Sunday, April 17, 2022

DTWS S028 Week 4: Judges Need a Harassment Seminar, While Dancers Are Walking on Sunshine

 So this new director seems to think it’s a great idea to start the show with a (lame) scripted segment. For the record, I really hate these. When we have an actor in them, they are marginally better. We open Season 28, Week 4 on Leah Remini (former contestant) in her shrink’s office (it appears)... Turns out she’s just talking to Len. blah blah blah. Len says, “You should try being a judge sometime.” So she does. 

Sadly, no opening number this week, just a long stroll into places. And no real theme.

SEAAND LINDSAY Paso doble



Starting off with Sean Spicer and Lindsay, who perform a paso doble to a great Gipsy Kings song. While Sean has the tough matador look down, he really didn’t move much. There was a lot of clapping and hand gesturing (a lot of contestants don’t effectively use their arms), but the dance was just a lot of lead weight.


The sets 
and costumes were fantastic, as you can see. Lindsay was really trying hard, too. 

Tom asks Sean if he prefers dancing first, or dancing last. Sean says: “I’ll tell you in a minute.”

Len says it looked like “the paso doble from Pasadena,” which I think is an insult. “Technically, it wasn’t... you know, great. But what I liked was you attacked the dance.”

Bruno: “You’re not quite Antonio Banderas yet.” (Which makes Tom laugh.) “But you took the bull by the horns. My favorite bit was, you actually attempted flamenco, but the hands and the feet were never at the same time. There’s one thing you have to do if you stay in the competition: you have to unlock your center.”

Carrie Ann: “I loved your arms.”

Leah: “You come out here, and you’re committed. You try your best.” :-0

JUDGES: 21 (out of 40)

The thing about Dancing with the Stars in Season 28, is that by now, you have certain indelible dances. That stand above all others, and really shouldn’t be replicated. Pretty much as soon as I hear “Proud Mary,” this dance pops into my head, and stays there.


But we are not in Season 22 with Mark Ballas and Paige’s landmark jive... No, we are here...

SASHA AND ALLY Jive 


Sadly, Ally is no Paige. :-(

She kept playing air guitar during the dance, which was very distracting. The purple costumes are nice, but the less said about the dance, the better. The judges liked it.

Bruno says he is “tingling with delight.”

Carrie Ann talks about the benefits of hair extensions. “Trying to take on Tina Turner is difficult, because we have high expectations. But you nailed it.” 

 
Leah: “I don’t know much about dance,” says the woman sitting there as a judge... (SMH)... “but I know that that was a very difficult routine to do. This is no joke. This is a hard routine.”

Len: “You should be proud of how you danced. Good technique. Great personality.

JUDGES: 32 (out of 40)

KEL AND  WITNEY Cha Cha 


Last week, Kel and Witney were one of the couples in the bottom two. Luckily, Ray had to drop out, so there was no real choice made.

Witney always delivers a good dance, but this one didn’t do much for me. But again, the judges liked it. Carrie Ann even jumps up to give her rave.

Carrie Ann: “Kel Mitchell. It is ON. That is what I’ve been waiting for. That was incredible. You were in the bottom two last week? I can’t even believe that. Way to bring it back.”

Leah: “You were so wonderful to watch. You need to start knowing you are good. Own it.”

Len: “You’ve been under the radar for the first three weeks. Tonight, you’ve come...” Leah says, “He’s not a dancer,” grabs Len, kisses his cheek and laughs. Len, of course, is so irritated at all this he could spit nails. He just looks down and tells Tom to “move on.” #awkward


Bruno: “I saw you. I saw your personality. You were engaging, you had great hip action, great rhythm, great musicality. You only have to believe in yourself.” 
 
JUDGES: 32 (out of 40)

KATE AND  PASH Argentine tango  

 
 “You are surpassing my expectations. With each day, you grow so much,” says Pasha to Kate Flannery. “It’s because of you,” she says. They are doing the Argentine tango this week. Pasha shows her how she has to look at him, and she says: “I’ll make the sacrifice for you. I’ll stare at you.” Later, she says: “I can’t believe, at 55, I get to dance with a hot Russian.”

Kate talks about how she started things late in life: She got on The Office when she was 40. She met her boyfriend Chris while she was on The Office. “Having the courage to give yourself a chance is a big deal, and it really pays off.”

 Now, she’s dancing an Argentine tango with Pasha. I’d say life is pretty good.

 
They danced to some song whose chorus is “can’t keep my hands to myself” (by H.E.R.). There’s a part that says, “well, I could, but why would I want to?” and Kate kinda acts that out, in the middle of the dance, and it makes me laugh. Otherwise, it was pretty steamy. I kept thinking: ‘this is just every woman’s dream here.’

Tom: “as I said to you in dress rehearsal: Who are you?” Kate: “I don’t know who I am.”

Leah: “Kate, from the beginning, your energy is amazing. You represent a lot of us that are not really dancers. We’re comedic actresses. (Kate nods affirmatively.) So the passion stuff is really hard. These pros could be passionate with a refrigerator. (Both Kate and Pasha laugh.) But I think you did amazing.”

(You will note how far away Leah remains during Len’s comment.) LOL 

 Len: “The problem is: it’s all about expectation. Your quickstep last week was so fantastic. I think you struggled this time, getting into the character of the Argentine tango.”

Bruno is now the one who grabs onto Len in his comment. Len is so hating this. Then he gets up. “You lost balance quite few times. You lost the smoothness of the Argentine tango.” He calls it “staccato” and “jagged.”

Leah screams at Bruno: “Say something nice.”

Carrie Ann chastises her gently: “My turn...Kate, what is amazing is the way you use the floor. I watched you...you extend your lines. It is what sets you apart from everybody else.” Then she explains how the passion should be in your whole body, not just your face.

ACarrie Ann sort of acts that out with Leah... the dancers go talk to Erin. Erin tells Kate: “You have the best of both worlds. You have a hot boyfriend, and you get to dance with Russian. Yes, please.”

JUDGES: 26 (out of 40)

JAMES AND EMMA  Quickstep


James and his wife are having an ultrasound. although they already have five children, they are happy about child number six, so Emma thinks their song, “Walking on Sunshine,” is a fitting one. “C
ause you are...” She then ponders for  moment: “Is this because she saw your rumba?” James throws back his heaand laughs. 

 
Pretty sure this was the part of the season where I wathinking, “Boy, I sure want them to win.”

This dance was so joyous, so elegant. I just loved it. James’ pink shoes, the confetti at the end, all of it. He was Dawson no more with this dance.

You gotta worry when Len starts out with: “Sometimes my scores don’t reflect my feelings. You’re a terrific dancer. But, I would’ve liked a little more in hold. But it was full of clever choreography, great movement.

Bruno: “You can tell  story, and you can definitely dance it. But I’m with Len. Of course, all the big flashy things you can sell, but it’s in the little details and the transitions that you cannot afford to lose it. You have such an impact when you go big, when you’re small and subtle especially in hold, you have to keep the precision. You have to work on the detail now.”
 
Carrie Ann: “No doubt about it, that was a great routine and you performed it really well. What I'm noticing is that you’re dancing a bit out of sync. You’re dancing like two soloists, as opposed to a pair.”

Leah: “You’ve been solid the whole show. I loved watching you, and you’ve been amazing from Day 1.” 

JUDGES: 28 (Out of 40)

HANNAH AND ALAN  Paso doble     


My test for be
auty queen Hannah is: Can she do a paso doble without smiling? #Doubtful

As if reading my mind, the floor says: “I Don’t Care. I Love it” in big letters. And Hannah attacks this dance with fervor. A decent paso.

Bruno: “It started magnificently. The attention, the choreography. It was drop-dead gorgeous.”


Carrie Ann: “First of all, I just w
anna say: The comments are never intended to be hurtful. (Hannah laughs.) My comments are intended to help you get better. And I think my comments worked. There was a big difference in the intensity, and your whole body was engaged in the movement. I thought it was so passionate and delightful.”

Tom: “There you go!”

Leah: “A little smile in the beginning! But then, you pulled it together. Amazing.”

Len: “It was fast, it was clear, of course you’ve gotta have aggression in the paso doble, and you did that, but with an air of calmness. It never felt rushed. It just had aggression, but with control.”

JUDGES:  32 (out of 40)

LAMAR AND PETA  Viennese waltz

Of all of Lamar Odom’s dances, this is the one I liked the most. Course, I really like the Viennese waltz a lot. Peta’s gown was just stunning.

The judges though?

Carrie Anne: “What I saw in this dance was vulnerability.”

Leah: “I think you did an amazing job.” (I could be wrong, but I think she used the word ‘amazing’ in every critique. #SMH)

Len: “There’s a gentleness about you.”

Bruno: “Very difficult dance."

 JUDGES: 20 (Out of 40)

SAILOR AND VAL   Cha cha

Val is one of those people who always picks good songs to dance to. This cha cha is no different, with the Motown classic, “Ain’t No Mountain (High Enough).” Sailor gets some rehearsal advice from her longtime friend (and Val’s Mirror Ball-winning partner) Rumer Willis.

For my money, this was easily the best dance of the night, and I bow to the beauty of Val’s choreography. Now THAT was a cha cha. Damn, was that beautiful. Since Derek left, Val has really become the male star of the show. I am grateful for every dance of his that I see.

Leah: “You make me smile. You’re just lovely. You emanate loveliness.”  

Len: “It’s another terrific performance. You’ve really got yourself on a roll. This was a very well-executed cha cha cha.”

Val: “Thanks, Len.”

Len, continues: “Good foot action, which gave you nice legs. In turn, you got a good hip action going...” (which causes Val to give us some of that very sexy hip action... and you know sexy gives Len the shakes, so he says:) “Stop doing that, Val.”

Val: “I can’t get compliments from you, Len, I can't...,” he says with a Val smile.

Len soldiers on. “It was terrific.”

Bruno: “Sailor, your light is shining brighter every week. As you grow in confidence, it’s like seeing a new girl with every dance you do. I really appreciate that you really try to get the correct foot/leg placement. Nice finish on the lines.”

Carrie Ann: “So true. You’re just this bright light, and I can see more and more of you. The one thing I’d say... work on finding the consistency with getting your feet under you. Then, watch out.”

JUDGES: 31 (Out of 40)

LAUREN AND GLEB   Foxtrot

Lauren enthuses about how much she loves Dolly Parton, and they are dancing to Parton’s “Jolene.” They (for some reason) fly to Nashville, where they run into previous #DWTS winner Bobby Bones, and Lauren sings at some bar.

This number, however, starts with her in a swing, wearing a low-cut dress. (Where's her outrage now?) And it's a nice, if slow, foxtrot. 

Len: “You don’t see that much. It was lovely, very very accomplished. I know what you do, Gleb. (Stick a bit of basic in for the old guy.) But throughout the dance, it was very very nice.”

Tom stage whispers to Gleb: “So it worked!”

Gleb: “It worked.”

Bruno: “Classy foxtrot. And you looked like a very classy lady doing it. Very elegant.”

Carrie Ann: “You have arrived. This dance was your dance. The way you sustained every movement, what Bruno was talking about. There’s a gravitas to you now. And there’s an amazing sensuality (in a positive way) that came out, that meant you were really in tune with your body. It was a beautiful story that you told us with your body and your dancing. Great job, Gleb.”

Leah: “I agree. I’m looking for the face, I’m looking for the passion, I’m looking for the story that you’re telling. You’re not an actress, you’re a performer. I loved it all, you moved me and you told the story.”

JUDGES: 32 (Out of 40)

KARAMO AND JENNA   Tango

 Karamo and Jenna’s inexplicable task involved them going to a horse farm and riding horses for some reason. #Lame

Just dance, people. Just rehearse. Give up the lame craziness. #Sigh

But all doubt is put to rest once the dance starts. Jenna starts the dance on his shoulders. :-0


They are seriously doing a tango to “Old Town Road.”  Choreography is stunning.

Bruno: “Looking good. You have a leading man attitude. No mistakes tonight.”

Carrie Ann: “That was my favorite dance of yours thus far.  You have arrived.” She then proceeds to ding Jenna for having a lift. Leah, who said she doesn't know dance, and certainly doesn’t know the rules of this competition, puts her two cents in. Carrie Ann, God bless her, soldiers on:  “That rule is there to protect older people who can’t do lifts like that. I’m calling you out on it, but it was still my favorite dance you’ve done so far.” 

Leah: Why is she even here? In protest of her stupidity, I'm not transcribing her comments. 

Len: “Your footwork was great. There were certain elements I liked.”

JUDGES: 28 (Out of 40)

Who goes home? Only our three core judges participate. Hmmm. The bottom two are: Karamo and Jenna and Lamar and Peta.

Miche’s Favorites for (themeless) Week 4

1SAILOR AND VAL   Cha cha

2. KATE AND  PASHA  Argentine tango

3. JAMES AND EMMA  Quickstep

4. HANNAH AND ALAN  Paso doble   

5. KARAMO AND JENNA   Tango

6. LAUREN AND GLEB   Foxtrot

7. SASHA AND ALLY Jive  

8. KEL AND  WITNEY Cha Cha 

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Lost Daughter Lost Me

 

I’ll admit it. I truly have a grudge against multihyphenates. I’ve written about this before, but dang if it doesn’t keep coming up. So let me state it again: actors should act, writers should write, and directors should direct. It’s truly the rare person who can do more than one of these well, much less all three.

So let me use this movie to explain further. Our subject: Maggie Gyllenhaal, who assumes that she can not only act, but also write and direct (and produce). Thankfully, she doesn’t act in this movie, but her husband does (*sigh*). 

Here is the problem: actors are focused on the characters, and pretty much everything else fades into the background. Also, since we are just so swept up in the inner workings of the Actor on screen, we aren’t concerned about much else. And sometimes, we are expected to intuit what exactly is going on in that complicated mind of theirs. 

Here’s what’s supposed to happen. For example, if you are a screenwriter, you are supposed to convey the crux of the story in the first ten pages of script. The characters are supposed to be clearly defined, as is their motivation. In the first ten pages. I sat through half of this damn dreadful movie, and I still couldn’t tell you what the hell it was about.

The director, on the other hand, is supposed to fill in all the other things to give you clues about the movie. Great images, great sound… all those other things.

This was, as much of it as I watched, some woman sitting on a beach being annoying to others, and getting irritated by others. She gets enamored with another woman’s child, and inexplicably, she steals the poor girl’s doll. Sure, sure, there’s some nonsense about how the girl reminds her of her own daughter. And as much as I could glean of what it’s about, from what I watched was: Damn! Mothering is hard.

So let me save you a lot of time and effort: there is no story, no sustainable structure to the script. There is no direction whatsoever. There is nothing, actually, that makes this terrible movie worth sitting through.

Oh sure, we do have Olivia Colman as the lead (she is nearly always wonderful). But heck, if you like that, go watch The Crown again, or any number of things she’s been fantastic in recently. We also have Ed Harris, always a good actor, who may or may not play a romantic interest. And Peter Saarsgaard, Maggie’s hubby, is also in here somewhere. Normally, he’s a good actor, but I couldn’t even tell you who he played. 

What propels me to write this review though is that I was watching the Independent Spirit Awards this weekend (which I normally love). They normally mirror the Oscars pretty closely. Although they did change their rules recently, so that the films nominated had to be below a certain budget. That is the only reason I can think of that this happened:

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Best Director.  Maggie Gyllenhaal, Best Script. “The Lost Daughter,” Best Film. What the WHAT?

I can’t remember the last time I watched a film that caused me so deeply to want to throw things at the screen. Yet, here it is, sweeping all these awards. Blows my mind. There is truly, no joke, no structure to this film, no scope. Nothing happens. What does happen is insignificant, inconsequential and downright stupid. All the characters are unlikeable. 

Dreadful film. Don’t watch it.

Oh, but we also have, at the Oscars: three potential nominations: Olivia Colman, her younger self, Jessie Buckley, and yes, Best Adapted Screenplay.

It shouldn’t win any of those. It’s up against Dune for Screenplay. C’mon. Seriously.

Well, you’ve been warned.

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