SPOILER-LADEN TV RANT What's wrong with Weeds? The Showtime dramedy about a pot-dealing MILF is in its fourth season, and was recently renewed for two more but who's gonna keep watching? A few choice moments aside, the once-mighty Weeds has pretty much sucked this season. To recap: at the show's start circa 2005, recently widowed suburbanite Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) "put the herb in suburb," per Showtime's cheeky coinage, by dealing greenage to well-off clients, including her sleazy accountant, Doug (Kevin Nealon). Read more »
TV EYED A young lawyer friend recently told me about her most recent, insidious opponent in a courtroom: the otherwise friendly opposition would first ingratiate himself by complimenting her on some part of her presentation and then proceed to take apart every other element of her case, disassembling it and tossing it aside like so many useless Popsicle sticks.
AMC's Mad Men reminds me of this charming shark fraught with instant surface attraction, with chaser after chaser of insinuating dis-ease. Read more »
STRAIGHT-TO-DVD REVIEW These are dark and bloody times for vampires. The Mormon-made young adult series Twilight goes multiplex in December. Next month brings the premiere of True Blood, an HBO drama about our fanged frenemies, created by Six Feet Under's Alan Ball. Read more »
GAMER Reviewing games means reviewing a lot of sequels. Mainstays like Final Fantasy (Square Enix) remind us that game publishers are the only people besides porn makers willing to append "XIII" to anything, and this fall's Madden '09 (Electronic Arts) proves that gamers are willing to buy the same product once a year, 20 times. Still, repeat installments allow game designers to refine their original creation, often on a much bigger budget. Read more »
CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHY Before "stalkerazzi" was a word, before the first images of the Brangelina twins fetched a reported $14 million, and before the Internet spawned sites like tmz.com (stuffed with candid pictures of famous-ish trainwrecks like Kim Kardashian and Shauna Sand), there was a way of life that involved not knowing intimate details of every celebrity who dared to leave his or her house. Movie stars had a certain air of mystery and inaccessibility. But in 2008, there's no privacy anymore. Read more »
RANT Judging by Google hits alone for "I hate Sandra Lee," Sandra Lee might be the most reviled cooking show host in America second to Rachael Ray. And while Ray's golly-gee-whiz style is the most frequent target of her detractors, few people would actually dispute that her 30-minute meals are the products of real cooking. Lee, however, tests the very limits of cooking itself. Read more »
WINGIN' IT Veteran filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman spoke to me from Troma Entertainment's Long Island City, N.Y., headquarters about Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead a scathing and explosive (as in "explosive diarrhea") look at the fast-food industry. He calls this hilarious, stomach-turning epic "the first chicken-Indian-zombie movie that has singing and dancing." He also had quite a bit to say about the state of the media and cinema today. Read more »
HORROR SEQUEL If you know Monsturd, you love Monsturd. If you don't know the 2003 horror comedy by San Francisco filmmakers Rick Popko and Dan West, imagine a tiny town menaced by a mad scientist-created shit monster, with clueless cops, a no-nonsense FBI agent, and a climax that unfolds around a chili cook-off.
Doesn't appeal? Don't read on. But fans of homespun exploito-stravaganzas will want to know that Popko and West have finally finished Monsturd's sequel (the making of which I chronicled in "Blood Brothers," [05/30/06]). Read more »
(SHOULD BE A) CULT FILM Pakistan: land of the Markhor goat (a twisty-horned national animal), major software industry, ancient civilizations, field hockey, purported terrorist training cells, and extremely good-looking people of both sexes. The latter, at least, was suggested by those who went to my midwestern university a couple decades back: they were terribly urbane, funny, and cool. Admittedly, they were the next-generation cream of the country's privileged-liberal economic elite. Read more »
TV EYED "Yeah, girl power!" This from likely one of the most hated women on television, Lisa Fernandes, the seeming near-winner on the latest go-around of Bravo's Top Chef. Yes, the fourth season was estrogen-centric: it anointed perpetually fretful nice-girl/good-chef Stephanie Izard with the Top Chef toque, a first for a show that reflects its traditionally male-dominated field. Read more »