The high school video diaries
Fox's provocative new reality drama, 'American High,' gives an eye-opening account of teenagers' lives.
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But then chaos is at the bottom of all these "mockumentaries." Roy is no fly-on-the-wall, as he claims to be. He confuses every issue with his impertinent questions and comments. When the Zenotec CEO, Peter, invites the firm's only delivery driver to his office to fire him, filmmaker Roy comments in voice-over, "Being cruel in order to be kind is never easy. As Peter is not doing this to be kind, his task of being cruel is even more of a challenge."Skip to next paragraph
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The show skewers corporate greed, materialism, and insensitivity to workers in England, but
it applies equally to American concerns.
It's all for laughs, and the acting is good enough to make one forget that we've all been set up for the joke.
And speaking of British television, Sci-Fi Channel's new series, Ultraviolet, is yet another unique British import guaranteed to entertain sci-fi fans. The six-hour miniseries airing over three consecutive nights (July 31, Aug. 1, 2, from 9-11 p.m.) is well written, intriguing, mysterious, and beautifully acted. All the major performers were classically trained, and it makes a big difference: No word or gesture is exaggerated, which makes it seem all the more realistic. It has the aura of a police show, except vampires play the villains. A whole technology has been developed to cope with these latter-day Draculas, along with a covert state-sanctioned vampire-execution team called "The Squad." These officers neutralize the vamps, who cannot be killed, turning them to red dust and incarcerating the dust in a high-tech prison made for the purpose. The vamps can be reconstituted under the right conditions.
But what do these creatures of the night want? Is it to keep human beings as a food supply, to control and farm them? Is the issue mass destruction or mass hypnosis and slavery?
Or maybe what they want is something worse. Part detective fiction, part environmental thriller, part unrequited love story, this absorbing film questions the nature of evil - and the existence of God.
It's spooky, but like much of speculative fiction - asking "What if?" - its real purpose is to examine moral issues. How does evil insinuate itself into human consciousness? How does it hypnotize?
One way is to question the reality of good. The vampires try to persuade the humans that there is no God, claiming themselves as the only immortals. Are the vamps merely misunderstood? How will the humans unlock the puzzle of the vampires' real intentions and save mankind from demonic influences?
Sci-fi fans will find the metaphors appealing, the questions intriguing, and the solutions surprising.
Women Film Pioneers presents Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood (TCM, Aug. 3, 8-9 p.m.). The Hollywood machine has more women working in it now than, say, 25 years ago. But women worked throughout the industry during the silent era, acting, writing, directing, and producing films.
No screenwriter was better paid or more popular than the brilliant Frances Marion, who wrote for Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino, and Gary Cooper, among many others. She wrote screenplays for "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Champ," and most of Pickford's films. This fine documentary is hosted by Uma Thurman, with Kathy Bates reading Marion's own words.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society