Wednesday, December 19, 2007

OMG Jake Gyllenhaal Turns 27!

You all know about my love for Jake Gyllenhaal, so it should come as no surprise that today is a national holiday here at Rants of a Diva. After a Gyllenhaal-free 2006, my Jakey returned in 2007 with one great film (Zodiac) and one kind of sucky film (Rendition, ugh). It was a joyous reunion and I cherished every moment between us. Unfortunately, it looks like 2008 will be Gyllenhaal-less yet again (damn, why can't he be less choosy with his roles?). But after the drought, we will have a Gyllenhaal feast in 2009 with Brothers in which he plays Tobey Maguire's brother and they fight over Natalie Portman (can't wait!) and something known as Untitled Moon Project which is supposed to be directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and deals with astronauts going to the moon. Plus, he signed on a few weeks ago to play football superstar "Broadway" Joe Namath in a biopic (I smell an Oscar!). I can't wait for all this Gyllenhaal in 2009- I just hope I don't pass out from all the excitement!
I wish my Jakey the happiest 27th birthday!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Best Actress Oscar Contenders: Christie vs. Jolie

Over the past couple of days I have caught up with a couple of Big Names competing for this years Best Actress Oscar: Julie Christie in Away From Her and Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart. Both actress are nominated for the Best Actress in a Drama Golden Globe and will be duking it out with Cate Blanchett, Jodie Foster and Keira Knightley.

I saw Christie first, so I'll start with her. While the film was, admittedly, kind of slow and Gordon Pinsett's quiet suffering got on my nerves, Julie Christie was fantastic. Where she could have went loud, overdramatic and "Look at me, I have Alzheimer's!", Christie is subtle but has enough fire that she doesn't become Nicole Kidman in The Hours boring. Even while she's slowly losing her mind, she is just as sexy as she was in Darling 42 years ago- that's something I thought I would never see. My favorite moment of her's has to be when she's watching the news and during footage of the Iraq War she utters, "Have they forgotten Vietnam?" Not only is it a haunting moment in the film, it scares the fuck out of me because even a woman with Alzheimer's can see the problems with the war.

Jolie, on the other hand, wants you to know that she isn't just playing Mariane Pearl, but she is also ACTING. Every gesture she makes, every accented word, every worried expression seems like a calculated attempt to prove that Jolie can act. Even that scene where Jolie finds out the fate of her husband is done more as a showcase for her to show us she's ACTING than because it fits in the film well. Her ridiculous screaming, which goes on for a minute straight, gets so awkward and overly-dramatic that all you can do is laugh at her. I don't know why she's trying so hard because we've already seen her do great work in Girl, Interrupted and last year's The Good Shepherd.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Final Golden Globes Predictions

Well, tomorrow morning bright and early, the Hollywood Foreign Press will announce their nominees for the Golden Globes this year. Here's who I think will be nominated:

Best Picture (Drama)
American Gangster
Into the Wild
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men

alternate: There Will Be Blood

Best Picture (Musical/Comedy)
Knocked Up
The Savages
Sweeney Todd

alternate: Charlie Wilson's War

Best Actor (Drama)
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy, Atonement
Viggo Mortenesen, Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington, American Gangster
alternate: Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl
Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson's War
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages
Jack Nicholson, The Bucket List
alternate: Steve Carell, Dan in Real Life

Best Actress (Drama)
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Jodie Foster, The Brave One
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley, Atonement
alternate: Ashley Judd, Bug

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)
Amy Adams, Enchanted
Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno
alternate: Nicole Kidman, Margot at the Wedding (they do love their Kidman)

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
John Travolta, Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
alternate: Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson's War
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
alternate: Nicole Kidman, The Golden Compass (they really love Kidman)

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Sidney Lumet, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Joe Wright, Atonement
alternate: Ridley Scott, American Gangster

Best Screenplay
Knocked Up
No Country For Old Men

alternate: Michael Clayton or Charlie Wilson's War

Best Score
Grace is Gone
Into the Wild
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

alternate: American Gangster

Best Song
Enchanted ["That's How You Know"]
Hairspray ["Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)"]
Into the Wild ["Guaranteed"]
Love in the Time of Cholera ["Despidida"]
Once ["Falling Slowly"]
alternate: Enchanted ["True Love's Kiss"]

Best Animated Film
The Simpsons Movie

alternate: Bee Movie

Best Foreign Film
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
The Counterfeiters
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Kite Runner
Lust, Caution

alternate: La Vie en Rose

These are really nothing more than educated guesses and should be taken with a grain of salt (especially the last four categories). Still not sure about Charlie Wilson's War (right now I have it with three acting nominations but no Best Picture nomination) or the entire Best Supporting Actress (it's not as strong as it could be, but the 7 or 8 choices we have are tough to pick between). We'll see how it goes tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Should Be Studying for Finals...

But this picture of James Marsden is currently the background on my computer and I keep gazing fondly at it. Why do you have to be so damn cute in this picture?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dame Judi Dench Videos

Kathy Griffin is trying to get off the D-List and thinks that filming a sex tape with Dame Judi Dench is just the trick. Just so you know, it gets a little hot in the end.

At a tribute to Cameron Mackintosh, Dame Judi sings "Send in the Clowns" from Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Definitely the best version I've ever heard.

This is Dame Judi and some random British guy singing "16 Going on 17" from The Sound of Music at a fundraiser. Hilarious!

A scene from Notes on a Scandal. I haven't seen this in awhile and I was a tad frightened.

Random Top 10: Movies That Could Have "Used a Dench"

I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and one of my favorite things about it are the groups you can join. Before their limit became 200 last year, I had been in over 1200 of them. Well, when I downsized, one of the groups I made sure I kept was one called "Yeah...that could use a Dench." It's so genius, I wish I had thought of it. The description of the group is this:

Dench: 1) an extra added something 2) (to Dench) to add an extra something

To become an officer, you have to tell the creator a movie you despised which could have "used a Dench." So, here's my list of ten movies that were in desperate need of a Dench.

10. Field of Dreams
Dame Judi Dench and James Earl that's a winning combination. Also, how great would it be to see her tell Kevin Costner to grow a pair of balls after being a complete pussy the whole movie.

9. Step Up
Sure, Channing Tatum was pretty good, but the rest of the film was a disaster. Dame Judi could have saved it (or at least made it watchable) if she had made an appearance as either Channing's grandmother or a dance coach.

8. On Golden Pond
Lord knows I love Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn and Jane Fonda, but the story is a complete piece of shit. All Dame Judi could have done to save this film would to tell these fabulous actors not to do it.

7. Ben-Hur (1959)
That chariot race is an amazing piece of cinema, but the other 3 1/2 hours were a butt-numbing mess. Not only would Dame Judi have won the chariot race, but she would have upstaged Jesus' birth- and cut a couple of Romans along the way.

6. Gigli
Do I even need an explanation?

5. Crash (Cronenberg version)
This movie would have been ten times hotter (and ten times more interesting) if Dame Judi Dench had been there to get it on with James Spader- or even Holly Hunter.

4. L'Avventura
If Dame Judi had been on that search, the missing woman would have been found in five minutes flat....and this movie would have been 90 minutes shorter.

3. The Sound of Music
Dame Judi Dench would have been an amazing contrast to the saccharine sweet Dame Julie Andrews. Wouldn't you just love to see a stare-down between these two. Ooooh, I'm getting shivers already.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
If Dame Judi was on that ship, there's no way HAL would have went haywire...he would have been too scared.

1. The Hours
I've always hated this movie with a passion. Not only does it waste Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep, but everything is so restrained that what could have been passionate becomes dull and uninteresting. Dame Judi Dench would have spiced things up in the Nicole Kidman storyline by slapping some sense into her and telling her to stop being so goddamn boring.

What is a Dench?, or How I Came to Know and Love Dame Judi Dench

"What is a Dench?"

My friend asked me this after I expressed my love for Dame Judi Dench, legendary British actress of the stage and screen, one night during
I Love New York 2. At first I was offended that she didn't know who one of the greatest actresses ever to grace a movie screen with her presence was (she figured it out who she was after listing off some of her most "popular" films: Pride & Prejudice and Casino Royale), but then I realized how hard it is to actually define what a "Dench" is.

My first exposure to Dame Judi Dench came, I believe, in the film Shakespeare in Love. Now, I hate this film with a passion, but I would watch it over and over again to see Dame Judi's inimitable performance of a slightly campy, over-the-top Queen Elizabeth I. Over the years, I saw many of her other performances during her "comeback" period including Chocolat, Iris, The Shipping News and even her supporting performance as Anthony Hopkins' husband in 1987's 84 Charing Cross Road. While three of the four films were utter messes (Iris was the standout), Dame Judi Dench, nonetheless, shone brightly in these films.

My general fondness for Dame Judi grew to obsession/utter fear in 2005 after seeing both and
Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride & Prejudice. It was then that I realized what an appealing combination the warmth, old lady crankiness and divalicious bitchiness she brought to all of her roles was. In Mrs. Henderson Presents, Dame Judi found just the right role for her on-screen persona- a fiesty widow who buys a rundown theater during World War II and starts putting on provocative shows. She spends the whole movie fighting with Bob Hoskins and shocking the people in the film (and the audience) by talking about "pussy" and proclaiming "who gives a fiddler's fuck?" In Pride & Prejudice, she has only a small role, but she chewed that scenery so-well, tossed off bitchy one-liners like they were nothing and showed Keira Knightley exactly who was in charge (She was so good she earned my first Diva Cup Award for Best Diva). It was also then I realized just how scared of her I was. She could cut you down to size and make you feel like the lowest person on earth.

If those two films were the appetizers to my Dame Judi Dench mania, last year's
Notes on a Scandal was a freaking Thanksgiving dinner bonanza. Not only was I utterly terrified by her obsessive, slightly lesbianic schoolteacher (I would have peed my pants in fear if Dame Judi Dench was my teacher), but she delivered, from what work of hers I've seen, her finest performance.

I often joke about how Dame Judi Dench isn't afraid to cut a bitch if she needs to. Although I don't think she's ever done it in any film, I think it's a fitting metaphor for her career. Dame Judi never submits to anyone and asserts her independence no matter what. She fights for her rights and doesn't take shit from anyone. Plus, she's a tad outrageous and over-the-top and not afraid to embrace it.

God, I love this woman and I hope you will join me in celebrating the elegant and talented Dame Judi Dench's 73rd birthday today and hope for many more years of acting brilliance.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

National Board of Review Winners

Best Picture: No Country For Old Men
Everyone predicted this but me. That's what you get for taking a chance.

Top 10 (in alphabetical order): The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Atonement; The Bourne Ultimatum (!!!); The Bucket List (wtf?); Into the Wild; Juno; The Kite Runner; Lars and the Real Girl; Michael Clayton; Sweeney Todd
Well, I got 5, isn't that something? Surprised by the love for Bourne, Assassination of..., Lars, but the most confusing of all is The Bucket List. Never would have guessed that in a million years.

Best Foreign Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Gotten fabulous reviews, should have went for it.

Top 5 Foreign (in alphabetical order): 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days; The Band's Visit; The Counterfeiters; La Vie en Rose; Lust, Caution
For some reason this year, the NBR decided to do a Top 10 for Best Picture and Top 5 for Best Foreign Film in addition to the winners. Strange. Can't believe I forgot about 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2's gotten some of the best reviews of the year so far.

Best Actor: George Clooney, Michael Clayton
A good performance and all but he wasn't that great.

Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away From Her
I love Christie and haven't seen this film yet, but damn it this award belonged to Marion Cotillard. I thought for sure she had this one wrapped up. I guess we'll have to wait and see for the next big critics groups (New York, Los Angeles and the National Society)

Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Yay, I got one right! Haven't seen this yet (I think it's coming to my town in January...I'm so freaking excited) but, judging by people's reactions, it sounds like a good choice.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
I knew I should have went with Amy Ryan. I was going back and forth between her and Leigh. C'est la vie.

Best Director: Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Can't believe I completely forgot about Sweeney Todd. Now it looks like it's going to pose a bigger threat at the Oscar than we think. Then again, it could just be another random NBR pick that will have absolutely no correlation with the Oscars.

Best Screenplay (Original): Diablo Cody, Juno and Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl (TIE)

Best Screenplay (Adapted): Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men

Best Ensemble Acting: No Country For Old Men

Breakthrough Performance- Male: Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild
I got 2!

Breakthrough Performance- Female: Ellen Page, Juno
I got 3!

Best Directorial Debut: Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone
Don't know how I forgot about Affleck.

Best Documentary: Body of War
Jesus, Sicko didn't even place in the top 5.

Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille
I got 4!

Last Minute National Board of Review Predictions

The National Board of Review is the very first precursor that has any impact on the Oscar Race. They are supposed to be announcing their picks sometime today so I thought, "What the hell, everyone is posting their predictions." So here's who I think will win:

Best Picture: Michael Clayton

Rest of the Top 10 (in alphabetical order): American Gangster; Atonement; Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Charlie Wilson's War; Hairspray; Into the Wild; Juno; Knocked Up; No Country For Old Men

Best Foreign Film: Persepolis

Rest of the Top 5 (in alphabetical order): The Counterfeiters; The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; La Vie en Rose; Lust, Caution

Best Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah, No Country For Old Men

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding

Best Director: Sean Penn, Into the Wild

Best Screenplay (Original): Tamara Jenkins, The Savages

Best Screenplay (Adapted): David Benioff, The Kite Runner

Best Ensemble Acting: Juno

Breakthrough Performance- Male: Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild

Breakthrough Performance- Female: Ellen Page, Juno

Best Directorial Debut: Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

Best Documentary: Sicko

Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Coming This Sunday

On December 9th (this Sunday) the beautiful and talented Dame Judi Dench will be celebrating her 73rd birthday and, in her honor, I will be celebrating her all day long. I don't want to give away what I'm going to do, but I'm planning on a lot since it is her. If you would like to join in the festivities, send me an e-mail or Facebook me (links on the right) and I will link over to your article. I hope to see you on Sunday so we can celebrate this special lady.

On another note, today I was planning on doing another installment of my Random Top 10's but I couldn't think of a single topic (well, I did think of one but I'm saving it for next week). So, my dear and loyal readers, what do you think I should do a Top 10 list of? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Victory of a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

There's nothing I love more than watching beautiful people dealing with major problems. It is so much more interesting than watching ugly people. So, lucky for me, Richard Brooks' 1958 adaptation of the Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof stars two of the most insanely beautiful actors of the era- Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor- and deals with alcoholism, (presumed) infidelity, sexual frustration and (possibly) homosexuality.

It's not surprising, then, to know that this was one of the first "classic" films I ever fell in love with when I started getting into them about six years ago. When I re-watched it again after a couple of years last night, I thought I might be disappointed (which happens so often you re-watch films you once loved when you were younger) but that's not the case. Flaws and all, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is still an exciting, provocative drama with enough great acting to fill three films.

Maggie "The Cat" (Elizabeth Taylor) shoves ice cream into the face of one of the "no-neck monsters"...a true diva moment I had completely forgotten about.

Sure, it's overly theatrical at times and the dialogue is hardly what you would call "natural" but it's adapted from a Tennessee Williams play for Christ's sake; I wouldn't exactly call him Mr. Naturalistic. And I think that's what makes Cat on a Hot Tin Roof work so well. These aren't subtle people who keep their problems to themselves. They let everything out and hold nothing back. Consequently, their verbal sparring matches practically explode on the screen.

Maggie to Brick: "We're not living together! We're merely occupying the same cage, that's all!"

There's really not way I can describe in words just how sexy of an on-screen couple Taylor and Newman are together; it's best seen with your own eyes. And from my description in the beginning it's probably hard to understand, but just imagine these actors at the peak of their beauty lying around in pajamas and a slip for a good portion of the film with a bunch of sexual tension hanging over the room and you'll begin to understand. It's a lot like Brangelina in Mr. & Mrs. Smith without all of the guns and explosions- it's that intense. I just wish we got chemistry like this more often.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rants on "Heights"

Okay, so Chris Terrio's Heights is hardly what I would call a masterpiece: the plotting is overly-contrived, the directing is fairly one-note, the characters could have been drawn out a bit more and nearly everything else feels like it has been done before. But it did, however, have some really fine moments- namely every time Glenn Close appears on screen and a couple of scenes featuring James Marsden- that prevented it from a becoming an outright disaster.

The film starts off with some unimportant extras reciting a scene from some Shakespearian play with all the energy and talent of a hibernating bear before Diana (Glenn Close), drama teacher and widely-respected actress, bursts on the stage, admonishes them for not letting the words speak for themselves and then verbally accosts society for not being as mad as hell and not taking it anymore. The example she just happens to mention is finding out your significant other is having an affair and then just going on with your day, possibly crying, without really confronting the person. Now, was it just me, or did anyone else see from a mile away that Diana's husband was going to cheat on her somewhere over the course of the film and that she would react just like she told her students not to? I couldn't have been the only one.

The film then cuts to Isabel (Elizabeth Banks), who happens to be Diana's daughter, and Jonathan (James Marsden).

Well, good morning Mr. Marsden.

They are planning their upcoming wedding and, except for what could be interpreted as pre-wedding stress, they seem to be happy and comfortable together. But, as with many movies of this nature, we know that everything is not as it seems and a whole shit storm is about to errupt.

Two other subplots unfold later on: One involves Alec (Jesse Bradford, of Bring it On fame), a struggling actor who auditions for Diana's off-Broadway play. After monotonously reciting this ridiculous monologue that made Diana Scarwid's God-awful interpretation of Antigone in Mommie Dearest look impressive, Diana goes crazy for him and starts having a conversation with him. It turns out that, surprisingly, he lives a couple floors above Isabel and Jonathan and yet they had never met. Crazy, I know; that is some coincidence. But as I was watching this scene, I think the following shots explain what I was feeling.

Yes, Jesse Bradford is that dull in this role. Boy am I glad, however, that Glenn Close is there to liven everything up and show this kid what acting is all about. She runs circles around him and like the alpha dog, pees on Bradford to show him who's in charge. It's much like Meryl Streep's scenes in Rendition where, on separate occasions, she basically tells Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard "Don't fuck with me fellas! I'm Meryl motherfucking Streep."

The other subplot involves a writer who has to write something about the models of his supposed photographer lover's male subjects. Apparently, they all think he's a prick and...yawn. I'm getting bored just writing it out. Let's just say that the only (loose) connection this plot has to this film is that Jonathan modeled for this photographer and possibly had a sexual affair with him when he was younger.

More shit goes down as the night progresses: Diana's husband is (shockingly!) having an affair and she (surprisingly!) cries and goes on with her day. Isabel's pesky wedding interferes with a potentially great opportunity. Jonathan responds to the author's calls and tells him that he is preventing the homoerotic photos of him from being displayed. Alec gives up the chance to go to Diana's party in order to meet with some mysterious lover about potentially ending the relationship or something.

There was this great scene where Isabel is going to return Alec's coat after he left it at Diana's theater and she puts the coat on. When Jonathan sees this, he goes a little insane/jealous and insists she take it off. Isabel taunts him and then he throws her against the wall and they have the most angry make out sessions I have since Brokeback Mountain and A History of Violence (coincidentally, all three movies were released in 2005). It might have led to equally angry sex, but Diana calls and leaves a message on the answering machine, cockblocking Jonathan to no avail.

The final scenes are where a lot of Heights' problems come out into the open. If you plan on seeing this movie, then you might not want to read this because there are a few spoilers (although if you don't give a shit, then, by all means, go ahead and keep going).

Remember that mysterious person that Alec was supposed to meet instead of going to Diana's party? Well, it turns out that it was Jonathan. And what do you know, they are having an affair together.

Marsden plays this scene wonderfully in a Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback I-need-you-or-I'm-going-to-die sort of way. But my problems with this revelation are this:
  • Why does Jonathan have to hide his homosexuality? He isn't ultra-religious or anything, he doesn't seem to be under the scrutiny of disapproving parents and this isn't 1950. I can see him maybe not dating because he's ashamed or whatever, but does he really have to fake a relationship with Isabel?
  • Why is Alec with this closet-case? Does he have that little self-confidence that he can't find a man who's not attached to a woman? From the brief glance we get into their relationship, it seems that a lot of their time together (which is only one night a week) is spent fighting about Jonathan's relationship with Isabel.
Of course, Isabel catches them in the act and wildly proclaims "Now I have a reason to leave" (or something to that affect). For some reason this phrase stuck with me and after thinking for awhile, I realized that it reminded me of that famous Pauline Kael essay "The-Come-Dressed-as-the-Sick-Soul-of-Europe Parties." There is this section in which she's discussing Antonioni's La Notte and how miserable the two leads are together and she wonders why, if they are so unhappy together, they remain together? Nothing is keeping them together. The same can be applied to Isabel and Jonathan. Isabel could have left long along if she was not happy instead of remaining with this "dead shark" (as Woody Allen put it).

And the ending where Alec takes back Jonathan really left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Alec was being such a, for lack of a better word, pussy by opening the door and basically saying "I am okay that I was the other woman all while you were with Isabel and now that she's dumped your ass, you're running back to me." There's no guarantee that this relationship will ever work (more likely than not it won't) but that glimmer of hope is annoying.

Overall, Heights is a decent enough movie with some first-rate acting from Close and, at times, Marsden, but too much of it is hampered by the weak script. And it's a shame, because a great film could have emerged from this beautiful mess.

My Rating: ** 1/2

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oprah vs. Streisand: Round 2

If you are like me and love Kathy Griffin than you know and love the above interpretation of the Oprah-Streisand interview. These two strong black women's epic fight proved to be the stuff legends are made of. I wish I had seen the episode for myself, but c'est la vie; I'll have to stick with Kathy's retelling.

The reason I bring this up is because while I was reading the news stories on IMDb this afternoon and I saw that both Oprah and Babs have announced who they are supporting in the 2008 presidential election and they have picked different candidates! Oprah is going for Barack and Babs supports Hillary. You all know I can't decide who to vote for without the right celebrity's endorsement. But now that two of My Divas have endorsed two different candidates, who am I going to support myself. I'm pretty sure I want to support Oprah and Barack because of those pesky ninja assassins who might kill me if I say anything bad about or don't support Oprah, but, on the other hand, it's freaking Babs. She is all sorts of amazing and is one of the biggest and best divas I have ever encountered.

Ugh! I'm so confused! Tell me who I should support in the comments!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's Coming...



Two days in which the good Lord herself had stop for a minute and just admire the beautiful, talented and all around perfect human beings She had created. Get ready for some celebrating; it's going to be a party here on Rants of a Diva!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Fall Blahs

Whenever I do my annual Diva Cup Awards and start figuring out my Top 10 list, I always tend to throw in one or two crowd-pleasing comedies along with the usual list of hot Oscar films or great ones that should have been nominated. In 2002, I included My Big Fat Greek Wedding; In 2003, it was Bad Santa and The School of Rock; 2004 saw Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story make my list; 2005 is perhaps my most infamous because I placed the J. Lo-Jane Fonda comedy Monster in Law at #2 over The Constant Gardener, Mysterious Skin and Grizzly Man; 2006 has been the only year where my silliest choice, Borat, was also picked by many other critics.

2007, on the other hand, has me kind of worried, because a lot of my Top 10, so far, is mostly filled with the crowd-pleasers, while the serious Oscar fare is falling behind. If I had to pick a Top 10 right now, here's what it would look like:

1. Hairspray
Hot Fuzz
3. The Bourne Ultimatum
4. Paprika
5. Zodiac
6. Knocked Up
7. Gone Baby Gone
9. Talk to Me
10. Michael Clayton

See what I mean? And it's not like I haven't seen any of the "good" films yet this year. In fact, it's quite the opposite: I've seen more films from this year at this point than in any other year. It's just that what I've seen hasn't excited me in the ways my Top 10 has. American Gangster was a good film, but nothing we haven't seen before (my rant here); I generally liked Into the Wild, and the ending was fabulous, but I couldn't get over the fact what a whiny, spoiled brat the main character was and how much more interesting it would have been if, in my opinion, we followed it from the perspective of his parents; Once had decent enough music, but it was a flimsy film at best with no structure, nothing interesting to say and a sadistic pleasure in killing any chances of dramatic tension (my rant on Once here); Both Rendition and Across the Universe were painful to sit through (my rants here); Even films I genuinely liked, such as Gone Baby Gone, Michael Clayton and Eastern Promises were missing a little something that prevented them from being rated higher.

So what am I hoping for? A good, solid drama that will knock the socks off me and make me believe in the Oscar season again. Hopefully, with
No Country For Old Men and Atonement coming out soon, one of them will be that film.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Want to Make a 100 Favorite Film List, But...

I love reading different critics and bloggers' "100 Favorite and/or Best Films" lists. To me, it's so fascinating to see what other people think and then silently rejoice when they pick one of my favorites or internally groan when they pick something pretentious or just plain awful. It's so much fun, in fact, that I've often thought about publishing my own list on here. But here are my concerns:
  • It would be very time consuming and I never seem to have a bunch of time. Writing my list is not something I just want to rush through and get over with.
  • Lord knows I have seen enough movies (all four years of high school I probably saw 4 or 5 films a week) from all different time periods, so I know I won't be biased towards the modern stuff (unlike a bunch of people out there whose Top 100 consists of movies made after 1985). My concern is that there are so many different genres, foreign films and film movements that I haven't even dabbled in yet that deserve my attention: I have never seen a Bollywood film or a German New Wave film of the 70's. I've only seen a couple "true" French New Wave films and I really need to catch up on Godard. I've only seen one film- Swoon- from the New Queer Cinema. I don't think I've actually ever seen a German Expressionist film from the 20's, either.
  • I make a list and then six months I review and I always think to myself What the hell was I thinking? Maybe a film I loved at first sight has diminished from my mind or I overrate a classic and place it higher on my list because of its status.
  • There are so many films I loved when I was a bit younger that I'm afraid to revisit because they might not be as good as I remembered. What am I afraid to watch again?: Clueless, Pride of the Yankees, As Good As It Gets, Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, Grand Hotel, The Gold Diggers of 1933, Roman Holiday, Shall We Dansu?, 21 Grams, Inherit the Wind and Stage Door
So will you see a Top 100 list from me? I hope so. Not now, but one that I'm completely happy with should come sometime in the future. As soon as I see more films.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In the Mood for Truffaut

Mrs. Lajoie: What is this movie business? Where everyone sleeps with everyone! Everyone lies. Do you think it's normal? Your movie world...

Ferrand (off camera): You're a very good actor. No one's private life runs smoothly. That only happens in the movies. No traffic jams, no dead periods. Movies go along like trains in the night. And people like you and me are only happy in our work.

I've been in a real François Truffaut mood lately. Earlier this week, I gave a small presentation about him in my French class (entirely in was pretty amazing). I've only seen three of his films but Truffaut is one of my favorites. The 400 Blows and Day for Night are masterpieces through and through and even if I didn't completely "get" Jules et Jim (I think it's one of those films that I will understand better when I'm a bit older) I have to admit that it was an ambitious film and there were some great things in it.

These two shots above are from Day for Night, a film about the making of a film. Unlike most films about the making of a film, Truffaut's isn't bitter or cynical. Instead, Day for Night is a love letter to the process of getting a story onto film. For a man who once asked "Is the cinema more important than life?", Day for Night seems to answer it with a resounding yes. Even when things go bad (and they definitely do), Ferrand (the director in Day for Night, played by Truffaut) still loves what he's doing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Get out of My Dreams (and Go Back to Making Crappy Movies)

A couple of nights ago, I had this really random dream involving a certain C-List actress that was just plain nuts. We were in one of the suite-connecting bathrooms at my school and for some reason Heather Graham was there helping me with some kind of costume (for some reason, I think I was dressing as Mark Wahlberg...totally random, I know). She hands me pair upon pair of tattered, baggy jeans and khakis that I just wasn't feeling. In between trying clothes on I tell her, "I really liked you in Boogie Nights" (which isn't a lie because I did) and she smiled and said thanks. Then, for some reason, I go on and tell her, "You were in Austin Powers as well" (as if she didn't know already) and she then kind of rolled her eyes, not in an annoyed way but in a way as if there was more to the story than she wanted to tell.

And then the dream ended. Crazy, non? I don't even like Heather Graham, but there she is invading my dreams.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Golden Girls" Moment: A Little Shakespeare

[Dorothy and Blanche have been fighting over Stan's brother. When Dorothy realizes what a jerk he is, she confesses to Rose about how she doesn't know if Blanche will ever forgive her. Blanche, unknown to Dorothy, had been talking with Rose beforehand and hid somewhere when Dorothy came in.]

Dorothy: ...Blanche is never going to forgive me.

Blanche: I forgive you.

Dorothy: Honey, where did you come from?

Blanche: Oh, I was hiding behind the drapes.

Dorothy: What is this? Hamlet?