S4:E1 “I think it was incredibly aggressive of Jill to walk into the party and just pretend like nothing ever happened. That is a way of minimizing everything that happened over the last year and that’s not okay.” – Alex
This season began with Ramona throwing a party on a rooftop that celebrated fall’s arrival, but also celebrated the fact that she knew someone who was willing to put her name on a few hundred bottles of their wine and realized that they were better off not asking to receive any credit. Suddenly, Jill walked in with her husband, Bobby, and unfortunately for them, Alex and her husband, Simon, were standing in the entryway so the two couples ignoring each other was impossible. Jill greeted Simon quite pleasantly, and asked him if, when she and Bobby arrived in Australia at 6AM, if they’d need a nap. Jill’s questions allowed her to completely have her back to Alex, and this pissed Alex off because to her, it was like Jill was pretending that nothing had transpired between the two of them last year. Then, Jill went over to greet Ramona, and Simon told Alex that she “had all her talking points” and should really go say hello to Jill…and we got the sense that this whole “husbands encouraging their wives to say hello to each other the way parents encourage their kids to say ‘hello’ back to the doorman” is definitely going to continue. So Alex walked over and Jill was telling all the other women about bedbugs, and how she doesn’t even retrieve her clothing from the cleaners if she suspects pieces of her wardrobe are crawling with the critters. Alex interjected and said she was leaving, but not before telling all of them that she and Simon were marching in a marriage equality march, and that they all should come on Sunday in their wedding dresses and march from Manhattan to Brooklyn to show their support for gay marriage. One woman, hilariously, said she was going to march for smaller government.
“You got dumped.” – Kelly
Kelly came over to Jill’s house, where Jill welcomed her with worries about being locked in a tin can for 17 hours on the flight to Australia. Somehow they got to talking about what happened between Bethenny and Jill last year, and Jill swore up and down that she only wanted to help Bethenny and never in a million years believed that they would not make up after one random argument. Jill speculated that she was Bethenny’s family (since she, at one time, had no husband or family), but once Bethenny got married and had a baby, there was no more room for Jill anymore and she was given the boot. Jill began to cry at this realization, and not because the rawhide bone she had given her dog to shut him up when Kelly arrived had been turned into crumbs and had embedded themselves in her Zarin dust ruffle.
“Maybe it sounds arrogant, but when I look in the mirror, I like what I see.” – Alex
Over in Brooklyn at Alex’s house, we learned that Simon had left his job and started working at home and building a social media company (he had already completed the pinnacle first step of wearing pink hushpuppies around the house). This meant he and Alex were both working at home, and Alex was having a really hard time with it because Simon’s presence had made her less productive with all his insisting that they go have lunch and get sloshed all the time. We also learned that Alex had started pursuing modeling when the head of a modeling agency called her and told her he wanted to use her look in some campaigns where strong, independent and powerful women were needed to represent a brand. This was, undoubtedly, the beginning of a new plot line where Alex talks about how she’s the universe’s best Irish Setter and she’s just looking for a handler who realizes that brushes actually FLATTEN her curls.
“I really feel like I’m living proof that a woman can have it all without the husband.” - Cindy
So Sonja takes Ramona to this fundraiser for an artist, and we’re introduced to Cindy, the newest NYC housewife. We quickly launch into a reel that’s all about how successful Cindy is, with her Barely There waxing and vajazzling business that she runs with her brother, her trainer that believes taking golf swings at on a virtual golf course counts as a workout, her twins that were conceived via IVF, and her glorious downtown apartment that has outlets on the floors and is crawling with nannies. But even though she’s been gifted with such miraculous achievements in life, she’s conscious of the fact the only thing she doesn’t have is a man, and it’s obvious that she’s done everything in her power to busy herself with things so that her mind will forget there’s no one there for her. But the male quotient in her life is still empty, and it’s clearly still on Cindy’s mind because goes back and forth between saying she wished she had a companion, but she’s quick to clarify that she doesn’t need one, because look at this great vagina business she shares with her brother! It’s shocking how Cindy so casually reduces men to something unnecessary ONLY because she doesn’t have one to call her own when she’s so clearly desperate of the women who have someone carry them home after they can’t put their Jimmy Choos back on because they used their feet to paint a painting for charity.
“You’re right. She doesn’t know I’m coming, and I know that.” – Alex
Ramona and her husband invited Alex and Simon up to the Hamptons to stay with them because they were both going to the same wedding that weekend. At breakfast, Ramona told Alex she couldn’t wait to see the look on Jill’s face when Alex showed up at the church because Jill was unaware that her rival was also invited to the event. Alex told Ramona that she knew Jill would be surprised with her attendance because earlier in the week, Jill had called Alex and thanked her for inviting her to the march for gay marriage equality, but informed her that she couldn’t do it because she had a wedding out of town. But when Alex looked at the information about the march and who was running it, Jill was listed as a member on the committee, and Alex was confused as to why, if she and Simon would be leaving the Hamptons and returning to the city in time for the march, why Jill wasn’t able to do that too (since she was credited with helping to run it). Later that day at the wedding, Jill was, in fact, shocked to see Alex and Simon get out of Ramona’s car in the parking lot. Once they greeted each other, Alex and Jill started talking about how they both knew the bride, and how when Jill said she was going to an “out of town” wedding, she thought it would be in Florida and not the Hamptons. Alex also asked how, if Jill was friends with the bride, how she wouldn’t know that Alex was going to be there, AND how it was weird that she’d be on the committee of the marriage equality march but skip out on the march itself. Jill said she was on an honorary committee, which was for the people who wanted to show their support for the cause but couldn’t attend the event. At the reception, while everyone was mingling in the beautiful Hampton sunlight, Jill was under a canopy with two random women, explaining how she felt conflicted about this gay marriage march. She told them how what really happened was that the committee called her and asked her if she wanted to participate, but Jill told them she already had plans to go to a wedding that weekend but if they wanted to, they could use her name and list her as a member of the honorary committee. The women agreed that Alex making Jill feel bad about being on the committee but not marching was wrong, and then they all started picking on Alex and Ramona for wearing cream dresses to a wedding.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
All About Steve centers on the antics of nutty Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) a thirtysomething spinster who isn’t like most women her age. A cruciverbalist (crossword puzzle writer) by trade she possesses a brain crammed to the hilt with obscure facts arcane trivia and SAT words all of which she happily dispenses — at breakneck speed — on any unfortunate soul who happens to stumble into a conversation with her. And while such a quality may prove useful in her professional life it’s terrible for her romantic one. Which is why she lives alone with her parents and her closest confidante is a hamster.
Mary’s fortunes abruptly change — in her mind at least — when she’s set up on a blind date with Steve (Bradley Cooper) a charming surprisingly handsome cable-news cameraman to whom she feels an immediate intense attraction. So intense in fact that she dedicates an entire crossword puzzle to him confusing readers and angering her boss who immediately fires her. (Apparently there are no copy editors — or editors of any kind for that matter — at the newspaper where Mary works.)
Mary deliberately misinterprets her dismissal as a sign that she is meant to be with Steve who just recently left town on assignment. Determined to follow her “destiny ” she packs her bags and embarks on a road trip pursuing her would-be soulmate as he travels to various towns to cover breaking news stories. Understandably freaked-out by the antics of his oddball stalker Steve does his best to give Mary the heave-ho to little avail.
Bullock has amped up the wackiness factor in the latter half of her career riding the “clumsy hot chick” routine to box office success in the blockbuster comedies Miss Congeniality and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous. In All About Steve Bullock effectively carries the film for what it’s worth as the neurotic hyperactive Mary.
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways Spider-Man 3) issues a fine performance in a supporting role as a comically self-absorbed chronically insecure TV newsman.
Methinks there’s supposed to be a point in All About Steve when Mary’s neurotic mannerisms and creepy stalker antics transition from irritating and strange to charming and quirky — making her a sort of cougar Napoleon Dynamite — but that transition never really occurs. Like Steve we just want Mary to go away. Forever.
Normally the film’s core message about being true to yourself is a virtuous one but when “yourself” is quite literally THE MOST ANNOYING PERSON IN THE WORLD the exact opposite is true. My greatest fear regarding All About Steve is that dozens of pushy delusional people will see it and feel validated in their behavior.
Sandra Bullock's face is virtually unrecognizable from her Speed days.
Based on H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger's bestselling book of the same name Friday Night Lights tells the true story of the dusty West Texas town of Odessa where nothing much happens until September rolls around. That's when the town's 20 000 or so denizens pour into Ratliff Stadium the country's biggest high school football field every Friday night to watch the Permian Panthers Odessa's "boys in black " take to the field. All the town's hope and dreams are pinned on the padded shoulders of these young gridiron heroes--including insecure quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black); cocky self-assured running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke); headstrong self-destructive tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) who must contend with an overbearing abusive dad (Tim McGraw--yes that Tim McGraw the country singer); and the team's spiritual leader middle linebacker Ivory Christian (newcomer Lee Jackson). The Panthers begin their season with one thing on their minds--winning their fifth straight championship for the first time in the team's 30-year history--but for their coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) it also means instilling a love and joy of the game in the boys' hearts amidst tremendous pressures and expectations. Easier said than done.
There isn't a false note in any of the performances and no one falls back on clichéd versions of their characters as is so easy to do in rah-rah sports movies. Thornton does a particularly good job as Gaines keeping you guessing whether he's going to be a hardass insensitive to his players' emotional needs (like so many movie football coaches before him) or if he truly means to coach his boys in a fair and decent way. Gaines too has to deal with his own pressures especially from the townsfolk who are likely to string him up if the team loses the championship. As for Gaines' players Black (the oh-so-serious kid from Thornton's Sling Blade) is all grown up and buffed out and still very serious. It works for the young actor though as the beleaguered Winchell struggles with the love-hate relationship he has with his chosen sport. Other standouts include Luke (Antwone Fisher) as the star player Boobie whose cocksureness leads him to an injury; Hedlund as the volatile Billingsley trying desperately to please his father; and McGraw making his film debut as the father a former Permian Panther champion who sure hasn't given up his competitive spirit basically beating it into his son. First Faith Hill (McGraw's real-life wife) in The Stepford Wives and now McGraw--who knew country singers could act?
From All the Right Moves to Varsity Blues to Remember the Titans Friday Night Lights unfortunately doesn't completely distinguish itself from the pack of football movies before it--like those this is all about how the young players--be they underdogs second-string nobodies or stars--rising above the mounting pressure and playing the best they can bless their hearts. Still there's no question the sports genre--particularly football--always gets the juices pumping with FNL being no exception. It might have something to do with our sick fascination with watching bone-crunching hits and body-punishing tackles. It's dangerous out there for these guys; no other sport (besides maybe hockey) can elicit such wince-inducing emotion and actor/director Peter Berg (The Rundown) exploits that. Obviously influenced by Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday Berg effectively paints his own gritty documentary-style picture of the competitive sport without relying on too many trite gushy over-the-top moments. And to give it credit the film does not necessarily have a feel-good "let's win one for the Gipper" ending; it is based on a true story after all and as we know real life isn't all sunshine and roses especially in the bloodthirsty world of Texas high school football.