Featuring more tears, tantrums, and tonsil hockey than a high school parking lot after the homecoming dance, The Glee Project launches itself firmly into the land of melodrama with its second episode. Seeing as that’s where Glee has lived for the last two — arguably three — seasons, one is wont to think that this means the contenders are rockin’ it. But, because of one itsy bitsy problem, one would be mistaken. You see, the thing is, everyone sucks. There, I said it.
The curtain rises on episode 2 to reveal Rob Ulrich ready to dish out a healthy helping of homework. The theme is “Danceability” (not a real noun) and the contenders will have to choreograph and perform The Go-Go’s masterpiece “We Got the Beat” for this week’s super secret surprise judge/mentor. The days of the kids democratically doling out lyrics seems a distant memory, as the girls take off their earrings and the guys roll up their sleeves to fight to the death for the chance to sing the very best five words. The honeymoon stage of this show is o-v-e-r, over.
That night, back in the dorms, Taryn is losing her s**t. She’s probably having an identity crisis, because Lord knows I have no idea who she is. Is she even on this show? Oh, she’s just stressed and kids are mean and she wants her mom. So she leaves. Immediately. I’m not joking; Taryn packs her bags and white titles roll across a black screen to tell us that Taryn is no longer a contender. So, that happened. Moving on.
Homework day! Rob wears his very best wig to the choir room to watch the kids kick up their heels and shake their moneymakers. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First we have to meet the super secret surprise judge/mentor. Whoever could it be?? This is about dance, so my money is on Heather “Single Ladies” Morris or Harry “Abs of Steel” Shum Jr. Nope — foiled again! It’s (one of the) Glee Project Season 1 winners, Samuel Larson. Does he even count as a Glee cast member? He may be super dreamy in a Burning Man sort of way, but I’m not sure 45 seconds on Glee makes you an expert. Sammy Boy’s got some advice, though, so listen up. “Do you, but do it hard,” he whispers breathlessly behind an oppressive curtain of dreadlocks. And with that, it’s time for some Go-Go’s.
I might as well have fast-forwarded through the homework performance for all that I was able to get out of it. The editors of this show sure do love their quick cuts! All this schizophrenic darting from singer to singer really makes it difficult to decide who draws your eye and who stands out from a crowd. I think maybe Abraham looked okay, and Lily’s got a good energy, but who really knows what the bleep is going on. But when the song finishes, Rob is clapping his hands and pronouncing it the best homework assignment ever. Bold words, Rob. You’ll be eating them later. Samuel gets confused and thinks that Abraham is actually Harry Shum Jr. in disguise, so the fierce Asian wins this time around.
NEXT: What’s old is young.
Robert announces that the music video song this week will be LMFAO’s “Rock Party Anthem,” and all the contenders are excited because this means they are, like, actually invited to a party. (This totally counts, right? RIGHT? This totally counts.)
Into the hall of mirrors the contenders go for some exercises in self-reflection led by choreographer extraordinaire slash life coach (and probably the love of my life) Zach Woodlee. “Please don’t do the stupid wedding dance,” Zach pleads, to which all the kiddies say, “Who, me?” and bat their eyelashes while they surreptitiously lawnmower and shopping cart and electric slide all the way to Zach’s bad side. Lily loves to pop her chest, shake her ass, and make confused faces, we learn, and poor Tyler lacks any sort of internal rhythm. Don’t blame this on the testosterone, child, it’s not the hormones’ fault that you can only move one limb at a time.
There’s no rest for the weary on The Glee Project, as things go from bad to worse in the recording booth. Generic cute boy is up first and he is pretty bad. Then Ali thinks it’s a good idea (which it isn’t) to riff on her “Rock Party Anthem” chorus. Den mother Nikki thinks that is pretty ill-advised and asks her to cool it. Pretty Lily with the Clearasil ad perfect skin seems to have lost complete control of her vocal cords, and Nikki responds by morphing into her catty alter ego Giggles McGee on the other side of the glass. “OMG this is so bad, amirite?” she transmits telepathically to whatever assistant happens to be nearby. I’m starting to worry about Lily, folks.
The contenders must push their abysmal recording sessions to the shadowy recesses of their minds as they gear up for the best. Party. Ever. And let me tell you, the party they create for their LMFAO video is such a party. Such a party. There are Cheetos and 2-liter bottles of Coke and, wait for it, spin the bottle. Holy crap, how did we get to such a fun party?
I’m going to take a second here to make you all aware of the fact that every contender on this show is over the age of 18. They may be gunning to play teens on TV, but for the large part, everyone is an honest-to-goodness adult. So, explain to me, my friends, why everyone is acting like they are in middle school. Nellie announces that she doesn’t want to play (fake) spin the bottle because she thinks kissing is special, and Aylin shows off just how little her conservative Muslim parents know about her by snogging everyone with a face. First, she makes out with generic good-looking homeboy Blake, but then poor Charlie starts to sulk because he was totally flirting with her first, he even touched her wenis! Is nothing sacred?! Good thing Aylin is so nice, she cheers him up with a kiss that is equal parts pity and look-at-me-I’m-awesome-slutty.
NEXT: Does Ryan Murphy have Bieber Fever?
The spit-swapping portion of the music video is over, for now, and it’s time for some choreo. As is to be expected with this uncoordinated bunch, no one remembers his or her moves. Zach shuffles over to the corner, wrought with despair, to mutter to himself. “The horror, the horror!” he chants to Nikki’s sympathetic ear. It’s at this point that all the grownups in the room realize that the contenders aren’t even remembering to lip sync. Oops. It’s the beginning of the end for these Glee hopefuls.
The audience is treated to a viewing of the finished music video and, despite the judges’ bemoaning, it doesn’t seem that bad. The editors must have spent some late, Red Bull-fueled nights splicing this one together. But again, no one stands out to me; everyone is equally unappealing at this point (although I am pretty into Michael’s hoodie. Where can I find one of those?)
Judgment time. Zach, telling it like it is as always, announces that it’s time all the judges figure out who sucked the least. Aylin, Shanna, Blake, and Michael were dubbed the least bad and scurry off stage. Dani, Lily, and Tyler were pronounced The Worst and have to sing for their lives. Here’s the rundown of the Last Chance performances.
1. Dani sings Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Seems not too bad. There is something so watchable about her. I want her so badly to be great. Well, she’s not great, but she’s fine. Dani reveals that she wants to be the voice of her generation, to which Mama Murphy responds, “Okay, but can you sing Broadway and use jazz hands?” Justin Bieber isn’t so sure.
2. Tyler sings Elton John’s “Daniel.” His voice sounds like he inhaled a whole bunch of helium. Everyone is being super nice because he is going through such a huge transition, but I still think his voice sounds like baby Michael Jackson. I’m just not that into him, too bad he’ll probably win.
3. Lily sings Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” Oh my, she’s stripping and dancing and singin’ it like she means it. This is fun! Too bad the judges think she is a sourpuss because she argued with my main man Zach. Mama Murphy is not impressed with her attitude. Lily then breaks the No. 1 rule of job interviews by telling Ryan Murphy that she argues with authority figures a lot and generally thinks her thoughts are more important than everyone else’s. Murphy does not like that one bit.
As the heartfelt voiceovers begin, I realize that since Taryn left on her own volition this week they technically don’t need to send anyone home. This could be the lucky break Dani or Lily needs (because anyone who has seen a promo ad for Glee knows that Tyler is guaranteed to make top 5). In fact, I’m so sure that everyone is staying, and so smug about figuring out the twist ending before everyone else, that I almost don’t even watch the callback list reveal. But as I head to the kitchen for another cookie, I see Dani’s sad, beautiful face out of the corner of my eye. Turns out Ryan Murphy just doesn’t have Beiber Fever. Avril Lavigne swells in the background, as it does each week, while Dani makes her final exit and everyone cries — including me (almost); I liked Dani bunches.
Previews for next week show more tears from the contenders and tough love from the mentors. Nikki drops some knowledge on the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed crew, “Not one of you is ready to be on Glee.” Bam. After more winners than they could handle last season, could this season go the way of Making the Band and dub no one victorious? Only time will tell. In the meantime, just remember to always do you, but do it hard.
[Image Credit: Oxygen]
Glee Project Premiere Recap: They’re Beautiful in Their Way
The New Glee Project Cast: Who Has a Shot at Winning?
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On Friday, the much-anticipated Super 8 hits theaters and, well honestly, we're still not quite sure what it's about (this is a J.J. Abrams film, after all). But what we do know is that in the film, some kids make a movie that tells a story within the frame of the film's overarching story. That got us thinking, "what other stories use this type of narrative device? And more importantly, what are some of our favorites? Read on for a brief rundown of our favorite stories within stories.
Okay, this film may not have a "story within a story" specifically, but it plays with the idea well enough to be considered. From the brilliant mind of Charlie Kaufman, it follows a protagonist named "Charlie Kaufman" as he attempts to adapt a book called The Orchid Thief. Before he knows it, the story within the book becomes real -- kind of -- and he's lost in a world where he can't even really tell what exactly he's adapting.
One of Mel Brooks' greatest achievements (and that's saying something, considering he's Mel Brooks) plays around with the story-within-a-story concept. In the third act, the climatic fight spills onto an adjacent movie set, and then another, and then finally, the street -- reminding all of those concerned mothers everywhere that this is comedy, not racism.
Any movie with a song called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" at its forefront is one that deserves some recognition. Steve Coogan's Hamlet 2 may not be as subtle with its "story within a story," but it's still awesome because, well, it kind of makes you want to party with Jesus, and who the heck wouldn't want to party with Jesus?
Men In Black
True, Men In Black doesn't necessarily scream "awesome storytelling" but it's still a fun, entertaining ride that's led by two charming men in Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. But where's the story within a story? At the end of the film, the camera pulls back, back and back some more until it's revealed that the galaxies we all live in (which held the story we just watched) are just an alien's marbles; a small part of a much larger game of life.
Synecdoche, New York
Oh, hey, another Charlie Kaufman film, but that's not too surprising considering he's pretty much the king of meta. In Synecdoche, New York -- in the same vein as Adaptation -- an artist gets lost in his own world. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a theater director who surprisingly lands the MacArthur Fellowship, giving him all the financial means to pursue his art the way he's always wanted - resulting in a play within a play within a play within a play within a--well, you get it.
Waiting For Guffman
Christopher Guest -- the king of mockumentaries -- might have his best one in Waiting for Guffman. Granted, the film does play with a lot of inside jokes that only those weird theater kids from college might get, but it also does a pretty great job at making fun of all those weird theater kids from college. Centering on a community theater in small town Missouri, Guest plays Corky St. Clair -- an "artiste" -- as he puts together a musical for the community called Red, White and Blaine, a musical that may not be quite as good as he thinks.
The vastly underrated comedy Galaxy Quest does a wonderful job playing with the concept of a story within a story. The film centers on the cast of a cult television show similar to Star Trek as they're abducted by real aliens in order to fight some other ET's. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman manage to mock themselves, their fictional doppelgangers and save the world all at the same time.
Shutter Island is no Mean Streets or Raging Bull, but it's still a Martin Scorsese film led by Leonardo DiCaprio so it's probably better than most. Following a US Marshal named Teddy Daniels as he investigates the weird happenings of an island used to house the criminally insane just off the shore in Boston Harbor, Things get weirder and weird, until it's finally revealed that (SPOILER) the events happening are all just in his head (END SPOILER).
Festivals wrap; "Clerks" director makes points with wife; Joey Lawrence shines (really)
PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 30, 2000 - Done.
"Girlfight" and "You Can Count on Me" - the two films everybody talked about non-stop up here - ended up as the two films everybody talked about non-stop during Saturday's awards ceremony at the Raquet Center. The movies took two awards each - tying as the Grand Jury Prize winner for best dramatic film.
"Two Family House" - a film that as far as we were concerned nobody talked about up here - ended up as the upset winner in the Audience Award category, supposedly a popular vote. We're not sure what audience voted for it, but we're sure it wasn't the people at the Raquet Center. The films that drew the biggest applause during a rundown of the competition dramas were, of course, "Girlfight" and "You Can Count on Me," as well as "Songcatcher," "Urbania" and "Our Song." Of course, "Two Family House" wasn't included in that rundown because it wasn't a competition flick - it was an American Spectrum entry.
For a complete look at the night's winners, check out The Buzz.
In other festival action:
IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS: "I've said this before and I'll say it again, I sort of wish there wasn't a competition at the festival because [as] nice, gratifying and thrilling as it is to win a prize, it's just so nice to be here. And I sort of wish we could all get here and be here and that would be it." - "You Can Count on Me" writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, to Hollywood.com.
LIKE WE SAID, IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS: So, was Mr. Lonergan willing to give back his two awards he won Saturday? "No. Despite my altruistic sentiments."
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SUNDANCE AWARDS AND THE SLAMDANCE AWARDS: The Slamdance awards are held in a bar; the Sundance awards are held at a health club. The Slamdance awards take about an hour to hand out; the Sundance awards take about two hours to hand out. The Sundance awards also feature many more speeches about the importance of film festivals, in general, and Sundance, in particular.
EXCEPT FOR THOSE OF YOU SEATED IN THE BACK ROWS BEHIND THE PRESS AND SPONORS: "This evening is really yours …" - Sundance festival co-director Nicole Guillemet, in her opening remarks to filmmakers.
FINALLY, A REAL MOMENT: "P.S.: [Expletive deleted] Slamdance." - Faux letter from Robert Redford, as read by Sundance juror/potty-mouthed filmmaker Kevin Smith ("Clerks").
PRESENTER'S ULTERIOR MOTIVE REVEALED: "I'm so getting laid tonight." - Kevin Smith (again), after thanking his wife for no particular reason before revealing the winner of the best dramatic director award.
AND NOW YOU KNOW: "Girlfight" writer/director Karyn Kusama's first name is pronounced "Car-in," not "Care-in," as she pointed out on stage moments after the aforementioned Mr. Smith botched it.
AND NOW YOU KNOW THAT, TOO: Mercedes-Benz has cared deeply about independent film for a decade - or so said the Mercedes-Benz mucky-muck allotted stage time on account of the luxury-car maker is the official sponsor of Sundance's Grand Jury Prizes.
THAT SPECIAL TOUCH: "Can you, uh, GET OUT THE WAY." - Sundance volunteer, to person standing in said Sundance volunteer's way.
SOME PRIZES COME IN CASH FORM: "Groove" and "Chuck and Buck" both got high-profile deals in the last week - but not a single Sundance award.
TASTY STUFF WE ATE AT THE AFTER-PARTY: Quiche Lorraine, lemon-grilled chicken on focaccia, vegetarian frittata and little square brown fudgy things.
SPOTTED: Kevin Smith chatting up comic Bobcat Goldthwait near the bathroom directional sign at the Raquet Center.
MOVIES WE SAW:
1. "Good Housekeeping" (Slamdance Competition Feature) -- Frank Novak's debut feature, which won the Slamdance Grand Jury Award for best feature, is like a 92-minute episode of "Cops," with all the grit, grime and white trash of that voyeuristic hit -- plus lots more laughs. Don (Bob Mills) and Donatella (Petra Westen) are two weeks away from divorce court and their domestic strife is reaching a crescendo. Then, Don erects a wall in the middle of the house to draw the battle lines. He's aided in his war with the missus by a gaggle of oddball friends including his loser brother (who sleeps in the car on the lawn), a fellow action-figure collector geek, and a divorced friend turned men's-rights activist, who gives Don a pistol and a Laaz military rocket for "self defense." This is an alarmingly realistic movie about an extremely dysfunctional family, but its sometimes-absurd humor makes it a delightful, if not always easy, movie to watch. (-- Steve Ryfle)
2. "Dolphins" (Slamdance Competition Feature) -- Think "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," sans dialogue, and with a beautiful young woman standing in for Jack Nicholson. Throw in amazing cinematography, a la the craftsmanship of "Manhattan," and you're close to describing this 40-minute debut from Iranian-born Farhad Yawari, which won (despite its brief running time) this fest's Audience Award for best feature. A female mental patient (Julia Brendler) stares into her goldfish bowl and imagines herself swimming underwater with a school of dolphins. When she refuses to live by the house rules, the girl is repeatedly subdued by a Nurse Ratched-like character until a good-hearted garbage man busts her out of the nut house. The story is only one component of this multi-layered movie -- the music, the images and the performances meld seamlessly. Sure, it's a bit pretentious and artsy-fartsy, but it's obvious that Yawari is a filmmaker of great talent. (-- S.R.)
3. "Desperate But Not Serious" (SlamDunk) -- Bill Fishman, who has directed music videos for bands ranging from Suicidal Tendencies to Hank Williams Jr., as well as the big-screen comedies "Tapeheads" and Car 54, Where Are You?," weighs in with this $650,000 would-be comedic satire of the Los Angeles night-life scene. A San Francisco chick (Christine Taylor of "The Brady Bunch Movie") flies into L.A. to rendezvous with her botanist boyfriend (John Corbett) at a wedding reception, but when she loses the invitation she spends the entire night hopping from party to party with her party-gal friend (Paget Brewster) in search of her beau. During their misadventures, the girls meet a psychopath bartender (Henry Rollins), Brewster's ex-boyfriend (Max Perlich), a pretentious grrl rocker (Claudia Schiffer) and a pampered-but-nice movie star (Joey Lawrence -- the best thing about the film, really). In the end, Taylor gets her man (duh) but it's too late - the movie's already self-destructed with its unfunny, rambling dialogue and lack of story. Rent "Party Girl" instead. (-- S.R.)
BEST TAKE ON THE SUNDANCE Y2K EXPERIENCE: "It was monkeys and clowns all around." - Two anonymous filmmakers at The Club on Main Street.
WHAT ONE NON-FILMMAKER GOT OUT OF SUNDANCE: "Varicose veins from standing in line." -- Susan Nicolls, senior public relations manager, Macromedia.
HOW SUNDANCE Y2K DIFFERED FROM PREVIOUS SUNDANCES: "It's the same pretentiousness and arrogance. Have you seen these girls walking around outside with bare midriffs? What guy would want a girl with a blue stomach?" - Quotemeister Susan Nicolls.
WHY SLAMDANCE IS BETTER THAN SUNDANCE (ONE OPINION): "They're not kicking you out of parties like at Sundance." -- Sharon Reed, aspiring filmmaker.
WHY SUNDANCE IS BETTER THAN SLAMDANCE (ONE OPINION): "It was an excuse to party. In that respect, it succeeded tremendously."-- James Dudyen, filmmaker.
BEST PARTY: The Entertainment Weekly-sponsored bash on Jan. 21 at the Silver Lake Lodge. The free food (chicken strips with peanut dipping sauce) was refined; the view was spectacular; the band (Norway's own Getaway People) was very good. But, most of all, the festival was very young and we w ren't sick of this place yet. (-- J.R.)
WORST PARTY: The one on Friday night at Harry O's where the Worst (Most-Effective) Bouncer (see: below) put our own Jim Bartoo in a headlock on account of … well, to tell you the truth, we're still not exactly sure why.
BIGGEST PARTY TREND: Raves. Maybe it was the effect of the movie "Groove" being a big hit up here this year, but it wasn't surprising to see the president of New Line letting it all out on the dance floor to DJ's Digweed and Sasha. Rave culture touched everything at Sundance from the give-aways, (knit caps, disco-ball-keychains, and flashers) to the clothes (funk-sneakers and hi-tech nylon cargo-pants anyone?). (-- Gerry Katzman)
WORST (MOST-EFFECTIVE) BOUNCER: The nightclub Harry O's, which featured nightly performances by the likes of Sugar Ray, Primus, Third Eye Blind, and the Cult, should take the scads of money it made this week and open a studio, because as Hollywood Royalty waited in line and pleaded, "Let me in! I'm cold!," the red-mohawked bouncer replied, "Shut up, or none of you are getting in!" We smell a studio head in the making. (-- G.K.)
MOST CONSECUTIVE NIGHTS STANDING IN FRONT OF HARRY O'S WITHOUT GETTING IN: Four, as accomplished by Hollywood.com's Chuck Walton.
MOST UBIQUITOUS DRINK: "I have never seen so much frickin' Red Bull in my frickin life!" one party-goer screamed to us. The mediciney-sweet energy drink was everywhere in Park City. Red Bull, which contains "taurine," some kind of amino-acidy energy potion, is illegal in France - and, hence, a perfect compliment to vodka. (-- G.K.)
BEST SUGGESTION: Hold this stupid thing in May when it's, like, not FREAKIN' COLD outside.