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Sex And The City (#110 of 7)

HBO’s Looking: It’s Not Gay Normalcy; It’s Aspirational Television

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HBO’s <em>Looking</em>: It’s Not Gay Normalcy; It’s Aspirational Television
HBO’s <em>Looking</em>: It’s Not Gay Normalcy; It’s Aspirational Television

“Find something real.” That’s the tagline stamped on the ads for HBO’s gay-centric series Looking, and, in the wake of the pilot episode, whether or not something real can be found depends on who you ask. Writing for BlackBook, Amanda Stern says this “essential new show” is “textured in something that feels a lot like reality,” and is “stripped of the self-conscious sexual referencing that reinforces stereotypes.” In a (hopefully) semi-satirical Esquire piece, which Salon’s Daniel D’Addario calls “astoundingly homophobic,” Mick Stingley (who is straight) suggests that Looking is too real for his desired comfort and entertainment levels, saying it “commits the heinous sin of being gay and boring,” and that its lack of “mincing” stereotypes results in “a portrayal of gay life [that’s] normal, tedious, and bland.”

Girls Recap Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2, "Females Only" & "Truth or Dare"

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Girls Recap: Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2, “Females Only” & “Truth or Dare”

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Girls Recap: Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2, “Females Only” & “Truth or Dare”

The third season of Girls kicks off with the implication that creator Lena Dunham has finally bought into her detractors’ claim that the series is an ode to privileged young things whining about nothing. The opening pair of episodes, “Females Only” and “Truth or Dare,” both directed by Dunham, pointedly denies the titular foursome of much of anything resembling sympathy. They’ve all appeared to mentally and emotionally regress since last season’s conclusion, and while regression is a perfectly reasonable subject to explore in art, it’s awfully tedious as dramatized by Dunham with her presently rote methods of comic stylization.

Sundance Film Festival 2012: 2 Days in New York and For a Good Time, Call…

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Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>2 Days in New York</em> and <em>For a Good Time, Call…</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>2 Days in New York</em> and <em>For a Good Time, Call…</em>

When it comes to Julie Delpy, the key question remains the old Barbra Streisand one. Namely, how much of her can you take in one sitting? A dedicated movie-polymath, effortlessly bilingual and scooping the best of both Old and New World, Delpy resembles a bizarre version of Miranda July: Instead of celebrating lonely quirks of a self-centered sensibility, she throws herself (and the viewer) into a comic vortex of agitated, super-busy scenes of noisy familial squabbles and cerebral lovers’ quarrels, which seems a projection of her own coyly humane view of life.

Her new movie is a sequel to 2 Days in Paris, in which she played a fabulously promiscuous European chick to Adam Goldberg’s perpetually shocked American straight man. Five years have passed, and Goldberg is no longer in the picture: Delpy’s character, Marion, is now living in New York with a new partner, Mingus (Chris Rock), and two children—one of hers and one of his. As befits a typical New York couple, Mingus is a radio-show host (and a Village Voice reporter, no less), while Marion prepares to open a debut photo exhibition, frankly examining her previous sexual relationships and involving a public act of a (literal) “selling of her soul” to an anonymous buyer.

Understanding Screenwriting #1: Sex and the City, Tell No One, Mongol, Mad Men, & More

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Understanding Screenwriting #1: <em>Sex and the City</em>, <em>Tell No One</em>, <em>Mongol</em>, <em>Mad Men</em>, & More
Understanding Screenwriting #1: <em>Sex and the City</em>, <em>Tell No One</em>, <em>Mongol</em>, <em>Mad Men</em>, & More

Coming Up In This Column: Sex and the City (film); Tell No One; Mongol; In Plain Sight; Mad Men, but first…

I’m Tom Stempel. I write about screenwriting.

Yeah, I stole that from John Ford’s famous “I’m John Ford. I make westerns.” But since directors have been stealing from writers for as long as there have been movies, it’s about time we started stealing back. Welcome to my new column on screenwriting at The House Next Door.

I’m aware of what directors have stolen from writers, or at least have been credited with what screenwriters actually contributed, because I’ve been studying and writing about screenwriting for forty years. I got a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting at UCLA, but as all those things that happen to screenwriters before they become famous happened to me without, thank goodness, my becoming famous, I began to study the history of screenwriting. This was at a time, the early seventies, when people literally looked at you funny if you suggested that writers were anything other than drunks who came up with a good line of dialogue. Meanwhile I began to teach screenwriting at Los Angeles City College, where my students included such writer-directors as Maggie Greenwald (The Ballad of Little Jo) and Karen Moncrieff (Blue Car).

New York Fashion Week: Fall 2008

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New York Fashion Week: Fall 2008
New York Fashion Week: Fall 2008

Sometime in early November while passing by Bryant Park, I noticed a mock-up Fashion Week tent. After a minor panic attack, I realized, no Alexa, it’s not February yet; the girls from Sex and the City were shooting a scene for the upcoming movie. Stand down, Lipstick Jungle and Cashmere Mafia! Yes, the baddest bitches are back in town. Wanna see just how bad? Check out InStyle for a sneak preview of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha’s fresh fashions.

Leap of Faith

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Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith

Like a lot of ambitious series, ABC’s Lost doesn’t hit a home run every week. In fact, a lot of weeks it strikes out, and even solid episodes contain stuff that makes you want to hide under the sofa (hamfisted psychoanalytic dialogue, out-of-character behavior, redundant flashbacks and the like). But this week it delivered what was, without a doubt (cue voice of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons) one of its best episodes ever. (Warning, spoilers galore.) This particular installment, “Dave,” was built around the present-tense mental and emotional crisis of zaftig everyman Hurley (Jorge Garcia), with flashbacks to his institutionalization and a couple of tasty subplots (including some tense moments in the hatch between Terry O’Quinn’s Locke and possible “Other” spy Henry Gale, brilliantly played by Michael Emerson). It was light on action, unless you count Hurley giving smug Paul Newman-wannabe Sawyer (Josh Holloway) a long overdue playground beatdown. But the longer I watch this series, the more convinced I am that the action-adventure elements—the big setpieces, the plot revelations, hell, the whole master narrative—are its least interesting and maybe least durable aspects. What hooks me is the Twilight Zone sci-fi-as-morality-play vibe, the sense that this island is not exactly real and not exactly a fantasy or dream, but is instead a dramatic tabula rasa for the characters, a place where metaphors become tangible, real enough to see and touch and even converse with; basically an immense psychic theater-in-the-round. “Dave” illustrated those qualities more deftly than any episode this season.