Helen Mirren

Faux Reality Shows Obvious Television Evolution

I watched an episode of the new series, Documentary Now. It is a wry look at various styles of documentaries. Helen Mirren briefly introduces each episode to add a touch of class to the proceedings. In the episode I watched on ifc.com Jack Black also starred as the leader of the Dronez rogue news reporters stupidly risking their lives for the news. Fred Armisen and Bill Hader play several different characters and it is all made funnier by the fact that they change their costumes and make-up, but they always talk in their same distinctive voices. 

In the same genre, I binge-watched season one of Family Tree with Chris O'Dowd on Amazon Prime. It is a faux reality show focused on a young irish lad who just lost his job and his girlfriend (not an obvious choice for a reality show). He inherits a trunk full of family-related junk from his great aunt and each episode follows him as he discovers more crazy relatives. The director is Christopher Guest who has made some very funny feature films that are also faux documentaries. My personal favorite is Best in Show.  Guest has a talented group of actors that he casts frequently. They are brilliant. And Guest is not afraid to take a situation and take it to an incredibly absurd place. I love this show. 

I do not watch reality television, but you cannot live in our society without absorbing something of the genre. I really enjoy this kind of satire even without much knowledge of reality tv. These shows are very quirky and I am just glad that cable television is making it possible for these shows to be made. 

Woman in Gold Lingers in my Imagination

Painting by Gustav Klimt

Yesterday I went to the movies in the late afternoon (I love being a consultant!) to see Woman in Gold. Helen Mirren stars as Mrs. Maria Altman with Ryan Reynolds in this true story of a woman forced to flee her homeland after the Nazi's were welcomed with open arms by the Austrians. Her family's belongings were stolen including the wonderful painting by Gustav Klimt popularly known as the Woman in Gold.

The performances were spot on. The actors were familiar mainly from BBC dramas. The director did a good job of giving us flashbacks that illuminated the depth of family love and their place in Vienna's society without going on too long and becoming a documentary. I especially like how we saw the same episode from Maria's point of view but each time telling another aspect of the story--just the way memory works when we return to them. Ryan Reynolds did a great job of playing a very smart but awkward young man who discovers his big heart and passion as he evolves in his role as Maria's lawyer.

This movie was so much more emotionally resonant than the trailer suggests it will be. I dreamed about the story last night and continue to return to the story in my mind today. I recommend this very good film.