Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just Because, Pt. 31

Cam Gigandet. Shopping in L.A. In a kilt.


Photo: People.com.
Guess Who’s Transforming Again

Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are at it again – at their Transformers thing, that is.

The It actors have been shooting the blockbuster’s sequel, which is coming out next summer, and having quite the explosive time according to Fox. And btw, parts of Transformers 2 actually were shot in Giza, Egypt
– the first time access has been granted to film at the 5,000-year-old site.

Sweet, huh.

Photo: UsMagazine.com.
The Bitch Is Back

I love the new promo poster for the sophomore season of FX’s Damages because, like the show’s Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), it is oh-so-deceptive (ain’t no one who can walk all over Patty Hewes, after all).

The show, which comes back on Jan. 7, will pick up shortly after Patty’s unprecedented victory over billionaire Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson). Riding a wave of accolades, the nation’s most revered and reviled high-stakes litigator and her bright protégé Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), will be thrown for a loop when Daniel Purcell (William Hurt), a man from Patty’s mysterious past, storms back into her life, catapulting her into a new legal challenge.

What starts as a domestic murder case, escalates into the highest reaches of government as Patty unearths a vast conspiracy, while at the same time, Ellen remains firm on her mission to take down her bitch of a boss.


Photo: EW.com.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Just Because, Pt. 30

Daniel Craig. In St. Barths. For the holidays.

Whats wrong with Miami, boo?

Photo: People.com.
Regal TV

Next spring, NBC will make a bid to reclaim its crown as the No. 1 network when it launches a new show called Kings on March 19.

Last week, TVGuide.com described Kings’ first episode as “dense, Shakespearean, and juicy,” adding that we should expect “[HBO’s] The Sopranos meets Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.

The show stars Ian McShane (HBO’s Deadwood) as King Silas, Christopher Egan as a good-hearted soldier named David, and Sebastian Stan (who played Carter Baizen on TV’s Gossip Girl) as a debauched, spoiled prince.

Herewith then, a preview:

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008: The Year in Review

It was a good year at the movies, wasn’t it?

Superheroes showed us that they can both blow up stuff and blow our minds (thank you, Iron Man and Batman). Sexy ladies proved that they are, indeed, a force to be reckoned with at the box office, and a little robot made us fall in love with him with nary a word spoken.

Here’s a look at what I liked most about the year that was. I hope 2008 was everything you wanted it to be and more.

Have a good 2009!

Best Body: Jason Statham (The Bank Job, but really this is because of Transporter 3, which I didn’t see, but c’mon….)

Best Cameo: Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder

Best Chemistry: The cast of Tropic Thunder

Best Comeback: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Tropic Thunder)

Best Dressed: (tie) Amy Adams in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and the cast of Sex and the City

Best Ensemble: Sex and the City

Best Hair: (tie) Cate Blanchett in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Keira Knightley in The Duchess

Best Look: Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in Australia

Best Prop: “Roger,” the vintage studded belt Sarah Jessica Parker wore in several scenes of Sex and the City

Best Quotable: “Skadoush!” (Kung Fu Panda)

Best Trailer: Revolutionary Road

Hey, Madonna – Nice Try (I Mean It!): Filth and Wisdom

Hey, Madonna – I Don’t Have the Sundance Channel (When’s the DVD Coming Out?): I Am Because We Are

Biggest Scene-stealer: (tie) Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express) and Jason Bateman (Hancock)

Can't Get Enough – Female: Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man)

Can't Get Enough – Male: (tie) James Marsden (27 Dresses) and John Krasinski (Leatherheads)

Can’t Wait to See You Again on the Big Screen – Female: Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)

Can’t Wait to See You Again on the Big Screen – Male: Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted, Valkyrie)

Could Have Gotten More: Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace, but really this is because of Flashbacks of a Fool, which I just rented on DVD, and Defiance, which hasn’t opened in my market yet)

Coolest Title (Even Though I Didn’t See It): Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla

Dreamiest Casting: Keri Russell in Bedtime Stories

Guiltiest Pleasure: Cloverfield

Most Beautiful: The cast of Sex and the City

Most Disappointing: Speed Racer

Most Handsome: Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace

Most I Love You But Please Don’t Sing: Mamma Mia!’s Pierce Brosnan

Most Improved: The Hulk franchise (The Incredible Hulk)

Most Promising: (tie) Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man) and Dustin Lance Black (screenwriter of Milk, pictured at right)

Most Underrated: Ricky Gervais in Ghost Town

Most Romantic: WALL-E’s WALL-E and EVE

Most Welcome to the A-List: (tie) Anna Faris (The House Bunny) and Michael Cera (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist)

Most Enjoyable: Get Smart

Least Enjoyable: Over Her Dead Body

Breakthrough Performance – Female: Elizabeth Banks (W., Zack and Miri Make a Porno)

Breakthrough Performance – Male: David Kross (The Reader)

Best Supporting Actresses: Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Viola Davis (Doubt), Rosemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Best Supporting Actors: Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), James Franco (Milk), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

Best Actresses: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City), Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long), Meryl Streep (Doubt)

Best Actors: Christian Bale (The Dark Knight), Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Sean Penn (Milk), Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Best Directors: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), Gus Van Sant (Milk), Andrew Stanton (WALL-E)

Best Animated Film: WALL-E

Best Documentary: American Teen

10 Best Films of the Year: (in alphabetical order)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Sex and the City
Slumdog Millionaire
Tell No One
Tropic Thunder

Honorable Mention: Marley & Me

Photos: Lionsgate Films (Transporter 3); IFC Films (Filth and Wisdom); Paramount Vantage (Defiance); Focus Features (Milk); New Line Cinema (Sex and the City); 20th Century Fox (Australia).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

R.I.P. Ms. Kitt

Eartha Kitt died today at age 81. 

The erstwhile Catwoman from the Batman TV show passed away in New York, where she was being treated for colon cancer. 

Photo: HarpersBazaar.com.
Closer Again

Clive Owen is poised to have one heck of a beginning to his 2009.

Up first, he’ll be hot.

Then, he will star in February’s The International with Naomi Watts.

And then, on March 20, he will share the big screen once again with his Closer co-star, Julia Roberts, in Duplicity, a Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) drama in which they play two longtime lovers and corporate spies who team up to stage an elaborate con and steal a valuable product.

Looks like good, sexy fun.

Photo: CliveOwen-CelebFan.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Time of His Life

Benjamin Button never was supposed to live, but live he did.

“I was born under unusual circumstances,” B2 (an outstanding Brad Pitt) says at the beginning of director David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, an adaptation of the 1920s short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who ages backward.

Benjamin was born a wrinkly baby in his physical eighties, and died an old man in the body of a newborn.

The film takes us through his life, as told by his soul mate Daisy (Cate Blanchett) to her daughter (Julia Ormond), on her deathbed in 2005, several decades after Daisy, then a child, met Benjamin in their native New Orleans.

We follow this unusual story, from the end of WWI in 1918 into the 21st century, and learn that Benjamin was abandoned by his industrialist father at the door of Queenie (the awards-worthy Taraji P. Henson, who has called her character “the embodiment of unconditional love”), who is kindness incarnate.

We see him meet and fall in love with Daisy, and eventually leave her to find meaning in his life, and then perhaps for good.

We see him on a journey that is unlike no other man’s in spite of its peculiarity. Time, it seems, doesn’t stop for him, either. Like the rest of us, all he can do is enjoy it and make the most of it.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an epically dazzling film, a grand film with really amazing production values and performances.

I wasn’t too keen on the caricature-like nature of some of the characters that came in and out of B2’s life – they just didn’t feel fully realized – but I was truly head over heels over the grand nature of the question the film: What is in a life?

A lot, it seems, because as Queenie says, “You never know what’s comin’ for you.”

And like Benjamin Button, one can only hope to surprise everyone and really live.

Let The Curious Case of Benjamin Button be wake-up call. They don’t get any more artful than this.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Paramount Pictures.
Down with the Führer

Picture it: Germany, 1944 – a police state where everyone’s moves are watched, and honor and justice have been subverted to within an inch of their meaning.

The country is in the mustachioed evil grip of Adolf Hitler, but a group of men deep inside the highest reaches of power have decided to take action at last, and carry out the operation that gives this Bryan Singer-directed movie its title.

Based on the true story of Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (played by Tom Cruise) and the daring and ingenious plot to eliminate one of the most evil tyrants known, Valkyrie opens today in the midst of some bad buzz that’s quite undeserved. This is an effective suspense thriller.

No, you needn’t be a history buff to know the movie’s outcome – Spoiler Alert! (Not!): von Stauffenberg and his men failed to 86 Hitler.

After all, you knew what was in store in Titanic.

The thrill of Valkyrie comes from seeing how and why the plot was conceived, understanding how it was put in motion, and ultimately, from hoping against hope that it works.

And now, a disclosure: I didn’t see the end of the movie because the fire alarm at the press screening I attended earlier this month was pulled as everything began to unravel on screen. So although I know how the movie was to end, I don’t know how Singer translated it on film, or how Cruise played it.

I can tell you that Cruise, a controversial casting choice, plays von Stauffenberg, a loyal officer who served his country all the while harboring a desire that someone would find a way to stop Hitler before Europe and Germany were destroyed, the best way he can (heroically), especially in the face of a strong group of supporting players (Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, and Eddie Izzard).

Yes, he comes off a little, say, amateurish surrounded by all these accents, but y’ know what: He’s Tom Cruise, and it’s about time we remembered that.

This movie may not put America’s Golden Boy on top, but compounded by his terrific cameo in last summer’s Tropic Thunder, Valkyrie will sure help us forget any couch-jumping shenanigans past, and be more open to what’s to come.

My Rating ***

Photo: United Artists.
Story Time

Stephen Daldry’s The Reader is an adaptation of a semiautobiographical novel – an Oprah’s Book Club pick, no less – by Bernard Schlink.

The film tells the story of Michael Berg (David Kross), a 15-year-old boy who falls ill on his way home and is looked after by Hanna Schmitz (a powerhouse Kate Winslet), a woman twice his age with whom he later embarks on a passionate affair.

Their relationship is as consuming as it is illicit. And The Reader explores it unabashedly.

“The kid,” as she calls him (at first dismissively and then affectionately), and her begin to meet after he comes looking for her a few months after they met. He pays her a shy visit to thank her, and she seduces in a way that I could only hope to imitate someday.

Awkwardness gives way to passion, and soon they begin meeting everyday, first for sex, and then, after she alters their dynamic, for a little reading of the classics (on his part, for her)…and then sex.

But then, after one memorable summer together, Hanna up and leaves town without explanation, and the kid is brokenhearted.

Cut to almost a decade later, Michael, now a young law student, is observing Nazi war trials, when he finds his former lover again, in court as a defendant. She is on trial for a hideous crime, refusing to defend herself, and he starts to realize Hanna is guarding a secret she considers to be more shameful than murder.

There’s plenty that goes, say, unanswered in The Reader, but I thought that it made a pretty powerful statement, especially when a grown-up Michael (Ralph Fiennes) asked Hanna what she’d learn from her experience.

It turns out the answer is as complicated as the lives of these two characters, and quite startling and intriguing, just as the slightly uneven film Daldry (The Hours) has delivered. Hanna’s secret may carry the story, but Winslet carries the film, though, and for that it must be watched.

My Rating ***

Photo: The Weinstein Company.

What She Said

Merry Christmas, everybody! 

Photo: YouTube.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Female Version of the Hustler

So Beyoncé has an alter ego, right, and her name is Sasha Fierce – you know, because being Beyoncé isn’t enough (as a friend says).

Well, B (or is it Sasha Fierce? I’m confused) has released a new single called “
Diva,” the video of which features her wearing a pair of, mmm, unique pair of “Kanye-esque tinsel glasses.”

“Diva” is def no “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” which has really grown on me and totally makes me say “That’s right.”

But it’s not half-bad, even though it doesn’t peak. I wonder how everyone else will like it.

Photo: EW.com.

Update: Beyoncé also released “Halo” today. FYI: This one is more B. than Sasha Fierce.
The Beginning of the Affair

I’ve been wondering were Sandra Bullock went – she’s been getting steamy with Ryan Reynolds!

In next summer’s The Proposal, Bullock plays Margaret, a high-powered exec who is forced to marry her (so hot) male assistant (Reynolds) in order to stay in the country.

And, natch, when they travel to Alaska to meet his family, the new “couple” has to fake their way through a surprise wedding thrown by his parents – obviously, only to fall in love for real.

Click here to watch the trailer, and save the date for June 12 – the perfect day for a fake wedding.

Photo: People.com.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just Because, Pt. 29

Maroon 5 can wind up back at my door anytime – especially from this angle, Adam Levine.

Photo: MarqueeMag.com.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So Sweet

Rolling Stone has named Madonna’s “Sticky & Sweet Tour” the tour of the year.

“Madonna muscles her way to Number 1!” said the magazine.

“Unlike the Federal Reserve Bank, Madonna presided over a fiscally phenomenal year, launching the highest grossing tour of 2008 – and the biggest tour ever by a solo artist. [The tour was expected to gross $282 million after concluding in Brazil in a couple of days. That’s a lot of candy.]

“We’re also pretty sure she could kick Fed Chief Ben Bernanke’s ass in a fair fight.”

In view of a job well done, I bow.

Photo: Madonnalicious.com.
For the Movie Reviewing Record…

I watched Changeling and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist earlier this fall.

I found Angelina Jolie to be tremendous in the Clint Eastwood-directed drama, which tells the inspired-by-true-events story of Christine Collins, a woman in 1920s Los Angeles desperate to find out what happened to her kidnapped son, and the police department who tried to pass another boy as hers.

As it has become obvious from all the awards attention that Jolie is enjoying, Changeling probably will score her a second Oscar nomination, and while I think it’s most deserved, I also think her turn in last year’s A Mighty Heart was stronger and should’ve done the trick then.

Changeling was a little too uneven for my taste, but Jolie shone through, especially because she had a mostly all-male supporting cast (John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, and Michael Kelly) that elevated the material and her work.

Now, for the thoroughly enjoyable Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist....

I really wish more people had seen this movie. Michael Cera is a leading man’s leading man – he’s young, yes, but he’s soulful, and funny, and charming. He so should’ve gotten a Golden Globe nomination.

And his co-star, Kat Dennings, is effortlessly appealing.

It would be difficult for anyone to steal screen time from either, but someone did, and that was newcomer Ari Graynor who, as Norah’s boozy BFF Caroline, pranced around the movie chewing a piece of gum that wouldn’t quit, and proved that she’s definitely a star on the rise. (It’s what she does with that gum. To get it, rent the DVD ASAP.)

Photos: Screenhead.com (Changeling); LATimes.com (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist).

Lipstick Lesbians

My pals over at New York-based Three Custom Color Specialists and Showtime have teamed up to promote the upcoming sixth and final season of The L Word, premiering on Jan. 18.

Three Custom Color has created a gorgeous new collection of $20 lipsticks inspired by the show’s most popular, sexy, and iconic characters – so get your Alice, Bette, Kit, or Shane and pucker up. The lipsticks will go one sale one the TCC and Showtime Web sites at exactly 8:59 p.m., right before The L Word’s season premiere.

Oh, and throughout this month, fans can compete in an online contest to think up the best tagline for each shade. Winners will be announced on air and online on Jan 18, and will receive a deluxe prize package featuring an array of gifts from The L Word and Showtime, all four shades of The L Word Sheer Lipstick Collection, and a $300 gift certificate redeemable on the TCC Web site.

So grab a pen, a plum – heck, grab a lip liner and get writing!

Photo: Three Custom Color Specialists.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kindness Toward Strangers

Oh, Will Smith and Gabriele Muccino, your latest collaboration, Seven Pounds, misses it by that much.

To be fair, though – can I pass judgment on a movie, if I was in and out of sleep while watching it? I’m going to say yes since I don’t suppose making an audience catch some zzzs ever was the intention of the star and director of The Pursuit of Happyness.

Smith, who has made a billion-dollar career out of playing beacons of hope, takes on, perhaps, his darkest role yet as Ben Thomas, an IRS agent scarred by loss of the most unthinkable sort.

Governed by tremendous guilt, Ben has devised a secret plan to redeem himself, to excuse his existence and make it meaningful, by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.

That’s about all I knew going into Seven Pounds, and I didn’t know what any of it was supposed to mean. The studio behind the movie was that vague in promoting it, so I didn’t know whether Smith was going to turn out to be an alien or an angel.

He’s – Spoiler Alert! – neither. He’s just a man, broken into a million little pieces. Smith does an excellent job at conveying this vagueness (for much too long), but he fails to make Ben a sympathetic fellow. I couldn’t connect to him in this one.

By the time we’re told the poignant reason of Ben’s unraveling, the revelation doesn’t pack a mean punch, but it’s strong enough that it’ll have people in tears – I know it did at the screening I attended last month. So bring a hanky.

The heart of Seven Pounds, though, is Rosario Dawson, which is a bit ironic considering she plays a print artist with congenital heart failure.

Her Emily humanizes Ben in ways that Smith can’t, and in any given year – and had this movie been better – I dare say Dawson would be enjoying some nods from all the awards people this season. She’s a luminous revelation.

But this movie’s just too heavy, or better yet, too heavy-handed for its own good. Still, I don’t see how it will fail commercially – we heart Smith enough to allow him this sanctimonious misstep.

My Rating **

Photo: Teaser-Trailer.com.
Kate the Great’s Hot Double SAGs

A lady never likes the sags, and Kate Winslet is no exception.

But when said SAGs stands for Screen Actors Guild Awards, well then…it’s a different matter.

“These nominations mean more to me than I can possibly explain,” said Winslet in a statement this morning, upon hearing of her SAG Awards nods for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (in Revolutionary Road) and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (in The Reader).

“To have had the opportunity to play April Wheeler and Hanna Schmitz was an unbelievable gift. I am profoundly grateful to have been recognized by my peers in this way.”

Having seen The Reader only last night – the review’s a-comin’ next week – I can say that Winslet is most deserving, and that she’s become my favorite to win an Oscar next year. At last, btw.

To find out who else was nominated for SAG Awards today – Pitt! Jolie! Streep! Ledger! Cruz! the casts of 30 Rock, The Office, and The Closer! – click here. The awards will be presented on Jan 25.

Photo: Telegraph.co.uk.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

From Rags to Riches

Danny Boyle’s exciting Slumdog Millionaire not only is the biggest small film of the year, it is one of the best.

It tells the unbelievable story of Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is experiencing the biggest day of his life as a Who Wants to be a Millionaire contestant.

And it’s quite simply Boyle’s most daring masterpiece.

I wish I could stop right there and not pretend to give you more details about Slumdog Millionaire, so you can discover it on your own, but I’ve only told you half the story.

With the entire country watching and rooting for him, Jamal is a question away from winning – gulp! – 20 million rupees.

Through a series of intriguing flashbacks, some funny, most poignant, chronicling his and his older brother’s hard-knocks life we learn how he’s made it this far.

And then the show breaks for the night.

The police pick him up to investigate an allegation of cheating, because how else could he know any of the answers, after all – he’s a street urchin.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (the breathtakingly beautiful Freida Pinto), the girl he loved and lost.

Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the show’s questions.

Puzzled by Jamal’s story, the cynical police inspector begins to wonder why a young man with no apparent desire for riches is really doing on the show (and enduring his people’s torture so dignifiedly).

You’re going to have to find out the loverly reason – wink, wink – by watching Slumdog Millionaire. You’ll exhilarated you did, trust.

My Rating ****

Photo: Collider.com.
What Did Happen to “Them” After the Island Moved?

This tease of the upcoming fifth season of Lost, premiering on Jan. 21, really is too much, yet not enough:

Gimme more!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The AFI Top Picks for 2008 Surprise

This is the American Film Institute announced annual Top 10 list for the year that almost was:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frozen River
Gran Torino
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler

Mmm…I see a couple of surprises. And I likey.

Photo: Disney/Pixar (WALL-E).
Insisting on America’s Sweetheartdom

I gotta give props to Katherine Heigl: as she pointed out in her Emmy Award acceptance speech a couple of years, she has worked her “ass off” to make it in Hollywood.

But, sweets, as I already told you, you are not the next Julia Roberts, and, really, I gotta agree with those who know more than I do when they say The Ugly Truth doesn’t look like something I should mark on my calendar for next spring.

I mean, I’ll watch it, but…wait. Am I really addressing Heigl (pictured at right, on the movie’s set) directly?

That’s kind of like a bad conceit for a rom-com, right there. Jeez – it’s contagious.

Snapping out of it now.


So yeah, The Ugly Truth…it’s got no teeth, and Heigl, gloriously outspoken Heigl, deserves something with bite. Then m I’d buy her as a leading lady. Click here and watch the trailer and tell I am wrong.

Photo: People.com.
Sherlock Hotness

Looks like Guy Ritchie didn’t walk away with just a cool $76 million (that’s a lot of Kabbalah Water!) in divorce settlement money from his soon-to-be-ex Madonna – he also walked away with an obsession for all things buff.

How else could you explain the look he has Robert Downey Jr. going for on his upcoming Sherlock Holmes?

Ritchie’s grittier take on the famous sleuth arrives in theaters next year.

As for this year, although it had been speculated that he and the former “missus” would spend Christmas together for the sake of their kids, her rep has said, “Madonna will be spending the holidays in London. But, it is doubtful she will be spending it with the ex.”

So much for a Christmas miracle.

Photo: E! Online.

Update: Did Liz Rosenberg, Madonna’s longtime mouthpiece, speak out of turn when she said Guy Ritchie would walk away with at least $76 million in the couple’s divorce settlement? Does someone need to have her antennas checked?

In a Dec. 17 joint statement, the singer and the director said that, “We have tried to maintain a dignified silence regarding the details of our divorce for the last few months whilst accepting the obvious media interest.

“A misleading and inaccurate statement, specifically in relation to the sums of money involved, was wrongly issued to AP this week.

“The financial details of the settlement will remain private, save to say that both of us are happy with our agreement. Our primary concern, like any co-parents, is the care and well being of our children.”

Thread carefully, Rosenberg!
Thor-rific News, Comic Book Fans!

MTV News recently caught up with Kenneth Branagh at a Valkyrie press junket, and the Irish actor-director confirmed that he’ll helm an upcoming Thor movie, which was announced following the massive success of Iron Man as part of a multi-movie package from Marvel Studios.

“I am directing Thor or The Mighty Thor as you might like to call it,” he said. “I think it will be Thor.”

And just what attracted to the director of fare such as Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet to a comic book adaptation?

“[The opportunity t]o work on a story about one of the immortals, gods, extraordinary beings, inter-dimensional creatures,” he said.

Kevin McKidd (HBO’s Rome, TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) is said to be in the running to play Thor, but Branagh says that’s not quite true, that the role has yet to be filled.

“There’s been lots of talk [about casting] – I sound like a politician – but we are too early at this stage,” he said. “We’re getting the story and the visual effects together, and all of that is very exciting. Someone sensational is going to play the part but it is early days.”

Someone call Friday Night LightsScott Porter pronto!

Photo: BranaghCompendium.com.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Alloy Adamantium Man

I was reading the paper of the weekend – shocker – and saw that screenings of The Day the Earth Stood Still were supposed to be only places on Earth where one could watch the trailer for the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine.


You can watch it – and drool over how ripped Hugh Jackman looks! – by clicking here.

And then you can click here to find out more about Taylor Kitsch as Gambit, and Ryan Reynolds’ as Deadpool (Liev Schreiber also co-stars as Sabretooth).

Oh my – Jackman, Kitsch, Reynolds, and Schreiber? I can see the joint (shirtless, please) covers now….

Photo: IGN.com.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just Because, Pt. 28

This one’s for you, because “you never were, and you never will.”

And because I spent the weekend listening to my Robyn Rakamonie EP.

And because I hearted it.

Photo: NYDailyNews.com.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Welcome Back, Ms. Graham

That sound you hear is the beat of my heart exploding with joy.

Ouch – but good ouch. The news is just that beyond.

ABC has given the go-ahead to production on an untitled half-pilot starring Lauren Graham, the much-missed of TV’s Gilmore Girls, as “a self-help guru who teaches women how to live stress-free – but struggles to follow her own advice when her boyfriend dumps her.” (I guess NBC dropped the ball.)

The show, which will be executive-produced by talent from Will & Grace and Arrested Development (promising much?) has got to make it to the air next fall.

Up first, though, Graham will head to the Great White Way for a spring revival of Guys and Dolls.

But then it’s back to the tube for you, missy.

Photo: WhosDatedWho.com.
Oscar Gets Sexy

Since producers of the upcoming Oscar telecast want “the ceremony to be fun,” they have tapped Australia’s Hugh Jackman – who wouldn’t?! – to host the 81st Annual Academy Awards airing live on ABC on Feb. 22.

People’s Sexiest Man Alive is no stranger to hosting awards shows. He won an Emmy Award in 2005 for hosting the 2004 Tony Awards, and nominated again the following year.

And since a source close to the Broadway kudofest has called him “sexy, funny, smart, and talented. Unbelievably collaborative. It wasn‘t about him. It was about the show,” well…Jackman shan’t have any trouble making the traditionally long Academy Awards show a handsome delight to watch.

Photo: MSNBC.MSN.com.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Purrrfect Casting?

Rumor has it that Rachel Weisz is the frontrunner to play Catwoman in the follow-up to The Dark Knight.

Franchise director – and Golden Globe snub – Christopher Nolan is said not to be fully committed to having a third go at what he started with Batman Begins, but he’s expected back behind the camera, as is the Caped Crusader himself, Christian Bale.

But back to Weisz – do we like this idea…or should it be buried in the litter box?

I kinda thought having Cher play an aging Catwoman, as was rumored long ago, would be fab.

Photo: PhotoBucket.com.
What Is Filling Up These Golden Globes?

Not Lost, that’s what.

The drama was completely ignored as the nominations for the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards, airing live on Jan. 11 on NBC, were announced this morning.


Leading the nominees in the picture front were Decemberists The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, and Frost/Nixon, each with five.

But seriously, no Lost? I’m making the same face that Elizabeth Mitchell, Matthew Fox, and Evangeline Lilly (pictured at right) are making!

Urgh – I don’t want to talk about the Golden Globes anymore. Click here for the complete list of nominees.

Oh well. Lost’s fifth season premieres next month, btw.

Photo: E! Online.

Update: You wanna know what else got shut out at this morning’s announcement? Oh, you know you do: Unbelievably, the – gasp! – Sex and the City movie.

I, too, thought the Hollywood Foreign Press Association loved SJP & Co. I guess it was just a trick.
My, Yes, GQ, She Is

The cover of January’s GQ, out on Dec. 23, is on fire!

A scantly clad Jennifer Aniston is on it, and the magazine asks, “Is It Just Us or Is Jennifer Aniston Getting Hotter?”

No, it’s not just you, GQ, and yes, of course she is.

Aniston has emerged as no-BS type of woman in the wake of Brangelina, and while her film career may have taken a few hits, she should feel confident that Marley & Me and He’s Just Not That Into You will make her a box office draw worth banking on again – she’s got my money for sure.

And it’s not just me pledging my love for the Friend. Click here for an Aniston admission of love by an EW.com writer, who gives his Top 5 reasons for loving the actress.

Mine are: 1) Her indie turns in The Good Girl and Friends with Money, 2) Her impeccable and finely honed over time comedic timing on Friends, 3) Her quotables, 4) Her style, and 5) The Break-Up.

Photo: EW.com.

Update: And no, Aniston doesn’t so much as talk about Brangelina with GQ as much as she simply answers a question with a little humor.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

L.A. and NY Heart Sally and Penélope

Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) and Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) have been deservedly named 2008’s Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Circle of Critics.

You go, girls!

Milk collected NY honors for Best Film, Best Actor, for Sean Penn, and Best Supporting Actor, for Josh Brolin, while L.A. named Penn Best Actor.

For a complete list of winners from the Big Apple, click here. To find out who won in Tinseltown, click here.

Photo: EW.com.
Hola Valentino y Matteo!

As you’ve probably read, Ricky Martin is a daddy now.

The singer became the father of twins last summer, and this week, he came out in the pages of ¡Hola! to introduce his bundles of joy, bouncing baby boys, Valentino and Matteo.

Of the children, who were delivered via gestational surrogacy, Martin says, “It’s true, I’m exhausted, but I’ve never been happier.”

Fatherhood suits him.

Photo: Hola.com.

Update: The new dad also talked to People about his new role. Click here for that interview.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Kate Beckinsale. Really.

Next week’s dramatic thriller Nothing But the Truth is said to feature an unexpectedly powerful performance by none other than Kate Beckinsale.

Yep – Kate Beckinsale, she of Underworld fame.

Nothing against the British actress, I know she has chops to hold her own with co-stars Matt Dillon, Angela Bassett, and Alan Alda, as do the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Awards, who recently nominated her a Best Actress of 2008.

And you know what, yes, she did the Underworld movies, and Van Helsing, and Vacancy, but she also did Laurel Canyon, and The Aviator, and Snow Angels. So there.

In Rod Lurie’s Nothing But the Truth, Beckinsale plays a Washington, D.C., political journalist named Rachel Armstrong, who writes an explosive story about a government scandal in which she reveals the name of a covert CIA agent.

When a special government prosecutor demands Armstrong divulge her source, she refuses and finds herself behind bars, struggling to defend the principles upon which she has based her career. (I think this should be a must-watch movie for any journalist.)

I love it when Hollywood casts against type.

Photo: Yari Film Group.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Prison Break

After a long week of Art Basel Miami Beaching spent spying on celebrities like Alex Rodriguez, Marilyn Manson, Naomi Campbell, Ivana Trump, Kelly Klein, and Mary Kate Olsen, I decided I finally needed to watch I’ve Loved You So Long.

Because, y’ know, nothing counterbalances the fun of drinking free champs at a recently opened South Beach hotel and star-sighting like a bleak French film.

I’ve Loved You So Long tells the story of Juliette (a great Kristin Scott Thomas), a woman who reunites with her sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) after 15 years.

In my October preview of the film, I mentioned that Léa didn’t really know where Juliette had been all those years. But she did – Léa grew up keenly aware that her older sister was away in prison for murder, and that she was never to speak of her again, at least not in front of her parents, who all but erased their eldest from their lives.

This is the story of the sister’s reunion, mostly of Juliette’s unfathomable struggle to reconnect with a world, with a family that had all but seemingly forgotten and moved along just fine without her. But it is also is about Léa’s quest to welcome back Juliette, to help her know that she never, not for one day stopped thinking about her.

Behind Juliette’s bitterness and icy façade hides a terribly painful secret, and allow me to say that Scott is a sight to see as she reveals it.

A Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Awards nominee for in the Best Foreign Language Film category, I’ve Loved You So Long is, I thought, a bit manipulative, though.

It really wants us to think the worst of Juliette, but when the truth does come out, it’s a punch to the gut. She may be a free woman, indeed, but hers is a prison she cannot escape.

Both Scott and Zylberstein deliver really strong performances that should be hard to overlook. Scott, a top-shelf British actress, speaks in flawless French, with strong emotion that ebbs and flows, while Zylberstein is just so precise, audiences really ought to watch them on screen together.

My Rating ***

Photo: EW.com.
Nostalgia, Pt. 27

I used to beam, once.

Photo: Contact.Music.com.
Will Oscar Be Next?

The late Heath Ledger has earned his first American award for his riveting turn in The Dark Knight now that the Washington, D.C., Film Critics have named him the Best Supporting Actor of the year.

Among the D.C. critics other picks were Slumdog Millionaire (Best Film as well as Best Director for Danny Boyle and Best Adapted Screenplay), Mickey Rourke (Best Actor for The Wrestler), and Meryl Streep (Best Actress for Doubt).

To see who else was favored by the group, click here.

Photo: EW.com (The Dark Knight).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Crazy About Keri

The new issue of the Details, the one with Tom Cruise on the cover, features an article on the lovely Keri Russell that left my mouth wide open for two reasons.

Firstly, the article settled for going about Felicity (a show I loved, but c’mon) a lot instead of proclaiming the actress a leading lady in waiting (mentioning Waitress in passing, IMHO, did not do her or that gem of a film justice).

And secondly, the photos, which I found to be the raciest she has ever taken. When I saw it I was like, OMG, that’s a hint of Keri Russell’s nipple!

My favorite gal can be seen next in Bedtime Stories, a Disney movie (ha!) opening on Christmas Day.

Photo: Men.Style.com.
M Makes Argentina’s Day

Every once in a while, Madonna comes down her high horse and does something really special for her fans.

Keeping them waiting for more than hours, like she did in Miami, while worth it for us, isn’t one of those things.

But surprising Argentina with a performance of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” after her rendition of “You Must Love Me” last night so was.

Check it out:

Dude, It’s the Dude from the T-shirt!

Opening today, in New York and Los Angeles, in time for awards season, natch, are Che Part One, a.k.a. The Argentine, and Che Part Two, a.k.a. Guerilla, Steven Soderbergh’s epic biopic of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

You can watch the trailer for the former here, and the one for the latter here.

Whaddya say? Up for spending upward of four hours in the movie theater watching Benicio Del Toro get his revolution on?

Photo: IFC Films.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

NBR Slumdogs It

Well, we’re in it now.

National Board of Review has named Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire 2008’s top film.

The NBR Top 10 films were Burn After Reading, Changeling, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Defiance, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Milk, WALL-E, and The Wrestler.

Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) and Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) were singled out as best actor and best actress, while Josh Brolin and Penélope Cruz were recognized for their supporting turns in Milk and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

For a complete list of NBR winners, click here.

Photo: EW.com (Slumdog Millionaire).
Grammy Hearts What I Heart

Breaking away from a long early-morning tradition, the nominations for the 51st Annual Grammy Awards
were announced last night on primetime television as part of a special concert featuring performances by Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, and Mariah Carey, who opened the show with the holiday hit “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

Madonna picked up only two nominations – I know! – one for “4 Minutes” in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category, thanks to the participation of one Justin Timberlake and one Timbaland, and one for “Give It 2 Me,” which is up for Best Dance Recording.

The “4 Minutes -
Junkie XL Remix” also was nominated in the Best Remixed Recording category.

Coldplay’s Viva La Vida is up for Album of the Year, while its great title track received nods for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Also nominated for Song of the Year is
Estelle’s “American Boy.”

Leona Lewis received three nominations: Best Pop Vocal Album for her debut, Spirit, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Record of the Year for “Bleeding Love.”

And finally, Kathy Griffin’s plot to get a Grammy nomination worked (if you watch her show on Bravo then you know): her For Your Consideration was considered and is up for Best Comedy album.

The Grammy Awards will air live from Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Feb. 8. on CBS.

For a complete list of nominees, get on the Google.

Photo: Detronizator.org.
Just Can’t Get Enough Aniston

I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately, but I’m living for Jennifer Aniston.

The actress is on the cover of the latest Entertainment Weekly, out tomorrow, and soon will face off against her ex-husband at the box office (her Marley & Me and his Curious Case of Benjamin Button both open on Christmas Day – I’m watching the former…because I already saw the latter).

Click here for an advance read.

Photo: EW.com.
M in LV

Louis Vuitton has tapped Madonna to appear in an upcoming ad campaign, and this is what the Material Girl looks like in LV.

Click here for another look-see.

There will be a total of six ads signed by longtime M friend and collaborator, photographer Steven Meisel, that will published in several fashion magazines next February and March.

I like these ads. And since she’s is not (officially) dressed up in someone’s love, Madonna might as well be dressed up in LV, right?

Photo: MadonnaTribe.com.

Update 1: “I wanted the campaign to be very bold, very sensual and very atmospheric. To carry off all these references and all its sophistication, we needed the ultimate performer – and for me, that is Madonna,” said LV designer Marc Jacobs of the company’s choice of model.

Update 2: Aw...look at Jacobs praise his Queen.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Just Because, Pt. 27

Gay marriages could save the economy!” don’t you know, don’t you know.

Or so say some of Hollywood’s funniest peeps in a new FunnyOrDie.com video, including Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Sarah Chalke (TV’s Scrubs), Andy Richter, and Maya Rudolph, among others.

Click here for a laugh.

Photo: Out.com.