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?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Posh the Actress! Plus, Updates on the Spice Girls Reunion

Last night, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham made an appearance on Ugly Betty. I didn't catch it because I'm too far behind on the show, but I'm super excited about catching it later on. Why? Well, I'm one of the five people on the planet who loves Spice World (I know it's technically a horrible movie, but it's a ton of fun) and I think Posh gives the best performance in it. Don't get me wrong, she's no Meryl Streep or anything (hell, she's hardly Jessica Alba), but she had great comedic timing in that film. With such a banal script, it takes someone with a bit of talent to deliver lines like "Hold on to your knickers, girls!", "This dress is dry clean only, Melanie!", "I'm not that desperate, thank you" and "What do you think about manta rays?" Going by this, and the fact that she's such a publicity whore (but an interesting one, unlike Paris Hilton), her cameo should be an interesting one. If anyone did watch last night, let me know what you thought.

Speaking of Spice World, apparently a 10th Anniversary Edition is being released at the end of this month. It seems a bit strange to re-release a film that no one particularly cares for, but I'm guessing they're doing it to coincide with the impending Spice Girls reunion tour. If the DVD comes with a couple of really great extras, I will definitely be picking up a copy.

As for the Spice Girls reunion, here's the brand new single that premiered last week. The song is called "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)" and is actually pretty good. I don't love it yet, but it's bound to grow on me as I listen to it more and more.

As an added bonus, here's the video for Victoria Beckham's "Let Your Head Go" from a few years back. I was in a Mommie Dearest mood yesterday and while looking on its Wikipedia page, I ran across this link under the Pop Culture References section. The video is amazing and another example of how funny Posh can be.

"Golden Girls" Moment: Motown Reunion

[After the girls fired their maid Marguerite, they run into a string of bad luck and start to believe they have been cursed. In order to reverse this, they decide to woo her back to reverse the curse. During this process, however, Sophia returns from a trip and is introduced to Marguerite.]

Sophia: So what are we celebrating? Did The Supremes get back together?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Best Album Cover Ever?

A couple of days, I got a hold of the ABBA discography and while I was loading them into my iTunes, this cover appeared for their Super Trouper album. Needless to say, I immediately fell in love with it. If you know anything about the title song, you know it fits in perfectly (My favorite and the most telling lyric: "Facing 20,000 of your friends/How could anyone be so lonely?") with the theme. Plus, it is so divalicious with the obnoxious white spotlight shining directly on the group and drawing all the attention away from the people in the crowd. Très amusante.

Along with this album cover, I think I've discovered ABBA's best non-greatest hits album: Voulez Vous. Not only does it contain three of my top 10 favorite ABBA songs, but it also has such brilliant "fillers" (they're so much more than that) as "The King Has Lost His Crown" and "As Good As New."

God I love ABBA.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Golden Girls" Moment: Traitor?

[Blanche and Dorothy have just discovered that they have both entered a dance marathon with a $1000 prize without telling each other when Rose also shows up.]

Dorothy: Et tu Judas?

Rose: No, it's me Rose.

Rants on "American Gangster"

I hate to be prejudiced towards American Gangster, because there is nothing here in Ridley Scott's gangster epic to excatly poo-poo on, but The Departed is superior in nearly every way to this film. I know I shouldn't be comparing films as crudely as this, especially when one is as brilliant and perfect as The Departed, but I can't really help it- the comparisons are practically begging to be drawn out.

But that's not to say that American Gangster, based on it's own merits, is necessarily a bad film. On the contrary, it's a well-made film, with an interesting and, at times, intense script and some good quality acting. The story may seem a bit familiar, but writer Steve Zaillian does an amiable job making it seem fresh and, even at 2 hours and 40 minutes, the film whizzes by.

But, unfortunately, there are those pesky comparisons The Departed that really start to take away from this film. The first thing that jumped out at me were the dimensions of characters in both films. In The Departed, you had real characters that were both entertaining and thought provoking: Sullivan, the bad guy posing as the good guy; Costigan, the good guy posing as the bad guy; Costello, the over-the-top, maniacal ringleader; and Dignam, the foul-mouthed, scene-stealing bad ass. Plus, these men were all three dimensional and weren't either "black" or "white." In American Gangster, both Denzel Washington's Frank Lucas and Russell Crowe's Richie Roberts are practically old-fashioned sterotypes of what is "wrong" (selling dope) and what is "right" (saying no to corruption). Unfortunately, this carries over into their performances. I thought Washington did a fine job, but the fact that he was the "bad" guy the whole time really took something away. And Crowe was basically meh- not much of a character on paper and he didn't really try to add anything to make him a character on screen.

Another thing that bugged me about American Gangster was the fact that Harlem, which Frank Lucas was supposed to represent and love, wasn't shown with the same love that Boston was given in The Departed. While you could tell that The Departed was filmed in Boston, American Gangster might as well have been shot in a back lot in Los Angeles, that's how far removed from the city it was.

So what did I like about American Gangster? As with Into the Wild, the ending shot was a big redeeming factor- ambiguous and affecting; that scene where Washington shoots the other gangster in the middle of the street had me jumping out of my seat; Roger Bart's Dignam-esque cameo towards the end of the film as the U.S. Attorney who bitches out Russell Crowe when he goes through the plane arriving from Vietnam was an exciting jolt of energy and made me wish he was around longer; the quick pacing; Ruby Dee bitch slapping Denzel Washington.

In the end, I guess it was high expectations that really killed American Gangster for me. Maybe another viewing with slightly lowered expectations will make this film stand out more.

My Rating: *** 1/2

"The Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted"

Is it sad that I'm really excited for this movie? The more I hear about it, the more I am just dying to see it. And doesn't Amy Adams do a brilliant job with this song? Love it! I can not wait until November 21st to see Adams, my James Marsden singing again and Susan Sarandon playing an evil diva witch.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy Birthday Kathy Griffin!

I can't believe the whole day went by and I'm just now acknowledging that it is the Queen of the D-List's, Kathy Griffin, birthday today! She has had quite a year with a ton of highs (her Emmy win and another successful season of her Bravo reality show) and some lows (the passing of her father and the Emmy speech backlash) and I wish her all the best in the world. So here's a happy forty---

Well, a true diva never reveals her age, so we'll just leave it at that.