Rant: “Fast & Furious” 3-4 [SPOILERS!]

My slow saunter through the Fast & Furious series continues…

Nathalie Kelley as ‘Neela’ in "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) is another sorta-sequel, starring Lucas Black as a delinquent gear-head sent to stay with his father in Japan, where he quickly falls in with the capital’s car-racing criminal community. I actually found this movie far more enjoyable than I was expecting to, thanks largely to Sung Kang’s performance as ‘Han Lue’, an old friend of Dom’s who takes Black’s character under his wing, and teaches him how to “drift” like a pro. The guy has super-cool star-quality to spare, though I think his actual character is kind of an a-hole here: Specifically, when a local gangster discovers Han’s been ripping him off for years and challenges him to explain/justify this betrayal, he just obnoxiously shrugs it off like “Thieves gonna thieve”… leading to a prolonged car-chase which ends with his painful, fiery demise. D’oh! Meanwhile, there’s very slim-pickings on the female side of things, with Nathalie Kelley playing Black’s blah love-interest ‘Neela’, and literally no one else worth mentioning. Meh. My fave “trivia” about this movie is that (according to legend) when the studio approached Vin Diesel to make a cameo as ‘Dom’ in the final scene, he haggled for them to give him the rights to the Riddick series/character, instead of paying him any money… which I find very endearing, for some reason.

Gal Gadot as ‘Gisele Yashar’ in “Fast & Furious” (2009)The confusingly-titled Fast & Furious (2009) is technically set before Tokyo Drift, and sees many of the original cast members returning (however briefly) to continue The Toretto Saga… though, sadly for me, the “inciting incident” that brings them all together is the ruthless murder of ‘Letty’ by a border-running drug-lord. Nooooo!!! Yes. Despite her character’s untimely and ignoble exit, Michelle Rodriguez does get to play a pivotal role in the epic opening oil-transporter heist, and a couple flashback appearances after that, so she actually scores a fair amount of screen-time overall… and I appreciate the fact that Letty’s death was treated as a very serious and important event that devastated them all, rather than just a throwaway write-off… in fact, Dom is so upset by her death, he even turns down one of the most gorgeous women alive (but more about her in a minute…)! There was also a lot of praise for M-Rod in the making-of featurettes, with Stunt Co-ordinator Mike Gunther describing her as “an athlete” and a “go-for-it girl”, who director Justin Lin agreed showed “no fear”, and Jordana Brewster envied for “[having] the guts that I don’t have”. Hardcore! As I say though, Dom got a potential new love-interest in the form of the villain’s carelessly-cast-aside-assistant ‘Gisele’, played by future-Wonder-Woman Gal Gadot! At the time she was a total unknown acting-wise, most famous for being crowned “Miss Israel” in 2004, but Lin was greatly impressed by her audition, noting on the commentary that her military training (two years mandatory service with the Israeli army) meant that she was already very confident with weapons, and totally unintimidated by Diesel when she was asked to read lines with him. Because of her relative anonymity when the movie was released, she barely appears in this disc’s extra features, but there is a brief interview clip of her complimenting Lin for being such an open and collaborative director… which is presumably why she was willing to return for so many sequels…? On the supporting side of things, Brewster’s comeback as ‘Mia’ built-up to a proper stunt-driving sequence in the final scene, and Liza Lapira had an enjoyable (but never-to-be-repeated) role as an FBI agent working with ‘Brian’ (Paul Walker) to identify/locate the baddies.

Michelle Rodriguez as ‘Leticia "Letty" Ortiz’ in “Fast & Furious”The F&F4 BR also boasts one of the bestest bonuses of all time: Los Bandoleros (2009), a short prequel showing how Dom got his crew together for the opening heist, directed and co-written by Diesel himself! Although it’s clearly set in the same universe as the main movie, it’s shot in a far more laid-back, low-budget “indie” style that I found very charming. I mean, I’m clearly pre-disposed to love any flick that shows M-Rod in a romantic light, but it’s also a fascinating glimpse into an alternate reality, where everyone’s a little quieter, calmer, and warmer (emotionally)… the equivalent of an “unplugged” acoustic album, if you will…?

Going back to the “Fast Females” (2009) featurette on the F&F2 disc, Brewster agreed with M-Rod that it’s cool to be able to embody women who are “gritty and tough”, and praised director Lin (F&F3-6) for being so intent on making the female characters such a powerful force in the series. For his part, Lin frequently insists that the movies aren’t just about “fast cars and hot chicks”, and that the female characters represent their “heart and soul”. He also joins Kelley in defending/boosting Neela, who they both wanted to demonstrate some serious car-related knowledge and skills, instead of being standard-issue arm-candy… while stunt/rally-driver Verena Mei (who appeared in F&F3 as ‘Beautiful Girl in Skyline #1’) suggests that characters like Neela and ‘Suki’ (Devon Aoki) illustrate to the audience how women can actively participate in motor-sports and still be “feminine”. Again, Gadot is sadly/short-sightedly overlooked…

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Rant: “Fast & Furious” 1-2 [SPOILERS!]

Michelle Rodríguez as ‘Letty Ortiz’ in “The Fast and the Furious” (2001)A lifetime ago I bought the first eight Fast & Furious movies on Blu-Ray, so I could gear myself up for the theatrical release of the ninth instalment, which was due to drop in May of 2020, before the whole world went to Hell. Now it appears that the movie might actually be inching its way back into the release schedules, so I’m going to dust off these blog posts I’ve had sitting in my “drafts” folder for the last couple months!

Note: Obviously I’ll mostly be talking about Michelle Rodriguez here, because I’m an obsessive fanboy… and, quite frankly, the plots/villains aren’t really all that memorable… I just like the vroom-vrooms, and the boom-booms!

First off the starting-line was The Fast and the Furious (2001), starring the late Paul Walker as ‘Brian O’Conner’, a hot-headed young cop sent to infiltrate L.A.’s illegal street-racing circuit, in order to identify and arrest a gang of highway hijackers led by imposing alpha-dude ‘Dominic Toretto’ (Vin Diesel). In a previous post I mentioned director Rob Cohen’s assertion that, in terms of screen-presence, the mighty M-Rod is worth (at least) ten men in this movie… and that definitely still stands, though I couldn’t help frowning at the way Dom literally describes her character (‘Letty’) as his “trophy” while lifting her in the air after a victory! Then again, his delivery is kinda deadpan, so we can probably chalk that up to “banter”, and excuse it as a lingering remnant of an earlier, lamer draft that was expanded and evolved to better suit/showcase M-Rod’s innate badassery? Either way, she gets a couple shining moments here, including one of the greatest introductory reveal shots in cinematic history, so there’s plenty of re-watch value for her fans. Meanwhile, Jordana Brewster doesn’t get to have nearly as much fun playing Dom’s sister (and Brian’s standard-issue love-interest) ‘Mia’, though Cohen is very complimentary about the intelligence and charm that she brings to the role, and frankly I’m still amazed that she hasn’t become a much bigger star off the back of these movies… I mean, she’s got it all, so what’s the hold-up? Gah!

Devon Aoki as ‘Suki’ in “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003)2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) was a sorta-sequel, which was originally supposed to feature both of the previous movie’s male leads, but Diesel decided he’d rather make The Chronicles of Riddick instead, leaving Walker to team-up with Tyrese Gibson as a bickering (disgraced)-cop-and-criminal odd-couple going undercover to bring down a super-generic drug lord (Cole Hauser). No M-Rod in sight, and Devon Aoki’s street-racer ‘Suki’ is a very poor substitute, imho… though her hot-pink Honda S2000 is a gorgeous ride, and well worth immortalising in die-cast model form! Meanwhile, Eva Mendes has a slightly more substantial role as ‘Monica Fuentes’, a covert Customs agent working as Hauser’s aide, who also kinda serves as Brian’s half-hearted love-interest. Seeing Aoki and Mendes together here made me feel weirdly nostalgic, because those two actresses seemed to be everywhere back in the day, before their careers tailed off in the 2010s. It appears that Mendes has been on an intentional hiatus since becoming a mother, whereas Aoki was apparently tapped to play “Katana” (aka ‘Tatsu Yamashiro’) in the CW superhero series Arrow, but she departed the project before her character’s debut “due to a scheduling conflict”, and was replaced by Rila Fukushima (who went on to appear in 16 episodes over a span of 5 years, which ain’t a bad run, all things considered). For better or worse, Gibson eventually became a mainstay of the F&F franchise, while Mendes and Aoki were pretty much left behind in the dust… and the next sequel would drift (pun!) even further from the roots of the series…

Oh, but there’s a great (slightly spoiler-y for the first four movies) featurette on the F&F2 disc all about the leading ladies, titled “Fast Females” (2009). Highlights include M-Rod expressing her desire to represent the (many) “girls who aren’t scared to kick-ass… or get their hands dirty… or put their lives on the line in the name of excitement or fun”. She also praises Cohen for allowing her to build a stronger character, noting that of all the films she’s made to date, the two that everyone always brings up are Girlfight and F&F1… while he reciprocates the love by lauding her for the truth she brings to her performances. Amen. As I mentioned above, I wasn’t exactly wowed by the Suki character, but Aoki hypes her up as a “fun-loving, girl-power heroine”, so at least she’s happy with the work she did here.

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (12/20)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Jennifer Tilly with her 'Tiffany' doll (circa 12/20)Jennifer Tilly posted a picture with her ‘Tiffany’ doll on Twitter, wearing coordinated Christmassy outfits!

– I revisited Rachel Bloom’s classic seasonal song-parody “Chanukah Honey”, from the album Suck It, Christmas!!! (2013) [Note: I just clicked this link to check it, and apparently the video “is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Philip Springer” (one of the original composers of “Santa Baby”)! Why’d he have to wait 7 years, just to mess with my blog post???]. I also got a kick out of Ana Gasteyer’s holiday album Sugar & Booze (2019), which mixes reworked classics with original comedy songs. On a more topical tip, Charly Bliss recorded a socially-distanced track/video about, uh, being socially-distanced, called “It’s Christmas and I F*cking Miss You!” (and, yes, it did make me a little weepy… but then pretty much everything does, these days…)

Sage Hyden (aka “Just Write”) posted a surprisingly moving video-essay about why the original animated Mulan (1998) “holds a very special place in [their] heart… and why the new live-action adaptation is less than satisfying.”

Patti Harrison posted a home-made skit in which she announced the winner of the “Car of the Year Award”, while crawling across the floor in a glamorous frock, staring directly into the Sun! Meanwhile, I was very disappointed to discover that her “Exotic Animal Reviews” had disappeared from YouTube, though thankfully they are still available via the SeriouslyTV Facebook page.

Nova Twins (aka Georgia South and Amy Love) (circa 12/20)– “Urban punk” duo Nova Twins performed a short (but scorching) set in Kerrang’s “K! Pit”, pulling most of the tracks from their debut album, Who Are The Girls? (2020), which is currently rocking 81% over on Metacritic. They’ve also collaborated with Bring Me The Horizon on a track for their recently-released Post Human: Survival Horror EP, which apparently features guest-appearances by Babymetal and Amy Lee too!

Nigella Lawson made a welcome return to our TV screens with a new six-part serving of food-porn, titled Cook, Eat, Repeat. Personally, I think the nationwide lockdown actually improved this series, as it forced them to eliminate the cringe-y in-between scenes where she pretends to relax with a bunch of hired extras, and we get gross close-ups of them gobbling down her food while chuckling at some unheard joke. Shudder. Unfortunately, they did shoehorn a couple of those into the hour-long Christmas special, but they were mercifully brief and skippable.

Aubrey Plaza went “full witch” in quarantine, treating Stir Crazy host Josh Horowitz to an alternately erotic/insulting tarot card reading. Lucky duck.

'Doreen Green' (aka “Squirrel Girl") and 'Kamala Khan’ (aka “Ms. Marvel”) (circa 12/20)– Marvel launched a series of self-promoting documentaries, titled Marvel’s 616* (or “Marvel 616”, depending where you look), some of which were more serious/watchable than others. Of particular note/interest was ep. #1.2 (“Higher, Further, Faster”), which focussed on female characters and creatives, such as Sana Amanat (editor on various books, and co-creator of ‘Kamala Khan’ (aka “Ms. Marvel”)), G. Willow Wilson (multi-award-winning writer/co-creator of Ms. Marvel), Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer on Captain Marvel, among others, and co-creator of Bitch Planet for Image Comics), and Nilah Magruder (writer for the Marvel Rising books, and creator of webcomic M.F.K.). Despite the confusing non-linear timeline, it was a fascinating/enlightening watch… though I am kinda pissed that Squirrel Girl‘s sidekick, Tippy-Toe, somehow got more mentions/screentime than her! Also, ep #1.3 (“Amazing Artisans”) spent a goodly amount of time profiling/following Natacha Bustos, the main artist on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur… and ep #1.5 (“Lost and Found”) featured a cameo by Rachel Bloom as part of a celebrity “focus-group” questioning Paul Scheer’s vision for a new child-friendly superhero cartoon/toy-line.

– And finally, Netflix aired Charlie Brooker’s “mockumentary” Death to 2020, which I enjoyed a lot more than some critics/viewers seemed to, though it clearly wasn’t up to the same satirical standard as the “Wipe” shows he’s previously produced for the BBC. It was definitely a much “softer” style of comedy, but apparently that was his intention, so fair enough… and Cristin Milioti was fantastic as ‘Kathy Flowers’, a crazed conspiracy-spouting “soccer mom” with heavy “Karen” energy.

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly’s Cozy Tea Time chats, Ryan George‘s Pitch Meeting skits, and Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams!

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* In reference to the designation of the comic books’ “true” universe as “Earth-616”.

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Plug: “Southland Tales” BR

“Southland Tales” (2006) BR courtesy of Arrow FilmI don’t generally get that excited about new releases, but for some reason I was hyped to see that Arrow Films are releasing a fancy Blu-ray edition of Richard Kelly’s flawed-but-fascinating mindf*cker Southland Tales (2006) next month!* The biggest selling-point for me is the fact that this 2-disc set will include the fabled 160-minute “Cannes cut”, which boasts a couple extra scenes of Janeane Garofalo as ‘General Teena MacArthur’! Squeee!

Hopefully this release will prove so successful that it prompts someone to reprint the g-novels in an affordable omnibus as well…?

[Sadly, I receive no payment/compensation for this plug… sniffle…]

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* 25/01/21, to be precise.

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Rant: (Bi)-Monthly Dee-Lights (10/20 + 11/20)

Oopsie! What with Halloween (yay!), the new lockdown (boo!), the American election (yay!), and a crisis with my current scriptwriting project (boo!), I kinda let my blogging “obligations” slip… so here, for my millions of adoring readers (ho ho), is a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed over the last couple months (in no particular order):

Amber Ruffin ala "The Amber Ruffin Show" (2020)Amber Ruffin appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers, to proclaim that she’s “Living Her Best 14-Year-Old Boy Life During Quarantine”, and also give some behind-the-scenes insight into her own talk show (The Amber Ruffin Show, which is highly recommended). Meanwhile, Drunk History’s YouTube channel honoured her with a “Best Of” compilation, featuring clips from ep #2.1, in which she slurred her way through the story of how young bus-segregation-protester Claudette Colvin (Mariah Wilson) inspired Rosa Parks (Lisa Bonet)… ep #5.1, in which she told the story of the Civil War’s “Angel of the Battlefield” Clara Barton (Mandy Moore)… and ep #6.4, in which she told the story of the Little Rock Nine’s fight to integrate their Arkansas school (starring Amandla Stenberg as Elizabeth Eckford)… but nothing from ep #4.3, in which she delighted in the story of Carrie Nation (Vanessa Bayer) “smashing saloons to smithereens”! Also this week, Allure invited Ruffin to provide a (slightly sloppy, but very upbeat and amusing) “10 Minute Nail Routine” for their channel.

– Babymetal posted a video for “BxMxC”, a track from last year’s Metal Galaxy album, that saw them, er, battling shadow-demons with their killer dance moves and digitally-altered vocals? Fun!

Katherine Parkinson ala "Taskmaster" S10 (2020)– Taskmaster returned for a 10th series, having now decamped from Dave to Ch4… and the show’s format remained much the same, although Coronavirus-related restrictions did mean that social-distancing had to be maintained during certain tasks, as well as the studio segments. This year the (stubbornly uneven) panellists included Daisy May Cooper, Johnny Vegas, Mawaan Rizwan, Richard Herring, and (my favourite) Katherine Parkinson.*

– Superstore returned for a super-topical (sixth) season, successfully bringing some levity to their depiction of a chain-store’s staff adjustment to the “new normal” of face-masks, plastic shields, and hand-sanitiser-hoarding. Although it was sad to see ‘Amy’ (America Ferrera) depart in the opening episodes, I’m hoping it will mean an increased amount of screentime for ‘Cheyenne’ (Nichole Sakura (nee “Bloom”)), who has now stepped into her shoes as “floor supervisor”. Fingers-crossed!

Michelle Buteau starred in her own Netflix special, Welcome to Buteaupia (2020), which was a very funny, very rude exploration of “parenthood, cultural difference, and the overlooked value of short men.” Top stuff.

Sarah Cooper as 'Sarah Cooper' in "Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine" (2020)Sarah Cooper made her big “small-screen”-acting debut as the star of Everything’s Fine, a satirical sketch-show-special directed by Natasha Lyonne, who managed to wrangle an ace supporting cast including Aubrey Plaza, Winona Ryder,  and Jane Lynch! Still, Cooper proves that she’s a very capable comic actress in her own right, as she portrays a variety of characters, including the slowly unravelling host of a “breezy” morning news show, and ably holds her own while sharing a screen with the veteran scene-stealers…

Supernatural reached the end of its run… and [SPOILER!] I’m assuming that ‘Becky Rosen’ (Emily Perkins) did return/resurrect in the penultimate episode along with everyone else who’d been Thanos’d out of existence, but she only appeared onscreen as part of a mass flashback clip montage. Boo! However, ET Canada have posted a socially-distanced/dual interview with Perkins and Katharine Isabelle to mark the 20th Anniversary of Ginger Snaps (2000), which is apparently going to be remade as a TV series…!? (Note: The click-baity title of the video is “‘Ginger Snaps’ Stars Share Whether They Will Appear In TV Reboot”, which is very misleading, as all they really say is that they’d like to be in it, not whether they actually will/won’t be in it. Tch!).

‘Daphne’ and ‘Velma’ in "Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!" (S1) (2015)– I finished watching the first season of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! (2015), which applies a Family-Guy-esque aesthetic and sense of absurdity to the time-tested characters and (fake)-monster-hunting tropes. I’m a long-time ‘Velma’ fanboy (especially when she’s voiced by Kate Micucci), but this version of ‘Daphne’ (Grey Griffin) almost edged her out of my affections, with all of her madcap antics (such as casually deciding to wear a beard about town, or practice life-saving puppetry)… and I loved how they kept referring back to her previous stunts in later episodes, to give it a sense of continuity.

– Aaand my Halloween-y movie of choice was Happy Death Day (2017), starring Jessica Rothe as the initially-off-putting-but-eventually-adorable anti-heroine of a “feel good” horror-flick that has been succinctly described as “Groundhog Day meets Scream“. I thought it was a barrel of heart-warming fun, even though I made the dumb-ass mistake of watching the trailer for the sequel first, which totally spoils the whodunnit mystery at the core of this story, so… yeah… don’t do that!

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly’s Cozy Tea Time chats, Ryan George‘s Pitch Meeting skits, and Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams!

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* Not my favourite to win, of course, because she’s terrible at the actual tasks… but she’s always very poised and gracious about it… bless her…

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PSA: A Bloom By Any Other Name…

A random promo for the forthcoming season of Superstore alerted me to the fact that one of its stand-out cast members, Nichole Bloom (born “Nichole Sakura O’Connor”), had recently chosen to change her stage-name. To quote her Instagrammed explanation:

Nichole Sakura as 'Cheyenne' in "Superstore" (S1)“I get asked a lot of questions about my name, and now to add to confusion I just changed it back to Nichole Sakura. Thought I would share why: Being half Japanese, my mom’s side always felt like a prominent part of my identity. As a kid, I was called Sakura at home, brought bento boxes to school, and loved visiting my relatives in Nagoya. When I arrived in LA as a teenager to pursue acting, I was told by my first agent that getting cast would be a challenge for me because I didn’t fit into any one category- I didn’t seem Asian or White enough. The fact that I wasn’t able to book roles enforced this perspective in me. I began to look at my Japanese side as a hindrance to my career, and something that would lessen my odds of getting work. So I stopped using my middle name and picked the last name Bloom to seem as ambiguous as possible and downplay my Japanese side. (Bloom was born out of Sakura, which means Cherry Blossom). Whether this ‘worked’ to my benefit or not, I don’t know. I’m still finding my place in an industry that is now beginning to include more people of color and mixed backgrounds. However, as I’ve grown into myself and my career, I’ve come to feel more and more how important it is to embrace who I am, including my name. So call me Nichole Sakura from now on.”

Will do! And let’s hope that all the casting directors are taking note too, because she’s absolutely hilarious, and I want to see much more of her in the future! But until Superstore returns at the end of the month, there’s always the “Nice Girls” skits she recorded with comedy-partner Elizabeth Guest to (re)watch…

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PSA: The Mortdecai Mistake

A misleading listing for "Mortdecai" (2015) from Hive.co.uk (circa 10/20)Short: No, Aubrey Plaza is not in Mortdecai (2015).

Long: Certain online retailers allow you to search their stock by actor, to see all of the available titles they appear in… and for some reason WHSmith, HMV, Hive, and Zoom all (currently) accuse Aubrey Plaza of appearing in the 2015 “box office bomb” Mortdecai… despite a total absence of supporting evidence on any reputable film sites. Out of curiosity/confusion, I decided to watch the movie and find out for myself… but quickly grew irritated at the style/tone of the humour (it’s basically a big-budget, throwback “Carry On” caper, without the charm), and ended up hitting the fast-forward button sometime around the half-hour mark, after which I switched back to normal speed every now-and-then to see if it had improved at all. It did not. So, I can’t conclusively say that she isn’t in it, but I can say that she doesn’t appear in it for long enough to be visible at double-speed, and she certainly isn’t listed in the end credits. What a cruel and despicable hoax!

Oh, and on a vaguely-related topic, Amber Midthunder is not in the new season (S4) of Fargo, despite some sites still suggesting she is! The role she was once rumoured to be playing, ‘Swanee Capps’, was actually filled by Kelsey Asbille… unless she’s an impostor, and the real Swanee will appear in a later episode to reclaim her name? It’s kinda hard to be sure with Noah Hawley’s shows…!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (9/20)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Amber Ruffin ala "The Amber Ruffin Show" (2020)– After consistently stealing the spotlight from Seth Meyers on his Late Night show, Amber Ruffin has earned her very own topical late-night comedy conduit, The Amber Ruffin Show. Apparently it airs on NBC’s new streaming service Peacock, but they’ve been nice enough to post clips on YouTube for all of us around the world to see. Hurrah!

Cole Escola recycled a clip from his hilarious/horrifying home-made sketch-show specialHelp! I’m Stuck! with Cole Escola” (love that title!), specifically touching on the topic of “Gender Reveal” parties, which were in the news again recently when celebratory fireworks seemingly sparked a devastating wildfire in California… so, not just super-creepy, but also super-deadly!

Samantha Bee shared a video of her rather un-glamorous struggles to pry/chisel-open the consolation prize she was sent after losing the Emmy for “Outstanding Variety Talk Series” to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. SPOILER: It’s a $28 bottle of “champagne”! Certainly not worth the injuries she could have incurred, during her battle to unbox it!

Alice Lowe circa 2019Alice Lowe talked to the Guardian about her “teen obsessions”, revealing her goth-y roots, and a fetish for bearded men that I found comforting in my delusional solitude…

Paloma Faith released a new single/video titled “Better Than This”, which is either about a troubled relationship or a troubled civilisation… or possibly both…? The vid seems to be evoking a 1980’s-yuppie-horror vibe, and may even be referencing an old movie that I don’t recognise… regardless of the inspiration, it’s certainly not for the squeamish! Apparently Faith has been working on a whole new album while she’s been on lockdown, so at least there’s something to look forward to in the near-future…?

– I finally got around to watching The Pistol Shrimps (2016), a documentary about the eponymous all-female (recreational) basketball team, which happened to feature Aubrey Plaza as a star player. She doesn’t take centre-stage in the film itself though, which mostly profiles her lesser-known team-mates, such as Molly Hawkey, Angela Trimbur, and Jesse Thomas, while (loosely) following a competitive season of “balling”. It’s all very low-key and (relatively) low-stakes*, but also very amusing, uplifting, and inspiring… a “hang out and chill” kinda flick, perfect for these stressful/isolating times. I’m also pretty proud of myself for spotting Stephanie Beatriz, who appears here in her capacity as a member of the L.A. City Municipal Dance Squad, who perform halftime shows during the games… sadly she isn’t featured very heavily in the doc, and isn’t even credited on IMDb!

Aubrey Plaza as Gina Gershon as ‘Cristal Connors’ in a "Showgirls" parody (2020)Renee Plaza posted a hack-edited homage to 90s-era Charmed, co-starring her sister Aubrey and a selection of cheap wigs. I’ve absolutely no idea what’s going on in this video plot-wise, but Aubrey gets to do her “crazy eyes”, so that’s gravy to me. I should also recommend a socially-distanced skit in which she and Sarah Ramos re-created the “Doggy Chow” scene from Showgirls, with Aubrey as Gina Gershon/‘Cristal Connors’, and Ramos as Elizabeth Berkley/‘Nomi Malone’. In happier times, this might have sparked a bidding war over a feature-length adaptation, but sadly all we have for now is that brief snippet…

– I (very) belatedly discovered that some kind soul had posted the promo video for a song called “Lorraine’s Car” by Cake Like, one of my fave 90s rock bands. I’d always “known” that their lead singer, Kerri Kenney-Silver, went on to appear in comedy shows like Reno 911 and Superstore, but I’d never really been able to connect the voice to the face in my brain before now… so seeing her lip-syncing and strumming away here really helped in that regard. Meanwhile, the direction by David Wain, and a cameo by Ken Marino make it well worth a watch for fans of their work!

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly’s Cozy Tea Time chats, Ryan George‘s Pitch Meeting skits, and Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams!

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* In the sense that no-one gets mauled by a tiger, or anything like that…

** A quick Google led me to the show’s Wiki-page, which reveals they were riffing on the episode “Primrose Empath” (S03E06), with Aubrey playing Shannen Doherty as ‘Prue Halliwell’, and Renee playing everyone else!

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R.I.P. Diana Rigg (1938 – 2020)

Diana Rigg as ‘Emma Peel’ in "The Avengers" (S4-S6-ish)Sadly, iconic action-heroine Diana Rigg has passed away, at the age of 82. Although she delivered a wickedly-wry performance as ‘Lady Olenna Tyrell’ in Game of Thrones (S3-S7), I’ll always remember her most fondly as slinky secret-agent ‘Emma Peel’ in The Avengers (S4-S6-ish), quipping and karate-chopping her way through all manner of eccentric adventures!

Apparently she was still hard at work, so there will be several posthumous releases to come…

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Rant: Charly Bliss

Charly Bliss (circa 2019)I was a little shocked/disappointed in myself a couple days ago, when I posted my previous “rant” and realised that it was the first time I’d even mentioned Charly Bliss on this blog, despite being a fan for a while now. I’m assuming that oversight occurred partly because I’m so terrible at writing about music I like, and also because I have such a huge crush on lead-singer Eva Hendricks I’m nervous about coming off as a creepy old man (too late!). All that being said, they’re a great “bubblegrunge” (!?) band, with some very emotive/inspiring material, and Eva’s* voice is pure ear-candy, so I highly recommend checking them out… and apparently it’s “Bandcamp Friday” again, so this is the perfect time to head over to their page and sample/buy some tracks!

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* FTR, I’m only referring to Miss Hendricks by her first-name there because her brother Sam’s also in the band, and has the same surname, so…

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