Saturday, May 30, 2009

Up, or How Pixar remains my all-time fave studio

Directed by: Pete Docter.
Written by: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson.
Voices by: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer & Bob Peterson.

Question: How do you know you're watching a Pixar film? 
Answer: When you find yourself describing a premise/plot that seems at once hilariously original and one which you find increasingly harder to figure out how they pulled off.

This is, after all the studio that gave us a story about monsters who need children's screams to power their city, a film about a vermin turned chef, an epic story about a Woody Allen-esque waste allocating robot in love and... well, you get the idea. Up - the tenth installment in the Pixar oeuvre, steers not very far away from this as it follows a cantankerous widower old man who decides to fly away to Paradise Falls (in South America: "It's like America, only South!") in the house he shared with his late wife with the aid of thousands of balloons. Little does he know that Russell, an eager wilderness explorer was hiding in his porch when the house took off; or that his trip to Paradise Falls will turn into the greatest adventure of his life since his lovely marriage to Ellie. And that becomes the message of the film: you don't need to leave your house to have an adventure. An adventure can be found in the small moments you share with those you love. Good thing the message is wrapped up in a wildly exhilarating balloon ride with great chase sequences, filled with exotic creatures, amazing vistas and more than one tear-jerking scene (can we just say that all montages should look like those presented in Up?). This is indeed a great addition to the Pixar pantheon, adding what's possibly their most complex and mature character to date in the role of Mr Fredricksen: whose squareness (figurative and physical) allows for some cleverly nuanced dramatic moments but also allows for some quirky comedic scenes as well. Adding to my gushing: Giacchino's score and the vibrant colours that populate every frame (I wanted to freeze (and) frame so many shots!). A

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Clay vs Lambert, or How gay vs queer?

Okay, so Clay Aiken has been bashing Adam Lambert as of late (and then half-heartedly apologizing for it) but regardless of the catty drama (and the fact that this has to do with American Idol, a show that I couldn't care less about even if I tried...) I just have to wonder: is this more than just a fight of AI alumni or the showdown between the

"good identifiable gay"

the "ambiguous queer"?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Hours, or How casting NOT-against type

You have John C. playing a dull but loving husband:

Jeff playing a self-involved academic:

Toni playing a cake baking housewife:

Claire is playing a free-spirit teenager:

Ed is playing a tortured artist:

Meryl playing a menopausal wreck:

Julianne playing an unsatisfied housewife:

Alison playing a supportive second 'wife':

Now, Nicole seems to be the one playing against type.. is that why Oscar bit?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Company, or How 'Bobby!' 'Bobby!'

You know how sometimes the world gives you hints about what you should do about your life? This is exactly what happened when Netflix suggested I watch Company, the PBS 'Greatest Performances' DVD of the Sondheim revival directed by John Doyle starring Raúl Esparza.

Not only is it a staggering staging but it is, to this date, the only stage musical that has had me in tears by the time the lights go off. Sondheim's musical is a wonderful post-modern study on relationships, 'company' and marriage - at times witty and hilarious, but also painfully aware of the seriousness of its subject matter. Esparza in particular (though the entire ensemble is brilliant) sizzles as Bobby, creating an elastically nuanced performance that goes from stoned, to drunk, to bemused, to wounded, to vulnerable in a heart beat - all this with an astonishing voice that commands the stage whenever he's singing.

Here's the TONY performance of 'Being Alive' to whet your appetite and if you haven't seen this performance, order it, Netflix it (it's on 'Watch it now'!) or do whatever you need to do, you won't be disappointed.
Blow out the candles, Robert, and make a wish. *Want* something!
Want *something*!

Somebody, hold me too close,
Somebody, hurt me too deep,
Somebody, sit in my chair
And ruin my sleep
And make me aware
Of being alive,
Being alive.

Somebody, need me too much,
Somebody, know me too well,
Somebody, pull me up short
And put me through hell
And give me support
For being alive,
Make me alive.

Make me confused,
Mock me with praise,
Let me be used,
Vary my days.
But alone is alone, not alive.

Somebody, crowd me with love,
Somebody, force me to care,
Somebody, make me come through,
I'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive
Being alive,
Being alive,
Being alive!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Glee, or How I can't be bothered with a witty title: glee!

So Ryan Murphy's new show Glee previewed last night (it don't count as a premiere, FOX, when you deprive us of the rest of the season til the Fall, kay?) and I, of course fell in love with it.

Overall, Glee turned out to be a bit smarter than I expected, carefully treading 7th Heaven-type "life lessons" without the schmaltz, and adding a certain depth and humanity into what so easily could have become the high school stereotypes we are so used to seeing on and off screen. But then, what the hell was I expecting? This is from the guy that gave us Popular, probably one of the best and most compellingly hysterical look at high school life among the WB hall of fame (Buffy might edge it out for the top spot... because as Rachel says "Metaphors are important!").

Things I loved about the Glee pilot:

"There is NOTHING ironic about school choir!" - can we just say that I might just have found the most quotable show on TV this side of 30 Rock?

The shower scene. Cause c'mon, if anyone's immortalized great shower scenes on TV it's Ryan Murphy (hello Mario Lopez on Nip/Tuck!) but this one was utterly appropriate, if PG. Also: Corey Monteith is cute as a button.

"Oh hell no! I am Beyonce! I ain't no Kelly Rowland!" - can we just say that I might just have found the best use of pop culture references on TV this side of United States of Tara?

The 'Rehab' Performance (or: where do I get those pretty outfits with the lovely blue suspenders?)

It's Bring it on!... well, it's got the same amount of sass and underdog storyline + Cheers, so you can see why I'd be confused. But then that Eliza/Kirsten film is amazing so, it's a good comparison to live up.

The 'Don't Stop Believing' Performance. (One pet-peeve though: I do think Murphy might want to work on avoiding too many cuts and slashes while presenting musical performances so as to really showcase the performance and not the editing)

But just as with every show I end up loving (30 Rock's Liz, Pushing Daisies' Olive, Buffy's eponymous hero, BSG's Roslin) in particular I was taken with the female characters of the show: 
Emma's frail and all-too prim and proper ways (and outfits!) give Jayma Mays a lot to work with while trying to stage the tug-o-war of feelings that her obvious attraction to Schuster elicits in her tin-foiled-wrapped sandwich world.

Jane Lynch's Sue is bitingly funny and while her crackling one-liners ("Waterboarding is hard!") are amazing, her simple gestures (when Schuster comes to see her, bringing coffee to the teacher's lounge) suggest a crack in her bee eye tee cee ache exterior which I can't wait to see explored.

And finally, Lea Michele's Rachel is a wonder of a character: part 'naive ingenue' part myspace loner part Tracy Flick, she really sells us on the point of the show: passion and talent and drive hurt but are worth it for that moment in the spotlight when you know your life means something... (the caveat being presented by the role of Schuster himself...) even if that ephemeral moment fades away and ultimately life kicks in. How does one balance the two, Murphy seems to be asking.

I know we'll have to wait until the Fall, so in the meantime I'll keep watching the Pilot "from the top!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

9 from Nine, or How in a very unusual way I think I'm in love with this trailer...

Rob Marshall's Nine - if nothing else - looks gorgeous. Also: it's an actressexual's wet dream with Nicole, Marion, Kate, Dame Judi, Sophia, & Penelope taking center stage around Mr Day-Lewis. 

And so, here are 9 still frames/thoughts from Nine's trailer:

9. Nicole giving Daniel a smooch. Just the fact that Nicole is doing her first musical role since the whirlwind that was/is Moulin Rouge gets me excited regardless. To see her all glammed up and working her ice-cool sexy demeanor, just makes me quiver with anticipation with what 'Unusual Way' will look/sound like.
8. Judi and the 'Folies Bergeres' = it's like Mrs Henderson is presenting all over again.
7. Marion playing sexy. Is it just me or what could have been one of those forgettable Oscar biopic choices turning out to be the start of a great career for Ms Cotillard, who not only has Nine coming out but also Public Enemies with Johnny and Christian? Seeing her act without makeup and the thrust of Piaf's tragic story will be refreshing (I hope).
6. Kate as a 90s blond pop star? I mean, that is what this frame suggests n'est-ce pas? As long as this reignites her non-romcom career, I'll take whatever I can get.
5. I have been scarred... why is it that I expect Sophia to yell "Roberto!!!" and wave an envelope every time I see her? But here she's all regal and better-than-thou (which, you know she is) so I think I'm safe from Benigni's blabbering speeches.
4. Fergie as Saraghina. What Marshall, Ms BEP, a host of dancers and sand (!) can do on screen makes me feel like 'Be Italian' might be this film's 'Cell Block Tango.' And that is always a good thing to be aspiring to be.
3. Penelope being sexy. Her Carla is already miles away (physically) from Jane Krakowski's TONY Award winning portrayal so I'm hoping Cruz's smouldering number will be able to work free from any comparison to Ms Krakowski's memorable sheet-ful number and well... if anyone can do that it's Penelope cause she doesn't just have talent, she has gee-nee-uss!
2. Daniel Day-Lewis. I can't be the only one anticipating Day-Lewis' first role since his Oscar-winning Daniel Plainview and his first-ever singing role. Gladly, the trailer shows him at ease (and smiling!) so I am timidly waiting to see the followup trailer to hear him.
1. The techs! The cinematography (those Felliniesque black and white shots of the boys at the beach!), the lighting (that entrance!), the costumes (Penelope's corset! Nicole's coat! Kate's ensemble!), the hair (Marion's bun!  Judi's bob!), the makeup (Penelope's eyes! Sophia's face!) not to mention what are bound to be top notch editing, sound mixing, sound editing... make me drool. 

Needless to say: I'm excited. And The New Broadway Cast Recording has been playing on loop on my iTunes all week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

30 Rock, or How what the hell am I going to re-watch every week now?

So, 30 Rock ended its third season and it's probably safe to say it's on its way to Emmy-heaven yet again (can we PLEASE get Ms Krakowski an Emmy nom?!) but now the big question is: what the hell are we going to obsess over during its summer hiatus?

Favorite line:
"Please to meet!"

And yes, Sheryl WOULD be the only one getting paid. And Adam Levine? One word: mmhmmhm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Netflix, or How I think it knows a wee bit too much about me that website...

So, as all you Netflix users must know, lately the DVD-rental site has been narrowing down their recommendations (not just from what films you're "interested in" - read: rented/have on queue, but also from answering a bunch of inane questions about what you like). Here's what it's been offering me lately:

Dark Movies based on classic literature (and hell if I ever thought I'd see 'Sci Fi's Tin Man and Grapes of Wrath in the same category...)
Romantic Screwball Comedies about Marriage (Who knew that was a 'genre'?)

Movies starring Meryl Streep (can't go wrong there, can you?)

Understated Movies Featuring a Strong Female Lead (sounds about right...)

Romantic Comedies Featuring a Strong Female Lead (Oddly enough, Netflix has yet to offer me anything with a "Strong Male Lead" or with a "Weak Female Lead"...)

And I had to share this, because it always makes me eyes roll and reminds me that you don't get snobbier/more pretentious than NYC:
How about you? What's Netflix been offering you?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Is Megan Fox trying to Make Me Hate Her, or How seriously? You're taking a shot at HSM?

First of all, Megan Fox has yet to be in a film/project I am excited about.

Transformers? Puh-lease, Sha-ya Le-Be-oh-uff is in that: next!; How to Lose Friends and Alienate People? The trailer made me hurl: next!; let's me know she was in Hope and Faith... yes, that Kelly Ripa vehicle: next!... I would be excited about Jennifer's Body if she didn't sound like such an idiot when discussing it (and if it wasn't, y'know... a horror pic: 
”I play the captain of the flag team and I get improperly sacrificed by this rock band, who are trying to obtain a record deal - so they sell their soul to Satan. They need to sacrifice a virgin. I’m not a virgin, so what happens is I get taken over by a demon and, in order to stay alive in this sort of undead period, I have to eat flesh, so I eat boys.” … “So it’s meeting them and having this bizarre pseudo-lesbian relationship with my best friend. It’s all very manipulative and is basically how frightening young girls can be - they’re completely terrifying.”
Then she had that crazy Golden Globe red carpet "I'm a tranny!" moment during which I thought to myself: is she actively trying to be the new Jessica Simpson?

So I shoudln't be surprised when she spews crap like this:
In the June issue of Esquire, on newsstands May 10, Megan Fox explains the true meaning of ‘High School Musical.’ “Let me tell you what it’s really about. ‘High School Musical’ is about this group of boys who are all being molested by the basketball coach, who is Zac Efron’s dad. It’s about them struggling to cope with this molestation. And they have these little girlfriends, who are their beards. Oh, and somehow there’s music involved,” the ‘Transformers’ beauty says. Fox adds, “You have to get stoned and watch it.” We wonder if she’s speaking from experience.
Over her: next!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dreamgirls, or How FYC-much?

Okay so I was re-watching the 8-time Oscar nominated (though-not-in-the-Best-Picture-or-Best-Director) film based on the Broadway show Dreamgirls and couldn't help but notice that the credits are the most unabashedly gimme-Oscars FYC ads EVER!

Or maybe it was just an attempt at teaching regular filmgoers what the Tech people do?

Either way:

The Princess and the Frog, or How the trailer's here!

My only qualm with the trailer? The fact that even though they tout "75 Years of Magic" they only show scenes from the last 20... 

Still looking forward to it, though. I love me some Ron & Jon (even though I've yet to watch Treasure Planet... but I'm sure they'd forgive me, no?)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dollhouse, or How OMFG!

OMFG. I won't tire of saying it. Or thinking it. Or feeling it. But damn if it doesn't represent the 'edge-of-my-seat-ess' that I experienced during Joss Whedon's Dollhouse Season 1 Finale.

[Spoilers Ahead]

So, what were the Top 5 Greatest OMFG moments in 'Omega'?

OMFG Moment #1: Saunders is Whiskey 1.1... isn't 'Saunders' at all

OMFG Moment #2: Alpha attacks Whiskey 1.1

OMFG Moment #3: Alpha pulls a Caleb on his handler
OMFG Moment #4: Agent Ballard 'saves' November, not Echo!

OMFG Moment #5: "Caroline..."
Now if only Dollhouse wasn't already dead in the water... sigh...