Sons of Anarchy

Venus Van Dam Again?

As much as I love the talent of Walton Goggins I can’t help but be surprised to see him reprise his role of Venus Van Dam for a third time in the final season of Sons of Anarchy.

Not that there is anything wrong with the role, in fact I think it shows impressive depth from him as an actor. Still, seeing him do it again and taking it a step farther at that by doing a kissing scene really makes me wonder what Kurt Sutter has on Walton Goggins as leverage.

I thought it was a really funny joke the first time he appeared on the show as a cross dressing prostitute. Fans of Sutter’s last show, The Shield, will remember Walton Goggins in the role of Shane Vendrell whose alias was Cleetus Van Dam. Many actors who had roles on The Shield have appeared in Sons of Anarchy but none in quite the same fashion as Goggins. When I saw it the first time I laughed till I was blue in the face and loved it. The second time I felt like it was a bit of overkill and done just for the sake of being progressive and politically correct.

Last night seemed a bit much but I still enjoyed it. This is the last season of Sons and I think Sutter just couldn’t pass up another opportunity to make Goggins dress up in drag again. Regardless the reason I think Goggins continues to shine in the unlikely role and he deserves some credit for it.

This final season of Sons has been incredible thus far and I cannot wait to see how it all ends. Things have been happening really fast and there are still nine episodes left! It looks like things will come to a head with the Chinese next week so it will be interesting to see where it goes from there.

I sincerely hold out hope that we will see one more Shield cameo before it is all said and done. Obviously we won’t see Julien Lowe in a role as Michael Jace disgraced himself and is currently sitting in jail somewhere. We also haven’t seen Catherine Dent or Cathy Cahlin Ryan either but I am not interested in seeing them and I doubt we will. Of course the one I am talking about is the big dog Michael Chiklis himself. Sutter has said that he hasn’t brought him in because he doesn’t want to take anything away from the character of Vic Mackey, or something like that, but I still hold out hope. This show featuring such a heavy crossover of actors wouldn’t be right without Chiklis making an appearance at least so I continue to hope we see him in some capacity before it’s all over.

Chiklis can be seen in the upcoming season of American Horror Story in a key role but that shouldn’t conflict as Goggins also has a key role on another FX show JustifiedIn a perfectly written world it would be really cool to not only see Chiklis but to actually see Vic Mackey himself. The way The Shield ended was never good enough for me because Vic Mackey is not a man who can simply be contained to a desk job. One way or another he would manipulate his situation to get back out on the street and I think it would be really cool for him to come into conflict with the Sons in his new position as some sort of ICE agent. The season seems like it will come to a head with a Sons vs. Mayans all out conflict so my wishful thinking would have Vic Mackey getting involved with illegal aliens within the Mayan ranks. Who knows what will happen, but that would be awesome.

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Sons of Anarchy

I just can’t say enough about how continually blown away I am by this show.  It maintains such an incredible pace storytelling by weaving together so many different story lines.  Kurt Sutter has really built a world in TV that never fails to impress and keep us interested.  Last night was another great episode to another great season.  Tara turning to Jax and simply saying in rage “look at what you’ve done to me!” was a great line.  It’s right up there with Walt telling Hank that if he doesn’t know who he is talking to maybe he should tread lightly on Breaking Bad.  It was just an original phrase that really drove the point home.  It’s not about him cheating, it’s not about the things he has done, or the danger he has put her in.  It’s about the person he has turned her into and she can’t live with who she has become.  That makes their rift so much deeper because she isn’t angry about something that can simply be fixed, and it’s obviously way too late for that anyway if she is willing to go back to the DA.  I love that when she tries to flip on Jax and turn him over to the law that she can’t even accomplish that because he is three steps ahead.  It reminds me of Vic Mackey and I think this show has finally reached a point where it’s just as good if not arguably better than The Shield.  

I want to take an opportunity to simply mention how much I think Jimmy Smits has brought to the show.  When he was first cast I didn’t think it was a great idea and I stayed on the fence about him for some time.  Even after he had proved to be a great character I stayed on the fence but at this point I don’t even know why I ever had doubts.  He has been an incredible addition and I have really come to like the character a lot and how he fits in with Jax’s power structure.

There is something else I would like to say in regards to Walton Goggins playing Venus Van Dam.  I wrote a bit critically about the episode that centered completely around the character because I thought it was a bit much.  Not because of the cross dressing aspect at all but simply because I didn’t think it fit into the story all that well.  I don’t see the men of this club being the type of people open minded enough to be so willing in helping a transgender person and I had doubts that this was going to be something widely accepted by the target audience for the show.  So for the record, I don’t think there was anything wrong with a transgender being on the show, or Walton Goggins playing the part.  I wanted to say that just because I see SO many negative things being searched when people come to our blog to read what I wrote.  I understand people who are uncomfortable with it, but I don’t think such an enormous amount of hate is necessary.  I think Walton Goggins was great in the part, and I think that he is such a badass he can play this type of part and not be criticized for it.  I thought it showed his diversity as an actor and his character as a person because I think it was originally intended as a joke on him.  He took that and made it something serious and compelling. I think it might have gone on a bit more than necessary but I think it was awesome despite that.  As a fan of Kurt Sutter, Walton Goggins, and the shows they have done together I think it was really smart and I appreciate what they did.

Venus Van DAMN!

In the last post I wrote about SOA I went over the characters from The Shield who had played parts in this show.  I specifically mentioned Walton Goggins role on the show as Venus Van Damne.  I thought it was hilarious and awesome the first time he made the appearance and was shocked to see him reprise the role on this week’s episode.  I was out of town earlier this week and didn’t see the most recent episode until today, so excuse me for coming in late on this topic. 

I read once that the studio didn’t want to cast Walton Goggins in a large role on The Shield.  That the producers of the show had to work in scenes to specifically show Goggins’ talent before he was able to get a larger part.  Obviously it worked because the Shane character became one of the most important on the show.  I have always been a fan of Goggins because of his portrayal as Shane Vendrell.  I sincerely miss The Shield but find solace in the success of other FX shows like SOA or Justified. I am no longer up to date on Justified but watched diligently for the first three seasons.  Goggins is incredible on that show and I don’t think there is another actor out there that could play the part.  Goggins was great as Shane, but he was born to play Boyd Crowder. 

When he appeared for a second time on SOA as Nero’s cross dressing girl Venus Van Damne I thought it was hilarious.  What floored me was the direction the scene took and the talent it took for Goggins to effectively play the part to get the right emotional response from it. I think it is a testament to the ability I have already seen from Walton Goggins but others may still not know about it.  Many people probably don’t know him as anybody else but the guy that got his crotch blown off in Django UnchainedI think it’s obvious that he has much more to offer as an actor than simply the role he is typecast into.  I have generally only seen him play the part of the country guy whether it is The Shield, Justified, Django, Predators, or his small part in House of 1,000 Corpses. He is great in that type of part but it is never cool to see a good actor get typecast. All I want to say in the aftermath of his second performance on Sons is DAMN Walton Goggins can act.  It really makes me happy to see an actor I like doing well and I am happy to see Goggins in this funny and oddly interesting part on SOA.

Cold Mountain

Year: 2003
Directed By: Anthony Minghella
Written By: Charles Frazier

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a great movie with fantastic performances and production value.  It tells a compelling story that takes place near the end of the Civil War. Despite my history background I have never been a Civil War buff and while I appreciate this movie it isn’t one that I love.  The movie begins with a very gripping battle scene that sets the tone for the film. I think the love story between Inman and Ada brings the movie down but the rest of the film is good enough to overcome that fault.  This movie is in our collection for one reason and one reason alone, Renee Zellweger‘s performance.  I felt Nicole Kidman was highly overrated at the time and really enjoyed seeing her get her ass handed to her by the ugly chick.  This is one of Zellweger’s finest roles and she earned her Oscar with spades.

This is our second movie in a row starring Jude Law and that is ironic given that neither of us really like him.  Anybody could have played his part in this film though, he does nothing to distinguish himself.  When I say that Kidman was shown up by Zellweger I mean exactly that.  Just when you are really sick of the Ada character Ruby shows up and pumps life into the dismal and depressing story.  Ray Winstone is great as the menacing lawman of Cold Mountain while all the men are away at war.  His albino henchman may be creepy but I want to point him out as Charlie Hunnan.  All the Sons of Anarchy fans need to check out what he was doing before he was Jax Tellar, he must had just lost in a tough decision over the casting of a vampire role. Again for the second movie in a row we get to see the beautiful and talented Natalie Portman in a small role. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a good part as a scandalous preacher in just one of many cameos in the film. Also lending their talents in small roles are Giovanni Ribisi, Brendan Gleeson, Ethan Suplee, Donald Sutherland, and even Jack White of the White Stripes in a rare acting role. These performances collectively make this movie worth your time because they are all great performers.

There is no and never has been a town called Cold Mountain in North Carolina, but there is a Cold Mountain here in our Appalachian mountains.  That doesn’t matter though, it doesn’t change the circumstances of the Civil War that the film covers. I am not a Civil War buff because it feels too cliché, being a southerner and all. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn from the conflict though and a need to understand the time period.  This movie is worth your time because it is a good movie.  I don’t think I have done it justice with this review but watch it for yourself and tell us what you think.

AMBER’S REVIEW

My favorite part of this entire film is Renee Zellweger. She is completely amazing in this film. She shows so much range and depth in this film that you almost forget who she really is. She won the Oscar with this film and I honestly feel like nobody earned it more that year. The whole story is really touching. Aside from the love story that is going on between Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, the story that means the most to me happens in Cold Mountain between Zellweger and Kidman. Kidman is a woman who has been pampered and taken care of her whole life, and when that all falls apart, in moves Zellweger to help her get her shit together. I love the dynamic that the two have together throughout the movie. They truly had amazing chemistry.

The war aspect for me is secondary throughout this film. It is important and what is going on in this small town is touching and affects everyone. There is something for everyone in this award-winning movie and I completely recommend it if you haven’t seen it before.

NEXT MOVIE: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)