If you boil it down to its component parts, the Real Finger Pointers of Veracity Manor is actually a mystery program. That's why we all tune in. Everyone who doesn't watch the show and sits at home talking about how it is foretelling the end to Western civilization thinks that it is about conspicuous consumption and women fighting. It is not. No, that is not why we watch this. We watch it for the mystery. We watch it for the little moments in between the aggression, the tiny asides, the weighted statements, the accusations made with only the eyes. Yes, especially this bunch of Jessica Fletchers here in Beverly Hills, they are always stirring up mysteries. Did Kyle really steal a house from Kim? Why did Kelsey leave St. Camille of Grammer? Was Taylor abused or not? Exactly what kind of drugs is Kim Richards taking? And just what kind of drugs is Kim Richards on now that she's all better (she looks good). Now we have a new mystery. What the hell did Brandi Glanville say about Adrienne the Queen of the Maloofs? What, exactly, is this very personal secret that was not revealed?
We interrupt our regularly scheduled recap to bring you this message from W.I. Simonson of Santa Monica, selling used Mercedes to 16-year-olds for more than 80 years. Don't you love this white model that Kyle and her husband MMmmmmm bought for their teenage daughter Alexia? Isn't she going to be great driving it? She had to take three tests before she could even get her drivers permit, but, boy, is she going to tear up the rode in this affordable model from W.I. Simonson, right on Wilshire Blvd. Come in and drive home with the car of your dreams and the woman of your fantasies. And if you have a reality show, let us know and we'll give you a nice car for free so that you can put it on the show. Yes, W.I. Simonson, where all the Simons are your sons!
So, yes, we were talking about mysteries. What the heck was Brandi talking about at Lisa's luncheon?
We interrupt our regularly scheduled recap to bring you this message from Vanderpump Rules, which premieres Monday, Jan. 7, at 9 PM. Welcome to SUR, a (air quotes) sexy, (air quotes) unique, (unnecessary air quotes) restaurant in Beverly Hills and meet its owner Lisa Vanderpump who you know very well. "Hello, I am Lisa Vanderpump, and welcome to SUR, a (air quotes) sexy, (air quotes) unique, (unnecessary air quotes) restaurant in Beverly Hills. My new show is all about me and the staff here at my restaurant. Would you like to meet them? No, no, it won't be awkward at all. It will certainly not be like those two episodes of 90210 when Kelly fell in love with Jake only so that he could anchor the cast of Melrose Place. No, it will not be like that at all. First, meet Jax, a man whose abs are as impossible to come by as someone with his name who is taken seriously. He is a bartender here who loves to party. He will chill your rosé at work, but he will heat things up at home. Say hi, Jax. Oh, and this Stasi. She is pretty and wears too much lipstick and likes to cause drama. Last night she made a very stupid joke and then a high powered entertainment agent who is a personal friend of mine stormed out. I'd fire her if she didn't have a contract for the whole first season. Now she thinks she deserves an apology when she was the one who did something wrong. Haha, Stasi. Who do you think you are? Adrienne Maloof? Haha. Don't answer that. I would introduce you to Schaena, a world class spelling-bee champion and cocktail waitress who also slept with Eddie Cibrian, but I sent her home because Brandi is on her way over. We can't have that awkwardness, can we? Well, don't they sound like a really fun crew? Be sure to tune in Monday, Jan. 7, at 9 PM for Vanderpump Rules and learn even more."
Alright, so secrets. Lisa invites a bunch of people to lunch and...
We interrupt our regularly scheduled recap... Jesus, not again... to bring you this message from SUR, which now has a totally new appetizer menu, feature a tomato salad, goat cheese and beef crostini, tuna quesadilla, and all other sorts of delicious food. Are you done now? Yes. OK.
Alright, so Lisa invites everyone over to lunch and Kim Richards is shockingly the second person there! And guess what? She looks good! I mean, Kim is seriously on the mend. She has on a cute outfit, her hair and makeup look nice, she's not mixing chicken salad in a bowl with her bare hands, and she's, you know, coherent. This is a whole new Kim Richards. She's totally sane but, I gotta say, I still kinda like her. Kim decides that she is going to call Kyle and ask her why she's late and goes on this whole meta tirade about how she's so concerned about Kyle because she never comes to things anymore and she's so undependable and always late. Oh, this Kim Richards who can laugh at herself and be funny is delightful. I would like to invite her over for scones and a marathon of RuPaul's Drag Race and we'll just laugh and laugh and laugh at everyone and then we'll go try on outfits from Kim's closet and talk about Witch Mountain. That is what I would like.
So, everyone files in for lunch and somehow Brandi goes on a tear about Adrienne, the queen of the Maloofs. Even before she told Adrien to "shut the front door" in Ojai they were having some sort of complications, but someone at lunch asks her what her problem is with Adrienne and it just opens the floodgates. Oh no, wait. There's a term Brandi has for it. "The truth cannon." Yes, everyone puts on their constructions hats and puts their hands over their ears and she just fires all of her ammunition against Adrienne up in the sky and hope some of it lands on them as it falls back down to earth.
Her major gripe seems to be that Adrienne is a liar which, after her "I have a book deal" sneer at the Ojai dinner, is rather believable. But what exactly is she lying about? Brandi says she... Cue the thud sound effect, cut to the shocked faces of everyone at the lunch, cut to the interviews where everyone says that Brandi's blow was way too low. Oh, yes, we aren't ever going to find out what Brandi was talking about. It has been edited out. It has been covered over. Here is a show that had to talk about domestic violence, suicide, and Kim Richard's boyfriend Pumice who was made out of rocks. This is a show that talked about all these things, but there is one allegation that they will not talk about. It is a secret. It is the love that dare not speak it's name.
What do you think the secret could be? Is Paullo the Chimp cheating on Adrienne? Is she secretly poor? Is she really a man, baby? Was she freebasing with Kim out behind the dumpster at the Beverly Hilton? Is the secret just some book about visualizing the future that she read because she saw it on Oprah? Did she give birth to a race of mole people that live under the mountain? Did she craft her sparkly extensions out of the souls of orphans? Does she not pay her parking tickets? We'll never know. It's a secret!
Well, the problem with the internet is things don't stay secret for very long. According to the scuttlebutt on the web, Brandi said that Adrienne...(Well, if Bravo isn't going to say it, I'm not going to say it either. I don't need a Maloofsuit on my hands. But you can find it here.) That means that during their conversation at dinner in Ojai, Adrienne was lying. Now the information isn't even that personal. Well, it is but it isn't. There's another cast member that did the same thing and has been upfront about it since the show started, so why does Adrienne care? If it is true, why is it a big deal? Why not just own up to it and be fine with it? It's never the secrets that kill you, it's the cover up. And if it is a lie, then why the insane reaction? Why not just correct it for the record and move on?
This is the frame of mind everyone is in going into Kyle and MMMMmmmm's Real Estate Eleganza Party (thanks, Greggy, for the name). It's the christening for his new agency, The Agency. I mean, really MMMmmmm, you couldn't think of a better name? That's like having a cat named The Cat. Just because you call it "The Cat" doesn't mean that is what you put on its birth certificate. At least call the company MMMMmmmmm and Co, LTD or some bullshit. But The Agency? Yeah, good job. I want that creative visonary selling my house. Here, hold this sack of eye rolls.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled recap to bring you this important message. God, what is it this time? We have to tell them about the hotel where they're having the party. OK, fine, but make it snappy. Welcome to the JW Marriott in beautiful downtown... Alright, we don't have time for this. Give us the bullet points. There's a cute event space, as you see. We have a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. There are awesome condos with great views. St. Camille even went into one. OK, that's it. I hope the free party was worth it. It was.
Everyone shows up to the Real Estate Eleganza Party, including Kim Richards looking very smart in a black skirt suit (she looks good!) but there is one accessory that Kim is also wearing. It is her concern face. She is concerned. She is very concerned about what Brandi said about Adrienne and, well, she thinks that Adrienne needs to know. This sober Kim has a lot of opinions. As soon as she and Paullo the Chimp (PS – can you believe that people are amazed that a chimp has a hairy back?) walk into the party Kim pulls them to the side and tells them the "secret." We still don't know what it is. We still have no idea. Like the name of God, it is unspeakable.
But Paullo runs over to Brandi and calls her a bitch and then they just start jabbering back and forth. Paullo won't tell Brandi what she said but, seriously, at this point Brandi has talked so much shit about the two of them that he could be mad about any number of things. For the constant shit talker a bit of clarification is always helpful. Paullo won't tell her in front of everyone, he doesn't want to say it in front of the camera. He asks her to step over to the side. Oh, yeah, Paullo, that's gonna happen. Some women you are harranguing is going to go off in the corner so no one can keep her safe. Yeah, no woman on earth would go off with you. But he doesn't want the secret (ooooHHOOooOOOhHOOOOOHHHOOO) on the record. What can this thing be that is worse than Taylor getting beat up by her husband? Camille finally broke that seal and when she told us the heavens opened and received her in their light and glory. Maybe Brandi is in the process of being canonized right now for exposing the secret? There was lots of screaming and then the worst kind of Housewives fight. "You're lying." "No, you're lying." "No, you're lying?" "I'm lying? No! You're. Ly-ing." Then Adrienne and Paullo stormed out and we still don't know the secret. Like I said, the fighting and aggression are only second to the mystery. We want to see into this little unmarked box that they're all raging over.
Kyle is all pissed because Kim decided to tell Adrienne about this at her party and it is not the right time and place for this fight to be happening. OK, I am so sick of Housewives saying "not the right time or place." It's like a Real Estate Eleganza Party is some solemn event. If you don't want anyone to have some stupid drama fight at a party because it is going to mess with your husband's work, then, you know what, don't invite Housewives to the party. That is the only way to ensure there will not be a Housewives fight, is if there are no Housewives there. If there are Housewives in attendance, something insane will always happen. That is truth. That is Cohen's Theorum. It is science.
And while all this is going on, Lisa Vanderpump is at the hospital. Ken is having surgery and the whole family is there to support him. He lies in the bed, looking more like a butterscotch Simon Cowell than ever, and he is not nervous at all. But the kids show up and hug and kiss him and Lisa frets enough for everyone. The girls probably think she should be at the Real Estate Eleganza Party, but she is there. It's because they are a good couple and very much in love. It's the little things you do together, that make perfect relationships. The hobbies you pursue together, savings you accrue together, looks you misconstrue together that make marriage a joy.
Lisa is very very worried about Ken and I was getting all ready to tell her to stop being an anxietymonger. I wanted to tell her it's just hip replacement surgery due to a polo injury (talk about British People Problems), that these happen every day. My mom just had one last year and she's back playing golf and doing yoga and sending me annoying text messages like nothing ever happened. Liza Minnelli had both knees done at once and look at her, she's fine! But then I realized the secret. I uncovered the mystery. This is about Ken being 16 years older than Lisa.
So Lisa waits in (where else?) the waiting room and the children are gone. She holds her phone in her hand because if she doesn't put it in her pocket or her purse then there is still something to do. She doesn't have to fear relaxing because she is tight with purpose. She has her phone to put away. She has something to do. Something other than worry. But that is what she is really doing. She's considering the possibility that Ken will never come out. That he will die. What then? There will be a whirlwind of activity – the calls to friends and family, the planning, claiming the body, filing the malpractice suit. There will be memorials and remembrances and wills and probate. There will be all of that. Then after that, the stillness. It will just be her and the dogs in that big house, a ghost amid the white furniture. There will be no one to tease, no one to keep her up at night with his snoring, no one to walk up behind her in the kitchen and give her a hug while she drinks her coffee and reads the newspaper at the granite island. That's what she's afraid of. That emptiness. That nothing. That indent in the bed that will never quite go away. The moving on. The putting on a brave face. The bracing for the end. That is what Lisa really fears.
Because this is all just practice. This future with Ken dead isn't so much a possibility as an inevitability. Barring accident or disease, the day will come when Ken, so much older, will die before Lisa. Sure there's a chance he'll outlive her, but he'll probably go first. That's the way it has always been. She knew it on her wedding day, she know it when Pandy and Max were born, when she was holding their warm pink bodies in the nursery. It's been there with her every day – like her breath, like her wedding ring – that knowledge, that yapping thought. It's realer than ever. As Lisa dangles her shoe off her big toe and shakes it back and forth, she finally relaxes into her dark revelry, the rest of her body starting to go slack when it jolts up again. It's the phone, still in her hand, vibrating. Her stomach sinks, thinking that it's the doctor, that something has gone totally wrong and there is news – bad news. But why would the hospital call? She looks and sees that it's Brandi. She puts her finger on the screen of the phone, thinking about whether or not to swipe it. She has nothing else to do. Why not talk to Brandi? Why not gossip about the party she was missing as Brandi drives home? But she couldn't. She presses the button on the top of her phone and the shaking stops. She lets her hand relax over the arm of the chair again and goes back to the important business of dangling her shoe. She doesn't really have time to talk. Not right now.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.