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Thursday
May172012

Smash: That "Bombshell" Finale

True story. When I pressed play on the DVR to write up this last Smash post of the season, the TV "resumed play" in the middle of the episode somehow though I'd already watched the whole thing through. The mute button was on. Chorus girl Ivy (Megan Hilty) was pulling a ring box from her purse. The ring wasn't hers but fellow chorus girl Karen's (Katharine McPhee) whose fiance had left the ring in Ivy's hotel room after a drunken one night stand. At the exact moment that Ivy opened the ring box, the unmistakably familiar siren song of the ice cream truck sounded outside my apartment. 

I'm not sure where I'm going with this so let it suffice to say that this final episode of Smash's first season was nothing at all like a refreshing creamy treat. The only similarity was that I felt sick to my stomach after devouring it. I don't mean to be a drama queen but at episode's end when Ivy reached for a bottle of pills in her last vain attempt to commune with Marilyn Monroe, that dream role long since torn from her, I knew where she was coming from. I too felt robbed. 

This is not to say that I ever expected Ivy to get the Marilyn role in this fictional soap opera about the creation of a Broadway musical. NBC's peacock of choice from the beginning was the creamy lovely generic American Idol alum Katharine McPhee. The "who will get the role?" drama always felt a little forced since all the marketing was built around McPhee and the show took frequent awkard pains to insist that Katharine McPhee/Karen had "it" while Megan Hilty/Ivy was merely a competent seasoned performer but not a star. I've spent a lot of time shaking my head about the show's absolute inability to notice that the show doesn't play like that at all and they should have rethought their game plan. Megan Hilty has IT in so much bold all caps that it's like she's carting around her own spotlight and orchestra. Every time she performs the show lifts off to a higher level and every time the show tells us she doesn't have charisma, the show becomes as far-fetched as "Bombshell's" narrative that you can rejigger an entire show, rehearse a new lead, refit all the costumes and write a new song and everything will go off without a hitch mere hours later! 

It occurred to me afterwards and somewhat perversely that perhaps Katharine McPhee's generic charms are not the problem but it's Megan Hilty who is miscast. If Smash is not secretly a show about an otherwise talented director (Jack Davenport's Derek) who is terrible at casting --McPhee is beautiful and talented but sounds and moves nothing like Marilyn while Ivy is beautiful and talented and makes a very convincing musical Monroe -- than it is failing terribly. 

...sadly I was hoping she would.Set List: Standards - none; Contemporary - none; Originals -"Don't Forget Me" which is the second worst original song in a generally sensational musical score 
<--- B♡bby & Dennis: This one goes to Dennis (Phillip Spaeth) who is, as ever, adorable. And he always looks so happy!
Anjelica Awesomeness: "Wonderful!" Eileen's what now? exasperation that her ex-husband bought a ticket to the show. 
Best Moment: Sadly, the best moment by far was the little flashback inserts of Megan Hilty doing "Wolf" and Megan Hilty doing the epic "Let's Be Bad" the two best numbers ever seen on the show. But I also loved the sudden change in the title card. It was no longer "Smash" with an orchestra tuning up but "Smash" with an overture. Nice touch now that the show is playing (albeit in out of town tryouts).

Curtain Call: Skinny Katharine McPhee belting the anthemic ballad "Don't Forget Me" a weak song that sounds suspiciously like one of those interchangeable anthemic ballads that they always end American Idol with. In short, "Bombshell"'s finale was 100% Marilyn Monroe free; no blonde wig on McPhee could ever bridge that infinitesimal gap.
GradeC-
Season as a Whole: B/B- though the first half of the season, particularly episodes four through six suggest that this could be an A level show. Here's to next season. Break a leg!

American Idol Katharine McPhee as American Idolesque American Icon Marilyn Monroe

Previously on Smash
1.1 "Pilot" |  1.2-1.3 "The Callback" & "Enter Joe DiMaggio" |  1.4-1.6 "The Cost of Art", "Let's Be Bad" & "Chemistry" |  1.7 "The Workshop" with Bernadette Peters! |  1.8 "The Coup"...the worst episode |  1.9-1.10 "Hell on Earth", "Understudy" |  1.11-1.12 "The Movie Star", "Publicity" with Uma! |  1.13-1.14 "Tech" & "Previews" with Uma!

Season Awards
Best Episode - The Cost of Art | Best Actress - Debra Messing (and yes I'm surprised by this) | Best Actor - Jack Davenport | Best McPhee Number - "Rumor Has It" from The Cost of Art | Best Hilty Number - "Let's Be Bad from Let's Be Bad | Best Production Number - "Let's Be Bad" in Let's Be Bad | Best Number Not Staged -  "Wolf" in The Cost of Art | Best Number That Doesn't Feature Hilty or McPhee - "Say Yes" with Christian Borle from Understudy | Best Anjelica Huston - Anjelica Huston | Amount of Joy I Suspect I Would Feel If They Staged the Entire "Bombshell" on Broadway with Megan Hilty in the Lead Role - ∞

Wednesday
May162012

Their Best "Edward" Shots

"Post Me."
"I Can't."

Real life has this horrible way of intruding on fantasy. Though I'd much rather be spending exorbitant amounts of time with Avon lady Dianne, Gepetto-esque Vincent, dancing Winona, and Johnny's first truly brilliant performance in my favorite Tim film (I feel so close to this movie I'm totally on a first name basis with it) I couldn't work it out tonight. My post will be up on... Friday evening. Yes, let's go with that. But until then there's plenty of Edward Scissorhands love from these fine blogs joining in the Hit Me With Your Best Shot spirit. Go and read them!

I really suggest you do. My favorite thing about this series is reading the other pieces and learning from them. Films are communal but we all see them through different eyes.

Sometimes you can still catch them dancing in it...
Antagony & Ecstasy - on the ideal metaphor for Burton's aesthetic. 
Being Norma Jean - "I'm not finished" wonderful look at Edward's hands and how they precede him.
Cinesnatch -loves Dianne Wiest and Burton's use of Vincent Price.  
Film Actually - "Isn't it wild?"
The Film's The Thing -cynical adulthood / childlike wonder
Missemamm - when that suburban costume isn't working for you anymore
Paraphrased Kulchar - let it be known that Kathy Baker is a hot bitch 

Wednesday
May162012

Link to the Rescue

First Showing Django Unchained banner on the Croisette in Cannes
Inlander Don Draper isn't Mad Men's main character any more
Filmofilia a full slate for Amy Adams through 2014 at least. Add thriller Dark Places (based on the novel of the same name) to the long list
Cinema Blend Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel gets the Contagion screenwriter Scott Z Burns 

 MZ Yikes. Actor Nick Stahl of Bully, Terminator 3 and Carnivàle fame has been reporting missing since May 9th
Heat Vision Robert Downey Jr's The Avengers payday could reach $50 million. The other actors aren't so lucky
Gold Derby Downton Abbey will be competing in Best Series (where it belongs) for Emmy nods... finally giving up on considering itself a miniseries, bless.
Pajiba "Identifying the Moment in Natalie Portman's Career Timeline In Which It Was OK To Admit a Crush"
Screen Daily Keira Knightley replacing ScarJo in Can a Song Save Your Life 

Indiewire Awesome news for fans of the gay romantic drama Weekend (2011). Criterion will handle the DVD.
Michael Musto interviews Andy Dick, now sober but just as candid.
Coming Soon Orphan star and now Hunger Games victim Isabelle Fuhrman will star in the remake of Suspiria
The Film Stage Terrence Malick's latest, a romantic drama starring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, and Rachel McAdams (at least according to which characters feature in the synopsis) finally gets a title... To the Wonder.  

Not Your Usual Superhero Articles
Filmwell "thou shalt have no other god but Captain America's" on references to the divine in The Avengers
GeekWatch adorable story of a five year old boy meeting Captain America and Loki on the set of The Avengers  

 

Wednesday
May162012

What's on your (cinematic) mind?

I was just thinking about Emma Stone because I spotted this great spoof sketch by Grant Gould of the Easy A poster through the Game of Thrones lens...


So fun! Which is coincidentally a word that doesn't fit Game of Thrones at all. It's too sober for fun. (Daenerys is just about my least favorite character in the Game of Thrones franchise because her story just never goes anywhere... Whatever, this post wasn't meant to be about GoT which I stopped watching a couple episodes ago, remembering how pissed the third book made me so why stick with it?) 

SO..... what were you just thinking about movie-wise before you clicking over to the Film Experience?

P.S. More posts coming to wrap up our Smash coverage, Cannes new, "Best Shot" and more. The past two days have been a little trying.

Tuesday
May152012

Tues Top Ten: Who for Avengers 2 ?

Every once in awhile people will ask me if I really like superheroes or if I just post about them on occassion because it's good for traffic. The answers are a bold yes and an er, probably not (The Film Experience isn't so much on the fanboy traffic radar for numerous reasons including undoubtedly because actresses on the verge of onscreen nervous breakdowns are a way more thrilling visual effect than superhero powers). But in truth I've always loved superheroes and only wish that superhero movies had more variety and imagination and a fan culture that was less slobbering and homogenous. See, I grew up completely obsessed with X-Men. Just as with movies where strong casts are consistently more likely to thrill me than movies built on one performance, I generally appreciated team comics the most, so I also read (in ascending order of favoritism): The Legion of Superheroes, Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight, The Avengers and The Teen Titans. I liked the Avengers best when certain characters were present.  For those of you who didn't read comics, The Avengers operated on an internal narrative wherein the roster of heroes changed fairly regularly, sometimes only one or two slots but never exactly the same roll call. 

So with last week's no shit announcement that box office titan The Avengers would be getting a sequel, I thought I'd list the ten characters I'd most like Joss Whedon to consider for it. He's already on record saying he'd like another female though the pickings are somewhat slim. The unstated problem is that the best female superheroes are part of the X-Men team, characters 20th Century Fox is in control of... a thorough breakdown of who owns which characters can be found at Screen Rant. This is all assuming that Marvel Studios doesn't want Whedon to just make the first movie again with a new villain. Which, I'll quickly note, is a ridiculous assumption. The guiding rule of expensive studio sequels is "make it the same only bigger" 

Top Ten Heroes To Consider for Avengers 2

With apologies to Quake who was in the original post and was accidentally deleted until it was all written.

10 Doctor Strange
The Marvel Universe's premiere sorcerer has yet to make a dent outside of comic books. Name recognition wouldn't be high for mainstream audiences but that's what people worried about with Iron Man and look how that turned out? Strange got a TV movie in 1978 but subsequent planned film versions have been cursed, the spell forever uncast.

The rights have changed hands many times but last we heard, Marvel Studios had control of the mystic doctor again and had hired screenwriters. Adrien Brody was rumored for the role a couple of years ago and then Patrick Dempsey was lobbying hard in 2011. I'm not crazy about the Dempsey idea since his charisma is scaled so well for the small screen -- really it's just the hair that make people think he's right for it because as an actor he definitely lacks mystery -- but the Doctor could be an intriguing character in the right hands.

#8 through #1 after the jump

09 Ms Marvel / Binary / War Bird
I've never met a soul who has any deep feelings or fandom for Ms. Marvel, which probably dooms her big screen chances altogether but hear me out. Her backstory is so fucked up, her name has changed multiple times, that nothing is canon. A writer like Joss Whedon could do virtually whatever he pleased with her without upsetting decades of story. But it's also worth noting that Ms. Marvel's most intriguing story connects to the X-Men mythology. Rogue (played by Anna Paquin in the movies) once absorbed just too much of her and gained all her memories and identity giving both women major psychiatric issues thereafter. 

If handled brilliantly and with a team of great lawyers couldn't she straddle both superhero franchises as a supporting player, essentially tying them into the same universe without disrupting either studio's plans too much?

#8 through #1 after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May152012

Curio: Tim Burton Terrariums

Alexa here.  I, like the rest of the world, saw The Avengers instead of Dark Shadows last weekend. My hopes for Joss Whedon's big budget career weren't dashed, as I presume they would have been if I'd seen Dark Shadows and hoped for any of Tim Burton's glorious whimsy of yore. Speaking of, I recently became enchanted with these terrariums created by Rachel Bishop. Rachel sculpted models out of wax and used moss, roots and other natural materials to create these tiny sustainable ecosystems in tribute to Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. They make me wonder what other film universes I'd want to see living under glass; perhaps the Wilcox family home from Howard's End? Or the shire from Lord of the Rings? You can see more of Rachel's terrariums here.