Wednesday, February 28, 2007

LOL in the MIA

Comedy Central's spoofstastic Reno 911!, which is one part Cops, one part The Office, comes to Miami for its oft-amusing feature-length film debut in Reno 911!: Miami.

The movie – perfect for some mindless weekend afternoon fun – follows the officers of the Reno police department as they visit a national police convention in Miami Beach, and sees them try to save the day when the convention center is bio-attacked.

Will the misfit crew, led by short shorts-wearing Lt. Jim Dangle (co-writer Thomas Lennon), be able to protect the Magic City’s streets? There’s only one way to find out, folks, but know that you’ll have plenty of fun watching them give it their all.

Now, could somebody please give Niecy Nash her own show…or her own movie? Girlfriend’s a star.

My Rating ***

Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Name on Everybody’s Lips…

Is Oscar.

Although the somewhat lackluster and looong 79th Annual Academy Awards got down to business as expected on Sunday, there was still some room for a few surprises.

Yes, Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Helen Mirren (The Queen), Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls), and Martin Scorsese picked up their first Oscars, but Dreamgirls’ Eddie Murphy lost to Little Miss Sunshine’s Alan Arkin in the Best Supporting Actor category.

And, in the Best Picture category, The Departed emerged victorious over Babel (thought to be the Boston-set drama’s most direct competition) and Producers Guild Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Independent Spirit Award winner Little Miss Sunshine in the Best Picture category.

For a complete list of winners, click here.

My favorite parts of the night were the ladies (Helen Mirren looked every bit the winner, and I absolutely adored Reese Witherspoon’s Nina Ricci dress – she gets my vote for best dressed), seeing both Daniel Craig and Clive Owen on stage, and the montage about writers on film.

Ellen DeGeneres’s turn as host, on the other hand…. It was a great shot, but it missed the mark a little, don’t you think?

Anyway, I also got a kick out of seeing a previously-thought-not-to-be-pregnant Naomi Watts appear to be, indeed, expecting (although she wouldn’t confirm or deny it), and out of seeing that Madonna put a thoroughly modern spin to Old Hollywood glamour at the Vanity Fair party, and out of seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar out on the town once again (‘cause you know…Long Live the Slayer!).


Friday, February 23, 2007

Where Have All the Models Gone?

Look – I love me some Jennifer Hudson and I love that she’s gracing the cover of – gasp? – Vogue (check her out at right). I think it’s about time the It Girl of the season was not some stick figure with no soul.

And although I sometimes vacillate on Beyoncé I still think she’s H-O-T…but not let’s-put-her-on-the-cover-of-the-Sports Illustrated-swimsuit-issue-H-O-T. Up until this year, that particular honor had been reserved for models like Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Rebecca Romijn – not pop stars.

So what gives?

I miss seeing models on the cover of magazines. These days, you’re lucky if you see one in ads (one that isn’t Kate Moss, that is).

I know the days of the supermodels (Cindy, Claudia, Christy, Naomi, and Helena, too) are long gone, but what ever happened to the über-models? Why aren’t Gisele, Carmen, Liya, Natalia, and Jacquetta constantly on the cover of the fashion mags instead of Hollywood actresses?

They’re still here, darn it.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nostalgia, Pt. 6

Long before there was Entourage, there was Grosse Pointe.

A satire centering on the off-camera antics of five actors who star in a fictional high school drama, this short-lived, très Beverly Hills, 90210-esque WB show premiered in 2000, and offered us an insider's look at young Hollywood's crazy antics.

The show – clearly ahead of its time – was cancelled after 17 funny episodes, all of which are now out on DVD for your enjoyment.

Long live Hunter Fallow!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Girl Couldn’t Help It

The new biopic Factory Girl will have you believe that Andy Warhol’s protégé Edie Sedgwick was nothing but a beautiful poor little rich girl, caught up in a whirlwind of glitz and glamour that would ultimately lead her down a path of no return.

For better and for worse, I suppose the film is right on the money.

For better, 1960s It Girl Sedgwick is portrayed as a beautiful poor little rich girl with ebullient energy by these days’ It Girl Sienna Miller.

But for worse, the film never engages; it wants to transport you back in time, but fails to do so by neglecting character and story development. Thus, sets are just sets, and it's somewhat difficult to imagine most of the actors that populate them as more than just actors playing dress up.

Only Miller and co-star Guy Pearce (Memento) in his magnetic turn as Warhol, truly excel in their assigned roles; she by shining like the brightest ray of sunshine in the lazily shown underground New York scene, and he by commanding and intimidating the artist’s milieu.

It’s a shame, really, that such a potentially cool film – one that could’ve informed its audience about an era about which many sordid tales are told – opted to victimize and/or vilified its subjects in myopic ways (could Sedgwick really not help it? was Warhol really that big of a selfish a--hole? just who are these people?).

Nevertheless, I must point out, Factory Girl showcased two fine performances, one by an undeniable talent and one by an underrated talent. Watch the film and guess which is which, but keep in mind that as far as biopics go, this one isn't one of the best.

My Rating **

Photo: The Weinstein Company.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What About Sugar Pie?

Now that Anna Nicole Smith is gone I know what we all want to know is who her baby-daddy really is. (Where’s Maury when you really need him, huh?)

But I have another question.

Just who is going to take care of her dog?

Take Note and Enjoy

After weeks of anticipation, I finally saw Notes on a Scandal over the weekend. I almost didn’t, I’ll have you know, because I was laughing so hard at the fact that Britney Spears has parted with her hair on her road toward Total Has-Beenville.

At least her head now matches her…you know. (Oh, no, I di’n’t.)

Get some help, or else you really won’t be oops, doing it again. And people still want you to. (Some people, anyway.)

What the frak was she thinking, right? Who knows – who cares – but you can ask the same about Cate Blanchett’s character in Notes on a Scandal. She plays the adulterous and reckless Sheba Hart, an art teacher who embarks on an illicit affair with one of her young students, in this Richard Eyre-directed film.

Written for the screen by Patrick Marber, the film also stars the magnificent Judi Dench as Barbara Covett, the obsessively manipulative keeper of Sheba’s secret.

As I expected, I found Notes on a Scandal to be a rich theatrical experience (perhaps a little too theatrical). Marber’s writing was particularly on point (a stage writer as well, he has a knack for language that is enviable). Both Barbara and Sheba were knowingly drawn, their respective ruthlessness and naïveté brought to life for you entertainment. And the story moved along at a quietly urgent pace, the inevitable a-comin’.

It’s always fun to be able to walk in an out of such a dense setting, you know, however intriguing and voyeuristic it is to see someone toy with someone else the way Barbara does with Sheba.

That’s the difference between (well-done) works of fiction, such as this film, and the all-too-real lives of celebrities. Seeing Britney Spears toy with her career and well-being the way she has recently hasn’t been entertaining – it’s been rather tiresome, actually. Seeing Sheba Hart do so merits that you ask what the frak she was thinking – and that you try and make some sense out it.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Feeling the Zsa Zsa Zsu

These are interesting times we’re living in, huh.

Posh is disappearing before our eyes in the name of I don’t know what (somebody feed this woman a potato pronto!), the weather is going all Day After Tomorrow on us (just whose fault is that?), and astronauts are living real-life Lifetime movies (and surely cashing in on it).

And hateration seems to be everywhere, unfortunately.

These days you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a report of yet another public figure sticking their foot in their mouth. Hatin’ on the blacks, hatin’ on the gays, hatin’ on the whomevers…it appears to be the It thing to do, only surpassed by the subsequent outrage.

Y’all know what I’m talking about, so I won’t even dignify or perpetuate the cycle by linking to those nasty, nasty reports. I will say, however, that none of it makes me feel the zsa zsa zsu.

Thank goodness for the little things – for the people – that do.

  • Exhibit A is Lily Allen, whose uplifting singing makes me smile these days. (Her deliciously catty lyrics are something else, altogether...and I love'em, too.)
  • Exhibit B is Fergie, although please, please, P-L-E-A-S-E no more spelling on the next record, OK. (I blame Camille Paglia for this clever, yet annoying trend, for no other reason that she spelled every other word, W-O-R-D, at a lecture she gave in Miami last fall, a good several weeks before I first heard “Fergalicious” and “Glamorous,” which both spell, S-P-E-L-L, lyrics like it’s going out of style.)
  • Exhibit C is Shonda Rhimes’s writing, particularly in last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Tears formed behind my eyes all throughout the last 15 minutes of part 2 of her three-episode arc. Oh to the My to the God, Shonda Rhimes. What are you doing to my heart!
  • Exhibit D is Wednesday’s Desmond-centric episode of Lost. Trippiest. Episode. Ever. What is going on over there? And why aren’t you watching?
  • Exhibit E is the news that Keri Russell is now married. Awww....


Thank You for Casting...

Aaron Eckhart in anything!

Word on the street is that the Golden Globe nominee (for Thank You for Smoking) is in final talks to play Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two-Face, in the upcoming Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight.

Eckhart would join Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, not Katie Holmes, Heath Ledger, who’s playing the Joker, and Gary Oldman in the Christopher Nolan-directed project, which, I believe, will begin shooting this spring.

A habitué of the indie film world (and Neil LaBute favorite), Eckhart will be seen next opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones in July’s No Reservations.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Now, This Is What I’m Talkin’ About

Lindsay Lohan – who entered rehab less than a month ago on the heels of this revelation, and is currently undergoing outpatient treatment in Los Angeles – is back at work, looking happy, healthy, and calmer, for all intents and purposes.

Check out the picture at right. It was taken yesterday on the set of her thriller I Know Who Killed Me.

You go, girl!


Indie film "darling" – queen, is more like it! – Parker Posey, who recently told Entertainment Weekly that, “Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with me,” has been tapped to star in (Gilmore Girls’ creator) Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Fox pilot The Return of Jezebel James.

Posey will play an infertile book editor who asks her estranged kid sister to have her baby.

Posey talks fast, Sherman-Palladino’s characters talk fast, ergo the ohmygoodnessthisissooogreat, so please, pretty please, Fox, pick this show up faster than fast.

Photo: Warner Bros. (A Mighty Wind).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Their Song

A romantic comedy – even the silliest of by-the-book romantic comedies – has to have a little melody to it, wouldn’t you agree?

Imagine my surprise, then, when I noticed, not too long into Music and Lyrics, that this Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore vehicle lacked such an essential element – especially given the promising nature of its trailer.

The movie, which – awww – conveniently opened today, stars Grant as Alex Fletcher, a washed-up, yet utterly charismatic '80s pop star who has been reduced to working the nostalgia circuit at amusement parks, county fairs, and high school reunions.

He gets a chance at a comeback when pop’s reigning diva Cora Corman (who puts the Zen in overtly sensual) invites him to write and record a duet with her. The problem is Alex has not written a song in years – he has never written lyrics, for he is, you see, a music man – and he has to come up with a hit in a matter of days.

Enter Barrymore’s Sophie Fisher, Alex's beguilingly quirky plant lady, whose flair for words– she’s the lyrics! – strikes a chord with the struggling songwriter.

On the rebound from a bad relationship, Sophie is reluctant to collaborate with anyone, especially commitment-weary Alex, but as their chemistry heats up both at the piano and under it, Alex and Sophie will have to face their fears if they want to find the love and success they deserve.

Music and Lyrics should’ve been infinitely cuter, if not better; Marc (Two Weeks Notice) Lawrence wrote and directed it, so I know it should’ve at least been satisfying

It was not. The script, a blueprint for romance and comedy, stretched the gimmick of the plot from beginning to end, and the lingering direction made both stars appear amateurish in the genre, which I know they’re not. Then again, Grant and Barrymore sparkle – but not together – so that may have had something to with it, too. Thank goodness for effervescent scene-stealer Kristen Johnston as Barrymore’s sister, Rhonda.

I realize that I have to leave you with something cute to get you through the rest of today, so what do you think of this?

My Rating **

Photo: Warner Bros.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Awards Season Is Still (Still!) On

Following wins at the DGA Awards and at the PGA Awards, respectively, last Sunday The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine added kudos from the Writers Guild of America to their long list of, uh...wins.

William Monahan picked up the Best Adapted Screenplay award for the Boston-set drama, while Michael Arndt collected Best Original Screenplay for the little indie that could.

On the TV side, writers for The Office and The Sopranos walked away with the Best Comedy Television Series and Best Dramatic Television Series awards, and Ugly Betty‘s with the WGA Award for Best New Television Series.

Photo: Warner Bros. (The Departed).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Controversy, Schmontroversy

Alright, so last week was all about Lost coming back, tube-wise, but this week...this week (and next week, for that matter), it’s all about Grey’s Anatomy, bay-bee.

I mean, Lost roared back, indeed – we’re going to revisit the original castaways real soon, people! Kate finally remembered how to kick butt! and Juliet and Jack will continue to outwit, outsmart, and possibly outsmart each other for a little while longer! – but nothing could have prepared me for the goodness that the hospital drama had in store last Thursday with the first of a three-episode story arc.

And that ending…. It was the most Oh. My. God moment of the season. It beat the nuclear explosion of 24 a few weeks ago, it was that big a jaw-dropping cliffhanger.

When TV is this good, who really cares about the behind-the-scenes non-nonsense (which, certainly, deserves to be addressed…just as long as it doesn’t affect my stories, OK).

It’s a Chicks Night Out

The Dixie Chicks swept the 49th Annual Grammy Awards last night, taking home all five awards they were nominated for – including Album (Taking The Long Way), Record and Song (“Not Ready To Make Nice”) of the Year.

Loves it!

Even better, Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor also won an award (for Best Electronic/Dance Album).

Other highlights of the night included a Police reunion (they performed “Roxanne”), a flawless and soulful performance by multiple winner Mary J. Blige, and a powerful, show-stopping rendition of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by Best Female Pop Vocal Performance winner Christina Aguilera.

For a complete list of Grammy Award winners, click here.


Friday, February 09, 2007

R.I.P. Anna, Anna, Anna Nicole

Anna Nicole Smith, the former Guess? model, Playboy Playmate of the Year, actress, embattled widow, reality TV star, and spokeswoman, passed away yesterday at age 39.

I didn’t write anything about this truly tragic news because, well…I couldn’t really think of anything nice and sincere to say about the situation. That is not to say I’m here to bag on Smith today because I’m not.

She led the life that she led and I admire her ambition – I always did, actually. She didn’t make any excuses – nor should she have had to – and now she’s gone and the media are having field day gathering speculating theory after speculating theory and turning this sad, sad and shocking loss into a tabloid feeding frenzy.

Smith hit us with her best shot time and time again; whether they were misfires is strictly up to you.

I hope she now can find the peace she appeared to be looking for in recent months, and that we can recognize and respect the fact that she was more than a punch line. She was so outrageous – and we loved it.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Marty, Marty, Marty

While I was at the hottest pre-Super Bowl party on South Beach on Feb. 3, The Departed’s Martin Scorsese (pictured at right, with presenters Steven Spielberg and Leonardo DiCaprio) was picking up his first Directors Guild of America Award in Los Angeles.

About freakin’ time, wouldn’t you say? I hope this means that the always-a-nominee-never-a-winner director will finally pick his first Academy Award at the 79th annual edition of the Oscars on Feb. 25.

But, anyway, about that pre-Super Bowl party…I’ve already shared a little bit with a friend, but here’s a little more.

The star-studded Drive Magazine/Pontiac party on Ocean Drive featured a performance by Marc Anthony with special guest Jennifer Lopez, preceded by a two-song (“London Bridge” and “Fergalicious”) warm-up by my new favorite diva, Fergie, who could not have been nicer to me on the red carpet.

Fergie told me she was quite proud the erstwhile Jenny from the Block is releasing a Spanish-language record. She also told me that although there are no plans for her to put out one, it is something she would like to try if she “can get the accent right.”

Later, Anthony and Lopez took to the stage and dazzled their audience and on-lookers with their chemistry and moves. She, needless to say, stole the show – and he let her. I particularly enjoyed their duet “No Me Ames,” which they sealed with a kiss.

Also there, in the beyond VIP area by the stage, were Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Fergie’s boyfriend, Josh Duhamel, Scarlett Johansson (whom I saw scurry by unnoticed while photographers and reporters paid a ridiculous amount of attention to the Hogan clan), the Black Eyed Peas’, as well as DJ AM, Billy Bush (TV’s Access Hollywood), Madonna’s BFF Ingrid Casares, Jerry Bruckheimer, Gloria Estefan, N’SYNC’s Joey Fatone, NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon, Stacy Keibler and her boyfriend, actor Geoff Stults (TV’s 7th Heaven), Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, Marlee Matlin, Tara Reid, and Pauly Shore.

The night was capped by a spectacular fireworks show…and by a stop at the Penthouse magazine Goin’ Deep Super Party for Snoop Dogg’s – ahem – spirited performance.

There, I saw Paris and Nicky Hilton saunter in and out around 2:15 a.m. The latter led the way and looked rather mortified, to say the least (I guess she doesn’t enjoy crowds), while the “Stars Are Blind” singer pretended to be on the phone and looked down to avoid being checked out.

What's with the shy, girlfriend?


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Let’s Get Lost…Again

I am beyond excited that Lost is coming back tonight, at 10, on ABC, with a brand new episode.

Not only because producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have charmed/teased the show back into my heart, but because it’s been too darn long since I’ve had anything to watch on Wednesdays, but because I realized this morning that I’ve missed Lost and its characters and its mythology and its watercooler moments, like the deserts miss the rain.

(I’m an on-off-on Bones fan because it’s always on against something else, most recently Jericho, which doesn’t come until back until Feb. 21.)

The six episodes that aired last fall were pieces in a puzzle (and did what they needed to do, for better or for worse), but I always knew that Lost’s third season would really bring it tonight with the start of an uninterrupted 16-week run of episodes, even though “Not in Portland,” is an Other-centric episode focusing on Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell, pictured at right with Matthew Fox).

But trust me when I tell you that the show is going to rock again. It just has to. Word on the street is it does. So let’s get Lost again, alright.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Girls Gone Wild

Mark your calendars for April 13, boys and girls, for that is the day when three thirtysomething friends – 30 Rock’s Rachel Dratch, Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler, and Parker Posey – will break the monotony of their uninspired lives by taking a vacation on an island that's a popular spring break hot spot for college co-eds.

OMG, loooves it (that cast! that premise! that promising picture at right alone!).

Spring Breakdown’s going to be laugh out loud funny.

Photo: Warner Bros.
T-t-t-t-t-tasty, Tasty

I so love “Candyman,” Christina Aguilera’s new single – I love it like a two-dollar whore would love it.

I think it’s cheeky and playful and sweet, the perfect third single to release after “Ain’t No Other Man” and “Hurt” – and the reason why I will finally purchase the singer’s Back to Basics CD.

I cannot wait until Aguilera comes to Miami in May.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Worst. News. Ever.

Joss Whedon has bowed out of Wonder Woman.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer mastermind was set to write and direct the film, but admitted in his announcement last week that he “had a take on [it] that, well…nobody liked.”

That kills me because knowing Whedon’s work he probably had something fantastic in mind…something only he could pull off…something so Whedon only a few people would love.

In other words, something original and special.

At least there’s still that upcoming eighth season of Buffy to look forward to, right?


Friday, February 02, 2007

Listen to This…Now

Before I can go out and whoop it up this Super Bowl Weekend, I have, have, have to tell you about Alexi Murdoch.

There I was yesterday, at my local Hear Music, on my way to the gym – hey, a quick stop never hurt anyone – when I happened to glance at shelf and notice this simple CD cover that just screamed, “Pick me up! Check me out!”

So I did, and I fell in love with Murdoch’s voice rather instantly.

Following in the fine musical kisses and moody hugs and jolts of energy that are Damien Rice and Mika’s offerings, respectively, Time Without Consequence, the latest from the London-born, Scottish-bred Murdoch, is destined to become one of my favorites.

Spring Awakening

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today, which means you can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter this year.

I kind of hinted at that in December, though, when I very briefly previewed the Diane Keaton-Mandy Moore vehicle Because I Said So, which opened in movie theaters everywhere today.

To be honest, I haven’t heard the kindest things about it – but any movie that showcases Moore’s luminous beauty and talent – give me Moore, indeed! – is fine with me.

By the way, the singer and actress – who has knowingly and quietly left an ever-evolving mark in the music and movie scenes and has yet to flash us her privates or go into rehab (and who once may have played third banana to Britney and Christina…but not Jessica) – has a new album, Wild Hope, coming to a store near you on May 8, and several other films about to be released.

Moore’s new single, “Extraordinary,” is up on her MySpace page – and it’s growing on me fast.

Learn it. Live it. Love it.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Simply Irresistible, Pt. 9

She’s funny. She’s outrageous. She’s pretty.

But above everything, she’s S to the M to the A to the R to the T.

She’s Sarah Silverman, and her new Sarah Silverman Program premieres tonight at 10:30, on Comedy Central.

Watch it and laugh.

Photo: Roadside Attractions (Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic).
300 Are Legend

One of the upcoming spring season’s most anticipated movies is 300, a sword-and-sandal action movie event based on the Frank Miller graphic novel and shot mostly with live-actors against green-screens à la Sin City.

300 loosely follows the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., in which 300 Spartan soldiers battled an onslaught force of millions of Persian warriors.

It stars Gerard Butler (The Phantom of the Opera) as King Leonidas – and looks pretty hot…in a video game-ish kind of way. I thought it was a video game adaptation, actually.

Anyway, I don’t suppose 300 will be a pinnacle of filmmaking, but I have a thing for underdog stories set against over-stylized photography that feature insanely ripped warriors.

How about you?

Honest now….

Photo: Warner Bros.