Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hit1

 

I’ll have to say this about Chloe Sevigny:  As an actress, she certainly has balls.  Or, in the case of this unusual, surprisingly moving British series, a prosthetic penis.

Sevigny has never shied away from controversial roles.  In 2003, she startled audiences by performing unsimulated fellatio on her director/co-star, Vincent Gallo, in The Brown Bunny (said the New York Times: “She [Sevigny] may be nuts, but she’s also unforgettable.”).  More recently, she’s appeared as a legless amputee on American Horror Story and as one of three wives in a polygamist marriage on HBO’s Big Love.  So I imagine that when Sevigny read the script for Hit & Miss, in which she would play a transgendered contract killer suddenly charged with raising four children, she didn’t blink.

 

Hit2

 

The premise might sound outrageous, and it sort of is, but Hit & Miss is a fine example of what good writing, direction, and acting can accomplish.  As a viewer, you don’t subject the plot to too much scrutiny because you are hooked on everything else.

Sevigny plays Mia, formerly Ryan, who learns after the death of a former lover that she (he) and the woman had conceived a son, now 11 years old.  Mia returns to rural Yorkshire and, after an initial, hostile reception from the orphaned kids – especially teenagers Riley and Levi – the new-age clan learns that it’s easier to fight battles when family has your back.  The kids’ problems include not just the loss of their mother but also a brutish neighbor who owns and plans to sell their house.  Mia’s battles include … oh, where to begin?  A budding romance with a local stud who doesn’t know whether his new love is a girlfriend or a boyfriend?  An underworld boss who never runs out of candidates for Mia’s hit list, but who often runs out of patience?  The inherent trauma of an ongoing sex change?

 

Hit3  Hit4

 

Hit & Miss, with its “Waltons Meet Carlos the Jackal” sensibility, at times stretches credulity, but it’s often suspenseful and never less than compelling.  It is also, of all things, a touching family drama.          Grade:  A-

 

Hit5

 

Cast:  Chloe Sevigny, Jonas Armstrong, Karla Crome, Reece Noi, Jorden Bennie, Vincent Regan, Peter Wight, Ben Crompton   Premiere:  2012  

 

Hit6

 

Editor’s Note:  At press time, there were no plans for a second season of Hit & Miss.  The first season can be found at Netflix.

 

Hit7

 

Official site  (click here)

 

Hit8

Hit & Miss - Series 1Episode 6©Liam Daniel for Sky Atlantic HD

 

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These misbehaving politicians are reminding me of nature:

 

 Filner1      Filner2

                                Bob                                                                               Filner

 

Weiner4      Weiner5

                            Anthony                                                                         Weiner

 

Eliot Spitzer        Spitzer2

                                 Eliot                                                                           Spitzer

 

But spare me all of this sympathy for Anthony Weiner’s wife, Hubris.  Hubris stays with Anthony because Hubris likes power and Hubris likes fame.

 

*****

 

Diaper

 

Apparently some people are disappointed — secretly or not — that the little brat born this week “across the pond” is a boy brat, and not a girl brat.  Royal poop, whether in male or female diapers, is still just royal poop.

 

*****

 

Geraldo Rivera tweeted a naked “selfie.”  Seems obvious to me that Geraldo noticed all of the media attention for Filner, Weiner, and the “Smallest Penis in Brooklyn” pageant and was overcome with envy.

 

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Orange

 

More TV Crap

Netflix joined the Emmy party with 14 nominations, including nine for House of Cards.  I’m not as surprised by the caliber of Netflix’s new series as I am by the variety.  Cards is the type of quality drama that the traditional networks would love to do, but don’t.   Hemlock Grove is the type of series that SyFy would love to do, but doesn’t.  Orange Is the New Black is the type of “dramedy” that Lifetime would love to do if Lifetime wasn’t, well, Lifetime.

 

Disturbing Trend 1:

The endless dragging out of opening credits on TV shows is a distracting, annoying new practice.  I began watching The Bridge at 9 p.m.  At 9:15, the opening credits finally ended.  Why not just run credits throughout the entire show?

 

Disturbing Trend 2:

TV-show creators are devious.  If they have a new series that potentially skews female, like Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black (top), or BBC America’s Orphan Black (below), they lure in male viewers by displaying lots of female flesh in the opening episodes.  But once the Neanderthalian male is hooked on the story, the nudity stops at least from the star actress.

 

Maslany2

 

*****

 

Now that Jodi Arias and George Zimmerman are in the rearview mirror, what will we armchair jurists do for entertainment?  More important, what will HLN do for ratings?

 

*****

 

Some people wouldn’t let anything interfere with Wednesday’s premiere of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo:

 

Capture

 

*****

 

Hats off to Rae Dawn Chong!  At last, a celebrity who sees the Queen of Smarm, Oprah Winfrey, the same way that I do.  These Chong quotes from a recent radio interview are a bit out of context, just because it’s more fun this way:

“She’s [Oprah’s] a great brown-noser.  If you were in a room with her, she will pick the most powerful person and she’ll become best friends with them.”

“She was that fat chick in school that did everything and everybody loved her.”

“You’ve got to respect her no matter how vile she is, ultimately because she’s all about Oprah and she’s boring.”

 

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by Franz Kafka

Kafka

                                                                    

According to biographer Max Brod, Franz Kafka would sometimes share his short stories with pals before publication.  At these informal gatherings, Brod wrote, “humor became particularly clear.  [Kafka] himself laughed so much that there were moments when he couldn’t read any further.”  This anecdote amazes me, because if there is one adjective I would never employ to describe the short stories of Franz Kafka, it would be “humorous.”  I would opt instead for “bleak,” “absurd,” or “depressing.” 

I might make an exception for “The Metamorphosis,” because unlike the other tales in this collection, with their recurrent themes of misery and oppression, “Metamorphosis” is quite funny; there’s no denying the comic aspects of a story in which a man wakes up in bed to discover that he’s transformed overnight into an enormous bug.

 

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Sharknado2

 

No, it’s not “Shark Week.”  Or maybe it is.  See below.

 

*****

 

Kerry

 

John Kerry (above) got in trouble for puttering aboard his yacht while Egypt burned.  That’s not what bothers me.  What bothers me is that Democrats are supposedly the party of environmentalism, and I’m curious about how much gas Kerry’s yacht guzzles, not to mention how much energy he and Teresa burn up in their mansions.

 

*****

 

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

When early reviews gush that a movie is “fantastic,” “groundbreaking,” or “the best film of the year!,” it rarely is.  An example is 2010’s Inception, which fan boys and bloggers hailed as the next Citizen Kane.  It wasn’t.

On the other hand, there are movies like The Raven, a flick that bombed and was universally trashed by critics.   I saw it the other night and yes, it was silly and certainly no Oscar bait for John Cusack, who was oddly cast as Edgar Allan Poe (above), but it was a perfectly entertaining way to spend two hours.

In related news, although it’s not really related and it’s not really news, I am ashamed to admit that I missed the world premiere of SyFy’s instant classic,  Sharknado (pictures at top and bottom).   Luckily for me, there are always repeats.

 

*****

 

ZacBrown       Robertson

 

Country music’s Zac Brown, above left, and Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson, above right.  How is this not the same person?

 

*****

 

Beckel1

 

“I think they ought to make him a cop in Nigeria.” — Bob Beckel (above) on The Five, speculating about George Zimmerman’s future.

 

*****

 

Local news station KTVU is taking heat for inadvertently broadcasting the “names” of the pilots of that ill-fated plane in San Francisco.  OK, I suppose it was a racist and insensitive prank, but it’s also funny as hell.

 

Funny2

 

*****

 

Sharknado

 

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The Host

     Host1 Host2

 

Maybe it’s a case of cultural bias on my part, but I thought The Host, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s homage to 1950s monster-from-hell B movies, was a strange brew of slapstick comedy and serious, environmental commentary.  But I also thought that the story, in which a polluted river gives birth to an ill-tempered beast, was non-stop entertaining.  Release:  2006  Grade:  B+

 

*****

 

After Porn Ends

    Porn1 Porn2

 

Here are three things to know about being a former porn star:  1) You don’t want to be one; 2) if you are one, it’s better to be a male ex-porn star than a female ex-porn star — but not a whole lot better; 3) you probably guessed this, but most of these actors lead unhappy lives after they leave the sex business.  Bryce Wagoner’s fair-minded documentary, in which he interviews adult stars past and present, is fascinating if depressing viewing.  I did have one quibble:  There is no mention of the porn kings who get rich exploiting these people.  Release:  2010  Grade:  B+

 

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ABC1

 

It’s not easy to tell a good story in just five minutes.  The ABCs of Death, an anthology of 26 short films in a two-hour framework, proves that sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t.

Twenty-six filmmakers from 15 countries were issued a challenge:  Using one letter of the alphabet as a thematic starting point, create a brief, death-oriented “chapter” that would join 25 other short films.  The result is about what you’d expect — a few gems, several busts, and a whole lotta mediocrity.

 

ABC2

 

Passing Grades:

“D Is for Dogfight” is a pulsating, relentless blast, with no dialogue but visual magnetism to spare.  Director Marcel Sarmiento demonstrates how to use sound, slow-motion, and extreme close-ups to deliver a visceral knockout.  It’s violent, but also unexpectedly poignant.  D is for dynamic.

“X Is for XXL” generates a surprising amount of empathy for its protagonist, an obese middle-aged woman, as it chronicles a typical night for this social sad sack, culminating in a horrific resolution to her problems.  Sissi Duparc is unforgettable, and X is for extraordinary.

 

ABC3

 

Passing Gas:

“F Is for Fart.”  Should a filmmaker’s twisted fantasy be considered “art”?  I suppose so, or how else do we explain David Lynch?  “Fart” is certainly memorable, but in the same sense than an overflowing commode is memorable.  A young Japanese girl achieves nirvana with the aid of another woman’s derriere, proving that some directors (and actresses) will do anything for a paycheck.  F is for flunk.

The other entries in ABCs run the gamut from visually striking to more wince-inducing displays of bad taste.  Often really bad taste.  I’m not sure that I’d want to be stuck in an elevator with some of these filmmakers.

 

ABC4

 

Cast:  Sissi Duparc, Arisa Nakamura, Steve Berens, Yui Murata, Chris Hampton  Release:  2012

 

ABC5

ABC6

 

Watch Trailers and Clips  (click here)

 

 

ABC7

 

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No Politics Edition …

… because sometimes, you just get sick of it.

 

Voight

 

Showtime’s new series Ray Donovan is underwhelming.  On the other hand, Jon Voight, above, makes one hell of a villain.

 

*****

 

Aaryn     Aaryn2

 

Quote of the Week:

“What’s nine times three?” — houseguest Aaryn Gries, above left and right, in the blue bikini-bottom, asking a perfectly legitimate question and putting to rest the myth of the “dumb blonde” on CBS’s Big Brother.

 

*****

 

The Huffington Post, New York Post, and other pillars of journalism report that a bar in New York is hosting “the smallest penis in Brooklyn” contest.  Journalist Misty the Size Vixen was also on top of the story, and is apparently quite enamored of the phrase “small penis”:

 

Vixen

 

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                                                      by Edmund Crispin                                                       

Toyshop

 

Toyshop is like an Alfred Hitchcock movie on the printed page, which is ironic since Hitchcock lifted a climactic carousel scene directly from this book for his classic Strangers on a Train (the book predates the movie by five years).  But like one of Hitchcock’s famous chase films, Crispin’s novel is one wild and ridiculous roller coaster as our two heroes, one an Oxford don and the other a poet, race to solve the murder of an asphyxiated heiress.  The plot doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny, but it doesn’t really matter because the action is fast-paced, humorous, and sprinkled with comic British banter.

 

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