Thursday, July 31, 2008

Flash of Genius, or How look! It's Lorelei Gilmore!

There's nothing that makes me more allergic to a movie than the "based on a true story" label. I don't know what it is about it but it usually makes me just dismiss it as Award-bait (and I am an Awards junkie so I'm aware this makes no sense). But then, once in a while movies will come with that label that excite me. This happens mostly when I find an actor/actress in them that interest me (Jake and Robert D. in Zodiac; Russel and Paul in A Beautiful Mind): enter the Flash of Genius trailer.

Sure, the movie itself doesn't look too exciting (windshield wipers! domestic troubles! children!) but Greg Kinnear (of As Good as it Gets and Friends guestage fame) and a certain Ms Lauren 'Lorelei Gilmore' Graham will probably be enough to get me to buy a seat come October to see it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Damn Yankees, or How Jenna and Jack rock my world!

Dir. John Rando
Choreography by: Bob Fosse

I  have soft spot for Adler and Ross' Damn Yankees - I helped produce it at college a couple of years ago - and if watching friends slave over a musical over long and hard-working months doesn't make you appreciate a show, I don't know what will! - and so it was with some wistful nostalgia and anticipation that I bought myself a ticket and headed over to the New York City Center to see Jane 'Jenna from 30 Rock' Krakowski and Sean 'Jack from Will and Grace' Hayes bring Lola and Applegate to life.

Two hours + later, I found myself delighted at the production. Random thoughts ahead:

- Mr Jackson has a pretty voice and a pretty face, but little else going for him either showing he has no grasp of Joe, or playing so plainly he doesn't do justice the material.
- Sean Hayes is wonderful as Mr Applegate (even if Jack-isms lurk at every line-reading, but seriously: is that such a bad thing?) - he bats the hell out of Those Were The Good Old Days including some on-stage piano playing! That and seeing him mock Lola's "routine" were highlights of the show for me.
- Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO - At last I understand what baseball players do when they "practice," I knew all those bats couldn't be just for sporting purposes; they are dancing props people!
- Ms Krakowski is amazing. I fell in love with her back in her Ally McBeal time, love her now in 30 Rock and had only heard good things about her stints in Broadway. But nothing prepared me for her performance as Lola: she's such a natural (who else can slip from Marylin-like voices to Fosse moves as nonchalantly as she does in Whatever Lola Wants?) on stage that she made me just want to join her as she asked Who's Got the Pain [when they do the Mambo]? 

Yes, the show is a bit of a throwback and a traditional musical in every sense of the word, but jolly gosh! It's got heart and that won me over - plus, Fosse choreography people! (Two Lost Souls is a number elevated over the already fun material by the dancing) A

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shia LeBUSTED! or How what show should he "Rehab" in?

After her non-comeback year, depression, an awful hairdo, clinics, pills and umbrella attacks, Britney opted for the hah-larious How I Met Your Mother as the place where she would (and sorta did) show the world she's okay now (and funny if she wants to be).

Lindsay, after partying too much with the Hilton and the Ritchie and whoever else would enable her (including her mom?) decided to start cleaning up her act and going back to her Mean Girls roots and did a small cameo (that set up her arc in the upcoming 3rd Season) in Ugly Betty.

And now, joining the ranks of these two (even if men in Hollywood seem to always get it easier with the press: "He's living life!" "He's having fun" to the "She's out of control!" "It's so unseemly!") Shia LeIHateHisLastName is already in trouble again. Yes, Steven and George's (and Bay's! and Caruso's!) little It-Boy was busted... again. And so many franchises hinge on his nicely cut good-boy image that it led me to wonder: Where oh where will Shia go once he needs to "clean up" his act (even if secretly I'm hoping he doesn't - not because I hate him, but because I do wanna see someone else *coughTopherGracecough* in the role of Yorick Brown). Here are some suggestions:

He could go the K-Fed route and be in an episode of CSI. I can see it now: young hooligan gets in with the wrong crowd. A murder ensues. Investigation (with cool special FX and minimal acting) follows. This would be the "I'm being META" Guest gig (that, or if he wants even more Meta-guesting he could do so in 30 Rock, but as much as I would like everyone to see how Shia cannot meet the Tina/Jane/Alec standards of acting, I really don't want him getting an Emmy nom next year)

Or, he could go the way the girls did and choose a comedy. Let's see, he could do a CBS comedy:

Two and a Half Men (I would only wish this on never-really-been-it boys - Sorry Sheen!) - Shia plays a younger version of Charlie that reminds him how he started, though he's grown enough to give the guy some pointers. Somehow, even in its non-hilarity, the ratings go through the roof and I'm still left wondering how anyone watches this still...

The Big Bang Theory - here he would play himself and suffer from endless "What do you say sir, about the blatant inconsistencies in Indy IV?"/ "But do you really want us to believe anyone could survive a sword fight with Cate Blanchett... I mean, a nuclear explosion?" conversations courtesy of everyone's favourite fanboys. (See, I'd pay to watch that) - and no, he would not get any screen-time with Penny.

Or, y'know - if it gets that bad, he can always go to reality TV shows:

Dancing with the Shia. A one episode spin off where fangirls fight over the 'hunky' Disturbia actor through dancing competition only to win a date with the Last Hope for the Indy franchise. He would play all three guests, showcasing his acting chops (and one can only imagine that he has his faux-Brit-arrogant accent to a dime, except y'know... for the British part) - while all the while hearing confessions from the girls involved saying how they quit their job to be here, or how this would just make their 1 year old so proud... 

How about a guest-judging gig in Project Runway? Well, if SJP could pull it off why not make it an Indy-themed challenge? All you get are khakis and you need to come up with something new (yes - think the Levi's challenge only with Banana Republic sponsoring!) and that classic Indy outfit as your inspiration.

Ah, the possibilities are really endless. I mean, Disney could welcome him back and have him share hosting gigs with Nick Lachey, or Pushing Daisies could use him as a corpse at some point, or he could play an arrogant version of himself in Entourage or well... you get the idea, no?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pushing Daisies Comic Con Panel, or How I'm jealous!

With Thor as my witness, I swear will make it to Comic Con next year, even if it breaks my budget. I went last year and it was a blast, and from having been there to reading and seeing pictures from third parties... it just don't feel right.

This is the case with the Pushing Daisies Panel. Thanks to The Pie Maker blog for posting pics and uploading the entire panel as a podcast

Things I learnt from hearing the podcast and looking at the pics:

- Chi is pronounced "Shay"
- Raul Esparza: we love that you got a gig on Broadway this fall, but why do you have to inconvenience your return to Pushing Daisies?
- There are possibilities for Wonderfalls/Dead Like Me crossovers - am I the only in the world who isn't as interested in that?
- September 16th = DVD/Blu Ray Release!
- Emerson's momma is gonna be coming on the show
- Anna Friel has a beautiful British accent (yes... I too sometimes forget she's British!) - and don't she and Lee look purdy in the pretty?
- Barry Sonnenfeld sounds like Karen Walker's nemesis Beverley Leslie.
- There'll be more singing! Yay! Singing! Yay Musical Episode!
- Kristin is probably one of my favourite showbiz people (and yes, I am also saying that cause I have seen her in person!) Also, doesn't she look purdy in the pic?
- Chi McBride is really funny, and in Sonnenfeld's words he's just 'tall and handsome' as Lee, only black. (Oh, Barry!)
- There's a nunnery involved in the premiere episode! (Yay, Sound of Music moment coming up for Cheno!)
- Fans are really crazy and go ape-shit over anything at Comic Con Panels.
- David Arquette will be joining the cast as a recurring character with the most amazing name in the Pushing Daisies universe: Randy Mann.
- Some of Cheno's "famous friends" (from Broadway we assume?) will be joining the show (for guestage, we assume?) - yay more singing!
- Uh... step away from fangirls who want to know how to knit a gun-coaster.

October 1st - you cannot come soon enough!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Voice (Child) Actors, or How it's the Rugrats Blog-A-Thon

I had so much fun compiling this post on Voice Actressexuality for TFE that I figured I'd do something along the same lines for My Stuff and Cr*p's Rug Rats Blog-A-Thon (somehow the words "niche" and "specialization" are ringing in my ears... I have no idea why).

But it is true: when do people sit down and chat about Child Actors, let alone Voice Child Actors? That may be because there aren't that many VCA (yes, I'm coining the acronym as we speak) parts - did you know Lisa and Bart Simpson, all those Rugrats and even Disney's Doug (all lovable animated kids) aren't voiced by kids themselves? I guess it's easier to accommodate adults' schedules (and talents!) for a TV series, which is why I found more VCAs in films rather than in the tube.

And while great adult performances can make kid roles really entertaining, I give props to child actors whose voices go beyond merely what's on the page and you can really feel they are lived-in characters (This might also be a tip of the hat to the directors involved who knew what to get and how to use it). And so, this is why today, I'm I spotlighting the kids who stepped up to the plate and create lovable animated kids:

Judith Barsi
Land Before Time & Anne-Marie, All Dogs Go to Heaven)

Regardless of the tragic ending of little Ms Barsi (she was murdered by her father alonside her mother back in 1988, there's no denying what Don Bluth saw in her to have her voice two memorable characters in his late 80s movies. Ducky is just a wonderful creation (coming from a movie I adored while growing up) that helps give the film that innocence and wonderful playful nature that along with Petrie off-sets the more mature themes of loss and family, while Anne-Marie is the emotional core in a film that nicely balances her story with the antics of Charlie and Itchy.

Signature Line: Yep yep yep!

Jonathan Taylor Thomas
The Lion King)

Oh JTT. What would the 90s have done without you? Seriously, was there anything Mr triple-named Thomas didn't attempt? Thankfully, his voice was the right combination of innocence and arrogance needed to make little Simba a wide-eyed cub before he learns to live by Hakuna Matata after witnessing his father's death (which I still stand by is the 'Bambi's mother's death of our time!). I adore in particular the scenes he shares with Jeremy Iron er... Scar, where the obvious pitch, style and tone of each creates the core tension in the film: JTT's childish though good-natured bravery matched by Irons' calm, cool and collected (if altogether cowardly) courage.

Signature Line: Oh I just can't wait to be king!

Mary Gibbs
Monsters Inc.)

I dare anyone to watch Monsters, Inc. and NOT fall in love with the adorable Boo. Sure, most of the line readings are incomprehensible to both the audience and the monsters who take care of orphan Boo in their world but that's what makes the very vocal and tiny Boo so affecting - it's all in her shrieks and laughs that we are put in the same position as Goodman's Sulley and Crystal's Mike. Pete Docter deserves probably most of the praise for this performance, but in Boo I saw a young girl so true to life I couldn't pass up the opportunity to glorify a child performance (and a kid character) that doesn't need to be quipping and bantering, nor being innocent and wide-eyed, but instead being just herself: laughing when she wants to, pointing to what she needs and colouring whatever she sees.

Signature Line: Kitty!

Alexander Gould
Finding Nemo)

While the breakout voice performance might have come from a certain out blonde comedienne, Gould holds his own against the likes of Brad Garret, Willem Defoe and even Allison Janney, in that character-ful fish tank, creating a clown fish worth an entire film and an adventure across to sea. Continuing the motifs of the actors discussed before, Gould imbues Nemo with an optimistic and willful voice (again juxtaposed to Defoe's threatening but well-meaning Gill).

Signature Line: I have a bad fin...

Okay, I'll retreat to my animated bubble now and await the likes of Kristin Chenoweth (Disney's Rapunzel) and Anika Noni Rose (Disney's The Princess and the Frog) - because yes, I do enjoy a good voice acting gig in the muddled 'genre' (though people! It's actually a medium!) that is now plagued with Murphy just doing his thang and A-listers phoning it in.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pixar's Up, or How I can't wait!

Okay, I am still reeling from the two screenings of Wall-E I took in in its first week, but that doesn't mean I ain't excited about Pete Docter's UP. I mean, this is the guy who brought us Monsters, Inc. for god's sake. I am so excited - even if the teaser [watch it here] just leaves me going huh...? But I guess that's what comes from NOT attending San Diego Comic Con this year and missing out on the wonderfulness of exclusive sneak peeks and talking to the showrunners.And now, the wait begins...

Wishmaster IV, or How... when Bad Movies happen to Good People

Before he became a pivotal 1/5 of the biggest secret in Sci Fi TV history, Michael Trucco... well, let's just say was a working actor. He did get top billing once the credits rolled:
Don't ask me why I sat through it (I mean... it's not unprecedented, since I did sit through - if groggy at times - James Marsters and Shadow Puppets [ed note: no relation to the wonderfully witty and gorgeous Spike inspired comic book by the same name]) but I can tell you there was not enough (male) gratuity nudity to warrant a viewing - or a coherent plot to speak of. But then, what can you expect when the writer has also penned such B-cable classics as Thrill of the Kill, Venus Envy and Live Once, Die Twice and the director's only highlight in his imbd page is well, this.

If you just want some Michael (who I can tell you is just as attractive in real life as he is in those BSG-signature tank tops) just stick to the Battlestar Galactica DVDs and reruns.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Handy Manny, or How I'm Seeing Double

Oh My God! Disney has gone and stolen my identity! (and after all I've done for 'em!)

This is Handy Manny and yes, he even bears my same name (and wears a green shirt! I mean... I own green shirts!)True, I don't have a foreign accent nor am I handy: but hello! Spitting image!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight (IMAX), or How bigger IS better!

The Dark Knight
Dir. Christopher Nolan
Written by: Chris & Jonathan Nolan (Story by C. Nolan and David Goyer)
Starring: Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and the late Heath Ledger.

With all those shattered box office records and a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, is there anything left to say about Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight? Probably not, but here I go offering my two cents regardless [spoiler-free!]

On Heath Ledger: Sometimes - not always - a performance not only lives up to the hype, but it supersedes it. I had been a fan of Ledger's work ever since he sung and danced his way into Julia Stiles' heart way back when, and his Ennis Del Mar is soul-crushing, but who knew he had that psycopathic, anarchic force of nature that is The Joker inside him? A treat to watch whenever he's on screen, Ledger transforms an age-old character from campy yet scary to fucking scary yet macabre-y funny. I don't know about an Oscar, cause really his performance will outlast any gold-coated naked man.

On Christian Bale: It must be hard to be hearing all about your co-star when your performance is the anchor of the film. But I'm sure Christian is a good sport and must understand why his performance (and his character) are sort of pushed to the background in this sequel: isn't that what the movie is all about: having Batman recede into the darkest corners of Gotham City? Still, his Batman is still scary (especially when he's dangling people in rooftops) and his Bruce Wayne is still a jerk to perfection.

On the rest of the cast: Can we just talk about how no other summer movie (or any movie in general this year so far) has offered a better ensemble cast? Sure, Ledger does offer the meatiest role/performance and Bale shows us that he has the chops to carry the cape, but how about Eckhart's White Knight turned revenge-seeking Two Face? Or Oldman's troubled Lieutenant Gordon? Or Gyllenhaal's lovely and spunky Dawes? And trust Freeman and Caine to offer small yet textured roles (Supporting Actor Oscars don't come along for no reason y'know?) 

On the IMAX experience: Uh... it's Batman, just bigger! and better! How can an IMAX-sized Christian not be a good enough draw? True, the skylines and the sequences shot in IMAX are amazing and breathtaking (I really felt like I was falling into Hong Kong! and how cool was the Bat-pod scene?!) but seeing a giant sized Christian did it for me.

On the movie overall: I'll leave it up to fanboys and other 'net crazies to ponder over whether The Dark Knight is a right wing terrorist basher, an exploration on anarchy and bureaucracy, on the pathos of heroism or the self-effacing power of evil for evil's sake. For me it was an intense crime drama that had more to do with (dare I say it?) past Oscar Winners The Departed and No Country for Old Men than with Spidey and Iron Man. The canvas is so vast, the storylines so intricate, the characters so lived-in that the fact that Bruce dresses up as a Bat seemed like just an added bonus to this clever nuanced vision of a world that seethes with evil and the few that make do and still try and do good. 

"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain" says Harvey Dent - sadly in Gotham (an allegory of the world?) people are more interested in living longer than in being heroes... A+

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mamma Mia! or How it's all in good fun!

Mamma Mia!
Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Written by: Catherine Johnson (with songs by ABBA!)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski & Julie Walters.

To say Mamma Mia! is a treat to watch (granted you're into saccharine catchy songs and feel good-time stories) is probably an understatement. Sure, there are some slow-motion shots that don't quite seem to work and feel forced, and sure there are some singing actors that shouldn't really call themselves that (*ahem Brosnan ahem*), and sure the entire film is set up as a pretext for showcasing the songs (and the actors who love singing and dancing 'em)... but despite these 'problems' (and the initial cringe moments as you sink into the tone and style of the film) Mamma Mia! is a really fun movie to experience mainly in the strength of its actors and the campy crazy fun of it all:

Meryl as Donna: She really is the Super Trouper of the film. To lose herself with such abandon in the world of MM! is really a testament to her acting (and singing!) chops. She feels so natural playing Donna - whether it's singing and dancing in crazy outfits, or using a shawl as a prop with more gusto than more actresses can do with their entire bodies. 

Amanda as Sophie: Take a Chance on me? Hell yes! Such a natural in front of the camera (even when surrounded by toned, tanned, and oiled up performing dancers!) - it's good to see Karen Smith moving up in the world.

Pierce as Sam: S.O.S! The reason Mr Brosnan was able to play Remington Steele and James Bond was because those roles required the stagnant indifferent pose that he has down to a dime. Sadly, campy singing just comes off as awkward and... cringe-worthy.

Colin as Harry: Good to see Mr Darcy playing a good ol' Dancing Queen (and shirtless no less!)

Stellan as Bill: I still can't believe at the end he's saying I do, I do, I do, I do, I do... mainly 'cause I've never been a fan of the 'let's pair everyone off at the end' ending. Still, Skarsgard did well in the least musically and dancing-ey role in the cast.

Dominic as Sky (and while we're at it: Sky?!): Gimme! Gimme! Gimme... more of Mr Cooper! Especially when his costumes are swimming shorts, pink tights and his ever dashing smile.

Christine as Tanya: Honey, Honey, why is it that Ms Baranski glistens in everything she's in adding a certain old-school appreciation for over the top antics and great singing? Cause she's a pro - especially with a drink in her hand.

Julie as Rosie: Voulez vous have as much fun as Ms Walters did? Cause I do.

So, Chiquitita, this might not be the dark masterpiece (and box office SMASH!) that The Dark Knight is shaping up to be, but if TDK is sold out you won't regret stopping by to hang out with Meryl and Amanda. B+

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog, or How... random thoughts on NPH et al

Have you watched/sang along to it yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Acts 1 and 2 are up. Just go to
Random thoughts on DHSAB:

- All NPH needs is a camera and Joss's dialogue to make me start giggling like a schoolgirl.

- How awesome is the fact that Bad Horse's letters and calls are sung by a trio of cowboys?

- Where do I get this iPhone app?

- Oh Nathan! You do play the goofy hero who's self-involved very well!
- Ogres might be like onions cause they have layers (and not parfaits like Donkey would have wanted) but apparently Captain Hammer is a pie: underneath the first layer, there's a different layer, but underneath that, it's the initial first layer. Am I not making sense? You clearly haven't been watching then!
- And yes, the hammer is his penis.
Will our devilishly handsome villain get the girl? Will the girl dump the do-good-er? Will the Captain get hammered out of the picture?
Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Lovely Bones, or How I'm Seeing Double

I just finished reading The Lovely Bones (anticipating the 2009 Peter Jackson-helmed filmed) and I was quite taken aback by it. The novel is told by 14 year old Susie Salmon who, in the first paragraph tells us she was murdered in 1973. At once a murder-mystery story and a broken family tale, Sebold's novel is quite interesting in that it focuses on Susie's life in heaven as she watches helplessly how her family and friends live and deal with her death. It could be a hokey concept, but somehow the simple storytelling and the vivid reality of it all made for a fast but a very emotional read. And now, with Jackson filming the novel, I can't wait to see how this story gets re-told cinematically - it could be a weepy tearjerker, but I'm hoping for something more. The casting sounds amazing (Wahlberg, Sarandon, Weisz, Tucci, Imperioli) but I'm really excited to see the triple threat of the girls (Dandon, McIver and especially Ronan):

Monday, July 14, 2008

High School Musical 3, or How let's break down the trailer, shall we?

Thank you JD for posting this. Now, we can have some fun:

Disney is hoping this TV sensation that took the world by storm (twice!) will take over the silver screen and this trailer is hoping to hit all its bases. Let's see, after a ...Baby One More Time/Hairspray sort of opening (with the bell ringing and all) we see Disney aching to set its demographic as wide as possible:

Attract the Urban kids (just put Troy in a Step Up-like background, have him dance with the black kid and have him wear a bandanna)
Attract the Gays with their diva in the making La Tisdale snapping her fingers and shutting down everything about her
Attract the Sporties with a dramatic basketball locker room entrance via #14 Bolton
Attract the Romantics at heart with a dancing in the rain scene
Attract the style-obsessed Sport-Metros by bringing (back?) the white hoodie o'er 'r head.
Attract the Product-Placement kids and have them hunger after Sharpay's perfume
Attract the Comic-prone by showcasing the slapstick antics of Ryan and Sharpay
Attract the Musical geeks by have them wonder what kid of shot is this (I mean, is this a mashup of Maria from Sound of Music of Maria from West Side Story?)
But even after watching the very polished looking trailer (I was afraid it would end up looking like a TV movie on a big screen...) questions remain:

- Is that Ryan?! [The geniuses behind his lovely baseball outfit put him in this?] I really can't tell (why).
- What is La Tisdale scheming?
- Why is one V-Hudge's power(less) ballads doing in the middle of a sweaty Zeffron moment?!
- How many of Ryan's outfits will I want to own this time around? (What did he wear to Prom? Did he take a boy...?)
and of course:
- Why is Gabriela saying goodbye? (::crosses fingers!!::)
October 24th can't come soon enough: hopefully it'll be here before I realize I am not part of the Generation that Disney's trailer alludes to.