Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Bad Movie Month says goodbye for now after being Bedazzled

The final entry in our Bad Movie Month series of The Devil Made Me Do It themed films is a comedy remake of the 1967 British satire Bedazzled, which starred Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

The American edition from 2000 has Brendan Fraser in the Dudley Moore role as Elliot Richards, an annoyingly nerdy guy in a tech support job where no one likes him and most of his free time is spent in dreaming about Alison(Frances O'Connor),an upper level employee who has no idea that he exists.

One particularly bad evening(when Elliot's attempt to hook up with Alison is shot down), he meets a mystery woman who promises to change his life forever and oh,by the way, she's the Devil. Elizabeth Hurley plays a very sexy Satan and offer our boy seven wishes that can get him the girl of his dreams for the "piddling" price of his immortal soul.

Part of the problem with this movie is buying Brendan Fraser as a meek and mild kind of guy. Don't get me wrong, he's a decent actor when the material calls for it but not capable of being truly convincing as a wimp. Hurley, on the other hand, does her level best as the playful "princess of darkness" and in a lot of her scenes with Fraser,appears to be doing most of the heavy lifting:

Elliot signs up for the seven wishes deal and in the grand tradition of deals with the devil, all of them wind up cheating him out of his true desire.

He wishes to be rich and powerful with Alison as his wife but Lady Satan makes him a drug dealer about to be wiped out by a rival, then he wants to be the most emotionally sensitive man(a stereotype that hasn't been relevant since the seventies) but that drives Alison to the arms of a sand kicking bully and at one point,he wants to be the President of the United States and guess what,he's Lincoln at Ford's theater! You get the point and it's pretty dull after awhile.

Most of the wish sequences involved goofy make-up and costume changes,along with recasting Elliot's co-workers as servile attendants and/or hindrances to his new life with Alison making her enforced appearances as well. The punchlines are obvious even to an Amish grade school student with Elliot marveling at his new found language skills or shocked at the shortcomings of his basketball superstar status:

The real crux of this cruddy comedy is how watered down it is from the original film. A good reason for that is the lack of true chemistry between Hurley and Fraser,which is more of the fault of the director/screenwriter/producer Harold Ramis,in my opinion.

 The first Bedazzled was a collaboration between Moore and Cook,who were a well established comedy duo at the time, much like Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French or Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.(look up some of their clips online and you'll see what I mean)

Teams like that know how to play to the strength of their partner and how to set up a perfectly timed rhythm of performance that seems perfectly natural. While making the devil a woman was a nice touch here, she and Fraser are more like a couple on a blind date trying to make the best of things since they can't get out of the set up than a pair of well honed professionals at work.

A much more serious problem is the lack of sharpness in the satire. While Elliot does manage to get out of his ill fated bargain,as did Moore's character in the original,instead of that being granted as a benign favor of the devil(which backfires on Satan later on),it turns into a mini life lesson that he had to learn.

That then morphs into such a feel-good ending where Elliot finds his true love in a different guise and Ms. Satan became "the best friend" he ever had. This is so wishy-washy that even Charlie Brown would be nauseated.

The whole point of the first Bedazzled was to mock the notions of good and evil,with a few pointed jabs at the hypocrisy of socially acceptable moral standards. If you don't have the guts to stay at the satire stove and face the heat, you shouldn't step into Hell's humor kitchen in the first place:

Thanks to everyone who tuned into Bad Movie Month this year and if you have any suggestions for the theme for 2014, please place them in the comments section below. Have a Happy Labor Day,folks and do something fun, just for the hell of it:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Top Chef Masters go Yo Gabba Gabba,intrigue abounds Under The Dome and marveling at the Heroes of Cosplay

Pop culture goodness was a key ingredient on Top Chef Masters this week,starting with the guest judge for the Quickfire being actress/writer Mindy Kaling. She tasked the chefs to make a romantic dish based on one of her favorite romcom films.

I love pop cultured themed challenges and Mindy's choices showcased her writer's aesthetic very nicely. Not surprising,there was a Judd Aptow movie in the mix(Knocked Up), one Nora Ephron penned(When Harry Met Sally) and two Woody Allen flicks(Midnight in Paris and Vicky Christina Barcelona).

She did have one old school classic(Roman Holiday,which the chef who got that one hadn't seen-neither have I,btw) and a Reese Witherspoon star vehicle(Sweet Home Alabama,which I have seen and find to be just okay at best).

  Douglas took the limelight here,with a win for his Midnight in Paris inspired morning after breakfast. The scrambled eggs with caviar were an excellent mix of earthy and decadent,plus pommes frites(aka french fries to you and me) are always a winner.

Some of the other chefs grumbled about the simplicity of the dish but,hey,as Woody might say,the stomach wants what the stomach wants. Also,Bryan, you had Mystic Pizza and you don't make a pizza?

As soon as Mindy left,the TV kitchen was happily invaded by the costumed characters of Yo Gabba Gabba to announce the Elimination Challenge. The chefs were given their choice of certain  food item that kids would normally hate(liver,cottage cheese,eggplant,etc) and transform it into a dish that was tasty and healthy.

David Burke was granted immunity due to his sous chef's win in the Battle of the Sous and had first pick of product(he went with avocado)and a big bonus for most of the chefs was to have their sous help them during prep.

Alas,three chefs(Sue,Jennifer and Neal)didn't get all of that privilege because their sous did poorly. While they did have their assistance during the serving of the food to a crowd of children,one other obstacle was placed in their path.

In addition to the food item they chose,Brussels sprouts also had to be incorporated into the dish! Talk about an edible double whammy there,indeed.

Sang picked cauliflower and he served it as a foam along side a teriyaki chicken meatball, a good choice for kids.

The adults attending the food party(which had the Yo Gabba Gabba characters greeting the kids,who turned the whole thing into what Sang called "Chuck E. Cheese on acid") also enjoyed the dish and it pleased the judges enough to place Sang in the Top Three for the win.

When I saw Douglas had turned his eggplant into a jelly topped with crispy rice, I seriously thought his chances for victory were doomed.

However,the kids kind of liked the slimy nature of the dish and even the judges were surprised at how much they appreciated the deep earthy tones of the jelly. He wound up in the Top Three but no win this time.

That honor went to Neal,for his spinach Bolognase and pasta with Brussels sprouts that judge Ruth Reichl called a "grown up version of Chef Boyardee"(she meant that in a good way,honest!).

Neal won ten grand for his charity,Alexa's Lemonade Stand,and I do believe it was the first big win for him on TCM. Congrats,Neal!

 On the Bottom was Sue,for taking an easy way out with her cottage cheese by making a mac and cheese. Not a bad idea but she did add bacon and part of the challenge was to keep things healthy.

The Brussels sprouts didn't fare well in this dish,bringing out what Ruth Reichl called the "cabbage character" of the vegetable(I so have to read her books one of these days!) and she was in serious danger of going home.

Right next to her was Bryan,who just had one ingredient to revamp and while beet sorbet with a vanilla yogurt dome to crack open might have sounded great, it certainly didn't taste that way.

The judges tried to explain to him how the muddy flavors of the beets were repellant even to those who love beets(guest judge Francis Lam,for one) but he insisted that his kid would've eaten it. Dude,not every kid has the exposure to the variety of food flavors that your kid has,okay?  Nice try but a hit and a definite miss here.

Now,Jennifer had the worst luck of the lot in having melon and Brussel sprouts to mix together. She made an "ice cream sandwich" looking plate that was not intended to be a dessert,confusing point number one.

Number two was that she paired the melon yogurt parfait with pickled Brussel sprouts,creating an unpleasant sour tang to the entire thing. She was sent off to pack her knives and go, but not alone.

Sue was eliminated with her but as the two of them said their goodbyes, a sudden announcement was made for both ladies to compete in the next round of Battle of the Sous Chefs. The winner will go back to the regular competition and best wishes to Sue and Jennifer. May the best woman win!

Much plotting and planning was done Under The Dome this week,as Big Jim went in search of Maxine's lair while Barbie went off with her to the underground Fight Club she had set up. That happened pretty quick,now didn't it?

 As Barbie was busy throwing a fight,Big Jim found out where Maxine was staying,on one of the outlying islands near town and came across her mother(Mare Winningham)who has a grudge against Chester's Mills for treating her badly when she was an unwed mother.

 Apparently, dear old Mom was meant to be Maxine's insurance policy in order to keep her daughter's secrets about Big Jim and Barbie ready for revealing in case something happened to her. However, Mom should have listened to Jim when he told her that he had the killer instinct that she lacked:

Meanwhile,the Mini Dome Gang of three became four,as Junior turned out to be the fourth hand(damn it!) needed to open that mystery egg up.

Having read the book, I have an idea of where this might be going but with all of the changes made here, I don't want to venture a guess too soon. Yet, the whole stars forming constellations bit should be a clear tip off as to the true nature of the main Dome:

A new series on the SyFy channel explores the growing popularity of fan conventions that most of the  regular attendees are happily familiar with,cosplay( short for "Costume Play").

Heroes of Cosplay  takes place during one season of a round robin of conventions across the country and focuses on a number of participants,such as the queen of the circuit YaYa Han, whose talents have given her an emerging merchandise empire and allowed her to judge many of the competitions.

The show also follows those looking to do well in competition like best gal pals Jessica and Holly, along with newcomers  to the scene Chloe and Monika,plus the likes of Riki and Jesse,who hope to build a portfolio that will help them obtain professional careers as Hollywood make-up artists.

One thing that I like about this show is the strong emphasis on girl geeks(and not as simpering pin-up fantasies come to life for drooling fan boys either) and how this demanding at times hobby affects their relationships with friends and family. Not to mention the amazing work put into the costumes,make-up and props necessary to bring these characters of film,TV and video games to real world life.

 If you haven't caught up to this show yet, the upcoming holiday weekend is the perfect opportunity to do so. The first three episodes take place at Wizard World Portland, Emerald City(Seattle) and MegaCon in Orlando,FL. Even if you haven't been to these particular conventions, no doubt you will find them just as awesome as ones near your current hometown.

There are only three episodes left and I'm pretty sure that one of the stops on this costume tour will be New York Comic Con,a major headline event for fans of all stripes.

Another big benefit to watching Heroes of Cosplay(and no,I am not being compensated for this, the SyFy channel doesn't even know I exist) is the bounty of inspiration for Halloween costumes. Yes, I am a legal adult but still dress up to hand out candy and my outfit will be nowhere as near as good as the ones dreamed up here:


MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS: Yes, we all know what Miley had wrought(and Robin Thicke is extra sleazy for his role in this eye searing horror) and while this was the Battlefield Earth of musical numbers, we must try to move on with our lives as best we can:


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A double feature of mad about the movies books

Books and films are often linked in a pop culture fan's mind and when the two creative formats attempt to merge,the results can be as perfect as a Reese's peanut butter cup or as misguided as a plate of spaghetti with maple syrup sprinkled with marshmallows.

This summer, I've read two books that deal with movie love,mainly by those who participate in bringing them to life(or death)on screen. One takes on the Golden Age of Hollywood while the other invokes the darker,gritty edge of the modern era. Both were also written by women and place strong emphasis on their heroines,something that cinema doesn't do as well as it should sometimes.

First up was Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub,which was released in paperback this season. The real name of the title character is Elsa Emerson, a Midwestern girl whose family runs the local repertory theater during the late 1920s. Elsa becomes enchanted with the stage,taking roles for herself and then travels to Hollywood with her new husband Gordon in order to break into show business together.

At first,Gordon does well by having a major studio sign him up and while he says her turn will come,Elsa soon realizes that he would be more than happy to have her be a stay-at-home wife,raising their two daughters. She fears that her shot at stardom will never come but a chance invite to a studio party has powerful movie mogul Irving Green cross her path.

He sees her potential right away and renames her Laura Lamont,along with granting her an audition that starts off her wonderful film career:

Laura winds up leaving Gordon(whose career fades out fast) to marry Irving and for a time, she is a reigning queen of the cinema with an Academy Award as her crown jewel.

However, her heyday is soon over,as age and the death of Irving force Laura to have to face the real world on her own. With the decline of her film work and other life challenges,Laura feels her own divided nature is slowly but surely shifting out from under her,leaving her trapped by her doubts and fears for the future as well being haunted by the past.

While the core of the story is loosely inspired by the life and times of Jennifer Jones, Straub makes her leading lady an original creation. The emotional portrait of Elsa/Laura slowly draws you into her heart and unlike what the character does with other people,allows you to really get close to her and learn to appreciate her vulnerable nature. This isn't a flashy depiction of Hollywood entertainers by any means,more of a quiet revealing look at one woman of that time who eventually finds her back to what she was always searching for in life and art:

Night Film is Marisha Pessl's ambitious second novel,after the high acclaim given to her debut Special Topics in Calamity Physics and much like any shining new success in Hollywood, a lot of expectations are being placed on this one.

The plot of the book centers around the mysterious death of Ashley Cordova,daughter of equally mysterious film director Stanislas Cordova whose artistically gruesome movies have granted him both controversy and reverence amongst fans and critics alike.

Reporter Scott McGrath has doubts that her death was a suicide,as claimed by the authorities, and partly due to the body blow given to his career when he attempted to take a deeper look into Cordova's secretive ways, sets out to discover the truth about her demise.

Along the way, Scott is joined in his quest by a pair of unlikely young people;Nora,a hatcheck girl/aspiring actress who was the last to see Ashley alive and Hopper, a wandering soul whose encounter with Ashley in her younger days haunts him still. The three of them turn some very dark corners to learn more about Ashley's final days and some of what they find suggests that the Cordovas had dealings in black magic that may have cursed their only daughter and lead to her doom.

 Ashley also appeared to have a touch of otherworldly power herself,mesmerizing people with her ethereal looks and gift for music,a career that she had to abandon for unknown reasons:

Scott's determination to know more drives him to the brink of madness and takes Nora and Hopper along for the ride. While all three of them are willing to pay the price for this dark journey,they soon discover just how high that cost may be on their souls.

Much has been made about the mixed media approach taken with this book,as Pessl created web page reproductions and articles relevant to the story line which are added in as need be(she even had film posters made up for Cordova's films like the one for Thumbscrew shown above). For the most part, I think it works,altho a little does go a long way.

While I tend not to comment on other reviews, it's hard to ignore that many of the ones for Night Film find the ending to be very confusing and/or anticlimactic. Personally, I feel that the whole point was to be as open ended as one of Cordova's bizarre films and in that respect, I found the resolution to be satisfying. It's kind of weird to read a book and wait for a big "what the hell?" moment and weirder still not to find one at all.

So,back to the merits of Night Film;is it worth reading,especially in hardcover(I happen to win an ARC of it from the publisher)? My vote is yes,since it is a fascinating read that may make you scratch your head at times but never bores you. It's mix of noir with contemporary meditations on the effect of art on life offers real food for thought,even if it gets a tad over the top at times.

 If you're familiar with the Italian giallo styling of directors like Dario Argento(who sounds a lot like a major inspiration for Stanislas Cordova to me),you may appreciate the off beat atmosphere of this story better than some. I don't know if Night Film will ever become a film adaptation but it won't be without any effort on Pessl's part to make this novel a haunting media mind game:

So, as a double feature,Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures and Night Film may not sound like an ideal pairing yet they do offer an interesting compare and contrast in style as well as substance. Books and movies are a great duet when they work well together,even if it still leads to endless debates after the matinee lets out:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Loading up your book bag with some September/October new reads

With Labor Day weekend not far off in the distance, the time to go over what's going to be hitting the book shelves this fall season is as right as Goldilocks' porridge.

Much like the movies due out in autumn, there will be the usual set of expected bestsellers,surprise hits and controversial titles that will set the pace until the holiday gift giving rush commences.

However,even the usual suspects have something to offer the most jaded of readers and here's hoping that this fresh crop will have plenty to yield at the literary farmer's market:


Let's start off with one of the biggest books ready to leave the gate; Doctor Sleep,the Stephen King sequel to his now classic 1977 scare fest The Shining.

The story brings us to a now adult Danny Torrence,who has become a hospice worker and uses his gifts to comfort the dying as well as recover from the horrors of his past. A young patient named Abra Stone possesses a even higher level of power than Danny does and like him,has attracted the unwanted attentions of a deadly supernatural force.

This book has a lot to live up,given the recent interest in The Shining revived by the documentary Room 237(which focuses on the cult nature of the Stanley Kubrick adaptation), but I think King can pull this one off nicely(Sept):

Another highly anticipated title is Wally Lamb's We Are Water,which touches on many current themes, including marriage equality. Artist Annie Oh has decided to end her nearly thirty year marriage,due to falling in love with Viveca her Manhattan art dealer.

The ladies chose to have their wedding in Annie's Connecticut hometown and while the regular amount of tension ensues between old and new members of the family, a host of hidden secrets threatens to bubble up and make this emotional stew more turbulent tasting. I did read an excerpt of the prologue for this book and it was as in depth as a full fledged novel, so expect a banquet of a read here,folks(Oct).


With this being the bicentennial of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, it appears that we have more P&P themed work ahead of us. Jo Baker takes an interesting turn with the tried and true tale in Longbourn, going downstairs to the servant's quarters to see how the staff serving the Bennet family feels about the need for the five daughters of the house to get married.

Romantic troubles are not just above stairs,however,as young housemaid Sarah finds herself torn between two suitors; James Smith,a rather broody footman and Ptolemy,who works for a certain Mr. Bingley. Will her quest to find true love be as difficult as it for Miss Elizabeth or as disastrous as one set upon by the foolish Miss Lydia? Either way, this behind the scenes viewpoint of Austen's most cherished novel should be quite the conversation starter at many an Austenite tea(Oct):

Earlier Austen is not to be ignored,however,as Joanna Trollope comes out with her modernized version of Sense and Sensibility as part of The Austen Project.

 While the basic premise is the same(Elinor and Marianne Dashwood must adjust to reduced circumstances after the death of their father,plus find their proper path to love),Trollope adds her own set of skills as a social satirist along with the trappings of a 21st century world.

While I haven't read Joanna Trollope before, seeing S&S thru her eyes does sound promising. The next installment in this series will be in 2014(Val McDermid tackles Northanger Abbey) and with any luck,this will be a good start off to this Austen experiment(Oct):


The subtitle of Carla Kaplan's nonfiction study,Miss Anne in Harlem, is
"the white women of the black Renaissance" which covers a number of both well known and unsung ladies who did their best to mainstream the African culture present in the 1920s and 30s.

Amongst their group was the English socialite Nancy Cunard and popular novelist Fanny Hurst but also included in the mix was Texas heiress Josephine Cogdell who kept her interracial marriage to journalist George Schuyler a secret from her family and Annie Nathan Meyer,who later founded Barnard College.

Making strides in both feminism and racial equality, these independently minded women deserved to be recognized for their efforts as well as remembered(Sept).


In this age of 50 Shades of Grey,you might think it would be hard to shock anyone with pop culture depictions of sexuality(then again,Miley Cyrus shot that idea to hell last night on the VMAs), yet there are still some who find Erica Jong's Fear of Flying rather daring even now.

The fortieth anniversary edition of this 1973 novel(with an introduction by Jennifer Weiner) that introduced Isadora Wing to the ranks of thoroughly modern heroines is due out this fall and I intend to read it for Banned Books Week.

Why? Well, I did win a copy from Library Thing and along with the review I plan to do there, I would like to share my first impressions of this controversial book with all of you. Will it stand up to the test of time or be an amusing portrait of a former feminist age? Nothing ventured,nothing gained as they say(Oct):

The untimely passing of writer/director Nora Ephron brought about great interest in exploring her witty and insightful takes on life,love and recipes but alas, a good number of them were out of print.

That situation has been remedied with a collection entitled The Most of Nora Ephron ,which includes screenplays from her films like When Harry Met Sally and her last stage play,The Lucky Guy.

Essays from previous works such as Crazy Salad and Scribble Scrabble are amongst the gems,along with the complete edition of Heartburn,the fictional take on Nora's marriage to Carl Bernstein.

 Whether you've only seen the movies or read her essays a long time ago, most Ephron fans will have this book on their must read lists this season.  I did manage to score an out of print paperback of Heartburn last year(still waiting for the Meryl Streep movie adaptation to be re-released) and can definitely vouch for the delights of that bittersweet ode to infidelity(Oct):


 Ben Dolnick explores the depths of male bonding in his latest novel At The Bottom of Everything, as his 20 something protagonist Adam feels as if he's going thru the motions of a rather dull life.

His tutoring,a recent break-up with a girlfriend and casual affair with the mother of one of his students,nothing seems to inspire Adam to make any serious moves until news of  the disappearance of Thomas,his best childhood buddy,arrives at his door.

Giving into the pleas of Thomas' parents, Adam sets out for India where Thomas was last seen. The search opens up a few old wounds as painful memories of an incident that torn their friendship apart resurface for Adam and help him decide what to do with the rest of his life. This novel sounds like the darker side of Nick Hornby and could be an engaging change of pace to pick up(Sept).

Speaking of Nick Hornby, EW writer Benjamin Svetkey walks down that better known road in Leading Man,where a would be journalist hopes to reconnect with the girl that left him for a major Hollywood player.

Max Lerner dives into the waters of celebrity reporting mainly to keep tabs on Samantha Kotter,his former love who now graces the arm of action film star Johnny Mars. While monitoring the ups and downs of Samantha's troubled marriage, Max hones his skills as an interviewer to the stars but will he ever find real happiness as he still pines for the one who got away?

Svetkey certainly knows his way around the Hollywood media sphere and this book has the potential to become a future fun night at the movies for the rom-com fan who likes to check out the male point of view every now and then(Sept):

More great books will be coming your way this season and even if you're not involved in the back to school rush, taking the time to embrace the joys of literature is always worth while. Light fare may be set aside for next summer but that doesn't mean you have to be bogged down with overly serious stuff or even Shakespeare(unless you want to,of course). Reading and learning needs to keep the fun in fundamental there:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bad Movie Month does it's best to Bless The Child

Next up in this year's Bad Movie Month line-up of The Devil Made Me Do It selections is the Kim Basinger star vehicle,Bless The Child. She plays Maggie,a nurse in NYC whose troubled drug addicted sister Jenna happens to stop by around Christmas time to dump her infant daughter on her,sort of a last minute gift for the holidays there.

Maggie,having her marriage break up due to a miscarriage(which you hear about right away in the reunion scene with her sister,yes this flick is not subtle with the character build-up,folks!) is happy to raise her abandoned niece Cody on her own.

 Most of the plot development and characterization in this movie has all the charm and nuance of a third rate Lifetime/Hallmark channel film,such as  with the montage of passing time that shows the girl needs special care and that poor Maggie can't get a man to stay interested in her due to Cody's occasional acting out(good riddance,in my opinion).  Maggie is also a religious skeptic,something that will crop up during the course of this film that will be challenged,of course.

Six years later,Maggie hears word of her sister from a junkie goth girl(Christina Ricci,who must have really needed the work or lost a bet to be in this thing) who warns her that Cody will soon be the target of a cult that Jenna is now a part of:

Sure,Sis Jenna waltzes back into Maggie's life with her new husband,Eric(Rufus Sewell) a former child star who runs a "self awareness" group called New Dawn,which sounds a lot like what would have happened if Kirk Cameron had become a Scientologist(yes,I said it!).

Turns out New Dawn is a front for a Satanic cult,looking for a child born on the very same day as Cody was who is destined to bring people to God via her special powers. Much like the Terminator, the cult members have no problem with wiping out the kids who don't measure up. There is this one scene where a little boy is lured into a van that makes you wish that Eliot Stabler from Law & Order:SVU would turn the corner and deliver a serious beat down on the creepy guy offering the puppy.

 Anyhow,Eric and Jenna insist on taking Cody,claiming that Maggie has no legal rights to her(something I find hard to believe,given the child care laws in New York) and she seeks help from the police but gets none(a little too believable there).

 As it just so happens, an FBI agent with a background as a priest-in-training(Jimmy Smits,who also lost a bet,I'm sure) offers Maggie some help while he's investigating the cult murders of the little kids. Maggie attempts a self help approach but Eric's creepy band of followers(which include roaming goth kids and a knitting needle wielding nanny),plus his magic Satan powers prove to be more than a match for her:

Meanwhile,Eric spends his time trying to turn Cody to the dark side and his methods of persuasion leave me in serious doubt of his leadership skills.

 Think about it;if you were going to tempt a magical kid into doing your bidding,where would you take her-a)a toy store, b)an ice cream parlor or c) either a rooftop to fall off of or an alleyway to watch a homeless man be burned alive?  If you guessed c, then you are on the same demented brain wave as our fearless leader Eric.

Granted,the most she shows in otherworldly ability is spinning plates with her mind and healing a dead bird but still a shopping spree at F.A.O. Scwhartz would be a better inducement into the devil's army for a kid(not that I approve of or endorse that notion,just saying!).

Eventually,Maggie finds some religious allies who help her track down Cody(at a devil worshiping dentist office-guess Satan likes it when you brush and floss) and goes on the lam with her. During this chase,an angelic being offers some help but nothing in the way of really doing any damage to the evil pursuers. A couple of times,these angel types turn up and you'd think that their heavenly orders would be more than "revive that dead plant in his office to renew his faith!' and "Hold the subway door open with your trusty umbrella!":

More crazy chases and cheddar cheese level f/x(hoards of "Mickey Mouse" rats pop up for no real reason) lead to a tortured showdown with the forces of evil and if you find scenes of child endangerment upsetting, avoid this one at all costs.

Hell,even if that doesn't bother you, the Omen lite story telling and wooden forced performances should be enough to scare you off or at least earn you some brownie points in Purgatory for sitting through this flimsy excuse of a fear film.

Honestly,folks,the main reason I saw Bless the Child when it first came out was due to the poster. That fiery cross with the little girl image is pretty cool but sadly, that is the only element this movie got right. I wasn't even inspired to read the Cathy Cash Spellman novel this movie is based upon,which is just as well-torment can only go on for so long.

Next week is our last insidious installment of Bad Movie Month,where we take a gander at the belabored remake of Bedazzled. This comedy claims to give a "hundred and ten percent" but only the latter is correct when it comes to laughs:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Top Chef Masters take on Restaurant Wars,True Blood's far-out finale and a fourth hand needed Under The Dome

There was no bothering with a Quickfire Challenge this week on Top Chef Masters, as the Elimination round was all about Restaurant Wars!

The chefs whose sous did well in the Battle of the Sous Chefs made up the Red  team(Neal,Lynn,Bryan and Jennifer) and as a reward,got two hours of prep time with their secondary chefs.

 The rest(Sang,David,Douglas and Sue) formed the Blue Team and all were informed by special guest,actress Busy Phillips,that the theme of each restaurant should be L.A.cuisine.

The Blue Team's restaurant was called 72 & Sunny(a pretty friendly name there) and David Burke ran the front of the house,giving off a very pleasant easy going vibe to the whole process.

David also made a dessert and everyone adored his tangerine spiced honey panna cotta topped with a strawberry champagne gelee. I think the gelee could've been applied a bit more gracefully(just looks like lines of clay or paint,in my opinion!) but no doubt the taste was spot on.

Sue also won praise for her twist on the s'more. Her chocolate malt semi freddo with graham cracker and marshmallow was perceived as a childhood treat taken to the next level.

72 & Sunny were declared the winner but one chef's dish was singled out for the big win,plus a donation of ten grand to their particular charity.

 Sang's take on beef and broccoli(served with a black bean ghee that charmed guest judge Ruth Reichl) earned him the win here,but if the judges had seen some of his back of the house manner,it would've killed their appetites.

 He wasn't an out and out bully but it's clear that he does have some control issues. Sang kept fussing at the wait staff and bugging David Burke so much that he nearly lost his cool. Sang is a great chef but I wouldn't want to work for him.

The Red Team's restaurant was named Artisan yet most of the food wasn't inspiring to say the least. Jennifer ran the front of the house in a rather rushed manner and one of her dishes,a cauliflower tahini soup, seemed more like a sauce for a main course than an appetizer.

The judges weren't thrilled with her citrus salad either,saying it was pretty basic and not a quintessential LA dish. I thought she was in real danger of being sent home here.

Neal had immunity,however everyone was less than impressed with his New York steak with fingerling potatoes. His dessert,an olive oil cake,was alright yet if he didn't have immunity.....

The only plate that everybody enjoyed was Bryan's revamp of a cobb salad. He used salmon instead,plus dehydrated bacon and horseradish show(a foam,I believe). While I've never had a cobb salad,this did appear to be a nifty update on it.

The chef who had to pack her knives and go was Lynn,due to her chocolate brownie sundae being overly sweet. Personally, I don't think a brownie can ever be too sweet but that's just me.

I do agree with judge Gail Simmons that it did look more like a brownie ala mode. Also, the roasted banana ice cream had a burnt taste and was more like a yogurt in texture. Sorry,Lynn,better luck next time!

One sad note;Douglas Keane's sous chef will no longer be competing in the Battle of the Sous portion of the show,due to a personal matter. I hope that his situation is not too serious and let's send some good thoughts out to him and his family there.

The sixth season finale of True Blood wrapped up a few loose ends,as Sookie was saved from being Warlow's fairy vampire bride by Bill and company. That didn't stop the determined son of a bitch for long and fortunately,Warlow was staked good and proper,thanks to Jason(along with a special appearance by fairy grandpa Niall).

However,that staking deactivated the sunlight protection in his blood which caused Eric to get one hell of a sunburn out in the snowy wilds of Sweden. Don't despair,Eric fans;my best guess is that Pam found him in time and is nursing him back to his former bad ass self as we speak.

Then,a six month time jump occurred,which showed us a world where Sookie and Alcide are now a couple,Sam is the mayor and Arlene now owns Merlotte's(renamed Bellefleur,of course). Sam and the local clergy announced a new policy to protect the locals from the roaming hordes of vamps seeking Hep V free blood-form a mutual bond with a neighboring vampire. How well that's all going to turn out should be interesting to see next year and I for one am looking forward to that:

Big Jim and Barbie discovered they had a mutual friend Under The Dome with them;Maxine, the sly lady hustler behind the drug making ring that Big Jim is a part(and which all that propane was being hoarded for! Whew,so glad to finally let that cat out of the bag!).

Maxine also knows what really happened to Julia's husband and is not shy about blackmailing Barbie into going along with her schemes to manipulate the town for her own criminal purposes. Granted, her showing up like this is very convenient but a new fly in the isolated ointment could stir things up nicely:

Meanwhile,the young folk of Chester's Mill are forming an unholy alliance of their own as Joe,Norrie and now Angie are agreed to keep the mini Dome's new location a secret.

They have also realized that their connection to the mini Dome requires a fourth member and I sincerely hope that Junior is not meant to be part of this mix, weird prophecy painting or not. Angie,wake up a little there and look out for your baby brother,seriously!:


CUTTHROAT KITCHEN: I've seen the first two episodes of this new Food Network competition series and so far,it really does live up to it's name. Don't know if it'll be as popular as Chopped but CTK is worth while watching,that's for sure: