I know, I know. Soap operas... bleh. Right? I get it. I spent many many years pretending to hate soaps. I mean, they're just so ... tacky, right? So silly? So (dare I say) girly?
And we all know there's nothing more embarrassing and classless than the feminine, right?
Yeah, I'm exaggerating, but still. The truth about soaps in that their biggest crime is being "for women." Their story lines are often silly. The acting is exaggerated. Their plot lines ridiculous. Things that never happen in the real world happen regularly in a̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶m̶o̶v̶i̶e̶s̶ , I mean, h̶o̶r̶r̶o̶r̶ ̶f̶i̶l̶m̶s̶, I mean F̶a̶m̶i̶l̶y̶ ̶G̶u̶y̶. Oops! I mean SOAPS. (Enough with the sarcasm, right? I think I've made my point. A lot of things are silly, but things that are "for men" that are silly aren't panned in the same ways soaps are. Just something to think about.)
Anyway, I'm only two paragraphs in and I'm already way off topic.DID YOU HEAR THAT Agnes Nixon's two classic soaps - All My Children and One Life to Live - both cancelled in 2011, have been resurrected and will begin airing again TODAY!?
In Canada, you can watch on FX Canada right on TV. In the States, I think you have to watch online via Hulu. The shows have been reformatted and will now be 30 minutes each instead of a full hour. Tonnes of original cast members have returned (though not all), and in both cases, the shows will jump into the future (5 years in the case of AMC) and only about a year in the case of OLTL, rather than picking up where we left off back in 2011. Here's more from EW,
including some spoilers about the first episodes, which begin airing today. And here's a longer article
about how this all came about, plus an interview with Cady McClain.
I am strangely excited about this. I don't know why. It's not like I've pined since these soaps went off the air. That said, thanks to my mum (who watched a lot of soaps when she was a new immigrant to Canada in the late 70s and early 80s) before it was cancelled, I had watched All My Children, on and off, for more than 25 years. And yes, I often found it ridiculous. But it was also familiar and fun, a constant that I could count on during vacations and sick days. And since it went away, I have felt occasional pangs off loss. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, especially if I'm feeling sort of bummed, a familiar soap is strangely comforting.
Now, I know this isn't a real review. I haven't watched the first episode of the reboot yet (it comes on in less than 15 minutes and I'll be tuning in), but frankly, I don't know that a real review is necessary here. If you used to like either of these shows, I say it'll be worth it to tune in again. And if you hate soaps and always have, you'll hate the reboots as well, whether they're updated and polished up for modern audiences or not.
What I'm really excited about here is just the fact of it - the fact that these shows have returned from the dead. Isn't the internet wonderful? I mean, back in 2011, when ABC decided to pull out, despite a major outcry of dismay from the fans, I thought... "Well, that's to be expected. I get it." I'd already experienced favourites going off the air (My So-Called Life, for example) despite massive "save our show" campaigns run by fans. I'd come to believe outcry was a waste of time.
Remember in 2011 when fans of AMC and OLTO begged people like Oprah Winfrey to step in? Ops said no. Not enough people were home during the day anymore, she said. It wasn't financially viable. But Ops was wrong. And so was I. The old rules don't apply.
Arrested Development will return on Netfllix in less than a month. And my old friend All My Children returns today. The moral of this story is simply that you never know. And any self-respecting soap fan should be able to see just how appropriate that is. After all, soap characters come back from the dead all the time. Never lose hope.
UPDATE: I watched! It was ridiculous! And I LOVED IT. It was just like old times. Some of the acting (especially from one new young'un in particular) was decidedly awful, but I think that's part of the charm of a soap. There have always been a few less-than-talented performers (with pretty faces or hot bods) in the mix, and that's okay. The kid in question may improve with time and even if s/he doesn't, so what? My verdit: Old fans should return. They'll find the waters warm and familiar.
DOUBLE UPDATE: If anyone reading is from the States and doesn't know how to tune in online, watch this video by Cady McClain (AMC's "Dixie") as "Susie Homemaker." She'll fuckin' explain the whole thing. (Love her, by the way.)
FINAL UPDATE: Well, despite great ratings in the first two weeks both All My Children and One Life to Live have been cut back to just two eps a week (half hour eps, so that means only one hour of each show per week, total.) Thanks to the cut back, FX Canada has stopped airing both shows and has switched to reruns of 30 Rock instead. So, basically, this seems like a pretty massive failure of a comeback. Soaps were designed to be slow moving - to allow housewives to tune in when they could and to be able to miss episodes without falling too far behind. That format wåas one of the best things about it. I don't know what this new one hour a week format is going to be like, but it sure won't be a soap. High hopes, dashed dreams. We'll see how other fans take it, but I'm not holding my breath.
Have you heard of My Mad Fat Teenage Diary? It's an hour-long British TV show (a comedy/drama) that came out this past January starring Sharon Rooney. It's based on the book My Mad Fat Teenage Diary, which itself is based on the actual diaries of a person named Rae Earl. And you can watch it online for free via YouTube. Here's a link to the first episode:
The premise is simple: it's a first-person-focused show with plenty of voice-over explanations based on the angsty diaries of a teenage girl. That girl is 16 year old Rae. She's fat. She's living in a council house in chilly Stamford, Lincolnshire (or perhaps just a regular house - I'm actually not sure) and she's recovering from a recent mental health episode that left her living for a time in an in-patient facility. It's dark stuff, but its dealt with in a relatively light way.
I'm only a few episodes in, and there are many things about the show I like. In fact, I think it might be excellent. It's serious and sort of unsettling and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. My partner Nate seems to like it too, so I don't feel like it's strictly gendered either. It's especially nice to see a non-traditional lead carrying a show. Sharon Rooney is very good - extremely believable in her role as funny, mouthy Rae. The 90s setting is fun and the soundtrack is nostalgic and wonderful. If you were a teenager in the 90s, every song will be familiar (and many many songs are featured in every episode). And, perhaps most importantly, I think that the show means well. Focusing on a protagonist with mental health issues can be dicey, since such people are so often misrepresented, but I think this show is being produced by folks who genuinely want to shine a light on things we don't often hear about in a meaningful, thoughtful way.
Of course, the show also has it's problems. It might be triggering to some viewers, and those with mental health issues of their own might find it hard to watch as a result. Also, sadly, My Mad Fat Diary reinforces and repeats some bullshit stereotypes about body size. For instance, it regularly implies that Rae's junk food binge-eating habits have caused her to be fat. And okay, maybe that was the real Rae Earl's personal experience. The show IS based on her diary and it's hard to argue with someone's memories. Maybe when Earl was a teenager, she was fat because she binged on junk food. Fine. But the widely-held belief that all (or even most) fat people are fat because they binge eat garbage or eat more than straight-sized people is false and it needs challenging. And I don't think the show would have to subvert Earl's actual experience to do that. One simple solution (and I can think of 10, right off the top of my head) would be to introduce a different fat character who didn't have a binge eating issue, for example, or alternately, a thin person who did. But My Mad Fat Diaries fails to do anything like that (so far, anyway) and as a result, I think there are some problematic messages at work here.
Nonetheless, I am enjoying seeing Rae navigate turbulent teenage waters, and not only because her 90s era high school experience is so familiar. Being a teenager is just so hard. So heartbreaking. And so funny. This is a show that gets that and brings a lot of it to life. And while I'm disappointed with some aspects of the representation, there are things to look forward to. It looks like the writers are going to give Rae a romantic life that isn't limited to pairing her with an equally-weighted partner*, for one thing. So I'm going to keep watching. If you give it a try, tell me what you think.
Here are some links so you can watch My Mad Fat Diary online:Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3
Find the rest yourselves. What am I, a cable company? Geeze.
JK. Someone has uploaded all six of the first season's episodes here
. I'm not sure how long they'll remain up and the person who uploaded them probably didn't do it legally, so get crackin'!
P.S. The notion that the protagonists of love stories have to "match" is a major problem that is easily observed in popular culture, particularly on television. While we might be shown two racialized characters paired together romantically (who are not of the same race, for example, such as an asian woman and a black man) we almost never see one racialized character paired with a white character. (The only exception I can think of is the pairing of asian women with white men, which does happen sometimes. Alas, when it does, the man is usually painted as an old pervert while the asian woman is imagined as a disposable character -- often nameless -- a sex worker or a fetishization.) In the same vein, when a fat woman is given a romance on a show, it's almost inevitably with a fat man. Not always equally fat, but never straight-sized. Interestingly, thanks to deeply ingrained anti-feminist beliefs, this is not so when the gender dynamic is flipped. A thin wife with a fat husband is okay. It's practically standard to see such a relationship on television (see According to Jim, King of Queens, etc.). But a fat lady thin dude pairing? I've never seen such a thing except maybe as a joke (because it's sooooo funny, not). Have you?
I watch a lot of TV. I LIKE to watch a lot of TV. Sue me, okay? I don't love much of what I see, but I keep watching nonetheless, giving new shows a chance each and every season, watching and waiting for that one gem of true goodness. (Something I can get behind as much as My So-Called Life, The Sopranos, The Wire, or The Walking Dead.) I watch and I watch and I watch, but likeable shows are few and far between, and really great shows practically don't exist. Also, more often than not, when I think a show has potential, it's cancelled before it can get off the ground. (This happened last season with The Playboy Club and Prime Suspect.) So, me saying I like a show is a little like saying "Hey, this show is probably going to be cancelled!" but nonetheless, I am going to give you my feelings on a few of 2012's new offerings. In the interests of levity and brevity, I'm going to keep my reviews short. Feel free to tell me if you disagree with my conclusions.
The Mindy Project
Considering how smart and funny Mindy Kaling is, this show is/was a huge disappointment. In fact, I hated it. (So, as I said above, it will probably be a hit.)
Personally, I think fat jokes, race jokes and misogynist stereotyping are base and not particularly funny under any circumstances, but I know I'm in the minority in that regard. Stupid, offensive humour is apparently HILARIOUS to most. And if you watched the first episode, but didn't even notice how offensive it was, then I guess you're part of the "most." This show's for you!
666 Park Avenue
I've only seen a couple of episodes, but I'm willing to give this show a chance.
It's heavy handed. If you've ever watched any supernatural-type stuff, 666 will feel familiar.
Expect devilish cliches including selling your soul, homages to The Shining, sexy sexy red dresses in a sea of black, ghostly apparitions that appear and disappear without warning, and surprise-based scares, designed to make you jump (but that are rarely scary enough to ACTUALLY make you jump.
I personally found it distracting and depressing to see the blond lead, Rachael Taylor touted as the show's sex-pot, particularly considering that when she's pictured in the aforementioned red dress, her entire rib cage is clearly visible beneath her skin. In Hollywood, emaciation is super-sexy (for women) and middle-aged bald men rule. Le sigh. But as I said, I'll give the show a chance.
Watching Dennis Quaid try to channel the goofy-faces of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones without any of the charm is a waste of my time, frankly.
There was some sort of murder in the first episode, and I'm sure Mr. Quaid is going to turn out to be a crack lady-murder-solver, but I just didn't care. Stopped watching after 25 minutes.
I feel like some network jerks got drunk one night and said "Hey, what if, like Criminal Minds and the Sopranos and Mad Men WERE ONE SHOW?" And that's what Vegas is supposed to be. Only with crap writing and no inspiration. Snore.
Nate and I have watched the first three episodes of this post-apocalyptical drama and so far, neither one of us is particularly impressed.
The basic premise doesn't bother me (a world with no more electricity) and the pull of actors who played popular characters on OTHER shows is strong Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring on Breaking Bad), for example, and Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet Burke on Lost). Nonetheless, this show feels way too dumbed down to really compel. Everything is made so obvious and that can be boring. Like, yeah yeah yeah, there's no more electricity and there's some sort of mystery to why there's no more electricity, but what else? Can I get somebody with a real-world problem to relate to up in here?
Revolution feels to me like a brightly-lit take off of The Walking Dead, except there are no zombies, so the stakes are way lower. Plus the lead girl is such a cookie-cutter nubile hottie -- a feisty (but whiny) teen/adult hybrid. You've seen her a million times before, and yes, she's still irritating. Maybe it'll get better. I don't know.
A military drama? Initially, I thought this show would be hateful.
Scott Speedman NOT on Felicity? Yuckeroony.
Nate and I tuned into this pilot after abandoning the stink-fest that was Vegas, so maybe I was primed to like anything better than that, but I felt like Last Resort had a moderately strong premiere.
The whole "Rah rah America! Nuclear power is terrifying!" thing doesn't really resonate with me, but I think this show has potential. Will watch at least a couple more episodes.
This is another one of those surprisingly-watchable dealies. Having seen the previews, I expected to have to suspend my disbelief, which primed me to be irritated. (I mean, women who weigh 90 lbs aren't capable of regularly lifting and working with fire-fighting equipment. Sorry. Unless they're super-powered, no. Just no. I know said women were cast because they're socially approved on the "attractiveness" scale, but they're not believable firefighters, thankyouverymuch.) Luckily, the show seems conscious of these issues (ie. the teeny women in question are EMTs, not firefighters! Crisis averted!) Anyway.
Chicago Fire has all the makings of a stinker: Think boring, tired premise. Men in uniform! In Chicago! With hard-rock man-boobs! (Check out the overly worked/photoshopped pecs in the promo shot, above.) Even so, I'm surprised to say that the pilot of Chicago Fire wasn't bad. The stakes were high and the plot deals with at least SOME real issues (including the death of a husband/friend, possible drug-dependency, gender relations, ego and competition in the workplace, etc.). I have no idea if it's going to be a good show (my guess is probably not), but the premiere was WAY more successful than many I've seen, so I think I'll give it a chance.
The Mob Doctor
Have attempted multiple episodes, but can't bring myself to develop much of a connection to this show, even though I remember liking Jordana Spiro (the lead) in previous roles.
The Mob Doctor is just another mainstream drama. Doctors, mobsters, stock characters and situations, totally predictable motivations.
It's the kind of thing you can tune into any night, and it feels familiar. Because it is. That's what you get with a show that is little more than another hospital/crime/family drama hybrid. It's not great. It's not even bad. It's just sort of meh. Something that could run for years without ever doing anything particularly impressive or offensive. It will never be great, but that doesn't mean it won't stay on the air.
Anyway! Make of my mini-reviews what you will, fellow boob-tubers. And like I said, feel free to disagree in the comments!
I want to like this show. Really, I do. It seems to have everything going for it. Attractive, interesting actors? Check. Creepy, but chic sets? Check. Nice fonts? Check. Dead babies? Check.
I've been trying to like American Horror Story for more than eight weeks now. Trying ... and failing.
But it's just not working for me. Not at all. The scares come primarily from gore and cheap tricks designed to make you jump, but even when I DO jump, I'm always more unsettled and grossed out than frightened. And frankly, the plot makes NO SENSE. I know I'm supposed to be patient and that things will likely be explained in more detail by the end of the first season (which hasn't aired yet here in Canada). But I'm sick of waiting! Instead of introducing new ghosts in every freakin' episode (last night's newbie being an imagined version of Elizabeth Short (a.k.a.The Black Dahlia, played by Mena Suvari), why not advance the plot a little bit? I'm sure there's a reason, but I just don't care.
The problem, I think, is that nearly every character in American Horror Story is hateful. With the exception of Vivian, played by Connie Britton, who is clearly meant to be the heart of the cast, not one character is particularly likable.
Husband Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) is a philandering jerk face. Daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) is little more than an annoyingly angsty teen, neighbour Constance (Jessica Lange) is somewhat appealing, probably because of Lange's acting, but she's not nice. And the legions of ghosts are generally creepy and horrible, which makes sense I suppose, since they're ghosts and evil and all that, but still ... a viewer needs SOMEONE to relate to and love. (At least, I do.) And Vivian doesn't appear enough to fill that role.
I've come this far, so I'm going to keep watching until the end of the season, but I'm not hopeful. American Horror Story will appeal to some, I'm sure, but without a little more heart, I can't see it ever becoming a mainstream favourite.
Since I last posted here on the Reviews blog, I've tried out a few new shows I thought I'd tell you about. But before I get to that, here are my updates on the ones I posted about last time:
Pan Am: I think it's awful. Badly written. Predictable. Trite. People like it because the faces/people are pretty and it's getting massive press. But I think it stinks.
The Playboy Club: Already canceled, which is really too bad, because it was my front-runner for the best new show of the season. I think it bombed because the network didn't support it with a good marketing campaign.
Ringer: I'm still love Buffy, but Ringer has been going steadily downhill since the first episode. Not worth it.
Revenge: Surprisingly watchable. Silly, certainly, and DEFINITELY a soap, but it doesn't try to be anything else. It feels like a night soap meets Gossip Girl meets The OC and it's working for me.
Now onto the new shows:
Person of Interest
At first, I kept thinking this show and Prime Suspect were the same thing. They are NOT. On J. J. Abrams' name alone, I gave this a chance. Wish I hadn't. That's an hour I'll never get back. The show is boring. The dialogue is terrible. The cast is fine, but nothing special. If you've been looking forward to POI, expect to be let down.
I NEVER thought I would like this show, but I didn't initially realize it was based on the ITV series of the same name. As far as traditional cop dramas go, I think it's the best of late. (Shocker!) It's like The Closer meets NYPD Blue. The gender dynamics on the show are interesting. Best of all, it's well-paced and it's NOT predictable. That's saying a lot for a cop show. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Up All Night
I'm not a comedy person in general, but I tried this because the cast looked good. I enjoyed it. It's not amazing, but it has lots of funny moments and the baby is adorable. Maya R. does her usual over-the-top thing, but not everyone is so in your face. The Lorne Michaels/silly SNL influence is strong. If you saw last year's Mr. Sunshine, compare it to that. You'll find this to be a LOT better.
I'm a bit of a television addict. Always have been. I like TV about a million times more than movies. I like the serial nature of it... having familiar characters to check in with each week.
That said, I'm discerning. There is SO much garbage on TV. And not just "these days" - always. There's always been SO MUCH garbage on TV. And every autumn brings around a new round of stinkers. Many stinkers become successes (Two and a Half Men?) More still are very decent, but soon canceled (Rubicon). And then there's that one-in-a-million show that's both legitimately great and a commercial success at the same time (ER, or more recently, The Good Wife).
Anyway. That's a lot of rambling to introduce this post which contains wee reviews of a few of the new fall shows I've peeped so far this season. I like to give everything a fair shake, but you should know that I'm partial to dramas, I'm currently tired of bad fantasy/sci-fi, and I just don't do one-hour reality shows anymore. Those are my personal biases.
So much hype, so little payoff. Cute costumes? Check. Kitchy, 60s-era production values? Check. Terrible writing? Check.
If the first episode is anything to go by, this show is going to be one big, predictable cliche after another.
Sure, you'll be seeing Pan Am stewardess costumes this Halloween, but that doesn't mean the show isn't totally canned. I'll keep watching for now, but I'm predicting it will go the way of Desperate Housewives: lame, but a probable main-stream success.
Look for: Great wardrobe (because I seriously doubt Pan Am will have more to offer).
The Playboy Club
Surprisingly good, particularly when compared to Pan Am. The Playboy Club is a nice example of how to rip off Mad Men, but do it well.
The first episode was compelling: an accidental murder, a small-town, doe-eyed girl, a wanna-be State's attorney, plus good set-up of the season's greater arc.
Add high production values and smart nods to the political issues or the era, (feminism, gender, race) and you've got the makings of a good show. I'll keep watching.
Look for: Bad faux Hef voice-overs to keep you from becoming TOO invested.
After seeing a series of terrible CW promos set to over-played Adele songs, I didn't have high hopes, but Ringer wasn't that bad.
Despite some extremely heavy-handed visuals (I mean, we get it... they're twins... "dead" ringers... we get it), not to mention terrible green-screen work, the show manged to deal well enough with the emotional plot line, which is to say the drama associated with how one person might deal with taking over her sister's life. It was convincing enough... for now.
I'll give it a chance because I'm an old-time Buffy fan and I like SMG, but I'm not hopeful and am reserving judgment.
Look for: Incredible New York sets. This is some 'lifestyles of the rich and famous' stuff right here.
RevengeNot being a fan of Emily Vankamp (who made Brothers and Sisters even more insufferable, if that's even possible), nor of the nighttime soap, I only watched this because
Nate was out and I had nothing else to do, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's pure fluff set in the Hamptons, but fans of Gossip Girl and the like may enjoy its adult, contemporary spin on some old themes. It reminded me of a modern day Dallas, with a little more dark meat. I'll watch again, but I won't subject Nate to it (nor will I admit liking it, no matter what you do to me). Look for: Ashley Madekwe (trouble-making best-friend from Secret Diary of a Call Girl), preppy couture by the busload, and Madeleine Stowe in skin-tight wasp-wear, totally unsuitable for a woman of her age. There you have it: my little round up of some of the new fall shows. Make of it what you will. P.S.
I still plan to watch Terra Nova and Person of Interest, but haven't had time yet. No spoilers please!
I'm super into Chuck's Day Off
right now. I've never been much for cooking shows, but this one is pretty charming. That said, it's not fancy, so if you're a fancy-pants foodie, you probably won't like it. There's a lot of butter and deep-frying and massive portions.
* images of Chuck Huges from the Food Network website
But loving Chuck's Day Off isn't really about the food. It's about Chuck. A more adorably enthusiastic and silly television chef you will not find. Not anywhere. Chuck Hughes
Co-owner of Montreal's Garde-Manger restaurant, and resident cook (or chef, I suppose, but I wonder, is he REALLY a chef?), tattooed Chuck is ebullient at all times. He overuses the word "amazing" and seems to be impervious to hot-water burns. (Seriously. He seems to pluck things straight from hot pots with his bare hands. The dude is badass.)
Speaking of badass... here's a picture of a smoked fish, taken by Chuck himself, I believe, as posted on the The Chuck's Day Off Facebook Page.
Smoked fish. Get it? Get it?
The picture kind of sums it up. Chuck's Day Off is a little base, but it's fun to watch and it's completely unpretentious.
I think main thing that makes Chuck so appealing is that he's decidedly imperfect. A little web research and a story in the Montreal Gazette reveal he used to have a bit of a drug/alcohol problem, which might explain the tats (one of a slice of lemon meringue pie, for example), not to mention the fish photo.
Hughes is really just a regular guy. He's big and strong looking, but a little doughy and round. Handsome, but sporting a gap-toothed smile. Friendly and charming, but less than articulate.
He's a man's man, he's a ladies' man, he's a food man. 1
And if you like delicious-looking, unfussy, extremely fattening edibles, I think you'll like him.
P.S. How hilarious is this photo? Also from from The Chuck's Day Off Facebook Page
, it reminds me of a bad Lava Life picture. You gotta love that. He's just such a... dude.
I am NOT a fan of action movies. For the most part, I don't like thrillers, mysteries, Bond films, or anything of that ilk.
I like talky movies about family dramas, relationships and emotional turmoil. That's what I like. So sue me.
But Nate and I just finished watching the (European) film versions of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy and all three films were pretty darn good. Subtitled, sure. So if you hate subtitles, you won't like 'em, but otherwise, totally worth watching.
(And for the record, it's okay if you hate subtitles. You're very silly, but I forgive you.)
Anyway. The films were good, mostly because of the woman cast to play Lisbeth Salander: Noomi Rapace. They could NOT have cast a better person to play Lisbeth. She was unbelievably awesome. So badass. So appealing. So sympathetic. I loved her.
The Swedish films are (admittedly) a little hard to follow (and as a friend pointed out last week on my blog about Nordic style
, kinda creepy), but very compelling. I recommend watching them over the course of three consecutive nights, with a few dirty martinis by your side.
That's what we did and it was quite enjoyable.
If you haven't read the books (like me) don't fear. You'll still be able to follow the plot if you pay attention. Why am I recommending these films now? Because all three are now out on video, for one thing, and because the American versions are in the making and I really REALLY want you to see the European versions before all that Hollywood poop spews out and ruins your perspective. I have a feeling the American versions are going to reek. It's not that I don't like Hollywood movies. I DO. But they lack that (essential for this story) European subtlety. They'll be too fast moving, too big, too much. American movies always are. That's often what makes them fun, but in this case, I just don't think it's going to work. The new films will lack the necessary political undertones. They'll be designed to appeal to American audiences. And if you've ever watched television, you know what that means. They'll be dumbed down. American producers don't respect their viewership. They think you're stupid.I don't, however. I think you're smart.All that aside, I also just don't think there's a woman in the world who will be able to do Lisbeth justice the way Noomi Rapace did. Case in point:
Rooney Mara, the girl cast to play Lisbeth in the American versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
, The Girl who Played with Fire
, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
No. Just... no.
I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. Rooney is a poor man's Noomi. Granted, the costumers and makeup artists are going to great lengths to do her up right, as evidenced by this photo that was part of Mara's film promo shoot for W magazine:
They're trying, sure, but I still don't like it. This reads like a cheap rip off of the "real" Lisbeth to me.
At the same time, I get it. Mara is a bit prettier than Rapace, a bit sexier (though only by bullshit media standards, of course). No wonder the American men who control these things cast her. She's thin and tiny, as Lisbeth is written to be, but this girl's got cleavage. And as I'm sure you know, an American producer would NEVER approve an extremely small-breasted woman (like Rapace) to star in a major motion picture.
And that's exactly the problem.
So my advice is this: see the Swedish film now. Right now. Before Hollywood rushes in and ruins everything.
Sometimes it hard find things to write about. Particularly in the review blog.
One true truth about me is that, while I DO "consume, try, test, taste, etc." I am also a bit of a homebody and I like routine. When I find something good, I tend to return to it rather than trying something new. As a result, I occasionally run out of things to review.
Which brings me to today's rather odd post. It's about Mumford. Things called Mumford. Men called Mumford. Movies called Mumford. Why?
Because Mumford is a funny word, that's why.
First, listen to Mumford and Sons
. They're a British band. Been on the radio a bit. Getting pretty big. The remind me a bit of Carbon Leaf and a bit of the Bo Deans and a bit of some other more hipster modern stuff I can't place right now. I suggest the song "The Cave" since it's obviously their breakout single. I like it. You might not. But that doesn't mean it's not good.
Done? Good. Not a bad song, right? Next, head out to your local video store and see if you can rent the 1999 film Mumford, starring Jason Lee (among others). The cast it pretty big.The video store might not have it. They may not have heard of it. They may have heard of it, but can't find it. The may have it, but only on VHS. It's wasn't exactly a blockbuster.
Try and find it anyway. It's about a guy who pretends to be a psychiatrist in a small town. If I remember correctly (and keep in mind that I saw this movie 10+ years ago) it's pretty good. Touching and odd, which is a really concise way of describing almost everything I like.Is it touching? It is odd? Yes? Sign me up.
I tried to find a third thing worth reviewing with the word Mumford in the title, three things being so much more appealing than two, but I didn't have much luck.
What (or rather, who) I did find was Lewis Mumford. Apparently he was some sort of American historian and literary critic as well as a friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. I know almost nothing about him.That said, here's his picture. I've started reading his first book, The Story of Utopias (Pub. 1922), which can be found for free, online.
Can't say I recommend it.But old Lewis was a quotable gent, and he did say something I agree with:
“Restore human legs as a means of travel. Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities.”
I give that idea a hearty thumbs up.
So there you have it. Three non-reviews of three Mumfords. Consider your time well wasted.
I'm really happy right now. Really... relieved. It's nice to know that the worst experience of my life is behind me and that I can look forward to a future of light, happiness, and intelligent movies.
See, I just wasted nearly two hours watching the absolutely hideous 2007 film Suburban Girl starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.
It's all uphill from here. It's got to be.
I don't know that I've ever encountered a more horrific film adaptation of any book, ever. I mean, I rented Confessions of a Shopaholic and had to switch it off after the first ten minutes, but I expected that. This was much, much worse.
What was so galling, I suppose, is that Suburban Girl is an adaptation of a really lovely book: Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing. A brilliant book, really. Literary and sharply written, but accessible. And because it is so good, even though the film went straight to video, and even though the trailer was... idiotic, to say the least, I wanted to give it a shot.
Melissa Bank's stories are heavy with dialogue and I figured her words would likely make up a lot of a script. I thought, "How bad could it be?"
It took hours to clean the vomit off my DVD player. Hours.
Everything about this movie is awful, from the ugly, over-the-top sets, to the casting, to the improbably costuming. (Why would a girl who balks at a $50 cab ride have a closet full of Louboutin shoes?) The badly delivered lines and hideously poppy musical selections are really just the tip of the stinking, festering, iceberg.
It's funny how watching a movie like this can educate you. You get to see every awful Hollywood cliche come to life. You can imagine looking right into the writers' room (full of over-privileged, under-educated, less-than-literate kids in American Apparel hoodies and ironic sneakers) and beyond them, into the minds of every sleazy male producer who thinks they understand what it is to be a young woman.
The result is vile. Truly vile.
I'm even considering abandoning my membership in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan club. (Though it's really not Sarah Michelle's fault.) It's not even Alec Baldwin's fault. It's somebody's fault, though. I wish I knew whose.
Don't rent this movie. Obviously. But for the love of all things good and reasonable, go out and buy Melissa Bank's book. After reading it, you'll be just a little bit smarter. Unlike me. I've suffered two full hours of brain damage. I'm going to have to read classics and watch PBS specials for weeks to make up for it.