Monday, July 30, 2007

All Hail the Next Queen of Geek and Summer

Veronica Mars may have been cancelled (don’t even get me started again), but that doesn’t mean we now have to out-of-sight-out-of-mind
Kristen Bell.

Thankfully, Bell has a couple of movies a-comin’, so that should give her cult following some sweet release.

Up first is January’s geekalicious Fanboys, in which a group of Star Wars fans travel to Skywalker Ranch to see The Phantom Menace before it is released.

And in May’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Bell co-stars as a television star – the titular Sarah Marshall – whom devastated ex Peter (Jason Segel, of TV’s How I Met Your Mother) is trying to forget by taking a Hawaiian vacation…only to come face to face with her and her new boyfriend.

I adore Bell so I believe cartoon birds braided her hair this morning. You see it, too, right?


Friday, July 27, 2007

Sharp Season

This Christmas, Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp will wash ashore onto Fleet Street to play the man who “shaved the heads of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard from again” in the big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical thriller Sweeney Todd.

Paramount Pictures unveiled the film’s poster at Comic-Con in San Diego, Calif., yesterday, thus getting their buzz on with fans.

Sweeney Todd reunites Depp with director Tim Burton, and co-stars Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman.

Bon Appétit-ish

I should tell you this review has been prepared five months after I first sampled No Reservations (a remake of the 2002, German-language Mostly Martha) back in February, at a very rich, very special screening during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

You know…just so you know what’s going in it.

The movie follows the turnaround in Kate Armstrong’s life, a top chef played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, after she’s assigned to the care of her niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin) following the car crash that claimed the little girl’s mother.

The thing is Kate is not a kid person – she’s a kitchen person – so she’ll have to adapt to a very different lifestyle, and use her talents in many creative ways to keep herself and Zoe from falling.

This means learning to make fish sticks instead of elaborate whole fish plates, and taking time off work – which also means she won’t take an immediate liking to Nick Palmer, the sous-chef brought in to help out played by Aaron Eckhart.

Cleverly titled to preview the changes that begin to occur in Kate – who goes from controlling to…a little less so – the movie is an exotic entry in the summer lineup; a dramedy that’s entertaining, yet oft-predictable.

Zeta-Jones’ turn as the guarded, tightly wound Kate is a bit overcooked, but Eckhart’s compliments her with a robust flair of much-needed easy-does-it in both life and love.

His Nick was the perfect side dish of take-a-chance Kate needed to really thrive.

However, like a meal I anticipated so much I could smell it, No Reservations left me wanting more. For a romantic comedy, the movie felt too heavy at times; for a drama, often too light. A touch of more focus would’ve been ideal.

All the ingredients are there, but they’re not mixed perfectly.

I don’t expect No Reservations to be sent back by audiences, for the movie is…the movie is just fine. But it’s not that hearty.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Warner Bros.
Man vs. War

I don’t know much about director Werner Herzog’s filmography, but I know this: You must watch his latest.

Rescue Dawn is based on the true story of Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale, phenomenal as usual), a German-born U.S. Navy pilot who, on his first Vietnam mission, was shot down over Laos in 1966 and held in a jungle prison by Pathet Lao soldiers.

The film is a lush exercise in naturalistic intensity; the cast is harrowing and raw, the scenery beautiful but treacherous.

Much like he did in The Machinist, Bale Methods his way on screen, in another transformative performance as a man that by Herzog’s account perhaps was too cocky for his own good but knew how to use this quality to his advantage.

With Rescue Dawn, writer-director Herzog succeeds because of that…because he dares to introduce us to a hero who is flawed in such a fundamental way he knows risking it all is his only way out of his prison. It’s not just courage what we see but instinct.

Bale’s Dengler isn’t afraid of failing – he’s afraid of not trying (which, I guess, you can say about the actor as well, given that he isn’t afraid to go there...wherever the part leads). Despair he can handle, but not giving up.

Through the capture and the torture, Dengler remains convinced his fate will be different than that of the other Thai and American POWs he rallies to escape, one of them played by Steve Zahn, who is nothing short of a revelation.

As U.S. helicopter pilot Duane Martin, Zahn, having resolved to wait for rescue that never came, is brought back to life, given a reason to hope. The actor in turn earns a brand new level of thespian respectability that is long overdue.

Although the film misfires just a tad toward the end, with an ending short on what-happened-next detail, it still is something to behold.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: MGM.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Packing Heat

A low-quality clip of the bridge of what is believed to be Madonna’s new song “Candy Shop” is making its way around the WWW.

I. Love. It.

Too bad Madge’s new record won’t be ready and out until later this fall.

At least we have that rumored new summer tour to look forward to, right, so we can hear this would-be summer song in all of its sweet glory.

It’s going to be H-O-T.


Update: The 17-second clip has been removed from the site I linked above. On July 31, Drowned Madonna reported that Madonna’s longtime rep Liz Rosenberg had “no comment about the song.” Rosenberg also said, “Madonna has studio time booked and is continuing to work on her new CD. The songs are not mixed, and until that time, we can’t finalize the track list.”
Tease So Good

That J.J. Abrams – he sure knows how to keep his fans guessing.

Cloverfield is the know-as name for an as-of-yet untitled movie produced by Abrams, directed cinema-verité-style on digital video by Abrams’ Felicity co-creator Matt Reeves, and scripted by Drew Goddard, a writer on TV’s Lost (which Abrams executive produces).

The movie is set to open on Jan. 18, 2008…although I wouldn’t be surprised if, given the buzz it’s generating, it were moved to a more respectable month – say, March – or even early next summer.

RocknRolla Mr. Ritchie!

There’s news of Guy Ritchie to report at long last.

Sure, I could have told you about Madonna’s husband’s sexy new cropped haircut, but that would’ve been beyond silly of me. And by the way, the only reason I just referred to him as “Madonna’s husband” is I understand there might be like, five or seven jacks out there who might not know who Ritchie is – so that one’s for you.

Anyway, Variety had the following item on the coming-back director today:

“Guy Ritchie is set to direct a movie adaptation of his Virgin Comics miniseries The Gamekeeper for Warner Bros., with Joel Silver producing. Ritchie developed the concept, but Andy Diggle writes the comic, which launched a limited 10-issue run in March.

“The story centers on a reclusive caretaker of a Scottish estate who is supernaturally in-tune with the behavior of all animal species. When the alleged killer of his son surfaces, the caretaker finds that Europe’s urban jungle is not that different from the natural surroundings he’s accustomed to.”

Sounds like a cult fave in the making.

Ritchie currently is shooting RocknRolla, starring Gerard Butler, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, and Tom Wilkinson.

The film opens next year, and I cannot wait.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Comeback

Emmy-worthy-yet-snubbed Lost has found…uh…a long-lost castaway, ABC revealed today at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills.

So I guess that means the minds behind the show do know where they’re going, after all. As if I ever had any doubt.

Now that it is official, and Harold Perrineau will reprise his role as Michael in the show's fourth season, we can get a-buzzing' once more.

Hey, perhaps he’s got an answer as to what the Monster is, so let’s roll out the jungle leaf green carpet back to the Island for him, already.

Nostalgia, Pt. 12

I met a couple of fellas last night who could not have been any less enthusiastic about my hopeful flirtini toast to Lindsay Lohan’s health.

These guys weren’t buyin' what I was sellin'.

One in particular made it quite clear he just wasn’t all that impressed by L2…or her work.

While I argued that yes, she’s almost too troubled to function, he simply gave me this look that said I should just drop the “almost” and be done with her.

But this morning I woke up and I couldn’t help and think he was, well…wrong.

Say what you will about her, but La Lohan actually can act. I realize, however, she’s made it rather difficult for people to root for her anymore.

And so I wonder: Is it too soon to look back in sadness over the troubled actress’ career?

One thing’s for sure, though: Lohan still is full of promise.

I just want to trust she’ll get it together and make good on it.

Photo: Paramount Pictures (Mean Girls).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Simply Irresistible, Pt. 20

In the Discovery Channel’s fascinating Man vs. Wild, host Bear Grylls strands himself in popular wilderness destinations where tourists often find themselves lost or in danger, such as the Moab Desert in Utah, the Florida Everglades, Iceland, the Costa Rican rain forest, or the Australian outback.

Once there, this adventurer and former officer the British Special Forces finds his way back to civilization, demonstrating local survival techniques along the way.

And he looks frakkin' hot doing it, too.

Like a Rolling Stone

Lindsay Lohan has been arrested again – and this time, unlike last week (seriously), it happened the gritty way.

L2 was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence in Santa Monica, Calif., earlier this morning – just a couple of weeks after checking out of the Promises treatment center in Malibu.

Police determined she had been drinking, so she was arrested for drunken driving – two Breathalyzer tests at the station registered a 0.12 and a 0.13 (the legal limit in California is 0.08) – and driving with a suspended license. Oy – we all know how the latter worked out for Paris Hilton.

Making everything worse, during booking, cocaine was found in her possession.

And get this: According to police, Lohan was chasing another car when she was pulled over.

All of this begs the question: Just how done is she?

Good luck getting hired. Good luck getting your films seen (her latest, I Know Who Killed Me, opens this Friday. Are we there?). Good luck, period.

P.S.: Consider this: The writing of SNL – comedy or prophecy?


Monday, July 23, 2007

Something Wonderful This Way Comes

In Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, the movie’s titular toy store is the most fantastic, the most outlandish, the most wonderful toy store in the world.

Actually, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a magic toy store, and everything in it comes to life – including the store itself. However, it asks only one thing of its customers: You must believe it to see it.

I can tell you that after seeing the trailer for this movie, co-starring Dustin Hoffman and due out Nov. 16, by far the most magical element in it has got to be Natalie Portman’s smile.

It alone will have you believing in the magic that inhabits this movie.

Sporting a becoming pixie cut, bright eyes, and that crush-worthy smile I mentioned, Portman steps into serious America’s Sweetheart territory in a role that should endear her to hundreds of thousands of kids and adults alike.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Someone’s Back in Cruise Control…

Amid some controversy, Tom Cruise began shooting his new Bryan Singer-directed film Valkyrie, a.k.a.
Rubicon, in Germany yesterday.

Cruise plays the real-life Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, the ringleader of a foiled 1944 plot by high-ranking WWII German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler – who then ordered his would-be assassins to face a firing squad.

The actor, it seems, cannot be cast in a film without someone having an opinion about it. Remember Anne Rice’s initial disapproval of Cruise as the vampire Lestat in Interview with the Vampire back in the ‘90s?

Stauffenberg's son, Berthold von Stauffenberg, reportedly isn’t keen on seeing Cruise stepping in his father’s shoes. “He should keep his fingers off my father,” von Stauffenberg told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

I say don’t be glib, let him be.

Cruise has been working quietly in recent months, and if anything, he has earned the right to take risks with his career, in spite of what we may think of his personal affairs.

More often than not, he certainly has delivered and surprised us.

Up next is Nov. 9’s Lions for Lambs, directed by Robert Redford and co-starring Redford and Meryl Streep, and then perhaps a return to America’s good graces.

Soar No More

Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, a 15-minute show that has been a part of the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim since 2001 to which I first was turned on by a very good friend a couple of years ago, is coming to an end on Sunday, July 22, with an episode titled “The Death of Harvey.”

Say it isn’t so, already!

In the show, “the titular avian lawyer has come to the aid of numerous animated defendants…mostly Hanna-Barbera-derived creations, [such as] a Sopranos-esque mafia don Fred Flintstone.”

The show proved to be a great way for me to cap my TV-watching week, for it was funny, mercilessly outrageous, and smart.

I will miss you so, Harvey Birdman. May you take flight again someday.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Miami Suits Up

I didn’t forget to tell you about the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week – Miami Swim shows at The Raleigh Hotel, which last week kicked off with a sun-kissed, poolside concert by the Beach Boys, featuring John Stamos on bass, drums, and vocals.

I’ve been busy, that’s all. So here’s the scoop.

The Badgley Mischka show attracted Tyson Beckford, celebutante Kim Kardashian, Diana Ross’ daughter Chudney Ross, celebrity stylist Robert Verdi, and designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka, natch.

Spotted in the front row at Red Carter’s show were Christopher Ciccone, E! personality Cindy Taylor, and Dennis Rodman, who was having himself a raucous time and kept talking to Verdi, who was not amused by either the show or the former basketball player.

Ciccone also checked out the Parke & Ronen show – the only all-male show of the week – as did designer Paul Jacober.

Living it up in South Beach was Kardashian, who caused a stink at The Forge when she was not seated promptly upon arrival, hit Mansion with oily oil heir Brandon Davis, checked out Shay Todd’s show with Madonna’s BFF Ingrid Casares and Verdi, stopped by dek23, and hosted a La Perla party at Set and another at Privé, where she was joined by America’s Next Top Model’s Jaslene Gonzalez and Ross.

Girlfriend gets around.

Heidi Montag (MTV’s The Hills) also arrived on South Beach for a working holiday. She shacked up at The Hotel Victor, and took to the Ashley Paige runway like an ol’ pro.

But it was Jessica Simpson who stole Fashion Week.

She presented her debut swimwear line during the four-day event, at the biggest, hottest, and loudest show of the week.

Former Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler and boyfriend Scott Sartiano showed their support from the front row, as did Joe and Tina Simpson, the singer-turned-designer’s hair stylist Ken Paves, Kardashian, South Beach drag queen Elaine Lancaster, Rodman, and Verdi.

After the pop star’s show, Sigler and Sartiano hosted a party for Genetic Jeans at Mokaï. John Mayer’s ex, meanwhile, after-partied at The Shore Club.

And with that Fashion Week was over…until next year, so lay off the brownies and pass the lip chap.

Desperately Seeking Emmy

Cuckoo, egregious, and mostly out of touch – that’s how I would describe the list of nominations for the 59th Annual Emmy Awards announced earlier this morning.

Boston Legal’s up for Best Drama, but not Lost?

Not a one nomination for either Gilmore Girls or Veronica Mars…not even for hair or makeup? I know the former had a rough last season due to a creative leadership change behind the scenes, but come on – snubbing Lauren Graham (pictured, at right), yet again and for good this time, is Madonna-in-Swept Away bad. And ignoring the latter and its Kristen Bell, well…that’s a mystery only the teen-aged sleuth ever could solve. Too bad she won’t be on the case anymore.

And how will the nominations committee sleep tonight knowing they’ve ignored the fantastic work of Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey? Or that of Lost’s Matthew Fox, Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, and Elizabeth Mitchell?

If Emmy had wanted to celebrate what is truly outstanding about television, then she would have revised her list of nominees. I'm not the only one who thinks so.

There’s more I could pick on, but alas, that won’t make a difference. So I’ll enjoy what I got – and quietly champion what I didn’t. Much like I always had to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Emmys will air on Sunday, Sept. 16, on Fox.

Photo: (Gilmore Girls).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Potter Gang

With his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaching, 15-year-old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) cannot wait to leave his humdrum existence with Muggle relatives the Dursleys and go back to school.

It has been a long and lonely summer with little to no contact from his BFFs Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), you see.

But as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opens, our hero, now in the full bloom of adolescence, is challenged and attacked by many in the magic world who don’t believe it when he says He Who Must Not Be Named (Ralph Fiennes) is back – they call him “Harry Plotter.”

Confused and enraged, Harry becomes isolated from his friends who have joined the Order of the Phoenix – a covert organization readying for you-know-who’s imminent attack – and been told to keep mum on their new affiliation.

To make matters worse, the movie – the fifth of the series – directed by David Yates, also introduces an authoritarian figure in Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) who blocks Harry’s every attempt to learn how to keep himself and his friends safe, and a formidable foe in Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a taut offering. It is indeed shorter in length and in magic – essentially so, mind you – but not inferior an effort.

If I, as a non-reader of J.K. Rowling’s oeuvre, can enjoy the movie, I don’t see why anybody else who might be more familiar with the mythology could be ready to throw the wand on this growing-intriguing-by-the-minute franchise.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Warner Bros.
Year of the Crowe

Following a two-year absence from the silver screen – yes, I’m omitting last year’s Under the Tuscan Sun rip-off A Good Year on purpose – Russell Crowe comes back this year with not one but two high profile films.

I just hope the Oscar winner will avoid any PR nightmare incidents this time around – it really turned me off when he threw a phone to a hotel employee back in 2005 during his press tour for Cinderella Man.

Up first is Sept. 7’s 3:10 to Yuma, in which a small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma, Ariz., and a battle of wills ensues as the latter tries to psych out the former. (The film co-stars Christian Bale.)

Then in Nov. 2’s American Gangster, a drug lord (Denzel Washington) smuggles heroin into Harlem during the 1970s by hiding the stash inside the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam. (Crowe plays the detective who brings him to justice.)

Photo: Lionsgate (3:10 to Yuma).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Are We Gonna Wiggle Around or What

Eve is back, and she wants us to shake our tambourine go and get ourselves whistle and….

The video for her new single “Tambourine” is colorful, energetic, and a splash of summer. It’s got tambourines, spirit fingers, champagne, dancers wearing French maid outfits, feather fans – it’s got it all. And I love it.

She just blows my mind every single time. I can’t believe I didn’t see this until today.

Major, Yeah?

As a longtime Spice Girls fan I always have been partial to Ginger.

Well, that’s changed – at least until the group's reunion.

Beckhamania has set in, and I now love, love, love Posh.

Fickle, I know.

Anyway, Victoria Beckham’s TV special Victoria Beckham: Coming to America last night was brilliant, so much so it even introduced a new word into our zeitgeist: “major.”

Move over “fetch.”

The hour delved into Beckham’s larger-than-life world, revealed her very British, very clever, very wicked sense humor, and saw her prepare for her family’s big move to the United States.

When her new American assistant informed her the Dodgers would like her to throw the first pitch at a game, Beckham responded with an incredulous and worried, “What, they actually want me to…do something?”

Funny, right? Who knew….

Of course, there were fleeting moments of…let’s call it flightiness, which were grounded in practicality. Like when she went to get her driver license so she’ll be able to do school runs for her children.

At the DMV, the Spice Girl passed her written test with a little help from her friends, and then proceeded to pose to have her picture taken – after getting a smudge (i.e., a full hair and makeup touch-up), natch.

Too frakkin’ much, really…. I mean, check her out at right, and then click here.

The special also introduced us to her very tall, very handsome hair stylist Ben Cooke. Someone get him his own show – or at the very least his own product line – because that, I think, would be major.


Monday, July 16, 2007

The Way She Was

I saw Evening a couple of weeks ago.

But don’t you go thinking there was a little dropping of the ball on my part, and that I failed to write about it because I was praying for La Lohan’s health, or because I was watching Madonna’s Live Earth performance over and over.

I just didn’t find it all that good…or all that inspiring, really.

The drama, exploring the romantic past and emotional present of Ann Grant (Vanessa Redgrave) and her daughters, Constance (Natasha Richardson) and Nina (Toni Collette), is a little bit of a mess – a pretty good-looking one, though.

As Ann lies in bed dying, she conveys to her daughters the defining moments in her life 50 years before, when she was a young woman attending her BFF Lila’s (Mamie Gummer) wedding.

The movie then flashes back, and we meet her younger self played by Claire Danes. We see her be pursued by Lila’s brother Buddy (Hugh Dancy), whom she rebuffs in favor of the older, more mysterious Harris (Patrick Wilson).

I know a few weeks ago I said, “Chick flick, schmick flick – I am sooo watching and enjoying Evening,” but unfortunately I didn’t. I found it dull and long…far too ambitious and all over the space-time continuum for its own good.

The lacks of emotional punch will make you want to cut this Evening short.

My Rating **

Photo: Focus Features.
Simply Irresistible, Pt. 19

Last night, while watching HBO’s Entourage, it hit me: Rex Lee is my hero.

His scenes tend to be brief on the show, but what little gets to do is the work of a comedic giant.

As the capable, game, invaluable “gaysian” assistant Lloyd, Lee is berated and appreciated, albeit quietly, by Jeremy Piven’s power agent Ari Gold – and serves as the show’s go-to guy for clever witticisms. (You can sample some of his best Entourage work here.)

Take last night’s scene at The Grill in Los Angeles, in which Ari and Lloyd team up to trick a competing agent off of a project Ari’s pursuing for Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) – and a much-deserved round of woo-woos.

A round of what, Ari asked.

Raising the roof and the sass, Lloyd answered, “Woo-woos!”

Trust me, it was funny. And only Lee could have pulled it off – and he did.


Friday, July 13, 2007

The Thicke of It

For weeks I’ve been trying to turn friends of mine into fans of Robin Thicke, mind you, without much success.

I have to admit I am kind of puzzled by this lack of, well…taste.

Thicke is as pretty good-looking guy – pretty sexy, in fact – and more importantly, pretty talented. I can see how he could be easily dismissed, though; I even once called him Justin Timberlake 2.0, but I quickly realized how silly that was, and now I heart him.

So what gives?

He writes his own songs, and he puts on a great show. I would think that would “make you love me”…uh, him, but oh no.

Look, “I wish I could change / I wish I could change / I wish I could stop / Sayin’ the same old things.” But I can’t. So like him, already, you jacks.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Going All the Way

Ben Affleck directs younger brother Casey (pictured, at right) in his adaptation of Dennis (Mystic River) Lehane’s Gone, Baby, Gone, marking his directorial debut and a return to screenwriting after 1997’s Good Will Hunting.

The film, due out in limited release on Oct. 19, follows two private detectives hired to take a closer look at the mysterious disappearance of a little girl who soon discover nothing is what it seems.

Check out the trailer here. Does Affleck have a future behind the scenes?

Photo: Miramax Films.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Return of the Queen

Nine years ago, in Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett was married…to England.

This year, the Oscar winner will reprise her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a follow-up rather than a sequel, if you will, that sees her growing aware and responsive of the changing religious and political tides of late 16th century Europe – and exploring a relationship with the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen).

The film takes a bow in theaters everywhere Oct. 12, but first it will be featured as the Gala Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Photo: Universal Pictures.
Temperature’s Rising

Lest you didn’t know, Beckhamania is upon us.

Now that David Beckham and wife Victoria are
crossing the pond, they thought it proper to introduce themselves by posing for an oh-so-very hot, Steven Klein-shot layout in August's W magazine – and all I can say is, Frak, you guys are sexy…and welcome.

Can somebody get me a cool drink?

The couple will be everywhere in the coming dog days of summer.

Becks will be introduced officially as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team on July 13, and Posh will take center stage on July 16 when NBC airs the special Victoria Beckham: Coming to America.

Later this year, he will carry on being the stunning mofo that he is – you can bounce a quarter off his bum! – and she will
reunite with the Spice Girls.

Seriously now, can I have some lemonade? Cold. Not cool. Cold.


Monday, July 09, 2007

When Damien Met David

Live Earth not only brought out the best Madonna has to offer, it also brought two of my favorites – Damien Rice and David Gray (pictured, at right) – together for a lovely duet of “Que Sera, Sera.”

It just doesn’t get any better than this, does it?

Jamie Lee Curtis seems to agree with me.

Madonna Nailed It (Naturally)

Last Saturday’s Live Earth concert at Wembley Stadium in the U.K. wrapped with a neat performance by Madonna.

Neat. Ha, ha. Fack, she was fan-frakkin’-tastic.

The Sunday Mirror reported the Queen of Pop “blew everyone else off the stage…closing with a finale that was just mind-blowing,” while said she “turned each song into a show-stopper in a vintage performance.”

As expected, she sang her especially written-for-the-event “Hey You,” backed by a children choir, and rocked out on guitar for a rousing rendition of “Ray of Light.”

“Lets hope tonight’s concert and the concerts going on around the world are not just about entertainment, but about starting a revolution around the world,” she told the audience. “If you want to save the planet let me see you jump!” (Copy that.)

She was joined by members of gypsy punks Gogol Bordello for a crazed hoedown version of “La Isla Bonita,” and finished with a cheeky and raucous crowd-pleasing version of “Hung Up.”

Now, that was very good….

A Life Less Ordinary

From the slums of Paris to the limelight of New York City, Edith Piaf's life was a battle to survive, to sing, to love…to live.

La Vie en Rose, told in flashbacks and flash-forwards, juxtaposes the highs and the lows of her life.

The technique complements the film’s larger than life subject matter, and although details are lost in the demanding time travel, it works because what matters always is there: Piaf.

Abandoned by her street singer mother and left by her circus acrobat father in the care of her madam grandmother to be raised in poverty by ladies of the night, it was her incomparable voice that would set apart, save, and ultimately, doom the Little Sparrow.

The petite singer drank too much – elle aimait faire la fête – became addicted to morphine, and died at 47. But in the end, she sang, "Non, je ne regrette rien" ("No, I regret nothing").

You will regret it dearly if you miss this biopic, for it must be seen on the silver screen.

It tells a larger than life story, really, that is made all the more riveting by Marion Cotillard’s tremendous turn. The actress hits all the right notes as Piaf and delivers an exquisite performance worthy of an award.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Picturehouse.

Friday, July 06, 2007

There’s Still a Chance for Us

We can do anything.


So don’t forget to go green tomorrow, Live Earth day.

A bunch of acts are getting together around the world to raise climate-in-crisis awareness and rock at this 24-hour, seven-continent concert series, including Jack Johnson in Australia; Lenny Kravitz and Macy Gray in Brazil; Enrique Iglesias and Shakira in Germany; Rihanna in Japan; and Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, Fall Out Boy, John Mayer, Keith Urban, Kelly Clarkson, the Smashing Pumpkins, and the Police in the United States.

(Go, Kelly. You’ve got chutzpah.... Go, Kelly.)

Taking the stage in the United Kingdom will be the Black Eyed Peas, Damien Rice, David Gray, Genesis, Keane, Razorlight, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Spinal Tap, and to close the show, who else but Madonna.

She will perform her written-for-the-occasion “Hey You,” as well as, reportedly, “La Isla Bonita,” “Ray of Light,” and “Hung Up.”

I would’ve done “Jump,” “Holiday,” and “Everybody.”

(Not “Music” because she did it – amazingly – at Live 8 a couple of years ago.)

But then again, they call her the Queen of Pop for a reason, not me, so she can do whatever she wants.


Thursday, July 05, 2007


Now, this is what I’m talking about.

Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bündchen, and Amber Valletta were but four of the supermodels who strutted down the runway at John Galliano’s Fall/Winter 2008 Christian Dior Haute Couture Collection show in Paris earlier this month.

H-O-T, people. H-O-T.

Who’s Afraid of a Little Q&A?

After falling out with his editor, a fading political journalist (Steve Buscemi) is forced to chat up America's most popular soap actress (Sienna Miller).

When the two meet, serious meets vapid; it's a collision of two worlds.

As the night progresses, and their confessions grow more intimate, the two strangers find a deeper, totally unexpected connection.

Soon, this Interview (opening in limited release on July 13) evolves into an intriguing verbal chess game spiked with intrigue, sexual tension, and wit.

And that’s sexy.

I Feel Good

There is nothing like good news to kill whatever 24-hour bug I caught just in time for the holiday.

The Spice Girls are reuniting, and fans are showing their appreciation by campaigning to take their single “Stop” to the top of the charts. The song peaked at No. 2 a few years ago, so now the goal is to take to No. 1 in digital downloads. Click here to vote right now, thank you very much.

Want more good news? It looks like the Sex and the City movie is thisclose to happening – officially. This news is so old; we need a new word for old.

Finally, did you hear Christina Aguilera is pregnant? It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it’s pretty much vox populi. Good for her – she’s doing it right.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Look! They’re Moving…They’re Alive!

So far, this summer has turned out to be much ado about nothing.

Spirates of the Shrekibbean – I so wish I had coined that mash-up, but an Entertainment Weekly writer did (oh, the things you can come up with enough time…) – are now behind us, and although there’s plenty more to arrive in theaters until the season’s over, my hopes for a through-and-through satisfying summer blockbuster are dwindling.

Can Jason Bourne come home, already? Pretty please....

Transformers hasn’t restored my faith in quality summer fun, but it came close.

Michael Bay’s movie is an action-packed and very loud assault on the senses/trip down memory lane. It is unnecessarily long at 140 minutes, and while the script by Mission: Impossible III co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, borders on the cheesy and the preposterous, it is more than adequate.

The plot finds Earth caught in the middle of an intergalactic war between two races of robots, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, with It Boy Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia) and Megan Fox helping the former defeat the latter.

Purists beware: Bay has taken certain liberties (e.g., Bumblebee has been made over, from a VW Beetle to a 1978 Camaro, in the name of product placement) that surely will tick you off.

But this is Transformers. You are not going to buy a ticket for accuracy and/or believability; you are going to buy a ticket to be entertained. And that you will be – at least for the first hour, after which you’ll be wishing they’d wrap it up.

My Rating ***

Photo: DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures.