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Gossip Girl: There Might be Blood
Episode 9, Season 2

Guerilla style fashion show
Jenny and Agnes gatecrash a gala for Lily, which has potential financial backers, in order to launch themselves into the New York fashion scene. It demonstrates how Jenny is willing to alienate her father in order to get what she wants in her career. Her father, Rufus, doesn't recognise her any more, but her brother, Dan, realises that sometimes you have to sell your soul to launch your career otherwise you will forever be a nobody. For this he respects her, but he doesn't go and do the same thing. I must admit that Jenny does look more professional with her clothes rack and new hair style. She looks like a costume designer and is saying with her new look that she deserves to be taken seriously.

Blair is her usual self when she tries to push past people in a crowd and instead of saying 'excuse me' she says 'ooh' in that Blair way.

Gossip Girl: Never Been Marcused
Episode 2, Season 2

The 40-Year Old Duchess
There are some flattering shots of Blair in this episode, and Serena is quite provocative when she sucks on a chocolate coated strawberry.

Chuck has good movement, and it's really a pity that he didn't challenge Dan back the various times they have confronted each other.

The 40-year old Catherine 'Duchess' Beaton who helps Nate out financially in return for sexual favours is a good concept, but playing with her step-son as well makes you lose sympathy for her. I can understand Nate going from Blair to Catherine, and I can understand Catherine wanting younger flesh in addition to her husband. But the step-son and his false British accent lacks credibility.

I think Blair is better off with Chuck as he knows her better than she knows herself, whereas Nate doesn't quite know himself or the women he's with.

Gossip Girl: Pilot
Episode 1, Season 1

Jenny's Fashion Emergency
Dan Humphrey presented as a lonely boy with his sister and supportive father kind of lacks credibility. Serena is more of an outsider when Blair tells her that she's not invited to the party. That throws her into Dan's world where they are both outsiders: she has been kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and he is an outsider because he lives in Brooklyn.

I like the way how Blair is bold and wants to get it on with Nate at a party. She even goes out of the way to make their first time together special, but he has to mess up by confessing about his past with Serena.

I can't believe that Serena was as bad as Blair. I believe she can stand up to her and match her, but I don't believe that she can consistently be diabolical on a daily basis.

Gossip Girl: The Wild Brunch
Episode 2, Season 1

The way into the middle classes is through a wronged woman
Dan becomes an insider through Serena who is fast becoming an outsider because of her fragmented past and departure from boarding school.

Chuck seems to understand Blair better than she knows herself which is quite touching because it demonstrates that he is in love with her in his own way. He says things like 'your eyes are doing that thing where it doesn't match your lips.' It is good script writing even if the characters are undesirable.

Apart from the fact that Chuck has weak lips, he seems to have good movement, and it's almost a pity that he doesn't hit back when Dan pushes him around.

Bart has a brunch party to help Chuck meet people and make friends. That the kind of party I'd like to go where I can meet producers and distributors.

Gossip Girl: Dare Devil
Episode 5, Season 1

Social Amnesia
Dan takes Serena out to a restaurant for a date and the waiter treats him as though he's never seen him before. I've certainly been through that, not in a restaurant, but in various city churches where people whom I've worked with have either ignored me or treated me like a stranger. In Dan, you get to experience what it is like as a socially aspiring talent who hits a social glass ceiling in middle class society. However, through Serena, he very quickly loses his outsider status and becomes an insider. He doesn't seem to work for it like Jenny who gives the impression that she is willing to sell her soul just to make it in middle class society. Dan's too proud for that, which loses him a few sympathy points. Maybe he needs to be halfway between himself and Jenny to be more endearing.

Gossip Girl: Poison Ivy
Episode 3, Season 1

Blair's Unsent Letter
Dan comes to terms with the fact that he doesn't have a university legacy even though Serena's parents went to Harvard and Brown. My parents didn't go to university and I was the second in my family to go to university, so I partially connected with him.

There is a sweet scene where Chuck is in Blair's bedroom and says to her: 'So this is your bed'. She covers up her blanket and says to him: 'leaving'. It's a cute scene and something you would say to someone you want to bed, or at least have strong feelings for.

Dan says to Serena: 'If you ever need someone to talk to, let me know.' No one's ever said to me, although some have said 'don't be a stranger', which isn't quite the same thing.

The most moving part of this episode is when Blair reads her unsent letter to Serena. It reads: 'My world is falling apart. I don't have anyone to talk to. Where are you? Why did you leave without saying goodbye? I miss you so much.' It's the kind of letter I would have written to my soulmate when they walked out of my life. My world fell apart because they left without saying goodbye. I missed my soulmate so much and didn't have anyone to speak to. Hearing Blair read these words endeared me to her. My only concern is that this was made in 2007 in an age of facebook, email, text and twitter, whereas letter writing was something of the 90s and 80s. Maybe this series has been kicking around for a few decades before it got made.

Serena's answer is equally moving: 'I didn't know how to be your friend.' I truly believe the reason why people have walked out of my life, or have not persisted in friendship and companionship with me is because they don't know how to be my friend. This for me is testimony that the series has some good writing, even though the characters may appear to be shallow in a superficial world.

Gossip Girl: Bad News Blair
Episode 4, Season 1

Put your hand on your hip and pop
Apart from the fact that Blair regards Dan as Serena's charity case, this is the episode that Serena really demonstrates that she has style. For a start, after she has a conversation with Dan on the street, the music cues by saying: 'You gotta shake your ass.' Then we cut to Serena walking away and guess what? We see her shaking her ass in rhythm with the music. That is a great piece of photography and post-production.

Secondly, we see Serena teach Blair and her cronies how to pose. You just put your hand on her hip and POP. The way she says it makes you want to pop as well. She is so full of life and fun then anyone would want to be her friend.

Gossip Girl: Much 'I Do' About Nothing
Episode 18, Season 1

The Important of Perseverance
This episode has Chuck give a good speech at his father's wedding. He says: 'In the face of true love you don't just give up even if the object of your affection is begging you to.' I know that I have tried chasing after a true love in the past who has never responded to my letters. This is discouraging, and I've ended up giving up. However, I have consistently followed my dream and not given up on my childhood ambition. Maybe I'm more in love with my dream than I have been with any person.

After the speech, Blair tells Chuck he doesn't belong with anyone, even though he went on to say that 'one day I hope I'll be lucky enough to find someone' who won't give up on me. I know that a lot of people have given up on me, but that's what makes Serena so attractive. She doesn't give up on Blair, and even tells her that she is willing to fight alongside of her to make the relationship work.

Gossip Girl: Woman on the Verge
Episode 17, Season 1

Every time you walk away you take a piece of me with you
This episode kind of sums up what Rufus feels about Lily. In episode 10, he tells her that he should never have let her let him go. In episode 12, he tells her that he is still in love with her. You feel what he feels for Lily, and I certainly know that when someone walks out of your life they take a piece of you with them. Fortunately, Rufus had his wife to temporarily fill that gap and have Dan and Jenny.

I like the way he stands in front of Lily and despite her protests he says no and kisses her. That is persistence. I've never been that persistent about the one I love except at primary school when I was chasing after the ones I was fascinated by.

This series teaches you about the power of persistence, be it in love, or in pursuing your dream.

Gossip Girl: All About My Brother
Episode 16, Season 1

The most important parties to attend are the ones you're not invited to
Jenny forms an alliance with Asher and he tells her 'do you really think someone like me would date someone like you?' For those who are socially aspiring up the ladder from working class society, there is a certain fascination about dating a middle class person who will redefine who you are. Sadly it doesn't work out for Jenny, and she ends up conceding defeat to Blair stating that it's not worth selling your soul to gain access to middle class society.

There is a touching speech that says: 'The people that care about you always stand by your side.' The converse of that is the people who desert you when you need them most don't care about you. I can't say that there have been many people who have stood by my side when I've needed them which most mean that they don't care about me.

Gossip Girl: Desperately Seeking Serena
Episode 15, Season 1

I don't have any experience of this dating thing
This episode has Blair and her cronies look at the profile of Nelly and explore what her weakness is. They discover that she does not like an album that reminds her of when she split up with her boyfriend. Blair exploits this weakness and uses it to distract her from revising for her exams.

There is a great line where Serena says to Georgina about Dan: 'I like the way I feel when he looks at me.' That's a good barometer for gauging whether or not you're in love with someone. I know that when I was away from my soulmate I was longing and yearning to be with the one I loved. When we were together my joy was doubled. I've never forgotten how I felt when I was with my soulmate.

When Dan actually tells her that he loves her she says 'okay'. Dan tells her that the right response to someone telling you that they love you is not 'okay'. This demonstrates that Serena is also new to this relationship thing.

Gossip Girl: The Blair Bitch Project
Episode 14, Season 1

Jenny sells her soul to break into the middle classes
Blair begins the episode by mourning her former life. Later, she accuses Chuck of being friendless and girlfriendless because of his diabolical ways. However, there are people who are friendless and companionless but are not diabolical. Chuck isn't a sympathetic character, but he is played very well albeit with a weak smile.

Again, we get a strong sense of Jenny's character who sells her sewing machine in order to earn the money to buy her way into middle class society. It can be quite expensive trying to socialise with the middle classes. I ended up in overdraft and scrounging for drinks whilst doing the socialising thing. Luckily I didn't have to sell anything, but keeping up appearances amongst the middle classes is expensive.

Gossip Girl: School Lies
Episode 12, Season 1

Dan and Serena studying together
Dan is presented with the possibility that if he is expelled from school he has nothing else to fall back on. I know how that feels because when I was called up to the office of the Head of Department, I was presented with the possibility that if I was expelled from university I would have nothing to fall back on. Like Dan, Serena says that if she is expelled she doesn't think any school would take her. At this point I believe that Dan and Serena are two lost souls who have found and deserve each other.

We see Vanessa making a documentary to get a grant, but we don't get a clear sense of her character like Jenny. We know that Jenny is a social climber living in low rent accommodation who is prepared to sell her soul to break into middle class society. Vanessa is not like that so we're not sure what she's about. Does she really want to make documentaries? We don't see her putting herself out of the way to get into a filmmaking community.

Perhaps the most touching scene in this episode is when Rufus says to Lily that he is still in love with her.

Scarlet Angel

Yvonne De Carlo can't act
I've seen a few of Yvonne De Carlo's films, and with the exception of 'Criss Cross' with Burt Lancaster, she is the same in all her films. There is no range or depth in her voice. She sounds the same whether she's happy or sad. She's not particularly good looking even with make-up. She was at her best in 'The Ten Commandments', but she did have a good script and direction by Cecil B. DeMille to guide her. The point is that the films she's appeared in are not well written nor do they have good directors. 'Criss Cross' had a good script which lifted her performance.

The film is beautifully shot by Russell Metty who would go on to shoot 'Spartacus'.

Gossip Girl: A Thin Line Between Chuck and Nate
Episode 13, Season 1

I'm new at this relationship thing
This is a really good episode. It begins with Blair telling Jenny to move down a few steps. It reminds me of when I went to join a table at a city church in London only to find some of the diners discreetly moving to another table taking their dinner plate with them. Their physical action told me to move down a few seats or tables, but no words were exchanged.

Secondly, Jenny tells Dan to tell Serena again that he loves her, and gives the example that their dad is old and alone because he didn't tell the woman that he loves that he loved her. I remember when I wrote a love letter to a soulmate and never got a response. Sometimes you can end up old and alone even if you do tell the one that you love that you love them.

Dan has a great line when he says: 'Why don't you tell me what's on your mind, so that it can be on our minds, and we can both worry about what's on your mind together.' That is such a great line. Companionship is all about sharing happiness and sadness, conversation and silence together.

Gossip Girl

Serena has never had a long term relationship before
Although the series doesn't really present Dan Humphrey as a lonely boy because he hits it off with Serena in episode one, you do get the impression that this whole girlfriend thing is new to him. In episode 7 (Victor/Victrola), he gets to put his hand on her bum which is what every bloke wants to do.

There is some good writing in the series. In the pilot episode, there is the line: 'You don't give up just because things get hard.' That is so true when you are pursuing a dream job. In episode 6 (The Handmaiden's Tale), there is the line: 'Sometimes you have to knock a few times for people to hear you.' When you're applying for jobs you have to knock hundreds of times and very hard at that. The Ball is a metaphor for the workplace. The front door is there to keep undesirables out, but if they want you to get in they'll let you in through the back door. It's the same with the world of work. No name policy on reception, but if they want you to work there someone will champion your cause.

Gossip Girl: Seventeen Candles
Episode 8, Season 1

Blair and Chuck
This is a really good episode. For a start, Dan explains the basics of life to his father and then says: 'Why do I have to be telling you this?' I get that. There are certain things that should be so obvious to a grown adult, especially someone twice your age, that it's embarrassing if you have to explain it to them like a baby.

Secondly, the scene between Blair and Chuck at night is great. She says to him: 'Wait a minute. Do you like me?' Horror of horrors, he does. 'You have got to be kidding', she says. 'How d'you think I feel?' Chuck responds. 'I haven't slept. I feel like butterflies fluttering in my stomach.' Blair ends the conversation by saying: 'This is not happening. Those butterflies, have got to be murdered.' Not only is this good writing, but Leighton Meester's delivery of these lines is exquisite. She really is a good actress even though she's playing a superficial character.

This scene is followed by another scene where Dan is introduced to Blair at her 17th birthday. Blair whispers to Serena: 'This is such a problem.' I know exactly how that feels. I've been introduced to people in church and I could see in their eyes them saying to themselves: 'This is such a problem. Why do I have to engage with this person?'

Dan's experience in high society is a universal experience that transcends the place and culture of the series.

My Gal Sal

Rita Hayworth outshines Victor Mature
Rita Hayworth is charming in this film which has flattering shots of her. She is quite good looking, and if nothing else the film is a masterclass in hair and make-up, lighting, costume and production design. The cinematography is good as well, but it's almost wasted on a mediocre story.

Victor Mature is average in this film, although there are some happy scenes between him and Hayworth. It's good seeing him in Technicolor before 'Samson and Delilah'.

I'm not particularly a Hayworth fan, but she does look beautiful in this film.

Kings Row

Robert Cummings and Judith Anderson
Ronald Reagan mentions how lonely he is to Ann Sheridan, which represents a few of the characters who are also lonely. The story itself is not that interesting, but it has the potential to be interesting. I haven't read the novel, but I think there is something lost in the adaptation from the novel to the screen. It's probably trying to do too many things rather than focusing on one thing.

I like the ensemble cast of Claude Rains (who dies off pretty quickly), Charles Coburn and Judith Anderson. Reagan plays a more interesting character than Robert Cummings, but you get the sense that you are on a journey with these characters rather than engaging in an absorbing plot.

Gossip Girl: Hi, Society
Episode 10, Season 1

True gentlemen are a rare breed
This is a really good episode. We begin to experience Dan's discomfort when he listens to high society people speak about travelling to Dubai knowing that he hasn't been there and cannot contribute to the conversation. I know exactly how that feels with high society people in church speaking about travelling to Nepal, Dubai and various other places that I haven't been to. All I could say was that I would soon be going to Yugoslavia.

Then there is the conversation that CeCe has with Dan. She says to him: 'The way you feel never goes away. When you speak, people don't hear you. They never see you when they look at you. They wonder if you're a charity case or an extra-curricular activity. Girls like Serena don't end up with Dan Humphrey. People like you turn into cocktail anecdotes of their youth.' That is such powerful writing. Having come from urban society myself and entered into high society in the church, I have experienced talking to people who don't hear me, and people looking at me without even seeing me. Some of them have looked through me and pretended as though they don't know me. I think I've probably ended up as a cocktail anecdote about how they extended charity to someone from the inner cities.

Song of the Islands

Victor Mature in Hawaii
Apart from the fact that Victor Mature gets to act alongside of Thomas Mitchell, and the story is set in Hawaii, there is nothing to commend this film. Some of the Hawaiian characters are Americans made up to look Hawaiian. The characters are one-dimensional, and the story fails to engage the audience at any level.

I'm not a Betty Grable fan, but she does look good in a straw skirt, and she has a nice back.

The film is shot in beautiful Technicolor, but it is not a masterclass in colour grading.

I would advise Mature fans to stay away from this film as it comes nowhere near the quality of 'Samson and Delilah'.

If I Had a Million

This poor excuse for a film is truly dreadful. It doesn't even deserve 1 out 10. It should get a zero because there is nothing in it that merits it being called a movie. I don't know what it is, but it's not a movie.

Charles Laughton appears 52 minutes into the film, but his presence adds nothing to the project. It has multiple writers and directors, but it is a waste of talent and expertise. Clearly, filmmaking in the 1930s was primitive because 'Tales of Manhattan' did it better in 1942 which also featured Laughton. Although Edward G. Robinson stole the show in that ensemble piece, Laughton's performance in that film was far superior to this poorly made effort.

Not worth the money on DVD and I can see why it has not stood the test of time.

Stars and Stripes Forever

Debra Paget has nice legs
Here you see another side to Debra Paget. I always thought she was a bit samey in all her films, and although I don't think she's particularly good looking, she has got a nice pair of legs and she reveals her behind. It's a very different side of her, and you begin to understand why she broke into films as a teenager, but didn't have a career once she reached her 30s. Here you see the sensuous side of her, and although she can't sing, act or dance, she is more alluring in this role than in straight roles. Maybe she should have done more musical roles to show off her thighs and behind.

As for the film itself it's a bit dull even with Robert Wagner and Clifton Webb in it.

Green Fire

Stewart Granger in Colombia
I've never really enjoyed this film when it was repeated on television, and I still haven't changed my opinion. Both Stewart Granger and Grace Kelly are wasted in this film, even though Kelly was past her best after 'Dial M For Murder'. Granger still had 'Moonfleet' ahead of him, but this film does nothing to add to his canon of films except to have the opportunity to work with Kelly. In his autobiography, 'Sparks Fly Upwards', Granger says 'Grace had one phobia, her behind.' Admittedly, I did notice that her behind stuck out when Paul Douglas embraced her. In the final scene when Grace and Stewart kiss, he says in his autobiography that the torrential downpour 'accentuated that fabulous behind. To save her embarrassment, I covered it with both hands.' I bet Paul Douglas would have wanted to do the same thing.

Although the film is awful, reading about Stewart's experience of making the film is interesting.

Follow the Sun

Anne Baxter as a Methodist
This uninteresting film has nothing to commend it except that it starts off with Anne Baxter as a child going to a Methodist church, and then returning to a chapel after she is involved in a collision with her husband, Glenn Ford, who grew up in a Baptist church. It doesn't seem to explore her faith or Methodist beliefs during her time of crisis, nor does her faith seem to be tested. It's almost irrelevant the fact that they both have a church background because it doesn't seem to play any part in the rest of the story.

I'm not a Glenn Ford fan, but I think Baxter fans should stay away from this film as it comes nowhere near the quality of 'The Razor's Edge', and the characters are one-dimensional.

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