Notes after the jump on "Survivor," the return of "CSI," "Leatherheads" the latest from the Black Keys.
After last night's ouster, Ami (above) has to be considered one of their more fascinatingly flawed characters in the history of "Survivor." She understands tactics very well, as was evident with the women's alliance in her original run on the show. But she doesn't know how to close the deal; the women's alliance turned on her, and a man ended up winning the top prize. On last night's show, she was thoroughly outmaneuvered -- and by a fan, no less -- as her tactical sense became a liability because it also meant she was untrustworthy. Of course, almost no one on "Survivor" is ever trustworthy, but she let herself be boxed in. Nor does it help that she's in a tribe that is, at bottom, quite bad; they really do need to win some challenges.
As for the show overall, it was a little too talky -- one challenge and a lot of maneuvering. But I am still looking forward to the payoff in this season's fake-idol story.
Nice to see "CSI" back, and could we give Bonnie Bedelia's prosecutor character her own series? (I know, she's doing the "Sordid Lives" series for Logo. But she was such a force from the moment she arrived on "CSI," I couldn't help but think there was some backdoor-pilot maneuvering going.) Decent mystery, fun with the spreading illness, gorgeous look ("CSI" is one of my favorite HD shows) and they've not forgotten that Grissom is still hurting from Sara's departure.
I'm nothing but a fan when it comes to the Black Keys, but I also recognize the sense of creeping sameness that has accompanied some of their recent work. No such concerns with "Attack and Release," the newest, which suggests not a dead end for the guys but a wide open road ahead. The production from Danger Mouse takes them away from a stripped-down, hard, bluesy sound and into psychedelia and weird beauty. (Listening to the opening cut, I thought, "Hey, that's ... melodic!") While I still like the older sound, with the menacing currents of late-night barroom knife fights, I keep going back to "Attack and Release" for the little flourishes and the big songs.
You can find my review of "Leatherheads" here. The Beacon Journal system also involves assigning star ratings to movies, and I have yet to quite get the hang of that. This one was 2 1/2 stars (out of a possible four), as were "Drillbit Taylor" and "Honeydripper," three very different movies. In each case I found something to admire in the movie but also saw significant flaws. In retrospect, I wonder if I was too kind in some cases -- or if it's just that I love movies too much. But that love is not unquestioning, and it's been some time since I saw a movie onscreen that I was really enthused about.