Saturday, July 05, 2008

Traylor Howard looks fine in my favorite color

My sentiments exactly

Observation: Eva Amurri knows where to put her autograph

I'm sorry--this made me laugh

As you probably know, actor Jim Carrey and "actress" Jenny McCarthy are boyfriend and girlfriend. Yesterday, they decided to celebrate the 4th (which was good of Carrey considering he's Canadian) by taking a romantic walk together on the beach in Malibu.

However--knowing they were being watched by the paparazzi, as usual, the couple decided to do a little something special to celebrate our Independence Day.

What did they do? They did this:

Friday, July 04, 2008

What the hell, maybe I should move to Hollywood...

To recap: Over the past couple of years, I have been keeping an eye out for Sex And Death 101, a movie reuniting Winona Ryder with Heathers scripter Daniel Waters, who would also be directing.

I know nothing of their relationship, but it seems to me there must be some bond forged by the fact that neither has ever topped that early collaboration, which I consider one of the more perfect movies of the past 20 years. Better they should work on something new than on the utterly unnecessary Heathers sequel they sometimes talk of drumming up.

My interest cooled somewhat when I saw Waters' directorial debut, Happy Campers, which didn't work.

And when Sex and Death 101 bypassed US theatrical release...well, I'd made my peace with the idea that the "never topping Heathers" thing was still true. But, it's Waters and Winona, and Waters had what sounded like an interesting story:

A man receives a list of the names not only of all the girls he's loved before...but all the girls he's going to love in the future.

So, when I saw it on the new releases shelf of my video store, it jumped into my hand immediately.

It is, in a word, disappointing.

Towards the end of his commentary track, the writer/director mentions Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut as "A deeply silly movie that I love," implying that Sex & Death is meant to be, at least in part, a parody of it.

Waters is right that Wide is silly, trouble is, what both movies have in common is that each thinks they're deeper than they are.

First of all, as a script it's not Waters best work. In my opinion, he starts on the wrong foot by concentrating on the wrong character: Roderick Blank, played by Simon Baker.

Roderick is the good-looking, successful man who receives the list.

The problem is Waters' script never really delves beneath the surface of his protagonist; so if that character seems unworthy of can see where the film is in for a rough go.

The needed contrast becomes apparent when Ryder enters the movie. She plays a siren nicknamed "Death Nell," infamous for seducing woman-beaters and other not-nice examples of my sex, then drugging them into a paralyzing coma. Leaving a graffiti-tag poetry couplet spray-painted on the wall.

Quick, who would you rather watch a movie about? Exactly. And it doesn't help that Baker is miscast. He's an attractive man, and in the rare moments in this film where his character is connecting with another human being, he brings his "A" game to the drama.

But based on this film (I haven't seen any of his other work), he can't play comedy. This is a problem.

Ryder can, but her role in the film is actually quite small--a few quick hits along the way, then the big climax.

For the rest of it, we're left with Rod and the women in his life. For the most part these are (well-cast and well-played) cameos.

This (left) is actress Jessica Kiper, for example, who is also known as the model Sugar.

BTW, is it me, or is that dog the most smug looking son-of-a-bitch you've ever seen in your life?

(Click to enlarge)

Pollyanna McIntosh...that can't possibly be her real name...and Natassia Malthe, above, play a hot lesbian couple--so gay they just have to sleep with Rod as soon as they get a good look at him.

I know, but wait, there's another lesbian stereotype to come.

A couple of the women do warrant special mentions (one for good reason, one not-so-much); it is probably not insignificant that neither of them play numbers on The List.

The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn plays Roderick's lesbian secretary and "gal pal," Trixie. The character is very much the kind of stereotype that one of my goals in writing my Girlfriend's Boyfriend play/screenplay/novel was to counter.

"The gay best friend," in no way sexually threatening; hopelessly (and inexplicably) devoted to a dude. Which (among other things) makes me wish Waters and his casting director had thought a little harder about filling the role.

You feel like a louse putting her down, but the nicest thing I can say about Cohn's performance is that she's lost none of her gift for brilliant banter.

Think about it.

Leslie Bibb plays a girl who Roderick is horrified to find is not on the list. He wants her desperately, but she desperately wants to remain "just friends" with him.

Bibb (right) is definitely an up-and-comer (you may remember her as the Vanity Fair reporter in the slightly more successful movie Iron Man), but Waters wastes her here.

He does give her a good speech or two, though, before doing something really unpleasant to her and then topping that by threatening to do something even more so.

On the commentary track, Waters compares what he was trying to do, disdainfully, with American Pie, saying that film seemed as though it were made by people who'd never had sex.

I don't rank that film very highly either, but I immediately thought of an important distinction: It's about characters that have never had sex, and are quite literally going mad with want.

However, Waters does have a better feel for shooting nude scenes than the AP team, it must be said. For the most part the nudity here is realistically staged and non-exploitative (inasmuch as nudity in film can ever be non-exploitative, which is another topic for another post).

In scenes where you would reasonably expect a woman to be topless or naked, they are, but Waters can't really be accused of ogling them with his camera.

One possible exception was deliberately included in an attempt to distract an audience from a gratingly obvious plot point (didn't work, I saw it coming as soon as it was set up).

So: What we have here is a writer doing imperfect work for a director who doesn't have the experience yet to be able to perfect it. Unfortunately, they were one and the same man.

But as someone who wants to be a writer/director myself, is there a lesson in Sex & Death 101 for me?

Perhaps only that even with said imperfect script, an untried director, Waters was able to attract a cast of beautiful, but also gifted, actresses to do his bidding.

What the hell...

"Patriotic part." "Should we stand up?"

So you want to see cartoon versions of puppet versions of the Harry Potter characters illustrating a song from Grease 2.

I have good news for you.

(For any of you unfamiliar with the song: In the movie it's sung by a member of the T-Birds gang who is trying to trick his virgin girlfriend into thinking war has been declared so she will sleep with him before he goes off to fight. That rascal.)

(another) salute to George Carlin

From Chris Rock:

He was the ultimate bulls--- detector. Comedians love an even playing field in life, which there never is. Anytime there wasn't one, he was quick to point it out. I love his bit about omelets: You kill a person, it's an abortion; you kill a chicken, it's an omelet. How did we become better than chickens? Who made this rule up?

I'd kind of been waiting to see what Rock would have to say, because I remember one of his HBO specials (I think Bring the Pain, but don't quote me) beginning with a montage of covers of comedy albums that had influenced him--Cosby's To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With, for example. And Carlin's Class Clown.

One of my memories of George Carlin is of seeing him on TV at some awards ceremony--I think the Grammys, but again I'm not 100% sure. Whatever the award, they were doing that "close-ups of the nominees" thing in a category where an album of Carlin's was nominated alongside, among others, an album of Rock's.

Rock won, and--either Carlin was a better actor than he ever got a chance to show us--or else he genuinely loved seeing the younger comedian succeed, because he broke out into a big, seemingly genuine smile.

Either way, it makes it even more the shame that he's died.

That'll take the snap out of your answer

See, here's what happens. PJ questions some of the cover copy on this issue of Cosmo:

She asks:

why men cheat in August… Is this a new trend I’m hearing about?

Caustic fellow that I am, I instantly conceive of an easy joke: I'll find an image of actress Shay Astar, who played August on 3rd Rock from the Sun when she was a teenager (which she's not anymore). And post it with the comment, "Why do men cheat in August? ...Because this is August."

Hey, I said it was an easy joke, I didn't say it was my best.

But the thing is, while looking for a good image to use for this joke, I stumble across Astar's MySpace page. Turns out she's embarked upon a second career as a musician.

In the way of MySpace pages, there are examples of her work playing. And I kind of like it.

Like, not love--to my ears she's got a little too much of that Ann-Margret in Tommy unnecessary vibrato thing going on sometimes.

But still, like enough that it makes it harder to just use her for an easy sex joke.

(And I learn she comes from Santa Cruz, which also doesn't hurt)

And she's changed her look somewhat, too:

Just ever so slightly (but still looks good to me).

So as a kind of penance, rather than merely going for the easy joke, I'm going to send you to the MySpace page instead.

Give 'er a listen--relieve my guilt feelings...

Where does it go from here? Is it down to the lake I fear?

Name That Robot
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
Point of order: The picture they claim is Marvin is not Marvin.

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
You will find that I am a man who enjoys his Mountain Dew.

How Long Could You Survive Trapped In Your Own Home?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
Sad to say, I could probably survive for many more days than that.

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
That wouldn't be so bad if only I had a Rubik's Cube with me.

My favorite color is backing up Teri Polo

And... loving it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh, there's always time for email on this blog, Yes there's always time for email on this blog...

(Yes there's always time for email
From a guy or girl or she male...)

D (aka TRO) sends a query through a comment. He asks:

I am curious what you think of your candidate's changing positions. He was against FISA and now is on record as supporting it and now, of all things, is retracting his pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq immediately.

I could list several more "flip-flops" he has made in the past few weeks but I am sure you are aware of his positions since you are a supporter

Anyway, this isn't baiting. I am seriously interested in how you feel about him changing his mind - especially on Iraq. I have tried to discuss this with my oldest son - a Obama guy - but he just won't even talk about it. He says I am making it up - or really that Fox News is making it up. Which concerns me because he is such a bright young man and I simply cannot see how he can ignore these indicators that Obama is just another politician.

Well, as a proud liberal I'm wary and I think I'm right to be. But I think "just another politician" is going too far. Obama's candidacy is genuinely historic, and a watershed moment for Americans of any National origin (and really, citizens of the world).

I wrote about FISA last month.

He's walking a line, to be sure. He's running a risk, and I think he knows that.

But I also think that sticking to a plan no matter what conditions on the ground are is sort of what the Republicans have been doing in Iraq for the past five years. So the idea of Obama's "refining" his own doesn't give me that sinking feeling of dread.

Especially if it's a choice between believing what he says, or what the GOP says he says.

I also have the feeling--and I don't claim to be a political fanatic, but I'm not a casual observer either-- that Obama is really serious when he talks about “a significant realignment politically in this election."

He is positioned, partly due to his own political skills, partly to the detonation of Bush's presidency, for a massive blowout victory. And I think that's what he's going for.

I may be wrong, but at this moment I think we're gonna see a lot of states going for Obama that the Republicans have never thought they needed to worry about. That's what I think Obama is trying to do.

I'm not sure it's gonna work, and I'm even less sure I think he's right to do it this way, but that's what I think he's trying to do.

As for Fox News, I decided a long time ago to respect almost nothing they report. It's one of my rules. Truth is to Fox News as bread to the makers of pretzels--and what they produce doesn't taste as good.

I consider them unfair, unbalanced (that last in more than one sense of the word), and given their most recent occurence of "acting out," really, really quite childish.

Overheard yesterday in the video store

I was in the "psychotronic" room--my video store's designated space for horror, "sci-fi," and the like; in the "sci-fi" section, looking at Star Wars DVDs. In the horror section were a young, goth-ish couple, a man and a woman, picking up and considering various titles.

When I heard this proclamation.

"Blood Orgy...hey, you wanna go look at the porn?"

I swear he didn't even pause for breath.

I, on the other hand, needed several seconds to recover.

strong, purposed, fierce, powerful and dedicated

The actress Kathy Najimy--who admittedly has a small role in the film--writes about Wall-E (and Eve-A).

In essence [Eva-A] kicks ass...Flawed, powerful, dedicated to her purpose and well...the hero.

Wall-E is a great film that speaks courageously to the environment, the future of our planet, as well as depicting its lead male character as warm, funny, caring and sensitive (and into musicals)! And its lead female character as the confident, fantastically fierce woman in charge.

I agree with her completely.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Who are you?

Seriously: Do you recognize this woman? I ask because the shot caught my eye, but I didn't know who it was. So I looked it up, and imagine my surprise...

Someone up there likes me

We have here a photograph of Mary-Louise Parker, one of my favorite actresses; wearing my favorite color.

And what's that at her feet? Why, it's white apples.

Apples in my opinion are nature's most perfect food.

And for that matter, White Apples is the name of a book by one of my favorite writers, Jonathan Carroll.

This is rockin'.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

In the words of the old song... gotta have heart.

The song was talking about making up a winning baseball team; I'm talking about creativity.

In these times when actresses like Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu are billed as "starring" in animated films, there is a purity to Wall-E almost to the point of radicalism.

That's the thing about Pixar and why they're the heir apparent to Disney when Walt was alive. Yes, they can make some beautiful visuals. But though I would never belittle that accomplishment by saying that it’s easy, it’s not why they're so far ahead of the likes of DreamWorks and Marvel (who have released some good movies too, don't get me wrong).

We, as a culture, spend too much time talking (and hearing) about invention and not enough about imagination. You cannot, simply cannot, create from your head. It just doesn't work that way.

I think that's why I've found myself with so little desire to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I may be wrong, because as I say I haven't seen it, but I get an overwhelming sense of heartlessness from it. I can't think of one reason it exists except to separate a new generation of families from their cash.

Wall-E exists (and here I'm speculating, as I've not yet seen this discussed in the press) to challenge the Pixar animators, who could've just kept making Toy Story sequels...not, as they say--albeit in a different context--that there's anything wrong with that (Toy Story 2 was that rare sequel that topped the original).

The challenges were these: Could they make a movie that has almost no dialogue? Could they make it without "star" voices in the leads? Could they make it a real romance between…robots?

Other studios might have tried one or another of these things, but all three?

And damned if it doesn't work.

This is a romance. BTW, if you want to get all technical about how did the robots acquire personalities, why is one a "boy" robot and the other a "girl" have no business looking at this movie.

If you want your robot to be logical, a heartless automaton, Clone Wars is opening next month.

And don't listen to critics who want to somehow elevate the experience by claiming it's an ecological parable of some kind, or a "send-up." Nonsense. I say again: It's a romance.

Not because it is the story of a lonely robot who finds a girlfriend, although it is. The two meet when she, a probe-robot, is the first visitor to Earth in centuries. There, he, a trash-collector and compactor, is the last active robot, and very nearly the last living thing on the planet, apart from his friend the surprisingly sympathetic cockroach.

But it’s a romance because it has adventure, sparks and excitement, and yet there's a sadness to it, but also a giddiness, too and because it's all heart. It feels, in other words, very much like a first love. And that's only a send-up to those who can no longer remember.

Wall-E dares to tell most of its story without dialogue, a difficult task even if your stars are Oscar-nominated actors. But when your title character has very little of what we would usually call a face?

Still, he may not have much of a face, but one (or two) things Wall-E does have are a couple of eyes as expressive and subtle as a Chuck Jones-animated Bugs Bunny. If the eyes are the window to the soul, as the old saying goes, then Wall-E is all soul, and that soul is all nobility.

But only a toad would write about Wall-E without mentioning his romantic interest, Eve-A. I've seen one academic Feminist blogger who I can only hope (and do think) is not indicative of a wider response taking the film to task because Wall-E is the protagonist, not Eve-A.

I mean this: I don't understand what she was talking about. Eve-A is the best female film romantic lead in years. She's perceptive, powerful, and she has direction separate from her "man."

I don't think you can say that about the Sex & the City gals, for example.

I asked that above-referenced blogger if a great many of her problems with the film wouldn't have gone away if it were just titled Wall-E & Eve-A. I think there's a good case to make that it should've been.

In terms of the changes they both go through--which I've always felt is the best way to tell your protagonists--they are just about equal. In fact, Eva may change more than Wall-E over the course of the film.

A word about sentiment. Wall-E is not a good movie to go to if you think you're too big for sentiment. When I say that, I'm talking about earned sentiment that makes your soul sing, not the sticky variety that feels like it's caught between your teeth.

Sentiment that exists because you have been made to care about characters, to want them to do well, and to earn a place in each other's hearts. I can't remember the last time I've said "Oh..." so much at a movie. And again: I'm talking about robots.

But what priceless robots they are.

How Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith could have been improved

Just imagine if playing Annakin Skywalker had been not Hayden Christensen...
...but Hayden Panettiere.

You know I'm right.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Martin Scorsese remembers why he got into show business in the first place

I'd be willing to bet it does make the water taste better, at that

All jokes aside, I think this is a particuarly beautiful picture of Aniston, and it's not just because she's oh-so-tastefully naked.

It won't be long, mark my words, the time has come...

FYI: One of the girls is Jane Leeves.


Originally uploaded by HUGE inc
You see, the wonderful thing about the new Dildo 7994 is that it's so cunningly constructed no one need actually know you're using it, and yet...

For Jennifer on the occasion of her 37th birthday

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh! Oh yeah babe, oh yeah babe, oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah babe...

Ahem. The first season of Life, the best new TV show of the last year, is coming out on DVD with bonus features that made me do a dance of joy, on September 2.

My birthday? September 1.

I'm just saying is all.

This is the smokin' hot Sarah Shahi, who co-stars in the series (with Damian Lewis, who I am reliably formed by certain of my women friends is also gorgeous, but whose picture did you honestly expect I'd run?).

The second season starts in October.

That's it--I want to be a woman just so I can wear these clothes

To you girls among my vast reading audience, this may be old news, but I just stumbled across the funniest clothing label ever. I found it via the Kingdom of Style, where I've found more than one picture, and as that blog's "Queen Michelle" wrote:
at first glance the label consists of sweet little girly tops featuring beautiful, delicate embroidery - until you look closely... intertwined with the fanciful birds and flowers you'll discover phrases like:

I Can Only Please One Man A Day. Today Is Not Your Day. And Tomorrow Doesn't Look Good Either.
I Hate Children
Will Fuck For Shoes
Life is Fucked Up

Oh, and I don't know who the model is, but I totally want her too.

Curvy Clown

This is another one of my random discoveries--you know, wherein I stumble across something whilst (and at the same time) looking for something else, and feel compelled to pass it on as a public service.


You know what you almost never see?

A sexy girl clown with a firecracker stuck in the cleft of her ass...

...who also plays Ukulele, has been called "An actress of great gifts" by Clive Barnes and can play the Kazoo with her, that is to say...with her...

Aw, fuck. Ladies and Gentlemen, Amy G:

If at all possible, I'm going to marry this woman or someone as close to her as I can find.

PS: There's handfuls of other video clips of her performances to be found on YouTube, enjoy.