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Entries in TV at the Movies (29)


Overheard @ Box Office: "for my brother, I think...Three Stooges"

Exiting the laughter-filled theater after Whit Stilman's comic whatsit Damsels in Distress last night, I noticed a surprising amount of grumbling about the movie. Say, weren't you all laughing heartily just minutes ago? I know I heard you laughing. It's impossible to please those Upper West Siders!

Two men in front of me weren't impressed and one was clearly planning another movie outing soon with his brother. 

Guy Who Picks The Movie: For my brother, I think... Three Stooges.
Other Guy: And it might be better movie." 

The WTF comment haunted me the whole way home.  What kind of a crossover audience might Damsels in Distress and The Three Stooges have. Which is to say who would be torn between them if they only had money for one ticket? LOL. It has to be a previously undiscovered demographic. To quote Suzanne in Postcards from the Edge when momma Doris suggests she could have had Joan Crawford for a mother... "These are my choices?"

Here is my best, my only, guess at the overlap...

That's all I got!

TOP TEN (Estimates)
01 THINK LIKE A MAN  $33 new 
$22.8 new
03 THE HUNGER GAMES  $14.5 (cum $356.9) Reviewed
04 CHIMPANZEE  $10.2 new
05 THE THREE STOOGES  $9.2 (cum. $29.3)
06 CABIN IN THE WOODS $7.7 (cum. $26.9)
07 AMERICAN REUNION $5.2  (cum. $48.3)
08 TITANIC (3D) $5 (cum. $52.8) Centennial
09 21 JUMP STREET  $4.6 (cum. $127)  Reviewed
10 MIRROR MIRROR $4.1 (cum. $55.2) Reviewed

Below the Top Ten...
Damsels in Distress doubled its screen count but is still a long way from indie hit status. Darling Companion, opened on only 4 screens despite a name cast. (Yes, they're all senior citizens but couldn't they market this more widely to older viewers? I mean it's only been 9 years since Diane Keaton carried a $100 million multi-quadrant hit.) Further down the list the Weinstein Co's Oscar horses of 2011 are all about to return to the stable ending their theatrical runs as they hit DVD. The Iron Lady is dragging herself to a $30 million finish, The Artist is ending with $44, and Coriolanus and W.E. are... well, better luck on DVD. 

What did you see this weekend? Do you love stunt casting? Which reality TV star would you gladly follow into the movie theater for some legit camera acting?


Rose McGowan Has No Interest in "Real". Do you?

I have no interest in 'real.' I find real people boring."

Those telling words were spoken by the actress Rose McGowan on the penultimate episode of the latest season of RuPaul's Drag Race. I suddenly appreciate Rose more. It's true that reality is not exactly her forte. She's best known as a television witch and when popular culture eventually forgets her, isn't it entirely likely that the single enduring image from her career will be that Grindhouse chick with a machine gun for a leg. It doesn't get more much unreal than that. 

The final four drag contestants were the acclaimed Cher-loving Chad Michaels, the large glamourous Latrice Royale, "busted show queen" Phi Phi O'Hara and funny spooky Sharon Needles. I knew that hateful Phi Phi would make the final three because someone despicable always makes it to reality tv finales. But never mind that. Let's talk movie references! (We'll get back to movies soon but we're clearly having a 24 hour television binge)

Sharon Needles won much movie-movie praise from Rose McGowan...

If somehow Liza Minnelli in Cabaret and Jean Harlow had a baby and threw it in white puffy boots with the perfect poodle, it would be you.❞
-Rose McGowan to Sharon Needles. 

I'm not sure how she gets Sally Bowles and Jean Harlow (other than the hair color) out of Sharon's severe chic poodle look but it's wonderful to hear actressy icons referenced in contemporary contexts. Which is part of the reason RuPaul's Drag Race is so great --  there are always a couple of actressexuals in the cast who can't help but reference the movie and music divas.

Meanwhile Chad Michaels went for a Cruella de Vil inspired look (and was shamed for it -- "too old") but when she took off the furry wrap, she looked like a superhero. A retired superhero maybe but still...

Do you find reality boring?

How do you like your Rose McGowan?

Who are you rooting for to win RuPaul's Drag Race? 


Smash: "Hell on Earth" and "Understudy"

Continuing our coverage of our favorite new show "SMASH" the only musical on television that makes any cohesive sense from epiosde to episode and is tangentially about the movies, too.

Karen and Ivy are slowly becoming frenemies. I'll drink to that 

In "Hell on Earth" the long form narrative gets back up on its feet after that episode that felt like it didn't happen: Ivy's sour downward mood continues as we see her phoning it in amusingly and then disastrously in the hit musical comedy "Heaven on Earth" (with special guest star, the awesome Norbert Leo Butz... who recently won the Tony for the Tom Hanks role in the musical adaptation of "Catch Me If You Can"); Eileen continues to push when others would have given up; Ellis continues to scheme and even puts out to get an "in" with a movie star; Debra Messing continues to make a case for an Emmy - holy hell she's great on this show even though her storylines have the least to do with the actual creation of a musical; Tom continues to clash with his Republican boyfriend; Karen continues to prove Ivy's point that everything comes easily to her when she books a national commercial.

Set Lists, Gayest Moments, and UMA THURMAN! 

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Mad Men @ the Movies: Charlton Heston Starkers and "A Star is Born"

In "Mad Men @ the Movies" we look at the best show on television through the lens of its movie-loving ways. Obviously there are spoilers.

5.3 "Tea Leaves"
In the third episode of the season Betty Draper Francis (January Jones) returns and there's more of her to love to hate! She's been packing on the pounds. At first there's a thyroid scare but it turns out Betty is just depressed and fat. The episode ends with Betty helping herself to a second ice cream sundae (to the tune of The Sound of Music's "I Am Sixteen"). Why not? 

One of the themes of the new season is aging and the rise of youth culture is evident. Betty is referred to as middle-aged by her doctor. Don, previously an icon of cool, is now 'so square he's got corners' to both his younger wife (she's 20, he's 40) and the young teenagers he meets at a Rolling Stones concert (he's there with Harry Crane on business). When the teens hear that the men are in advertising they instantly think of Bewitched. "You're Derwood and He's Mr. Cravitz."

Later after smoking a joint Harry is trying to impress the teens with celebrity stories. 

Charlton Heston and Esther Blodgett after the jump

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Mad Men at the Movies: Gillian Hills and 'Zou Bisou Bisou'

It's been so long since the best series on television was airing (17 months!) that this new version of The Film Experience has never seen an episode of "Mad Men at the Movies". Last night the miserable sexy funny smart complex men and women of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce returned to take us all back to the sixties once again. In this series we document the show's love affair with the cinema. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a movie buff and references tend to be sprinkled in for vintage flavor, character detailing and thematic resonance. Unfortunately this two hour premiere had no movie references. Damn!

5.1 "A Little Kiss, Part 1"
5.2 "A Little Kiss, Part 2"
The episode opened oddly with none of the familiar characters and a confrontation between African American picketers and immature men at an ad agency (not SCDP). By the time the episode ended, a small plot detail in the middle brought it all full circle with the unfamiliar site of the SCDP lobby filled with black applicants applying for jobs.Between the sobering bookends we were treated to a very strong premiere full of humor and potential for the season ahead. The talking point beyond the closing scene was surely the "zou bisou bisou" scene where Don's new wife Megan sang to him seductively in front of all his friends at a surprise birthday party. But the single most brilliant scene involved Joan (the great Christina Hendricks) bringing her baby to the office for a visit. We're talking perfect character farce  The choreography of the scene was so brilliant they should teach it film school... er television school... since it practically defines what this particular medium can do. Very little of what was going on emotionally and inside the character's head was actually spoken but if you've been following all the characters for years all their child-rearing issues and past romances and conflicts just made the scene hilarious and nimbly so. Perfection. A

Megan performing "Zou Bisou Bisou". 

Slate has the translated lyrics and some theories about why this song.

The hit song was originally sung by Gillian Hills who was also an actress. In 1966, the year this new season takes place, Gillian was on screens as "The Brunette" in Michelangelo Antonioni's classic Blow-Up (highly recommended) which is about a fashion photographer who believes he's accidentally photographed a murder. Blow-Up wasn't the only classic to feature her. She also has a role in A Clockwork Orange

Jane Birkin and Gillian Hills in BLOW UP (1966)

Mad Links
Flavorwire a pop culture guide to 1966 when the season takes place
AMC Janie Bryant on the costume designs for Season 5
Technabob Mad Men as an 8 bit game
IndieWire beginnings: each season's opening scene
Pajiba 10 of January Jones' bitch faces to celebrate the show's return 
NPR Eleanor Clift remembers what it was like to be in secretarial shoes as a typist in the 60s 


Review: Hunger Games 

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad. Congratulations to Towleroad for winning Outstanding Blog at the GLAAD Awards

"The Hunger Games," now in their 74th year, began as a way to punish an uprising against the government. The totalitarian regime of Panem (in what remains of the former United States) maintains total control over the outlying districts. Each of the 12 districts is required to send forth two "tributes" annually, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 to 18 chosen by lottery. They are shipped to the Capital where they are paraded about and then shipped off to die for the amusement of the masses. Everyone in the nation watches. There are no alternatives in this dystopia. Only one adolescent will live bringing supposed honor (and maybe food?) to their starving district... or so claims the capital. What honor there is in forcing teenagers to kill each other is not a question the Capitol asks itself.

Any similarities that The Hunger Games has to the Japanese classic Battle Royale (2000), which also features schoolchildren forced to kill each other by a totalitarian regime -- only one survivor allowed -- are, according to The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, entirely coincidental. Another film in this subgenre, the little seen Series 7: The Contenders (2001) also features mandatory lotteried killing for televised amusement. In short, the ideas are nothing new, just the treatment; these are topics we're obviously grappling with in popular culture in this era of televised "reality" and winner takes all capitalistic vice. The gap between the haves and have nots grows and this dystopia gives it steroids.

"The Reaping" Effie chooses tributes from District 12

When 12 year old Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is named as tribute in "The Reaping" ceremony, her protective sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. The district also sends Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a sweet strong baker's son who Katniss knows a little. Will they kill or be killed? 

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Review: 21 Jump Street (The Movie)

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

"High concept" was the hot showbiz term of the 1980s. The thinking went that if you couldn't describe your movie/tv show in one sentence, it wouldn't sell. That popular marketing wisdom stuck and High Concept itself shrank. First it devolved into This meets That, each new pitch being a mashup of preexisting hits. Today instead of one sentence pitches or previous hit fusions most new potential blockbusters are required to rely on a simple colon. It works like so… "Title of That Thing You Already Know: The Movie!"

The 1987 cast of "21 Jump Street"

This has led to all sorts of unfortunate movies based on books, games, plays and tv shows (and vice versa) many of them big hits. The danger is obvious. When you don't even have to try to make your entertainment memorable because the audience brings half the affection with them, creative laziness can often follow. But every once in awhile the audience gets lucky and Title of That Thing You Already Know: The Movie is surprisingly fun on its own terms.

Chan & Jonah in High School21 Jump Street began its life as a high concept television series...

Young-looking cops go back to high school… undercover!"

And now it's a 21 JUMP STREET: THE MOVIE (the last half of that title is silent/implied) The twist is that rather than the earnest though light-hearted procedural drama it was in its infancy when it introduced us to Johnny Depp, it's now a full fledged buddy comedy starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Continued after the jump...

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