Oh, Paris, the city of love, the city of lights, the city of protracted labor disputes and cab drivers who block the bridges so that they can get their way. The Real Balzac's of Taint Gulch will fit in perfectly here. After all this is Paris, the home of knitting mean ladies who plot destruction at every turn, fashion designers who go on anti-Semetic drunken rants in cafes, and deformed creatures that ring the bells, the bells, the bells, bells, bells, bells. Somehow through some strange twist of fate they've all flown Tahiti Nui Air, the discount airline of the most luxiurious nobodies in the whole entire universe, and they've all just descended on this cultural capital of the world. No one is safe, particularly not anyone associated with the Mona Lisa (Vanderpump).
But before we can cross the big ocean to get to Frawnce, first we have to deal with what happened in good old Californ-I-A. First of all Kim Richards went over to visit her sister Kyle Richards and they wanted to let their Wonder Twin powers activate to tell the Widow Armstrong that she needed to join the temperance movement. Yes, Kim thought that this Victorian widow has been hitting the brandy a little too much (not hitting the Brandi a little too much, which is solely the provenance of Adrienne Queen of the Maloofs, the mole people that live under the mountain). Kyle was reticent to have such a meeting because, well, she has been down this "you're an alcoholic" path before with her sister Kim, and it ended with nothing but heartbreak and tears and drunken fights in the back of the limo where you are accused of stealing someone's house.
This was actually a very interesting and insightful discussion between the Sisters Richards, as was the one they had later in the airport. It seems like the two are working towards some sort of resolution. The problem was that Kyle felt slighted from all those years of Kim's abuse, and thought that her sobriety should mean a huge apology and everything should be better. Kim, naturally, knew that her drinking partially had to do with how awful Kyle made her feel all the time and that they had stuff to work out. Here Kim got to tell Kyle that, even though she didn't stop drinking when Kyle had all those conversations with her, she definitely heard her and it helped her to get her to where she is today. At the airport when Kim said that she would hide wine in a coffee cup (which, I mean, is sort of sad genius) it was her confessing her tricks; coming clean with her misdeeds of the past. Of course, Kim explained to Kyle that she did not blow on her coffee cup to make everyone think it was a warm beverage. Kyle thinks Kim would do that. Kyle is first and foremost an actress. She would have gone that extra step and really committed to the character.
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OK, so the two decided to tromp on over to the Widow Armstrong's townhome which is still swathed in black bunting to let the world know that she is in mourning. Kim was wearing giant sunglasses that keep falling off her face because her new nose is so tiny that it is being engulfed by black designer plastic. They got in there and Kim said, "Taylor, I know this is hard, but I know a drunk when I see one and you, darling, you are a drunk. Remember all the parties? Remember when you climbed into a suitcase and said you wanted to go home? Remember when you cackled and laughed with manic abandon? Remember when you shouted mean things at people and clinked your wine glasses together and totally ruined Lisa's tea which I couldn't attend because a dog punched me in the face? Remember all those things? Remember just last week when you ran off with a man and packed your daughter in the cupboard with a box of Golden Grahams and a giant Evian? Well, those things mean you're a drunk."
Taylor took a long look at both of them and said, "I know. You're right. But the drinking helps me forget. It helps me forget that I am raising a daughter on my own and that someone sued me for one point five million dollars. It helps me forget that the only way I have to make money is this stupid show and possibly my body. It helps me forget where I put my daughter so that Kyle and my mother and my nanny can figure it out. But most of all, it helps me forget Russell, my Russell swinging from that rafter. Dead. Dead!" Then she sobbed seven times, whisked her hair back away from her face and said, "You're right. I am going to stop drinking now. Thank you, ladies, for pointing this out to me. You've been very helpful."
They laughed and chatted for a little bit, talking about their children and schools. They talked about how Kim loves a house with a sitting area because, well, she is currently living in a trailer with a pool so it has no living room, just two benches with a table between them like a booth at one of the finer Denny's in Broward County. Kim really wants a sitting area, with a hassock and some sofas and maybe a tuffet or two. Then Taylor told them about the Man Who Went to Beaver Creek and they had some tea. Herbal Soother, I think it was. Finally she showed them the door and they hugged and Kim and Kyle walked out into the sunshine, feeling its sudden warmth on their skin. Kim took Kyle's hand and smiled, and swung it three times before dropping it and running over to the passenger side of the Mercedes.
Inside, Taylor closed the door and felt the cool of the vestibule, the shadows all around her that weren't dark but weren't light. They were like twilight, and she walked back into the kitchen and put her empty mug on the counter. It was time to freshen up. She got the bottle of Chablis from the fridge and poured it almost to the brim, slurping out the palish liquid with her gigantic lips before settling into the couch cushions and breathing that sigh of forget.
We now interrupt this recap to bring you the newest episode of At Someone Else's Home with Yolanda Bananas Foster. Our hostess Yolanda Bananas Foster was holding a housewarming party for her ex-husband Mohammad, who is also a close friend of Lisa Vanderpump's. I'm not quite sure why, considering Yolanda invited only her contractually obligated "friends." It was more of a "I know a guy who is so rich that he lives in a tacky hotel that has swans in the pool, can you believe it?" party.
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Anyway all the ladies showed and Kyle, who usually is allergic to sleeves, was wearing this insane sequined dress that looked like what they make the fat hostesses wear at a lesser Indian casino on Idaho or something. And the sleeves were like gigantic wizard sleeves. Yolanda, for the first time ever, was not in jeans, and was wearing this super chic blue dress with a gathered neck and a darker blue tie and skirt. It was very Lanvin. She can dress when she wants.
The problem with this Yolanda party was that her husband, David Foster Wallace, was there. He is just the worst, is he not? Fetch, as usual, was doing her "take my husband, please!" routine about how her husband is so in love with her and she just wants to sleep with other guys. Then someone asked how long they've been together and she said 17 years and DFW said, "Time to trade her in for a newer model. HAHAHAHA!" Except he's not HAHAHAHA. He really means it. He is an awful person who has been married like a million times and will probably try to marry Yolanda's daughter once her mother has passed her expiration date. The Worst.
That was the end of the party, and everyone figured out they would be in Paris so they all decided they would go together and get Bravo to pay for it. That is how the Housewives roll. First Lisa and Ken needed to stop by St. Tropez to spend a few days with Ken's son Warren.
I need to break a few things down here first. I'm going to start by saying that I would like the Vanderpumps to adopt me like they did Max. They can just cart me around the world and dress me up in little outfits and pretend like I'm Giggy. I have alopecia too! I would like to speak French and hang out on delicious compounds where the guest house is just beyond the tennis court and it is all steps away from a gorgeous beach with sand as white as the cast of the Real Housewives of Everywhere But Atlanta (thanks for that joke, Joan Rivers) and the sea is as blue as that gross glass jar full of combs at the barber shop. That is what I want.
I also want Warren, who is hot. Warren is 45, has a tight body, is rather attractive in a young Rod Stewart kind of way, and has a shit ton of money. Lisa says that he is entirely self made from doing real estate deals, and I am sure that is partially true but getting some starter money from dear old dad probably didn't hurt either. Anyway, I'm not sure what exactly what is going on with Warren, because he married a friend of Lisa's named Sue who has the same somewhat sadistic sense of humor as Ms. Vanderpump but does not have the same surgeon. She looks old! She looks like the kind of lady who married a man 15 years younger than her back before Demi Moore made it fashionable.
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Now Sue was in The Spy Who Loved Me (she played the Log Cabin Girl) which came out in 1977. Even if she was 18 when that movie was made, she'd be 53 today. Sue does not look 53. I only bring this up because Lisa claims to be 50. Lisa looks very good for her age. She does not look 50. She doesn't. I'm sorry. I would guess closer to 58 or 59 (I won't say the "sixty" word out loud). That is just my guess. Now I love Lisa, but I don't think people should lie about their age. That's just silly. Especially if you're Lisa and you're older than poor old Sue and your face doesn't look like a coin purse that was left out in the sun. Shouldn't you say, "I'm sixty" and be proud and not kick your leg up in the air like some stupid SNL character.
Nothing really exciting happened in St. Tropez, so they went off to Paris where, well, nothing exciting happened either. We found out that Fetch didn't make the trip because her father-in-law died of a heart attack (he was a movie producer and in the In Memoriam montage at the Oscars) and everyone was going to hang out and watch fireworks.
The all gathered on Brandi and Yolanda's balcony and took in the view of the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day as the only six planes in the French Air Force flew overhead and leaked red, white, and blue smoke out of their tail pipes. Kyle thought that was very sweet way for them to welcome the whole crew to the country, displaying the colors of the American flag just for them. Yes, just for them.
Kim, of course, was the last person to join the group. She tottered out on the balcony and she wasn't quite feeling right. "Oh, no, it's just the jet lag," she said when Lisa asked her some question and she gave some giggly answers that made no sense. She laughed maniacally and then the wind blew up her dress and she slurred, "I'm like Marilyn! Psfasdihiost," as she swatted at her face to get the hair away from it.
They all looked at her and it was a look she recognized immediately: knowning concern. They were all worried it happened again, that she was standing there in a hotel as the wagon was pulling away, jostling on its rickety wheels down the coblestone streets of old Paree without Kim holding onto the back of it, her knuckles white as the center stripe in the French flag. That's what they were wondering about, she knew, and she didn't know how to tell them, "I'm not drunk!" without sounding like every sloshed sorority girl who just puked next to a tree on the sidewalk. She can't tell them. She has made too many mistakes for telling. She has to show. She just has to get it together, to show them all that she was doing what she told them, she was mending her life, she was making it better.
And the fireworks started with a bang and a flash that resolved to a sizzle. One after the next, in the air, casting strange and temporary shadows all around them. Everyone oohed and ahhed, laughed and put their arms around each other. They vocalized their delight, they drew others into their happiness, to be up on this balcony with the summer wind dusting their hair, tickling their shoulders. Kim started out into the red festivities but she couldn't chuckle or cry. She could barely stand up, she could barely concentrate on everyone around her. She was trying to figure out a way to grasp all that sparkle, and hold it in her hand.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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Wreck-It Ralph lives in an arcade and while that may be a longstanding fantasy for many of the children of the 80s the shine has more than worn off for Ralph. He resides in a videogame called Fix-It Felix and has been executing the same program for thirty years. Pursuant to the game’s 8-bit edict he must endeavor to destroy an apartment building as a quirky little do-gooder with a hammer tries to repair it. Ralph is a badguy but is he a bad guy? Feeling out of order he flees the world he knows to see if he can take his unfulfilling existence to the next level.
At a cursory glance Wreck-It Ralph may seem to offer nothing to anyone bereft of a passion for classic gaming. Truth be told there are ample references to games and gaming characters and not without a deep and knowledgeable affection. The jokes don’t come from the mere appearance of these characters but also videogame fundamentals actually permeate into the traits of the film’s original characters. In fact possibly the most thoughtful nod to gaming is the jerky movements of the characters within the Fix-it Felix cabinet superbly calling back to the limited range of motion afforded to 80s-era arcade fodder. It’s a balance of overt reference and the methods by which various gaming trademarks play into Wreck-It Ralph’s overarching universe.
And that universe is precisely what will draw in even those who have never held a controller. The landscapes through which Ralph travels are varied and gorgeous: from his modest but charming 8-bit home to the dark and foreboding nightmare of Hero’s Duty and finally to the garish wonderment of Sugar Rush. There are so many styles and applications of animation at work each dedicated to the conceptual scenery changes. You don’t need to know how to play Tapper or even that it ever existed as a real game to recognize that his almost stop-motion movements clash delightfully with the CG Ralph. And no Halo or Mario Kart knowledge required to understand the depth of detail in the worlds of Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush respectively.
But like any hardcore gamer will attest great games cannot live by rich environments alone. The best games like the best movies are founded upon remarkable characters. Ralph may be a arcade videogame villain but his appeal is as broad as his building-leveling shoulders. He represents that need in all of us to rise above our station to challenge the notion that we are predestined to one occupation or personality set. Ralph is a guy who’s bad because he’s programmed to be but he is constantly looking at the life he wants--the life of a hero--from the other side of the glass literally in fact. It’s a sweetly relatable theme that finds its way into other characters like Ralphs pint-sized nemesis Vanellope. It is from this theme that the movie derives the majority of its heart.
The voice cast here is exceptional but that should come as no surprise considering the characters seem modeled after the personalities of the performers selected or at least modeled after the characters they tend to portray. Ralph brought to life by John C. Reilly is a perennial sad sack with an awkward sense of humor that is somehow endearing. Voiced by Sarah Silverman Vanellope is a shrill snarky troublemaker who manages to be adorable despite herself. Felix is a dopey but sincere yokel…voiced by 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer. Jane Lynch voices the bossy domineering female soldier with the endless vocabulary of put-downs. Need we say more? That’s not to say this approach is lazy; far from it. It gives the characters a fleshed-out lived-in quality.
Wreck-It Ralph significantly narrows the gap between Disney and Pixar in terms of excellence. It still seems strange to think of Disney and Pixar as two separate bodies but the fact is that as soon as Pixar made the choice to stand alone their films have outshined Disney’s by a considerable margin. Wreck-It Ralph borrows liberally from the Pixar playbook evident right from the moment the central conceit is revealed to be the bestowing of sentience and personality to inanimate entities. And like Pixar Wreck-It Ralph is at its most enjoyable and most clever when the audience experiences the functional mechanics of how these characters exist in their own world the specificity of their imagined living space and its logistics. Yet this time Disney has dug deeper than the amiable outward trappings and arrived at what makes us love the films of Pixar and quality family entertainment in general.
If there is a complaint to be had with Wreck-It Ralph it is merely that it introduces a fascinating and thoroughly entertaining concept and then limits itself to but a few outlets for its expression. The movie spends so much time in Sugar Rush and while it’s beautiful and captivating we wonder what the other games would have had to offer. It’s akin to Monday morning filmmaking “I would’ve done this” or “I would’ve done that ” but it would have been the cherry on the sundae or perhaps more appropriately the various fruits in the maze to have been able to witness Ralph’s interaction with other games.
By the time we reach the kill screen Wreck-It Ralph has used something as geeky and esoteric as the world of arcade gaming to warp us to a place of emotional resonance and utter delight. Suffice to say it has plenty of replay value.