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My Kitchen Rules (2010)
Rigged, scripted and manipulative Reality television: Australian style.
I've always loathed reality television for many reasons but the one big gripe I have with the genre is that it's all scripted, there is no prize money (it's just a work) and the contests are pre-determined and rigged.
I live in Canada and a new channel added here called Gusto airs all the seasons of My Kitchen Rules. MKR is Australia's most popular television program and I decided to see if Australian reality television might be better than the shoddy American ones. Well, after 40 or so episodes it's a tiny bit better but it's still the same malarkey you will find elsewhere.
The only positives I can give the show are:
1. Australians are a much more laid back and easy going group of people unlike the Americans, British and Canadians. They are more tolerable to put up with on a program like this.
2. At least here in Canada, the swear words are not bleeped and they use R-rated language.
3. There is no audience of screamers until the final episode where the eliminated and the finalist's families are in "Kitchen Headquarters".
4. The people they use are real and not a bunch of actors. Tresne Middleton is actually a real estate agent, for example.
It is clear that every second of the show is scripted. Not one single amount of true emotion is shown. All reality T.V. is scripted but this show is blatant in that regard.
It's also droll how they have to call them Bree & Jessica or Helena & Vikki at all times. No changing of their title whatsoever is allowed. Why not an occasional Kelly and Chloe? Mr. Evans and Mr. Feildel must stand/sit right next to each other 95% of the time. It's clear that every moment is scripted by the producers. They just pull numbers and opinions out of their butt. I love how they constantly need to repeat the names of the dishes they are cooking, the endless talking head segments that who knows when they were filmed (before or after?) and lots of scripted events. It's never a smooth ride for these people.
I also love how the camera always captures those moments, it's always there at the right time. A good one was with the aforementioned Ms. Middleton. She was doing a lunch truck challenge and one of the guest judges (Colin Fassnidge) criticized her cooking technique. She then went over to her partner Carly Saunders to be consoled and the camera "catches" her being hugged and then giving somebody that stare. You know when a kid is upset and runs to her mother and then she looks at the person or animal that hurt her? That stare.
I love the centipede of cars for the "visits" of contestant's homes, the fake emotions of certain contestants, the forced trash talk and the constant editing. BAM BAM BAM with the visuals. I love how this show gets all those plants to show up at the end of the time limit as if they were waiting in buses or something. The school was realistic but I find it hard to believe in reality that they could find enough grown adults to show up at these lunch truck and restaurant challenges.
Of course, after season 5 all the allegations came out. I'm not surprised about the faked home visits. We don't want groupies taking pictures so all of these "homes" were in undisclosed locations and the dinners took place at 6 in the morning. The other facts (some of these contestants were trained prior to taping at a school, they were told what to cook, other chefs created meals, etc.) just takes away from the real reason I watched the show, like how many cases of food poisoning or how many blue band-aids would I see.
Anyway, I'm sure Australia will still watch in droves come Season 6. I won't. Sad thing is, I did have one more reason to watch: they have some beautiful women in that country. Oh well, the sacrifices I make...
A Chef's Life (2013)
Yippee! More mutated reality T.V.
PBS' A Chef's Life is half cooking show, half "real reality T.V." show. Unlike most reality T.V. cooking shows, this isn't some made-up story about a restaurant opening but a legit opening. Problem is see, they clearly have scripted events occur during the program that anybody with a brain can see a mile away.
The focus is on Chef Vivian Howard, who sounds like a female Dr. Phil. She has a North Carolina drawl and many of the people she interacts with have that distinct accent. She and her husband Ben Knight worked in New York (don't know if that's a work or not) and then claims her parents will allow them to open their own restaurant if they open it in Eastern North Carolina (?) which she says she was finished with in the intro. Most of each show is about the travails of getting this restaurant open with a mix of fact and BS. 5-7 minutes are spent showcasing her cooking prowess.
Much of the show consists of the boring and dull comments of Chef Vivian in front of a camera. She certainly knows how to doll herself up but she has the personality of a rock. She also seems to come off as somebody with a superiority complex and her husband is pretty much forced to do her bidding as he clearly doesn't wear the pants in this family.
I would recommend one episode just so you can hear that unique voice of hers but other than that, it's a good cure for insomnia. Anyway, I'm sure she will script a good ending for her little enterprise.
Ein echter Hausfrauenfreund (1975)
The living Ken doll.
For years, me and my brothers called this movie The Happy Gigolo. We saw it back in 1991. I saw this one again a few weeks ago. My version is dubbed in mostly American English.
Peter Hamm plays Albert Hoover, a living Ken doll who works in a hotel in Germany servicing women. Rare for a softie, a male is the main character. Anyway, in order to provide for his family he prostitutes himself for several women, though he seems devoted to Margaret Rose- Keil's Evelyn even though he is very happy with his wife and has a vibrant sex life with her.
For most of the film, he is exploited and treated like the gigolo he is but at the end the film makers cop-out and he is made the conqueror of women although to be fair, the woman he refuses to pleasure is a stuck- up egomaniac who deserved to be mocked for going against her own beliefs.
The women in this movie are all very nice and most of them look pretty good even now. Even the slightly chubby woman who plays his wife makes up for her looks with her sexual exuberance. However, all the focus in this one is on Albert. He looks like a living Ken doll with his mop-top hair and lady-killer smile. Any women who watch this film will certainly be impressed. The dialog probably is much different from the German original with a couple of characters portrayed as Americans. Many of the jokes are explicit in nature in regards to oral sex and orgasms, though done humorously.
This movie is available under a wide variety of titles so just go to the IMDb page to see the many names. However, this film is for those looking for the most obscure of softies.
The Jerk (1979)
Still a very funny film 35 years later.
I remember seeing Steve Martin in his "Wild & Crazy" mode with the arrow through his head as a kid. Over the years, Martin has mellowed quite a bit and has focused more on music (he has been to Ottawa Jazzfest the last two years) than acting, directing or writing movies. The Jerk hearkens back to his days as "Wild & Crazy" Steve and remains laugh-out loud funny.
I sometimes wonder what kind of personality Navin Johnson has. Is he an idiot savant, does he have Asperger Syndrome, is he bored with life and lives recklessly to tolerate it or is he just a parody of Steve Martin himself? He's a difficult character to define and that what makes his character cool. You don't know what you're getting with him. In today's movies with one-dimensional characters, Navin Johnson's personality is rich with development.
The film, about Navin's crazy experiences with independence, finding love and making a fortune is a laugh riot from start to finish. It still remains relevant because it avoided topicality. Bernadette Peters looks as delicious as ever and it's good to see the likes of Bill Macy and the fine Blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee in the cast. It still has that vibrancy like it did in 1979.
If you long to see the Steve Martin of old, his sparkling debut as a leading man is the film to see. Highly recommended.
Hasn't really dated well but still a fun watch.
Airplane! is still a good comedy film but it is compromised by being a topical film. Back in 1980, this was a very funny movie but in 2014, it doesn't hold up quite as well since disco, jive talking, the glorification of drug use and deadpan comedy aren't exactly in nowadays. A movie like The Jerk still holds up in 2014 because it doesn't rely on the pop culture of its time.
That said, it's still very watchable and its screen time flies rapidly. You wish more movies had the genius idea of casting serious actors and playing off of their stoic style for laughs. Leslie Nielsen's career took off after playing Dr. Rumack and he had a successful back-nine when it came to acting. Julie Hagerty (in her debut) may come off as somewhat mousy and spaced-out as Elaine but she could also be a knockout as seen in the club scene.
The movie is worth seeing for those classic exchanges and some funny spoofs but I just feel it doesn't have that punch that it once had after seeing it again recently.
Ruthless People (1986)
Still a laugh riot nearly 30 years later.
Jerry Zucker, David Zucker and Jim Abrahams are known for their spoof movies such as Airplane!, Hot Shots and The Naked Gun trilogy but they did direct some straight comedies and Ruthless People remains uproariously funny in 2014. In fact, it seems more realistic nowadays.
Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) is a slimy little man who is married to Barbara Stone (Bette Midler), a frumpy and gaudy woman who he detests. He has plans to kill her for her 15 million dollar fortune and run off with his long time mistress Carol (Anita Morris). The day he plans to do the dirty deed he finds out that she's been kidnapped by Ken (Judge Reinhold) and Sandy Kessler (Helen Slater) and they demand a huge ransom or else they will off her. Sam, of course, refuses to pay since now they will do the dirty work for him. Meanwhile, Carol is planning to double- cross Sam by filming the murder and she has her punk boyfriend Earl (Bill Pullman) do it. He ends up filming the guy who played the Principal on Head Of The Class having sex with a hooker instead but Carol never bothers to watch the film because of the screams of joy the hooker makes and just assumes it's Sam murdering Barbara.
It turns out the Kesslers aren't "ruthless people" and seemingly won't carry out the murder despite Sam making a decent fortune himself from stealing Sandy's ideas years ago and leaving the Kesslers living in squalor. Barbara teaches them how...
Ruthless People is a sassy R-rated comedy with attitude and the dialog and situation comedy is zesty, rich and bursting with constant laugh-out loud moments. Everybody in film is appealing despite being evil, weak- minded, dumb or a monster and that's why it has aged extremely well. It feels more like a 2014 film than a 1986 film because our society seemingly is like the one featured in Ruthless Peopl.
DeVito, Slater and Reinhold deliver terrific performances but the film is owned by Midler. The Divine Miss M dominates the film playing a profanity-spewing, gaudy, frumpy and angry shrew who changes into a sassy, beautiful and fit woman in captivity but still hasn't lost her talent for down and dirty ruthlessness.
Still a wonderful film 28 years later. I wish the Zuckers and Abrahams made more R-rated fare; this is one of the best comedies of the MPAA era. See it!
Love, mystery and horror in Sri Lanka.
Samanka (Ceylon My Love) is basically an entry-level version of the more graphic films that Joe D'Amato and Jess Franco would make. This was aired occasionally on late-night Quebecois T.V. here.
Gerard (who looks a lot like a young John Elway) is a fashion photographer. His two models Sybille (who looks like a young Kathleen Turner) and Christa work in Paris with him. He finds out he has won a contract to deliver content for his bosses in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and he and his ladies fly over for their all-inclusive paid vacation.
One day, he spots the beautiful Samanka walking and he is immediately infatuated. He tries to ask her to join his troupe but keeps getting missed connections. Finally, he meets her at the hotel and asks her to join he and his ladies on their escapade in hopes that she will model for him. While she has no issues sleeping with him, she refuses to be photographed because she believes she is a "deity".
Of course, Gerard continues to stalk her and he finds out she lives in a compound with her father, who runs some sort of Oneida Community where he is involved in sinister dealings. It all leads to him fighting for the life of his ladies only to be met with a twist ending.
Like many of these Emmanuelle clones, Samanka is a beautiful travelogue for these foreign countries they are filmed in, such as Sri Lanka. The country looks stunning and exotic. The women, despite being somewhat thin, are all-natural and sexy. Pretty much every stereotype of the Emmanuelle film (both the Kristel and Gemser versions) are fully utilized.
I originally saw the film in its original French. My VHS version is an English dub with Russian subtitles. The dialog in English is quite funny. At one point, Sybille is asking:
Sybille: What's the name of this hole?
Samanka: Kandy, the ancient capital of Ceylon. This hole is every bit as lovely as yours, my dear.
If you are a fan of the Golden Era of softcore (1974-1986), this is one you need to seek out. Yes, it's just another formulaic Emmanuelle clone but it's a good one. I wish Vera Floux made more films. She indeed was a stunner.
In Praise of Older Women (1978)
Tom Berenger and cougars!
George Kaczender's In Praise of Older Women, from Stephen Vizinczey's novel of the same name, is an extremely controversial film. The Canadian version of the MPAA objected to the nudity and explicit simulated sex in the film and would not release it unless Kaczender removed 2 minutes of footage. Kaczender was willing to remove 10 seconds of footage. Eventually, a compromise was reached and 30 seconds were edited out of the film. IPOW was released in 1978 and won 4 "Genie" Awards.
Regardless, IPOW is nothing more than a classier version of the type of film The Asylum would produce in 2014. Tom Berenger, in his second notable film appearance, plays Andras Vayda, a young man who wants to be a professor and is looking for love. Thing is, he doesn't want to get frisky with women his own age. He seems more interested in seducing women who are 15 years his senior or older. Throughout the movie, he has affairs with a number of older women throughout a 12 year period played by the likes of Karen Black, Marilyn Lightstone, Susan Strasburg, Alexandra Stewart and Helen Shaver (who was actually 2 years younger than Berenger was) while an older voice representing him narrates at times.
Despite being nothing more than soft core pornography, there are some good scenes. Alberta Watson, another one of his conquests, plays a cabaret singer dressed in a French outfit who sings a seductive song that piques his interest. Shaver, who won a "Genie" for her character of Ann MacDonald, offers some light comic relief and Black is as solid as ever as Maya, the gateway to Andras' love of cougars. Berenger shows promise as an actor early on but despite his top billing, cedes to the established actresses. The movie also uses the 1956 Hungarian Revolution as a backdrop and then later his time as a professor in Montreal.
While not a great piece of cinema, it is a good film among 1970's erotica and it's elevated by the big names in the cast, present and future. Certainly worth a look for curiosity sake.
Responsible for ruining television, music and our intelligence.
American Idol (the brainchild of Brits Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell) has been airing for 12 years or so and despite being nowhere as popular as it used to be, FOX continues to air a new season running 4 months or so and has also spawned a bunch of imitators to boot, including Cowell's X Factor.
From having non-singers and people who mostly can't sing without Autotune being judges, to having "contestants" who act like they are on Prozac or some happy drug 24/7, to the "coaching" done off-screen, to the screaming banshees in the audience, to seeing people being given permission to butcher pop songs, to Ryan Seacrest, to the usual rigging of results, etc. this show has done irreparable to both television as it has begat more reality television and music as there's an innate sameness to everybody in pop music. For shame.
All American Idol does is make stars out of people and then give them no say in their new line of work at RCA and offer people more Schadenfreude in their life, like they need it. Sound familiar?
The Bachelor (2002)
Lazy recycled kiddie smut.
The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad have been around for a long time as ABC is too lazy to create a new franchise to air on Monday nights. Disney obviously can keep costs low by hiring restaurant servers, struggling models and exotic dancers instead of real actors and then have them spout off "unscripted" kiddie drivel with bleeps to entertain people who embrace mediocrity instead of actually trying to find better but are too lazy to bother.
Until people say "Enough" and change the channel or, better yet, turn the television off Disney will keep churning out this kiddie smut indefinitely.
Unless you love seeing Schadenfreude over and over again as it's the only way you'll feel better about your sordid life even if you know what you're seeing on The Bachelor is staged, pass. Pass immediately.