Why I’m Going to Miss E!’s #RichKids of Beverly Hills…No, Really!

 

I love a good guilty pleasure and E!'s new series Rich Kids of Beverly Hills is one of the stupidest pleasures of them all!

I love a good guilty pleasure and E!’s new series Rich Kids of Beverly Hills is one of the stupidest pleasures of them all!

Okay I’m a masochist…maybe I’m just a gluten for punishment. But when it comes to my new reality obsession I am majorly depressed that it has quietly gone away with its season, and potentially series finale, which aired last Sunday on E! It’s called #RichKids of Beverly Hills. It focuses on three wealthy girls in their twenties who come from three wealthy families in Beverly Hills and the various men in their lives weather they be the loves of their lives or the gays in their lives. There’s rich Asian Dorothy Wang, who aspires to become an elite real estate agent, her best friend Morgan Stewart an aspiring style and fashion blogger, and Persian Roxy Sowalty an aspiring interior designer, who as the series begins is the first of the girls to be financially cut off from her parents. The girls come across as lazy, materialistic, egotistical, vapid, borderline ignorant, and maddeningly self-indulgent. It doesn’t help the fact that Morgan constantly berates her mother by treating her like her assistant, on top of calling her by first name Susan. And for those reasons alone I love watching the show! It’s as if we’ve been allowed into this exclusive world of the fabulously elite twenty-year olds who have yet to grow up but know how to spend their parents dough on the most ludicrous things no person would ever dream of having or wanting for that matter. What sets this show apart is the three girls and their friends constantly communicate through social media, namely their addiction to texting and Instagram. Their love of social media is constantly mentioned throughout the show’s storylines, hence the hashtag in the show’s title. To drive that point home the show’s producers also use that as a transition from one scene to the next. At first I hated the constant full screen graphics of the girls texts on their iPhones complete with full sound effects, but as the show wore on, for some reason, this concept grew on me. Perhaps I was getting used to the fact that these kids were always on their cell phones, like most of the youth of America, and I just accepted this fact as this is the way they communicate.

In the very first episode we are introduced to three men that interplay in the ladies’ lives, relator Brendan Fitzpatrick, Morgan’s boyfriend, and their two gay best friends one is flamboyant music producer Jonny Drubel, the other is even more flamboyant New York based college student EJ Johnson, son of basketball legend Ervin “Magic” Johnson. All of these kids, well they’re adults but they hardly act like it, come from families of wealth so they don’t actually have to do anything to make a living. And so when the series first began, our three female leads don’t have any employment to speak of. And for the first few episodes we see them literally do nothing, they go shopping, they go out to lunch, they play with their dogs, they exercise, they go out on dates. We also see them sit by the pool and take pictures of themselves on their cell phones, i.e. selfies. They fight, they get drunk, they get make up, they get crazy, they dance, they spend ungodly amounts of money. That’s basically the gist of the first few episodes. They do everything but work. They playfully call it being #funemployed. That’s another interest that #RichKids hopes to exploit. Not only constantly text each other ad naseum but they also tend to speak in social media talk with hashtags being thrown in any conversion whenever appropriate, or not appropriate as the case may be.

Eventually, as many reality shows tend to do they head onto another location for a change of scenery. So the gang heads on a so-called group vacation to Cabo, and more adventures, arguments, and hilarity ensues.  Roxy gets a job and not an internship as Dorothy would have you believe. Dorothy gets a job. Morgan feels left out, she finally gets something going. The gang heads to New York, more hijinks ensue. They still act like spoiled knuckleheads. But they’re endearing knuckleheads and they are on occasion humbled by life’s challenges whether it’s Roxie getting cut off financially or Morgan being questioned on what she actually blogs about. (I visited her blog, there’s not too much going on, and no sweetie you can’t so called “touch” people with your writing when you hardly write about anything!) What I love best about the show is the one liners that our two besties, Dorothy and Morgan, have when it comes to life. When everyone else around her seems to have a job Morgan opines “I’m like Teen Mom. Home and I can’t go to Prom.” When discussing fashion while in Vegas, Dorothy says “We look perfectly in tune but not the same like Destiny’s Child. All cohesive but different. It definitely looks like Tina Knowles was somewhere behind us.” And when discussing the current trends in social media Morgan serves up “There’s like dust on my Facebook. I haven’t checked it in that long.” Ah these are some sage opinions on life for sure. I do question if the producers aren’t feeding some of these lines to them. I mean who can be that quippy all of the time? These people don’t come across as the most brilliant human beings if they were they wouldn’t be starring this alleged reality show for sure. So take that for what it’s worth.

Many critics are calling today’s primetime television world the new golden age of television. From pay cable to basic cable to online media to even network television, everyone is putting out some of their best work, especially in the field of continuing drama. The same cannot be said for the state of reality television. When was the last you heard a truly great reality show. And no esteemed television critics, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is not one of the so called new landmark series that’s changing the way we see families represented on television. There are new other reality shows out there like Chrisley Knows Best that come across as so unbelievably false and the drama, if that’s what you call it, is highly manufactured. Or Whalburgers where life is supposed to revolve around the family business but nothing interesting ever happens ever. For a reality show to break through it has to be as less manufactured and devoid of as many hijinks as possible. For me, I feel #RichKids accomplishes this. For some odd reason you find yourself caring what happens to these people. I can’t explain it but they’re vapid and selfish, which makes them no better or worse than any other reality stars. But they are living life as well they know how to live and you’ve got to give them that. And I quite frankly I enjoy seeing them live life to the fullest. Better on someone else’s dime than their own. It’s a sad and desperate time we’re living in and quite frankly I’m loving it!

Update: E! announced this morning that it has renewed #RichKids of Beverly Hills for a second season. On top of that they’ve picked up a quasi spinoff #RichKids of New York has been ordered along with two additional Kardashian spin-offs. Really E!? I’m not sure about the East Coast version of #RichKids. People in New York who are vain and self-involved take their vapidness with some sense of seriousness while on the Left Coast it tends to be tongue and cheek. I guess I’ll be Team Cali all the way. And I’ll be counting down the days until season 2 picks up in August.

 

I Watched “Non-Stop” So You Don’t Have To

 

Liam Neeson is ready to party in his latest thriller Non-Stop.

Liam Neeson is ready to party in his latest thriller Non-Stop.

I have to admit there are two things I love when it comes to guilty pleasures and the movies. One is Liam Neeson and the other is anything involving somehow getting stuck on an airplane. I’ve always admired Liam Neeson’s acting even before he went through this career renaissance, starting with the movie Taken, as an action film star who manages to make sense of one of the amazingly complex missions while still managing to somehow save the day. Almost every film he’s been in since has followed the same path: his character is established with having issues, such as estranged from the family or dealing with separation or loss or both; he’s been given insurmountable odds in the predicament he’s in; in order to get out of said predicament he manages to get more creative in a twenty-four hour span than you would manage to make sense of in a lifetime; and the end climax results in a knock-em sock-em explosion of events that no human being can survive expect that of a character played Mr. Liam Neeson himself. In his latest movie Non-Stop, Liam Neeson’s character of Bill Marks goes through all of the aforementioned challenges and then some. I also happen to love airplane movies because of their intimate spaces con provide relatable conditions in which we hope we won’t have to deal with in our worst travel nightmares. So why not be entertained for two hours by a situation that I would never want to be in versus a situation so realistic on the ground that may hit a little too close to home? Who cares if it’s Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57 or Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2, I know I’m gong to be entertained on how our antagonist is going to get out plight thirty-thousand feet in the air. Hell, I even watch the 1970’s classic film Airport whenever it’s on TMC knowing full well Dean Martin’s gonna get that bomb damaged plane down safely. And so I thought Liam Neeson’s saving the day on a plane, now they’ve piqued my interest.


Stop Reading
if you don’t want to know the film’s plot…
Non-Stop was an action paced white-knuckle thrill ride that takes aboard a flight from New York to London, where Neesom’s character Bill Marks, who serves as the plane’s air marshal suffers from both alcoholism and a deceased child. But isn’t that the besides the point, as with every Liam Neeson movie of late, we don’t care about his personal issues. It serves no real plot purpose, except for a grandstanding speech in which Neesom declares beyond shadow of a doubt he’s going to save the day no matter his personal issues. We watch because we only care about how he’s going to get out of this mess he’s gotten us into to. And this time around it’s a doozy. As Bill Marks boards the plane you meet a host of potentially nefarious characters from Jenn (played by Julianne Moore) the inquisitive but sensitive lady who manages to finagle a seat next to Marks while they’re both in business class to the loud mouthed passenger in coach (Corey Stoll). When they get to cruising altitude Marks starts to get texts (on perhaps the world’s most dated cell phone in 2014) that a passenger on the plane is going to die every 20 minutes unless 150 million dollars is deposited into a specific bank account. Within the next few minutes the action takes off from there. Without giving too much away, people do in fact start to die until the money is finally deposited. The problem is more suspicion (and convolution) is raised when Marks is suspected of being said terrorist wanting the money in addition to being the one threatening to take down the entire plane.

Lady Mary better not be apart of this sinister plan so help me god!

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) better not be apart of this sinister plan so help me god!

My Take
As the action packed sequences passes by, Marks suspects everyone from Moore’s character to Michelle Dockery’s chief flight attendant Nancy is suspected of being the terrorist. I think I would have lost it if Lady Mary was guilty in the end. (Spoiler: she’s not, and neither is Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o who serves in an all too brief cameo, I sure hope this is not where her career is headed after winning said Oscar®) But that’s what sets this film apart from many other Liam Neeson movie’s of year’s past is that you honestly you don’t know who you can trust. Everyone should be considered guilty until the credits roll! Granted this plotline of “everyone’s a suspect until we find out the truth” exactly mirrors that of the movie Flight Plan with Jodie Foster. But for some reason this plotting came off as fresh and intense, which is surprising considering the fact that every person introduced in the movie and plot point felt like a potential red herring. As I watched I got increasingly anxious, you start asking yourself gee I wonder if he’s should be considered a suspect, should so and so’s action be considered suspicious, are said suspects working together, is the terrorist even on board the plane? Because the movie keeps you guessing, this allows you to suspend disbelief in the movie’s eventual climax, in which a bomb literally goes off onboard, all while Marks manages to still take care of business and of course save the day!

Bottom Line
Non-Stop was a solid action-paced movie that has more twists and turns that borderline incredulity. But film’s preposterousness can be ignored solely for the edge of your seat sequences. The only character I truly cared for was (here’s a big surprise) Liam Neeson’s Bill Marks. Although, he eventually annoyed me in the end as well. I mean no human being can be that lucky and right all the time? I was clearly more invested in the actors playing the characters versus the characters themselves. I was definitely surprised by the ending but in end I was still rolling my eyes. Non-Stop’s storylines don’t provide for appointment movie watching, you could miss this movie and not miss anything. It’s a solid date night that’s geared towards the guys more than the female interest. But it’s still a fun action ride that’s perfect for Netflix or Amazon rental and definitely worth a watch on FX or TBS while you’re ironing or folding laundry. And trust me this one will be on just like Neesom’s other movies such as Taken, Taken 2 and Unknown always seem to be on. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s always a good time waster, just make sure you don’t see it while on your next long distance flight. I couldn’t imagine would it would be like to watch this movie on an actual airplane!

Why This Year’s Oscar® Season Was Exciting, The Show Not So Much

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What can I say about the year in film for 2013? We had a lot of tight close races during award season which should have made for an exciting Oscarcast®. Unfortunately I was wrong. Everyone who was favorite to win went on to win. Not that that was a necessarily a bad thing. You know you’re in for a long slog of an evening when the animated short “Mr. Hublot” wins Best Animated Short Film qualifies as the biggest upset of the night. As someone who viewed all nine films nominated for best picture and all twenty actors nominated for their performances, I really did feel that 12 Years a Slave was really the Best Picture of the year and deserved to win. If I was an Academy member I would voted for 12 Years a Slave over Gravity, and Lupita Nyong’o over Jennifer Lawrence mainly because I felt both Gravity and American Hustle were more or less pretty overrated in their own unique ways. Don’t get me wrong, both films were good but not as riveting as the storyline and performances found in 12 Years a Slave. Now some will say Hollywood was pandering after years of ignoring stories of struggling minority groups finally serving as a make good. Perhaps 12 Years winning signifies the Academy inviting a younger a diverse membership has finally paid off. The optimist in me hopes they picked 12 Years a Slave because they felt it really was the Best Movie they saw this year and they just simply amazed by Gravity‘s technological capabilities they chose to throw them some bones, okay a lot of bones.  All four actors gave warm and thoughtful speeches, which when you think of it that’s actually hard to do after so many trips to the podium at so many different award ceremonies leading up to the big night. They each represented an actor in a different stage of their career. Nyong’o was the newcomer fresh to Hollywood movies and grateful to be there. Leto represented a comeback of an actor in which we knew was on the rise but then chose to give it all up to take his career in another direction.  McConaughey represented a comeback of a different kind, an actor who struggled for years to find himself all of a sudden throws himself into a number of roles and is congratulated for challenging himself. And finally Blanchett, an actress perhaps at her peak giving a career performance among a number of career performances who simply cementing her already legendary career.

Unfortunately it was the actual Oscar® when the best thing about the show is a commercial. Tina Fey’s fun American Express ad was the cleverest thing this night offered up. The show did get some positive reviews from the critics, meaning Ellen DeGeneres truly is critic proof. I was texting a friend and we were debating if she performing improv for much of her act.  I felt that if she wasn’t performing unrehearsed improv then then she wasn’t executing the skits or jokes properly. It seemed like she tried to hard to hip and current (and apparently break records) with all of the selfies (see the photo above that apparently broke Twitter, although I had no problem with it) and the tweeting. It felt unnecessary. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman gave what I felt was a harsh but accurate review, he criticized the show for being too self-involved and as always overly long. I agree that the show is way too long but it always is, and always will be, and that will never change. I was unnerved by how much the show focused on things that were unrelated to the films they were supposed to be celebrating this year. The same producers came back for the second consecutive year but still managed to make a number of questionable moves. They once again went back to the well of themes last year it was “Musicals” this year it’s “Heroes,” how about just celebrating this years winners? Also, why have Bette Midler sing after the montage of deceased celebrities when the package was already shown? Maybe the Divine Miss M didn’t want to share the spotlight with dead people. Am I the only one out there who felt that Shirley Temple deserved more than placard in the middle of the “In Memoriam” package? The selection of presenters and the pairings made no sense. Anna Kendrick and Gabourey Sidibe? What do Zack Efron and John Travolta have in common? They both flubbed their lines (as way too many did) as they were introducing their film packages. If I was producing the show, I would have gotten people who weren’t nominated but were still players in the Awards season such as Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, maybe even Robert Redford (if their game that is). Why have Will Smith present Best Picture when he was in ironically one of the worst pictures of the year? Why not have Ben Affleck present Best Picture, his wife was there as part of a Best Picture nominee, why wasn’t he? I was perhaps most shocked by all the production snafus that occurred during the, host Ellen DeGeneres constantly had an open mic on as she introduced segments as did performers after they were received standing ovations. On that that note: up and down the audience went. I swear it was like watching a work out for geriatrics. Who decides who deserves a standing ovation? Sorry Alfonso Cuaron everyone else who won in a major category got one but you. Better luck at winning over the audience next time. I’m glad that the Academy chose to honor films and performances that were truly deserving this year. If only the ceremony that was produced to celebrate those films could match them. Then again what do I know? There’s always next year I guess.

Why I’m Looking Forward to this Sunday’s Academy Awards®

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It’s finally here the end is in sight! This Sunday night represents the big night where months of campaigning and schmoozing by the film industry comes to a culmination with the 86th Annual Oscars® (notice how they’re not called the Academy Awards anymore?). What makes this year’s Annual Academy Awards so fascinating is the surprising amount of competitiveness that remains in many categories. Usually leading into the final weekend of the Oscars® we have a pretty clear picture of what film’s name was going to be read for Best Picture of the Year. But not this year. In fact there are so many close races I may actually have to watch the whole pain inducing four-hour long ceremony. Every year, I cringe at the lame jokes, painful banter, pans to Brangelina laughing with the jokes knowing full well they’re uncomfortable with all of the attention. (At least I think they are) This year’s Best Picture Race is the closest I have seen since Crash upset Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture of 2005. A year later, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed came on really strong and managed to win four awards when originally only being favorite to win only Best Director. This year we have a close battle between visual effects masterpiece Gravity fighting off prestige picture 12 Years a Slave. Gravity was good, great even, throughout most of the ninety minutes of a motion picture that flew by, Sandra Bullock worked her tanked topped body to carry off this entire movie. While Gravity can be considered a technical marvel, in my opinion, 12 Years a Slave was a true masterpiece. It’s brutal, it’s tough to watch but it sticks with you long after you leave the theater and that’s a good thing. When Best Picture is announced I think that Gravity will win because they are going to sweep a majority of tech prizes like Cinematography, Editing, Visual Effects and Sound Mixing and Sound Effects (Someone please tell me the difference between those two categories) that many Oscar® voters are just going to mark their ballot for Gravity all the way through. Which is fine, and wouldn’t be the worst pick but it in a year like this with such exceptional competition wouldn’t be the best movie pick of the year. For the acting awards, three out of four are slam dunks with Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto all cruising to victory any of those three lose and consider it upset and anything could happen throughout the night. EW.com has a great article on why this year’s Best Actor competition ranks as one of the best ever, and I agree. Supporting Actress is a tough one with the battle between newcomer Lupita Nyongo versus now “veteran” Jennifer Lawrence. Personally I’m hoping for a victory for Nyong’o whose role of Patsey is small but pivotal and completely heart-breaking in 12 Years a Slave over that of Lawrence who I feel is miscast as the sassy mother and estranged wife of Christian Bale in American Hustle. There’s also something about Lawrence winning back to back Oscars® rubs me the wrong way…I mean if Julie couldn’t win back to back Oscars® for Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, JLaw has no business doing it either. Watch out for some potential victors in what are considered the lower level categories, can Her beat American Hustle in Best Original Screenplay? (And if Jennifer Lawrence loses as well, does that mean American Hustle, once with so much momentum, actually go zero for 10?) I hope Her wins, although the film has plenty of holes in its storyline, Her still had more imagination and creativity than any screenplay this year. Also, can Frozen finally win Disney its first award for Best Animated feature? And will songwriter Robert Lopez, at age 39, become the youngest winner of the EGOT with a victory for writing “Let it Go”? Finally my biggest hope is that Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (can’t forget the colon) actually wins Best Makeup over the likes of Dallas Buyers Club. I’m afraid the Academy is too highbrow to honor a Johnny Knoxville film but one can always dream right? Anyway this Oscar® Sunday I will be watching, blogging, tweeting, and texting my reactions to the winners and losers. How will you commemorate one of the most unpredictable Academy Awards season in recent memory?