Yet Another Chance to Dip in to the “Ben Whofleck” Well

Links, and a Zero Dark Thirty mini-review down the bottom so you can avoid it if you want to avoid spoilers, although “bin Laden dies” goes without saying, I hope:

lemme tell ya somethin' ... the academy is suspect. yeah, them.

Confession — I watched about five minutes of the Golden Globes. With new episodes of Once Upon a Time, The Good Wife, Happy Endings (why did it take me five minutes to realize Max was dressed at Buttermaker?) and Don’t Trust the B, a bunch of celebrities getting drunk wasn’t doing it for me, not when I could just hit “refresh” on my phone every 10 minutes and watch the list of winners on the IMDB app. Saw the highlights this morning, and it doesn’t seem like I missed that much, unless you’d define “much” as Jodie Foster kinda sorta confirming a 20-year-old rumor that everyone just took as truth anyway. What a weird week for Ben Whofleck though. He’s snubbed from the best director category at the Oscar nominations announcement Thursday, then comes back two days later and beats out four of the nine or 10 best directors working right now. Gives credence to my prediction last week that the best director category at the Oscars is going to be the biggest wild card of the night.

claire daines knows where the action's at

We’ve seen this coming for years, and there have been hiccups along the way, but it’s official — cable TV shows, top to bottom, are better than the ones on broadcast TV. It doesn’t really matter how you categorize them or break them up to judge, that’s just the way it is. Yeah, the deck is completely stacked against broadcast shows because they can’t curse, they can’t show Dylan McDermott’s butt five episodes in a row and they need to pander to the lowest common denominator to get the ratings they need to financially stay on the air. Yes, something like Girls would never work on broadcast TV. But Mad Men? It would only need to be tweaked in a couple places to fit nicely at ABC’s Sunday night at 10 show. Or NBC’s Thursday at 10 show. These are shows the networks passed on when they saw them first, so the creators took pay cuts and went to cable, but at least there they can tell their stories the way they’re meant to be told. And we’re all better off for it.

No mister falcon, no melon farmer, no gunshot-muted catchphrases right at the payoff point. A Good Day to Die Hard is rated R, which means McClane can go back to being McClane. Not that Live Free or Die Hard made him look like a wussy just because he couldn’t drop a m-effer which for three movies had seemed impossible for him to avoid, but it just feels a little more like him, right? Plus, I’m pretty psyched after the latest trailer they put before Django:

Hey, why not make a Star Wars TV show? Just when you think George Lucas pillaged the last drop of credibility Star Wars has, here comes Disney to trump him. Disney has never been outgunned in a “Who can flush the integrity of a franchise down the toilet quicker?” game, and they’ll be damned if they’re going to let it happen from a guy who must have been convinced he had sold his Star Wars soul for as much as he could get if he were willing to sell the property. But that one medium he had missed out on — TV — is one of Disney’s specialties. There can be an action show on ABC to pair with the other franchise it plans to drain completely (the S.H.I.E.L.D. project), a Switched at Birth-type show that shows Luke and Leia growing up on ABC Family and whatever crappy cartoon they can make on Disney XD or even Disney Jr. Might as well get them hooked while they’re young, right?

My first reaction to the possibility of a Vampire Diaries spin-off based on that merry band of Originals that seems to grow every week was, “Oh, for the love of God.” The CW is obviously trying to capitalize on the one and only hit it has in a desperate attempt to bolster it’s Thursday night lineup so that it finally doesn’t have to lose half of the Vampire Diaries’ audience. Worse yet, it’s doing it with the show’s most boring and yet-still-overused Originals. So maybe this works for everyone — VD gets better by finally streamlining its cast and The Originals may actually be good, who knows. I’ve watched one episode of VD in the last two months and was pretty bored, so I think it’s falling off my radar. Plus, it lets me use my favorite Hollywood term, “backdoor pilot,” which I always think is a porn set in the cockpit of a plane.


good oscar bet?

Saw Zero Dark Thirty yesterday afternoon, and so did a lot of other people, and was pretty much blown away. Definite top 3 for the year, probably my #1 so far. But I think I had a view of it that I haven’t seen mentioned in a ton of places: Is this movie a commentary on feminism and what it takes for a female to have success in the workplace? Here’s Maya, this strong, powerful woman, working as spy in Pakistan trying to track down the most dangerous man in the world. She’s obviously smart, but she’s immediately both coddled and joked about by her superiors and the people who are trying to teach her how to perform her job in the field. Whenever she needs something — which is often — she has to scream, curse, draw on her boss’s window daily for four months, much like the aggressive behavior you might expect from a man. She’s almost always the only woman in the room of whatever meeting she’s in, and the only other woman in her line of work gets blown to smithereens when she isn’t careful enough. You know, like a man would be. Whether it’s a conscious decision or not, we see Maya transform herself from a pants-suited woman who almost pukes during her first interrogation to a near-ragamuffin of a hard-ass who has won over the respect of Navy Seal Team 6 because of her exuberant confidence. You know, like a man would. Is that what Kathryn Bigelow is trying to tell us? That the only way a woman can survive in the workplace is if she changes her mannerisms, her personality, her style and becomes a man, much like Ridley Scott consciously did in Thelma and Louise? Maya didn’t exist in real life, and writer Mark Boal said the character was based on a number of women involved in the chase for bin Laden. So obviously, he was struck by the fact that women weren’t being given any kind of credit in the news, and he wanted to highlight their work. We see what the men do. They beat their captives, taunt them, dehumanize them, and they do it with almost a smile. Maya almost pukes, a Hollywood-predictable stereotype for a woman. As if it couldn’t get any worse, in the one scene where we see Maya really get nasty in an interrogation, she had to have a solider there to administer the beating. When she, the person responsible for finding bin Laden, confirms the kill, she’s referred to, presumably to the president, as “the woman.” If she was real, Maya probably would have to work this hard to be taken seriously in an organization like the CIA. But thanks to Bigelow’s pointed camera, now we know how much she had to work. Anyway, GRADE: A.

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