Friday, December 28, 2007

2007: The Year in Review

It has been a good, looong year for movies, so I’m going to keep this wrap-up pretty short and sweet.

Here’s to 2007.

And here’s to 2008. May it be a beaming year.

Best Chemistry: Michael Cera and Jonah Hill (Superbad)

Best Dressed: Keira Knightley in Atonement (that green dress is just stunning!)

Best Hair: Keri Russell (August Rush)

Best Prop: Rose McGowan’s machine-gun leg in Grindhouse

Best Trend Gone Unnoticed: Female filmmakers having a banner year in Hollywood (Julie Delpy wrote and directed 2 Days in Paris, Sarah Polley wrote and directed Away From Her, Adrienne Shelly wrote and directed Waitress, Kirsten Sheridan directed August Rush – and that’s just off the top of my head).

Best Soundtrack: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Biggest Scene-stealer: Knocked Up’s Leslie Mann

Can't Get Enough – Female: Keri Russell (Waitress, August Rush)

Can't Get Enough – Male: Matt Damon (Ocean’s Thirteen, The Bourne Ultimatum)

Could Have Gotten More: Daniel Craig (The Golden Compass)

Should Have Gotten More: Adrienne Shelly (Waitress)

Guiltiest Pleasures: Summer’s threequels (“Spirates of the Shrekibbean,” Ocean’s Thirteen, Rush Hour 3, The Bourne UItimatum)

Most Ballistic Fun: Shoot ’Em Up

Most Disappointing: Lindsay Lohan (her personal life, Georgia Rule, I Know Who Killed Me)

Most Misunderstood: Southland Tales, although I’m just guessing since it didn’t open at a theater near me.

Most Promising: 2008 – a year with fewer DUI arrests, meltdowns, and rehab checking-ins, I trust.

Most Surprising: The success of Transformers

Most Underrated: Dan in Real Life

Best Performance by an Animal: Abbey, a.k.a. Sam the German shepherd in I Am Legend

Sweetest Performance: Amy Adams in Enchanted

Breakthrough Performance – Female: Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up)

Breakthrough Performance – Male: Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia, Transformers)

Best Supporting Actresses: Jennifer Garner (Juno), Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl), Julia Roberts (Charlie Wilson’s War), Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

Best Supporting Actors: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War), Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild), Max von Sydow (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Best Actresses: Julie Christie (Away From Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart), Ellen Page (Juno), Keri Russell (Waitress)

Best Actors: Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Best Directors: The Coen brothers (No Country for Old Men), David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises), Sean Penn (Into the Wild), Jason Reitman (Juno), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

Best Film I Didn't See Yet: Once

10 Best Films of the Year: (in alphabetical order)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Eastern Promises
Into the Wild
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men

Honorable Mention: Paris, Je T’aime

Photos: Dimension Films (Grindhouse); Universal Pictures (The Bourne Ultimatum); DreamWorks Pictures (Disturbia); Fox Searchlight Pictures (Waitress).
Because of Lies, Not-So-Sweet Little Lies

The year is 1935, and 13-year-old Briony Tallis (newcomer Saoirse Ronan), a young writer, and her family live a life of privilege and wealth in their enormous English countryside mansion.

It is against this idyllic setting that Briony will irrevocably re-write her story, and that of her snotty sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), the educated son of the family’s housekeeper.

This, as you may have deduced, will be a re-write for which she will forever strive to make amends.

Atonement, spellbindingly directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice) and based on the novel by Ian McEwan, is a decades-spanning drama about the reckless imagination of a child, the consequences of what she thinks is true, and a love that will survive the cruelties of a fate not of their own choosing and war.

It is a stylish film – the Oscar might as well go to costume designer Jacqueline Durran now for the green dress she fashioned for Knightley to wear in a pivotal scene – and a very good one, too.

Wright plays with light unlike any director I can think of at the moment, and it only adds to the mood of the film. I was impressed by how much it enhanced my watching it.

Beautifully scored to echo the noise a typewriter makes, which as it turns out can be playful, romantic, seducing, ominous, and ultimately, quite tragic, Atonement flashes backward and forward to let us in on what’s happening and what’s perceived, and it always retains a rather high level interest.

The ending, to avoid spoiling it, is more than worth the 122 minutes you will spend in the theater – and it just may leave you shaken and stirred.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Focus Features.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bond’s Coming Again

Production on Nov. 7’s Bond 22 currently is underway – and that means only one thing to me: Daniel Craig. Will. Smolder. On. Screen. Again.

Not quite soon enough, though.

Late last summer, Craig, with director Marc Forster (The Kite Runner), shot some scenes of the film in the Tuscan town of Siena, with the bi-annual Palio di Siena horse race as a background.

(Look at Craig at right. H-O-T, right?)

The cast includes Judi Dench as M and Giancarlo Giannini as the double agent who helped Bond in Casino Royale, and is said to have added Mathieu Almaric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) as the villain.

A World of Pure Imagination

You must see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

I really don’t know what else to say about this film other than it’s just excellent.

Julian Schnabel’s observation of the life of Jean-Dominique “Jean-Do” Bauby (Mathieu Almaric), the high-flying editor of French Elle and father of three (not two, as I wrote last month), a man renowned for his sense of humor and style and his joie de vivre and amorous energy – a man who, in the blink of an eye, saw his life change forever – is both fascinating and moving.

The title of the film comes from that of the book upon which it is based – a book fueled by imagination that Bauby dictated by blinking his left eye from the confining limits of his hospital bed or wheelchair following a stroke.

The event left him trapped in his body and mind, a victim of the rare “locked-in syndrome.” But it allowed him to wake up from his dream-like previous life, of which we’re told not so much, and become an inspiration.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is, for my money, the best film of the year.

It has everything you want to see at the movie theater: adversity, laughs, tears, triumph, and style. It is a piece of art that beckons attention.

My Rating ****

Photo: Miramax Films.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

MJB’s Here to Make Peace

For Christmas I gave Mary J. Blige’s latest, Growing Pains, to someone I knew wanted it, and we gave it a listen together (twice…in a row).

A day later, 1) I now want my own copy (and one of her Grammy-winning The Breakthrough, too – but for another reason altogether), and 2) I now have a new favorite song.

The last track of the album’s called “Come to Me (Peace)” – and I think it’s just tremendous.

The lyrics are reconciliatory and uplifting. It’s the kind of song you should sing to yourself and to others with whom you want make peace, natch, be it an ex, a stranger, or the world.

Click here to watch Blige’s live performance from the CNN Heroes special earlier this month.

She’s the bestest. MJB’s da MVP for a reason.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Wilson

Just like anyone who had the day off on Christmas, I went to the movies to see…Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War.

I previewed the movie back in October – it’s about a character of a Texas congressman with the best intentions, who, aided by a semi-rogue CIA spook and a Houston socialite, supplied the expertise, money, and training that turned the ill-equipped Afghan freedom-fighters into a force that halted the Red Army – so I’m not discussing the plot much, mostly because there are way too many movies for me to watch and write about before the end of the year.

That’s just how I’m rolling these days.

However, I will say that you should see Charlie Wilson’s War if A) you want to enjoy two stars (Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts) do what they do best – shine on screen in the way only they can, B) you want to see one of the finest character actors working today (Philip Seymour Hoffman) chew scenery like there’s no tomorrow, and C) you want to watch Amy Adams (Enchanted) take another small but significant step into A-Listville.

As a bonus, the cracking screenplay by Aaron Sorkin not only will entertain you, it might enlighten you a bit, too.

My Rating ***

Photo: Universal Pictures.

Friday, December 21, 2007

People Don’t Preach

In the incredibly buzzed-about Juno, the film’s title character is a 16-year-old with a smart mouth and a dumb problem: she’s pregnant – and she’s keeping her baby.

It’s fall, and Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) confronts her unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) the same she does everything else: with unparalleled sass and precocious wisdom.

She figures she’s “ill-equipped” to become a mother at such a young age, and thus decides, “I could like, have this baby, and give it to someone who like, totally needs it.”

With the help of her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), Juno browses the local Penny Saver and finds the right people in suburban couple Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), who long to adopt.

And so Juno explores the next nine months in the life of, as Juno, the seasons, and the tone of the film change.

All Juno wants to know is that her baby’s going to be a-OK. She needs, as she says, “to know that it’s possible that two people can stay happy together forever.” Only then will she feel comfortable, really, with her never-more-certain decision.

There’s hope in that answer, after all.

Parenthesis: Juno was directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) from a script by stripper-turned-Hollywood darling Diablo Cody. The film starts out laugh-out-loud funny, but it quickly and naturally becomes a bit more serious. This is great sign that this is a mature story, albeit an imperfect one because these people aren’t perfect – they’re real; they feel, love, and mess up real.

So back to Juno and her arrangement with Mark and Vanessa….

To say that this pregnancy will change their lives forever is an understatement. As Juno carries on, she realizes that on rare occasions, two people can be happy together forever – and that she already may have found that someone…that someone who gets her. But Mark and Vanessa come to find out they haven’t gotten each other in some time, and that they’re moving in different directions.

There were laughs aplenty in this film, but there was also poignancy that was…unexpected.

Page is fantastic and worthy of all the praise coming her way, although I wouldn’t call her performance a revelation (see her in Hardy Candy for one of those).

It was Garner, though, who stuck with me the most. Her character is so deeply flawed, I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of her once the credits rolled.

I wish Cody had delved more into what this character represents instead of focusing her energies on making her film such a hipster-y feel-gooder. It would’ve felt more real.

My Rating ***

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Out of Laughs

The trailer for May’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall is out, and…uhh…I want to love it – but I don’t.

Funny thing is the movie co-stars Kristen Bell.

And that’s the only “funny” thing about it, really.

I was hoping the comedy, which has a clever premise – boy meets famous girl, boy loves famous girl, famous girl dumps boy for another famous boy, boy goes to Hawaii to forget famous girl, boy runs into them there – would be a good vehicle for the erstwhile Veronica Mars, but the preview I just saw had me laughing – not.

I’ll still watch the movie, though.

Sometimes it really is all about supporting the arts....

Photo: Universal Pictures.
Sin of Youth

In The Kite Runner, Amir (Khalid Abdalla) is an Afghan émigré living the American Dream.

A novelist residing in San Francisco with his wife Soraya (Atossa Leoni), he’s about to have his first novel published. Life is good until his phone rings, and a familiar voice from his past tells him to come back to Afghanistan, that “there is a way to be good again.”

The unexpected call forces him to confront and reflect on his gravest sin of youth – and we’re transported to late-1970s Kabul, to a time before the Russian invasion and the Taliban wreaked havoc in his homeland.

Then and there we meet a young Amir (Zekiria Ebrahimi), a privileged boy, and his younger, smaller friend Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada), the groundskeeper’s son.

Amir and Hassan are BFF; the latter always stands up to bullies for the former, much to the chagrin of Amir’s father, who wishes his son were stronger in character.

The marked differences between the two matter in that they are reminded of the hierarchy that exists between them only when they contemplate them. Otherwise, they might as well be brothers: Amir enjoys reading to Hassan the stories he writes, Hassan looks up to him with wide eyes, and they fly kites together.

As Afghanistan inches closer to war, though, their fates are sealed when, after a kite-fighting tournament, Amir’s fearful act of betrayal will divide the two forever, and set in motion a quest for redemption 20 years in the making.

Now, after two decades and by the power of one phone call, Amir has to face the consequences of his cowardice, and come to terms with a shattering truth if he really wants to set things right.

Unlike the kites featured in the movie, which represent freedom, happiness, possibility, the no-Hollywood-names cast The Kite Runner doesn’t soar.

It more than holds its weight in flight, though, but it doesn’t transcend, but it re-humanizes a nation that has been vilified in recent years.

Director Marc Forster delivers a beautiful, controversial movie, but David Benioff’s script, based on Khaled Hosseini’s beloved book, while earnest and oft-powerful, lacks a more climactic breakthrough, character development-wise. This is one of those movies that isn’t about the destination, but rather the journey.

But it’s a bumpy and long and subtitled journey that might prove a bit too clumsy.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Paramount Vantage.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Awards, Awards, Awards

Nominations for the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced today.

Into the Wild made out like gangbusters, earning four nods, including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for star Emile Hirsch, and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Hal Holbrook (pictured at right with Hirsch).

The other four films nominated for best ensemble cast were 3:10 to Yuma, America Gangster, Hairspray, and No Country for Old Men.

On the television front, HBO’s The Sopranos received nominations for Actor in a Drama Series (James Gandolfini), Actress in a Drama Series (Edie Falco), and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

The other four contenders for Ensemble in a Drama Series were Boston Legal, The Closer, Grey's Anatomy, and Mad Men.

On the comedy side, the guild nominated the ensembles of 30 Rock, Desperate Housewives, Entourage, The Office, and Ugly Betty.

The SAG Awards ceremony will be simulcast live on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m., on TNT and TBS. For a complete list of nominees, click here.

Photo: Paramount Vantage (Into the Wild).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Beam, You Beam – We Beam

So I recently watched my very first episode of MTV’s The Hills.

Don’t ask why. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

And you know what…it was worth it.

There I was, watching the season finale of a show I’d never watched before, when I heard this cute Natasha Bedingfield song called “Pocketful of Sunshine.”

Now, I’m a fair-weather Bedingfield fan, but I immediately liked the little ditty, which played right after off-again, on-again LC and Brody (pictured at right) said their good-byes before she left for Paris, essentially rendering them off again.

Oh, by the way – Uuhhh, and why am I semi-excited about this news, anyway? – I’m told the two are going to spend New Year’s Eve “together” at The Setai in Miami Beach. Someone’s on again….

With winter but days away, what would a pocketful of sunshine remind me to do if not…beam?


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Year’s Best Musical (I Didn’t See)

Once is out on DVD today.

It’s time I make one of the wrongs of my year right by renting this film ASAP.

I’m listening to the film’s “Falling Slowly” as I write this post. It’s such a gorgeous song I can barely stand it.

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Nostalgia, Pt. 16

I cannot believe it has been more than one year since I saw the incredible Damien Rice in concert in New York City.

Why oh why is he not a bigger star in the United States?

Good looks, a haunting voice, terrific songs.

I guess all of that adds up to not-Justin-Timberlake-therefore-thank-you-but-we’re-not-interested. For shame!


Get in the Spirit, Already

Having trouble tapping into your Christm…er…holiday spirit?

No? Just me?

(Not really, but I needed a hook.)

Well then, take a look at this vintage Lindsay Lohan clip – Why? Because I said so, b----! – from Mean Girls.

“Jingle Bell Rock” never was quite so slutty before...or more fun.

Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Return to the Island

Lost’s fourth season will premiere on Jan. 31, after all, and now that I’ve seen its trailer I cannot wait.

Oh, writers strike, you better get resolved soon.

What’s coming up for my favorite castaways? Rescue, it would appear, or is it? As Ben (Michael Emerson) puts it, “Every living person on this island will be killed.”

Say it isn’t so, already.


Update: Here’s another trailer. Don’t say I don't do nice things for ya.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Addicted to Sex

Producers of the Sex and the City movie are said to be planning on making next year’s would-be hit the first of a trilogy.

I doubt it’s going to happen.

It took a lot of work to get this one going, I can’t imagine the ladies will be up for more, more, more (how do you like it, how do you like it).

But you never know. A gal can never have enough ‘nolos.

Alone in the City

Will Smith’s character in I Am Legend goes about his solitary New York City life singing Bob Marley’s refrain about how “everything's gonna be all right,” and although you may want to believe – this is Smith, after all, alien-butt-kicker extraordinaire and all-around nice guy – you needn’t do more than take a look at his surroundings to know that no, not everything’s gonna be all right.

Smith plays scientist Robert Neville in this taut, edge-of-your-seat adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic sci-fi novel directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine).

I Am Legend opens in the not-so-distant future with a television news report hailing a medical breakthrough: a viral cure for cancer.

Three years later, this miracle has unleashed hell on earth.

An infection has spread, and the majority of the world’s population has been wiped out. New York City, a.k.a. Ground Zero, is abandoned – grass has grown waist-high and animals roam wild and free.

No one’s left except for Neville, his German Shepherd Sam, and the “dark seekers” – infected people who have mutated into strong, fast, feral beings that live in the dark and will infect, or devour, anything or anyone in their path.

Nothing’s all right.

For three years, Neville has spent his days scavenging the city for food and supplies, faithfully sending out radio messages, desperately trying to find any other survivors.

Perhaps mankind’s last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood.

A great part of I Am Legend unfolds without words, and few will say this but it is a testament to Smith’s magnetic talent that his lack of conversation partners doesn’t prove to be an obstacle, but rather a bonus that allows us to really feel for him.

The movie’s not the best of its kind, but it is quite intense. To see this apocalyptic New York City is nothing short of arresting, and to see the erstwhile Fresh Prince of Bel-Air save day – yes, once again – is just as riveting as it ever has been. This is Smith, after all…not just the last man on earth, but probably the last great super star.

My Rating ***

Photo: Warner Bros.
He Is Legend, But...

I finally saw Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf.

I know…it took me long enough.

The movie was shot using the same stop-motion capture technology – it employs real actors for not-so real action – used in 2004’s The Polar Express. Thus, it is a pretty handsome adaptation of the Old English epic poem of the same name.

It’s an interesting technology, stop-motion capture technology, one that’s supposed to revolutionize filmmaking, but one that, I feel in cases such as this one, strips movies from the humanity actors can bring to them.

Yes, Beowulf is quite the treat to watch – much more so in IMAX 3D, I understand – but it was hard for me to appreciate the grandiosity of the story when the real-life actors who appear in it look so…artificial.

This is a movie that would have benefited from getting the 300 treatment – hyper-real visuals elevated by actual talent on screen…good, bad, and ugly in plain sight – instead of Barbie and Ken-inizing its talent.

Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast) looks H-O-T as our hero, although you probably wouldn’t know he doesn’t look so imposing because he’s just not that well-known in the United States.

I bet you’ll find it a bit off-putting to see the animated versions of Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, and especially Robin Wright Penn, though. There’s something wrong with their doll-like complexion…the same kind of wrong there is with Nicole Kidman’s, for ince. It’s just not natural-looking.

As for the Beowulf‘s plot: In the age of heroes comes the mightiest warrior of them all, Beowulf (Winstone).

After destroying the overpowering demon Grendel, he incurs the immortal wrath of his ruthlessly seductive mother (Jolie), who will use any means possible to ensure revenge.

The epic battle that follows resonates throughout the ages, immortalizing the song of Beowulf, and revealing the truth behind it.

And you know what they say about dirty laundry….

This one’s for a rainy afternoon.

At home, albeit on a big screen, but don’t bother with the big, big one.

Unless you go 3D.

And nothing else’s playing.

Otherwise you’re just paying for a novelty that is pretty cool, but not that memorable.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Golden Globes Are Coming Up Daisies

Pushing Daisies, that is.

The facts are these: This morning the ABC show received three 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards nominations, including Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical, and lead actor and actress nods for Lee Pace and Anna Friel (pictured at right).

Not bad for a somewhat struggling, ratings-wise, yet completely enjoyable first-year offering.

On the film front, Joe Wright’s period romance Atonement, a best drama nominee starring nominees James McAvoy and Keira Knightley, led the pack with seven nominations.

Waitress was shut out of the competition, scoring bubkes for star Keri Russell or the late Adrienne Shelly’s screenplay. So not sweet.

And – shocker of shockers – Charlie Wilson’s War was nominated in the Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical category.

I thought the movie was about the a group of people that banded together to help Afghanistan rid itself of the Soviet Union by supplying them with fire power.

I didn’t know think hilarity ensued.

Anyway, No Country for Old Men and Michael Clayton continued doing well, while American Gangster, Eastern Promises, and out-of-leftfield nominee The Great Debaters regained or, in the last’s case, gained some traction.

For a complete list of nominees, click here.

Now go watch Pushing Daisies.


I totally didn’t have a clue the Spice Girls already were working on a documentary titled Giving You Everything when I wrote this, but I’m glad the project’s happening.

Click here to watch a very candid preview.

The quintet really is giving us everything, huh.


Madonna will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next March.

Also making the cut in 2008 are John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen, The Dave Clark Five, and The Ventures, while the Beastie Boys and Donna Summer were shut out of the running.

But back to the Queen of Pop....

This couldn’t have happened to a better artist.

After all, she is her own experiment. She is her own work of art.

And we all love it.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lost Without Lost

TV’s Lost is in scheduling crisis.

Alright, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there’s a problem ahead that doesn’t seem to have an easy, satisfying solution.

Because of the writers strike, Lost may not debut its fourth season in February as scheduled, but rather in April.

The show has eight episodes already in the can – No. 8, I understand, features a big cliffhanger. It was supposed to come back and air 16 uninterrupted episodes this season, 16 next season, and then end with another 16, per the creative team’s plan.

Now it’s all up in the air.

I can’t decide what’s better: Get a little Lost when I can get it, or wait until I can get the entire fourth season in one run.

I just hope a solution to this writers strike can be…found. And soon.


Monday, December 10, 2007

It’s Awards Season, People

Last week, the National Board of Review released its annual list of the best films and performances of 2007, with No Country for Old Men topping the list as the best picture of the year.

The NBR’s Top 10 Films list reads as follows: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Atonement, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bucket List, Into the Wild, Juno, The Kite Runner, Lars and the Real Girl, Michael Clayton, and Sweeney Todd.

Sweeney Todd’s Tim Burton was named best director, George Clooney (Michael Clayton) and Julie Christie (Away From Her) won the lead acting prizes, and Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) and Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) were recognized in the supporting categories.

On Sunday, the L.A. Film Critics Association awarded Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood best picture, best director, and best actor (Day-Lewis), while Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was named best picture runner-up.

Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) won for best actress, and Ryan took best supporting actress for her work in two crime dramas: Gone Baby Gone and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

Meanwhile, today the New York Film Critics Circle seconded the NBR’s pick when it, too, named No Country for Old Men the best picture of the year.

The film also picked up best director for the Coen brothers, best screenplay, and best supporting actor (Javier Bardem).

The New York critics awarded best actor honors to Day-Lewis for his turn in There Will Be Blood, best actress to Christie for Away From Her, and best supporting actress to Ryan for Gone Baby Gone.

Photo: Paramount Vantage (There Will Be Blood).

Update: The Boston Society of Film Critics also has released its own list of the best of 2007, featuring many of the aforementioned names.
So Hot It’ll Make Your Eyes Bleed

As reported, David Beckham has become the new global face of Emporio Armani Underwear – and the first ad sure packs a wallop.

So: hot or not?

Yeah, right. Like there’s even a question.

The Stinking Gun

Revolver, Guy Ritchie’s long-delayed latest movie, finally opened last Friday – and you know what…it shouldn’t have.

I guess when you’re thrown a hot-ticket premiere in New York City that your wife Madonna’s co-hosting you either open the movie or you open the movie.

Revolver stars Jason Statham as Jake Green, a master thief and gambler who enters into a game with potentially deadly consequences. It co-stars Ray Liotta as his nemesis, the unfortunately named Dorothy Macha, and André “André 3000” Benjamin and Vincent Pastore (HBO’s The Sopranos) as his mysterious allies.

The plot is a complicated mess that I won’t get into because, well…because the movie probably will leave theaters rather soon, and, I’m sure, because you’re not making plans to see the darn movie, anyway.

Just know that Revolver is about a man conquering his ego or something like that. I can’t be sure. And what’s worse, it doesn’t matter.

The only fun part of it was playing the Madonna Could’ve Played That Part game. Hey, at least Swept Away isn’t looking so bad now.

My Rating *


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Simply Irresistible, Pt. 24

Lucy Liu is my new favorite.

Well…I’ve liked Liu since the days of Ally McBeal, but I just met her, like, 30 minutes ago, and let me tell ya, girlfriend is flawless.

There we were at an Alberta Ferretti fashion show at a PPP (posh private residence, that is) in Miami Beach, where she held court in an impeccable purple Ferretti cocktail dress, metallic Christian Louboutins, and beyond kissable crimson lips and matching nails.

She was the picture of a poised fashionista – and super nice to boot.

Definitely keep an eye for her upcoming TV show, Cashmere Mafia, on ABC.

If anything, it promises to showcase the glamour goddess that is La Liu like never before.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Girl with a Shiny Object

In Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass, an overstuffed and challenging (in more ways than one) fantasy adventure, newcomer Dakota Blue Richards plays Lyra Belacqua, an orphan living in a parallel universe to ours in which a dogmatic dictatorship, the Magisterium, threatens to dominate all.

After her BFF, Roger, is kidnapped, Lyra is whisked up away on a journey to the far North by the frosty Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman), a woman with a sinister agenda.

Lyra, you should know, is a plucky one. She stands up for herself and suffers no fools. She’s so free-willing, in fact, that she’s not afraid to go head to head with her uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig), who can be maddeningly mysterious.

Shortly before leaving for the North, she’s given an alethiometer – a golden compass-like device which allows her to see the truth others wish to hide…and an instrument poses a threat to the Magisterium, which is secretly separating kids from their “daemons,” the animal manifestations of their souls.

Yeah – The Golden Compass is a Think Movie. One, mind you, that has stirred controversy among several Christian groups.

This particularly not religious group of one isn’t offended by its provocative ideas.

This particularly not religious group of one is more annoyed, actually, with the fact that he couldn’t help but be confused by the deep layers of allegory the movie packs into its 118 minutes.

Can someone explain the finer points of The Golden Compass to me?

Perhaps someone like say, the somewhat underused Craig, who with his piercing blue eyes and beyond attractive beard could prove reason enough for me to sit through this movie again?

But really now, it isn’t too much to ask that a movie, the first of a proposed trilogy, not waste time setting up part deux, and instead wrap itself up clearly and nicely. I’ll pardon this faux pas because I trust that in future movies, there will be more Craig – and more answers.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: New Line Cinema.
Got Sex

The teaser trailer for the Sex and the City movie has hit the Web!

I’m sooo excited right now.

It begins with the flirty opening of “Fever.”

Soon, Carrie’s narration tells us “they say nothing lasts forever,” but that “friendships never go out of style.”

And then, an orchestra rendition of the much-missed HBO show’s familiar theme song carries away into, know.

There’s plenty to take in: There’s the four women, of course, an auction, a kiss, and, yes, a wedding dress.

Oh, why can’t it be May 30 tomorrow?

An Ethereal Girl

The one thing I love about the movies is how they can perk you right up when you’re feeling out of sorts.

This power couldn’t be better exemplified than in Enchanted, a movie about a beautiful fairy tale princess who re-writes her own story.

Enchanted is such a delight, really, thanks in no small part to its star, the perfectly cast, Academy Award-nominated Amy Adams (Junebug), who commits fully to charming our cynicism and sorrows away with a skilled portrayal of fancy, innocence, and vulnerability that is oh-so-sweet.

I’m sorry to say it, Keri Russell, but the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy is Adams’ to lose. (I mean, she deserves an award for this stunning entrance alone.)

Enchanted follows the tale of Giselle (Adams) as she is banished from her animated land of Andalasia to the gritty reality of modern-day Manhattan on her wedding day to Prince Edward (James Marsden) by his evil stepmother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon).

Our heroine thus finds herself adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of some enchantment, shocked by this strange new, loud environment that doesn’t operate on a happily-ever-after basis.

But then Giselle begins to fall in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) who has come to her aid – even though she’s already betrothed to her perfect prince back home.

And so Giselle cannot help but wonder: Can a storybook romance survive in the real world? Watch the movie and find out.

My Rating ***

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

And the Grammy May Go to…

The Grammys are turning 50 next year, so you know they’re going to rock it out with one of their biggest bashes yet.

Among the people who will be invited to the party, per today’s nominations, are Kanye West, an eight-time nominee on the strength of his album Graduation; Amy Winehouse, who received six nominations including Best New Artist; and the Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, and T-Pain – each with five.

Akon, Dierks Bentley, Chris Daughtry, Feist, Tim McGraw, John Newton, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, and Bruce Springsteen earned four nominations.

In a fantastic snub, Robin Thicke was nominated a whopping zero times for his The Evolution of Robin Thicke.

Mika, meanwhile, was nominated once, in the Best Dance Recording category, for “Love Today.”

And Madonna, having not released an album since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, was nominated in the Best Long Form Music Video category, for “The Confessions Tour” special that aired on NBC over the 2006 Thanksgiving holiday.

The 50th Annual Grammy Awards will be presented on Feb. 30, and will air live at 8 p.m. on CBS.


Monday, December 03, 2007

They Deserve an Award for the Roles That They Play

Guy Ritchie excelled in his role as a comeback director at the premiere of his film, Revolver, at New York's Tribeca Grand Hotel yesterday, while Madonna played the role of a supportive – and stunning! – wife.

I mean, look at them. Are they not the picture of wedded bliss?

(Jeez, does that sound like a jinx or what.)

For a more humorous take on what the life of the Ritchies might look and sound like, check out this clip from British comedian Harry Enfield’s TV show, Ruddy Hell it's Harry and Paul. It’s completely too funny.

And They’re Off!

The Spice Girls kicked off their reunion tour in Vancouver yesterday.

I’m going to see them in New York – alright…New Jersey – on Feb. 11.

I. Cannot. Wait.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

An Avalanche of Awareness

Proving that she takes her philanthropic efforts as seriously as she does everything else, Madonna will shine a light on Malawi in 2008 with the release of I Am Because We Are.

The film will document the concern over the millions of orphans in the African country who have lost parents and siblings to HIV/AIDS, many of whom live on the streets.

I Am Because We Are also will show the efforts of M’s charitable organization, Raising Malawi, in helping to improve these children’s conditions.

Today, on World AIDS Day, won’t you consider doing something, too?

Hey, you could shop.

Gap’s (2 WEEKS) T-shirt is out now, and the company’s contribution to the Global Fund from the sale of each T-shirt is equivalent to the average cost of two weeks of antiretroviral medicine in Africa, which, along with appropriate nutrition and care, enables people living with HIV to lead healthy, normal lives.

You see, helping isn’t just good, it even looks good.