Archives for category: TV review


Remaking a film classic is always a difficult task. Just because a movie was successful is no guarantee that a remake will also be a hit. Take the 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It was a disaster critically, and it bombed at the box office. Yet, Hollywood continues to recycle old material. There was Poseidon (The Poseidon Adventure) in 2006, The Stepford Wives in 2004, and Madonna’s truly abysmal Swept Away in 2002. These were real stinkers. In truth, the bad remakes far outnumber the good ones (True Grit 1969 and 2010, Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 and 1978).

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Last night, das Erste presented Sechzehneichen (Sixteen Oaks), another remake of The Stepford Wives (1975). The original film, starring Katherine Ross, Paula Prentiss, and Tina Louise, was of its time: the lure of suburbia, the rise of feminism, and the dangers of uncontrolled technologically. It’s difficult to see how another version would work in 2012. Yet, it does, and it works quiet well. 

Directed by Hendrik Handloegten, Sechzehneichen, is one of the most visually fascinating movies I have seen. The imagines are both real and dreamlike, and the carefully synchronized musical score by Radio Heads adds to the terror and suspense. This version pars down the narrative and focuses on the couple’s relationship. Handloegten delves into the sexual motivations behind this “ideal” community, and challenges the viewer with the questions: How does society deal with the rapidly changing roles of men and women, and does sexual equality threaten the “liberated” man?

If only American TV (or American movies for that matter) could make something half as good as this. Sechzehneichen can be viewed on the Internet for a limited time. Go to das Erste and click on Mediathek. Even if you don’t understand German, it’s worth a peak. 

Advertisements


Remaking a film classic is always a difficult task. Just because a movie was successful is no guarantee that a remake will also be a hit. Take the 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It was a disaster critically, and it bombed at the box office. Yet, Hollywood continues to recycle old material. There was Poseidon (The Poseidon Adventure) in 2006, The Stepford Wives in 2004, and Madonna’s truly abysmal Swept Away in 2002. These were real stinkers. In truth, the bad remakes far outnumber the good ones (True Grit 1969 and 2010, Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 and 1978).

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Last night, das Erste presented Sechzehneichen (Sixteen Oaks), another remake of The Stepford Wives (1975). The original film, starring Katherine Ross, Paula Prentiss, and Tina Louise, was of its time: the lure of suburbia, the rise of feminism, and the dangers of uncontrolled technologically. It’s difficult to see how another version would work in 2012. Yet, it does, and it works quiet well. 

Directed by Hendrik Handloegten, Sechzehneichen, is one of the most visually fascinating movies I have seen. The imagines are both real and dreamlike, and the carefully synchronized musical score by Radio Heads adds to the terror and suspense. This version pars down the narrative and focuses on the couple’s relationship. Handloegten delves into the sexual motivations behind this “ideal” community, and challenges the viewer with the questions: How does society deal with the rapidly changing roles of men and women, and does sexual equality threaten the “liberated” man?

If only American TV (or American movies for that matter) could make something half as good as this. Sechzehneichen can be viewed on the Internet for a limited time. Go to das Erste and click on Mediathek. Even if you don’t understand German, it’s worth a peak. 

I remember being excited about the Olympics, but these days, I have no interest. The Olympic spectacle seems more about grandiosity, pageantry, and securing lucrative endorsement contracts for its prized athletes than the competition.

Let’s face it, the Olympics are about big business, commercialism, and frivolous entertainment. I even read that the hand dryers in the restrooms at the Olympic venues have had their manufacturer logos covered up by Olympic sponsor logos. Those Olympic officials don’t miss any opportunity to make a buck. 

More significantly, coverage of the athletic competitions themselves is dominated by those syrupy “Up Close and Personal” features, segments showcasing this or that particular athlete who has overcome some form of adversity. They run on and on, taking time away from the actual events. They make the Olympics look more like “Days Of Our Lives” than a sports event. (Apparently, these segments are intended to appeal to the female viewership.)

On the other hand, the Olympics have made some progress on the political front. There’s less political strife: the Capitalist versus the Communist systems (Melbourne 1956), discrimination of African-Americans (Mexico City 1968), boycotts (Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984), fascism (Berlin 1936), and terrorism (Munich 1972). 

So, instead of sitting in front of the TV watching the Olympics, I plan to do something beneficial: devote more time to physical activity.

I remember being excited about the Olympics, but these days, I have no interest. The Olympic spectacle seems more about grandiosity, pageantry, and securing lucrative endorsement contracts for its prized athletes than the competition.

Let’s face it, the Olympics are about big business, commercialism, and frivolous entertainment. I even read that the hand dryers in the restrooms at the Olympic venues have had their manufacturer logos covered up by Olympic sponsor logos. Those Olympic officials don’t miss any opportunity to make a buck. 

More significantly, coverage of the athletic competitions themselves is dominated by those syrupy “Up Close and Personal” features, segments showcasing this or that particular athlete who has overcome some form of adversity. They run on and on, taking time away from the actual events. They make the Olympics look more like “Days Of Our Lives” than a sports event. (Apparently, these segments are intended to appeal to the female viewership.)

On the other hand, the Olympics have made some progress on the political front. There’s less political strife: the Capitalist versus the Communist systems (Melbourne 1956), discrimination of African-Americans (Mexico City 1968), boycotts (Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984), fascism (Berlin 1936), and terrorism (Munich 1972). 

So, instead of sitting in front of the TV watching the Olympics, I plan to do something beneficial: devote more time to physical activity.

A few weeks ago, I saw a fascinating TV documentary, The True Miss Marple-The Curious Case of Margaret Rutherford. (Der wahre Miss Marple-Der kuriose Fall Margaret Rutherford.) Known primarily for her portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple during the 1960s, Ms. Rutherford’s life was exciting enough to be its own movie.  

Orphaned at an early age after her mother committed suicide and her father died in a mental institution, Ms. Rutherford was raised by her maiden aunt, and later taught music and elocution before attending drama school. In her later life, Rutherford suffered from serious bouts of depression requiring electroshock therapy.

Although the Marple films made Rutherford financially independent, she dismissed the films as eccentric and over-the-top, not worthy of Christie’s Miss Marple.

After her death in 1972 from Alzheimer’s disease, it was disclosed that Rutherford had been a victim of a crime worthy of its own Christie novel. The case involved Rutherford’s live-in companion, the disappearance of her Oscar, and the sale of her personal valuables.

Known for her generosity and compassion, Rutherford employed a down on her luck opera singer, Violet Davis. Rutherford was already suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s and could no longer work professionally or manage her personal affairs. Ms. Davis sold off the actor’s possessions, including Rutherford’s Oscar, Golden Globe, jewels, and silver. Although arrested, Ms. Davis skipped trial and was never seen again. The Rutherford case is still open, and the Oscar still missing.

Der Liebling der DDR Kinderfernshen war 50 Jahre alt am letzten Sonntag und bekommt mehr Sendezeit.

Last night was the season finale of Germany’s Next TopModel. This surprisingly successful and incredibly atrocious “reality” show is hosted by ice princess, Heidi Klum. Each week, the super model wannabes face challenges only the brave would dare. In one episode, the young women were photographed under underwater. In another, the contestants posed with a snake. It’s not easy to look sexy as a snake slithers up your arm.

There’s plenty of crying, nervous tension, and of course, the standard reality show backbiting as the contestants vie for the title: Germany’s Next Top Model. At the conclusion of each episode, Heidi softly and insincerely utters her now famous words, “Ich habe leider kein Foto für dich, auf Wiedersehen.” (I have unfortunately no photo for you, Goodbye.) You see, a contestant needs her photograph to continue with the competition. It’s really quite simple: no photo, no come back. 

This cliche packed show is among Germany’s most popular. It doesn’t matter than none of the show’s previous winners have made it to super model stardom. It’s kind of like the Miss America Pageant. Nobody really cares who wins. The winner is in the spotlight for only a few minutes, then quickly forgotten. I guess Andy Warhol was right when he said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” 

The annual Eurovision Song contest is back. It promises to be as cheesy as ever, showcasing unremarkable songs and forgettable talent. 

This year the contestants include the septuagenarian grandmothers from Russia, the aging Engelbert Humperdinck from the United Kingdom (yes, he is still alive), the embarrassing Joan Franka (Indian Headdress included) from the Netherlands, and Germany’s own pretty boy, Roman Lob.

The semi-finals are on May 22, 24, and the final on May 26. It’s always worth a good laugh as the nations vie for the Eurovision Championship. Watch at home or with friends at your local bar. Eurovision proves once again that the lack of talent knows no borders. 

Before Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, there was Ann Marie on That Girl. The MTM Show is generally credited as the first TV show featuring a single independent woman living and working on her own. However, do you know who actually was the first career girl on a TV sitcom? That Girl!


That Girl followed the exploits of aspiring actress, Ann Marie (the girl with the perfect flip hairstyle) in New York City. Marlo Thomas played the goofy, yet charming Ann Marie, and Ted Bessell played her dependable boyfriend, Donald Hollinger. There is real chemistry between these two (so rare these days), and the show still holds up after all these years as opposed to modern TV sitcoms that rarely make me laugh.  


In many respects, That Girl foreshadowed the changing roles of women in early Feminist America. That Girl ran from 1966-1971, with each episode beginning with someone exclaiming “. . . that girl!,” as the camera then focuses on Thomas. The opening and closing credits show Thomas wandering the streets of New York City, in an era before all those glass skyscrapers. It had a catchy theme song and was also ground breaking. In 1968, following feminist protests against wearing bras and other feminine products, Marlo Thomas began going bra-less on the show. “God created women to bounce,” Thomas said. “So be it.”
I saw That Girl while flipping channels. It can be seen on ME-TV Portland, Maine at 9:30 PM. ME-TV stands for Memorable Entertainment Television, and that it is! The network showcases classic TV shows from the 50s through the 80s, and it’s worth a visit, if you’re in Maine and want to unwind with some quality nostalgia.

Here is the talented Ellen DeGeneres speaking about her selection as the JC Penny spokesperson. In response to the JC Penny decision, a group called One Million Moms sought to have Ellen fired because she was gay. Undeterred, JC Penny stood by its decision and by Ellen. Good for you JC Penny!



In the video, Ellen specifically addresses One Million Moms, which claims to represent “traditional family values.” (I’ve always found it audacious that any group would claim to represent this vague concept of “family values,” whatever that means.)  


In a related development, a federal appeals court last week upheld Maine’s campaign disclosure law requiring groups that raise or spend more than $5,000 “to influence elections” to disclose its donor list. The lawsuit stems from a 2009 ballot-question that repealed Maine’s same-sex marriage law.


In 2009, Maine approved same-sex marriage. Shortly thereafter, opponents of same-sex marriage launched a campaign to repeal the law through voter referendum. The issue was placed on the ballot and it passed by a vote of 53 to 47 percent, thereby banning gay marriage in Maine. The National Organization for Marriage (a national anti-gay group) donated $1.9 million to a Maine organization that used the funds in the successful 2009 campaign; however, NOM refused to comply with Maine’s disclosure law, claiming disclosure of its donor list would stymie free speech and make it less likely for people to donate. (What a shame.) The federal appeals court disagreed with NOM’s argument and upheld the Maine law. (NOM will likely seek an appeal to the US Supreme Court. I’ll keep you posted.) 

NOM does have a point! In 2008, during the Proposition 8 campaign (a similar ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California), opponents of same-sex marriage made their donor lists public, causing many people to boycott businesses that supported the anti-gay marriage initiative. I guess it doesn’t pay to be a bigot anymore!