Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Now, am I talking about Janet's Feedback or about Kylie's (sadly UK/Australia only release) Wow?
[Thanks to ModFab for the Kylie video]
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sequels have fared well, occasionally garnering the same if not more devotion from fans and critics alike (The Godfather trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars (original) trilogy), and sometimes just remarketing the brand as a pop culture icon (Rocky, The Silence of the Lambs). It would seem Oscar' movies have mostly survived the transition - think for example of Babe 2, or if you want to go back even further Terms of Endearment had a moderately successful sequel, and The Bells of St Mary's (already an Oscar-winning sequel) was made into a Made-for-TV movie in 1959. Let's just not even speak of Cate Blanchett's (still Oscar-nommedperformance in) Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Broadway adaptations aren't unheard of either. The Lord of the Rings Musical immediately comes to mind, but also Oscar nominees such as The Full Monty, The Graduate, Mary Poppins, The Color Purple and Beauty and the Beast have seen their fates re-fashioned for the Broadway stage. NEXT: Shrek (Academy Award Winner for Best Animated Feature Film and threequel pop culture behemoth) is starting its route to Broadway. Check out the details here at ModFab.
But if my early morning blog browsing brought attention to the ways in which Oscar films have survived past their running time, it is not because of the green-ogre's attempts at debunking the Disney-Broadway 'children's films made into musicals' monopoly. No. It was the news that Crash that Paul 'I stole Brokeback Mountain's Oscar' Haggis' directing vehicle is being made into a TV series (Awards Daily). True, Oscar and Oscar-nominated movies have had their share of churning out money-making enterprises (think just of ET's ride at Universal Studios, the Lilo & Stitch shows and made-for-tv movies, Pulp Fiction's endless DVD and soundtrack re-releases) as well as less than memorable 'sequel/remake-projects' (Eddie Murphy's Dr Dolittle, Jude Law's Alfie, Sean Penn's All the King's Men, the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Wizard of Oz's Journey Back to Oz) but this is probably the one that annoys me the most. This is a film that, the more I think about it, the more I hate it. Why Paul Haggis thinks (especially after his The Black Donnelly's got cancelled) he can turn his 'gut-wrenching' tale of neoliberalism and racial tolerance into a drama series worth anyone's time is beyond me. I mean, it may rhyme but Crash is no M*A*S*H.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Dir. Tim Burton)
This Broadway show of a vengeful barber fits like a glove with Burton's flair and style. Along with Colleen Atwood's costuming, Dante Ferreti's art direction, Dariusz Wolski's cinematography and Francesca's Lo Schiavo's sets Burton takes Stephen Sondheim's classic story and turns it into a cinematic Burtonian work: the monochromatic palette contrasted with the gushing red blood; the groaning 'singing/talking' voice of Depp and the entire pathos of the story make Sweeney Todd one of the most visually stunning and emotionally stirring works of 2007. True, Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp are no Broadway singers but what they lack in voice they more than make up for in their performance: who can't help but feel for Bonham-Carter's Mrs Lovett when she daydreams of living by the sea, or see the look of perpetual pain in Depp's Todd as he slashes and sings his way to his tragic denouement? That Burton doesn't shy away from the gushing blood of Todd's victims might turn off some people, but it only makes the final scene in the bakehouse all the more disturbing, when the monstrous life of Todd collapses with the long-lost past of Benjamin Barker and Burton delicately creates the bloodiest tableau vivant (or mort?) I have seen put on screen. A
Eastern Promises (Dir. David Croenberg)
The highlight of the movie is - as you may have heard - Viggo Mortensen's role (and yes, the daring of that naked knife fighting scene). The movie itself for me didn't quite click. True, the premise sets up a conventional thriller-like film (can you imagine the same premise with someone like Michael Bay behind it, starring Bruce Willis?) and Croenberg delivers something much more substantial - he gives us character study (a closeted russian mob man! a love-torn woman who finds in a child that which she had lost in relationships with men! a sensitive russian spy who's ruthless and yet caring!) but ultimately the screenplay seemed a bit too contrived for my taste (especially with the perfectly fitted diary entry readings that seemed to at once pose as a 'surprise' and yet were incorporated so organically into the film their 'revelation' lost its impact) and didn't work as a whole for me as it attempted to sway from formulaic to innovative, from thriller to thoughtful, from action to actorly. B
There Will Be Blood (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
If Depp's Todd lives in the magically macabre world of Sondheim & Burton, and Mortensen's Nikolai lives in the crude (albeit slightly utopic/heroic) world of Croenberg's London, Day-Lewis's Plainview is all the scarier because he lives and breathes in the bloodstream of globalization: the land of oil, at once dated in Anderson's adaptation of Upton Sinclair's Oil! and also disturbingly contemporary if studied as both a parable and a cautionary tale of American values lensed through that scurrying viscous liquid. PT Anderson's film is as cruel and unforgiving as Plainview himself, offering us a dialogue-free initial sequence punctuated by Jonny Greenwood's intentionally (and altogether breathtakingly) jarring and jagged score, and an uncompromising ending as blunt and disturbing as Plainview's entrepreneurial transactions in the beginning of the twentieth century. But aside from inducing analogical thinking, There Will Be Blood shook me to the core and just as the Coens Bros No Country for Old Men (and it's no surprise they are contstantly uttered in the same sentence, especially after each earned 8 Academy Award noms last Tuesday) Anderson's film left me asking questions, intentionally bewildered but altogether fascinated by the film as a whole - by its message, its craft, its look and most of all by its performances. A
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Is anyone else anxious about Drew Goddard's arc or Jane Espenson's issue?
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I give you 27 Clichés (Spoilers Ahead)
1. Begins at a wedding (Well two weddings!)
2. Protagonist is in love with her unattainable boss.
3. Female protagonist at first hates and bickers with male interest (read: more bankable star)
4. Features a quick-witted assistant (Kudos to the casting agent for picking Judy though, she rocks: "That selfish whore! Oh... Namaste!"That and choosing James Marsden as charmer love-interest: sheer genius!)
5. Comedy of Errors involving family member.
6. Features blond bimbo as a romantic antagonist.
7. An 'assignment' turns into something more...
8. Music montage with upbeat song of morning routine.
9. Cleaning as a coping mechanism.
10. Female protagonist is obsessive.
11. Male protagonist is both cocky and dreamy.
12. Eating as a coping mechanism.
13. Elaborate and completely unrealistic wedding proposal scene.
14. 'Your mother would have wanted you to have it...' gets uttered.
15. Female protagonist can't say "No"
16. A Wedding needs to be pulled off in no time.
17. It's heteronormative (Yes, that's a cliché in my mind)
18. Music montage featuring different outfits.
19. Fateful accident in rainy weather.
20. Protagonists share a common quirk.
21. Sing-along scene.
22. One of the leads screws up BIG.
23. Lessons are learnt. Characters 'find' themselves.
24. "I'm sorry" speech.
25. Cathartic scene underscored by emo song.
26. Public "I'm in love with you speech"
27. Ends at a Wedding.
Now, let's play mix-the-clichés (give or take a few... it's been a while since I've watched some of these)
My Best Friend's Wedding: 6+10+17+21+22+23+24+27
Runaway Bride: 1+3+7+11+16+17+22+23+24+27
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: 4+7+11+17+21+22+23+24+26
Sweet Home Alabama: 3+11+17+22+23+24
Love Actually: 3+7+13+17+22+23
The Devil Wears Prada: 4+8+17+18+22+23+24
Monday, January 21, 2008
The Pixar Edition
To think there was a time kids didn't have the powerhouse that is Pixar producing gems like The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc. After watching over and over the entire collection of Shorts produced by the Emeryville, CA based production company [for class... mostly], I feel /that/ much closer to its roots and its materials. I now give you:
20 Things I Learnt from Pixar Productions:
1. Anyone Can Cook! (Except young French redheads... they need Patton Oswalt's help)
2. Saying everyone is special is a way of saying no one is. (I'm talking to all you soccer moms out there: stop lying to them!)
3. Falling in style is the same as flying. (Er, don't try it at home though. Certified space toys only)
4. Turtles are cool. (And not just in a 'Discovery Channel' sort of way)
5. Monsters are afraid of children. (As am I now, really - cause certain kids haven't learnt #15 yet)
6. Self-awareness is awesome (see the 3D bloopers of the early films and the film theatre end credits in Cars: "You're a space car toy!")
7. Kevin Spacey is scary-shit. (Yeah, I've never been able to look at him/any grasshopper in the same way)
8. Clownfish aren't really funny. (But funnier when voiced by Albert Brooks than by originally cast William H. Macy)
9. Toddlers are funny. (This one's a Pixar staple: See Tin Toy for more proof)
10. Old people + guns = Not a good combo. (Forgive me for not knowing that, but I don't come from a Red State)
11. It's a bug-eat-bug world out there. (Also, fables work best when dealing with insects)
12. Trucks are vehicular cattle.
13. Toys want to last forever. (Especially when they're voiced by Tom Hanks. That greedy Tom, as if Forrest, Joe, Allen and Andrew hadn't given him 'eternal' status in our cultural imagination already...)
14. Only some people are super. (And yes, they dress up. Does that make me super?)
15. Laughter > Screaming. (What, like you knew that before Monstropolis' electric grid collapsed with Boo's laughter? Please)
16. French people are rude. (Well, maybe only those voiced by Janeane Garofalo...)
17. Evil people wear black (Don't believe me? How do you explain Syd, Syndrome, Waternoose and Anton Ego's costume palette? ...What is this "cultural connotation" you speak of?)
18. Music makes a movie (Okay this might go back to Alan Menken. But I am thinking here of Michael Giacchino, - oh, how I love your work now. Er... What do you mean you don't know who 'that guy' is: The guy behind the amazing music in Ratatouille, The Incredibles and One Man Band... What do you mean you don't know what 'that' is: One of Pixar's most accomplished shorts. Go. Get Learnéd!)
19. Jelly Fish are evil (Okay, that one I learnt the HARD way, but it's still a valuable lesson!)
20. It all starts with a lamp. (I'm sure that has some metaphysical Zen lesson hidden but Brad, John, Andrew & co haven't really mined it until... well, now when by putting it on the table I've pretty much required them to do so. Watch them prove me right)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Just cause I can, here's a list of impossibly attractive Hispanic male singers that make me drool... And oh yeah, they're talented too and you should check out their work.
Best known in the English-speaking world for his duet with Shakira La Tortura (remember him? He was the one not writhing in oil in that film clip), but Alejandro has been around for more than a decade now, not only being delectable but also offering great music to swooning hordes of female (and male) fans.
Download This: (yes, if EW can do it, so can I!) Te Lo Agradezco Pero No - feat Shakira, and Cuando Nadie Me Ve.
If you are wondering who Carlos is the answer is simple: A soap opera star who also got an album produced by the Estefans. And more than just a pair of pretty blue eyes, Carlos also has great beats and a ahem great resume: check his imdb page and you'll be surprised to find credits for such eclectic works as 7th Heaven (Oh WB!), Just My Luck and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
Download This: Escuchame, and Rezo. Yes, I went old school!
I gotta support my homeland which is why this Grammy Award Winning singer makes the list. Ever since he got his start with Ekhymosis (and alt rock band) back in the 90s Juanes has had me singing along to his music. He also gets points for using his fame to bring awareness about the impact of land-mines in Colombia. Socially aware, talented and hot? You got it.
Download This: Hoy Me Voy, and Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor
How does one create a list of drool-inducing Latin singing men and not include the ex-Menudo superstar? Yes, I've been there since the beginnings: from Menudo, through Muñecos de Papel (don't ask... really), past Maria and into his hip-shaking Livin La Vida Loca apex. Good thing he's always also been pretty to look at. Which is why I'll be hunting down his newest DVD Black and White Tour.
Download This: Asignatura Pendiente and Vuelve
When Mr Iglesias is not guest-starring on CBS shows, giving J-Love some work or showing off his girlfriend, he pops out good music - and yes, I'm talking about that great duet with then-diva Whitney Houston. Also out of the boys on this list, he's the one most likely to show off his body in his videos.
Download This: Dimelo and Not in Love (feat Kelis)
Now sure, this list is probably a carbon copy of a list I might or might not have made a couple of years ago, but the years have done nothing but season these artists.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
For Your Consideration (A Blog Next Door Style) - 3:10 To Yuma
It's my blog and I'll FYC if I want to, FYC if I want to...
Hot off its SAG Ensemble nomination and hoping for a good showing at the BAFTAs , I offer here the first FYC of 2008:After I saw it in theatres back in September I said it was one of the best films I'd seen all year with an electrifying performance by Russel Crowe (much better than his good cop shtick opposite a boring Denzel in that Ridley gangster movie), a good non-Batman or Bateman performance by Christian Bale and an appealing homoerotic crazed up turn by Xmen alumni Ben Foster. It has indeed been a great year for Westerns, and this one doesn't disappoint: definitely a great addition to your Netflix queue.
Check out A Blog Next Door's other FYC campaigns:
Superbad & Knocked Up
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Dir. Mike Nichols
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman & Amy Adams
When you get Tom, Julia, Mike and scribe Aaron Sorkin together you're bound to hit gold, right? That's how everyone was profiling Charlie Wilson's War a couple of months ago: how could you go wrong with such star-power? And though it hasn't lived up to its astronomical expectations, Nichols' film is actually a really good movie; crisply written, aptly acted and well-directed.
It follows the real-life story of Texas congressman Charlie Wilson as he rallies for support and financial aid to the Afghan cause (to fight 'em Soviets!) back in the late 1980s. In the current political situation (and living in a post-9/11 world) one would think the subject matter would elicit a sense of drama and seriousness which Nichols' film seems to shy away from: with a tagline like "A stiff drink. A little mascara. A lot of nerve. Who said they couldn't bring down the Soviet empire" and Sorkin's quick-witted script Charlie Wilson's War seems more like a feel-good movie than a political film. And that is both its strength and its greatest weakness. Unlike those 'other' political films of the year (In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, Redacted, etc.) Charlie Wilson's War straddles finely that line between American propaganda and historical hindsight (which of course, need not be exclusive): in the hands of Sorkin, Nichols and Hanks, Charlie can be both a bastion for good American values (freedom, democracy) and an ambivalent Cold War political figure in light of the last two decades. That the movie doesn't really make up its mind (even with Hoffman's Zen Master fable and Wilson's words at the end of the movie: "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world... and then we fucked up the endgame") might be what makes it more interesting to me - sometimes it takes more courage for a filmmaker to do that and refuse to chastise its character's choices, especially in a movie based on true events.
Politics aside, Sorkin's script and Nichols' cast make for Charlie Wilson's War an enjoyable movie: I enjoyed Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman in particular; relished Emily Blunt's cameo and smiled every time Julia was on screen even if she was playing a right wing fanatic... and Tom? Well, you gotta hand it to him, if only for showing his ass not even 10 minutes into the movie.
Friday, January 11, 2008
I don't mean to be a hater but this, added to the fact that Mr Joss Whedon won't be telling more amazing stories featuring BKV's kids makes me want to treat whatever comes after Joss as non-canon.
Six things that are wrong with this picture (Left to Right)
1. Nico looks like a Sakura Cardcaptors supporting player. I know that as a Teen Comic Runaways might benefit from tackling the Manga-loving tweens, but... c'mon!
2. Everyone has HUGE feet. Where do they get these gigantic shoes?!
3. Chase looks like he regressed to his Frat-boy looks circa issue 1 and lost his sense of cool t-shirt sayings ('I do my own stunts' will never be eclipsed, but 'I fought in the Civil War'? Is this a plug for that 2007 Marvel event?)
4. Victor looks like he got his clothes/look out of a Kmart/Walmart catalogue, and stopped using his electric powers to self-style that now limp and greasy hair.
5. Karolina (it's with an "a" Mr Ramos btw) was morphed into a West Coast granola babe, crocs 'n all. I wouldn't be surprised if those were Lululemon pants.
6. Molly looks like she's 6. (Last time I checked Ms Hayes was 11/12)
[I have nothing to say about Old Lace nor Xavin, I kind of like their look]
Also, what I think bothers me most about this sketch is that the charm of the Runaways kids was that they were normal kids with interesting and everyday traits who happened to also kick butt and fight evil: Gert was a bit overweight, Molly was a bit excitable, Karolina was a healthy vegan, Nico was a self-styled Gothic-themed Japanese-American girl but it seems Ramos' art has distilled them into cliches: all the girls seem malnourished, Nico has become a walking Japanese/Harajuku stereotype (yes, her wardrobe has been sometimes eclectic, but never like this), Chase and Victor have become default 'male teen' cliches (the Jock and the outcast) and Molly went from cute girl with funny hats to pre-tween lost amongst the WB-styled teens that look less super-hero-y and more 'Dawson's 7th Everwood Felicity Summer Tree Hill' rejects.
Here's hoping that there'll be some tweaking prior to the first Moore-penned, Ramos-drawn issue.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I have been living in
Example Numero Uno: The ad for Ghost Whisperer actually sounds something like ‘This new season, Ghost Whisperer has more spooky cases, and the same bad Jennifer Love Hewitt acting’ – I am quite certain J-LoHew’s agents have not been briefed on this particular ad but they should; is this really a way to promote a show?
But what I found more interesting was the Monday and the Friday schedules. Monday is a ‘feminine’ themed night called ‘Mentes Peligrosas’ (Dangerous Minds) and Friday is a ‘masculine’ themed night called ‘Macho Que Se Respeta’ (Man Worthy of Respect – it has a nicer ring in Spanish, you'll have to trust me on that one). One doesn’t need to go far away to see the gender politics at work: women have ‘dangerous minds’ that need to be fed with fluffy (albeit better) shows which can only be marketed as such while men need to be treated as the beer-drinking football watching men that they should be-ahem are. I would actually love to get my hands on the statistical ratings divided by gender for each night to see how the marketing pays off.
Rules of Engagement
Es cierto, nada más peligroso que la mente de una mujer, seducimos, confundimos y manipulamos, como sólo nosotras sabemos hacerlo y siempre funciona… pensamos mal de todos y especialmente de todas, por eso siempre tenemos la razón. Es mi naturaleza, mi sexto sentido… mi lengua es afilada con todas las que miro, lo qué no dicen mis palabras, lo digo con la mirada… y mi príncipe azul es aquel que domino. Soy así, sensual, semi diosa, es parte del perfecto plan de mi mente peligrosa.
Translation: It's true, there's nothing more dangerous than the mind of a woman, we seduce, counfound and manipulate, like only we know how and it always works... Need I continue?
Everybody Hates Chris
Friday Night Lights
Porque el mundo es de los machos, para orinar no hay que sentarnos. Escupimos, eructamos… cerveza y tequila… las mujeres sólo van de la cama a la cocina. Fútbol y testosterona, mejor que el sexo es un gol de Maradona. Macho que se respeta: el nuevo espacio de Sony, dedicado a los héroes como nosotros, porque Macho que se respeta no llora, no pide direcciones, no se complica y siempre tiene la última palabra. La gente come para vivir, pero nosotros vivimos para comer. Los niños algún día serán hombres, nosotros siempre seremos niños. Unos descansan en el medio tiempo, nosotros descansamos a tiempo completo. Hay quienes ven deportes que apestan, nosotros apestamos viendo deportes.
Translation: Because the world is of/for men, to pee we don't need to sit down. We spit, burp... beer and tequila... women only go from the bed to the kitchen. Soccer and testosterone... Need I continue?
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Thank VH1 for playing this at 2am last night and refreshing my memory about the song ("When the Sun Heats Up") and this great 1987 video that actually plays like a lovely Gay-Friendly beach song.
Monday, January 7, 2008
I give you:
Lilo and Stitch Edition
It's true. I grew up with animation - but then, who didn't, right? Which is why I think we should mine animation for what parents have deluded themselves into thinking it is for: pedagogy.
9 Things I learnt from Lilo & Stitch:
- Ohana means family - it means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.
- Only reason black people wear black suits is because they work for a secret government organization (see MIB the animated series)
- Hawaiian girls kick more ass than your average Disney princess.
- You can still have a career after Relic Hunter (see Tia Carrere's imdb page)
- 2D Animation can be successful even without an 'I want' song or a love-interest at its center.
- Aliens can be cuddly.
- Every family has one.
- There is such a thing as a character voice-actor (See Chris Sanders: Stitch and Mulan's Little Brother): but then, he's also the creator and producer of that 626 Experiment...
- Elvis is a good role-model worthy of imitating. (He died how...? Huh. The movie never mentioned that part)
Check out regularly to see how else my childhood and teenage years were marked by important 'life lessons' hidden in animated productions.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Yes, I'm back. I'm still taking care of a couple of things but I'm back in the interweb (as Tracey Jordan would call it) and I thought I should post something. I can't keep counting on my good friend at Tapeworthy for readership (thanks for linking here while I was gone!).
So, the Weblog Awards have started canvassing for nominations. Now I don't have any delusions when it comes to things like these - what with my dozen followers and such, but I do think everyone should go to the Eighth Annual Weblog Awards Website and nominate the blogs you read on a daily basis. (Best New Blog *cough* Best New Blog) I have already finished my ballot and included the blogs that I not only read daily (or hourly depending on my procrastinating level), but which have in the past linked to yours truly.
Awards, whether they are naked gold men, spacemen or geometrical glass creations are all about visibility. Yes people care about the prestige, but it is all about getting your movie, book, song, etc seen and maybe, just maybe finding an audience. Or not, for some people I'm sure it's all about the self-gratifying moment when they thank their lawyer and their dog-walker...
Without further ado: a special Weblog Awards FYC. (You'll find all the blogs in the Links Next Door section of the blog)