Thursday, September 26, 2013


100th Posting for Film Reviews from Two Guys in the Dark!
Here's something much nicer to look at
than what goes on in Prisoners
Since our humble beginnings (no false modesty; we sort of slipped in under the cover of night) on December 12, 2011 (see Two Guys home page) we—OK, I (still sorry that my someday-to-be-writing-partner Pat Craig hasn’t been able to add anything yet, but hope still springs eternal) have arrived at the mark of 100 postings, which includes reviews (counting this one) of 190 films and a few extras such as predictions/winners of the Oscars for 2011 and 2012 films and an ongoing tally of the star levels and posted dates of the films under review.  It has rarely been easy finding the time to compose and post all of this stuff, so I ask ongoing forgiveness for content mistakes and typos that slipped through (my fault), wacky layout problems that just proved to be unfixable (Google Blogspot’s fault), and additional layout inconsistencies that crop up among the various Web browsers (I compose on Safari and find Chrome to mirror it, with slight variations on Firefox; beyond that I can only hope that what you see is somewhat similar to what I intended—the fault there seems to lie with digital technology itself, but I don’t want to complain too much because I’m already under the constant scrutiny of Google and the NSA for various impertinent remarks over the years so I can't complain too much or I'll be back to a #2 pencil, scrap paper, and thousands of stamps).  However, despite any presentational problems from whatever source of obstacle arrangement, I offer heartfelt thanks to the tens of thousands of you (no exaggeration), as tracked by Google (don’t worry; they don’t send me your addresses, Internet or otherwise), from every continent (except Antarctica; I just haven’t been able to woo the penguin audience yet) who have chosen to read these ramblings on anywhere from a superficial to deep-thought basis, which makes the endeavor well worthwhile for me even though the actual replies have been scant and irregular—except from 2 of our most faithful Members:  new friend/frequent contributor, rj (Richard Parker) from Texas, whom I’m willing to consider “the third guy” (or more likely, the actual “second guy” until Pat ever has time to write movie reviews after doing his own SF Bay Area theatre reviews on a regular basis—you can search him within the\ site, which I encourage you to do) because rj’s contributed so much of useful insight in his various replies and old friend/colleague Roger Smitter from Illinois who keeps up with me privately on a weekly basis at my direct email of, which any of you are welcome to do also.

The other essential thanks regarding the ongoing existence of Film Reviews from Two Guys in the Dark go to older-friend-by-the-day (that’s probably not coming out right, but I mean it as a compliment, not as an ageist comment) film critic Barry Caine who encouraged me (and Pat) to begin this venture (and who would probably even be one of our Members—for whatever value that may hold, which I haven’t yet understood, but I do thank all of you who have declared yourselves as such—if I’d ever write something he’d consider short enough to read; sorry I never learned that skill from you—or Pat) and, of course, my marvelous wife, Nina Kindblad—pictured above soaring high over Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, on our recent retirement vacation to Hawaii—who’s supported and encouraged me in all things since we met over 26 years ago, serves as a thought-checking sounding board for my opinions before they go into print and a sharp-eyed proofreader afterward, and gives me additional reasons every day to embrace life (and her), thankful that I could ever be so lucky to have someone so wonderful to share it all with.  I love you, Sweetheart, and always will—even when you drag me off to ballroom dancing at the Hayward Senior Center!

So, fill up your champagne glasses, join us in celebrating one of our early triumphs (just getting past the first year of publication was the first one), and move on to this week’s review, fortunately focusing on one of the best films of 2013 (one that I can proudly say I find myself in exact agreement about with the folks at Rotten Tomatoes, given their 80 average and my 4 of 5 stars [80%], although the reviews at Metacritic come in a bit lower at 73—more details on both in the links cited far below; in general I’ve found that my reviews parallel either one or both of those critics’ amalgamations about 62% of the time [117 of my 190], although my rating was higher on 42 of my other 73 posted in this blog, with 26 coming in lower and 5 in a middle position relative to the positions of these critical collectives—so it’s useful for me to know that my opinions mirror the larger world of reviews about 2/3 of the time but that I’m also a bit independent and somewhat more generous than most, at least in terms of what I see because with only attending about 2 new ones weekly I have the luxury of being steered away from most of the dreck by my more well-known colleagues, therefore enjoying the unpaid luxury of seeing only what I want which usually turns out to be among the better offerings available, such as with Prisoners).
          War, Children, It’s Just a Shot Away
        (and it's nothing to sing about this time)

                        Review by Ken Burke              Prisoners
A gripping drama about the dual horrors of abducted children (along with the twisted motivations of the abductors) and the tortured parents desperate to get them back.

[Take care, curious readers, for plot spoilers gallop rampantly throughout the Two Guys’ brilliantly insightful reviews.  This is how we write, so as to explore what must be said as art transcends commerce (although if anyone wants to pay us for doing this ...); therefore, be warned, beware, and read on when ready to be transported to—well, wherever we end up.

We also encourage you to check your tastes against ours with the summary of Two Guys reviews, which we update with each new posting.  But please be aware that the links we recommend in our reviews may have been removed or modified without our knowledge.  Other overall notations for this blog may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage.  Now, onward to illumination; you may want to protect your eyes from the brilliance.]

Even more than usual, I heed you to believe the plot spoilers warning noted just above (and in general at our Home Page, noted at the start of this posing) regarding this review of Prisoners, because if you haven’t seen it yet I’m going to miserably ruin it for you with the following comments, but there’s no reasonable way for me to write about this highly-effective emotional powerhouse without getting into the specifics, so proceed at your own risk.  Better yet, if you have any thought of seeing this film (and obviously, many already have as it opened with almost $21 million last weekend in well over 3,000 theaters so it’s close to making back half of its budget already—which indicates that its stars were willing to work cheap, given how many of them there are at very high-caliber talent and box-office levels), do so soon and then come back here to spend some time ruminating on what transpired in French-Canadian Denis Villeneuve’s first English-language film and first attempt at conquering mainstream cinema (after a fairly short career as a director, with previous highest praise most likely for his 2010’s Incendies, which deals with twins travelling to the Middle East to learn more about their family’s mysterious past, because it received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film).  Through a quirk of scheduling over the past week (which included a successful medical procedure for Nina’s aching arm, rug-cleaning and other winning battles against fleas on my cats, Annie and Inky [obviously, the shoutouts are flying fast and furiously this week], and attendance at 2 of the last regular-season games of my beloved Oakland Athletics [now repeating as American League Western Division champs, with playoffs toward the World Series just over a week away]) I ended up seeing Prisoners twice, which was useful in clarifying certain plot points which weren’t that clear the first time around for me (so, maybe my spoiler-filled explorations will be useful even for those of you who have seen it already, because if you’re like me there was just too much emotional intensity constantly erupting on-screen to be able to follow every briefly muttered line of dialogue, although the end result of that was still a marvelously-satisfying time in the dark—even darker than you'd expect because Prisoners' images are broodingly low key much of the time, with great impact ).

The multiple-focus of this film is on a collection of broken people, in their various ways all variations on being dysfunctional, disillusioned, and/or desperate.   Some of the major characters begin this narrative unharmed, but by the end of it they’re all in differing stages of the worse for wear with no clear understanding of whether any justice was served, nor ever could be.  The essential crisis, as well presented in the unsettling-but-not-overly-expository-trailer, is that the young children of Keller (Hugh Jackman) and Grace Dover (Maria Bello—although the plot calls for her to become alternately catatonic and near-hysterical from the horrible trauma she suffers, so we don’t see as much of her), along with their close friends and neighbors, Nancy (Viola Davis) and Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), disappear after mid-afternoon Thanksgiving dinner on a cold, rainy day in suburban Conyers, PA.  It’s quickly clear that the girls, Anna Dover (Erin Gerasimovich) and Joy Birch (Kyla Drew Simmons), are nowhere to be found, that they likely were taken by someone in a ragged old RV parked in front of an empty, for-sale house in their neighborhood, and that the rapid finding of the RV with its odd, unresponsive driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), isn’t going to lead to any quick solution to this horrifying mystery (made all the more disturbing through the constant atmosphere of grey skies, rain, snow; ominous music and drumbeats on the soundtrack; POV shots from inside the RV when the little girls are first playing on its rear ladder and other shots that seem to stare at the parents’ houses as if they’re being watched (which, as it turns out, they are, by another suspicious guy that we'll meet later).  All of this might seem a bit overdone in its obviousness, except that the script and performances are all so well-crafted that the exaggerated becomes the sublime within the confining context of Prisoners.

In addition to Jackman’s Keller who dominates the action with his insistent determination to find the girls—whom he frantically wants to still be alive despite the unanswered, angry (secretly fearful) questions he hurls at everyone connected to the kidnapping—and Dano’s Alex, who’s revealed to have the mental capacity of a 10-year-old (and a reclusive, scared one at that, offering nothing to allay any suspicions about his involvement in the assumed abduction), the other main presence in this nerve-wracking drama is the cop trying to solve the case, Police Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal—not to be confused with the Thunder God’s evil brother of the same name [Loki that is, not Gyllenhaal], played by Tom Hiddleston; you’ll see plenty of Tom when Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World comes roaring at you in early November).  Just as we get a bit of a tense vibe from Keller even before the family walks over to the Birch’s house for that holiday dinner—and an eerie feeling about him when he says the “Our Father” prayer before guiding his teenage son, Ralph (Dylan Minnette), in shooting a deer as the entrée for that dinner in the disturbingly-quiet opening shot (calling to mind Fredo Corleone [John Cazale] saying a “Hail Mary” while fishing in The Godfather: Part II [Francis Ford Coppola, 1974] just before his brother-ordered assassination)—and we’re never given any reason to feel comfortable about what Alex’s understandings, motives, or actions may/might be, Det. Loki is not a character intended to put you at ease.  He’s extremely successful at his job, having solved all of his cases up to this one, but we can tell immediately that there’s something tightly-wound about him (illustrated by his habit of wearing his shirt buttoned to the very top but never wearing a tie, as if he’s seen too many movies about Chicano gangs), as well as sad (as shown by his eating alone on that same Thanksgiving night in a Chinese restaurant where even Chinese diners have not ventured out into that inhospitable weather).  The tensions of this kidnapping situation grow exponentially over the several days that it drags on, making Loki all the more ready to snap (if nothing else, because he’s constantly being pushed in that direction by short-fused Keller, whose 9 ½ month sobriety and self-help sinning-avoidance recording/radio station in his carpentry-business truck are being pushed to the limit by his constant worry about Anna and Joy, although you get the sense that his fragile investment in his religion is at question anyway given his here-and-now survivalist orientation, leading to his twin mantras of “Be ready” and “Pray for the best, prepare for the worst”).  My learning-disabilities-specialist wife detects some subtle signs of Tourette Syndrome in Loki’s twitching and sharp responses (early on with Dover, he keeps trying to get the distraught father to back off with repetitions of “I hear what you’re saying," punctuated with “Just let me do my job”), so he’s likely addressing some personal problems even when not caught up in an excruciating, high-profile crime, but with the pressures now on him from Dover on the one hand and his gruff, uncooperative Captain on the other, it’s no wonder that he later loses control at a very inopportune moment, further complicating an already-tangled, opaque situation.

In fact, Loki’s exchanges with Keller Dover (a name as complicated as the man) on several occasions show both actors at their prime, as Jackman explodes in utter frustration at the lack of substantial progress in finding the girls, further provoking Gyllenhaal to the point of suspecting that something further is amiss with Dover when Alex disappears a couple of days later, after being released by the police due to lack of evidence to charge him with anything nor hold him for further investigation.  Despite Dover’s protestations that it’s a complete waste of precious resources to accuse him of anything when the real crime concerns the missing girls, Loki’s concerns are right on target because of 3 things:  Upon Alex’s release Keller rushed to the police station to confront him, whereupon Alex whispered something that Keller had reason to think was proof of the abduction (although later denials by Alex and no corroboration from anyone else leave the police little reason to continue to pursue this disturbed/disturbing young man but one who no longer seems viable as a suspect); when stalking Alex later that night Keller hears him singing a child’s parody of “Jingle Bells” that the girls were also singing on that fateful Thanksgiving afternoon; and—as a result of these first 2 reasons, Keller has, in fact, kidnapped Alex, holding him prisoner in the dilapidated apartment building once owned by Keller’s father (whose own unexplored story, except for the ending where as a prison guard he committed suicide, adds to both his son’s troubled persona and our sense of the constant emotional turmoil that seems to haunt this Northeastern neighborhood).  Dover is convinced that at the very least Alex knows where the girls are hidden, so he takes it upon himself to expand Prisoner’s references to captives to include this young man as well (thereby enlarging the initial concept of the film’s title, in a manner similar to how De Sica’s 1948 Italian Neorealism classic, Ladri di biciclette, should have been translated into English as Bicycle Thieves to refer to the distraught protagonist, Antonio Ricci [Lamberto Maggiorani], who ultimately decides to resolve his tragic situation through stealing, as well as to the first thief [Vittorio Antonucci], rather than the long-standing translation of The Bicycle Thief, which implies absolution of Antonio’s attempted crime rather than acknowledging that the circumstances of the narrative pushed both “hero” and “villain” into regrettable actions, although in Prisoners the crimes are much worse on all sides with our ultimate villain’s rationale far more deluded and Keller’s response much more vicious than the starvation-motivated situations in Bicycle Thieves).  What follows is a violent beat down of Alex by Keller, then his imprisonment in a confined shower stall that allows additional torture with scalding and freezing water in an attempt to break him, to push him to the fearful edge of sanity so that he’ll divulge the girls’ location, even after Keller has reason to believe that they’ve been killed by someone else (based on the reasonable assumption that Alex is too mentally-stunted to have planned the crime and its cover-up, implying that there was an accomplice, which evolving events of the film seem to justify).

The events to which I refer involve (you know, if you’ve seen it already; a surprise if you haven’t and decided to brave this review anyway) the emergence of Bob Taylor (David Dastmalchian), who first appears at a neighborhood candlelight vigil for Joy and Anna, only to run away and escape from Det. Loki after giving off some suspicious vibes.  Then he pops up again (but beknownst only to the audience because none of the other characters see him) entering the darkened houses of the Dover’s and the Birch’s for some unknown reason (where none of the adults are available to encounter him because Franklin’s distraught-but-willing reluctance to aid Keller in the torture of Alex has led to admitting the counter-crime to Nancy so they’re both at the “prison” with Keller and his captive, while Grace is semi-unconscious from prescription meds in an attempt to control her anguish).  When Loki gets a tip from a clerk at a discount store where Bob’s been buying children’s clothes (after a police sketch of him hits the newscasts in connection with the girls’ disappearance), Bob is soon captured in his home where all evidence points to him being the actual kidnapper/killer, especially some locked storage boxes of bloody children’s clothes, a few of which are identified by Keller and the Birch’s as belonging to their daughters.  This doesn’t explain other weird aspects of Bob’s dwelling, though, where the walls are covered with scrawls of never-ending mazes, some of the other storage boxes are filled with live snakes, and a rotting pig’s head occupies the kitchen sink.  Before we can get closure on any of that, however, all hell breaks loose as Loki boils over after several hours of Bob scrawling a maze which is supposed to be a map to the girls’ location, leading to an altercation in the interview room where Bob grabs a gun and kills himself, much to Loki's horrified shock.  Soon after, some answers emerge about Bob, as the forensics team determines that the blood on the children’s clothes came from the pig, leading Loki on a hunch that shows Bob simply stole clothes from the Dover and Birch homes so that he could “participate” in the kidnapping/murder controversy, for reasons that seem to lead again to dead ends until Keller finally torments Alex enough to get him to mumble something about finding the girls in the maze, which leads him back to Alex’s aunt’s home to see what explanation he can find for that obscure clue, although none is forthcoming.  Suddenly, all of the dead ends screech to a halt as Joy is found and hospitalized, barely able to say anything except enough to send Keller racing back to Aunt Holly (a marvelous Melissa Leo, an early contender for another Best Supporting Actress Oscar to go with the one she won for The Fighter [David O. Russell, 2010]) where she turns out to be the surprise perp, forces Keller to drink some of the sedation brew that she kept the girls quiet with, then dumps him in a hole in her back yard under what appears to be a broken-down car, while admitting that she’s soon going to kill his daughter.

Loki’s suspicion that Dover has Alex trapped in the old apartment complex finally pays off when he finds the battered-within-an-inch-of-his-life-young-man, resulting in the Captain’s order for Loki to go notify the aunt which he does just in time to catch her trying to kill Anna with an injection.  This leads to more bloodshed as simultaneous shots result in Holly’s death and Loki’s head wound, followed by his frantic rush to get Anna to a hospital, complicated by the ever-present rain, his blurred vision and wavering consciousness, and the director’s masterful handling of the scene through exquisite cinematography (by the marvelously-talented Roger Deakins, whose extensive, atmospheric-imagery-triumphs include Sid and Nancy [Alex Cox, 1986], Barton Fink [Joel and Ethan Coen, 1991], Fargo [Coen brothers, 1996], House of Sand and Fog [Vadim Perelman, 2003], Revolutionary Road [Sam Mendes, 2008], Skyfall [Mendes, 2012]) and jolting editing (by Joel Cox, who’s worked with Clint Eastwood—among others—on Pale Rider [1985], Unforgiven [1992], Mystic River [2003], Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima [2006], along with Gary Roach, a collaborator with Cox on some of these Eastwood films and others such as Changeling [2008], Gran Torino [2008], and J. Edgar [2011]).  After all of the rampaging chaos, we finally settle into a quiet ending where a patched-up Loki returns to the scene of the crime but is just about to leave for the night when he hears a faint whistle, which we know to be coming from a weakened and wounded Keller Dover, still in the hidden hole, using what his daughter went back to her house to find that fateful day before she spent some time in this hole.  As the screens cuts to black, we can tell Loki is aware of the sound and likely will discover Keller, but where any of these surviving damaged souls will journey for the rest of their lives is unlikely to be known to anyone but their therapists who will likely be able to retire on the income derived from their patients' ongoing miseries.

How you perceive the impact of Prisoners may well depend on whether you see the intricate maneuverings of the plot to be craftily-calculated or just too coincidental to accept.  For one, the other key character that I haven’t even mentioned yet—Holly’s husband and partner in crime—disappeared 5 years before the events of this film yet provides the needed key for Loki to make the connections totally unknown to him just as he enters Holly’s unlocked (unlikely?) front door, sees a photo of the guy wearing the same maze pendent found on the corpse long left in a hidden basement of a pedophile (alcoholic priest, Father Patrick Dunn [Len Cariou], discovered early [and oddly, as far as the rest of the film is concerned, until the strands are all woven together at the end] in the story as Loki was interrogating known child molesters in the vicinity—with the vague explanation from the should-have-been-defrocked-but-is-still-living-at-his-parish-church-priest [Pope Francis, here’s another task for you to help clean up] that he killed the unknown man after hearing his confession that he’d killed 16 children and would kill again), then quickly adds up all of the previously-confusing plot elements and manages to catch Holly just as she administers the intended-fatal injection so that there’s just enough time to attempt to rush Anna to recovery.  Add to this the twist that Alex isn’t Holly’s nephew at all but was the first kidnapped kid after formerly-religious Holly and her husband (sorry, didn’t get his name, even with 2 viewings) decided to “wage war against God” due to the sudden death by cancer of their young son so they abducted and killed children so as turn their parents into God-hating demons, just as was happening with Keller (despite the despair he felt while torturing Alex, even as he continuing in hopes of a last-minute-rescue-breakthrough), leaving us to believe that Alex (who was taken 26 years ago from the vacant house in the film’s first sequence) somehow drove back to his old neighborhood with hazy memories, then just innocently offered the girls a ride prior to his aunt’s renewed desire to inflect havoc on her community.  Finally, we learn that Bob was also abducted by Alex’s supposed-relatives but somehow escaped, yet internalized their fascination with dead children, snakes, and mazes.  It all connects in a well-arranged series of plot dots as well as connecting emotionally with me as a terrifying story of grief-induced maniacal behavior from a collection of skewed or maddening motives, but as much as I admire Prisoners and encourage viewing of it (even if you have hauled yourself through this all-secrets-revealed-review, I know from experience there’s still value to be gained from revisiting this film in person), I can also see (as I’ve read from some other reviewers) that you might feel the coincidences are just too much, the assault on the ultimately-innocent Alex is too disgusting (But how innocent is he?  He knew that his “aunt and uncle” had murdered those other children that the troubled "uncle" confessed about, he knew where Anna and Joy were, but seemingly kept it all inside because through his own years of captivity he had forgotten his parents, bonded with his captors, and possibly didn’t understand enough of what was going on around him to feel the remorse and rejection that Keller—and we—want him to acknowledge.), and there’s virtually nothing decent resolved here except the ultimate rescue of the girls—Joy somehow escaping (shown in quick, ambiguous shots) and Anna lucky enough to enjoy the “kindness of strangers”—so we’re still left with a sickening, empty feeling that such grotesque perverts walk among us, “innocent,” undiscovered, and unpunished, except possibly by chance such as with those women abducted in Cleveland years ago by that monster, Ariel Castro, with their rescue also the result of an unplanned happenstance, with the whole sordid episode possibly no less fantastic in its cruel events than what’s depicted fictionally in Prisoners.  So, you may be overwhelmed by what is intended to unnerve you in this film or you may find ways to fault it if it all seems too carefully-constructed.  What’s not constructed, though, are the cretins who inflict such harm on unsuspecting children and the inhuman responses such crimes may stir up in the families who become desperate to find some solution to their tragedies before the captives die or are lost forever to their former lives.  Prisoners should leave you haunted about that reality, even if the rest of the plot may be perceived as just too convoluted of a maze.

As has become my habit in the last few months, I’ll leave you with some metaphorical music to resonate with your experience of watching or just contemplating the events depicted in Prisoners.  This time around I’ve chosen a couple of tunes that aren’t directly connected with what transpires in the film but instead are more about the sense of loneliness and isolation felt by troubled souls such as Det. Loki and the despondent parents whose children are maliciously taken from them, a mood explored in Judy Collins’ version of “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” (written by Randy Newman), from her 1966 In My Life album but performed here at com/watch?v=phsq-1dEC5w in 1967 on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour TV series (there are many versions of this song available on YouTube [and other locations I’m sure] because it’s been on dozens of albums including by Newman, but there are few voices ever preserved that can match Judy’s so I’m going to use her rendition [further influenced by her recording being only the second cover of the song—after Julius La Rosa in 1966—done notably before Newman himself put it to vinyl]).  Then from the same Collins album, to address the sense of a world gone to hell as experienced by both the kind of ruined humans who would masquerade as Alex’s relatives and the response to their crimes as felt by a unhinged self-declared family protector such as Keller Dover, I offer Judy’s version of Leonard Cohen’s “Dress Rehearsal Rag” (with slightly adjusted lyrics) at also sung years before it was recorded by Cohen, but, if you prefer, here’s a 1968 live version from him done for the BBC at  Even Cohen would admit that the grim contents of “Dress Rehearsal Rag” are “no way to say goodbye” on this celebratory Two Guys occasion; however, with the content of Prisoners being as tellingly morbid as it is I won’t attempt to put any frosting on this burned cake but will just thank life (and whatever it may be directed by … or not) for the gifts of talented filmmakers such as the ones connected on-and-behind-screen to works such as Prisoners that help us confront the darkness that doesn’t always disappear, even when exposed to the bright light of day.  Thanks for coming along with Two Guys on even these unsettling journeys, but we hope to bring you more uplifting ones as well; please stay with us as often as you can. 

If you’d like to know more about Prisoners here are some suggested links: (a very effective trailer in that it gives you all of the conflict points you need to appreciate the dramatic situation and intensity to be explored in the film without giving away critical plot points that drive and supply the added suspense that isn’t even implied in this trailer—besides, dispensing plot spoilers is my job and I think I do it well) (short—2:47—anatomy of a scene from the film, narrated by director Denis Villeneuve showing the growing tension between the characters played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman as criminal suspicion starts to shift to Jackman) (long—42:44—press conference for the film from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival featuring [once you get past another Prisoners trailer and a long promo for TIFF] interviews with music composer Jóhann Jóhannson; producer Kira Davis; actors Terrence Howard, Maria Bello, Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano; director Denis Villeneuve; and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski [who certainly came up with a much better script here than he did in Contraband; review in this blog's January 29, 2012 posting])

As noted above, we encourage you to look over our home page (ABOUT THE BLOG), found as the first one in our December 2011 postings, to get more information on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, including our formatting forewarning about inconsistencies among web browser software which we do our best to correct but may still cause some visual problems beyond our control, as well as difficulties we’ve encountered with the Google RSS Feed Alert when used in conjunction with iGoogle and Google Reader.

Please note that to Post a Comment you need to either have a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile.    Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.


  1. Congratulations on the milestone! I believe I found this blog around the time of Life of Pi which had a similarly mind bending script that needed the comprehensive interpretation that Ken brings us so often!

    The Prisoners is one of the rare films that I too want to watch again for it's craft, twists and powerful performances, particularly by Jackman, Gyllenhaal, and Dano. Dano's character was certainly warped; in one scene he is shown walking his dog and tortures it for amusement by almost strangling it with the leash. Jackman's character sees this and is further convinced Dano is guilty. Jake Gyllenhaal as the loner detective really impressed me and is reason enough to see this film.

    For those who have not seen The Prisoners, go now. You will then further appreciate Ken's ability to capture the essence of any cinematic experience.

  2. Hi rj, Thanks very much for your comments now and for the many previous times that you've shared opinions and added valuable information to the Two Guys reviews.

    Excellent notation on that scene with the dog and Dano (it's not Paul's fault, but every time I write that name I can't help but think of the character on Hawaii Five-0, especially because I've gotten hooked on the new version, if for nothing else but the scenery—and for steering me to Honolulu's La Mariana Sailing Club Tiki Bar when Nina and I were there this summer), which gave me reason to suspect his guilt as well, despite his constant denials.

    Finally, I'll leave this to rj if he wants to put his direct email in one of these comments if any of you would like to have any film-based discussions with him because I can promise you a good dialogue. We've never met outside of cyberspace, but I have great respect for his opinions and knowledge on a great number of topics.

    Please keep up your contributions here, to further verify that we actually do have "two guys" working on this ongoing project. Ken