The second week of President Barack Obama's (yeaaaaah, it feels good, doesn't it?) tenure in Washington left a few less casualties than usual in Hollywoodland. Unless you count Steven Adler, but his exploits on Sober House were technically filmed a few months back.
It was mostly a week for celebration, as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie unveiled their finest work yet, two nauseatingly adorable children, to the entire graduating class of a Japanese photography school.
But it was also five days of serious social commentary, courtesy of Ashlee Simpson and Kim Kardashian.
So without further drawn-out teasing of content that will ultimately be more succinctly stated than its lead-in, here are the top five things we learned this week:
5. Whether Tyler Perry's films offer something unique for an underserved demographic or actually pandering nonsense is debatable. But what's not up for argument is that someone should raise Jim Varney from the dead and give him some of Medea's royalties.
4. Jennifer Aniston likes to pretend getting naked on the cover of a magazine that sophisticated men jerk off to is somehow more noble than displaying airbrushed areolas for a publication less discreetly aimed at teenage boys and male divorcees. Then, again, what do you expect from a woman who's first major film role was in Leprechaun?
Here we go with another ridiculous Films From The Cable Afterlife. As usual, we scour the cable movie listings and turn up some diamonds, and lots of the rough. For best results, watch both. Your life may improve! 8. Mystery Of Monster Island (1981) Fox Movie Channel, Wednesday, February 3, 4am Unbelievable pile of crap by Juan Piquer Simon, one of the worst directors of the 20th century (he's also responsible for X-rated chainsaw slasher Pieces, MST3K fodder Pod People and K-Tel Films release The Supersonic Man). How a major studio found their way around distributing this one is anybody's guess (a series of blowjobs, perhaps), but you will never see Terence Stamp look more embarrassed. Watch if you dare.
7. DOUBLE FEATURE ALERT Pumpkin Karver (2006) The Movie Channel, Saturday, January 31, 12am Pumpkinhead (1988) IFC, Saturday, January 31, 1:35am The stars have aligned: two pumpkin-related horror movies back-to-back on the same night. Different networks, but still, work with me here. Friday Night Lights' Minka Kelly stars in the serial killer/Juggalo-style horror dumper Pumpkin Karver, while Lance Henriksen conjures up a demon to kill bikers in Stan Winston's minor classic Pumpkinhead. It's "Pumpkininny!"
6. Booty Call (1997) Cinemax (@MAX), Sunday, February 1, 8:05pm; Cinemax (WMAX), Monday, February 2, 6:50pm; Cinemax, Tuesday, February 3, 8:30pm Boisterous, offensive and couthless, Booty Call is actually one of the funnier comedies of the late '90s, and deserves another look. Jamie Foxx and Vivica A. Fox (playing characters named Bunz and Lysterine, respectively), join Tommy Davidson, a fake Indian guy, a dog that barks "Nigga Please!" in subtitles (and one Gedde Watanabe, willing to take any role no matter the stereotype, saying "Nigga Preese" in a Chinese restaurant), some hilarious orange pants, an incident with Saran Wrap as dental dam and some dude named Ug Lee. There's no one who won't be upset in its 79 minute runtime, but I don't think it'd work any other way. Watch it and pick your jaw up off the floor.
5. Ladies And Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains (1981) Turner Classic Movies, Saturday, January 31, 2am I hope that now this one has finally made it onto DVD, and not from some bootleg version that's been duped a thousand times from a Betamax that caught it on Showtime in the '80s, that we can see this legendary unreleased film for what it is: kind of a stinker. Still, there's never been anything like it before or since, and it's a fun time with a message. Teenagers Diane Lane and Laura Dern start a makeshift punk band that lands an opening spot for the fake real punk band The Looters, featuring Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook, The Clash's Paul Simonon and fronted by actor Ray Winstone. They create a media circus and have it all collapse on them within days, but it's a good enough time, also starring Fee Waybill from The Tubes and a special (awesome) appearance from Black Randy and the Metrosquad. Join the professionals!
No one's suggesting Paris Hilton is as point-of-view-less as Ashlee Simpson, but honey-child, we've all seen you in your most intimate moments of public exposure, and it there's yet to be any indication that you play the part of a private valedictorian.
Anyway, much like Ashlee's suddenly paleolithic-sized sister, Jessica Simpson, the multimillionaire heiress swears she only plays dumb to enhance her public persona, telling website GMTV that, "I just say jokes but they think I'm serious which I think is funny and
I think I kind of play up the image sometimes because, whatever, it's
Actually, sweetie-pants (and yes, I shall continue to refer to her under the assumed persona of a kindly middle-aged black woman), it's the perceived-to-be-realistic construction of your identity. And while your horde of lecherous managers and publicists may have kept that small detail from you in order to expand your brand and support their three snot-nosed little kids, it's truer than any one-liner you've uttered about confusing celebrity chefs with the British Prime Minister.
More Cable Afterlife, because you demanded it. You beat down my door. You followed me home. You took my seat on the subway. You cut in front of me in line. You better watch ... these movies. On cable, this Friday through next Thursday, like always. (All times in EST.) 8. Shanghai Surprise (1986) Encore Love, Monday, January 26, 10:30am As Sean Penn gears up to possibly win an Oscar for one of his best performances (as the titular Harvey Milk), it's high time to see him in one of his worst, and I'm not talking about I Am Sam. No, this is the spectacular flop he made with Madonna while the two were married. I dare you to finish it. P.S. It's heavily steam. I've said too much. Or have I?
7. Bullet (1995) IFC, Tuesday, January 27th, 12am As for said Oscars, Mickey Rourke's on the ascent with his role in The Wrestler. Check him out as he was careening to the bottom, out-acted by Tupac Shakur in this ruff-n-tuff action thriller, directed by Julien Temple
6. Luv (1967) Turner Classic Movies, Thursday, January 29th, 8:15am Jack Lemmon's about to jump off a bridge when he meets old friend Peter Falk, who pawns off his wife (Elaine May) on him so that he can be with his girlfriend. You can't pass on that cast, nor will you want to miss this rarely-screened Clive Donner effort from the peace-n-love era. Expect awkwardness, and a cameo by a young Harrison Ford as a longhair.
5. Funny Games (2008) Cinemax, Saturday, January 24th, 10pm It hasn't yet been determined if Michael Haneke's shot-for-shot remake of his own cinematic paradigm---the movie so brutal and heartless, it dares you not to watch and in effect judges you for how far along you've endured it---fulfilled whatever sort of Hollywood traction he may have been going for... because nobody's seen it, really. Here's your chance to.
January seems to be the month where cable TV networks, short on original series yet aware of an audience that's probably staying out of the cold, seem to air out their most interesting slates of movies and film programming. Films From The Cable Afterlife recommends a handful of these each week: some to watch, some to avoid. Here's some more suggestions for your pleasure, or lack thereof...
8. Prey (2007) Cinemax, Tuesday, January 20, 4:50am (and On Demand) People have remarked on the bad fortunes of The Weinstein Company ever since their acrimonious split with Disney (who walked away with their Miramax brand), but I say let 'em go. We haven't had this good of an exploitation studio since New World shuttered in the late '80s. Continuing with man vs. nature gore a la last week'sRogue, here's a safari horror flick in which Bridget Moynihan and Peter Weller, along with their children, are stranded in Africa and become Lunchables for a pride of hungry lions. Ivan Tors, we hardly knew ye.
7. Strange Hostel Of Naked Pleasures (1975) IFC, Saturday, January 17, 1:30am It's a Coffin Joe movie and it's outside the cycle of the three originals (At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, etc.), but watch it anyway. It is loaded with the kind of brash, earthy shocks Mexico has staked its reputation on, and it likely will offend you. That title is no joke.
6. Assassination Tango (2002) Monday, January 19, 9:45pm; Tuesday, January 20, 4:20am My colleague Andrew Earles has been harping on this movie since its release, a bizarre, faux-seductive tale of hitman Robert Duvall (who also directed) stuck in South America, falling in love, and learning how to dance; a more ridiculous plot you couldn't ask for, and a more stilted, awkward performance by Duvall you won't find. Also starring the omnipresent Latin-American singer and actor Ruben Blades. This is a warning!
5. Bedazzled (1967) Cinemax (5STARMAX), Sunday, January 18, 2:40pm, 10:30pm; Cinemax (ActionMAX), Wednesday, January 21, 5am For the entire time I've been writing these weekly rundowns, I've been utterly frustrated at cable's propensity to air the forgettable remake of this soul-selling comic allegory instead of Stanley Donen's superior-in-every-way original. That wrong has been righted. You may have been stuck on an airplane or in a waiting room watching Brendan Fraser sell his soul to Liz Hurley, and yeah, that might have angered you. But you NEED to see the genuine article, starring Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, one of the funniest comedy teams ever to grace a stage. Everything about this movie is great. Go watch it now.
At a time when America's collective fat ratio is perilously disproportionate, and the only people with a booming business are cardiac surgeons and pharmacists, there's nothing our nation needs more than Food Network "star" Guy Fieri celebrating the wonders of low-priced, artery-clogging T.G.I. Friday's appetizers every fucking 30 seconds.
You know the guy: He won that Next Food Network Star competition and then launched a series of programs revolving around down-home, no-frills food to ensure immediate gratification and even more instant mortality. And edge-ified the channel with a burly personality that befit his raspy voice, Hot Topic Hair and a shit-eating goatee.
I guess I'm not inherently adverse to the culture of crappy eating he promotes, nor the fact that he's cashed in on it with a soulless endorsement for a flavorless gourmet fast-food chain. I'm just generally allergic to any publicly visible personality who patches together an aesthetic out of second-hand, adolescent symbols of awesomeness and attempts to ooze his coolness juice all over something that was either helplessly mundane, or had plenty of inherent charm for anyone without a completely crippled attention span or insecurity in their individual sensibilities.
Fuck that guy. That Guy Fieri even. He sucks. Click here for the Sucks archive.
Hey, listen. Once in a while this site has to live up to elements of its URL. Especially if it can secretly suck you in and divert your attention to awesome Golden Globe fashion wrap-ups like this one.
But OK, if you won't stop your clamoring for candidly nekkid images of your favorite reality television stars, I suppose we can suffice. Hell, it's not like a little thing called ethical standards have stopped us before. And who can say no to a little accidental, bikini-exposed side titty (NSFW), courtesy of Whitney Port, start of MTV's The Hills spinoff, The City? (See how that whole delayed rhyme thing worked there and made us feel less silly about using the word titty?)
First Audrina Patridge, now Whitney... Lauren Conrad better watch her ass, and boobs and vajayjay, because the stalkerazzi lenses no doubt have their sights set on the queen bee next.
Hey there, and how's your father? No, seriously, he wasn't doing so well the last time we made love and I'm genuinely curious if he's gotten over that horrible encounter with the Samoan princess.
Well, at least we've been able to competently take the temperature of Hollywoodland, and let me tell you, it is burning up. No pun intended in the case of still-rockin' and still-shirtless Travis Barker. And absolutely pun intended in terms of the rampant gonorrhea ravaging the Rock Of Love Bus.
But those were just a couple of the items exploding the zeitgeist since last weekend that have whetted our appetites for some good ol' pop-culture excess and voyeurism, and on that accord we triumphantly bring you the top five things NCDSUV learned this week:
5. Were we the only ones who read the news about Travis Barker getting back behind the drum kit, became momentarily inspired, then saw that he was still insistent on playing shirtless despite a burn-ravaged body and thought, "Man, he's still a skater douche, huh?"
4. Awww, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Patricia Arquette broke up with their boyyyyfweeeends. Someone call the waaaaaambulance. Now the remainder of Hollywood's single male population will have two more pairs of phenomenal, natural breasts to play comeptitive tourneys of backgammon over. Waaaaaa!
Films from the Cable Afterlife soldiers on for yet another week, highlighting special movies from special people. Laugh, cry, feel something, even if that feeling is embarrassment for having spent 90 minutes of your lives watching people get eaten by a tree. You heard right. Read on for the dirty details. (All listings in EST.)
8. The Guardian (1990) Cinemax (WMAX), Friday, January 9, 4pm; Monday January 12, 7:40am; Thursday, January 15, 2:45pm We're gonna bookend today's list with works from director William Friedkin, at his absolute lowest and his most recent heights. Might as well start from the bottom with this confusing, absurd horror tale about a nanny (Jenny Seagrove) who may just be some manner of wolf-like creature, as well as a druid. She's gonna sacrifice another baby, and hikers are going to get chewed up by a stump. One of the worst of the '90s, and it kicked off a string of forgettable, tawdry features from this one-time great. It would take years for him to get his groove back, but at least he turned it around on his own terms. Miguel Ferrer and Brad Hall co-star. Try not to kick a hole in your TV afterwards as you wonder how any network could bring itself to show this one three times in the space of a week.
7. Sisters (1973) IFC, Friday, January 9, 8pm; Saturday, January 10, 4:30am
Early, suspenseful Brian DePalma, back in his hungrier days. It's no Phantom Of The Paradise, but really, nothing is. Margot Kidder stars as a demure French girl with a horrible secret: Her formerly conjoined twin sister, hiding in the closet with a knife. Reporter Jennifer Salt is unlucky enough to witness the murder, and her investigation robs her of her personality. The scene in the mental institution where she squares off with a germophobe is positively unnerving, and overall this thing is far, far better than what the genre deserved.
6. Old Dracula (1974) Retroplex, Tuesday, January 13, 6:20pm David Niven takes a turn as the count, desperately trying to revive his wife Vampira after centuries in the coffin. The blood transfusion she receives turns her into a African-American. Dracula is bummed and she's out gettin' her thing on in the clubs of an avocado-green London. Can't make this up; couldn't even try. Clive Donner directs, from a particularly low point in his career. Look for Linda Hayden, the knockout Sabbath fan from Blood on Satan's Claw, presumably naked... again.
5. Terror On The 40th Floor (1974) Fox Movie Channel, Friday, January 16, 2am Legendary made-for-TV stinker, in the footsteps of The Towering Inferno. Office revelers John Forsyth, Don Meredith and Joseph Campanella are among the B-list talent stranded in a burning skyscraper at Christmas Eve. Will they survive? Will you?
Welcome to NCDSUV's splenetic, embittered new weekly feature, Overdressed & Underclassed, which with each installment will dissect a different aspect of celebrity fashion with the enthusiasm and exactitude of a taxidermist suffering from the second clinical phase of rabies (caution: We have reached the contagious stage).
In the spirit of the reincarnation mojo that comes with each New Year, we decided to take the opportunity to (for a change) applaud some much-welcomed progress in the wardrobe department of some of our favorite Hollywoodland targets over in Hollywoodland.
8. Angelina Jolie Unlike most of the rest of the planet, I remain resolutely unimpressed with Angel Angie. Yes, she's adopted a bijillion babies and has accomplished truly superb things as a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Refugee Agency. And that whole Academy Award thing is nothing to spit at. But everyone else (including Angie) is so busy showering praise on her frail little shoulders, there's hardly room for one more accolade from the peanut gallery. I'm saving my accolades for her closet. She somehow managed to go from fright-night horror (all big lips, vials of blood, vacant eyes, witchy black hair tied with an oversized leopard-patterned ribbon and hideous jean jackets) to polished mommy glamazon (all big lips, purposeful gazes, yummy mummy beautifully tailored, tasteful and flattering clothes and much better accessories, Brad Pitt being the penultimate of course).
7. Jessica Biel She has managed to evade two major H'wood facts of life: People who star in family friendly crapfests on the small screen (7th Heaven) will never make it to the big-budget big screen (The Illusionist, Blade: Trinity, etc.) and that women have to dress like prostitutes to be taken (ahem) seriously by major studios. Biel embraced her down-home, super-casual style a touch too fervently, however, and I'm relieved to see she's eschewed the shapeless girl-next-door bell-bottoms and the random, ill-fitting shiny tops obviously slapped on her by a desperate stylist in a last-ditch attempt at glam for the occasional elegantly slinky dress that bares her impressive booty.
6. Kirsten Dunst Sharing your first kiss onscreen at the tender age of 11 with a vampire and then being launched into a brutal, multiple movies a year schedule would warp anyone. And Kirsten, like most child stars, failed or was never given the opportunity to develop as an individual. Obvious and tragic symptoms aside, (stints in rehab, troubled relationships), the perfectly cute, and totally underrated, blond starlet drowned her sorrows in an unforgiving sea of chipped, noir nail-polish, poorly executed updos, Jessica McClintock-like formal wear and outfits that look as if they were produced by frazzled clerks during a hold-up of the Salvation Army. But girlfriend got her groove back from whence it was hiding, and while she'll probably never hit the dizzying heights of chic, she's finally come into her own with brushed and styled (hello!) golden tresses, offbeat takes on downtown prep and the proud display of legs that goes for miles and miles and miles and miles...
5. Nicole Richie Forget Madonna. Richie has reinvented reinvention. She went from a slightly pudgy (but consummately cute) Paris Hilton sidekick in The Simple Life to a cadaverous L.A. beach bum, club troll and inmate to trim, suburban wife and mother in less time than it takes some people to get through Madge's Sex book. But almost invariably, Nicole manages to effortlessly pull off aggressively casual West Coast refinement (face-eating sunglasses and hair don'ts notwithstanding) like no one else. The only thing threatening her reign over the Valley was her Skeletor stage, hopefully a problem rooted firmly in her past.