Thelma and Louise

Considering the controversy that surrounded its initial release, an action-packed plot line involving impulsive crime and platonic love-on-the-run, and its iconic ending, “Thelma and Louise” once seemed well on its way to the status of a genre-creating classic along the lines of “Bonnie and Clyde.” Today, it plays like a glossier, more sentimental, and politically charged variation on “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” but there’s nothing wrong with that. Written by Callie Khouri and directed by Ridley Scott, the story is as simple as any western. Tightly-wound waitress Thelma (Susan Sarandon) and too-sweet housewife Louise (Geena Davis) hit the road, ducking her ridiculously chauvinist husband (Christopher McDonald). Their plans for a relaxing fishing vacation die alongside a probable serial rapist (Timothy Carhart) who is impulsively murdered by Thelma after attacking Louise. In no time, the two women are playing cross-country cat-and-mouse with a sympathetic police detective (Harvey Keitel), surviving via some help from Thelma’s smitten boyfriend (Michael Madsen) and armed robbery.

Khouri’s Oscar-winning screenplay feels slightly glib, though its humor, emotion, and some moral complexity remain. Scott’s showy, ultra-confident direction looks great on MGM’s 20th anniversary Blu-ray and involves the usual barrels of ersatz rainwater and a shot of Thelma applying make-up at a crowded ladies’ room mirror that was copied three years later by a famed admirer of Scott in “Pulp Fiction.” Still, it’s Sarandon’s and Davis’ show. When they hold hands at the end as they make their final leap of faith, we’ve got to kind of love these two women and believe they love each other, and we do.

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24 8.23-24: The last day of our acquaintance

There but for the grace of God goes Fox, who dares to air the series finale to one of their most successful shows in the shadow of “Lost,” which was basically the biggest series finale since “Cheers.” Man, do you remember the cast of “Cheers” on Leno’s show after that last episode aired? They were smashed. Good times.

The “24” finale, however, was not good times.

The bad guys won. Allison had the video of Starbuck with the Russian. Mr. Blonde wiped his servers, so the backup copy of the video was gone. The recording of the conversation between I.M. Weasel and Suvarov, which Jack gave to Chloe, was confiscated by Dominic. Chloe and Buffy are looking at long stints in the slammer for treason. Jack is looking at either the death penalty or life in a deep dark hole somewhere halfway around the world, if he’s lucky. Game over. Bad guys win.

Well, that’s how this would have happened in the real world.

But not here. Instead, Jack, Chloe and Buffy are saved by a long-overdue crisis of conscience on the part of one Allison Taylor. One that, ideally, shouldn’t have needed to happen in the first place – this is where frequent commenter Mr. Paulsen would make a crack about manufactured conflict, and he’s not wrong – but there you are. That’s a hell of a way to end your show about an ass-kicking counter-terrorist agent, with him being saved not by his wits but by someone else’s guilty conscience. And by a hell of a way, I mean lame.

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“So what did that Medsker fucker say about me this week? Man, I hate that guy.”


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24 8.22: On with the body count

There’s no other way to say it: the carnage from tonight’s episode of “24” had me positively giddy. Jack Bauer may have dispensed some Dirty Harry-style justice in the past, but this time around, he’s a Terminator. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, and he absolutely will not stop until you are dead. Jesus, I can still feel the small jabs that he hit that hit man with last week, but that shot of Novakovich’s suite littered with dead guys, with Novakovich himself taking a poker to the stomach…that was a thing of beauty. I have been waiting for years to see Jack do something like that. Way to give the people what they want, Fox. I love it when shows finally start acting like they have nothing to lose. Unfortunately, they usually only do this after they’ve lost everything.

Having said that, I’m still unhappy that Jack hasn’t thought to upload the incriminating video to the interwebs. On the plus side, Mr. Blonde still has a copy of it on his hard drive, and since the video is of Starbuck, and Buffy is the one that’s about to pay him a visit, it’s possible that Buffy will get one look at this video and want to blow the whistle whether Jack wishes it or not. Either way, it will be a huge missed opportunity if the world doesn’t see that clip.

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“Hello? Hey, Mr. Rafferty, how are you? Are the royalty checks still coming in?”


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24 8.21: The knife feels like justice

Tonight’s episode of “24” felt like a blast from the past. It was pretty lean in terms of storytelling, it contained a hellacious, if predictable, end-around, and ended with one of the most vicious torture scenes in the show’s history. Pity it had one major, major flaw.

I liked that Dominic was so busy trying to nail down Bauer down that he took no notice of Chloe and Merv the Perv conspiring behind his back. Even when he noticed Chloe giving him The Look (you know the one), he just tinted the windows and kept on scheming. Fool. Nobody puts Chloe in a corner. Still, you’d think Dominic would show a little more diplomacy when safeguarding high crimes committed by the White House. By yanking that file away from Arlo, he may as well have stamped “CORRUPT” on his forehead.

As Jack is setting up the meet with White She Devil, I’m thinking to myself, “There has to be a better way to do this.” Not in terms of getting her the evidence (more on that in a bit), but in terms of meeting out in the open like that. So as it’s going down and he shows up, I knew he’d have a plan, and sure enough, he did. He didn’t care about getting caught on camera – he knew the hit man who took out Crazy Jackie would be there, and could then settle two scores for the price of one. Get the intel, and make the motherfucker responsible for Jackie’s death squeal like a stuck pig before ultimately killing him. Re-enter Mr. Blonde, to get the drop on Dmitri Sharpshooter.

But I have another idea.

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“Let’s see, stab him, then the lighter fluid, then the blowtorch, then the pliers. No, pliers first, the crowd loves it when I open with that.”


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24 8.20: Put me down

Bledsoe: “You won’t take the shot, it’s too risky! I’ll kill her before you…”
Jack: *Blam*

Seriously, that was one of the best deaths in “24” history. Here was Toepick, trying to act all intimidating, when Jack was a mere five or six feet away. He may as well have had the gun on Toepick’s forehead. Heck, I’m pretty sure Jack has made that shot across a windy rooftop with a pea shooter in a previous season.

As Jack continues to thwart I.M. Weasel’s nefarious plans, Logan’s conversations with Allison remind me of a “Simpsons” episode – in full disclosure, it should be noted that pretty much everything reminds me of a “Simpsons” episode – where Apu is trying to get out of his arranged marriage to a family friend, and Homer suggests that he pretend that he’s married to Marge, and Bart and Lisa are his kids. When the plan continues to go wrong, Apu finally grows tired of Homer’s wacky schemes:

Apu: Is it me, or do all of your plans involve some horrible web of lies?
Homer: It’s you.

Logan is Homer. Allison is Apu. Only she’s still going along with Logan’s ridiculous suggestions, even though each one is riskier and more conspicuous than the last one. Again, the woman who sent her own daughter to prison is authorizing Logan to put his assistant (official “24” nickname: Dominic, from his “Dollhouse” days) in charge of the hunt for Jack at CTU. Because that doesn’t look at all suspicious that you’re putting someone in between Jack and Chloe. Yumpin’ yiminy.

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“Well, I say he does have to shoot me now! So shoot me now!”


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