And the Oscars shall knight . . . Jon Stewart
This won't be confirmed till later on today, but the LA Times's The Envelope has on good authority that host of Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show' will host the 78th Academy Awards purchase cialis. The host, who loves to skewer pundits like Tucker Carlson, has prior experience with big media hosting events with his work on the 2001 and 2002 Grammy Awards . Hopefully he can bring the funny like Steve Martin not in 'Cheaper by the Dozen' films and leave all the parodies to Billy Crystal to play with .
Hollywood Reporter also confirms the story.
EDIT: I just like this picture .
It's "Watch Hot Guys Make Out" Day, Charlie Brown!
If you're like me, you've been waiting for this movie with bated, sweaty breath. You were probably the only straight girl to rent your neighborhood video store's sole copy of Maurice, My Beautiful Laundrette, or Beautiful Thing until the owner took pity on you and finally just gave it to your sorry ass. You accompany your gay husband out for a night on the town so you can catch his hot friends drunkenly making out at the bar before they leave you to find your own damn way home . You always dress up as Toni Collette's character from Velvet Goldmine for Halloween.
Ever since I heard that
founding member of Jasmine's Secret Celebrity Boyfriend Club Jake Gyllenhaal would be essaying the role of Jack Twist in Ang Lee's film adaptation Annie Proulx Brokeback Mountain, the words of my friend Jacinda popped into my head: "It is my belief that it is the goal of every member of the Gyllenhaal family that the world should see them naked." To which I say, thank god for that. I was beginning to think that I was the only straight girl in the world who gets turned on by hot guys making out, engaged in frottage, or otherwise involving their naughty bits in vigorous contact. Like those hetero men who forget their own names at the sight of two ladies kissing, the mere idea of Jake and Heath Ledger enjoying each other in a tastefully lit tent somewhere in the American west, and on film no less, is enough to send me away from whatever company I'm keeping into a corner where I can enjoy a little "me" time.
If nothing else, I should think that Brokeback Mountain's release would, for once, not lead to the inundation of the intarweb with misspelt, grammatically challenged slash where Jack and Ennis enjoy a happy ending (don't think I'm spoiling this for you -- since when do love stories directed by Ang Lee ever end well? oh right). I am basing my assumption that since these characters came to life in an excellent piece of written fiction that who would bother trying to one-up the original author? Of course, I thought as much about The Lord of the Rings movies, but I was totally wrong.
Teaser Trailer Madness
Two new teasers were released yesterday for all the internet to fawn over . . .
Mission Impossible 3
The JJ Abrams directed romp starts out with an interrogation by Truman Capote baddie Philip Seymour Hoffman with an unseen Ethan Hunt. I kind of got the impression that this was going to have no flash or shock like the previous M:I trailers. After that 20 second interlude, the layer of icing was ripped off and blown to bits with Cruise running around with guns drawn. Should be interested to see where Abrams goes: DePalma action noir or Woo over indulgence. LINK [Yahoo]
Big screen adaptation of the 80s vanilla sugar pop show of the same premiered a teaser with the help of Bacardi Live. Recent rehab inductee Colin Farell and Jamie Foxx bring the roles originated by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas . . . only without the white suits. Director Michael Mann brings over the high definition cinematography of 'Collateral' to the streets of Miami and the skies up ahead. Look for out for this sometime in Summer '06. LINK [Bacardi Live . . . After enter birthdate to enter site]
This just in . . .
Dreyfuss Alert. This just popped up here and looks like Titanic but without all the sappy stuff about love diamonds. LINK [Apple]
X-Men 3 Trailer
In Room Flight
His passing occurred with the release of Red Eye, which I watched on hotel pay-per-view this week. First, let me say that my taste in movies is in direct relation to my distance from my apartment-the farther away from home I am, the worse they are. Movies that I own are obviously great films (to me, at least). Movies placed in my Netflix queue have been researched and I have a pretty good feeling about them. Movies I see in theaters are about 50/50- I only see the ones I want to, but am frequently disappointed.
And then there is hotel pay-per-view. Give me an onscreen menu and an expense account and I will watch anything. Well, anything except musicals and movies starring Nicolas Cage, because both of those just freak me out.
So, on to the film. First, didn't the trailer make it seem like a horror film? I'm sure the preview showed the guy with red eyes all full of demony-goodness. Well, that was Photoshopped in to mislead us, because there are no demons or monsters in this. There is just Cillian Murphy, the cool guy from 28 Days Later, and some nondescript brunette acting as if this is her first bigscreen break since her mid-season replacement pilot didn't get picked up. I think her name is Rachel Love Spelling, or something like that.
It turns out that Rachel Love is unknowingly a pawn in a terror plot, and has to figure out how to save someone's life before the plane lands. Wait a minute...didn't Jodie Foster already do this much better and for a lot more money? Shouldn't you be looking for your daughter instead of talking about Dr. Phil's new book with that old lady in 25E? And are you really going to let Cillian threaten you like that? Come on bitch, he looks about 12 years old with those cheeks and that hair...Macaulay Culkin was more terrifying in Home Alone.
Anyway, the plane lands and Cillian Culkin chases RLS back to her house, where she saves the day...thanks to some sudden Slayer moves she remembers she forgot from her post-parking lot-rape defense training class. But not before playing cat and mouse in all the different rooms, just like Panic Room but again without the daughter. Bitch, you are not Jodie Foster! Have you ever even kissed a woman?
Listen, I don't expect a lot from horror films, except that they horrify me. If I jump once then I think I've gotten my money's worth. And I can easily suspend my disbelief to live in the world of a movie for a couple of hours. I can buy the idea that an antagonist just won't die, even if you shoot him, stab him, cut off his head, and burn him, because some guys just won't go away and need to survive for the sequel (see Jason, Michael Myers, Jeepers Creepers, etc).
But what I can't buy is the idea that any airline would use an aircraft that large to fly from Dallas to Miami. 2-3-2 seating my ass! It would more like 2-1 with limited service. And how does a two hour flight leave Dallas at 8pm and arrive in Miami as the sun is rising? That flight is actually barely long enough to show Red Eye as the in-flight movie.
Thankfully, I was chosen as Guest of the Day at the hotel, which meant that I got a fruit basket (as if I eat fruit), a comped meal (which I traded in for extra coffee service), and a free movie credit. I watched Skeleton Key, in which Kate Hudson plays a plucky young woman who is being terrorized by an older woman who wants to use Voodoo to steal her youth and body. This one really scared me! All I could think was, "Has her mother seen this? My god, don't show how to do the spells, Kate...Goldie may be taking notes!"
News Bits: Katie Holmes Doesn't Listen To Gossip
- Katie Holmes pays no attention to gossip. She just wishes people would be happy for them. Whatever. [Teen Hollywood]
- Chicken Little couldn't keep the box office from falling. The box office numbers were down 15 percent from this same weekend last year. Ouch. [AP]
- Madonna has the number one song on the UK singles chart this week. Look for her new album to be released this Tuesday. [NME]
- Scarlett Johansson is in talks to star in the film adaption of "The Nanny Diaries." [Reuters]
- Attending a 50 Cent film can be hazardous to your health. [Perez Hilton]
- Say hello to the adorable anti-semetic girls of the band Prussian Blue. Just sick. [WOW Report]
- The Terminator is coming to the small screen as The Sarah Connor Chronicles. [Moviehole]
We just got back from seeing Shopgirl at the Chicago Film Festival.
It was SO good. I really liked Steve Martin's novella, but the film version was incredible. Claire Danes was excellent, as was Martin - but Jason Schwartzman stole the show. He was hilarious. I thought the movie was well acted, well written, and well directed. Go check it out if you get it near you!
As an added bonus, Claire and Jason were both at tonight's screening and did a great Q&A afterwards. I had come prepared for the off-chance that Schwartzman would be there and brought my Rushmore Criterion dvd. After the Q&A, he and Claire were both ushered out pretty quickly, and the theater people tried to keep people from leaving before the celebs did - but I was able to get a good position to ask Jason to sign my DVD, which he very kindly did for me.
Last fall, I met Schwartzman at a screening for I Heart Huckabees. I can't get rid of that guy!!!
You'd Better Work
Rupaul adds screenwriter to her long list of accomplishments. In less than four weeks, production begins on a script co-written by the gender-bender star and Brian Heinberg. Photographer Mike Ruiz will direct; he also lensed her Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous video which spoofs the reality make-over genre. How to explain this as-yet unnamed project?
it'll be done in that sick and twisted "guerrilla" style that i used to do in ATLANTA all those years ago. the plan is for this one to go straight to DVD packed with lots of gratuitous sex and violence, and of course oodles of glamour.
Gratuitous sex and violence and lots of glamour. That's what we're talkin' 'bout. The cast includes a who's who of downtown notables, such as Candis Cayne, Gus Mattox, Owen Hawke and the supermodel of the world herself. You'd better work.
News Bits: Paris Hilton Ends Engagement
- In a surprise to no one, Paris Hilton has ended her engagement to Paris Latsis. I'm sad to announce that I've called off my engagement. Over the last couple months I've realized that this is the right decision for me. We remain best of friends, and I'll always love him. I hope people will respect my privacy during this emotional time." Uh-huh. [CBS]
- What do the Lost numbers mean? Possible spoilers. [ericd.net]
- Prison Break gets a full season pick-up. [Reuters]
- Showgirls can now boast the worst filmed sex scene ever. [popwatch]
- Chris Noth will be returning to Law and Order Sunday night - the Criminal Intent version it is. [Zap2it]
In a related story, burglars and men who look like Dwight Yoakam are urging people not to rent Panic Room because it depicts them as morons who don't know that the default access code to all panic rooms is 11111.
I like Jodie Foster, I really do. Whenever she has a new film out I rush to see it immediately. Even if it doesn't look like something I would normally want to see (i.e. Anna and the King, Nell, Maverick), I still see it because Jodie went to Yale and I didn't so she must know what she's doing, right?
It is for this reason that I saw Flight Plan last night, which I have renamed Panic Plane due to its remarkable resemblance to Panic Room, Jodie's other daughter in danger film. This is not to be confused with Not Without My Daughter, which I am now certain Jodie either is just pissed was made before she was old enough to play the part or will be casting herself in the remake any day now.
Jodie plays a straight- you can tell because there is a child by her side who looks just like she did when she was all tomboy cute in Freaky Friday and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The father is absent, either due to divorce or eagerly assisted suicide ,because if we learned anything from Somersby it's that Jodie can act her Ivy League ass off but she can't fake chemistry.
Jodie is a good mom. She lets her kid pick her own bedroom in their new house (Panic Room) and lets her kid have an entire row to herself in their new plane (Panic Plane). She is providing...this sapphic sister is doing it for herself. But then she falls asleep and shit happens. Men threaten Jodie's happy home! They're all evil and they just want money (PR and PP), and sometimes they're even Dwight Yokam (PR). And they curse. Jodie would never curse, because she went to Yale and she knows how to use her words.
So Jodie has to protect her daughter, but first she has to make sure her daughter isn't imaginary (PP) and then she has to make sure her daughter has her meds (PR). Once she's done that, she moves heaven and earth to save her daughter. She destroys really good crown molding and antique mirrors (PR) and she interrupts the in-flight movie and coffee service (PP). Poor Jodie, if only she'd thought if this before she went to sleep, but hindsight is a word she learned to replace with post-perception in her freshman English class, so now she has to hotwire the phone line (PR) and play operation with the plane's computer system (PP). But before doing so she has to slip into something a little more comfortable by removing her bulky sweater to reveal a charcoal gray fitted top that emphasizes her biceps (PR and PP). Once she's done this, it's only a matter of time and 20 or 30 close-ups before she outsmarts the evil men, because she graduated summa cum laude and they dropped out of community college. Having vanquished the evil men, Jodie has a poignant final scene with her daughter in which we know everything is going to be ok because Jodie tells her daughter that she loves her and that she will never, ever fall asleep again as long as there are men in the world.
I'm honestly not sure what the message of these movies is. I thought it might be some allegory about how modern technology isn't our friend, but then Jodie uses the technology to outsmart her phallic foes. Then I thought it might be some statement on the dangers of being a single parent, but Jodie would never do that because she is a single parent and we all know that her life partner is the best kept secret in Hollywood since Tom Cruise's sexuality. Again I must defer to Jodie's judgment, because even though I also graduated summa cum laude I did not attend an Ivy League school and so I obviously lack the skills necessary to parse the text of these films for any real themes. But my second tier education tells me they are really saying that if you just don't have kids in the first place then you won't have to worry about comfortable clothing and you can fall asleep whenever you damn well feel like it.
A Different Side of Morgan
Becca Gardner got a backside view of co-star Morgan Freeman for a scene in "An Unfinished Life."
In the new movie directed by Lasse Hallstrom, Freeman plays a ranch hand who was mauled by a bear, making him dependent on morphine. Becca's character has to give him an injection.
"I was kind of nervous to see, like, his butt, and I pulled down his pants and he was wearing a thong!" the 15-year-old told the Associated Press in an interview. "An Unfinished Life" also stars Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez.
--"Let me see that thonnnng!" Where's Cisquo when you need him? Ha.
T2 Takes Box Office Flower
Is it because the booth or counter at which you buy movie tickets is called a, you know, box office, obvious emphasis on the word box? How else to explain the title of E! Online's piece on Labor Day weekend office receipts? "'Transporter 2' Devirginizes Box Office" -- what, did "'Transporter 2' Pops Box Office Cherry" lack poetry?
If the virginity of an opening movie stands at, say $20 million, what's $15 million -- third base? How does the relative bankability (or, lacking that, bangability) of a movie's lead actors impact the going rate? Does a movie performing below expectations (The Island, I'm looking at you) bear comparison to not getting asked out at all, or is that something akin to early ejaculation? I'm just wondering.
There’s a new movie out called The Aristocrats which is a documentary from Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza about the legendary joke of the same name. If you click on the IMDB link for the movie, you can see how many comedians are involved with the film (around a hundred of them, I think). For those that don’t know (and I didn’t until I heard about the film) the joke is a sort of game where comedians try to one-up each other in regards to shock value. The joke has the same beginning and punchline, but everything in between is invented by whoever tells it. The joke has three parts (borrowed from Wikipedia):
1) The setup: the joke always begins with a "family act" going in to see a talent agent. There are always the parents "mom & dad" and usually a son, daughter and dog. Sometimes there is a baby in lieu of the dog or one of the "older" kids.
2) The act is described. By tradition, the description is crude, tasteless, often ribald, often scatological, and as beyond the boundaries of propriety as the comedian can muster. Incest and bestiality are common themes.
3)The punchline: the agent asks what this act is called, and the answer is always the same: "The Aristocrats!" In modern tellings this may not actually be a punchline, just an ending to the joke.
Here is an example of the joke as told by Eric Cartman of South Park(***WARNING: VERY OFFENSIVE***). , which I assume was used in the movie. I’ll find out tonight when I go see it in Evanston with the lovely Jo. I can’t wait.
Home Movie Day!
If anything will settle the my-family-is-more-fucked-up-than-your-family debate, it'll be a trip down memory lane courtesy of some overzealous parents, a camcorder and/or a Super 8...
Hours of embarrassing mullets (worn without irony) and hours of never-ending teenage angst await you from coast to coast this Saturday, August 13 at Home Movie Day.
Click here to see if there's a location near you!
You bring the popcorn -- I'll bring the 8mm. We both should bring some Xanax!
Wanted: Son of Satan, or Do You Know Any Creepy Mormon Spawn?
I have a suggestion.
X3: Movie Poster
Filming begins August 2nd. [via SuperHeroHype.com]
Tanas Root Overtakes Tokyo
I've decided to be both scared of Tokyo and want to visit it at the same time.
I'm currently addicted to the original Japanese versions of the badly adapted American horror films that keep coming out. Ringu, Ju-On, and Dark Water, the original versions, are so good and scary. Not bloodletting, fake CGI effect scary, but "why the fuck did that shadow just move?" scary. They're visual, and quiet, and they demonize children. I love them!
While every movie from Tokyo I rent lately has me keeping a light on at night and sending my cat into every room before I enter it, I think I like what's happening in cinema there. All these films are basically cautionary tales warning us that children are evil. This is something I've suspected for quite some time.
All the kids in American films are just so damned precocious and cute and sickening. But apparently in Japan the kids will die just so they can come back and fuck with you. These films are practically PSAs warning us to think twice before we breed, but if we must, under no circumstances should we look directly into their eyes. Forget teaching abstinence in schools- show these films in class and see how quickly the teen birth rate drops.
It kind of makes Dakota Fanning running from aliens seem like propaganda.
Ben Jones, former Congressman and Cooter standard-bearer, is upset with Hollywood's revamp of his much beloved Dukes of Hazzard.
"Basically, they trashed our show," said Jones, who now lives in the mountains of Washington, Va. "It's one thing to do whatever movie they want to do, but to take a classic family show and do that is like taking "I Love Lucy" and making her a crackhead or something."And while we're speaking of crackheads and nose-problems... let's take a snarky moment to reflect on the casting of Jessica Simpson as Daisy.
"From all I have seen and heard, the "Dukes" movie is a sleazy insult to all of us who have cared about the "Dukes of Hazzard" for so long ... ," Jones wrote. "Unless they clean it up before the August 5th release date I would strongly recommend that true blue Dukes fans hold their noses and pass this one up."
Suddenly This Summer
It looks like we're talking about the good ole lobotomy again.
And while the debate rages on...let's turn back the clocks a bit and consider how Hollywood dealt with such issues, back in the day when folks used to go to movies.
Suddenly Last Summer is cinema’s gay horn of plenty, a fabulous gothic thriller and a pantheon of renowned gay artists and gay icons and it’s disappointing – though sadly not surprising - that modern gay culture has all but ignored it.And Hollywood wonders why people don't go to movies anymore...
The film is directed by four-time Oscar winner Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who made All About Eve.
America’s two premier twentieth-century gay writers, Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams, collaborate to form a once-only screenwriting dream team, adapting Williams’ one-act play. To repeat, the screenplay is written by Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams.
Montgomery Clift, after his car accident and well into serious decline, stars as a neurosurgeon who specialises in lobotomies for hysterical schizophrenics.
Elizabeth Taylor plays his patient.
And Katharine Hepburn plays her aunt.
Beyond this flabbergasting roll call lies a sinister story of sodomy, secrecy and insanity, where exotic plants, Mexican youths and protective mothers all devour flesh, in one way or another...
Sodomy, secrecy and insanity or Herbie: Fully Loaded...what would you choose?
Trailer For Rent
No, this is NOT a classified ad... just a link to the trailer for the movie version of RENT.
I have to say I was a bit concerned about this "stage to silver screen" translation of what is probably my favorite Broadway musical... but the trailer gave me goosebumps... then again, the rousing "Seasons of Love" usually manages to do that anyhow.
I have to say the characters look a tad on the old side (much of the original/1996 Broadway cast are recreating the roles for the movie version)... but it still looks great... can't wait! And, these days, looking forward to going out to see a movie in a theater is a very rare thing indeed!
Release Date: November 11th 2005
And You...and You...and You...You're Gonna Slug Me!
And while I know that tucking a flower behind your ear and wearing a leather bowtie has a shockingly cha-cha meets Chippendales ring to it, for the sake of lawsuit avoidance or a hearty bitch slap, we'll stop now.
Oh, what the hell....
"He put two $100 bills on my leg and said, 'Here's $200.'
He asked me if I did this for a living, being a transsexual prostitute.
I said yes.
Eddie said, 'Do you like to wear lingerie?'
I said yes.
He said, 'Can I see you in lingerie?'
I told him, 'Whenever I have the time.'
He said, 'I'll make the time.' Then he asked me, 'What type of sex do you like?'
I said I was into everything."
I've always been a huge fan of Alias. However, this season, I haven't had the same sense of anticipation for each new episode that I had in seasons past. While the ratings are up this year, thanks to a perfect companion show in Lost, the engaging story lines of the past seasons haven't been present. There have been two problems this season. The self-contained episode storylines, and once again the show reinvented itself (by being black-ops). While this was obviously done to attract new fans, this is the third or fourth time the show has been reinvented.
However, in the last few episodes things have begun to turn around. First off, Rimbaldi is back. The confusing and complicated art effects, have been a compelling storyline that affects all the major players on the show. Vaughn gets his own storyline (what's up with Daddy?). Finally, he doesn't just revolve around Sydney. The Sloane clone - brilliant. It will be a fun ride to see how this turns out. The anticipated return of Irina. Lena Olin is a fantastic actress, and it's nice that the loose ends can finally be taken care of. Jack is not what he seems to be. This has always been the case, but there is something else lurking in his past.
One thing I have liked about this season, is the no-reruns, it has at least kept some of the momentum up. So here's to hoping the last episodes of the season don't disappoint.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in their Underwear!
Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie = Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Marsden + Bosworth = Superman Returns
Actor Kate Bosworth with James Marsden who play Lois Lane and her love interest Richard White on the new Superman movie - Red Sun being filmed in Sydney, Australia. More super pictures.
The O.C.'s Michael Cassidy (Zach) In Short Gay Film
The film is Dare by Adam Salky.
The O.C.'s Zach is featured in this short film about high school lust. While I have found Michael attractive, he comes off as rather vanilla on The O.C. This will change your mind.
High school senior Ben secretly lusts after bad boy classmate Johnny. After Ben gives Johnny a ride home one night, the boys end up in Johnny's swimming pool and have an encounter that breaks the rules and blows Ben's mind.[via Planet Out]
Dustin Hoffman's Titties
If you saw I Heart Huckabees, then I'm sure you remember shaghead Dustin Hoffman as Bernard with his prosthetic boobies. After all, male lactation is normal. Right? Well, this psycho girl thinks so. She got her _husband_ to lactate through suggestion. And it worked?!?!?! Somebody please experiment this and report back here with your results. I'd be very curious as to your findings. In any event, Dustin could really use a manssierre for that "extra support," don't you think? Or a bro? (Seinfeld, anyone?) See this unseen footage when you order your very own I Heart Huckabees DVD.
More screencaps here.
Casting News - Divine or a Drag?
Variety is reporting that John Travolta is close to signing on as Edna Turnblad in the "movie based on a musical based on a movie" version of Hairspray.
For those unfamiliar with the 1988 John Waters movie or the Broadway musical, the role of Edna is always played by a man. Travolta would have some pretty big pumps to fill as past Ednas have been pretty much larger than life characters themselves: Divine created the role of Edna on film, while Harvey Fierstein won the Tony for the stage role.
Pretty odd choice, but Travolta has packed on the pounds in recent years to be more than able to fill out the plus-sized (and often wild) dresses required for this role. No word on any other casting.
The film is set to begin production in September with an expected 2006 release.
Justin's movie poster, Edison! I'm really wondering how good/bad this movie will be. It has Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey! But then it has LL Cool J and Justin Timberlake! Will all the bad actors cancel out the good?
Revenge of the Sith
Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman as Anakin Skywalker/Lord Darth Vader and Senator Amidala/Padmé Naberrie-Skywalker, respectively. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith drops May 19th, 2005. More pictures here.
Screen Actors Guild Award Winners
I for one, was thrilled that Sideways won the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award. This was the picture that really deserved this award. It's looking more and more like Jamie Foxx and Hilary Swank will be taking home the Oscar's this year.
The list of winners:
Actor - Jamie Foxx, "Ray"
Actress - Hilary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"
Supporting Actor - Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby"
Supporting Actress - Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator"
Cast - "Sideways"
Actor in a Movie or Miniseries - Geoffrey Rush, "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"
Actress in a Movie or Miniseries - Glenn Close, "The Lion in Winter"
Actor in a Drama Series - Jerry Orbach, "Law & Order"
Actress in a Drama Series - Jennifer Garner, "Alias"
Actor in a Comedy Series - Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Actress in a Comedy Series - Teri Hatcher, "Desperate Housewives"
Drama Series Cast - "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"
Comedy Series Cast - "Desperate Housewives"
You can read all the winners acceptance speeches on the SAG website.
Whether or not Sideways does well at the Oscars, wine makers and sellers have already won. The Golden Globe winner for Best Comedy has catapulted the sales of Pinot Noir - the wine that Miles (Paul Giamatti) speaks lovingly about to Maya (Virginia Madsen)... "Once you've had an earthshaking bottle of Pinot Noir, you are never the same. Like a first love."
Reuters reports that Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines has experienced a 50% increase in Pinot sales since the movie's release, while an article in Time states that some restaurants reporting a 30% jump in "by the glass" Pinot sales. Wine stores near movie theaters also say they know when Sideways showings let out, as people come in asking about the hard-to-produce wine.
While I am no means a wine aficionado like Miles and Maya, I admit Pinot references piqued my curiosity. I have yet to run out and pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir, but when I do here is a short list of "expert picks" that I will be taking along:
Sea Smoke, Botella Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills 2002
MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast 2002
Craggy Range, Te Muna Road Vineyard, New Zealand 2003
Lemelson Thea's Selection, Willamette Valley 2002
Patz & Hall Alder Springs Vineyard 2000
No word yet if sales of Merlot, the wine that Giamatti comically spurns in the film, have dropped.
Into the Blue
Into the Blue starring Paul Walker and Jessica Alba is looking hottttttttttt. Putting Honey behind us, perhaps any movie Jessica Alba stars in is an automatic must-see.
5 Sentence Movie Reviews: In Good Company
As a last minute entry, my favorite film of 2004. Funny, genuine, and only occasionally falls on standard comedy problems. Dennis Quaid is spectacular in the aging dad role. Topher and Scarlet are, of course, the cutest things since Hello Kitty except that he still looks 12 and there's that one scene where she wore her own clothes to the set. Short skirts and long jackets that aren't quite long enough are a no-no.
Bonus Sentence: Marg Helgenberger gets hotter the older she gets.
Super Sneak Peek
Brandon 'B.J.' Routh was officially announced as the new Superman back in October. For all you Superman junkies out there, here are some early promotional shots from Superman Returns, which is slated for release in 2006.
Donnie Darko - Five Stars
"How does it feel having a wacko for a son?"
Fantastic. For some reason, it's taken me a few years to see Donnie Darko. It was well worth the wait. I really enjoyed the film.
The sad story of losing your hold on reality, to the point where anything would be better than what your reality has become. Getting to the point where the absurdity of the world around you is in a battle with the "absurdity" of your own mind.
Be open minded, and this movie will touch you.
A Mixed "Phantom"
Caught Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera over the weekend, my guess is that whatever your thoughts are of the stage production is what you will think of the film version. It is a fairly faithful adaption (some backstory is added in and one of the big "ta-da" moments is shifted to later in the story), so I suspect their will be little movement on the "love-hate" scale for most folks. I saw the stage production long after its Broadway debut (it sometimes takes a while for shows to hit the road)... it was good, but, at the time, I did not totally get what all the fuss was about. Again, I suspect that this may be the reaction of Phantom first-timers of the movie version.
I have warmed up to Phantom a bit over the years. It is still not one of my favorite musicals, but it is far better than the majority of new musicals that are landing on the stage these days.
There is little to complain about when it comes to the production value of the movie version. Freed from the limitations of the stage, the sets are truly impressive and sumptuous - although director Joel Schumacher seems to have borrowed some of Baz Luhrmann's visual touches from Moulin Rouge... while the stunning opera house's lobby is probably something one can experience at a billion dollar Las Vegas hotel-casino.
Overall, I found the performances to be a bit robotic - though, once again, this is a similar issue I have with the stage version (and ALW productions in general, where the music definitely takes precedence over the characters). Schumacher wanted a younger cast of "unknowns" in the leads. The results are a bit of a mixed bag.
Emmy Rossum is deservedly receiving the most praise and attention for her role as Christine. Only 16 at the time of filming, Rossum is the epitome of innocence in both appearance and voice. Stage veteran Patrick Wilson (most recently seen in HBO's Angels In America) is just fine as Raoul - one corner of the story's love triangle. Raoul is not given all that much to do except be the "light" vs. the Phantom's "dark." But Wilson is certainly easy enough on the eyes to do justice to the role. Then we have Gerard Butler as the Phantom. Butler's voice echos that of the original stage Phantom, Michael Crawford, but here I think the movie may have been more well-served with going with a bigger name for the lead role. While Butler does not do anything wrong, I think it would have given the film version a bit more oomph to see a major star in what has to be one of the best known roles of modern day theater.
Be Cool is trying way way WAY too hard to be the next Ocean's Eleven/Twelve (not that the Ocean movies were any good or anything). John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, Andr� 3000, Steven Tyler, Christina Milian, Harvey Keitel, The Rock AND Danny DeVito... all in the same movie?! I'm rolling my eyes at the thought of it. View the trailer.
Can we say recipe for disaster?
Peekaboo! Gisele on the set of Taxi gives us all a little something something to stare at.
Wouldn't we all want to be frisked by Gisele?
Charlize Theron As Aeon Flux
Yowzah! Coming in 2005.
The Golden Globe Nominations 2005
Well, the Hollywood Foreign Press loves them some Sideways, The Aviator, Desperate Housewives, and The Life And Death of Peter Sellers. The nominations aren't that awful this year. Props to the HFPA for giving Hotel Rwanda a Best Picture nom.
Up for Best Picture Drama:
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy:
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Television Series - Drama:
THE SOPRANOS (HBO)
Television Series - Musical or Comedy:
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (FOX)
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
SEX AND THE CITY (HBO)
WILL & GRACE (NBC)
The acting nominations after the jump:
It seems that Jamie Foxx can do no wrong with three acting nominations for his acting in "Ray," pictured, "Collateral" and the telefilm "Redemption."
In the film drama categories, the "they got it right nominations" were Imelda Staunton for "Vera Drake," and Don Cheadle for "Hotel Rwanda."
In the film musical categories, the "they got it right nominations" were Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
In the film supporting role categories, the "they got it right nominations" were Virginia Madsen and Thomas Haden Church for "Sideways."
In the TV drama categories, the "they got it right nominations" were Denis Leary for "Rescue Me" and Joely Richardson for "Nip/Tuck."
In the TV musical or comedy categories, the "they got it right nominations" were Marcia Cross for "Desperate Housewives," Jason Bateman for "Arrested Development" and Zach Braff for "Scrubs."
In the TV supporting role categories, the "they got it right nominations" were Drea De Matteo for "The Sopranos" and Jeremy Piven for "Entourage."
Check out all the nominations here.
5 Sentence Movie Reviews: Ocean's 12
It's attractive scenery with an attractive cast. The meta and inside jokes suggest the movie was made for the actors and not the audience. When Topher Grace has the best scene of the movie, something's wrong. It's shot just like K Street and is as boring as that show was. I still love Don Cheadle, Elliott Gould, and Catherine Zeta-Jones' neck, though.
Alfie: It's All About Jude Law
While the reviews have been relatively mixed, and leaning to the thumbs down side.
"Jude Law stars in a cute, disposable remake based on a cruel, unforgettable '60s classic."
-- James Rocchi, NETFLIX
Why not just go and enjoy and hour and a forty minutes of Jude: the eye candy.
The movie has only flattering things to say and is driven by images of Law looking never less than scrumptious. Boston Globe
At any rate, Jude Law provides tasty eye-candy for an hour and a half.
The other — who shall be known as M2 — just wanted to see Jude Law's naughty grin and sea-blue eyes, and to appreciate how dazzling he would look in his slim-cut retro suits, and...
Law seizes the moment -- delivering Alfie's racy monologues to the camera with charm, wit and enough sizzle to melt cold steel.
[Read them all via low culture]
I *heart* web campaigns
I'm predisposed to love things that have ad campaigns smarter than it's audience. I heart Huckabees is just one of those things. Now, nevermind that the trailer is brilliantly funny. Nevermind that it features Jude Law in one of his 8 million movies out this fall. Nevermind that Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman are always excellent in comedies. Nevermind that Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg and Naomi Watts are all much better actors when they have heady material to work with.
What you should mind is this three-pronged web assault. Start with Tommy Corn's blog. Tommy Corn is a firefighter whose "higher level of thinking" has brought him to a crossroads with the world. His reading of a book by Caterine Vauban has him in an existentialist funk and which leads us to Ms. Vauban's site.
Vauban, the french radical, published her book "If Not Now" 25 years ago and...and well, just get involved. It will lead you directly to The Huckabees Corporate site which, in and of itself, is a great marketing tool.
Doing this kind of campaign isn't new but it's always effective on someone like me. If I can be immersed in a fictional world, if the writing and concept are so strong that you can create these complete virtual realities, well, then you've got me hooked. I loved when Eternal Sunshine did it. I loved when shows The Profiler and Buffy did it with some of their more whacked characters. And, I love it now with this film.
Or, Jet Li in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Part Two!
That's right folks, this movie, made in China and brought to the states by that magical misfit Quentin Tarantino bears a striking resemblance to the import blockbuster that no one understood, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In the author's humble opinion, I think Crouching Tiger was a bit too convoluted to be understood with just subtitles. While Hero's plot is much easier to understand, those who were sitting in Crouching Tiger, and said, "Wait a minute, how the hell can they fly?" will probably not enjoy Hero.
The basic plot, without spoling anything, is that of Nameless, a lowly prefect in China 2000 years ago when the country was divided and at war with itself. Nameless has achieved the impossible. He has killed the three most dangerous assassins from the province of Zhao, who have been giving the Emperor trouble sleeping at night.
The movie opens and we see Nameless on his way to the king to tell him the story of how it was done, which is how the plot unfolds to the audience. Flashbacks ensue and so on and so forth.
With it's fair share of twists and turns, and a few hella cool fight scenes, I immensely enjoyed Hero. But again, if Crouching Tiger wasn't for you, don't waste your eight bucks. It is beautifully shot with a color scheme for every scene, and the fights will take your breath away if you don't mind some fancy acrobatic flying.
Hero starring Jet Li, gets 8.75 out of 10 flying and twirling Zhang Ziyi 's.
Napoleon is Dynamite
That's what we call a "standard industry pun" kids! Anyways, I just saw Napoleon Dynamite in my local arthouse theater because Kerasotes Showplace 16 is too good for funny movies that don't have dick and fart jokes in them and are rated *gasp* PG. I've been dying to see this movie ever since I saw a review on IGN and then a preview on Comedy Central. I don't know about the rest of you, but this looked like genius.
And believe me, it is. I was laughing from the opening credits (which has all the cast and crew's names written on various foods) until the epilogue after the closing credits. While some may complain about its so-called "lack of plot," they are the minority. You don't need plot when this kid's life is this interesting. Well, not that it's interesting per se, more....quirky.
Napoleon Dynamite (played to perfection by Jon Heder), is a somewhat lanky, somewhat geeky (and no, no where near "geek chic") in a small town, where he attends the local high school, just being Napoleon, which is hilarious.
The story evolves in an awkward way, similar to the way Napoleon and his acquaintences communicate. To break it down, you know that one person in high school, who, whenever they opened their mouth, you knew they were going to say something that would trigger an awkward pause? That's Napoleon and his friends. But seeing these kids stand there, looking so utterly mundane and uninteresting is what makes you laugh.
The plot: Napoleon must live his normal life while his grandmother (who he and his 32 year old brother Kip live with) is in the hospital and his jackass Uncle Rico comes to keep an eye on the place.
That's about it.
Various episodes ensue, such as Napoleon befriending the new student from Mexico, Pedro Sanchez (whose name is obviously pronounced Pay-Dro, but all the adults find it necessary to say Peh-Dro). Another episode: Napoleon and Pedro finding dates to the big dance. And the funniest episode (and also the finale): Pedro runs for class president against the pretty girl in school.
This last segment will have you in stitches at least twice. If not when Pedro decides to make a pinata effigy of his opposition (which is perfectly acceptable in Mexico, but not at this quaint public school), then when Napoleon is forced to dance in front of the school in order to save Pedro's campaign (musically accompanied by Jamiroquai's Canned Heat).
Using my good friend Retarded Jimmy's rating scale, I give this motion picture 9.25 out of 10 killer dance moves.
Do any of you out there in cyberspace (does anyone still call it that?) have one of those jackass friends who does something really mean just to be funny, but only ends up laughing by themselves while everyone else awkwardly stares at the sheer asshole-ishness of what they just did, and you just think in your mind how much you want to tackle them and scream in their face "Why in God's name would you do something like that, you insensitive motherf---er!?!"?
Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but I'm sure some of you have a friend who just acts like a jerk sometimes...
Anyway, my point is, I just saw The Village, and we all know that with M. Night Shyamalan, the Big Twist is what makes his movies kick-ass. But of course, that bastard friend of mine sees it before me.
We can all see where this is going. To make a long story short, I was pissed and praying to God that he was lying through his teeth. And I was really looking forward to this movie.
I may forgive, but I never forget...so beware Dave! You're next! I will exact my revenge upon your wretched soul someday! If I had completely understood The Manchurian Candidate, it would be the perfect vehicle for my dish that some say is best served cold, but I'm not paying another eight damn dollars to catch a few plot points I might have missed. Man...movies are expensive...
Moral of the rant: Don't be stingy and try to wait for a cheap matinee or the dollar theater. Just see the freakin' movie with everyone else so no one can ruin your weekend.
Wait a minute...what the hell does rant mean?
For those who enjoyed my Family Guy reference, be sure to check out the six minute pilot for Seth MacFarlane's new show American Dad, or as my good buddy Drew likes to call it, the bizarro world version of Family Guy.
I just saw a very riveting film called The Butterfly Effect. It's stars Ashton Kutcher on his first venture outside Punk'd and comedic acting. He actually looks good as a dramatic actor! It's a story about a young man struggling to get over disturbing memories from his childhood. Throught his childhood, he's been getting sporadic blackouts, coincidentally, during traumatic episodes. The only way for him to remember is writing everything he can remember in his journal. I'm not about to give away the story, but he tried to alter his past by going back through time. However, every change he makes, it alters the present.
Just like the theory of the Butterfly Effect, it got chaotic. The Butterfly Effect is mostly used in weather forecasting. It's a phenomenon also known as, "sensitive dependence on initial conditions". They say that the flap of a butterfly's wing can cause a tornado or an earthquake in China. It sounds impossible? You'll never know. It just basically means that, a small and insignificants things can set a motion of events with far reaching consequences. This is obviously not the right blog to dwell on the subject, but it just makes you thing how every single one of us can be a cause to an effect - big or small.
Anyway, my review on this movie is something like, Hitchcock meets Sidney Sheldon. It has an equal balance of suspense and science fiction. It's a must-own DVD. If you like Sixth Sense, you'd definitely like this one!
Die Mommie Die!
Uttlerly hilarious! For a good campy laugh, this is a must see.
Die Mommie Die is an ode to "such camp classics of harpydom as What Ever Happened to Mary Jane? and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte", this is the story of a singer, Angela Arden (Busch) with a troubled past, who is faced in 1967 with the distinct possibility that she's washed up and is a has-been, as several conspiracies of murder swirl throughout their household (including one plan that would mix insecticide and a suppository..!).
My favorite moments in the film - Angela in the swimming pool with her over-the-top bathing cap, Angela living it up at her husbands funeral reception, Angela tossing a letter opener at her daughters face, and Angela getting it at both ends from the hot movers.
View the trailer.
My Inaugural Post: The Transporter 2
IGN Filmforce reports that a script has been drafted for a sequel to The Transporter, the 2002 film starring Jason Statham. Though the first film was iffy in the story department, the action was phenomenal, so expect to be blown away. Plus, Jason Statham has always had a knack for keeping the story interesting (see Snatch, The Italian Job, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels). The Transporter focused on getaway driver and obsessive compulsive neat-freak Frank Martin. For details on the new story (Spoiler alert) check out IGN Filmforce. Are we looking forward to this? Feedback is encouraged!
Purchase The Passion of the Christ in Bulk
First of all, how many things are wrong with that sentence. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is being in sold in 50-copy bulk packs at Sam's Clubs nationwide this week. These advanced sales are targeted at religious groups that would like their copies in hand before the official Tuesday, Aug. 31 release date for the videos. The 50-pack DVDs are selling for $898, $17.96 apiece, and the videocassette packs go for $795, $15.90 each, reports the AP. The list price for a single "Passion" DVD and VHS copy is $29.98 and $24.98, respectively. Read more at Zap2it.
This is so church groups and religious segments can witness the carnage prior to the common folk.
2004 MTV Movie Awards
One of PCJ's favorite writers, Arjan, has all the details, gossip and photos from the 2004 MTV Movie Awards. You can catch the ceremony on MTV during any of the 60 times it will be airing the show in the next week.
Harry Potter's Box Office Magic
Harry Potter takes in $93 million at the box office. Nice little haul. While Shrek 2 looks to become the highest grossing domestic animated film in the next week or two. While fast food lovers give Super Size Me the number ten spot.
1. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," $92.65 million.
2. "Shrek 2," $37 million.
3. "The Day After Tomorrow," $28.15 million.
4. "Raising Helen," $6.7 million.
5. "Troy," $5.7 million.
6. "Mean Girls," $2.9 million.
7. "Soul Plane," $2.85 million.
8. "Van Helsing," $2.35 million.
9. "Man on Fire," $1 million.
10. "Super Size Me," $835,000.
Shrek 2 Wins!
It was an amazingly profitable weekend at the box office. Shrek 2 earned $72.2 million over the weekend, and has made $257 million in two weeks, and will overtake the original by Wednesday or so. Amazing. What's even more amazing is the disastrous disaster film The Day After Tomorrow earned $70 million.
Shrek 2 and The Day After Tomorrow accounted for $142.2 million of the total $186.1 million Friday-Sunday box office and $178.2 million of the total $233.5 million Friday-Monday box office for the top 12 films. That meant there were few scraps for the weekend's other new movies.
1. Shrek 2, $72.2 million; $92.2 million
2. The Day After Tomorrow, $70 million; $86 million
3. Troy, $12 million; $15 million
4. Raising Helen, $11.2 million; $14 million
5. Soul Plane, $5.7 million; $7 million
6. Mean Girls, $4.8 million; $6.3 million
7. Van Helsing, $4.9 million; $6.2 million
8. Man on Fire, $1.9 million; $2.4 million
9. 13 Going on 30, $1.1 million; $1.4 million
10. Super Size Me, $1 million; $1.3 million
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I have to say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a great film. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and the supporting bunch gave great performances. It's another brilliant screenplay from Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich and Adaptation), and an amazing directorial effort by Michel Gondry. Lastly, the cinematography by Ellen Kuras is just phenomenal; it helps create the whole blurred schizophrenic mood for the film.
The film can be a little confusing at times, but if you try not to concentrate on where in the time line things are happening, things just tend to fall into place.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about a couple Joel (Carrey) and Clementine (Winslet), who having an amazing connection despite the fact that they are polar opposites. The basic gist of the film, is that the relationship ends and then they have the relationship erased from their memories. Despite the loss of memories there will always be a certain emotional attachment to the people in your past.
During the process with Joel, things go somewhat awry. The films centers on what is going on inside Joel's head, and how he can't seem to let go of Clementine. One of the major themes which are dealt with in the film is how memory really affects and constitutes what happens in our lives.
The film is full of laughter, but can be extremely heartbreaking at certain times. The great vulnerable performances by the entire cast are, just another reason why this film will stand up as one of the best of the year.
This posting can also be read at Blogcritics.org.
Projects In the Works
From the Pages of Variety & Hollywood Reporter
Michelle Williams is being lassoed to star in Ang Lee's cowboy love story "Brokeback Mountain" for Focus Features. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are starring, while James Schamus, Michael Costigan, Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry are producing. Adapted by McMurtry and Ossana from a short story by "The Shipping News" scribe E. Annie Proulx, the story centers on two men (Ledger and Gyllenhaal) who meet one summer as sheepherders in Wyoming and form a bond and love that spans 20 years. The film tracks that time period and their evolving relationship. Williams would play Ledger's wife, Alma, who has to deal with her husband's secret love. "Brokeback" is slated to shoot in May.
Law & Order
Gotham Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrapped shooting Wednesday for his network primetime debut: playing himself for an upcoming episode of "Law & Order" set in City Hall.
Gary Oldman has inked to play Lt. James Gordon in "Batman Begins," director Christopher Nolan's take on the Caped Crusader, which has now started production in Iceland for Warner Bros. Pictures.
Bryan Singer is ready to run. The filmmaker is in negotiations to develop and direct "Logan's Run" for Warner Bros. Pictures. Singer is producing the project with Joel Silver. Originally a book by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, the novel takes place in a youth-obsessed future society where residents are euthanized as soon as they turn 21. The story centers on Logan, a police officer whose job it is to track down those who run from their fate. But with his 21st birthday fast approaching, he decides to run as well and search for Sanctuary, a fabled place where older folks live.
George Clooney HBO Project
Section Eight partners George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh have begun work on their next series for HBO. Pay cabler has ordered five half-hours of an untitled improv comedy revolving around a trio of struggling actors trying to make it big in Hollywood.
Lifetime has renewed "1-800 Missing" for a second season of 13 episodes, but the network is replacing lead actor Gloria Reuben with Vivica A. Fox ("Kill Bill,""Soul Food").
The Forgotten Performances of 2003
The year was full of some great performances, and quite of few of them are nominated for Academy Awards this year. Due to the abundance of outstanding performances, and only five acting nominations in each category, there were some performances that should have been acknowledged.
Here are five of my nominated favorites:
Chiaki Kuriyama as Go-Go in Kill Bill. She was Go-Go. Not that we know anyone like Go-Go, but if we did, she would be Go-Go.
Frances McDormand in Laurel Canyon. She was riveting in this film. She reinvents herself in every role, and was utterly convincing as the free-spirited Jane.
Hope Davis in American Splendor. I love Hope. She played Joyce Brabner with great compassion and wit.
Peter Sarsgaard in Shattered Glass. This is the performance that will get him the roles he deserves. He's devestating in this film.
Ellen Degeneres in Finding Nemo. Ellen made this movie so entertaining, she's hilarious in this film.
"The Passion of The Christ": The Reviews Are In
Overall they're not looking pretty. Many critics balked at the amount of violence in the film; especially the relentless last hour. It's too violent for younger children. I'm very interested to see how big of a box office this film draws.
A sampling of the reviews:
Those who walk into their multiplexes wondering whether Gibson's film is anti-Semitic will find answers according to their standards. Mine was that it is, in a stock, caricatured way. Romans do the actual torturing, and a handful of "good" Jews seem to defy cliche, but the folks controlling the mob and forcing their overlord's seemingly pliable hand are the same band of swarthy miscreants that have wandered through Passion plays for centuries.
Yet the film's true shock lies in Gibson's vision of what is most important in the Jesus story, in the relentless, near pornographic feast of flayed flesh. Gibson gives us Christ's blood, not in a Communion cup, but by the gallon. Blood spraying from Jesus' shackled body; blood sluicing to the Cross's foot. This Passion begins just before Jesus' arrest. It ends with a blink-length Resurrection. The bulk of his ministry, miracles and post-Resurrection appearances are absent, and his preaching of love flicked at in telegraphically brief flashbacks. Meanwhile, his scourging, handled in all four Gospels in a total of three sentences, takes up nine full minutes of film.
The New Yorker
Gibson and his screenwriter, Benedict Fitzgerald, selected and enhanced incidents from the four Gospels and collated them into a single, surpassingly violent narrative—the scourging, for instance, which is mentioned only in a few phrases in Matthew, Mark, and John, is drawn out to the point of excruciation and beyond. History is also treated selectively. The writer Jon Meacham, in a patient and thorough article in Newsweek, has detailed the many small ways that Gibson disregarded what historians know of the period, with the effect of assigning greater responsibility to the Jews, and less to the Romans, for Jesus’ death. Meacham’s central thesis, which is shared by others, is that the priests may have been willing to sacrifice Jesus—whose mass following may have posed a threat to Roman governance—in order to deter Pilate from crushing the Jewish community altogether. It’s also possible that the temple élite may have wanted to get rid of the leader of a new sect, but only Pilate had the authority to order a crucifixion—a very public event that was designed to be a warning to potential rebels. Gibson ignores most of the dismaying political context, as well as the likelihood that the Gospel writers, still under Roman rule, had very practical reasons to downplay the Romans’ role in the Crucifixion. It’s true that when the Roman soldiers, their faces twisted in glee, go to work on Jesus, they seem even more depraved than the Jews. But, as Gibson knows, history rescued the pagans from eternal blame—eventually, they came to their senses and saw the light. The Emperor Constantine converted in the early fourth century, and Christianized the empire, and the medieval period saw the rise of the Roman Catholic Church. So the Romans’ descendants triumphed, while the Jews were cast into darkness and, one might conclude from this movie, deserved what they got. “The Passion,” in its confused way, confirms the old justifications for persecuting the Jews, and one somehow doubts that Gibson will make a sequel in which he reminds the audience that in later centuries the Church itself used torture and execution to punish not only Jews but heretics, non-believers, and dissidents.
"The Passion" - once you strip away all the controversy and religious fervor - is a technically proficient account of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The movie is sanctimonious in a way that impedes dramatic flow and limits characterizations to the saintly and the droolingly vulgar.
That said, there are many things in its favor - a heroic physical effort by star Jim Caviezel; stunning cinematography by Caleb Deschanel, and the chutzpah to have the actors speak in the dead language of Aramaic (with some subtitles).
Is Gibson devout, or is he mad?
Had Gibson claimed Napoleon helped him direct, instead of divine spirits, the answer would be clear. Even so, a touch of madness is often a good thing in a director.
But "The Passion" feels like a propaganda tool rather than entertainment for a general audience.
Is it anti-Semitic?
Jews are vilified, in ways both little and big, pretty much nonstop for two hours, seven minutes.
Gibson cuts from the hook nose of one bad Jewish character to the hook nose of another in the ensuing scene.
He misappropriates an important line from the Jewish celebration of Pesach ("Why is this night different from all other nights?") and slaps it onto a Christian context.
Most unforgivable is that Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov), the Roman governor of Palestine who decreed that Jesus be crucified, is portrayed as a sensitive, kind-hearted soul who is sickened by the tortures the Jewish mobs heap upon his prisoner.
Pilate agrees to the Crucifixion only against his better judgment.
The most offensive line of the script, which was co-written by Gibson with Benedict Fitzgerald, about Jews accepting blame, was not cut from the movie, as initially reported. Only its subtitle was removed.
"Passion" assumes the audience already knows Christianity 101, and plunges right into the aftermath of the Last Supper. Taunted by an effeminate, seductive Satan and anticipating betrayal, Christ suffers.
Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus, doesn't so much give a performance as offer himself up as raw meat. So graphic are the torture scenes -- flayings, a crown of thorns, whips with barbed metal tips, nails driven into hands and feet -- that the film seems like the greatest story ever told by the Marquis de Sade.
His version of the Gospels is harrowingly violent; the final hour of "The Passion of the Christ" essentially consists of a man being beaten, tortured and killed in graphic and lingering detail. Once he is taken into custody, Jesus (Jim Caviezel) is cuffed and kicked and then, much more systematically, flogged, first with stiff canes and then with leather whips tipped with sharp stones and glass shards. By the time the crown of thorns is pounded onto his head and the cross loaded onto his shoulders, he is all but unrecognizable, a mass of flayed and bloody flesh, barely able to stand, moaning and howling in pain.
The audience's desired response to this spectacle is not revulsion, but something like the cowering, quivering awe manifested by Mary (Maia Morgenstern), Mary Magdalen (Monica Bellucci) and a few sensitive Romans and Jerusalemites as they force themselves to watch. Disgust and awe are not, when you think about it, so far apart, and in Mr. Gibson's vision one is a route to the other.
By rubbing our faces in the grisly reality of Jesus' death and fixing our eyes on every welt and gash on his body, this film means to make literal an event that the Gospels often treat with circumspection and that tends to be thought about somewhat abstractly. Look, the movie seems to insist, when we say he died for our sins, this is what we mean.
The Surprising Oscar Nominations
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. The Oscar's got quite a bit right this year.
I'm very pleased with the eleven nominations for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" my pick to win). Thrilled that "Lost in Translation" was nominated for Best Picture, and that "Mystic River" is also in that category. I have no desire to see "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World". I'm not a huge Russell Crowe fan in epics; I loved him in "The Insider" and "Beautiful Mind". "Seabiscut" just bored me to tears.
Animated Feature Film:
"Finding Nemo" is all I have to say. If this category didn't exist, it would be up for Best Picture.
I haven't seen "City of God" (Fernando Meirelles) yet or "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" (Peter Weir), so I can't comment on those. Props to Sofia Coppola for being the third female to be nominated for Best Director. Clint Eastwood deserved the nomination - if only for getting amazing performances out of the entire cast. Peter Jackson obviously deserves this award.
Completely solid category. It's going to be a toss up between Bill Murray and Sean Penn. Neither are that well liked by the Hollywood masses, but the gave the best performances of the year. Johnny Depp was too off the wall. Ben Kingsley has proven once again what a fantastic actor he is. He delivered a great performance in "House of Sand and Fog", but the film itself got mixed reviews. Jude Law gave a solid performance, but it's not his time.
I just rented "Whale Rider", and Keisha Castle-Hughes is what makes this film so touching. I haven't seen "In America (Samantha Morton), so can't comment on her. Diane Keaton for "Something's Gotta Give". I love her, and she was funny/touching. She's Charlize's only competition. Naomi Watts proved that "Mullholland Drive" wasn't a fluke. Ms. Theron was fucking brilliant in "Monster". That's all I have to say.
I've only seen "21 Grams" and "Mystic River", so I can't comment on Alec Baldwin ("The Cooler"), Djimon Hounsou ("In America"), and Ken Wantabe ("The Last Samuri"). Benicio was bizarre/brilliant in "21 Grams". His performance actually kind of freaked me out. Tim Robbins was gave another tremendous performance in "Mystic River". I'll give Tim Robbins the edge in this category.
I haven't seen Patricia Clarkson's film "Pieces of April", but she always delivers and exceptional performance (so I'm sure she was good). Shohreh Aghdashloo was heartbreaking in "House of Sand and Fog". Marcia Gay Harden gave an outstanding performance in "Mystic River". Her transformation from timid to outright fearful is amazing. Holly Hunter gives another great Holly Hunter performance, but not many people saw "Thirteen". Renee Zellweger gave an overwrought performance in "Cold Mountain". She's the only one I think doesn't deserve to win, but has the greatest chance of winning. Sad. My hopes rest on Marcia Gay Harden and Shohreh Aghdashloo.
On the must see list before the Oscar ceremony: In America, City of God, Pieces of April.
This posting can also be read at Blogcritics.org.
Golden Globe Thoughts
The Golden Globes Awards are obviously to be taken with a grain of salt. The majority of the people, films and shows that I wanted to win did win.
Bravo for all the awards for "Angels In America". I think the proper people won for that. Jeffrey Wright and Mary Louise Parker were fantastic. However, I hate how the Globes lump together all TV supporting performances into one category. It's really not fair to the series television actors.
So so happy that Frances Conroy won for "Six Feet Under". She's makes that character so incredibly unique and believable. I would have like to see someone other than Sarah Jessica Parker win for Best Actress Comedy. Love Sarah, but had won it three times prior. It's great that "24" won Best TV Drama. It's a truly original series.
"The Office's" wins were a big surprise for winning comedic actor and comedy series, but not really. The Globes tend to give awards to those shows or people with buzz. For instance - it gives out awards to actors on show for the debut season (Jennifer Garner winning for "Alias" two years ago, and the annoying guy from "The Shield" winning that shows first season).
It was great to see Peter Jackson winning best director for "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". Sophia Coppola deserved the Best Screenplay award for "Lost in Translation". And fittingly so, their films won Best Comedy and Drama respectively.
Meryl had a fantastic speech. Bill Murray was perfectly dry and sarcastic. I loved that Mary Louise Parker mentioned the $1000 bet about her boobs. Al Pacino was annoying. I thought it was odd that Diane Keaton read her written speech.
Most awkward moment was when Nicole Kidman had to read off Tom Cruise's name when she presented the nominations for Best Actor.
Until next year.
This posting can also be read at Blogcritics.org.
Media Whore's Best In Film 2003
1. Lost in Translation – Perfect directing, acting and script.
2. American Splendor – Hope Davis should be huge.
3. Finding Nemo – Ellen made this movie. I speak whale too.
4. House of Sand and Fog – Ben Kingsley plays nasty well.
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – It all came together superbly.
6. Mystic River – Sean Penn delivers again.
7. Elephant – Eerily good.
8. Kill Bill, Vol. 1 – The women have it.
9. 21 Grams – Naomi Watts proved Mullholland Drive was no fluke.
10. Monster – Charlize Theron is outstanding.
Honorable Mention: Veronica Guerin, Raising Victor Vargas, Love Actually, Bend It Like Beckman, A Mighty Wind
This posting may also be read at Blogcritics.org.
Kill Bill, Vol. 1
I loved this film. Kill Bill, Vol. 1 is a visual masterpiece. What may be lacking in the plot aspect of the film (it's an all out revenge film), it makes up for with solid acting, an incredible soundtrack, Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, amazing fight sequences, and great cinematography.
The film is an amazing bloodbath. Many, many, many people are killed in this movie. If you don't enjoy violence or spurting blood, this movie is not for you. There was a point in the film where the spurting blood just got to be comical. I found the most disturbing part of the film to be the Anime portion. It's obvious as to why the scene was done that way (it would have been way too offensive as a live action scene).
Everything in this film is amazingly over the top, especially the fight scenes. Yet, somehow, a lot of these ultra-violent moments are subtle, funny, athletic and even strikingly beautiful. I'm still breathless.
My favorite "Kill Bill" Moments -
- The entire Daryl Hannah scene; comic brilliance.
- Go Go Yubari walking down the stairs with her ball and chain.
- The music during the fight scene with O-Ren Ishii.
- The Tokyo Nightclub fight scene.
- The Pussy Mobile.
Mary Cherry & More
Wanted to give props to the Psonic weblog for his open letter to Harrison, along with his mention of my beloved Mary Cherry. You must check this letter out. My sentiments exactly.
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