I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Girls Will Be Girls (2003)

Evie (Jack Plotnick) is an extremely self-absorbed C-list actress who still fancies herself a star. She has a maid, Coco (Clinton Leupp) of whom she always takes advantage. Coco has been pregnant a couple of times, had a couple of abortions, and now regrets that she doesn't have children. She also pines for the anomynous doctor who gave her the abortions. Evie takes in a border, a perky young woman named Varla (Jeffrey Robinson), who wants to be an actress. Varla's mother, Marla (also Robinson), was an actress who committed suicide after a public humiliation. Evie knew Marla, and has a secret about how her death came about. Evie's neglected son Stevie (Ron Matthews), is an attorney who sometimes represents his mother in bogus car accident cases.

All of the female roles, even the women who are seen on the front of some magazines in the film, are played by men. The movie is an over-the-top comedy, fueled by a gay sense of humor, and far too many of the jokes fall flat. Evie's bitchiness, Coco's mishaps, and Varla's stupidity/naviete wears thin early on in the game.

Comedian Dana Gould appears as one of Evie's conquests.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Are These Kids For Real?

You won't find very many instances of real-life kids and teens on television. Even the mean ones like that pig-tailed witch on "Little House On The Prarie" or the mischevious and annoying like the one on "Dennis The Menace" come across as mostly harmless scamps. The kids of Bree on "Desperate Housewives" are bad, true enough, but still as not as bad as a lot of kids can be (and are) in real life.

The movies are a little more realistic, with depictions of confused and troubled teens (Rebel Without A Cause), malevolent malcontents (Menace To Society, The Good Son), smart mouths (Weekend With Father, Married To It), at-risk kids (Thirteen), bullies (My Bodyguard) and regular 'round the way types (A Christmas Story, Stand By Me, Cornbread, Earl and Me) among others.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

"Peter Gunn" (1958-1961)

This was one of mother's favorite TV shows. It ranked high on the cool factor with her. I only know this series from reruns, as it disappeared from the airwaves a few months before I was born. From what I've seen of it, I have to agree with Ma's assessment.

Peter Gunn (Craig Stevens) was a smooth private eye. He was tall, dark-haired and handsome. His girlfriend, Edie Hart (Lola Albright), was a singer in a jazz nightclub called Mother's. The woman who ran the place was also called Mother (played by actresses Hope Emerson during the first season, and Minerva Urecal the second season). Many women came across Gunn's path in his line of work, but he appeared to be faithful to Edie. Gunn sometimes got help from surly policeman Lt. Jacoby (Herschel Bernardi). Jacoby was usually already on the case, so he resented Gunn being involved, too. Despite of his feelings, Jacoby would be on hand to help Gunn when he got into dangerous situations with the bad guys.

The show feels a bit film noir-ish, with a lot of the action taking place at night. I grew up mostly on full-hour cop shows, so I'm amazed that a lot was packed into these half-hour episodes.

This series had some of the coolest sounding incidental music, in addition to the main theme song. A couple of albums were released -- The Music from Peter Gunn and More Music from Peter Gunn -- and they did well on the charts. Henri Mancini, who also composed "The Pink Panther" theme, and "Moon River" for the film Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), did the music for the TV series.

Blake Edwards, a director known for The Pink Panther films and other films such as S.O.B. (1981), produced 44 episodes of the series and wrote some of the episodes. Herschel Bernardi was also the voice of Charley the Tuna, the character on the Sunkist Tuna commercials.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Please Kill The Bad Guy

I came in on the last 40 minutes or so of Silent Hill (2006), a horror film based on the video game of the same name. The story is about a woman who goes searching for her missing daughter in a mysterious desolated town. The climax is pretty gruesome, involving a burned- beyond-recognition girl, and barbed wire being used as a weapon to exact revenge. It appears that the heroes have triumphed, but the very end of the story makes a turn.

I hate when horror films and thrillers end with the who--or what--that was causing the mayhem not completely being vanquished. There are only a few films that do that and still come off as satisfying to me. Halloween (1978) and The Abomidable Dr. Phibes (1971) come to mind. Otherwise, I'd rather see the perpetrator get theirs when the story closes.

Just as bad is when these types of films leave the audience scratching their heads when the lights in the theater come up. The Other (1972), about a pair of twins, one good and one bad, has a confusing ending, and The Blair Witch Project (1999) leaves more questions than it solves.

I heard reports that another movie in the Halloween franchise is in the works. Isn't it time for the Michael Myers character to finally die off (like he supposedly did in Halloween H20)? Just like Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th and Freddie Krueger of Nightmare On Elm Street, that character has worn out his welcome. That's the main problem with characters like these who don't get put down the first time around. Screenwriters and producers are allowed to keep coming up with stories--often not as good as the original one--to keep them going. We don't see Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman and the Mummy movies anymore on a regular basis, because people knew when to quit.


Monday, April 02, 2007

"Soap" (1977-1981)

This comedic soap opera is guilty of the sin of never resolving story lines after its four-season run, but it provided a lot of fun -- and controversy -- while it existed.

The heart of the show were two sisters, Jessica (Katherine Helmond) and Mary (Cathryn Damon). Jessica married rich, to a philandering business man named Chester (Robert Mandan). Their three kids were conservative Eunice (Jennifer Salt), wild child Corrinne (Diana Canova) and smart-aleck Billy (Jimmy Baio). Mary and Jessica's shell-shocked war vet dad, The Major (Arthur Peterson), lived with Jessica's family. Benson (Robert Gulliame) was the family's tell-it-like-it-is butler.

Mary's husband was construction worker Burt (Richard Mulligan) a nervous type. Burt was stepdad to Jodie (Billy Crystal), who was gay, and Danny, a hothead (Ted Wass). Later, Burt's son Chuck (Jay Johnson) showed up with his venquiloist doll, Bob. Bob never left Chuck's side, and constantly insulted everyone.

Craziness permeated the show, which ended the first season with Jessica on trial for the murder of Peter Campbell (Robert Urich), a tennis pro who both she and Corinne were seeing. It turned out that Chester did the crime, and he was sent to prison. Chester broke out and later lost his memory, while Jessica played around with Det. Donahue (John Byner). Other major story lines found Danny married to Elaine (Dinah Manoff), a mafia don's daughter; Jodie fighting for custody of his daughter against Carol (Rebecca Balding), a woman whom he slept with once; Danny's interracial romance with Polly (Lynne Moody); Billy being caught up in a cult; Burt being kidnapped and cloned by aliens; Corinne marrying Timothy (Sal Viscuso), an ex-priest and having a baby with him that was possessed.

The show was criticized by many religious and TV watchdog groups while it aired for depictions of homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and just plain naughty humor. The series ended with Jessica being shot -- and perhaps killed -- by Latin revolutionaries and Burt unknowingly walking into a trap where a rackateer's henchmen were preparing to gun him down.

Katherine Helmond later appeared on the sitcom "Who's The Boss" (1984-1992). The late Richard Mulligan was in the movie S.O.B. (1981) and the sitcom "Empty Nest" (1988-1995). Robert Guilliame left "Soap" and had a spin-off sitcom, "Benson" (1979-1986). He was replaced on "Soap" by Roscoe Lee Brown. Diana Canova later appeared on the short-lived sitcom "Throb" (1986).

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