Saturday, February 28, 2009

2008 Films

Here are all the films I saw (and graded) from 2008.

Top 5 Films of 2008 (and the Dory Awards can be found here)

In Bruges

The Rest (in alphabetical order)

Be Kind Rewind (B-)
Bolt (A-)
Get Smart (B)
My Blueberry Nights (C+)
Speed Racer (D)
The Air I Breathe (B-)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (B-)
The Fall (B++)
Tropic Thunder (C)
Waltz With Bashir (B-)
Wendy and Lucy (A)

Bye Bye Banner, or How it's time for a change!

Say goodbye to Willow, Joan, the Boys & Girls, Britney, Scott & Ramona, Six, Fey-Palin & Amy-Hillary, Cunningham, Sally, Lorelei & Rory and Wall‧E and say hello to the new banner: do you recognize everyone?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Damn Gyllenhaal, or How will they decide who plays Lola?

Variety is reporting that Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal are attached to a new film version of the classic Broadway musical Damn Yankees (yeah, you know - the one that recently received a mini-makeover in the hands of a certain Sean Hayes and a smoking Jane Krakowski?)

But of course we won't really know whether this musical will really be worth it until producers attach a female star to inhabit the infamous shoes of a Ms Lola. I mean Carrey is an interesting choice for the Devil and it'll be nice to see Jake play 'wholesome American boy' while singing, but the show needs a strong female singer/actress to pull off, arguably, the best song in the film: Whatever Lola Wants. Suggestions:

- After the Oscars I might be tempted to give Anne Hathaway the role, knowing the pipes she had. This would also be a nice break from her filmic image, giving her a sexier role. Can she dance though? 
- I have to throw Jane K in here of course, but considering the star power the other two leads have, I doubt they'll hire a "TV personality" (as talented and amazing as she may be).
- This is going to sound very fanboyish of me (and maybe I'll suggest it because I suggest this person in my head whenever a new female lead role in Hollywood opens) but couldn't it be great if SMG were to play Lola? We know she can sing and dance (watch Once More With Feeling if you don't believe me) and she can smouldering sexy when she wants to and we all know she needs a Hollywood break, might this be it?
- Does anyone know if Rachel McAdams can sing or dance?
- Has this become just a soundboard for me suggesting young actresses that I'd love to see in musicals? Maybe. But would that take away from Emily Blunt or Natalie Portman into the mix? 

Okay, I'm sure there are better suggestions out there, and regardless - the Studio will pick someone who I haven't completely thought of and I hope to be pleasantly surprised. But til then a boy can dream, no?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Little Ashes, or How I'm just gonna say it: Rob Pattinson can't act

Little Ashes
Dir. Paul Morrison
Written by Philippa Goslett
Starring: Robert Pattison, Javier Beltran, Matthew McNulty and Marina Gattell.

Here is a fascinating story: a young Salvador Dali arrives at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid where Luis Buñuel and Federico Garcia Lorca lead a make-shift bohemian colony, encouraging each other to nurture their artistic talents. Lorca and Dali become infatuated with each other, become lovers but soon their relationship comes to a halt once Dali flees to Paris away from Lorca and into Buñuel's Parisian world, leaving Lorca heartbroken but all the more focused on political and social revolution (which, if you know your Spanish history, leads to his assassination).

So here we have a great story, a beautiful backdrop (Madrid in the 1920s) - so why is this film so dreadfully boring, needlessly confusing and overall disjointed? I blame the characterization of Dali. From scene to scene, Goslett, Morisson and Pattinson in particular, don't know what to do with Salvador: how do you explain and compellingly portray one of twentieth century's greatest artists, root him in a believable world where we can follow his character from introvert genius artist to over-the-top genius without eliciting a schizophrenic, botched performance from an ill-equipped Pattison?  You can't, or at least - not with the talent involved. Everything around Dali works really well: Beltran as Lorca grounds the film in heartbreaking candor, McNulty's Buñuel is necessarily frightening and charming, Gattell brings Magdalena to life - specifically in a climactic sex scene that changes everything - and even the Madrid that Morrison paints for us is nicely brings together the artistic buoyancy of the era and the burgeoning political violence that laid ahead. 

Sadly, Dali and Pattison's performance (seriously, I have never seen someone on screen so aware of the camera while trying so hard to act as if the camera wasn't there... very bizarre - also, when the audience is laughing at you, well - need we say more?) throw any potential this movie could have had aside. D+

PS. Can we please talk about the biggest mistake other than casting Pattison in the role of Dali? I'm talking about the choice to a) write/shoot the film in English and b) have Beltran recite the poetry in Spanish but have the poetry dubbed in English by Beltran's voice over it. Does it sound confusing? It was, and distracting and altogether a betrayal of Lorca's beautiful poetry. /rant over.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kelly Clarkson's All I Ever Wanted or How I'm digging the album!

Okay so the cover art had me iffy... though I do enjoy the colour-scheme and the sort of retro look, but the songs! Is it any surprise this album has been on loop for over 72 hours now on my iPhone? Mini-review ahead:

My Life Would Suck Without You
I guess this means you're sorry...
It feels very much like a Breakaway-track. And that's never a bad thing.

If I Can't Have You
One look no hesitation, I'm slipping into you.
Kelly's at her best when she does dance-pop, she does have the "just jump up and down along" niche covered.

Long Shot
My heart beat-beats me senselessly!
My fave track! So pop-edgy! It just asks for it to be sung along as loud as you can!

Don't Let Me Stop you
This is gonna sound kinda silly but I couldn't help but notice: the last time you kissed me you kept both eyes open
Can I dance around in my underwear to this every time I feel like boys suck? Yes I can.

If anyone asks, I'll tell them we just both moved on...

Already Gone
Remember all the things we wanted?
Well-executed polished ballad.

All I Ever Wanted
It's time you let me know, let me know
Good beat. Bit forgettable though for a title track.

If No One Will Listen
If your legs are giving up under the weight...
A belting ballad. 

I Do Not Hook Up
The more that you try the harder I fight.
A rockin' anthem of sorts. Think Since U Been Gone.

[I don't think any song that includes "love monkey" in the lyrics should be reviewed, it's the one song I skip EVERY TIME. Kelly trying to be a punk-rocker = not cool]

Save You
I can tell I can tell how much you hate this...
Is it bad that I enjoy Kelly's poppy themes more than sentimentally ballads like these, beautiful as they are?

Too much of your mouth is like too much sun! How I burn, how I burn!
That line alone should tell you everything. Bouncy fun!

Can't change the wind to say, won't matter any way. Can't reach that far cause it's impossible
Breakaway-esque if you know what I mean.

I Want You
No one else will do, I want... No one else gets me
A flirty, fun, whimsical ditty.

Welcome back Kelly! Don't listen to the haters either - My December is still a hot album.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Note to Self, or How can all the gay lurkers please stand up!

Seriously. This posted pic of Academy Award Winner and hunk du jour Dustin Lance Black was responsible for a whopping 900% increase in my daily traffic! So, being as shameless as I am, I'm reposting and inviting every gay lurker who finds himself here long enough to stick around after copying the pic for their own purposes, to click around! 

Alyssa Tomei, or How I'm Seeing Double

Rarely does an impersonation ring so sincerely true and evoke such respect for the material:

Alyssa in The Uncler & Marisa in The Wrestler

[Thanks for StinkyLulu for the Marisa screengrabs which I've selfishly 'borrowed']

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Heavenly Creatures, or How this is Ms Winslet's career in a nutshell

Is Heavenly Creatures (Ms Academy Award WINNER Kate Winslet's film debut) a blueprint for her film career?

Let's take a look:
A kid and a princess.
A Kid in King Arthur's Court

Girl traveling in the rain.
Sense and Sensibility

Deranged girl syndrome.

Tragedy upon a boat.

Forbidden desire.

Lovely bicycle rides.

'Capital Punishment' quandaries.
The life of David Gale

Diaries. Memories. Love stories. 
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Bedridden due to illness.
Finding Neverland

She sings!
Romance & Cigarettes

Sojourns in old-school bathing suits
Little Children

Having sex with a slightly less-hot person than yourself 
The Holiday

Pretty 1950s frocks
Revolutionary Road

Sexy bathtub scenes 
The Reader

Best Supporting Actress, or How Desire is the Word

A Blog Next Door's Oscar coverage 2009: for the lit theory junkine in me and the Oscar watcher in you.

Best Supporting Actress 2009: 'Lacanian Desire' 

Okay so we dealt with the crazy supporting boys, the 'manly' leading men and the motherly leading ladies... so what is left? Well, we have a lovely bunch of supporting ladies (don't they make a gorgeous lineup?) who exemplify to one extent or another the different models of desire that (just like 'motherhood' in the leading ladies) these characters exemplify. 

And so here we have a mother, a nun, a stripper mother, a foster mother and a power of nature:

Viola Davis is "Mrs Miller" in Doubt

'I just want what's best for my son.'


Amy Adams is "Sister James" in Doubt

'You just want your simplicity, back.'

If I'm lumping the two Doubt girls it is not because of any attempt at diminishing the individual impact but because they both showcase (I think) a similar drive: to keep things as they are (or were, as it may). Both Sister James and Mrs Miller function in the film as character who don't wish to face (or can't fathom to face) the revelation which Sister Aloysius wants to bear on those involved. While one appears more troubled than the other, they both show us women whose desire is for the 'status quo.'  Interesting because this desire for not-change as a model of a world outlook comes at once from a place of faith (Sister James) and a place of social inequality (Mrs Miller), yet it hinges on their role as women pit against men. Our desire contains.

Marisa Tomei is "Cassidy" in The Wrestler

I elicit desire.

Here is a woman who makes money off of men's desire. Cassidy sells the image of her body and is able to make dance that fine line between harnessing desire and letting it out of control. Indeed, her relationship with 'The Ram' suggests that she can only apprehend relationships within a policed desiring structure (client-stripper) and has a hard time figuring out how that desire can either transcend or be turned into something else. My desire titillates.

Taraji P. Henson is "Queenie" in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I desire to be a mother.

Here is a woman whose desires seem to be unconvincingly selfless. I say that because Queenie seems to not have any desire that is not directed/aimed at someone else (she wants to care for Benjamin, she devotes her life to helping older folks - all, it would seem at her own expense). The film (indeed the premise) cannot empower Queenie with any desire other than to be Benjamin's mother. My desire is muted.

Penelope Cruz is "Maria Elena" in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I am desire.

Here is a whirlwind of desire - unstoppable, misdirected and at times violent (but then, aren't all warm-blooded European female artists like this?) If there's one thing that Maria Elena epitomizes is the temptation (and curiously dangerous allure) of unbridled desire - be it sexual (with Juan Antonio), artistic (with Cristina) or both (with both!) Whether Woody presents us with a prescription or a warning is up to the audience, but compared to the pale (and might we even go as far as say 'frigid' and 'clinical'?) Vicky and Cristina, we can't fault the camera and the characters from being so seduced by Maria Elena's "ge-nee-uss" which stems from and is projected within her desiring/able body. My desire disturbs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar Predictions or How the Race comes to an end!


Snore. Wake me up when it's over.

Thank god for Hugh Jackman or else I'd ALMOST consider NOT watching the Oscars this Sunday... 

I steer within "consensus" for many of these, but what are predictions if not a place where we have the opportunity to be gutsy and blind in order to be able to "brag" about 'seeing that one coming' the next day? That said, a clean Slumdog sweep would not be unheard of (even if it'd be a travesty to think Slumdog being part of the 9 Oscar club) and the tech categories have never been my thing (and it's sad how I'm actually excited about the Sound Categories - which in my predicted ballot function as a 'here you go Blockbusters!' consolation prize)

The award that would make me giddy with joy: Wall-E taking Original Screenplay (*fingers crossed!* = I am such a geek!)

Best Picture 
Slumdog Millionaire
["It is written" snore...]

Best Director 
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
[Because "it is written" snore...]

Best Lead Actor
Sean Penn (Milk - A)

[Or do we think Mickey's comeback narrative prevails? I'm not sold.]

Best Lead Actress 
Meryl Streep
Kate Winslet
[Even if I'm rooting for Kate...]

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
[Sorry for the snub TDK!]

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona )
[Cause she's hot and crazy and directed by Woody!]

Best Original Screenplay

[Because how can we not vote for the BP nominee in here?]

Best Adapted Screenplay
Slumdog Millionaire
[Because in a field so weak...]

Best Animated Feature Film

[Sorry for the snub!]

Best Art Direction
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

[The pretty pictures!]

Best Cinematography
Slumdog Millionaire
[Who knew Mumbai was so colourful?]

Best Costume Design
The Duchess

[Cause corsets = Oscar gold!]

Best Editing
Slumdog Millionaire
[Cause there's lots of it]

Best Original Score
Slumdog Millionaire

[Rahman + M.I.A. = Oscar gold despite brilliant(er) work in the category]

Best Original Song
Down to Earth - Wall-E
Jai-Ho - Slumdog Millionaire
[Rahman and Newman split the Score/Song awards!]

Best Make-Up 
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

[Cause how else could they warrant Brad's nomination?]

Best Sound Mixing
Slumdog Millionaire
[Robot noises!]

Best Sound Editing
The Dark Knight

[Not that they usually do this, but I'm splitting the Sound categories]

Best Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

[Cause how else can they warrant Brad's nomination?]

Best Live Action Short Film
Spierlzeugland (Toyland)
[Shooting blind here, people]

Best Animated Short Film
[As a 'sorry PIXAR for not nominating Wall-E for Best Picture']

Best Documentary
Man on Wire
[It is written, n'est-ce pas?]

Best Documentary Short
The Conscience of Nhem En
Pinki Smile
[Why not?]

Best Foreign Language Film
The Class
[If only because as Pan's Labyrinth showed us, there is nothing like a "lock" here, especially when you're dealing with a genre film - and yes, those old geezers at AMPAS do think of animation as a genre, ugh...]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Flight of the Conchords, or How I (heart) Michel Gondry!

In an episode that saw our Kiwi duo go out clubbing and had Jemaine date an Australian, we all learned a valuable lesson:

Michel Gondry + Flight of the Conchords = Bliss

Exhibit A: Too Many Dicks
Tell the players, make it understood
It ain't no good if there's too much wood
Make sure you know before you go
The dance floor bro-hoe ratio
5 to 1 is a brodeo
Tell Steve and Mark its time to go
Wait outside all night to find
20 dudes in a conga line

Exhibit B: Keitha ("That's a man's name!")

"Listen Big Jay, you can't get more Australian than me. My great-great grandpa was a rapist and they shipped him out to Australia, and that's where he met mah great-great grandma - she was a prostitute. You know, I said "met" but she raped her."

Exhibit C: Carol Brown

Loretta broke my heart in a letter
Told me she was leaving and her life would be better
Joan broke it off over the phone
After the tone she left me alone
Jen said she'd never ever see me again
When I saw her again, she said it again
Jan met another man
Exhibit D: The Hug

"Unfair, I'm not participating in this hug."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kanye West, or How can I just say this?: HATE.HIM.

I never use "hate" lightly ... well, that's a lie. But rarely do I encounter a pop culture "icon" that I hate (I mean, I'm no big fan of the Jonas Bros but you don't see me hatin' on them; I don't really dig American Idol, but you don't hear me trashin' it) - spread/talk about things you love, I say (hence why my posts are solely dedicated to things I adore and think you should too!)

But then sometimes... people are just all up in your face and you have to say something. 

My message to Kanye: please shut up. I don't care.
On Kanye ready to pour all his “superhero” energy into conquering fashion: “Put this in the magazine: There’s nothing more to be said about music. I’m the f—ing end-all, be-all of music. I know what I’m doing. I did 808s in three weeks. I got it. It’s on cruise control. . . . Man, we talked about music for God knows how long! Now let’s talk about how my f—ing sweater didn’t come back right from Korea. That’s what’s interesting me.”
I mean, seriously?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic, or How 15 Random Things about the best-seller adaptation

Confessions of a Shopaholic
Directed: PJ Hogan
Starring: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Joan Cusack, Kristin Scott-Thomas, John Goodman, Krysten Ritter, Leslie Bibb, Fred Armisen & John Lithgow

15 Random Things re: Shopaholic
So I caught Isla Fisher's Shopaholic this weekend. It was fun in that chick-flick sort of way. No ground is broken (Prada was an instant classic in my eyes, but this other best-seller adaptation will have to settle for living under its shadow) but give me some Hugh, a good cast and a bearable storyline and you've got me happy. 

1. Isla Fisher is crazy. Don't believe, try watching the 'Miami dancing' sequence with a straight face.
2. This 'The Devil Wears Prada' is not. I don't know whether I really mean that in the worst possible way. Let's see if I can put it in more understandabl
e words: Pat Field on Anne & Meryl > Pat Field on Isla & Kristin.
3. Leslie Bibb will never not-play Brooke McQueen. If you just wondered out loud who that is, I ... well... I have no use for you. Do your homework!
4. Isn't this one the most accomplished comedic
 supporting casts, ever? John! John! Joan! Fred! I'm not saying they all get their due (seriously, can Joan Cusack get more work now? Also: 
5. Who knew Joan was 'mom' material? Not me really.)
6. Hugh is pretty. That's all.
7. Bruckheimer breaks ground... in the ad placement category. I only briefly caught the Prince of Persia poster - anyone else catch others?
8. No one does bitchy French better than Kristin Scott-Thomas. Okay, maybe Catherine Deneuve.
9. Why don't mannequins clap for me? Ah yes. I try to avoid $16,000 in credit card debt.
10. Seeing Gilmore Girls alumni makes me happy. Hello Krysten Ritter! I love your boho SoHo look!
11. "If the US Economy can handle its multi-million dollar debt, you can handle yours" (or something to that effect) is probably the greatest line in the film. Oh irony!
12. Where has Nick Cornish (pictured) been all my life? He's like a younger, hotter version of Gabriel Martinez so you know I mean business. That his imdb page show that he h
ad a role in one of my all time Buffy episodes (Helpless) only adds to my instant crush!
13. Isn't Stephen Guarino (ie. the receptionist) hilarious? Only acceptable answer: Yes.
14. I love movies that make me feel better about living in NYC. Sure, I don't live a life nearly as interesting as Isla's, but still! 
15. Isla Fisher is crazy. Sorry, but it's true. Don't believe me? Try watching the mailroom scene with a straight face.

Grade: B+