Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Best Movie I Saw This Week: Madame de...

This was also a heavy week with a lot of heavy-weights as Haneke, Bergman or Kalatozov but my pick for the weeks belongs to Ophüls. Madame de... (Max Ophüls, 1953) is wonderful.

As the title in English suggests, the movie follows a pair of earrings that take on very different meanings according to the context (so polysemic, as David put it). The first time we see them is because a Countess (a magnificent Danielle Darrieux) is considering selling them to pay off some debts she has. She is presented as a frivolous and somewhat vain woman who prefers to hold on to her furs than to the earrings that her husband (Charles Boyer) gave her as a wedding present. She pretends to have lost them in an elaborate act that shows how good an actress she is. The conflict starts when the jeweller (after promising he would not) tells on her to her husband who buys the earrings again. This time, he gives her to his lover, a woman who gambles them convinced that number 13 is going to be lucky for her. This scene, where she is gambling is a departure from the main plotline and reminded me of the movies of Wong Kar-wai in the sense that we could have an entire movie devoted to this secondary character because it is treated with such interest and care. Baron Donati buys the earrings and, as fate would have it, ends up falling in love with the Countess Louise and gives her the earrings. She has to play an act with his husband as to why she has found the earrings. He, however, understands everything and forces her to give them to a relative. Husband and lover duel and as the Countess runs toward them she hears only a shot, which means that Donati is dead.

I just love how the movie plays with the main character's acting. She mentions that she is a bad liar when in fact, we are seeing her being an expert at it. The exception is a moment that recalls Anna Karenina, where she cannot hide her fear that Donati is hurt.

The film is not only interesting thematically, it is a visual feast. The long takes are breathtaking and the movements of the camera are as elegant as the people it follows. In terms of production it is as rich as can be. The art direction and the costumes are wonderful. In fact, its only nomination for the Oscars was for its costumes, showing that, already in the fifties, that branch was willing to look at deserving films even if they were not obvious frontrunners. The performances are also excellent with Danielle Darrieux, Ophüls muse, being the clear standout. After all she is Madame de...

Other movies I saw this week:
Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014)
Grace of Monaco (Olivier Dahan, 2014)
The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)
10.000 Km (Carlos Marques-Marcet, 2014)
Cinderella Liberty (Mark Rydell, 1973)
Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
Cimarron (Wesley Ruggles, 1931)
The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Week in Tv (19/05-25/05)

Here is my ranking of the TV shows I watched last week. Quite a lot of shows have ended but I still managed to put together a top 10. Careful, there will be spoilers.

10. The Simpsons: "The Yellow Badge of Cowardge" (Season 25 Episode 22)

If this had not been a finale it might have been a decent episode but for the last episode of the season it felt a little unspecial. Homer's storyline with the fireworks was not very inspired since we have seen variations on the same thing for the past 25 years. I was also let down by the ending where Bart learns a lesson and atones himself in the eyes of Milhouse and the town. It is never a good sign when the characters of The Simpsons have to learn and hug. I'll take the non-sequitur endings every day. Things I liked were the gimmick of Lisas's narration, Maggie doing the chicken and Superintendent Chalmer's commentary on the race.

MVP: Kirk Van Houten. The crocodile joke was good.

9. Modern Family: "The Wedding (2)" (Season 5 Episode 24)

This episode worked better as a finale. Granted, it had the big event of a wedding but it played out nicely. I have to admit that I cried a little watching this (I think it's the first time this has happened in this show) when Jay offers to walk Mitchell down the aisle. In general, the episode was well-handled using the escalating problems for the wedding. Phil and Claire's hijinks were as ridiculous as usual but Claire Bowen is good and can sell the stupidity. Things I did not enjoy: Haley hitting on the nanny and Manny and Luke's old-gay-marriage dinamic. If they were still kids it might have been funnier but they are weird. Oh, and Elizabeth Banks explaining what can happen in these extreme pregnancies is golden.

MVP: Let's give it to Bowen. She is funny and understated even when confronted with Ty-HumanBlinkingMachine-Burrell.

8. Orphan Black: "To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings" (Season 2 Episode 6)

The first part of this episode was great. The bonding between sestras Sarah and Helena is awesome, Helena's adventures in the bar were great, Helena's conversation with the little religious freak was nicely done, I even liked Sarah doing research and how it somehow moved forward the plot. But then Sarah decides to leave Helena with the police and, in case you were not paying attention, Helena is the best. So Sarah finds Siobhan (how?) who is staying with Rachel adoptive father who starts to speak a lot of mumbo jumbo I cannot follow for the life of me and the episode ends and I understood nothing. I am just dying for one of the other clones to run into Sarah so she can explain everything to them and see if I can get it. In other news, Alison is bonding with Vic who is actually helping the lady cop. The gentleman cop is bonding with Felix and Cosima and Delphine are doing something resembling science and are having breakthroughs that end up meaning nothing, twenty times per episode. Am I stupid or is the show a little too convoluted?

MVP: Tatiana Maslany playing Helena, farts and all. Her joy at hitting strangers at bars is just a marvel to watch.

7. Penny Dreadful: "Séance" (Season 1 Episode 2)

Well, let's start with the sad first. The scenes with Frankenstein and the Creature were really good so I'm pissed that they killed the latter off. I hope the doctor can just put it together. In bad news, even though I liked our new hooker friend, Dorian Gray is a bore. Judging solely from this episode the casting is off, he looks like a Dorian Gray for Twilight fans, although I understand that if they want to play this for the long haul they need an actor who can age and not look like he's aging so someone younger makes sense. But he is a little bland for my taste. Maybe if he starts having gay sex as promised I will change my mind. Sir Timothy Dalton keeps looking for his daughter and somehow they end up in a séance with a medium but Eva Green is like "Bitch, please, I am more medium than Patricia Arquette and proceeds to give us the best scene of the show so far.

MVP: Eva Green, obviously.

6. Louie: "Elevator Part 3" (Season 4 Episode 6)

Ok, first, I have to admit that with all this Elevator bussiness, I am a little confused as to what happens in which episode. If I remember correctly, this is the one with Pamela in the beginning (of which I am not a huge fan and she is having an arc later in the season) and the one where Louie learns that Amia is going back to Hungary and the one where she and Jane have the violin duet in an amazing scene. Anyway, every episode is awesome.

MVP: Ellen Burstyn because she is the cutest thing translating for Amia and Louie when they decide to spend the month she has together.

5. Game of Thrones: "Mockingbird" (Season 4 Episode 7)

Can you believe that there's only three episodes left? It seems it was yesterday when we started. I'm so glad that Prince Oberyn is going to fight for Tyrion. I obviously hope he wins. Daenerys wins the internet by getting Daario naked and to compensate the next scene has Melisandre in a bathtub. Arya and the Hound keep going towards the Vale as Brienne and Pod do. Reunion by the ninth episode, pretty please? Although, I am not sure how things will be in the Vale when they arrive because Sansa is kissed by Little finger and therefore threatened by her crazy aunt. But not to worry, she is pushed by Baelish through the moon door. Make her fly!

MVP: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys. Not only she's great at showing the character's thirst for justice and good ruling, she lets us see Daario's ass (probably more important than any other reason).

4. Louie: "Elevator Part 2" (Season 4 Episode 5)

Again, if I'm not mixing up episodes, this is the one where Louie starts to know both Evanka and Amia and he has the really nice shopping trips both alone and with the latter. Oh, and of course this is the one with the wonderful explanation by Jane of why her school is boring. I like how so far, the season is shaping out to be how Louie interacts with women, whether is her daughter, her ex-wife, and old friend, a model, a fat bartender, her downstairs neighbor or her niece which is the one he prefers and the one with which the communication is easiest, even if they don't have a common language. This show is so awesome! And as, GoT, there's only three weeks until it finishes.

MVP: Ursula Parker as Jane. Her monologue was great as was her apology to the ridiculous teacher.

3. Galerías Velvet: "La Noche de la Reina" (Season 1 Episode 14)

I love when episodes take place in a short period of time and in very few sets (I'm not sure if that is the definition of a bottled episode) and this was no exception. The night before the wedding, Cristina dress is missing. Later, we'll find out that it was Rita trying to delay the marriage to help Ana but everyone gets out of bed and into production mode and finish a new one, and designed by Raúl no less, before the night is over. In a Spanish soap opera, nights are long and a lot happens in this episode. One of my favorite moments was Luisa coming clean about her abortion with the Velvet Girls. Considering what is going on in Spain with abortion issues it is good to see a TV show that would not need to be this political having an opinion on the matter. It is ironic though that the vision of a show set in the fifties is more progressive than the one in reality.

MVP: Asier Exteandía as Raúl de la Riva who plays a hilarious drunk and is one of the anchors of the show being consistently great and game.

2. Hannibal: "Mizumono" (Season 2 Episode 13)

Don't get me wrong, I thank the gods every day because Hannibal is going to have a third season but I love how this wonderful episode could also be read as a series finale. I this was the very last episode, it would be easier to come to the conclusion that basically everyone is dead and that Hannibal is loose in our world. But, taking into account that there is, in fact, going to be a third season, someone must survive, right? I'm betting on the two men making it and the two ladies dying. How awesome was the reveal that Abigail was still (for a few moments) alive? The whole bloody fight in Hannibal's house was great and so befitting for a finale. Briing it back already!

MVP: This is Dancy's and Mikkelsen's show. And they rule.

1. Mad Men: "The Strategy" (Season 7 Episode 6)

Mad Men is, in general, the best thing that has ever been seen on television but when it makes its core the relationship between Don and Peggy, it somehow manages to outdo itself. The rest of the storylines were also really good, I loved the awkward conversation between Joan and Bob (who, I think we can face it now, is not Don's son travelling from the future). I loved Pete's scenes both showing Bonnie off and longing for Trudy (hi, Alison Brie!). There is also the matter of whether to make Harry a partner or not. I am with Joan and Roger on this one. He is the worst. But the heart and the soul of the episode are Don and Peggy working together to find the perfect idea to sell hamburgers to the world. It is not about the food, it is not about the mother feeling guilty for not cooking, it is about family, something neither Don nor Peggy have. But, at least while they are dancing, they have each other.

MVP: Elisabeth Moss who should have every award in the planet for her Peggy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Best Movie I Saw Last Week: The Tree of Life

This week was also a little light on movies but the quality was amazing: Antonioni, Almodóvar, Von Trier... A lot of amazing directors. But in the end I have to choose a Cannes winner (fitting, since we are in the middle of the festival): The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011).

The movie might have been controversial but to me it is simply perfect. I am not a religious person in any way but this movie speaks to me about spirituality and I want to listen. It helps that it's not pandering (as some people want to see it) but a reflective movie that, like our young protagonist, might not have everything figured it out. The movie deals with the divine but also with the human, with how our choices shape who we become, how the way of grace and the way of nature always wrestle inside us.

Visually, it is one of the most sumptuous films I have ever seen, every shot is beautiful and meaningful and it is a contemporary tragedy that Emmanuel Lubezki lost the cinematography Oscar to Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011). Aurally, the movie is astounding too, not only for the perfect musical selection but also for Desplat score and for the very inspired voiceovers that appear throughout the film.

The performances are terrific. If I ruled the world, Hunter McCracken would have been nominated and both Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain would have won. I remember one of the happiest seconds in my life was the confusion when they announced the nomination of Jessica Chastain  for The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011) and the picture that appeared was from The Tree of Life and I was able to think for a moment that she had been nominated for the right role. Alas, it was not to be. The movie was nominated for three Oscars, losing one to Hugo and two (picture and director) to The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011) when, as it was clear in Cannes, this was the superior movie. And don't worry, time will tell.

Other movies I saw this week:

The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1934)
Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan, 2012) [Rewatch]
Transamerica (Duncan Tucker, 2005) [Rewatch]
Neighbors (Nicholas Stoller, 2014)
Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2014)
The Double (Richard Ayoade, 2014)
Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
Melancholia (Lars Von Trier, 2011) [Rewatch]
La Piel que Habito (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011) [Rewatch]

My Week in TV (12/05-18/05)

Here is my rating of the TV shows I watched last week. Careful, there will be spoilers.

12. Glee: "The Untitled Rachel Berry Project" (Season 5 Episode 20)

There was one good thing about this Glee episode. It was the last one of the season. In the past, no matter how terrible I found the show I always looked forward to watching the new episodes but lately it has just been exhausting. It has gone from fun-to-hate to simply hateful. And this season finale was probably the best example. Characterization has never been the show's strong suit, but having Rachel give up Broadway for a career in TV is just ludicrous and a pathetic try to freshen up the show for next season. Then we have Sam and Mercedes breaking up when their relationship has ammounted to nothing in the narrative. Even the musical numbers are lazy, unimaginative and tiresome. In a terrible tie-in promotion of Riley's album we have to endure "Shakin' My Head" (is Willow Smith suing?) while Brittany (why is she even in New York?) wears pajamas. Really, it's like the show has given up. Why have coreography if you can have every number staged to the characters running around without purpose? That's what they do in the non-musical scenes too so it makes sense. Except it doesn't and it's terrible.

MVP: In the absence of Santana, this one goes to Darren Criss (Blaine) because I really liked his performance of "All of Me" even if his storyline was ridiculously written.

11. Modern Family: "The Wedding (1)" (Season 5 Episode 23)

This show is simply boring. Every storyline seems a rehash of one we have already seen, or worse, one that we have already seen in another TV show, preferably a 30 year-old one. The stories ranged from the awful (Haley and the nanny) to the non-existent (Claire and Luke, Jay and Gloria) briefly passing through the ok (Mitch and Cam, Alex and Phil). And what's worst is that this was an almost-finale packed with guest stars who, even though they were the best part of the episode, did not have a lot to do. Stop bothering Elizabeth Banks and Celia Weston with this.

MVP: Nathan Lane as Pepper.

10. The Simpsons: "Pay Pal" (Season 25 Episode 21)

Lisa is my favorite character in the Simpsons and even though this episode was pretty much centred on her I did not enjoy it very much. As most of this season it felt treaded territory and the gags were generally unfunny. Also, and it is something I don't like in The Simpsons, they spend half the episode preparing the main story. You have twenty minutes, we don't need to know that Marge is afraid to get store-bought cake.

MVP: Homer, ruining the game of "Cluedo".

9. Orphan Black: "Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est" (Season 2 Episode 5)

Finally, we get some movement in this show with the reunion of the sestras and Rachel and Cosima feeling close too. I think the show is at its best when the clones are together so please, stop fumbling Alison's stories. Cal keeps being dreamy and taking care of Kira. Rachel and Paul have angry sex and for some reason I can't quite understand, one of the girls at the commune where Helena was locked up has her mouth sewn up and is threatened with carrying a baby that I'm guessing is Helena's. Also, Felix almost gets it on with the mortician but is interrupted by Paul who only wants his fingerprints on a murder weapon. You know, what they call Tuesday.

MVP: Tatiana Maslany as Helena, darkly funny bur never falling into charicature.

8. Penny Dreadful: "Night Work" (Season 1 Episode 1)

First things first, is there someone more beautiful than Eva Green? Ok, now we have that out of the way, we can focus on the episode which was really good, especially considering that sometimes pilots are a little wobbly because they have to introduce us to a new world. By the way, I spent this whole episode saying to my boyfriend: "Is this the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?" and he was like "No, it's not" but he had to reconsider at the end when we find out that the missing daughter of Timothy Dalton is named Mina (!). Eva Green and Josh Hartnett had really nice chemistry, the production was very impressive and there were parts truly frightening. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the show develops and how much gratuitous homosexuality they can cram in with Dorian Gray

MVP: Harry Treadaway as Victor Frankenstein. I think it helped that I did not know him but I really liked his performance.

7. Louie: "Elevator Part 1" (Season 4 Episode 4)

Ellen Burstyn is in Louie, people! (And no, Julia did not steal her Oscar (Anf yes, it's always a good chance to bring that up)) She plays a neighbor that gets stuck in the elevator and whom Louie has to help by waking up a stranger who does not speak English and who afterwards cooks a pie for him. Before all this, there is a great story with Louie's daughters (whom I love so, so much) where Jane has a nightmare and is convinced that she keeps dreaming (Most Lynchian TV show ever alert (after Twin Peaks because duh)). Because of that she leaves the subway train with her sister and her father and waits for them in the platform in a terryfing scene.

MVP: Ursula Parker as Jane because it is astounding that she's so good being so young.

6. Galerías Velvet: "Mentiras Piadosas" (Season 1 Episode 13)

What's the best way to convince a bride to be that her future husband is not in love with the seamstress that made her dress? Well, by faking a relationship between the seamstress and the groom's best friend, of course. Glad you asked. Yes, Ana and Mateo have to pretend to be in a relationship and hilarity ensues when they answer different things to very simple questions (how come they did not even go through the basics?). Bárbara goes into labour not before uttering the best line in the episode ("¡Doña Aurorita!"), Luisa deals with the aftermath of her abortion, Rita waits for Pedro calling for Germany and Clara deals surprisingly well with the whole Mateo-Ana thing. She even invites her over for chocolate! Oh, and lest you forget this is a soap-opera, Alberto's mother (whom everyone supposed dead) is coming back. Scandal!

MVP: Aitana Sánchez-Gijón as Doña Blanca, not only because she is always gold, but because in this episode she could show a lot of different colours at once in her scenes with Luisa

5. Hannibal: "Tome-wan" (Season 2 Episode 12)

In this episode Will and Hannibal keep palying chicken to see who is going to end up in prison. Bedelia reappears and warns Jack and Will that if they think they are about to catch Dr. Lecter is only because he wants them to think so. I think Hannibal Lecter is one of the most terrifying villains in the history of literature/media. In The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991) he is basically the good guy and he is so nightmare-inducing. What I find really scary is his lack of motive, he kills and is evil just out of curiosity, just to see what happens. When he finds reason to mutilate Mason, the fact that he is a sadist who has tortured her sister for years is of no consequence. But, he's rude. So he drugs him, makes him feed his face to Will's dogs and eat his own nose. As Kate Winslet/Katy Brand would say: Like normal. The episode ends with Hannibal accepting Will's suggestion of turning himself in, something I don't think is going to happen in a million years. But we'll see. Only one episode left. Sad face.

MVP: Gillian Anderson as Bedelia du Maurier. She has created such a unique and interesting character that I would follow into a spin-off no questions asked.

4. Mad Men: "The Runaways" (Season 7 Episode 5)

The sixties are really taking their toll and people are going crazy left and right. But, yes, no one is crazier than Ginsberg. Talk about a nip slip. I'm really looking forward to seeing what this goodbye means to both Peggy and Stan who has one of the two most hilarious things in the episode when hateful Lou asks him if he knows who had a stupid dream and he answers "You?". The other most hilarious thing is Betty screaming "I'm not stupid, I speak Italian" after Henry scolds her for talking about Vietnam. Also, Stephanie (Anna Draper's niece) is pregnant but Megan finds a way to get rid of her so she and Don can have a threesome with a friend of hers. By the end of the episode, Don grovels a little to get into a cigarettes account and he does eventually. He keeps on climbing.

MVP: This one goes to Jessica Paré because she makes Megan a fascinating character when it might come off as unlikable.

3. Game of Thrones: "The Laws of Gods and Men" (Season 4 Episode 6)

This episode is full of badass moments that I loved. First, Davos tells it like it is to the Iron Bank. Then, Daenerys, rules and decides in the complaints and requests of the many people of Mereen. There's a very Antigone-like moment that is really cool. I think the story of Our Mother of Dragons is one of the most interesting in TV. We, as an audience, inevitably root for her but also wonder if she's doing, not the right thing, but the smart thing. Poor Theon is still in full Reek-mode but it looks like he's going to have to play a part. I don't know if he looks clever enough to pull it off but we shall see. And finally, the scene of the episode, is Tyrion's trial. We see a series of people bending or ommiting the truth to make Tyrion look bad and what's interesting is that no character out-right lies. With the exception of the heart-breaking testimony of Shae who sends Tyrion in a speech to be remembered for all time.

MVP: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion because the trial part is simply awesome and he is amazing in the scene.

2. Louie: "So Did the Fat Lady" (Season 4 Episode 3)

In my not-so-humble opinion, the best episodes of Louie are the ones where things don't go as you expected them, but afterwards you see that the way they went was the only possible way. And this episode was one of those. Louie rejects a bartender at the place where he does stand-up but eventually they go out together. The date is going great but Louie makes the mistake of telling her she is not fat. After this lie, which I totally got, lying makes up society; she goes into a tirade about men, women, size, love and everything in between. It is a really poignant moment that shows how Louis C.K. is willing to go to uncomfortable places and say the things that people don't say in fiction. I don't know how to explain that this is not a very special episode of Glee. I guess it's just mature and aimed at thinking adults and not to the brainless audience of Ryan Murphy (of which I am a very proud member).

MVP: Sarah Baker, who is very likable even though she is all the things we are not supposed to like in women: fat, opinionated, persistent and bluntly honest.

1. Grey's Anatomy: "Fear (of the Unknown)" (Season 10 Episode 24)

In the not-so-immortal words of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City (Michael Patrick King, 2008), it's not logic, it's love. I can maybe understand that from an objective point of view this was not the best episode of the week. For instance the terrorist attack plotline could have been handled better if it had been spread across two episodes. But I don't care. This was my best episode of the week, the one where I spent almost its totality crying out loud. The episode was dedicated to honor the best relationship in the show: Mer and Cristina's, the twisted sisters themselves. I hate Sandra Oh a little for leaving the show but this was the best way possible. I was afraid that they were going to kill her in the mall. Although that would have been interesting for next season Meredith, I think it would have come off as cheap. A grown-up goodbye, because that's the way life is, rang a lot truer to the show. I absolutely adored every callback to past moments in the show and when they danced it out I almost died. And Cristina saying to Meredith that she is her person. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. And telling her that Derek's not the sun but she is. Oh my god. I have to stop now. See you next year Grey Sloan.

MVP: Ellen Pompeo and Sandra Oh. Obviously.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Week in TV: 05/05-11/05

Here is my ranking of the TV shows I watched last week (spoilers abound):

13. Bad Teacher: "Evaluation Day" (Season 1 Episode 3)

I have just learned that the show was cancelled after this episode. I'm not sure if they are going to air the rest of the episodes or if I'm going to watch them because this show was truly terrible. But luckily, it was short-lived. Let us hope Ari Graynor goes back to doing indie comedies and doesn't spend her career trying to happen in television. The show was unfunny, not remotely resembling any known reality and profoundly boring for a 20-minute show. Seriously, it is for the best. I cannot even remember what went on in the episode. Good riddance.

MVP: Graynor but only by default.

12. Glee: "Old Dogs, New Tricks" (Season 5 Episode 19)

If this picture shows how Santana feels, imagine how I feel. This episode was terrible. There is no going around it. Plain and simply terrible. How much of a megalomaniac can Chris Colfer be? He writes an episode that revolves entirely about how his character is always right without a hint of irony. Kurt knows best. The rest of the bunch are just idiots that cannot deal with taking care of dogs while mantaining sexless relationships or divas that are so stupid as to not know when they're blowing off the PR opportunity they themselves have set. June Squibb was adorable though.

MVP: I would give it to Santana by default but she should not have gone blonde so I'm giving this to Lea Michele only for the line "I'm doing it for the animals". I also love that she is the butt of a joke in Neighbors.

11. New Girl: "Cruise" (Season 3 Episode 23)

This was kind of a downer, specially for a season finale. The parts with the captain were funny but the Jess/Nick dinamic is getting tiresome although the montage with the couple activities was fun but, really, how longer can they sustain a show on this weird relationship. I'm not saying that they should be together or that they should not deal with the break-up. But it doesn't need to be the center of every episode. And I don't want Cece back with Smichdt. I want him dead. In a ridiculous, humilliating way.

MVP: Damon Wayans Jr, having fun with Coach's fear of boats.

10. Modern Family: "Message Received" (Season 5 Episode 22)

This was a pretty decent episode, although as my boyfriend pointed out, Mitchell and Jay arguing by the ending was weird and unnecessary. This is not a character development show, it's a situation comedy. If you want to show Jay's uncomfortable about the wedding, make it (or try to make it) funny, don't go for deep emotions. The Pritchett-Delgado household storyline was the one I enjoyed most. I also liked Cam and Mitch's story, mainly because I'll take any opportunity to show Cam as the dumb person he is. The Dunphy-Pritchett story was also ok but not as inspired as it could have been but I guess it sets up Claire's next season pregnancy. This week, the wedding arrives!

MVP: Sofía Vergara as Gloria. She was really fun and she has chemistry with Stella who is a very good acting dog.

9. Orphan Black: "Governed As It Were By Chance" (Season 2 Episode 4)

And we have the first sort-of-dull episode of the season. Alison is in rehab and Cosima coughs a little. That's how far their stories go. Well, the latter also helps Sarah researching the Leda Project and giving a half-assed mythology lesson. Can you tell I don't like Cosima? Meanwhile Helena escapes the religious freaks and finds Sarah who had been impersonating Rachel on the phone to get into her apartment. Maslany is very good playing terrified when Sarah sees Helena since she thought she was dead. In general, not a lot happened in this episode although I think Rachel's minion slash monitor is gone for good.

MVP: As good as Maslany is I'm going to give this one to Maria Doyle Kennedy because she makes Mrs. S very interesting with very little to do.

8. The Simpsons: "Brick Like Me" (Season 25 Episode 20)

Who'd have known? It took a shameless corporate sell-out to have a decent episode of The Simpsons. Granted, it borrows too much from The Lego Movie (Phil Lord et al, 2014) but since they admit so in the episode (and it's done in a funny way with the huge Emmett and Wyldstyle dolls in the background) we can give them a pass. It also reminded me of the G.I. Joe episode of Community with the blurring of the two realities. It was a very funny episode both with character-based jokes and with Lego-based jokes (I loved the creation according to Lego). I was not in love with Bart's storyline but it ties up nicely in the end. Another thing I did not like was the heavy-handed (and again, quite outdated) parody of The Hunger Games. Plus, everyone knows that the books/movies are not about love.

MVP: Homer, explaining to Lisa that parents never like to play with their kids. He would rather read the fiction in The New Yorker. The fiction!

7. Grey's Anatomy: "Everything I Try to Do, Nothing Seems to Turn Out Right" (Season 10 Episode 23)

As of the 8th of this month, the show has been confirmed to have an 11th season. And if Meredith says yes to Derek's proposal of moving to Washington D.C., the show might move with them. Would it be too much of a shark jump? I think that it's not going to happen and it is probably for the best. There are too many lovable characters in Seattle. Cristina will soon not be in Seattle (or in the show) and is looking for a replacement for head of cardio, something Owen has her do to convince her to stay. Owen, I'm with you, I want her to stay, but you have to convince Sandra Oh, not Yang. She is just following orders. April and Jackson start sharing the news about the pregnancy and Callie learns that she cannot carry another child. Stephanie takes the bullet for Miranda's arrogance (the parents were stupid, granted, but Bailey knew better than that. Or maybe she was inspired by cutting LVAD wires and whatnot) and I don't know if that means bye bye Steph, but who is leaving for sure is Leah, who is just not good enough to be a surgeon. I liked how they dealt with this scene. There were no hijinks, just the truth. Telling a likable character they are not good at the job they want to do is risky but it's what happens in real life.

MVP: Sara Ramirez who is one of the best criers in TV history. She just breaks my heart everytime she cries.

6.. Louie: "Model" (Season 4 Episode 2)

Louie is back! I love this TV show so much that it would make my top 3 of best TV shows ever. And even though the two episodes were great, I preferred the first one. This second one was hilarious too, don't get me wrong. A really hateful Jerry Seinfeld (is he ever not hateful?) asks Louie to introduce him and do stand up for ten minutes without telling him anything other than to clean up his act. The best Louie comes up when he cannot discuss jerking-off and penises is the essential dumbness of chickens. It doesn't go precisely well, something that Hateful Seinfeld takes advantage of, starting his routine making fun of Louie. Luckily, a model  that was in the audience chats him up and they end up having sex. But, she doesn't know he's extremely ticklish and she ends up almost blind. You know, Louie's life.

MVP: Louie. If I didn't have the best boyfriend in recorded history I would marry Louie without a second thought.

5. Game of Thrones: "First of His Name" (Season 4 Episode 5)

This episode, up until the end, was extremely women-centric. Every scene except the last one in the North is focused on a woman or more. And frankly, they are mostly the best characters. Cersei gives in and asks Margaery to marry her son. The recent widow pushes her luck, deliciously pondering whether to call Cersei sister or mother. Later, Cersei makes friends with Oberyn and even though she most likely wants to influence Tyrion's trial, it's a very nice bonding scene. Danaerys needs to be more than the Mother of Dragons and decides not to go to King's Landing yet but stay and rule as the queen she is. Sansa continues to have the worst luck and ends up with her crazy aunt accused of having seduced Littlefinger. Arya's scene was very exciting as she recites all the people she intends to kill and finishes up by saying "The Hound" who is lying next to her. In the north, the new Crispin Glover (best death ever, by the way) tries to rape the sister of the Love Actually boy but Bran saves the day by getting into Hodor. I really liked that moment when Hodor is obviously confused about what has happened but nevertheless helps Bran withouth question (not that he could actually pose a question).

MVP: Lena Headey as Cersei. She plays all three of her scenes beautifully.

4. Galerías Velvet: "Terciopelo Azul" (Season 1 Episode 12)

It's not great form to start by the ending, but when it's this monumental, what are you going to do? Cristina sees Ana and Alberto kissing. I think they don't see her so maybe she is going to keep the secret for a while. She finds out in the country club where she has thrown a party for Alberto (good) and where she wants to keep him for life, apparently (bad). In that party, Raúl, who has accepted to tame his vision in order to do one more collection for Velvet, not only gives Cristina a blue velvet dress but also sings "Blue Velvet" while Ana sings back-up quite adorably. Also, we have new characters: Cristina's brother (who is already making eyes at Patricia) and his wife (who is making eyes at the idea of mistreating the service). The three couples are going strong. Mateo invites Clara to be his plus one at the wedding; Pedro tells Rita that he loves her and to wait for him, but since he's screaming for a cab she doesn't really hear (Esmérate, Rita) and Max and Doña Blanca kiss. Oh and the best scene is Alberto asking Patricia to be his maid of honor. They are so cute!

MVP: Miguel Ángel Silvestre, no matter how many letters he can eat, he was really good in this episode playing the man torn between two loves and being nice to Patricia.

3. Louie: "Back" (Season 4 Episode 1)

Well, it's not easy to find Louie pictures, so let's pretend that the one I chose is from the episode (which could be, because, hello, generic). And, not to reiterate, but I love Louie and I love Louie. And I love his daughters (Dear Aids, knock it off). And I love his poker nights (you have a desk?). And I loved the conversation about cock rings. And I loved his doctor. So, in general, Louie = love.

MVP: Louie himself with the doctor being a close second.

2. Hannibal: "Ko no Mono" (Season 2 Episode 11)

This is another episode that really needs to be discussed from the end backwards. Freddie is alive. Boom. I guess they put fake teeth on a different corpse but unless Tom and Jerry are in on it, they should be fired for not noticing (I really don't like those two characters). By the way, how awesome and iconic were the images of the wheelchair in flames rolling down the parking lot and then, of the corpse posed as Shiva? Very much so. Alana, until the end twist, continues to be as silly as they come but I guess we, as an audience, were played in a very similar way as her. Margot is pregnant by Will but Mason performs an abortion and makes sure that her sister is sterile. Brotherly love, you know. Will confronts him (first, as pictured above, he checks Mason's hair not giving credit) but not as much as possible because now we know he is not cuckoo and suggests Mason should feed Hannibal to his pigs.

MVP: Hugh Dancy keeps being the best player in the show but I also enjoyed a lot the scene between Alana and Jack.

1. Mad Men: "The Monolith" (Season 7 Episode 4)

Halfway through the episode, Roger jokes about Don not having clubbed another ape in a week. By the end of the episode, Don has killed every ape, touched the monolith, gone to space and, thankfully, back. Back to working for Peggy. We know how humiliating this is and since Joan is telling Peggy all the juicy details of Don's return it could get even moreso if she decides to reach out or condescend to him. Meanwhile, a computer is being set up in the former creative lounge and Harry (who do we hate more? him or Lou?) says it's not a symbol to which Don, very cleverly, answers that it's quite literal. Roger's storyline is also very interesting. Her spoiled daughter has decided to leave her husband and toddler and move to a commune in upstate New York. The show, always ambiguous, never makes it clear who's right and leaves it to the audience to figure it out, or to figure out if it's possible to figure it out. Mona's presence is always welcome by the way. This episode was so, so good. I don't know how I'm going to survive when this half-season ends in two weeks.

MVP: Jon Hamm as Don Draper. And he does not have an Emmy yet.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Best Movie(s) I Saw This Week: 30s Double Feature

Even though this week I watched some true stinkers (How can Divergent be so terrible?), I had the good luck to see two classics from the 30s. And since I could not choose, I've decided to cheat a little and select them both as movies of the week.

First, I watched (for the third time!) It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) and it was every bit as wonderful as the other two times.

It was the first movie to win the five Big Awards at the Oscars (Picture, Director, Screenplay and both leading performers) and rightfully so. The script is witty, smart and extremely funny while also being quite tender and romantic. It even manages to touch on the contemporary depression while staying light and classy. Both Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert are charm personified. They are so talented and so game in this movie. The two scenes I like best are the hitchhiking one and the one where they pretend to be married so the police doesn't find her and they pretend-scream and pretend-fight. Oh, and I was already forgetting the Flying Trapeze song! It is just a sweet scene that does not advance the plot but it lets us see the characters warming to each other being goofy, sweet and so crush-worthy. Capra's direction is top-notch too. It is, quite simply, a masterpiece.

The second 30s classic I watched was brand-new to me but I had anticipated for a while and it did not disappoint. In fact it exceeded expectations. I'm talking about Stage Door (Gregory LaCava, 1937).

Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn star as aspiring actresses and they are amazing both in their bickering repartees in the beginning of the movie as in their complicity towards the end. As if this was not enough, the rest of the cast is incredibly good and the scenes with all the girls in the boarding house living room are delicious. The script is also extremely intelligent not only in the hilarious one-liners but also, going somewhere deeper, in what it says about relationships among women. LaCava's direction is great too; I just love shots with a lot of people acting together and in this movie, they never seem stuffy or theatrical. It is, quite simply, another masterpiece.

Other films I watched this week:
Carmina y Amén (Paco León, 2014)
Corpo Celeste (Alice Rohrwacher, 2011)
Austenland (Jerusha Hess, 2013)
Divergent (Neil Burger, 2014)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Week in TV: 28/04-04/05

This is my ranking for the TV shows I watched last week (tread carefully, spoilers abound):

11. Bad Teacher: "Daddy Issues" (Season 1 Episode 2)


It is sad that the titular character in a tv show about a "sexy, foul-mouthed divorcée who becomes a teacher to find her next husband" (according to Imdb), she has already learned two lessons in two episodes. A good sitcom can do the learning thing right such as Parks and Rec and an inoffensive sitcom can get away with the no-learning thing (Friends or Happy Endings). Why then, is Bad Teacher so bad at this? Ari Graynor is again, quite good but with such a stale script not a lot of good can come up. The secondary storyline about online dating was not only tremendously outdated but also poorly executed. Some of the actors are quite bad (I'm looking at you, Charlotte York-MacDougal-Goldenblatt) but I like some others like the student teacher whose name I'm unaware of. Still, this pretty much sucks.

MVP: Ari Graynor, but she deserves better.

10. The Simpsons: "What To Expect When Bart's Expecting" (Season 25 Episode 19)

Speaking of dated storylines, in this week's The Simpsons we have a gay horse. Will & Grace did that like fifteen years ago. And it was funnier. The first part of the episode was better with the enthusiatic art teacher and Bart's first steps in voodoo. But in general this just feels uninspired. The show is going to have at least another season but I'm not sure it's such a great idea.

MVP: The couch gag, really beautiful and witty.

9. Glee: "The Back-Up Plan" (Season 5 Episode 18)

And we have yet another Oscar winner in Glee. Shirley Maclaine plays a wealthy producer who wants to make a star out of Blaine. Suck it, Kurt! Also, how in earth do you choose a One Direction song to perform in front of someone who once did peyote with Joe Kennedy? Maclaine is not bad in the part but it is a little sad to see her slumming this hard. Meanwhile Mercedes decides to plagiarize the trailer for Begin Again and records music out of the stiffness of a studio. She wants Santana to duet with her on her album but Warwick thinks that having her completely unknown high school classmate as a hook might not be the best idea. And still it is ridiculous because Santana is the best so I'm conflicted because of Glee. Rachel meets the Dean of Greendale to test for a TV show for which she is woefully unprepared. But because she is Rachel, they are going to develop a show around her no matter what. Wouldn't it be cool if the show was called Glee and all of the characters played themselves and everything got so meta that Abed would explode? Well, Abed exploding would not be cool, because I like him. But we don't have to worry, I'm sure the idea for the show will be terrible and uninteresting.

MVP: Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez. Period.

8. Modern Family: "Sleeper" (Season 5 Episode 21)

This was not a great episode but I like Mitchell's storyline with everyone ignoring and forgetting him. Phil's antics get too much on my nerves to be enjoyable and Cam was even more irritating than usual. Gloria trying to put color on her baby  was quite weird. As was Jay entering Stella in a dog contest. And how many more times can they do the thing where a character is talking about something and it's phrased in such a way that it sounds as if they have just discovered gay sex. Are we homophobic yet? Nevertheless, Ed O'Neill sells it well but come on, enough is enough.

MVP: Jesse Tyler Ferguson who is quite funny playing the victim.

7. Orphan Black: "Mingling its Own Nature with It" (Season 2 Episode 3)

Even though this week was less crazy and the clones were apart from each other, I really liked this episode. Sarah takes Kira to her father (Daario from GoT and quite yummy, truth be told) and ends up the episode trying to kill Rachel's lapdog in a cliffhangery fashion. Helena is hilarious interacting with the religious freaks. Cosima is still boring but at least she discovers there was another (nine already?) clone but she is dead already due to the clone disease. And finally Alison is a mess. Her musical is opening and she is going to the valley of the dolls so hard that she actually falls off the stage. I would really like for all the clones to get together and kick-ass but as long as they keep the stories this interesting I'm cool with it.

MVP: Tatiana Maslany playing Alison but also Helena.

6. New Girl: "Dance" (Season 3 Episode 22)

New Girl is a weird show. Sometimes it just doesn't come quite together but when it works, it works. And this episode worked a lot. I loved Jess's enthusiasm with the dance and the whodunnit with shark-girl and also Jess and Coach being friends. I really enjoyed Cece trying to make her past look cool by sounding bad. I would love to share a salad with Nick. I liked Winston trying to prove he does not suck all the sexual tension out of every situation and succeeding since he has a Bieber-effect on prepubescent girls. I even tolerated Schmidt. Go figure...

MVP: Hanna Simone as Cece was very funny but I wish we could see her boyfriend again.

5. Galerías Velvet: "La Visita" (Season 1 Episode 11)

Well, you can start forgetting about that Nicole Kidman movie opening Cannes because Grace Kelly has already arrived and she is in Velvet. Nevermind that the actress looks or sounds nothing like the princess of Monaco, those are just pesky details. Especially because I want Raúl's collection to succeed and if that involves royal shenanigans, so be it. Luckily, Don Emilio is all right and he is not going to die although Patricia is so good in his job that he should be sick a while. Meanwhile, Luisa finds out she is pregnant. Is it her husband's or the dead-client-that-blackmailed-her-into-sleeping-with-him's? We also have two will they or won't they couples. First, Rita and Pedro which I hope end up together and then, Doña Blanca and Maximiliano, who I also wish end up pairing up. Clara dabbles in the modelling world with disastrous and hilarious results and Ana is given an opportunity to start designing her own dresses. But the most important storyline is the one concerning Alberto and Cristina. She asks him (in a wonderful naive version of Truth or Dare) why he moved to London. He says that it was because of a girl his father did not approve of and he lights up talking about her while Cristina looks in horror.

MVP: Manuela Velasco as Cristina, not only for that last daunting look but also for her line reading "We have to be one hundred per cent honest".

4. Grey's Anatomy: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (Season 10 Episode 22)

Apart from the ovbiously fake Zurich backgrounds, this episode was awesome, it was even named after a Taylor Swift song. I was more than a little wary when I learnt that Burke was guest-starring. I never really liked the character and these kind of stunts never pay off. But thankfully, I was wrong. It was worth it just to hear Cristina tell him that he doesn't want him. Even if that's not what he meant either. She is married to medicine, to cardio and now, to growing hearts in jars. I really don't want Sandra Oh to leave. She is in my top 4 favorite characters (Meredith, Callie and Addison complete the quartet) and she has been so good through everything. I loved the silly little plot with Callizona, I just love them when they're happy. And Jackson and April story was somehow tied up if only because he is the best man ever. I wonder which resident they're kicking out. But, you know, not too much. And I'm not sure I like Derek's sister sticking any longer. But we shall see.

MVP: Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey, nailing both the lighter stuff ("His mama took your eyebrows") and the heavier things (Her "You're Leaving" pretty much killed me).

3. Game of Thrones: "Oathkeeper" (Season 4 Episode 4)

I think I say this every week but I'm really scared about Daenerys. I don't want the former slaves to revolt against her. She is so cool. She fights injustice with justice. Duffy can keep mercy, thank you very much. I also wonder why so many important characters have died and Sam is still alive? He is insufferable. And I dislike the White Walkers too. We don't need zombies everywhere, especially if the CGI is going to be this poor. Over at King's Landing we find out that Lady O. had something to do with Joffrey dying. I don't like that she is willing to let Tyrion carry the blame. Tyrion rules. Over at Sitcom Spinoff Alert, Brienne and Pod go away from the capital to look for Sansa and keep Jamie's honor. This is going to be so much fun!

MVP: Let's give this one to Emilia Clarke who is always strong and I suspect she is going to be forgotten at the Emmys.

2. Mad Men: "Field Trip" (Season 7 Episode 3)

Betty is back! And she's being catty about a bra-less teacher, drinking cow milk and being generally terrible to her adoring son. God, I've missed her. Over in L.A. Megan seems to be going crazy and Don flies out to be with her. He ends up spilling the beans about losing the job and she calls it quits. I really hope we haven't seen the last of Megan. I love the character and Jessica Paré. After returning to New York, Don asks Roger for his job back and Roger tells him to go to the office on Monday. Roger does not let everybody know and we suffer one of the most painful scenes in ever. Don arrives at SCP and he doesn't belong. A very hateful person is occupying his office, the creative nobodies treat him like an equal and everything is terrible. In the last scene of the episode, the partners meet and a very cold Joan lists all the requirements for Don to get the job back (I love Hendricks here!). Surprisingly (for me, at least), Don says yes! He is back! Everyone is back!

MVP: January Jones as Betty. She is perfect at capturing the duality of the Betty that believes she wants to be a perfect mother and the Betty who actually does not give a fuck about the smallish people living under her roof.

1. Hannibal: "Naka-Choko" (Season 2 Episode 10)

If a couple of years ago you'd have told me that a TV show based on a character done to death was going to be the best thing since sliced bread I would not have believed you. And alas, here we are, and shit is getting real. In happy and completely bonkers and unexpected news, Will has embraced his killer instinct and is helped by Hannibal to create a work of art with a dead body. In sadder news, Will is real crazy and kills Freddie. I liked her! Sad face. But still, if her death only serves the purpose of Hannibal playfully saying to Will in the kitchen: "You slice the ginger", it will have been worth it. Michael Pitt appears and he is amazing as yet another crazy person (those abound, both in this show and in his filmography) who is training pigs to devour her sister. Said sister (whom I already love) has sex with Will while Hannibal and Alana are going at it and we get this scene where the latter two and Will are having a threesome. As my boyfriend said, it was the two men who should have kissed to drive the message home but I guess that was too much. Vincenzo Natali, never go.

MVP: Dancy and Mikkelsen. They are (short of Jon Hamm) giving the best performances by leading actors in a drama series and they are not going to be nominated at the Emmys. That is simply unfair. They are superb and their (quite homoerotic) chemistry is palpable.