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Sunday, August 28, 2011

GGG Is Officially Team "The Hunger Games"

So I feel like I should let you guys know that I am officially a huge Hunger Games nerd. This week I read Catching Fire and then Mockingjay in literally a day and a half. I mean, finally there's a young person trend I can get with! Something that involves archery and political dystopian sci-fi instead of vampires! And a heroine who has a personality and is interesting and complicated and deals with actual scary problems instead of just a mopey sullen generic blob with too many boyfriends.

Seriously though, the books are well-written, gripping, and, unlike some other YA trilogies I could mention (cough His Dark Materials cough), the series ends on an entirely satisfactory and well-earned note. For those of you who, like me, are feeling the Harry Potter void now that the last part of the last movie of the last book is finally out, you should start reading The Hunger Games RIGHT NOW because OMG you will instantly feel much less empty and your nerdy sadness will start to dissipate. Weirdly, I don't know anyone else who has read the books (or at least anybody who's mentioned them to me), and my friends are, aside from 14-year-olds, definitely the key demographic here (politically-disillusioned twentysomethings trying to evade the grasp of real adulthood for as long as possible). So for starters, that's my recommendation. Go read the books! I already want to read them again but will have to get back into the MASSIVE hold lines at the library.

Secondly, and I know I am RATHER late to the game but whatever, I am poor and get books from the library and that entitles me to belated opinion posts, but the casting for the movie looks great, y/y? I have never seen Jennifer Lawrence in anything but she is hot and bad-ass and looks the part in the pictures I've seen. Josh Hutchinson is great, adorable, and very Peeta. Thor (with the muscles toned down so as to account for a starvation-based economy) as Gale, yes, great. Donald Sutherland as President Snow, of course, obviously. At first I was like, Woody Harrelson? But then realized he looked exactly like the Haymitch in my head, albeit a little taller. Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, yes, yes, yes. The only name that really made me go HUH? was Lenny Kravitz. I mean, I know he's coming off his breathtaking turn as The Only Attractive And Nice Man in Precious, but I feel like Cinna is a key role that has a lot of unspoken feeling and nuance to it and I hope the pretty boy is up to the challenge. Lenny Kravitz. Ha.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I'm Quitting Weed(s)

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhh Nancy. I just can't do it anymore (is what I wish Andy was saying in this picture).

I have tried, really I have, to recap these past two episodes. But I just don't have it in me any more. Nancy has always been a character with a lot of flaws and things to dislike about her, but over the seasons she has maintained an aura of charisma that helps the audience to understand why people keep doing things for her, keep falling in love with her, and why, against all rationality, she has not yet been murdered. That charisma or whatever it was is now gone. In its place is the human embodiment of selfishness walking around on two skinny little legs.

All Nancy does is bring bad shit to those around her. It has been so sad to watch Andy with his dreams of legitimacy and of establishing a life for himself outside of Nancy's sphere of control just get completely fucked over. I'm tired of her being able to fuck her way out of any situation. I'm tired of her being, as my friend Michaela put it, just "a doe-eyed vagina". She treats everyone in her life terribly, using them for personal gain at every opportunity, and there's no redeeming aspect left to her. Sure, her sister is awful, but is the audience really supposed to want Nancy to get her third kid back when she continues to use and abuse the two she already has? When Weeds started out, yes, she was doing something bad and yes, there were unlikable aspects of her character, but she was fighting against the white suburban system of privilege or whatever and she had a dead husband and kids to feed and it was easy to root for her. Since they left Agrestic her motivation for dealing has become her addiction to danger and dangerous men and that is just UGH. Andy, who is The Best and who singlehandedly saved season 4, is just sad to watch now. Weeds missed an opportunity to get them together and have it be passionate and hilarious, and now the only thing I want for Andy is for him to successfully extricate himself from Nancy's life forever.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"You weren't even in Time Bandits!"

I've been hearing some rumblings lately about how Ricky Gervais has lost his game. Now, Gervais has always walked a somewhat tenuous line with me - it took a few years' time and a second viewing of The Office for me to really come around - but I don't think you can deny that the man can be hilarious, even if his Simon Cowell uniform is quite laughable in a different way. Additionally, I think he's been really smart about the way he's handled things since Extras ended - after making smart choices like casting Louis C.K. in The Invention Of Lying, Gervais has let the spotlight shine on smaller characters, and used his forceful personality to drive the comedy from these supporting roles.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Larry Sanders, Late-Night, & The Greatness Of Rip Torn

I know everyone has been waiting with baited anticipation for my post on The Larry Sanders Show (haha, just kidding, I think I know like one other person who has even seen any of it), so here goes! Wait no longer, friend.

The Larry Sanders Show starred Garry Shandling as a late-night talk show host, and ran from 1992-1998 (yes, my Wikipedia bookmark works!). It covered the filming of the show but was mostly about backstage details and Larry's life. He has a sidekick, Hank, played to creepy D-list perfection by Jeffrey Tambor, and a producer/hetero life partner named Artie, played by the brilliant and inimitable Rip Torn. The celebrities that show up on Larry Sanders are too vast to mention, but the regular cast includes plenty of familiar faces (Janeane Garofolo, Jeremy Piven, Wallace Langham, Mary Lynn Rajskub). The Larry Sanders Show was also where a lot of big behind-the-scenes names built their resumes, including Judd Apatow and Steve Levitan. This is just to show you that in terms of comedy quality, this show isn't essing around.

Larry Sanders was the original Entourage. In fact, it's a lot like Entourage except without the homophobia and the boobs and the terribleness and the (mostly useless unless adorable counts as useful) Turtle. You've got Vince (Larry), E (Artie), and Drama (Hank). There's even a perfect asshole Ari-ish agent played by Bob Odenkirk. What I mean by this is that the show deals very heavily with the showbiz machine (and television and handling the networks in particular), what it's like being a celebrity and having relationships (be they work or friend or romantic, with regular people and with other celebrities), and with the immense amount of ego coddling that can go into being the person who does the least amount of work with the most amount of benefit. Entourage has covered all of these topics (substitute "network" for "movie studio"), but the problem with that show is that, even when it was good, it felt too much like an inside joke. Also, sometimes the entire plot hinges on "Will someone get some really special, expensive thing/vacation/pussy?" and that is boring and no, not aspirational. I would rather see a celebrity pretend to have been to rehab in order to get out of being embarrassed and then develop an actual addiction and have to be guided through detox by Roseanne any day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Sometimes goodness attracts its own temptations"

At first I thought Luther was a show about Martin Luther, in the vein of The Tudors or The Borgias (Man, I watched an episode and a half of The Borgias, that shit was AWFUL. No offense, Jeremy Irons, but you are terrible in pretty much everything except The Lion King. Actually, offense.). So how pleasantly surprised was I to learn that it is nothing of the sort, but instead an incredibly intense but awesome crime procedural starring Idris Elba as a mentally unstable DCI named John Luther? Quite pleasantly, I can assure you. Now Luther quite clearly owes a lot to Vincent D'Onofrio's Detective Bobby Goran on Law & Order: Criminal Intent (which sadly just ended its 10-season-long run with quiet, understated elegance and some great guest stars); they both have mental health and anger issues and they both have a strange, quasi-sexual relationship with female sociopaths. But since Luther is Luther and Bobby's story was part of a Law & Order franchise, much more weight is given to John Luther's personal life and motivations.

The series opens with Luther allowing a serial killer and pedophile to fall to his death. However, he doesn't die, and his coma hangs like a threat over the show. Seven months pass and soon we learn that Luther's part in the fall has been seriously questioned but found to be ok or by the book or whatever, and that he is estranged from his wife, whom he loves passionately. And that's all I'm going to give away. This is a show that builds, sometimes delicately and sometimes quickly and furiously, but there is always an emotional payoff, even if it isn't quite where you think it'll be.

The crimes they work on are usually incredibly violent and gory. The first episode has about five scenes where we are shown a dog with its face shot off, which is five scenes over my threshold for seeing murdered dogs; but the violence isn't gratuitous, it is used carefully to provoke your emotions or to further the story. Yes, sometimes I have to hide my face in my hands, but the rest of the show makes it totally worth it. The crimes take unexpected turns, and often say more about the detectives solving them than about the criminals themselves. And we are constantly reminded of Luther's own murderous impulse and left to guess as to what his exact capacity for violence is. However, even when beating a door to splinters in his ex-wife's home, Luther remains a sympathetic character.

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Involuntary dumb-assery?"

It's so nice to remember that Weeds does have a memory, and a pretty good one at that. I didn't do last week's recap because it was basically blah blah Wall Street bullshit blah blah HEYLIA! So there you go, recap managed. This week opened right where last week left off, with Heylia shooting at Nancy and Silas who have managed to obtain a detailed map of where her Humboldt pot farm is? From Conrad? On Facebook? Yup. Ok. Good luck with that but you probably won't need it because I'm sure that in real life it is super easy to navigate the complex and dangerous not to mention completely off-grid and backwoods-folk-riddled areas of Humboldt where people grow massive amounts of weed. Just kidding that is absolutely not true have fun dying because people will shoot at you even if you aren't the white bitch who drove them out of town. ANYways, then Dean is there, and there is something romantic and then there isn't and then there IS, with some adorable hand-holding at the end, but mostly Dean is just there because he is the Turtle and so he does some Turtley, Deany-type things, but first somehow he gets Heylia to put down the gun (and hatchet) and invite the crazy white people in.