Monday, February 26, 2007

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #2

#2- Pussycat Dolls featuring Snoop Dogg "Buttons"

Damn those Pussycat Dolls and their catchy tunes! I shouldn’t like them so much, but their CD is inexplicably being played repetitively on my computer. “PCD” is just one amazingly catchy pop song after another with more than a couple of standouts: Not only am I using “Stickwitu” as one of my wedding songs (ABBA’s “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” is the other…nice choices, huh?), but there is the ultimate freedom song “I Don’t Need a Man”, that so-strange-it-works “Hot Stuff (I Want You Back)” which uses the chorus to Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” to a brand new song and the extremely likeable 20’s-imitation “Right Now.” If I had to pick one song, however, that was the best of the bunch, I would definitely have to go with the ultimate guilty pleasure dance song “Buttons.”

What is that makes “Buttons” such a catchy tune? I’m not exactly sure myself. Maybe it’s the background Dolls going “Uh huh” and “Oh” in the background of the chorus, it’s insanely perfect faux-Bollywood background music or, like “London Bridge,” it’s “subtle” sexual message. Who knows and, ultimately, who cares? “Buttons” is not a song that needs to be analyzed and picked apart from head to toe. It is a feel good song that transcends any criticism one could have against it. And if you don't like it, you can suck it because your opinion probably doesn't matter anyways.

Bonus Points: The Pussycat Dolls’ video for “Buttons” is nothing more than them strutting their stuff on a soundstage with some fire shooting around them, but they make it work. I don’t know how they do it, but the video is beyond watchable

Oscar Wrap-Up

What an exciting night last night was! I've only been watching the Oscar telecast for a couple of years (I think 2003 was the first), but this was by far the best. It was entertaining to the extreme and many deserving winners (and some undeserving...more about that later). I only got 12 out of the 24 categories correct, but I couldn't be happier. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights of the night:
1. Martin Scorsese FINALLY winning his long deserved Best Director Oscar. What a triumphant and emotional moment. I couldn't be happier for the man.
2. Ellen DeGeneres. I love Ellen and she was absolutely hilarious. My favorite moment is when she asked Steven Spielberg to take a picture of her and Clint Eastwood for her MySpace...and then telling him to retake it when it didn't turn out the way Ellen wanted! Priceless.
3. Jennifer Hudson winning her Oscar. I was scared for a second that Abigail might steal it away from her but Miss Hudson prevailed. Yay for her!
4. The songs from Dreamgirls were beautifully staged and made me totally happy. Plus, seeing Beyonce and J. Hud duet on both "Listen" and "Love You I Do" was golden.
5. The Departed winning Best Picture over Babel. Finally, after the catastrophe that was last year, Oscar picks the right film for their top award.
6. I'm hearing a lot of bad buzz about the acrobats, but I thought they were impressive. Those Happy Feet penguins was a definite "Whoa" moment.
7. Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt presenting Best Costumes and that reaction shot of Meryl Streep in the audience....Let's just say there's a reason Meryl Streep is American royalty.
1. Alan Arkin winning Best Supporting Actor over Eddie Murphy. Arkin was good and everything in Little Miss Sunshine, but he wasn't even the best supporting actor in the film (Steve Carell was tons better). All I have to say is that Eddie Murphy got robbed of his deserved trophy.
2. Babel winning Best Score. Since when does random guitar plucking count as an Oscar-winning score? Gustavo Santaolalla had already won last year for the treacly Brokeback score (I think what won it for him was that beautiful couple of lines of music that plays throughout and right at the would know it if you heard it) and didn't need another for the non-existent Babel score.
3. "Listen" losing Best Song. What the fuck? Does Oscar not know an amazing song when it hears it anymore? "I Need to Wake Up" is a decent message song about global warming and all, but "Listen" is the most beautiful showstopping ballad I've heard in a long time.
A fantastic ceremony that I hope can be replicated in future years (in other words, bring Ellen back again!) Now it's time to start obsessing about next year's Oscars!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Predictions!

Tonight is Oscar Sunday (aka The Best Night of the Year right after my birthday and Christmas) and I thought I would offer up my predictions for who will win tonight. No one knows what's going to happen tonight, so it should make for an interesting night.

Best Picture: Babel
Why: Oscar loves pretentious, heavy films that say something and Babel definitely fits this bill. It’s nearest competitors also contain things Oscar has an adverse reaction to: The Departed is too violent and Little Miss Sunshine is too funny.

Best Director: Martin Scorsese,
The Departed
Why: Give him the damn trophy already. The Departed is smart, stylish, hilarious and Scorsese’s best in years. What more does Oscar want?

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker
, The Last King of Scotland
Why: He’s won almost every precursor award and the performance seems to be total Oscar-bait.

Best Actress: Helen Mirren,
The Queen
Why: She’s won every precursor known to mankind. There’s no way she’s walking away empty handed.

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Why: While there has been some anti-Eddie backlash in the past couple of weeks (mostly due to terrible reviews for Norbit), I still believe he has the best chance of winning. Alan Arkin is not beloved or remembered enough to be rewarded a refund Oscar (although I could be proven wrong).

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Why: She gives the best performance in this category (well, I haven’t seen Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal yet, but I doubt she could compare), and although that usually means nothing to Oscar, J. Hud has too much buzz surrounding her to lose.

Best Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Departed

Best Cinematography: Children of Men

Best Editing: Babel

Best Art Direction: Pan’s Labyrinth

Best Costume Design: Dreamgirls

Best Score:
The Queen

Best Song: Dreamgirls (“Listen”)

Best Makeup: Pan’s Labyrinth

Best Sound: Dreamgirls

Best Sound Editing: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Best Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Best Animated Film:

Best Foreign Film: Pan’s Labyrinth

Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth

Best Documentary (Short): The Blood of Yingzhou District

Best Short Film (Animated): The Little Matchgirl

Best Short Film (Live Action): Binta and the Great Idea

Dreamgirls- 5
Pan’s Labyrinth- 3
Babel- 2
The Departed- 2
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest- 2
The Queen- 2
Cars- 1
Children of Men- 1

An Inconvenient Truth- 1
The Last King of Scotland- 1

Little Miss Sunshine- 1

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #3

#3- Beyoncé “Ring the Alarm”
Beyoncé certainly had a spectacular yet unique 2006. Amid Jay-Z marriage rumors, mixed reviews for her performance in Dreamgirls (which ran the gamut of “decent” to “terrible”) and a publicized snubbing of Dreamgirls co-star Jennifer Hudson at the premiere, Beyoncé released her second solo CD “B’day” to super impressive first-week numbers, “Irreplaceable” became a smash hit on the radio and charts and was nominated for two Golden Globes for Dreamgirls (Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) and Best Song for co-writing “Listen”). But, for me anyways, the highlight of Beyoncé’s year was her second single “Ring the Alarm.” Released after the dud that was “Déjà Vu” (aka “Crazy in Love Part 2”), “Ring the Alarm” received very little radio airplay (the only way I heard it was on MTV and YouTube) and was ultimately another failed single from “B’day” (“Irreplaceable” definitely broke that small streak). But I don’t believe that “Ring the Alarm” should suffer the fate that’s been handed to it because it is one of Beyoncé’s shining moments in pop music.

From its ominous siren and the angry opening lines, we can tell right away that “Ring the Alarm” is a totally new direction for Beyoncé’s music. Beyoncé can obviously portray love and sex in her songs, but she’s never done pissed off before- and it works splendidly. After the so-happy-in-love thoughts expressed in “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy,” we realize that Beyoncé isn’t going to take shit from any man in her relationships (“Irreplaceable” also discusses this in a different way---Jay-Z beware). If you jilt her, she will stop at nothing to get revenge. Plus, Beyoncé gets bonus points for that glorious music video, easily the best of the year. There are so many memorable moments that stick in my head months after I’ve last seen the video (the shoulder shake, applying the red lipstick, heavily resisting being dragged down the hallway, swinging her ponytail…I could go on for days). Besides, when’s the last time that a music video actually added something to the song? Not in a long, long time.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Spice Girls Reunion

Okay, so according to this article ( the biggest group of the 90's are planning a reunion show for charity sometime in the near future and then tour all over the United Kingdom! I know they don't plan on coming here, but this is still exciting. The Spice Girls were the first group I ever fanatically loved and I still care about them deeply. I even just recently got a copy of Spice World (which is a classic of the school of so-bad-it's-amazing filmmaking) on DVD. Everything about their bombastic pop sound and eccentric taste in fashion (just look at that picture above) is sorely missing from today's pop music scene and would be welcome back at any time. Please make another album, girls. America needs you!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #4

#4- Rihanna "Unfaithful"
Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” was a nice breath of fresh air from a summer of dance-oriented pop songs on the radio. With lyrics that have actual substance and attempt to tell a story (what a novelty!) and a smooth, slick style unheard since Aaliyah’s death, “Unfaithful” is a rarity on the pop stations. I only wish other artists of Rihanna’s stature and place in pop music would take more of a chance and release songs like this.

For me, the most striking thing about “Unfaithful” is the visually imagery of death, murdering and guns that the song brings up. With lyrics such as “I don’t want to be a murderer” and, my personal favorite, “I might as well take this gun and put it to his head/Get it over with”, “Unfaithful” is one of the darkest Top 40 hits in a long time. It’s not exactly profound or groundbreaking, but it’s great to see people using metaphors (what’s that?) in music and making what could be trite songs that much better. I mean, how much better can you equate the guilt of having an affair and jeopardizing a meaningful relationship than by using such heavy thoughts as murder and death?

Then again, maybe the metaphors are a little too much for today’s audience. My friend Melinda is convinced to this day that the woman in the song ends up shooting her boyfriend at the end- and no amount of persuasion could change her mind.

American Idol Recap

If I had to pick a top man and woman from this season's American Idol so far, I would have to go with Blake Lewis (the only good man) and Miss Melinda Doolittle. They were both spectacular in their own rights and could possibly go really far. But there are other fantastic females there too. Stephanie Edwards did a great version of "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore" and Sabrina and Jordin were also fantastic. I'm having mixed feelings LaKisha, though. Sure she is a fantastic singer, but I felt it was all wrong for her to tackle "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" so close to the memorable J. Hud version. She sang the hell out of it, but it was lacking in the emotion that J. Hud put into it (see post below). I can't wait to see what she does next week though. Now for the worst performance of the night: Haley Scarnato attempting to belt Celine Dion's power ballad to end all power ballads "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." The song is pretty dark- about dead loves and reigniting feelings- but she sang it as if it was the happiest little ditty she had ever heard. I wanted to vomit it was God-awful (but not as much as when Katharine McPhee completely butchered "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" last season). But, for some strange reason, where rather nice about it and didn't lay into her as much as I would have. Yuck.

All You J. Hud Haters Need to Get a Life

If I have to read one more rant about how Miss Jennifer Hudson doesn't really act in Dreamgirls, I think I'm gonna have to choke a bitch. J. Hud acts more in one minute of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" than most actors and actresses did in entire movies in 2006. Every ounce of emotion she can muster (and that's quite a lot) is poured into those lyrics. And if you don't believe me, just listen to another person try and sing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". While they are often fantastic singers (Frenchie Davis and Tamyra Gray of American Idol have both done versions), they can't bring forth the emotion that J. Hud does so effortlessly. But now I'm going to hear whines of Okay, she can sing well (understatement of the century) but she doesn't really act in the non-musical scenes. First of all, I will slap someone who says that in front of me. Secondly, let me refer you to the scene where she sings "Heavy" with Deena and Lorrell. She looks so pained, hurt and, most of all, angry that she has been forced to sing background vocals to Deena who has talent, but not the big voice of Effie. Everything about J. Hud's performance is perfect and should not be torn apart by all these nay-sayers. Boo to all you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Top 20 Madonna Songs

I am in a very Madonna mood today, so I thought I would share my 20 favorite Madonna songs. They are all amazing (duh) and if you haven't heard any of them, go and listen to them as soon as possible.

20. “Secret” (Bedtime Stories)
19. “Human Nature” (Bedtime Stories)
18. “Music” (Music)
17. “Pretender” (Like a Virgin)
16. “Express Yourself” (Like a Prayer)
15. “American Life” (American Life)
14. “Papa Don’t Preach” (True Blue)
13. “Lucky Star” (Madonna)
12. “Material Girl” (Like a Virgin)
11. “Open Your Heart” (True Blue)
10. “Borderline” (Madonna)
9. “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” (Evita Soundtrack)
8. “Don’t Tell Me” (Music)
7. “Live to Tell” (True Blue)
6. “Hung Up” (Confessions on a Dance Floor)
5. “Ray of Light” (Ray of Light)
4. “Vogue” (I'm Breathless)
3. “Take a Bow” (Bedtime Stories)
2. “Like a Virgin” (Like a Virgin)
1. “Like a Prayer” (Like a Prayer)

Feel free to pan one of my picks, praise one of them and come up with your own in the comments!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rants on "The Departed"

I quickly rented The Departed the day it was released on DVD and watched it on February 14th (the perfect Valentine’s Day movie, I know). It’s taken me a couple of days to sort everything out and come up with a way to explain how much I loved it.

The whole movie is just so fucking badass and normally that’s not something that gets me this pumped (Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane excluded). Maybe I need some more of that in my life right now, who knows? All I know is that most everyone in The Departed can kill without hesitation and/or breaking a sweat and that makes my day.

And talk about those performances…whoa. Everyone in the cast is in top-notch form. Leonardo DiCaprio proves once again how well he works with Scorsese (FYI, the first time I realized DiCaprio could act was in Scorsese’s The Aviator back in 2004) as volcanic emotions roll under his anxious and paranoid exterior. His nervous twitches and violent outbursts give the film part of its suspense (I especially love the scene where he out of nowhere smashes the guy in the bar on the head with a glass after making fun of him for ordering cranberry juice…all I could think was Damn that came out of nowhere). Matt Damon is also amazing as the weasely cop walking the fine line between good cop and bad cop (mostly teetering on bad cop, though). I also never thought much of him as an actor, but now I am totally convinced.

Don’t even get me started about all of the fantastic supporting performances in The Departed. Jack Nicholson is so over-the-top as the ultra-violent, semi-crazed Mob leader that his performance almost descends in to Baby Jane camp heaven and definitely deserved an Oscar nomination. But Mark Wahlberg also deserves his for his scene-stealing performance in which he turns ever line into a memorable one. Few small performances like his leave this much of an impression on me. Plus, we have Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin fantastic in smaller roles (even smaller than Wahlberg’s) and the fabulous Vera Farmiga as the precinct psychiatrist who fucks both Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. She is so amazing in this underwritten role that I wished that we could have seen more of her (maybe kicking some ass as well?).

I know this might be strange coming from me but I think that The Departed was even better than Dreamgirls (I know!). I guess I am just in love with huge ensembles with actors all at the top of their games and stories about conflicts between men (The Departed) and women (Dreamgirls) and their struggles to one up each other. C’est la vie.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #5

#5- Natasha Bedingfield "Unwritten"
I actually first heard this song being sung by one of the loser girls on last season’s “American Idol”. I was immediately intrigued by the song (not the chick singing it) and was eternally grateful when they started playing it on the radio. I didn’t even complain when they played it all the time over the summer. The song is just that damn good that you can hear it over and over again without growing sick of it.

What I really enjoy about “Unwritten” are the dead-on lyrics. They perfectly capture what I’m thinking and feeling at this stage in my life (off to college, unsure about my future, maturing into adulthood) without becoming sappy or preachy. Bedingfeld is smart by turning these words into the perfect pop song instead of a dumb, mid-tempo ballad that becomes a filler on her CD. Plus, there's a huge choir that sings the chorus once and that always gets me (i.e. Madonna's "Like a Prayer").

Since hearing this song, I’ve also had the fortune of hearing “These Words (I Love You, I Love You)” and realized that she has a knack for turning cliché into fresh. Bravo, Ms. Bedingfeld, bravo.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What a Day!

Today was a pretty interesting day in the world of arts for me- and it was all spectacular. I first got to see Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 film Breathless and was really impressed. Like a great Altman film, there's not much story going on, but what's on the screen is magic. I couldn't take my eyes off of the beautiful, budding romance between car thief Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and American reporter-wannabe Patricia (Jean Seberg). Even if Belmondo wasn't so good looking (more about that in an upcoming post, I'm sure) I think I would still want to stare at these two. Unfortunately for me, I must have been a little too tired this afternoon and dozed off for a couple of minutes before the finale, so this is definitely one I'm going to have to see again (and I'm not complaining!).
Next, I rented Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and watched that in the afternoon. Now, I'm going to admit that I am a fan of the Norma Shearer 1938 version (and even believe Norma gives one of her greatest performances in it), but Coppola's version offers up a whole different take on it. The costumes and sets were fan-freaking-tastic and nearly took my breath away on several occasions (the scene where Marie first arrives at the palace springs to mind). And Kirsten Dunst is the perfect choice for this fabulous Queen. I now want to live like Marie when I grow up (and eat all of that great food!).
Finally, I saw a production of the musical version of John Waters' Hairspray. I have yet to see this movie, but I'm a huge fan of John Waters' other trashy films (I'd defend the greatness of Cecil B. Demented until my death and Divine was fabulously over-the-top in Female Trouble) so I figured I would enjoy this- and boy did I ever. I haven't heard this hilarious and memorable lyrics in a long time (I'm still singing "You Can't Stop the Beat" two hours after the show) and most of the performances/characters made my day. I now can not wait until the film version with Michelle Pfieffer, John Travolta and Queen Latifah.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #6

#6- Fergie "London Bridge"
Am I the only person who believes that Fergie was a welcome addition to the Black Eyed Peas? I can't be because before Fergie came around, the only mainstream song anybody had ever heard from them was the minor hit "Request Line" with Macy Gray. After Fergie, however, they can't stop the hits from pouring in: "Where is the Love?", "Shut Up", "Hey Mama", "Let's Get it Started", "Don't Phunk With My Heart" and "My Humps". Being the major force that she is in the Black Eyed Peas, it only seems natural that she would try the solo thing for awhile. And damn am I ever glad that she did.
"London Bridge" has got to be one of the best so-bad-it's-fucking-amazing pop songs of the year (Her "Fergalicious" is probably the only rival). The song is SO obviously about oral sex that an 8 year old Mormon child would probably understand the "hidden" metaphor. But Fergie's not ashamed about the trashiness "London Bridge" and, in fact, sings the song with all the energy (sexual and not) she can muster. There's something to be said about a song that makes what to sing along with all of my might every time it comes on radio.
Fergie has her haters out there, and I can see why, but here's what I say about that: If you want poetry, listen to Bob Dylan. If you want to dance, listen to Fergie. She's not trying to write meaningful lyrics that will resonate for generations to come-she's writing songs that are catchy as hell and make you want to move that will hopefully be around for years to come.

Perfect On-screen Couple

Am I crazy for believing that Miss Jennifer Hudson and Jake Gyllenhaal would make a perfect on-screen couple? I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks now, ever since watching "Grease: You're the One I Want" and casually mentioning that J. Hud and Jake would be perfect to play Sandy and Danny. But now the idea makes more and more sense. There's Jake with his looks of a model combined with a melt-your-heart boyish grin. And then there's J. Hud's down-to-earth mentality with a real woman's body. How could it fail? I imagine them in some quirky romantic comedy a la Annie Hall where Jake plays a shy, reserved guy (possibly with glasses) who moves to New York and J. Hud plays a plus-sized model who has the taste of a rich woman, but the bank account of a poor one. I wish someone with some power in Hollywood would get them together in a movie soon while they are both hot, hot, hot.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #7

#7- Mary J. Blige “Be Without You”

MJB really is the MVP. She’s been around for ages and still manages to make hits that sound fresh and modern while sticking with her soul roots. You would think after major triumphs such as “You’re All I Need To Get By”, “Family Affair” and “Rainy Dayz”, Mary would run out of steam. But, instead, she released the mega-hit slow jam “Be Without You”.

“Be Without You” is sort of reminiscent of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” (AKA the best song of 2005). Not only is it a mid-tempo ballad by an R&B diva, it also brought back one of the greatest voices of our generation. MJB’s voice is flawless on this song, elevating your run-of-the-mill love song into something spectacular, fresh and catchy. I haven’t been this much in love with any MJB song probably since “Family Affair” and am so happy she has finally reached the critical peak of her career.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Seven People Over For Dinner

Here’s the definitive answer to the question “If you could invite seven people, living or dead, over for dinner, who would you pick and why?”

1. Bette Davis- The Queen Diva Bitch of Hollywood. What dinner would be complete without Bette regaling the guests with stories of how she fought her way to the top of Hollywood and didn’t take anyone’s shit?

2. Jake Gyllenhaal- Every dinner needs some eye candy. I just hope Bette isn’t too forward and propositions him early on. That might be a little awkward.

3. Jennifer Hudson- I love this woman to death. She is immensely talented and humble to the extreme. We also have something in common: we don’t like to drive. I feel so much closer to her.

4. Dame Judi Dench- Royalty is always appreciated, especially when it is someone as wonderful as the ever regal Dame Judi Dench. I just hope she doesn’t get offended and cut somebody.

5. Tiffany Patterson (New York’s Mom)- Maybe she can get some private lessons from Bette Davis to become an even bigger bitch on “I Love New York”. Yes please.

6. Oprah- I really don’t want to die by her ninja assassins, so I would definitely give her an invite. But it’s not as if I wouldn’t invite her over anyways. Oprah is pretty much God. Hopefully she will bring her lesbian…I mean best friend Gail over too. I LOVE OPRAH!

7. Judy Garland- This bitch is damn talented and oh-so-tragic. I can’t think of anyone on this planet who can put as much emotion into every song as Judy does. Hopefully she’ll sing a couple of songs between dinner and dessert (and maybe a duet with J. Hud?!).

Who would you invite to dinner? Leave me your answers in the comments!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

News Flash---Laura Admits She's Wrong

I just want it on the record that one Miss Laura Citino has admitted defeat. Back in September, I referred to "poking the bear", a saying that no one had ever heard of (well, actually I said "nudging the bear" but I meant "poking the bear" and now is not the time to be picky). Tonight at dinner, Laura admitted that she heard someone in her literature class use this saying and said that I WAS RIGHT!!! In your face, bitches!

An Open Apology to Ryan Gosling

Dear Ryan,

I am deeply sorry for not believing that you would get an Oscar nomination for your accomplished performance in Half Nelson.

But, you see, I had my reasons. I first heard about Half Nelson in a little blurb on Moviefone while looking up times for Talladega Nights (don’t judge). It talked about Ryan Gosling in some small indie film in which he plays a drug addicted teacher- and, here’s what really got me, how he could win an Oscar for it. Yeah right. Like that douche from The Notebook has the talent to even be considered for an Oscar. And since when is Moviefone predicting the Oscar. I thought their job was to give movie listings, not act like Roger Ebert.

So basically I dismissed you and didn’t think much of it until I got the chance to see Half Nelson back in November. And let me tell you Mr. Gosling…I was impressed.

In what I thought would be a totally clichéd-ridden performance, you rose above the script (which wasn’t too shabby to begin with) and gave a scarily human performance. You weren’t a saint and didn’t try to pass it off as if you were one. You had real flaws and were even funny (One of my favorite scenes is when you keep catching one of your students cheating on a test). Plus, Half Nelson has the distinction of being the anti-Music of the Heart. Sure you’re a white guy teaching in a poor black neighborhood, but that’s where all comparisons end. You don’t change your student’s lives for the better- you were merely a good teacher who taught them what they needed to know and moved on (all while on coke, bravo). Even the one student who you may have reached, Shareeka Epps’ Drey, was portrayed realistically without schmaltz.

So, in short, congratulations on your well deserved Oscar nomination, and although the chances are slim that you’ll beat both Forest Whitaker and Peter O’Toole, I would be totally happy if you won the Oscar. Continued luck with your future projects (including an upcoming film with Sir Anthony Hopkins and David Strathairn)!

James Henry

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

So Now Paris and Lindsay Are Friends Again???

So what in the hell is happening? This afternoon I learn from reliable sources that La Lohan and Paris "Fart in a Mitten" Hilton were out partying up last night after Ms. Lohan escaped from rehab again. But wait a minute. Wasn't it just like a month ago where these two absolutely HATED each other? I seem to recall an incident where La Lohan tried to talk to Paris at a couple and Ms. Hilton pretty much laughed in her face (Isn't it really sad when you're too much of a drugged-out whore to hang out with Paris Hilton?). Then La Lohan responded by blasting K. Fed music out of her car to piss off Paris, who was friends with Britney back in those days. I remember that all of these vicious things that were said and done only about a month ago. So why now they're clubbing together like the best friends Paris used to be with Nicole Richie and Britney? I guess rehab really does help you heal all inner wounds.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #8

#8- JoJo “Too Little Too Late”

I know that this song is nothing more than your average crappy pop song sung by an average teenage singer, but just go with me on this one. After the shitfests that were JoJo’s first two singles- the always terrible duo of “Leave (Get Out)” and “Baby It’s You”- there’s something about “Too Little Too Late” that gets to you and sticks with you long after it’s done.

I’ll admit that I was resistant to this song at first. There was no way in hell I was going to enjoy a song by someone as terrible as JoJo. I remember hearing a radio DJ saying that she loved this song, and I chuckled on the inside. Who would confess that on the air for everyone to hear? I would consider that a personal humiliation to ever utter those words out loud.

But then I started hearing the song over and over again and couldn’t get it out of my head. I wanted to believe that it was so-bad-it’s-good, but there’s no way I can stick by that philosophy for this song because there is a lot to admire in “Too Little Too Late”. First of all, JoJo has finally matured past the junior high-ness of “Leave (Get Out)” with its 12-year-old ideas about love and relationships. “Too Little Too Late” sounds in place with the high school/young adult crowd she is singing about/to. Secondly, JoJo’s voice also sounds older, if not quite great yet, and more complex then the voice from the bubblegum songs of her past.

“Too Little Too Late” is a brilliant step in JoJo’s career and offers a small glimmer of hope that JoJo will transcend her past and become a singer to contend with.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Top 10 Songs of 2006- #9

#9- Gnarls Barkley "Crazy"
It’s hard to even start discussing a song as indescribably unique as Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know how this song became a hit. The members of Gnarls Barkley- DJ and producer Danger Mouse and singer Cee-Lo Green- would hardly be anyone’s idea of the perfect formula for a “commercial” pop group. So what happened? How in the hell did “Crazy” become the major hit that it did?

I think most of it lies in the fact that the song requires a singer with a unique voice and Cee-Lo definitely has that. I mean, just imagine that chorus being sung by someone like Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. Without that almost maniacal wail of Cee-Lo tearing into “Does that make me crazy?” the song wouldn’t work- or at least it wouldn’t have been the massive Top 40 hit that it was.

I’m actually really glad Gnarls Barkley rose above their underground status and into the pop charts. It’s a positive boost for the pop music genre to have this song included in it’s ranks and I only hope more artists try to make their sound this original.