Posts Tagged 'Entertainment'

Watch this movie: The Sterile Cuckoo

I stumbled upon a great movie tonight on TCM called The Sterile Cuckoo.  It’s from 1969, a story about a straight-laced guy and a crazy bitch and their doomed romance. Think The Way We Were, but 4 years earlier and less mawkish.

Liza is the crazy bitch.  I don’t need to tell you her last name.  She’s extremely young and extremely awkward and a really interesting character.  I’m immune to the effect of Liza as a gay icon. For whatever reason she just doesn’t do it for me.  Her brand of crazy just seems a little too chaotic for me. I don’t think we could be friends in real life. Therefore I can tell you with all objectivity that she really is great in the role. Her character is this social reject who wills her way into a relationship with a quiet and kind of awkward guy. Their portrayal of being young and in love was so convincing, it actually made me feel things.  The writing is fast and smart, the music is great.  It has a sixties look to the color and texture of the film that may be a turn off to some, but it’s nostalgic to me so I like.

So if you’ve got the nuts to sit through a Liza movie, give this one a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s some clips courtesy of the youtube pirates in case I’ve piqued your curiosity.

Here’s a short clip from the beginning before she gets really nuts:

And another from later on:

Advertisements

Chick Wins a Million Dollars on Wheel of Fortune – What?!

Attention all people who thought Wheel of Fortune was no longer on the air! Last night this chick won a million bucks on that show! Wheel used to be the lamest of TV game shows with contestants rarely winning more than 50K on an episode. All that changed this year with the addition of an extremely complicated million dollar space on the big wheel.

I imagine that I am one of the only people who still watches Wheel of Fortune, at least one of the only ones under 65 years of age. I understand that it is comically boring, the contestants are typically half-wits, and the Pat and Vanna shtick is definitely dated. But I am really good at solving their puzzles, and sometimes a little ego boost is just what I need in my 6:30 time slot.

So anyway, they added this new piece on the big wheel that is a normal size piece divided in thirds. The two outer thirds are bankrupts and the middle part is a million dollars. Okay, so if you happen to land on that middle part, you get to pick up the piece and put it on your little podium. You then have to not get bankrupted for the whole rest of the show. Then if you manage to get the highest money total, you get to go to the bonus round and spin the mini wheel (which has sealed envelopes containing prizes like a trip or a car or 30,000 dollars, there is one slot on the big wheel with 100,000 dollars). If you have the million piece, then they replace the 100,000 envelope with a million dollar envelope. If you happen to have picked that envelope (1 in 25 chance) and you solve the bonus round puzzle, then you win the million. When Pat first explained this a couple weeks ago, I assumed no one would ever win it because it’s so complicated, but sure enough last night some lady beat the odds and took home the million.

Way to go Michelle, it was awesome to see the explosions of confetti and her Vanna hug. But seriously, it would have been even more cool if she hadn’t been able to solve and then opened up the envelope. The whole world would have wept. At least the senior citizens of the world. And me.

Below I pasted the video of her bonus round from youtube. See if you can solve the puzzle and win a million. If you can’t, there’s something wrong with you.

Time Stands Still

I think the Hallidron Collider did in fact create some kind of distortion in the fabric of space time when they turned it on last month, it just only got to Iowa City last week. Last week was one of those weeks that I will forget before the following Monday is over. Seriously, almost nothing of significance happened. Granted I spent much of last week in a strange anxiety bubble which prevented me from making anything of significance happen, but usually things at least happen to me, or around me.

My suspicions were confirmed this morning when I checked the box office results from last weekend and there it was: Beverly Hills Chihuahua is number 1 at box office for the second week in a row. There’s no good explanation for that other than a rogue black hole. Industry analysts suggest that this is evidence of tough economic times leading to increased consumption of escapist entertainment. Possible, but I looked at the other films in the top 10 and I gotta tell you, it’s all looking pretty escapist. Nights in Rodanthe? Please, Diane Lane and Richard Gere could only be coupled in the most obscene of fantasies. Quarantine? A predictably jarring trailer, but hardly high art. Isn’t another good explanation that the intelligensia has all but abandoned movie theaters, leaving the multiplex to be little more than a playpen for minors and their least-common-denominator films? Aren’t the new status symbols of a film buff the length of his netflix queue or the number of downloads on her home computer?

Anyway, it’s not just the movie world that got sucked up by the black hole. There was no elimination on DWTS last week either, with olympic volleyballer Misty May-Trainor inexplicably rupturing her calcaneal tendon in a dance rehearsal. Project Runway aired the dreaded “part 1” of the season finale, a.k.a. all the crap leading up to the big fashion blowout finale without the fashion and without the blowout.

This weekend, I even raked the carpet of pine needles threatening to choke out the grass beneath our three stately pines. I then burned them into oblivion in our sweet fire pit. Hours were spent raking, burning, staring into the thick, white, mashed potato-ey smoke and wiping my inflamed eyes. This morning, the pine needle carpet was born anew.

Here’s hoping that this week something actually happens and the mini black hole that briefly descended upon me will find its way somewhere else. Somewhere harmless. Somewhere where they need for nothing to happen for a while. How about Wall Street?

Thank god for the clarity of Simon Cowell

Clay Aiken came out of the closet this week. Big wow. The fact that a celebrity coming out of the closet (in Clay’s case, an invisible closet) still warrants a splashy front page of People magazine declaring, “Yes, I’m Gay” is disappointing, although it’s clearly an intentional nod to the truly groundbreaking coming out of Ellen Degeneres on the cover of Time Magazine (“Yep, I’m Gay”). I just hope they don’t have to do it again and again when Ricky Martin, Anderson Cooper and Tom Cruise decide to face facts. I do think it’s great though that there’s a gay celebrity out there who isn’t hot at all. Kind of lowers the bar a bit for all us real people out here.

Of course American Idol host Simon Cowell can be trusted to cut the shit and say exactly what the majority of America is actually thinking about this news “bombshell”:

“Wow. That’s a shock. It’s like being told Santa Claus isn’t real. Unbelievable. Good for him. If he said it, it’s the right thing for him. … I don’t think anyone cares. Let’s face it. It’s 2008. You know. Who cares?”

Thank you Simon.

Project Runway redeemed as Shear Genius dies!

Wow, last night’s episode “Fashion that Drives You” really surprised me. Maybe I’ve been underwhelmed by the designers this year in general, or maybe there were just too many to begin with – the gradually ballooning cast has now expanded to an attention-span-stretching 16 self-involved creative types. I think my impressions of the show have also been tainted by its proximity to the sheer horrors of Shear Genius which I foolishly watch every week right afterwards. It really says something when someone like me who knows nothing about cutting hair and could easily be blown away by a well-cut bob is bored week after week after week. Perhaps it is no coincidence that my first real wow moments and lasting impressions on Project Runway for this season happened on a night when I decided to forgo Jaclyn, Kim and the gang.

In any case, I think the cast on Project Runway has finally been whittled down to those who have a consistent and interesting sensibility. In my estimation the judges have done a great job of getting rid of the duller designers quickly and without incident so I can forget them entirely and focus on falling in love with Korto and her repeatedly “africana,” but repeatedly flawless work. Check out her unreal coat dress made of nothing but seat belts. Good lord. I was going to post last night’s winner, the bustled number from the adorably introverted Leanne but it just doesn’t look as amazing in the photos.

Anyway, my picks for the final three are Leanne, Korto and Kenley. It would be out of character for the producers to select three women, but they’re all interesting, consistent and totally different so I’d be into it. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Suede or Terri in the final. In the next couple weeks I expect to see Jerell, Blayne and Joe get the axe. They’ve all had moments of greatness, but mostly just boring crap.

Here’s hoping that the season continues to impress. I can’t imagine it could get worse now that Shear Genius is officially over. The only thing I’ll miss about SG is my weekly fascination with the bizarre facial expressions of the omni-ethnic master colorist Kim Vo. Although he’ll surely continue to have many more crack-infused appearances with Debbie Matenopoulos on E!’s Daily10, so I won’t shed too many tears.

Reality TV Dissected

I spend a lot of time watching reality TV. We all do. Who hasn’t lost a Saturday afternoon to a COPS marathon or fallen off to sleep to the soothing tones of Janice Dickenson berating one of her models? Jason and I had a night of reality TV on Bravo last night, we watched Project Runway and Shear Genius. Why we would choose to watch them back-to-back in the flexible age of the DVR is unknown, but watching the two side-by-side made it very clear that some reality shows are just better than others. Maybe it was most striking because here are two shows that have a very similar message (fashion and hair are amazingly cool and translate well on TV), audience (women and gay men), contestant base (women and gay men) and celebrity star power on the B+/A- list level. Jaclyn Smith may be C list now, but she was full-on A list back in the day, and Kim Vo, well he’s no Michael Kors bubbling over with sarcasm and bile, but you’ve surely seen him on some horrible segment on E! News where you found yourself terrified by his face. Who could have even recognized Michael Kors pre-Project Runway?

Anyway, this awareness of the stratification of reality shows into the good, the bad and the ugly made my mind wander to all the other reality shows out there. Which ones are good, which ones are train wrecks and why? I did some investigation of the science of reality television and found a nice breakdown of the different types of reality shows on Wikipedia. What I present to you here is a summary of that breakdown and some examples of high points and trainwrecks within each category.

Documentary-Style

Special Living Environment

Pure voyeurism – people placed in a unique environment with a bunch of cameras and not much to do. Hall of Fame: Big BrotherI can’t speak for the current season of BB because it started in the middle of our move, but this is a great show that is successful on a global level. There’s just something about hamsters running on a wheel that people everywhere love. Hall of Shame: Real World – although it claims to have invented reality TV, this show has been degraded down to one of the most boring shows on TV in recent years. There’s all kinds of shows that I hate, but everyone else likes. I think everyone is starting to realize what a colossal waste the Real World is now.

Celebreality

Celebrities followed by cameras blurring the line between fact and fiction, fame and success… Hall of Fame: Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-Listone of the most stage-y of the celebreality programs, but that makes it one of the most successful. The banality quotient is reduced significantly by a purposeful attempt to setup and tell a story with each episode. Kathy Griffin may have openly begged for the Emmy, but it was deserved. Hall of Shame: Hogan Knows Best – I’ve never seen an episode of this show that didn’t make me angry AND bored. It was only made worse when it became clear that this show was actually a platform for the Hulkster to launch the careers of his largely undertalented children. It’s The Osbournes without the humor.

Professional Activities

Shows which follow a business or professional in their day-to-day goings-on with widely varying results. Hall of Fame: COPSthe longest running reality show ever was and continues to be successful because of its in-your-face portrayal of a whole other side of society most of us only see occasionally at the gas station. Let’s face facts, this show is not about COPS, it’s about crazy people and their disconnection from reality. Hall of Shame: Blowout – this show was so terrible for so many reasons, not the least of which was the self-proclaimed celebrity of leather-fleshed lead stylist Jonathan Antin. Episode after episode showed his inability to work professionally with others, lack of leadership, utter soullessness (see any episode where he is in a therapy session) and simultaneous inexplicable rise to greater success in the LA hair market. I hate you Jonathan Antin.

Elimination/Game Shows

Dating-Based

These shows have a long history going back to the Dating Game and Love Connection. Recently they have adhered to a strict formula of group dates, solo date passes and rose ceremonies. Hall of Fame: I Love New York 1 and 2I know there are a lot of Tiffany “New York” Pollard haters out there, but the best thing about her shows was her over the top persona and of course the incomparable Sister Patterson. The tone of the show followed suit and did not take itself seriously – a key to success in the world of televised speed dating. Hall of Shame: All Bachelor/ettes – right down to the one-on-ones with uber-bland host Chris Harrison, this show takes itself way too seriously. Every year the contestants claim to have fallen into a magical love in just hours of face time with the chosen bachelor. You never see that kind of deliberate self-deception on I Love New York. Also, I just want to say that for this category of show, a two-hour season finale is NEVER needed.

Job Search

This is probably the most successful format of the reality genre because it does actually display talented individuals and their crafts. It is compelling to see behind the scenes of your favorite industry and to see the future stars of that industry discovered. Hall of Fame: Tie to Project Runway and American Idolboth shows have been wildly successful in their own ways, Project Runway by establishing Bravo as more than just a junky cable arts network, American Idol by dominating the world and making us love and hate ourselves simultaneously. Answer me this, has a season of American Idol ever gone by where you didn’t get chills from a performance one week and then two weeks later wonder why you continue to subject yourself to the torture of phony Coke commercials, “after the break”s and unfunny inside jokes? Hall of Shame: American Inventor – the winner of this show invented a crazy baby car seat that was basically a free-spinning egg that kept baby from getting slammed around by just allowing it to spin indefinitely in the egg chamber. Seriously.

Fear-Based

There’s not much to say about these shows. Sort of like Candid Camera with the emphasis on scaring people. Hall of Fame: Scare Tactics – one of the few great SciFi originals. The show was at its best in the Shannen Doherty-hosted first season. Who wouldn’t want to punk their friends into thinking they are being abducted by aliens or being sprayed by chemical mutagens and then laughing in their face. Hall of Shame: Celebrity Paranormal Project – unfortunately this show just wasn’t scary. It was just celebrities going into haunted locations and pretending to be scared. I still regret making my brother and sister-in-law watch this at our house. I hope they don’t think we actually watch shows that bad all the time.

Self-Improvement/Makeover

These shows are widely varied in the topics they cover, but always involve some kind of sad case, a down-to-the-wire transformation and an emotional reveal. At their best they are inspiring, at their worst they are boring and predictable. Hall of Fame: Tie to The Biggest Loser and Flavor of Love Girls: Charm SchoolI’ve never seen a season of The Biggest Loser that didn’t make me cry and thank god for my fast metabolism at least once. Huge personal transformations with the utmost sincerity. And there is the steadfast hotness of trainer Bob Harper. Charm School on the other hand had largely insincere transformations but the characters on the show were unbelievably funny. Chatar’s yarn-y wig and cha-ching sound effects when she batted her lashes kept me in stitches for weeks. Hall of Shame: Sadly, this dishonor goes to TLC’s While You Were Out – the manbeauty of host Evan Farmer was not enough to redeem this show and its frequently unfinished lackluster transformations. The premise is cool, but the rooms usually looked cheaply done (a la Trading Spaces) and you always got the impression that the designers might have actually been actors who spent a week working at Home Depot for “training.”

There are more categories to discuss, i.e. sports competition, social experiment programs, multi-season cast competitions, but I honestly can’t imagine that anyone would want to read more. Please comment on your best and worst reality shows! Also, I welcome your disagreement on any of mine. I really could talk about this all day, so bring it on!

She’s Got the TVLand

Hey has anyone else out there fallen completely in love with TVLand’s new reality show “She’s Got the Look?” It’s basically America’s Next Top Model for women over 35. These ladies are all total foxes and even as old as 63. Tivo this shit because you will love all of these women. They are such a breath of fresh air after years and years of watching young girls on ANTM who don’t even know who they are. These women know exactly who they are so the show is less about backstage fighting and just more about older beautiful women and awesome photography. I don’t need to explain why as a gay man this show seems to have been assembled just for me. You can expect me to watch this one all the way to the end. Also, Kim Alexis is the hostess and I’m pretty sure she discovered the fountain of youth. The ponies I will be watching in this race most closely are the french lady, the swede, the belly-dancing Wisteria Lane explant, and the oldest black lady. Although truthfully I can almost say I love them all.

An interesting thought though- I’m sure this show got shopped around to all kinds of networks before TVLand (a.k.a. the channel that time forgot) finally picked it up. How terrible is it that TVLand was the one channel that would air something this interesting and “outside the box?” The Oxygen network is higher on the food chain than TVLand and this seems tailor-made for Oprah’s followers. Oh wait, that’s right they have “The Bad Girls Club” on Oxygen. Next time Oprah takes a moral stand against a rapper or a James Frey, I’ll remember that thought.