Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Top Film of the 2000s

As the end of the decade grows super-near – just a few more hours – I thought it was time to declare Moulin Rouge! as my pick for top film of the 2000s.

Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece, robbed of a Best Picture Oscar back in 2002, is an energized piece of art and the musical that single-handedly revitalized the genre.

(I’d say Evita from a few years earlier was it had it not been so overlooked, mostly because Madonna was in it, I’m sure.)

Moulin Rouge! made a leading lady out of Nicole Kidman, who earned her first Academy Award nomination for her turn as Satine, the Moulin Rouge’s Sparkling Diamond,…and who – yeah, I’ll say it! – hasn’t looked any more naturally beautiful since.

The film also turned us on to cutie patootie Ewan McGregor as a singing talent, and put the world on shuffle long before Apple ever did (en masse, I mean) with its eclectic soundtrack featuring a sexy and divarrific revamp of “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink, as well takes on David Bowie, Nirvana, Elton John, Madonna, and the Police, not to mention the gorgeous “Come What May.”

The film’s pièce de résistance, though, is the “Elephant Love Medley,” which you can watch and enjoy herewith:

A film about Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love, the ever-inspiring Moulin Rouge! is definitely in a genius league of its own.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In Love and on the Beach

Cute Couple Alert!

Marc Jacobs and his fiancé Lorenzo Martone were all PDA all the time – a mighty task to accomplish in black and blue barely there swimsuits! – while spending time in St. Bart’s earlier this week.

Out and proud...although, I’m sure a little too out for some people’s comfort, if you know what I mean (sartorially!), but whatevs. They’re making it, unlike other couples.

America’s First Creepy Family

Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth will be starring as Gomez and Morticia Adams on a Broadway production of The Addams Family next spring.

I’m oddly excited about this.

I really loved the movies, and meeting Christina Ricci (who played Wednesday in them) earlier this month and talking about them and how I used to crush on her.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The Queen of the Leggings

Lindsay Lohan is one tough cookie.

In her own way, you know.

Since her movie prospects are so far and in between, and her fashion career is sooo H-O-T (facetious much?), L2 plans on branching her leggings venture, 6126, into a full-fledged line...available for the entire body.

I didn’t even know that was a thing. Would those be called bodyings? Or, oh wait...does she mean clothes?

“i need MORE followers i am so sad about this,” she – shudder – tweeted. “how can i tell everyone about my 6126 full collection COMING OUT!”

It seems Lohan’s constantly announcing things but not delivering, huh.


Update: Click here to check out Linds’ sketches for the expanded line.
Check Out His Body of Work

Model Noah Mills is turning actor.

The pretty boy, who works it for D&G and Michael Kors, is shooting an indie called Happy New Year, and reportedly will play Samantha’s love interest in Sex and the City 2 (I’m pretty sure that’s him at the 0:53 mark in the sequel’s trailer).

Can’t wait to see more, more, more.

Get on the Google – trust.

I meant now.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stick a Fork in the Taylors

It was too cute and shticky to last: Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner are done.

It’s the holidays: Some pretty people come together, some pretty people go their separate ways.

They’ll always have Valentine’s Day, though. (Check out the new trailer.)

So...It’s About Building Stuff with Your Mind?

The new trailer for next summer’s Inception is out – and I’m still puzzled.

Why can Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page bring down buildings just by looking at them?

And what does Leo mean when he says he has to “steal” an idea?

And while we’re at it, why is Page yelling “Wake me up!” with such fright?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tyra’s Done Talking

After five seasons on the air, spent mostly talking about herself, Tyra Banks is pulling the plug on The Tyra Show.

“This will be [our] last season,” Banks told People exclusively. “I’ve been loving having fun, coming into your living rooms, bedrooms, hair salons for the past five years.”

The model-turned-TV-phenom plans to focus on launching, Bankable Studios, a film production company, after her show’s wraps next spring.

Somewhere, Joel McHale, the Soup-maker, is crying his eyes out. And Wendy Williams is getting her best weaves dusted.

She Turned Us On

DJ Paul Oakenfold has gone on the record to remember her late collaborator, actress Brittany Murphy, as “a great vocal.”

The two worked together on “Faster Kill Pussycat,” one of the tracks off his 2006 release, A Lively Mind.

“Brittany trained as a singer before she did as an actress,” the DJ said. “She was a great actress but she had great vocal potential.

“I said to her [given that Murphy wasn’t too keen at first to lend her voice to the track thinking it would be sort of thankless], ‘Why hide behind something? You have a really great vocal. People are going to be shocked and pleasantly happy with what they’re going to hear. You are not one of these actresses who are trying to sing and not doing a good job of it.’”

Indeed, she wasn’t. I really quite liked and championed “Faster Kill Pussycat.”

Too bad we’ll never know what else those pipes on Murphy had to offer.


Friday, December 25, 2009

2009: The Year in Review

Another year, another end-of-the-year recap.

It feels like it’s been a looong one, hasn’t it?

It’s definitely been the year of the hunk, as you’ll soon see...but that, I’m afraid, is the first thing that pops into my head when I look back on the past 12 months, and it just doesn’t seem right.

There were a great many things, delightful things (like Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia) up on the big screen, but nothing that really, really stood out.

But, nevertheless, here’s a look-see at what I liked most about the year that was. I hope 2009 was everything you wanted it to be and more.

Have great new year, and an even better new decade.

Best Anna Wintour Overshadower: The September Issue’s Grace Coddington.

Best Bodies: The cast of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch,, and Liev Schreiber)

Best Cameo: Bill Murray in Zombieland

Best Chemistry: Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal

Best Comeback: Sandra Bullock (The Proposal, The Blind Side)

Best Documentary: Valentino: The Last Emperor

Best Dress: Ali Larter’s little red dress in Obsessed

Best Ensemble: The cast of Star Trek

Best Fight: Beyoncé vs. Ali Larter in Obsessed

Best Hair: Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer

Best Look: Bradley Cooper halfway through The Hangover

Best Prop: The balloons in Up

Best Quotable: “Are we f---ups?” (Away We Go)

Best Trailer: Where the Wild Things Are

Biggest Scene-stealer: The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis

Can't Get Enough – Female: Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning, The Young Victoria)

Can't Get Enough – Male: Rupert Friend (Chéri, The Young Victoria)

Can’t Wait to See You Again on the Big Screen – Female: Precious’ Gabourey Sidibe

Can’t Wait to See You Again on the Big Screen – Male: Star Trek’s Chris Pine

Could Have Gotten More: Michelle Pfeiffer (Chéri)

Most Beautiful: Ginnifer Goodwin (He’s Just Not That Into You, A Single Man)

Most Disappointing: Jennifer Aniston, who followed up the success of 2008’s Marley & Me and last winter’s He’s Just Not That Into You with the bombastic Management and Love Happens.

Most Doing the Most Out of a Very Small Role: Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek)

Most Handsome: Up in the Air’s George Clooney

Most OMFG: Brüno

Most Out of This World: Zoë Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar)

Most Overrated: Paranormal Activity

Most Promising: (threeway tie) directors Neill Blomkamp (District 9), (500) Days of Summer’s Marc Webb, and Tom Ford (A Single Man)

Most Romantic: (500) Days of Summer’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Most Underwatched: Observe and Report

Most Welcome to the A-List: Ryan Reynolds

Most Enjoyable: Australian imports such as Hugh Jackman, Sam Worthington, and Chris and Liam Hemsworth.

Least Enjoyable: The Twilight Saga, and pretty much all it entails.

Breakthrough Performance – Female: Maya Rudolph (Away We Go)

Breakthrough Performance – Male: Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation, Avatar)

Best Supporting Actresses: Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Julianne Moore (A Single Man), Mo’Nique (Precious)

Best Supporting Actors: Matt Damon (Invictus), Anthonie Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek), Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Actresses: Marion Cotillard (Nine), Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria), Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Best Actors: George Clooney (Up in the Air), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Clive Owen (The Boys Are Back), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

Best Directors: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), James Cameron (Avatar), Pete Docter (Up), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Animated Film: Up

10 Best Films of the Year (in alphabetical order):

(500) Days of Summer
A Single Man
District 9
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

Honorable Mention: Coraline

Photos: 20th Century Fox (X-Men Origins: Wolverine); (Obsessed); Miramax Film (Chéri); The Weinstein Company (A Single Man, Inglourious Basterds); Paramount Pictures (Star Trek).
She…She Would Be Queen

I’ve seen a few pictures of England’s Queen Victoria (thanks, Wikipedia!), and lemme tell ya, she was no Emily Blunt (whom I know you remember from The Devil Wears Prada), an actress so lovely and modern, she’s almost too so for the role of The Young Victoria...but she works in the role, and I could not picture anyone else filling her petticoat.

The movie, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and written by Jullian Fellowes (Gosford Park), is told at an unrushed pace and feels longer than it actually is, an irony since by the time it ends you’ll want to see more.

It is a thoroughly entertaining account of the early period in Victoria’s reign, from her contentious-with-her-closest pre-coronation months to her naïve, bumbling first few years at the throne.

When we first meet her, Victoria is all of 17, and although, yes, she was a child of privilege, as the only legitimate heir of King William, her upbringing was hardly a thing of getting her way at every turn, for she led a most sheltered life.

It was lonely and controlled.

She grew up in a palace and she had a governess at her beck and call, but she also had an overwhelming mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), who in turn had a manipulative advisor, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), calling the shots. Together, the two wanted Victoria to sign a regency order, which she refused.

She knew she would be queen of England no matter what anyone had to say. It was her duty and her destiny, and even though she knew she was unprepared, she would not relinquish her right.

At the same time, though, her Belgian uncle’s scheming to arrange a marriage between Victoria and her cousin Prince Albert of Germany (Rupert Friend, looking every bit regal), the man who would become the love of her life.

Also scheming? Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), a trusted advisor of Victoria’s who eventually would put his agenda aside in order to do right by her.

The Young Victoria is a greatly told tale, one that, surely, has taken liberties for the sake of drama, so, as I often say, just enjoy it for what it is, which is not a history lesson.

More importantly, get with the program, already, and admire Blunt, who plays The Young Victoria with a combination of vulnerability and strength that’s just delicious.

My Rating ***

Photo: Apparition Films.
Yeah, I Saw Them

Just for the record: I saw The Hurt Locker last weekend when it was re-released in Miami Beach, and thought it was superb.

Jeremy Renner was engrossing as a bomb-diffusing specialist in this action-packed Iraq war-set drama directed by Kathryn Bigelow – Michael Bay should take notes on how a simpler approach can yield such edge-of-your-seat effectiveness.

I also saw The Road in the fall, which was as bleak as I expected it to be, although I didn’t think it lived up to the Cormac McCarthy book upon which it is based – quite a tall order, indeed.

But Viggo Mortensen was phenomenal as the devoted Father ushering his Boy to some sort of safety in this post-apocalyptic world.

Oh, and I also saw the overrated Paranormal Activity, which just like Blair Witch before was a zzz fest. I mean, seriously?

Photo: Summit Entertainment.
The Directorial Process

Y’ know, I wanted to like Rob Marshall’s Nine.

No…I wanted to love it.

Instead, I kinda could’ve lived without it.

The movie, which I anticipated so because of its A-List cast (there’s Marion! Penélope! Fergie! Kate! Nicole! Sophia!), is based on a Broadway musical that’s in turn based on Federico Fellini’s 8 ½…so it’s not like, something new.

You could say that Marshall’s Oscar-winning Chicago wa’n’t anything new, either, but at least that film featured classic, catchy songs – I have the soundtrack that proves it.

Name one song from Nine.

Yeah – I didn’t think so. You may be able to after you see the movie, but the irony will be the one you remember will probably be “Cinema Italiano,” a new original song written for Kate Hudson’s character. But more on that later.

In Nine, Daniel Day-Lewis plays Guido Contini, a “Maestro” of Italian cinema suffering of a big bad case of the writer’s block that’s rendered him unable to begin production on his ninth film, an ambitious epic called Italia. He has no script, no outline, no anything, you see. All he has is a title, a supportive, if pushy producer, and his longtime muse, Claudia (Nicole Kidman, looking statuesque in that peculiar way of hers these days...but softer) attached to star.

It’s such a dire situation his confidante, his costume designer, Lilli (Judi Dench), is making him all kinds of genre-spanning pieces in the hope that perhaps she’ll be able to offer some sort of inspiration. And that something will stick, no doubt.

Looking to escape all the pressures of an industry that awaits with breath that is bated, Guido leaves the famed Cinecittà studios in Rome for a ritzy spa on the coast where he is to indulge in some semblance of anonimity...and the comfortable care of his mistress, Carla (Penélope Cruz, all effective fire and smolder).

That’s another of the Maestro’s problems: he doesn’t pay any mind to what he does. In his rush to bury his head in the sand and Carla’s buxom, Guido has forgotten he’s married to he lovely Louisa (Marion Cotillard, who makes being taken for granted look good), a former up-and-comer who gave it all up to become Mrs. Contini.

He leads a complicated life, our Guido, but most of his travails are self-imposed. I think the premise of Nine is that the women in his life – which also include his beloved late Mamma (Sophia Loren) and Saraghina (Fergie, who gained close to 20 lbs. for the role), the whore he visited as a child – complicate his life, but it’s fairly obvious he does a good job at it on his own...and brings them down with him every single time.

The man gets close to redemption when he comes face to face with Stephanie (Kate Hudson), a perky Vogue reporter eager to offer him an exclusive, if you know what I mean. Guido takes a smell of the apple, but he doesn’t bite.

Alas, by the time this encounter takes place, our hero has become so unlikable I could care less what or who he did.

And the lack of songs as songs, not rhythmic testimonials, doesn’t help the movie’s case. Only Fergie and her “Be Italian,” and Hudson with the aforementioned “Cinema Italiano,” a pop-y confection that’s not even lyrically rich, fare well. (Hudson channels Laugh-In-era Goldie Hawn with delight, so that’s fun.)

It’s a bit of a shame, really, that such top-shelf talent didn’t have better material to sing and dance, get up and do their thng to. Nine is a grand production, but I can’t help but wonder what Marshall & Co. could’ve done with a more popular starting point.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: The Weinstein Company.
The List, Pt. 17

In: Sex and the City 2-inspired turbans.

So Five Minutes Ago: Headbands à la Blair Waldorf.

O-V-E-R: Trying to make bunny ears happen.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Portrait of Grief

Tom Ford, one of the many men in this world everyone can agree should be given the business (if you know what I mean) and the man who once upon a time revitalized the Gucci and YSL brands as fashion powerhouses, always wanted to make the transition to the film world.

You know, like many a model before him.

But Ford, who with A Single Man makes a promising and super-stylish debut as a feature film director,
wanted to make “something that meant something to me.” He decided to co-write and helm an adaptation of a “Christopher Isherwood book I read when I was 20 [because] it spoke to me…it’s such a beautifully drawn character story.”

More elaboration on the reasons why Ford wanted to bring this particular project to the silver screen is available his most revelatory
Advocate cover story, so get.

Set in 1962, A Single Man tells the story of college professor George Falconer (beyond-outstanding and exquisitely played by an award-worthy Colin Firth), a 52-year-old man who cannot see his future – in Ford’s own words – after the death of his longtime partner, Jim (Matthew Goode).

On a fateful November Friday morning many months after the car accident that claimed Jim, we meet George, and we see him go about the excruciating routine of getting on with his life now that his beloved is gone.

There’s anguish everywhere, and, from simply awaking to getting ready for work to seeing his neighbors live, everything hurts.

To say that George is grief-stricken would be an understatement. Through a series of flashbacks, Ford shows us important moments in George and Jim’s lives together.

We see them meet and we see them living in love and, ultimately, we see them share one of their last evenings at home together.

We also see George receive the call that unravels his world, and Firth, sitting in his chair looking at the camera (but then again, not), letting it all wash over him, is a triumph. Subtle and beyond-powerful, his handsome face is a careful study in disbelief and pain and despair.

It’s a heartbreaking thing to witness.

But back to that fateful November Friday…. George has planned a full day that includes a gun and doesn’t include a tomorrow.

But – there’s always a but….

On that day, with emotions running rather high (as evidenced by Ford’s deliberate alteration of the film’s color palette to reflect George’s mood), and with George more weighed down by the past than ever, we also meet one of his closest friends, a socialite and fellow British expat named Charley (played by Julianne Moore, looking exquisitely boozy).

Charley, who’s always wanted George and sort of resents him for choosing Jim, is also unable to see a future, especially one without him, so she doesn’t serve as a comfort to him as much as a confirmation of what he needs to do.

There’s also Kenny (About a Boy’s Nicholas Hoult, all grown up), though, a student of his coming to terms with his true self, and a new and unexpectedly hopeful presence in George’s life.

A Single Man explores the conundrum George finds himself in by day’s end with both style and substance. It may not be a perfect film – although I quite appreciated the cruel irony of the ending – but it’s a good, solid one. Ford should be proud, and if he can tame his obvious aspirations, he’ll continue to do well in Hollywood.

The success story out of this one, of course, is Firth, who’s never been better. To watch the film is to watch him, and that’s just swell.

My Rating ***

Photo: The Weinstein Company.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sex Around the World

Carrie & Co. are going global next summer.

The trailer for Sex and the City 2 hit the Web last night, and as expected, there’s fashion, men, and a little getaway scheduled for Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie, Kim Cattrall’s Samantha, Kristin Davis’ Charlotte, and Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda:

I heart it because, as Carrie
says, “Sometimes, you just have to get away with the girls,” who are headed to Morocco, where, perhaps, our gal will find herself a most-welcome-by-me surprise?

SATC 2 hits screens on May 28.

Urgh, to be a widely read magazine instead of a tiny blog….

Vanity Fair – I’ve been singing the hot praises of Australian import Chris Hemsworth ever since I first saw him make the most out of a very small role in last summer’s Star Trek.

And I’m guessing the only reason you finally decided to pay attention is because his younger brother Liam (right) is dating Miley Cyrus. Or something asinine like that.

But, I guess, it’s all good. Now more people know about the brothers Hemsworth, and the world’s a better, sexier place because of it.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Better MJB

Mary J. Blige, whose latest, Stronger with Each Tear, was release this week, says “a lot of blood, sweat and tears” went into the making of the album.

If her new single, “I Am,” is any indication, the effort was well worth it.

Case in point: The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s simple performance of the song at this year’s American Music Awards.

I...Am Watching Spartacus

Uh, can we take a (long) moment to talk about Starz’s upcoming Spartacus: Blood and Sand, especially about its lead, Aussie model-turned actor/all around hot stud
Andy Whitfield?

I mean – hello:

Sooo loving the shades of HBO’s Rome – sexy swords-and-sandals stories do it for me. The
highly anticipated original series, will on Jan. 22.

I’ll be watching.

Update: How’s this for a vote of confidence: Starz already has gone and
renewed the show for a second, 13-episode season.

Production will begin early next year.

You know what this means, right? More Whitfield in barely there outfits!
Life Is What Happens....

At last I know what Jennifer Lopez’s upcoming The Back-up Plan is all about.

The rom-com’s about a single lady who’s hearing her biological clock loud and clear, so she decides to do something about it, already, y’ know...artificially, only to meet Mr. Perfect right after.

Complications ensue.

There are about six reasons why I want to see this movie, and they’re Australian and they come in an abs-olutely hot pack belonging to one Alex O’Loughlin.

The Back-up Plan opens on April 16.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Once a Bad Girl, Always a Bad Girl

Here’s more proof that Matt Davis’ mysterious character on The Vampire Diaries is quite likely bad, bad news.

Oh, if you don’t know what that means…tough. You should’ve caught the show’s
rerun of the first 10 eps last week.

L Word alumna Mia Kirshner
is joining the CW hit show as Isobel, the sweet-yet-dangerous wife of Davis’ history teacher, Alaric. She’ll make her first appearance in Mystic Falls next month.

Mmm, and totally unrelated: I wonder if Kirshner will ever show up on 24 again. Her Mandy isn’t dead, right?

Damn, Girl!

Take a gander at that mile-high-legged, goddess-haired Blake Lively.

The Gossip Girl star warmed up the Big Apple late last week when she turned up in a lace Dolce & Gabbana bustier mini and glittering copper high heels for the premiere of Sherlock Holmes.

Elementary or what!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

R.I.P. Tai

It’s taken me all day long to get around this, because I was shocked, yet not all that...surprised when I heard the news: Clueless scene-stealer Brittany Murphy died this morning at age 32, reportedly of cardiac arrest.

Sad news all around.

“2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine,” ex-boyfriend Kutcher tweeted. “My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany’s family, her husband, & her amazing mother.”

Clueless co-stars Alicia Silverstone and Donald Faison also offered their condolences, as well as folks like Jessica Simpson, Alyssa Milano, Lindsay Lohan, and Fred Durst, who took to their Twitter accounts to remember the actress.

Murphy also appeared in movies such as Girl, Interrupted, Don’t Say a Word, 8 Mile, Uptown Girls, and Sin City, and earned critical acclaimed for The Dead Girl.

She recently made headlines for supposedly getting fired from The Caller, a movie she was working on in Puerto Rico last month, rumors that were quickly kiboshed by her rep and which, unfornately, made her the butt of several jokes and an SNL spoof that has been pulled from the Web.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Boy Chases Girl

The Bounty Hunter, the new Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler comedy due out next spring, just got a trailer, and it looks amusing in a sorta generic kinda way.

Oh, Jen….

Take a look-see:

I sooo was beyond-hoping this movie, about a man (Butler) hired to track down his bail-skipping ex (Aniston), would be a bit darker…or that it would at least have had more bite. Or personality.
Titans Keep on Teasin’

brand new trailer for the Sam Worthington – oh, how I love him – vehicle Clash of the Titans has been released, and it is hitting all the right notes.

Building on the
tease that was released last month, this latest preview reveals more of what we can expect, such as...Medusa, more action, and what the something called “the Kraken” Zeus (Liam Neeson) orders be released.

But back to Worthington, who can be seen becoming a bigger star in this weekend’s Avatar. Why isn’t he more heavily featured? Isn’t his Perseus the star of the movie?

I guess I’ll find out on March 26.


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Return of Mr. Stark

The wait for Iron Man 2, the continuing adventures of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark and his alter ego, Iron Man, just got a little shorter.

The first
trailer for the awesomely fun-looking sequel was released this week, and the Robert Downey Jr.-starrer promises to kick off summer 2010 with a Whiplash.

Whiplash, of course, is the new villain Iron Man will face – and he’s played by Mickey Rourke.

The preview doesn’t reveal whether Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow will be good or bad – yeah, I don’t know my Iron Man lore…don’t judge me – but it offers a cheeky moment between Downey and return player Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as an action-packed first look at Don Cheadle’s (in for Terrence Howard) War Machine:

Iron Man 2 opens on May 7.
Mr. Spy Man

Boris Kodjoe (formerly of Showtime’s Soul Food) will star as one of the leads in J.J. Abrams’ new husband-and-wife spy drama for NBC, The Undercovers.

Kodjoe will play Steven, the sharp, smart, and very attractive – seriously, get on the Google double-pronto for more (the dude is ripped) – half of the show’s central couple.

I love that Abrams decided to bring a little flavor back to TV.

Holy Mother

Jeez – I was about to send out a search party.

Rene Russo has joined the cast of Thor as the Norse warrior’s (Chris Hemsworth) mother, Frigga. Anthony Hopkins plays Frigga’s husband, Odin.

Director Kenneth Branagh better be planning on making her a hot mama. I mean, look at the lady.

The List, Pt. 16

In: Mom-and-daughter fashion (Dolce & Gabbana, hello!) as worn by Madonna and 13-year-old Lourdes Ciccone Leon to the New York premiere of Nine earlier this week.

So Five Minutes Ago: Color-coordinating couples.

O-V-E-R: His-and-hers highlights.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Moon Master

Avatar…how do I tell you about Avatar....

Well, let’s get the fun part out of the way: I really, really enjoyed it. And its star, Sam Worthington, is only part of the reason.

Now the hard part.

Avatar’s a film about blue aliens called the Na’vi, the one-with-nature inhabitants of a distant moon called Pandora that’s much like Earth. In a way. There’s water and trees, but the air isn’t human-friendly.

There, disabled ex-Marine Jake Sully (Worthington) must go undercover as one the natives using an alien body as an avatar – the film’s set in 2154, so the technology’s there, and trust me…you don’t want me to begin to explain it because it’s much cooler to watch it. His mission is to get information on their ways as a mean to exploit a natural resource called Unobtainium the humans want as an energy supply now that Earth has all but died.

As he begins to learn more about the Na’vi way of life, though, and as he interacts more and more with his reluctant guide, Neytiri (Zoë Saldana), with whom he falls in love, Jake begins to realize he has no right…that humans have no right to come to Pandora and rape it (i.e., colonize it, industrialize it, and deplete it of its inherent riches like they did the third rock from the sun).

Wow – that was easier than I thought. Here I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to start telling you about James Cameron’s triumphant return as a film director after a 12-year-absence (y’ know…after that little indie Titanic), but I did. Pizza for me!

Cameron took his sweet ol’ time delivering this mesmerizing sci-fi-action epic/love story because he first needed to develop the pioneering technology to make it his way. Part of the movie features Worthington (who’s a tremendous leading man already) and co-stars such as Sigourney Weaver in their human form, while other parts feature them and others, such as Saldana, exclusively as Na’vi, who are extremely lithe and strong and tall, pointy-eared, tailed, blue beings.

So I shall forgive Cam-Cam his clunky-at-times writing. (Mmm, “Unobtainium”? Who gave you notes, Jimbo? George Lucas?)

The film, as I mentioned, finds Jake in the middle of a battle between two people. On the one hand, there’s the humans, some of whom are all trigger-happy about taking over (like Stephen Lang’s badass Col. Quaritch), while others, like Weaver’s scientist, Dr. Grace Augustine, want to protect, understand, and respect Pandora. And on the other hand there’s the peace-loving Na‘vi. Conflict!

Since Jake has had to straddle the line between the two worlds, the time comes when he has to pick a side...and break the awful truth to the object of his affection. Double-conflict!

To see him get there, in this fantastical world Cameron has imagined, a world that is rich and lush and colorful as it is wild and new, is a (long) journey I was willing to take (with big, uncomfortable IMAX glasses on, no less), and one that I’d like to take again. The guy – surprise! – has another massive hit in his hands.

Yes, the film’s long, but it is the most exhilarating, best kind of long. By the time it’s over, after a pièce de résistance battle sequence, you will want to get a visa to Pandora. (Cameron reportedly wants to explore the other moons neighboring Pandora in future sequels, books, and spin-offs should Avatar prove a successful gamble. And, who is anyone kidding? It so is gonna be huge.)

Oh, and you will be glad to know – no spoiler here – that after all of their differences, Jake and Neytiri’s hearts will go on.

My Rating ****

Photo: 20th Century Fox.
The Shirt’s Comin Off, Boys and Girls

I thought he said he wanted to take a break from the whole taking his shirt off thing, but I guess Taylor Lautner knows he’s gotta give ’em what they want.

The actor will star in a new actioner called Cancun, which follows a misfit spring-breaker who travels to the Mexican hot spot and has to save his friends after they are taken hostage by a drug cartel.

The project is the first film from the new production company Taylor has started with his father, and will also showcase his gymnastic ability and martial-arts skills...not to mention pecs and abs.

The Actor Everyone Wants

The Screen Actors Guild announced today its list of nominees for the upcoming 16th Annual SAG Awards, which will be handed out on Jan 23.

On the
movie front, the biggest surprise was the omission of Up in the Air for Best Cast, although stars George Clooney, Vera Famiga and Anna Kendrick did pick up individual nods.

Meanwhile, The Hurt Locker (which I totally plan on catching when it’s re-released in Miami Beach this weekend) and
Precious continued gaining momentum.

On the
TV front, Lost got completely shut out (although Evangeline Lilly, a.k.a. Kate on the show, will be at the party as a Best Cast nominee for The Hurt Locker), so I’m done talking about the SAGs.

I’m thrilled about all the love for The Good Wife, though.

Photo: (The Good Wife).
Simple Irresistible, Pt. 62

How adorable are Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger together?

The two have been dating for years, and they make me want to do things with them.

Right this moment, though, they’re making miss Fringe and want to rent Inglourious Basterds on DVD (bonus points for affording me the chance to think of Sönke Möhring again).

Hipsterland’s Next It Boy

2010 is shaping up to be a good year a bunch of up-and-comers, like Mia Wasikowska (Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) and Garrett Hedlund (who’ll star in TRON: Legacy), among others.

None of them, though, can hold a candle to multiple-threat Reeve Carney.

Blessed with looks Nylon magazine dreams off, Carney will take on music, movies, and the stage next year when his debut album’s released, and he co-stars alongside Helen Mirren and Alfred Molina in Julie Taymor’s take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

He’ll also step into a familiar red-and-blue suit in Taymor’s super-expensive Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which is scheduled to open in February, so for that alone I’m betting on this guy rising to the top of the crop.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alla Cucina con Madonna

Madonna looks positively Lorenesque in her new ads for Dolce & Gabbana, the first look-sees of which appear in the new Italian Vanity Fair.

Shot by the Queen of Pop’s BFF Steven Klein, the photos totally celebrate D&Gs “Sicilian-inspired Spring/Summer 2010 collection,” and, if I should say so, womanhood (and I mean so in the best possible way – look at that buxom).

Check out the other photos of M tending to a table and eating spaghetti.

Una donna super bomba atomica, indeed!

Thank You for Flying

For all intents and purposes, you could say that Jason Reitman’s adored-by-all
Up in the Air belongs to Anna Kendrick, an actress whose claim to fame was a minor role in The Twilight Saga (she plays Bella’s human friend).

Kendrick plays Natalie Keener in Reitman’s take on
Walter Kirn’s 2001 novel of the same name – which, btw, opened at a single Miami movie theater last Friday and is now expanding.

Fresh out of college, she’s bright and ambitious and tightly wound – when George Clooney (what? Clooney’s in this?) asks if she’s mad at her keyboard in one scene, she simply says she types with purpose. She’s also the catalyst to the story, but more on that later.

Ah yes, to answer my own question, George Clooney’s very much in the film, which is, natch, why Up in the Air belongs to him – and rightfully so.

I distinctly remember thinking shortly after I saw the film three months ago that Clooney’s the last Old Hollywood-style movie star.

As Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert, a.k.a. a firer, who cherishes his solitude (he takes pride in having spent 322 days on the road in one year), and especially the hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles he’s accumulated (he’s reaching 10 million, a feat about which only a handful others can boast), Clooney’s all efficiency smoothness and, surprisingly, vulnerability.

Here’s a man who likes to think he’s surrounded, but he’s alone…a nomad with nowhere and everywhere to call home, provided that everywhere comes with room service.

When Natalie enters the picture, she threatens Ryan’s entire existence, effectively putting into question his very relevance when she introduces an innovative fire-online pilot program at their company. Suddenly, he’s obsolete.

They take to the friendly skies to travel from city to city together (including the Magic City!), firing people along the way (in a strike of current affairs-tapping genius, Reitman featured real people in those scenes, for extra zeitgeist value). The exercise serves two goals: Ryan shows her how it’s done old school, and Natalie tests out the new tech.

The most unexpected result is they both teach and learn more about each other, and about life, but there’s no hanky panky involved at all – because “he’s old” as he overhears her say.

That department is taken care of by Alex Goran (the wonderful Vera Farmiga), a fellow frequent flyer miles-obsessed traveler Ryan meets at an airport bar (or was it a hotel?).

Their courtship is quick and sexy since they turn each other on by elite status. When they get to talking, to considering doing it again and each other’s feelings, she (sorta) shocks him when she says, “Think of me as yourself, with a vagina.” He knows what that means, and they play their budding relationship ever so cool.

He is hers after that, which surprises him. She’s making him want to land. But ultimately, Alex makes him – gasp! – crash.

The strength of Up in the Air comes from its being real – everything you want it to be (funny, sad, depressing, uplifting, a realization...). All wrapped into one without a ribbon on it. It’s a rare cinematic treat, and like Ryan you will make a connection.

My Rating ****

Photo: Paramount Pictures.
Mad for Alice

First came the teaser, and now here’s the first full trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Herewith, the U.K. version of it:

March 5 can’t get here quick enough! I just hope the movie won’t be typically Burtonian, you know…great at first, lully in the middle, and fun to see end.
Fixing for Leo

I just realized this is my third Leonardo DiCaprio-centric post this month.

It’s like he’s trying to catch up to Madonna or something.

Today’s reason? The new poster for his Christopher Nolan-directed, Marion Cotillard-and-Ellen-Page-co-starring Inception, which opens next summer.

Trippy stuff...just like the movie’s beyond-teasing teaser trailer.

Kellan’s Calvins

Twilight Saga star Kellan Lutz is the new crot…uh…body of Calvin Klein Underwear.

“He’s going to be their new Mark Wahlberg,” an insider
reportedly said. “Kellan has been signed to Calvin Klein for a huge campaign that will feature him in his skivvies all over billboards and in magazines.”

The folks at CK have yet to confirm the news, but I, for one, would get behind their choice.

And under it, on top of it, and next to it…. Especially because Lutz could not have been cooler when I
met him earlier this month.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Call Him Alcide

The search is over, True Blood fans: Joe Manganiello will play the werewolf Alcide next season.

I know – who?

I personally was rooting for Hero-no-more Adrian Pasdar, but the powers that be obviously didn’t ask moi.

Manganiello, who has appeared on TV’s One Tree Hill and How I Met Your Mother, will tease Sookie (Anna Paquin), who’ll crush hard on him.

The search still is on, though, for Alcide’s on-again, off-again psycho girlfriend Debbie Pelt. My vote: Shannen Doherty!

Starry Reactions to the Golden Globe Nominations

Early this morning, Sandra Bullock got a couple of Globes – that is, of course, Golden Globe nominations, which were read by John Krasinski, Diane Kruger from Inglourious Basterds (also a multiple nominee), and Justin Timberlake:

The actress, who’s had quite a big year, received two nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, one for Best Actress in a Drama for The Blind Side, and another for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for The Proposal.

“I am beyond stunned,” she
said. “Just to be included in the company of these amazing women I have so admired through the years has left me slack-jawed with awe.”

I was hoping Bullock would get recognized, so I’m very happy for her.

Meanwhile, Glee star Matthew Morrison, nominated in the Best Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical, reacted to the news by
saying, “Well, we just won sectionals, and now Glee’s going to the Golden Globes. It’s been a good week for us.”

Said Morrison’s co-star, Jane Lynch, of her own nod in the supporting category, “This is really a lovely dream. It was so fun to come to work this morning. The kids are beside themselves with excitement [the show’s up for Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical]. It’s great.”

Others like Marion Cotillard, Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical nominee for Nine, were awakened with the good news. “I got a phone call that woke me up and heard ‘Congratulations,’ and I knew what it was about. “I’m just so happy! How couldn’t I be?”

For her part, A Single Man’s Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee Julianne Moore said, “I am so honored and thrilled to be among the Golden Globe nominees this year. I am happy for everybody – particularly my friend Colin Firth [who’s up for Best Actor in a Drama]!”

Newcomer Carey Mulligan (An Education), a Best Actress in a Drama nominee, thanked “the Hollywood Foreign Press for making my mum cry in the grocery store. I’m honored and completely speechless.”

For a complete list of nominees, click
here for the movie categories, and over here for the ones in TV.

Oh, and for more starry reactions…get on the Google. I’m a little pissed Lost got pretty much ignored. The awards will be handed out on Jan. 17.