Saturday, July 31, 2010

TV @ the Movies: Thelma & Louise Hates Texas. Drag U & Marie Antoinette.

I get many emails asking me to write more frequently about the small screen so I figured I should cave if a tv series really excites me (like Mad Men) but on one condition: it has to reference the movies (or feature a beloved movie actress) or involve awardage. I've highlighted movie-adjacent TV before like pre-fame TV roles or unexpected actress moments. So henceforth, I'll package it in series form. You know how we do here at TFE. If something I happen to catch on television references the movies, I'll feature it on Saturday mornings to thank it for doing so.

Last week on Friday Night Lights Becky fell asleep watching Thelma & Louise and that is... well, I can only suspend so much disbelief and you just don't fall asleep watching that movie. It's awesome -- top ten of the 90s level awesome. But Becky is my least favorite character so whatever. She's a mess and there's no accounting for taste. There's a reason Louise won't drive thru Texas, y'all! She'd rather drive right off a cliff. I can't even discuss falling asleep watching Thelma & Louise without turning red with fury. Inappropriate! Those women deserved better.

So for this edition of "TV @ The Movies" a brief discussion of Drag U instead.

RuPaul's Drag U episode 1.2 "Dateless Divas"
I'm fairly certain this show is not half as good as it could be.
  • Qualm #1: a makeover show. Like we needed another one.
  • Qualm #2: I'm assuming Raven won't be in every episode and when the first Raven-less episode appears, I will feel cheated.
  • Qualm #3: why isn't the entire panel of judges famous queens like Lady Bunny? I mean to have a "Dean of Dance" and it's not Candis Cayne? That's just wrong!) -- but I love that the underlying message is so subversive: everyone would be better off if they became a drag queen.
Raven: These girls are lucky that they have the advanced technology of the dragulator!
RuPaul: The Dragulator is a highly sophisticated piece of tech-no-lo-gy
Raven was the hottest miss thang on last year's Drag Race (and anyone who coins the phrase "giving Michelle Pfeiffer Bitch" has won me for life.) so I'm happy that she's practically the star of Drag U already. And, of course, Ru's always had a way with hilarious line readings. The Dragulator is awesome. Ru understands the camp value of a low budget (not to mention the power of a catchphrase and cheap gimmick). Anyway, the [sassy head bob] tek•noluh•jee suggests that contestant Lenae becomes "Honey Boom" and she likes it.

"I was like, 'That's Marilyn Monroe. And she really is inside of me!'"
It's really more like Chicago's Queen Latifah when Velma's like "Not you too, Mama!?!" in despair of platinum blonde Roxie Mania but never mind. Later Lenae dances to "I'm Every Woman" in this new gold lamé platinum blonde version of herself which confuses the girlie iconography even further Whitney + Queen ≠ Marilyn??? Whaaaa... But I shouldn't doubt the Dragulator because it is to RuPaul what "Magic Screen" was to Pee Wee, yes?

So... eventually Lenae as Honeyboom blows a kiss to the judges with a "Happy Birthday Mr. President" proving once again that Marilyn did it best. More celebrities ought to understand their own image with pinpoint precision and sell it accordingly at public events. If they hope to be remembered 48 years after their death, that is.

Meanwhile Lenae's competitor Debbie is transformed into "Moxie Mayhem" saying
"It's like Memoirs of a Geisha meets Marie Antoinette"
And you know that mash-up sent me reeling... cuz I hate and love in equal measure! [To recap: Memoirs = hate / Marie = love]

'Honeyboom' won the competition but I was the true winner because it got me to thinking about Marie-Antoinette, aka the 'misunderestimated' movie of the Aughts.

Leaping far from the RuPaul's Drag U topic, out of curiousity, I thought I'd check that statement. Nope! Oops. It's almost the most critically hated of my top 50 favorite movies of the Aughts but not quite. These are the least acclaimed of those, according to the TomatoMeter, the only films in my top 50 to not score in the 80% and above of critical approval. These are the places I refused consensus. Not out of contrarianism, mind you, but from pure love of the movies in question.
What'cha think about that?
I Heart Huckabees


Gustavo said...

I'm guilty! When BIRTH first came out, I was a consummate detractor. Having rewatched it this year, not anymore. The film is mesmerising.

John said...

The Birth is by far the most underrated and misunderstood film this decade. (Runner ups include Margot at the Wedding and Synecdoche, NY.)

Sharon said...

That RT score for Birth still disgusts me to this day.

I demand a re-do! I wonder how big the difference would be had it been released now and not six years ago considering many people regard it much more highly today.

cal roth said...

Have you seen Dunst and Lars von Trier together for Melancholia?


so i guess no one is watching DRAG U?

cal -- i hadn't seen that. thanks

Ishmael said...

I think "Idioterne" is wastly overrated.


70% too high for you? haha

kent said...

how did BIRTH get a 39% rating? one of the best movies of 2004 and one of nicole kidman's best perfs

Anonymous said...

It's astonishing Birth was that poorly received six years ago. Guess hindsight really is 20/20...

Anonymous said...

Every time Birth is mentioned, I still get serious chills when I think about Anne Heche's big scene in it.

And Gong Li is the only reason to watch Memoirs. She was FAF. Almost saved the whole movie for me. Almost.

adam k. said...

Um, Thelma & Louise, top ten of the 90s? Try TOP TEN OF ALL TIME. At LEAST. It might be my favorite movie ever, just in the sense that it's so compulsively watchable that I could literally pop it in any time and love it just as much as I ever have. I went through a phase when I'd basically watch it weekly, if not more. And it's not just "guilty pleasure" watchable, it's legimitately great. Important for its time, and also timeless. Pure cinema.

I don't get the falling asleep thing. And I myself am prone to falling asleep in movies, especially if I'm in a dark room and am tired and now allowed to take a break (as I'd often me at required screenings for school). But at T&L??? I'd totally understand nodding off during something like Blade Runner or Safe or The Sound of Music which are hypnotic in the kind of way that could kind of lull you to sleep if you wanted it to - I have a whole stash of movies I use just for that purpose when I want to sleep at night - but T&L has boundless energy. Utterly weird that anyone could do that.

Birth definitely didn't deserve the 39%. Just bizarre. I think lots of people were offended by the bath scene with the little boy. Other than being prudish and very sensitive to pederasty, I don't see any way a critic could think it was bad. Not one's cup of tea, sure, but actually bad? No.

Dylan said...

Aww you guys are being too hard on Memoirs of a Geisha. Its cinematography and score were amazing, as was, of course, Gong Li.

I do think it would have been beter though if it was in Japanese and subtitled.

Poil said...

Agree. Gong Li was THE reason to see MOAG.


Adam -- well it's one of my top 4 of the 90s so it's WAY up there in my all time chart too :)

Ryan T. said...

Bring. It. On. I can't count how many times I've seen that film. Good times.

Glenn said...

I really hope Nicole Kidman is alive long enough to witness the critical reassessment of her work like Birth and Margot.

Anthony Mai said...

I need to re-watch Birth... I didn't like it the first and only time I watched it. In fact, everything is a blur to me.

Cluster Funk said...

I actually take strange pride in Birth's unfavorable critical consensus. A good film like that is supposed to be challenging, thought provoking, and ask thorny questions. The fact that many, critics and public alike, didn't "get" it seems to be vindication of a central point: How do you explain the inexplicable? Kidman and Heche were so-o-o great in this.

Julian said...

RuPaul's Drag U... is ridiculous... I can't seem to get enough of it!