Friday, September 07, 2007

Tony goes to war

Today's column starts off with a review of the new HBO documentary "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq":

How, James Gandolfini was asked at a recent press conference, was he changed by participating in a documentary about Iraq war veterans who had suffered traumatic injuries?

"I don't want -- it's not about me," squirmed Gandolfini. "I'm not trying to be antagonistic in any way, but I'd like the questions directed towards other things besides how it changed me."

The former "Sopranos" leading man has always been one of our most publicity-averse stars, a man who wants people to be interested in the characters he plays, not his own life.

But with "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq" (Sunday at 10:30 p.m., HBO), Gandolfini has found a way to put his celebrity to good use. His presence as producer and, especially, on-camera interviewer in the film is going to bring it a lot more attention than the dozens of other documentaries currently being made about Iraq.

There's also a brief review of "Tell Me You Love Me," in which I try to focus on the non-nekkid aspects of the show. For the whole thing, click here.


Anonymous said...


I've seen the premiere of "Tell Me You Love Me," as HBO has made it available on demand. I am on the fence about the sex scenes -- they are not gratuitous in the way they are in, say, Californication, but I'm still not sure they are informative enough to deserve the amount of airtime they receive.

While the performances were good (Boy, the entendres are everywhere, aren't they?), I thought the dialogue felt a bit too therapeutic, even outside the therapy scenes. The characters are unable to communicate in a very precise, terse way. This, combined with the muted color scheme, made the show feel a little controlled and airless. I think it was these stylistic choices gave off the voyeuristic vibe, rather than the "Were they really having sex?" sex scenes. At least for me.

Of course, since the show has four couples, the real question is: how many of the four stories do you have to find compelling to continue watching? The pilot implicitly indicated connections between all the characters, but I didn't get the impression from the preview that any of the four were going to meet anytime soon.

And I think pairing this show with curbed is a fine choice. HBO's night of awkward TV.


Alan Sepinwall said...

Anon, as I said in the review, I often found myself questioning why I kept watching the show even as I did, so I can understand feeling ambivalent about it. Hell, I'm not even sure how much I'll be blogging it, as I watched all 10 in a one-week chunk months ago and would have to rewatch the episodes -- which I'm not sure I want to do, much as I liked most the first time -- for individual blog entries.

To answer your questions:

1)Far and away the couple I found most interesting were the 40somethings played by Tim DeKay and Ally Walker. The 20somethings barely registered with me a lot of the time, and with the middle couple, I largely spent the time debating which one I hated more (though I found them interestingly hateable). The therapist's marriage is somewhat interesting, but we don't see enough of it to consider them a fourth couple on par with the others.

2)Meetings between the three couples are infrequent and only significant in establishing (beyond the shared shrink) that they all live in the same universe. (Minor spoiler alert.) The 20something's best friend turns out to be the sister of a character in another couple, two of the guys have a very minor business connection, etc.