• Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • ER
  • Judging Amy
  • Lost
  • NYPD Blue
  • Picket Fences

What do these have in common? The primary cast of the film Jane Austen Book Club is comprised of television veterans from those beloved shows. In order from above: Marc Blucas, Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits and Kathy Baker. The other two leads are British imports Hugh Dancy and Emily Blunt (almost unrecognizable with a brunette bob wig and miles from her scene-stealing performance in The Devil Wears Prada).

Jane Austen Book Club writer/director Robin Swicord is no stranger to literary adaptations; she also penned the screenplays for Memoirs of a Geisha and Little Women. Even though I have read almost all of Jane Austen’s work (I majored in English and studied in London for a semester; it was required reading and I loved it), I just don’t think that the material from Karen Joy Fowler’s original novel was strong enough to sustain a full-length feature. This film would have been much better suited as a television series or made-for-TV movie.

Brief but true. It wasn’t very inspiring. The end.

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I watched a ridiculous amount of television this week (live, online and on TiVO). Here is my report card:

  • Bones: A
  • Cane: C
  • Chuck: B+
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: A-
  • Dirty Sexy Money: A
  • Friday Night Lights: B-
  • Grey’s Anatomy: B
  • Heroes: B
  • House: A
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: B
  • K-Ville: C
  • Life: B-
  • The Office: A
  • Private Practice: B+
  • Ugly Betty: B
  • Weeds: A-

The only show from my wish list that I missed was Reaper, and I don’t understand why The CW doesn’t show it a) as a repeat on the network, b) on their website, or c) on iTunes.

On my docket next week:

  • 30 Rock
  • Bionic Woman (will watch premiere ep. on TiVO this weekend)
  • Brothers and Sisters
  • Dexter
  • Pushing Daisies

What would you rate the new and returning shows? Leave YOUR grades in the comments section…

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File under: random. Last night I stopped to get gas at a Shell station. Normally I head for the cheap stuff but right now they’re all competing within $.01 per gallon higher or lower in my neighborhood. Anyway, I froze while removing the gas cap, because I thought my car became possessed or secretly transformed into Kit’s ugly cousin on Knight Rider. All of a sudden I heard, “next on Access Hollywood…” I turned around and saw that there was a very nice flat panel HD TV above the gas pump, running promos for NBC shows. Like a vidiot, I stood there staring up at the TV, mouth agape, filling up my tank.

Have I reached a new low because I enjoyed the small screen while inhaling fuel fumes? No. That will happen when said highlights play in individual bathroom stalls in every theater, stadium, restaurant and mall across the country.

God forbid we spend two minutes thinking quietly while pumping gas. Add this to the growing list of modern technologies designed specifically to keep us constantly entertained. Were these gas station televisions put in place to distract us from the ridiculous prices at the pumps? If so, mission not accomplished.

File under: not fair. The TV at the gas pump is better than my own. By a long shot. The screen is smaller but the resolution is better. My 12 year old television is dying a slow death, and I can’t wait to upgrade that and my TiVO (hello, I need far more hours than the archaic version currently holds). Dear Santa…

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Like every other geeky TV fan, I am very excited for the Season 2 premiere of Heroes tonight. I have two choices – watch it live and suffer through the commercials, or TiVo it and watch later tonight. Tough call for favorite shows.

I have never owned a comic book. But my inner sci-fi soul loves a superhero. And the only movie franchise that continues to disappoint is Spider-Man. Actually, that is putting it mildly. I recently sat through Spider-Man 3, and it was shockingly awful. I was laughing out loud, and the movie isn’t funny at all. I’ve never witnessed two lead actors with less chemistry, and Maguire and Dunst should be embarrassed by their performances (regardless of the obscene paychecks). It’s no secret that they do NOT like each other offscreen, and the tension between them in the film is both painfully obvious and uncomfortable.  And yes, I realize that writer/director Sam Raimi is the king of intermingling camp with the dark side (see: The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness), but the screenplay for Spider-Man 3 was horrible. Watching Maguire dance was excruciating and soared far beyond jumping the shark. And for the love of orthodontics, someone needs to direct Dunst to a dentist, stat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – visibly wayward teeth are not charming in hi-def, and she can afford it.

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What the hell is wrong
with me? I am absolutely unaffected by extremely vivid violence on
television and in films. While others were gasping and covering their
eyes during specific moments in both of the movies below, I had no reaction whatsoever. And yet…I am totally appalled by the explicit sex scenes in HBO’s provocative new series, Tell Me You Love Me

Look, I am not a prude or conservative by any stretch of the imagination. I have watched every episode of Queer as Folk, Nip/Tuck, The L Word and countless other cable programs that do not shy away from simulated fornication. And though those shows illustrate relatively graphic intimacy, none holds a candle to the bold physical contact between actors on Tell Me You Love Me.

As a cinephile, I am a strange dichotomy indeed; I shrug at onscreen brutality and shield my eyes from realistic, raw sexual relations. WTF?

Enough of the empty analysis. On to the reviews.


I do not like to delve into details
of a film and give away the farm. I will say that although I did not
love this movie, it was worth the price of admission for one scene
alone. You will know exactly which one when you see it for yourself.
Holy sh*t.

There are a few moments in Eastern Promises that make Goodfellas seem like a Pixar production. Viggo Mortensen is a flat out badass and one hell of an actor. Here is a man who takes his craft seriously, who immerses himself so deeply into a role that it becomes impossible to a) take your eyes off of him and b) remember him as any other character, ever. Aragorn who?

Armin Mueller-Stahl (Shine) is fantastic as well, but I’m still not sold on Naomi Watts. Never have been. Color me unimpressed thus far. The sames goes for Vincent Cassel, whose overacting served as a distraction throughout the film.

If you are a fan of David Cronenberg’s eccentric oeuvre and are also desensitized to artificial violence, then this is one movie you might want to see in the theater. Otherwise, wait for the rental and get ready to flinch.


It is safe to say that Jodie Foster is attracted to…harrowing movie roles. From The Accused to The Silence of the Lambs to Panic Room to Flight Plan and now The Brave One, her selection process has been fascinating to follow.

Foster is a phenomenal actress, and her latest thriller is no exception. Aside from the fact that it is slightly disconcerting to see Clarice Starling making out with Sayid (Lost‘s Naveen Andrews), The Brave One is a very good, visually intense film. I didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it far more than Eastern Promises. The fact that Foster appears in movies infrequently makes me appreciate her consistently stellar work that much more when she does grace the big screen.

I prefer to watch and experience films like this one with a crowd, because the ripple of reactions and body language of those in the periphery are a bonus. But I have a feeling that The Brave One will prove to be more popular on DVD, viewed in the safety and comfort of homes everywhere.

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