Monday, September 28, 2009

Something that's been bugging me...

Why does Katie Cassidy keep getting cast in films and TV shows? Just because her daddy is David Cassidy? It's certainly not on talent. Her smug smile and shiny hair ruined season 3 of Supernatural for me, and frankly she couldn't die soon enough on Harker's Island. Now I see her in the trailer for the, sorry, reimagining (eyes rolling, can't type) of Nightmare on Elm Street, and apparently she's playing a bisexual PR agent on the reimagined Melrose Place. Big deal--who hasn't played a bisexual PR agent on an Aaron Spelling show?

Actually, wait, that's not what was bugging me. It's trying to figure out how many guys are lying on their profile. Because if as many guys were into hiking and kayaking as they say they are, the Yadkin River wouldn't even be able to flow for all of their "athletic and toned" or "average" or "a few pounds overweight" bodies. Where did they get the idea that this outdoorsy Paul Bunyan crap is appealing? Maybe if these were frontier times and I needed my fella to go out and bring down a 10-point buck so that our malnourished, shivering children would have roast venison to eat and buckskin coats to wear and a rustic antler coat hanger for their jaunty newsboy caps. But no, this is the 21st century. Dude, I don't need you to go out and bring down anything other than a carton of milk, extra batteries for the camera and some Chinese take-out. I'm not interested in climbing hills or fording streams with you. Now get out from in front of the TV; it's Saturday and I'm trying to watch college football.

Then you have the guys who are "laid-back" and "easygoing" and "have no time for drama." And I'll grant that the majority of my guy friends are indeed laid-back and easygoing, as long as their team is winning and the IKEA cabinet assembly is going smoothly and the car/game console/grill/random appliance is functioning properly. But no time for drama? Come on. Anyone who's seen an episode of Bridezilla knows that you boys are lying through your uneasily-clenched-in-a-smile teeth. Sure, your girl's not gonna' disrespect you in front of your friends or make you ask permission to go to the pub or force you to take her side against your mother. Or maybe she will ... if she's hot. The hotness is directly proportional to how much crazy a guy is willing to take. That's why moderately attractive women like me have to work so gorram hard to be understanding and accommodating and maintain our great personalities. Because if we dared to pout or disagree or throw a hissyfit while having the audacity to not look like a Brazilian supermodel, you'd be making a beeline for the door. And it sucks. I wish I were pretty. With a little...okay, alot of reconstructive surgery, life would be so much easier. Instead I have to be a good listener and empathetic and articulate and handy with a lint brush to get up all the cat hair.

Oh, and to the guy who said he has fine tastes and nice shoes, you just labeled yourself an asshat and that'll be a no. Have fun with your glass of Riesling and Gucci loafers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Can Be Your Hero, Baby

But can you take away the pain? From the looks of the new "Heroes: Redemption" promo poster, I doubt it. It prominently displays my three least favorite, overused characters in the entire ensemble (and it's a big frakkin' ensemble). Which means the NBC promo monkeys just made it a lot easier for me to stick to my pledge of not watching the new season. Yes, Ray Park is adorable and nine shades of awesome. But does that make up for the big ol' mess that the writers turned this show into over the past three seasons? Not really, no.

It started off so well. Ordinary people discovering they have extraordinary powers. Deciding whether they would use said powers for good or evil. A truly scary villain whose mere shadow sent chills down our spines, and a complex Company keeping watch over everyone while operating in the morally grey area. Every episode ended with a cliffhanger that left you chomping at the bit for your next weekly dose. Granted, there were some missteps here and there, but then an episode like "Company Man" or "Five Years Gone" would come along and all was forgiven.

Sadly, once season 2 premiered, such well-written and well-acted episodes started to become the exception rather than the norm. Road-tripping with Maja y Alejandro, whiny West, whiny amnesiac Peter and the Irish girlfriend he so rudely left in a plague-ridden future, months and months of feudal Japan that couldn't even be saved by the innate charisma of David Anders, Kristen Bell as a sadistic sociopath who murders innocent (and handsome) pub owners just because they won't make a Veronica Mars movie.

I actually kind of liked Elle because, apart from Sylar at that point, we hardly ever saw anyone enjoy their powers. Hero or villain, you gotta' drop the angst and start believing this stuff is kinda' cool. Embrace your inner Mystique. We all know you're ripping off X-Men, so just acknowledge it already. Yes, you give Stan Lee a cameo every now and then, but you owe Marvel a whole lot more.

Anyway, a shortened season 2 (due to the writers' strike) led us into season 3 where we finally met...dun, dun, dun...Arthur Petrelli. Because the viewers certainly hadn't had enough of Angela and Nathan and Peter and all their family angst. This volume entitled "Villains" seemed very promising at first. The most dangerous and powerful of the Company's inmates set loose to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting public. With the added benefit of talents like Jamie Hector, David H. Lawrence XII, Robert Forster, Andre Royo and Jessalyn Gilsig raising the bar.

A bar we shall now call "Sylar's Daddy Issues" and which we shall be beaten over the head with for the rest of the show's run. Gabriel Gray started out as a cipher--a gifted watchmaker turned serial killer who traveled the world collecting powers, and snowglobes. His father was gone, and his mother (the luminous Ellen Greene) was a possessive harridan pushing him to be "special." Ah, but wait: he was actually the orphaned son of Arthur and Angela Petrelli, who each took turns manipulating him into being their weapon of mass destruction. Ah, but wait, again: Ma and Pa Petrelli were lying to him, and he was rasied by the watchmaker and his wife, but his real dad was John Glover. The devil from "Brimstone," Lionel Luthor, the magnificent bastard himself. He and his prodigal son faced off in one episode. That was it. One episode. Frak me.

Meanwhile, all the other people with daddy issues (Nathan, Peter, Claire, Niki, Parkman, Mohinder, etc.) are either working with the government to round up "specials" or trying to evade its goon squad led by Zeljko Ivanek. Who is brilliantly weaselly, as always, and should have shared more scenes with Jack "HRG" Coleman. But even as the cast improved, the storylines got dumb and dumber. It got to the point where if you didn't read the graphic novels on NBC's web site, you had no idea who was doing what and why. I'm not sure if it's because the writers are lazy or they're trying to be all hip with their interactivity, but crazy as it sounds, there are people who don't have access to a computer. And even if they did, they wouldn't use it to figure out why Daphne is the way she is or why Agent Rachel was trying to help Doyle. Psst, writers--there's this thing called a script that includes dialogue and expository action and story beats. You've written them before, people; I know you can do it again.

That's the thing. Now that Bryan Fuller has left, again, someone needs to slap these writers around, take the crack pipe out of their hands, and make them write out a show bible. You people created this world, now's the time to set the ground rules. Actually, back in season 2 was the time to do that, but nevermind. Who has what power and why? What are the limits of their powers? Who's related to whom? And have any of you ever been in a real comic shop? Dig this: sometimes there are girls there. And sometimes those girls actually read the books that are on the shelves. And sometimes they actually talk to the guys in the shop like they are fellow human beings and not insulting caricatures. Dude, did I just blow your mind?

So, in a nutshell, I won't be watching this next volume of "Heroes" because I just can't stand the aimlessly wandering plots or the dizzying character shifts or dropping truly interesting characters in favor of yet another Ali Larter clone. Quality genre television on a mainstream network is very hard to come by these days and when you have a genuine hit, you should stop messing around with it and stick to what works. Also, Mr. Kring, stop being a D-bag to your viewers. You need every single one of them.

Of course, all these words are mere empty threats if they manage to get Christopher Eccleston back. I will gladly swallow my pride with a tequila chaser if that happens. Y'all keep me posted, okay?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Signed, Sealed, Delivered--I'm Trapped!

Pushing the envelope in Austria: 2 boys in 1 week rescued after locking selves in mailboxes

Austrian authorities aren't about to give these pranks their stamp of approval. Frustrated officials say rescuers have been deployed twice this week to break open large mailboxes after two children locked themselves inside in separate incidents. Firefighters in the westernmost province of Vorarlberg say the latest incident occurred Thursday evening in the village of Schwarzach, where an 8-year-old boy climbed inside a mailbox and couldn't get out. Postal officials weren't able to find the key, so rescuers used welding torches and bolt cutters to open the box and free the child. He was uninjured. Authorities say an almost identical incident happened Monday in nearby Feldkirch, where a 4-year-old boy locked himself inside a mailbox.

What's German for "Hey, y'all, watch this!"? Hey, if these jungen wanted to remove themselves from the gene pool, who are we to stop them?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sew You Think You Can Dance

According to Women’s Wear Daily, Katie Holmes is moving on from her Scientology-ing and her appearing in overhyped Broadway revivals and her auditioning for the next Hollywood musical, by venturing into the fashion industry. She'll be partnering with her stylist Jeanne Yang to launch her own clothing line, which will include "premium women's clothes and children's wear inspired by her daughter, Suri."

Apparently, this new hobby started with their collaboration on the dress she wore to last year's Tropic Thunder premiere.

Okay, so it's a blue velvet pencil skirt with matching bra, and several strips of that tape you put around tennis rackets to improve the grip. Not exactly haute couture. Hawt shoes, though.

Katie is the latest in a line of many celebrities to get their own clothing line: Jessica Simpson, Milla Jovovich, Elizabeth Hurley, Christy Turlington, Jaclyn Smith, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Kanye West, Sean "Puffalicious" Combs, Victoria Beckham, Gwen Stefani, Bono, Lauren Conrad, and Daisy Fuentes. I won't talk smack about Ms. Fuentes because her tops are super-cute and comfortable, and they wash really well. Trufax.

What qualifies one to have a clothing line? Surely said celebrity would have to have at the very least a sense of style. But some of them don't even seem to have a sense of sight, or a sense of touch, or a sense of decency really. There's a reason Katie is so frequently featured on the pages of Go Fug Yourself.

Exhibit A: After health care reform, let's talk about high-waisted pants reform.

Exhibit B: She's a lumberjack, in gladiator sandals, and she's not okay.
Exhibit C: Nylon stirrup leggings? Even the Chicago ensemble wouldn't go there.

Exhibit D: Fuchsia cardigan plus red high heels plus pegged acid-washed jeans equals casual wear fail.

Exhibit E: I did try to make this photo less of an assault on your retinas by using my Photoshop magic, but even my computer declared "Aw, hell no!"

I don't know if you'll rush right down to your local Maxfield store this fall to fill your wardrobe with offerings from the Holmes & Yang line. I'll admit that almost all of my clothes come from Kohl's or Goodwill so I can't really comment on fashion do's and don'ts (as if that would stop me). But I think we can all agree on one thing: that Jaclyn Smith sure knows what she's doing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Real American Zero

"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"

Directed by Stephen Sommers
Written by Stuart Beattie and David Elliott & Paul Lovett
Starring: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Dennis Quaid

Launched in the 1960s as a testosterone-fueled alternative to Barbie, the G.I. Joe line of action figures made it okay for boys to play with dolls. And to blow them up with firecrackers. The new film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, is the latest toy-to-film adaptation to come out of Hollywood and the second to hit theaters this summer. But this isn’t your father’s G.I. Joe. Heck, this isn’t even our G.I. Joe. Movies built on touchstones of our Gen X-er childhoods can be hit (Transformers) or miss (Land of the Lost). But if the large crowd at the matinee I attended is any indication, this one will be a hit at the box office, here and abroad. And it won’t be because of insightful dialogue or well-drawn complex characters. After all, this is Stephen Sommers we’re talking about, he of The Mummy and Van Helsing fame.

Joe has what every summer blockbuster should: fiery explosions, hunky guys, pretty girls, shiny gadgets, exotic locations, and lots of things to go boom in ever more creative ways. This time out, the MacGuffin being pursued by the G.I. Joe special forces team and the evil Cobra Command terrorists is something called a nanomite, voracious and microscopic insects that like to eat through the metal of tanks and fighter planes and French landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. I thought my friend Glenn was exaggerating when he theorized the movie would be a live-action version of Team America. If only I’d known how right he was.

There’s a plot in there somewhere but good luck untangling it. All you really need to know is Joe equals good, Cobra equals bad. Even though pretty much every member of the Joe team is so smugly self-righteous that you root for the bad guys to kick them in the face. Nor are they at all apologetic for the millions of dollars in collateral damage that they cause as they are "fighting for freedom over land and air." I’m sure you’ve already seen the sequence in the trailer where Duke and Ripcord wearing their HALO armor, er, accelerator suits race down Parisian city streets dodging explosions and commuters, and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Sorry about that, President Sarkozy—our bad.

Oh, and there are flashbacks. Lots of ‘em, and only a few of which are actually relevant to the film’s plot. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing li’l Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow establish their lifelong rivalry over some stolen lo mein noodles. But the one Joe team member who doesn’t even talk gets the most backstory? Seriously? Rachel Nichols’ Scarlett gets a throwaway line about graduating high school at 12 years old, and we don’t get to know anything about Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Heavy Duty or Said Taghmaoui’s Breaker. Apart from the fact that they both spent time on The Island -- dun, dun, dun....

Yet for all his narrative failings and excessively heavy reliance on special effects, Sommers still manages to attract top-tier talent like Christopher Eccleston, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Park and the aforementioned Adewale and Said (please don’t make me type out their full names again). Perhaps it’s some sort of actor wish-fulfillment to engage in gunplay in front of a green screen. Viewers should also keep a sharp eye out for other Sommers alumni like Arnold Vosloo, Brendan Fraser and Kevin J. O’Connor. The usually irritating Sienna Miller acquits herself well as the badass Baroness, even though a massive retcon toward the end pretty much ruined her character for me. And Rachel Nichols looks fabulous as a redhead and sounds more or less believable when spouting all the exposition that her character gets saddled with. Plus her girlfight skills have improved significantly since Alias. Marlon Wayans, one of the busier Wayans brothers, is sort of amusing as the requisite spouter of wisecracks. But Channing Tatum is the weakest link. Sure, he boasts the square jaw and chiseled physique of a Chris Evans, but with absolutely none of the charisma needed for a leading man. I sincerely hope they’re not hanging the franchise on this guy’s weak shoulders. He's about as interesting as a plank of plywood with kung fu grip.

The biggest WTF for all of us as this film was in development was the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander. "Really?" we collectively asked, eyebrows arched in disbelief. "That kid from Third Rock from the Sun? Surely you must be joking." But joking they were not. And Joseph is surprisingly good. Well, he is until his transformation into Cobra Commander leaves him looking like the lovechild of Darth Vader and the clockwork assassin in Hellboy. But up until that point, he’s pretty damn believable, and creepy. Kudos to you, Joseph; I hereby stand corrected.

Regardless of positive reviews or lack thereof, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra will do well at the box office, will sell a lot of action figures, and will be a really good test of your Blu-Ray player and home theater speakers when it comes out on DVD. And if you’re looking to spend a couple of hours in an air-conditioned theater with your brain turned off and your piehole full of popcorn, then you could do a lot worse than Joe. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Hey There, Lonely Girl

According to Elle magazine, this month's cover girl Jennifer Aniston is the champion of lonely girls everywhere. Really? Does anyone else find it just a little hard to believe that the former "Friend" is plagued by despair and ennui as she sits alone on a summer Saturday night, staring at a phone that refuses to ring while she downs a half-pint of Haagen-Dasz and watches a marathon of Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?

Don't get us wrong, Jen; we know you mean well. And we know that it can't have been easy to have your divorce and every subsequent relationship in the public eye. But come on now. If you've been seen canoodling with Gerard Butler, you're not that lonely. If you're on Forbes' list of the richest women in the entertainment industry, you're not that lonely. If you have an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and multiple Teen Choice Awards on your mantle, you're not that lonely. If you're on the cover of Elle in a black leather dress, you're not that lonely.

Please, for the love of Ross, stop talking about it!! You don't have to keep telling us how much you don't want to talk about your love life while you are in fact talking about your love life. It's like one of those people who whines about how they can't gain weight because their metabolism is so unbearably high, or they don't know whether to vacation in Vail or the Virgin Islands because they get such great travel deals through work.

You want your relationships to be private, Jen? We do, too. You're the cheerleader, the prom queen, the sorority sister that gets to lord your popularity and prettiness over the rest of us. So step up and own it, sister. You're not one of us.

I mean, unless you want to be. 'Cause we're not doing anything Saturday night. Do you prefer mint chocolate chip or coffee ice cream?