Friday, February 03, 2006

Things to do after the Super Bowl.

- The hospital drama GREY'S ANATOMY, which has gotten better with each episode of its second season, is airing a new episode on Super Bowl Sunday after the big game. For those of you who aren't addicted to the show, you're missing out because it's a big, funny, well-acted, light-hearted soap opera. Or, at least, it usually is. This weekend's episode, because of the potential ratings, is going to be an over-the-top event. Apparently, the surgeons at Seattle Grace are all trapped inside the hospital during a "Code Black" emergency. Now, a lot of what that's about has been shrouded in secrecy, but I keep hearing something about a bomb. Beyond that, the great Chandra Wilson's character is supposed to give birth, and Christina Ricci is guest-starring in the episode as a patient with something twisted wrong with her.

- Judi Dench received another Oscar nomination this week for her film MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, which was directed by the usually-genius Stephen Frears. The film tells the story of London's famous Windmill Theater, which overcame its initial financial troubles by putting naked girls up on its stage and eventually made history by never, ever closing its doors during the nights of the bombing raids on London during World War II. It's been playing in town for a couple weeks, but I've not made a point of seeing the film. I'll see it this weekend, but I had my reasons for avoiding it. Even though I love Judi Dench and Stephen Frears, the film also has Bob Hoskins and naked girls in it. And it looked like there was a scene where Dame Judi was going to take off her clothes in it, and I was in no hurry to see that.

- Though most of you may not know who she is, Sanaa Lathan is a terrific actress, able to convey intelligence and evoke sympathy while being uniquely beautiful. After seeing her in the surprisingly good LOVE AND BASKETBALL a couple years ago, I've kept my eye on her, waiting for her to make a breakthrough into larger movies and more leading roles. This week, that happens. Lathan stars in SOMETHING NEW, which is a romantic comedy about interracial love that, from the previews, looks like a smart, serious, appealing movie about a real relationship. Lathan's character Kenya is a high-maintenance workaholic with no time or patience for dating. She's set up with a white gardener named Brian, played by Simon Baker, and her attraction to him throws her for a loop. It looks like the contrived and silly elements of this movie have been kept to a minimum, which makes me really want to see it. I mean, this time last year, we got GUESS WHO. This is progress.

- Reading through the synopsis of Josh Kilmer-Purcell's wacky-sounding memoir I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS, I immediately put my name on a copy at the bookstore. The paperback's due this week. Kilmer-Purcell's story is that, in the '90s, he was a mild-mannered ad exec during the day ... and, at night, he was a seven-foot-tall drag queen named Aquadisiac who wore outfits so outrageous that his inflatable breasts sometimes carried live goldfish. Aquadisiac's club life was apparently delicious and fabulous until Josh fell in love with Jack, a really nice, crack-addicted male prostitute with a penthouse. Delightful drama, as can be expected, ensues. This is the book I'm tempted to buy and recommend to all my friends this year, and I've not even read the first page yet. (NOTE: The book received a rave review from A MILLION LITTLE PIECES fabulist James Frey, saying how much he "loved" the book and will read it "over and over. This was quoted on the front cover and might hurt its sales. In all fairness, Frey probably didn't even read it but thought it would sound more interesting if he said he did.)

- Since the looks-like-crazy-bad-fun film FINAL DESTINATION 3 doesn't hit theaters until next week, those of you looking for thrills can check out the horror remake WHEN A STRANGER CALLS at the multiplex this weekend. You know the premise, in all likelihood. I think I first heard the story when I was in elementary school, after all. After putting the two kids she's watching to sleep, a babysitter starts receiving phone calls from a creepy-voiced man who asks, "HAVE YOU CHECKED THE CHILDREN?" She ignores the first one, but the calls keep coming. Eventually, the babysitter gets freaked out, calls the police and asks them to tell her who is making the calls. When the police check the phone, the call the babysitter to warn her she's in danger because ... "THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE ..." Now, I honestly don't remember how the whole thing is supposed to end, for I've not seen the Carol Kane original, but the movie is, hopefully, really tense, dark and scary. Terrorized babysitters are fun.
- This week, based upon a recommendation, I picked up Edith Wharton's HOUSE OF MIRTH just to see if I could get through it. Thus far, it's been surprisingly readable. Wharton's good with character, dialogue and descriptions of turn-of-the-century New York, and I'm enjoying it. It was like that for me last year with AS I LAY DYING and THE RAZOR'S EDGE. Reading books like that makes me feel smarter than I actually am. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What's your favorite "classic" novel? Has there ever been a book you didn't expect to love but ended up devouring? What's the hardest read you've ever enjoyed? And, on the other side of that, what "classic" novel do you despise?

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