What will happen when four becomes none? That's the sad inevitability that will occur when Betty White passes, since she is the last surviving Golden Girl following the deaths of Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty. Of course, Hollywood, which is known for being such a sentimental place, may have a schmaltzy tribute for the life of White. She'll certainly get a good long remembrance at the Emmys - I'm thinking that at least one of the Hot In Cleveland cast would go up and talk, or maybe even Mary Tyler Moore. Then they might go about doing a reboot of The Golden Girls.
Hey, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Please put down your Sophia Petrillo coffee mug. It wouldn't be instantaneous, Maybe a few years or so down the road. They'd be thinking about how a more modern version of the show might play...see how Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia handle a new world with smartphones and the Internet. They might even make a movie. Look at 21 Jump Street. They made a movie of that and all the principal actors from the TV show are alive! Of course, they changed some of the premise and basically had a whole different type of plot and vibe with the name 21 Jump Street plastered on it.
It could be decades, actually, since older shows always seem to get a re-imagining. Look at The Transformers, Garfield, and The Smurfs now. Those were hit shows in the '80s and they have all had the movie treatment fairly recently. Once Lifetime and all the other channels finally stop showing Golden Girls re-runs in syndication and the show fades from people's minds, maybe my son will take a date to see this Golden Girls movie (he's 3 now, so you imagine the time frame here).
I'd love for the faces of Arthur, McClanahan, Getty and White to be associated with this show forever, but it wouldn't surprise me to see a film version with the four women somehow wackily becoming drug mules for Walter White or something like that.
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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
Golden Girls is not a show you select as your in-flight entertainment as a means of falling asleep so you’ll arrive in Italy rested. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a show you watch religiously and take notes on, in hopes of one day breaking Ken Jennings’ record on Jeopardy! with the answer to who the fourth roommate in the house was before Estelle Getty joined the cast (it was gay chef, Coco). And with the release of the 25th anniversary COMPLETE collection – that comes with playing cards, a DVD trivia game, montages of each of the girls’ funniest moments and commentaries with Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White – it’s clear the girls have left little room for us to enjoy any other television show.
But, why? Why did Golden Girls impact our lives so tremendously? On paper, it doesn’t look like something that would appeal to everyone – it was about four women who were old and living in Florida. They had thick glasses and jackets with shoulder pads and plastic coverings for their furniture. They had grown up kids, were done with staying out all night at clubs, and were fans of that device for people that make TVs louder without being too loud for the people with good hearing. Some people probably skipped over Golden Girls entirely because they thought the ages of the Rose, Blanche, Sophia and Dorothy meant they wouldn’t be able to identify with the ins and outs of their lives. Others probably couldn’t conceive of Golden Girls being more entertaining than a show that was blatantly and directly targeted to their demographic, like 90210. But everyone who watched the show knows their addiction to it was actually rooted in the women’s ages! The show functioned around the idea that these women were older than everyone but still suffered from young people problems, like finding sex and having sex. In other words, they were just like us! They too had nothing to wear to the Senior Dance and were totally sick of men cheating on them. Fans found themselves hoping that they’d grow up to have Rose’s innocence, Blanche’s insatiability, Dorothy’s wit and Sophia’s bluntness.
Though the sitcom was billed as and won awards as a comedy, it wasn’t afraid of depicting topics heftier than how to fix the runs in a pair of control top hose. Among the tough issues broached were infidelity, HIV scares, drug addictions, estrangements from children, gangsters, the FBI, cross-dressing family members, sexism, domestic violence and artificial insemination. The decision to darken an inherently light comedy series about sweet old ladies with these issues was risky, but it was ultimately a beneficial one – the heavier moments were the realism that rounded out the show, and made it more than just a program that glorified the bonds of friendship and living with your friend’s mom in a warm climate.
But possibly the main reason we loved Golden Girls so much was because the actresses’ love for each other was so obvious. Over the course of the seven seasons, the characters bonded in such a way that the only explanation for its believability was to assume that Betty White, Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan had grown extremely close, too. This is not an uncommon phenomenon when a series consists of 180 episodes (especially when the actresses had to share their characters’ embarrassment of going to a drug store for condoms and having the checkout person make an announcement asking for the price of Rose’s desired black condoms – that’s the beginning of a bond). But more generally, their camaraderie brought texture to a great series that was already structurally worthy of recognition. As a group, they were truly unforgettable, and their contribution to the entertainment industry will never be forgotten.