Friday, May 20, 2011

Greatest Things I Saw on TV this week: May 16 - 21

1. The Other Woman - First, you should know that this past weekend Lifetime Movie Network did some awesome programming by having the "The Stars of Spelling Weekend Movie Marathon". 48 hours of made-for-tv-movies featuring the stars of the plethora of Aaron Spelling television shows spanning almost four decades. So many gems, but the movie that Tivo Suggestions decided to record for me was this 2008 spectacular movie starring the awesome Josie Bissett (Melrose Place) and Jason Priestly (BH 90210).

Where do I start? It's a story about a lady (Bissett) who traded a successful career as a tv journalist to teach at a college part time and marry David, a successful defense attorney with a 16yr old daughter from a previous marriage. One night at a company party, a sexy young legal aide named Nicole, boldly tells Jill that she's going to steal her husband. Jill is of course shocked by the weirdo, but kind of blows it off. The psycho stalking, manipulation, and crazy pranks that Nicole pulls off escalate until Jill can no longer ignore the problem and she decides to fight.
When David's boss is murdered in his sleep,and his wife confesses to the murder claiming self defense, Jill turns to old friend and fellow journalist Pete (Priestley) to figure out if Nicole didn't have something to do with it. As soon as Priestly's character is introduced in the first 30 minutes it's telegraphed that he and Jill are going to get together in the end, but you don't really know how it's going to play out because in the beginning Jill's husband is a decent, if COMPLETELY IDIOTIC, guy who clearly loves his 2nd wife. But guess what? Jill and Pete don't hook up! They just renew their friendship and help solve a crime together. Sure, you can surmise that they might get together somewhere down the road, but the ending of this movie was really satisfying because it had such a realistic ending. Also by the end, Jill's hubby is revealed to be a total tool who has in fact been cheating on her. Turns out there isn't really anything sinister about the crazy Nicole chick; she didn't kill the boss guy. She's not a murderer, she's a delusional psycho! The movie ends with Jill wishing David and Nicole the best - she realizes that they're both getting what/who they deserve.
Considering how melodramatic and cheesy this movie could've been I was pleasantly surprised; damn Lifetime, you got me again!

2. The two-part James Frey "apology" episodes on the Oprah Winfrey show - Oy. I've been a Frey defender from the beginning, so I was surprised at how annoyed I was with him during this 2-part reconnection with Oprah, where they rehashed his January 2006 Oprah-thrashing. In the end I was more impressed with Oprah because of her honesty about the criticism she took from close friends of hers about how inappropriately mean and condescending she was to Frey, and about how she lashed out from a place of ego. Oprah actually APOLOGIZED and cried! It was something to behold. But James Frey almost didn't deserve it. I don't know. He just bugged me for some reason. Still, the whole thing was certainly worth 2 hours of my television viewing this week.

3. America's Next Top Model cycle 16(?) finale - For the first time in years (maybe since cycle 5 or 6) my two favorite girls were the finalists. I loved Brittani and Molly from the very first episode of this cycle and my love for them never waned. I championed them through the good times when they both consistently rocked photo shoots and challenges, and I was still there with them when they each had their struggles like Molly having to live with a HORRIFIC weave, or when Brittani lost her shit in front of the client (Ford) and yelled at Alexandria for being such a tool. I told myself going into this week's finale that I loved Molly and Brittani equally and didn't care who won; that was true for the most part but damn if I didn't tear up a little for Molly when she ultimately lost out. I hope IMG is smart enough to give her a contract anyway. They would be fucking fools to lose her to another agency. Happy for Brittani though!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Greatest thing I've seen on TV this week

I watched an episode of the television show Fame this week. It was from season 5 titled "His Majesty Donlon", which focused on Chris (*in a staggering performance by Billy Hufsey) who gets caught up in political intrigue when a Prince Freddy of Vatonia visits New York to make a speech for a United Nations' event.
You see, Chris is the prince's perfect look-a-like, except of course for a birthmark on his chest, so is chosen to switch places with him after Prince Freddy's life is threatened because he's trying to marry some baron's daughter from the USSR?
Oh and CRAZILY the Russian baron's daughter? Is a doppelganger for Nicole (Nia Peeples) who coincidentally is Chris' dance partner for the big ballet performance that the highschool is doing that week. But for some reason they don't really make that big of a deal about Nicole looking identical to the Russian chick? SO confusing.

A couple of things that struck me while watching this gem -
  • The whole "fake twin" plot was such a late 70s/early 80s go-to device but it was usually reserved for shark jumping stage when the show was taking its last gasps before cancellation. And yet, Fame went on for another season and a half after this turd aired.
  • Another cliched trope from that period of television were infinite fake eastern European countries that they were always coming up with. Vatonia? Really?
  • I had completely forgotten that every episode of Fame ended with a song/video/dance routine montage done on the streets of "New York". EVERY episode. 
  • I loved this show so much in my early teen years. I mean seriously loved. Was I on drugs?
*Sarcasm used liberally

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Underrated Movies - For the love of "Absolute Beginners"

The years were 1985 and 1986. I was a teen growing up in the burgeoning hard-core punk scene in Washington, DC and when I wasn't listening to local heroes like Fugazi and KingFace, I was OBSESSED with anything and everything British Mod Revival. The music - Style Council, The Jam, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Specials, The English Beat. The fashion - skinny pegged brushed cotton trousers, Creepers, parkas, and late 50s/early 60s inspired crap. And I wasn't the only one. This scene was seeping into American culture in a lot of big cities. There was a reason that I almost ran away from my tour group when we went to London in the spring of 1986, to steep myself fully in the culture and live a divine life in Notting Hill.

And then there was the 1986 film Absolute Beginners.
It was the visually inventive and energetic pop musical adapted from Colin MacInnes' 1959 cult novel of the same name. Absolute Beginners is like a color-soaked, crazy infectious music video come to life. It's one of the best examples of the fantasy-like movie adaption (like Velvet Goldmine) where they take a staid source material and bring it to the screen in the biggest, over-the-top way possible.
It is the tale of two swinging English teens; 19 yr old photographer Colin, played by the dreamy Eddie O'Connell,  and fashion icon wanna-be (Crepe) Suzette played by the gorgeous Patsy Kensit; set against the backdrop of emerging youth culture and racial tension in late 1950s London. Colin is hopelessly in love with Suzette, but her relationships are strictly connected with her progress in the fashion world. So Colin gets involved with a pop promoter and tries to crack the big time. Meanwhile, racial tension is brewing in Colin's neighborhood, as the rich whites come in to gentrify and redevelop the poor and largely non-white Notting Hill housing estate. As Suzette becomes a success in the fashion business and looks set to leave her street roots behind, Colin is torn between his youthful idealism and his desire to do whatever is necessary to lure her back.

I won't mislead you. Absolute Beginners is silly. The characters are flimsy and two-dimensional. And even though the film is telling a fairly compelling story in an unique way, it largely fails in many ways. BUT what it gets right! The music. The beautiful seeped-in colors saturating every frame. The movie has an "atmosphere" that is really engaging. David Bowie is still so cool both singing the title tune and playing the promoter. It also features the great James Fox and Bruce Payne. There's no shortage of enjoyable moments.
This movie hasn't been on my radar since college, and even then it's probably been a good 23 years sinc I've watched it all the way through. But that's one of the only joys of being confined in bed recovering from surgery; you get to watch wacky stuff on Instant Netflix that you wouldn't normally bother with. I'm so glad I spent my Sunday morning with this blast from the past. Makes me want to dig my blue suede Creepers out of my closet, buy a Vespa, and cruise around town singing "Have You Ever Had It Blue?" at the top of my lungs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Things and things

Quick thoughts on the Season 3 Reunion of RuPaul's Drag Race:

  • The prettiest queens remain Carmen Carrera, Delta Work, and Manila Luzon. These ladies really know how to consistently BRING IT. LOVE their total looks, always.
  • On the other end of the spectrum - um, WTF Shangela?! Why haven't you learned how to put on makeup? Ugh. So ugly. But surprisingly Raja, make-up artist extraordinaire, didn't look good either.
  • Who knew Mariah could be so charming? Can't wait for her turn (and Carmen's) on the upcoming DragU.
  • Not to give her anymore thought than she deserves but, DAMN, Shangela is still the most annoying asshole on Earth.