Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gaga or Warrior #1

Everyone's favorite new game! I give you two quotes and you must decide which was by mega popstar Lady Gaga and which was said by former WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior.
1. "Look at the walls of Joe Louis Arena. The [Warriors/Monsters] who could not come have attached themselves to the outer structure. They're seeping through, feeling me, feeding me, with the power to survive. They ride on my back for my protection."

2. "I am a show with no intermission. It is this thing that summons me from the depths of reality and reminds me that the power of transformation is endless. That I possess something magical and transformative inside."

So, whose fans have attached themselves to Joe Louis Arena? And who is a show that keeps on going and going and going?

Friday, July 29, 2011


I've been trying to come up with the perfect cast for an imagined adaptation of my favorite book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for a couple of years now. I've got four of the five main roles locked in my mind. The one character I keep revising, however, is that of Tracy Bacon, the hunky, hulking paramour of one of the main protagonists, Sam Clay. The character is hard to cast simply because it requires an actor who is both an impressive physical specimen and a completely charming, softy romantic. You try thinking of an actor who fits both descriptions. It's a lot harder than you'd think! As you will see in that post I linked to earlier I originally came up with Kellan Lutz, who fit the role physically. But this was before I realize the dude can't act for shit. Shameless manwhore, yes. Thespian, not so much. Someone else recommended Chris Pine and I immediately fell in love with that suggestion. Okay, so Chris doesn't exactly have a towering presence, but he's built enough and this was summer of 2009 so I was riding on a wave of Star Trek love.

Pine has been my Tracy Bacon for two years now, but it was while flipping through Kavalier and Clay again awhile ago when I realized that after last year, we now have the perfect actor to play Tracy Bacon: Armie Hammer. I mean, think about it. He's got the tall and hulking part down (there's a reason JA at My New Plaid Pants refers to him as Six Foot Five Aryan God Armie Hammer), he is perfectly charming and adorable and, most importantly, he can act. Plus, we all know how much he loves mackin' on dudes after being cast in the new J. Edgar Hoover movie, and the Tracy Bacon role requires a bit of that. So, to sum everything up, Armie Hammer is perfect for this role and someone needs to write a miniseries treatment of this book. I will not stand for 600 pages of beautiful prose being condensed down into 120 minutes. Will not! Just think of all the Emmy's this shit would win just by default. Come on, HBO, get the ball rolling on this one. And while you're at it, make sure you cast Armie Hammer in a role he was born to play.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Aliens

I'm surprised that more people haven't drawn parallels between Aliens and director James Cameron's most recent blockbuster Avatar. Besides obvious borrowed set pieces (the robotic machine both Ripley and the mad general in Avatar use for very different reasons), the two films share a common theme, albeit one that is filtered through different eras and ideologies. Avatar is a product of the Obama Era. Worthington and Weaver encounter aliens and learn to get along with them so they can co-exist as one while corporate blowhards are trying to exploit the aliens and their environment's resources for profit. Aliens, on the other hand, is a byproduct of the Reagan/Bush Sr. Era. Find yourself encountered by a strange race? Obliterate them. But, oh, don't forget to try to exploit the aliens for profit (I guess some things never change). Whatever you think of those ideologies, Aliens is still a kick-ass film. It's one of the few action films I can think of that has the ability to scare you shitless without becoming a full-blown horror film. Aliens also has a great sense of environment, namely the ability to draw you into its abandoned space station so that you feel like you're with Ripley and the gang every (terrifying) step of the way. Michael Biehn is surprisingly sexy, while Glamazon Sigourney Weaver steals the whole damn movie as Lt. Badass Ripley. She's quite possibly the smartest and ballsiest female action hero the genre has ever seen and puts many of our lame "action" heroes today to shame. If only Ryan Reynolds was half the man Signourey Weaver is in Aliens. A-

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Short Rants on Last Year at Marienbad

Last Year at Marienbad was exactly the sort of pretentious, "high intellect" art film I expected Alain Resnais' earlier Hiroshima, Mon Amour to be but was not. The film has some gorgeous photography, a bombastic organ score that almost makes Inception's look puny in comparison and at least one thrilling sequence that makes its 90 minute runtime much easier to sit through. All that aside, Marienbad is basically a film about nothing, even moreso than Seinfeld was a show about nothing: a man meets a woman at a hotel, tells her they met last year in Marienbad (or Frederiksbad, although it doesn't really matter) and that they had made plans to run off together a year later. The woman spends the next 90 minutes deciding whether or not she had, in fact, met this man, as he tells her about scattered memories of the two of them from their time together. By the end of the film, it doesn't even matter whether or not they had met as the woman must now decide whether or not she will leave her husband and run off with this man. This renders the entire film before it pointless, although many high-and-mighty critics may argue that it was never really the point of the film. A good point, as there are a high number of excellent films that reveal much more than a threadbare plot suggests. But, as critic Pauline Kael suggests in her amazing essay "The Come-Dressed-As-The-Sick-Soul-of-Europe Parties," "It is one thing to cut out the unnecessary mechanical transitions of film (as Godard did in Breathless), but Resnais cuts away something that is basic to drama--our caring about the characters and what they do." Who ultimately cares if these people had met in Marienbad or Frederiksbad or wherever else? And who ultimately cares if they do run off together? The man and the woman are meant to be universal characters, but that doesn't mean they have to be so universally one-note and dull. This is the fate Resnais worked so diligently to escape with Hiroshima simply because you cared what happened to Emmanuelle Riva's character over the course of the film. In the end, Marienbad, with its haunting score and searing camera movements, ultimately becomes an experiment in film technique. Or a failed attempt at representing free-flowing memories in film form. Perhaps. Either way, it doesn't really matter. C

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cappy's Sidekick

We here at Rants of a Diva (and by we, I do mean me and only me) love Sebastian Stan. We loved him when he was on Gossip Girl. We loved him in his bit part at the beginning of Rachel Getting Married. We loved him on Kings. Most of all, we loved him when he was dating Leighton Meester, forming the world's most perfect celebrity couple, Meestan. He's been on the verge of becoming a big star for a few years now, but with his gig as Chris Evans' sidekick in Captain America: The First Aveneger this weekend, it may be closer to happening than ever before. Which is a relief because if anyone deserves to be more famous, it's Sebastian. He's the deadly combination of talented and sexy in a non-pretty-boyish way. Let's show off that sexiness by posting some pictures of him, shall we?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Steven Spielberg's filmography can more or less be siphoned off into one of three types of films: intense, emotional historical drama, sugary-sweet schmaltz and eager-to-please blockbuster. The first type gave us Schindler's List and The Color Purple, so I can't complain too much. The second gave us E.T. and...yeah, enough said about that shitty film. The third has the most variance as Jaws and Jurassic Park are lumped in with War of the Worlds and Minority Report. Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first entry in his Indiana Jones series, thankfully avoids landing in the schmaltz category. Unfortunately, it's neither as thrilling or jubilant as the best of Spielberg's blockbusters. For the most part, Raiders of the Lost Ark just kinda sits there like a dried-out lump of clay, moving from Point A to Point B with great efficiency but little passion. There's nothing outlandishly bad about the film; I just can't find anything to get excited about in the exotic locals, nice, if a bit too on-the-nose action sequences, cartoonish bad guys and hilariously awkward attempts at making Karen Allen's character a woman who can defend herself. Raiders may be supreme popcorn entertainment for some, but I'll stick with Jaws, thank you very much. C+

Monday, July 18, 2011

Like Father, Like (Smokin' Hot) Son

Everyone loves a good Hollywood dynasty. From the Fondas to the Barrymores to the Hustons, talent has been passed down in these families for multiple generations in some cases (And, yes, I refuse to call the Roberts an acting dynasty because Emma Roberts is a grotty little harpy, desperately clinging to her aunt's fame to land roles in films that should go to young actresses with actual talent). The tradition continues to this day, Emma Roberts excluded, with a special little niche emerging: the hot son of a male acting legend. Let's investigate this further with some examples.

Ethan Peck
Grandson of Gregory Peck
 I discovered Ethan Peck a couple of summers ago while he was on the ABC Family show 10 Things I Hate About You. To this day I've never seen an episode, but I still find Ethan to be hella attractive, just like his grandfather back in the day.

Henry Hopper
Son of Dennis Hopper
I never thought Dennis Hopper was attractive until I saw Giant a couple years ago and discovered that the shaggy-haired guy from Easy Rider was once a very good looking fellow. His son Henry, soon to be seen in Gus Van Sant's answer to the quirky indie comedy, Restless, certainly cleans up nicely. Bonus points: he plays an Emotionally Damaged Boy in Restless! We all know how I love those.

Max Irons
Son of Jeremy Irons
While I was obsessing about Brideshead Revisited and, vis á vis, Jeremy Irons, I discovered that he had a son who was smoking hot. Max doesn't quite have the infamous Jeremy Irons voice, but it's more than pleasant in it's own right and I would certainly go weak in the knees if he talked to me. He was recently in that Red Riding Hood movie that looked exactly Twilight but not. I'll certainly be checking it out sometime soon because I'm superficial like that.

Scott Eastwood
Son of Clint Eastwood
I wasn't even aware Clint Eastwood had a song until Glenn pointed him out the other night, immediately alerting me to his hotness (that's what friends are for, people). Scott looks exactly like his father back in the early part of his career, if a tad bit stockier. Does this mean he'll become a director soon and we'll be getting a strange mixture of Westerns and Oscar prestige pictures from him for the next fifty years?

Patrick Schwarzenegger
Son of Arnold Schwarzenegger
Okay, so he's not technically an actor (i.e. at all), but he's hot so I had to include him. The best thing about the Schwarzenegger divorce is the fact that we get to see so many pics of Patrick. Never a bad thing when he looks like this.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Am Liz Lemon #5

A new semi-regular series in which I point out moments from Liz Lemon's life that have either happened to me in the past or are currently happening to me in my own life. This will be the ultimate proof that, once and for all, I am Liz Lemon.

"So when did this happen? [getting back with Dennis]"
"Well, last week was my birthday and everyone forgot except Dennis. He called, we went out and it wasn't too weird."

Thanks to JD, who recently pointed this moment out to me. Have I become Liz Lemon so much that I can't even recognize the similarities anymore?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dorothy's New Dress

Dorothy: Ma, if you didn't like the dress, you should have just told me.

Sophia: Hey, I was trying to be helpful!

Dorothy: Asking if it came with a sign that said "Wide Load" is not being helpful.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Hollywood Shuffle

My Crazy 80's Project (click the link for more details) gets started with a film that wasn't on my original list. It wasn't until StinkyLulu mentioned Hollywood Shuffle, a film I had seen clips from years ago on some "race in film" documentary but had forgotten about since, that I realized I had to make room for it. The film, through various comedic sketches, discusses the state of roles for black actors in Hollywood and the effect of seeing all black men portrayed as jive-talking, hustling fools has on the race. Star, director and co-writer Robert Townsend makes some wonderful observations (most of which, sadly, have not changed much since 1987) and skewers them head-on, most notably in the "Black Acting School" sketch: a commercial for a fake school which teaches African Americans how to act more "black" for the movies. Students are taught how to jive talk and walk like a black--by white people, of course. While Townsend and company make some great points, it often feels like the material could have been pushed in far more uncomfortable ways. The sketches are good on their own, but with a runtime of only 75 minutes, the film's structure is flimsy at best, never really in the moment unless in a sketch. This isn't necessarily a criticism, as great commentary can come from sketch comedy, but Hollywood Shuffle is merely Saturday Night Live next to the off-the-wall examination of racial stereotypes in Hollywood Bamboozled's Network. B

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rants on Midnight in Paris

Somewhere between the lame jokes about the Tea Party and the Rachel McAdams' character's swift change from "wrong for the lead character" to "complete and utter miserable cunt," I realized something very important while watching Midnight in Paris: I'm just not into Woody Allen anymore. Gone are the glory days of a filmmaker who once made great films as diverse as Sleeper, Annie Hall, Interiors, Bullets Over Broadway and Everyone Says I Love You. It's obvious the Woodman is content making the same shitty movie, set in a different European city, over and over again and it's time I have accepted this. The fact that Midnight in Paris is Woody's most inspired script in ages says more about the decline of his work post-Match Point than the script's actual quality.

The film begins with a generic-looking montage of Paris, complete with images of Paris' famous sights and the charming "old world" street corners and cafés that the city is famous for. These are the kind of images one expects when thinking about Paris, but they do nothing to elicit anything new or interesting about the city; it's a five minute establishing shot that both runs far too long and adds less to the story than the establishing shot of the house in the Golden Girls at the beginning of every episode. If the generic-ness of these establishing shots does anything, it clues us into the generic-ness of everything that follows. Gil (Owen Wilson) is a would-be novelist, a hacky screenwriter with a girlfriend who clearly doesn't value him or his interests. True to the Woody Allen-type, he hates everything about the present and idealizes the past--he yearns to live in Paris in the 1920's, the so-called Golden Age. Everything in the first part of the film is stuff we have seen from Woody before: a bumbling artist who feels soiled by financial success, a shrewish girlfriend, ignorant Republican parents, pretentious a-holes who are experts in every subject that could ever possibly come up in conversation.

In the second part, however, Woody begins to raise his game. After getting lost in the city, strangers in a 1920's-style car pull up next to Gil and take him a party. With people dressed up in flapper-era outfits and someone singing Cole Porter songs on a piano, Gil is both bewildered and amused at just how far these people went to have an authentic party. But when he meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and, later on, Ernest Hemingway, everything begins to click for him: the car has somehow taken him back to 1920's Paris. He goes back every night, meeting Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Dalí and, most importantly, a beautiful Frenchwoman named Adriana that he eventually falls in love with. On its surface, this sequence works because these caricatures of famous people are more alive, funny and simply more interesting than anyone in the "real life" part of the film. Who honestly would rather watch Michael Sheen pretend to be a smarmy ass than see Adrien Brody repeat the word "rhinoceros" over and over again with a funny accent? It's not Annie Hall, that's for sure, but it's the closest thing to comedy in this film.

After the initial charm of this fantasy sequence wares off, it is clear that even this so-called original sequence isn't particularly original in the oeuvre of Woody Allen. Gil's character uses this fantasy world as an escape from the blahs of his everyday life that he can't stand, but, eventually, he realizes that living in another world (the past) will always appear ideal precisely because it is an escape from real life. Switching 30's Escapism for 20's Paris, isn't this basically the same message of The Purple Rose of Cairo? And, even though I'm not that film's biggest supporter, didn't it feel like Purple Rose carried that message in far more interesting and complicated ways than Midnight in Paris? That whole segment of the film was supposed to be a fantasy, so why did it feel as turgid and listless as the real life scenes? Nothing about the 1920's scenes pop or set them apart from the modern day scenes other than the fact that they are more "fun" and energetic (which is a moot point since anything this side of The Roommate would look more interesting compared to the modern day scenes); there is nothing particularly interesting visually, nor does Woody's writing get any more in tuned either comedically or dramatically. In the end, Woody wasted a valuable opportunity to make these scenes more than just perfunctory.

It's even more of a shame since the rest of the film is more inept visually and writing-wise. When a random, subtle long take in the beginning of the film is the most in-depth camerawork you attempt, you know you are in for a load of trouble. You could forgive Woody that if his writing was up to par, but I have not seen such a lazy, vile and all-around disgusting piece of writing turn up in quite some time. What in the Christ was that shit? The whole thing felt like a rough draft where you are just throwing ideas down so you don't forget them but fully intend on going back and edit, edit, edit. For a comedy, there were no funny lines. The only times I remember audibly laughing were during Brody's cameo as Dalí and when Zelda Fitzgerald said that funny line about only being good at drinking (I can relate, gurl). Then there was that all-around ridiculous moment where Gil, in the present day, discovers a diary written by Adriana at some local used book vendor. It's written in French so he has someone translate for him and the diary specifically talks about Gil and describes the first time they made love. What? First of all, how in the fuck does Gil know it was Adriana's diary if he has no clue how to read French? That literally could have been any woman's diary. Secondly, why is this the one time Woody decides to make the fantasy sequence really fantstical? The 1920's scenes are as straight-forward as the rest of the film, yet he feels the need to really up the ante in this one moment that, ultimately, only leads to a failed moment of "comedy" with the awful Rachel McAdams character and her awful parents.

And can we talk about the Rachel McAdams character for a second? I had heard reports about her being a horrible shrew character in the typical Woody Allen fashion, but, in the beginning of the film, I thought that was all just hype. She wasn't exactly a lovely character, but she wasn't exactly a spawn of Satan either. Then, as the film progressed, she became a little more awful in each scene. By the end of the film, she wasn't even recognizable as a human being anymore. The character became such a soulless, whiny brat, flapping her arms and throwing a tantrum whenever something didn't go her way, I'm surprised one of the moms from Toddlers & Tiaras didn't give her a spray tan and put her in a kiddie pageant. It's obvious Woody hated this character, the Killer of Artistic Aspirations, but is too much to ask for a character and not just a woman who spits bile like a velociraptor?

If you thought the voiceovers in Vicky Cristina Barcelona were as shoddily written as I did, wait until you get the ending of Midnight in Paris. For 85 minutes, I had followed this film, at first bored, then slightly intrigued, then bored again, then hating my life for enduring this increasingly awful pile of shit. Then, that ending happened. Gil, after dumping his girlfriend, runs into a Frenchwoman he had met earlier who sells vintage records in a street market. She likes Cole Porter (SO DOES GIL!). She finds the past dreamy and romantic (SO DOES GIL!). When it starts to rain, she comments that she finds walking in the rain romantic (SO DOES GIL!). It was as if Woody had made a checklist of all the things Gil had mentioned in the film that he liked and made sure this caricature of a young, non-threatening, not particularly intellectual woman listed them off as her likes as well. And then the film ends with them walking off together in the rain, realizing they are, in fact, soul mates. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, WOODY, WITH THIS ENDING? I couldn't believe what I had just seen. Romantic comedies starring J. Lo have ended with less clichés and less pat conclusions. You know, there are ways of ending romantic comedies that don't make your eyes roll back in your head from sheer stupidity.

It's disheartening to see that Woody has plain given up in all aspects of moviemaking. His humor use to be so precise and specific that it wasn't for everyone; now, his writing and filmmaking is so generic I could see even non-Woody fans like my mother watching this film and finding it bearable. And it appears they have, since this film is on track to surpass Woody's highest grossing film in America, Hannah and Her Sisters. I...don't even know what to say about that. America, you continue to surprise me. And by surprise, I mean embarrass and confound. D

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2010 Diva Cup Awards: The Oscar Categories

Best Director
Maren Ade
Everyone Else

Andrea Arnold
Fish Tank

Derek Cianfrance
Blue Valentine

David Fincher
The Social Network

Giorgos Lanthimos

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Andrea Arnold, Fish Tank

Best Original Screenplay

Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis & Cami Delavigne
Blue Valentine

Ruba Nadda
Cairo Time

Maren Ade
Everyone Else

Eric Johnson, Scott Silver & Paul Tamasy (screenplay); Keith Dorrington, Eric Johnson & Paul Tamasy (story)
The Fighter

Andrea Arnold
Fish Tank

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis & Cami Delavigne, Blue Valentine

Best Adapted Screenplay

Robert Harris & Roman Polanski
The Ghost Writer

David Lindsay-Abaire
Rabbit Hole

Aaron Sorkin
The Social Network

Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
True Grit

Debra Granki & Anne Rosellini
Winter's Bone

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Best Cinematography
Matthew Libatique
Black Swan

Yorick Le Saux
I Am Love

Benoite Debie
The Runaways

Jeff Cronenwerth
The Social Network

Michael McDonough
Winter's Bone

And the Diva Cup Goes to: The Runaways

Best Editing

Yorgos Mavropsaridis

Nicolas Chaudeurge
Fish Tank

Shilpa Sahi
The Last Exorcism

Sae-kyoung Moon

Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall
The Social Network

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Dogtooth

Best Art Direction
 Therese DePrez
Black Swan

Phillip Barker

Helen Scott
Fish Tank

Guy Dyas

Mark White
Winter's Bone

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Inception

Best Costume Design
Amy Westcott
Black Swan

Antonella Cannarozzi
I Am Love

Jeffrey Kurland

Rachael Fleming & Steven Noble
Never Let Me Go

Carol Beadle
The Runaways

And the Diva Cup Goes to: I Am Love

Best Score

John Adams
I Am Love

Hans Zimmer

Nigel Godrich
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network

Carter Burwell
True Grit

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Inception

Best Song
(Only one nominee because I couldn't even begin to think of another song that even comes close to this)

"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me"
Music and lyrics by Diane Warren
Performed by Cher

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Burlesque

Best Sound
127 Hours

Fish Tank

The Last Exorcism

And the Diva Cup Goes to: The Last Exorcism

Best Makeup
Black Swan

The Runaways


And the Diva Cup Goes to: The Runaways

Best Visual Effects
Black Swan


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Black Swan