Monday, December 15, 2008

5 Reality Shows That Are Acceptable to Watch; 5 That Are NOT!

I am fed up with "reality tv" monopolizing my television! However, there are a very select few that are acceptable to watch -

1. Project Runway - The contestants actually have a creative talent and are given interesting tasks to complete. Plus the judges are real experts in the field of fashion and also entertaining. The contestants have their entire career at stake because the winner has a real chance at making it in the fashion world. Plus, like Tim Gunn, the audience will develop an emotional attachment to the contestants.

2. The Soup - ok, more talk show than reality show - but it makes fun of reality shows and is therefore hilarious. My crush on Joel McHale grows deeper with every episode. The show is sarcasm at its finest.

3. The Girls Next Door - Call me crazy, but the girls of the playboy mansion are freakin hilarious. What will they do now that they are no longer Hef's girlfriends? EASY - Do the show without him. It was always somewhat creepy when he appeared anyway.

4. Any show about modeling - America's Next Top Model, Make Me a Supermodel and please-oh please tell someone at VH1 to bring back America's Most Smartest Model. Who doesn't like seeing pretty people being completely humiliated? I prefer Make Me a Supermodel because it is a quality show - it has expert judges (the adorable Nikki Taylor & the smokin' hot Tyson Beckford), attractive contestants (both male & female) and demanding challenges (photo shoot in Times Square in the middle of winter!) . But then again America's Next Top Model has Tyra. Having Tyra show the contestants how to "smile with your eyes" is absolutely priceless. No Tyra we are not laughing with you - we are laughing AT you. It's genius tv.

5. Extreme Home Makeover - I've never actually watched this show, but from what I hear it does good things for good people so it is therefore acceptable for my television.

NOT ACCEPTABLE - Please stop watching these shows - you are ruining tv for everyone!!!

1. Dancing with the Stars - It's the #1 show on tv most of the time and it is clearly the downfall of America. It's fascinating that watching d-list celebrities learn how to dance is that appealing. It has also spawned even worse shows about teaching a d-lister a specific talent (Celebrity Circus, Celebracadabra etc..). I understand the obsession with celebrities, but this is taking it too far. Not to mention the judges are super annoying.

2. Shows that follow a celebrities "real" life - I.e Denise Richards: It's Complicated, Living Lohan, Pam - Girl on the Loose. Again with the celebrity obsession. We know this is not "you being you" - this is "you being on camera". We also know that you are desperate, attention-seeking morons who will do anything for the spotlight - even exploit your own children.

3. Celebrity Dating shows - Ok, Maybe The Bachelor was tolerable when it first aired, but some genius combined my hatred of celebrity reality shows with The Bachelor and has spawned a never-ending progression of crap tv! Who really wants to date Bret Michaels? Tila Tequila? FLAVOR FLAV?? Come on people! It wont stop until YOU STOP WATCHING!

4. The show that has David Hasselhoff as a judge - Enough said.

5. The spin-off ideas from Project Runway - Stylista, Blush - They don't compare. They just gather a bunch of their craziest applicants and give them even crazier challenges. Project Runway is a serious competition, these shows are just pure garbage.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best & Worst of 2008 - Films

Here are my favorite films of 2008 in no particular order...

1. Burn After Reading - A screwball comedy from the Coen Brothers that is, at times, absolutely absurd, yet always laugh-out-loud funny. Plus you can't really go wrong with that cast.

2. Cloverfield - I will support J.J. Abrams no matter what, but this movie is actually awesome. Some people found it hard to watch (shaky camera movement, an attack of NYC still a sensitive issue, no character development -these are just a few complaints I have heard) - I get it. But once you get past that, it is a brilliant movie. I promise.

3. Milk - Poignant, inspiring and brilliantly casted.

4. Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist - Incredibly fun, irresistibly sweet, sarcastically witty and rebellious of the typical teen romantic comedy. I found myself smiling through it's entirety. ( I was also inspired to read the book!)

5. In Bruges - An unpredictable crime thriller/black comedy that showcases the fact that Colin Farrell can actually act.

6. Wanted - An absolutely genius action movie. The visual effects are thrilling and mind-blowing. BUT - It's not just a bunch of action sequences thrown together, it has a unique story and convincing character development. Plus James McAvoy was a surprising yet brilliant choice as our next action hero.

7. Quantum of Solace - Not as good as Casino Royale, but still impressive. Right now Daniel Craig can do no wrong.

8. Baby Mama - Is there anyone funnier than Tina Fey right now? Yes. Amy Poehler. I laughed so hard, I had tears in my eyes.

9. The Dark Knight - Severely long, yet impressive in plot, character development and well-paced action. Oh and do I even have to mention Heath Ledger's performance?

10. Role Models -This is a surprisingly endearing and sentimental comedy. It's consistently funny, yet has a heart-warming theme of being yourself, accepting responsibility and enjoying life.

And the films I hated....

1. The Happening - I actually vote this as "worst movie ever." Zooey Deschanel & Mark Walberg are horribly miscast and the actual "villain" is ludicrous. Oh and will someone please count how many times any character actually says "It's Happening...".

2. The Women - I was too distracted by Meg Ryan's plastic face to pay attention to the rest of the movie. But from what I did see- the film just presents us with catty, bitchy, whiny women...who wants to see that?

3. The Love Guru - How did this movie get made? I didn't laugh once. Is Mike Myers that out of touch with comedy?

4. Leatherheads - Some of the film is entertaining, but I expect more from George. There was too much going on - which left the film unfocused and cluttered.

5. 88 Minutes - Choppy editing, bad overacting and it is missing the most important part of any film - a point! I was hoping for Al Pacino's character to get killed within the first 20 minutes.

6. Over Her Dead Body - Although can be considered "cute" by some (my mother), overall is predictable, stereotypical and ridiculous.

7. The Ruins - I was under the impression this was supposed to be a horror film...? It bordered on the same themes as The Happening (nature vs humans) and it was just as laughable.

8. Mad Money - ok I didn't actually watch this movie, but it was the in-flight movie during one of my flights and watching it without sound was bad enough, I can't imagine the torture if I had actually put my headphones on.

9. Meet Dave - I didn't watch this either, but the trailer was bad enough.

10. Prom Night - I enjoy the occasional teen scream movie, but this one was boring and predictable. I found myself screaming at the screen, but not in a good way.

There are still some films that I have to see this year in order for my list to be more accurate, so my best & worst list may change upon seeing these films...

1. Vicky Christina Barcelona
2. The Spirit
3. Australia
5. Slumdog Millionaire
6. RockNRolla
7. Doubt
8. Frost/Nixon
9.Wendy & Lucy
10. What Doesn't Kill You
11. Revolutionary Road
12. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7 shows you must watch so they dont get canceled!

In light of the recent canceling of 3 of my favorite shows on t.v (Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone & Dirty Sexy Money) - these are the shows you SHOULD be watching - so they don't get canceled too!!

1. Gossip Girl - Maybe I'm too old to be enjoying the ridiculousness of this show, but I do! It's produced and written by Josh Schwartz of The O.C fame, so you know it has to be outrageous (and therefore FANTASTIC!). Now it doesn't have the same bitter sarcasm of Seth or the Ryan & Marissa epic love story, but it does have BLAIR. While the rest of the show is mediocre and predictable(of course Lily's secret was having Rufus's baby - who didn't see that coming?), Blair Waldorf is a riot. She is also a surprisingly great role model for young women (in comparison to her peers). She is not "scary thin", nor is she tall or blond - yet her character is completely secure, uncompromisingly honest and smart. She has her own sense of style and doesn't get swayed by other opinions. It's refreshing to say the least. She may be harsh, but she is usually right. "Leggings are not pants!!!" - Brilliant. If the show does get canned - Please let there be a Blair spin-off!!

2. Chuck - Also by Josh Schwartz, yet the geniuses behind programming have these shows up against each other in the lineup (Mondays 8pm). So, if watching GG makes you feel old, then turn the channel to Chuck and you still have the same great writing, just slightly more mature. Chuck is an "everyman" kind of character thrust into the life of the CIA. It's one of those rare shows that has it all - a charismatic hero, humorous supporting cast, family values, lots of action plus a hot girl that can kick your ass.

3. Fringe - Now, so far Fringe has been doing well with the ratings so you probably are already watching it. DON'T STOP! I admit that the show is slightly predictable. It begins with some impossible & unexplainable phenomena, continues with Pacey(Joshua Jackson will always be Pacey) making some obnoxious remarks, followed by the crazy scientist talking about cows, then our heroine Olivia Dunham saves the day. But more important than each individual episode is the recurring theme that hints at some crazy conspiracy behind all of these events. I'm sure you are expecting more from JJ Abrams (like Lost perhaps?), and I have a feeling it is going to get better (like Alias perhaps?). You see, when Alias first aired - every episode had the same elements and each episode (or "mission" if you will) had a clear ending - but then something magical happened and suddenly all the episodes came together into one big story line and it was wonderful. (ok I may be biased - Alias is one of the best shows ever!) I am fully trusting that JJ has something amazing in store for the audience, so don't give up.

4. Kath & Kim - Overall, I am disappointed with the comedies on television (Two and a Half Men makes me want to vomit). It's a shame because there have been so many great comedic films over the past couple of years, yet tv has been suffering. That being said - Kath & Kim is one of the better ones. Having a mother that is more like my sister, helps me relate to the characters more than others might - but I think the show has a heart that everyone can enjoy. Plus it's genuinely trying something new - It's about women (!) who are not smart, dress inappropriately and hang out at the mall. Now that might sound like a step backward in the representation of women in the media - but I know women like this and they are fun to laugh at in real life so why not on tv?

5. 30 Rock - Also one of the better comedies. If only Tina Fey & Alec Baldwin could start the show over with a different cast - the show would be genius. Tracey Morgan is the most obnoxious, unfunny person on television. Ditto for Jane Krakowski. Yet the show is still solid, the writing is quick-witted, and Fey & Baldwin are pure comic gold together. Oh and Kenneth - He's funny too.

6. Heroes - Ok- I have no idea what is going on while watching Heroes - Things that run through my mind while watching - Where are they? What year is it? Does he/she have their powers? Is he/she good or evil? Why isn't he/she dead? WTF is going on? So why do I keep watching? I have watched the show from episode 1, I thought the idea of the show was genius, and I don't give up on something I love very easily. So, I guess I have faith that it will all make sense one day. And if the show gets canceled before it all makes sense - I will be even more frustrated. So everyone needs to keep watching!

7. Breaking Bad - Probably the best show on television - How is it not on Showtime? Please, Please, Please watch this show. I'm not going to tell you why - you just need to experience it for yourself. Catch up with season 1, before season 2 begins airing next year.

Please note - I am not including shows on premium channels - Every show on Showtime is a must - Weeds, Dexter, Californication...all GENIUS.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

5 reasons to see MILK ; 2 reasons not to...

1. Sean Penn - His performance has been praised by every critic that I have read and it is justified. His transformation into Harvey Milk is triumphant. I had no doubt in my mind that he would disappoint, because he never does. There is not much to say that hasn't already been said about this performance, so I will move on...

2. The supporting cast - Brolin, Franco & Hirsch - Josh Brolin has been making some amazing career choices lately - his consistency with being in great films is uncanny. Is his agent just that good at finding great material or should Josh get credit for choosing mediocre films and making them great (case in point - W.)? While the film doesn't focus on Dan White, Milk's eventual assassin, Brolin is superbly creepy and leaves a solid impression (Sequel anyone? I would love to see Brolin as White in the courtroom using the famous "twinkie defense."). While I have always placed James Franco in the "mediocre actor" category, he did successfully provide the film with some heart. Both Brolin and Franco have garnered some early supporting actor nominations (so far both are nominated for Critic's Choice awards, while Franco is also in the running for an Independent Spirit Award), but the real supporting actor worth watching is Emile Hirsch. Having a severe hatred for all things Emile, this was hard for me to admit (I probably enjoyed the failure of Speed Racer a little too much...). I will not go on the record yet as an Emile Hirsch fan - but he was extremely charismatic as Cleve Jones and displayed some much needed comedy in the film (his dancing was supposed to be funny...right?)

3. Dustin Lance Black - To know that the screenplay was written by someone who actually cares and was inspired by the life of Harvey Milk is motivating in itself. If you don't feel the inspiration read the article in Script Magazine in which he describes hearing a recording of Milk's speech when he was 14. In his own words he says "Harvey gave me life...he gave me hope". Which leads me to #4...

4. Inspiration and hope - I am not one to get emotional, but it's hard not too when you watch a film based 30 years ago knowing that the same issues are still being fought. Watching Harvey fight against Prop 6 in California bears a striking resemblance to the Prop 8 fiasco that was voted for several weeks ago. In the film, Harvey says "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door...and that's all. I ask for the movement to continue..." and that it does. I admit it was hard to watch, leaving me disappointed that our nation has not progressed as much as I would like it too, but then again there is still hope...

5. It's the edited version! - Biopics are boring and usually too long! Milk begins the story on Harvey's 40th birthday. No flashback to childhood, no background set-up - it cuts to the point which I always appreciate. My rule is that NO movie should be longer than 2 hours (ok this one is 2 hours & 8 minutes), but the the film focused on a few major events during a certain period in Harvey Milks history. As an audience we are intelligent enough to know that there were events that led up to this, but we don't need every detail - so thank you Dustin Lance Black for not wasting my time.

And the reasons not to...

1. Diego Luna - I don't know if it was Diego's overacting or if the character was just simply annoying. I know that Jack, one of Milk's lovers, is an important character, be he was not an entertaining character or even a complex character - just irritating. I don't know who is to blame or if it could have been avoided/fixed, but I was frustrated every time he appeared on screen.

2. Repetition - We get it - Harvey Milk gave inspiring, encouraging and brave speeches, but hearing several of them within 2 hours is a little desensitizing. I found myself zoning out...