TV: The Problem with Smash.

This post was originally published earlier in the year when Smash first aired on Foxtel’s W, now SoHo.

Smash, the Steven Spielberg-produced musical-serial about a Marilyn Monroe Broadway show, debuted with promise. I quite enjoyed the first few episodes, with Debra Messing as one of the musical’s writers, Angelica Huston as its producer, and Broadway star Megan Hilty as the number one contender for the role of Marilyn. But then Smash kind of plateaued.

Clem Bastow, writing for TheVine, seems to think it’s because of Katharine McPhee’s inclusion as the other competitor vying for the lead, and I have to agree. Bastow writes:

“The trouble with McPhee’s performance in Smash is that it jolts me out of my suspension of disbelief… [B]ut whenever Karen/Katharine opens her mouth, the fourth wall comes crashing down around me. Her voice is thin, her performance mannered, she acts with her chin like a young Gwyneth Paltrow, and self-consciously holds her mouth in such a way to suggest a very pretty female version of Jack Nicholson’s Joker.”

I’m all for Hilty’s Ivy Lynn, who’s spent ten years in the chorus and lives and breathes Marilyn through and through. But I just can’t get behind McPhee’s Karen Cartwright who, as Ivy rightfully observes, got to New York five minutes ago, hasn’t paid her dues and is already getting callbacks for lead roles. She can’t act (McPhee as Karen nor Karen as Marilyn), complains about everything and is an ineffable dolt.

But in the last few weeks, Smash has been looking up. I immensely enjoyed the episode when Ivy lost the plot after being replaced as Marilyn by Uma Thurman’s major movie star, Rebecca Duvall, and had to go back to being an angel in the chorus line of Bombshell’s (the name they’ve settled on for the fictional—but very well could be a real Broadway show if Smash’s commercial success continues—musical) writers’ other Broadway show, Heaven on Earth. Ivy loses it, mixes her throat medication with alcohol, goes on stage high, and ends up singing Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” with Karen in Times Square (video above. Please excuse the horrid quality, but I wanted a clip that actually showed the scene rather than just the audio).

I still can’t stand Karen and Ellis, the sneaky assistant to Huston’s Eileen and, formerly, Bombshell writer Tom Levitt but, if it’s about Marilyn Monroe, I’m willing to let Smash go out with a bang.

Are you watching Smash? What do you think of it?

Related: The Problem with Smash. 

Elsewhere: [The Vine] You Ain’t Gettin’ 88 Cents From Me, Smash.

Image via Crushable.

TV: The Problem with Smash.

 

Smash, the Steven Spielberg-produced musical-serial about a Marilyn Monroe Broadway show, debuted with promise. I quite enjoyed the first few episodes, with Debra Messing as one of the musical’s writers, Angelica Huston as its producer, and Broadway star Megan Hilty as the number one contender for the role of Marilyn. But then Smash kind of plateaued.

Clem Bastow, writing for TheVine, seems to think it’s because of Katharine McPhee’s inclusion as the other competitor vying for the lead, and I have to agree. Bastow writes:

“The trouble with McPhee’s performance in Smash is that it jolts me out of my suspension of disbelief… [B]ut whenever Karen/Katharine opens her mouth, the fourth wall comes crashing down around me. Her voice is thin, her performance mannered, she acts with her chin like a young Gwyneth Paltrow, and self-consciously holds her mouth in such a way to suggest a very pretty female version of Jack Nicholson’s Joker.”

I’m all for Hilty’s Ivy Lynn, who’s spent ten years in the chorus and lives and breathes Marilyn through and through. But I just can’t get behind McPhee’s Karen Cartwright who, as Ivy rightfully observes, got to New York five minutes ago, hasn’t paid her dues and is already getting callbacks for lead roles. She can’t act (McPhee as Karen nor Karen as Marilyn), complains about everything and is an ineffable dolt.

But in the last few weeks, Smash has been looking up. I immensely enjoyed the episode when Ivy lost the plot after being replaced as Marilyn by Uma Thurman’s major movie star, Rebecca Duvall, and had to go back to being an angel in the chorus line of Bombshell’s (the name they’ve settled on for the fictional—but very well could be a real Broadway show if Smash’s commercial success continues—musical) writers’ other Broadway show, Heaven on Earth. Ivy loses it, mixes her throat medication with alcohol, goes on stage high, and ends up singing Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” with Karen in Times Square (video above. Please excuse the horrid quality, but I wanted a clip that actually showed the scene rather than just the audio).

I still can’t stand Karen and Ellis, the sneaky assistant to Huston’s Eileen and, formerly, Bombshell writer Tom Levitt but, if it’s about Marilyn Monroe, I’m willing to let Smash go out with a bang.

Are you watching Smash? What do you think of it?

Elsewhere: [The Vine] You Ain’t Gettin’ 88 Cents From Me, Smash.

Image via IMDb.

Megan Fox Too “Spicy” for Transformers?

 

A few weeks ago I caught a snippet from a Shia LaBeouf interview in the back pages of Famous, claiming that “Megan [Fox] developed this Spice Girl strength, this woman-empowerment [stuff] that made her feel awkward about her involvement with Michael [Bay] who some people think is a very lascivious filmmaker, the way he films women,” but wasn’t able to locate it again til this week.

Love her or hate her (personally, I lurrrrve her!), you’ve got to admire Fox for her outspokenness and, if that means, in this day and age, that she’s “Spice Girl”-esque, then so be it.

It’s kind of sad, actually, that to stand up to a cretinous misogynist and say “actually, no, I don’t want to be involved in a film where all my character does is lay about on a motorcycle while you direct the cameraman to get up-skirt shots of me” equates to being a caricature of pop-feminism from fifteen years ago.

I think LaBeouf was trying to remain loyal to both sides of the coin, but he has been critical of Transformers director Bay in the past. It’s just that he’s a guy and the star of the film, so they look the other way, whereas Fox is an apparently replaceable sex object who’ll never work in this town Hollywood again.

At least, that’s according to this week’s Famous, which has a somewhat-outdated story on Fox’s firing from the franchise, her replacement with Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and her allegedly anti-Semitic remarks against Bay. The article references a 2009 interview with Wonderland magazine, and an open anonymous letter posted on Bay’s website, which was written at least a year ago.

When talking about the release of the latest Transformers flick with a male friend, he said Fox was an idiot for trash-talking Bay and expecting not to get fired for it. (There is no evidence to suggest Fox did think that, FYI.) I wondered why Fox is the scapegoat to illustrate not biting the hand that feeds you in standing up for herself and refusing to be objectified in such a “way that appeals to a 16-year-old’s sexuality”, while Bay is lauded for his special effects and partnership with Steven Spielberg.  He said he didn’t care; having a car with a button that you could press which turns it into your very own gigantic friend was cooler. Right: who cares how horrible the people making movies are, as long as the end product is good fulfills some boyish childhood fantasy, right?

Related: The Beautiful, Bigmouthed Backlash Against Katherine Heigl & Megan Fox.

“She Just Wants Attention.”

Gay Chicken: Latent Homophobia in “Why Would You Go Gay For?”

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

Minus Two & a Half Men.

Elsewhere: [IndieWire] Shia LaBeouf Claims Megan Fox’s “Spice Girl Strength” Got Her Fired From New Transformers Movie.

Image via Semaj Blogeater.

Movie Review: Super 8.

 

E.T. meets Tomorrow, When the War Began meets Signs meets The Goonies. That’s how I would describe Super 8.

Going into it on Tuesday night, I didn’t have much of a clue what the Steven Spielberg-produced, J. J. Abrams-written-and-directed effort, named for the type of film used in the late 1970s, was about. I saw a review in Who that looked promising, and I was intrigued by the almost all-kid cast.

The alien aspect, which is introduced when the kids are filming a zombie movie over the summer and they witness a purposeful train derailment, is neither here nor there to the actual story, which is a “coming of age” tale of Joe Lamb, whose mother died in a workplace accident a few months prior.

Joe’s dad, the town deputy, is struggling to deal with the death of his wife and being a more present father to Joe than before the accident. He holds a grudge against the man whose shift his wife took the day of her death, who just so happens to be Joe’s friend Alice’s drunk father. Joe and Alice are forbidden from seeing each other, but that doesn’t stop them from working together on their friend Charles’ Super 8 film about zombies, the full version of which can be seen in the credits.

After the train derailment, which is caught on film by the kids, they seek out the truck that caused the accident, driven by their biology teacher, Dr. Woodward. He tells the kids not to mention a word of the accident to anyone or risk death.

Strange things start happening in the town, like abductions, lost dogs and power lines disappearing into thin air. My friend Eddie had the theory that the “alien aspect” had something to do with the Soviet space dogs used in experiments in the 1950s and ’60s. Personally, I liked this notion very much, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m not a big fan of supernatural films, especially those with aliens, and some parts of the movie were scarier than I expected. In all honesty, the movie could have done better to not be centered around aliens.

The kids and Deputy Lamb independently piece together the mystery as the Air Force arrives in the town for the clean-up. Dr. Woodward has been killed by Colonel Nelec, the man in charge of the investigation, when he didn’t offer up the information they wanted.

The kids break into the school to access Woodward’s files, which reveal him as a researcher with the Air Force in 1958, when an extraterrestrial crashed on Earth. The government captured and tortured the creature in an effort to understand more about it. Woodward was empathetic to the alien’s plight, and wanted to set it free so it could return to its home planet. That’s what he was doing on the train tracks that night.

The E.T. parts of the film got a bit convoluted at times, and my friend Sallie commented on aspects of the storyline that didn’t add up.

But the inclusion of the endearing troupe of kids and their adventures made up for any inconsistencies. Think Stand By Me, but with aliens.

Related: Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden Review.

Images via IMDb.