October 9, 2005

A Little Obsessed


Back from freezing Montréal and slowly recovering from our French bistro food coma (sauces! no more sauces!), Cinecultist spent the evening in front of the tellie. Specifically, HBO and our two current television obsessions -- Rome and Extras. Ordinarily we try to keep the obsessing on this blog to the cinematic but both of these shows are so lovely, it's difficult keeping it to ourselves.

Rome taps into our deep love for all things melodramatic, historical and costumed. This miniseries keeps getting better and better as the plot around the ascension of Julius Caesar to ruler of Rome thickens. While the political stuff is quite engaging, what CC really loves is all of the day to day Roman details. Discussion of the gods, attitudes towards marriage or sex, clothing, the sale of slaves as property and those crazy hairdos are all fascinating stuff. If you've ever been to the ruins in Pompeii or even read casually about the ancient world, you'll know that it really gets fascinating when you can see the culture come to life. That's what this miniseries has done. Breathtaking. Plus, it has in it James Purefoy whose Imdb profile includes some classic costumers (Vanity Fair, Mansfield Park and A Knight's Tale*). His is not the only stand-out performance in the ensemble but rrowr, he's h-o-t, so if that doesn't get you to tune, we don't know what will.

Speaking of our love for costume drama, this week Ricky Gervais's brilliant new sitcom, Extras found itself on the set of a made for television historical drama. In it, Gervais's extra actor character Andy Millman chats with his buddy Maggie (the sublime Ashley Jensen) about one of the handsome young actors dressed to the nines in period Napoleonic splendor:

Maggie: Why does no one dress like that these days?
Andy: Because they would get beaten up on the Tube.

As a devotee of The Office it was difficult to imagine that Gervais could translate his ability to complete inhabit that banal, yet utterly real and completely modern character into anything else. But he has. We've said it before but it bears repeating -- brilliant. Utterly. Our favorite so far has probably been the one with Kate Winslet, because the image of Kate Winslet playing the actress Kate Winslet giving graphic but silly advice on phone sex is comic gold. Also, we totally love the guy who plays Andy's agent, Stephen Merchant, who also happens to be Gervais's long time writing partner. He reminds us of Gareth and we want to see lots more scenes with him acting completely stupid. It makes the Cinecultist laugh and laugh.

*Mock our taste if you must, but the Heath Ledger vehicle did include Paul Bettany as a nude Geoffrey Chaucer and for that, our English major heart will always be grateful.

Posted by karen at October 9, 2005 11:29 PM