cut the Deepest: Sharp Objects Book Review

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Sharp Objects is Gillian Flynn’s first novel (the second one I’ve read. Gone Girl being the first), about a thirty something year old woman assigned to a murder case in her hometown. The synopsis didn’t interest me all that much, but after enjoying Gone Girl so much I had to see if her talent was blip or trend.

Camille Preaker is one of the more self loathing characters I’ve ever read. As someone who bathes in self loathing daily, I loved every second of it. The book is all in first person, so you get your fill of Camille. She’s sent to Wind Gap, her hometown, to report on the recent murder of a child. Her boss suspects it may be related to a killing one year prior. Camille is hesitant. She has some bad memories of Wind Gap. Mostly regarding her distant mother, the gossipy teenagers, and memories of her hurting herself (in multiple ways), among other things. The murders are secondary to Camille’s battle to stay sane. Nobody’s past is perfect and hers farther than most.

Flynn is known for her dark themes. There were no shortages of disturbing scenes and images in this book. Whether it was the murdered children, cutting ones self, the verbal assault on young adults, or just the depressing aura of the town, this book left me in a somber place. By no means is that a bad thing. I want to feel something when I finish a novel. If that something is a depressing, lump in my stomach feeling, then so be it. That’s when I know I’ve had a good read.

The book ends with an even better twist than Gone Girl. Hopefully Flynn can keep up with these endings (although it’s probably impossible). Heaven knows I’ve read my fair share of books that disappoint when they try to wrap up the story. Not only does this author deliver, but she shocks and surprises, in the best of ways. Here’s to hoping her next book takes me to even darker places.

Silicon Valley – “Proof of Concept”/”Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency”

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This past Sunday left me traumatized to say the least. No. Not for the reason you’re thinking. I mean, yes, my favorite character in Game of Thrones did meet an unfortunate end. But the even bigger devastation was my new favorite comedy, Silicon Valley, ended its very successful first season.

I decided to combine both of the previous two episodes into one review. Richard and the gang spend the majority of both at the Techcrunch Disrupt event. Their first dilemma arises once Erlich admits to having sexual relations previously with a wife of a judge. Monica makes it pretty clear from the start: they need to win this event. Not come in second, not do “pretty well”, they need to win the whole shebang. Oh yeah, and Dinesh might be “code gay”.

The episode ends with Erlich getting assaulted by the judge (for sleeping with his second wife, no less) and Pied Piper is thankfully pushed to the finals. People will do anything to avoid a law suit. After witnessing Hooli’s impressive presentation, Richard realizes that their original concept is no match against their rivals. With only one day until their turn to present Pied Piper to hundreds of people, the guys (specifically Richard) figure out a whole new identity for their company. It only took a group conversation about…

…dicks. That’s right. You all know the scene I’m talking about. And if you don’t, it’s right here for your viewing pleasure.

Okay, so it’s a bit more than just dicks themselves. More so the pleasuring of the penis. You get it, you’ve watched it. Many consider it the funniest part of the series — I myself prefer the “You just brought piss to a shit fight” scene — but it’s undeniably one of their funniest.

In the end, Richard’s new system thing (again I’m tech challenged) is revealed to generate a 5.2 on the Weissman score. Investors are lining up to put their hard earned cash on the train that is Pied Piper. The guys won $50,000 that, according to the judge, “they certainly won’t be needing”. And Monica seems to actually be interested in Richard. You could say his life is pretty good. Until that is, Monica lists all the upcoming, “exciting” future developments he has to look forward to.

Overall this has been my favorite first season of a comedy since “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Truthfully, I enjoyed it more than the adventures of Dennis and company. Does any one else feel like each actor found their home with this show? Martin Starr has perfected his character from Party Down. Kumail (not spelling his last name) makes it seem like he was born to play Dinesh, the stand out of the show. This most definitely applies to Zach Woods, who, it seems for the first time, isn’t playing an unlikeable guy who has a stick up his behind. Thomas Middleditch is Richard Hendrix, and I’m pretty sure they unleashed the kraken when it comes to T.J. Miller.

My expectations are incredibly high going into future seasons. The loss of Christopher Evan Welch is huge. Especially since Monica claimed Peter Gregory would be more “hands on” from now on. I’m in the camp who thinks Peter Gregory should sell his stock in Pied Piper to another billionaire. Even if you have to lose Monica or just have her solely be a romantic interest. Please don’t recast him. Welch put too much of an imprint on that character, even in so little screen time.

What I want most from this show when it’s all said and done is to see a Richard versus Erlich showdown. That’s what I need to see during the last season. As funny as this show is they have an appealing story line. Gavin Henry is still going to try to compete with Richard. People will sue his company for stealing their idea (Facebook disease). But the interview at the end of the episode was what stuck with me. Erlich says, “Richard wrote the code yes, but the inspiration was clear”. And then goes on to ask how many dicks the reporter could jerk off. But the future is there in that quote. Yeah, maybe that’s Erlich being Erlich, but I’m not so sure. He has a valid point. He got them to the finals (not intentionally obviously but still. In his words “I had to fuck a wife and take a punch”) and his dick crack was the inspiration Richard needed.

Whatever Mike Judge and the rest of the crew decide I’ll be on board. One season was all they needed to hook this fish. What can I say, I’m easy prey.

Some Thoughts

  • The dick joke scene deserves all the attention it received, but this was my favorite scene of the finale http://gfycat.com/DapperGlitteringAustralianfreshwatercrocodile#?format=gif
  • Is there a single person out there who likes Big Head? He had his moments in the beginning of the season, but man does he just…suck.
  • David Wallace from The Office shows up in the finale. That is Office alum number two by my count. (Jared being the first)
  • Apparently Mike Judge got Stanford involved for the dick joke scene

  • Heartfelt little tribute at the end credits for Welch. Really going to miss him.
  • I heard more than a few people bash the Green Day at the end of the finale. Three words. “How dare them”

Funny Quotes

  • That might be the last time we see him alive – Dinesh
  • Which one? Which one? Which one? – Jared
  • I set them up for ya, now knock them down. – Erlich after announcing Richard
  • We have the speed, we have the features, and we have….Shakira! – Gavin
  • Do you have any wind machines? I’m going to need two of those. – Erlich

It’s been a wild ride. I’ll certainly miss this bunch. I’m glad I gave this show a chance and I hope you all did too. It’s worth trying the eight episodes out. They’re so short that you won’t be wasting much of your life. And chances are, you’ll love it. If not I’ll fight you. Make sure you don’t bring piss to a shit fight.