Tuesday, February 26, 2008

First Look at Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles

Zac Efron is making a movie that doesn't somehow involve either a high school or singing and dancing? A couple of months ago, I wouldn't have believed it and still didn't when he got cast in Me and Orson Welles. Surely, I thought, they'll throw in a song or two, never mind that it's about a teenager making his acting debut in Orson Welles' famed production of Julius Caesar in 1937. But now that I see the above picture, I'm gaining more faith in this film and especially Zac. I have the feeling that this project will make or break him, so let's hope for the best!

Oscar After Party!



What a glorious night last night was! Two upsets with two of my very favorites pulling ahead and snatching the prizes made me very happy to say the least. Although I didn't do very well with my predictions, only getting 13 correct out of 24 categories, I was still so happy at some of my mistakes (Marion & Tilda, Transformers getting shut out). Anyways, here are my thoughts about last night's ceremony, both the positives and the negatives:

Positives
+Jon Stewart hosting: I was initially a little worried about him, because, for me anyways, he's frankly hit or miss and I really don't find him that funny on The Daily Show. But, I have to say that he pulled through and did a really nice job. Not as good as Ellen last year, but still pretty consistently funny.
+Cotillard crying at La Vie en Rose's Best Makeup win: This was so funny to me and my friend Sammi that we made fun of it all night. In case you missed it, her reaction is priceless: she puts her hands over her mouth in shock, like she had just won the damn award and, I think, starts tearing up a little. Lord knows I love Cotillard to death, but she was an easy target for Sammi & I. For example, when the French guy won for Best Short: "Oh my Goodness! A French person just won! I'm so happy!" Or when The Counterfeiters won Best Foreign Film: "Oh my Goodness! They're European! They are so close to France!"
+Josh Brolin & James McAvoy presenting Best Adapted Screenplay: Swoon! Oh my, I couldn't contain myself with these two reading off those classic lines (McAvoy especially, with that beautiful Scotish growl saying "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" I melted right there). Way too many dirty thoughts going on there.
+Jennifer Hudson!: What a beautiful and classy lady. No matter what anyone says about her "undeserved" win, I will always love her.
+Letting Marketa Irglova back on stage: Jon Stewart didn't have to let her finish her speech, but I'm glad he did because I would have felt horrible for her the rest of the night. She delivered such a lovely speech that it was definitely worth the extra couple of minutes it took. Plus, I loved Jon Stewart's joke about them backstage (Glen: "Let's make the Oscar's kiss" Marketa: "But they're two boys" Glen: "Well, this is Hollywood")
+No Country For Old Men's Best Picture win: I did like Atonement a teensy bit better, but No Country For Old Men is definitely not something I can get upset about. After The Departed last year, it seems that Oscar is atoning for Crash two years ago by picking the right films this time.
+Diablo Cody's dress: It was leopard print, nearly see-through and had a slit up to her va-jay-jay...God, I love Diablo Cody.

Negatives
-The Enchanted Performances: Lord knows I love the songs from Enchanted (well, at least "Happy Working Song" and "That's How You Know") so it was just a shame that they were done so shoddily last night. Amy Adams did fine with "Happy Working Song" but she was kind of weak and almost seemed to be overdoing it with her voice. Maybe she's just no suited for live performances, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it could have been so much better. Kristen Chenoweth seemed the perfect choice to sing "That's How You Know" because she seems just as bright and bubbly as Giselle, but her voice, to me, was plain awful last night. She was warbling the whole way through and really tried to change the melody into something more difficult that what it actually was. And, as for that last one, let me just say that they should have gotten James Marsden to sing that because it would have been 1000 times better (and more memorable).
-The Dame Judi Dench Fakeout: When they announced Dame Judi Dench's name to present the next award, I looked over at my friend Sammi and was like "Oh my God, yes!!" I was getting ready to bow down in her presence when suddenly I see Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen coming out to present. What the fuck?! And then to have them argue about who was the Dame Judi Dench? That was ridiculous because I would have been her in two seconds. Poo-poo on you Oscar ceremony.
-The First 30 Minutes With Regis: The epitome of painful: Regis talking loudly, annoying contest winners hogging camera time, no stars I cared about (except for Cotillard) and Regis introducing "Xavier" Bardem. That was f-ing ridiculous.

Before I finish, I just want to mention this conversation Sammi and I had during the ceremony:

Sammi: Who's that sitting next to James McAvoy? Is it Keira Knightley?
Me: It can't be. She didn't come. I think that's his girlfriend or wife, I can't remember which.
Sammi: What?! Looks on IMDB Yeah, that's his wife. She's nine years older than him- I can definitely steal him away.
Me: Right. Just like I'm going to steal James Marsden from his wife.
Sammi: You don't have all the parts he likes- you need a vagina...and boobs.
Me: Whatever. 10 minutes later... Hey! Guess what my name would be if I married James Marsden...James Marsden!

Monday, February 25, 2008

MARION!!!! TILDA!!!!

MARION!!!!!


TILDA!!!!!

I am so glad I was wrong with my predictions! These two totally deserved to win! Check back tomorrow with some thoughts on the ceremony and the winners.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What's Going to Happen Tonight?

Will any of the Best Song performances be as amazing as this?



Will any of the winners deserve the Oscars more for their speech than the actual performance they won for? (Follow the link here)

"This moment... is so much bigger... than me!"

Will someone freak out like this when they don't win?



Will someone make a controversial speech that will overshadow their actual win like this?



or this?



And, finally, will someone get an emotional standing ovation like this when they win?



Supporting Actress Smackdown: 2007 Edition

If today is sort of like Christmas, than this morning we should get a special present. And that present is StinkyLulu's 2007 Supporting Actress Smackdown. Yours truly was asked to participate and since I had seen all of the nominees, I gladly obliged. As always, I had a ton of fun doing it and am super anxious to read everyone's quips and snarky comments.

This year's race has surprisingly been a wide open one, with four of the five nominees still duking it out to the last minute. And each of them have a particular advantage over the other's that can't be ignored: Ruby Dee has the sympathy and career vote for a lifetime of ignorance (and the SAG award); Cate Blanchett has the biopic thing going on (and the Golden Globe); Amy Ryan has the horrible mom role (and a near sweep of the main critics groups); and Tilda Swinton has the your-film-won't-win-anywhere-else-so-let's-
vote-for-her factor (and the BAFTA).
It's a tough call, but I think Dee with sneak ahead. But if I had to pick a personal favorite it would be.... Oh Tilda. Why are you so amazing? If you want to see how much I love Tilda, who is the weakest of the nominees and my basic rantings on all of the nominees then head on over to the Smackdown now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Final Oscar Predictions

Tomorrow is my favorite day of the year besides Christmas and my birthday- Oscar Day! And this year I'm even more appreciative since we were this close to not even having a ceremony this year. After the Golden Globes fiasco, if the Oscar's hadn't gone on, this diva would have thrown a diva fit so enormous Beyonce would have been like, "Calm down!" So, in preparation for tomorrow, here are my predictions and thoughts on who could win.

Best Picture
Will Win: Say what you want about a potential Juno upset, I believe No Country For Old Men will triumph in the end. As much as the logic for a No Country-Blood split makes sense, therefore allowing the popular choice Juno to pull ahead, I doubt it will happen. There Will Be Blood is too highbrow and more people will vote for the more easily accessible No Country, therefore canceling the split.
Should Win: Atonement has gotten a bad rap for being nothing more than a pretty English costume drama. Let me say that I have seen many an English costume drama and none have moved me as much as this film. Plus, the film is less concerned with visual splendor and more concerned with the characters.

Best Actor
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis. Duh.
Should Win: In any other year I would probably say Day-Lewis, but I must admit I was slightly more impressed with Viggo Mortensen and his impenetrable Russian mobster.

Best Actress
Will Win: It's a tough race between Christie and Cotillard (with Page being the darkhorse), but I have to go with Julie Christie because of her veteran status and her major precursor wins (the Globe, SAG).
Should Win: Marion Cotillard, obviously. But that's not to say that Christie and Page aren't entirely worthy in their own rights (I haven't seen Linney yet).

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: I shouldn't even have to say it- Javier Bardem.
Should Win: Casey Affleck gave the greatest performance by a male in any category, but this category fraud is outrageous I'm tempted to just say screw it and go with Bardem. But he is that good, so I'll stay with him.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: This is the toughest race of the night with 4 of the women (sorry, Saoirse) still vying for that trophy. I'm going to go with Ruby Dee and the sentimental vote as the winner, but I'll be the first to admit that I could be entirely wrong.
Should Win: If you want to experience a performance of Biblical proportions, watch Tilda Swinton make a full-fledged woman out of a treacly character on paper.

Best Director
Will Win: Joel and Ethan Coen have been winning every director award in sight. You can't stop what's coming. (Ha, you see what I did there? I took the tag line from No Country For Old Men and used it to describe the Coen's impending win. You get it? It's funny, non? Good God, I'm clever)
Should Win: Joel and Ethan Coen. Sometimes it's just that easy.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Diablo Cody has become the new indie darling and this seems like the most logical place Juno will win.
Should Win: Have I every mentioned how much I love Diablo Cody?

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: The No Country For Old Men steamroller is going full steam ahead, so look for Joel and Ethan Coen to win this one as well.
Should Win: Call me crazy, but I think Sarah Polley is the best. I didn't love the movie as a whole, but that screenplay was beautiful, intelligent and extremely well-written.

For the rest of these, I'm going to be upfront and admit that I'm talking out of my ass half the time. We'll see it goes.

Best Cinematography
Will Win: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly needs to win somewhere and here's just as good as any place. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if any of these picked up the prize.
Should Win: I was most impressed with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and that immaculate train robbing scene.

Best Editing

Will Win: The Bourne Ultimatum has already proved influential by the number of cheap imitations.
Should Win: The Bourne Ultimatum is Godard on crack and I loved every second of it.

Best Art Direction

Will Win: I'm going to go with There Will Be Blood simply because I haven't given it a win yet (besides Day-Lewis).
Should Win: I wasn't too terribly impressed with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street or Atonement, so I will go with There Will Be Blood as well.

Best Costume Design

Will Win: Keira Knightley's green dress has already been named the best film costume in the history of cinema. Look for Atonement to easily snatch this prize.
Should Win: The costumes for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street were one of the best parts of the movie.

Best Makeup

Will Win: La Vie en Rose. Anything but Norbit.
Should Win: La Vie en Rose

Best Original Score

Will Win: Atonement has been receiving lots of praise.
Should Win: Atonement has a score that's emotionally compelling and still subtle enough not to overpower the movie. It's the only film score I have on my iPod.

Best Original Song

Will Win: The songs from Enchanted will cancel each other out a la Dreamgirls allowing "Falling Slowly" to pick up the win.
Should Win: I'm torn between the two Amy Adams songs from Enchanted but everytime "Happy Working Song" comes on my iPod, this big goofy grin comes on my face that just won't go away. It's rather embarassing, but that means it's doing its job.

Best Sound

Will Win: Transformers
Should Win: I don't really have any opinion.

Best Sound Editing

Will Win: Transformers
Should Win
: No opinion.

Best Visual Effects

Will Win: Transformers
Should Win: No opinion. These last three, in my opinion, are the most boring categories of the night.

Best Animated Film

Will Win: Ratatouille has won every animated prize under the sun, so this one is in the bag.
Should Win: I've only seen Ratatouille and I didn't care for it that much, so I can't really say until I see Persepolis.

Best Foreign-Language Film

Will Win: Oscar loves their Nazi dramas, so expect The Counterfeiters to clean up here.
Should Win: N/A

Best Documentary

Will Win: I think it's between No End in Sight and Sicko, but Michael Moore just won and Sicko didn't have the controversy and passionate following that his previous works have. So expect the critically praised No End in Sight to win this one.
Should Win: I thought Sicko was one of the finest films of the year, but it's the only one I've seen in this category so it's not really fair.

Best Documentary (Short)

Will Win: All of these sound baity as hell, but I'll go with the gays rallying around Freeheld.
Should Win: N/A

Best Short (Live Action)

Will Win
: At Night features young adults with cancer and The Tonto Woman sounds like a condensed version of The Searchers. Either could take it, but I'll bet Oscar goes with the cancer patients in At Night.
Should Win: N/A

Best Short (Animated)
Will Win: Madame Tutli-Putli sounds the most interesting and fascinating.
Should Win: N/A

Number of Wins
No Country- 4
Transformers- 3
Atonement- 2
There Will Be Blood- 2
American Gangster- 1
Away From Her- 1
The Bourne Ultimatum- 1
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly- 1
Juno- 1
La Vie en Rose
- 1
Once- 1

*Yeah, I know it's pretty bad when Transformers winds up with the second highest number of wins, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Remember in 2005 when Brokeback tied with King Kong and the lesser Crash and Memoirs of a Geisha? Sometimes it works like that.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You're Welcome in Advance

(Click picture to enlarge)

Good ole Channing's at work on his latest film, an adaptation of G.I. Joe, and, judging by this photo, it looks like it will be another great performance from him.

(Photo courtesy of JFX Online)

Five Song Friday

It's simple. Every Friday, I pick five songs that I've been loving for the past week. They don't have to be new songs or even singles from the album...the only requirement is that they're amazing.


Amy Winehouse "Love is a Losing Game"
I was going to include her last week after her big Grammy wins (5 in total, including 3 of the 4 big ones!) but I simply forgot. The reason I chose "Love is a Losing Game" is because, frankly, I'm sick of pimping out "Rehab" to get you to listen to her and this probably the next best song on her CD. It's so touching and earnest that you can't help but to feel for her.




Sheila Broflovski and the Parents of South Park "Blame Canada"
I just did an oral presentation in my Literature and Culture class about how this song related to American culture, so I've naturally been listening to it like mad to get everything I can out of it. Best lyric: "Don't blame me/For my son Stan/He saw the darn cartoon/And now he's off to join the Klan!"




Janet Jackson "The Pleasure Principle"
I hadn't heard this song in awhile when it came up on shuffle on my iTunes, and after listening to it I quickly remembered why this is my favorite Janet Jackson song.




Celine Dion "Alone"
Did anyone else see Celine's fabulous TV special last week? I was with a friend who's also a fan of the French-Canadian diva when we stumbled across it channel surfing. The special was great and Celine, as always, was flawless, singing songs from her latest CD Taking Chances. The best song from there is this cover of the 80's classic "Alone" by Heart, which Celine transforms into an even bigger melodramatic opera of a song on par with "It's All Coming Back to Me Now".




ABBA "Love Isn't Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough)"
Just because I love ABBA and this song was stuck in my head all day yesterday.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

American Idol Recap: Top 24

(Sorry this is a little late, but this diva was caught up in a bunch of drama this week and missed half of the first episode- thank God for YouTube- so I had to play catch up. I hope you enjoy this week and hopefully next week will be better)

The auditions are finally over on
American Idol and this week the real competition began. The results for both the guys and girls were decidedly mixed, but there were a couple of standouts.

The Boys
1. David Hernandez "The Midnight Hour"
I originally wrote down "no personality" and it's probably no coincidence that I can't even recall what he looks like two days later.

2. Chikezie "I'll Be Loving You More Today Than Yesterday"
He looks like a pimp with that ridiculous orange suit. His performance was rather blah and super corny. I completely agree with everything Simon said.

3. David Cook "Happy Together"
David made this song very modern sounding and he has a great voice. The only thing I didn't enjoy was the way he picked up the microphone stand and used it as a pugil stick which was a tad over the top.

4. Jason Yeager "Moon River"
Supremely corny and probably the worst song choice for his voice (his voice is fine but entirely too vanilla to carry the simple melody of "Moon River" and make it interesting).

5. Robbie Carrico "One is the Loneliest Number"
This former boy band member claims he's a rocker now, but this song was really a pop version of what rock is- it's like Britney doing the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" without the camp.



6. David Archuleta "Shop Around"
I love this kid! He's so dorkalicious he makes Seth Cohen look cool. I love his reaction to finding out about making the Top 24 ("What a feeling!") in the above video and, to top it all off, he's actually quite a fine singer. Sure, he's a little nervous and hesitant at parts of the song but once he gets over that, he'll be fantastic. Without a doubt, he's my favorite of the three little homosexuals this year (Colton and Danny being the others).

7. Danny Noriega "Jailhouse Rock"
He's Quirky and he wants you to know that. Danny reminds me of my arch-nemesis Christian on Project Runway, but he comes off as less annoying so far. We'll see what happens in the next weeks. Anyways, he's halfway decent and, listening to him speak, you do not expect that voice to come out of him.

8. Luke Menard "Everybody's Talking"
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

9. Colton Berry "Suspicious Minds"
He's lively, energetic and a nice singer, but you can obviously tell he has a background in theater (not that that's a bad thing).

10. Garrett Haley "Breaking Up is Hard to Do"
Garrett's voice is annoying as hell and does he honestly believe that teased out 80's hair gives him personality? Because it doesn't.

11. Jason Castro "What a Day For a Daydream"
I can't even concentrate on Jason's singing, because I everytime I see him all I notice are his dreadlocks. I can't stand dreadlocks because they're fucking dirty and disgusting.

12. Michael Johns "Light My Fire"
This was the perfect song choice for him and, as if that accent wasn't helping him enough, he'll be sure to go far.

The Women
1. Kristy Lee Cook "Rescue Me"
Stereotypical skinny white blonde girl with a so-so voice and a boring and repetitive performance.

2. Joanne Borgella "I Say a Little Prayer"
Although it could have stood some improvement, I didn't think it was as bad as what the judges (mostly Simon) were saying.

3. Alaina Whitaker "I Love You More Today"
This girl is so adorable (her interview before her performance was fun) and, as if that wasn't enough, she can also sing. I loved her slow build to the chorus and she held my interest the whole time.

4. Amanda Overmyer "Baby, Please Don't Go"
I like Amanda and this performance, but I just can't see 12 year old girls voting for her into the finale. She won't appeal to the young crowd, who'll just be confused because the closest they get to rock is Avril Lavigne.

5. Amy Davis "Where the Boys Are"
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

6. Brooke White "Happy Together"
I really like Brooke and think she has a really great voice, but her song was not right for her at all. Sure, she's a very happy person, but her voice is so husky and dark that it didn't fit with the light poppiness of "Happy Together." It was still a good performance, though.

7. Alexandrea Lushington "Spinning Wheel"
I loved her attitude towards Ryan, her great sense of fashion (sans suspenders) and, most of all, her extremely one-of-a-kind take on this song.

8. Kady Malloy "A Groovy Kind of Love"
She has great potential if she would just let herself go.

9. Asia'h Epperson "Piece of My Heart"
I really dislike Asia'h, not because of her voice (which is fine and dandy), but because of the story about her father dying before her audition that she pimps out on every show. It's so shameless that, for me, it overshadows her talent.

10. Ramiele Malubay "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"
I completely disagree with the judges on this one. Ramiele sang this like English was her second language and it was kind of boring in the beginning. I don't understand where all the praise came from.

11. Syesha Mercado "Tobacco Road"
YES! PRAISE GOD, SOMEONE BROUGHT A VOICE!

12. Carly Smithson "Shadow of Your Smile"
Although Randy was a little overexaggerative (The best of the Top 24? Really?), I did think it was a fine performance. I thought it was a little forced, but once I found out she had bronchitis, I quickly understood and forgave her.

The Best: David A., Michael, Syesha, Alaina

Who's Going Home: Jason Y., Luke, Joanne (it pains me to say it, but few can survive the harsh criticism she got last night), Amy

Who Went Home: Garrett, Colton, Amy, Joanne (2/4, not bad)

Thoughts: I agree completely with Garrett and Amy because they were plain awful, but I think Joanne deserved a second chance and there were at least two other guys who were worse than Colton.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Quick Note About the New Banner

As you are all aware, February is National Black History Month, so I thought I'd do my part and honor some strong black women with a new banner. These four women have fought adversity, racism and the critics to pave the way for other strong black women. The beautiful women, starting from the left, are:

  • Oprah: Everyone on the planet knows her (and they'd better love her!). Her career started with a bang after a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Color Purple in 1985, which led to her talk show going into syndication in 1986 and quickly becoming the number-one rated talk show in America. The rest is history.
  • Hattie McDaniel: The ever-dependable character actress became the first African-American to win an Oscar (for her spectacular performance as Mammy in Gone With the Wind) and was a hero to many young black women. Her win paved the way for many actresses in the decades to come, including the infamous Halle Berry win and that amazing acceptance speech.
  • Aretha Franklin: She's the Queen of Soul, bitch, as Beyonce just found out.
  • Whoopi Goldberg: Sure, Whoopi's made some questionable choices with her acting work, but you can't deny the talent she has. I loved her quickly canceled sitcom Whoopi from a couple of years ago and her performance in The Color Purple was one for the ages (and should have earned her that Oscar). What I will love her best for, though, is her Oda Mae Brown in Ghost- only her hilarious performance as a crackpot psychic would make me want to sit through that pile of crap again.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I've Reached a New Low

As of last night, I have now seen Step Up, the 2006 dance film in which Channing Tatum got his big break, as many times as Citizen Kane, Rear Window and Psycho. I have also seen it more than The Godfather, The Rules of the Game and Breathless. Something is wrong with this. I'll be the first to admit that Step Up is a horrible movie, filled with every wrong-side-of-the-tracks teenage dance movie cliche in the book but, even while I'm groaning at the awful dialogue and hideous "acting", I can't help but to be entertained by the dancing (which, you have to admit, is pretty spectacular) and by Channing Tatum. He's not a great actor in this film (I've realized that his talent grows directly in proportion to the amount of time his shirt his off, which is why he's better in She's the Man and he blows us away in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) but he's on his way and he has that one great line reading: when they break into the school and he's suckered into going, he says "Dayamn" with the funniest inflection. I really wish I could say that I'll never see Step Up again, but all someone needs to say is Channing Tatum and I'm like, "What time?"

Who Me?


Yes, you!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Five Song Friday

It's simple. Every Friday, I pick five songs that I've been loving for the past week. They don't have to be new songs or even singles from the album...the only requirement is that they're amazing.



Ashley Tisdale "He Said She Said"
I have not been able to get this song out of my head all week. La Tisdale's debut album Headstrong is pretty much a disaster from start to finish, but "He Said She Said" almost makes up for it.



Mary J. Blige "I'm Goin' Down"
Beautiful, old standard done MJB style and utterly flawless.



Keyshia Cole featuring P. Diddy "Last Night"
I'm just starting to get into Keyshia Cole and this hit single from a few months back is much better than one would expect.



Taylor Dayne "Love Will Lead You Back"
Beautiful, almost over the top, 80's ballad that I could listen to on repeat for hours. Is it weird that I really want to hear James Marsden do a cover of this someday?



Elton John "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
Not only is this one of Elton John's finest and most underrated songs, but I love that fact that in this clip he's singing on The Muppet Show!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rants on I'm Not There and Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Before I get into my ranting, let me get something off my chest: I don't understand why Cate Blanchett has legions of fans who proclaim her to be the new Meryl Streep. What am I missing? Maybe I need to see some of her earlier work, because I haven't really been impressed with anything I've ever seen her in. I won't deny that she has talent and that she is ever-watchable, but Meryl Streep? Come on. Let's be a little more realistic. She gave a fine imitation of Katherine Hepburn and nailed the voice in The Aviator, but did all of that really add up to an Oscar-worthy performance? Blanchett had nothing to do in Babel besides lie there and pee her pants, so I can't really discredit her too much, but what was she doing there anyways? I do love her in Notes on a Scandal (especially the "Here I am!" scene), but she's outshone by Dame Judi Dench. She was fine in Elizabeth but, frankly, it didn't stand above any other Queen Elizabeth's I've seen. If you're a Blanchettphile, please tell me in the comments what I need to see of hers to be shown the way of the Blanchett.

I'm Not There (Todd Haynes, 2007): I'm not going to be a pretentious boob and pretend I understood this movie, because I didn't. I must admit that I still love the concept of the six actors portraying different aspects of Bob Dylan, but I don't know if it actually worked. I was bored with Marcus Carl Franklin, didn't understand Ben Whishaw's section and thought Richard Gere didn't fit at all. Christian Bale was kind of interesting during his limited screentime, but had nothing to really work with.

There were two "aspects of Dylan" that took risks and, to varying extents, worked in Haynes' thesis of a film. The first is, of course, Cate Blanchett in the most exhilarating part of Dylan's life. Blanchett is definitely a breath of fresh air to the proceedings, but I don't think they were particularly helpful to the overall film or our perception of the character. For the most part, I thought that somehow Jeff Bridges in full-on Dude mode had been cast as well, for all the annoying "man" and "dude"'s she put on the end of every sentence. It wasn't until that final moment in the limo when Blanchett drops all the pretense and annoying mannerisms that I finally saw her as a part of the story and an actual character. Plus, that enigmatic smile in the final frames was simply beautiful.

I think Heath Ledger played my favorite aspect of Bob Dylan and I don't believe it's only because of his recent passing; it's genuinely a fine performance. As the actor who played Dylan in a movie biopic ten years previously, Ledger, so I've read, is portraying Dylan's homelife. I don't know if I can really explain precisely why I liked it, I just think the scene at the restaurant and the montage where he buys the motorcycle are so beautifully done that they make the performance. This section is easily my favorite because it also contains my favorite performance in the entire film: Charlotte Gainsbourg as Ledger's ex-wife. It's so subtle next to Blanchett's larger than life, scene-stealing performance that you might not think about it at first, but Gainsbourg is the emotional center of the film, offering the only true "real" person in the entire film. We understand her heartbreak when, at a party, Ledger ignores her and treats her like an unwanted guest or the aforementioned restaurant scene where she battles for her own place in the relationship. It's quite a bewitching performance and one that, given time to simmer, sticks with you in the end.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007): I can't really get excited about Elizabethan films because, to me, they all look the same and offer nothing new besides the beautiful costumes and loud art direction. The original Elizabeth was fine and everything, but nothing to really write home about. The sequel, made nine years later, is a lot more entertaining but not really in a good way. The Golden Age is written much like an average episode Desperate Housewives, with all the snarky side-glances and tossed off bitchy one-liners, and I wouldn't have minded if Kapur had intended for this to be a camp film. Instead, his direction is more aimed at historical drama and the two do not mix at all. And poor Cate Blanchett just can not catch a break in this film. She tries her best to save the sinking disaster, but she's like Velma Kelly and can't do it alone. Blanchett has her moments, but you try spouting off lines like "My bitches wear my collar!" and see how you fair. It's not easy. I'm not going to say that her Oscar nomination is completely undeserved since I liked her better than the obvious number 6 Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart, but there are at least five other actresses I can think of who would have been worthier candidates.

My Ratings
I'm Not There *** 1/2
Elizabeth: The Golden Age ** 1/2

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ellen Page, Oscar Winner?

Is an Oscar win for Ellen Page really that out of the question? Sure, it seems rather unlikely with Christie and Cotillard battling it out, but crazier things have happened. The only reason I mention this potential spoiler is because I had another one of my random dreams. I was watching CNN or something the day after the Oscars and they were doing a recap of the show when all of sudden they show Ellen Page on stage giving an acceptance speech. Crazy, I know. If this actually comes true, I will drop out of school and start a psychic hotline, like Miss Cleo.

What ever happened to this woman? I used to LOVE her back in the day.

The Best Thing About 27 Dresses...

...is, of course, James Marsden. The only reason I saw 27 Dresses again last Friday was to look at him for 1 hour and 40 minutes and it was definitely worth it. 27 Dresses is a passable rom-com at best, but everytime Mr. Marsden comes on screen, he practically glows with hilarity and likeability. I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but during that final scene when the camera cuts to him while Katherine Heigl was walking down the aisle, I had this big, goofy smile on my face and was practically giggling like a 13 year old girl.

And, for no other reason besides his beauty, he's a couple more pictures of Mr. Marsden.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

Celebrity Photography

During the past week, both Vanity Fair and the New York Times unveiled their celebrity portfolios for the Oscar season and, for some reason, they have inspired polar opposite feelings in me. The Vanity Fair portfolio, released first, used the films of Hitchcock as an inspiration and couldn't be more beautiful. The New York Times portfolio, on the other hand, are pretty in an avant garde sort of way, but as celebrity photographs, they are horrible.

This revelation got me thinking about what the difference between "good" and "bad" celebrity photography is. I don't consider myself an expert or anything in the field, but I believe that photographing celebrity, at the very least, involves using everything you can to make the celebrity as good looking possible. The picture should revolve around them and their persona. For example, you wouldn't see Greta Garbo or Bette Davis back in the day fighting with any object or the background to be the focus of the picture; on the contrary, the photographer often concentrated just on close ups of their face or profile.

To show what I mean, here are my thoughts on various pictures from both portfolios.

Beautiful. Yummy. Tantalizing. As soon as I saw both James McAvoy and Emile Hirsch clean shaven and all gussied up in 50's fashion, I totally wished that this remake of Strangers on a Train would actually happen. I also love McAvoy's leer...so sexy.


And this is the epitome of bad celebrity photographing. What the hell was the photographer thinking with this shot. Paul Dano looks like one of those damn aliens from Signs, he is so fucking creepy. I just wish my eyes had never seen this horrific photo and that it can be erased from my mind Eternal Sunshine style.


This photo could have been all sorts of amazing, but instead of highlighting McAvoy's lovely face the bonehead photographer covers it with a shadow.


Jennifer Jason Leigh looks like such a monster here it's frightening and Keira Knightley is justifiably scared. Great homage to Rebecca.


And this is supposed to be a photograph of whom? You're guess is as good as mine. (Okay, apparently it's Jennifer Jason Leigh but there's no way you can tell through that thicket of woods).


Damn, Marion Cotillard is fine. And she is the perfect Marion Crane in Psycho. That last shot of her dead is absolutely chilling- her eyes are absolutely vacant.


In this one, Marion looks either A) constipated and trying to go or B) like she's just lost her breath from the harsh wind and she has to do an embarrassingly loud gasp to catch her breath.


Who is this distinguished older lady? I would seriously have no idea with all that hair covering her face if they hadn't put a caption underneath reading "Julie Christie."


Oh, excuse me, I didn't realize Seth Rogen had a small role in Rambo.


What a beautiful ensemble photo. Josh Brolin, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster are looking good, Tang Wei is to die for and the ever classy Julie Christie and Eva Marie Saint are as glamorous as always.


This is probably the best of the New York Times photos, but that's really not saying much. Look what they have to work with.


Wow, they somehow managed to make the 80-something year old Hal Holbrook look 20 years older with this photograph. How on earth do you do that?


Again, who the fuck is this? (Sienna Miller, apparently, but I probably wouldn't have been able to tell anyways).


Jodie Foster is one classy broad and I love this take on The Birds. Who knew behind that rough exterior she looked so damn hot (even while being terrorized by random birds).