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Ashley Judd, Pulp Queen

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Entries in TV at the Movies (34)

Monday
Feb042013

"Bunheads" And Its Movie-Referencing Siblings

[Editor's Note: I keep forgetting to write about Bunheads so my friend Susan offered to step in. We both watch the show religiously so here's Susan with a take I mostly agree with -- if enough of you are watching we'll discuss again. I love the show.]

Sutton Foster in "Bunheads"

Up until this past summer, I had never watched a show on ABC Family. Not that I have anything against ABC . Or families. But thanks to Sutton Foster, I decided to give Bunheads a try. While the show’s rapid-fire, pop culture infused dialogue can sometimes be more exhausting than exhilarating; I’ve come to appreciate its rhythms and strongly beating heart. Those beats are familiar to fans of Amy Sherman-Palladino, who previously created the much-loved Gilmore Girls

I come to Bunheads as a virtual Sherman-Palladino virgin, bringing my appreciation for Foster and not much else. In some ways, I think that’s a good thing. I don’t watch Bunheads through a “this is like Gilmore Girls, this is different; this is better, this is worse” prism. Foster’s character, former showgirl Michelle Simms, is not Lorelai Gilmore-light to me, even if she does share some (fast-talking) characteristics with that previous Sherman-Palladino creation. 

As a newbie to the Sherman-Palladino-verse, I welcome insight from those who are more familiar with it or from those of you who are fans of Foster, Sherman-Palladino or the show [More after the jump including the show's love of movie references]

Hunter Foster guest stars on "Bunheads" starring his real life two-time Tony winning sister.

 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov232012

Are You Excited For "Bates Motel" or "Hannibal"?

Alfred Hitchcock is getting as much attention this year as 007, what with Vertigo topping the Sight & Sound poll and the new Hitchcock biopic that references Hitchcockian mythology from 1958 through 1962 but focuses mostly on Psycho (1960). All that plus a new TV show that will look at the life of Young Norman (Freddie Highmore) and the infamous Mrs. Bates (Vera Farmiga) long before she was a dead woman rotting away in the fruit cellar. 

The first official image released inspires hope. It didn't go for something obviously CREEPY. Instead, counterintuitively, it's calm and painterly ...very Wyeth... and if you knew nothing of Psycho you might not even think of blood...blood... oh god mother the blood!

As a general rule I hate Hollywood's fascination with prequels, an obvious example of their creative bankruptcy but also, more dangerously, a key contributor to the dearth of imagination in audiences. It trains people to be passive viewers as if it's anathema to participate in what you're watching and create your own narratives to align with particularly gripping stories you're told. This is a strange dichotomous development considering that the easy access to art and technology these days seems to have actually inspired more participation... so why do people still want inspiration-killing backstories... the worst examples ever being the Star Wars prequels which just robbed the originals of their mythological potency. THIS IS WHAT CAUSED THAT. THIS BECAME THAT. REMEMBER THAT BIT? IT'S BECAUSE OF THIS. LET ME HOLD YOUR HAND AND OVER EXPLAIN EVERYTHING.

So I'm confused that I'm so excited for this. It must be the resilience of Psycho. It's already withstood several sequels, countless ripoffs and parodies and one recreation, and the kind of marrow deep cultural impact that you'd think would make it feel redundant to watch. Nope. It still terrifies and intrigues. The casting of the prequel series is also compelling. Freddie seems ideal, right? And Farmiga is one of the big screen's most compelling actresses, even if Hollywood isn't really helping her deliver on her potential -- even after her Departed / Up in the Air hit Oscar films breakthrough. What gives?

Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) enjoys his meal. Not vegeratian.

Still, with Dexter long overstaying his welcome on Showtime (this season started strong but quickly devolved and last season was just bad bad television... and there's still one more to go!) and Hannibal (yes, The Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal) about to get his own prequel series, doesn't TV already have enough 'life inside the head of a serial killer' drama? Serial killers are to television now what they were to the movies in the mid to late 90s.

Have you had enough or do you still enjoy the genre?

Saturday
May052012

Mad Men @ The Movies: Born Free, Feeling Trapped

In this series we explore the connections between Mad Men and the cinema. Season five has, thus far, not used the movies as much as they have in previous seasons. Though it's also possible that blogging concurrently with airings could result in missed references. Needless to say, I am behind so let's discuss the past couple of weeks of Mad Men.

Driving lessons for sad Pete Campbell

5.5 "Signal 30"
This episode focused on Pete, one of the show's least likeable characters who has, over the course of five years, grown more sympathetic and even more admirable while not really becoming more likeable per se. It's a nifty balancing act that actor Vincent Kartheiser performs tremendously well. Other than fame and fortune, this has been a thankless character for him as his fellow cast members have reaped abundant nominations (if strangely no wins) and increased big screen traction. If they have any sense this will be Kartheiser's Emmy submission episode for Season Five. A repeating motif in which Pete had to watch those old scare-tactic car crash documentaries they used to show in Drivers Ed courses was also stealthily employed. (Now that he's a suburban husband, he has to learn to drive.) Even though Pete was foolishly attempting to cheat on his wife Trudy (so charming even Don Draper is a fan!) with a teenager, and even though he got a well deserved beat down (literally) from Lane, the episode managed the miraculous feat of making you feel altogether bad for him as he struggles to grow up; Pete still looks like a little boy but he no longer feels like one.

Mrs Ken Cosgrove, Mrs Pete Campbell, Mrs Don DraperAging has been a theme of this season, from fatigue to illness to a widening gap between the younger and older characters mindsets. Great, great episode that even managed to thread in a B plot for the oft underused Ken Crosgrove (Aaron Staton) and also a key one for Janie Bryant's always thrilling costume design. (Fact: Janie Bryant never winning the Emmy for Mad Men should be a true embarassment to the entire television industry.) A 

 5.6 "Far Away Places"
Movie Theater Scene Alert! It's always a delight when Mad Men takes us inside a movie theater. Don Draper used to play hooky there in the early seasons and last year he and Lane got drunk and went to a monster movie together. Strangely the very next movie theater scene within the series also involves a character behaving badly. The cinema corrupts them!

The episode begins with Peggy fighting with her boyfriend who wants to see a movie that night. 

 

 

PUBLIC INDECENCY AFTER THE JUMP ... The Naked Prey indeed.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr292012

Smash: "The Movie Star" & "Publicity"

So much to discuss to catch up. Smash is playing up the movie angles with Actors Studio & sequel jokes, Uma guest starring, Bollywood numbers, multiple Monroes, and the general lame practice of stunt casting when movie stars hit the stage. The show feels more than a little keyed up all of a sudden with the unstable presence of Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) in the mix.

1.11 "The Movie Star" 
The episode begins as the dancers greet Karen (Katharine McPhee) who is uncharacteristically dressed up for a sweaty rehearsal to impress Rebecca (Uma Thurman)

Bobby: Oh you reallly bumped it up a notch, didn't you?
Jessica: Ah, she dressed up for the movie star."

This could also double as an introduction to a show that seems to be trying a little harder now that they've got some genuine starlight in the mix with Uma flouncing about being a pain in the ass. Of course the big problem with Smash is not that Uma's character can't sing (we know she'll eventually quit the show, don't we?) but that TV show itself still wants to convince us that Marilyn should be played by Karen within the show. But Katharine McPhee is such a poor excuse for a Marilyn when Megan Hilty is standing right there deserving the part. Argh. McPhee isn't even convincing as Marilyn when she's handed those full makeup fantasies because she feels and looks nothing like her in face, physique or temperament.

Her Day Will Come?Brando & Dean jokes,

Brando and Dean jokes and Bollywood strangeness after the jump... It's the biggest SMASH post ever.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr222012

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 
02 THE LUCKY ONE  
$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?

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