Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
- So many big dance numbers. It's a fun movie to watch.
- Increased roles for secondary characters like Kelsi, Martha, and Zeke
- Sharpay's Tina Turner number, and her new friends the Sharp-ettes. And the Esther Williams number.
- That corkscrew move during the opening number.
- That three songs were co-written by Robbie Nevil, of "C'est La Vie" and "Wot's It To Ya" fame, as there were in the original.
- The whole Troy-Ryan switcheroo.
- Troy's pouty-face on the bridge during the breakup number.
- The line "I don't even know who I am anymore." If you're going to write a formula movie, give us the formula line.
- The Troy-Sharpay dressing room scene.
- Freud's going to have a field day with that penultimate scene on the golf course.
- Not enough Lucas Grabeel. Not that there's ever enough.
- Never has Zac Efron looked as short as when he stood next to the basketball players. And did he have Extra Shirtlessness written into his contract?
- Also, his voice double from the first movie has a better singing voice than he does.
- Also, the Angry Zac In Black number was the musical equivalent of Kevin Bacon's solo dancing in the mill in Footloose, except without being awesome. Especially because, as Virginia Heffernan notes, his spray-tan got a little out of control.
- And, in general, the songs just felt too processed, a bit too non-diegetic. And nothing's as catchy as "We're All In This Together" or "Get Your Head In The Game," but I haven't seen this five times yet.
Surely next season they can work in Petrov, Yelyena and Me (please tell me I haven't missed it while, or whilst, without TV).
- Generally speaking, as with so many other things, Nigel Lythgoe should apply some of SYTYCD's finer points to that other little show he produces. Cat wasn't kidding when she said there wasn't going to be a lot of filler. Sure, I never care about the guest performers (who was that chick-in-a-box past whom I fast-forwarded, anyway?), but redancing the best dances of the season is both (a) excellent advertising for the tour and (b) infinitely preferable to the customary bloated ridiculousness that is the annual AI coronation.
- One obvious complaint, however: one would think that in a two hour finale packed to the gills with umpteen different dances, someone might have thought to leave enough room at the end for something more than "and the winner is . . . SABRA!" [Roll credits while sparkly things fly through the air.] Just a smidge on the anti-climactic side, especially since Lacey and Neil got to have all sorts of retrospective celebration that neither Danny nor Sabra received. (Not that I minded seeing clogging guy and small-movements-to-that-awesome-Christina-Aguilera-song guy again, but I didn't really need the live performance of the goodbye song.)
- Did anyone else find it jarring to see Cat in casual clothes during the clips from the audition process? I've grown so accustomed to seeing her in full-blown regalia twice a week. I will miss Cat -- I particularly appreciate her breezy, vaguely maternal rapport with both the dancers and the judges.
- Was there any doubt in anyone's mind from the instant Nigel started talking about "choreographers using their dancers' strengths" that this was the lead-in to the hummingbird dance? You may recall that I was irate when Hok was cut prior to the top ten -- the main thrust of my pissed-off-edness being "you idiots, now you can't have the hummingbird dance on the tour!" But of course Nigel is an enterprising soul, and thus we now have the disclosure that hm, perhaps those alternates will do a little dancing on tour. So we'll get the hummingbird, and perhaps also that lovely Danny Astaire / Anya Rogers routine as well.
- I thought it was interesting that Sara was in so many of the judges' picks for favorite dance.
- As for the final dances themselves: I personally really enjoyed the foxes routine, and thought that both Lacey and Sabra captured it beautifully. I hate the fact that when the choreographer has an off night in the eyes of the judges, they have such trouble putting aside their gripes with the choreographer and focusing on the performance. Mia's Two Princes dance was fine, but it wasn't fair to kvell over Danny and Neil to such a degree just because Wade's choreography pissed them off. (I am totally on board, incidentally, with Isaac's theory that The Powers That Be obviously insist on a total desexualization of any same-sex dance.) As for the co-ed dances, I hated the hip hop, loved the waltz, and was fairly ambivalent on the cha cha (cha?) and lindy hop. Ultimately, I thought that the dancers had way too many dances to learn in much too short a time -- and it showed.
- The lindy hop did, however, prove up one axiomatic truth of SYTYCD: anything in the swing family invariably impresses both the judges and the audience. It's the luckiest draw one can get.
- I would have been fine with either Danny (those leaps across the stage during his solo? Genius.) or Sabra as America's Favorite Dancer, but I am particularly pleased with Sabra's win. I don't know that Danny's career would benefit from the added push to the same degree that Sabra's likely will.
I am also happy to report that on October 9, I will take the heretofore unprecedented step of driving to the Nassau Coliseum to see the tour. I've never gone to any sort of post-reality-show concert or appearance, so I'm expecting it to be quite the interesting experience.
Is there any purpose for US News & World Report existing other than these annual lists? When was the last time you went to a newsstand and say, "Yeah, I see Time is there, and Newsweek, and The Economist, but, gosh, I'd really rather read US News instead."
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Brodie Croyle/Damon Huard QB battle and Priest Holmes comeback are strong narratives upon which to hang this season, and the Chiefs' coaches are also making a strong impression. Herman Edwards is just a fun guy to watch, and as fun as he is, Gunther Cunningham's just a total jerk -- and that, too, makes for good tv. Add a wide array of football hairstyles, rookie hazing and an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea, and you've got must-see television, even for non-football fans.
Yeah, I'm sure that they'd express some regret that the company wasn't ultimately able to acquire the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters. But then when you compare that lost opportunity with being able to own Pixar (More importantly, to own all of the merchandising rights to every single one of the characters that John Lasseter & his talented team have created and/or will create) ... It's really not a contest.Kim Masters adds that "Rowling's vision supposedly was that each person would enter through the Leaky Cauldron, tap on a brick, gain access to Diagon Alley, then proceed to a platform in a version of King's Cross station and take a train to Hogwarts. Disney figured it would have had to build multiple Leaky Cauldron entrances to cycle in small groups every two minutes. Admission to the attraction envisioned by Rowling would have run north of $800 per person. Disney's thought it might be able to drive the cost down a bit to make it comparable to Anheuser-Busch's Discovery Cove, where folks pay a few hundred bucks to swim with dolphins. But in the end, Disney and Rowling could not come to terms."
Edited by Isaac to add:
Earlier this season, I posted about the weird case of SYTYCD’s inclusion of what I interpreted as a coming-out story, meaning a coming-out-as-a-gay-man story, edited as a coming-out-as-a-dancer story. My take on it was that the show has a weirdly ambivalent relationship with homosexuality. It operates in a world, like the art and fashion worlds, in which a disproportionate number of prominent people are gay, it frequently celebrates the work of gay artists (how many times have they trotted out Adam Shankman?), and it appears – though I hesitate to say this, because I can’t confirm – to select contestants on a sexual-orientation-blind basis. On the other hand, the show needs to appeal to the broadest audience possible, which includes viewers who may not be as disinterested as the producers and judges in sexual orientation.
The show’s compromise appears to be: (1) assume an implicit don’t-ask-don’t-tell agreement with its audience; and (2) promote the (implicitly heterosexual) masculinity of the male dancers at all times (SYTYCD, like a lot of other things, has this problem only with male homosexuality). Hence Cat Deeley, who already comes across as the most genially-clueless giantess in Hollywood, repeatedly talking about how Pasha and Neil made the girls go crazy with their shirtlessness; hence the camera shots of the Claymatesque tween girls with their Neil signs; hence Nigel’s manic-repetitive proclamations that this contestant or that one has made dancing cool for tough boys in the inner city. To people who haven’t chosen to pretend that homosexuality doesn’t exist, two of those three things may actually seem more unintentionally gay than intentionally butch, but whatever.
Last night, the show found itself with a dilemma. I don’t know if it has done this in past seasons, but it committed itself to having each dancer pair up for a piece with each other dancer. M-F dances, no problem. Two women, no problem (well, slight problem in that nobody knew what to make of it – what’s the deal with Robson and the Wild Kingdom, anyway?). Two men, problem. I think the program didn’t want to show men dancing together – not together as a couple, mind you, but even the kind of together you might see at any dance recital, with dancers creating space with their bodies and doing synchronized jumpy-stuff and what-not, not to get too technical on you. Too confrontational for our audience, one might imagine Lythgoe saying. So I am guessing (and it’s just a guess), that the show asked Mia Michaels to choreograph something totally ungay. And what’s less gay than senseless violence? Voila, Sharks vs. Jets dance-fighting, but with totally-not-phallic sword-handling. I don’t know, I just find it comical the extent to which this show will go to avoid alienating bigots (or at least the advertisers who fear them).
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
(On a related note: 1. There is no such thing as a "wrap". Make a burrito, or don't make a burrito. It's your choice. 2. Whoever is responsible for the unending deluge of awful dry non-burritos and chewy "pressata" sandwiches currently overflowing from every mediocre lunch counter in midtown should be strung up. Or incarcerated and reformed, at least. Did you think we wouldn't notice that you're just putting the tomato husks into the sandwiches?? What are you doing with the tomato middles? And sweet lord, how old is that flank steak?? I demand an investigation.)
But more importantly, on to the Restaurant Wars Elimination Challenge. This week saw two teams of four contestants face off, completely creating restaurants from the blank canvas of ... two adjacent two-car garages attached to the Top Chef Kitchen. The long shot of the side-by-side spaces felt like the dumpsters had been wheeled away only moments ago. Delicious. -- One other, likely trivial production note: there was a glaring overdub in Padma's list of contestant roles for the challenge. Just a sound quality issue, or did she say something else the first time instead of "Design"?
Any thoughts on the Quickfire winner's selection of teammates? Personally I thought he chose well, though in his shoes I would have taken Dale over Brian (with disastrous stinky-candle-related results -- what were they thinking?). His selections neatly divided the remaining eight along a functional/disfunctional axis, and, more or less, likely segregated the drowned from the saved. Wrong? Tell my why I'm wrong.
Pressed on Brian v. Dale, I'd have to admit that I just don't like Brian and that this is not Brian's fault. He seems competent, even creative. He has a go-get-em attitude and shows a good capacity for working and playing with others even when he gets out of his depth, and turned around, and flustered, and panicked to the edge of helplessness at a moment crucial for the success of his team. It's not him though. It's me. I think he sucks.
Dale's shortcomings, by contrast, might be summed up with his comment about front-of-the-house work coming down to being "half prostitute, half performer." Why on earth would you employ the former sensibility while decorating? Good grief.
A lot of the food looked really good, though the judges had a raft of complaints including a blanket "seasonality" objection to one team's menu. In the end though, the bigger question is whether the difficulties of a "soft opening" should excuse making a hard decision.
I did in fact finish the nearly 200-mile ride. You can read my description of the experience here (best viewed using Internet Explorer). The Boston Globe's front page story is here . The Pan-Mass Challenge is the most successful athletic charity event in the world. This year, we expect that we will end up raising over $28M. Thanks again, all of you!
The case was dismissed for failure to serve/prosecute (and how does one serve the Nordic Gods, anyway? Care of Marvel Comics?), and in an appeal statement, Riches claimed that was because he had been in a deep "trance-like state" approaching a coma for a year and a half and was unable to respond or review his mail.
Content aggregator: Defamer
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Cliff Notes for the preceding chapters can be found here (ch. 1-6) and here (ch. 7-12), plus we've got Ticky's recap here on chapters 6-12.
** Said awesomeness qualified by the fact that Mr. Kelly is accused of serious sexual offenses against a minor, for which he will finally go on trial in September.
I leave as an exercise to the reader to discuss their own personal coin-op game best.
Monday, August 13, 2007
2006 had only one film gross more than $300M (Pirates 2); 2007 will have at least five. [BTW, how the hell did Wild Hogs gross $168 million? Who saw this movie?]
And we still have HSM2 this week. What a country.
By the way, I really don't mean to start another debate about The Streak. I mean, I really, really don't.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
- First "open-mouthed" screen kiss in the U.S.
- Recorded the first U.S. album on magnetic tape, generating #1 single "I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts."
- Creator of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune and writer of the famous theme and "Think Music" from Jeopardy!
- Owner of various hotels and casinos (most notably, the Beverly Hilton).
Griffin's final project, a new game show called Merv Griffin's Crosswords, appears in syndication this fall.