Friday, September 29, 2006

The 100th Post

— “Terrified. Mortified. Petrified. you.”

In honor of my 100th post, here are a few of the people and things that inspire me.

Chocolate cake.

Coldplay’s “Green Eyes” and “
Warning Sign.”

Dancing to Alan Foust’s arrangement of “Fly Me to the Moon” while watching the fifth season finale of Sex and the City.


Moulin Rouge!

They all mean something special to me (together and on their own) – even the quote…especially the quote from A Beautiful Mind – because they tug at my heart.

Would you like to try?

Something Tells Me Tom Cruise Is Not Too Happy Today

Variety reported today that Robert Downey Jr. (whose Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – one of the best movies of last year that I didn’t see – you must check out) has signed on to star as Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist who, upon being kidnapped, invents a high-tech suit of armor that gives him superpowers and allows him to escape, in the Marvel Comic flick Iron Man.

Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura) is directing; the movie is expected to arrive in theaters in May 2008.

I don’t mean to be glib or anything, but the news effectively puts the kibosh on Tom Cruise’s longtime (rumored) attachment to the project.

Downey will next be seen opposite Nicole Kidman in this November’s Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tubealicious Treats

According to some reports, so far the new fall TV season hasn’t yielded an out-of-the-gate hit, à la Desperate Housewives or Lost.

The consensus seems to be that perhaps success is going to take a little time – worked for The Office – which is good news when you consider that in years past for networks were all-too happy to pull the plug on shows at the first sign of sluggish ratings (Threshold, I miss you so) or if they weren’t confident on their future performance (you, too, Invasion).

As I mentioned in my fall preview, there are a lot of good news worth checking out. Now that we are well into the season, I have to say I am hooked on Heroes (after just one airing), enjoy Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’s smart writing a lot, cannot wait to see more of the Ray Liotta-Virgina Madsen dynamic on Smith, and hope that Jericho attracts more viewers in the coming weeks because I’m so intrigued (last night’s final scene was thrilling!).

Sometimes tube treats are best enjoyed after several samplings – don’t get my stories cancelled!

Photo: (Jericho).
More Good News, Buffy Fans

It was announced today that James Marsters, a.k.a. Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, has joined Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler (The Phantom of the Opera) in the romantic drama P.S., I Love You.

I know, I know – it’s been far too long since I last talked Buffy, but what can I do? Good news like this is hard to come by.

The movie, based on the best-selling Cecelia Ahern book, will revolve around a grieving young widow who discovers her late husband has left her a list of tasks that will reveal itself in 10 monthly messages intended to ease her out of grief and transition her to a new life. Marsters will play the late husband's best friend.

Richard LaGravenese (Living Out Loud) is directing; production is set to begin in the in mid-October in New York and Ireland.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Nostalgia, Pt. 1

A curious thing happened to me this weekend while I was down with a terrible chest cold: I caught Twister on HBO.

Yeah, I know – big whoop.

The funny thing is it dawned me that that summer blockbuster came out 10 years ago. Ten years ago!

Again, I know – big whoop.

I don’t know if it was the sniffles or the cold medication, but it got me thinking about 1996 – and what that year meant to the fact that I am now keeping a blog about movies.

I remembered, vividly, being in a movie theater in Lima, Peru, and seeing the posters for the first Mission: Impossible (the best one of the series, though I am quite fond of J.J. Abram’s M:i:III, too), Eraser, Evita, Independence Day, Jerry Maguire, Mars Attacks!, The Rock, and Striptease (which earned then-highest paid actress Demi Moore a $12.5 million paycheck – do you remember that?). And I remembered thinking saying at the time, “I’m going to see all of these movies.”

Of course, I didn’t – they wouldn’t allow me into Striptease, but that was then, and here I am now…writing about movies.

So, you see, it is a big whoop. And I love it.

Photo: Warner Bros. (Twister).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Amazingly Gay Duo Is Back

Saturday Night Live may have lost three of its MVPs – Horatio Sanz, the invaluable Chris Parnell, and Finesse Mitchell – this season, but show runner Lorne Michaels has scored with this fan by tapping Seth Meyers to join the hilarious Amy Poehler as co-anchor of the show’s “Weekend Updated,” effectively filling the void left by Tina Fey.

Meyers is known for his uncanny impressions of Sen. John Kerry, Hugh Grant, and Anderson Cooper. His most famous characters include Dr. Dave Klinger, a.k.a. “Zinger”; Dan Needler, husband to Poehler’s Sally and one half of “the couple that should be divorced”; and Ian Gerard, the pun-loving British entertainment journalist co-host of “Spy Glass” – an Access Hollywood send-off he sketched with…Poehler, no less.

He is also taking Fey's spot as a head writer on the show.

SNL kicks off its new season on Saturday, Sept. 30, with host Dane Cook (eh choice) and musical guests The Killers (good choice).


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rise of the Fall – TV Edition

I love TV, and now that the fall season – a.k.a. the end of my semi-happening social life – is here, well…I am going to love talking about TV. Here are the five things I cannot wait to see on the tube this season.

Everwood repeats on ABC Family. (I guess it’s better to get to the party late than never at all);

Madonna’s Live to Tell, an NBC Special Presentation of her “Confessions Tour,” "live" from London, this Thanksgiving – surprise, surprise;

Tina Fey and (especially) Tracy Morgan on NBC’s 30 Rock;

The series premieres of ABC’s Ugly Betty, NBC’s Heroes and Studio 60 from the Sunset Strip (which TiVo is dutifully saving for me), and CBS’s Smith (which I saw last night and enjoyed) and Jericho; and

The return of Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU, Lost, The Office, and Veronica Mars (which needs all of its old and all the new viewers it can get now more than ever before since The CW gave it a limited episode order that will increase only if the show does better, ratings-wise).

Photo: (The Office).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Does this Look Make You...?

Madonna is in Japan for the last couple of shows of her tremendously successful (and controversial) "Confessions Tour." Always one to keep us on our toes, she has gone and re-invented herself once again, shortening her up-until-this-week strawberry blond long locks in favor of the look at right.

She debuted the new look when she and photographer Steven Klein attended the opening of the "X-STaTIC PRO=CeSS" exhibition in Tokyo. we likey?


Update: It's just a wig – thank goodness.
Rise of the Fall – Movie Edition

Now that summer is over and done with, here are the 15 movies I am looking forward to the most this fall, in the order in which they will be released.

Jackass: Number Two (Sept. 22)

Shortbus (Oct. 4): This urban dramedy from John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) follows seven very different people, as they navigate between the paths of love and sex in modern-day New York City.

The Departed (Oct. 6): Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Matt Wahlberg in this remake of the hit 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs.

The Queen (Oct. 6): Helen Mirren stars as Queen Elizabeth II in this Stephen Frears-directed revealing and witty portrait of the British royal family immediately following the death of Princess Diana.

Little Children (Oct. 6)

Infamous (Oct. 13): Lest you dismiss it as just another Truman Capote film, know that this star-studded affair (featuring Toby Jones as the In Cold Blood scribe and Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee) explores the author’s uptown New York life more than last year’s Capote.

Flags of Our Fathers (Oct. 20): Clint Eastwood directs Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach (Windtalkers), and Jamie Bell (King Kong) and tells the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, a turning point in WWII.

Marie Antoinette (Oct. 20)

The Prestige (Oct. 20): Christopher Nolan (Memento) directs Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as two clashing stage magicians in 1878, as they spin webs of deceit and exposure, while feuding to outwit and destroy each another.

Running with Scissors (Oct. 20)

Babel (Oct. 27): Alexander Gonzáles Iñárritu (21 Grams) delivers a series of interconnected dramas –set in Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia, and Japan – that features Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, and Kôji Yakusho.

Volver (Nov. 3)

Stranger Than Fiction (Nov. 10): IRS auditor Will Ferrell suddenly finds himself the subject of Emma Thompson’s narration – a narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work to his love interest…to his imminent death.

Bobby (Nov. 17): Emilo Estevez directs Anthony Hopkins, Lindsay Lohan, William H. Macy, Demi Moore, and Mark Valley, among others, in this re-telling of the assassination of the titular Sen. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968.

Casino Royale (Nov. 17)

Photo: Paramount Vantage (Babel).

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rise of the Fall – Music Edition

Fall is here. Well, not officially, but a new season is in the air – at least TV-, music-, and movie-wise.

I already wrote about the music that I am digging this fall. You may have noticed the songs that I like didn’t include any by Beyoncé. So here I am now, changing my tune.

I am allowed, after all.

I’m not saying I love the bootylicious diva’s sophomore effort, B’day, just yet. But considering I totally dug her performance of “Ring the Alarm” at the VMAs last month, and that a friend had me listen to quite a few songs on the CD over the weekend (“Get Me Bodied” is a hot track), I am saying it is a thumping shindig I’d like to revisit sometime soon – and that I was remiss in not giving it props as part of a good season for pop music.

I hate that Tyra Banks beat me to it.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Just Like a Truly Unexpected First Kiss...

The Last Kiss, starring Zach Braff (TV’s Scrubs, Garden State), has managed to come out of nowhere and surprise with its incredibly compelling power to…

Hold the phone. I haven’t seen the movie, yet here I am, gushing about it.

Perhaps this is because the movie – co-starring Jacinda Barrett, Blythe Danner, and Tom Wilkinson – was directed by Tony Goldwyn (A Walk on the Moon) and written by Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash), and thus promises to be a character-driven ensemble piece.

“The screenplay takes a refreshing and rather edgy look at the ideals we have about what we imagine we want in our life partners, how we see our lives going, and what we expect to achieve at various stages of our lives,” Goldwyn says on the movie’s website. “Somehow life never quite works out like the ideal we envision. What do you do when life happens to you?"

I love that. I know that. And I love what it can do for a romantic comedy…the heaviness of heart (and yes, even hope) it can give it.

Or perhaps it’s because I am kind of terribly giddy with excitement at the prospect of seeing The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson break through with this movie – and I’m not even an O.C. fan!

According to Braff, The Last Kiss is “about turning a major corner in your life: settling down and starting a family, while still clutching on to everything that was free, innocent, and fun about being young.”

Turning a corner is something I find quite fascinating, as I do Braff, who is one of the most graceful actors working on one of the most underrated shows on TV right now – if you are a Scrubs fan you know what I mean, if not…well, too bad). So all I know for sure is that I’m there.

Photo: DreamWorks Pictures.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Let Them…Watch the Film

If there is one film that hipsters are secretly looking forward to watching this fall – in spite of the mixed welcome it received at the Cannes Film Festival last May – that film is Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

The Lost in Translation writer and director has crafted a whimsically liberated take on the life of the Austrian archduchess who married into the French royal family in 1770 and was imprisoned and beheaded when the monarchy was overthrown in the French Revolution 20 years later.

Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is based upon a historical biography by Lady Antonia Fraser, and is expected to take the same sympathetic view of the queen's life as was presented in Fraser's biography.

The film stars The Virgin Suicides’ Kirsten Dunst in the title role (Jason Schwartzman co-stars as King Louis XVI), and its soundtrack features songs by the New Wave and Siouxsie & the Banshees.

Oh, and in this 18th-century France, Marie Antoinette sports pink hair and owns a pair of blue Converse sneakers.

In several recent interviews, the filmmaker has suggested that her highly stylized interpretation is very modern in order to humanize the historical figures involved. “It is not a lesson of history,” Coppola has said. “It is an interpretation documented, but carried by my desire for covering the subject differently.”

Et comme ça, I declare, le film arrive Oct. 20.

Photo: Columbia Pictures.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Just Can’t Get Enough

Of what, you ask?

My, awards, of course. Just ask the Venice Film Festival, which just bestowed, over the weekend, what must be the first awards of the season.

The Chinese drama Still Life took home the 11-day festival’s top prize – the Golden Lion – while Ben Affleck pulled off one of the biggest surprises on the Lido when he was named Best Actor for his role as George Reeves (the star of the 1950s TV series The Adventures of Superman) in the noir thriller Hollywoodland.

In addition to being a surprise late entry into the 21-film-strong competition, Still Life was far from the critics' favorite at the start of the festival. In fact, that honor was split between The Queen, a film that takes a look at the days following Princess Diana's 1997 death, and Emilio Estevez's Bobby, an ensemble piece chronicling the run-up to Robert F. Kennedy's assassination.

Helen Mirren was named Best Actress for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the Stephen Frears-directed regal drama, which also won the award for Best Script. Spike Lee picked up the documentary prize for his Hurricane Katrina film, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

Going back to Matt Damon’s BFF, he got off to a good start this awards season – following a tidal wave that included a notorious relationship and a string of box office duds that is now turning – effectively positioning himself as the “comeback kid,” which, as we all know, the industry just loves.

Hollywoodland, which I saw over the weekend (and liked for the most part), follows the troubled investigation into Reeves' mysterious death. It also stars Adrien Brody and Diane Lane, and while Affleck more than holds his own, I think he will be better served by pursuing Best Supporting Actor prizes in the future if he wants a shot at the big one.

Photo: Focus Features (Hollywoodland).

Smells Like Team Spirit

This December’s McG-directed We Are Marshall tells the true story of a small town steeped in the rich tradition of college football – and the plane crash that would forever change it.

For decades, Huntington, W.Va., came together to cheer on Marshall University's Thundering Herd. But on a fateful 1970 night, while traveling back home after a game in North Carolina, 75 members of Marshall's football team and coaching staff were killed in a plane crash.

As those left behind struggled to cope with the devastating loss of their loved ones, one man have them hope and strength. Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey), a young coach who was determined to rebuild Marshall's football program, rose as a leader – and helped heal a community in the process.

The movies co-stars Lost’s Matthew Fox, David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck), Deadwood’s Ian McShane, and Anthony Mackie. It also marks McG’s first attempt at “serious” filmmaking after the Charlie’s Angels movies, which, granted, were pretty serious (and fun) business all on their own, no?

Check out the trailer for We Are Marshall here.

Photo: Warner Bros.

Friday, September 08, 2006

In the Evidence of His Brilliance

There is a new trailer for the upcoming Daniel Craig-starring new Bond movie, Casino Royale.

Watch it smolder here.

Photo: MGM/Columbia Pictures.
Believe It or Not

E! Online reported earlier today that a 63-year-old priest has confessed to having phoned in a bomb threat to one of Madonna's concerts in Amsterdam last week, in an effort to keep her from staging the now infamous mock-crucifixion scene that is part of her current “Confessions Tour.”

Authorities said the threat was easily traceable as the priest used his home phone to make the call.

What a doof.

I find this shocking beyond words. Shouldn’t he know like, way better? So much for preaching tolerance and understanding. Just let her be, already. She’s only trying to make a contribution to the world (in her own way, of course).

Who knew that was such a horrible thing.

Just Keep Hosting, Just Keep Hosting

It was announced yesterday that Ellen DeGeneres will host the 2007 Academy Awards ceremony, her first time ever emceeing that telecast (she has hosted the Emmys and the Grammys before).

"When [telecast producer] Laura Ziskin called, I was thrilled," DeGeneres said in a statement. "There's two things I've always wanted to do in my life. One is to host the Oscars. The second is to get a call from Laura Ziskin. You can imagine that day's diary entry."

Isn’t she funny.

The 79th Annual Academy Awards will air live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 25, from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood & Highland.

This will be the erstwhile Dory (of Finding Nemo) at the Oscars.

P.S.: I don’t have anything against Ellen (in fact, she’s a regular on my TiVo), so don’t think that I didn’t put a picture of her for a reason. I just really liked her turn as Dory (she should’ve won an award for it).

Photo: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

At Last

It was reported today that The Mask’s Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz will finally reunite to play a married couple in A Little Game Without Consequence, a dramedy based on a 2004 French film.

The movie will revolve around a couple who has been happily married for five years, but decide to play a trick on their friends by pretending to break up...only to discover that most of their family and friends never thought they belonged together in the first place.

It will be Carrey and Diaz’s first feature together since the 1994 laugher that boosted both of their careers, and their second attempt at showcasing their terrific chemistry since their previous shot at a reunion, Fun with Dick and Jane, didn’t take.

Production is set to begin next month in New York.



Suri Cruise.

All is well in the world now that Vanity Fair has unveiled the exclusive first photos of Tom Cruise and Katie “call her Kate” Holmes’s first child together, the adorably and up-until-now elusive Suri.

Uh, not! But you know what I mean – the child really does exist! Just ask Katie Couric. The photos will appear in the magazine’s October issue, as part of a reported 22-page “family portfolio” shot in July by Annie Liebovitz.

She’s kind of cute, no? (Suri, that is.)

Good timing on Suri’s part, too: Daddy could use a little something to help the public forget about Mission: Impossible III’s less than stellar box office or his recent ousting as Paramount’s Golden Boy.

Photo: The

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This Is Not a Children's Movie

Little Children, the latest from Academy Award nominee Todd Field (In the Bedroom) centers on a group of young marrieds, whose lives intersect on the playgrounds, town pools, and streets of their small community in surprising and potentially dangerous ways.

Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, and the thoroughly watchable Patrick Wilson (Hard Candy) star in this most anticipated fall film opening (in limited release) Oct. 6.

You can check out the trailer here.

Photo: New Line Cinema.

Friday, September 01, 2006

It’s All an Illusion

If you are in the mood to catch a movie this weekend, and Crank doesn’t quite do it for you, then check out The Illusionist.

In the film, Edward Norton plays Eisenheim, a stage magician who amazes the audiences of turn-of-the-century Vienna and draws the attention of Jessica Biel’s Sophie von Teschen, whom he almost immediately recognizes as his long lost childhood love, and that of her intended fiancé, Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell).

Needless to say, the prince isn’t too keen on Eisenheim awakening Sophie’s dormant feelings for him, or with their clandestine affair, and tasks Paul Giamatti’s Chief Inspector Uhl with exposing Eisenheim, while the magician prepares to execute his greatest illusion yet.

While a bit slow in the beginning, you will soon find yourself enraptured by The Illusionist. And you won’t care.

My Rating ***

Photo: Yari Film Group.
MTV Gets Back to Basics

OK…so I have shied away from talking about the Emmys (all those snubs still have me riled up).

While I loved the show – Conan O’Brien rocked! Purple is in! Hugh Laurie made want to start watching House! Helen Mirren is It! The Office and 24 won! – but hated the fact that no CW stars made appearances (failing to nominate Kristen Bell and Lauren Graham was bad enough, but not inviting them to the party was low), I just couldn’t bring myself to write something about it anytime sooner.

To be honest I have been kind of busynot!

So, to make up for it, here’s a little something about the MTV VMAs, which this year went back to basics and were held in New York City after two years in Miami. I missed them so, but I was glad MTV hosted the party where it rightfully belongs. Anyway, here are the winners. And here is what I liked…and what I didn’t (in that order):

MTV using the demo version of Madonna’s “I Love New York” during the pre-show was a nice way to give her – and the city – props. They could’ve also given her an award later on, but they get a pass since the fans voted for the winners this year.

I liked the performances, starting with Fergie’s pre-show rousing rendition of “London Bridge” – which made want to drop it down real low – and following with:

  • Justin Timberlake, who has got to be funkiest white boy I have ever seen, and his double whammy (“My Love” and “SexyBack”) of a show opener. His is a tour I am eagerly anticipating.
  • Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” and Beyoncé’s “Ring the Alarm,” which I finally got – and liked. The Latin pop sensation’s Bollywood-inspired performance, featuring Wyclef Jean, was a graceful showstopper, while the erstwhile Child of Destiny’s was an over-the-top coup.
  • OK Go’s choreography for “Here It Goes Again”: a quadruple tour de force that I am never going to try to reproduce…not even sans treadmills.

I also enjoyed seeing Lil’ Kim out and about after her one-year engagement in the big house, Pink’s shocked look as Nick Lachey and Nicole Richie presented her with the Best Pop Video VMA for “Stupid Girls,” presenter Sarah Silverman’s kooky humor, Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt” (I would’ve preferred “Ain’t No Other Man,” you know…to keep show’s beat up), and host Jack Black’s hit-or-miss efforts to “bring the thunder.”

I did not, however, care for Jessica Simpson’s tired shtick (or her dress), Britney Spears and K-Fed’s pathetic presentation (go away, already, and think – and clean up – real hard before you come back!), or the fact that Madonna didn’t win a single VMA.

Not (entirely) cool, MTV.

For some of what we didn't see, click here.