A couple weeks ago Josh and I saw a screening of Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs. (One of the lovely Manchattan boys set us up with tickets.) We went mostly because we wanted to see Meryl Streep do her thing, which indeed ended up being the one true reason to see the film. The movie is another in a string of somewhat preachy, cloying war movies (see Rendition, Redacted, The Kingdom, et al), and indeed yet another co-starring the venerable Ms. Streep (who played a government torture supporter in Rendition, the latest war film box office stinker).
In Lions, however, we get to see Streep pull out quite a few stops as journalist Janine Roth, a veteran newswoman interviewing a conservative senator, Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise--ugh), about a "new plan" to "win the war" in Afghanistan. Watching the cat-and-mouse interview between the two is a treat, and Streep's precision timing is sharp as ever. Later, after the interview, she has an even more riveting scene as she decides what to do with the information she's been given during her tense talk with Senator Irving.
Things get a little muddled when more stories are mixed in, including Robert Redford as a professor lecturing a college student during office hours on why it's important to "get involved," and another following two soldiers fighting a losing battle in Afghanistan. And--surprise, surprise--all the stories later tie together.
The Bottom Line Lions for Lambs (opening this Friday) is okay--preachy, but interesting enough to get you through--but Meryl Streep certainly makes it worth seeing, even if you do wait to see it on DVD.
The Television Roundup
Heroes | What's with the sophomore slump, NBC? This show showed so much promise when it debuted last season, but now things are getting scattered, slow, and uninteresting. I flipped through a magazine during the last episode, whereas I used to watch with rapt attention. Maybe we should stop with 800 story lines, characters we don't care about, and principals we don't see often enough? If not careful, we could have another Lost on our hands. The show's creator, Tim Kring, swears that things get better during episodes seven through eleven, and we pray he's right. It's gonna require a few heroic moves to save our Heroes.
Grey's Anatomy | YAY! Our baby is off life support! The last two episodes of season four have brought the show back from the dead. After the debacles otherwise known as the deer in the parking lot and Lexie Grey, the addition of the brilliantly bitchy and bitchily brilliant Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) to the cast has added true hope to the menu at Seattle Grace. Also, the last few minutes of this week's episode, with George and Izzy in bed ("Izzy, did you shave just one leg?") made us simultaneously laugh and also care about the George-Izzy romance for the first time, rekindling our romance with the entire show.
Ugly Betty | The season two premiere had us at hello. The following episodes have been just fine, with a few great moments. We love the new romance between Mark and Cliff and we're looking forward to Posh's guest appearance on next week's episode. The over-the-top camp show still has enough laughs and heart to keep us tuning in and loving (almost) every minute.
ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway | If you bear any love in your heart for Broadway or musical theater, it's time to snatch up this fantastic new documentary. ShowBusiness follows the 2003-2004 Broadway season when Wicked, Taboo, Caroline, Or Change, and Avenue Q first opened. The cameras go behind the scenes and into rehearsal rooms, recording studios, critics' dinners (and private conversations featuring hilariously wrong prognostications), and business meetings, as the season that brings two major hits, and two soon-to-be-canceled critical darlings, to the Broadway boards. Featuring Kristen Chenowith, Tony Kushner, Idina Menzel, Tonya Pinkins, John Tartaglia, and many more, this is a theater lover's must-see, must-own.
Project Runway: Season Three | The best thing about the Project Runway DVDs is that all of the season's episodes are extended with scenes (i.e. tantrums and bitchery) that never aired on television. It's also the best way to get ready for the debut of season four on November 14th. Josh and I huddled up watching back-to-back episodes (love you, Laura!) and triple-checked our season pass sign-up for the next edition. Either you're in or you're out, and this one is definitely in.
A couple weeks ago, as part of Josh K's birthday week, we saw Charles Busch's Die Mommie Die, now playing Off-Broadway at the New World Stages. The show is garnering great reviews (Ben Brantley from The New York Times basically wrote the show a love letter) and it's easy to see why. After seeing the movie a few years ago, Josh and I fell in love with the high-camp comedy thriller, written by and starring Charles Busch. (Sexy Emmy-nominated actor Van Hansis, who plays gay teen Luke Snyder on As The World Turns, co-stars as Charles Busch's sexually confused son. He's great eye candy between and during the jokes.) Check it out before the curtain goes down in February.
On The iPod
A confession: We were never really that into The Beatles. We respect them, we get the love and craziness, but the music just wasn't necessarily for us. This week, however, we started listening to the Across The Universe soundtrack and found ourselves enjoying some of the new takes on Beatles classics, including Jim Sturgess's "All My Loving" and "Across the Universe." (On a related Beatles cover note, we also love the Fiona Apple and Rufus Wainwright renditions of "Across the Universe" and Sarah McLachlan's "Black Bird," also available on iTunes.)
In other soundtrack news, not only did Josh and I see Lars and the Real Girl and thoroughly enjoy it, but we also enjoyed the music by David Torn. It's mostly instrumental, but it's fresh, quirky, and upbeat. Check out tracks "Bowling With Margo," "End Credit Suite" and "Lars and Margo" to see what we mean. It was definitely worth the download.
And lastly, our most reticent admission of all: We've been listening to Britney's new album, and we kind of love it. (It pained us a little bit to write that.) Perhaps we should be lauding Brit's producers since they're the ones who put together the songs while Brit showed up between blackouts (pun intended) to moan and mumble over the great beats and hooks the producers and writers cooked up. Besides the naughty fun of "Gimme More" (and the giggles inspired by remembering the VMA performance), the songs "Piece of Me" and "Radar" have turned into favorites. It's sad to say that the girl has done her best work (and we use "work" lightly) when her life is at it's "hot mess" heights.
Josh K. just finished Headlong by Michael Frayn.
Josh H. just finished I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb.
Josh K. is now reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
Josh H. is now reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.
Wondering where the Joshes have been lately? The answer: Busy, busy, busy. Lots of changes, lots of stuff happening. We're doing well, though, and we promise to be good little bloggers and post more regularly again. More details on us soon.