Movies and Television

With nothing planned this weekend, I decided to catch up on my movie watching. I subscribe to Netflix, which always shocks me with the depth of their inventory. Plus, I don't have to worry about late fees.

The first movie I watched was Intimacy, a British flick that caused some controvery when it came out in 2001. I now understand what the fuss was all about. Within the first few minutes of the movie, there's complete full frontal nudity of both the male (Mark Rylance) and female (Kerry Fox) leads. Later, they show her performing oral sex on him...and I mean they show it.

Yet it's sort of a mainstream film. I've seen movies with both Rylance and Fox, and I recognize a few other actors, including Marianne Faithfull. The story is that Rylance is a bartender, who has a weekly affair with Fox. She just shows up at his apartment, and after a short, animalistic bout of sex she leaves. A word is never said between the two. Eventually, the silence starts to gnaw at him so he starts following her. He ends up meeting her husband and child, and begs her to leave her middle-class family.

Next up was Raising Victor Vargas, which I had picked because it had won some awards at last year's International Spirit Awards. Victor thinks he's a Latino stud, but word gets out that he's been hooking up with the heavy-set girl that lives in the apartment above him. To prove he's the stud he thinks he is, he sets sights on Judy, a beautiful young woman he notices at the pool. Judy has a take-no-shit attitude, but eventually the deep-seeded vulnerability of both characters is expressed.

And then there's The Grey Zone. I had rented this months ago but had never gotten around to either watching it or just sending it back (thank god for no late fees). This flick is a true story about a squad of Jews who were forced to do the dirty work of rounding up the other Jews in a WWII concentration camp for the gas chambers. A young girl is discovered still alive after one of the gassings at the same time that final preperations are being made for a revolt. Steve Buscemi is as great as usual, but I was most impressed with David Arquette. I'm used to him being in silly comedies about pro wrestling and Elvis impersonators, but he's actually a great dramatic actor. I hope he continues in this sort of work.

Between these flicks, I scrambled around the dial. Comedy Central had a South Park marathon, which is always worth watching, but otherwise I can't believe how awful weekend television is. Most of the cable channels just shows the same action movies that they had just shown days before. And the networks are completely beholden to reality television.

So I tried to sit through an hour of Big Brother. This is a show that gets worse every year, and like all other reality shows they're trying to save it through (so-called) dramatic twists. This year's twists feature a brother and sister who had never met each other, and a set of twins that are being rotated in and out. While the siblings appear to not only share the same father but other members of their gene pool, particularly the dim-witted pseudo-cowboy, they're not the most vile members of the show. That award is shared between two guys and one woman. The woman, who I think is named Holly, maybe the biggest airhead to ever appear on television. She talks in baby talk, she demands all of the attention all of the time, and thinks she has a tv career after this show's over. Her only saving grace is that she doesn't seem to like wearing panties. But even she's not as bad as Jase and Scott, two would-be pretty boys who think they run the house and have named their clique the "Four Horseman". Isn't that clever? I don't see how anybody could live with these ass clowns without throwing a punch or two. I'll never watch this trash again..especially since Julie Chen somehow still has the host gig.

As if that wasn't enough torture, I also sat through two episodes of Ashlee Simpson's show. I had refused to view this show...her sister is bad enough. But I now know everything that's wrong with the music business. First, there's the whole "watch Ashlee go from signing her contract to her first gig". Shouldn't that be the other way around? Then we get to watch her record her album. She "co-wrote" the whole album, which seems to mean that she sits there and talks about how she wants a song about her mean boyfriend and the two real writers than bash out a song. She's then coached how the lyrics are phrased, which is set to music that should have Courtney Love's attorneys racing to court. A band is put together for her, and the best analysis that can come up is that the guitarist is "cute".

While Ashlee is not as blonde-stupid as her sister (there's no chicken of the sea moments), she's worse than Jessica. She's 19, but talks like a 14 year old as she complains about how hard it is to get ready for a fashion shoot or how mean her boyfriend is because he didn't dedicate a song to her at his concert. The whole world revolves around her, and dying her hair is a big statement about her individuality.

The show is a huge indictment about the record industry. Ashlee Simpson gets a record contract because her sister is famous and MTV can promote it with a cheaply made reality show. This could be excused, as it's gone on in some fashion for over 50 years. But she's not an exception. Paris Hilton has not only a record deal but a label. Lindsay Lohan just signed a record deal, and there's also the Duff sisters. At least when Gina Gershon and Juliette Lewis tried to become rock stars, they did it the old fashioned way by going out on the road. These twits just hire the people to do all the work for them, including cleaning up their out-of-tune vocals, and show up at movie premieres and award shows. Meanwhile, there's tons of great bands that are working their asses off but can't catch a break. They're not able to make a video, let alone get one shown. Labels spend millions to ensure that Jennifer Lopez' lastest is played on every radio station in the country, but real bands can't get a van to drive them from gig to gig.

I beg everybody to not buy into this garbage. Ashlee Simpson's album comes out Tuesday...JUST SAY NO!!!


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