Monday, August 20, 2007


"Are you fucking retarded?" someone asks David Duchovny's character in the second episode of Showtime's new series Californication. The answer is yes, both the character and the show are indeed fucking retarded. It may manage to succeed, however, because it's full of sex and nudity. Unfortunately, even that can't make up for what a smug, unpleasant, trite-to-the-point-near-self-parody show Californication is. In the fact, the show is so bad, so stupid, so cliched and pointless, I have to wonder if it isn't some kind of joke. Like, after a few episodes it turns out the previous episodes were actually the work on some hack TV writer that the show is actually about.

Then again, the show is so sexually obsessed in such an uncreatively prurient, adolescent way, I kind of have to wonder if it isn't really intended to be viewed as softcore porn, in which case it's actually a cut above. Irritating, pretentious, but definitely better than your average softcore porn, and with slightly more famous performers. So, I guess that's something, or whatever.

It seems like there are some reasonably talented people involved in this show, and that they should know better, but apparently they don't, so fuck 'em. Sadly, one of those people who should know better one of my favorite character actors, Damien Young, who's appeared in several Hal Hartley movies and played the bus driver on the Adventures of Pete & Pete and deserves much better than this.

Californication may be fucking retarded, but Showtime's other pseudo-comedy/drama series Weeds isn't, or at least not as much. I've seen the first four episodes of the new season, two of which have aired at this point, and the quality of writing and characterization on this show has steadily increased after the fairly lame first season and the drastically improved second season. Unlike Californication and many other cable shows, Weeds has grown beyond just being amused with itself for being able to feature adult themes and profanity/violent/nudity/sex/drug use (well, not entirely, but certainly more so than almost anything else in Showtime's original programming) and has instead focused on character development, even if they did rather offhandedly kill off one of last season's major characters (played by Martin Donovan, another Hal Hartley and Pete & Pete veteran). Weeds has the potential to transcend it's fairly cliched high-concept premise and actually begin to offer viewers something of substance.

Even better is Showtime's Dexter. For my money, Dexter is the best show on TV. It's more down-to-earth (literally) than Battlestar Galactica and, uh...what are the other good shows on TV? Anyway, Dexter is the complete package, and the second season, loosely based on Jeff Lindsay's second novel Dearly Devoted Dexter, seems very promising based on the two preview episodes I've seen. I'd like to write something more in-depth on the show in the future, but I'm getting over what I think was the flu, and "I like it" seems the deepest level of analysis I'm capable of at the moment...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Oy, I wish I was dead...

Yesterday, I looked more like Charles Bronson than usual. Wonder what's up with that?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

R.I.P. Antonioni & Bergman

A friend sent me this email last week:

'so this total bro and his ditzy girlfriend are riding the subway. the bro picks up a discarded new york post, browses an article, and exclaims: "whoah! ingmar bergman was a dude?"'

Originally this post was going to be an extended piece on the deaths, or really the lives and films, or Antonioni and Bergman, but in trying to write that, I found that I didn't have anything especially interesting to say about either. Bergman I am less familiar with although I like the films of his that I've seen.
I found a lot to identify with in Antonioni's films, especially his earlier work- Il GRIDO, L'AVVENTURA, LA NOTTE, L'ECLISSE - and his two "psychedelic" films, BLOW UP and ZABRISKIE POINT. These films were all great, but especially explosive (literally, in the case of ZABRISKIE POINT) in their endings. Particularly powerful is the mini-apocalypse of oppressive modernity at the end of L'ECLISSE.
Anyway, I think that's all I'm going to say. I'm certainly behind in my reviews, so hopefully I'll be back later in the week with a few new reviews- I still need to write about JOSHUA, BUG and the rest of the films I saw at the New York Asian Film Festival last month. Add to that list ROCKET SCIENCE, a very agreeable new comedy, and the first episodes of the upcoming seasons of DEXTER- maybe the best show on television?- and WEEDS- which started off kind of lame in the first season but by the forthcoming third season has gotten quite good. Well, maybe those are my reviews right there- agreeable, the best thing on TV, formerly lame- now much better. Anyway, expect more writing later in the week.