Two episodes deep into the fifth season of Weeds, let’s take a look at where Nancy Botwin is headed—it’s disturbing and bleak, and involves being forcibly bent over a table. And what of her dysfunctional brood? Spoilers ahead. /Film will consider posting regular Weeds wrap-ups if there is enough reader interest. Let us know.
Over the last three days, I’ve read complaints online from a number of Weeds viewers who feel that the second episode, “Machetes Up Top,” is simply too dark. To be honest, I’m surprised I haven’t come across more of these sentiments; but we’re now in the fifth season, and the majority of viewers who have stuck around expect such testy slaps. For many, pleasurable guilt is part of the show’s appeal: Weeds is famously a love/hate series in and outside the tube. Since its debut in 2005, the series has embraced the modern, twisted anti-hero, one named Nancy Botwin molded in the fresh and hot shape of a drug-peddling MILF. Four years later, the television landscape is peppered with all kinds of charming killers, drug-pushers, gluttons, and sex fiends. And for better or worse, Weeds has confronted the trend and its anti-hero competitors by playing likability limbo hardcore. In 2009, the show’s writers appear dead-set on subjecting her to masochistic, highly self-destructive behavior and situations. How low can a mom get.
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Note: This post contains spoilers from the prior season. With the season finale of AMC’s crystal-meth drama, Breaking Bad, airing this Sunday, the season premiere of Showtime‘s Weeds arrives right in time to [insert a tired pun for TV addiction]. Scheduled for June 8th, season five finds Mary Louise Parker‘s drug-dealing California mom/widow, Nancy Botwin, pregnant with the child of Esteban (Che‘s Demián Bichir). In keeping with Nancy’s breezy who-needs-a-plan-or-a-401K style, the baby was a surprise. That would be fine if Esteban, a mayor in Mexico, wasn’t a control-freak lording over an elaborate black market of cocaine, firearms and human traffic.
Oh yeah, and Nancy and Esteban both know that she narc’d on his operation to the DEA, so the baby may or may not be her lifeline. In an unexpected bit of casting, Alanis Morrissette, will play her obstetrician in more than half the episodes this season. The latest promo trailer is after the break. It emphasizes the long-going mixture of gritty dead-end plotlines and la-la-la grace and humor that makes Weeds enticing and fun, yet famously imbalanced.
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The Allen Ginsberg biopic, Howl, starring James Franco as the American weird beard beatnik poet and intellectual has filled out a lovely cast: Paul Rudd, Alan Alda, Mary-Louise Parker (so tempestuous on Weeds), Jeff Daniels, and David Strathairn have all signed. The actors will portray real-life characters involved in a 1957 obscenity trial, which saw the publisher of Ginsberg’s epic, landmark poem, “Howl,” forced to defend the work’s graphic descriptions of homosexual acts and its merit to society. The court ultimately decided in the publisher’s favor.
The indie feature marks the debut of documentarians, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who co-directed the homosexuality-in-film doc, The Celluloid Closet. Epstein also directed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the 1985 Oscar for Best Documentary, and Gus Van Sant, who directed Franco in this year’s Milk, is producing Howl. Got all that? As if Paul Rudd needed yet another posse. It’s been noted that Franco resembles a young Ginsberg, before the beatnik took on his chubby, bald-yet-hirsute appearance—as played by David Cross in I’m Not There—and joined NAMBLA.
“Fifty years later, Ginsberg’s vision is as relevant as the year he wrote it,” Friedman said in a statement to the trades. “It resonates with issues of free speech, government censorship, militaristic empire building, fear-mongering, sexual conformity and the co-opting of religion.”
The Allen Ginsberg Trust sought the directors for the project. This is def a film to keep an eye on, though I’d prefer to see a full-fledged and objective biopic rather than a damn-the-man flick a la The People vs. Larry Flynt. Franco’s is a role that could have been filled by Johnny Depp in the ’90s, smart career trajectory.
Discuss: Looking forward to Howl? Do you agree with the director’s remarks? Any thoughts on Ginsberg?