Sunday, November 30, 2008

Duplicity or How it's a Closer Reunion!

I know there are some Julia haters out there. To them I say: shut it! 

I know, I know - I can get a bit testy when people I (heart) get picked on. But seriously, how can you hate on Julianne, Anna (x2), Vivian, Erin, Maggie, Shelby and Tess? In any case, that's not the point. The point is I'm digging this Ocean-esque trailer for Tony Gilroy's follow up to his Oscar nominated directorial debut Michael Clayton which starred George and gave Tilda her Oscar. (It seems Gilroy is slowly moving down the Ocean's cast from Matt- he wrote the Bourne movies, to George and here now with Julia - next? Brad, or maybe Casey, or Don?) Sure, I wish it had a more inspired title but you gotta give it props for using Goldfrapp in the trailer and for employing the criminally underused Carrie Preston (love her in Transamerica).

Best line in the trailer? "Do you have any idea how far my ass was hanging out because of you?" (and here's hoping Clive means that literally...)

Best Closer-esque badinage: 
Julia: If I told you I loved you, would it make a difference?
Clive: If you told me or if I believed you?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vintage SNL, or How Enjoy!

Oh you'll be the death of me. Browsing through the SNL files of old I found these gems:

1. Babara's surprise appearance on 'Coffee Talk.' Yes you have Madonna, Roseanne AND Barbara in one frame, I'm verlempt!

2. The days of yore when Nicole did comedy.

3. A young Alec! At The GAP! (And it also reminds me that I'm glad SNL has more female comediennes)

4. Catherine before she went into Cinema Siberia otherwise known as Death Defying Acts (anyone seen that?) and No Reservations:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

'I love Food Metaphors' or How It's The Wonderful World of Film According to Baz

I had the joy of attending a Q&A with director Baz Luhrmann last Tuesday prior to seeing Australia, and he's definitely a guy I would love to spend an entire afternoon talking to: so eloquent, funny and willing to speak thoughtfully and engagingly about his work (giving us such wonderfully simple yet insightful sound-bites as "The landscape is the journey" to explain how Australia is not really about Australia but about the characters' journey which is metonimically explored through the concept of Australia ('a far away land') - and yes, that's my grad student persona kicking in). 

My favourite Bazism of the night?:

"I've been using a lot of culinary metaphors lately. But I think they work. I think films have become too specific, too focused lately." 

What did he mean? See for yourself.

What he wanted to give the audience was a 'epic movie' = a banquet: with appetizers, entrees, dessert and the works.

Fave part of the Q&A: While I was getting my fanboy on and partaking in our culture's author/commodity fetishism (read: getting Baz to sign my Moulin Rouge! DVD) there were these two twins (Russian? Eastern European?) dressed exactly alike (wearing matching horrible red-knit hats and red muppet-like coats) who went up to Baz and told him they were professional actresses ("We are 'ere filming the Law and Order") and wanted to be in one of his films. I can't wait for this to be up on the website cause his reaction when they gave him their CV (yes, singular) was priceless!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

22:02 or How Pushing Daisies is RIP

It was a sad week for scripted television: one of the most brilliantly premised, colourfully executed and whimsically written shows has been cancelled by ABC. Yes; Ned, Chuck, Emerson, Aunts Lily and Vivian, Olive, Pigby, Bigby and the rest of the wonderful cast of Pushing Daisies will not see the light of day after episode 13th of Season 2 airs.

To say it breaks my heart is an understatement. So to celebrate (I'm trying to stay positive here people!) the episodes we will have enjoyed of the series (hoping ABC doesn't douche-bag us over - yes, it's a new expression I'm trying on for size - and pull a FOX/Firefly on DVD on us), I decided to take a page out of Nat at TFE's book and take screengrabs of every episode at 22:02 (22 episodes total, 2 seasons total... it makes sense in my head, ok?). 

Enjoy (I particularly love 1.1, 1.7, 2.1 & 2.5)

1.1. Pielette

1.2. Dummy
"While Olive considered how much she loved Digby for paying attention to her when the piemaker would not and Digby considered how much he loved salt..." 

1.3. The Fun in Funeral
"After Lawrence Schatz was exposed as a graver-robber, the mailbox of the Schatz Brothers Funeral home received 1867 hate letters - each one a catalogue of heirlooms feared stolen and lost."

1.4. Pigeon

1.5. Girth
"It's probably just as well that you trampled him when you did Olive, or else I would have had to buy another house just to put all the trophies in."

1.6. Bitches
Snuppies Puppies

1.7. Smell of Success
Aunt Vivian: Chlorine! Lily used to say it reminded her of bottled sunshine!
Aunt Lily: Now it reminds of me of children without bladder control. 

1.8. Bitter Sweets
"She set out across Bodega Bay determined to look the killers of her parents in their beady eyed feathered faces. Then, just about she was gonna reach the other side; her worst nightmare. {Birds attack}. Dilly Balsam survived the attack."

1.9. Corpsicle
"Please tell me I'm a suspect. Awesome! Cause you know what I did first? I took a magic potion that made the tissue paper sack that I call my heart work, then I stepped on his neck with the saggy atrophied breadsticks that used to be my legs."

2.1. Bzzzzz
Chuck: It's very first-class Parisian living. Y'know, His and Her suites, and coy midnight knocks on the door and a shared-lover's boudoir.
Ned: You'll be knocking?

2.2 Circus Circus
"Mr Johnny. We're looking for Nikki Heaps. She was last seen leaving the Big Top with you after the show but she wasn't with you when we pulled you out of the pond."

2.3 Bad Habits
"Well if I'm gonna have to get over y'all by myself I'd kinda like to do it in a place where I don't have to see your face every day."

2.4. Frescorts
Emerson: You are a silly man, stuffing 'em critters and then posing 'em in twisted ways!
Randy Mann: Well, that's why I don't ever tell people about it, they don't understand.

2.5. Dim Sum Lose Sum
"Maurice and Rolston? ... I'm glad Dad got so fun and creative with naming when I left. Goodbye Ned! Hello Mercutio and Tybald!"

2.6. Oh Oh Oh It's Magic
"While the investigators continued to ponder why the Great Hermann did not get out..."

So, if only to mourn the death of the show, give it a browse tonight on ABC @ 8pm.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I love HIMYM, or How LOOK! It's naked Barney!

Not that I needed more reasons to love How I Met Your Mother, but this long sequence with a naked Neil Patrick Harris was both hysterical and sexy. See Barney's different Naked Man poses ahead:

Thinking what the 'Naked Man' pose should be:
The 'Superman':
The 'Oops I didn't see you there
The Heisman:
The 'Burt Reynolds':
The 'Olympic Gymnast Who Just Landed':
Very nice indeed.

Changeling, or How... ZzZzZZZzzz

Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Michael J. Staczynski
Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malcovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Amy Ryan.

I can't bring myself to write a full review for Eastwood's Changeling, so instead I'll offer 10 Things That I Could Take Away From It (always trying to be on the positive 'glass half full' side):

1. Ms Jolie is eerily skinny. That said, her superwoman tabloid persona ("Just order another kid from Africa Angie!" I kept saying)  OR conversely her on-screen blockbuster persona ("Where are your guns Ms Collins? Guns, not plates, sweetie! They are better weapons!") kept haunting her performance for me. Is it a good performance? Probably, but it felt too coerced for my taste, with gestures and explosions overpowering the emotion and affection she could have brought to the part.
2. This is from the creator/writer of Babylon 5? I wish that would explain why it was so long, slow and unaffecting...
3. Amy Ryan is a gifted thesp. Seriously, how else do you work wonders at The Office AND play a non-insane mental institution patient in one year?
4. Tom Stern and Clint Eastwood looove half-lighting their actors. [For other examples see Million Dollar Baby and Letter from Iwo Jima] To what purpose? I have no idea... 
5. Jeffrey Donovan is kind of hot. That doesn't take away from his mediocre acting talent as showcased here ("Look audience, I'm trying this accent on for size? Do you think it's working" Sorry Jeff, it's not).
6. Clint's under-directing (or 'minimalist directing') does a disservice to his child actors. Sure, Angie, John and Amy can work with few cuts and few directing notes, but Walter, fake-Walter and Sanford look so much like 'child actors' in a play that I don't buy them crying or feeling remorse, or anything really.
7. The costumes were inspired. I could have done with less of those hats Angie kept wearing - mainly because they worked as a prop to signify 'Look audience, I am submissive, see how I look down and you can't even see my eyes?'
8. The mental asylum offers the best part of the film. But maybe that's cause it so unabashedly reads as a Foucauldian textbook: 'normalcy' is a discourse.
9. I should watch It Happened One Night. Funny how watching a movie just makes you watch another one right? It's also been waiting on my hard drive for a while to be watched and Ms Collins' endorsement just reminded of it.
10. "I want MY  SON BACK" - Can't get over that line, I'm sorry.

Letter Grade: C+

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quantum of Solace or How Craig's 007 is smouldering

Quantum of Solace
Directed by Marc Foster
Written by Robert Wade, Neil Purvis & Paul Haggis
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Almaric, Jeffrey Wright.

As a follow up to the über successful Casino Royale, the newest James Bond film delivers. What does it deliver you ask? What a good Daniel Craig Bond film should: great chase sequences (in planes, boats and cars!), perfectly choreographed fights (that rope scene is kind of amazing in its craziness), a no-nonsense Bond, an irked and witty M, hot girls whom Bond beds and a lot of 'blowing up' scenes. Oh? Did you want the line "Bond, James Bond"? Bond ordering a Martini to precise (if ridiculous) orders? Fancy gadgets and a suave demeanor that never once disrupts Bond's crisp tux? Yeah... you should probably Netflix those. This Bond is not your father's Bond and thank god! Sure, it's Bond meets Bourne, but is that a bad thing? Quantum is an enjoyable thrill ride that kept a smirk on my face all the time and never once did it have me jonesing for an 'old school' Bond moment. I do wish Almaric had had more to play with than the latent homophobic 'effete=villain' role, and do look forward to a time when action movies won't lecture me on 'green issues' while depicting South America as only politically unstable and relentlessly poor region (though kudos for the anti-American feelings, foreign-policy wise), but remember: things blow up and we do see Daniel shirtless, so I was game. B+

Friday, November 21, 2008

Britney Spears' Circus or How it's more like a pet zoo...

Seeing how Blackout was a brilliant album plagued by Brit-Brit's crazy times I expected Circus (with her in top form) to be Ms Spears' magna opus and 'Womanizer' almost tricked me into believing this. Sadly this ain't no Blackout and it sounds oddly subdued; where are the 'get up and dance sexily with me' tracks, I ask? Where?

Circus (2008)

1. Womanizer - The jewel in this unsteady and home-bejeweled music crown. It's sexy, fun, danceable, and endlessly loopable.

2. Circus - Actually one of my favorite tracks. This title track mixes good lyrics ("I am ringleader! I call the shots!") and a good beat. Not an all-out club track but a good pre-drinking song which, if [ed note: WHEN] released and paired with a hot video might catch on.

3. Out From Under - A typical Brit-ballad (think Someday I'll Understand...) it feels oddly vintage and 90s-ish.

4. Kill the Lights - 'Pop princess now Queen of Pop' - I'm sorry did Madonna die and not tell us? Regardless of Danja's intro, this song is this album's Piece of Me: Brit vs the paparazzi surrounded by a good arrangement and angry lyrics.

5. Shattered Glass - One of the highlights of the album. There's a sort of throwback feeling to this song (like it could have been in Britney or Oops I Did it Again) but it nonetheless feels fresh (must be re electro-feel it has)

6. If U Seek Amy - First of all, who is Amy? Is this a Kevin Smith reference? It's a 'fun' track which sounds more like a P!nk song than a Britney song.

7. Unusual You - One of Britney's breathy tracks (think Breathe on Me only less dancey and more loungey)

8. Blur - A snooze of a song, a slow track whose monotony is only surpassed by it's repetitive and inane lyrics.

9. Mmm Papi - I'm sure I hate this song on it's title alone, but seriously: Mmm Papi? Barf.

10. Mannequin - The most Blackout song of them all. And yes, that's a compliment. Now if only I knew what Britney means when she says that 'Love is like a mannequin'...

11. Lace and Leather - With such a provocative title you'd think this would be a racier song that would make you want to flaunt your lace and leather. Instead it's an almost-spoken funky song that prompts you to 'take a seat' cause it's Britney's show...

12. My Baby - "Tiny hands; yes that's you" - words that should NEVER start up a song, let alone a Britney song. I hate it when she gets maternal and balladey.

So, sure there are a couple of singles that make Circus worthwhile, but this ain't the comeback I was hoping for. Here's the Brit's next album!

FYC Vicky Cristina Barcelona, or How it's all about Penelope

It's my blog and I'll FYC if I want to, FYC if I want to... 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Push the Daisy! or How PD is back tonight! Y'all should WATCH IT!

Or you run the risk of running Ms Cheno out of a job!
[Yes, ABC has not officially cancelled Pushing Daisies, but it's missing from its mid-season schedule and has not been picked up either for the rest of its 9 ep Season 2 order, OR for a 3rd Season... so watch up!]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Post Human Beyonce, or How wtf is that on her hand?!

I guess Beyonce (who knew?) read a post I did a couple of months ago where I stated:

is the new HUMAN"
[Check out the rest of that crazy post here]

And never one to be out-done, Beyonce seems to have taken that to heart to prove to me (yes, ME personally!) that she can be the Post-Human version of Beyonce, with claw/glove/cyborg hand and all:

Pic: Beyonce performing Single Ladies on SNL earlier this weekend pointing very self-consciously at what kept distracting me from her overall performance (and yes, it distracted me on the video too... thankfully she wasn't wearing it in her skit [WHICH HULU/NBC HAVE NOT POSTED! - check it here - C'mon it was hilarious!] and I could just focus on 'how on earth did the boys fit into those tights?!)

Defend Equality, or How sometimes I, too, get my activist on

Join the Impact!
Some pics from the rally in front of City Hall, NYC:

Self-pics have never been my forte, but this one came out okay, no?

GAY is the new BLACK 
- now if only Tina would say that on SNL...

I loved this poster based on The Wizard of Oz:
Are you a good witch or someone who voted "YES" on PROP 8?

When will be able to say... "Ding Dong, Homophobia's dead"?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire, or How yes, that's my final answer

Slumdog Millionaire
Written by Simon Beaufoy
Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irfan Khan.

What a wonder of a movie. Boyle's look into the slum world of India is part City of God, part Dickens and part romance. And somehow, it all works. Boyle's film elevates what would otherwise be a hokey setup (a slumdog goes on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and upon answering every question correctly he's arrested and tortured - it is during this framing device where we learn how it is that his lifestory unwittingly prepared him to get the answers right on the show) and turns it into an exploration of the heart at the center of India's slum world through the eyes of a wide-eyed boy (Jamal) who dreams of being with the girl of his dreams. The film succeeds because it doesn't get caught up on the romance of the story and never shies away from the horror (and wonder) of living in the slums. The R rating is well-deserved not for any one shot (take your pick - there are deaths, tortures and a horrific scene involving a singing boy) but for the uncompromising vision of the film. This might be a film that believes in happy endings but it won't let them come without a cost.

Few movies this year have had me entranced in the way Slumdog Millionaire did - holding my breath, cringing in fear of what was to come, laughing hysterically and even swaying along at the Bollywood number at the end. It's not surprising Fox Searchlight is so warmly pushing this film as an endearing audience winning film (I attended one of their free screenings and the film received roaring applause at the end) because Boyle's film works effortlessly to immerse you in this world where there might indeed be horror, poverty and violence but where there's also laughter and a place for hope. This is most vivid in the last scenes in the film where the film shows us a country biting their nails while watching the game show as a tragedy unfolds in the wings.

Shoutouts to Anthony Dod Mantle for the amazing cinematography (the initial establishing shots of the slums are beautiful without being romantic about their subject), Chris Dickens for his editing (making one chase sequence at the beginning of the film rival the intensity and urgency in any Bond or Bourne installment) and A. R. Rahman for the musical score (anyone who incorporates M.I.A.'s Paper Planes into a film score and manage to not remind me of the Pinneapple Express trailer deserves praise). And of course the cast who really sell the reality of their characters; Dev Patel in particular who in his scenes sells us Jamal's anguish, heartbreak and wonder in one look, despite the fact that his performance requires him to be a reactive rather than an active performer (in the game show as well as in the torture scenes). A+

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Gaystapo is out to get you, or How that's what Colbert will have you believe

Resident gay spokesperson Dan Savage drops by the Colbert Report to talk to Stephen about Prop 8.

Savage argues that the Gay community will win this Survivor style, "we'll outlive, outlast and outsmart the bigots"
The use of the apparently euphemistic "saddlebacking" as a gay sex term. "Soaking up"? What you do after 'saddlebacking.'
Seeing Bill O'Reilly's idiotic suggestion that the gays should protest outside of the Black Church (?!)
Stephen use of 'gay-marry' as a verb.
Thankfully, as Savage says the old people vote (which helped pass Prop 8) is thankfully (and literally!) dying... shocking? As my favorite college professor would say, this isn't just true, it is better: it is offensive.
Savage confesses that "black men have kept him down" before ;-)
Polygamous homosexuals anyone? Email Savage.

A Note on Prop 8, or How Kushner's Angels in America's relevance increases no?

The passing of Prop 8 last Tuesday seems to have reinvigorated the 'gay base' so to speak, with protests around the country against the Mormon Church (whose grassroots campaign and its 20 million dollar donations made sure it passed) and constant op-eds and editorials from the 'elitist leftist un-American' media about how it truly is one of the history books (to be filed under: wow America, even when praising racial equality in the Presidential race, the gays still took the hit). All the late night and early morning pundits are outrage (except for Hasselback and Sherri on The View :: rolls eyes ::) - everyone and their dog is linking and embedding the Keith Olbermann 'Special Comment' vid. All in what? In hopes of getting bigots on our side via a 'happiness argument'? - I don't know how effective that will be... but I'm glad to see people thinking of ways to try and overcome what seems like a huge set-back in equality rights (for more on that head over to Sullivan's piece at the Daily Dish). 

Last night I started re-watching the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's Angels in America (which, if you haven't seen then... well, I don't know who you are cause really how do miss out on an opportunity to see Meryl, Al, Jeffrey, Emma, Patrick and Mary-Louise performing one of the greatest plays in American history?) And re-watching it for what seems like 4/5th time it hit me that after Tuesday, Kushner's words have taken an ever more present urgency - how ironic that other than feeling dated and 'historic' (and far more than a mere 'AIDS play'), Kushner's play feels ever more vibrant and political, asking hard questions about the Church of the LDS, the role of religion and faith as it related to the gay community, the constant and unquestioned need for progress and movement...

And so I leave you with some food for thought:

Harper: It's terrible. Mormons aren't supposed to be addicted to anything. I'm a Mormon.
Prior: I'm a homosexual.
Harper: Oh! In my church we don't believe in homosexuals.
Prior: In my church we don't believe in Mormons.

Roy: No. Like all labels they tell you one thing and one thing only: where does an individual so identified fit in the food chain, in the pecking order? Not ideology, or sexual taste, but something much simples: clout. Not who I fuck or who fucks me, but who will pick up the phone when I call, who owes me favors. This is what a label refers to. Now to someone who doesn't understand this, homosexual is what I am because I have sex with men. But really, this is wrong. Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who in fifteen years of trying cannot get a pissant antidiscrimination bill through City Council. Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows. Who have zero clout. Does this sound like me Henry?

Joe: I think we ought to pray. Ask God for help. Ask him together...
Harper: God won't talk to me. I have to make up people to talk to me.
Joe: You have to keep asking.
Harper: I forgot the question. Oh yeah. God, is my husband a ...
Joe: (Scary) Stop it. Stop it. I'm warning you. Does it make a difference? That I might be one thing deep within, no matter how wrong or ugly that thing is, so long as I have fought, with everything I have to kill it. What do you want from me? What do you want from me, Harper? More than that? For God's sake, there's nothing left, I'm a shell. There's nothing left to kill. As long as my behavior is what I know it has to be. Decent. Correct. That alone in the eyes of God.
Harper: No, no, not that, that's Utah talk, Mormon talk, I hate it Joe, tell me, say it...

Prior: I don't. An I'm sorry but it's repellent to me. So much of what you believe.
Hannah: What do I believe?
Prior: I'm a homosexual. With AIDS. I can just imagine what you...
Hannah: No you can't. Imagine. The things in my head. You don't make assumptions about me, mister; I won't make them about you.
Prior: Fair enough.
Hannah: My son is... well, like you.
Prior: Homosexual.
Hannah: I flew into a rage when he told me, mad as hornets. At first I assumed it was about his...
Prior: Homosexuality.
Hannah: But that wasn't it. Homosexuality. It just seems... ungainly. Two men together. It isn't an appetizing notion but then, for me, men in any configuration... well they're so lumpish and stupid. And stupidity gets me cross.
Prior: I wish you would be more true to your demographic. Life is confusing enough.

And of course, Harper at the end: "Nothing's lost forever. In this world there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind and dreaming ahead. At least I think so."