Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Just because I wouldn't let him, you know, at Oxford"

Good God, I love Bright Young Things, actor Stephen Fry's directorial debut from 2003. I just watched it again last night and, although it's not a perfect film, I still marvel at its sprawling cast of film legends and (then) up-and-comers and the fact that they all work together so seemlessly. Just look at this cast list:
  • Peter O'Toole
  • Stockard Channing
  • Julia McKenzie
  • Imelda Staunton
  • Richard E. Grant (he played the Spice Girls' manager Clifford in Spice World)
  • Dan Aykroyd (not that exciting, I know, but he's actually not too shabby here)
  • Jim Broadbent
  • Michael Sheen (before his big breakthrough in The Queen, he played the super-effeminate Miles- talk about change of pace)
  • Emily Mortimer (before Dear Frankie and Match Point made her well-known in the States)
  • David Tennant (apparently he's the most recent Dr. Who, a cult sci-fi show that's been on in the UK for years)
  • James McAvoy (a couple of years before his breakthrough in The Last King of Scotland and Atonement made him an international sex symbol)
  • Stephen Campbell Moore (I love him so much; although he was in The History Boys (the stage version and the film)- which I haven't seen yet, for some odd reason- he hasn't had a big break yet à la Sheen and McAvoy...such a shame)
Ah, I love it so much. The film is so full of life I believe it's near impossible not to get caught up in its energy. Go out and rent Bright Young Things now because, believe me, if nothing else, you'll have a fun time.

How Do I Sleep? Very Well, Thank You

Just Jared Jr. has some pictures from the set of Jesse McCartney's latest music video and, of course, they are predictably hot. I was actually quite excited by this news because they decided to release the best song from the album as the third single: "How Do You Sleep." Then I heard that they were releasing this remixed version instead that features Ludacris and I was a little let down. The remix isn't bad (take a listen here) but I much prefer the original:

And Just When You Thought Robert Pattinson Couldn't Be Any Grosser

Read this article and tell me you don't want to barf. Some things, no matter how famous you are, you shouldn't share with the public. I think I'm going to take a shower now and actually wash my hair. What a novel idea!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Oprah (Oh and it's My Second Anniversary!)

Let's all stop whatever we are doing and take a moment to give thanks to Our Lord and Saviour, Oprah Winfrey on her birthday today. Just remember: without her, we're nothing. We owe all of our successes to her and her giving nature.

Oh, and by some random act of, Oprah, the second anniversary of Rants of a Diva is also today. Hooray! Thank you, my lovely readers, for your continuing support and enthusiasm in the comments. Without you, I probably would have given this up ages ago, but it's always a pleasure checking my email and seeing even just one or two comments. I'm also grateful that this excursion has connected me with fellow cinephiles from around the world that I never would spoken with otherwise. I love hearing about their opinions and lives outside of the blogosphere and I hope that I will get to talk with more of you in the coming year!

So, as tradition stipulates- although I'm not really sure it's technically a "tradition" after only one year- here are my 21 favorite and best posts from the past year. I hope you take the time to re-read some favorites, discover some hidden gems you may have missed or, if you're new to the site, figure out what exactly is going on in my head. Enjoy, and I hope to keep seeing you in the coming year!

1. Rants on Camp Rock
Apparently, this was quite popular with my readers. Who knew that the one thing everyone could agree on was their hatred of the Brothers Jonas and their incredibly awful made-for-Disney movie?

2. Top 10 Victoria Beckham Quotes from Spice World
The most underrated performance of the 90's, in my opinion, gets the star treatment here as I dissect Victoria Beckham (Adams at the time of this movie) and her delicious comedic timing on odd lines like "...and then there's the little ginger one, full of useless information...about manta rays."

3. Rants on Stolen Kisses
My love for both François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud grew into an unhealthy obsession after watching Stolen Kisses this past summer. On top of all that, the film also made me understand the public's obsession with sequels and why they can never seem to get enough; too bad very few sequels are even close to being this good.

4. Billy Shakespeare and Zac Efron
Who knew that a post in which I called Zeffirelli's 1968 version of Romeo & Juliet (even after I had seen Baz's version) the best ever made and said that Shakespeare was hella overrated would be my most controversial? Not me.

5. La Tisdale Oscar Campaign
Enjoy this series of posts devoted to getting my beloved La Tisdale an Oscar nomination for High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Even if it proved ultimately futile, I still had a ton of fun on the way.

6. Rug Rats Blog-a-thon: Phillip Alford in To Kill a Mockingbird
My analysis of what I consider one of the greatest child performances of all time- and I normally find child actors sickening- with an extra special surprise in the comments.

7. Rants on Twilight Based on the Overheard Comments of the Random Teenage Girl Sitting Next to Me
This review of Twilight definitely wouldn't have been possible without the offhand comments of the random Twilight fanatic who sat by me.

8. People Who Can Suck It: Katy Perry
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that Katy Perry is a homophobic piece of trash (even though I kinda like "Hot 'N Cold" now). "I Kissed a Girl" and "Ur So Gay" are abominations.

9. Blair Waldorf, Je T'aime
I loved Leighton Meester before, but this episode of Gossip Girl really sealed the deal for me. As I say to J.D. every week: "Where is this woman's Golden Globe/Emmy?"

10. Endings Blog-a-thon: Billy Elliot's Completely Sucky Ending
I absolutely LOVED hearing everyone's opinion about the slightly controversial ending to Billy Elliot- even if you completely disagreed with me. I hope we can get more of this type of discussion in the coming year.

11. 10 Things I Hate About Slumdog Millionaire
I realize it's only two weeks old, but I'm proud of it. If only this review could stop their impending Oscar win...

12. Rants on Mamma Mia!
A review so harsh and unrelentless that, when I showed it to my mother, she asked, sarcastically, "Wow, what did you really think about it?"

13. Great. Now Everyone Thinks I'm a Super-Stylized, Psycho Killing Machine
Over the summer, I bought two movies at the same time without even thinking about it, but, when I got home, I realized just how crazy I must have looked.

14. My (Vaguely Distracted) Thoughts on Never Back Down
I try to review Never Back Down but something else distracts me in the process.

15. I'm the Nicole Kidman
A random thought I had one day that I just had to share with you all. You're welcome?

16. Imaginary Boyfriends (and Girlfriends) of 2008
Wait a minute, you guys like seeing pictures of good looking men and women? Who knew?

17. New York Goes to Hollywood, You Skanky Ass Bitch
I realize that no one else cares about the lovely and talented Tiffany "Miss New York" Pollard, but I think I did a fine job of summing up the first episode of her latest reality show.

18. My Same Difference Obsession
Popjustice brought this brother and sister act to my attention and, after the release of Pop, it grew into an obsession. I'm actually grinning like a moron while I'm typing this sentence.

19. La Tisdale is Pissed (and Other Emmy News)
Oh shit! Take cover: La Tisdale isn't in contention for an Emmy nomination for High School Musical 2 while Vanessa Hudgens and Corbin Bleu are.

20. Movies About Movies Blog-a-thon: The Opening Scene of Day for Night
Just the tip of the iceberg of a movie so complex and intricate you would need to do a proper thesis to get everything out of it.

21. An Interrupted American Medley in My Heart
Forgotten stars of the 40's and 50's Eleanor Parker and Susan Hayward really deserve your attention. Even if the films I mention (Interrupted Melody and With a Song in My Heart) are two of their weakest, they are still absolutely fascinating to watch. Plus, Hayward's American medley is a real campy treat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If I Was Whitney Houston, This News Would Definitely Get a "Hell to the No!"

If I had been eating something when I read this news, I swear to God I would have choked on it. In case you don't feel like clicking on the link, let me brief you: someone has decided that the 1967 classic Bonnie and Clyde isn't the "definitive" look at the outlaw couple and wants to do an indie version based closer on their actual lives cleverly titled The Story of Bonnie and Clyde. First of all, Bonnie and Clyde is one film that never needs to be remade. I don't care if you're doing a more "realistic" approach on their lives; your film will ALWAYS pare in comparison to Arthur Penn's version. If you want to do a film about outlaw lovers, either make them up (like Oliver Stone did with Natural Born Killers) or focus on another pair. Bonnie and Clyde will forever be off limits.

Secondly, when you're casting said remake-but-not-really of Bonnie and Clyde, do not think, even for a second, that Hilary Duff will EVER be a good replacement for Faye Dunaway. I know I claimed that one day she would win an Oscar, but, honey, this is neither the time nor the place. Faye Dunaway is amazing in ways that Hilary Duff can never even dream of. Have you ever seen Hilary get slapped around by Jack Nicholson? Has she yelled at someone, "Don't fuck with me, fella!"? I don't think so. And guess who's been cast as Clyde? Kevin Zegers, that skanky, twinky hustler from Transamerica. Gross. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

So, in brief, Bonnie and Clyde will never be topped and Hilary Duff and Kevin Zegers will never equal Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Don't You Wish You Were as Amazing as Meryl Streep?

Everyone, take notes. This is how you give an acceptance speech.

I hope, in my lifetime, Meryl wins another Oscar so I can see her give a speech this delightfully bonkers. And shouldn't everyone be allowed to kiss Ralph Fiennes on the mouth after winning any award?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Meltdown Has Begun (So Why is No One Talking About it?)

Pull up your seats because it has finally begun. This picture on the left is of Shia LaBeouf wearing a bag on his head. Why, you ask? Beats the hell out of me. Some people have hypothesized that he was trying to hide from the paparazzi, but I'm really don't think that that's the case. I think Shia is starting to pull a Lindsay (Lohan, of course). Just think: this picture came out just a couple of days after it was announced that Shia had lost his driver's license due to his DUI last summer. At this point, he's only a year or two from entering rehab, playing a stripper who gets mutilated by a psychopath and dating Clay Aiken while claiming not to be gay. I smell a trainwreck about to happen...I can't wait!

One thing puzzles me/makes me angry, though. Why aren't the tabloids and gossip blogs having a total field day with this? You know that if this was Lindsay or, heaven forbid, Britney, everyone would be crying out about an(other) impending meltdown. When Shia does it, everyone shuts the hell up. Oh, right, he has "talent" and "hates" this whole "celebrity" thing. Whatever. See you at Promises.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Completely Unnecessary Predictions on the Eve of the Oscar Nominations

I was asked earlier today if I was bored with this year's Oscar race and, for the first time since I started following it back in 2003, I had to admit that this year was boring the crap out of me. Most of the films and performances that I've seen that are the major contenders just haven't done anything for me. That's why I haven't talked about any race at all, offered my dumb two-cents about certain actor's chances, or updated my predictions since October. Now that the nominations are being read off tomorrow, I decided that I'll just suck it up and offer these half-assed opinions. Here we ago....

My ratings in bold (Films receive letter grades while performances are out of five stars)

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button C+
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon D+
Milk B+
Slumdog Millionaire D+

Alternate: WALL-E
Oprah is Good to Me if They Go With: The Wrestler
No Chance in Hell:
In Bruges

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler A-
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant, Milk

Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Oprah is Good to Me if They Go With:
Andrew Stanton, WALL-E
No Chance in Hell:
Joachim Trier, Reprise (Martin McDonagh, In Bruges if you go by eligibility standards)

Best Actor
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon **
Sean Penn, Milk ****
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button *
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler *****

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Oprah is Good to Me if They Go With:
Colin Farrell, In Bruges
No Chance in Hell:
Josh Brolin, W.

Best Actress

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky ****
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Meryl Streep, Doubt ****
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road ***

Alternate: Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Oprah is Good to Me if They Go With:
Nicole Kidman, Australia
No Chance in Hell:
Brittany Snow, Finding Amanda

Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin, Milk ****
Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder *****
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt ***
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight *****
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire **

Alternate: James Franco, Milk
Oprah is Good to Me if They Go With:
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
No Chance in Hell:
Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona *****
Viola Davis, Doubt ***
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button **
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler *****
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Alternate: Amy Adams, Doubt
Oprah is Good to Me if They Go With: Ashley Tisdale, High School Musical 3: Senior Year
No Chance in Hell: Hiam Abbass, The Visitor

Sunday, January 18, 2009

François Truffaut (en Français!)

François Truffaut est né en le six fèvrier 1932. Il avait une jeunesse mal. François habitait avec sa grand-mère elle est morte quand il avait 10 ans. Il habitait avec sa mère et beau-père mais ils s'entendaient mal. François a vu son premier film à 8 ans et c'était le coup de foudre. Il a quitté l'école à 14 ans et a commencé à voir 3 films par jour et lisait 3 livres par semaine. Il a recontré le critique du cinéma André Bazin et ils s'entendaient bien. François travaillait au magazine de Bazin Cahiers du Cinéma et devenait un critique du cinéma méchant. Eventuellement, il est devenu réalisateur. Le premier film de François était Les Quatre Cent Coups en 1959 et il a gagné le meilleur réalisateur au festival de Cannes. L'acteur Jean-Pierre Léaud a fait son début dans le film comme Antoine Doinel. Avec Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Éric Rohmer et Jacques Rivette, François a commencé la Nouvelle Vague. La Nouvelle Vague cassait la règle de cinéma. Beaucoup de gens pensent Jules et Jim est son meilleur film. Il l'a fait en 1961. Les autres films on été importante Tirez sure le Pianiste, Fahrenheit 451 (son film uniquement en anglais), La Nuit américaine et Le dernier metro. François a fait plus les films d'Antoine Doinel avec Jean-Pierre Léaud: Antoine et Collette, Baisers volés, Domicile conjugal et L'amour en fuite. François continuait à faire les films jusqu'à sa mort en 1983.

I wrote this biography of François Truffaut in my French class a couple of semesters ago and after I found it again a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be something totally random to post about. Not bad for two semesters of French, huh?

A Pictoral Summary of A Man and a Woman

If you're ever curious about what exactly Claude Lelouch's vaguely titled hit from 1966 A Man and a Woman is about, these pictures will give you a good idea. In fact, they are probably a good substitute for the film.

Quite obviously, we have a man...

...and a woman.

There's some race car driving.

And, since this is a French film, a little lovemaking.

Seriously, this compromises a majority of A Man and a Woman's 100 minute runtime. I just do not understand the appeal of this movie and why it is still so legendary 40 years later. NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS MOVIE! Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant are beautiful to look at and are great in other roles but, my God, anyone could have been put in front of the camera and done as good of a job as them. These "characters" that they are playing aren't human beings with human emotions; they're just random plot devices used to advance what little plot there actually is. C-

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An Equation of Sorts on This Saturday Afternoon


Seriously. In my seven or so years of insane movie watching, no comedic performance has ever come close to matching Groucho Marx's non-stop, laugh-on-every-line delivery in Duck Soup. It's so rapid fire and intelligent, yet done without so much as breaking a sweat, I never thought I'd see the day when someone could match it. Well, that day has come upon us. Anna Faris, as an ex-Playboy Bunny who decides to become a house mother for a sorority, delivers a comedic performance that rivals the Great Groucho in The House Bunny. Every line that came out of her mouth had me curled up in laughter. I don't know how she did it in a movie that would probably be absolutely dire without her and her skills, but she does and I was hella impressed. It's seriously in the running for my Best Actress prize at this year's Diva Cup Awards.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless 2004 (As If Any Other Film Matters)

My Film Log for 2004 is up and ready for discussion. It should come as no surprise that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is my favorite film of the year because, honestly, who doesn't have Eternal Sunshine at their number one spot? It's with the rest of the Top 10 list where things get a bit nutty. Mean Girls at number 2? Yes, I honestly believe that Mean Girls will be one of the films from 2004 that people will remember 15-20 years in the future. Tina Fey's screenplay, in my mind, forms a Holy Trifecta with All About Eve and Network as the most perfect screenplays ever written. As for Dodgeball, no, I'm not under the influence of drugs or anything; I honestly think it's a great comedy. I'll admit that when I first heard the premise, I scoffed at how idiotic it sounded, but then I saw it and I was in stitches from the beginning to the end. Call me crazy, but I loved it.

Let's move on to my Diva Cup Award acting nominees: has my love for Steve Sandvoss totally blinded me or is his performance in Latter Days actually better than Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland? I'm going to have to say yes. And I know that nominating Minnie Driver for The Phantom of the Opera is totally random, but I have a story that will totally clear up any confusion. Soon after I got my driver's license, my friends and I drove to the nearest movie theater to see The Phantom of the Opera. We all pretty much liked it at the time (it's quality has gone down in my estimation since then) but the one part my friend Jill and I loved the best was La Carlotta's big scene in which threatens to leave the show roughly 20 times, always with the exclamation "Where's my doggy?" It was at this point that we decided we wanted to be like her and devote the rest of our lives to being as big of divas as she was. So, in my worldview, the performance was a major success. How about you? What did you think about Minnie Driver? Or is the performance completely forgotten four years later?

Let me hear your opinions about anything 2004 related in the comments and, while you're at it, vote in this poll:

Oh Jesus

The movie looks like shit (obviously) with it's down-home messages about "being yourself" and "not forgetting your family" blah blah blah. But, the one thing I am excited about is seeing Tyra Banks hurl Miley Cyrus like a lawn dart in that shoe store. Genius!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

10 Things I Hate About Slumdog Millionaire

There's a scene towards the beginning of Slumdog Millionaire that, if you think about it, is really quite an apt metaphor for the film as a whole and my reaction to it. A young Indian boy named Jamal (played at this point by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) is locked in an outdoor bathroom- which, in reality, is nothing more than a hole in the ground- by his angry brother because he drove away a paying customer. When a famous and beloved Bollywood star lands in a helicopter near the area, his brother leaves Jamal locked in the toilet and goes running towards the commotion that has arisen. Jamal beats on the door but no one can hear him. He then looks down at the hole in the ground and is forced to make a decision: miss the chance to meet his idol and stay clean or jump in the pile of shit and get his coveted autograph. Needless to say, Jamal decides on the latter and, drenched in feces and piss, runs up to the star and asks for the autograph.

Confused? Let me break it down: Slumdog Millionaire is Jamal at this moment, a film so eager to accomplish something so insignificant that it isn't aware that the journey it took to reach its destination was nothing more than a trek through a pile of shit.

Yeah, so I'm afraid I have to dissent from the Golden Globes, nearly every critic's organization in the country and a good majority of the nation's film critics/bloggers- Slumdog is one of the worst movies of the year and here are the ten main reasons why I hated it so much.

1. White Liberal Guilt
The first half in particular, in which the three young children are forced to survive on the mean streets of the slums of India, hinges on the hope that white Westerners will get choked up at the ordeals these kids are not only put through, but survive. You can almost hear Our Lord and Saviour, Oprah telling her audience full of white, middle-class housewives, "I've seen it peopleeeeeeee! This movie will change your life and give you hope!" You can imagine Brangelina at a private screening whispering to each other about how they need to adopt a little Indian baby next.

2. Structure

I'm not sure if the structure of the screenplay is based on the book the film is adapted from (I've never read it or ever intend to), but Simon Beaufoy's treatment is the laziest, most repetitive script of this Oscar season. There is nothing surprising about anything concerning the structure of the film: you know that with every question that is asked, we are going to get some long, turgid flashback that will "cleverly" show us the random, inexplicable moments in his life when the question was brought up. I can't believe this script is getting attention when there are so many other screenplays that also took chances with ordinary themes and subjects and took them in unparalleled- and unpredictable- places (Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, The Visitor).

3. "Oh look, they're running again."

Was it just me or did the first two or three flashbacks consist of nothing but people running away for whatever reason? And considering that these flashbacks cover a good 10 to 15 minutes of the first 20 minutes, this could be a problem.

4. Obviousness

Okay, you would seriously need to be the densest person on the planet if you can't guess what the final question (or, at least, the subject of the final quesion) will be as soon as it was brought to our attention. The whole film seems to suffer from this- every theme and new idea is pounded into our heads with the subtletly of a jackhammer.

5. "When did they learn English?"

I'm sorry, but how in the hell did Jamal and his brother learn to speak English? Did I miss the scene where they stopped fending for their lives on the streets to go to school to get a proper education?

6. Dev Patel

I'm not saying he's a bad actor by any means and he was actually quite adorable at the Golden Globes, but isn't this the most overrated performance of the year? The role requires nothing more of Patel than to sit there, stare and act uncomfortable around everyone. It's an incredibly one-note role than no one could have done much with and yet a multitude of critics' organizations are citing him for Breakthrough Performance of the year? Say what?

7. Feelgood Film...?

...Maybe if you're a sadist and get turned on by electrocution, mass murder (in the name of God, at that!) and children being blinded.

8. I liked this movie better five years ago when it was called City of God

Glenn subtly mentioned this when he saw the film a couple of weeks ago and I just couldn't shake the comparisons. Fernando Meirelles' breakthrough was also about a Brazilian child of the slums who survives some pretty gruesome shit and, incredibly, escapes the dire poverty of his upbringing. The only major difference I can see is that, you know, City of God is actually a good movie and doesn't rely on mucky, inspirational fluff to get its message across.

9. Foreign Arthouse Film- Hollywood Style

Director Danny Boyle tries to give Slumdog some grit and arthouse credibility with his offbeat cinematography (check out those crazy colors, man!) and editing, but for all of it's attempts to be un-Hollywood, Slumdog is really a typical Oscar bait film. Instead of saying something new or daring about the lives of these children of the slums, the film tries to sucker you through "heart," "emotion" and "tears." I'm sure I'll hear in response to this post, "Oh, don't you feel bad for those poor children? You must have no soul if you weren't moved by Slumdog." Well, yes, I did feel bad for the children- no one should be forced to live like that- but I can name five more interesting films that say the same things about that topic as this film. What makes this one any better?

10. Critic Attention

This past Sunday at the Golden Globes, as I'm sure you're all well aware, Slumdog went 4/4, picking up Best Picture (Drama), Director, Screenplay (?!) and Original Score (the only aspect of the movie I liked). This was the precise moment when I realized I needed to say something. Have people lost their fucking minds? I'm sorry to be so blunt, but, Jesus Christ, all the critics are acting like they've never seen a film before this one. Danny Boyle did not invent India, Bollywood, slum children or feel good-iness. It almost makes me sick that this film will probably win the Best Picture Oscar in a couple of months; not only would it be the worst winner since Shakespeare in Love (sorry, I can't stand that movie) but it's also fairly reminiscent of a much maligned (and for good reason) Best Picture winner from the 70's: Rocky. Imagine how embarrassing it will be in 20 years when we have to admit to our children/grandchildren a mistake as silly and avoidable as picking Slumdog for Best Picture; I'm sure it will look just as foolish as Rocky does now. D+

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Anniversary is Approaching

In just two weeks and a couple of days, Rants of a Diva will be turning two years old (I know, I can't believe it either!). There will be more celebrating and such on January 29th (which is, coincidentally, Our Lord and Saviour, Oprah's birthday), but, before then, I need your help on a couple of things:

  • First of all, I would like to know which of my posts were your favorite during the past year. I'm trying to come up with a retrospective of my best work and I'm very interested in your opinions.
  • Secondly, I've finally found the right time to try something I've always wanted to do. I think it would be fun if there was a reader question and answer session. Got something you've always wanted to know about me but never had the opportunity to ask? Send in your questions to me- they can be about anything (movies, music, my life away from the blog, etc)- and I'll answer them on January 29th. I'd rather you email them to me at (and, if you do choose this method, please put something along the lines of "Reader Q&A" or "Anniversary Questions" in the subject) but if you'd rather leave your question(s) in a comment here, go right ahead. I really hope you take the time to participate in this because I'm super excited for this opportunity.
Thanks everyone and I hope to see your questions in my mailbox!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm Going to Marry NPH

It's official.

"I remember his second sketch ran 5 minutes and 35 seconds and he took a third beat and an extra pause and I turned to my girlfriend back then and I was like, 'What, is he allergic to timing?' and she was like, 'Why won't you kiss me?' and I was like, 'Later! Look at this guy!'"

"And thrust...and thrust..."

"Some people are even having a hard time paying rent."

Friday, January 9, 2009

20 Actors

About a month ago, I shared my 20 favorite actresses thanks to the wonderful meme that was making the rounds at that time. Well, during the past couple of days, I decided that it was time to give the men some love. The love may not be the same as for the women, but I'm still quite fond of all of these people. Here are my 20 favorite actors of all time:

Groucho, Paul, Jean-Pierre, Claude, Cary
Spencer, Buster, John, Charlie, Jack
Gene, Jean-Paul, Robert, James Cagney, Humphrey
James Dean, Montgomery, Henry, Gary, Marcello

The Top 10 Albums of 2008

10. The Saturdays Chasing Lights
I was actually quite surprised by this debut album from British girl group The Saturdays. Most acts would have a tough time recording an album that were even in the ballpark of their epic first single "Up"; for The Saturdays, this was a walk in the park. Chasing Lights is simple, clean and gets right to the point, delivering an album that didn't even need to be half this good.

Key Tracks:
"If This Is Love", "Up", "Chasing Lights", "Issues"

9. Same Difference Pop
Was anything on The X-Factor finalist Same Difference's debut album anything as groundbreaking and original as some of the other stuff on this countdown? Not a chance. Did most of the songs sound vaguely similar? Sure. Does any of that matter? Hell to the no! Pop is silly, squeaky clean, honest to goodness fun and, the best part is, it doesn't apologize for it. It's only superficial, ridiculous pop, but we like it. A lot.
Key Tracks:
"Better Love Me", "We R One", "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", "I Need a House"

8. Santogold Santogold
Anyone that knows me knows I usually don't like to take a chance on music that's outside my normal "Top 40" zone. I would rather listen to Fergie than Bob Dylan or listen to that new indie rock band everyone's talking about- and I'm completely fine with that. So when Glenn heartily recommended Santogold's debut album, I took a shot on it and, needless to say, I was very impressed. The songs are so unique, combining insturments in ways I don't think I've ever heard before, and Santogold's voice is so alien, so unique that it's always a treat hearing her explore her range on tracks as completely different as "Lights Out" and "Say Aha."

Key Tracks:
"Lights Out", "L.E.S. Artistes", "Creator", "Say Aha"

7. Madonna Hard Candy
A lot of people hate it, but I love the new direction Madonna took for her latest CD, Hard Candy. Here she proves that she can hang with the pop tarts of this generation and she can do it better than anyone 30 years her senior. On first listen, the album doesn't seem like much of anything. But after hearing it a few times, the things becomes damn near impossible to put down. With this impressive album out of the way, the only question is now that she's divorced from Guy Ritchie and her British phase is pretty much over, what "new" Madonna are we going to get next.

Key Tracks:
"Miles Away", "4 Minutes", "Heartbeat", "Voices"

6. Sugababes Catfights and Spotlights
Catfights and Spotlights (great title, by the way) may not be a departure from the usual Sugababes formula, but when you have a formula as proven and immaculate as theirs, sometimes you don't need to tinker with it. Their usually powerful writing is especially so on this go-around (you won't find a track as cleverily written as "Murder One [Every Heart Broken]" anywhere else) and their production sounds more American than ever before- which is more proof that foreigners are doing better American music than we are.

Key Tracks:
"Murder One [Every Heart Broken]", "Side Chick", "You On a Good Day", "About You Now (Acoustic)"

5. Jesse McCartney Departure
If you had told me last January that Jesse McCartney would have not only one of the 10 best albums of 2008, but also the best album by an American, I would have had you committed right on the spot. Overnight, this bland, boy band-ish young fellow grew up and matured into a hip-pop dance king. He may be trying a bit too hard to imitate Justin Timberlake in all of his "Sexyback" glory, but, honestly, if you're going to imitate someone, you can't do much better than JT.

Key Tracks:
"How Do You Sleep", "It's Over", "My Baby", "Leavin'"

4. Kylie Minogue X
I feel like I've been talking about this album for years now, but since the album was finally released in America early last year, I figured I had an acceptable excuse to include it in this year (does anyone else really put this much thought into their lists?). With a career as illustrious as Kylie's, with as many great songs as she's put out, many from this 16 track collection deserve to stand head to head with some of her best. X is dance-pop perfection and deserves more respect than it received stateside.
Key Tracks: "In My Arms", "The One", "Wow", "Speakerphone"

3. Duffy Rockferry
A lot of critics attacked Duffy because she doesn't sound like another certain 60's soul-inspired chanteuse from the UK and even, God know's how, ended up on Entertainment Weekly's Worst of 2008 list. Well, to all those critics, I have but one thing to say to you: "poo poo." In my opinion, Rockferry was one of the most deeply felt and emotionally resonant albums of the year. I'm guessing people were turned off by the quietness and introspection of the music and lyrics, especially towards the middle, but I found Rockferry to be totally soothing and relaxing.

Key Tracks:
"Warwick Avenue", "Delayed Devotion", "Serious", "Rockferry"

2. Sam Sparro Sam Sparro
This is the album Blake Lewis' Audio Day Dream tried to be and only half-succeeded. Sam Sparro's out-of-this-world dance hall fantasia was one of the most exciting albums I heard all year. Every song offered either something very interesting (the fascinating look on modern day inconveniences in "21st Century Life") or totally brand spankin' new (the solemness of "Black and Gold" and the entirety of "Clingwrap") to my ears. I will definitely be interested to hear what comes out of his mouth next.

Key Tracks:
"Black and Gold", "21st Century Life", "Clingwrap", "Pocket"

1. Girls Aloud Out of Control
Say you're a pop group and you've just released a masterpiece of an album- wouldn't it be the safest to make an album vaguely similar to said masterpiece and reap more acclaim. Most groups would milk this cash cow for all it's worth; thankfully, Girls Aloud aren't all pop groups. Out of Control is a completely bewitiching, absolute stunner of an album. This album takes a complete left turn from their last album, switching from
the hardcore electronic, dance floor ready Tangled Up to a quieter, dreamily surreal electric pop that's so hard to describe you really need to listen to it yourself to get the full scope of it. Out of Control is an epic masterwork for a group often dismissed as nothing more than a "pop"group; kudos to the Girls for realizing that "pop" doesn't neccessarily have to be a derogatory label.
Key Tracks: "Rolling Back the Rivers in Time", "Live in the Country", "The Loving Kind", "We Wanna Party"

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Short Rants on Revolutionary Road

"Jesus Christ, you really are being melodramatic about this WHOLE thing," April Wheeler (Kate Winslet) cries emphatically during one of the many verbal assaults with her husband Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008). The same line, unfortunately, can be applied to this film, a messy, cliché ridden tale of love gone wrong in the suburbs that tries to be both a Sirkian critique on the social mores of the 1950's and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but ends up closer to a lesser episode of Desperate Housewives than anything else.

The tone of the film varies widely, often in the same scene, and Mendes and company have a hard time deciding what this film is actually about. Is it an attack on suburban ideals? Or is it a quiet and studious chronicle of a marriage dissolving into something totally unrecognizable? Or is it simply just a flimsy film designed around a mammoth two-piece acting challenge? The film is pretty meh on the first two counts but, on the last one, it's an epic fail. Normally, I love Kate Winslet and I've grown to love Leonardo DiCaprio after
The Aviator and The Departed, but their acting just wasn't up to snuff this go-around. DiCaprio has reverted back to his whiny, adolescent, "look at me, ma!" style of acting that I thought had been eliminated in the past four years. And poor Kate Winslet. She's trying so hard to get that elusive Oscar and you can start to see the desperation in her performance. Everything she (and DiCaprio, too, frankly) does in Revolutionary Road is basically screaming for the Academy to notice what a great actress she is. They are both much better actors than this and honestly don't need to resort to such cheap theatrics and shameless Oscar baiting techniques to convince us of their talent. Among the supporting cast, Kathy Bates does well with her few scenes, effectively diffusing the desperation of her character through wide, empty and hilarious gestures and line readings, but it's Michael Shannon, as her mentally unstable son, who really steals the film. The character is nothing more than a hopelessly transparent plot device to highlight the insanity of the ideals of the 50's and how only the Wheelers and this "crazy" fellow can see that their plan to abandon their comfortable life for one of adventure in Paris is not as insane or horrible as everyone else seems to think, but Shannon completely sells this characature as a real person in his three scenes. He's electric and provides quite a jolt to the proceedings (yes, even more than the vicious Leo and Kate fights)- his final scene especially, in which he denounces the Wheeler's entire life and existence in a roaring monologue over dinner- but he also knows when to pull back and not go completely over-the-top with his insanity. If only the rest of the film had shown the same restraint. C+

Monday, January 5, 2009

Imaginary Boyfriends (and Girlfriends) of 2008

Last year, I listed 10 or so people I fell in love with throughout 2007 and instead of doing the same thing again, I decided to change it up a bit for 2008. For this year's list, I choose a number of people whom I like to think of as my imaginary boyfriends (and even some girlfriends)- in other words, the hottest and most beautiful men and women of 2008. And, in case you're particularly attentive, the men from this list are ineligible since I've already proclaimed my love for them (repeatedly, in many instances) and I wanted to show off some new blood.

Sam Sparro
No one looked quite as dapper as Sam Sparro did in his top hat and tails in his "Black & Gold" music video. Even when he dresses up in something as outrageous as this, he's still a hottie in my books. Oh, how I wish he could find success in America so everyone could love him as much as I do.

Gaspard Ulliel, Louis Garrel & Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
The French trio of Gaspard, Louis and Grégoire made quite the impression on me in 2008. This photoshoot made my jaw drop and I've been a Gaspard fan ever since. I saw Louis in The Dreamers a couple of years ago, but it wasn't until the one-two punch of
Ma Mère and Les Chansons d'Amour that I realized just how sexy he was. People kept talking about Robert Pattinson's hair all throughout 2008, but he has nothing on Louis and his locks which practically has me screaming, "Dirty Frenchboy, come have sex with me." And what can I say about cute, little Grégoire? He was so adorable as Garrel's charming, albeit a little stalkerish, boyfriend/rebound guy/whatever in Les Chansons d'Amour.

Jamie Bell
I know, what took me so long? I'm still going through his filmography, but I finally saw Billy Elliot and his performance completely floored me. Besides, just look at what that cute preteen grew up to become.

Jesse McCartney
I'm not sure when it happened, but sometime over 2008 Jesse McCartney went from a blonde, mop-topped, girl-ish looking, 14 year old to a Justin Timberlake-wannabe, sex machine. All I can say is that I'm grateful it happened.

Nick Jonas
It may be a felony, but I'm not ashamed...Nick is a total hottie.

Cam Gigandet
One viewing of the mediocre Never Back Down was all it took and now I'm obsessed. I remember him as Volchock on The O.C. but, for some odd reason, he's so much hotter now.

Steve Sandvoss
Latter Days was no masterpiece, but Sandvoss' performance in it was one for the ages. It would have been easy for him to have simply shrugged off the whole Mormon aspect of the role and instead focused on being a hot boy who happens to be a Mormon. Luckily, Sandvoss is smarter than that and crafted a character that, no matter your religious preference, you can totally sympathize with.

Mitch Reinholt
As the perfectly adorable jock who expands his horizons by dating the quirky and artistic Hannah in the documentary American Teen, Mitch Reinholt quickly stole my heart. I didn't even care that he ended their relationship in the douchiest way possible, he still seems like a good guy

Nicholas Hoult
This one came out of nowhere, considering I had never seen an episode of Skins or his performance in About a Boy, but after looking around photographer Kai Z. Feng's website (more on that here) it was an instant attraction. Now that I've seen the first episode of Skins, I feel confident that this attraction will blossom into something more once I see season 1.

Penn Badgley
I've been in love with Penn ever since the first episode of Gossip Girl. True fact. He only gets hotter in my eyes as time goes on. Now, all we need is for the Gossip Girl writers to give him something interesting to do this season and we'll be all set.

Christina Hendricks
That ass! Those curves! Goddamn, this is a REAL woman!

Penélope Cruz
Whenever I was at work and straightening up the makeup aisle, I always had to stop for a second and admire the lovely Penélope Cruz ad for L'Oreal. She is a breathtaking beauty; whatever she does, she always looks flawless. It's totally not fair. Add to that the fact that she has a gorgeous boyfriend and she gets more interesting as an actress with every performance and she becomes even more enviable.