Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Things I Discovered in 2009: TV Shows

(At first I wrote TV Shoes.)

Most of these are here because of Hulu, so thank you, Hulu.

1. Glee
I thought it would be too hokey, but in the first episode, when Finn is sad, they use an a capella requiem quietly as transition between several scenes while Mr. Shoe (Schu?) considers quitting to become an accountant. And then Bust Your Windows happened, and they keep catching me off-guard with song choices in a really spectacular way. Also there is some terrible melodrama blah blah sing another song please.

2. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
This is 100% hulu. I really didn't have much confidence, and I started out sticking with good old Conan and his reliably funny clips about his running amok in the real world, but then something started to change... I think it was the first time they Slow Jammed the News on Late Night, and it became clear that they were not using Andy Richter well (or at all) on the Tonight Show and that Conan was not winning over the audience in his monologue ever. "Did you guys here about this?" SILENCE. "Two people have? That's great" Whereas Jimmy Fallon seems genuinely into the stories he's cracking jokes on, jokes he is proud of, jokes he will laugh at. And when he does his Thank You Notes, he riffs and the note-writing music stops, and when he played off of Palin's kids names "Track! Jacket!" "Track give that back to Jacket" I started to only watch Conan episodes when he had great guests, but watch Jimmy Fallon no matter the guest, in SPITE of the guest even. One night I was watching, and they played Wheel of Carpet Samples. That's right, I was won over by carpet samples. They spin the wheel and win the sample it stops on, but the genius thing, the whole reason it's brilliant, is that Jimmy asks everyoe in the studio audience to say the catchphrase along with him, before the contestant spins the wheel: "Spin! That! Wheel! Of! Carpet! Samples!" It just goes on so long, it has to be good. Here it is. Real Housewives of Late Night is also surprisingly not terrible. I think it's the extended metaphores that Denise goes for. They are authentically reality TV bad.

3. Dollhouse
I should not watch Dollhouse, it is above my range of quantity and quality of permitted violence, but I keep watching it. (Except for the Season 1 finale, I couldn't take the knife attacks) The cast must be good, because I can ignore Tahmoh Penikett who I still hate from his role as Helo on BSG. Man I hate that guy. The theme song is creepy cute great. I just learned it has lyrics! The best episode is Man On the Street from Season 1 which guest stars Patton Oswalt and goodness its glorious. Only a few more left, I hope it goes out with a bang, but not literally.

4. Lost
Marble made me watch it, I wouldn't have volunteered to. It is also above the violence/fucked up range, but I have now seen all of Season 1 and 2. I don't need to see anymore, but I guess it's good to have more than just a cursory knowledge of a large part of the life of modern day nerds I plan to socialize with. WIth which I plan to socialize.

5. Kings
It's so bloody good, go watch it on Hulu. It's so goddamn fantastic and epic and backstab and intrigue and secrets and their flag has a butterfly on it. Sadly only 13 episodes, but a good damn show with strong strong characters.

6. Defying Gravity
It seemed like it was getting interested, and now its cancelled and they haven't released the final episodes. I've only been able to see 8 of 13. RELEASE EM ALREADY. They somehow balanced building plot over 3 locations. Spaceship, Earth at present (talking to spaceship), and Earth several years ago. Brilliant.

7. Reaper
This is not a new show, but its new to me. I always avoided this show because I thought it was by Kevin Smith, and I like that guy's stuff, but it can be a little more base humor than I can handle. Dogma poop monster for example. In reality, I believe he has NOTHING to do with it, but whatever. So I watched it online, it's fantastic. The devil, Sock, DMV lady was in Dead Like Me, so good. They set up Ben to be annoying in the first scene but then he turns out awesome. I'm glad the vessel is different every time. Cameos by the guys from the State, it rocks. I should go pick up the comics when they exist. (There was only one episode I had to avoid because of bugs. Good job, show)

8. White Collar
It's about a con man gone straight who wears 1940s suits. He wears them well. They need to let him do more awesome things, because they are the very best part of the show. They just introduced a plot twist and a bad guy and um... I'm afraid it's about to suck, but I love it for now.

9. Modern Family
It is suspiciously like Arrested Development, which doesn't really grab me, much to the sadness of my brothers. It's good. The patriarch is angry but not too evil. The dad is dumb but not too dumb. The gay couple is the perfect amount of gay. :)

10. Community
I didn't want to like this one either, but then I watched all 12 episodes within 24 hours. Foolish girl.

Things I Discovered in 2009: Movies

They were not made in 2009, but they made my year.

3. I Could Never Be Your Woman ( 2007)

I swear to God, I only watched this movie because David Mitchell has a cameo. It's a fine cameo, but it's a more than decent movie surrounding his bit part. In the best scene ever, Paul Rudd DANCES. He does not stop, he does not limit your enjoyment to one silly move. He COMMITS and he DANCES DAMMIT. The supporting cast is fun, doing a farce of a high school mini drama, the daughter says naughty grown-up things, and the least fun person in the movie in Michelle Pfeiffer. It is one of the few romcoms I think I'll ever approve of. Well done, you fun stupid movie.

2. Charlie Bartlett (2007)

You win, Anton Yelchin. I love you. You already win. This movie is like Rushmore if Max was popular. (I've made a detailed argument about this that I've never confessed to but think about it: bully wants to act, private school kid to public school, etc) It's the best high school kids-acting-like-adults smart funny movie I have seen. He is such a great leading man, you forget that Hope Davis, Kat Dennings, and Robert Downey Jr (for chrissake!) are awesome too. They have a dance and Spiral Beach plays Voodoo and my goodness I love this movie.

1. The Brothers Bloom (2008)

I knew I would love this movie from the first trailer. It took me so long to be able to see this movie, I was worried the self-made hype would be greater than the product. I was worried all the other quirky indie movies I had thought I would like had been really terrible, and I questioned my faith. But then I got to watch it. And I knew I would love this movie from the opening lines by Ricky Jay. They won me over so fast I tried to hate them for it but I love it too much for that. The dialogue, the costumes, the plot, the little cons, the Blooms as kids, the cameos from people in Brick, the sneak attack Cat Stevens. Dammit Rian Johnson, I thought all the odds working against this could stop my love, but I love it to the end and it WILL be mine when it finally comes out on DVD in a few weeks.

Thank you, little movies. Thank you for giving me something I could float on.

Things I Discovered in 2009: Countries


I went to China for 2 weeks, which is weird. We hopped around cities in a loop in and out of the country: Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Longsheng, Shanghai

You can find a brief photoset on Flickr

Also. I hugged a panda and scratched his ear and was not arrested and now we are pen pals. Here for my embarrassment and your viewing pleasure:

It was pretty great, and I have a necklace and bracelet and earrings and communist poster and book and mushroom cloud pin and greater understanding of that giant country.