April, you bring showers, and for that I will forever adore you (hey — I like me some gray Sunday afternoons filled with warm rain and delivered food; sue me). More importantly, you also bring my birthday (send all presents to The Frederick News-Post c/o Colin “The Birthday Machine” McGuire — all coupons for use at a Wendy’s outlet encouraged), and you offer up the two-year anniversary of this blog!
Wow. Two years. 185 posts. Tens of readers. What more could I ask for?
Actually, what more could you ask for, as we take the time to outline five suggestions to mull over while watching the time pass by during this, my favorite month of spring. As for the next 30 days, we have for you — yes, you! — an installment of the single best thing ESPN has ever offered on its 5,920 networks, a weird and not-as-good-as-advertised classroom drama with Adrien Brody, and the opportunity to catch up on a show before its new season begins Sunday.
My birthday. Your presents.
So, behold the following five picks for the month of April. Because the weather still isn’t anywhere near being warm enough to enjoy and the rain will more than likely not simply go away, even if you say the word twice in immediate succession.
Onward and upward …
1. “Mad Men” (Season 5) — I don’t think we need to go over all of it again, now do we? That said, the most recent season is now available to stream, and while you do, you should probably follow along by consulting this. Season No. 6 kicks off with a two-hour mega debut Sunday, so you have precisely six days to play catch up. Who knows what this weekend could offer — Don Draper serenading a woman by singing “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” and wearing only his tennis shorts? Joan punching her mother in the teeth? Peggy taking down Sterling Cooper Draper (not-so) Price? Betty dropping a few of her chins in favor of a hot new boy toy? Megan Draper becoming the next Natalie Wood? Oh, goodness, you can feel the anticipation bleed through the computer screen. Now, if only a Mad Men Project: Season Six existed …
2. “Detachment” — I really wanted to love this. Like, really, really wanted to love this. Isiah Whitlock, Jr. Bryan Cranston. Adrien Brody (hey — “The Pianist” was great and I still think “Cadillac Records” was a solid film). Christina Hendricks (see how Nos. 1 and 2 come together?!). James Caan. Add in a trailer that seemed like a cross between “Dangerous Minds” and “Up In The Air” — yeah, I should have known better, now that I read that phrase — and I thought we had a quality movie on our hands. The result, instead, landed somewhere between OK and good. But hey — you can’t blame me that much. Just take a look at the trailer …
3. “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” — … And speaking of “The Pianist” (see how No. 1 came together with No. 2 and how No. 2 came together with No. 3?!). This 2008 documentary profiling one of the most polarizing figures in cinema is a must-see for anyone who has ever watched and enjoyed one or 20 of Polanski’s films. Is it slanted, however slightly, in favor of the director? Of course (though, remember that the operative phrase is “however slightly”). But does it bring to light some aspects of his life that you may have not previously known? I think so. And for someone who didn’t know all that much about who he really was to begin with, I don’t think I could have found a more interesting depiction of a guy who has been through his share of ups and downs in Hollywood. The most intriguing part of it all? The director sits down with Samantha Gailey, the 13-year-old girl at the center of the controversy that took shape in 1977 when her and Polanski had some type of sexual encounter that led to his arrest. Her comments here, needless to say, are revelatory in nature. Word has it that a sequel was supposed to be in the works, but I can’t seem to find much information about it whenever I take to the World Wide Internet. No matter — this initial analyzation of both the man and his work should be enough to hold anybody over until that update is offered.
4. “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” — Eliot Spitzer was supposed to be Next Great Hope for the Democratic party, and instead of seeing that through, he looked up a prostitution ring and subsequently ruined his political career, embarrassing himself, his state and his family. And to think people still wonder about how they could land their own CNN talk show. “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” takes an at-times-uncomfortable look at how moronic the former governor of New York was when he went about his business and, maybe more importantly, it brings to life exactly how promising his career proved to be until this all went down. The documentary’s secret weapon is how The Spitz comes off as both arrogant and tender, two traits so starkly contrasted that you aren’t really sure if you should feel bad for him or hate him. That dichotomy becomes at least a tad offset by the low-rent trick director Alex Gibney pulls when he pays an actor to read lines that one of the call girls wrote for her to say because she, herself, refused to be put on camera. Yeah. Weird. Still, you can’t help but wonder what could have been after taking the two hours to sit with this. Was there a successful run at president in his future? We’ll never know, and “Client 9” profiles that question succinctly and provocatively.
5. “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. New York” — Three documentaries in one month?! Goodness, that’s just too much, too soon, right!? Wrong. This Dan Klores-directed flick runs just a little over an hour and is worth every second of your time. Part of ESPN’s 30 For 30 series, this is a must-see for anyone who as much as glanced at professional basketball in the 1990s. One of the greatest shooters the game has ever seen takes on an entire city and, most notably, Spike Lee. The series has produced a laundry list of great made-for-TV sports docs and this is without question one of the most fun.