Friday, September 30, 2011

10 Most Anticipated Performances This Fall

The fall season is upon this and with the changing leaves comes the Oscar season. So long, superheroes, hello, adults with problems! Needless to say, it's usually my favorite time of the year (although this spring and early summer will probably give the next few months a run for their money). To celebrate this season's commencement, I thought I would change things up a bit and share the performances I'm looking forward to the mos. Here they are in no particular order: 

Keira Knightley, A Dangerous Method
Since A Dangerous Method's premiere at Venice, the words "loud" and "in-your-face" have been used almost exclusively to describe Knightley's performance. Reaction has been mixed as to whether or not it works, but I absolutely love gutsy, go-for-broke performances. And Knightley has only grown in my esteem since Atonement.

Michael Fassbender, Shame
I could say that I'm mostly excited for this performance because Fassy is reteaming with his Hunger director Steve McQueen, but we all know I'd be lying. As soon as I heard the words "full frontal," my ticket was already bought. But Fassy is a great actor and he has been receiving rave reviews for this performance, so I'd be interested in this performance even if we didn't get a glimpse of the goods.

Sandra Bullock, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I don't care what anyone says, I'm still proudly a member of Team Sandy and her Oscar win back in 2009. This is why I'm curious to see if her first post-Oscar film will continue my fascination with this woman. Provided Stephen Daldry's adaptation of this acclaimed novel hits the right notes, I don't think Sandy will have a problem nailing this.

Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
The recent trailer left me cold, but if it did nothing else, it certainly raised my already considerable interest in Armie's performance in this film. The way I'm reading the trailer, he's playing the supportive wife role, which makes me smile because the thought of 6 foot 5 Aryan God Armie Hammer playing the docile supporting wife is hilarious in its own right. Plus he gets a shouting scene! Can you say "Oscar clip"? If we couldn't get Andy Garfield a nom last year, this should be an easier sell, right?

Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
Lars von Trier has a way with actresses that is almost unparalleled (hello, Nicole Kidman in Dogville!). The fact that he decided to work with as unlikely of an actress as Dunst, whom will always be in my good graces for Bring It On alone, makes me think that he saw something truly special in her that will translate well in his apocalyptic film.

Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Theron has never been a favorite actress of mine (my three favorite performances of her are Monster, the "Crossfire" music video and that Dior ad where she undresses as she walks through a long corridor), but I know a lot of people who love and trust her even when her filmography might not warrant such devotion. The real story here is screenwriter Diablo Cody, who made even the insufferable Megan Fox temporarily interesting in Jennifer's Body. If she can work that same magic with the much more tolerable Charlize Theron in this film about a divorced loser returning home to rekindle an old romance, the results will be golden.

Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
The fact that a member of the Olsen clan who is not one of the Olsen Twins is getting Oscar buzz is enough for me. What a delicious little story: sister of billionaire media moguls wows in low budget indie film.

Zac Efron, New Year's Eve
A bit of a silly choice, I know. But it has simply been far too long with out Efron on our movie screens (about 16 months by the time this comes out). On the plus side, New Year's Eve is a comedy, which is truly Efron's forte and Garry Marshall was able to get at least one interesting performance out of his last film in this vein, Valentine's Day.

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
I have to say I'm mostly curious about watching the introverted, cerebral Williams portray an actress like Monroe, who achieved stardom with charm, warmth and massive sex appeal. The result could either be a beautiful disaster or a triumph. I, for one, am intrigued either way.

Jason Segel & Amy Adams, The Muppets
I was going to pick Sterling Knight & Selena Gomez as the duo from this film I'm most excited about, but I realize that they are probably only cameo roles and I don't want to get overexcited for 90 seconds of screentime. I don't, however, want to make it sound like I'm not interested in the main romance between Segel & Adams. These two are adorable on their own, so I don't know if we can handle their combined adorableness. I'm certainly willing to try, though.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

100 Hot Men and a Dame: #94 Farley Granger

94. Farley Granger
Occupation: Actor
Nationality: American
Peak of Hotness: The Late 40's/Early 50's
Best Known For: His work with the legendary Alfred Hitchcock early in his career: Rope and Strangers on a Train

Joining me once again to discuss this rarely discussed actor from the Golden Age is my friend JD from Valley Dreamin' (and from his Twitter). Enjoy!

Dame James: When did you first encounter Farley and, if it wasn't love at first sight, when did you fall in love with him?

JD: I believe I first saw him in Rope, and it was more or less love at first sight. He was so adorable and troubled and oh my god, his lips. It didn't hurt that I thought he was legitimately great in it. Then I found out he ACTUALLY was gay and Google Image searched and, well. You know me. BUT ANYWAY. He, and not Hitch, was my primary motivation for seeing Strangers on a Train afterwards! I needed more.

DJ: Rope is where it all began for me, too. I don't think I quite knew what I was getting myself into when I sat down to watch that movie. A ninety minute long take with Farley as the nervous, sensitive, passive (aka the bottom) half of a homicidal homosexual couple? As they say in baseball, touchdown! Even as a 15 year old I knew it was a beautiful thing.

I can't say that I saw Strangers on a Train for Farley--Hitch is da man--but he was certainly a highlight of the film. Or, should I say, his short tennis shorts were a highlight. I know I briefly discussed him in my entry about Andy Roddick, but it bares repeating here: so goddamn hot! And, once again, he plays a (debatable) homosexual involved in a very homoerotic situation. I think it's one of the rare times when Golden Age Hollywood let a known homosexual actually play a (heavily watered-down) homosexual. Do you think this is what ultimately killed his Hollywood career?

JD: Yeah, probably. He lasted quite a bit but his career really is retroactively defined by the two Hitch collabos, isn't it? It's much more than that. I think he might be best in Nick Ray's superb They Live By Night. He could really play emotionally insecure and damaged to a T - which I knooow you like, James. Also, he was totally shirtless in it, I VIVIDLY remember that.

DJ: Why do I not remember the shirtlessness? Has it finally started to happen? Has my memory started to go? Can I not recall important moments such as hot guys taking their shirts off? What has become of me?!

But I do love emotional damaged boys--hell, it even has its own label on my blog!--and Granger is so good and, consequently, attractive in They Live By Night for that very fact. Pretty people with emotional issues gives me a hard-on!

JD: Have you seen Side Street, with They Live By Night co-star Cathy O'Donnell and directed by Anthony Mann? It's SUCH a good film that I never hear anything about, and Farley's such a driving force behind the quality. (Although Jean Hagen doing some of my favorite limited screentime-acting ever doesn't hurt.) I really just wanna see more with him but there seems to be so few things that aren't hidden in the dust of obscurity, sadly. I really need to see Senso though. Though when I get sad about that because I'm lazy, I just Google image search and swoon. HIS LIPS. HIS LIPS.

And I really do think, though, the main factor as to why I love him is, in fact, his actual guy-lovin' and how he never really hid it. That had to have taken some balls, and even if it gave his career a short shelf life, it's always a fantastic thing knowing that someone just didn't submit to the studios for a false image.

DJ: I have not seen Side Street, but now I fully intend to track it down (Farley, Cathy AND Jean Hagen? I'm so in!). It's such a shame that, like you said, most of his work seems to be "hidden in the dust of obscurity."  Then again, many actors would kill to be remembered for just one Hitchcock classic, let alone two, so he's lucky in that respect.

I don't think I realized he was quite so open about his sexuality when I selected him for this list, but now that I do know, it definitely works to his advantage. Granted, I'm no gay rights activist by any means, but I have mad respect for old timey actors who didn't play games with their sexuality. They were fucking whoever they wanted and they didn't care. Farley is the first of a few guys on this list who broke the mold in this manner, and I couldn't be prouder.

What do you think of Farley? Is he a Golden Age actor that does it for you? And what do you think about gay or bisexual actors back in the day who refused to pretend they were straight?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Team Dame Maggie

If Dame Maggie Smith doesn't win an Emmy tonight for her spot on work on Downton Abbey, I will probably flip over a car in protest.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Diva

The first real dud of this project. This widely acclaimed French suspense thriller is neither suspenseful or thrilling as it tells the Hitchcockian story of an innocent mailman who winds up with a tape implicating the leader of a suspected sex trafficking organization. There are a couple of other subplots, including one about a bootleg recording the main character makes of his favorite opera diva's concert, and that's precisely the problem with Diva. When the film should be as sleek and to-the-point as possible, director Jean-Jacques Beineix drastically drags the film out 20-30 minutes longer than it needs to be. How are we supposed to be involved in this film when the main character is in no real danger until more than halfway into the runtime? Even when the "suspense" does amp up, it's neither exciting nor particularly clever; it's everything we have seen done better a million times before. It's particularly telling when the opera diva the title is referring to is referenced as being disagreeable having a volatile temper and we see neither during her entire, almost unnecessary, subplot. What's the point in having an exciting, electric diva and then forcing her to remain entirely calm and collected nearly the entire time? Just one of this misfire's many mistakes. D+

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Somebody Please Tell 'Em Who the Eff She Is

I don't think I've ever spoken of my love for Nicki Minaj before, which is very nearly a crime worthy of capital punishment given how "Super Bass" is my favorite song of the year, so I want to take some time to talk about her. As a white boy from rural Michigan, rap isn't exactly my forte. Not surprisingly, though, of the rappers I do enjoy, the vast majority of them are females. Missy Elliott has always been my favorite--although with legendary tracks like "Work It" and "Get Ur Freak On", who could compete?--but Nicki is quickly catching up. Not only is the woman versatile beyond belief, Nicki also has some of the most clever, interesting lyrics this side of Kanye West at his best. She's an artist who only gets more interesting with time and I can't wait to hear what insanity she comes out with next. To celebrate her, I decided to give a brief rundown of my favorite Nicki verses, whether from her solo work or as a guest artist.

10. "In My Head [Remix]"
It's not very often where I find myself audibly laughing while listening to lyrics, but on this remix of the Jason Derülo hit, I still chuckle at certain bits of Nicki's verse.
Key Lyric: "Smash more clubs than Tiger Woods' wifey"

09. "Up Out My Face [Remix]"
This is the first time I ever heard Nicki after at least a couple of months of hype surrounding her. I must admit that at first, I didn't get the big deal. But after numerous listens to this remix of Mariah Carey's jam, I finally got it.
Key Lyric: "Cat's away, well the mice will play/LOL, smiley face, have a nice-a day"

08. "Your Love"
The first Nicki song I ever truly loved, which is surprising because it's neither the type of rap she's known for or the kind of rapping I love best from her. But, backed by an Annie Lennox sample (!!!!), Nicki wrote a surprisingly tender rap about finding a soulmate.
Key Lyric: "When I was a geisha, he was a samurai/Somehow I understood him when he spoke Thai"

07. "Did It On 'Em"
This gem of an album track would probably pass you by unnoticed if you didn't take a second and listen to the lyrics. There are so many hilarious and off-beat boasts (maybe acting as a parody?) that puts many other rappers and their lame attempts and building themselves up to shame.
Key Lyric: "If I had a dick, I would pull it out and piss on 'em"

06. "Super Bass"
My favorite Nicki song. The only reason it's not ranked higher is because I love this song for reasons other than its lyrics. She may be more clever on other songs, but that doesn't diminish the amazingness of this song.
Key Lyric: "I mean, you're so shy and I'm loving your tie/You're like slicker than the guy with the thing on his eye, oh"

05. "Where Them Girls At"
Even though it was a hit in the UK earlier this year, I only just got into this song a couple of weeks ago. Nicki often does her finest work featuring on other people's songs where she often steals the show and this David Guetta track is no exception. The moment I truly fell for this song, I was on my way to work and I was cracking up at Nicki's verse.
Key Lyric: "You can suck a dick, you can suck on a ballsack/No, no, I don't endorse that, p-p-p-pause that, abort that"

04. "Girls Fall Like Dominoes"
Nicki's flow on this song is incredible. And I love the way the first and second verses really have nothing to do with each other but they somehow sound quite harmonious next to each other. Bonus points for name dropping both Mo'Nique and Grace Jones in a song!
Key Lyric: "Material girls like Madonna/Model for Donatella/Ain't nothing you can tell her 'cause she get that mozzarella"

03. "Bottoms Up"
This is the song I use to get pumped whenever I got out drinking with my friends. Even before we touch a drop of alcohol, my friend Megan and I try to sing Nicki's verse on this song and, dear God, we cannot keep up for the life of us. Such a perfect little ode to getting completely hammered.
Key Lyric: "Rest in piece to Anna Nicole Smith/Yes, my dear, you're so explosive/Say hi to Mary, Mary and Joseph/Now bottoms up and double my doses"

02. "Roman's Revenge"
I wasn't crazy about this song at first. Now I can't imagine a world without it. Whatever your opinion of Eminem's verses (I think they work and are the most inspired things he's done in ages), we all have to agree that Nicki absolutely kills it on this song. I am in absolute awe of her ability to play with random words and phrases and put them together in phrases that make complete sense.
Key Lyric: "Word, that bitch mad 'cause I took the spot?/Well, bitch, if you ain't shittin', then get off the pot"

01. "Monster"
A song by Kanye West which also features Jay-Z and little ole Nicki Minaj is the one who steals the entire show? This was Nicki's "Bad Romance" moment: the instant we all realized that she wasn't fucking around and was, in fact, the real deal. Her entire verse is not only cleverly written but is also delivered with such a relentless energy unlike anyone in the game today.
Key Lyric: "But really, really, I don't give a F-U-C-K/Forget Barbie, fuck Nicki she escaped/She on a diet but her cock is eating cheesecake"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pardon the Interruption

This song reminds me of that horrific day like no other. My thoughts to everyone affected by the tragedy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

100 Hot Men and a Dame: #95 Colin Farrell

95. Colin Farrell
Occupation: Actor
Nationality: Irish
Age: 35
Best Known For: A wildly erratic filmography, which includes Tigerland, Phone Booth, S.W.A.T., Daredevil, Alexander, The New World, In Bruges and Horrible Bosses.

Joining me in this latest installment is my good friend (and the other half of the Whores of Twitter) JD from the blog Valley Dreamin'. This is his first of many entries in the countdown, so I hope you enjoy JD's one of a kind sense of humor!

Dame James: When did you first encounter Colin and, if it wasn't love at first sight, when did you fall in love with him?

JD: I first saw him in Phone Booth I'd reckon but my junk didn't really respond because I wasn't *there* yet. But by the time Alexander and The New World and his penchant for fucking hot photoshoots happened, I was ready. Also, ya know, the sex tape. It came riiight at the point where I was starting to be a horndog but not quite there yet; I think it really sent me over permanently to that direction. If that's not love, I don't know what is!

Dame James: Actually, I think Phone Booth may have been the first thing I saw Colin in as well, give or take Minority Report which I probably didn't even register him being in at the time (or now, come to think of it). The film that hooked me was Tigerland, which is basically an ode to how incredibly sexy and gorgeous he is. The fact that it's confined in the inherent homoeroticness of Army life only makes Colin sexier. Plus, I get an even bigger hard-on when pretty boys can act and, up until In Bruges, this was my favorite performance of his.

Going through his IMDb page, I realize there's a lot of stuff I haven't seen and, for the most part, I don't feel like I'm missing much. I was excited about the homosexuality of Alexander but then I read that Oliver Stone basically cut all of that out (For shame!). A Home At the End of the World is Sensitive Colin, which I'm not sure exists, or want to exist, and that source material is such complete and utter shit. His sex tape is probably the most intriguing thing I haven't seen.

JD: Alexander is just a fucking weird movie. The homosexuality isn't taken out entirely but what's left is so muddled and confusingly done. But Colin shows his dick at least! And it has Angie Jolie being a crazy campy bitch which is also a plus.

You haven't seen the sex tape?! It's only like 15 minutes long, MAKE ROOM FOR IT. (I'd definitely make room for it. #JDnontweets)

Dame James: No, I haven't seen it, but I'm notoriously bad at seeing infamous sex tapes. Also, women. Ew. I don't need non-Anne Hathaway boobs interrupting my pornography, thank you very much. Is the tape from before he was famous?

JD: I think the sex tape was around the time he was filming Daredevil so his head was shaved, and it was with a Playboy model. You've at least seen the screencaps, though, right?

Dame James: I haven't even seen screencaps. I didn't even know it existed until two days ago. Man oh man, I miss everything!

The only problem I have with Colin is that his look changes so much and my opinion changes drastically with each look. Love the short hair/scruff combo of the Tigerland years and the In Bruges/Cassandra's Dream years but find the long shaggy hair/full-on beard years a waste. Do you find yourself going back and forth like me? If no, do you prefer a certain look over another?

JD: Ehhh, I know his changing looks are understandably a problem for some people, but I don't think I've ever minded any of them. I do agree his best is the simple short black hair/scruff look.

Dame James: At least we agree on that. I suppose when you have as long a history with someone as you do with Colin, you'll find him attractive no matter what in the hell he looks like. Isn't that the definition of true love?

Anyways, speaking of true love, remember the days when he and Britney were fucking? I think it was just after she broke up with Justin and her hormones were racing and she was fucking everyone in sight and Colin, like the decent, sexed-up god that he is, took advantage of that? Okay, so it's not quite the storybook romance that Britney and Justin were but don't you love Colin just a little bit more for bangin' the Princess of Pop?

JD: I totally forgot they did but YOU'RE RIGHT. Oh man. haha.

Dame James: Anyways, one last topic: the bad boy factor. Just how much does it work to his advantage? Would we still be as hot for him from a purely physical standpoint if there wasn't the risk that he'd shove us against a wall and have hot, angry sex with us and then not call the next day?

JD: Imagining Colin Farrell as a 'nice', 'sensible', 'considerate' person just...doesn't register, you know? It's a huge part of why he's so fucking attractive! Especially for angry wall sex, absolutely. Mmmmm.

So, what do you think? Do you like the idea of a Sensitive Colin Farrell or do you, like Lady Gaga in her glory days, like it rough?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Heathers

Michael Lehmann's Heathers, is, without a doubt, one of the sharpest, scathing--not to mention most ambitious--films the high school/coming of age comedy subgenre has ever seen. Not content to merely be a film about navigating the tricky sea that is high school, Heathers is also an explosive combination of black comedy, Bonnie & Clyde-style examination of love and social commentary ("Suicide (Don't Do It)"). To say it's an ambitious film is an understatement, but, to it's credit, Heathers nails it far more often than it misses. Lehmann has a keen eye for details and visual gags, which immediately separates it from nearly every other high school comedy ever made. The screenplay from Daniel Waters has its own undefinable cadence that in ways reminded me of both Tennessee Williams and Diablo Cody; Williams in how the actors must speak with a certain stylization otherwise it all falls flat and Cody in how, whether you like it or not, you wouldn't mistake the writing for anyone else. While this makes the screenplay more intriguing, it's also where most of the film's problems lay. First of all, Heathers has such a strange stylization, it takes a good twenty minutes to get into the rhythm of how the film will flow. While I suppose it would be easier to understand on a second go-around, I must confess it threw me for such a loop I had a hard time getting into it. Secondly, the dialogue is so on-the-nose, stars Winona Ryder and Christian Slater fall flat about a quarter of the time. There's no way I would ever classify them as bad by any stretch of the imagination, and they both have ace moments that prove their worth, but I was a tad disappointed by them. Again, I wager a second viewing of the film is in order for it all to click, but I found the few loose ends far too distracting to overlook in favor of Heathers' strong points. B+

Thursday, September 1, 2011

100 Hot Men and a Dame: #96 Andy Roddick

96. Andy Roddick
Occupation: Athlete (Tennis)
Nationality: American
Age: 29
Best Known For: Formerly the #1 tennis player in the world. Held the record for the fastest serve (155 mph) between 2004 and 2011.

Joining me once again is Dave. I should mention that when I asked people to help me with this project, they picked solely on the guys and not based on rankings. So that is the reason why you've heard from Dave in three of the first five entries. There will be a lot of diverse contributors coming up so don't fret. For now, soak up Dave's awesomeness as we talk about this all-star athlete.

Dame James: When did you first encounter Andy and, if it wasn't love at first sight, when did you fall in love with him?

Dave: I've always been a tennis fan, since before I understood what my sexuality was - since before I realised that my French teacher had breasts and that the thing between my legs was actually worth more than piss. (Feel free to edit that bit out.) I've always had a rather shallow tendency to pick favourites by appearance, though, so Andy was always a favourite because he was so handsome. I don't think I realised my reasoning at the time. So I suppose Andy was, vaguely at least, part of my sexual awakening, someone I was subconsciously attracted to before and VERY consciously afterwards.

There's the blatant sexiness of him taking off his shirt so much and having such a pert bottom - and those white tennis shorts at Wimbledon really are a godsend for those toned tennis player buttocks - and the fact that he sweats SO GODDAMN MUCH would be disgusting from anyone else, but when it's someone you like to imagine having sex with... But it's also the demeanour. He's such an All American Kid without being remotely obnoxious, such a friendly and laidback guy whatever the result without ever coming across as though he doesn't care about the sport - he's surely one of the fiercest competitors on the court - and I remember my heart bleeding on several occasions when he looked like a wounded puppy on losing a Wimbledon final. He's just a NICE GUY, which is the most direct way to my heart.

DJ: Wow. I wasn't aware Andy was so important to your sexual awakening. But I completely understand the power of those initial attractions before we completely understand our feelings. Lucky you, however, that one of your first crushes remains a total hottie! I've never been a tennis fan, nor do I have any recollection of when I first encountered Andy (maybe it was when he was dating Mandy Moore?), but I can appreciate a good looking man when I see one. And Goddamn, Andy Roddick is a very attractive fellow.

The fact that Andy plays tennis makes him even more attractive, for many of the same reasons you stated above: the shirtlessness, the sweating, the tennis-enhanced ass. Granted, I wish the shorts they wear are more like the short-shorts professional tennis players wore back in the day (I'm thinking of Farley Granger in Strangers on a Train), but I'm definitely not complaining when Andy fills them out so nicely. Another thing I love about tennis is the grunting. Can you think of another sport with such a direct link to sex (besides wrestling) as all the huffing, puffing and loud, angry noises that come out of tennis players when they are in the zone?

D: They do tend towards distressingly loose shorts these days, nothing like the skin-tight hot pants and knitwear they used to sport. But still, I think seeing players like Andy and Rafa Nadal pick at their butt cracks all the time more than makes up for that. From what I remember Andy doesn't really grunt much, definitely not in comparison to other players. But you're right, of course - a baseline rally can basically sound like two guys going at it. It's a good thing I've never seen Andy and Nadal play each other...

One delectable aspect of Andy's play is what he does when he serves - he bends his knees really quite low, which means that his ass sticks out to extraordinary extremes - watch any video of him playing and you'll see! It really is a sight to behold.

DJ: I don't follow tennis, but I've heard that Andy hasn't been doing as well lately on the court. Do you think his new wife has cursed him? If this was Salem circa the 17th century, I'd be chanting "Witch, witch, witch!"

D: Women are really an unnecessary distraction to sportsmen. The locker room exists for a reason. Keep all that stuff in there, guys, and let me put a camera in there.

DJ: A lot of porn takes place in locker rooms. If this whole tennis thing doesn't work out, Andy definitely has a bright future ahead of him in that profession. And he'll have all that practice from actually being in a locker room that often.
Andy dated Mandy Moore back in the day. Which of today's pop princesses would you like Andy to hook up with (we're ignoring that he's married in this instance)?
D: It blatantly has to be Ke$ha. His sweat and her bags of glitter are a match made in heaven.

Andy & The Glitter Trash Diva: A match made in heaven?
DJ: I was totally going to say Ke$ha, too! That thing about great minds must be true.

So, in this post, we talked about short-shorts, asses, grunting, locker room sex, sweating and breathing heavily. Well done on us for our in depth sexualizing of tennis! And we didn't even make obvious references to smacking some balls around!

D: Smacking some balls around? That's just disgustingly crass, James. Too far.

Eh, it's never too crass in these parts! So how do you all feel about Andy? Do you want to smack some balls around with him? I want a taste of that powerful serve, if you know what I mean.