Sunday, May 15, 2022

HOTCHKA Movie Review: Happening

© IFC Films

Happening is a harrowing, difficult movie that is accidentally more relevant than normal.
by Jeremy Fogelman

Cast: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet Klein, Luàna Bajrami, Louise Orry-Diquéro, Louise Chevillotte, Drama
Rating: ★★

It’s tricky to consider and review movies that are overtly political, even if they are more subtle about it or about what they really think. Sometimes you can get cringe “comedies” or so-called satirical pieces that are so tone deaf they actually might make things worse. Other (or most) times the movie is really a “preaching to the choir” piece that isn’t awful, just perhaps not as convincing as the filmmakers might hope.

The movie Happening comes from French director Audrey Diwan and co-written with Marcia Romano, based on the semi-autobiographical book from 2000 of the same name by Annie Ernaux. We follow Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei), a young student who’s the star of her classes and poised to have a great academic career. She has close female friends and seems in a good place with her parents, but the year is 1963 and things are complicated.

Anne discovers she is pregnant in a sort of surprising moment, as the movie hides any scene of a hookup from us, perhaps to show the same sort of surprise Anne feels. When she discovers she is pregnant, she begs the doctor to do something about it, but he tells her instead that they could both go to jail for it and she should simply accept it.

The man who impregnated her is mentioned but never seen, a non-entity in the movie and a clear sort of point the movie is making. Those opposed to the political angle of the movie might say this intentionally obfuscates Anne’s situation, since we know nothing really about him, while those aligned with the movie’s politics would most likely see the man’s absence as a necessary narrative choice, as the choice is not one he has to make.

© IFC Films

As a character herself, Anne is a bit of an enigma, someone who sees her mother’s lack of higher education to be a failure of a life (although this is only lightly touched on) and feels that she will lose any chance at professional success if she is forced to keep the baby (which does feel likely in the era the movie took place in).

The movie relies heavily on Anamaria’s performance of fear and pain, trying to connect us to this stranger with her life ahead of her -- and the problems she faces when trying to terminate the pregnancy. Anne becomes increasingly desperate, going down further dangerous and horrible options, most of which are graphically displayed on the screen.

The tension builds as you begin to wonder how it will all end -- an unhappy ending is certainly possible for a French film. I have seen some comments and reviews saying that this movie should be required viewing for the Supreme Court or anti-abortion advocates in general, but I don’t really think this would convince them of anything -- perhaps they would only be able to grasp the possibilities of women dying to end unwanted pregnancies.

I have a feeling how people are going to see this movie, directly down political lines in general -- but even past that, it’s so graphic and difficult to watch, even those that might agree with its position might not be interested in watching it. There are images that will be hard to forget.

Happening has a run time of 1 hour 40 minutes, and is rated R for disturbing material/images, sexual content and graphic nudity.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E11: Battle Royale

© CBS

Survivor delivers an unneeded twist in an episode of big moves and big mistakes.
by Jeremy Fogelman

This week on Survivor, our dear Drea was voted out but the reason was unfortunately easy to understand: she was a strategic threat already and she foolishly gave away her advantage info to Omar which directly led to her getting voted out. If Drea had simply kept her foreknowledge to herself, her new enemy Mike might’ve gotten voted out instead.

Dear Drea was a strategic threat, but unfortunately an all too obvious one -- her Terminator-like behavior at tribal of repeating “I observe” certainly didn’t sound that friendly or non-threatening. At this point in the game she had merely survived already being a target, so she really needed to outplay the others -- and revealing to Omar was a huge mistake.

© CBS

However, her outing of Omar’s betrayal as she entertainingly dragged most of her fellow contestants might spell the end for Omar’s under the radar strategy. She gave Mike the “kiss of death” by calling him as the likely winner if he makes it to the end, but also praises Lindsay and Maryanne. So even for vote out mastermind Mike (and actual vote out mastermind Omar), he suffered from poor optics this episode.

Alas, the Survivor gods shined brightly this week on one person, and one person alone: Lindsay, as she beat the odds in her Monty Hall “Do or Die” twist and stayed in the game despite having (as she noted) made a foolish mistake competing in the immunity challenge. Although this twist is not as bad as the Sinister Hourglass twist, I still don’t like having it ultimately come down to a game of chance.

© CBS


Still, I was certainly tense about the winner of the immunity challenge, especially as Lindsay had been getting built up as the only one that can stand against Jonathan in challenges. The big man didn’t have the best episode either, despite having won immunity -- he was clearly annoying people to the point where they wanted him gone, regardless of any immunity prowess.

As for the rest of the gang, Maryanne continues to play the well considered non-threat game -- she considers the double edged sword of being not seen as a threat also meaning that people wouldn’t vote for her to win. She’s definitely a thoughtful player of the game, and certainly a very entertaining one.

At this point I really only see Romeo and Jonathan as the “can’t win” players, as people actively disliked by other players -- which is the real kiss of death for the final winning vote. Omar’s stock went down a bit while Lindsay’s rose a bit, while Mike stayed steady and Maryanne moved up -- Romeo and Jonathan went further down.

Overall, despite the annoying twist, it was quite the fun episode, losing a great player that will clearly become the case until the finale because it’s nearly all great players left. Quite a place to be in.

Next time on Survivor, the Taku four made it to the final six, and Maryanne isn’t a goat to be herded!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E10: Tell a Good Lie, Not a Stupid Lie

© CBS

Survivor tosses out a blindside in what has become a new pattern.
by Jeremy Fogelman

As the rain finally calms down and people get some sleep, we ask our question of questions: Why did Hai lose and get voted out? In this case, I put Hai in the Shan camp of being a bit visibly good at the game with a theoretical ally betraying them -- she got voted out 11th while Hai got voted out 10th. This is part of the new school post 'Winners at War' style, which I suppose doesn’t have a name exactly.

At first, Survivor players post-merge would vote out physical and immunity threats, disloyal people, and simply people in the minority. Then you started to shake things up with alliances breaking apart to make big moves, and that was the “big move” era. In that era, the most dangerous people were the obviously social and talented people. In general these were targets that had significant chances of winning the game at the final council.

But now, in the post-“big move” era, people target the theoretical winners of the game once their capabilities become too obvious. That’s why you had Erika winning last season -- twists aside, she was strategic but not too strategic -- but also not too passive. That seems to be the trick to getting further in this era, but as more and more players realize this, it becomes trickier and trickier.

© CBS

At this point, Hai was indeed one of those players, but he pushed things a bit too far a few too many times. His move to convince Mike to betray Rocksroy grated on Mike, so he became a super easy target for Omar’s believable lies about Hai. Suddenly Mike was dead set on getting Hai out, just like he was with Chanelle -- and we saw how that went. Hai also miscalculated with his move with Jonathan -- his idol move was definitely an “overplay” moment.

It’d have been one thing to use a fake idol as a trick or threat, but to expect Jonathan to believe Hai would play it for him? Even the less savvy Jonathan wouldn’t fall for that one. Instead, we saw the rise of Lindsay this episode, her winning two challenges in a row, and being on the right side of everyone’s conversations -- her only bad moment was missing an idol. Omar also continued to manage his subtle social game -- if he can keep it up without blowing his spot, he really has a great chance of going to the end.

© CBS

Both Drea and Maryanne had good moments too, with the latter finding a new idol and the former managing to stay off anyone’s radar. The episode also had our “loved ones” moment, with a sweet take on the classic “videos of family” idea. That’s all well and good, but the more interesting part was leading into the tribal council when it was legitimately hard to guess who was heading home.

But is Jonathan a real threat to win? Bringing a “goat” or someone less likely to win is still a valid strategy, and at this point I don’t see any way he could win against any other player. At the tribal council we heard such interesting metaphors as “Survivor Jenga” or “Long distance runners with blindfolds on” -- while Lindsay simply hilariously said that they were all sick.

Too bad about Hai, he was a fun player -- but everyone left is also a fun player, one way or another. What a nice way to move into the endgame for this season. Maybe we should’ve guessed it was Hai’s final moments with that lovely little flashback moment for him.

Next time on Survivor, new targets arise and there’s some sort of twist.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E09: Game of Chicken

© CBS

Survivor delivers another very special episode that is already generating controversy.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The most recent episode of Survivor presented a case of unusual strategy because it was split into two tribal councils, the result of one directly influencing the second one. The show has done this sort of “two random tribes” thing before, and it’s usually a good idea. Everything started with a classic “never plan excessively” situation where Rocksroy decided that it was time for an all male alliance.

This was certainly a classic misread, as perhaps only Jonathan and Mike might have remotely been okay with that idea. Omar had allies other than the dudes, as did Hai, who besides wasn’t interested in what he called the “misogyny alliance”. And the Survivor gods of chance delighted in this, having the new mini-tribes set as all the dudes on one side except for Jonathan, who joined the ladies on the other -- meaning that the odds were suddenly in that team’s favor.

© CBS

Initially Romeo would seem the obvious target, but Rocks’ male alliance business presented a situation where Hai was concerned about him -- it’s a legitimate concern removed from any racial in/out biases. Hai’s closest ally was Mike, so the two were a critical voting bloc -- and Omar was also more connected to either than he was to Rocks or Romeo. So it was in many ways a bit of a tossup, but until the second council, I didn’t really note the pattern -- Chanelle really did make a lot of mistakes after all.

But for the second mini-tribe, our main storyline was Jonathan’s really precipitous fall from grace. The dude salivated over the idea of a big move by targeting Drea and flushing her idol -- again biases aside, she does have the majority of the advantages and is clearly more socially and strategically aware than Tori or Maryanne. But Lindsay easily poked holes in Jonathan’s master plan, which was pretty amusing to watch, and she had a more interesting idea -- split between Tori and Drea in case the latter plays her idol.

And here again Jonathan made a serious error, arguing and telling Lindsay she wasn’t listening and she actually apologized to him. We see that mirrored again in the tribal council when Jonathan accuses Drea of being aggressive and is mainly concerned with not being seen as racist -- in contrast, the more socially aware Lindsay is more verbally an ally and defends Drea in that interaction.

© CBS

Once the pattern of black players voted out is pointed out by Drea, it’s hard not to see it -- even if some of these things are incidental or coincidental, the players cannot avoid having their biases despite their best efforts at it. It was a pretty fraught council, with Drea and Maryanne doing their best to explain many of the subtleties of the nature of the game, including the reaction from the audience at home.

So both Drea and Maryanne ended up playing their idols while Jonathan had his immunity, thus it went pretty obviously to Tori, who was already the least trusted person in that group (and perhaps the tribe). Meaning we lose both a man and a woman this episode, keeping the relative weights between men and women about the same.

© CBS


But the really interesting thing is that each tribal council was for each mini-tribe, so they didn’t see the other one -- makes you wonder how the information will really disseminate between them. Drea certainly made herself two likely votes on the jury with Chanelle and Rocks, who visibly showed approval at her actions -- and since she has more influence and social game, theoretically, she’s more likely to get those votes than Maryanne.

Lindsay acquitted herself well despite Jonathan probably losing the game for himself, while on the other tribe, only Romeo still seems unlikely to go far. Mike, Hai, and Omar all have decent enough skills in the game -- when Hai and Mike debated voting out Rocks versus Romeo, they both had pretty good points. Sometimes that’s a rarity in this game.

Anyway, don’t read the comments.

Next time on Survivor, names are being brought up all over the place.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

HOTCHKA Movie Review: Marvelous and the Black Hole

© FilmRise Releasing

Marvelous and the Black Hole connects two different people over magic and grief
by Jeremy Fogelman

Cast: Miya Cech, Rhea Perlman, Leonardo Nam, Kannon, Paulina Lule, Lauren Knutti, Aris Alvarado, Raymond McAnally, Keith Powell, Beth Hall, Lucy DeVito, Rubén Orozco, Jae Suh Park, Jonathan Slavin, Comedy
Rating: ★★★

Usually your standard coming-of-age movies focus on two sorts of things, either gaining achievement in the high school world from your peers or gaining enlightenment through changes or realizations in yourself. Either can be any genre, but it’s always interesting to see a new take on the idea -- even if it’s one that isn't universally relatable, there’s always something to connect to if the movie works.

The unwieldy-named Marvelous and the Black Hole comes from director/writer Kate Tsang in her first feature film, having only directed shorts before this one -- but she’s done a lot of work in television writing. She’s mentioned that the movie has a strong personal connection to her, and that’s evident. Here we follow sullen teenage Sammy (Miya Cech), the younger of two sisters living with her older sister Patricia (Kannon Omachi) and father Angus (Leonardo Nam), who also has a fairly new, serious girlfriend Marianne (Paulina Lule) -- and all this after it’s clear that the mother has not been seen for a tragic reason.

We first see Sammy with blood on her face, angry and furious at the world -- her anger is incandescent and silent, bubbling off the screen and immediately connects us to her character. It is soon revealed that Sammy is in a summer community college business class, one that she must do well as directed by her father or will be sent to some sort of camp for unruly and troubled teens.

The class has a small enrollment, led by Leo (Keith Powell from 30 Rock) who is at his wits end about Sammy’s lack of participation. After one difficult exchange, Sammy runs into an older lady in the bathroom named Margot (Rhea Perlman), who immediately acts a bit parental, if offbeat, deriding the cigarettes Sammy is holding. Sammy also dismisses the woman, uninterested in any connection at all, but she ends up, against her will (blackmailed against being tattled on), having to help Margot with her magic show for local children.

Sammy enjoys it, despite herself, but is still distant, fighting with her sister at home and only comforting herself by listening to tapes her mother left of fanciful metaphorical stories of fantasy and darkness. But when she realizes she’s in danger of failing, she instead puts Margot’s contact info to use and tries to convince the magician to sign off. Naturally Margot, being a mentor character, isn’t willing to do that -- she says she’ll sign off only if Sammy can explain how she did her tricks.

©FilmRise Releasing

Thus begins a charming sort of unlikely friendship between the young girl and the older woman, which is both somewhat problematic but never really feels like it’s anything more than both trying to deal with their grief with new family figures. Eventually you know things will get emotional enough to have a denouement of some sort, and hopefully a satisfying cathartic resolution.

Miya Cech is really superb in this role, with a kind of dark, crackling energy that plays off well against Rhea Perlman’s classic dry humor. The movie also dips into the more surreal at times, showing images of Sammy’s imagination in thoughtful ways -- you can really see the director’s background in animation connected here, intentional or not.

There’s an inherently odd sort of thing about the “young person mentored by older stranger” thing that is somehow common in pop culture but is really not something people would be so happy about in reality. Still, you can suspend your disbelief and connect more to this fictional rapport, one where everyone ultimately comes out better than they started.

Not everyone will be into this sort, especially with that problematic trope I mentioned, but if you can ignore that, you have a really engaging set of performances from these two and some fun side ones too. It might be something that’s cathartic even for yourself, I know the ending did touch me in at least some real way.

Marvelous and the Black Hole has a run time of 1 hour 21 minutes, and is not rated.


Get it on Apple TV

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E08: You Better Be Wearing a Seatbelt

© CBS

Survivor shakes up the obvious vote when paranoia rears its head.
by Jeremy Fogelman

As we shake our heads and wonder at what might have been, we ask the question: Why did Chanelle lose and get voted out? Poor Chanelle was already in a poor position, being someone we saw last week get awkwardly avoided by multiple people. She was already in a bad position and had made a few mistakes, but she didn’t really manage to improve her situation this week at all.

The real danger to Chanelle was the silent (except to us) fury of the scorned Mike, who had gotten a vote from her when she said otherwise -- it’s absurdly personal of him, especially considering he voted for her in that same tribal council! But outside of Chanelle, whose social game isn’t great, Mike has a really good social game.

We see early on Mike mentioning that he’s found the role of the wise older friend who is also more than willing to learn from the youngsters -- after a nice little scene where Omar teaches him about Islam, Mike tells us that “we all ain’t that different” which is certainly true, but amusingly put.

© CBS

So Chanelle was already considered the least trustworthy and thus the target, but then Romeo almost ruined his own game with his paranoia -- some panic was warranted as he was the next target, but he really did make it too obvious about his politicking. Thus it seemed that Romeo was next, and Chanelle was maybe playing it correctly by doing nothing, until Mike heard the plan -- he was so hellbent on voting out his former ally that he utilized his social game to switch the targets back. And thus we’ve lost another female contestant.

Otherwise we get interesting play and chat from various people -- Omar continues to be the dude in the shadows, which puts him in a very powerful position if he can stay that way. Maryanne got emotional a lot, both to us about feeling not worth the same, but also cleverly, manipulating Omar into stepping out of the immunity challenge to get more rice for the tribe. She also made Jeff laugh by screaming loudly as she dove into the water.

Drea is also playing a low key, impressive game, managing to gather four advantages of various sorts -- the “red handed” literal paint twist was great, leading to Tori actually realizing that Drea was up to something. It’s a new twist that actually works, even if the Knowledge is Power advantage is still way too powerful.

© CBS

And of course, Jonathan continues to dominate at challenges, even if he lost to Tori who is apparently the new immunity challenge beast? A pretty good episode for Tori after a much worse start to the season for her. We also see steady, considered play from Hai, and not much from Rocks or Lindsay -- although there were bits at least of each one.

At this point we do have a decent number of interesting players and pretty good ones too, with an episode that I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to go -- it’s usually a good sign about the editing and pace of the episode. It’s been a pretty good season so far, even if in a lot of ways it does feel really similar to season 41 -- hopefully things really get nuts in the episodes ahead.

Next time on Survivor, more dudes than women, two people will win immunity and two people will go home.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

ABC Announces Summer 2022 Premiere Dates


Marking its third consecutive year ranked or tied as the season's No. 1 entertainment network Adults 18-49, ABC celebrates summer with a strong lineup of new and returning series and specials that revels in love, competition, dogs, games and, of course, Martha Stewart.

NEW SPECIALS:

ABC is gearing up for a night of specials, WEDNESDAY, MAY 25. Kicking off the night, Martha Stewart, known for turning everyday living into an art form, is ready to part ways with pieces from her vast collection of furniture, art and housewares in a new one-hour special, "The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart." Continuing the night, Rob Riggle and Joe Tessitore team up to host "The American Rescue Dog Show," the preeminent dog competition featuring rescued companions as they strut their fluff, competing for a slew of "best in" titles while stealing America's hearts.

NEW SERIES:

On THURSDAY, JULY 7, "Generation Gap," from producers Jimmy Kimmel, Mark Burnett and hosted by Kelly Ripa, makes its long-awaited debut.

The premiere of ABC's larger-than-life competition series "The Final Straw" joins a stacked lineup of game shows, SUNDAY, JULY 10.

The highly anticipated competition series "Claim to Fame," hosted by Kevin and Frankie Jonas and featuring relatives of celebrities, launches MONDAY, JULY 11.

RETURNING SERIES:

Fan-favorite game shows make their return: "Press Your Luck" on THURSDAY, JULY 7, with "Celebrity Family Feud" and "The $100,000 Pyramid" on SUNDAY, JULY 10.

As previously announced, Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia begin their journey to find love on "The Bachelorette," MONDAY, JULY 11.

RENEWALS:

This season's No. 1 new unscripted series in Total Viewers, "Judge Steve Harvey," has been renewed for season two. "Bachelor in Paradise," which ranked as the No. 1 show in both its Monday and Tuesday time slots last summer with Adults 18-49, has been picked up for season eight. Premiere dates for the new seasons to be announced at a later date.

SCHEDULE:

Airdates are as follows (all times listed are Eastern/Pacific). New shows/specials are in bold.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 25
  • 8:00-9:00 p.m. "The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart"
  • 9:00-11:00 p.m. "The American Rescue Dog Show"

THURSDAY, JULY 7
  • 8:00-9:00 p.m. "Press Your Luck"
  • 9:00-10:00 p.m. "Generation Gap" (series premiere)

SUNDAY, JULY 10
  • 8:00-9:00 p.m. "Celebrity Family Feud"
  • 9:00-10:00 p.m. "The Final Straw" (series premiere)
  • 10:00-11:00 p.m. "The $100,000 Pyramid"

MONDAY, JULY 11
  • 8:00-10:01 p.m. "The Bachelorette"
  • 10:01-11:00 p.m. "Claim to Fame" (series premiere)


Information on the series/specials below.

THE $100,000 PYRAMID

Michael Strahan is back as host of "The $100,000 Pyramid," the timeless word-association game in which two celebrities and their partners face off in a race against the clock to make it to the winner's circle and take home $100,000.

THE AMERICAN RESCUE DOG SHOW

"The American Rescue Dog Show" is the preeminent dog competition featuring rescued companions as they strut their fluff, competing for a slew of "best in" titles while stealing America's hearts. These prized pups may be cute, but the competition is fierce. In the two-hour special, rescued dogs from all across the country will compete in seven categories including Best In Underbite, Best In Snoring, Best In Belly Rubs and more. A $10,000 donation to a local animal welfare organization will be made in honor of the winning dog in each category, and each category winner will have the chance to be named the Best In Rescue with an additional $100,000 donation being made in their honor. This comedic and heartfelt take on the world of competitive dog shows is a celebration of rescued dogs and the joy they bring to our lives. Dynamic duo Rob Riggle and Joe Tessitore host America's cutest competition special with ESPN's Monica McNutt serving as sideline correspondent. Dog-loving celebrity guest judges, who will be announced at a later date, will also make special appearances.

THE BACHELORETTE

After unwaveringly supporting each other through a devastating dual breakup in the season 26 finale of "The Bachelor," fan favorites and fierce women Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia stand by each other's side yet again as they set out on a journey to find love. The two co-star on the upcoming season 19 of "The Bachelorette," with Jesse Palmer returning as host.

BACHELOR IN PARADISE

Breakout fan favorites from "The Bachelor" franchise are back and ready for a second (or third) chance at finding love. They may have left their respective seasons brokenhearted, but now they have the opportunity to travel to a romantic paradise in hopes of turning a potential summer fling into the real thing.

CELEBRITY FAMILY FEUD

Hosted by the highly popular stand-up comedian, actor, author and Emmy(R) Award winner Steve Harvey, "Celebrity Family Feud" has celebrities along with their families go head-to-head in a contest to name the most popular responses to survey-type questions posed to 100 people for a chance to win money for a charity of their choice.

CLAIM TO FAME

Co-hosted by siblings Kevin and Frankie Jonas, this new series challenges 12 celebrity relatives to step outside their famous family member's shadow and live together under one roof, concealing their identity and lineage in the quest for their own fame and fortune. They will compete in challenges, form alliances and play DNA detective in hopes of avoiding elimination and winning the coveted $100,000 prize, and staking their own "Claim to Fame"!

THE FINAL STRAW

The newest show to join ABC's unscripted lineup is the larger-than-life physical comedy game show, "The Final Straw." The stakes are high as four teams of colorful contestants face off to combat tremendous tipping towers. Each life-sized themed tower is chock full of various objects ranging from basketballs to small kitchen appliances as contestants try to successfully pull items from the stack without tipping it over in order to earn prizes. If the tower falls, the team is eliminated and the last team standing will compete against The Mega Stack, an epic battle of physics where the odds are literally stacked against them, in hopes of winning a life-changing grand prize.

GENERATION GAP

Kelly Ripa hosts the new comedy quiz game show from Emmy(R) Award-winning producers Jimmy Kimmel and Mark Burnett. "Generation Gap" pairs teams of grandparents and grandkids, challenging them to answer questions about pop culture from each other's generations.

THE GREAT AMERICAN TAG SALE WITH MARTHA STEWART

Martha Stewart, known for turning everyday living into an art form, is ready to part ways with pieces from her vast collection of furniture, art and housewares in this new one-hour special. Over the years, Martha has amassed an assortment of items that ranges from fine art to knickknacks. During the special, she will regale viewers with fond memories of how these beloved items were acquired and offer expert advice on how to execute a successful tag sale. Alongside her team of event planners, Martha will host a series of tag sale events including an exclusive cocktail party for celebrities and neighbors to preview the sale.

JUDGE STEVE HARVEY

Steve Harvey serves as the judge, jury and star of "Judge Steve Harvey," the one-hour unscripted courtroom comedy series. Real-life people with real-life conflicts present their case in his television courtroom, ranging from family disputes, unpaid bets, sour friendships and everything in between. With the help of Nancy, his trusted bailiff by trade, Steve plays by his own rules, basing his courtroom on his own life experiences and some good old common sense.

PRESS YOUR LUCK

Hosted by Elizabeth Banks, "Press Your Luck" is a game of wits, strategy and even higher stakes as contestants try to avoid the iconic and devilish WHAMMY for a chance at life-changing cash and prizes. During each game of "Press Your Luck," three contestants compete against each other answering questions to earn spins on the Big Board. Contestants then use their spins to win cash and prizes while trying to avoid the WHAMMY, who could take all of their winnings and leave them with nothing. The winning contestant moves on to the bonus round to face the WHAMMY in a final battle for the chance to win $1 million.

The CW Announces Original Summer Programming

© The CW

Looking to beat the Summer heat? The CW Network has announced Summer 2022 premiere dates for returning scripted favorites CORONER, ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO, IN THE DARK, WELLINGTON PARANORMAL and DEVILS, as well as the alternative series MYSTERIES DECODED.

The Canadian investigative procedural CORONER returns with its season four U.S. premiere on Thursday, June 2 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT) following an original episode of The CW’s hit series WALKER (8:00-9:00pm ET/PT).

The season four premiere of the science fiction drama ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO airs Monday, June 6 (8:00-9:00pm ET/PT) followed by the fourth season premiere of IN THE DARK (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT).

The supernatural comedy WELLINGTON PARANORMAL returns for its third season with back-to-back original episodes on Wednesday, June 22 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT) following an original episode of The CW’s hit series THE FLASH (8:00-9:00pm ET/PT).

The season two premiere of international financial conspiracy thriller DEVILS airs Thursday, June 30 (8:00-9:00pm ET/PT) followed by an original episode of CORONER (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT).

New episodes of MYSTERIES DECODED debut on Wednesday, July 6 (8:00-9:00pm ET/PT) followed by an original episode of WELLINGTON PARANORMAL (9:00-9:30pm ET/PT).

The following is The CW’s Summer 2022 premiere schedule for returning series. All times ET/PT:


THURSDAY, JUNE 2

  • 8:00-9:00pm WALKER (Original Episode)
  • 9:00-10:00pm CORONER (Season Premiere)

MONDAY, JUNE 6

  • 8:00-9:00pm ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO (Season Premiere)
  • 9:00-10:00pm IN THE DARK (Season Premiere) 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22

  • 8:00-9:00pm THE FLASH (Original Episode)
  • 9:00-9:30pm WELLINGTON PARANORMAL (Season Premiere)
  • 9:30-10:00pm WELLINGTON PARANORMAL (Original Episode)

THURSDAY, JUNE 30

  • 8:00-9:00pm DEVILS (Season Premiere)
  • 9:00-10:00pm CORONER (Original Episode)

WEDNESDAY, JULY 6

  • 8:00-9:00pm MYSTERIES DECODED (Season Premiere)
  • 9:00-9:30pm WELLINGTON PARANORMAL (Original Episode)
  • 9:30-10:00pm WELLINGTON PARANORMAL (Encore Episode)

Friday, April 15, 2022

HOTCHKA Movie Review: Dual

© RLJE Films

Dual has two Karen Gillans for the price of one in this dark sci-fi satire.
by Jeremy Fogelman

Cast: Karen Gillan, Beulah Koale, Theo James, Aaron Paul
Rating: ★★

In 2019 the movie The Art of Self-Defense was released by director/writer Riley Stearns, a super-dry, very particular sort of black comedy. It definitely worked for me, but I could easily tell that it was not the sort of thing everyone would like. In that movie, the characters have a very matter-of-fact way of talking, even about uncomfortable, awkward, or emotional moments -- even if they will show emotionality in other, more silent scenes. So I had certain expectations about this one.

Dual is the next film from Riley Stearns, who also writes and directs in his own quirky style. The movie takes place in the not so distant future where most things are the same, except for one particular little twist: cloning of people is entirely possible and actually quite common. We start the movie watching a man fight in a death match against himself, although we don’t know much else -- and soon things begin to make sense.

Karen Gillan stars as Sarah, a woman in a sort of decline -- she ignores calls from her mother (Maija Paunio) and feels distant from her boyfriend Peter (Beulah Koale). She’s basically drifting through life aimlessly, and it seems like there’s nothing much for her -- until she gets sick and is informed she has a fatal disease. The sort of vague, hyper-unique disease that means she’ll be perfectly fine for a few months and then suddenly die.

But this means Sarah is the perfect candidate for a replacement, a clone of her that can be used as a salve for her family and friends that would miss her. Of course, the new clone wouldn’t have her memories, which means that the Double would need to follow Sarah around and learn everything about her. So far so good (and odd), and Sarah introduces her double to her mother and boyfriend.

Unfortunately things don’t go so well in multiple ways, primarily that Sarah makes a miraculous recovery -- and the law says that only one copy of one person can exist, so in a year Sarah and her double must fight to the death. It’s a patently absurd premise, presenting a world where life is interchangeable, but it leads into the next phase of the movie -- training.

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Sarah starts an entertaining training regime to survive with local dual trainer Trent (Aaron Paul), who definitely understands the assignment. Everything spirals in increasingly chaotic ways, until you begin to wonder if anyone will get out of it happy. The movie, like Stearns last movie, is very dark and has the same sort of offbeat, odd dialogue humor.

Just like The Art of Self-Defense, I found Dual to be engaging and funny, even if the underlying theme and message is a bit ridiculous and feels a bit thin from a satirical perspective. Karen Gillan completely manages the absurd dialogue and speaking style with ease, and does great work to show the differentiation between the two versions of Sarah.

I can’t say that this will work for everyone, even though I quite liked it -- I’d say that if you liked the director’s last movie, this one will also be up your alley. If you didn’t like it or aren’t into dark comedies, I don’t think this one will work -- but if you’re curious, I think it’s worth a shot to see whether or not you can appreciate this particular unusual film.

Dual has a run time of 1 hour 35 minutes and is rated R for violent content, some sexual content, language and graphic nudity.

Get tickets for Dual from Fandango!


 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E06: You Can't Hide on Survivor / The Devil You Do or The Devil You Don't

© CBS

Survivor double packs its merge episode with a redo of the controversial time travel twist.
by Jeremy Fogelman

As our Delorean comes to a stop and we save ourselves from being erased in a photo, we ask our perennial query: Why did Lydia lose and get voted out? In this case, it seemed that it was a matter of people not trusting the right people, but also other people having the right trust in people.

Coming into the tribal, it seemed clear that Omar had at least raised the possibility of targeting Lydia instead of Jonathan or Maryanne by successfully painting her as someone untrustworthy -- and all because he and Jonathan were such close allies. It helped that Omar was both completely safe and had no vote, making him seem more like someone entirely harmless and without the ability to get a target back on him.

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Lydia’s only clear mistakes were with Chanelle, although she wasn’t the only one. She was awkward and cagey enough that Chanelle noticed, but then again, everyone in that majority alliance attempt was awkward multiple times when Chanelle was around. It certainly made for awkward television, if shades of The Office -- although Lydia does trust Omar enough to tell him that maybe Maryanne is the target.

And Maryanne and Jonathan were both on the Taku tribe with Omar, which certainly could’ve been a dangerous move. So it’s a shame to see someone else interesting go home, and Lydia was a fun character -- but that’s sort of the situation we’re in with this “great cast” season.

The episode started with a recap of all of the various and sundry advantages gained, none of which have been utilized yet -- so you know that things are really going to get nuts soon enough. We also had a cavalcade of great bonding moments between people, like Romeo calling out how much he respects Hai for being completely comfortable with himself, Lydia and Maryanne bonding about their Gen-Z connection, or Mike and Jonathan about preconceived notions about being physically intimidating.

The time travel twist of Season 41 returned, but with another twist on the twist -- this time Jeff actually tells the “winning” tribe that they’d be giving power to the person exiled -- and they picked Rocksroy despite that. I get that, but we did hear at least one person correctly predict what Rocks might be able to do.

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Watching Rocks thrive out on his own was fun, as was hearing his various phrases like “Holy moly!”, “Jiminy Christmas”, and “Yippie Ki Yay” -- pretty hilarious. But it was honestly hard to believe that Rocks would do anything other than save himself and reverse time. The “cons” of the pros and cons of the time travel twist are still not strong enough to justify doing anything but breaking that hourglass.

Still, the ensuing scramble did lead to a pretty fun series of strategic tomfoolery, including the quite impressive run from Omar -- it’s a great addition to a potential winning resume, if he can make it that far. Similarly we have other strong strategic players, even if it’s not always so clear -- I did like Maryanne’s new take on it: A problem is a shield in the future. Only issue is that being clever paints a target on her back, which she doesn’t need. So definitely a lot of interesting possibilities in the future in what was a fairly entertaining episode, even if I hope they seriously reconsider this twist in the future, no pun intended.

Next time on Survivor, someone is creating chaos, people are scurrying and paranoid.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E05: I'm Survivor Rich

© CBS

‘Survivor’ makes it a bit clear who’s heading home in another fun episode.
by Jeremy Fogelman

On the latest episode of Survivor, as everyone shouts out secret phrases, we wonder: Why did Daniel lose and get voted out? The simple answer, of course, is that he made many mistakes, some more serious than others.

This latest episode saw Hai initiate a “hey, what about his shoulder?” routine to target Daniel as the latter was out failing at spearfishing. What was not mentioned is that swimming leisurely searching for fish is hardly the same as the very intense swimming in the challenges. But as Daniel was already persona non grata in his tribe, everyone was already ready to assume the worst about him.

© CBS

Daniel’s shoulder dislocation was of course not a mistake nor his fault, but it didn’t help matters as he had to keep sitting out of challenges. He played hard and at first, reasonably smartly -- but the dude kept making errors, like literally losing Mike’s idol. After his problematic performance with Chanelle when he proclaimed he didn’t want to go to rocks, he had lost his only ally -- and thus was left without anyone willing to trust in him.

Honestly I would’ve been far more surprised if they didn’t vote out Daniel -- the only possible reason to keep him is that he could be seen as a goat, or someone that couldn’t possibly win the game -- but although his tribe felt that way, maybe the others could? So after they made fun of Daniel, I felt like it was inevitable.

Elsewhere on the tribe, we hear a backstory from Lydia about struggling with body image but feeling much better about herself and her Survivor journey. She also made a safe call about protecting her vote, but if she had risked it, and Rocksroy still hadn’t, she’d get an extra vote. But that’s a tricky thing to consider.

The other backstory was from Romeo, who mentioned about his mom sacrificing to help her kids achieve their dreams in America -- and because he’s a pageant coach, women in general and Drea in particular are ideal allies for him. At least it does seem that way for now, although who can say how long that will last.

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But we also get a few potential lighting fires of drama to come, one is Tori explicitly telling us that she’s ready and willing to turn on her tribe as soon as possible. The other is how Maryanne is annoying Jonathan and Lindsay enough to be a target, while Omar believes she’s a critical ally and thus wants to keep her. There’s definitely some interesting clashes that might happen here.

At this point in the season I feel like we’ve gotten a pretty good handle on most of the players and their characters, enough to begin to start rooting for people. Maybe. There’s no obvious early leader like Shan here, but some interesting people anyway. Definitely been enjoying this season so far, I think the Survivor team has been hitting it out of the park with their casting this last two seasons. Even the less “adept” players are still fun to watch.

Next time on Survivor, drop your buffs, and it’s chaos.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E04: Vibe of the Tribe

© CBS

‘Survivor’ sends someone out after people talk a little too much.
by Jeremy Fogelman

As we look back at a particularly chaotic episode, we ask the question: Why did Swati lose and get voted out? The simple answer is that she played a bit too hard and got noticed by another good player, mainly Romeo.

Although I think that’s true, it’s also true that it was down to a bunch of cascading dominos, one of which was Swati’s mistake -- which is telling Tori that Drea was targeting her, because she wanted to get the target on Drea instead. It’s not a terrible idea, but it relies on the premise that Tori would keep that to herself, which she didn’t -- she also managed to keep her heavy annoyance with Rocksroy to herself and the confessionals and got useful information from him while telling him about Swati’s reveal.

Going through all of these people and back and forth, it is revealed that Swati was playing the “young, shy, unassuming girl” game and telling everyone she was their number one. It’s theoretically a good game, except that she pushed too hard, too early -- if she had simply allowed Rocks or Tori to get voted out (as they were the easy targets) I think she could’ve lasted much longer in the game. Or even to the end, as that was sort of how Erika won Season 41.

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So we say goodbye to a smart, pretty decent player, but one that was a little too careless with her plans. It’s a shame that we’ve lost two interesting people these last two weeks that weren’t simply screwing things up, but at least Swati is more the author of her own demise -- makes a better tale if she ever returns.

As for Tori, I was a bit concerned about her mentioning her therapy work and that Rocks was acting like a narcissist -- if she’s saying he has a narcissistic personality disorder, that’s pretty specific and unreasonable. If not, she’s being irresponsible from a professional perspective -- but then again, I can see how she might simply have been trying to simply add color to her confessional by making it personal about her unique perspective.

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As for the other tribes, we get a little bit with Taku with a weirdly troubling backstory from Jonathan but also some acknowledgement that he is aware he is a physical shield for others on his tribe. I wonder how things will blow up when it becomes a liability to keep him around -- I mean the dude is called “Goliath” and “Thor” by people on the other tribes after helping Taku dominate two challenges in a row.

Otherwise we have another “obvious tribe loss” edit situation here, where we focus nearly entirely on the tribe that’s going to lose. Although it’s useful to get information about what’s going on, I feel like it’s an easy pattern to notice, so I hope the show shakes things up as we move forward. Can Taku even lose at this point? A tribe swap is likely inevitable, considering that only Taku hasn’t lost anyone.

As for our friends back on Vati, Daniel acknowledges to us that both he messed up and Chanelle is refusing to admit her role in things. Both true, of course, but because of Daniel’s frenetic behavior last time, people are clearly less interested in listening to him -- we do see Mike agree to switch to Hai and Lydia instead, which certainly does not bode well for Daniel.

Altogether a messy but entertaining episode -- I prefer watching people lose because they’re playing too hard then by twists and circumstances, so I can’t be mad about that, even if I’ll miss another interesting player.

Next time on Survivor, more fights and more potential problems.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Survivor 42 S42E03: Go For The Gusto

© CBS

Survivor showcases a great physical performance and a lot of terrible strategic ones.
by Jeremy Fogelman

It was a ridiculous series of unforced errors that answered the perennial question: Why did Jenny lose and get voted out? Unfortunately despite clearly being smart and good at  puzzles (she certainly helped with that triangle one), both she and Lydia were on the “not strong” part of the targets. But it was also about a very specific split team and a mistake made in multiple places.

I don’t really think Jenny made a particular mistake, at least that we saw, so instead we need to look at the bizarre situation where she was betrayed by an ally.

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After Jonathan absolutely destroyed the challenge, Omar and Chanelle get sent to the risk your vote island -- and both give excellent, correct reasons to protect their vote -- and then both switch at the last minute and lose it! Chanelle should’ve realized how precarious her position was and protected herself -- that would’ve been enough to protect her alliance.

As for noted superfan and paranoid Daniel, he had quite a few “epic fails” -- he dropped Mike’s idol for one, and spiraled out of control when it came down to the unprecedented “two votes left” situation at the tribal council. Hai immediately had a stronger position since Daniel was saying he didn’t want to go to rocks -- but if he had a stronger reason other than uncertainty, we didn’t hear it.

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Daniel kept throwing Chanelle under the bus to make himself seem less of a strategic thinker, which she correctly pointed out -- and of course, he eventually backed down and voted out Jenny. So Daniel leaves this episode in a pretty bad social position, and poor Jenny is the victim -- although if Chanelle had not lost her vote, likely Lydia would’ve been voted out instead.

Most of the episode focused on these strategic choices, but we did see Maryanne find the second of the threeway shared advantage and pretty cleverly drop her odd phrase at the immunity challenge. Mike noticed but didn’t say anything (smartly), as the third one hadn’t yet been found. And of course, it was highly impressive to watch Jonathan manage physical feats no one else could manage, and acted fairly humbly afterwards about it -- he’s an interesting player so far, certainly. Not the cliché of the physical dude who brags about his prowess.

So two firsts for the episode, one that was Jeff skipping half a challenge due to safety reasons and the other where it was literally down to two people with votes. But that made the episode both exciting and frustrating, because I don’t really like watching people make errors when they shouldn’t have to -- everyone makes mistakes, especially as the game continues and people get hungrier.

But at this early stage of the game, it’s less enjoyable and forgivable. Still, there are plenty of interesting players left in the game, even if it’s likely Vati may be permanently damaged. Curious to see how these people will act after this terrible situation.

Next time on Survivor, even more arguments seem to arise.