Friday, May 25, 2007

The Empire Strikes Back...
Best. Star Wars movie. EVER.

Alright, I don't have the time or energy to type too much tonight, but I couldn't pass up a Star Wars blogathon, so I just thought I'd pay my respects to my favorite (and the BEST) film in the series, the divine Empire Strikes Back. It's a beautifully crafted epic fantasy space opera, and one of my very favorite films of all time.

I first got into Star Wars when I was about 11, right at that prime pre-teen age where you NEED personal mythology to be absorbed in, since real life is invariably awful. My best friend at some point learned that I had NEVER seen Star Wars, and took care to rectify the situation (it's definitely some kind of rule that EVERY 11-year-old boy, gay or straight, need be a fan of Star Wars).

I, of course, went from total novice to OBSESSED expert in record time. Soon I had all the VHS tapes (the "last time available in their original form" edition) and starting playing Star Wars Customizable Card Game (brilliant game). Then, the "special edition" theatrical rereleases happened a year or two later, and by that point I was a huge fan and was totally into it (at this point Star Trek and Star Wars split my time... the Jurassic Park obsession was two years earlier, and had basically ended).

Anyway, even from way back then, I knew Episode V was where it's at (I always liked the dark stuff). There is little to say about the gorgeous score (the Han & Leia theme!), the Battle of Hoth, Han and Leia's romance, the asteroid field, Luke's Dagobah training, Yoda, Cloud City, the carbon-freezing, "Hear me, Leia!" and the "I am your father" moment that hasn't already been said, or would be a better use of one's time than simply watching the movie or listening to the soundtrack instead. Empire is a grand, intimate epic (getting the "intimate" MUCH better than any of the other movies), and should have been oscar's Best Picture of 1980. Oh well. It's still gone down in history as the best of the trilogy, and still has many, many fans.

Empire forever.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

WHO'S CUTER: James McAvoy or Ewan McGregor?

Which sexy scotsman tickles your fancy? They both have their charms.

Do you prefer cute and musical or roguish and brooding? Young upstart or old standby?

Both are known to disrobe frequently... so this should be an informed opinion.

Need more help?

For the many faces of James, click here, here and here.

For some intimate (18+ only) pictures of Ewan, click here, here and here.

So readers, Who's cuter? James or Ewan?

To see how badly Heath got trounced in last week's contest (and to see more hot picks of Joseph), click here.

To see the most popular "WHO'S CUTER?" contest ever (and the result), click here.

And do stay tuned for more Streepathon, Altmanathon, and new reviews.

I'll be taking a bit of a break from blogging, though, now that I've accomplished my goals for the week.

Unfortunately, after a few days, I'll never be a student at this place doing this stuff ever again, and I have a lot to do before I graduate on sunday.

And the cuter Scotsman is...

(ten days pass)

Ewan. Unsurprisingly. I mean, I love James, but come on, look at that grin. So cute and gleeful. Gets me every time. I'm a goner even before he takes his clothes off. But still, inevitably, he does. And for that, I thank him.

I think it's pretty much agreed upon that Ewan's greatest perf is in Moulin Rouge!... and while I've accepted the reality that he'll probably never be that great again, am I wrong in thinking it seems like he's not even trying anymore? Stop resting on your laurels, Ewan! Be brilliant again. Soon you'll be too old to keep dropping trou, and will have to earn our love the old fashioned way.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Streepathon Stop #6: A Cry in the Dark

"The dingo's got my baby!" -Lindy Chamberlain

Time: 1988 (15th film)

Role: Lindy Chamberlain, embattled wife and mother accused of murder

Awards: 8th oscar nomination, GG (drama) nomination; NYFCC, Cannes, and Australian Film Institute wins

Fun Fact #1: This film reunited Streep with director Fred Schepisi and actor Sam Neill, both of whom had worked with her on Plenty three years prior.

Fun Fact #2: The film has two different titles: A Cry in the Dark, the international title, and Evil Angels, the Australian title (the book on which it's based shares the latter title). Strangely, within this past year, its official IMDB title has changed from A Cry in the Dark to Evil Angels. Since it was credited as A Cry in the Dark when I began the Streepathon, I've decided to refer to it by that title.

Fun Fact #3: Like some other famous movie catchphrases, the oft-quoted "A dingo ate my baby!" is never actually uttered in its film of origin. The closest Streep comes to saying those words is "The dingo's got my baby!" (quoted above), during the scene when she sees the murderous dingo.

Fun Fact #4: Much fuss has been made over Streep's (spotty?) Aussie accent in this film. But in reality, Lindy was not a native Aussie, but rather a Kiwi (she moved with her family to Australia as a small child). The real Lindy's accent was a strange amalgam of Aussie and Kiwi, and those who know her say Streep captured it rather well.

Meryl, Miranda & Lindy: No, not THAT Miranda. Miranda Otto played Lindy in a recent miniseries. Here are pictures of her, Meryl, and the real Lindy.

Film Review: This was not one of my favorite Meryl Streep films, though it wasn't half bad. In fact, it was quite good. But good is all it's trying to be. It's not going for greatness... at least not what I consider cinematic greatness to be. It's just working in a very specific, rather worn out genre that doesn't generally allow for the kind of lyricism and cinematic virtuosity that I prize so highly. Interestingly, Streep and Schepisi's last teaming, Plenty, had quite a bit of that. But this one's a different animal entirely.

The film lets you know what it is right away. It doesn't mince words. During the main titles, it asserts: "This is a true story." No "based on." No "inspired by." The story you're about to see is TRUE. It belongs squarely in the realm of "true crime" human interest dramas... "dramatizations" of real-world events. Putting aside the fact that no dramatization can be completely true, and shouldn't really present itself as such, there is an admirable straightforwardness in the film's bold assertion. It's also very much in keeping with the "no bullshit" approach taken throughout. Schepisi's all about getting to the meat of the story; he wastes no time getting to the inciting event, and chugs full-speed-ahead from then on.

One negative effect of this approach is the lack of much character development on the periphery. We are with Streep's Lindy and Neill's Michael throughout, and no one else really registers as a fleshed out character. But a positive effect of this tightness is a real sense of focus, and fast pace. The drama is always gripping, even if it's never terribly deep. The heated courtroom exchanges often make this feel like an early episode of The Practice (to me, that's a good thing), and there's ample satire of media coverage of court cases and the public's eagerness to eat it up.

Overall, the film is a worthwhile and absorbing drama, eminently watchable on first viewing, though not especially well suited to a second. Once you get past the novelty of Streep's thick dialect and the sensationalism of the courtroom drama, there's not much left to feast on (I have indeed watched it twice, once last year after my failed attempt at Out of Africa, and once just recently).

The film is a real showcase for Streep, and to a lesser extent for Sam Neill, who plays her pastor husband. The two stars still have great chemistry, and show sides of themselves not featured in other roles. Unfortunately, it's essentially a two-man show. It is an important retelling of fascinating real-world events, packed with thrills, suspense and emotion, but compared to the other films in this marathon, I don't think it's all that special. It's totally worth seeing for Streep alone, but probably worth seeing only once.

Streep Review: This is one of Meryl's more famous performances, mostly for the accent and the killer catchphrase ("A dingo ate my baby! A dingo ate my baby!"). But don't be fooled, there's more to the performance than the accent and the catchphrase. This feels like one of Streep's earthier and more lived-in perfs, even though the character is one of her colder and less sympathetic creations. That she managed to make Lindy so cold and alien and yet so earthy and human is another testament to Streep's great skill. It's easy to see why jurors would get an unpleasant opinion of Lindy from her steely reserve in public, but Lindy's no Miranda Priestly; we always see her vulnerability and pain even in her coldest moments.

The thing I found most striking about Streep in this film is actually the hair. Streep seems like a totally new person underneath what I assume to be a very good wig. Streep's hair has never been so stark and so shapely (except perhaps for when she donned the Miranda wig), and the severe hair only accentuates her already severe, angular features, making her seem almost alien at times. It's a stark contrast from the warmth and cuddliness she displays in films like Postcards, Prairie and Music of the Heart (what many consider to be the "real" Meryl).

And then of course, there's the accent. Australian is notorious for being one of the most difficult dialect variants of the English language, and this is the only time (I believe) Streep has done it. I don't consider myself qualified to comment on just how perfect a job she did (I don't live in Australia), but for me at least, the dialect was convincing. Having seen Streep do many, many accents by now, I've developed a pretty keen sense of whether she's doing them right, and while there were a few moments when things didn't seem quite in synch and you could hear some Streep-speech, I thought overall she did a very good job. There is of course the issue of Lindy's unique dialect, too, so saying Streep's Australian was not pitch-perfect is not really a valid criticism. Still, I'm no expert on the different between Aussie and Kiwi, so I'll stop trying to overanalyze. But suffice it to say... I've seen worse from Streep in the accent department... and even that wasn't really that bad.

In short: she deserved her oscar nomination. As usual. NEXT.

Next in the marathon: She-Devil

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Guess who's fabulous?


Monday, May 21, 2007

Streepathon Stop #5: Out of Africa

"I had a farm in Africa..." -Karen Blixen

Time: 1985 (12th film)

Role: Baroness Karen Dinesen Blixen, Danish émigré to Africa

Awards: 6th oscar nom, GG (drama) nom, BAFTA nom; LAFCA & KCFCC wins, David di Donatello award (for best foreign actress)

Fun Fact #1: This is the second time in three years that Meryl played a real-life person named Karen. The first was Karen Silkwood in Silkwood (1983).

Fun Fact #2: To date, this is the only Best Picture oscar winner in which Meryl had a leading role (she had supporting roles in winners The Deer Hunter and Kramer vs. Kramer and a lead role in nominee The Hours). She has never won a Best Actress oscar for a Best Picture winner; the closest she's come was in Emmy magnet Angels in America.

Fun Fact #3: Rumor has it that Audrey Hepburn was offered the role of Karen Blixen before it found it's way to Meryl Streep... though casting Hepburn would've resulted in a very different Karen, since she's a full 20 years older than Streep, who claims director Sydney Pollack originally didn't think her "sexy enough" for the part.

Fun Fact #4: In Africa, Streep REALLY battled lions: She claims director Pollack untied a lion she was whipping during filming, in order to get more genuine performances from both her and the lion (Pollack will not directly contradict Streep's claims, out of respect for the actress, but will not admit any truth to the allegations either).

Meryl and Robert having fun: Karen and Denys engage in some erotic hair-washing. I wonder how many takes they did of this scene? Probably not many. As Meryl explains on the DVD, they shot this between a group of hippos and their water, and apparently hippos equate the water with their offspring, so the actors and crew risked being trampled down at any time (filming this scene was scarier than it looked).

Film Review: Wow. It took me a long time to get all the way through this 7-oscar-winning behemoth, but I'm SO glad I did. Truth be told, the first time I tried to watch it was last summer, but I fell asleep in the middle (I was tired), and didn't have time to give it another go-around before I went on a trip shortly after. I ended up returning it to Netflix, and postponing the remainder of the Streepathon for what felt like forever. Then, I tried again recently, but was forced to return it AGAIN in order to get a different film for a special occasion. How embarassing. But on this, my third try, I told myself I would REALLY watch it, despite the fact that I'm in the middle of commencement week, and despite my many other obligations. So last night, I really watched it.

And what a grand film it is. It's old-fashioned in every sense: it's a sweeping epic, a love story, a story about stories, a feast of cinematic poetry. But it takes its time. It has little to offer the impatient. It sets up lots of stunning imagery and lets it all lull about, lets the viewer bathe in pretty pictures and rousing music while he slowly gets to know the characters. The story unfolds liesurely, pleasurably. The mysteries and metaphors gradually make themselves clear.

In it, Meryl Streep plays Karen Blixen, a Danish woman who marries to become a Baroness and finds herself presiding over a farm in Africa (Streep's character is based on the author of the memoirs on which the film was based, though she published under the pen name "Isak Dinesen"). Karen soon finds her marriage of convenience to be less convenient than she thought, but no matter because her true love is Denys Fynch Hatton, a free-spirited hunter played by the swoon-worthy Robert Redford. As Karen's marriage crumbles, her love affair overwhelms her, as Denys' unattainability proves to be his most appealing, and most exasperating, quality.

The story is a fairly simple one, but there's beauty in the simplicity. Karen represents Europe, its smallness, its formality, its desire to possess and control. Denys represents Africa, its vastness, its primality, its freedom and its beauty. When the two forces meet, sparks fly. The affair cannot have a happy ending, but it's the most significant event of Karen's life. Indeed, it is her life. We hear her narrate much of the story, and its presented a kind of dream she's struggling to remember, struggling to make sense of. The narration doesn't detract from the film; instead, it puts the beautiful imagery on display in a kind of perspective. Like the recent Y Tu Mama Tambien, this is a story being recalled as a slice of life that shaped the whole of a life, that is over but will never be gone.

Out of Africa is worthwhile, as is any great film, for its moments; it takes the raw ingredients of time, light and sound, and creates a kind of filmic magic. It makes pure poetry out of images and music, as beautifully as I've seen in any film. I can only imagine what it would've been like to see it on the big screen. Right from the opening credits, when we watch Meryl Streep gaze longingly out at the landscape from the back of a moving train, set to the swelling, stirring score, we're drawn into this world of grand vistas and overwhelming emotions, into the fleeting embrace of the cinema and of Africa. In one of the film's signature scenes, with Karen and Denys and riding in his plane among the clouds, fully experiencing each other and the continent, the imagery onscreen only be described as "breathtaking." And between these decadent highs, the film peppers in enough humor and nuance to make sure the story's never less than relatable, the characters never less human.

Out of Africa is not groundbreaking cinema. But it is a sweeping epic in the grand, old Hollywood tradition. It's a powerful story well told, with everything coming together beautifully: writing, acting, cinematography, art direction, music. Kudos to Sydney Pollack, Meryl, Robert, Klaus Maria Brandauer (who plays the husband), the writers, and of course Karen Blixen herself, for finding this story within herself and sharing it with all of us.Streep Review: Well, she did it again. This is one of Streep's better performances, not quite in the realm of Sophie or the other Karen, but still up there. She's given a very tricky character to carry off, and she of course does it beautifully.

One of the things that bothered me at first about the performance was the accent. It's VERY thick and strange, producting an affect that's almost comical. But while it distracted me at first (and I worried about my inclination to laugh at it), I eventually realized that its an integral aspect of the character. Karen often uses her accent to be funny, and Meryl uses the accent to find humor in the lines. In some cases, they read better in the thick, lazy Danish cadence than they ever would otherwise. I applaud Meryl for going so all-out, risking caricature to bring us real character.

In fact, the performance is quite technically impressive all-around. Between the thick, obscure accent, the love scenes, the huge character arc, and the lion-taming, this is probably the most emotionally varied and technically challenging work she's ever done (save maybe Sophie's Choice). So major points for that.

But I still can't decide whether I preferred her work in this film or in Plenty. It's certainly understandable that this is the one that garnered more attention, since this film is far prettier, more palatable, and more oscarable than Plenty (oh, I'll just come out and say it, this film is better than Plenty... and I REALLY like Plenty a lot). But I still hesitate to say this was Meryl's better performance. This one of course has all the things described above, but I have a soft spot for the volatile, broken soul that is Susan Traherne; she took Streep places I'd never seen her go before. Anyway, couldn't critics' groups at least have honored her for both films, like they did for Anjelica Huston in 1990? I don't see why not.

Regardless, 1985 was a banner year for Meryl, and Out of Africa is must-see for Streep fans. Karen Blixen goes on a huge journey from naive, spoiled Danish girl to old and wisened businesswoman/writer, and Streep takes us all the way through. She's a pro like that.

Next in the marathon: A Cry in the Dark (or Evil Angels)

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And speaking of Meryl Streep...'s time for the RETURN of the STREEPATHON!!!

Really. I'm serious. It is. I've watched Out of Africa. I just have to trudge through the review. But the Streepathon is back on, with all the old trimmings, nearly a year after it was cruelly abandoned. The great one has returned.

Out of Africa is excellent, by the way. It's just been really hard to find the time to sit through it all. A sprawling epic, it runs over 2 hours and 40 minutes long. And in my "just-about-to-graduate-and-therefore-soaking-in-the-last-days-of-college" life, time is precious. As it is, it took 2 failed netflix rentals (I had the film in my hands but eventually returned it cause I couldn't find the time to watch it all) before I finally completed the mission (third time's the charm). But it was worth it. Awesome, awesome film.


Random request:

(to the gods of Hollywood)

Can Meryl Streep and Ryan Gosling please play mother and son?

I mean, look at them:

And while we're at it, could Ellen maybe play Ryan's funny aunt? Remember on Streep's Ellen interview, when Meryl said she and Ellen look alike, and Ellen suggested they do a movie together? I think they were on to something. Ellen could totally be Meryl's crazy little sister (see right). Seriously, why has this movie not been greenlit already? Think Home For The Holidays or a better version of The Family Stone. Are people getting this? Perhaps I should write and direct it. Perhaps I will.

This could be my debut, everyone. I need to do it. Perhaps Laura Linney (below) could play a third sister. Hmmm... I'm liking this. This thing should happen. And what makes it better is I have plenty of material in my own extended family to draw from. Nice.

Really, why these people have not been culled together for some kind of family film is beyond me. I'm half serious about this idea... I could start writing some kind of "dysfunctional family" comedy (now that I'm in film school) and see where it takes me.

This thing could be golden.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Random prediction:

I'm Not There will win the golden globe for best comedy/musical. Hairspray and The Savages will also be nominated, but will not win. I'm Not There's globe win will pave the way for its oscar nomination (for best picture).

You could call this wishful thinking, but I'm being serious. Biopics of musical legends have a good track record in this category (a great one, in fact). And though this one has the problem of being "different," it also has the advantage of featuring several big-name stars and an overdue director. It could happen. You heard it here first.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Those Summer Nights: Jurassic Park (1993)

Ahhhhh, Jurassic Park. The definitive summer blockbuster of my childhood, and still #12 on the all-time domestic chart (and #8 on the all-time worldwide chart), despite inflation. At the time of its release in 1993, it was the #3 film of all time behind Star Wars and E.T., and had the biggest worldwide box office of all time. Needless to say, it was an EVENT. Even my little 9-year-old self knew it was a really big deal. And I loved it so much that I subsequently became addicted to Jurassic Park trading cards and even read the 399-page novel (still perhaps the longest novel I've ever read... small print, too).

As I recall, I saw it the night before the last day of 4th grade (I was turning 10 in the June of that summer, so it had to be 4th grade). Whether this was the opening night/weekend, I don't recall. But it had to have been very early in the film's run, cause it was still white-hot, with all the kids at school talking about it, but only a few having seen it. I remember feeling very cool for having seen it before school let out.

They may seem pretty standard now, but the effects at that time were groundbreaking. In fact, they're still better than a lot of the straight-up CGI crap you see now. I remember seeing lots of featurettes on the creation of the dinosaurs, but now I can't remember how they did it. The CGI revolution was of course just starting, with another giant leap the following year with Forrest Gump. But what was great is that I think the dinos were part real live model and part computer, which is what made them seem so real. Wow, it's obvious that I'm more actor than visual F/X guy, isn't it? Oh well.

But the acting was really good, too! Surprise! This was back in the day when the actual quality of a blockbuster-wannabe was directly proportional to its box office. This film actually had a good story (straining credibility at times, sure, but still good) and solid actors in all the key roles. Sam Neill made a good male lead, as he usually does, and had a great year between this and The Piano. And though it's on record that the role of Sam's love interest, Dr. Ellie Sattler, was originally offered to Juliette Binoche (can you imagine?), it ultimately went to the immensely capable Laura Dern. She may be oscar-nominated for Rambling Rose, critically lauded for Citizen Ruth, and frequently toyed with by David Lynch, but Jurassic Park will always be the film for which she's most widely known. The well-rounded supporting cast featured oscar-winning director Richard Attenborough, the always cool Jeff Goldblum, and two very charming kids, among others, and together, the ensemble was quite formidable.

And all those classic moments! This film was genuinely thrilling and terrifying, and chock full of scenes I'll never forget. Sure there was the occasional low-brow misstep, like when the lawyer is eaten while sitting on the toilet, but there's also the T-Rex-mauls-the-car sequence, the electric fence, the disembodied arm, and that final thrilling scene where the T-Rex saves everyone from the raptors. Brilliance. Why are there no more blockbusters like this? I guess there's the occasional Spider-Man 2, but those are few and far between. The closest we usually get to Jurassic Park now is this Night in the Museum shit, or (god forbid) Jurassic Park 4.

Can they PLEASE stop making all these sequels/ripoffs? Whoever's responsible is just spitting on the memory of one of the great populist entertainments of our time. And one of the highlights of my childhood.

In summation: Jurassic Park rules.


The Last King of Scotland now on DVD

One of last year's most notable films is out on DVD now and has been for about a month. It's worth checking out, for the film itself and for the generous special features within. There is commentary with director Kevin McDonald, as well as deleted scenes (also with commentary), a documentary, a featurette, and the trailer. This is not a film most would want to own and watch repeatedly (it's not the most pleasant viewing experience, however gripping it may be), but the DVD is definitely worth a rental, and perhaps a buy if you're a big fan of James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, or Gillian Anderson.

All four actors are great in their roles, despite Forest Whitaker's dominance in press and hype. One of the constant annoyances of last film season, for me, was the unending marginalization of James McAvoy's performance in this film. Outright snubbed in many awards shows, and nominated for supporting in others (which is even worse), the perf was never recognized in the way it deserved. And now of course McAvoy is not even shown on the DVD cover (right). How fitting. But McAvoy is the true lead in this film, and nearly (if not totally) Whitaker's equal in screen presence and performance quality. That said, Whitaker is magnificent in the role of a lifetime, and he nearly deserved his sweep of awards glory, Ryan Gosling and Hugh Jackman notwithstanding. And Gillian Anderson and especially Kerry Washington provide noteworthy, if not quite oscar-worthy, supporting turns.

Here's a link to my original review, where I praise McAvoy (and his sexiness) extensively. I also once stated in the old review that I thought it was one of the very best films of last year, and while I no longer agree with that assessment, I do think it's an effective thriller, boosted by two dynamite performances. I also like how it throws lots of race issues right in your faces and lets you work them out for yourself; it's a great conversation starter. Some of the images in the latter part of the film might be read as racially insensitive clichés, but the white characters (and whiteness in general) are criticized at every turn, and it's important to remember that the story is viewed subjectively through Garrigan's (McAvoy's) eyes, with the audience seeing events as he would. At its essence, it's not really a biopic, but a coming-of-age/loss-of-innocence story about Garrigan, and that's what I find most compelling.

In any case, check out the DVD. It's got a solid movie and solid special features, and is totally worth a look.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Heath Ledger?

I found two pictures where they basically look the same (think back to the inaugural "who's cuter" post, with Josh and Paul). Whose long, dark tresses do you prefer? Who's cuter, Heath or Joe?

If you still need help, here they both are shirtless:

I'm hoping to get as much participation this week as I got last week, but I'll take what I can get. I realize last week was a special case.

Also, for the record, this post was published at 5:17 on 5/17.

That's creepy.

Anyway, the cuter is...

(a week passes)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. By a wide margin. To be honest, I was not expecting this. I mean, hello, Brokeback Mountain. Plus, Heath is hot. But you guys really like you some JGL. To add insult to injury, Heath's only votes were from people who "didn't really like either of them." Ouch.

So here you go... hot pics of Joe:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Hey all,

Remember, there is only one more day left to vote on the most popular WHO'S HOTTER ever! It was neck and neck at first, but Hugh is pulling ahead. Make your voices heard, Bale fans!

Also, just a disclamor that I've not been blogging this week due to a combination of:

A) sickness

B) finals

C) my computer being down for a few days

D) my energies (what I have left of them) being devoted to pursuing a new crush whom I won't see anymore after I graduate. Sad.

So yeah, anyway. Maybe more tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

WHO'S HOTTER: Hugh Jackman or Christian Bale?

I'm reuniting the Prestige costars for yet another contest. They're pretty evenly matched in looks/charisma. If you hadn't formed a preference by the time The Prestige was over and still need additional help, feel free to ogle scrutinize the two pictures above.

Or if those two just don't do it for you and you need a third option, see immediately below. Haha.

And the hotter is...

(a week passes)

Hugh Jackman. Wolverine beats Batman. Not terribly surprised, though I was enjoying the neck-and-neck-ness going on for the first day or so. We had a real contest on our hands, thanks to Nathaniel's link. But in the end, Hugh pulled ahead and won 6-4.

I found it quite funny that one person voted for Bale but criticized his picture, while another voted for Hugh but noted the hotness of Bale's picture. Is it that divisive? I myself think it's hella-sexy (obviously). Hugh's pic above is more classic... hard not to love. But I'm not saying whom I prefer of the two... too close to call, and I like to preserve a little mystery...

Anyway, since you all love Hugh, here to the right is one of those sexy sword-and-towel pics from a few years back... oh, how I always loved those...

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

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Monday, May 07, 2007

OMG, it's brilliant: the CRUMB awards!

I've finally figured out what to call my personal awards!

If you're a film, actor, director, writer or craftsman, what do you hope to win the summer after the film year has ended, after the Globes, the Oscars, the Film Bitches, the Umas, and every other group of awards (real and imaginary) have been given out??? The CRUMBS, of course. 'Cause they're all that's left. The bronze, silver and golden crumbs.

It's in synch with my blog title, it reflects the insane lateness of my awardage, and it's appropriately self-deprecating. I love it.

I'm SO brilliant.


new "Box" widget in sidebar, and other things

Hey, all.

To whom it may concern, there is now a "Box" widget in my sidebar, where I've put up two songs (playable immediately) and one video file (available for download). One song is a cute little ditty by Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz (Cammy has no voice, but Ewan's is gorgeous), and the other is Rufus Wainwright's "Oh What A World" from his album Want One. The video is a short clip of me taking a bow after the final performance of Merchant of Venice with Alex Hellquist, the hot girl who plays my wife.

These are the prototypes/guinea pigs for my Box widget, but I'll add others in due time. Not sure what exactly I'll be using it for. Probably just random files I want to share... but perhaps in time I'll upload tracks of my own vocals if and when I record some (I sing, remember?), and/or some movies I make (yay, film school!). All in all, the Box is a pretty cool tool.

Oh, and I just went and refined and streamlined the entire screening log, now with days of the week, bullets for each film/play, and spaces between days, to allow the eye to breathe (yes, I do have a touch of the OCD).

And also, stay tuned for... wait for it...

...the RETURN of the STREEPATHON!!!

I'm about halfway through Out of Africa as I type (it's hard to get through in one sitting). I really really am gonna post something soon.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

I am obsessed with the Carpenters.

Ever since I saw Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, I've been obsessing on the Carpenters. Lately, though, the obsession has moved away from Todd Haynes' film and toward the actual people and actual footage of them, Karen Carpenter especially. I recently watched the old E! True Hollywood Story on Karen Carpenter (on YouTube, in 8 parts), and now I know a lot more about them.

Unfortunately, Haynes got a lot wrong in his film, in terms of the Carpenters' actual personalities and personal histories. The facts and events he emphasized didn't seem to accurately reflect the Carpenters' lives, and neither Richard nor Karen really comes off the way Haynes portrays them. This doesn't necessarily detract from the film, per se (I still think it's brilliant), but I can understand a little better now why Richard filed that "cease and desist" order. Superstar is not, and should not be seen as, a factual depiction of Karen Carpenter's life. She was not the ditsy barbie doll the film made her out to be (though many anorectics are). She was a mysterious, fascinating, troubled, lost young woman, tomboyish as a child and an icon of femininity as an adult. I highly recommend her E! True Hollywood Story to everyone. It, too, is not an objective portrayal by any means, but it at least features actual footage of Karen, her family, and her friends, and features a variety of perspectives on her life and work (there's a BBC doc on YouTube, too).

But even more highly do I recommend the Carpenters' music itself. Growing up, I knew them vaguely as a cheesy brother & sister act from the 70s, but had never actually sat and listened to their songs. Now that I have, I'm thoroughly smitten. These songs are GOLDEN. Richard's music and Karen's voice will live on forever in legend, as will Karen's legacy as a martyr to stardom in general, and anorexia nervosa in particular.

Here, for your enjoyment, are the original music videos of five of their best songs. First, the haunting gorgeousity of "Superstar." Next, the bittersweet ballad, "We've Only Just Begun." Then, the melancholy "Rainy Days and Mondays" and Karen's performance of "Ave Maria." And finally, the song that made them superstars, "Close to You."

I LOVE this music.

Rest in peace, Karen. You deserve it.

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