Tag Archives: HBO

It’s A Wrap – Part One.

Wrapping up the box.

MY TELEVISION YEAR.

It has been a very busy year for Babs so there were far and few television programmes watched with regularity. Thankfully I have a DVR and with boxed set DVDs and friends abroad it has allowed me to catch up on some great TV viewing. Here are my faves and the reasons why I stay glued to the flat screen.

1. The new kid on the block – AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

The wondrous creators of ‘Glee’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’ – Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy are responsible for this campy take on the haunted house theme. A young family movie into a house in Los Angeles to repair some damage done due to daddy’s infidelity. Full of naughty housekeepers in garters or with glass eyes, a rubber gimp suit, creepy neighbours, ghosts past and present, a homo couple and references to the pitfalls of childbirth and children to boot! It is a real treat, crafty and creepy, a guilty pleasure – minus the guilt! Jessica Lange in her SAG and Golden Globe nominated role as southern neighbour Constance is the shows highlight amongst many. Renewed for a second season, this time with a different family, house and ghosts I can’t wait to be horrorfied again.

2. The silliest  stalwart – TRUE BLOOD Season 4.

Sooky (Anna Paquin) and her sexy suitors returned for more murderous mayhem and plenty of blood spilling. This time the foe was a coven of witches led by the formidable Fiona Shaw as the leader Marni. One highlight was when the superb Nelsan Ellis as, arguably the best character in the treasured show – Lafayette channels the spirit of Marni therefore imitating Fiona Shaw,  it was a hoot . Kristen Bauer van Straten as vampiress Pam had lines of dialogue to rival Sue Slyvester in ‘Glee”. It was sillier and bloodier then previous seasons but it still works for me. Bring on season 5 which will feature Christopher Meloni (Law & Order SVU, Oz) as a sexy superior vampire. What more beefcake?  🙂

3. Never a pain – NURSE JACKIE Season 3.

Edie Falco, warts and all, returned as the most flawed character I can recall on the small screen. This season a new nurse entered the frame and he was right on Jackie’s case. She managed to dodge the bullets of last seasons revelation that she is indeed a pill popping addict using prescription drugs to avoid the pains of life in a big city hospital – juggling a dual life at home and at work, the final episode in which she pulled the two- faced whammy and asked her husband to get out of the house was a whopper. Falco leads this great ensemble with a riveting performance, Eve Best as the best friend continued to delight as do the rest of the staff of All Saints hospital in NYC all helping to make this series one of the best shows on TV right now. It shows no sign of losing its appeal making me want for another hit – am I an addict?

4. Medievil Mafiosa – GAME OF THRONES.

HBO – well those 3 capital letters they do make you stand up and take notice. New to the quality stable of series comes a show that is a real treat. It has been tagged  as a ‘The Sopranos” in Middle Earth but it is far more than that.

Filmed in Ireland and Malta the scenery is glorious and production values are of the highest order making this show flawless and allowing  you to immerse yourself  into the fantasy world that simply makes you believe. Fine acting from a mostly British/European cast and an Emmy winning performance by the little man of the moment Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) this series follows many clans across many kingdoms who covet the throne to rule all. It took me a while to work out who was who and what the hell was going on at times, but it has individual scenes that were riveting and as a whole was entirely engrossing. Once I found my way around the clans of the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens, and so on I was hooked.

Production design and costumes should be singled out along with seamless CGI that has you seeing and believing in this wondrous other world. The title sequence is superb as well.

Mention must be made of the final scene, I was absolutely stunned, it came from nowhere but once revealed I cannot recall a single image like it in recent times, it shook my world and will surely shake up the next eagerly awaited sophomore season of this great show.

5. Musical Mayhem – GLEE Season 2 and 3 (pt 1)

The musical maniacs of McKinley high school returned and whilst the episodes were very patchy and uneven, when it soared it was well worth the effort of persevering with this pioneering show. The episode in which virginity was lost between a heterosexual and homosexual couple of kids was a highlight, though not as controversial as they say, it cleverly used  the staging of the musical of West Side Story to great effect. Sue Sylvester had her usual quotas of clingers –  always a delight. I am looking forward to the new series ‘Smash” that follows in the musical footsteps of this favourite of mine.

6. Homegrown quality at last – THE SLAP

Perhaps setting a long overdue benchmark for quality television out of  Australia this controversial suburban soap opera had everyones tongues wagging. ‘Who’s side are you on?’ was the tagline – following the aftermath of a family BBQ in which a child was slapped by another adult, not his parents. Based on the acclaimed popular novel by Christos Tsiolkas each episode concentrated on a separate character as the saga continued. Covering many hot topic issues and featuring a multicultural cast the performances were first class, the writing gratefully accomplished and the production values at the top end of the scale. It was a welcome change on the local television scene. Kudos to cinematographer Andy Commis who created a cinematic canvas that is unusual for Aussie drama.

Please don’t die on us – THE BIG C season 2.

Laura Linney returned as Cathy with terminal cancer – at times she can be very self righteous and selfish but then she is dying so I guess all can be forgiven. This dramedy had some fine moments and some terrific guest stars – Hugh Dancy & Parker Posey. It was good to see the character of Andrea played by Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) fully fleshed out this time. Unfortunately I missed a couple of eps midway but the final episode packed a sentimental but very powerful wallop, making me feel I had run an emotional marathon myself.

Honorable mentions to

MODERN FAMILY  – a great cast of characters both the adults and the kids, constantly funny, I don’t watch religiously but I am always pleased when I catch eps every now and again.

THE LOVE BOAT (reruns on 11) – I love catching up on the retro guest stars often Hollywood icons long dead and TV has beens.  Silly storlylines that keep me interested even though oh so cliched.

THE GOLDEN GIRLS (reruns on Gem) – A TV comedy classic with a great cast of elder actresses. Betty White is the last dame standing as sadly the other 3 cast members Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty are no longer with us. Perfect comic timing and wonderful retro references tickle my funny bone a plenty.

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Bring on the fried chicken…..

For those of you who may know Babs on a personal level, there is quite an obsession with food on film representation.

Recently (before his sojourn to Vietnam to experience amazingly fresh food that has also become an obsession) Babs watched 2 filmed projects that sparked off an obsession for fried chicken US style.

1. I saw the HBO mini-series “Mildred Pierce” starring the brilliant Kate Winslet in her Emmy award winning role as the chicken frying/waffle making shameful mom of a conceited daughter, kudos to Guy Pearce for his Emmy win also, and the rest of the sublime cast – Mare Winningham, Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Brian F. O’Byrne….. directed by a great favorite of mine Todd Haynes. But I digress…there was a sequence where Mildred prepared her famous fried chicken and i just salivated all over the TV screen. thank god for spray’n’wipe!!

2. I also saw the hit US film “The Help”, a very successful Hollywood adaptation of a book about “coloured” maids and their experiences in the 50’s amongst the priveleged white folk, it is very commercial, but in a spot on way that deserves the success it has achieved. Great performances by all, especially Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain. it also featured a chicken frying sequence that had me drooling once again.

So Babs googled and perused until he was happy with the fitting recipe to fry up the chicken for himself.

Here are the results….. sorry for the copious amounts of mashed potato, but it is an American meal after all.

Oh and by the way, I was thrilled that production designer  Mark Friedberg won the Emmy for Mildred Pierce, he is so brilliant, the day he wins an Oscar will be a thrill to Babs –  will celebrate with a Southern fried chicken meal thats for sure.

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Catch them if you can.

Awards season will soon be upon us.

Here are a few early predictions to ponder, and try and catch if you can.

Some I have seen and some I have not, but I am shuffling off to see anon.

1. Best Supporting Actress

Jessica Chastain for “The Help”.

Jessica has landed on our screens with a wide variety of roles this year. I think this will be the one that should definitely land her a walk along the red carpet.

She stole all the scenes she appeared in and reminded me of the raw talent that Melanie Griffith used to excel in.

She has also appeared in “The Debt”, “Take Shelter” and of course “The Tree Of Life” ( a film I absolutely loathed and I want to bring back the hours I wasted seeing it) – it is likely she may get the nod for this one, she should get the nod for the most changes of dress whilst swaying around the front lawn award!!!!

2. Best Actor

Michael Shannon for “Take Shelter”.

Jessica Chastain’s co-star in a film I have yet to see, he has been getting raves for his performance as a man who has apocalyptic visions and decides to build a shelter for his family. He was nominated once before for a supporting turn in “Revolutionary Road” and is a regular on the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire”.

3. Best Supporting Actor.

Christopher Plummer for “Beginners”.

As Ewan McGregor’s widowed father who “comes out” after the death of his wife, this performance has been getting a lot of attention amongst the award pundits. The film hasn’t had the best of reviews but it seems Mr Plummer makes it worth while. It’s about time he got some reward for his stellar career.

I plan to see it this week before it disappears.

More predictions to follow soon.

 

 

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Mirren & Midler merge

So the telefilm being made about legendary music producer Phil Spector’s murder trial and his relationship with his defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden was suspended almost a week ago due to the health issues (a herniated disc apparently!) of Bette Midler who was to play Baden Kenney – she had to pull out of the project after 6 days of filming. Al Pacino is playing Phil Spector . My how fabulous those two together would have been. The HBO film is written and directed by David Mamet. Now comes the news that Dame Helen Mirren is replacing Midler in the role. Wow! Very different performers indeed. Doesn’t excite me much as I suspect a lot of “acting” will come with this Dame in the role, where-as I think Midler would have gone with instinct and been spectacular and she is a damn good lookey-likey.

Oh, Well!

Pacino plays Phil

Al’s lookey-likey Phil Spector

Linda Kenney Baden dead ringer for Bette

The Divine Miss M

Dame Mirren saves the day

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Diva Fest

As I am about to start working on a new project involving divas, I thought I might share some of my fave divas of late.

NURSE JACKIE

Edie Falco

 

THE BIG C

Laura Linney

 

MILDRED PIERCE

Kate Winslet

 

DOWNTON ABBEY

Maggie Smith

Expect them all to be nominated for an EMMY this year.

and last but by no means least……

SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK

Julie Taymor

 

 

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Pee Wee wants an Emmy

Taking a leaf out of Oscar winner Melissa Leo’s book, Pee Wee Herman has donned a fur coat on his quest to win an Emmy for his HBO special – The Pee Wee Herman Show On Broadway.

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Grey Gardens – Pure Gold

When I heard that there was to be a local Melbourne production of the Broadway musical “Grey Gardens” I became very excited. I love the documentary it is based on and was an admirer of the telemovie that starred Drew Barrymore & Jessica Lange. Also I have seen a pirated copy of the Broadway show. I am a HUGE Grey Gardens fan.

But I was baffled as to who would be cast in the roles of Big Edie & Little Edie Bouvier Beale???

For those who are unaware of the story, Big Edie and her daughter Little Edie were the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The two women lived together at a house called Grey Gardens in the Hamptons for decades, with very little money, living in squalor and  isolation. A 1975 documentary made by David & Albert Maysles revealed the everyday lives of the codependent mother & daughter socialites, it became a cult classic and was rediscovered a few years back spawning the musical and telemovie.

In the musical the first act imagines the early years of the women and explores the reasoning behind the later years of their lives. The second act features the later years and includes the documentary makers as characters. The actress who plays Big Edie in the first act goes on to play Little Edie in the second. It is the role of a lifetime for an actress. The part of Big Edie in the second act is also a meaty part. So who has been cast you may ask?

As Little Edie we have the wonderful Pamela Rabe, arguably a first lady of the Melbourne theatre scene, and as Big Edie stage veteran and an immense talent – Nancye Hayes. Inspired casting I say – I can’t wait to see it.

The Production Company (Melbourne’s equivalent of NY’s Encores series) will present the musical at the Playhouse Theatre for 12 performances November 25 to Dec 4.

The real life Little Edie

The real Big Edie

Drew Barrymore & Jessica Lange as TV’s Little Edie & Big Edie.

Pamela Rabe as Little Edie

Look!!! a Little Edie dolly 🙂

Look again!!!! a Big Edie dolly 🙂

Entrepreneur Jeannie Pratt head of The production Company who is presenting GG.

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