Monday, November 30, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
For years, Wes Anderson has been delivering idiosyncratic work of the most interesting, intriguing, and amusing kind – like Rushmore and one of my faves, The Royal Tenenbaums.
His films have been, in essence, cartoons come to life, odes to the quirks of his wondrous imagination.
With the critically acclaimed Fantastic Mr. Fox – a film that, yes, I’ll say it, is pretty frakkin’ fantastic – his take on on Roald Dahl’s 1970 children’s book, Anderson delivers his most fully realized film, one poised to be appreciated by a mass audience, for it is so winning.
The stop-motion animated tale of the restless Mr. Fox is a triumph. It’s got humor, high jinks, adventure, heart, and smarts. Kids and adults alike will enjoy it so.
It also has a stellar voice cast that includes George Clooney in the titular role, Meryl Streep as the long the long-suffering Mrs. Fox, and one of Anderson’s most valuable players, Jason Schwartzman as little Ash Fox.
They may inhabit a flat, animated world, but Mr. Fox and his friends are phenomenally lifelike, which gives Fantastic Mr. Fox texture and nuance, both in its look and its storytelling.
The Foxes are living an idyllic home life with their son Ash when they receive young nephew Kristopherson (Eric Anderson), whose arrival coincides with former star chicken thief-turned-journalist Mr. Fox’s renewed interest in the life.
He’s a wild animal, you see, and he can’t be helped. Plus, the way he figures it, he doesn’t have very many fox years left in him, and he wants excitement back in his life, no matter what anyone, including Mrs. Fox, has to say about it.
But by reawakening his old habits, he endangers not only his beloved family but the whole animal community by going after the three most powerful farmers in the land, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.
Trapped underground without enough food to go around, the critters band to fight the evil humans, who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr. Fox at any cost.
Seeing Mr. Fox get himself in a jam is entertaining enough alright.
Watching him pull it together and come out the other side is priceless, especially when you see it through Anderson’s eyes. Fantastic Mr. Fox is stamped with his visual signature, which has never suited a film more absolutely.
My Rating ****
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
French DJ David Guetta has revealed that he is planning to collaborate with Madonna.
“I would love to work with Madonna,” he said, “It will probably happen very soon, [but] it’s all in the early stages and I’m not allowed to speak about it yet.”
Guetta has quite a terrific track record when it comes to collaborations, so I hope this ends up happening.
Monday, November 23, 2009
One of the most simple, most winning performances at this year’s messtastic American Music Awards was delivered, of course, by the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige.
MJB, whom I heart, sang her latest single, “I Am,” a mid-tempo ballad that I can only describe as a you-appreciate-me little ditty:
She’s just the best, ain’t she.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Nicely done, Sandra Bullock – with The Blind Side you’ve completed a late-in-the-game pass to movie audiences everywhere that should make us all but forget All About Steve and remember what great promise you pledged for 2009 with The Proposal.
There’s a good reason why Bullock’s been one of Hollywood’s MVPs for years, and that’s because, mostly, she knows how to give people what they want. Today’s based-on-an-incredible-true-story The Blind Side is just that, and perhaps her best shot at some top-shelf awards love as well.
At least at the Golden Globes.
The perfectly timed movie – Thanksgiving is just around the corner – features the actress as Leigh Anne Tuohy, the no-non-sense driving force behind a well-to-do Memphis, fast-food-restaurant-chain-owning family.
Yes, she’s beautifully blond, and salty and a total whip, but her shade of blond radiates from within with the light of her heart of gold, which at first glance is carefully protected by an impenetrable barrier of apparent hoity-toityness.
The day before Thanksgiving, Leigh Anne and her picture-perfect family – which includes her man-behind-the-woman-and-happy-to-be-there husband Sean (played by Tim McGraw), daughter Collins, and son SJ – are driving home from SJ’s Turkey Day school play when she spots, and at first dismisses, the boy everyone calls Big Mike (Quinton Aaron).
Big Mike is a gentle giant of a 17-year-old black kid from the wrong side of town, the product of a broken home and a school system keener in passing him along than in actually making an effort to teach him anything.
It’s raining and it’s cold, and he seems directionless, so Leigh Anne reconsiders – it’s like she’s fated to give him a second thought – and takes him home.
He ends up spending the holiday with the Tuohys, and pretty soon, he becomes one of them, a part of the family.
Taking a genuine interest in him in spite of her so-called friends’ snickering, Leigh Anne clothes and feeds him, and helps him realize and fulfill his potential – and she also starts calling him Michael (he hates being called Big Mike), thus empowering him to blossom, at first in the class room and in his relationships with others, and then as a star high school lineman.
The changes in Michael are reflected in the Tuohys’ lives. As Leigh Anne sees it, though, he’s the one who’s changing her and them, not the other way around.
Michael, as you may know, is a character inspired by Michael Oher, now a successful NFL player.
His story is nothing short of incredible, a total feel-good jolt of energy, a believe, as told in The Blind Side, that we can all add up to something tremendous with a helping hand.
Seen through cynical eyes, the movie’s a little too good to be true, a bit earnest, and quite disingenuous. But believing is what this season is all about, and I loved every bit of it – especially how much Bullock’s character reminded me of myself.
Photo: Warner Bros.
There go my Thanksgiving plans.
I totally was planning on finally catching up with TV’s Friday Night Lights over the Turkey Day break, mostly because I think it’s time I sit down and watch Taylor Kitsch in action, y’ know, but now I’ve come to find out that the actor will be warming the bench for at least a good part of the show’s fifth season.
Kitsch, you see, has a sizzling movie career, and he will be off filming John Carter of Mars, while the beloved football drama is in production.
Oh, whatever – I’ll still catch up. Better late than never, huh, and it’s Taylor Kitsch, after all. He’s reason enough to do anything.
I’m not into the so-called “Twilight Saga,” so the opening of The Twilight Saga: New Moon is less of an event for me as it is for some of you.
The movie franchise based on the Stephenie Meyer books doesn’t interest me – I find it inferior to, say, anything Joss Whedon ever dreamed up, and honestly, I think of it as quite puzzling and borderline upsetting.
The story is rather simple and appealing (on paper): Teenaged girl Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart, the most reluctant movie star I’ve ever seen) moves to a new town, meets brooding vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the dreamiest of them all – that is, natch, in last year‘s first installment – they fall in love, find it a forbidden situation…and make it work.
Cut to New Moon, the second entry in what is to be an aggroying series of movie and an even more eh series of tab covers chronicling the hookups and whatevs of its central cast.
In this long-awaited and expertly marketed, slightly better second chapter, the romance between the mortal and the vampire soars to a new level as Bella delves deeper into the mysteries of the supernatural world she yearns to become a part of (seriously...more on that slice of dysfunction in a hot sec) – only to find herself in greater peril than ever before.
Early into the movie, directed by Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass), who takes over Catherine Hardwicke (whom I think delivered a so-so movie and made her actors looked sloppy), Edward dumps Bella, to protect her, sending her down a rabbit hole of depression and disappointment.
Having said that, he appears before her whenever she finds herself in dangerous situations (a total mind-f---, no?), which is something he kinda sorta made her promise she’d avoid, which in turns makes her seek the thrill of peril even more…y’ know, so he will appear to her and all.
This brings her closer and closer to a childhood BFF named Jacob (a beefed-up Taylor Lautner, looking annoying as hell and in serious need of a burger he’s so shitless and ripped up all the time), a boy harboring a secret of his own.
Spoiler Alert! He’s a werewolf.
Bella, a friend of Jacob’s says, is “good with weird,” which to me, I must say gathering from the movies so far, means she has some issues/fetishes she needs to look at but quick.
I mean, she’s head-over-heels in love with a dead guy, who dumps her unceremoniously, and then she’s attracted to a beast, and totally worst of all, saddled with a cheestastic mythology and dialogue that feels more alienating than inviting. (The fact that Stewart looks completely over the whole thing only makes matters worse.)
Note to the screenwriter in charge of this stuff: Keep the story disconnects in mind. I didn’t read the books – sorry…I so am not a 13-year-old girl. You can’t just like, glance over important details about the characters. And not to nitpick, but I think there is a giant plot hole in the whole Bella-goes-to-Italy sequence, and it involves Edward being able to feel her coming, which is something I thought he could do.
The central conflict of New Moon lies in the distance between Bella and Edward, and how it affects her relationships with those around her, and how it tears her between her one true love and her options.
Which brings me to the question: Am I on Team Edward or on Team Jacob?
To which I say I’m not on either. If I had to pick, I’d say I was on Team Jane.
Jane is one of the Volturi, a powerful, organized coven of vampires who enforce the laws of their world. She’s way more interesting than anyone else.
She’s a deadly little thing, and I cannot wait to see more of her. It’s a real shame she makes her appearance in the last act of the movie, for she, as played by Dakota Fanning, enlivens the movie so.
I’ll say this much: New Moon is a much better offering than Twilight, but it still had me yawning and bored.
My hope is that this franchise will turn out to be the sort that needs to be watched in sequence, y’ know…all four chapters in a row. The next one, Eclipse, is due out next summer.
Today’s offering certainly didn’t thrill me. But it intrigued me. So I’m willing to come around just as long as it doesn’t totally suck the fun out of me any more than it has, or make me roll my eyes.
My Rating **1/2
Photo: Summit Entertainment.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Next spring, I will give Miley Cyrus, and she can thank Aussie newcomer Liam Hemsworth for it.
Disney’s gold girl will star in The Last Song, a new movie made out of a Nicholas Sparks bestseller, about rebellious teenager who’s sent to a Southern beach town spend the summer with her estranged father (Greg Kinnear), a concert pianist.
There she meets a hottie, and coming-of-ageness happens:
The Last Song opens on April 2.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
But...uhh...where’s Daniel Craig? I didn’t see him at first online glance....
Robin Thicke released the video for his new single, “Sex Therapy,” and I have to say...I feel turned on:
I do have to say, though, that as sexy as the video is, it kinda left me underwhelmed.
It could’ve been a sexier video in the sense that I wish Thicke had opted for a storylined video, you know what I mean.
I miss videos that said something, that added something to a song.
The Thickster needs to transcend his material. I think that’s why people haven’t taken him to the top of the charts.
And we all need to pick up his newest album, Sex Therapy, when it comes out next month.
In case you couldn’t help but wonder, it was only a matter of time….
Before Sex and the City was a hit HBO show and a healthy and well-dressed movie franchise, it was a book, and now its author Candace Bushnell has penned two prequels, the first of which is coming out next spring.
The Carrie Diaries, written for a young adult audience, is a novel told from the perspective of our heroine in her teen years – when she wore Candie’s? – and goes on sale April 27.
I anticipate that The CW will option the rights in about five seconds ago….
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Oprah Winfrey is putting her magic touch to good use.
The Big O will launch a daytime series for one of her favorite people, cutie patootie designer Nate Berkus, next fall.
Berkus has been appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show since 2001 and hosts his own show on her satellite radio channel.
How much am I totally watching Berkus’ show?
“That’s a total rumor,” she said. “I was hanging out in Toronto the other day and someone came up to me and said, ‘I just heard you’re doing [it].’ And I said, ‘Really? No one told me!’ It’s not true.”
A rep for the franchise’s studio confirms McAdams’ account: “It’s an Internet rumor, as so many things are these days.”
Don’t give up hope, though, nerds!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Following their solo appearances on The CW’s Melrose Place, original-flavor tenants Daphne Zuniga (Jo), Josie Bissett (Jane), Thomas Calabro (Michael), and Heather Locklear (Amanda) will reunite in the infamous apartment complex in an episode set to air early next year.
As in all together. In the same scene.
Je. L’a. Dore!
I’ve liking the reboot so far, but after tomorrow tonight I’m sure I’ll be more than liking it since Locklear will have reprised her signature role and all will be A-OK with the TV world:
So glad the bitc...I mean, Heather Locklear’s back.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Roland Emmerich’s 2012 is the rarest of movies: a summer blockbuster…in fall.
I’m going to keep this short because this disaster movie is review-proof, y’ know, and ’cause at 158 minutes, the movies runs a heckuva lot longer than it should, which you needn’t think about it too much.
The premise is simple: The world as we know it is coming to and.
What – did you expect something else from Emmerich, he who gave us Independence Day and the global warming warning The Day After Tomorrow?
The movie opens in the present day, as a couple of scientists (one played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) discover that massive solar flares are producing nomalies with the Earth’s inner crust (or was it its core? or both?).
Or something like that.
Soon, the American government is warned, and we flash forward three years, to a date around that which the Mayans predicted (ish) will be the end of our days: Dec. 21., 2012.
What follows is a race against time for survival, and we go along for the ride with John Cusack and his estranged family, which includes his ex-wife, played by the never-more-lovely-or-misplaced-in-a-big-money-maker Amanda Peet.
We meet a cuckoo puff (Woody Harrelson) who knows more than the powers that be would like him to, a beyond-noble POTUS played by Danny Glover, and his self- and good-of-the-richest-serving chief of staff (Oliver Platt).
Everyone everywhere’s scared and coping with a kept-secret apocalypse, for never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, or to so many religions, scientists, and governments. The world is changing literally under the name.
Unfortunately, 2012, which was delayed from summer for whatever reason, isn’t the kind of epic blockbuster adventure that will leave satisfied.
Sure, the special effects are awesome, and the thrill pieces are fantastic (see L.A. break apart and Vegas burn, and lots and lots of people perish but good!), and there’s even a little eye candy thrown into the mix for good measure, but 2012 is much too long for its own good.
But then again, it doesn’t matter any what I say. It, like the plausibility of its story, will be huge.
My Rating **1/2
Photo: Sony Pictures.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Well, now I’m sad that ABC’s Eastwick is no more because that means Johann Urb is out of a job.
I discovered the Estonian actor just last night when I saw the trashtastic 2012, which comes out tomorrow.
And thus began the Let’s Make Sam Worthington a Super-star Project yesterday with the release of the Clash of the Titans trailer:
The movie, which co-stars Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, is set to hit theaters March 26.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I cannot wait to see Pedro Almodóvar’s latest, film fest fave Broken Embraces, even though reading its synopsis is an exercise in getting confused.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
By no means am I a big Lady GaGa fan, but that’s all beginning to change a bit.
I’ve been liking the pop upstart’s “Bad Romance,” but now that the video for the single’s out, I’m loving it…and her a little more (kudos for rockin’ those insane Alexander McQueen shoes, girl!):
The only thing that would make this video, which is already on fire, better would be if it, too, featured Alexander Skarsgård.
Monday, November 09, 2009
The label is big on the arts, evidently.
In its effort to support Miami’s local art institutions, the powers that be created the MARNI FOR MIAMI program, holding benefit shopping nights at its Magic City store for institutions such as the Miami Art Museum and the Bass Museum, with a percentage of sales being donated to each museum.
And now fashionistas and art lovers can combine their passions in one stylish way.
Photo: Karla Otto, Inc.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Gwyneth Paltrow will join Nicole Kidman in The Danish Girl, an adaptation of the David Ebershoff novel about the first post-operative transsexual.
The adaptation will follow the relationship between transsexual Einar Wegener (Kidman) and his wife, Greta (Paltrow), who stood by her partner through the sex-change operation.
Thomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) is directing a script by Lucinda Coxon.
Now, this is the kind of heavyweight project G.P. should be involved with more often....
Friday, November 06, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Painted in the Town
Dear Leighton Meester,
I totally heart your new single, “Somebody to Love,” featuring Robin Thicke – especially the way he says “putty cat” – but girl, you seem to have overdone your makeup for the video:
I can’t wait to see the whole thing, though….
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
La Toya Jackson’s scene in Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno, which was removed from the summer movie before its release after the death of her brother Michael, will see the light of day, after all.
The scene, in which La Toya and Brüno treat immigrant workers as furniture (much like he did with Paula Abdul) while he tries to get MJ’s phone number from her cell phone, appeared in early screenings of the film. It now will be an extra on the movie’s DVD.
I’m laughing already.
Photo: Universal Pictures.com.
Next year, Angelina Jolie will get back in the summer blockbuster business with the spy thriller Salt.
The actress will play Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer accused of being a Russian sleeper spy.
Salt, natch, goes on the run – how very Jason Bourne, how very Ethan Hunt (hey, Tom Cruise was supposed to play the Salt role at one point….) – and uses all of her mad skills to elude capture, protect her family, and prove to everyone that she’s being set up: