Archive for the 'TV' Category

Hiding your light (Gossip Girl, Season 2, Episode 4)

Ugh. I am sick, and the only thing worse than being sick and missing work is being sick and not actually having work to miss, and then wordpress doesn’t want me to upload images anymore, so anyway I am sorry my Gossip Girl post is two days late! Continue Reading »

It’s the little things (Gossip Girl, Season 2, Episode 4)

The three best things about last night’s Gossip Girl. Continue Reading »

Team Serena (Gossip Girl, Season 2, Episode 3)

This week on Gossip Girl: a blackout pushes dramatic action forward! What a novel plot twist! (Like it matters.)

Continue Reading »

As pure as New York snow

Embedded below is Leighton Meester’s cover of “Bette Davis Eyes.”

It’s not laughably bad, but it’s resoundingly mediocre, which is something that Blair Waldorf would never allow.

(via Jezebel)

Oh my effing God (Gossip Girl, Season 2, Episode 2)

Oh wow, I completely forgive them for the slightly awkward season premiere, because this whole episode was magic.

Serena and Blair at Blair\'s awful Lord-impressing party

Before I get to it, though, uh, Leighton’s making an album?! A music album? Oh, how I hope this is a lie; I don’t think I can deal with Blair Waldorf putting out a vanity project album, either of the Hayden Panettiere uncomfortable pop music writhing in high heels or of the Scarlett Johanssen pretentious Tom Waits cover, nuzzling Salman Rushdie variety. Continue Reading »

Love Lockdown

I watched the VMAs last night, even though every year, I say I’m not going to, and I mainly agree with Rich from fourfour about everything, except maybe Christina.

But I am starting to think Kanye’s performance was kind of good. I was initially underwhelmed, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head all day.

Oh, mainstream music.

Reflections a few days after 90210

I’m not sure I want to devote whole paragraphs to this show. It wasn’t very good. I will probably still watch this week. (On the other hand, this week’s ANTM was epic, so the CW has that going for it.)

  • None of Jessica Walter’s lines are inherently funny, but she is so good she actually turns banal phrases into hilarity.
  • Annie would be a better heroine if she had a flaw or if someone disliked her for a reason that was actually her fault.
  • What kind of high school does Spring Awakening as its school play? It’s, um, not the kind of thing I would have wanted to perform in front of my parents.
  • Jennie Garth has actually gotten prettier and more likeable as she’s aged.
  • I hope Brandon isn’t Kelly’s baby daddy.
  • What’s the point of bringing Brenda back if she’s going to be nice all the time?
  • How much more would I like “Silver” if she was played by Willa Holland?
  • Is “I’m breaking up with us” the new “I choose me”?

Chuck has a PI on speed dial (Gossip Girl, Season 2, Episode 1)

So, I was really excited that Gossip Girl is back for a new season. I have been rewatching the old season for …research (really), and I have to say that this was not exactly a top episode. Continue Reading »

One Time Only Biweekly Movies, June 2-15

So like, my life is getting eaten by thesis and a sudden urge to cook and do nothing all the time. So this one’s short and also late.

The other big time-eater has been my rekindled love of So You Think You Can Dance. Joshua & Katee are my favourite couple so far, but honestly, I keep feeling bad for all the poor contempo boys that are too “twee” or “not masculine enough” or alternately get praise for being a “real man.” There was always an undercurrent of those issues on the show, but I always rationalized it in terms of the dancing being about playing a role, and that part of that role included a fairly conventional kind of masculinity, but this year maybe after reading all this gender-y stuff, it seems totally out of hand.

Anyway, onto movies:

  1. Sawdust and Tinsel (Ingmar Bergman, 1953): I really probably should know Bergman better than I do at this point. I liked this, mainly for the classic Bergman raw nerve school of acting, and Sven Nykvist cinematography. This was his first film for Bergman and I feel like you could really identify him in the way the images have this sort of flatness to them, sort of two-dimensional? I don’t think there’s much you can say about Bergman, but this starts out with a sweet semi-silent portrayal of a clown whose woman humiliates him which was really interesting.
  2. Motel Hell (Kevin Connor, 1980): It’s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only without all the actual scary parts, and with Rory Calhoun playing a farmer/butcher who, uh…there are people in the sausages. Reading the wiki page and looking at the post reproduced there — “You might just die…laughing!” — it was apparently supposed to be a comedy, so that’s a plus, because it kind of failed at being scary. The weirdest thing about it was how much better an actor Rory Calhoun was than everyone else in the movie, so there was sort of an unintentional (or intentional?) John Waters casting effect where the styles of acting are so different that it’s immediately distancing.
  3. The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963): So despite the fact that I am the film studies major in the relationship, Alex was actually the one who picked this. It’s a three-hour long historical drama about the slowly fading aristocracy in 19th century Italy, and I think how much you enjoy the movie is directly related to your response to that sentence. It does a really great job of evoking how stifled and stilted aristocratic life was for the characters, but that atmosphere means you wind up with a really stilted and stifled movie. So I certainly appreciated it, in the way that I appreciate historical museums full of insanely detailed costumes and objects, but I don’t know that I liked it. It’s not really my favourite kind of movie; neorealism’s great, but it’s just not my thing. (This isn’t neorealim per se, but Visconti was a neorealist and you can certainly see the influence in the long takes and the emphasis on everyday life over grand historical moments.) I did appreciate the metacinematic touch that the patriarch who is aware that he is on the way out is played by classic Hollywood star Burt Lancaster, and the young folks who represent “the future” are played by new wavey Euro stars Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale.
  4. Zero Patience (John Greyson, 1993): So I am a little bit in love with this movie. It’s a debunking of the whole story that this one Air Canada flight attendant brought AIDS to North America (“Patient Zero”) and there’s a lot of didactic “educational film” stuff in there and it’s really pro-AIDS activism, but it also is a musical with a love story between Patient Zero’s ghost and Victorian sexologist Sir Richard Francis Burton, who is still alive and living in Toronto and trying to make a sensationalistic museum exhibit about Zero in the movie. Dick sings my favourite song in the movie, “Culture of Certainty” which includes a “Let’s all be empiricists” chorus. There is also a song about gay sex that is actually sung by assholes. What I love is that the whole movie’s such a goofy pastiche, but by the end, there is still something sweetly touching when Patient Zero’s finally able to disappear, with the water and the smoke and the video machine and Sir Richard Francis Burton (who also apparently can’t disappear since his “unfortunate encounter with the fountain of youth) obviously touched.
  5. C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Valée, 2005): Another gay-themed Canadian movie this week. This is in a lot of ways your standard coming-of-age story, with a whole thing with him (the gay son that the dad couldn’t accept and he also couldn’t really accept his own gayness) needing to go to Jerusalem and find himself and everything, but what I really liked was that it’s also a movie about record collections as a way of marking time and also father-son bonding. It’s also a very well-done coming-of-age story; I’m not really a fan of the Bildungsroman thing, but I like when movies about childhood skew heavily subjective, so you get that sense of how everything is really big and scary and little moments turn into huge traumas.

Valentino & Family Guy

Because I am, as a blogger, somewhat inconsistent in bringing you the quality pop cultural analysis you expect, allow me to point you to some other analysis of same:

First, a discussion of Valentino as the first teen idol at Pop Feminst, which is part of an ongoing teen idols series that combines the greatness of nostalgia with tought-provoking and cogent arguments in favour of the power of the teen girl as consumer and cultural arbiter. At the end of her post, Rachel asks some interesting questions:

Valentino is a man who lived a celebrity without precedent. How much of the construction of the “teen idol” is socio-historical (based primarily in Valentino’s androgynous template), and how much of it is intuitive, or– though I despise the word– “natural”? Why was the first teen idol a movie star and not (as is much more common) a music star? Was it because Valentino predates rock ‘n’ roll/pop? Can Valentino be seen as a historical figure in rock ‘n’ roll, having set the standard for the ideal fandom?

Most important: with the 19th Amendment ratified in the United States 1920, was Valentino’s meteoric rise in 1921 somehow connected to the anxiety/energy surrounding women’s liberation?

I suspect the first teen idol being a movie star has a lot to do with the non-existence in 1921 of synchronized sound on film.

On a completely unrelated note, I was thinking about this post on This Recording while I was watching one of the myriad Family Guy reruns that are on my television in any given day. Molly quotes Cartman on his Family Guy hate:

Everywhere I go: “Hey Cartman you must like Family Guy, right?” “Hey, your sense of humor reminds me of Family Guy, Cartman!” I am nothing like Family Guy! When I make jokes they are inherent to a story! Deep situational and emotional jokes based on what is relevant and has a point, not just one random interchangeable joke after another!

On the one hand that is an entirely true criticism of Family Guy, because South Park is still making satire in the classical way — when they make a joke, it usually has a point, even if I don’t always agree with it. Family Guy has a problem, I think, in that their poor taste comedy sometimes blurs the line between, for example, making fun of racist culture and just being racist,1 but I think the reason Family Guy is so popular is the same reason that torture porn movies make so much money: there’s no clear agenda they’re pushing, the spectacle is in the offensiveness. The whole point of Family Guy is like “Look what I made you watch! That dog just punched that baby! That guy is a total rapist! And you’re laughing at it!” It’s kind of a dialogue with the viewer about taste. Does this mean that it basically just makes people really comfortable with poor taste and offensiveness? Maybe. Especially when it’s just the same thing week after week. Also, when people quote it out of context without realizing that, coming from a cartoon, something might have ambiguous status on the satire-offensiveness line, but coming from just like, a dude you know, it moves onto the wrong side.

Okay, back to the thesis.

  1. You could just as easily replace the word “racist” with “sexist” or “ableist” or whatever other “-ist” you want, my point is more that it is often difficult to discern the difference between pointed satire and like, nihilism. 

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