Chelsea: Sarah Silverman, Gloria Steinem and the ‘C’ Word

Chelsea Handler

Thursdays episode of Chelsea was all about strong women, both literally and figuratively.  Guests were Sarah Silverman, Gloria Steinem, Cecile Richards and Michelle Carter.  Chelsea opened with a monologue that covered older people having sex.

Silverman talked about almost dying. She managed to make the whole thing sound amusing, with a little help from Chelsea.  Silverman finished up by staying she needed ice for her “p***y” after she and Chelsea had “clam bumped” backstage.

The conversation moved on to the DNC and Silverman’s speech.  The comic explained that she had a five minute speech was was told to cut it down.  After hacking the speech to two minutes she was told to stretch the speech out.

It was then that Silverman told off Bernie supporters at the convention. Silverman, as a comic, can be a bit close to the bone and overly risque. However away from the comedy, the performer is clear about what issues she supports.

Chelsea mentioned Gloria Steinem and the show moved to a prerecorded segment where she met with the ROMEO club (Retired Old Men Eating Out). She wanted to know what these older men thought of both Sarah Silverman and Steinem.

The verdict was that both women were, for the most part, well thought of.

Steinem came out and talked about violence towards women, across the world. She has two documentaries out this year. The feminist is still outspoken and is still needed in terms of highlighting women’s rights.

The three women talked politics and what was important in a candidate. Talk turned to aging and whether Gloria regretted  not having children. Speaking of age, Steinem has not really mellowed at the age of 82 at all.

The subject of abortion came up.  Steinem, and Sarah Silverman are for women having the choice over their own bodies. Chelsea read a bit from Gloria’s book that tells of a London doctor who performed an abortion for a young woman before they were legal in that country.

The short excerpt moved Silverman to tears.

Steinem may not be to everyone’s taste but the 82 year old activist still looks stunning and continues to fight the good fight.  She still has that  razor sharp wit and straight forward aggression towards those who do not understand her position on women’s issues.

As a followup to the topic of abortion, Chelsea (in a pre-recorded field segment) spoke to the head of the Planned Parenthood organization Cecile Richards.

Richards talked about the organization and how many young women relied upon Planned Parenthood for sexual health issues as well as birth control.

Next up was gold medalist Michelle Carter, aka “Shot Diva.” The Olympic medal winner was  a crowd pleaser and proved that big is beautiful in more ways than one. The 30 year old athlete spoke of celebrating after her win and being a certified cosmetologist.

The show ended with Chelsea, and Sarah Silverman, talking about the “Word of the Day,” the ‘C’ word, aka c**t. Handler pointed out, quite rightly, that in Britain the word is not nearly so offensive as in this country.

Silverman, who is dating Welsh actor Michael Sheen, (the guest from yesterday’s Chelsea) confirmed this. She also explained the difference between being English versus being British.

It was a fun finish to the show and the two comics then went on to “clam bump” again.

Chelsea airs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on Netflix.



Gravy (2015): Quirky and Gory Cannibal Comedy Horror (Review)

Scene from Gravy

Co-written and directed by James Roday (Todd Harthan was the other writer on the project) Gravy is an quirky cannibal horror film with lashings of gore and enough comedy to make the viewer feel guilty for laughing. 

It is halloween and Anson meets the girl of his dreams in an Altadena convenience store.  Anson has to leave however although he takes time to emotionally bond with Bethany. 

The staff at Raoul’s restaurant are trying to close for the night but there are three customers who cannot take a hint.  Kerry is leaving and Chuy and the rest of her colleagues throw her a little party.

Unfortunately the little group are about to be taken prisoner by a trio of cannibalistic killers. Stef, the leader, is clearly the Hannibal Lector connoisseur. Mimi is a homicidal maniac  and Anson is cheerfully insane. All three like the taste of human flesh.

The night turns into one long torturous event.  People being turned into cannibal cuisine and the few survivors fighting to stay alive. This is all set against a backdrop of comedic one liners, quips and a soundtrack that sets up the visceral absurdity of the action.

While there is a lot of blood spilled and body parts carved up into culinary “treats” for the mad trio of killers, the comedy keeps the whole thing from becoming too much.

From Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang singing Farm Animal Friends  as the killing starts to Mimi calling Bert a “fraggle” and a “wanker” as she tries to kill him, Gravy is funny.

This ensemble film features brilliant performances from all.  The writing is topnotch from Roday and Harthan. (At the start of the film Cricket foretells her own death and it is a nice touch.)

English model and actress Lily Cole is brilliant as the psychotic girlfriend of Stef who pretends to be British. Simpson is oddly apt as the weird leader of this small gang and Weston is a delightful as Stef’s  slightly goofy brother.

Sutton Foster is brilliant as the scheming Kerry and Bluteau is spot on as the French chef with a deadly secret. In all fairness, the ensemble cast all deliver sound comic performances and help to make this “off the wall” comedy horror work brilliantly.

Everything comes together to guarantee laughter throughout the film.  Songs, that include Alice Cooper’s Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever, Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine and many other rock songs are used to  amplify the action and comedy perfectly.

Some scenes bypass everything to become something more than perfection. The slow-motion approach of Anson, all over-exaggerated leaps to La Bamba is guaranteed to reduce the viewer to hysterical laughter.

The music itself is not perfection however. The sound levels are intrusive and overpower the dialogue, when there is any.  In-between the lines uttered by the film’s players, the soundtrack reaches a massive crescendo of volume that has the viewer hastily reaching for the remote.

Gravy will not be to everyone’s taste. It is horror comedy that is grotesquely absurd but it works on so many levels.

There are moments that really tickle the funny bone. Cricket’s reaction to Kerry’s apparent defection is one of these standout bits. Another is Cricket’s answer to Hector’s request for a date. And of course there is the cocaine scene.

Sutton Foster and Michael Weston kill it in this film and Sarah Silverman proves that she can take a cameo that lasts seconds and turn it into one of the highpoints of the film.

Gravy is a 5 star film, for those who get it, and considerably less to those who do not. In other words the viewer will either love it or hate it. There will be no in between.

James Roday’s initially effort helming a feature length film is a good one. It is streaming on Hulu at the moment. Go check it out and see what you think of this one.


I Smile Back: Sarah Silverman Nails It

Adapted from Amy Koppleman’s book of the same name, by Paige Dylan and Koppleman, directed by Adam Salky and starring Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back looks at a suburban familial nightmare of mental illness and addiction.

Sarah Silverman as Laney Brooks

Adapted from Amy Koppleman’s book of the same name, by Paige Dylan and Koppleman, directed by Adam Salky and starring Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back looks at a suburban familial nightmare of mental illness and addiction. Where one partner suffers from bipolar disorder and opts to self medicate with cocaine, vodka and sex with a variety of partners and objects.  The main character, Laney Brooks, is a woman with issues. 

Brooks has deep set and disturbing mental abscesses that she fills with an affair, an over abundance of self medication and delusional ramblings. Silverman sells her version of an emotionally immature and mentally ill wife and mother of two.  Not having read the source material; Amy Koppleman won raves of approval from literary critics for her book, it is difficult to discern just where Laney’s problems begin.

It is mentioned that her father, played with a mixture of world weariness and a wounded soul by Chris Sarandon,  deserted Laney and her mother when she was a small girl. However, it is also brought up, firstly by Laney herself indirectly at a school meeting and later by her father Roger, that her grandmother had  issues as well.

I Smile Back seems to be saying that the old mot of money not buying happiness can also apply to its inability to fix mental illness.  Laney Brooks is in a relationship where her “provider” and enabler earns very good money. This allows Laney to snort cocaine and drink hidden vodka, while ignoring her prescribed medication.

Silverman’s character also has extra-marital sex, on a regular basis,  and seems to be attempting to replicate what she believes to be her father’s past behavior. Things come to a head when she overdoes her drinking and coke snorting after a family meal. After making an abusive call to another parent, she then masturbates with her daughter’s teddy bear on the floor by the bed while the child sleeps.

She goes through a meltdown and her husband sends her to detox at rehab.  Part of Laney’s problems stem from the bipolar but the rest appear to be from her lack of focus and refusal to accept culpability for her actions.

Laney “plays” at being mommy while ignoring the realities of parenthood. Later in the film, Eli (played brilliantly by Skylar Gaertner) begins exhibiting compulsive disorder symptoms at home and school.  During  a parent teacher meeting to discuss a plan of action, Laney blames the problem on her genes.

This is a moving drama filmed with emphasis on the uncomfortable “realities” of living with a loved one who suffers from mental health issues and is addicted to their own self medication.  Silverman gives this role her all and does not hesitate to show the pathos under the calm exterior of her character.

There are a few sex scenes that rely less on “in your face” techniques and more on making the act feel real. One scene features sex that turns into an assault as Laney’s world spirals out of control.

I Smile Back is evocative of  a “reality” documentary. Interactions are filmed with minimal music, focussing instead on the dialogue and the set’s ambiance.  This gives the film a “fly-on-the-wall” feel that is not too overpowering as music is used to an extent to underscore certain scenes.

Overall, this drama has equal amounts of sadness and loss. One gets the feeling that despite the love that Bruce (Josh Charles) and Laney have for one another, their relationship is doomed.  Her issues run too deep and Laney continues to deny her true feelings while refusing to take her medication. 

The ending is ambiguous; a nod to  real life where solutions are not nearly so cut and dried and innocents often suffer from their loved ones problems. Director Salky has given Silverman a chance to show that her unique brand of comedy is not the only thing that this performer has to offer.

Apart from the money not equating to happiness dictum, the film’s other message is that mental illness, or issues like bipolar or depression, is not affected by social status, success or parenthood. The root of Laney’s problem, apart from her manic depressive issue,  lies in her inability to “grow up,” she plays at being an adult with severe lapses into the emotional state of a fractured child. Nothing can “take her out of herself” long enough to fix her problems.

I Smile Back is a splendid vehicle for Silverman. It is a bit “heavy” but manages to give a human touch to all the issues faced by the Laney and her  family.  Not a film to watch if easily depressed but it is a film that should prompt discussion and not a little deep thinking. This is a 4.5 out of 5 star film and Silverman nails it as the woman who is driven to extremes by her inner demons.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Divorce: Who Will Get Jimmy Kimmel?

Still from Handsome Men's Club video
With many media websites calling the Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner marriage a “fairytale” it is a bit shocking that the big news today is that the couple are to divorce. The only question remaining, is who will get Jimmy Kimmel? Garner and Affleck have been married for 10 years, they celebrated their anniversary on Monday, and on Tuesday released a statement that “after much consideration” they are ending one of the most talked about marriages in recent history.

The two met on the set of the 2003 film Daredevil, where they worked together and then married in June 2005. The Gone Girl star has had three children with the Men, Women & Children star; two girls and a boy, Violet, Seraphina and Samuel, and it could be said that they share another “dependent,” 47 year-old Jimmy Kimmel.

Although to be fair Kimmel probably belongs more to Affleck than Jennifer despite her playing along with the gag in the Handsome Men’s Club skit for Jimmy’s ABC show:

After the Handsome Men’s Club, Affleck and Jimmy got together to film a response to old pal Sarah Silverman’s gag video with Matt Damon, Ben’s BFF and brunt of Kimmel’s long running “out of time” schtick. The musical number “I’m F***ing Ben Affleck” response to “I’m F***ing Matt Damon” (with it’s star studded chorus and curious lack of Jennifer Garner) may hold a hint as to why the couple’s 10 year marriage has ended:

The video may also present some clue as to who will get Jimmy. It is pretty clear that the two men are very simpatico and more likely to “hook up” now that Jennifer is out of the picture. The first video though shows that Garner has a sense of humor, unfortunately however, her acumen at picking funny roles is fatally off, witness the Disney flop Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

On the more serious side of the very sad news that Garner and Ben will no longer be a couple, the two have asked for a little distance from the press in regards to their children’s privacy during their mutual decision to divorce.

Last year the Argo star and director reacted angrily to rumors that all was not well in his marriage and it can be understood that this was more for the children than for either Ben or Jennifer. The two are grownup people who entertain for a living and both have a delicious sense of humor, Jennifer surprisingly so, which most likely went a long way to keeping their union solid for the decade long marriage.

One thing is for certain, if things get ugly between Garner and Affleck in the coming months, her lawyer may be singing, “I’m f***ing Ben Affleck.” Jennifer can provide the choral backup. On the flip side, this could be a Kimmel prank…Couldn’t it?

A Million Ways to Die in the West DVD (Review)

A Million Ways to Die in the West DVD (Review)

It has been well over a month since A Million Ways to Die in the West has been released on DVD and perhaps the home entertainment reaction to the film will be a bit better than the welcome that Seth MacFarlane’s version of what could be described as the modern Paleface got on its initial release. The creative genius behind television’s Family Guy and American Dad as well as the big screen Mark Wahlberg comedy Ted, was not overly praised by film critics with his “scatter shot” film, as stated by Rotten Tomatoes, but box office receipts prove that the film was not that bad, making over twice its production costs.

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