Archive for February, 2012
Whenever I think of Angelina Jolie, I think of a spoiled, pampered incredibly wealthy young woman who dabbles in good deeds to fill the time between shopping sprees, world tours and endless parties. At the Sarajevo premiere of her movie In the Land of Honey and Blood, Angelina Jolie was right on track with that mantra when she got all emotional talking about her movie and her hope that it would be a wake-up call and inspiration for politicians and leaders around the world to do something about what is happening in Syria right now.
I am all for giving, humanitarian aide and just doing things for others; we need more of that in this world driven by selfish, narcissistic people posing as human beings, but there is just something so insincere about these two assholes. I am tired of their self righteous, sanctimonious crap and this pretending that they are not overpaid actors who shot to fame based on their looks, addictions and the number and nature of their sex partners, rather than because of their talent, intelligence and hard work.
On the one hand they want to keep it all private, on the other hand they flaunt it every opportunity they can, such as making out on the red carpet or inviting camera crews over to their house so they can photograph Jolie nursing one of her babies. Angelina goes to an African village talking about the plight of the people and then three days later is seen carrying a $5,000 Louis Vuitton bag that could feed the village for a couple of months.
It almost feels like they get a kick out of going to impoverished countries and “helping” out (i.e. self promoting); like it was a sexual arousal thing that gets them both off. It honestly woudn’t surprise me given Angelina’s sordid past and her fucked up habits like carrying a vial of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck. Sort of like in The Postman Always Rings Twice, where Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson fuck right at the scene of the crash where her husband is bleeding to death and dying. I really think these two get some kind of a pleasure or arousal from this adopting children from some third world shit hole thing and going to deeply troubled and impoverished countries with their luxury handbags, designer clothes and half a dozen mansions, chalets and estates around the world to their name. It is almost like the more impoverished and destitute the country, the higher the arousal and appeal factor for this pair of assholes.
They say that “sincerity is everything. Once you learn to fake that, the rest is easy.” I must say it is quite ironic that these two, despite their alleged tremendous acting skills, have not been able to fake that at least so that when they do take the high ground, it is believable. How in touch with reality can two millionaires a hundred times over with egos the size of entire nations really be? Exactly…
With this episode, The Walking Dead has finally picked up in intensity. “Nebraska” is reminiscent of the kind of breathtaking and gripping episodes we got to see in the first season as it was intelligent, thought provoking and tackled some of the tough issues from the inside out. It also finally got off that sanctimonious tone we had to endure for the most part of the second season where everyone sort of agreed that Shane was wrong and the bad guy and Hershel had a valid point. Rick also finally gets some things about the reality of their situation into his head and reaches a pivotal moment.
The line of who is good and bad and what is wrong and what is right is a thin one, at least in this show. Dale walks around warning everyone that Shane is dangerous and that he murdered Otis, but the bar scene with those two shady guys with a murderous agenda showed us that they were going to need someone of Shane’s attitude to handle the situation; Rick had to do what needed to be done. Simple as that. For the first time he stood on the other side of the fence where Shane usually stands, where tough decisions have to be made. It was clear from the way the two guys behaved that they were going to be worse than the Walkers: the fat dude was already talking about pretty much raping women if he got his fingers on some and the other one gave off a creepy, dangerous vibe and pulled the gun on Rick. Rick had to act in a split second and make that call and he made the right call. The question now is: is Shane really a bad guy? What is good and bad anymore in this world? In this reality? Had Shane not sacrificed Otis, Carl would have died just as Rick, Hershel and Glenn would have died had Rick not killed the two intruders.
This show is great at showing us how humans behave, on the deepest level, when their existence is threatened. It was very realistic and it begs the question of whether you can afford to still live by the old rule book in a world that has no rules anymore; no societal ones at least (hence that guy pissing right in the corner of the restaurant, like an animal in the wild, and not even bothering to step out. He doesnt need to. Who is going to stop him? The owner? The cops?)
Shane was a man of the law before the fall, yet after the world came to an end, he just had to make some tough decisions – first small ones, then big ones, such as sacrificing Otis to make it out; he did things he would never have done before. This show is doing a great job at getting to the bottom of that pit and digging through what is the human aspect; the human heart. The desperation and existential desolation these people are facing in a world gone under and ravaged by disease is palpable, especially during the conversation Rick and Hershel have in the bar about hope and what to live for anymore in the face of such apocalyptic devastation. I mean heck, even Hershel finally got the desperation of their situation and understood the sheer ignorance in his views.
Lastly, I loved that hopefully with Lori’s accident, they might actually put an end to this stupid and ridiculous pregnancy story line that’s just degraded the show to soap opera level. The only misgiving I have is more of an afterthought really, which is that I hope they really will NOT stay on little house in the prairie much longer. I dont think most people would want to see another 12 episodes of these people working through their feelings and emotions with zombies thrown in for fun. I don’t expect action but I also dont expect intimate mental exposés.
The story in The Island is quite intriguing. It depicts a future in which human beings, very wealthy human beings, order clones of themselves with a corporation that grows them in a vast underground city. The clones are clueless, grown into adults and then memories implanted, and they are told that a certain kind of “contamination” has killed everything on the planet and that aside from the underground sanctuary, there is one last place that is still safe: The Island. For reasons unknown, not everyone can go to the Island and so every day there is a lottery in which someone’s number is pulled to be the lucky winner. The clones dont know they are clones and they really believe this to be the reality.
The movie is about slowly deconstructing that fantasy, that almost utopian future and revealing some of the ugly truth inherent in the human condition. The humans depicted in this future are so obsessed with youth and living forever, just like today I think, that they have deliberately turned a blind eye to what is happening to other human beings in their society. There is a powerful scene in the movie where a pregnant woman is supposed ot go to the island, but of course that is not going to happen. She gives birth and immediately after is given an injection and disposed off. The business woman finishing up the transaction holds the baby in her arms and watches the mother die, before delivering the baby to the parents that ordered it. The new mother that holds the baby is the genetic original of the clone that was just killed. The business woman then closes the deal by offering to bring them the “termination papers” of their “insurance policy”.
However, while this movie started strongly, it ended on a rather slow note. Of course not literally – which is precisely what the problem with this movie is. I feel as if there is almost a clear division and that it can be divided into two parts: the first part entices us quite intelligently into this fascinating future and there is a lot of potential that is set up here, trying to answers questions about morality, the limits of science and the human soul. But the second part, which goes into overdrive, ends up being a lot of bang bang, super action, one long car chase scene with crashes and explosions. There is a pause and then the quality of the film emerges again. But as soon as the car chase scenes a la Michael Bay style begin, everything goes downhill. I really wish they had continued on that strong beginning instead of allowing it to fizzle into mediocrity. The ending was pretty good though and connected the beginning with it.
Despite the one short coming I think this movie is quite underrated in the message it attempts to convey and the quality with respect to *how* it was done. The actors truly inhabit the roles they are portraying, and so they are believable. The chemistry between McGreggor and Johansson is great and I thought the cinematography and soundtrack were amazing, truly conveying the mood of the movie about a future not too far from ours.
Seasons One and Two of Nip/Tuck were brilliant. The writing was one of the best in television history: intelligent, engaging, thought provoking, edgy and just breathtaking and the show set the standard for TV dramas in all subsequent years. The story lines were believable yet provocative and the topics picked were right at the heart of the matter. Because the characters were written with so much depth, layer and nuances, their struggles were believable and the audience could identify and often sympathize. For the first two years I really believed this to have been the best TV drama I had ever seen.
Unfortunately, it all went downhill starting Season 3. I dont know if they changed writers or just got blinded by their success and didn’t try as hard – as it is often the case with successful TV shows – but Nip/Tuck made a downhill run starting in Season 3 until the abysmal failure which was the last season: increasingly improbable, far fetched situations that take the notion of suspending disbelief to new heights, bad to no character development (at least not one that is believable), unimaginative writing that is all over the place, everyone acting supremely out of character…I could go on with more examples.
There just wasn’t much depth in the characters later on and in fact at some point they became a parody of themselves it seems. The writers took the “sudden twists” in plot development that were gripping and enticing in the first two seasons and sprinkled them excessively in every episode to the point where it became almost ridiculous and embarrassingly unbelievable. While in the beginning they used those sparingly to get the desired effect, it was just overdone in later seasons – ultimately causing the show to lose exactly what it tried to accomplish.
As mentioned above, people behaving out of character was another prominent feature of the later seasons:
Yes, Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) is a womanizer and playboy who loves sex, luxury, hot girls and shiny cars, but he is also a wounded soul, a caring man who deep down has demons to fight while at the same time trying to hold on to certain principles he would never relinquish. In later seasons, they just turned him into a vile, ruthless, unsympathetic, one dimensional animal who is lacking a moral center. While he had some endearing qualities in the beginning, he had none in the end. He was a weak, mean coward who lost his edge and humanity.
Sean (Dylan Walsh) – who was always the thoughtful, loyal, dedicated and responsible person and especially father – was turned into a big time jerk and sex maniac in the later seasons – a man who had no interest in his family and his children and who slept around and used people.
The same is true with most of the characters really. Julia, (Joely Richardson), was a driving force in this series. Her struggles of wanting to go to med school and being more than just a house wife, as well as her subdued, unspoken love for and attraction to Christian were an important relationship and plot element.
Gradually, she made fewer and fewer appearances, however, became a lesbian at some point (yeah right) – stating she had always been one – and then she sort of disappeared for extended periods of time without explanation or closure. Her passion for medical school and her own life were never even touched upon again and she herself disappeared into obscurity.
That was sad, because Julia’s presence and the tensions that had developed between her, Christian and Sean were at the heart of the show and its drama. They spent two years building all that up just to drop the subject altogether and never revisit it again.
Speaking of unresolved: Gina (Jessalyn Gilsig) just completely disappeared at some point without explanation and then came back just to die in the most absurd, ridiculous way you can imagine: she fell during sex out of the balcony. I really thought they were kidding and this was just someone’s day dream or imagination but lo and behold, that was it: she really fell off the balcony while fucking Christian.
Not only was that ridiculous but also sad in a way and just insulting to what the writers had done with the character in the first place. I always found Gina very fascinating and tragic; the self destruction, low self esteem, the fact that she was Wilbur’s mother and her battle with HIV. The tragedy her character experienced was filled with potential and they just let her fizzle out and then die in this embarrassing, trashy manner. Totally insulting. I wonder what Christian will tell Wilbur when he asks about his mother one day.
There is also Kimber (Kelly Carlson), another deeply tragic character who ended up being very underutilized given the potential the writers had with her. They did an amazing job exposing her self destructive tendencies, but then just like that, they dropped her and she too became a two-dimensional paper doll and a cliché.
Christian marries her on and off over the seasons, but nothing in their dynamic with each other changes. She doesnt develop as a character for either the better or the worst. I saw a glimpse of hope when she got the abortion and it turned out she could never have kids again, but instead of going on on that strong note, they just dropped it and let it fade away. The same thing happened when she died. Did she commit suicide? Is she dead? Is she alive? What exactly happened? We never find out. Her death was not remarkable to anyone – which it should have given that she’s been there since Season One and an important character.
There is also that entire plot of Christian marrying Liz (Roma Maffia). Speak of behaving out of character: Liz always held herself and others to the highest standards. She had a disdain for Chrstian’s superficiality and how he used and treated women and she was fully aware of it too. She would never have stooped to his level and married him. That was just not her. But they put it in the script and made her whine and pine after Christian and it was ridiculous.
If these were changes in plot and character the writers intended, they should have gone about it in a different way (even though there is no excuse for some of the outlandish plot twists they introduced). People don’t just change overnight and fiction or not, you still have to adhere to certain rules such as character consistency within a plot.
Sean was portrayed from the beginning on as a hard working, ethical, dedicated father. It is completely out of character for him to suddenly turn into a vile jerk who uses women and doesn’t care about his kids.
Liz would never have fallen for Christian’s sweet talk and married him and then pine away after him, that is ridiculous – not to mention that she is a lesbian -i.e. not into men.
Of course it is possible for people to change but there has to be evidence for it in the story and plot and not simply because the script says so. The later seasons are drizzled with even more such inconsistencies, which is a sign of bad writing more than one of just things having changed due to the circumstances the characters find themselves.
Acting out of character is not character development.
Finally, changing the setting from Miami to L.A. aided in ruining the show completely. The L.A. setting made them be nothing but a bunch of cheap, trashy, run of the mill Beverly Hills plastic surgeons trying to find a way to sell out to the media by humiliating themselves – sort of like the Kuntrashians.
There is some kind of a mystery, sexiness and just boldness to Miami which L.A.’s theme-park commercialism lacks. In the show, L.A. was portrayed as a den for greedy TV producers and dumb people with non-existent moral codes willing to do anything for a dollar, a dick and a dream.
McNamara and Troy just became pawns in that scheme and the stories shifted from them to Los Angeles, the dirt of that town and the despicable people roaming it (to the point of stereotyping the city). That was a bad move which, in my opinion, pretty much sealed Nip/Tuck’s ruin and reduced its quality to just any other forgettable TV show you hope to end.
The bottom line is that after the success of the first two seasons, the show’s producers and writers put the characters into increasingly more improbable situations to the point of turning them into clichés of themselves and the show as such; coupled with the issues mentioned above – such as character inconsistency and poor, chaotic plot development – the result has been that over time a serious disconnect has been created and once you have too many of those disconnects, you lose credibility. And I think that is the main breaking point in the end: the show lost a lot of credibility, unintentionally became a farce of itself and with that it lost the edge and brilliance that made it so amazing and intense in the first place.
They say that Monroe, early on in her career, had to struggle hard in order to be accepted as a serious actress instead of just being seen as the dumb blonde with a knock-out rack. The producers in Hollywood never gave her a real chance to be a success doing serious roles, however, and only until The Mistfits, some nine years after this movie, was she once again to illustrate the depth of her acting abilities, albeit at a time where it was probably too late to save her.
In this movie she is doing one of her finest acting at an already very early stage of her career – before her commercially successful and better known pictures such as How to Marry A Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch and of course Some Like it Hot catapulted her into stardom and then legend. One can only imagine what she could have turned into acting-wise had she been allowed to continue on the route we see her partake in this movie.
Unfortunately, Hollywood was merciless in that regard and Marilyn’s success dependett very strongly on the success she could bring at the box office. Marilyn, therefore, realized early on that she had to be able to sell and that people, as well as the studios themselves, preferred her as the voluptuous, ditsy, blonde kitten who exhumes sex appeal rather than as the serious dramatic actress she could be; they had Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn for that.
This movie is from the small window in Monroe’s career where she was still undamaged by Hollywood’s demands on her and instead was allowed to take on the role of a person with more psychological depth than any of the characters she would play later on in her career (except for The Misfits). Richard Widwmark and Anne Bancroft do a great job as well, but they are easily overshadowed by Monroe’s breathtaking radiance and screen presence. When she enters a scene, all you see is her. Watch All About Eve and you will notice how all the other beautiful and renowned actresses sort of melt into the background when Monroe enters the scene, even though her part is very small. Among her many love affairs, I think the camera was her biggest one.
I am still surprised that after this role she was still not taken seriously as an actor by her contemporaries even later on and was in fact often mocked by such serious and talented actors as Bette Davis. Today she is mostly remembered for her femininity, vulnerability, immense sex appeal and tragic past. She isn’t remembered as the master of her craft Maybe her beauty and extraordinary femininity were overwhelming for everyone around her, including her female counterparts, and just too powerful to ignore and she could not have ever been anything else in Hollywood but what she was exhuming outwardly.
Here are a couple of screenshots of Monroe in All About Eve. It has been observed that no matter how a scene was lighted, Monroe had the quality of drawing all the light to herself…