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Covert Affairs (2010)
a fun guilty pleasure...
"Covert Affairs" rates a solid 7-8 stars for me based on one thing: It's an entertaining show, plain and simple.
Is it packed full of intrigue, suspense, and plot twists that will bend your brain? No; in fact, I'm pretty sure my fellow heist/thriller film fans will see every "shocking new development" coming a mile away. Is the acting superb? Not particularly, but it's far from awful. Are you going to believe in the characters' stories and expertise? Unlikely. However, that does not make the show any less fun to watch, and even after I really disliked much of the pilot, I've tuned in every week.
Two random fun facts: The main character's name, Annie Walker, is cleverly derived from a "24" character/actor name, and each episode title is a Led Zeppelin song title.
Two cautionary caveats: The relationship between the CIA director and his CIA-employee wife is horrendous, overworked, and an absolute distraction, and the "love story" following Annie Walker and her long-lost spy lover is also teetering on the edge between inanity and lunacy. I really hope the show tones down both story lines A LOT, or this show is destined for cancellation.
All that said, I recommend this show and think that if you can suspend disbelief as you would for a made-for-TV movie, you're likely to really enjoy the ride...
True Blue Beauty (2003)
thoughtful and thought-provoking
viewing "true blue beauty" was, quite simply, a fascinating experience. if at all possible, i highly recommend that you check out this gem for yourself (although the movie's limited availability may make that task a difficult one). jeff hofmann gives a tour de force performance--he's one of the best "dead" men you'll ever see on screen. his somewhat eerie resemblance to taylor hicks, combined with facial expressions and mannerisms that evoke comparisons to george clooney, lend a captivating air to the film. the rest of the cast also does a fine job, and the cinematography, staging, and costuming are nicely executed. kudos to all involved!
i watched this 93-minute film at midnight during the sundance film festival, and when it ended and the lights came on, i secretly hoped someone would announce that it would be shown again for those who wanted to stay (i know i wouldn't have left my seat!).
i really wish i could have been at the actual concert at madison square garden--the beasties put on a fantastic show with music spanning their entire repertoire (minus the hardcore early days, of course). at one point, they even donned some retro tuxes and played instrumental numbers from "check your head" and "ill communication." as you might imagine, given the premise of the movie being shot by amateurs using hand-held digital cameras, some of the inclusions and streams weren't great, but for the most part, the final edit allowed a wonderful flow between multiple audience viewpoints, backstage hijinks, pre- and post-show moments, and even a bathroom break taken by one intrepid guy. "hornblower" threw in some creative editing and composition elements, too, showing a few songs performed in the cinematography styles the group has used in videos like "so whatcha want" and "shake your rump." the guest performance by doug e. fresh was amazing (as you might expect), and there were several other celebrity cameos from the on-screen audience as well. i was lipsynching along throughout the show, and many heads were bobbing in my theater. i was disappointed that i didn't get to attend the sundance showing the beastie boys visited, but i enjoyed this movie immensely and look forward to buying it when it's released.
P.S. the attempted re-creation of this idea during the beasties' performance on letterman (2/8/06) was *not* indicative of the quality of the the "awesome..." film. the beastie boys did a great job, but the letterman footage was pretty lame and poorly done.
"Once upon a time upon this mic, MCs be really workin' on what they write; With the sound delight, we rock all night, and yes, we're gonna party for the right to fight."
West Bank Story (2005)
sparkling, spirited satire
Although it lasts just 22 minutes, "West Bank Story" does a beautiful job of entertaining and educating the audience. The backdrop of the West Bank is a perfect setting for this poignant, playful take on the traditional "Romeo and Juliet" story. It is clear that all involved with this film paid great attention to detail; from the costumes to the cinematography to the conversations, every element is vividly and engagingly conveyed. The satirical spins on Shakespeare, the musical genre, the ongoing political and ideological conflicts in the Middle East, and even the fast food industry make this a must-see. "WBS" was one of the true highlights of Sundance 2005...kudos to cast and crew on a job very well done. I made sure I was one of the first in line to add this short to my collection when it was released on DVD!