Television fans are a unique set. We're the type of people who devote hours upon hours a week to our fictional, televised friends. We laugh at their jokes and cry when they cry because our favorite shows are just so darn good. But the intensity of the laughter and the tears is all thanks to the fact that we regard these characters as something of a family. We know them. We understand them. We love them unconditionally. And actors deserve recognition for being able to elicit that level of a reaction from their fans. Naturally, when they're not given their due, we're forced to react, well, emotionally. How, exactly, will we react? That depends on the actor in question. Next up is the one of the best TV dads of all-time (that's right, we said it!): Louie renaissance man Louis C.K.
It's been long debated when the actual "golden age of television" was. Historians may point out that it was at the very dawn of the television programming age in the '50s and '60s, while television nerds/snobs will argue that it was the early 2000s when both The Sopranos and The Wire were on at the same time. While I tend to agree more with the latter, I'd argue that the golden age of television isn't a thing of the past, but something we're lucky enough to be living in right now.
After all, this is an era in which we have brilliant, beloved Emmy and fan favorite dramas like Mad Man and Breaking Bad and risk-taking, talked-about, darkly hilarious comedies like Girls and, of course, Louie. Then again, to lump Louie and its leading man/creator/writer/director/producer/all-around renaissance man Louis C.K. into any category seems like a disservice to both the show and the star: They're both in a league of their own.
Never mind that the rule-breaking 45-year-old star already has an Emmy on his mantle (he was a writer for The Chris Rock Show, which earned a trophy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program in 1999) or that he's the biggest name and hottest ticket in stand-up comedy right now. Never mind the notion that Louis C.K. is someone who has finally achieved the fame and recognition he deserves after years of honing his craft (despite the fact that he most certainly does) or that he's tapping into a cultural zeitgeist in a way no one else is (despite the fact that he most certainly is).
Louis C.K. deserves Emmys — plural — this year (he's up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the gut-busting, quite literally, episode "Pregnant," and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for the groundbreaking "Duckling," pictured), because he's made television fascinating and daring again by making a series that's as rooted in reality and the small intricacies of life as it is in its effortless ability to venture into subversive fantasy.
The nominated Season 2 of Louie was the one that caught the attention of viewers, and with good reason. Louis C.K.'s character is a hapless, but devoted dad that actually taps into a relatable psyche that we rarely see on television. Imagine if Coach Taylor let himself go or if Cliff Huxtable said "f**k" a lot and you might get someone like Louie. He's not your average sitcom dad, and he's damn funny (and often times tragic) because of it. "Country Drive" (and this brilliant scene), "Oh Louie/Tickets," and "Halloween/Ellie" were all proof positive of that.
Louis C.K.'s keen direction, sharp writing, and natural acting made for some of the most heartbreaking, sincere, bizarre, and hilarious moments (sometimes at the same time) in television over the course of its game-changing Season 2. From his heartfelt speech to Pamela to the longest-running fart on television, Louis C.K. and Louie pull of a high wire act that few attempt, let alone succeed at.
But nothing, not the darkly funny misery of "Bummer/Blueberries" nor unflinchingly honest hilarity of "Come On, God" put Louie in a different league the same way that the hourlong "Duckling" did. An instant classic episode of television on par with recent greats like Mad Men's "The Suitcase" or Breaking Bad's "Fly," Louie's "Duckling" brought humanity, humor, and humility to a place where those things are rarely found: a wartorn country.
The episode brought Louis C.K.'s loosely-based-on-himself comedian Louie to Afghanistan for a USO tour where he unexpectedly bridges a cultural gap when a duckling his daughter packed for him escapes and gets laughs and smiles during his visit. If that moment didn't tug at your heartstrings enough, consider this: C.K.'s real-life daughter came up with that profound and beautiful storyline.
I understand that Louis C.K.'s show and humor may make some older viewers nervous or uncomfortable (the masturbation-themed "Come On God" was likely the breaking point episode for many) but if they don't vote for him, I'll just make them watch something even more nervous and uncomfortable: Never. That's right, Emmy voters, hope you don't like pristine bathtubs or your area rug anymore, because I'll make sure Never will never make you think twice about rewarding the genius of Louis C.K. and Louie ever again.
[Photo credit: FX]
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As a woman, watching Louie serves as both a helpful and of times horrifying venture into the male psyche. Unlike Entourage, which was an unrelenting eight-season nightmare of feeling trapped in a boy's club house, Louie is a strange, enlightening peer into the mind of an adult heterosexual male, but one you actually want to revisit.
During last night's Louie, for instance, we learned the absolute worst thing a man can hear ("You're bad at sex") and the best ("Yes, I'll go out with you.") Additionally, having sex with Scarlett Johansson would be the best thing to happen to them and the worst thing to happen to her.
Now in its third season, we've had a pretty good idea of what's going on in Louie's head. That being, what's going on in the heads of most red-blooded heterosexual American males: women. We know that Louie can think, and say, some pretty wonderful things about women (Pamela, what were you thinking?) and some things you wish you didn't know.
In "Daddy's Girlfriend, Pt. 1" we figured out pretty early that Louie had love on the brain. Or, at the very least, getting back into the dating game. It's no surprise, really. During last week's episode "Miami" it was obvious Louie was looking for companionship in his life, to find someone to connect with. So, while having lunch with his daughters they ask him when he's going to have a girlfriend. "Come on, get yourself a girlfriend" Lilly insists in her adorably whiny way. (I loved the brilliant parallel of this scene from realism, like a father talking to his sharp, inquisitive daughter played by Hadley Delany about the pronunciation of "tyranny" to using them as the projection of his own thoughts when Lilly proclaims, "He's just gotta find the right girl.")
There's a line in the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that's always stuck with me. When Jim Carrey "first" encounters Kate Winslet, his voice over asks "Why do I fall in love with every woman I see that shows me the least bit of attention?" What perpetual heartache. Louie seemed to have the same syndrome, or at least sees every woman as a potential nice girlfriend to bring home to meet his kids.
Louie first has eyes for comedian Maria Bamford (best known for her outrageous voices and those ubiquitous Target commercials at Christmas) after watching her act at the Comedy Cellar. Mustering up the courage to stammer out an invite to get a drink, Maria obliges. Did anyone else catch that she wanted to meet him on the corner rather than in front of the club? Oof. Things don't exactly go according to plan after asking her, post-coitus, to come over for dinner and meet his kids. She tells him that's the last thing she would want to do and also, he's bad at sex. Oof.
Still, Louie is not thwarted by the rejection, instead he seems more than determined than ever to continue his quest to find a mate. Of course since Louie lives in Louie's brain, things go into overdrive. He fantasized about every woman he see, including every teacher at his daughters' school. Fate, as it would have it, then brings Louie to a quaint bookstore, where a lovely, kind woman (played by the great Parker Posey) catches his eye.
But Louie doesn't let his imagination run away with him, instead he finds a way to talk to her and soon he finds out that not only is she attractive (or as he later puts it "cute as hell") but incredibly sweet and smart and funny. Even better, she loves kids. Or, at least, can provide him with insight of what it's like to be a girl going through a phase. If it's scary peering into the mind of an adult male, Louie counter-argued there is nothing scarier than a father finding out what's going on in his daughter's head as a young woman. Say what you want about how "offensive" Louis C.K. is, but there's no question this guy, at the core, is a big ol' softie who loves his kids like crazy.
After their meet-cute and helping him pick out books for his daughter, Louie comes back and gets up the nerve to ask her out. Earlier in the episode, we cut to some of Louis C.K.'s stand-up. In addition to a segment about trying to teach a 10-year-old about prejudice, he did an almost Seinfeld-ian bit about the self-congratulatory fist bump one only does during a game of tennis, or when someone says yes to you asking them on a date. And Louie, because no matter how awkward he may make things, is a truly good guy at the core, soon has his own tennis victory.
If women learn something from this show, I can only hope men do, too. Particularly on the right way to ask a woman out, because Louie got that one down pat. At least if he's asking a delightful Parker Posey out. Louie marveled to her at how hard it must be for beautiful women, what with men always wanting one thing. (Or, as he put it, "torpedoing towards your vagina.") He sincerely told her she was "nice and decent and horribly cute." She, like any woman in her right mind, obliged him for a date. Louie wasn't the only one doing the tennis fist bump, I was doing one for him. In the words of Louie's new love interest, "Nice job on the asking out."
Posey is, thank goodness, returning to the show next week for the aptly titled "Louie's Girlfriend Pt. 2." Judging from their wonderful chemistry and rapport with one another (serious kudos to Parker Posey who turned out a charming performance) and the fact that Louie does deserve a kind, clever woman, here's to hoping there's a part 3 or 4 or 5. Don't Louie this, Louie.
What did you think of last night's Louie? Were you just as charmed? Did you wish that reality show they were watching on TV was real? Did it take you until the stabbing to figure out that it was fake. (Guilty.) Does it amaze you that Louie can make a charming New York romance, on par with the likes of Woody Allen and Nora Ephron and then effortlessly throw in social commentary about the absurdity of reality television? It amazes me. Share your thoughts on the episode below.
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Louie Parker Posey
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
It’s hard to make 16-year-old Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts) look like a fish out of water. I mean this IS Nancy Drew we are talking about. The same girl who is able to solve any mystery great or small with her sharp intellect quick reflexes—and handy dandy sleuth kit. Nancy’s lawyer dad (Tate Donovan) however is a little worried about the danger his daughter keeps finding herself in and decides to take her away from their hometown of River Heights to Los Angeles for a little while so he can work on a special case. Yeah like L.A. is a safer place to be. He also asks her not to do anymore sleuthing at least while they are there. Nancy agrees in theory and tries to fit in at her new school but in her tweed skirts and penny loafers she sticks out like a sore thumb. That doesn’t really bother her though. What’s bothering her is the no-sleuthing promise she made to her father. See the house the Drews are renting has a whooper of a mystery attached to it—and the temptation is just too great not to solve it. Emma Roberts’ acting genetics (from dad Eric and aunt Julia) seem to be working. Without her Nancy Drew would have been just another bubble-gum movie for the Nickelodeon set. The young actress easily conveys those certain Nancy Drew qualities that make the literary icon so unique while infusing the character with her own wholesomeness. And she thankfully never turns into an irritating know-it-all. The only drawback is that the 16-year-old Roberts looks about 12 so watching her drive around in the Nancy Drew roadster takes a little getting used to. The rest of the cast however don’t measure up. They all come off fairly one-note--including the spitfire sidekick aptly named Corky (The Greatest Game Ever Played’s Josh Flitter) the mean girls in Nancy’s school (Daniella Monet and Kelly Vitz) and even Donovan as Nancy’s well-meaning but clueless dad. Then again most of the supporting players in the books don’t add much either. It’s really a one-woman show. Only Ned Nancy’s boyfriend back home (played sweetly by The Astronaut Farmer’s Max Thieriot) has potential—that is if the franchise continues. Having helmed films such as The Craft and Dick writer/director Andrew Fleming knows a few things about making youthful movies but taking on the whole Nancy Drew experience takes some guts. Not only are you dealing with fans all over who remember reading and loving the books but there’s the generation who loved the popular ‘70s TV series starring Pamela Sue Martin as well. Fleming’s idea is to give the character a contemporary retooling cast an up-and-comer already popular with tween set and maintain the essence of the books without seeming dated. Not an easy task but Fleming succeeds on a few things namely the choice of leading lady which we’ve already mentioned plus capturing the books’ mystery-solving adventurousness complete with spooky old houses secret rooms creepy caretakers hidden wills etc. One just wonders why Fleming didn’t just keep everything in the Nancy Drew ‘60s era. The Mean Girls/Beverly Hills 90120 scenario simply dumbs the movie down. Still there’s enough right about the film to warrant another Nancy Drew mystery if they stick with what works. Now let's see what they do with the Hardy Boys spoof starring Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise. Sounds promising.
Blonde bombshell Pamela Anderson has beaten a bevy of beauties to be crowned
the Hottest Rock 'N' Roll Girlfriend of all time.
The former Baywatch star--who dated Poison rocker Bret Michaels, was married
to Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and was engaged to Kid Rock--finished ahead
of Cameron Diaz and Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova in a Blender poll.
The magazine says, "Pam is at the tip of a very short list of girls
who are always going to be more famous than whomever they date.
"There is little in the way of joy, heartbreak and tabloid melodrama that the
buxom Canadian hasn't sampled at the sharp end of the LA rock scene, and she
just keeps spoiling for more. An irrepressible legend."
The top 10 is as follows:
1. Pamela Anderson
2. Cameron Diaz
3. Heather Locklear
4. Anna Kournikova
5. Rachel Hunter
6. Helena Christensen
7. Heidi Klum
8. Winona Ryder
9. Drew Barrymore
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