Something has washed over the uncrowded skyline of Atlanta. Something dark and sinister, coming in like a toxic cloud of dust after an explosion. The sun has gone out, there are no more shadows from the buildings, the McMansions, the strip malls. Everything is just dark. That is the specter of boredom that has washed over this town. Remember when Atlanta was all about wig pulling out in front of restaurants and Kim calling the police from behind a Target? Yeah, that was great. Now Atlanta is all about NeNe Leakes saying she's rich (and it not being a joke) and Kim worrying about putting all her tacky tchotchkes in storage. That's what this show is about. It should be called Women Moving Houses and Going to the Gym. That's what this show is now. Atlanta, what has become of you?
Anyway, The Real Somnabulists of Fainting Couch Township starts with NeNe riding in the Gay Pride parade in LA. OK, I'm of mixed feelings of this. First of all NeNe is great and funny and amazing and she says, "As a parent, you talk to your kid about sex and drugs and relationships, but when do you tell him not to wear hot pants." That made me non-ironically laugh out loud. Dear parents of gay children across America (you know who you are): please tell you children that you will love and support them no matter who they decided to fall in love with, but please also tell them that you will not tolerate them wearing hot pants at Gay Pride because that is tacky. Also, tell them that rollerblading is dumb. Thank you.
But then NeNe says that the reason she loves gays is because "they invented nail polish, weaves, walking right" and just about everything fabulous. OK, this really gets my goat. You should love gays because we're people, not because we're your hair stylist. You should love us for the same reason you love all your friends, because we are human beings who deserve being loved, not because we can put your mink eyelashes on in three shakes of a monkey's butt. We can do that too, but that's not the reason to love us. And we also didn't invent those things, but know what we did invent? How about computers (thanks Alan Turning), the blues (thanks Ma Rainey), and Deal-a-Meal (thanks Richard Simmons). So, let's thank them for their contributions to society and art not, you know, making real women look more like drag queens. Anyway, NeNe was there, not out of the kindness of her heart, but to promote her new way-gay show NBC, so it's not like she's just loving queers for no good reason at all.
Now it's time for Kandi and Phaedra to have lunch with Ms. Kernya Moo-ah. It was boring. Kernya does a pretty good job of keeping her crazy in check for like 30 minutes when you first meet her. It's all the poise training she went through to win the Miss USA title. (Remember, Poise is also the name of an adult diaper. Just remember that.) Kernya tells them the story about Cynthia's Hottie or Nottie of the Week casting and leaves out the part where she went totally insane and was a total bitch to Cynthia. She did say "coochie crack" though, so all was not lost. Phaedra did have to laugh that Kernya has a security guard. Phaedra says Kernya does not need security, but there are three people who do need security: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Dick Clark. Um, Phaedra, I don't think a security guard is going to keep any of those people from dying since they're all already dead, so maybe you need to update your "Needs Security" list a little.
Alright, I'm going to make a declaration now: I am not going to talk about Kim's move. I'm sorry, I am just not. This is not Shipping Wars, House Hunters, or any of those other shows about moving and putting your crap in storage until you forget about it and stop paying the bills so that they auction it off to a bunch of yahoos. I don't really want to know anything about the new house or going to her townhouse or how she needs "every single inch of our 17,000 square feet" or how her son needs a basketball court to run around in. Um, how about the street? That's where we ran around as children and only one kid every got run over. What's so wrong with the street? So, that's it, I am going to ignore Kim's move in the hope that it will not actually keep happening on this show. However, I do reserve making fun of her new house, because we all know that's happening.
Kim is moving, Kandi is all happy with her man, Phaedra only wants to talk about dead pets, Cynthia has the personality of the last piece of blank paper in the ream that always gets left in the wrapper when you refill the copy machine, NeNe is in LA being rich, Sheree is rolled up in the fetal position in the samples from She By Sheree and crying into the polyester. Man, this is so dull. Who is left? Only Kernya. Only Kernya Moo-ah.
Man, I don't want to talk about her because, like when you fart in an elevator, the best way to pretend like it is not happening is to stay quiet and pretend like it is not. But I can not ignore Kernya Moo-ah. Her stench is so ripe you gotta say, "Ugh, that's disgusting" to someone. Her crazy is too interesting. It's too engrossing, like one of those "monsters" that washes up on shore that is like a bloated dead animal and you don't want to look at it, but you can't help kicking your shoe at it just to see if it moves and just what the hell it is anyway.
So, Kernya goes out to dinner with her man Walt, a man who she has never introduced to her aunt, who is just like her mother, because she doesn't want her aunt to not like him because then she's going to have to break up with him. Um, Kernya, if that is the case, why not introduce them right away so you don't have to go through years of dating before knowing if you're going to have to dump them or not? Just a suggestion. She has dinner with Walt and says, "I was hiking the other day, just minding my business and this huge black snake crossed my path. It stared at me for a minute and then it hissed at me and ran away. I called up my aunt and she said it's a good sign, that it means there is change in my life." Um, no it does not. That black snake is the devil, and it is scared of Kernya Moo-ah. That is never a good sign.
How do we know the devil is scared of her? Did you see that dinner? First of all, her and Walt are drinking like big old glasses of straight up liquor at dinner which is a little bit crazy. Then Kernya tells Walt all about how she better hurry the hell up to have some babies because she is 41 and she has about as many eggs left as a bodega south of 14th Street a week after Hurricane Sandy. Then she asks if he has any skeletons in his closet, anything that "might embarrass me," because what she cares about is herself. He tells her that he once asked Kandi out and she said no.
A pall comes over Kernya's face. Her features get all numb and immobile like she just bathed in Botox and the fire lights up in her eyes like a kerosene heater after it tips over and sets a whole neighborhood ablaze. "I need my food to go," she says as she gets up and walks to the bathroom. Now, this reaction might have even been a little overblown if he told her that he cheated on her or went bankrupt or didn't think that he wanted to have kids with her. Those are all real things to have a reaction to. But this is how she reacts when Walt tells him that he asked out another woman and that woman said no. There was no sex involved, there was no lying involved, there wasn't even any coochie crack. But no, Kernya is so upset that someone rejected her man before they even started dating that she has to go cry in the woman's room and take her baked ziti home in a doggie bag so that she can eat it in her kitchen out of a tin container with a plastic fork. Oh, come the hell on Kernya. You're a monster.
What's next? Oh, it's the empowered women party. Cynthia wants to throw a NeNe Is Rich party and NeNe is like, "Let's just throw a party for powerful women." So, Cynthia invites all the reality stars, NBA and NFL wives she knows and then some PR party planner is like, "Um, those women aren't really that empowering. Let's invite some women who own business and have actual real jobs that most people would recognize as a career. And some celebrities." "Well, I can invite Kernya Moo-ah," Cynthia says. "No," the PR type says. "I said celebrities." BURN!
The big news about the party is that NeNe wanted to invite all the "ladies" and whenever they say "ladies" they mean "cast," because I don't think NeNe wants to hang around with these "ladies" at all anymore. She is rich. So Kim and Phaedra and Kandi get invited and they all go. Even Kandi who says she feels like NeNe is always "lightweight hating" on her. I love this term and this concept. You know those people, and they're your friends or acquaintances and you see them around and they're fun and nice to your face, but they're always there not with the full on throwing drinks in your face hate, just the soft quiet hate. Just the little digs and sideways glances and not appreciating all the wonderful things you do. It's not being crushed by one piano falling off a building, it's like each key hitting you smack dab in the face until you slowly are smothered by the mass of it. That is what NeNe has been doing to Kandi. Love that idea.
Well, the party arrives and they're serving Success Martinis. Sorry, I can't have one. I'm finishing my Eyeroll Mojito. But hit me back on the flip side, preferably when you have some sliders too. Thanks! Anyway, the party starts and NeNe shows up two hours into it and Kim is sick of leaving and runs into NeNe in the hallway and they say hi and are cordial and Kim says she has to leave for another event. NeNe relentlessly wants her to stay, and after agreeing, Kim says she will, but she sneaks out the front door. NeNe is walking all around asking for Kim and seems a little hurt or annoyed that she lied to her.
This makes me sad. NeNe, after all the intractable hate she has leveled at Kim (that is the giant piano), is finally starting to ease up a little bit and Kim sort of blows it off. I really just want these two to be friends again because they got in such wonderful trouble. What a missed opportunity.
While Cynthia gives a speech and thanks everyone for coming, Kernya makes fun of her and jokes about how she threw party for NeNe. Then Kernya picks up the microphone and starts giving a speech of her own. Bitch, this is not your party. You need to shut the hell up. No one cares what you have to say, and if you want them to, then you need to throw your own party, then you can just belt and blabber to your heart's content. I don't know why this angered me so much, but it did. I would have pushed her right into the damn pool hoping that the microphone would short circuit and kill her. She's just such a fake phony. She's absolutely horrible.
Then she walks up to NeNe and says, "I know I hate your friend Cynthia, but I hope we can get along." NeNe failed when she was like, "Just because of what Cynthia says doesn't affect me, I make my own decisions." Oh please. If my good friend is like, "We hate that bitch," then we hate that bitch. Decided. I'm not going to be friends, I'm not going ot invite her out to lunch, I'm not going to try. I'll be nice to her at a social gathering, but there is nothing beyond that until she and my friend can make it work together. That's what happens. That is how the world works. Sure, NeNe gives lip service to fairness, but she needs some loyalty.
OK, I'm bored of this now. Can we please have a little bit more excitement next week?
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
In the summer of 1990 after graduating from Emory University with grades good enough to get into Harvard Law upper-middle-class 22-year-old Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) gave his $24 000 life savings to Oxfam and hit the open road. Christening himself Alexander Supertramp the idealistic McCandless proceeded to wander the country's highways and byways for two years before striking out alone into the wilds of Alaska. Anyone who's read the Jon Krakauer book knows what happened then but those who are new to McCandless' story will be holding their breath as his journey progresses toward its sadly inevitable end. The beauty of director Sean Penn's film is the route it takes to get there introducing viewers to the people Chris touched during his travels and making it clear what he learned about love and forgiveness along the way. The success of a movie like Into the Wild depends disproportionately on the talents of its star. Luckily Hirsch doesn't disappoint. Simultaneously charismatic and aloof he makes Chris both an enigma and an Everyman. Whether he's exulting in a panoramic view of the Alaskan wilderness shooting roiling river rapids (impressively no stunt doubles were used) or learning how to operate a combine machine Chris/Alex is completely aware--and appreciative--of every new experience life brings him. His quest for truth and authenticity affects everyone he meets from hippie couple Jan (Catherine Keener) and Rainey (Brian Dierker) to fast-talking entrepreneur Wayne (Vince Vaughn) and lonely leather worker Ron Frazer (Hal Holbrook). Meanwhile representing Chris' abandoned conflict-ridden homefront Jena Malone provides heartfelt nuanced voice-over narration as Chris' sister Carine. Filming Into the Wild was a labor of love for Penn and his affection for the material shows in every frame. Like Chris Penn and cinematographer Eric Gautier rhapsodize over sweeping vistas and pristine countryside lingering on the way sunlight glints on water droplets and the beauty of a freshly harvested field. Penn is in no hurry to tell Chris' tale; he lets it unfold naturally its rhythm matching the ebbs and flows of Chris' journey. Aiding him every step of the way is the film's powerful soundtrack which features original music by Eddie Vedder. Whether building momentum or accompanying Chris in moments of quiet contemplation the film's music is the traveling companion Chris doesn't realize he needs until it's too late. Blending sympathy for Chris' motives with regret for his tragic end; Into the Wild is a thoughtful biopic that's both inspiring and chastening.