Friday, November 28, 2008
A new trailer for Feb. 6’s He’s Just Not That Into You, the new com-com starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore (an executive producer on it), Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly (HBO’s Entourage), Bradley Cooper (TV’s Alias), Ginnifer Goodwin (HBO’s Big Love), Scarlett Johansson, and Barrymore’s ex, Justin Long, is out and right here for you to watch:
He's Just Not That Into You trailer in HD
Are you into it?
Is it too early to talk summer blockbusters?
Nah – it’s Black Friday, and I’m in Thanksgiving dinner recovery mode…I can say whatever I want.
Check out the new animated poster for next year’s Terminator Salvation, starring Christian Bale.
It really is just too cool.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I saw Madonna last night, and although she was a full two-and-a-half hours late, M did not disappoint.
My seat was literally against the wall high up at Dolphin Stadium, and it was quite the nippy night, but I had sooo much more fun that you.
Timbaland came out to perform “4 Minutes,” which got the “motherf---ers” around my section out of their feet, and Pharrell joined the queen during “Give It 2 Me” – the Rave section definitely was the crowd-pleaser (the request song was “Material Girl”).
The standouts of the show were “Miles Away,” natch, “You Must Love Me” (during which she smiled and winked at Alex Rodriguez, who was sitting right off the end of the stage on the floor), and “Like a Prayer.”
But I don’t like to play favorites.
I barely have a voice left this morning, but I’ll say something M didn’t last night:
Update: Hey, Madonna, a word.
I heart you, and I know that you’ve got a lot more in ya – and I’m not talking about your lovers. But if I may suggest something: Go away.
Take a break.
Let us miss you.
Be a mom to your almost-teenaged girl and your two sons.
And call Chris Martin. That’s someone who can help you tap into something new, mine this situation through which your going for songwriting gold.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Gus Van Sant’s Milk is a biopic starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man ever to be elected to office in a major U.S. city.
The film charts the last eight years of Milk’s life, from 1970-1978, as he rises as one of history’s gay civil rights leaders, first as a community activist and then as an elected member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
With his beloved Castro neighborhood and entire city empowering him, Milk surprised his many lovers, including Scott Smith (James Franco), his supporters (which included a young activist named Cleve Jones, played by Into the Wild’s Emile Hirsch), and ultimately, himself by becoming an outspoken and effective agent for change.
Alas, like many great voices, his was silenced too soon, when in ’78, another newly elected supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin), gunned him down.
Milk’s message, though, already had been shared, and his legacy would live on and will resonate until the end of time.
Read on as my very special guest, E! Online’s Ted Casablanca, and I discuss Milk.
You know, I left Milk feeling galvanized and frustrated since I’m not an American and I couldn’t vote to help keep Florida’s Prop 2 from passing. Since I saw the film a few weeks ago, I’ve been observing and listening in on conversations for reactions to it, assessing the level of anticipation. There was talk of having all members of the GLBT community stay at home last Friday – I haven’t heard anything about how that turned out – but watching the film, I couldn’t help but think that’s not enough. What we need is a Harvey Milk, and I’m racking my brain wondering just who is filling those shoes these days.
Ted Casablanca: I couldn’t agree with you more. Where’s Harvey Milk today when you need him more than ever? That’s what the movie just leaves you screaming with inside your head. That, and the requisite Oscar nomination for Sean Penn – which is hugely deserved, mind you, but isn’t it always that way? The put upon fruit gets all the attention at the Oscars? Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, Charlize Theron in Monster, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. It’s always a straight actor playing those roles. But, yeah, where’s Milk now to fight back [California’s] Prop 8? We need somebody that angry, that motivated, and definitely that fearless.
I’d dare say there are plenty of high-profile straight allies – just look at all the celebrities who came out in support of No on 8, including the Governator – yet not one single strong queer voice. There’s no one leading the march, the revolution. The strides made by Milk have all been but abandoned and taken for granted in favor of I don’t know…figuring out the feud between LC and Heidi? Do you think that in the current climate, that someone will emerge?
TC: Are you waiting for Ellen, or something? She’ll never do it. What about Rosie? She’s so used to people hating her while loving her. She’s perfect!
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Ellen. She’s a trailblazer, that’s a given, but she’s also so safe. She could do so much more for her people, for the “uses” of which Milk spoke. It puzzled me so that Portia de Rossi never was a guest on her show while she was on Arrested Development. (OK, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t.) But that’s neither here nor there. I feel like Milk is going to do more for civil rights than Brokeback Mountain, though. That film humanized gays in a way that was unprecedented, which perhaps I didn’t articulate well enough when it came out. But Milk – Milk is going to, or it should, make people, gay or straight, stand up. What did you think of the performances?
TC: I think it’s all about Sean Penn. No one even compares. Josh Brolin has some truly splendid moments as Dan White – he really has a thing for doing creeps well (I wonder why?). But everyone just gets washed away by SP, I think. He’s that powerful. And everybody else, even James Franco, just seems left in the dust. It’s truly a remarkable job, especially from a guy who isn’t exactly known for being in touch with his feminine side. I thought one of Gus Van Sant’s best decisions was not to cast Anita Bryant, and just use actual footage of her. It was brilliant. Who could be that evil with hair that perfect? Besides Sarah Palin, that is.
A friend mentioned to me that he saw a documentary about Harvey Milk and that SP played him much more effeminate than he was. I found that Emile Hirsch took it a bit too far a few times, as did Diego Luna. But then again, there are people out there just like that. Indeed, Penn was It. I loved the structure of the film, and cannot imagine Gus Van Sant will not be nominated as well. It was genius not to cast Anita Bryant. I can't think of any actress who would’ve willingly stepped into those controhateful shoes, except perhaps a desperate one like Lindsay Lohan. And I love L2!
TC: Look, you big butch thing, Harvey Milk had his fagola moments, so I’m told. I hate this politically correct notion that it’s somehow bad to be feminine, at times, or at all. It’s part of that whole straight-acting, self-hating mentality that so many gays fall into. Queer is as queer does, which means we should love the whole f---ing rainbow of how we all are. Some are screamers, some aren’t. I embrace all sides, and hate those who don’t love the whole lot of us. And as far as SP goes, I thought he was most strong when he played lighter, less renegade, which would have been so obvious. Like when he laughed to Dan White, saying, “God knows we keep trying!” after White complained gays couldn’t have kids. And he chose to say that very gay, which I thought was a wonderful moment.
I'm not putting it down at all, so back it up and put it on a shelf, hun-hun. I found the moments in which Milk was shown at home to be the most tender and most relatable. Look, SP nailed this role on the head. I didn’t know Milk from the next Jack on the street until this film came along, and I find myself craving to learn more about him, and craving more people like him. No-apologies, conflicted fighters who are not about pussyfoot in the name of conformity. Change is in the air, obvs, and I can only hope that the power of inspiration will translate from the screen onto the streets.
TC: I pray for the same, hun-hun. Where’d you get that one, reading me?
It’s the gayer variation on Sandra Bernhard’s famous “Honey!” Speaking of, and totally off-topic: Did you see this?
TC: It’s funny, but, isn’t it kind of sad?
I don’t think so. Sandra never bags on Madonna, so when she does it’s priceless. It’s too bad they’re not friends anymore. M is like a sponge, obvs, and Sandy B. is way smarter than any of the yes people around the Queen’s throne these days.
TC: You gotta point there.
Let’s get back to the topic du jour. You mentioned earlier that it’s always straight actors playing these gay roles. Let’s be fair – they are the majority, no? And some gay talent still is in the closet… which, whaddya know, was one of Milk’s central messages: “Come out!” Now – and I’m not asking you to out anyone – what do you make of that?
TC: Ask Wanda Sykes. And do you actually think straight actors are the majority in this community? Tell that to the married actor with a family who asked me to blow him, would ya?
Scandalous…and do tell? Seriously, though, if gay actors wanted to claim these roles, push the envelope, then shouldn’t they? SP can do so much, you know. He’s the face of the film, but GVS (pictured at right) and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black are, I feel, the ones who.... They deserve all the credit for continuing this important dialogue that Milk started. What do you hope people will take away from the film?
TC: You asked more questions in that one paragraph than Hilary Swank’s hair asks of a single photograph. In order: No. Yes. Agreed. Who what? Agreed, but, why weren’t more openly gay folks cast in the movie? I asked Van Sant that, and he said [that] yes, Harvey would have loved it, but, it came down to a money issue. I’m just not sure I agree with his hedging. Smaller films with gay folks often make bucks, [and it’s] certainly no reason why one or two showcase roles couldn’t have gone to out fruits like Rupert Everett or Neil Patrick Harris, I think. Actually, Harris would have been terrific in the Emile Hirsch role. Jesus, even Lance Bass could have had a f---ing cameo. But, obviously, Van Sant didn’t ask me. Also, how perfect would it have been for Kevin Spacey to play Dan White? And what should people take away? That it’s OK to be angry, and more of us should, indeed, be angry.
And hopeful perhaps?
TC: Hopeful is for losers. I’m sorry. It’s just such an ultimately second-class citizen emotion. I really think demanding is a better word. We should demand better treatment, not hope someone will eventually do so.
So…I really liked Milk. I thought Penn was terrific, really phenomenal, and I found Harvey Milk’s story to be so courageous and important and inspiring. If I ever get the chance to meet Gus Van Sant, he’s a big thank-you hug for putting this story on film.
Call me a loser, already, but I am extremely hopeful that this film will awaken the Harvey Milk within each one of us. It only takes one to make a difference.
My Rating ****
In Four Christmases, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play Brad and Kate, a happily unmarried San Francisco couple planning on avoiding family gatherings by pretending to be on their way to Burma to inoculate babies.
The only problem is Brad and Kate get fogged in on Christmas morning, and must visit with his mean ol’ snake dad (Robert Duvall), her cougar-ish mom (Mary Steenburgen), his free-spirited mom (Sissy Spacek), and her atoning dad (Jon Voight) all on the same day.
You’d think hilarity would ensue, but you’d think wrong.
Four Christmases starts out strong, with a premise that’s just ripe for laughter. But it rather quickly loses steam, like a brand new locomotive train you get on Christmas morning that still has its generic, one-go batteries.
Vaughn and Witherspoon have good chemistry, and it’s a gas to see his tallness play opposite her shortness. It’s sweet, but it’s not enough, though.
Theirs is a couple that’s not bogged down by convention yet – they keep it spicy by role playing at bars and going on tropical vacations instead of charitable trips as the aforementioned. Both actors play this up to great effect, natch.
But the movie doesn’t quite work because it desperately wants to be a comedy with some drama instead of a comedy with real gravitas (by the end of the day, one half of Brate will want to change their dynamic…and the other doesn’t).
It’s a real shame then that Four Christmases doesn’t really get us into the spirit of the season. In fact, it kind of turned me off the holiday a little.
My Rating **
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Seeing is believing, and I – and Rolling Stone – believe that Britney Spears is back.
Spears’ comeback will become official on Dec. 2 when her Circus arrives in stores.
“This is going to be the album that cements her legend status,” her manager, Larry Rudolph, told the magazine.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The new extended trailer for Lost’s upcoming fifth season, premiering on Jan. 21, is out and about – and it teases sooo good:
Desmond and Penny get to be in bed together? Hurley’s got a gun? And why are Sawyer and Juliet holding hands?
For months I’ve heard about Twilight this, Twilight that – the book club I joined earlier last summer even tried to get me to read the Stephenie Meyer bestseller upon which the Catherine Hardwicke-directed movie is based. (It didn’t happen.)
Today, Twilight is a blockbuster – uh duh – and I want a refund.
I knew only a few things going in to see the movie: The book and its follow-ups, about the forbidden love between a teenaged girl and a beautiful vampire, have a cult following that is quite passionate; the movie’s star, Robert Pattinson, would break through with the force of millions of adoring fans; and regardless of anything I or anyone else has to do say it, the movie will be huge.
But this one, I’m afraid, is just for Twilighters (a.k.a. fans of the book), of for audience members who, I don’t know, have never watched a single episode of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If that’s you, then this movie’s for you.
Kristen Stewart (Panic Room, Into the Wild) plays Bella Swan, the aforementioned teenaged girl. She has always been a little different, an outcast, if you will, at her Phoenix high school.
After her mother re-marries, she goes to live with her estranged father in rainy Forks, Wash., where she doesn’t expect much of anything to change. Strangely, though, she manages to pocket her entire class upon arrival, and catch the eye of the mysterious Edward Cullen (Pattinson), a boy unlike any she’s ever met.
Edward, you see, is a vampire, but he and his family don’t feed on humans. But Bella has awoken in him a stirring feeling of protectiveness and love, a…thirst that scares him. She, too, is different than any girl he’s ever met.
The two are inevitably drawn to each other, and soon are swept up in a romance that is as thrilling as it unconventional.
Naturally, their struggles are different that those of your average rom-drama – Edward and Bella have to deal with keeping their desires in check, with family, and with the dangers of their relationship (Cam Gigandet, I’m looking at you and the rippedness you bring to the movie as the villain vampire James).
But, really, the only great things about Twilight are the names of its protagonists. I’d see anything with characters named Edward and Bella – except for this again. I was a teenager once, one who grew up enjoying the hyper-awareness and hyper-articulateness of the BtVS and Dawson’s Creek set. Hardwicke gave us Thirteen, so I know she understands teen angst. But Meyer lays on it too thick, you know.
So I refuse to believe that Twilight, with its cheestastic dialogue and visuals, is as “epic” as an ad I saw over the weekend would have me believe.
It’s a “pop culture phenomenon,” indeed, but I’ve seen better than this. I know he’s been there and done that, but Joss Whedon should’ve taken a stab at it.
As I said, though, nothing I say about the movie matters – the sequel’s a go already, and a New Moon will rise soon.
My Rating **1/2
Sunday, November 23, 2008
In 2008, Madonna didn’t just release another successful album (Hard Candy), or hit the road again (with her bestselling “Sticky & Sweet Tour”), or get divorced (from Guy Ritchie) – she also became a film writer and a film director.
Because if as an actress you don’t succeed….
M has co-written – with Dan Cadan, an assistant to her soon-to-be-ex on his Snatch (there’s a little trivia for ya) – and directed Filth and Wisdom, an indie that’s about an hour longer than its originally intended less-than-20-minutes-long short-film running time, about three London flatmates desperately seeking something.
The movie is a valiant effort on M’s part to pursue her cinematic aspirations. It earns Madonna an A for chutzpah, but a C+ for being able to keep her fans, which you know make up the bulk of the audience, in their seats.
Oh yeah, at last night’s Miami premiere at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, I counted four gays…I mean, guys walking out the door for greener and cocktailier pastures.
It’s also the Queen of Pop’s keen observation that in life, in order to achieve anything true, you have to have both filth and wisdom.
M drives the point home by following Andriy Krystiyan, a.k.a. A.K. (Eugene Hutz), a Ukrainian cross-dressing S&M dominator living with Juliette (Vicky McClure), a kleptomaniac pharmacist longing to travel to Africa to help starving children, and a ballerina-cum-stripper named Holly (Holly Weston).
Each one has a dream in the pipeline, but seemingly not a prayer in heaven of making them a reality.
The lesson of Filth and Wisdom is you gotta fight for your right to be. And that Madonna, should she be able to find a little humanity – although I’d take irony – in her next offering, has earned the right to call herself a film director.
Filth and Wisdom…M had to have it to be taken seriously on the silver screen. Good for her.
My Rating **1/2
Friday, November 21, 2008
In spite of whatever Brooke Shields says, her yummy co-star Robert Buckley confirmed it to me at the grand opening of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach that Lipstick Jungle has been cancelled – you’re just going to have to take my word for it.
Today, though, this clip made its way to the Web as a rather cheap ploy to promote the show:
Someone let the NBC dramedy die with some dignity, already.
But save Pushing Daisies. And Eli Stone. And Dirty Sexy Money!
“This guy was meant for me / And I was meant for him.”
So sang Madonna in “I Deserve It,” a track on her Music.
But then again, she also sang, “Many miles, many roads I have traveled / Fallen down on the way / Many hearts, many years have unraveled / Leading up to today.”
And today came word that the Queen of Pop and Guy Ritchie are now preliminarily divorced.
The couple was granted a quickie divorce in London yesterday.
It has been reported that Ritchie will not receive any money from Madonna, and that he blurted out a relieved “Thank God” when told of the decision.
For details of how they will split their property and how they will make it work for the kids (the two will share custody of sons Rocco, 12, and David, 2), click here.
Clearly, Madonna and Ritchie wanted to get this over with quickly and move on, so let’s focus on what’s important: their and the happiness of theirs, his movies, and her everything.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
What should humankind expect on Dec. 21, 2012, when the Mayan “Long Count” calendar reaches the end of a 5,126-year era?
I don’t know. Some say the apocalypse.
But I can tell you what to expect next July 10, when 2012, the new movie from disaster-movie auteur Roland Emmerich comes out.
A heck of a lot of action and CGI and incredible fun.
Former Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek will appear in next week’s episode of The CW’s One Three Hill playing a film director with whom the show’s protagonist goes to meet.
It’s a return home of sorts for The Beek: Dawson’s Creek used to shoot in Wilmington, N.C., which is where the production for One Tree Hill is based.
But guest-starring role comes with a little edge for the actor, and it worries me a bit. One of his scenes calls for him to snort coke off of a script – and I think The CW has released a clip of the scene for promotional purposes.
All I’m saying is…I don’t like it.
Have the scene on the show – just don’t sell it to the audience. It’s not responsible. Drugs, oh boy, are meant to be done behind closed doors, if you must. I’m sure the scene is there for a reason, but I’m not sure what’s the point of promoting a show this way, a show people say still is going strong after six seasons. Titillating is a provocative thing, I suppose.
Jeez – I sound like an old fart.
Last week, People magazine featured Twilight’s Cam Gigandet as its Sexy Man of the Week.
The actor revealed that his favorite make-out music is Damien Rice’s.
I knew I liked him for more than just the obvious.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
So last weekend, after the Victoria’s Secret fashion show at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, I’m sitting at the Blue Bar inside the hotel when I turn around and spot runway stunners Carmen Kass (pictured at right) and Isabeli Fontana.
I saw Kass head to the bar from her table, so I pulled it together and walked over to tell her I thought she was hot in the show.
She’s a model! They’re supposed to like that kind of thing!
So I was like, “You were great…not in it enough…you have the best walk….”
And she just looks at me, Estonian cold in her eyes.
So I even though I recognized this I continued, “I’d toast you [Kass had a drink in her hand], but I left my drink at my table – and I’d challenge you to a game of chess since I understand you’re like, a chess champion.”
The Blue Bar got even colder. I felt like I was in my lingerie.
Finally, she said, “Why do you say that? You’ve been reading too much of that Internet bulls---.”
I could only offer a shocked “Not at all. I saw you say so on Fashion File or something. But if it’s not true, then you have to agree that you have the best walk in the business, the best crisscross.”
“That I can agree with,” she said bitchingly.
And that’s how Carmen Kass chewed me out.
Who says supermodels don’t eat!
Robin Thicke has released the video for “The Sweetest Love,” one of my favorite tracks off his latest, Something Else.
Boyfriend may have snubbed me at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach last weekend, but I still XOXO him.
Check it out:
People magazine has named Hugh Jackman the Sexiest Man Alive for 2008 – and since I’m infatuated with all things Australia right now I couldn’t agree more.
Jackman, the magazine says, is a triple threat: a star who can sing, dance, and wield a weapon.
And the 40-year-old looks a-ma-zing doing so.
Although I would’ve been pressed to choose between the Aussie and Quantum of Solace’s Daniel Craig, the magazine has put the reigning 007 high on its list. Otherwise, they’d have an angry blogger to deal with, trust.
Also highlighted for their sexiness in the issue are Jon Hamm (AMC’s Mad Men), Zac Efron, Robert Buckley (whom I met last weekend, so I can honestly say yum! I mean, yes!), Blair Underwood, Javier Bardem, Twilight’s Robert Pattinson, Joshua Jackson (TV’s Fringe), and David Beckham, among others.
Update: Ever the jokester, George Clooney, a former Sexiest Man Alive, reportedly rang Hugh Jackman at 2 a.m. to ask the Awesome Aussie why he “took the title away from me.”
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Last night, Will Smith and Rosario Dawson attended a screening of Dec. 19’s Seven Pounds on behalf of the Florida Marlins Community Foundation in Miami, where they presented a check and 300 turkeys that will make this Thanksgiving better for some lucky recipients.
Smith was the first to arrive, wearing a sharp grey suit. Flying solo for the night, he pulled a Tom Cruise and spent about 15 minutes greeting fans before going on stage for the presentation.
Dawson, in a curve-hugging black dress, arrived while Big Willie – he’s tall! – posed for photos with fans and signed autographs for them. She then joined him on stage for the all the pomp and circumstance. (He spent quite a bit of time afterward signing and posing some more.)
Of doing the charity for the evening, Smith said, “I don’t want to do anything in my life that doesn’t make someone else’s life better.”
How fitting that the oft-bleak Seven Pounds is all about that.
Of the role role many see as the one that will finally help Dawson break through into Leading Ladyhood – thank you, director of The Pursuit of Happyness – she said that in order to play Emily, a woman with congenital heart failure, “I talked to people who have pacemakers, people who’ve had heart surgeries, trauma victims.”
She added that she channeled that information “and just played the character because Emily gets this bad news but she doesn’t fall apart, you know. She doesn’t feel depressed because tomorrow is not guaranteed to anybody and she wants to live today beautifully.
“And that’s a beautiful lesson, I think. She savors everything, which gives her almost a sensual quality.”
Update: Sofia Vergara also made an appearance at the premiere on Monday. Click here to read about her method to get herself some press.
The brain trust behind South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, will take on the lives and loves of Mormons with their latest project, a Broadway musical starring cutie patootie Cheyenne Jackson.
Parker and Stone first got their lyrical feet wet with an Oscar-nominated song from 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and have teamed up with Robert Lopez, the co-writer of Avenue Q to write the script for Mormon Musical.
“It’s hilarious – very acerbic and biting,” Jackson told The New York Post’s Pop Wrap at the Out 100 party last week. “It offends everybody but does what South Park does best, which is by the end it comes around and has something great to say.”
The Xanadu stud will play the show’s main missionary, “Elder something.”
Mormon Musical will start rehearsals next month.
Update: Hey, Cheyenne. Call Kathy Griffin and ask her for a good lesson on Talking Behind People’s Backs Like God Intended pronto so this doesn’t happen again.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Click here to find out if Paris Hilton will be in the new Todd Solondz movie, a rumored sequel to 1998’s Happiness.
OK, are you back?
Now read this to find out what I think about her: Everyone says Hilton’s dumb act is just that, an act.
I cannot help but wonder where her Oscar is, already. Girlfriend’s good.
Over the weekend, before the Victoria’s Secret fashion show at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, I ran into Project Runway MVP Christian Siriano, who told me he and his boyfriend are “dying” now that Prop 8 has passed in California – because they want to get married!
Click here to read more about what Tranny Siriano told moi.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Last night I went back to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach to work the press line at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which, btw, was spectacular.
Update 1: John Stamos also walked the pink carpet on Saturday night. If you just need to know what he said when I asked him if he was happy for his ex-wife Rebecca Romijn, who’s expecting twins this winter, then click here.
Update 2: In case you were wondering, Brody Jenner also made it to the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, and he spilled the beans on Lauren Conrad’s new boyfriend, Kyle Howard (TBS’ My Boys).
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I know – big exclamation point.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I don’t usually attend midnight screenings, but since I missed not one but two press screenings of Quantum of Solace – and given the fact that I think that Daniel Craig is like, the second coming – I just had to buck up, have a delicious Toll House chocolate chip ice cream sandwich, and stay up late last night.
It was sooo worth it.
Directed by Marc Forster (the auteur behind Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, and Stranger Than Fiction), Quantum of Solace is the first sequel in the enduringly successful James Bond franchise.
The movie picks up right where Casino Royale left off, with 007 (Craig) betrayed by Vesper Lynd (the indelible Eva Green), and quite thirsty, not for martinis but rather for revenge.
It opens with an eye-catching car chase across Italy’s Lake Garda, with Bond racing to deliver Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), whom he captured in the last movie, to M (Judi Dench) for an interrogation that proves all-too revealing.
It turns out that QUANTUM, the dangerous and far-reaching organization for which Mr. White works, is unknown to Mi6, and has “people everywhere,” including the agency.
Cut to another 007 chase, after an attempt on M’s life, this time across Siena’s tiled rooftops.
With Bond veering recklessly over revenge’s edge – M, still grooming him, needs to know she can trust him – the two realize they’ve stumbled onto a seriously nasty organization.
A clue leads our favorite secret agent to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where he bumps into feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko, from Paris, Je T’aime), a woman who has her own vendetta.
Camille leads Bond straight to Dominic Greene (an oh-that’s-what-he-looks-like Mathieu Amalric, from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), a ruthless business man and major force within QUANTUM.
On a mission that leads him to Austria, Italy, and South America, 007 discovers that Greene, conspiring to take total control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, is forging a deal with the exiled Gen. Medrano from Bolivia. Using his associates in the organization, and manipulating his powerful contacts within the CIA and the British government, Greene plans to overthrow the existing regime in the Latin American country, and give Medrano control of the country in exchange for a seemingly barren piece of land.
That’s where the Huh? moment in Quantum of Solace comes in – just like in all of the Bond movies. The villain wants what? But it doesn’t matter, I suppose, since the reason you’ll be in the movie theater is to see what 007 will do to save the world, after all.
What is interesting about this follow-up is that, since Casino Royale ushered in the Craig Era and re-introduced the James Bond character as a more real, grittier, and blonder fellow, Quantum of Solace allows Bond to grow, not too much just yet, into the man he will become.
At 105 minutes, this is the shortest Bond movie of them all, but it’s a taut one. When the credits finish rolling, the promise that James Bond – and Craig (he’s signed on for two more movies) – will be back appears.
I cannot wait.
My Rating ***1/2
I know 2010 still is a couple of years away, but mark your calendars because you’ll have not one but two Edward Nortons to look forward to – do you love it?
Leaves of Grass is a comedic thriller that casts Norton as twins “who’ve gone in different directions in life.”
Norton describes one as “an Ivy League professor, [and the other as someone who] grows hydroponic weed.”
As for the challenges of playing opposite oneself, he says, “The trick was having each character actually listen to the other.”
Liste…well, read this: Double the Norton equals double the goodness. Count me in.
To say that writer-director Charlie Kaufman’s latest, Synecdoche, New York, is labyrinthine is to imply that the movie’s many twists and outlandish turns have a satisfying ending.
This movie’s the wrong kind of a head-scratcher, and they do not.
Synecdoche, New York starts out strong, I’ll admit, but it soon becomes evident that Kaufman, who makes his directorial debut with another presumably brilliant script of his own, can’t quite…focus.
He doesn’t waste time setting the stage, though, which is deeply appreciated: Caden Cotard (the fantastic Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a desperate husband and father living in Schenectady, N.Y., who begins experiencing ill health just as he is mounting a new play, his first non-adaptation, if memory serves.
His wife Adele (Catherine Keener) is a painter of small tableaux who has left him to pursue a career in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive with her. His shrink, Madeleine Gravis (Hope Davis), is more interested in plugging her books than she is in counseling him. And his box office girl Hazel (Samantha Morton) has made it very clear that she is in love with him, although their relationship quickly runs its course.
As he tries to understand the mysterious condition that is slowly shutting down each of his autonomic functions, Caden begins to worry about the transience of his life, and leaves the ’burbs for New York City, where thanks to a genius grant, he gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse, hoping to stage a work of staggering and brutal honesty.
He directs his troupe in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mockup of the city outside. For decades, Caden mines his own life to create a masterpiece that forever will remain unseen by an audience. He is unable to stop examining, deconstructing, and recreating his own life, and can’t keep from going deeper and creating smaller warehouses within the original one, in order to understand who he is.
This tangle of real and theatrical relationships blurs the line between the world of the play and Caden’s own crumbling reality – this, after all, is a Kaufman movie.
And by the time someone in the production tries to streamline the story, I can all but guarantee that you will have started praying for the curtain call on this one.
Synecdoche, New York – not the destination I was expecting, and certainly not somewhere I necessarily got. It’s a fantasy, indeed, a place that doesn’t exist. The same rules do not apply – I mean, a character lives in a house that’s literally on fire – but that doesn’t mean the point of the movie had to be so deeply buried underneath the surface of so much…quirk.
My Rating *1/2
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I know nothing of this Twilight movie that’s coming out on Nov 21.
Well, I know I’m interviewing two of its stars, Taylor Lautner (a.k.a. Jacob Black) and Edi Gathegi (who plays Laurent), on Saturday.
Oh, and I also know this: Cam Gigandet (a.k.a. the villain vampire James) is a hottie and a half.
I wish I were interviewing him…you know, so I could feed him a burger. I mean, his body’s ridikolous – Google him if you don’t believe me.
Whoever was in charge of casting Twilight knew exactly what they were doing, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.
Update: Wowza! Can Gigandet “love[s] pain.”
Good. I know at least one person who wants to love him until it hurts.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
By now you’ve probably learned that Jennifer Aniston is on the cover of the December issue of Vogue.
In the magazine’s cover story, Aniston opens for the first time on all things Brangelina – calling comments Angelina Jolie made to Vogue in January 2007, “really uncool” (click here to read exactly what she means) – as well as past love Vince Vaughn, and on-off-on beau John Mayer.
Now, I’ve never subscribed to the idea that Aniston should’ve been seen as a victim in her divorce from Brad Pitt, just as much as I’ve never thought beatifying Jolie was anything but silly. But I’ve always admired the Friend’s pursuit of privacy, so her sporadic bursts of candor rivet me.
Anna Wintour, you’ll be happy to know I’m so buying your December issue.
Next February’s Two Lovers tells the story of a Brooklyn man torn between a family friend his parents wish he would marry, and the beautiful but volatile new neighbor with whom he falls in love.
The romantic drama stars Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The two (pictured at right) clearly enjoy each other’s company, but ultimately, “she’s the unattainable,” director James Gray has said. “There’s always one person you obsess over who doesn’t want you.”
Oh, I’m so there just because Gray said that.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The rumors surrounding a sequel to the successful Sex and the City movie kicked their Manolos into overdrive last week when co-star Kim Cattrall confirmed on a British talk show last week that, “Yes. There will” be a follow-up.
Click here to find a link to the video clip in which Cattrall, a.k.a. Samantha Jones, made SATC fans’ dreams come true – and to read the plot suggestions of two EW.com writers.
Ah, but the story doesn’t end there.
No sooner Cattrall had spoken, her co-star and producer Sarah Jessica Parker issued a statement saying, “I’m thrilled to know Kim is excited, but all the deals are not yet done. With ‘the wind on our heels,’ we hope to make it a reality.”
Oh, Kim, you better than anyone in the SATC house should know better than to brag about Sex you’ve yet to have. Certainly, writer-director Michael Patrick King is ready to “come up with a really fun, worthy story,” but until you’re actually sealed, signed, and delivered, well…you’re just teasing us.
And I kind of likey. But don’t disappoint us.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I capped off my birthday week – hey, why not, right? – with a weekend of concertgoing.
First, on Saturday, I caught Rufus Wainwright at The Fillmore Miami Beach at The Jackie Gleason Theater. The singer gave props to Florida for going blue on Election Day, and although he pledged his support of gay marriage he expressed it is so not his desire to get gay-married. Ever.
More importantly, he delivered an intimate performance of hits both old and new. He played the piano and the guitar in a most mesmerizing fashion, shared a Shakespeare poem to preview a little bit of a show he’s mounting set to premiere in Berlin next spring, and even imagined what it would be like to keep a place in Miami Beach. The scenario involved Gloria Estefan, calling to ask what he was up to, and Cuban pork sandwiches, natch.
Anyway, it was really nice to listen to Wainwright sing some of my all-time faves, “Complainte de la Butte” and “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.” This is him doing one of my new faves, “Sanssouci.”
Then, yesterday, I ventured up to Fort Lauderdale to see Coldplay rock the BankAtlantic Center. I’ve been to that venue only a handful of times, but this was the first time I saw it come alive. That’s a testament to the power of Coldplay.
This was my third time seeing the band play, so I knew I was in for quite a treat. At first I was blown away by the confidence of their “Viva La Vida Tour” set list, but then again, no.
This is a band that can afford to pop its cork right off the bat with hits like “Clocks” and “In My Place” and “Speed of Sound” – that’s just how massive a repertoire from which they can choose they have. People loved that and stayed enthused throughout the entire show, enjoying oldies but goodies and every bit of the new.
One of the best qualities Coldplay have is they don’t just command their stage, especially Chris Martin – they make the entire venue their domain. It’s not like every band out there to leave its stage to run to the opposite corner of an arena to play a fan favorite (“The Scientist”) in the thick of its audience. Obvs, Coldplay are not every band out there.
And for that, I’m looking forward to my fourth Coldplay concert.
Marvel has chosen director Joe Johnston (Hidalgo) to helm The First Avenger: Captain America, which is due out on May 6, 2011.
Johnston, who directed next year’s The Wolfman, will be in charge of turning Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, from an unfit military man into a super-powered crime fighter.
There hasn’t been an announcement regarding who Marvel is intending to cast as Captain America, but it better hop to it if it intends to have its superhero-coalition movie The Avengers in production simultaneously, since the character is set to make a crucial appearance in it.
So, I nominate Ryan Reynolds to don the stars and stripes.
Sure, Reynolds is Canadian, but you gotta admit he’s got the look. Clearly. Plus, it’s about darn time Hollywood made a star out of him.
And, heck – if Texas girl Renée Zellweger can play Brit icon Bridget Jones….
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The first cast photo from the upcoming musical Nine, directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago), has been released, and it looks quite sexy.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Update: This show needs to be a massive hit if it wants to surive its kiss-of-death Friday night timeslot.
Last night in Lima, Peru, Kylie Minogue got herself a hat.
The Aussie couldn’t get the Peruvian capital out of her head, so she brought her “KylieX2008 Tour” to the Estadio Monumental, where a fan threw a chullo, a typical Peruvian wool hat, which the singer not only picked up but wore as well.
Modeling her new chullo on stage, she said she wished she would’ve gotten it earlier in the night to keep her from the cold, and that she’d keep it, taking a bow and offering a smiling “Thank you.”
Click here to watch how it happened.
Minogue’s graceful act made me think of another pop singer I adore, and how she’d never. This other lady would’ve spat on the chullo, kicked it, and likely asked that fans didn’t throw s--- on her stage. Then she would’ve acted moodier than usual and probably rushed through her set.
Oh, America, why haven’t you made Kylie Minogue a bigger star?
Fanboys, the much-delayed movie about four extreme Star Wars fans and childhood friends driving across America to Skywalker Ranch to sneak a peek at the yet unreleased Phantom Menace as one last hoorah for their dying friend, finally will be released on Feb. 6.
The movie features several cool cameos, but stars Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder), Christopher Marquette (The Girl Next Door), and Sam Huntington (Superman Returns).
Kristen Bell also co-stars – but you’d hardly know if from the trailer.
Uh, people who produced Fanboys, you want folks to go see your movie after all this time?
Then frakkin’ flaunt its biggest asset – Bell in Princess Leia bikini!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
While POTUS-Elect Barack Obama fulfilled the dream of millions, the GLBT community was dealt devastating blows at yesterday’s election.
In California, people voted to ban same-sex marriage, setting the stage for a court battle over the legitimacy of roughly 16,000 such marriages – including those of celebrity couples Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi and Brad Altman and Star Trek’s George Takei (pictured at right with fellow Star Trek stars Nichelle Nichols and a man I believe is Walter Koenig).
With nearly 96 percent of the votes counted, the controversial Proposition 8 passed by just more than 52 percent.
The initiative had drawn widespread opposition from Hollywood power players, including Brad Pitt, director Steven Spielberg, and even California’s Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Proposition 2, Florida’s equivalent measure, also passed (as did a Arizona’s), making members of the GLBT community second-class citizens.
Shame, shame, shame.
Photo: E! Online.
The seventh season of 24 won’t ignite television for another couple of months, but the show will tease us when 24: Redemption, the two-hour prequel bridging days 6 and 7 airs later this month.
In the meantime, though, I thought I should share the latest trailer for Day 7, which premieres early next year.
It’s an action-packed doozy, and I’ll dare say, Kiefer Sutherland & Co., that all is pretty much forgiven for the boring mess that was Day 6:
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
It looks like Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the United States.
Yes you can, and yes you better, Mr. President.
Now the obvious question is how long until election fatigue sets in, although I don’t think it will. This campaign has reinvigorated the country, and tomorrow not only will be a new day but a new world. I may not have been able to cast a ballot for Obama, but I cast a vote of confidence in him.
It’s a really exciting time to be a guest in this country.
Change is happening.
And btw, that was a pretty classy concession speech, John McCain.
Update 2: Obama’s win had Oprah Winfrey “vibrating.”
Update 3: While getting “Sticky & Sweet” in San Diego, Madonna called the evening of Nov. 4, “a motherf---ing important evening.”
Update 4: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, George Clooney, Diddy, Usher, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, and all the ladies of The View had something to say about Obama’s victory.
Here’s some surprising news for you, Grey’s Anatomy fans: After this Thursday, Seattle Grace’s going to look a lot more different and lot less gay: Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) will be leaving the show STAT.
As one half of Callica, the show’s first regular gay couple (with Dr. Callie Torres, played by Sara Ramirez), Smith’s departure is significant in a few ways.
Firstly, it leaves us fans of the budding relationship hanging. It has been reported that Smith is “not written out. My final scene is just me heading to my car.”
Secondly, since the order to discharge Dr. Hahn “came down from above” (i.e., from the network that produces the show, ABC), it appears the calendar may say it is 2008, but obviously, certain factions of Hollywood seem to be stuck in the 1950s or something.
And lastly, with the imminent arrival of Melissa George (whom I adore) as a new Grey’s Anatomy cast member, I can’t help but think the decision to let Smith go has something to do with her looks.
Oh c’mon – you’re thinking it.
Smith is a lovely-looking lady, but she isn’t as young or thin as George, which is why I’m not buying what executive producer Shonda Rhimes is selling, that, “Unfortunately, we did not find that [Ramirez’s] magic and chemistry with [Smith]’s character would sustain in the long run.”
Ms. Rhimes, you’re a good writer, you’re the writer at Grey’s Anatomy, and certainly, you could’ve seen that the magic and chemistry remained.
Let’s not be disingenuous.
Update 1: Gasp! Another report says George’s character is being re-written, essentially being “de-gayed.”
Update 2: In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres set to air on Nov. 5, Patrick Dempsey told the talk show host that Brooke Smith’s sudden departure from Grey’s Anatomy surprised him quite a bit.
“ABC actually sends me over what I should [say],” he joked.
“ABC’s response…is that [I] should say: ‘We’ve had a great time working with her and that the conclusion of her [character] has been [an] orgasmic’ – I’m sorry, I’m dyslexic! – ‘organic’ ending to the story line.’”
On a serious note, Dempsey said, “I don’t know what happened with [Smith and Ramirez’s] story line. [The powers that be] decided not to continue it for some reason.”
Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Justin Timberlake, Steven Spielberg, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Zach Braff, Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, Snoop Dogg, Tobey Maguire, Will Smith, Borat, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Neil Patrick Harris, Ben Stiller, Shia LaBeouf, Ryan Reynolds, Jason Segel, and Scarlett Johansson, among others, are hoping reverse psychology will work today when they say, “Don’t vote!”:
Monday, November 03, 2008
How I’ve gone through life not knowing about Little Britain I don’t know, but sometimes all it takes is a most unexpected and literal wakeup call to discover something new.
HBO recently began showing Little Britain USA, a fine and dandy import starring creators Matt Lucas and David Walliams, but one that’s missing a vital ingredient: Linda Flint, a university counselor who in order to help her students often needs to contact someone else at the university, someone called Martin.
When Linda phones up Martin – “Martin, it’s Linda…” – in front of the student, she describes them in rather offensive (and hilarious) ways.
See Linda help out Asian student Kenneth Laou.
See her help out friend of friends Joanna Harding. And little guy Paul Roberts.
See Little Britain or Little Britain USA and laugh.