Week in Review
As of now, if you want to watch nothing but reality shows, you can spend every evening watching one or another on television. We are a whole generation beyond Survivor. There are now shows based on people who were on other reality shows. The Flavor of Love came from a weird season of The Surreal Life, and My Fair Brady stars Adriane Curry, once of America's Next Top Model, focusing on her relationship with Christopher "Peter Brady" Knight. There are shows that pit former contestants of one show against the former contestants of another. Then came The Comeback, Lisa Kudrow's fake reality show about a sitcom actress trying to make a comeback. Now comes American Dreamz, a campy comedy that's a behind the scenes look at an American Idol type show.
Hugh Grant plays the sleazy Simon Cowell-type role. He's Martin Tweed, the executive producer of American Dreamz, a hit reality show he could care less about other than the money. He decides for the new season, that he will have a Hasidic Jewish contestant versus an Arabic Muslim contestant. And of course, he wants the all-American girl (Mandy Moore) who has a boyfriend (Chris Klein) who just returned from the Iraq war. If that wasn't enough for ratings, the President of the United States (Dennis Quaid) is selected as the final round judge at the urging of his advisor (Willem Defoe).
Amidst these strong faces and names, newcomer Sam Golzari steals the show as Omer Obeidi. Omer is a reluctant terrorist stationed in the US. Through coincidental luck, he is picked to be on American Dreamz. Even though he's coached by his cousin Iqbal, he wouldn't have a chance if Martin Tweed wasn't pulling every string and fixing every competition.
The comedy reminds me of Mel Brooks. It makes fun of everyone in the film without being mean or taking sides. I would've loved to see this as a full season of a sitcom, somewhat like Entourage or The Comeback. I'm sure there will be some knockoffs.
The big surprise for me is that Mandy Moore can really act. If you haven't seen Saved!, queue it up for another fine performance from her. Most people think of her as some teenybop pop star, or Nickelodeon TV personality, which is true, but the girl also has chops. And, she's grown up. She's 22 and has a slew of movies coming soon.
For being genuinely funny, having a great cast, and a theatrical release so small that you probably missed it, this is my pick of the week. Coming in at a close second was Robert Altman's A Prarie Home Companion.
The Last Hundred DVDs I Watched
I watched DVD 400 on Sunday afternoon, a remarkably boring film called This Thing of Ours. But I don't want to talk about that film, I want to talk about the last 100 films I watched. On August 15, I started off with Anthony Mann week, which may have been the last really good week of movies. DVD 301 was The Last Frontier. I watched 11 Anthony Mann films that week. Most of them were really awesome, but since then, most films I've seen have been flat. I think I burned something out in my movie brain. I'm having a really hard time with anything but very simple plots, and I resent those at the same time. I've seen a lot of films that I hate that last year I would've said were okay. I have little patience for sloppy scenes and poorly written dialogue.
Last year, I watched a lot of B movies and independent horror films, but now I've swapped most of those out of my queue. Earlier in the year, I watched films by Herzog, Kirousawa, and Argento. I don't think I have the attention span for these types of auteurs right now, either. So my tastes have turned to the middle. I've been watching more TV shows lately. Good ones, but TV shows nonetheless: Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, Titus, and Everybody Hates Chris. Part of it, I'm sure, is the familiarity of characters between episodes. The other thing is that they're just easier to follow.
The comments I'm getting on the blog is that I've turned a little mean. I think this is accurate. I'm way more critical of good actors who take bad roles, and find myself criticizing their looks and wardrobe, something I never really did before. But I have to find some way to get through all of this, and the snippety snark may save my mental health.
Sunday evening, I watched DVD 401, officially starting the descent into the last hundred films of the year. I'm on pace to finish on time, but the holidays and their accompanying weird mail schedules have me concerned.
11 DVDs this week. 401 DVDs in 295 days. 99 DVDs left in the next 70 days for a pace of 9.90 per week. I'm a little ahead again. I have one DVD left over at home, Deadfall, that I will watch Monday, so I'll get an early start.
Total Viewing Time: 28 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes