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Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season One, Ep. 7

As Season One nears the finish line, Belle/Hannah (Billie Piper) takes a big step with Ben (Iddo Goldberg) – or perhaps it’s the other way around. In any case, their relationship isn’t going to be the same after this week. It begins quickly and with almost no setup. The two friends walk down the street with Ben begging to join Belle in a foursome. She of course says no. Her clients are a married couple and she’s short one man. Ben insists he’s the man for the job, but Hannah just doesn’t see it. She claims he doesn’t know how to have sex “professionally.” After she scours various websites and is unable to come up with a suitable partner, she decides to give Ben a chance – despite the fact he’s getting married soon. After all, he claims he’s “always been good at separating emotion from sex.”

After Belle gives Ben a few pointers – as well as a little blue pill – the couple arrive. Kate (Heather Bleasdale) and Liam (Jonathan Phillips) have been married for fifteen years and they’ve been together twenty. The plan is for a straight swap…and maybe a little lesbian action as well. (Forgive the urban slang…at least I didn’t say lesbo or lezzie.) Good, clean fun to spice up their sex life and celebrate their union. But almost as soon as the foursome climb into bed, the couple is only interested in each other, much to Ben’s disappointment and our amazement; the shot of Liam casually pushing Belle aside to go jump on his wife is a great one, because Piper has never looked hotter in the series than she does in this scene. There’s a great montage sequence of the couple going at it while Hannah/Belle and Ben stare in amazement. The couple looks over and asks if their hosts are having fun. Sure! This leads to some minor kissing between our leads, and then Ben looks deeply into Hannah/Belle. In the ultimate scene showing the duality of her character, he calls her Hannah, and she tersely corrects him. “It’s Belle.” She becomes uncomfortable and pulls away, but it’s unclear why. There could be half a dozen reasons at this point.

The episode ends almost as casually as it began, with Hannah and Ben bidding adieu to the couple and then to each other. After everyone leaves, Hannah admits to the camera, “For me the hardest numbers have always been one plus one. I can never seem to make them add up.” It almost seems as if nothing has changed between the two, but the beauty of this episode was the mixture of the said and unsaid. As the final shot fades, you can clearly see that Hannah’s in deep thought, and that her friendship with Ben has changed, and hopefully for the better. For the first time in the series, Ben is not relegated to a couple brief scenes – he’s in every scene, save for the few brief shots of Belle trying to find a “fourth” at the beginning. Piper has been great since the word go, but due to his limited screentime, it’s been tough to get a grasp on Iddo Goldberg’s talents in this series. This material showed exactly why he was cast in this pivotal role, and he and Piper have amazing chemistry. The bulk of the story is interplay between the two. Some is fun, and some serious – but all of it’s great. It makes me really want to see a Season Two that delves much deeper into their complex relationship, instead of it just being the sordid-yet-palatable adventures of Belle. Far and away, this is the best episode of the season and it’s material that takes the show into a whole different arena. Next week, however, is the season finale. Can it possibly top this?

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Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

Whatever self-awareness the “Starship Troopers” franchise may have had about its neo-fascist nature is long gone in this latest installment, which is a shame because it certainly started off promisingly enough. Casper Van Dien is back as Col. Johnny Rico, who goes from villain to hero in time to save old friend Lola Beck (Jolene Blalock) from attack on a hostile bug planet. The artwork promotes the new weapons the Federation has to play with, but they don’t come into play until the final 15 minutes…and look just like Obadiah Stain’s suit from “Iron Man.” Not only that, the soldiers operating them have to be naked for them to work. Yep, that’s the plot piece they wrote into the story in order to get the girls’ tops off. (Strange, then, that Van Dien later steps out of his Marauder suit fully clothed.) They have some fun with the character of Sky Marshall Anoke – not only is he Sky Marshall, but he’s a million-selling pop star with songs like the recruitment anthem “A Good Day to Die” – and the Federation Updates are always amusing, but it seems completely lost on all concerned that they are asking the viewer to root for a “1984”-style government that sentences protestors to death and views religious faith as an act of rebellion in a godless society. Who funded this, Pat Robertson?

Click to buy “Starship Troopers 3: Marauder”

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The Next Food Network Star Is…..

It began eight weeks ago and just like that, reached its finale. “The Next Food Network Star” was like a whirlwind because, well, it was. And instead of torturing us with a two-hour finale like many other reality shows do, last night’s one-hour show was just enough. And they also kept us on the edge of our seats the entire time, because none of us really could guess accurately who was going to win.

After a lot of recapping the season, it was down to business, and the final challenge, which was to create their own pilot in Rachel Ray’s studio. Each contestant had to brainstorm what they wanted their actual show to be, and were able to work with producer Gordon Elliot, who appears to be able to extract the best out of everyone he works with.

Lisa began, and her theme was beautiful basics. As she did at the start of the season Read the rest of this entry »

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Comic-Con 2008: Day Three – Sony

As the final major movie panel of the weekend, Sony really disappointed, which was a bit of a letdown, since it would have been nice to end Comic-Con with a bang. Instead, the studio limped its way through a presentation of the “Cloverfield”-inspired horror film, “Quarantine,” by just showing the trailer, while panels for “Underworld 3” and “Pineapple Express” seemed to come and go without anyone really taking notice.

“Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans” (guests: director Patrick Tatopoulos and stars Rhona Mitra and Bill Nighy)

The idea of making the “Underworld” series into a trilogy has been around since before the first film was even released, but after the disastrous sequel that was “Underworld: Evolution,” it’s hard to believe that they’re actually going through with another movie. To be fair, director Patrick Tatopoulos is mixing it up a bit by telling the tale from the werewolves point of view (not to mention setting the story in ancient times), but this prequel sounds about as interesting as another “Scooby Doo” movie. The fact that Bill Nighy is returning is encouraging, and he definitely sounded excited about coming back for another round. During the film’s panel, he proudly proclaimed “I’m a vampire, I’m a zombie, and I’m a squid” in reference to his roles in “Shaun of the Dead” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Underworld” films. Rhona Mitra, on the other hand, was just a little too snooty for my liking (can’t movie stars do a better job of pretending that they enjoy promoting their films?), but she did promise that while her character won’t be wearing the popular PVC leather from the first two films, her outfit is still very “saucy.”

“Pineapple Express” (guests: director David Gordon Green, co-writer Evan Goldberg and stars Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride and Amber Heard)

After two lackluster lead-ins, I really hoped that the guys behind “Pineapple Express” would be able to lighten the mood, but the panel was quickly ruined by a series of awful questions from the crowd that led to Seth Rogen ripping on most of them – namely Bob Stencil, a Comic-Con favorite who Rogen called out for acting like a dumbass. A few minor details were also spilled along the way (like how everyone did their own stunts because of the film’s restrictive budget, or that the two stars weren’t really smoking weed during production), but there wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking. Apatow did disclose that he has no plans for a new TV series in the immediate future (mostly out of fear of being cancelled again), but anyone that’s been paying attention to his career over the last few years could have told you that.

The one shining moment during the Q&A session was the random appearance of Human Giant. Paul Scheer asked who would win in a fight between Frank Miller’s Elektra and James Franco; Rob Huebel inquired whether the film was based on a Frank Miller graphic novel; and Aziz Ansari tried to give Judd Apatow the script he co-wrote with McG called “Superbad 2: Full Throttle.” It was a nice distraction for the crowd, but it didn’t really help with promoting “Pineapple Express.” Not that it mattered, because even though the four clips that were shown were all funny, this isn’t the kind of movie that people need convincing to see. Either you want to see it or you don’t, and you probably already made up your mind shortly after seeing the first trailer.

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Comic-Con 2008: Day Three – Universal

If there’s one panel that totally took me by surprise this weekend, it was Universal. Most of the films represented probably didn’t deserve to be featured at a place like Comic-Con, but the studio had the fans eating right out of their hand thanks to their decision to bring just about every major cast member from all four of their films. They also debuted some great footage from two of the summer’s biggest remaining movies, as well as reconfirmed that Sam Raimi is still a master of horror.

“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” (guests: stars Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah and Luke Ford)

The movie may be opening in less than week, but that didn’t stop the cast of “The Mummy 3” from including San Diego in their international publicity tour. After showing an extended clip from the film involving a pack of Yetis that are called upon to help the O’Connell family escape from their latest misadventure, the cast spoke a little about the challenges of making a third installment after so much time had passed after “The Mummy Returns.” Brendan Fraser insisted that he was just sitting around waiting for the call for years, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t think Universal ever really thought about moving the franchise to a different part of the world until director Rob Cohen was brought on to the project. Michelle Yeoh agreed that Cohen is very much Chinese in the inside, and that one of the reasons the film was being made was because it featured “the fight that all of Asia had been waiting for,” referring, of course, to her onscreen duel with longtime pal Jet Li.

I’m not exactly sure I agree with that comment (wasn’t the battle between Li and Jackie Chan in “The Forbidden Kingdom” far more anticipated?), but Li didn’t say otherwise. In fact, the martial arts star was mostly tightlipped throughout the course of the panel, but he did lighten up later one, especially after an audience member asked Fraser who was more intimidating: Jet Li or The Rock? Fraser danced around the question, insisting that Li was such a professional that he could perform a roundhouse kick that only touched your shirt, but he eventually admitted that he didn’t know, since he never actually met The Rock on the set of “The Mummy Returns.” He went on to criticize just how unintimidating the Scorpion King actually looked in the film, stating that it was “no better than an avatar” and earning the collective applause of the audience for saying so.

Read the rest after the jump.


Read the rest after the jump...

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