Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Kennedys An 8 Episode Mini-Series On Reelz Channel

The Kennedys, the mini-series that The History Channel and a few other networks were too afraid to touch, did so well in the ratings on it's first go-round, it is having encore airings on Reelz Channel the network that did have the foresight to realize it was worthy of a home.

The entire look of the production is flawless never giving away it's secret that much of it was in fact shot in Canada with the help of cgi to recreate the Kennedy compound, Washington DC, Dallas Texas, etc. Use of film of actual events also lends to the authenticity of the look. Bravo to the costumers, hair and make-up artists as well.

i like Greg Kinnear, but other than a physical resemblance to our 35th president [again helped by the previously mentioned hair and make-up artists], i did not find his performance to be very compelling. It's not so much that his performance is bad he does have many good moments, as that i often felt that i was seeing Greg Kinnear instead of JFK on the screen. Katie Holmes as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy captures the paradoxically fragile and strong first lady extremely well. But the true standout performance is delivered by Barry Pepper. Every moment he is on the screen the man is putting on an actor's master class. The mannerisms, the voice, everything about his portrayal says "Robert Kennedy". If his performance does not render an Emmy, i cannot imagine why.

Kudos to Reelz Channel for having no fear in giving this production, which shows the triumphs, as well as the scandals, and tragedies that was the Kennedys, a home.

The 8 part mini-series The Kennedys airs at 9:00pm and Midnight weeknights on ReelzChannel. Please check your local listings.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Borgias Season 1 Episode 1 The Poisoned Chalice

If you have not been watching Showtime's The Borgias---what in the name of all that is holy are you waiting for? Five of the season's nine episodes have aired, each more gripping than the preceding. Brimming with intrigue, spectacle, suspense, horror, and heat, heat, lord have mercy on our souls heat!

Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI né Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia is deliciously wicked. This Il Papa outsmarts his rivals quicker than they can genuflect, has a fiercely loyal family and more schemes than there are beads on a rosary. This 15th to 16th century papacy is of an era when The Holy See was capable of having a wife children and mistresses, and fully indulge that status. But it is not without consequence. As the saying goes "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Murder, torture and betrayal are standard practice for this power obsessed Pope. Even if many of the abhorrent deeds are not done by his own hand, they are by his edict. The drama is of course all the more astonishing as it is based on actual events.

Neil Jordan's scripts, direction, and production are crisp and authentic, and the entire cast is great.

The Borgias airs on Showtime Sundays at 10:00pm with multiple repeat airings. Please check your local listings.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

HBO Cinema Vérité The Making Of An American Family

The Loud Family HBO CinemaVerite

Before there was JWoww, Snooki, or "the Situation", Housewives of [fill in the city of your choice], The Hills, or The Kardashians, there was the Loud family of Santa Barbara California, aka "An American Family".

In 1973, independent filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond, producers Craig Gilbert, Eduardo Garcia, and PBS/WNETNY, introduced Pat and Bill Loud and their children Lance, Delilah, Kevin, Grant, and Michele to the nation and the world. The Raymonds categorize the work as a documentary, but fans, scholars, and critics deem it to be the first reality series. From May to December 1971, 300+ hrs of 16mm film were shot, then edited down to 12hrs. More than 10 million viewers tuned in. In 1983 HBO aired An American Family Revisited: The Louds 10 Years Later. Eldest son Lance was the most dynamic and controversial of the Louds---he came out during the show. Even though it did not originate on the show, the expression 'out loud and proud' always reminds me of Lance. PBS and the Raymonds reunited with him in 2001 for Lance Loud: A Death In An American Family. Terminally ill at the time, Lance had been a meth addict for 20yrs, was HIV positive, and diagnosed with hepatitis C. Lance died when he was 50.

Nearly 30yrs 40yrs after the original airing of An American Family, there is HBO's Cinema Vérité The Making Of An American Family. It is a dramatization of what occurred behind the scenes of the doc/reality series. Starring Tim Robbins as the successful [strip mining equipment], charismatic, but flawed patriarch Bill Loud, and Diane Lane as Stanford Grad, and archetype 1970s chic [smoking actually does look glamorous in her hands] matriarch Pat Loud.

Even though the HBO project has a bit of a Droste effect feel [an image of its self within its self multiplied] i strongly applaud Ms Lane and Mr Robbins' performances. Their resemblance to and mannerisms of the Louds are uncanny and they completely capture the 'OMG! what have we done' feeling their real-life counterparts displayed when realizing that the whole world was watching, and not just the mundane, but also the moments they as a family would have rather been left to privacy. "Quod me nutrit me destruit" [what nourishes me destroys me]

If you weren't around for the original An American Family or you were and want to see it again PBS WNET Channel 13 will air a marathon of the series on Saturday April 23rd beginning at 11:00pm. If you're in NYC and you've got a spare 45 bucks burning a hole in your pocket [admission is $15.00 per person, waived for Paley Center members], the Paley Center For Media will have screenings of the series on 3 consecutive weekends beginning Saturday April 30th 2011 at 12:15pm

HBO's Cinema Vérité The Making Of An American Family airs Saturday April 23rd 2011 at 9:00pm Please check your local listings.

UPDATE: WLIW PBS WORLD CHANNEL 164 will also air the original American Family episodes Sunday April 24 2011 beginning at noon.