Monday, July 29, 2013

POLL UPDATE! "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME!", "SEINFELD" & "M*A*S*H" GO TO TIEBREAKERS AS WE'RE A DOZEN BALLOTS AWAY FROM OUR GOAL!



Well, I wish I could say that the enthusiasm grew from my last "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME" poll update, but alas, I only had a handful of new ballots come in, but it's still better than nothing, and we're inching closer and closer to our goal. In fact, we only need about a dozen new entries now, and now that I've counted the results, it's gotten a lot closer at the top of the poll than ever before. Very close in fact, and a new show, bounced into the Top Ten as well. So, with only a dozen ballots needed, the Top is closer, and the middle is more of a cluster**** than ever, and a few votes one way or another, can still completely change the outlook of the poll.

Let's take a look at the latest ballots, all of whom came in from Annette's Debates on Facebook.

CARY STOTLAND
Star Trek ('66)
Firefly
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report
Nova
Frontline ('83)
Sesame Street
Bill Moyers' Journal
M*A*S*H
Austin City Limits

RALPH POLITIC
Dallas ('78)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Roots
L.A. Law
Law & Order ('90)
Columbo
M*A*S*H
All in the Family
The Twilight Zone ('59)
Cheers ('82)

CHRIS JAMIESON
The Ed Sullivan Show (oka Toast of the Town)
ABC's Wide World of Sports
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Sesame Street ('69)
60 Minutes
All in the Family
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
Saturday Night Live
The West Wing
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

PATRICIA CONWAY
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Firefly
Moonlight
NCIS
Criminal Minds
Lie to Me
The Cosby Show
Reading Rainbow
Doctor Who ('05)
Supernatural ('05 Drama Series)

88 Ballots, 328 different TV shows have gotten at least one vote as varied from every genre imaginable, and alphabetically from "3rd Rock from the Sun" to "The Young and the Restless," and at the top, is a tie! That's right, with "M*A*S*H"'s two votes, they now have come back, and both "M*A*S*H" and "Seinfeld" have 25 votes, with "Seinfeld" just edging out "M*A*S*H" still, 'cause of the tiebreaker rules, based on rankings. As you can see, none of the recent entries chose to rank their ballot, and that's fine, since it's a show's votes I count first, but hypothetically and extra 1st or 2nd place vote or two, and "M*A*S*H" would be one right now. (Unranked ballots in tiebreaker, count as 10th place votes, and the rankings are averaged together to determine tiebreakers) They're both running away from everybody else, with "All in the Family" being the only other show with 20 votes so far, a distant 3rd in the rankings. Well, so much for "Seinfeld" runaway that it was looking like, at least for now.  Also, among the top sheet results, "Firefly" the very short-lived sci-fi show, jumped into the Top Ten two votes that show got. I'm not gonna pretend I understand that choice, but it's up there, now.

For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, last year, after "Sight & Sound" published their once-a-decade poll of the Greatest Films of All-Time, I decided to start an equivalent, or as close to an equivalent poll as I can, for television. Basically, I'm following their guidelines, except instead of polling just filmmakers and critics, I'm allowing everybody to participate, in my "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME!" POLL! Admittedly, it's been slow, of course, I'm also not "Sight & Sound" magazine, but I set a modest goal of collection a minimum of 100 ballots, and like I said before, I'm a dozen ballots away from that goal.

Basically, it's real simple, if you want to participate, just submit a ballot to me, either through my Facebook, by commenting on one of my FB posts of this blog, or through messaging or any other means available that I have, through my Twitter, at @DavidBaruffi_EV, or by commenting on the bottom of this blogpost, with your ballot, and make sure you leave a name, and some way to easily contact you, in case I need a clarification about your choices. On the same token, be as specific as possible, especially if there's been multiple shows with the same title over the years. Other than that, there's only two real rules you have to follow, and they're real simple.

RULE #1: As long as it originated on television, it's eligible for the poll, regardless of genre.
That basically means, you can vote for any show you want. Sitcom, drama, talk show, reality show, soap opera, news magazine, children's shows, animated shows, instruction shows, miniseries, TV movies, network shows, cable shows,... etc. as long as it originally aired on television, it's eligible. (ie. you can't vote for "M*A*S*H", the original movie, because that was first shown in movie theaters, but you can vote for "M*A*S*H" the TV series, 'cause that aired on TV)

RULE #2: You must select 10 and ONLY 10 SHOWS! No picking more, no picking less. Just 10!

There's been a few arguments regarding that rule, but this is the "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME", so of all of television, you're giving us, the Top Ten. Even if you only think, less than ten shows are worthy of a title, which seems a little ridiculous considering there's 60+ years of television to consider that one can't think of ten that are special, but if that's the case, you still need to consider the best of the rest, to fill out the ten on your ballot.

(BTW, this hasn't come up yet, but in case it does in the future, yes, internet series are eligible, and for all intensive purposes, are regarded as television, and any other clarification regarding that, I'll try to defer to the Emmys rules and guidelines.)

There's been a few minor situations where I've had to disqualify a vote, mainly because something aired in movie theaters before television, like say, "Looney Tunes", isn't technically eligible, although "The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show", would be, even though it just aired old cartoons that were mostly originally shown in theatre, but since it's a separate show in of itself, it counts, and there's a few other weird ones that have come up like that, so be careful of things like that, but most of the time, that doesn't happen. Just be as specific as possible. Take some time with this; I know there's many great TV shows, and it can be hard narrowing it down to ten, but that's part of the challenge. So I hope a lot of you will embrace this, as we're literally starting to countdown to the end of the poll, hopefully very soon.

Thank you to the many who have already participated, and to the ones who will soon, thanks ahead of time, and we can't wait for you all to SUBMIT YOUR BALLOTS. Thank you.



Friday, July 26, 2013

MY BLOCKBUSTER RANT! WHY THEY'RE REALLY FAILING! (And it ain't Netflix) and WHY VIDEOSTORES CAN , (and should) STILL BE RELEVANT AND PROFITABLE!




As great and convenient as things like Redbox and especially Netflix can be, I gotta be honest, if given a choice, I'd prefer that there'd be a decent video store around for me to rent DVDs at. Part of this is personal, of course some of you may know that I basically grew up in a video store, and our family ran a whole chain of them at one point, but there's advantages to it to, thank frankly I find lacking elsewhere. You know, I post links to my reviews on a site called GuysNation.com, where I rank films for the guy who runs it, and every time I post a new set of reviews, I have him, add the movie(s) to his long list that he doesn't have on their, so I can rank them, and post a link to my reviews, and I'll betcha dollars to donuts that nobody frustrates him more than me in this regards, because not only do I have hundreds of reviews to still post, but, often I make him go scrambling to find the titles of the films I reviewed. I'll bet you that rarely, is there a set of reviews I post where he has already linked to half of the films I happen to be writing about that week. He asks where I get/find these movies, and I tell him, simply, Netflix, the library, I keep track and all, but it's not just the keeping track; it's the browsing itself. On Netflix, every week, usually Sunday Mornings at around 1:00a.m., they post the titles they're getting next week, and that's when I fill out what room is left in my queue, with new releases, and they aren't just the big Hollywood films. (There's also TV series, that I add when I have room, I'll get to that later however). Same with the library, they add new titles, sometimes everyday, almost certainly every week, I browse their website, and I keep titles of what they have, and all the new titles I don't know offhand, I look them up, usually I try to get to most of them, and eventually I do. You see, that's something that's lacking nowadays, this browsing; I can't understand for instance, how anybody could go to a videostore, and not take an hour, minimum, deciding what to get. There's an art to it. You can't get three films that are the same genre of something. You need to balance something dark with something lighter for instance, and then something strange and unusual maybe. (Assuming that the store limit/preference is three, which is usually the case) Yes, there's newer titles, but there's many other titles there, and not just the big movies. Some films became more popular after they got video and DVD releases, like "The Silence of the Lambs", "The Shawshank Redemption", and "Crash" for instance, not to mention many cult films. They were found, by people searching through the halls of a video store, and people trying them out. That's part of the experience to me. You can do that online, I certainly do, but-eh, most people don't. They go and find the things they're looking for and the things they like, and they're never gonna find anything new and different that way. There's a world of movies, and now television out there, just waiting for people to watch, and to some extent, a good portion of people don't even know they exist.

If you're a real movie buff/fan, then, you're gonna look around, try and find something different. At least that's how it should be, and of course, that era is dying, and frankly, it's getting harder and harder to even find a Blockbuster around. (DishTV, who owns Blockbuster, closed 300 stores earlier this year, on top of numerous earlier closings, and the company is bankrupt in the UK in fact.)

This is where we begin explaining why, my complaint's meter is off-the-fucking-charts! Oh yeah, you see there is one truly distinct advantage left for video stores, outside of the film buffs/nostalgia geeks like me. If you absolutely, positively, have to fucking get a movie, a specific title especially, right the fuck now, then, a video store should be your savior. They're still relatively cheap, and while yes, not all video stores are equal unfortunately in terms of quantity and quality available, certainly there are titles that one should be able to expect to find, on a moment's notice. This is when I was making that bus ride, to Blockbuster, to get a friend to see the last season of "Dexter", season 6, before I got to season 7 on DVD, which I plan to get through Netflix. N-Now, here's where it get complicated. The limit for the blockbuster, is typically, three videos out a time. There's two reasons for this, one, they want quick turnaround, they like it when you to come back and rent more, instead of renting everything at once, besides you don't want late fees, and the best way to pile up late fees, is to check out more movies than you're able to watch in the alotted time, which is always tempting.

Now this is where it gets tricky, they only have one copy of the 4th disc of Season six, of "Dexter", which is the finale episode, at least on the DVDs, on Blu-Ray's it's a little different, that wasn't available at all, (Also, a problem.) So, after my friend caught up on Dexter's latest story, he wants to finish it, and sure enough, if you know the show and the season, you pretty much have to see that season's finale. Unfortunately, it's first come, first serve, and since I'm not gonna just, hold out, in case the renter returns that day, with the copy, which was the only kind of hold they allowed for (Which is fucking bizarre and fucked up) and since I'm bussing everywhere, when it's not there the next visit, I quickly find some replacements for him. I got him hooked on "Girls", thinking, okay he'll get through this, I'll return, and we're back to the "Dexter", which should be in by now. Which of course, it wasn't. Neither was the season of "True Blood" he wants to catch up on. To top this all off, I searched for my third backup, the first season of "Justified" which he hasn't started yet, although I know he'll like, and they never had it in stock. They have seasons 2 & 3, for some fucking reason, they never had one? And have apparently many complaints, begging the question, "Why don't you order it? Apparently you're losing money and customers because of it?" Wouldn't you search for titles for people if they really wanted them, or about just logically, if you're gonna stock 2 & 3, you oughta stock one? No, they tell me, that a copy of the "Dexter" disc I want, is at the Maryland and Silverado branch, which is about, well, I'm not gonna check on google maps, but at least 15-20 miles away, and again, I bus everywhere? And even if I didn't, why the fuck would I drive 20 miles for a fucking DVD?!

This is really fucking stupid, because if there's one thing, that people would actually need to fucking see right away, that videostores should be better at carrying than even Netflix and especially Redbox, it's TV series! Frankly  (IDEA PATENT PENDING) if it was me, I'd start a whole video store, that just carried TV shows! There's plenty available, just start stocking up, it'd be, easily ten bucks/per show per rental, because you'd be renting a season, maybe $15 even, but I bet people would rent for that amount for the series they really want. (That's about the same as three average movie rentals, why now?) You can even still get movies, but you don't need to make it a focus anymore. That's where the money should be, stocking DVDs of TV series, especially ones that aren't streaming anywhere like "Entourage" for instance; that's impossible to find on the internet legally. 60+ years of television, and we've just now got the best possible home-watching format to watch them on; this would be the first thing I'd stock up on, instead of getting studios to promise availability of their movies a month or two ahead of Netflix, that ain't gonna help for long. If a movie's good enough, you can wait, when you miss it on TV, you're already behind, and you need to catch up. Or you just don't want to think too much, and just watch a bunch of "Seinfeld" all weekend or whatever, people do that. That's why we pay $40-$50 bucks for seasons of shows we love. It's like they don't see where they can actually earn money, and that's the real reason Netflix is kicking Blockbuster's ass. It certainly isn't because Netflix, is that much of a better-run company; I might've complained more than anybody about Netflix's business decisions since this blog started, but good God, compared to Blockbuster, they don't have to be that well-run. They know their audience and market is there,and  they're not leaving, and it makes sense for them to create their own series and get Emmy nominations now. The opportunities to survive, is right in front of their face, and now, all they can do is keep closing stores left and right, and somehow pray that people are willing to drive five or six miles to go watch "Admission" before it hits Netflix. I mean, I love Tina Fey, but I'm in no rush to catch that, even on Netflix, and I don't know anyone who is. I mean, it's this simple, learn you're customer, adapt, survive! This isn't rocket science here. Especially as their customers are getting narrower and narrower, you better friggin' cater to them and their needs. Start upping the price, starting getting things in stock that people want to see, that shouldn't be a problem since there's fewer stores available, do what you can to keep them in stock- there's no shame in keeping all the DVDs behind the desk and just putting out boxes, that's fine, and it mostly stills works.

I mean, it's not just that Netflix and Redbox are succeeding, in fact considering how Netflix can't help but stumble over themselves, it's definitely not that; it's because Blockbuster, which is/was the major chain, has failed miserably at figuring out the niche to survive. They could thrive, and instead they're on life support, and they fucking should be the way they're run. You make it that impossible, for the customer to get what they're looking for, especially since, you're the emergency place, that needs to stock up on the "Just in case, someone's never seen "Downton Abbey" place, get it in stock! If you can name another modern-day advantage to a video store, over Netflix or Redbox, tell me now, 'cause that's it. The extreme film buffs like me, are ignored at Blockbuster 'cause Netflix gives us more options, (Hell, the library gives us more options nowadays) people who need to find titles right away that they can't get elsewhere, and coinciding with that, the most important kind of thing, people need to see right away, are TV shows, and they're not putting them in stock. The only ones left are people without a computer, that's about it. I gave up, I added the damn "Dexter" to my Netflix, I wasted a precious queue spot, on something I already saw, because it wasn't worth it to go back and forth to Blockbuster, and there's no other place around to get it. You might as well go out of business, seriously. I mean, if you're gonna tell a customer that what they want is 20 miles away, and they aren't gonna help you get it...!? Any other companies stay in business doing that? That's like walking into a Popeye's and having them just say, "Go to KFC, the chicken's better, cheaper and closer". Well, fuck, if that's the case, I'm going!

I love browsing but now if you want to browse, you'll have to do it on the Internet, for the rest of us, that only do it at a video store, I'm sorry, but at this point, the pasttime's over, and now, who knows how many people are never going to even see all the films they're missing out on?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

MOVIE REVIEWS #69: "LES MISERABLES", "ANNA KARENINA", "THE IMPOSSIBLE", "HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS", "STOKER", "LORE", "LITTLE WHITE LIES", "NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU", "ONE DAY", "WHITE IRISH DRINKERS", "THE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER" and MORE!

Well, I've been fighting a cold most of the week, so there really wasn't much for me to do, but get ahead of the curve and keep watching and writing about films, and start preparing later blogs. I want to say thank you again to Firdosi Wharton-Ali, for helping me by participating in the "5 Obstructions Blogathon", apparently I was the first person to complete the second obstruction of writing a review along with an accompanying interview, so I'm at the top of the list, whatever that means as a participant. Can't wait 'til next month's obstruction.

Sad news with the death of Dennis Farina yesterday, also shook the entertainment world a bit. Always played cops or gangsters it seemed and he was great in both; he was a cop actually back in Chicago, pre-acting career, and it's always good to see people, who kinda fell into acting like he did, make it as a success. You always recognized him, always great in whatever roles he played, no matter how large or small. He replaced a legend after Jerry Orbach left "Law & Order," and he did very well I might add, but even in small roles, just character stuff. He was the gangster in "Big Trouble" for instance. Not a great movie, but he was perfect for that small part, and it's really cool when even, throwaway parts in throwaway movies can evoke an emotion, even years afterwards, and he had a bunch of those. Very sad death.

In lighter news, the Primetime Emmys are coming up, and I gave my Post-Emmys analysts right after the awards and I'm happy to say, that in the future, an edited version of that post will be on guysnation.com, where-eh, some of you may know I write an occasional column on Ring of Honor, and I'm glad that something more in my natural entertainment wheelhouse is being showcased. Eh, that's said, it's severely edited, and it's going to be a little while until it's posted, as apparently as Rob Belote has informed me, the piece was 5,300 words long, which is apparently, a lot for a blogpost, and he is having trouble editing it, so I'll let you all know on Twitter and Facebook when it does get republished. I've been told I'm a little long-winded at time, including with these multiple movie review blogposts but, you know, I wrote that Emmys piece, in literally, 3 or 4 hours, right after the nomination were announced, and I had a lot to cover, frankly it felt quick to me, especially since a lot of it was just copying down the nominees, but, sometimes you need to write a bit, and there ain't much you can do about that. Despite what some claim, I do try to be brief, but some subject require more than just a few words.

Including many of these RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS! (Hope you all liked that transition) So, let's get down to it this with this week's reviews! This week, with actual STARS!


LES MISERABLES (2012) Director: Tom Hooper

¶¶¶¶¶



I can't pretend that I was ever a fan of "Les Mis", I'm not. Of course, when people describe it in broad strokes, they discuss the most asinine part of it, as though it's the whole. Jean Valjean (Oscar-nominee Hugh Jackman) steals a loaf of bread, and Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) chases him throughout the entire story for his crimes. And when you see how thick the Victor Hugo novel is, and he wasn't known for brevity to begin with, it makes you ask questions like "How is this story considered such a classic", and more pressingly, how come somebody make a Broadway musical of it, how depressing. (Come to think of it, it's similar to the questions I asked about the logistics involving an Amelia Earhart biopic I review recently.) Those were some of my thoughts, going into "Les Miserables", and they did indeed come into my mind in the beginning of the film, as well as thoughts like, "Did Tim Burton take over Tom Hooper's body while making this film?" or was the Fantine character (Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway) even in the last "Les Miserables", the dreadful Billie August one with Liam Neesan? And, why is the prostitutes makeup so clown-like and garish; it looks ugly, like a subpar Cirque de Soleil? But then, I started having a major change-of-heart. "Les Miserables" was clearly the most polarizing film of last year, despite the Oscars, it made almost as many Worst Film lists as it did Best Film lists, and even the Tonys recently, mocked Tom Hooper's use of extreme close-ups during Neil Patrick Harris's opening number. Oh, don't get me wrong, this is not a perfect movie, far from it, miles away from it, not the least of which is that the best medium to tell this story is the stage and not the screen, but now I understand why that is. The loaf of bread, isn't even the MacGuffin, Jean already spent his time in jail for that, his crime is jumping bail and changing identities, again, done for his own survival, but that's merely the inciting incident, and it isn't strong enough and the obsessive Javert is too unflinching of a character to make that compelling, yet thankfully, it isn't the whole of "Les Miserables", and that's the great secret of the story, and why it is so spectacular as a musical. The title is "The Miserables" not "A Miserable" ("Miserable" does mean miserable, but a more accurate translation would probably be, as slang for street bums and the poor.) The story is as much about Marius and Cosette (Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried) as it is about the Thenardier's who run the cheap inn (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter), the film is about the world and the people of the streets living in this Post-Revolution Paris that has since reverted back to the Worst of Times that Dickens once spoke of. The other reason "Les Miserables" works so well on stage, is it's episodic nature. From one event to the next, years can past, which doesn't translate as well on film usually, but on a stage, when there's scenes and acts, each with it's own beginnings and endings and stories to explore, despite the often depressing material, it's more natural for one seen to be at one time and place, with the next happening at some time and place later. It's the greatest musical adaptation, but one thing "Les Mis" does great, despite it's flair for the opening of the play, is that, it makes the movie feel likes we're watching it onstage, and we can visualize it onstage. There are problems of logic, for instance, the way all the factory workers gang up on Fantine, after they find out about her secret daughter, and insist that she's fired. One, maybe two conniving workers, but you'd think a group of lowly and poor factory girls would try to help out and support their fellow employee, especially when Revolution is in the air. That said though, the movie won me over, despite some nit-picky flaws. At the end of the film, I was crying for Jean Valjean, not because that he had to spend his whole life running and suffering over a loaf of bread, but because, he spent his whole life, trying to become as good a man as he could, and all that he sacrificed to do so, despite of the past, constantly chasing him down like the grim reaper. And again, even in death, he wasn't the lone miserable, there were plenty more waiting for him. I'll admit, I came into it jaded, came out of it a believer. The Extreme close-ups are not overused, Jackman gives one of the best performances of the year. Hathaway's part is unusually small, even for a Supporting Actress Oscar Performance, and I'll give her this, for such a small part, she went above and beyond for it. Making herself thinner than she normally is, getting her hair cut, short, and making one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood look like the cursed-by-life eye-soar that Fantine is; that said, I'm not sure her performance is Oscar-worthy. (Although, she should've won a few years back for "Rachel Getting Married," so if this year was the makeup for that....) I think "Les Miserables" proper place is on the stage, and not the screen, but that said, this about as good a substitute for that, that you can ask for.


ANNA KARENINA (2012) Director: Joe Wright

¶¶¶



Yet, another entry in the "Man,-I-really-need-to-look-at-the-book-sections-of-the-library" entry, "Anna Karenina" has been remade about a half a dozen times on film, previously and this latest one by Joe Wright, I heard on somebody other blogger's podcast described mockingly as "Production Design: The Movie". It's a cute smartass line, and at times, it isn't exactly inaccurate. While the film certainly feels like that a lot of the times, Wright makes some intriguing decisions in trying to put a new twist on this story. For instance, the story still takes place among the Russian aristocracy, but nobody bothers with a Russian accent of any kind, and thank God for that, that would've been ghastly. We also, have some unusual staging and lighting cues. Much of the film in fact, seems to almost be on a stage, literally. It seems to bounce around from the real to the imagined or at least the hyper-reality of the world Anna lives in, a world of boxes at the opera and the vicious gossip circles, where even the slightest public so-called indiscretion may be a valid reason enough for social expulsion, at least metaphorically speaking. You know, it so strange, how all the classic literature about females all have to do with their societal roles, and how their trapped in them. Honestly, in today's era, they really shouldn't be relevant enough to remake or reanalyze, other than as a piece of history. Maybe they still are to woman, and somebody can quote me all the statistic showing how women are still unequal and ostracized, but man, they don't feel relevant to modern times. I mean, the basic story of "Anna Karenina" is that, she's a wife and mother, who falls in love with someone else, this one's named Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and it's because of this love, she's willing to give up her life, and lifestyle. Divorce her husband Karenin (Jude Law, who behind a beard, took me and hour to realize it was him), and leave all of St. Petersburg behind. Anna is already embarrassed at being made a fool of, but when she gets pregnant, he still allows her to have the kid take his name, while she's sick in bed. He tries to disown her, and claim he's not in love with her, but meanwhile, she's so desperately in love with Vronsky, she's unable to take a step back. She can't even tell that the world is staring at her every move. It struck me how childish Anna's demeanor is. I don't know, I started writing this review, thinking I'd be giving it a mild but positive recommendation, but the more I think about, the less and less I care about it. (The less and less it works too.) I think the appealing aspect about Anna is how little she cares or even acknowledges her perception in the circle of friends, and how she is run on emotions, which sometimes overtake, especially at the end, which, I hope was the first known use of the "Red Shoes" ending, but I sadly fear it might not have been. I'll say this, the production design and the lighting were quite exceptional, and I think Wright, who's made good period pieces and tackled classic literature in the past, especially with his "Pride & Prejudice," which I still consider, easily the best Jane Austen adaptation of all-time, and he's definitely trying to make this work, every way he can, and I gotta give him props for that. The dialogue and the acting seems surprisingly modern and even refreshing, but the story is still, and he needs the Oscar-winning Costume Design, and the exceptional production design, cinematography to really pull this off. I think he, just barely did, make "Anna Karenina", that when you're watching it, you're entertained. I think he could've gone farther. This might be an interesting project for a Lars von Trier to do his, "Our Town"-like, "Dogville" trick with it, if he wanted. I'm on the edge on "Anna Karenina"; I think there's problems, but overall they tried hard to give us something as different as possible with this story, and if it wasn't always successful, it was certainly at least, interesting to watch.


THE IMPOSSIBLE (2012) Director: J.A. Bayona

¶¶¶¶



I thought for a long time after watching "The Impossible" trying to figure out how many stars to give it. In many way, rating a film like this is almost more of an indication of your personality than it is about the film. It could be easy to dismiss such a movie, with an admittedly horrible title that has a story that in the wrong hands can easily fall into the worst of cliche-ridden over-emotional hack-movie manipulation. That said, there's a lot of things to be impressed with regarding "The Impossible", an apparently true story about how a family survived the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami back in '04. (The family is changed from Spanish to British for this film, and the last names switched from Belon to Bennett) The mother, Maria (Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts) is injured badly, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, thrown through glass and being nicked and gouged by destroyed branches and trees and furniture, all while underneath a mountain of water. She and her oldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) somehow manages to find each other in the waves and survive the attack. She's normally a doctor, but she's got gashes and cuts all through her body, and needs to be carried nearly everywhere. They save another little boy, Daniel (Johan Sundberg), they find in surviving in the wreckage, before they're saved themselves, and she's taken to the hospital for surgery. Her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) managed to survive with the two smallest kids, Simon and Thomas (Samual Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast) managed to survive and comes to their senses at what's left of the now destroyed hotel, but decides to send them to the mountains as he goes from hospital-to-hospital searching for his wife and Lucas. There's a bit of a contrivance, although a believable one, in which they finally all come together, but to some extent, the fact that any two people manage to find their way back with each other after such a tsunami, alive,- well, I couldn't say it's a contrivance, it's probably some word not-yet-created describing that kind of fate, destiny and luck that such a thing requires. The two issues I have with the title are that, well, A, obviously, since it happened, it isn't impossible, (Although showing a movie that does include things that are impossible, wouldn't be an adequate excuse to name such a movie that either) but also from a screenwriting perspective, to use that for the title is almost a cheat. To say it's impossible, but it happened anyway, it's kinda like how "Based on a true story" is used to justify events in a film that may be otherwise unbelievable. This will be a film that would be an interesting debate over Plato's discussion of plausible impossibilities over unplausible possibilities statements. I'll say this about Watts's performance, she is really good in these kind of roles, which are harder to do, than most would imagine. I think about her in "King Kong" for instance as a good comparable here. Playing against a 50-ft gorilla that isn't there, and having to play tsunami victim, through a whole movie here, it is tricky to judge, but it's also tricky to do. I'm not sure just how enamored I was with "The Impossible" overall, I think it was compelling. The film, strangely didn't get an Oscar nomination for visual effects, like many would've thought, although I do believe that the tsunami footage from Clint Eastwood's underrated "Hereafter" which did get nominated, was somewhat better, even though it might play an even bigger part in this film; they did have that guideline to create it. This is the second feature from Spanish music video directo Juan Antonia Bayona, his first being the horror thriller "The Orphange," he's definitely got some talent, but I still think he's more technical than emotional sometimes. It's a lot to consider "The Impossible", but overall, there's a lotta good here, and it did overtake me, and I think it's good that a film can let you do that sometimes. I wish it did it a little more, but considering what could've gone wrong with this kind of film; I'm pretty happy it worked on me as well as it did.


HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (2013) Director: Tommy Wirkola

¶¶



Well, I had some plans to start this review with the wonderful Louise Gluck poem, "Gretel in Darkness", about Gretel trying to deal with the childhood trauma of having gone through the experience of losing her brother and killing the witch at such a young age, but I threw that idea out, pretty quickly, as it had about as much to do with "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" and Grimm has to do with Mother Goose. I'm not gonna pretend that I didn't enjoy parts of "Hansel & Gretel...", but I kept thinking about, whether or not this film was casted well. The premise is so friggin' absurd that, that Hansel & Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) would then travel the country at some irrelevant time in history, and go from town-to-town killing witches that seem to constantly terrorize the villagers, usually killing children, and, I don't know scaring the village, whatever witches do that pisses everyone off, that, frankly I wonder why Renner and Arterton, and not say, Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy as the leads? Or Will Ferrell and, I don't know, Janeane Garofalo maybe. Ferrell and his longtime creative partner Adam McKay were producers on the film, the movie is clearly intended on some level to be comedic, why these actors; you might as well have gone full comedic effect. Renner, he's good, he's natural comic though, and improviser could've been beneficial in some of the scenes, especially some of the scenes with Mina (Phila Viitala), an ostracized villager, who was already accused of being a witch, but gets saved by Hansel & Gretel, and starts to take care of Hansel and his severe diabetes, which he got from being force-fed too much sugar at the-, well, you know. Arteron, can do a certain kind of comedy, like in the underrated "Tamara Drewe", but there could've been some more interesting choices here. Anyway, this latest village is a big case, 'cause the witches are usually harder for them to catch, and it turns out, to have something to do with their childhood, and the parents who left them behind so many years ago, which inadvertently led to their current destiny. There's some cool special effects, there's some good action scenes, and some cool camera moves as well, the directing helps the film a lot, but I didn't laugh enough to raise this to the level of ridiculous parody. It's not satire by any means; it's not pointed towards anything, it's borrowing characters and re-imagining them more or less. There's nothing that they're really sending up here, so basically this film has to be, just a fun, ridiculous action comedy, it's got some of got, but- I don't know, I come away from "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" very lukewarm, and the movie feels like something off, and discombobulated, personally, I think they should gone with more comedic casting, I can't be 100% that's the problem, but I didn't laugh enough, and I know simply that, general more, you put funny people in a film and let them do their thing, more often than not, eventually you'll start laughing more, and Peter Stormare, is good comic relief, but he shouldn't be the funniest character in a film like this. Even if the casting combination wasn't good, it could've at least still be more interesting, and I'll take interesting and bad over mediocre and boring most any day.


STOKER (2013) Director: Park Chan-Wook




I think I know what happened here. Somebody had a fairly benign and boring psychological horror/thriller film script, and they thought, "Maybe we should get a really well-known director, or at least a good one?" Well, since the best horror/thrillers have been getting made in Korea lately, it didn't take too long before they somehow convinced Chan Wook Park to direct the film, which is titled "Stoker" because that's the family's last name, because it sounds close to "Stroker" which is the kind of thing an immature idiotic high school boy would call an attractive but distant teenage girl, if she was walking near him, and her name happened to be "Stoker"? (If you can find another reason for that title, please let me know. What's with the stupid titles this week? First "The Impossible" now "Stoker". Thank God, I'm reviewing "White Irish Drinkers" later.) Well, this isn't a film that Chan-Wook wrote himself, unlike some of his best films like "Oldboy" or "Thirst", but that still didn't detract them from getting A-list level talent to jump aboard, for the rare opportunity to work with Chan-Wook Park, and I don't blame, Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney or Jacki Weaver for taking that kind of opportunity, that might frankly, not come again. But that said, they must've know their wasn't much that could be done with this film. Kidman was in "The Others", she's knows the difference between good psychological horror and bad psychological horror, and Chan-Wook Park's only so good at speaking English, not that there were too many ways to read the film's dialogue as though it were believable or credible, but nobody in the film sounds like a real person. I mean, when the masturbation scene has the highest emotional impact, you know you're in trouble, and even then, Wasikowska and some great quick-cutting between the shower and a piano duet that may or may not have occurred, really helped that along. The story is fairly simple, the father, Richard (Mulroney) rides of a cliff, and at the funeral his long-estranged and mysterious brother, Charlier (Goode) arrives, and begin staying and making himself at home, even seemingly trying to replace her brother, which seems okay to his wife Evelyn (Kidman) for some reason. There's a little "Shadow of a Doubt" here, as the daughter India (Wasikowska) doesn't exactly trust her Uncle's motives, and of course a lot of people seem to go missing all of a sudden, and we know at least one's in the basement freezer. There's some shock when you realize afterwards, reading the credits on imdb.com that Harmony Korine of all people had a part in this film, although it was so insignificant you don't ever remember the character and it's not wroth going back to find. I think Chan-Wook did all he could to stylized "Stoker" into something that was remotely interesting or watchable, which is certainly a task I wish on no filmmaker, but what good is having to do that, instead of having a story that's actually able to carry it's own weight, and then be exemplified with the talents of the director, cast and crew? At best "Stoker" could've been an interesting filmmaking exercise, but who am I kidding, this film is nothing more than a waste of everyone's talent and time, including my own.


LORE (2013) Director: Cate Shortland

¶¶¶¶1/2 



"Lore" is the kind of movie that keeps your stomach in knots for most of the film. It's kind of a combination "Grave of the Fireflies" mixed with,- (insert film about teenage girl discovering her sexuality at an inopportune time/moment here). Actually, anybody ever read, "The Girl Who Owned a City" by O.T. Nelson? I had to read it in middle school. That's a dystopian book about kids surviving in a world where everyone over the age of 12 has died, and a young girl has to protect her brother and street from being ambushed by newly-formed anarchistic street gangs. Anyway, "Lore" takes place in Germany, near the end of WWII, and Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) gets abandoned by her Nazi parents who are out for themselves, and she's forced to take her four siblings, including a baby on a harrowing journey through Germany to get to a relative's house, while American is continually gaining more and more ground. Based on the novel "The Dark Room", "Lore" is a harrowing film about survival. Not the most fun or easiest to describe, I'm getting queezy just thinking just writing this in fact. Not that it's overly violent or anything, but it such a mind-blowing task, especially for a young girl, that I have trouble even being judgmental about it, either way. This isn't a film, that I'd call something, I like; rather, just concede that, it is good, very good. Of course, the story is episode, and they go from one potential life-threatening situation to another, and images of the siblings, crawling through woods, trying to push a baby carriage over a ditch, these are the things the movie is about, essentially. Eventually, the group gets help from a Jewish refugee wanderer named Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina), who both disgusts Lore, but is always attracted to him. He also manages to get through through American lines, fairly easily. It's a bit of an odd conundrum, having to watch all your siblings at way too young an age, while still realizing that she had to deal with the biological perils of growing up. "Lore" was directed by Australian director Cate Shortland, it's the first film of hers I've seen; she's most well-known for the independent film "Somersault", and "Lore" is simply a powerful experience, and if this was done poorly it could've really been bad, and possibly offensive, she manages to get just the right notes for this film. It has that terrifying feel of a good young adult novel that even adults can enjoy it, while mature teenagers will probably relate more to it than they'd prefer to admit to. I can't really stress enough how hard it is to sit through "Lore", but if you do, you'll be rewarded with watching a good movie that will shake you to the core.


LITTLE WHITE LIES (2012) Director: Guillaume Canet




You know, I tried to really like "Little White Lies", I really did. But the more I thought about it, the less and less I liked it, and the less and less I cared. Nobody seems to care about much or anything important 'til the end actually. There's a groups of friends, all of whom seem to have a tradition of vacationing together each year, for Max's (Francois Cluzet) birthday and Max and Vero's (Valerie Bonneton) beach house. This year however, one of their friends, Ludo (Jean Dujardin, in a brief cameo) gets into a serious, life-threatening car accident. They visit him in the hospital breifly, and then there's some other things between them that occur, but eventually, they decide to go off and continue their vacation, as it's best and most convenient thing for them all to do. If you haven't figured out which movie "Little White Lies" is trying desperately to imitate, the soundtrack will be the major clue. Nothing but old classic pop/rock standard playing as they waterski or sing kareoke or play soccer, in between meandering meaningless conversations.... Yeah, this film is sorta like "The Big Chill" in reverse, which gives away the ending by me saying that, but that's kinda my problem with the film. It's okay for an adventure or vacation to continue in the most perilous of circumstances, perhaps when its a character study like Antonioni's masterpiece "L'Avventura", but what does that make these characters? Self-important, self-involved, or just plain selfish? How am I supposed to really care about any of these characters, no matter what's happening with them? Even Marion Cotiallard can't really help this film, (Which, might be the first time two French-born actors who both have Acting Oscars appeared in the same film together.) but the film just drifts and drifts and pretty soon, we practically forget about Ludo, as everyone else seems to, despite them occasionally talking about him. And btw, why is the music almost exclusively this old-school classic rock, the film takes place in modern times, shouldn't the music be, at least '80s heavy, if this is as intended, as some kind of modern-day "The Big Chill"? I wanted to enjoy "Little White Lies" and have as much fun watching the movie as the characters seem to be having most of the time while they were watching the movie, but I didn't wanna know any of these characters, and I had a very hard time caring enough about them to even get involved in their lives, beyond the superficial, which is mostly what they were discussing anyway. "Little White Lies" is the third feature directed by Actor Guillaume Canet, he previously did the action thriller "Tell No One," that's a quite a good, in fact, there's an American remake of it coming out soon; you probably most know him as an actor for playing opposite Cotillard in "Love Me If You Dare," a popular film that I was one of the few people who didn't care for at all. I hope he gets out of this sophmore slump film with his next project, 'cause "Little White Lies", is just dreadful. A blatant attempted remake, about characters who aren't as interesting and are way too self-involved-, it's just a pale imitation, of a better movie, and that's about the worst thing you can say about a film.


NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU (aka POUPOUPIDOU) (2012) Director: Gerald Hustache-Mathieu

¶¶¶1/2



Some formulas are simply impossible to change, and for good reason. The detective story is one that can only be twisted and adapted in so many ways before eventually you just have to trust that the story and characters are strong enough on their own to work. It's not new for instance that a crime novelist is the investigator, or that numerous people, including the head of police tell him to stop investigating no matter how obvious and interesting the original claim of suicide seems obviously disputed. "Nobody Else but You" follows this structure. The dead girl is Candice Lecouer (Sophie Quinton) who was apparently frozen to death after passing out in the snow, taking a bottle of pills, which were found on her person. She's a local celebrity for the salacious way she does the weather reports on the local news, and for being the face of a favorite brand of cheese. She's a tall, beautiful blonde, who bares a striking resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, who ironically, I happen to be wearing on my T-shirt today. (Okay, that has nothing to do with anything, that last part, but I-I just like wearing the t-shirt) She was discovered by a crime novelist David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve), who thinks the case might make for an interesting story, but clearly there's some kind of coverup going on, and he begins searching for trying to find out. In flashbacks, told through diary passages and other writings, we meet Candice, who's real name is Martine Langevin, and how she met and knew all the particular and suspects that we meet along the way, and occasionally, there are half-assed attempts at killing Rousseau as he seems to continually get closer and more people start helping him out. Strangely though, the most interesting twist in the whodunit, isn't about the who, it's about Candice herself. We learn that, do to many similarities, she believed that she was in fact the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, up to and including the suspicious death, after dating a prominent politician, and his prominent politician brother. She also turns out, to have been a huge fan of Rousseau's work, even apparently wrote a fan letter or two to him. If there is a twist to the formula, it's this, and how the story that is a murder-mystery, tries to abe a story about a missed opportunity and chances. "Nobody Else buy You", is a creative and interesting little film, that doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but it does make the wheel turn a little bit sideways, to great effect. The Candice character always comes off as this slightly unreal presence, which is correct for the character, especially in flashback, as we try to get to the bottom of her. Almost like the vision of pure beauty and excellance that's just out of reach, kinda like Julie Delpy's character is Kieslowski's "White", how she's shown as an ideal. The sad part is that, he just missed a chance at the ideal, and possibly getting to know the real her, if things had worked out just slightly differently. The film works best as the whodunit, but, the curiousity of the hidden subtext makes it just a little more interesting than a normal film. This is the kind of French movie, where an American remake, might actually be better, if they actually tried it.


ONE DAY (2011) Director: Lone Scherfig

¶¶¶1/2



I have an affinity for stories that are structured like "One Day", where we only get to see brief glimpses of characters, over a period of time. Michael Apted "Up Documentaries" and Richard Linklater's "The Before Trilogy" have used a form of technique masterfully over decades to great effect. "One Day" isn't so ambitious, but it takes the relationship of a couple, Emma and Dexter (Anne Hathaway and Jim Strugess) and each year, starting with, when they both graduated college, where they had a memorable and drunken one-night stand, that turned into a lifelong kinship, and then we go and see what's going on in their lives, on that same day, July 15th in the film, St. Swithen's Day, and see what's going on in their lives. It's always amazing how, when done well, these briefest of glimpses can give us a complete rundown of the way that people are, and how well these timelines can be. It's not simply them alone, in fact, they're each usually separate, living their own lives. Many other boyfriends and girlfriends and parents, occasionally come into the picture, even wives and children at certain points. Jobs come in and out, as career and confidences begin to expand and match up, or as demons take over. Sometimes they're inseparable, other times, they aren't even talking to each other. Other times, they should be together but aren't... well you get the idea. I'm trying not to give away too many plotpoints, I will say that, they are together at the end, although don't confuse that for a happy ending. In fact, the ending is where I had issues, A. because it's so unnecessary and B. because sometimes you just don't really need to take the piss out of something, and it's a bad cliche done by early writers to, come to a conclusive ending.... You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it, but it's one of those, "Why did they have to pick that plottwist, when they could've just as easily picked something else, something we probably would've preferred to see. You don't need to pull wool over the audience's eyes just to make sure they're paying attention. It's also a good acting challenge, not only because you have to play people at different ages, but through ranges of events an emotions that have happened to them, that they suddenly have to play. Anne Hathaway is such a gifted actress that it's just scary how well she can play anything, and while Jim Sturgess is also good here, Hathaway really shines to me. The film was directed by Lone Scherfig, The Danish-born Director who now works mainly out of England; she directed the amazing "An Education" a couple years ago, which I think in hindsight was very underrated despite the Best Picture Oscar nomination it got that year; that's a film that's stuck with me over time. "One Day" is not of that league, it's based on a David Nicholls novel, and he wrote the film's script, and yeah, I believe the flaws are in some of the amateurish tendencies of the script as opposed to anything else, but there's still a lot here to like. I've been waiting to watch "One Day" for awhile, I've actually had to return the Netflix Blu-Ray copy, 3 times before I finally got a DVD copy that worked in my machine for some reason, so on that basic, I was hoping it was a little better than it was considering the wait, but other than that, I was pretty satisfied with "One Day".


WHITE IRISH DRINKERS (2011) Director: John Gray

¶¶¶



When in doubt, it's probably always a good idea to name a film after the audiences you want to attract, which will usually coincide with the characters you're depicting, as is the case with "White Irish Drinkers". The film is about one of those Irish families in one of those low-income neighborhoods that looks down on college, thinks student aide or any kind of help is a lack character for some reason, is somehow looked down upon, and being helped is inferior, and characters say the kind of things like "I don't get it, why would somebody go and study computers?". Oh, I forgot to mention, the film takes place in Brooklyn '75, which is a time and place I usually associate with "Welcome Back, Kotter", especially when they bring up how Brooklyn's the nation's 4th largest city, made famous by a sign in the show's opening credits, and sure enough, these kids could be rivals of the Sweathogs from the other side of the tracks essentially, you know, if this was a real high school I was talking about- You know what, I kinda went off-track on the "Kotter" analogy, let's start with the Leary family, and the two brothers. Brian (Nick Thurston) is the artistic one, younger, who spends hours a day hiding his drawings in his basement while Danny (Geoffrey Wigdor) is the older bad influence, that the drunk father Patrick (Stephen Lang) often beats up, and he often goes and steals something, or gets in some other kind of trouble. He's loyal to a fault, the kinda of guy who can talk any trash he wants to and about his brother, but if somebody says the same thing about him, he's ready to fight whether he should or not. The Mother, Margaret (Karen Allen, and boy, you don't see her too often anymore) is in a bit of thankless role here, as the mother who probably should've gotten a divorce years ago, but stayed with it for the kids and all that. Brian's got a job working at a local movie theater that's trying to get a make a little extra money playing bands, and one day, the owner Whitey (Peter Reigert) announces that he was able to call in a huge favor and book The Rolling Stones, one night only, no advertising 'til day of, for a surprise concert at the place, for an hour, before they play Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, Danny's trying to get one big heist in, so that he can take the money and leave before he gets sent to jail, and frankly, just to get the hell outta Brooklyn. Brian's trying to do the same with his writing and photography, which he sent to Carnegie-Mellon, where Andy Warhol went, and sure enough, even with an application, they seem interested enough to call him personally to get him to apply. There's also a girl-next-door who  Brian's just noticing, this one's Leslie (Shauna Friel) and they run naked through a cemetery together on their first date, which seems like an unusual thing, but if you've been back east, and you'll notice there's a lot of cemetaries around and not exactly much else, so it's probably not that uncommon a teenage activity when you think about it, especially when alcohol is involved. They are prideful of that, no needles, no pills, no cocaine, but they just drink. There's something enjoyable about "White Irish Drinkers"; it's not the newest or the freshest story in the world, they know that, but there's a reason it does keep getting retold, probably cause the cycle of it continues from generation to generation, and frankly that sucks, so it keeps finding a new way of getting fresher. "White Irish Drinkers" is lighter than some of the other versions, and it's done well, so it's a rather enjoyable telling, so I'm recommending it. Don't think it's anything deeper than that; it is just a bunch of "White Irish Drinkers", to quote Dudley Moore in "Arthur", "Everyone who drinks is not a poet. Maybe some of us drink because we're not poets."


THE HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER (2011) Director: Eran Riklis

¶¶¶



Hmm. I didn't realize until I looked it up on imdb.com, that the main character is "The Human Resources Manager", is never given a name. In fact, none of the alive characters are ever given names, other than simply descriptions. I guess this is paramount nowadays to adding an extra level to the satire, that this could be anybody or any company, and not just a large industrial bakery in Jerusalem where HR Manager (Mark Ivanir) is about to have a pretty lousy time at work. One of the bakery's employees has died, under odd circumstances as it appears she may have been being paid under the table, and she also wrote about the horrid conditions she worked under. She's a Romanian immigrant, and it's HR's job, to now accompany the body, which first has to be identified, which he does, despite having little-to-no idea who she even was, back to Romania, all under the guise of the company, trying to do the right thing. Yeah, they talk a lot about corporations having the rights as people too, but they do seem to always act like selfish pricks who only do anything when forced to and/or when it would put themselves in a positive light, or at least that's the plan. Of course, naturally, things get in the way, like the airlines losing the body for awhile, not that anyone could find where the girl's family lived to begin with, from the obscure Romanian village, where HR doesn't speak the language, and has long-been lying to his wife how long/late this trip will take. "The Human Resources Manager" was Israel's entry for the Foreign Language Oscar a couple years ago; I've been intrigued recently by Israeli cinema, but this one, doesn't have the legs of such good film as "Footnote" or "Ushpizin", to name some recent memorable ones. I get what they're doing but the character-less approach make everybody feel like archetypes and not really characters, and that's frustrating. It's hard to get close to this movie, no matter how hard you try, and it gets harder afterwards to really look back on it. There's a good story at its base, and some nice to say about the modern industrial world; it's interesting that it does take place somewhere like Israel, it could be very tempting to set a story like this in America or even England for obvious reasons, like the richness of material of their foreign-born inhabitants, but "The Human Resources Manager" really only scratches the surface of this, and chooses not to dig any deeper. Even after we meet the girl's family, there isn't really much learned about her, and not much reason to care either. That's unfortunate. I guess it's a very mild recommendation for what it does well, but a stronger point of view, could've done wonders with this concept. It's a missed opportunity.


MIGHTY APHRODITE (1995) Director: Woody Allen

¶¶¶¶



There should always a Greek Chorus in our stories, shouldn't there be? Essentially the idea hasn't left literature it's just been replaced by narrator and occasionally emcees, but there's something about actually seeing a chorus, singing and moderating through a story. Woody Allen switches from drama and comedy so freely that, even in a comedy, it seems appropriate for a film of his, to simply play like drama. Lenny and Amanda (Allen, and Helena Bonham Carter) have been married for awhile, but they're starting to have issues. She works as a curator of an art gallery that soon moving from the Upper West Side, where Lenny is a sportswriter, that specializing in boxing. They decide on a whim to adopt a kid, Max, another thing that Amanda wasn't in favor of once upon a time, but to Lenny's surprise he is immediately touched by his young son, who's unusually smart and talented. Yet, as the issues with the marriage remain, and Amanda starts getting closer with Jerry Bender (Peter Weller) a gallery friend of hers who's clearly got a thing for Amanda and won't let up, he begins wondering about Max's birthmother. It takes a while, and certainly a few laws being broken, but eventually he find a quirky prostitute named Linda Ash (Oscar-Winner Mira Sorvino) who goes by a lot of names, sometimes Leslie, for instance. She goes by Judy Cum when she's starring occasionally in adult films. Sorvino gives one of those amazing performances, where it's almost impossible to imaging how she picked apart her character's dialogue, and especially with this obnoxious accent, that its quite amazing how much we eventually care about her. Lenny doesn't reveal to Linda about the origins of Max, but after one awkward encounter, and soon a couple more, they begin to trust each other, and in that way of saving the damsel in distress that male characters tend to do, he begins trying to change the hooker with the heart of gold, roughing out the edges, getting her out of the sex trade, that's a must, etc. Eventually they become friends, he even tries to hook her up with a dimwitted young boxer, Kevin (Michael Rapaport) who Lenny convinces that she's a hairdresser. Naturally, the Chorus, led by F. Murray Abraham, are giving many warnings about what Lenny's doing. Some he listens to, others he argues with, many times, while in the middle of what he's doing. Laius (David Odgen Stiers), Jocasta (Olympia Dukakis) Oedipus (Jeffrey Kurland) and even Tiresias (Jack Warden) give in their two cents and elaborate and when needed, move the story along. The movie even has, a literal and figurative deus ex machima, right when we need that happy ending, although when the chorus tried to call Zeus, they got an answering machine and a busy signal. "Mighty Aphrodite" strangely has all the hallmarks of being one of Woody Allen's best films, but oddly, it doesn't quite become one of them. Oh, it's definitely a good movie, and I'm highly recommending it, but I don't think anybody would nowadays rank it as one of his very best and essential films. It's more like one of his throwaway experiments that would lead to a more interesting film, but there's still incredible Linda character that Sorvino plays. It is one of Allen's most unique creations, and the way the scripts handles this, what could normally a clumsy and cliched situation, seems more thoughtful an observant. Actually, the issue with isn't so much the Lenny and Linda part, but the Lenny, Max and Amanda family that seems like a throwaway piece. What's there is good, and it's always great to see Helena Bonham Carter in a non-period, non-Tim Burton way, but could've used something extra to make it more interesting, therefore making the juxtaposition more strong, instead, it's a contrivance of the plot. Maybe with all the Greek storytelling devices in "Mighty Aphrodite" that that was the point, it still feels like an afterthought. "Mighty Aphrodite" remains only close to being a great Woody Allen film, but it's definitely a good and memorable one.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

CANON OF FILM: "THE BIG CHILL"

THE BIG CHILL (1983)

Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Screenplay: Lawrence Kasdan & Barbara Benedek



It is probably the greatest opening credits sequence in the history of film. We meet all the people in the film in their own environments in some way, whether that be in a house giving their kids a bath, (Kevin Kline and Glenn Close) whether that’s working in a high rise law office, on an airplane being pestered for an autograph or even just doing yoga stretches, not mentioning one person who’s face we never see who seems to be very cautiously getting dressed, all the while hearing Marvin Gaye’s version of “I’ve Heard It Through the Grapevine,” blasted really loud, as though it were calling out to the characters to all gather. It is only near the end of the song do we completely realize what is it they’re gathering for, as it’s suddenly clear that at the very least, the way that man is being dressed is not quite normal, only to make it clear he is being dressed by an undertaker. And yet, I have always felt a little apprehension about adding “The Big Chill,” to the Canon. This film does have inherent problems like the lack of any real story arc/plot, or for that matter, how the ending of the film comes quite suddenly. Yet, this movie pretty much started a subgenre of movies where numerous characters are brought together and talk. You can see the influence in works of people as varied as Linklater to Sayles to Louis Malle and others. The film is a gathering of seven college friends from the University of Michigan, back in the Haight-Asbury sixties, who are now dealing with the adulthood real world of the 1980s, after the funeral of one of their old classmates who killed himself. We learn about each of their lives, Sarah & Harold (Kevin Kline and Oscar-nominee Glenn Close) are married with kids and he’s become an entrepreneur in the shoe business and wonders about how Nick (William Hurt), a former Vietnam vet who thru a war injury became impotent, continues to bounce from job to job and empty pill bottle to empty pill bottle, currently working in advertising. There’s Meg (Mary Kay Place), a former defense attorney turned business lawyer who after having an abortion in college, is now desperate for a child of her own, man or no man. Michael (Jeff Goldblum) a People Magazine writer trying to open his own bar, who’s only too happy to jump into bed with Meg or any female available, including Karen (JoBeth Williams) who’s in an unhappy marriage to an upscale yuppie, trying to get together with Sam (Tom Berenger), who’s a divorced actor on a “Magnum P.I.” type show, and is constantly worried whether he’s doing a good work as an actor. Chloe (Meg Tilly) is the one left out, a young free-spirit who was Alex’s girlfriend at the time of his death, and is the one who found his body. Alex (Kevin Costner, uncredited), we learn about only secondhand, and even then the tension is thick. He apparently passed on an opportunity to study abroad in the field of science when he was young, and seemed to constantly struggle with adulthood ever since, and all those in the house wonder how close or likely they are to similar results, and why people seem to get colder as they grow older. Originally, a flashback sequence was shot for a week, which included Costner, which depending on who you ask, was probably never intended to be used, but what it did do was help the actors get into their characters, as they played them as college students, they could then play them better as adults, and it seems to work well. If there is an issue with the film, it might be that the acting is so sharp and they know these characters so well, that on first viewings, we may feel like an uninvited guest to a party, as we don’t have an real protagonist to follow us or enter us into this world, as everybody’s basically already set. That said, on later viewings, you realize that’s a strength, as the film goes on, the more and more we can see them as young idealistic college students, who’ve grown into these more philosophical and cautious adults. Written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, who became famous for having the best unfilmed script in Hollywood, “The Bodyguard,” (eventually made, ironically starring Kevin Costner) which got him a job writing the scripts to the last two “Star Wars,” films in the 1st trilogy, and eventually, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” before directing his first feature, the erotic neo-noir “Body Heat,” and later “The Accidental Tourist,” and “Grand Canyon,” among others. Now his son Jon is directing his own films including “In the Land of Women”, as well as the Pilot for “New Girl”, he’s seen in the movie as a little kid in a bathtub being taught the words to Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World.” (The film’s soundtrack is regarded as one of the best, filled with a collection of classic pop rock and Motown of the era.) The question I always after watching “The Big Chill” is “I wonder what that 80s yuppie generation thinks about this world now, or for that matter, what I will think of myself today many years down the road?” Of course, now I can ask that about my ‘90s generation, although I’d rather not think about that, myself.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 EMMY NOMINATION ANALYSIS: ALL MAJOR CATEGORIES! and a few, not-so-major but very interesting ones. YOUR MOST COMPLETE PRIMETIME EMMY NOMINATION ANALYSIS!



Note: Sorry for being later than I planned. I wrote it earlier today, but I've been sick today, and I'm still trying to get better. :(  Bad toothache, I think I need to go to the dentist and have it pulled. Hopefully not, but... Anyway, I'm spitting out my hot saltwater, and getting back to things that are actually important, The Emmys!

It was a mere two years ago, when I started this blog by first giving my thoughts on the then-recently-announced Primetime Emmy Nominations, and I must say, it was a good place to start. Not only have we maintained our commitment to giving a full analysis of the nominees to this, and other major Award show, (Well, most specifically the Oscars, occasionally other shows as well though.) but I think the Primetime Emmys have become as important, if not moreso than the Oscars. Oh, that's not because they're more accurate or anything, but the look at the huge vastness of quality Primetime television programs across all genre, channels,...- hell, screw channels, how about on the computer. I told everybody earlier this week, nobody can accurate predict them this year, because we don't know how much/important webseries are gonna into it, and sure enough, they came into it. If you haven't gotten your Netflix yet everybody, now is your time. That has become clear now.  (So now, on top of all the cable series I'm already behind on...) More importantly, these shows are not only attracted the highest quality of artists in Hollywood, but frankly, it requires more skill than ever before to standout on television, where the threshold of excellence, keeps on getting raised. (And Network TV, is falling more and more behind behind on it btw). Alright, just like all the other times, let's take a closer at all the major categories, and not just a few of them like other blogs. Let's start with Drama Series

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad-AMC
Downton Abbey-PBS
Game of Thrones-HBO
Homeland-Showtime
House of Cards-Netflix
Mad Men-AMC

And here's their unforgivable sin, "The Newsroom", is the Best Drama on television, it's lack of a nomination, invalidates the category completely; even in a loaded field, this should not have happened. "House of Cards" becomes the first ever show to get a Best Series nomination of any kind, that isn't actually on TV. Good job Emmys, leaving "Boardwalk Empire" the other odd-man out from last year. Honestly, "Homeland" shouldn't really be in here; it's a good show, with spectacular acting, but really compared to the other nominees, they really need to stop praising it so much. Still, when "The Good Wife," "Shameless", "Dexter", "Justified", "Bates Motel" are the also-rans, it's still remains clear that this is the golden age of drama, and that for the most part, if you don't have cable, you don't know that.

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Hugh Bonneville-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Bryan Cranston-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Jeff Daniels-"The Newsroom"-HBO
Jon Hamm-"Mad Men"-AMC
Damian Lewis-"Homeland"-Showtime
Kevin Spacey-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Well, I know some "Dexter" fans that are pissed this morning, Michael C. Hall, first time not getting nominated for that role. Also, Steve Buscemi, has been knocked out. Look at the talent though, and amazingly, only Lewis and Cranston have won in the past four years, not counting Kyle Chandler's bizarre win when "Breaking Bad" wasn't eligible one year. You'd think with all these great actors and shows, they'd be going more out of their way to pass the Awards around. Other than that, not much new here, and that's a bit of a shame, but not really, but it's-it's time to start passing this Award around. There's too much talent out there in this category to justify keep giving it to the same 2 or 3 people every year. Sorry Lewis, sorry Cranston, although Bryan, you deserve it, but you've won enough.

LEAD ACTRESS IN ADRAMA SERIES
Connie Britton-"Nashvill e"-ABC
Claire Danes-"Homeland"-Showtime
Michelle Dockery-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Vera Farmiga-"Bates Motel"-A&E
Elisabeth Moss-"Mad Men"-AMC
Kerry Washington-"Scandal"-ABC
Robin Wright-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Glenn Close, gets knocked out, on her last year of eligibility for "Damages", and so does a few people. If there's a giant shock here, Julianna Margulies, not nominated for "The Good Wife" or Mariska Hargitay for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", which shows you how that show has finally leveled down to where it should be considered. A seventh nomination as well, makes this interesting, although I have no clue why Connie Britton snuck in for the unwatchably godawful, "Nashville". ABC, did good here, I can't remember the last time they had two nominations in this category; at least, Kerry Washington, a slightly-above-average show, "Scandal," although not of the top-level, but certainly she's well-deserving of a nomination, and btw, when was the last time an African-American was nominated in this category? I'm looking it up now, let's see, I can't even begin to guess, and it's gonna take awhile. Vera Farmiga, also sneaks in, a somewhat surprising nomination for "Bates Motel", the first ever acting nomination in the category, for A&E, they're jumping into the game now. Found it, oh boy, here's a trivia question, '95, Cicely Tyson for the show "Sweet Justice", last time an African-American got nominated in this category! I'm pretty TV history-wise, knowledgeable and savvy, I have no recollection of that TV show, at all. So, Kerry Washington, 1st time in 18 years, an African-American nominated in this category. I dare someone to say they knew that.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Bobby Cannavale-"Boardwalk Empire"-HBO
Jim Carter-"Downtown Abbey"-PBS
Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Mandy Patinkin-"Homeland"-Showtime
Aaron Paul-"Breaking Bad"-AMC

Giancarlo Esposito,obviously wasn't getting nominated this year for "Breaking Bad", but another "Breaking Bad" actor takes his place and a good one at that, which only makes me want to see the show more. Bobby Cannavale, also new to this list, again, making me want to see "Boardwalk Empire" more, (And he's also nominated in another category for "Nurse Jackie", he's really becoming one of the best actors around)  Nobody else new here, Aaron Paul's won the last three years he's been eligible, and Peter Dinklage won the year, he wasn't. "Game of Thrones" I gotta say, I'm not the biggest fan of it, personally, but the more I thought back on it, the show is quite good. The supporting actor/actress categories, really should be announced during the morning announcements; I mean, look at the field. Are you gonna tell me, people like Michael Shannon, Vincent Kartheiser, Alan Cumming, Brendan Coyle, I mean, are these really not big enough stars, names, characters or performances to be mentioned on the Announcement shows? That's just this supporting category btw, across the board, especially with so many multi-narrative series now?

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Morena Baccarin-"Homeland"-Showtime
Christine Baranski-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Emilia Clarke-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Anna Gunn-"Breaking Bad"-AMC
Christina Hendricks-"Mad Men"-AMC
Maggie Smith-"Downton Abbey"-PBS

Yeah, you can pretty much guarantee a Maggie Smith nomination for years to come, but interesting to see "Game of Thrones" sneaking into a second acting category for the first time, that show has clearly taken off. Definitely want to see Christina Hendricks finally win, but it's getting harder and harder. Kelly MacDonald's not in. Jennifer Carpenter's never gotten in. Archie Panjabi's out, she won a couple years ago for "The Good Wife". Baranaski's still hanging in there. BTW, how pissed do you think "The Walking Dead" fans are today?

GUEST ACTOR-DRAMA SERIES
Dan Bucatinsky-"Scandal"-ABC
Michael J. Fox-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Rupert Friend-"Homeland"-Showtime
Harry Hamlin-"Mad Men"-AMC
Nathan Lane-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Robert Morse-"Mad Men"-AMC

GUEST ACTRESS-DRAMA SERIES
Linda Cardellini-"Mad Men"-AMC
Joan Cusack-"Shameless"-Showtime
Jane Fonda-"The Newsroom"-HBO
Margo Martindale-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Carrie Preston-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Diana Rigg-"Game of Thrones"-HBO

Other then the fact that I thought "Shameless" was in the comedy category, I don't really have much thoughts yet on the Guest Actor or Actress categories here, as I haven't seen most of the performances yet. Life sucks without cable, and frankly, it's bit of a bitch to remember to try to watch "The Good Wife" anymore. Glad to see no more "Grey's Anatomy" holdovers in the category, no matter how deserving they might've been, that show really shouldn't have lasted this long.

WRITING-DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad-'Dead Freight'-George Mastras-AMC
Breaking Bad-'Say My Name'-Thomas Schnauz-AMC
Downton Abbey-'Episode 4'-Julian Fellowes-PBS
Game of Thrones-'The Rains of Castamere'-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss-HBO
Homeland-'Q&A'-Henry Bromell-Showtime

No "Mad Men" in the writing category, not a good sign. No "The Newsroom" either, it should've gotten in for Aaron Sorkin's pilot. This should be an early sign as to whether or not it's "Homeland"'s to win everything again, or whether or not, "Breaking Bad" will finally take it this year though.

DIRECTING-DRAMA SERIES
Boardwalk Empire-'Margate Sands'-Tim Van Patten-HBO
Breaking Bad-'Gliding All Over'-Michelle MacLaren-AMC
Downton Abbey-'Episode 4'-Jeremy Webb-PBS
Homeland-Q&A-Lesli Linka Glatter-"Homeland"-Showtime
House of Cards-'Chapter 1'-David Fincher-Netflix

This might be where "House of Cards" could most likely win, as they do like it when film directors try their hand out in TV directing, and David Fincher, great director, could be time.

On top Comedy Series

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
The Big Bang Theory-CBS
Girls-HBO
Louie-FX Networks
Modern Family-ABC
30 Rock-NBC
Veep-HBO

Alright, "Arrested Development" fans be quiet for a second, and "Community", fans, well, just shut the hell up in general, it's not as good as you think it is, but seriously, why the hell is "Parks and Recreation" not nominated, again! It should've WON last year! Should've won easily, didn't get nominated, and this year, almost as good if not better-, I am just baffled by this lack of nomination in this category. I'm glad "Louie" got in this year, he deserves it, he's probably set another record for nominations, but "Parks and Recreation" not getting in again, is just a travesty. And you know, I'm just gonna say it, "Modern Family"'s not that damn good. I like it, it's a good show, but c'mon, it's gotten weaker and weaker every year, it was already overrated, with "Arrested Development" out there, with "The Office," which also should've been nominated in it's farewell season, and Congratulation to "30 Rock" btw, 7 years the show lasted, 3 times it won, nominated, every single year, the list of show that can say that is short, and they deserve it, how "Parks and Recreation" is getting ignored, pretty much across the board is complete bullshit. If "Modern Family" wins again, btw, I'm gonna throw up, there's too many, way more innovative and better shows out there, to keep giving it to them; thankfully, I think it's between "The Big Bang Theory" and "Girls" this year, but still, "Parks and Recreation" is the big miss here. As to "Arrested Development" not getting in, I'm not as picky on that, but they have a good argument as well, but looking at the competition, especially the ones that didn't get in, eh, it's a little iffy this year.

LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin-"30 Rock"-NBC
Jason Bateman-"Arrested Development"-Netflix
Louie C.K.-"Louie"-FX Networks
Don Cheadle-"House of Lies"-Showtime
Matt LeBlanc-"Episodes"-Showtime
Jim Parsons-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS

Well, I guess the minor shock here is that last year's winner Jon Cryer, didn't get nominated, and frankly, I was amazed enough people saw "Two and a Half Men" last year, to nominate him to begin with. He is good, but boy, that's been hard-to-watch long before Ashton Kutcher. Bateman getting in for "Arrested Development" is interesting 'cause he never won during the show's original airing, so he could play spoiler, assuming the presumptive winner is Jim Parsons, the last of the nominees to win. Cheadle is constantly the only nomination "House of Lies" gets, I'm a little surprise he snuck in again, this is where a Joel McHale, would've been a creative choice, "Community" fans, or maybe someone else out there like a Charlie Day or a Justin Kirk for "Weeds", but still, overall a good field here.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Laura Dern-"Enlightened"-HBO
Lena Dunham-"Girls"-HBO
Edie Falco-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime
Tina Fey-"30 Rock"-NBC
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-"Veep"-HBO
Amy Poehler-"Parks and Recreation"-NBC

Alright, I definitely have to get around to "Veep" now, I get it. I tell you, I had the strangest feeling that Amy Schumer was gonna sneak in here, but no, instead it was Laura Dern, for the now-cancelled "Enlightened", HBO, back in comedy this year. Jenna Fischer should've gotten a spot too, btw, but overall not a bad category, that said, if Amy Poehler doesn't win, I'm gonna scream. Melissa McCarthy is out for "Mike & Molly", also. No 3-camera sitcom nominee at all btw. I have a feeling, that occasionally the acting awards have been falling onto that crutch to justify giving the Award lately to a Cryer or McCarthy, under the guise that supposedly 3-camera acting is harder than a single-camera performance, and there's some truth to that, but you know, when there isn't a worthy nomination, making one up, not really that big a fan of it. Sorry to Mary-Louise Parker also, but you know what, final year of "Weeds", probably it's weakest, and it's been downhill for awhile, and not her strongest year either. Don't be surprised if Tina Fey pulls off an upset here.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ty Burrell-"Modern Family"-ABC
Adam Driver-"Girls"-HBO
Jesse Tyler Ferguson-"Modern Family"-ABC
Bill Hader-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Tony Hale-"Veep"-HBO
Ed O'Neill-"Modern Family"-ABC

Hmm. I wonder if Eric Stonestreet took his name out, or the Emmys just wanted to make sure they didn't give it to the same "Modern Family" actor twice? Although, Ty Burrell has won once before too. Okay, let's rundown the list again in this category, no Neil Patrick Harris, no John Krasinski, no Rob Lowe, no Nick Offerman (Seriously, "Parks and Recreation" should be in this) no, David Cross, who I would've nominated for "Arrested Development", I think he was the most deserving from this past season, no Tracy Morgan, no Jack McBrayer, no Kevin Nealon, he should've gotten in for "Weeds" at least once. No Peter Facinelli, he's great on "Nurse Jackie". Ugh. However, no stupid Max Greenfield nomination. Hopefully, A, we're done with the "New Girl" adorkable crap, and I love you Zooey Deschanel, but I can't take it, I'm sorry, but the Max Greenfield nomination last year, made no sense at all to me, especially considering the list of names above and more. and B., talk about a smart nomination, and I just rewatched "Girls" 1st season too, Adam Driver, great nomination! His name didn't even cross my mind before, now I can't believe I didn't think of it. I hope this Bill Hader nomination puts an end to shoving the "SNL" actors into these categories, but I doubt it, but I'm sorry he's leaving; he is deserving as well. I do think, we all want to see Ed O'Neill finally win it though, and I hope he does; long overdue.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Julie Bowen-"Modern Family"-ABC
Anna Chlumsky-"Veep"-HBO
Jane Krakowski-"30 Rock"
Jane Lynch-"Glee"-FOX
Sofia Vergara-"Modern Family"-ABC
Merritt Weaver-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime

I would've like to have seen a Zosia Mamet get in here, but overall, not bad. Glad that Bialik and Weaver are now permanent members of this list, and not one-year wonders. Portia Di Rossi, should've found a spot too though, but there's already seven, and frankly, why are the kids being ignored on "Modern Family" Ariel Winter and Sarah Hyland are just as deserving of spots here as Bowen and Vergara are. Angela Kinsey or Cobie Smulders would've also been nice here too, but I'd still have to take out Jane Lynch, and as much as I hate "Glee", I certainly love her. Tough to call, but if Mayim Bialik wins it, this could mean, it's "The Big Bang Theory"'s year finally.

GUEST ACTOR-COMEDY SERIES
Bobby Cannavale-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime
Louie C.K.-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Will Forte-"30 Rock"-NBC
Nathan Lane-"Modern Family"-ABC
Bob Newhart-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Justin Timberlake-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC

In case people don't know this, Bob Newhart has never won an Emmy. Just thought I'd mention that, Emmy Voters. In case you didn't realize that before. Okay! I mean, Louie and Justin have like 9 between them, Newhart has ZERO! Do you hear me on that one! ZERO! Also, glad Will Forte finally got in for his work on "30 Rock" too.

Seriously, I don't care if it was the Best Performance or not, give it to Bob Newhart! Do you realize how ridiculous it is, that he's never won! All-time comedy great, two of the best sitcoms of all-time, TV legend, not one Emmy. Don Rickles has an Emmy! Newhart doesn't; FIX THIS!

GUEST ACTRESS-COMEDY SERIES
Dot-Marie Jones-"Glee"-FOX
Melissa Leo-"Louie"-FX Networks
Melissa McCarthy-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Molly Shannon-"Enlightened"-HBO
Elaine Stritch-"30 Rock"-NBC
Kristen Wiig-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC

I really wish they gave the "30 Rock" nomination to Kristen Schaal instead of Elaine Stritch, although she is great, but Hazel Wassername might be my all-time favorite character from that show. Is this, where the make up to never giving it to Kristen Wiig when she was on, or do they give it to Melissa Leo, for "Louie" after ignoring her on "Homicide: Life on the Street" for all those years? Curious choices here. Glad Cloris Leachman didn't sneak in here again for "Raising Hope", which really is running out of steam, way more that "New Girl" even. Seriously FOX, come up with some sitcoms that can have more staying power, you haven't had a non-animated one since "That '70s Show", that was almost a decade ago. I know "Raising Hope" should've had potential but Greg Garcia keeps losing his way after a season or two, don't know why. He did the same with "My Name is Earl", you shoulda saw it coming; it's a pattern.

WRITING-COMEDY SERIES
Episodes-'Episode 209'-David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik-Showtime
Louie-'Daddy's Girlfriend (Part 1)-Louie C.K. (Story & Teleplay); Pamela Adlon (Story)-FX Networks
The Office-'Finale'-Greg Daniels-NBC
30 Rock-'Hogcock!'-Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock-NBC
30 Rock-'Last Lunch'-Tina Fey-NBC

BTW, Louie C.K. broke his own record this year, with 8 Individual nominations, breaking his record of 7, which he set last year, and in a related story, I'm doing nothing with my life. Oh, sorry, I miscounted, he has 9! I forgot Best Comedy Series, of all things. He has an Editing nomination, I'm not kidding either. 16 nominations in 2 YEARS, he won this category last year, he could win it again. Thank God, "The Office" finale got in here though. Glad it was recognized, somewhere, as is "30 Rock"'s finale. Both great, and 2 "30 Rock" nominations, maybe they're not an also-ran this year. No "Arrested Development" nomination here, is a bit of a shock though.

DIRECTING-COMEDY SERIES
Girls-'On All Fours'-Lena Dunham-HBO
Glee-'Diva'-Paris Barclay-FOX
Louie-'New Year's Eve'-Louis C.K.-FX Networks
Modern Family-'Arrested'-Gail Mancuso-ABC
30 Rock-'Hogcock!'-Beth McCartney-Miller-NBC

Beth McCartney Miller's been nominated for eight Emmys, and is one of the premiere comedy directors in television, but has never won; I think she's due. That said, Lena Dunham and Louis C.K., are up there again, and you can never count out "Modern Family," they always seem to take it in this category.

Let's go to Movies/Miniseries now.

OUTSTANDING MINISERIES OR MOVIE
American Horror Story: Asylum-FX Networks
Behind the Candelabra-HBO
The Bible-HISTORY
Phil Spector-HBO
Political Animals-USA
Top of the Lake-Sundance Channel

American Horror Story: Asylum, leads all programs this year, with 17 nomination, and has damn-near no shot at winning this category. "The Bible" has, absolutely zero shot, but considering the pedigrees of the other nominees, this might as well be the Oscars now. Hey, "Lincoln" damn near ended up in this category according to Spielberg. The phrase "TV Movie" doesn't mean, "lower-quality" anymore, unless it has the words "Lifetime" or "Hallmark" in front of it.

LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Benedict Cumberbatch-"Parade's End"-HBO
Matt Damon-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO
Michael Douglas-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO
Toby Jones-"The Girl"-HBO
Al Pacino-"Phil Spector"-HBO

Yeah, this confirms it; it sucks not to have HBO. Eh, expect Michael Douglas to win this one, Pacino's usually the favorite, but he's won multiple times before and recently in this category, and it's Douglas's turn.

LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Jessica Lange-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks
Laura Linney-"The Big C: Hereafter"-Showtime
Helen Mirren-"Phil Spector"-HBO
Elisabeth Moss-"Top of the Lake"-Sundance Channel
Sigourney Weaver-"Political Animals"-USA

Yeah, I mentioned this before, that "The Big C" chose to have it's final season be entered in the miniseries category, thinking that it would be more likely to get in categories there. It had been unfairly overlooked in its previous seasons, so that's understandable, unfortunately, it didn't get in the big category, but it got in a few places here. I've pretty much given up hope that they're even gonna recognize Elisabeth Moss's work on "Mad Men" with an Emmy, despite another nomination this year, but in this miniseries, she might be able to pull out her long-deserved win. Jessica Lange won this category last year, also for "American Horror Story", not sure why it's insisting on being in this category, more confusion over what's a miniseries and what's a series.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Scott Bakula-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO
James Cromwell-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks
John Benjamin Hickey-"The Big C: Hereafter"-Showtime
Peter Mullan-"Top of the Lake"-Sundance Channel
Zachary Quinto-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks

Glad to see John Benjamin Hickey get nominated for his work on "The Big C", although it's a shame that Cynthia Nixon never got noticed for her Guest work on the show. Have to finally start getting around to "American Horror Story", don't I?

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Ellen Burstyn-"Political Animals"-USA
Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Asylum"-FX Networks
Charlotte Rampling-"Restless"-Sundance Channel
Imelda Staunton-"The Girl"-HBO
Alfre Woodard-"Steel Magnolias"-Lifetime

Boy the quality of acting just doesn't let up in these miniseries or movie categories anymore do they?

WRITING-MINISERIES, MOVIE OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Behind the Candelabra-Richaed LaGravenese-HBO
The Hour-Abi Morgan-BBC America
Parade's End-Tom Stoppard-HBO
Phil Spector-David Mamet-HBO
Top of the Lake-Jane Campion and Gerard Lee-Sundance Channel

You know the quality of television is up, if I only have to look up one writer's name, 'cause it's not a household one. Stoppard, Mamet, Campion, Morgan, is this the Oscars or the Obies?

DIRECTING-MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Allison Anders-"Ring of Fire"-Lifetime"
Jane Campion and Garth Davis-"Top of the Lake"-'Part 5'-Sundance Channel
Julian Jarrold-"The Girl"-HBO
David Mamet-"Phil Spector"-HBO
Steven Soderbergh-"Behind the Candelabra"-HBO

Well, this has to be the Oscars? Right? Here's the clue to why "American Horror Story: Asylum" isn't a favorite, no writing or directing nominations? All there other nominations are in technical categories, not a good sign.

Let's go to, well, for lack of a better word, Variety.

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-ABC
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon-NBC
Real Time with Bill Maher-HBO
Saturday Night Live-NBC

Not that it matters since "The Daily Show..." is gonna win again, because, they deserve it, but why is Jimmy Kimmel nominated again? It's not like he's hosting like last year? I don't know, I don't hate him, the Matt Damon episode was really awesome, but I don't rank him in this company. If anybody should get a shot at entering this group, it should be Craig Ferguson.

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL
The Kennedy Center Honors-CBS
Louis C.K.: Oh My God-HBO
Mel Brooks Strikes Back! With Mel Brooks and Alan Yentob-HBO
Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday (Part One)-NBC
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief-Multiple Channels

Hmm. They really should start putting a new category together just for Stand-Up Specials. And come to think of it, that Individual Performance Category, they gotta find a way to bring that back.

WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-Opus Moreschi, Head Writer, et. al. -Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Tim Carvell, Head Writer, et al.-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-James Kimmel, et. al.-ABC
Portlandia-Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, and Bill Oakley-IFC
Real Time with Bill Maher-Bill Maher, et. al.-HBO
Saturday Night Live-Seth Meyers, et. al.-NBC

A sixth nominee entered this category for Jimmy Kimmel. This is the category that occasionally, "The Daily Show..." can be beaten in. That said, Bill Maher, must be at the record by now. 29 total Emmy nominations in his career, zero wins! They really need to get to him at some point, this would be a good spot.

WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards-Barry Adelman, et. al.- NBC
Louis C.K.: Oh My God-Louis C.K.-HBO
Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs-Eric Slovin, Head Writer, et. al-Comedy Central
Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday (Part One)-Seth Meyers, Head Writer; Colin Jost, Head Writer, et. al.-NBC
66th Annual Tony Awards-Dave Boone, Special Material by Paul Greenberg-CBS

Yeah, I don't even remember there being a "SNL Thursday Update" this year, do you?

DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-'Episode 8131'-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Chuck O'Neil-'Episode 17152'-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-Andy Fisher-'Episode 13-1810'-ABC
Late Show with David Letterman-Jerry Foley-'Episode 3749'-CBS
Portlandia-Jonathan Krisel-'Alexandria'-IFC
Saturday Night Live-Don Roy King-'Host: Justin Timberlake'-NBC

You ever wonder how they know which episodes to submit of these daily shows which are all basically the same day-by-day? Wonder why, "The Daily Show..." at least, doesn't just use the date as the title of the episodes.

DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
The Kennedy Center Honors-Louis J. Horvitz-CBS
London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony-Bucky Gunts and Hamish Hamilton-NBC
Louis C.K.: Oh My God-Louis C.K.-HBO
The Oscars-Don Mischer-ABC
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief-Michael Dempsey-Multiple Channels

Believe it or not, I'm not simply including these because Louis C.K.'s nominated, these are often presented at the Emmys. I always like it when Louis J. Horvitz wins, because he's usually the guy who's directing the Emmys and it's nice to see him accept the Award in the truck while he's directing the show.

OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAMS
The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards-NBC
London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony-NBC
The Oscars-ABC
Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel (Live from Lincoln Center)-PBS
66th Annual Tony Awards-CBS

This one used to be presented on TV, now I'm not so sure, but its still interesting for all that crap Seth MacFarland got, "The Oscars" did get nominated by Special Class Program, as it should've this year.

Let's quickly go to Reality now!

OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION SERIES
The Amazing Race-CBS
Dancing with the Stars-ABC
Project Runway-Lifetime
So You Think You Can Dance-FOX
Top Chef-Bravo
The Voice-NBC

The same six as last year, and I will never understand how "Dancing with the Stars" keeps taking a spot here. The rest, I get, that one, no, unwatchable. "The Amazing Race" has only lost this award once, and that was to "Top Chef" a couple years ago, they really should give it to "Project Runway" at some point. I've fallen out of love with "The Voice" since it's basically become more like "American Idol" instead of the anti-Idol that I enjoyed about it in the first place, but it's still better than "Idol" ever was, and certainly better than "The X-Factor".

OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-Food Network
Mythbusters-Discovery Channel
Shark Tank-ABC
Undercover Boss-CBS

I don't understand why this category isn't presented at the main Awards show; this is just as popular a category as Reality-Competition, if not moreso some years, and the quality of shows nominated is always discussion worthy.

OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron-"Dancing with the Stars"-ABC
Anthony Bourdain-"The Taste"-ABC
Cat Deeley-So You Think You Can Dance-FOX
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-Project Runway-Lifetime
Ryan Seacrest-"American Idol"-FOX
Betty White-"Betty White's Off Their Rockers"-NBC

Bourdain was the host of "The Taste"? I watch about 4 episodes of that, and if anyone, I would've guessed Brian Malarkey was the host. Well, it was a lousy show, but I do love Bourdain. Jeff Probst, noticeably absent again, as it Phil Keoghan of "The Amazing Race", strangely absent, replaced by both Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn; Klum nominated for the first time in the category since 2010, and the first time a pair of hosts has been nominated since '09 when Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio were nominated as co-hosts of "Top Chef". Not sure why Tim Gunn, now is recognized as a host of "Project Runway", but glad he is. Maybe a sign, "Project Runway" could actually knock off "The Amazing Race" this year? Eh, longshot, but maybe?

Well, those are the main Awards, but here's a few of the other interesting ones that don't always make the top sheet, but probably a few of you will be interested in.

OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS-SHORT FORMAT LIVE-ACTING ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMS
Between Two Ferns-FunnyOrDie.com
Burning Love-Yahoo.com
Children's Hospital-Cartoon Network
The Daily Show Correspondents Explain-TheDailyShow.com
Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show Starring Beyonce-CBS
30 Rock: The Webisodes-NBC.com

OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS-SHORT-FORMAT NONFICTION PROGRAMS
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee-Crackle.com
Jay Leno's Garage-JayLenosGarage.com
The Office: The Farewells-NBC.com
Remembering 9/11-History.com
30 Rock: The Final Season-NBC.com
Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen-BravoTV.com

OUTSTANDING INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
Bravo's Top Chef Interactive Experience-BravoTV.com
Game of Thrones Season Three Enhanced Digital Experience-HBO.com
The Homeland SHO Sync Experience-SHO.com
Killing Lincoln-NatGeoTV.com
Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs-ComedyCentral.com
The Team Coco Sync Multi-Screen Experience-TeamCoco.com
The Walking Dead Story Sync-AMCTV.com

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SPECIAL
All the President's Men Revisited-Discovery Channel
Crossfire Hurricane-HBO
Death and The Civil War (American Experience)-PBS
Ethel-HBO
Manhunt: The Inside Story of The Hunt for Bin Laden-HBO

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES
The Abolitionist (American Experience)-PBS
American Masters-PBS
The Men Who Built America-HISTORY
Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman-Science Channel
Vice-HBO

OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM
Bob's Burgers-'O.T.: The Outside Toilet'-FOX
Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness-'Enter the Dragon-Nickelodeon
Regular Show-'The Christmas Special'-Cartoon Network
The Simpsons-'Treehouse of Horror XXIII'-FOX
South Park-'Raising the Bar'-Comedy Central

OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM ANIMATED PROGRAM
Adventure Time-'Simon & Marcy'-Cartoon Network
Clarence-CartoonNetwork.com
Disney Mickey Mouse Croissant de Triomphe-Disney.com
Regular Show-'A Bunch of Full Grown Geese'-Cartoon Network
Robot Chicken-'Robot Chicken's ATM Christmas Special

VOICE-OVER PERFORMACE
Bob Bergen-"The Looney Tunes Show"-'We're in Big Truffle'-Cartoon Network
Alex Borstein-"Family Guy"-Lois Comes Out of Her Shell'-FOX
Sam Elliott-"Robot Chicken"-'Hurtled from a Helicopter into a Speeding Train'-Cartoon Network
Seth Green-"Robot Chicken DC Comics Special"-Cartoon Network
Seth MacFarland-"Family Guy"-'Brian's Play'-FOX
Lily Tomlin-"An Apology to Elephants"-HBO

ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
Nashville-"Nothing in This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again"-Music & Lyrics: Sarah Jane Buxton and Kate York-ABC
The Neighbors-"More or Less the Kind of Thing You May or May Not Possibly See on Broadway-Music: Alan Menken; Lyrics: Glenn Slater-ABC
Smash-"Hang the Moon"-Music: Marc Shaiman; Music & Lyrics: Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman-NBC
Smash-"I Hear Your Voice in a Dream"-Music & Lyrics: Andrew McMahon-NBC
30 Rock-"Rural Juror"-Music: Jeff Richmond; Lyrics: Jeff Richmond, Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield
66th Annual Tony Awards-"If I Had Time-Music: David Javerbaum; Lyric: Adam Schlesinger-CBS

Well, I don't know about you, but I'll be catching up on "House of Cards" and any other online show I can find for awhile. Might even review some of them here. It's a whole new world for the Emmys when you think about it. Who know where the next great shows are gonna debut now, although we're fairly sure it won't be on network television anytime soon.