Dexter: Worst Season to Best

Dexter came to a close two months ago, leaving fans of the show…perplexed with an ending that they never saw coming. Some loved it, some hated it, some grew to love it and the opposite. One thing’s for certain: it was an ending that no one is on the fence about.

As Lady Sovereign once put it,

“Love me or hate me, stillll an obsession.”

Since it’s true that I can’t get Dexter off of my mind, I’ll be listing my least favourite season to my favourite.

Warning: there WILL be spoilers.

8. Season 8

Yes, it’s true. I’m one of the people who really disliked the ending. At first I casted some symbolism onto the ending that made sense, and then I realized, “…No, there’s no symbolism. This ending just really SUCKS.”

My biggest qualm with it is not even the ending. It’s the whole freaking season! It was messy.

Why? Think: Chekhov’s gun, people.

And now think of the arc with Masuka’s daughter or the arc with the PI having  silly little crush on Deb. And now rethink: CHEKHOV’S GUN.

And Hannah was the biggest sore of it all. Hated her character last season, hated her this one. But this time around, the writers used cheap tricks to try to get the viewer on her side. Not. Happening.

The lines in this show started getting unbearably soap-opera-y. Like when Hannah said something along the lines of, “I found more blood on my dress. I didn’t want to wash it off…………..it reminded me of you” honestly who writes this stuff.

7. Season 6.

What makes this season so high up on the dislike-list is that I can hardly remember it. So we have the Doomsday killer, and boy is he boring. There was almost no depth added to his character. Having only watched the season a few months ago, I can honestly say I only remember the last episode.

Why?

Because the last episode had the only actual GOOD part of the season. And it lasted perhaps 37 seconds.

Don’t get me wrong, this season wasn’t retched. It wasn’t hard to burn through. But it pales in comparison to some of the earlier stabs at a season.

While I went through my crazy watch-a-season-of-Dexter a day thing (ahem), this is the season that killed the pattern. That’s saying something! I had NOTHING else to do yet I’d rather do something else.

Also…too much religion talk. I try to escape people’s beliefs whenever I can.

6. Season 3.

This season did something that I wanted to see be done for the first two seasons. But, unfortunately for me, it did it with the wrong character. Miguel. Miguel, Miguel, Miguel… he was the weak point of the season, and he was SO dire to the season. Urgh!

What’s worse, is that the serial killer, The Skinner was another empty serial killer to me. What were his motives again? I don’t remember at all.

And the final episode was anti-climactic as ever. It’s almost like, why didn’t you just do this sooner? That was too easy.

This season wasn’t awful. It still kept me on my toes and got me excited. But in comparison to some of the other seasons, it was WEAK. The first season that the show really started slipping!

5. Season 5

This season seems to get a lot of hate, and I’m not particularly sure why. Maybe because it was the season in the wake of S4, or maybe because people didn’t like the new heroine type character.

If anything, the latter is what threw me off. Now, I didn’t hate Lumen. No, not at all. But I didn’t like her either.

Why?

Because Rita. I will always be on team Rita. And I didn’t appreciate this girl comin’ in so soon after *cough* and steppin’ on toes.

As a character alone, she was fine. But I really disliked the spin that they tried to put on her.

Another thing that was annoying as all hell in the beginning episodes of the season was Aster! AM I RIGHT or AMIRITE?

Overall, decent season with decent killers, but ah, there were better before it, and even better after it.

4. Season 7.

Dexter redeemed itself with this season! Huzzah! Finally us fans had a season that genuinely EXCITED us. There was never one point in my Dexter-watching-career when I was truly sick of the show (as much as I love to cast hate on some of the seasons), but there were so many points that were just too great for words that I gravely missed!

Season 7 brought it back on the map. If you’ve watched that 37 seconds of season 6 that I spoke of earlier, you’d know how this season started: EPICALLY.

The only downside to this season was the introduction of Hannah, who would soon turn into the cancer of the show.

And can we talk about Laguarta? WEEEWWW, rollercoaster!

3. Season 1

And here comes the season that left a first impression on all of us…. the season that made us keep watching in the first place…. season 1!

This season set up what she show should be and is supposed to be pretty perfectly. Unlike other seasons where you may know who the serial killer is, this one keeps you guessing all the way until like, episode 10. And what a delightful shock it is when you find out!

A little Dexter backstory never hurt anyone either! I certainly was not mad!

What a truly epic way to start off a show. Most shows are slow at the beginning and pick up eventually, but as Taylor Swift so lovely put it in her song Sweeter than Fiction, “They never saw you comin’. You hit the ground runnin’. And now you’re onto somethin’.”

Great start out to a great series.

2. Season 4

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I am aware that this is typically at the top of everyone’s list of best Dexter season. And it’s so close to mine too! There’s really not much of a reason why it’s in second place and not first except for ONE minor detail that I’ll reveal later.

This season is the epitome of “HOLY CRAP.” The Trinity killer is easily one of the best serial killers this show has ever seen. They’ve never been able to successfully pick it up from him. He set the bar so disastrously high that nothing after it could even compete.

John Lithgow did an amazing job as Trinity.

In the first episode we find out who the killer is, but this doesn’t ebb the amazement of it at all. Just watch. You’ll see why.

AND 1……….. Season 2!

This season and season 4 are almost on par. This. Season. Was. DOPE.

The reason that I picked it over season 4 is because I absolutely love a cat and mouse chase. Before watching Dexter I watched Death Note. Very similar in premise, VERY different in execution.

This season is probably the closest you’ll get to Death Note.

Why?

Because the serial tracker the police department is trying to catch is none other than Dexter himself! How absolutely fun.

Doakes vs. Dexter was one of the most fun things to watch.

Sure, Lila was annoying but at least she was annoying in a good way…I guess.

Great. Season. All. Together.

Memoirs of a Geisha book review

Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha is a first-person fictive tale that follows the journey of nine-year-old Chiyo to becoming the Kyoto-renowned geisha, Sayuri. The 448 paged novel published by Alfred A. Knopf, hit stores in the fall of 1997. The story is set in Japan before, during and after World War II.

After Chiyo gets sold to a geisha house in Gion, a district in Kyoto, she is forced out of her routinely life back in Yoroido. There, she must endure the years-long training it takes to become a geisha: women who wear lavished kimonos, use hot wax to style their hair, paint their faces stark white, but most of all, women who are the object of a man’s desire. If successful, such men will spend obscene amounts of cash just to be in the company, and be entertained by them.

Along the way, Chiyo meets Pumpkin, a clumsy geisha-in-training, who lives in the same geisha house, the jealous and mean-spirited Hatsumomo, the breadwinner of the Nitta okiya (the house which both Chiyo and Pumpkin belong to), and Mameha, a very successful geisha who takes Chiyo under her wing. There’s also the very important Chairman, who Chiyo meets from an early age, and serves as motive behind her decisions.

The literal translation of ‘geisha’ is ‘artist’ and makes Golden’s use of diction very fitting. His words paint the settings with bright colours. Although the world of geisha is deeply damaged, it’s hidden with a sophisticated and glamorous glow. Golden’s use of the English language highlights that.

What are especially impressive are the adjectives and metaphors that he uses to set up a scene or describe an emotion. They do not come across as a middle-aged American white man speaking, but yet, an eloquent, wise and soft-spoken Japanese lady.

“Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be,” Golden writes in the voice of Sayuri.

The novel sparked controversy when Mineko Iwasaki, a retired geisha who helped Golden with the research, allegedly told him not to refer her by name and was thanked on the beginning pages of the novel. This made Iwasaki and the modern day geisha community furious, both claiming that there are practises portrayed in the book that are factually inaccurate.

The narration in the 2005 movie adaption directed by Rob Marshall starts off with Sayuri saying, “A story like mine should never be told. For my world is as forbidden as it is fragile. Without it’s mysteries it cannot survive.” What happened in the geisha districts during World War II will never be one-hundred percent known. Although the novel reads like a non-fictive piece, readers must view it as what it is: fiction.

The movie stars Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, Michelle Yeoh as Mameha and Ken Watanabe as the Chairman. It picked up Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction and Best Achievement in Costume Design at the 2006 Oscar’s.

Although every breath of smoke, every colour in a kimono and every wave of a fan in the theatrical adaption is absolutely stunning, the movie lacks any real depth. It suffers from over dramatization and a weak script.

The book is more melancholy than it is anything else. Good things happen, bad things happen, but all the while there is this sweeping sadness that haunts the words. There is the sense that being a woman in Japan around this time was more like being a marionette. It forces the reader to think: as happy as this moment seems, is it really all that happy? All of this, that is critical to the overall enjoyment of the story, is lost in the movie.

The book is not without its faults though. Sayuri’s reasons behind her decisions are highly questionable, making her not a very strong female protagonist. Sometimes the descriptions are riddled with too much jargon and it’s hard to remember what the narrator’s describing, or really care for that matter.

In the end, Memoirs of a Geisha is a quick and fairly painless read. There’s not much action or land to be discovered, but it’s a tale unique and interesting enough for readers to burn through. It plays through the age-old themes of love and loss of innocence, but in a world that we’ve not yet indulged in.

Award winning documentary comes to Toronto

Shai Williamson

A&E Reporter

Spinning Plates, an award-winning documentary about the intimate stories behind restaurants, opened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto last Friday.

“A lot of it is just a reflection of the ideal. TV doesn’t necessarily always go deep with its story telling and tell the stories that need to be told,” said director Joseph Levy, a Texas native whose Amusement Park Productions creates film, television and multi-media work. “I wanted to make kind of a poetic love letter that you don’t necessarily hear about.”

Spinning Plates tells the inspirational stories behind three very different restaurants across the United States. Alinea, based in Chicago, has been ranked the seventh best restaurant in the world by S. Pellegrino’s Restaurant Magazine. Breitbach, is a restaurant in the small town of Balltown, Iowa, and La Cocina de Gabby is a Mexican restaurant in Tuscan, Ariz.

Levy said he was very inspired by the idea of filling in the absence of the humanistic side of a restaurant. Having worked for Food Network shows in the past, he noticed that most of the shows about food and restaurant-life are glamorized and cut for very specific audiences.

“The stories [in the film] are very human stories. I think there’s universality,” he said.

The structure of the documentary is built like a restaurant, said Levy. First, people start with an expectation and superficialities, and the more they stay, the more their expectations get turned upside down.

“I think if anything [the film] proved my thesis that food can be so much more than just food,” said Levy.

“Cooking is my creative outlet. It’s like art. I cook because it’s a way for me to express myself,” said Katharine Springgay, who currently works for Alma La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana, a restaurant based in Italy, through the George Brown College culinary program.

“Everything inspires me. My mood, the weather, my friends . . . absolutely everything,” she said.

The documentary has already been the recipient of multiple awards. It won the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Naples International Film Festival. It also picked up Best Documentary at the Maui Film Festival and the Vail Film Festival.

“I think a lot of people have this misconception that documentaries are boring,” said Dane Telford, a fourth-year film and media production student at Humber. “But ultimately they are only boring if you present it in a boring way. You have to pick a topic that matters, that people are excited about, or something you want to convince people is exciting.”

“Overall, I think that this film is a celebration of food, restaurants and life. I think it’s an appreciation for what happens behind the doors of restaurants,” said Levy. “It’s like looking at life through the lenses of these restaurants.”

To find out more about Spinning Plates, including the trailer, visitwww.spinningplatesmovie.com.

Tori Kelly Fall Concert Dates and Locations

Tori Kelly embarked on a fall tour that began at the end of October and went until the end of November. The songstress played songs off of her new E.P., that came out October 22, called Foreward. The E.P. includes inspirational, dancy tunes from Daydream and Rocket to more serious, and stripped down songs like Paper Hearts.

Tori also played fan favourites from her first E.P, Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly, like Celestial, Stained, All in my Head, and the centrepiece: Dear No One.

Since Tori got her start on YouTube doing covers of other artists’ songs, she also preformed some of them live. The songs range from PYT by Michael Jackson, Suit & Tie by Justin Timberlake, and Thinkin’ Bout You by Frank Ocean.

In between dates, Tori also opened for her friend, and fellow musician, Ed Sheeran at Madison Square Garden.

Tori Kelly’s EP FOREWARD review

Up-and-coming California Artist, Tori Kelly released her second E.P. on October 22 this year. The E.P has 5 songs – 4 of which are new, and 1 that is remastered.

Track-By-Track Review:

Rocket -

Tori sets up the rest of the E.P. quite enchantingly with this song. It tells the tale of a girl (Tori herself) who is in her room alone, and embracing it. Because after all, when you’re alone is when your true spirit arises. As a songwriter, this is probably prevent. She sings, “Just me and my fickle heart, lonely never felt so right.”

Dear No One -

Quite arguably the centre piece of the E.P. This song appeared on her last E.P. ‘Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly’, but this time it got a remaster. There’s a bigger sound, for sure. At first I was put off by the production, but eventually I found it to sound like the emotion must feel. She sings, “If you’re out there I swear to be good to you. But I’m done looking for my future someone.”

Treasure -

Everyone’s been there. Everyone’s had moments of blissful joy. You know it’s silly and probably a fickle emotion, but at the time, it just makes you so. Flipping. Happy. That’s what Treasure is about. The beginning stages of a relationship when everything seems to sparkle and glow. Tori happily sings, “Like the way gold lasts forever, I feel like I’ve found my treasure.” Awww.

Paper Hearts - 

My right-now favourite song off of the EP. I’m a sucker for songs that really show the emotional core of someone (which may be the reason why I have such a hankering for Taylor Swift). Although I think that she could have taken it to more depths and made it more emotional, it’s a really enjoyable stab at it. Tori sings, “I hate this part, paper hearts. And I’ll hold a piece of yours. Don’t think I would just forget about it. Hopin’ that you won’t forget about it.”

Daydream - 

The final song on Tori’s E.P. A good song to close this chapter with, and a very personal one for Tori herself. During her show at the Opera house she went into detail about her struggles of finding herself as an artist and who she is. Luckily enough, we all go through these struggles. This song works as an empowering anthem reminding us to keep trying to be who we want to be. Tori sings, “Sometimes you may crawl, let them think that you’re small. It’s all worth the fall when you land where you want to.”

Review of the 2001 Japanese Classic – Spirited Away

BY SHAI WILLIAMSON

Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away has all the enchantment of Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, wrapped around in a coat of social commentary.

The animated piece came out in 2001, and is currently the only Japanese movie to win an Oscar (Best Animated Feature, 2002), and the best selling movie to come out of the country with a gross of US $274,925,095 worldwide.

Spirited Away, or Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi in Japanese, is a fantasy film produced by Studio Ghibli, otherwise known for movies such as Princess Mononoke and My Neighbour Totoro. It’s a coming-of-age story revolving around 10-year-old Chihiro (Daveigh Chase). After her parents’ rash decision to mow-down on food that belonged to the spirit world (they didn’t know this, of course) at an abandoned theme park, they get turned into pigs. When night falls, and after she meets the mysterious Haku (Jason Marsden), she becomes trapped in the spirit world. Haku tells her that the only way to get her parents back will be to get a job at the bathhouse run by Yubaba (Suzanne Pleshette) so that she can stay in the spirit wold without being turned into an animal. Chihiro complies, and is forced to learn selflessness for the sake of her parents.

Along the way she meets Lin (Susan Egan), a sarcastic co-worker who looks over Chihiro like a big sister, Kamaji (David Ogden Stiers), the boiler man of the bathhouse, and most notably No-Face (Bob Bergen), a proverbial empty shell with a lot of room for influence.

Something interesting about a lot of Miyazaki films, and Spirited Away is no different, is that there are no true ‘bad-guy’ characters. There are, on the other hand, characters that you don’t like because they don’t meet the terms of our protagonist, and makes his or her life a little harder. Something commonly used in adventure films is the character who seeks to take over the world with no good reason at all, just for the sake of pulling the story forward. The closest this movie gets to having a bad-guy is Yubaba, who is truly just noncompliant, and cares more about her business than she cares about the well-being of others. She also has a weak spot for her son Boh (Tara Strong).

The attention to detail drawn into this movie is so subtle it goes unnoticed. As someone who’s seen a lot of Japanese animations, the difference is pretty bold. Usually, to lower the budget, backgrounds and motions go in a constant loop. This is found in most animated television shows or movies, not just Japanese ones. An easy way to notice this is to pay attention to the buildings that pass by during a car scene. Sure enough, you’ll begin to recognize them.

The animators of Spirited Away did not cut any corners. Chihiro’s movements are so lifelike, they go unnoticed. In one scene, she’s walking with her parents. Her parents (naturally) take bigger strides than her, and she keeps falling behind. Every few seconds, she picks up her pace to match theirs. It’s a scene that is used to showcase the uniqueness of the new environment that they had just entered, not to show the characters.

Another scene that stands out to me is a scene with Haku and Chihiro freefalling, and struggling to catch each other’s hands. It’s a few-second-long scene that certainly took a lot of time to draw out.

It’s impossible to speak of a Studio Ghibli film without mentioning the stellar music. Joe Hisaishi, who regularly composes the original music for Ghibli films, did this one as well. The pieces are a mix between the heavy-use of pianos to violins and drums. Flawlessly, they set the mood and the pace for the scene.    

The movie that is originally in Japanese, had to be dubbed for an English audience. This unfortunately gave the writers leeway to make the film more ‘Disney-like’. This means some of the words and motives were made lighter and happier. It’s not in-your-face, but if you had watched the Japanese one before watching the English one, you’d certainly notice.

The movie tells a simple coming-of-age story through the use of Japanese folklore. If you’re looking for a movie that consists of explosions or crazy plot twists, this one’s not for you. But if you’re looking for a movie that effortlessly tells the story of a girl trying to make it in a strange land with a colourful cast of characters, and with an old-as-time theme, you should check this one out. You’ll get lost in a land of wonder and enchantment, and you won’t want to leave.  

Power of Love

SHAI WILLIAMSON

I remember one time back in 2009 when my brother died, I experienced one of the happiest moments of my life despite all the emptiness that I felt. It was a day after my brother had passed and I had to put out the garbage for pickup.

I was taking the recycling out of my garage, and a car pulled up in front of my house. For the past day and a half there had been cars coming in and out of our driveway, so I didn’t think much of it. Only, “who is it this time?”

It’s hard for me to describe that moment in words because what I felt next was a sort of numbness.

When she got out of the car, I can remember her running towards me. I must’ve dropped the recycling bin because I was running towards her too, empty handed. I recall that in that particular moment, I had never been happier to see anyone else.

It was my best friend from middle school named Harmony. After high school began, we started frequenting different groups until we didn’t speak at all anymore. But here she was, at my house unexpectedly, hugging me on the front lawn. Grade 10 was almost over, we hadn’t spoken in nearly a year and a half, but here she was.

Months had passed by, but Harmony was still my best friend.

Even to this day I only see her once every few months, but if—for whatever the reason may be—I bring her up in conversation, I always say: “one of my best friends, Harmony…” because the love that you feel for someone has nothing to do with how many hours you clocked into the relationship.

Being 20 is funny because get to see a lot of relationships get serious. Without fail, people always say something like, “I don’t want to get engaged until we’ve been together for X amount of years.” I’ve even been guilty of such thinking myself.

But learning to be tolerant of someone for a long time does not mean that you love them so much that nothing else can grab your attention. To me, it seems like settling. It seems like someone saying, “Well, it’s already worked out for five years, I don’t see why it can’t work out for five more.”

The truth is, is that no matter how much you love someone, it may not work out. Life’s unpredictable and doesn’t come easy for anybody. But there’s something so modest to be said about needing someone so badly it’s worth the risk.

I think we’re trained to stay away from anything shiny and new because it seems superficial. But if it makes you feel a way that nothing before it could, why are we so afraid of it?

I’ve got a lot of friends who I love dearly. But there are only some friends who I love as much as I love Harmony. I may not see or speak to her every day, but to me, the realest kind of love that you can have for someone is the kind of love that doesn’t make sense.

As Lauren Conrad once said, “Love is not a maybe thing. You know when you love someone.” So stop worrying about falling in love. When the time comes, you’ll just know. And if years upon years pass and you still don’t know, don’t feel bad about chasing the shiny new toy.

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