Monday, November 26, 2012

Say Goodbye to Your Career, Lindsey

I have tried, in the main, to distance myself from the mess that is Lindsey Lohan. For the most part, I see an addict struggling like that, and I pray for them, and hope for them to get better.

However, there are certain cases: Robert Downey Jr, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson come to mind, where they are telling the world, no, really I am better. And you are looking at them like, Um, no, you're really  not. Hopefully someday you'll figure that out. (Thankfully, of those, Robert Downey Jr. indeed HAS.)

And you hope that along the way they haven't torched their career and their life so much that it's irreparable. In the case of Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen, I fully expect them to either never work again  or never have anyone attend whatever work they do. Sad, but true. There are some media spectacles/blowouts that are just too public. You can't take them back.

Holllywood is a very forgiving town, it really is. But you have to REALLY work hard to gain that forgiveness, once you've walked down that plank so far. Lindsey Lohan easily rests among the above out-there addicts. She has created enough spectacules, gone against the law, society, film sets, etc. to effectively torch her career.

I really thought she was never going to work again. If she had any handlers or friends who truly cared about her, she would have been advised to not take this project.

As it is, people already knew it was going to be a trainwreck. Perhaps Lifetime even knew. They say that even bad publicity is good publicity. I think Lindsey Lohan has proved that statement wrong. If it stretches too far, it stays bad publicity.

I am talking, of course, about last night's "Liz and Dick" movie on Lifteime. I went into it thinking that Lindsey Lohan had some decent acting chops once. Maybe she could struggle through it. Maybe it would be a fun romp. But expecting that most likely, it would be a trainwreck.

Others also seemed to mostly take this viewpoint. People (scads of people) live Tweeted it. They arranged drinking parties around watching it.

But it wasn't bad in a good kind of bad way (like "Showgirls," where you could at least laugh at it). It was just bad. Bad, bad, BAD.

"Liz and Dick"/Lifetime/Adam Taylor
Let's start with this. I suppose there are many kids who have no idea who "Liz and Dick" are, who don't remember how she broke up Eddie Fisher's marriage to Debbie Reynolds, who don't cringe instinctively when they remember how much over budget "Cleopatra" was. Then again, there are many, thousands?, millions? worldwide who not only remember Elizabeth Taylor, but LOVE her. Love her as a person, love her movies. Loved watching her tempestuous relationship with the drunken Welshman Burton.

I would think, perhaps, that those people are the ones who would enjoy watching a "Liz and Dick" biopic. If so, they probably turned it off in the first few minutes, as most I know did.

Let me put it to you another way. I've been a critic most of my life. I've watched thousands of movies, plays, TV shows over my lifetime. I am hard pressed to remember anything which was as bad as this. And I'm even counting the high school versions of "West Side Story" which I've perused.

So, first, let's focus on what they did right with this movie. Eryn Krueger Mekash, makeup department head, deserves a standing ovation. The makeup was impeccable. (Some people decried the heavy eyeliner in the bath, but it was the 60s. It was real to me.) Beatrice De Alba also deserves applause for the wonderful hair styles, which truly evoked La Liz.

Salvador Perez Jr. did a great job evoking many costumes which we know and love from photographs. Linda Spheeris, Liba Daniels and Maxine Shepard deserve credit for their set design, production design and art direction in a lot of locales.

Everything else: direction, writing, acting especially, you can throw in the trash.

It's always difficult to compress a person's whole lifetime into a two-hour span. What do you omit, what do you leave in? Well, this show covered the period from the time "Liz and Dick" meet on the set of Cleopatra up until Richard Burton dies in Switzerland.

Which would be fine, if not for the lazy, cheating expository device of the fourth-wall-breaking interview to the camera, one assumes after both are dead and in heaven. They come back to explain everything. *CRINGE* Dreadful writing.

That said, the writer (not naming any of these people because they have no further careers) did cover the major beats of the rest of the story.

The director (and I will go out of my way to avoid anything this person ever does if he ever directs again) might have been one of those in-name-only situations, cause I sure don't see any direction here.

Here's what it was like. Actor speeds through lines, walks around set, other actor speeds through their lines, walks around set. Next scene. It was all like that.

Here's what needed to be established, at minimum. That Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton love each other. That their passion burns white hot, and not just a sexual passion, but a chemistry for each other, that remains throughout their lifetime. The script posits that they were each other's soulmates. The movie does not show that.

Elizabeth Taylor was stunningly beautiful. But she was also a very strong personality. And playful. And funny. And witty. And smart. Not to mention a better actress than Lindsey Lohan can ever hope to be.

And it didn't matter what it was: winning an Oscar, buying a diamond, lounging on a movie set; every line was delivered with the same lack of passion. Like it was just a mass of lines to get through. There was no attempt whatsoever to capture Elizabeth's sparkle and verve for life. Heck, the women on SNL do a better job impersonating someone with one week's rehearsal than was shown in this entire movie.

And the guy who played Burton was just as bad. Must've been hard for the casting department to find someone equally as bad as Lindsey Lohan, but they did. No trace whatsoever of Burton's strong Welsh accent. To say nothing of the fact that he was a fabulous theater actor. They couldn't find someone in theatre to do this part? (Burton has a scene where's he's acting on stage, Shakespeare, no less, and Elizabeth is in the audience, applauding. Absolutely cringeworthy.)

I spent a good three hours after watching this mess (and yes, I made it to the final credits), randomly shaking my head when I thought of it again. I truly cannot believe that something so dreadful can be made and aired.

No thought, no depth perception, no concept of character or motivation. Trainwreck doesn't even begin to encompass it. Trainwreck implies that something was once right and somehow went off the rails. That's not even true here. Other than the few things I mentioned, there is NOTHING right about this.

Someone on Twitter mentioned the most egregious slight of all. "Hey Lifetime. She hated being called Liz." Somewhere la grande dame Elizabeth Taylor and Sir Richard Burton are spinning very fast in their graves. And I promise you, it doesn't look anything like this.

Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful "Liz and Dick"/Be ashamed, Lifetime./Jack Zeman

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Military Week and a Ground-Breaking Trio

Veterans Day brought Military Week (Week Eight) to Dancing with the Stars.

The Week Eight cast/ABC/Adam Taylor
There was military-themed dancing and costuming, as you can see.

Kirstie Alley danced her "best dance yet," according to the judges. (I was still partial to her "Moves Like Jagger" dance.)

Maksim Chmerkovsky and Kirstie Alley/ABC/Adam Taylor
This week, they had both individual and trio dances. The individual dances, by and large, were pretty ho-hum.

Although I liked this dance by Apolo and Karina.

Apolo and Karina/ABC/Adam Taylor
The real fun, and ground-breaking dance work, was in the trio dances.

For example, we had this:

Gilles and Peta and Chelsie doing a samba.

Chelsie and Gilles and Peta do a samba./ABC/Adam Taylor
And this (also a samba).

Cheryl Burke and Emmit Smith and Kym Johnson/ABC/Adam Taylor
Combining both dances, I arrive at this score.

3. Kelly and Val
I have seriously liked Kelly and Val all season long. However, on this night, their individual dance didn't blow me away. However, their trio was a knockout.

Val and Kelly's individual dance.
Melissa could take lessons from Kelly on how to be a dominatrix.

Louis Van Amstel and Val Chmerkovsky and Kelly Monaco/ABC/Adam Taylor
2. Melissa and Tony
Their quickstep to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was pretty phenomenal. Their trio, where Melissa got to play a dominatrix (still not convincing to me) was fun (with Melissa, Tony and Henry).

Melissa and Tony do their individual dance.
Tony and Melissa and Henry/ABC/Adam Taylor
But really and truly, all other competitors can just sit down. There is a rocketship among these dancers, one pair who really stands out above all others. And when you add DWTS' other most brilliant star back into the mix, world-class dance is created.

I present to you, my favorite from this and most weeks, my favorite to win this competition (by a mile).

1. Shawn and Derek
The thing that really separates the wannabes from the stars on this show, IMHO, are the dancers who not only march through their steps, but also manage to give you a story along the way. (Admittedly, this is as much due to the genius of their given choreographer as anything... and Derek is tops this season with this.)

Shawn and Derek's Viennese waltz brought back the military theme. Derek is a soldier, and Shawn plays an angel that he dances with, right into the light at the end. Beautiful, poignant, well danced.

Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough/ABC
But hold onto your caps. They also danced a samba. Now, this show has seen its share of sambas, I just showed two of them which were also on this episode. And they are usually like that. Carmen Miranda bananas in hair, colorful, etc.

This samba (with the addition of Mark Ballas, DWTS' other brilliant choreographer) wasn't like that at all. In fact, at the end of it, the choreographers and stodgy Len argued a bit about whether or not pushing boundaries is a good thing. (I say YES!!!) Cause look at this jungle-themed samba.

Mark Ballas and Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough make history with this samba./ABC
It was primal, it was jungle, it was phenomenally brilliant in its choreography and conception. And the judges may not like it (per ballroom rules), but I thought it was stunning. Unbelievable.

Every single show, I am grateful for Derek's genius choreography. When you can add a bit of Mark Ballas influence back into it, you have something really really special.

There is no doubt in my mind, this is the team that deserves to win this competition.

Look at this dance!

Derek Hough and Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas take the dance world by storm./ABC
I have the video versions of all my favorite dances available on my Pinterest board (as well as my favorite dance of each week).

I also thank ABC and Adam Taylor for their use of the graphics on this page and that one.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Mark Subs for an Ailing Derek: DWTS Week Seven

Catching up.

My favorite couples on Dancing with the Stars, Week Seven.

4. Kelly and Val

Val Chemerkovsky and Kelly Monaco/ABC/Adam Taylor
3. Apolo and Karina

Karina Smirnoff and Apolo Anton Ohno/ABC/Adam Taylor
2. Gilles and Peta

Peta Murgatroyd and Gilles Marini/ABC/Adam Taylor
First, here's what the judges thought of my favorite dance this week:

DWTS judges/ABC/Adam Taylor
Here's what I thought.

1. Shawn and Mark

Shawn Johnson (with partner Mark Ballas, since her partner, Derek Hough, was injured)/ABC
Fantastic tango/paso fusion dance.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Top Stars in Bottom Three: WTF? WOW

Sabrina and Louis, Melissa and Tony and Apolo and Karina await their fate.

A real shocker that Sabrina and Louis, the top scorer according to the judges, goes home. Wow.

Here are my favorite dances of the week:

4. Melissa and Tony

Tony Dovolani and Melissa Rycroft start with a pensive moment. ABC/Adam Taylor

3. Peta and Gilles

Getting the sexy vote week after week.

Gilles and Peta bringing sexy back. ABC/Adam Taylor

2. Derek and Shawn

They are so much fun to watch every week.

Derek Hough: Hotness. Shawn Johnson: Fun.

But my favorite dance of the night was a moving tribute to those struggling with cancer.

1. Apolo and Karina

Karina and Apolo. ABC/Adam Taylor

Beautiful, and poignant. Sad and haunting. Karina's choreography stupendous. An amazing dance.