Saturday, March 28, 2009

Easy Virtue, or How make room for Kristin

I saw this trailer in front of Sunshine Cleaning and it just made me so giddy. True, I have NEVER EVER anticipated a Jessica Biel film, and never thought I would, but I'd be lying if I said I don't want to watch this asap. That said, the obvious attraction is seeing a certain Ms Scott-Thomas be her icy, cold bitchy British self.

Sunshine Cleaning, or How I could watch Amy & Emily any day, really

Sunshine Cleaning
Directed by Christine Jeffs
Written by Megan Holley
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Clift Collins Jr & Steve Zahn.

To speak of Sunshine Cleaning and framing it in light of the burgeoning repertoire of 'dysfunctional family/people Indie Films' is at once a disservice to the film at hand, but also a required disclaimer as it does honor and work within the constraints that this new 'subgenre' imposes: dysfunctional relationships, alternate models of 'family,' "growing up" storylines, quirky little kids, death, etc.

And yet, I couldn't help but enjoy myself watching the film. This is, of course, due to the talent of its two leading ladies: Amy Adams plays Rose, a high school cheerleader who's never outgrown the potential she had, but has yet to show anything for it other than an 8 year old boy, a house-cleaning job and an affair with a married cop; Emily Blunt plays Norah, Rose's 'little sister' whose yet to find a footing in life and prefers instead to wander, linger and not take life too seriously. Both in their scenes together and in those where they're allowed to shine individually I was captivated by their performances (Blunt's scene at the train tracks and Adams' scene in the restroom had me in tears, I'll confess). 

Other than that, the plot of the film - while a bit hokey - works just fine as a framing device for these two actresses, which is why when we're off in Alan Arkin-land (reprising his Oscar winning role, basically) or following Oscar's life in school I found myself wishing we'd go back and focus on the girls. In two words (borrowed from the boyfriend), this film is "endearingly morbid" and works quite well at that. B

Friday, March 27, 2009

30 Rock, or How I'm lizzing!

Wow. Not that I should be surprised that 30 Rock delivered another great episode, but still bears repeating:

My favorite exchange of the night:

Well, Denis has been speaking with all the women that he's slept with.
Did he call?
Did you pretend to be me?
Did you do an impression of me?
Was it British?
Oh Liz. First of all, the reason I have some English inflection in my speech is because I lost my virginity to the My Fair Lady soundtrack.

Loved Kenneth's view of the world:

Tracy's view of the world:

And Jack's:

And of course, Bijou!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Duplicity or How Julia and Clive sizzle

Written and Directed by
Tony Gilroy
Starring: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson & Paul Giammati

Recipe for a smartly written adult spy comedy film:

- Add 2 A-List actors with great on-screen chemistry.
- Add an Oscar-nominated writer/director and a crackling script.
- Sprinkle a few seasoned actors in the supporting cast.
- Simmer with the score of a certain James Newton Howard.
- Glaze with Roger Elswit's lens.


Duplicity is sexy, funny, smart, quick-witted and maddeningly (but entertainingly) confusing. Scene that pays for the ticket alone: seeing Julia Roberts react to Carrie Preston's sob-filled confession. Watch that scene and I dare you to not agree that Julia is not one of the greatest comedic actresses of our time. A-

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dollhouse delivers, or How Joss never lies

Man on the Street written by Joss is finally the Dollhouse I was waiting for.

Dominic: You played a good hand.

DeWitt: I played a bad hand well.

DeWitt: There is a distinction.

Well played Joss, well played.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009), or How This Has All Happened Before...

Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)

It is the end of an era. Not since Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) ended have I been so eagerly anticipating the series finale for a TV show. I will miss these characters, this world and this story dearly: what do I do in a world without a strong-willed Roslin, a rambunctious and yet vulnerable Starbuck, and a seductive and serpentine Six? Here's hoping BSG ends with a bang and not a whimper tonight. So say we all!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Away We Go Trailer, or How: EXCITED!


Best line: (Maggie Gyllenhaal's character on strollers) "I love my baby, why would I want to push it away?"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dorys Winners, or How Let's Say Goodbye to 2008!

You can check out the Dorys 2008 Nominations here and (better late than never!) here are the winners ranked (I hate to just single out one person per category).

Needless to say animation and depressing movies continue to rank as my all-time faves with Wall-E and Revolutionary Road taking the most honors (with Milk and The Dark Knight not that far behind).

Outstanding Motion Picture

Outstanding Director

Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role

Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role

Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role

Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role

Outstanding Original Screenplay

Outstanding Adapted Screenplay

Outstanding Ensemble

Sunday, March 15, 2009

First Wives Club, or How Divas Unite!

The First Wives Club is one of my favorite movies, and why shouldn't it be? It's filled with actresses I love:





Sarah J

And, before Slumdog Millionaire perfected the whole 'dance sequence to end all dance sequences,' the divas of this film showed us how it's done:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Glee, or How is it possible that FOX is producing shows I'd actually like to watch?

Seriously, Dollhouse has been getting stronger with every episode (next week marks the return of Joss to writing duties so I'm ready to get my head exploded!) and while nothing else on FOX really floats my boat (I randomly catch the newer Simpsons, American Idol never really grew on me, House MD is long past its prime... and the fact that I can't name any other FOX vehicles shows how little I think of this network).

But that all is about to change. Behold!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ponyo at the Cliff, or How it's the mermaid tale Miyazaki-style

Ponyo at the Cliff
Written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

We all know that a new Miyazaki is an event (for some more than others, of course) and Ponyo - an 'updated' or Miyazakead version of Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid tale, delivers once again a frightfully simple and engaging story which is elevated by the beautiful canvas in which he sets this tale and the cute (though never cloying) nature of the characters involved: Ponyo - a goldfish princess, and Sosuke - her human friend, are just cute as a button (though not Benjamin's of course) and bring a sense of warmth and wonder which I hadn't felt in an animated movie since Pixar introduced us to Boo back in the day with Monsters, Inc. But really, any comparison between Miyazaki's work and the Emeryville-based company is futile as the tone of the former is so distinct and utterly idiosyncratic. Ponyo successfully creates an animated film that is at once targeted at young children without the (allegedly) necessary condescending tone of some child-friendly products and without the (also allegedly) necessary pop-culture savvy/critical bite that has needlessly plagued animated fare recently. Instead, Miyazaki's latest immerses its viewer in Sosuke and Ponyo's world, where the sea is a vibrant, magical place; where a goldfish can turn human and where the bond at the center of the story is the chaste and utterly endearing relationship between two five-year olds. A

And because a Miyazaki film needs to be experienced, some of my fave shots:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Watchmen, or How I guess I watch the Watchmen?

Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Carla Gugino, Matthew Goode, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

So, Zack Snyder delivered a 'well-crafted' adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen. Is it a good film? Not particularly. It's an entertaining ride and a great nostalgic companion piece to the (far superior, more intellectually stimulating and much more accomplished) graphic novel. The credits sequence in particular are breathtaking - it's odd how Snyder's 'talent' flourishes when he's not OCDing on painstakingly borrowing Moore/Gibson's "vision" and plotting it on screen. B

Some quick thoughts on the Watchmen themselves:

The Comedian
Who knew a Grey's Anatomy alum would have talent? (I kid... no, I don't) Morgan is crazy evil and loathsome as the character whose death opens up the story. You wanna punch him, you wanna kick him... and that's a good sign.

Nite Owl
Patrick Wilson. Need I say more? Okay: Naked Patrick Wilson. But, all gay fanboyishness aside, can we agree Mr Wilson has the 'social awkward yet smouldering good-guy' character down to a tee? I mean, isn't Nite Owl Joe Pitt without a costume and the mormon drama?

Dr Manhattan
Mr Crudup('s voice and gestures) make Jon a wonder of a character and much more plausible than I ever expected. His pain may not be 'human' but it is damn impossible to miss. Also: blue frontal nudity. 'nuff said.

So the growly voice might be a bit too Christian-Bale-Batmanesque, but it somehow works for Watchmen's most well-rounded and complex character and Haley 'knocks it out of the park' (he might also have beat it, set fire to it, hacked it, etc.) - this is after all his tragedy, no?

Silk Spectre II
Why are women's roles in so-called superhero movies under-written. Okay so you had to take away Laurie's penchant for smoking and thus nixed what is so clearly a window into her broken psyche and, yeah the whole mommy/daddy issues aren't really explored but did Laurie really have to be such a bland character?

I love Matt Goode. He's a hottie and clearly talented. Why then was I so disappointed with his Veidt? Was it the blond hair? Was it the bluntness with which (SPOILERS AHEAD) Snyder and co. reveal from the get-go his malevolent ways? I say, a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.

Shoutouts to Ms Carla Gugino who is amazing and effortlessly wonderful as Silk Spectre I and to the F/X wizards credited with Mr Manhattan's Lower Manhattan.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Queering Remy, or How PIXAR's rat might be more than our 'little chef'

Or so argues a certain scholar. Now, as soon as I read the following things started to click, and I'm kicking myself for not seeing it sooner:

Laure Murat of the UCLA Department of French and Francophone Studies takes the exploration of this topic much further in her lecture Thursday, in which she delves into Remy's embodiment of "the lonely gay, both refined and the object of disgust, excluded and successful" and the animated movie as "the story of the Oedipus conflict, mixed with issues of race and species.... If 'anyone can cook,' any queer guy has a role to play in this world -- at least in Paris."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kate Holmes Next? or How Tom Cruise's Exes Strike Oscar Gold

So I was flipping channels and I ended up catching Vanilla Sky on Bravo, which just reminded me of the following piece of trivia:

Is Katie next?