Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hello gentle viewers, or How it's Tom Lenk's coming out party

This is probably old news but it still thrilled me to no end:

Tom 'Andrew from Buffy' Lenk has officially come out!

Twins! or How Pushing Daises still amazes me to no end!

Pushing Daisies
Dim Sum Lose Sum

So, many of you might have been watching the Obama Variety 1/2 Hour but I was faithful to the Pie 'Hos and watched as they solved a crazy crime at a Dim Sum restaurant, managed to dress up in the process and find (SPOILERS AHEAD) Ned's twin brothers!

Fave screengrabs ahead:

Chuck: "They have his eyebrows!"
Olive: "They do. They do. I said that twice for each of you"

I might have ROTFL when I saw the Pie Hos gone Dim Sum waitresses. 

And then I saw 'Pimp Emerson' and 'Cowboy Ned' and well... all bets were off: Hysterical!

Simone, owner of Bubblegum was back, and I'm hoping they'll keep her around for more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wish I could be in Springfield, or How it's Homer "Don Draper" Simpson to you!

A new series to keep the blog going. I'm choosing on a weekly basis (Wishing Wednesdays!) someone/thing I wish I could be from whatever popular culture outlet I choose.

Wish I could be... in Springfield:

The Treehouse of Horror episodes are usually brilliant, and this Sunday's promises to be one for the books. Here's the Mad Men opening credits courtesy of a Mr Homer Simpson giving us one last MM fix before we start the countdown for Season 3 to start next July (now if only AMC would sign Matthew Weiner already!):



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mad Manly Links, or How Sometimes Other People Say it Better

Mad Men
Meditations on an Emergency 
Season 2 Finale

Wow. Mad Men's latest episode blew me away - Peggy and Pete: heartbreaking; Betty and Don: harrowing. Add to that a Frank O'Hara reference, a Cuban Missile Crisis backdrop and deft direction by creator/writer Matthew Weiner and you got yourself one of TVs greatest scripted hours.

And going by the idea that talking/reading about good things only makes them better I found a couple of posts that sum up exactly how I felt about the episode:


Monday, October 27, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year, or How it's all in good fun

High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Dir. Kenny Ortega
Starring: Zac Efron, Vannessa Hudgens, Ashledy Tisdale, Lucas Gabreel, Corbin Bleu et al.

After two record-breaking made-for-TV movies and two chart-topping albums, Disney is graduating (get it?) their High School Musical franchise onto the Big Screen. We have the entire crew back (heartthrob Troy, basketball player Chad, brainy Gabriella, bitchy/princess Sharpay and flaming Ryan) who are facing the daunting task of... putting on a show about their Senior Year, and oh yeah, deciding what they want to do with their future. It's pretty much everything you need/want from this franchise with catchy tunes like I Want it All (HSM3's Fabulous) and ballads like Can I Have This Dance (HSM3's Breaking Free) as well as a romantic story, a growing up moral to the story and wonderful choreography all throughout. B+

It is a love it or hate it franchise, so instead of trying to win over newbies, here are 9 random thoughts for the seasoned fans:

9 Random Things About HSM3:

1. Disney realized that Zac is what is all about and made the entire movie around him. I'm not complaining cause he's pretty to look and a better actor with every installment, but seriously... not enough of La Tisdale! As HSM2 proved, she can hold the entire movie together. In HSM3 she has great scene-stealing moments (her entrance with her FABULUS car, her "single spotlight" moment and of course her crashing down on Brit-clone's Sharpay's number at the end) and what she doesn't get in script she makes up for in facial expressions and overall attitude. Oh to be Sharpay: never to be outdone, outwitted or outdressed!
2. What the f@*k was up with the HSM-wannabes? I have already made my thoughts about Jimmy The Rocker Zara clear, and while I love anyone and everyone with an accent, these characters simply screamed: FRANCHISE and at times distracted from the core group of talented cast members. Disney: if you really want to spin off HSM do it in your own time, not on the big screen when you give us an entire towel scene with 'The Rocker' but only a back shot of shirtless Troy, it's unfair!
3. Bigger, indeed. But better? I loved the crazy sequences (still wondering where the dancers for The Boys are Back came from) - especially the Gabriella/Troy cameos in I Want It All, but at times I wondered whether there was too much glitz and glamour and not enough substance. And then I remembered I was watching High School effing Musical and remembered I don't care.
4. Props to Disney for their progressive agenda: The girl picks academics over a boy! The boy picks theater AND basketball!  Behind-the-scenes artists (the composer and the choreographer!) privileged over the on-stage performers.
5. And yet, they left me hanging with Ryan: He's gay. Don't mask it... I mean wtf was that with Kelsie? The only way Disney can fix this is by doing HSM: Juillard, The Series, which in my mind tells the story of Ryan and his roommate Kelsie. Think: Will and Grace + HSM.
6. I know Dame James is already starting the La Tisdale Best Supporting Actress Oscar campaign, but can I claim the Caroline Marx Best Costume Design campaign? Ryan and Sharpay's outfits were like Patricia Field Jr (knee boots for a boy? a hula-hoop-like purse?) and it needs to be rewarded.
7. Who knew an eponymous title song could be so ... blah. Seriously.
8. Four words: Dance-Along DVD Edition. Loved the choreography. And not just the big numbers (Ryan in hot pink pants + Chorus girls!) but also the smaller ones - the rooftop/raining/waltzing scene was a highlight in its simplicity and grace.
9. What type of budget for its theater department do the Wildcats have? I mean, I thought Disney had gone overboard with their high school musical productions in Confessions of a Drama Queen but not to be outdone, they give us Senior Year Musical which looked like a Mel Brooks-financed Broadway show.

[Photos via Tapeworthy]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jimmy 'Jar Jar' Zara, or How I'm Seeing Double

Jimmy 'The Rocker' Zara?! WTF?

Seriously, every time this kid was on screen I wanted to punch him in the face. If indeed he's continuing the HSM legacy it will be truly awful, but at least it'll give me a dignified reason for not having to watch HSM 4+ when they come out. 

He's supposedly the "new Troy" but I mean, it's like saying Jar Jar Binks is the new Han Solo.

 Yes, he's THAT annoying. 

John Hamm & co, or How Mad Men takes over SNL

An excellent way to remind everyone that tonight's the Mad Men Season 2 Finale!

Don Draper's Guide to Picking up Women:



Step 1:
When in doubt, remain absolutely silent.
Step 2:
When asked about your past give vague, open ended answers.
Step 3: 
Have a great name.
Step 4:
Look fantastic in a suit.
Look fantastic in casual wear.
Look fantastic in anything.
Sound good.
Smell good.
Kiss good.
Strut around with supreme confidence.
Be uncannily successful at your job.
Blow people away everytime you say anything.
Take six hour lunches.
Disappear for weeks at a time.
Lie to everyone about everything.
Drink and smoke constantly.
... Basically, be Don Draper.

A-Holes: Pitch Meeting:


Loved the Moss ("bangs")/Slattery ("silver fox") cameos and the way the SNL writers successfully spoofed the inspired 'Wheel' pitch from Season 1's season finale.
"Isn't doing nothing the ultimate luxury? We spend our lives jumping through hoops isn't it time we relaxed inside one?"

The Duchess, or How Keira's pretty dresses couldn't get me interested

The Duchess
Dir. Saul Dibb
Writing Jeffrey Hatcher & Anders Thomas Jensen
Starring: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell.

I really wanted to like this film: I've grown to like Keira post-Pirates, I love me some Dominic and the costumes were so pretty. But ultimately, the film meanders too much in trying to concentrate on the petty gossip-like bedroom drama staged around said 'Duchess' while leaving behind the politics and the intricacies of concrete character development which could have really boosted this faux-bedroom drama. I was so bored by the whole thing I fell asleep (in the theater!) and I'm bored already writing this up. C-

Friday, October 24, 2008

Favorite Characters on TV, or How this is why Lists were created!

Here goes, for no reason whatsoever and prompted by nothing but boredom and a will to procrastinate like it's nobody's business, I give you my favorite characters from TV from 2008. Yes, they are arbitrary, only include characters from shows I actually watch (so yeah... House, any of them Heroes, 90210ers and Gossipy boys, any procedurals or McDoctors will not be found here... for that you people got the Tv rags and them People's Choice whatevers). Here, strong women and gay men rule the world. Also being a bitch helps you out. A lot.

Top 10 Favorite TV Characters from 2008

Shoutouts to:
Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton (that laugh... so creepy, so funny!), the rest of the Desperate Housewives (yay Ensemble work!), Vanessa Williams' Wilhemina Slater (Ugly Betty) - she's scarier in HD!, Christina Applegate's Samantha (Samantha Who? - exactly!), Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) - cause it wouldn't be Indecision 2008 without good ol' Stephen, Jack Donaghy (30 Rock... actually that entire cast for being so hysterical!)... I could go on, but instead here's the actual list.


10. Holly
Amy Ryan (The Office)
Who knew Amy Ryan was so funny? And awkward? And Michael Scott's secret long-lost soulmate? She has been a breathe of fresh air (and a welcome one at that!) in The Office's newest season.
I was trying to adjust the lumbar support on Toby's chair and that made this up-down lever not work and I took the whole chair apart and that is the story of me on the floor. It's pretty good right? I'm gonna sell the movie rights.

9. _____
Kristen Wiig (SNL)
I had to include Kristen here, because well... she makes EVERY skit she's in AMAZING. 
Actually, there's a few ways -- just kidding, there's only one way -- just kidding, I don't know how many ways there are -- just kidding, I do, there's eight -- just kidding, there's eighteen, I counted them -- just kidding, my friend did and she never lies -- just kidding, she lied once, but I wasn't there -- just kidding, we're not really friends, we work together -- just kidding, I work by myself -- just kidding, I workout by myself -- just kidding, I don't work out, 'cause I kicked out of my gym -- just kidding, it closed -- just kidding! 

8. Jenna Maroney
Jane Krakowski (30 Rock)
Me want food... er me want Jenna! Jane sells every line she gets handed as if it was a comedic 
gem, and by the time you're done laughing you realize it is. Fat Jenna? Funny. Skinny bitchy Jenna? Hysterical. Porn video game voice actress Jenna? Priceless. I am very excited for what's in store for that Mystic Pizza the Musical actress/Muffin Top singer.
These things happen Liz. I had my "no sex with Asians" rule but then one day you walk into Sharper Image and there's Quan

7. Marc St James
Michael Urie (Ugly Betty)
Marc is the funniest half of the funniest Fag/Fag-Hag pair to grace Prime Time since a certain flat-chested red-headed Jewess was rooming with a sex-less suburban lawyer gay. Marc is deliciously bitchy albeit stereotypical, and that scene where he slapped fake Wilhemina was priceless (add to that his wardrobe) and you have numero siete on my list.
Sure, if by 'beer' you mean 'Appletini'

6. Bree Van de Camp... ahem Hodge
Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives)
Everyone's favorite housewife is even more desperate this season what with no more baby, a failing marriage, a bickering partner and well... thankfully, a soaring business. Here's hoping for more Bree-bites this season.
Andrew, tell this gentleman that if he calls me 'sweetie' again I'm gonna grab his camera and take a picture of his colon!

5. Barney Stinson
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
In one word Barney is "Awesome" ... or maybe just "Legen...wait for it... dary!" HIMYM is a show that shines when NPH gets great storylines and even better one-liners. I'm interested to see how the "falling in love" with Robin storyline will play out (Nothing's funnier than an anxiety-ridden Barney!) Bonus points: Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
What's that? Self-five? Nice, we out!

4. Six, Tricia Helfer 
(Battlestar Galactica)
Earlier seasons might have been all about President Roslin (Roslin'08!) and Starbuck, but Six dominated this past season - in all and every one of her incarnations. And much of that has come from the writer's willingness to explore the "humanity" in the cylons and of course the increasing talent of a certain Ms Helfer who's proven she's as talented as she is gorgeous.
God has a plan, Gaius. He has a plan for everything, and everyone

3. Tina Fey's Sarah Palin
Tina Fey (SNL)
What can I say about Tina's Palin that I haven't said before? Her Alaskan accent, her matching outfits, her crazy never-ending sentences... It has made for Must-Watch Saturday Night TV. And gosh-darnit, Tina made me be interested in your crazy US of A politics by following a certain moose-hunting, anti-women Alaskan right-wing nut. Here's hoping that this SNL exposure can make Tina's other doppelganger (Liz Lemon) gets some traction starting next week on NBC, making 30 Rock Must-Watch TV as well.
Senator McCain and I are not afraid to get Maverickey in there

2. Olive Snook
Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies)
Cheno is clearly a staple at this blog (click here for more) but really, a spunky romantic little blond waitress who sings? How could I resist? Also Season 2's story arc where she was a nun was hilarious but I'm also glad she's back in the Pie-Hole bickering and rooming with Lonely Tourist Charlotte Charles.
Our store is called The Pie Hole. As in shut your. Or in this case "Open your" because it's real good.

1. Joan Holloway
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Joan is amazing. She is a bitch, she's gorgeous, she's curvy and sexy. And in Season 2 she's proven she's more than a cliché (See here for more on Joan) - how crushing was her rape scene this past Sunday? It's no wonder she made the banner for A Blog Next Door. Oh also: she's a Whedon Alum (if you don't know what Whedon show I mean you need to re-watch Firefly) and that just gives Christina Hendricks a boost of a gazillion points.
(Commenting about Paul to his new African-American girlfriend) 
"The last thing I would’ve taken him for was open-minded"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

30 Rock Do Over! Or How it's baaaack!

Yay 30 Rock 1st Episode one week ahead of time!

"We may not be the best of people, but we're not the worst of people... No. Graduate students are the worst of people" 
- Liz and Jack
And it kind of hurts...

Watch here:

Tag I'm It!, or How it's a new meme!

Vance from Tapeworthy tagged me for this one.

Here are The Rules: Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.

1. I'm a geek. This might not be such a surprise, but while I was trying to think of something that counts as a "fact" and I looked around my living room, my BSG DVDs, my Brian K. Vaughan's comics, and my Anya action figures caught my eye. 


2. Growing up I loved Adam West's Batman. Yes, according to my mom those POW! CRACK! ZOOM! series was the only thing that would shut me up. (My favorite villain? The Riddler and Catwoman, here's hoping Nolan's taking notes).

3. I have lived in 5 different cities so far: Medellin & Bogota growing up in Colombia, Vancouver for my undergrad years, and New Brunswick, NJ and currently NYC for my graduate degree. Yay diversity!

4. I grew up watching Latin American soap operas. Sure, I watched Growing Pains, Saved by the Bell and Quantum Leap but I spent most of my time in front of my Tv watching such things as the original Ugly Betty (Betty la Fea), Cafe con Aroma de Mujer, Perro Amor, La Proxima Victima, Las Juanas and if you haven't heard of 'em, well you should look them up.

5. Animation runs in the family business (how did this meme become a "let's make sense of mB's interests according to his tastes"?) Just check out the opening sequence for the animated version of Ugly Betty - Betty Toonz:



6. I was a huge Musical Theater kid in High School (hard to believe right?) I was in the ensembles for Alice in Wonderland, Oliver!, played Fizzy in Bugsy Malone (yeah, yeah... I know!) and in my senior year we put on Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood where I was First Voice... and yeah, we did it on stage which was kind of... tricky.

7. Everyone who knows me says I should have diabetes - mainly 'cause of all the sugar I eat (and how comparatively thin I am). Hmm.. dulce de leche, sweetened condensed milk, brownies, ice cream - and yes, I mean at the same time! This is usually funny (and envy-inducing) except when I try and break the ice with such a comment and get a deadpan (and quite true) "Oh, I have diabetes." True story... happened a couple of months ago. Which probably also suggests I tend to have my foot in my mouth.

Now, 7 people?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wish I could be at that gym, or How isn't Cheno hysterical?

A new series to keep the blog going. I'm choosing on a weekly basis (Wishing Wednesdays!) someone/thing I wish I could be from whatever popular culture outlet I choose.

Wish I could be... at this Gym:



I have no idea what the back story to this 'prank' is but it is hysterical. Cheno is such a good sport (tell me: how many celebrities would be up for something like this?) she makes me wish I were there watching her 'practice her strokes' even when there is no pool.

ALSO: New Pushing Daisies Tonight! (Guest-starring Mr Courtney Cox himself!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

McCain-Fey ticket, or How I'm Seeing Double

Tina-Palin on John McCain at the debate: I just thought he was great, because the American people are angry, and John McCain is angry, too. And you can tell he's angry by the way he sighs and grits his teeth. And he's always going like... grr!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

W.'s ABC's or How it's a Political Alphabet

W.
Directed by Oliver Stone
Written by Stanley Weiser
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Toby Jones, Richard Dreyfuss, Thandie Newton, Noah Wyle, Jesse Bradford, Jeffrey Wright, Ioan Gruffud... and the list goes on and on.

Instead of a full-review I thought I'd do something a little bit more fun. And what is better than LEARNING? Nothing right? So in that spirit, for those of you learning your Dubya's ABCs here's an alphabet for the film.

is for A-List talent involved: Stone, Brolin, Banks, etc. and a great supporting cast (even in small roles!) that saves this film from being a simple exercise in political/cultural history without really being an engaging or interesting film.
B is for Banks, Elizabeth who works hard at becoming Laura Bush - who sadly post-marriage (and post-BBQ in the film) isn't really much of a character.
C is for Close-ups. Stone privileges these all the way through and it helps at times since up close Brolin's face kind of takes a Bush-look. But at other times I kept thinking: why?
D is for Dick Cheney (played by Richard Dreyfuss) who is shown to be the bat-shit scary, creepy guy he is. 
E is for Ellen Burstyn who is always a breath of fresh air in any and every movie she's in and here she sparkles as Barbara Bush with her delicious line readings.
F is for Food. Hard not to notice that Stone surrounds his film with tons of eating/drinking scene. But I wonder: is it a metaphor for consumption? Excess? Hunger? Help me out here.
G is for Gruffud, Ioan who shows us what Tony Blair would look like if he were a million times more attractive.
H is for H.W (played by James Cromwell) along with Burstyn, he makes the family scenes all that more believable - even if they're playing with cliches that go back to Socrates.
I is for "Iraq is not Iran. I know that much" which still cracked me up even after I'd seen it in the trailer so many times before.
J is for Jesse Bradford ... with a paddle! Surrounded by men (some scantily clad and soaking wet!)
K is for Karl Rove (played by Toby Jones) is a self-described "fairy" (as per the dialogue in the movie... though sadly not a fairy-fairy, just a right-wing political Rovian fairy...) But seeing that Toby also played Capote... it left me wondering.
L is for Lots of drinking. Jack gets around in this film.
M is for Musical Score (by Paul Cantelon). It's actually so good. I'm thinking this and Brolin have the best shots at garnering any love at the end of year awards.
N is for Noah Wyle? Seriously? I had no idea... Stone really threw me for a loop with ER's fave alum.
O is for Oedipus Complex - I need not explain this right?
P is for Palin = Bush? They both love running and staying in shape; love Joe-Voter, believe in "Ameri-cuh," hate "nukular" weapons and interweave seamlessly their religious beliefs into "secular" politics.
Q is for Quel Surprise! (ie. I'm using Q for Jeffrey Wright regardless) - as Colin Powell he is believable and conflicted (the only one!)
R is for Rookie not a Pro - is that what Stone wanted us to take from:
S is for Sports Metaphor (Baseball!)? I mean, those scenes in the 'field' are illuminating but they function too didactically to be efficient.
T is for Thandie Newton (as Condolezza Rice) is a hot mess. Was she playing Rice as a drag queen on purpose? There's a line between imitation done well (Tina!), imitation done believably (Josh!) and imitation as camp (sadly... Thandie!)
U is for Underwhelming overall. Really I don't know what I was expecting, but all I got was at most a competent attempt at character study that fails at making it to the (history/film) books. Entertaining yes, but not all that great.
V is for Vendetta and it kinda does feel like Dubya's presidency was just that... revenge against his father, and I don't know how satisfying that is...
W is for Dubya, played by Josh Brolin, who really is amazing as Dubya. And it's not just the swagger and the makeup and the voice... it's the ease with which he achieves this - unlike someone else on the cast (see T). You got give 'im props for almost... almost making you sorry for the guy who's done so much cultural/political/national harm.
X is for X-nay on the Ating-Hay. Stone does try and have it both ways... it's not a complete mockery, but even in the "serious" scenes the character and the dialogue play like a comedy. A dark and sad comedy when all is considered. Dubya might be a jester but his laughs have real repercussions.
Y is for Yale. How fitting I was in New Haven when I chose to watch this - even if the crowd at the Criterion could easily have been H.W.'s age...
Z is for zZzZZz Phew! That was tiring... I'm sleepy now.

Overall Grade: B

Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween, or How I haven't decided what I should be this year...

"In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl [ed. note: Gay Guy] can dress like a total slut and no other girls [ed. note: Gay Guys] can say anything about it. The hard-core girls [ed. note: Gay Guys] just wear lingerie [ed. note: briefs/thongs] and some form of animal ears [ed. note: hat (I'm a cop! See my hat? I'm a firefighter! See my hat? Or my fave: I'm an angel! See my wings?)" - Mean Girls teaches you everything you needed to know about Teen Meanies, that is to say: Gay Guys of all ages.

So with that in mind, I'm torn as to what to be this Halloween. Angels (tighty-whiteys and wings!), "Lifeguard" (swimwear and a towel!) and other equally as objectifying costumes are not for me: I tend to be fun or concept-driven. I'm tossing ideas in my head still:

Dr Horrible?
It'd be fun, even if it'd take some effort... maybe I could get away with being one of his groupies with a Dr Horrible shirt.

Peter Pan?
It's gay, it's fun, it's skimpy and it's animated! It's mB in a nutshell! It'd also be a good way to "feel young" after the b-day from last week...


Ned, the Piemaker?
Not only would I be Lee Pace for Halloween but I'd have a great ice-breaker, mainly: do you know who I am? And if the answer is "No" I can easily walk away and not feel bad about it.
Or I could be a meta-costume "Look, I'm a slutty gay guy in a costume!" or "I'm a hipster!" 
We'll see...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shiva the Destroyer, or How I'm Seeing Double

"I am Shiva the Destroyer!" - Says Rachel at a toast 
Rachel Getting Married
"I am Shiva the Destroyer" - says Michael to a distraught Tilda Swinton
Michael Clayton



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Can Never Go Back, or How I'm obsessed

Seriously, if you had told me that ballroom singing guy from Enchanted could deliver Scissor Sisters-type songs, I would have laughed and laughed... 

But listen to it yourselves and I dare you to not see it as a gay anthem in the making:



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Up & the Ugly Truth or How We Have New Posters!

Yay a new UP poster from Pixar (!)

And a poster for The Ugly Truth
And I have no idea what this movie was about but as soon as I saw the poster many things came to mind trying to answer what the ugly truth is:

- Is Katherine Heigl the ugly truth? I think so.
- OR is Katherine Heigl's mind the ugly truth? Ditto.
- OR Uh... are they implying that Gerard' heart is in his pants and this is somehow an 'ugly' truth? Pfft... seriously? That can't be it.
- OR is the advertising/plot of the film's heteronormative and gender-stereotyping politics the ugly truth? BINGO!

[via Slashfilm]

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rachel Getting Married, or How "This is not my family"

Rachel Getting Married
Dir. Jonathan Demme
Written by Jenny Lumet
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Mather Zickel and Debra Winger.

The trailer tells us that "This is NOT your family" before correcting itself and pronouncing "This IS your family" - I can thankfully say this is not my family (only Connecticut families could rejoice in a 'let's load our dishwasher' timed-game!) but Demme and his cast make Rachel Getting Married an interesting sociological experiment. When I left the theater I had to ask myself: Do people like this exist? (I don't mean addicts and dysfunctional families - they're a dime a dozen; but families and couples that are so self-consciously multi-cultural and folksy while still showcasing their privilege and wealth)

In any case. I don't usually leave movies asking myself whether what I have just seen could actually happen (that would have made for interesting post-The Dark Knight and post-Wall-E conversations) so instead I can focus on the performances:

Anne is pitch-perfect. She's annoying, she's vulnerable, she's in pain, she's painful. Long gone is the Princess from those Disney movies. Here we have a broken young woman whose 'accident' so many years ago has scarred her more than her pill-addiction could ever have. She's abrasive, and at times we sympathize with her family for not knowing how to handle her and the film is intent on not wanting to lay the blame on only one side of the family which is why when Rachel's "I'm pregnant" explodes into a frenzy of joy in the room we kind of understand Kym's "That is so unfair!" 

I fell in love with Rosemarie while watching Mad Men season 1 earlier this year. And here, as the patient, 'good' sister she has a character as complex - if not more so - as Kym: in Rachel we have so much desperation, so much self-control that her shoulders are always crunched as if she is expecting 'Shiva the destroyer' to ruin her wedding. And yet, you can't blame her of vilify her for being in so much pain over the loss of her little brother and the frustration of being the only no-nonsense of the family (Hawaii in that light looks like a perfect escape no?) I commend the film for never painting it as a simple Rachel or Kym scenario and it's a testament to everyone involved, including DeWitt and Anne.

As soon as she came on-screen, the girl behind me (part of a trio of annoying 20-somethings: probably the only ones in my age group in what I described as an audience "as white and old as any McCain rally) had the audacity to say "Oh. I loove her... I love Debra Singer" - I was /this/ close to turning around and correcting her, but instead laughed to myself and wondered how f
ar her knowledge of this Ms Singer went. Anyways, in a small but plot-pivotal role, Ms Winger plays the elusive, aloof and cold Mom. It is the one absolute-like moment of the film: Mommy's to blame. Or at least a just as unsympathetic: "Mom just wasn't there ... look, she's not even here now" which I had trouble digesting after Demme and Lumet had crafted such a psychological minefield. 

Overall, the film feels like a family visit - at times overlong, at times painfully uncomfortable, at times joyful and hopeful and nostalgic, but always real (how refreshing that de-glamming for Anne means not wearing makeup and not a Theron-like transformation) and when it's done there are things you rather not have seen/done/heard but you know you're better for it. A

Bonus: 
Sexiest non-sexy line reading from Mather Zickel - "Retort"