¿Minino Más Rápido?

Stephanie Beatriz, Alia Shawkat, and Jessica Pohly ala “Pee Wee’s Big Holiday”I try not to get too excited about movies/shows that haven’t been released (or even finished) yet, but my pulse-rate did rise a little when I read a recent GQ interview with Stephanie Beatriz and she mentioned being cast in Pee Wee’s Big Holiday: “So there’s a girl gang. I can’t tell you too much… It’s myself and Jessica Pohly and Alia Shawkat. We look exactly like the girls from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. My character is probably insane and definitely bloodthirsty. She’s whackadoo.” Swoon! Sadly, she doesn’t say whether it’s just a one-scene cameo, or a more significant role, but IMDb does list stunt doubles for their characters, so that’s pretty promising… either way, I want to go to there.

[Photos stolen from Pee-Wee Herman’s official online “Log”… apparently they were posted back in May, so I’m really lagging behind here…]

Posted in Action films, Comedy films, Crime films, Rants about Films | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Broody And “Business-Drunk”

[Contains pricey ham-napkins and SPOILERS!!!]

Tina Fey as ‘Liz Lemon’ in “30 Rock” (S2)Although I’ve watched the entirety of 30 Rock several times over, I’ve only just completed my DVD collection with the acquisition of season two (as part of a super-cheap boxset, which allowed me to swap out the older, shelf-hogging versions of S1 and S3 for much slimmer models! Hurrah!). The second season was shorter than its predecessor, due to the infamous 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike… though it still went on to score a record-breaking 17 Emmy nominations, and 2 wins for its creator/star Tina Fey (“Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” and “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series”). Hurrah!

‘Ol’ Liz Lemon’ (Fey) starts the year convinced that the stars are finally aligning for her, but it’s clear that she still hasn’t completely recovered from her messy break-up with “Flower Guy” ‘Floyd’ (Jason Sudeikis). Over the course of the season, she “unconsciously” steals a baby, buys a pre-emptive wedding dress, meets (and then ditches) an idol, dates a boy almost half her age, almost re-ignites two former flames, fails to buy a fancy apartment, accidentally sells NBC to a German consortium, carelessly slags-off her boss to a journalist, briefly sells out to become a corporate Suit, and has a surprisingly moving snack-based pregnancy scare! Goodness, she’s a busy gal.

Edie Falco as ‘Celeste “C.C.” Cunningham’ in “30 Rock” (S2)Meanwhile, ‘Jack Donaghy’ (Alec Baldwin) attracts his second recurring love interest of the series: Democratic congresswoman ‘Celeste “C.C.” Cunningham’, played by an Emmy nominated Edie Falco. She only appears in 4 episodes (#2.6/8/10/15) but makes a strong impression thanks to her tempestuous relationship with Jack, and a bizarre backstory involving a rifle-shooting dog and subsequent facial surgery. Jane Krakowski (‘Jenna Maroney’) begins the season wearing an unconvincing torso-only fat-suit, intended to represent Jenna’s weight-gain over the hiatus… but once that sub-plot fizzles out, Krakowski isn’t given much to do (besides belting out a song every now and again, of course), until the finale, in which she records a fantastically self-aggrandising video-“essay”, ostensibly to help ‘Kenneth’ (Jack McBrayer) score a trip to the Beijing Olympics. Note: Krakowski’s episode commentaries with McBrayer are among the funnest ever recorded, and well-worth a listen if you’ve got the time.

Carrie Fisher as ‘Rosemary Howard’ in “30 Rock” (S2)Now, on with the laundry list: Oksana Lada appears in ep #2.1 as the ‘Saleswoman’ who sells Liz on the idea of buying a wedding dress first, and then finding a suitable groom to go with it later. Sherri Shepherd debuts in eps #2.2/3 as ‘Angie’, the “sassy” and sore wife of ‘Tracy Jordan’ (Tracy Morgan), replacing Sharon Wilkins from the first season. Carrie Fisher has a hilarious (and Emmy nominated) cameo in ep #2.4 as ‘Rosemary Howard’, a veteran comedy writer who inspired a younger Liz to pursue a career in showbiz, but now represents a terrifying vision of her potential future as a crazy, wine-soaked spinster. The same episode also features Jean Villepique as ‘Suzanne Hocker’, an NBC therapist Jack brought in to help Tracy with his Daddy issues, and Megan Stevenson (aka Megan Blake Stevenson) as a ‘Bikini Woman’ who makes fun of Richard Nixon in the Laugh-In flashback skit).

Kristen Wiig as ‘Candace Van der Shark’ (as “C.C.”) in “30 Rock” (S2)A partially-nude Paula Pell makes her series debut as Pete’s wife ‘Paula Hornberger’ in ep #2.5, sneaking into Liz’s apartment for kinky sex with hubby… and Madison McKinley makes her screen debut as a ‘Dutch Cousin’ of Ceri’s (Katrina Bowden), attending a rowdy party with the gang. Kristen Wiig appears in ep #2.6 as ‘Candace Van der Shark’, the actress portraying C.C. in clips from a true-life TV-movie about her accident. Laura Lynn Berrios (aka Laura Berrios) appears in ep #2.7 as ‘Beth’, the mother of Liz’s barely-legal boy-toy… the twist being that she’s a dead-ringer for our star-crossed heroine! Fun fact: Berrios is credited as Fey’s stand-in and/or photo-double for 114 episodes of 30 Rock, as well as the movies Date Night and Baby Mama! Reshma Shetty appears in ep #2.8 as the ‘Party Attendant’ at Jack and C.C.’s super-exclusive soiree.

Ming Zhao as ‘Woman in Hotel’ in “30 Rock” (S2)Elaine Stritch returns in ep #2.9 for an (Emmy nominated) outing as Jack’s malevolent mom, ‘Colleen’, intent on sabotaging the seemingly-ideal Lemon family unit. Boo! Meanwhile, Kay Cannon appears as a sickly ‘Human Table’, hired for the TGS team’s “Ludachristmas” party. Off-screen, Cannon was a credited writer/producer/story-editor on the series… and she’s since gone on to work as a writer/producer on New Girl, as well as write the screenplays for Pitch Perfect and its sequels (based on a non-fiction book of the same name). Finally, Ming Zhao appears in ep #2.15 as the inexplicably gorgeous ‘Woman in Hotel’ that Kenneth hooks up with (and bravely protects) in Beijing. Oh… and a shout-out to Marceline Hugot who makes her debut as NBC-heiress ‘Kathy Geiss’ this season (ep #2.2/13-15). She doesn’t get any actual dialogue here, but still manages to steal her big scene with Liz, thanks to a cunningly concealed toy car…

Posted in Comedy shows, Crime shows, Musical shows, Rants about TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


[Contains thousand-year-old eggs and SPOILERS!!!]

Constance Wu as ‘Jessica Huang’ and Riki Lindhome as ‘Arielle’ in “Fresh Off the Boat” (S2)The second season of Fresh Off the Boat (aka “The Constance Wu Show”) hit the ground running this week with a strong premiere episode, in which ‘Louis’ (Randall Park) reluctantly agreed to take his family along on his “business trip” to the Gator World resort, after wife ‘Jessica’ (Wu) became suspicious that he was sneaking off for an unsanctioned vacation. As ever, the best jokes revolved around the relentless task-mistress’s mission to spend as little money as possible while maintaining maximum control over her off-spring. In her house, Tooth Fairies don’t leave loose cash under a child’s pillow… they leave critical notes and chore instructions, such as “Evan, clean your room!” Harsh.

Constance Wu as ‘Jessica Huang’ in “Fresh Off the Boat” (S2)Jessica lost some of her megalomaniacal-mojo after Louis challenged her to relax and enjoy the hotel’s amenities (which included a fully-clothed massage from a cameo-ing Riki Lindhome!)… but thankfully the outrageous bill they received at the end of their stay rekindled her penny-pinching super-powers, as she finagled a discount out of the desk clerk using her youngest son’s bloody baby-tooth as evidence of a fictional poolside slip! Icky, but ingenious! And the later reveal that she’d prised the loose tooth out of his mouth with her bare hands was both disturbing and hilarious… clearly she’s been reading too much Stephen King!

It’s sooo good to have Jessica back on TV again… and seeing her lock into “terminator” mode is a truly beautiful thing to behold. Swoon!

Posted in Comedy shows, Rants about TV | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Electric Dreams

[Contains imaginary thought-bubbles and SPOILERS!!!]

Dove Cameron as ‘Liv Rooney’ (as “Tess”) in “Liv and Maddie” (S3)The second season of Liv and Maddie ended on a freeze-frame cliff-hanger… which might have been quite aggravating for the show’s fans, if it weren’t for the fact that the third season was scheduled to begin a mere three weeks later! Once again, the Disney Channel inexplicably opted to eke out 26 episodes over an interminable eleven-month-long “season”, thus making it almost impossible to remember what was happening with the characters when the cycle first started… which is a shame, because I actually think the show’s writers are very good at spinning ongoing story-arcs for their eponymous heroines… though it’s a lot harder to build up any real emotional steam with so much lag between instalments, sadly.

All the same, Dove Cameron remains one of the most adorable and adept comic actresses on TV right now… to the point that I often forget there’s just one person playing both twins! Her skill in differentiating the Rooney sisters is particularly evident in scenes where she has to play ‘Liv’ pretending to be ‘Maddie’ (or vice versa), and subtly graduates the differences between their distinct voices, to make the impersonation obvious to the audience, but not to the casual observer (or their parents, apparently!).

Dove Cameron as ‘Liv Rooney’ (as “SkyVolt”) in “Liv and Maddie” (S3)The third season has also added another string to Cameron’s bow, now that Liv has been cast as the lead actress in a fictional super-hero show called Voltage, which is rather conveniently being filmed in a studio in her home town! So far the snippets we’ve seen of this show-within-a-show have been played totally straight (with surprisingly fancy FX), emphasising the teen cheerleader’s struggles with her newly-acquired powers, and giving Cameron the opportunity to demonstrate a wider dramatic range within her signature sitcom!* Hurrah! The only downside to this, of course, is that it really makes me want to see her playing “SkyVolt” for realsies… so hopefully someone at Disney will greenlight a Voltage spin-off movie soon, to expand on her electro-adventures!


* If Cameron were delivering the same quality/variety/hilarity that she does here in a more “grown-up” sitcom, I reckon she’d have been Emmy-nominated at the very least by now!

Posted in Action shows, Comedy shows, Rants about TV, Sci-fi shows | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Plausible Lies

[Contains a ream of onion-skin paper and SPOILERS!!!]

This week’s episode of Radio 4’s The Unbelievable Truth (#15.4) was a rather remarkable one… aside from the fact that all four competing panellists were female, one of said ladies also happened to be the host/scorekeeper’s wife!

Victoria Coren MitchellComedians Sarah Millican, Holly Walsh and Katherine Ryan were all on top form, delivering their nonsensical lectures on various assigned topics while attempting to “smuggle” four ludicrous-sounding truths past their rivals, but it was eventual winner Victoria Coren Mitchell who really made the show, bringing an adorable dash of couple-y banter to proceedings, and prompting David Mitchell to make numerous self-deprecating jokes about their relationship, and her dominance of the game. Although Mrs. Mitchell noted that the downside of appearing on the show was that she was demonstrating to her hubby just how sneaky a liar she could be, I think it’s fair to say that years of playing professional poker have simply made her a better bluffer than the other contestants, who are all stand-up comedians, and therefore more used to externalising their emotions for laughs rather than keeping their faces straight in order to claim the pot. Either way, it made for a very enjoyable show… and it was particularly amusing to hear Mr. Mitchell sounding so overwhelmed by the wonderfully clever and funny women surrounding him. Lucky chap!

Fun fact: Mrs. Mitchell’s assigned topic was “Princesses”, and one of the unbelievable truths she dropped into her lecture was that Princess Alexandra of Bavaria (1826 –1875) believed that that she’d swallowed a full-sized glass piano when she was younger, and had to be extremely careful whenever she moved around for fear of breaking it!

Posted in Rants about Radio | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blight Of Jackassdom

[Contains emasculating foam daggers and SPOILERS!!!]

Margarita Levieva as ‘Succubus’ in “Knights of Badassdom”The tagline for the metal-lovin’, fantasy role-playin’, demon-fightin’ comedy-horror Knights of Badassdom (2013) is “’Tis about to get medieval up in here”, and unfortunately that applies to the writers’ representation of women, as much as to the renaissance-fayre-style speech and dress of their characters. The whole story kicks off when man-child mechanic ‘Joe’ (Kwanten) is unceremoniously dumped by his long-term girlfriend ‘Beth’ (Margarita Levieva), who wishes to pursue a highflying (but unspecified) career elsewhere, and feels that he’s been holding her back. Joe retreats to his bedroom to play power-ballads and brood… at which point his buddies decide to drug him (!) and drag him along on a Live-Action-Role-Playing (LARP-ing) weekend, where he’s unwittingly involved in an occult ceremony that conjures up an actual demon from the pits of Hell!

Khanh Doan as ‘Andie’ in “Knights of Badassdom”Because Joe’s still obsessing over his ex-girlfriend as he sits at the centre of the magickally-charged pentagram, the succubus takes on Beth’s face and form, as it seduces and slaughters a swathe through the LARPers’ campground. Sadly, there’s no real attempt made to distinguish this demon-that-looks-like-Beth from the real human being that it’s imitating, with characters making snarky jokes about Joe’s terrible taste in women even after they know the creature’s true origin. In their minds it’s simply a manifestation of Beth’s “true nature” made flesh. Feh!* Later, Khanh Doan is abruptly introduced as a bad-tempered bisexual who’s been cheating on her boyfriend with the woman they brought in to spice up their sex life… and when he testily confronts her about her unfaithfulness, she storms off into the woods alone. Of course, she soon crosses paths with the blood-soaked succubus, and they immediately start making out, just to add a little gratuitous sappho-erotic exploitation to the mix, before she’s brutally dispatched in a pseudo-ironic heart-ripping fashion. Double feh!!

Summer Glau as ‘Gwen’ in “Knights of Badassdom”These villainous vixens are a stark contrast to the movie’s “good girl” love-interest, ‘Gwen’ (Summer Glau), who’s depicted as a capable and feisty fighter in-game, but also weirdly submissive to men when out-of-game. Although she clearly enjoys LARP-ing, and is a force to be reckoned with when she’s got a weapon in her hand, she confesses that she only started playing because her deluded cousin ‘Gunther’ (Brett Gipson) has trouble separating fantasy from reality, and needed a baby-sitter. When a leering male character comments on the stats-enhancing awesomeness of her rear-end, she encourages the objectification with a cheery smile… and when another undesirable tries to proposition her for real, she lets Gunther scare them off, rather than standing up for herself. The movie’s supposed “happy-ending” shows her jamming with Joe in his bedroom… and even though they both acknowledge that she sucks at playing the bass guitar, he still approves of her efforts because she’s supporting his interests, rather than pursuing any ambitions of her own. This movie screams loudly and proudly that the only acceptable role for a woman to play is spunky side-chick and cheerleader for her menfolk… while independence-seeking career-women are pretty much pure evil. TRIPLE FEH!!!

Summer Glau as ‘Gwen’ in “Knights of Badassdom”That said, this movie isn’t anywhere near as odious or repellent as Lesbian Vampire Killers (as if anything could be!)… and, gender-issues-aside, can actually be quite enjoyable in places. It’s interesting to note how many negative reviews include the phrase “I really wanted to like this movie, but…”, because I totally share that sentiment. The casting is sublime, with an all-star line-up of funny genre faves including the aforementioned Kwanten and Glau, as well as ringers like Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage, and Jimmi Simpson (who totally steals the movie with his bizarre sing-song line-readings)… but the characters they play are depressingly one-dimensional, and the plotting is extremely slipshod. Even a potentially show-stopping (and DVD-purchase-inspiring) finale featuring Kwanten singing a “doom metal” song to incapacitate the rampaging hell-beast so that an undead Dinklage could snicker-snack it to bits with his sword proved to be a damp-squib, hampered by its half-hearted presentation. I was actively willing this showdown to be a thrilling coup de grace that would wipe all of the preceding unpleasantness from my mind… but, much like the entire movie in microcosm, it just couldn’t live up to its promise, and deflated into a disappointing comedown. Sigh…

Note: Apparently there was some sneaky behind-the-scenes skullduggery that led to the movie’s director, Joe Lynch, being excluded from the final editing process. Having seen some of his other work, I have no doubt that Lynch’s unreleased “Director’s Cut” is a damn-sight better assembled than the version currently available… but whether it’s any more enlightened remains to be seen…


* Thankfully, the demon transforms into a more anonymous/generic monster before the final dispatching… though the characters keep referring to it using feminine pronouns/epithets regardless…

Posted in Action films, Comedy films, Horror films, Rants about Films | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

In Defence Of The Throne

Elizabeth Gillies as ‘Gigi’ in “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll” (S1)There’s nothing that inflames my nerd-rage faster than someone misrepresenting or making ill-informed jokes about Game of Thrones*… even when that someone happens to be a fictional character! Last week I watched an episode of Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (#1.8) that featured a brief discussion of the show… while avid viewer ‘Flash’ (John Corbett) described it as a “medieval drama”, casual critic ‘Ava’ (Elaine Hendrix) dismissed it as “Middle Earth porn”, and ‘Gigi’ (Elizabeth Gillies) seemed to be under the impression that the dramatis personae included an “evil midget”. I guess if someone had skimmed some scenes from the Season Four finale completely out of context, they could conceivably confuse ‘Tyrion’ for a baddie… but generally speaking he’s one of the most moral, compassionate, and upstanding characters in the show’s cast… and there are plenty more genuinely evil a-holes (such as the Boltons or the Freys) to contrast him with, so “Feh!” to that! As I say though, Ava and Gigi are sitcom characters, so it’s easy to forgive their ignorance…

Emily Cox as ‘Brida’ in “The Last Kingdom” (S1)Rather more maddening is The Independent’s preview of an upcoming BBC series, The Last Kingdom, which compares the two shows, and implies that all Game of Thrones fans are interested in (besides old-timey settings and political wrangling) is nudity and gore. Gah! Obviously sex and violence are a big part of the show’s DNA, but so are the compelling/complex characters, brilliant performances, clever plotting, witty banter, dark humour, shocking twists, heart-wrenching tragedy, fantastical creatures, and supernatural horror. I’ve found that reviewers tend to overlook those elements when they’re touting shows like Camelot and The White Queen as possible substitutes for GoT, during its lengthy off-season… even though, imho, those aspects are far more important to the show’s enduring appeal than the “Middle Earth porn” stuff that superficial types often identify with the series. For all I know, The Last Kingdom could turn out to be a great show in its own right… but I seriously doubt that it’s going to scratch all of the itches that GoT does…


* I don’t have a problem with people critiquing or making fun of the show, because it certainly isn’t perfect, but I do get pissed off when people make fun of what they assume or imagine the show is, rather than what it actually is.

Posted in Action shows, Comedy shows, Crime shows, Drama shows, Fantasy shows, Historical shows, Horror shows, Rants about TV | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment