Tuesday, July 31, 2007


That is all.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Alberto Iglesias is a really good composer.

I just realized after downloading the soundtracks of the last two Almodovar films on iTunes that I REALLY like Alberto Iglesias. Not just from time to time, but ALL the time. He's probably my third favorite contemporary composer, behind Desplat and Santaolalla (Clint Mansell is genius when he works with Aronofsky, but what does he do in between? got me)

And does anyone realize that Alberto's been oscar nomination worthy for the past three years in a row? And in one of those years, he was actually recognized.

2004: Bad Education
2005: The Constant Gardener (surprise oscar nod!)
2006: Volver

Now, clearly those statues belonged to Alexandre Desplat (Birth), Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback), and Clint Mansell (The Fountain), but Alberto deserved to be nominated all three years. His music is so lovely and lyrical. And I love how he can take his spicy Spanish sensibility and tailor it to totally different movies like The Constant Gardener, with the style still distinctly "him" but also perfectly suited to each film.

Now that he's been nominated for an oscar, I'd love to see him nommed again for an Almodovar film. I have to figure out just how long he's been collaborating with Pedro, but these last two scores have been brilliant.

Any relation to pop music sensation (and WHO'S CUTER winner) Enrique Iglesias? I doubt it (though that'd be cool).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

WHO'S HOTTER: Ben Affleck or Matt Damon?

It's all too revelant, yet too little asked.

Now remember, this is not about who's the better actor (I think we all know who that is); it's about who's cute, hot and sexy. And I think that one's a toss-up. Of course I prefer Damon as an actor - because he has, you know, talent - whereas Affleck's smarmy personality, too-prominent jaw bone, and lack of any acting range annoy me. BUT I'd be lying if I said I didn't wanna jump his bones a little bit. More, at least, than I wanna jump pug-faced Matt's. What do you guys think?

Just because I know Ben needs extra help for being a no-talent publicity whore (wow, I'm harsh), here are some more sexy pics of him:

And one more cute one of Matt, just for good measure:

And finally, for last week's results, click here.

And the hotter is...

(nine days pass)

Matt Damon. Though Ben has some fans among my readership, Matt still triumphed in the end. I was actually hoping for a tie on this one (still hasn't happened in this series), but alas, my initial instincts that Matt would win were correct. He does have a cool personality, lots of confidence, and a super cut body, so I see where you guys are coming from. I'm not his biggest fan, but I get his appeal. He's one of the good ones. In acting and in hotness, he is choice.

Matty's quite appealing in the picture to the left, looking like he's just come from the gym. I still haven't checked out any of the Bourne movies (maybe that's why I don't appreciate him fully?), but I'll make sure to see them soon. Sweaty action hero Matt sounds like a very good thing.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

godDAMNit, Lindsay...

...didn't you get my letter???

I'm a fan of Lindsay Lohan. I really am. I think she's a very good actress. Her one-two-three punch of The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls was very impressive. But I have officially given up hope. If she can't last ONE DAY out of rehab WITH AN ANKLE BRACELET ON without using BOTH ALCOHOL AND COCAINE, there is just no hope for her. And I say this with great sadness, because the girl should have been able to deal with this. But apparently all the money in the world can't buy you responsible parents or good common sense. It seems that all the future holds for her now is a juicy "True Hollywood Story."

My aunt is an alcoholic. It sucks. It's like there's two people: the sober one and the drinking one. And you only want to know one of them. But then at some point you realize it's NOT really two people; it's only one, and it always will be. It's a maddening disease, and I've given up trying to understand it. I've also given up being angry at those who have it. When you've been through enough of it, the only emotion you don't run out of is incredible sadness. The whole thing is just so very sad.

I'm being serious now. This girl could've been a beautiful, successful, respected actress and star. Instead, she's just an addict, and yes, a trainwreck. It hurts to think about it. In every article, interview, and public appearance I've seen of her, she's seemed to have exactly the personality of a desperate addict: charming and fun on the outside, intensely troubled underneath.

I just want to wish her the best in fighting this, if she's even still trying. And I want to tell all the haters, who call her a "whore," a "spoiled bitch," and even a "bad actress" (that last one's a flat-out lie) to get a life, and stop being petty. You don't know her, and you can't judge. The one thing that cannot be denied is that she's an ADDICT, and it's not pretty. So I hereby wean myself off of her. But I hold no ill will. She has a disease, and it's killing her. The least we all can do is not add insult to injury.

Brought to you by: Adam, in an unexpected surge of compassion.

Addendum: My aunt recently had a relapse in her own alcoholism, which I suppose is why I'm feeling so personally connected to this. I just wanted my readers to know how I feel, and that I still wish Lindsay the best, though my hopes are not high. God, I can't imagine having followed the whole River Phoenix thing when it was happening... that must've been brutal.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

WHO'S CUTER: Sibling Rivalry Edition

This week, I'm tripling the fun, and giving you not one, not two, but THREE pairs of celebrity brothers, for your amusement. Which in each of these three pairings is cuter?

THE WILSONS: Luke or Owen?

THE FIENNESES: Ralph or Joseph?

THE SAVAGES: Fred or Ben?

Vote once, vote well, discuss.

To see last week's winner, click here.

And the cuter brothers are...

(a week passes)

Luke, Ralph and Fred. None of the matches were close, really. But the only true winner in this round is Ralph Fiennes, who lots of people really REALLY love. The others all got less than enthusiastic endorsements. I don't really understand why Ralph is so much more loved than his brother (I love both Fienneses about equally), but there you go.

My relative lack of enthusiasm is probably due to my being too young to be into him at the time of Schindler's List and The English Patient (which won him most of his fans). He DID make a fabulous Voldemort, though. Mmm, villainy...

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

why I will always love Kate Winslet

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

I rest my case.


Conservative Eye for the Liberal Guy

Some of the humor is a little bit obvious, but I still found this pretty funny. Nowadays, you just have to laugh to keep from crying.


Friday, July 13, 2007

WHO'S HOTTER: George Clooney or Clive Owen?


Who's the hotter DILF? Ogle the pictures above, and vote in the comments.

For last week's results, and my tribute to the winner, click here.

And the hotter is...

(a week passes)

Clive Owen, by a landslide.

I tend to agree with you all that George is rather boring and shallow, and lacks real depth or edginess. One gets the feeling that without his beautiful hair and perfect features, he'd have nothing. Clive, on the other hand... yowza. Turn on that smooth voice and intimidating stare, and just about anyone's a goner. Love him.

Who else can't wait for Clive to steam it up in The Golden Age? Cate missed her last chance to get all hot and bothered with him in Closer (she was originally slated to play Anna, until she got pregnant), but I bet this one more than made up for it. Walter Raleigh... mmm...

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Streepathon Stop #9: The River Wild

"I'm gonna kill you. (pause) I'm gonna kill you, Wade." -Gail Hartman

Time: 1994 (21st film)

Role: Gail Hartman, badass whitewater rafter, wife and mother

Awards: GG (drama) and SAG award nominations

Fun Fact #1: Streep's performance in this film earned her golden globe and SAG nominations, but no corresponding oscar nod; this was one of the few high-profile snubs of her career (the only others were for The Hours and, to a lesser extent, The Manchurian Candidate).

Fun Fact #2: This film was not the first time Streep had worked with David Strathairn (who plays her husband); he'd previously played one of Karen Silkwood's co-workers in Silkwood.

Fun Fact #3: Carrie Fisher, who wrote Postcards from the Edge (Streep's last oscar nomination before The River Wild), served as an uncredited script doctor on River.

Fun Fact #4: One day during filming, director Curtis Hanson encouraged Streep to film an additional scene at the end of the day despite her fatigue, and she reluctantly agreed, despite her reservations. Then, she nearly drowned after being thrown from her raft. After she was rescued from the water, she reportedly told Hanson: "In the future, when I say I can't do something, I think we should believe me" (Hanson agreed).

Peep show poster? One of the film's Asian posters catches Streep skinny dipping, and an a voyeuristic Kevin Bacon watching from afar. Hmmm...

Film Review: This was an enjoyable flick, nothing too special, but lots of fun, thanks to impressive performances by Streep, Strathairn and Bacon (golden globe nominated), pretty scenery, and thrilling rafting sequences. The film starts off rather slow (before the rafting starts), but it picks up before too long. That I started watching it at 1am this morning and didn't feel the need to turn it off and go to sleep 'til it was done is testament to the film's watchability.

The story concerns 40ish wife, mother, and history teacher Gail Hartman (a rather weathered-looking Streep, who seemed no younger then than she does now, 13 years later) who takes her family on a whitewater rafting trip in an area where she used to be a guide. Gail is just a mild-mannered history teacher by day, but by weekend, she's a badass whitewater rafter. Her husband Tom (David Strathairn) is mild-mannered ALL the time; he's a workaholic architect who doesn't share her passion for the outdoors. Gail and Tom are estranged when the story begins - he works all the time, she feels neglected - but after Tom decides at the last minute to join Gail and their son, Roarke (Joseph Mazzello, of Jurassic Park fame) on a getaway for the weekend, the couple end up rebonding in a fight for their lives.

Said fight ensues when sketchy drifter Wade (Kevin Bacon, quite charismatic and scary) and his sidekick Terry (John C. Reilly) attach themselves to the family and demand that Gail get them down the river via a dangerous spread of rapids called "The Gauntlet"; they've just robbed somewhere nearby, and need to get away by a non-traditional route. Bacon's performance as the dangerous and psychopathic but initially likeable Wade is all kinds of fun; Wade first grows close to the family through his attention to young Roarke, but there's an implied attraction between him and Gail as well (at least before he reveals himself as a psycho). Reilly is also effective in his dopey sidekick role, but Bacon really steals the show as the villain you love to hate (and love to picture naked even more).

The film seems less impressive after the fact than it does while you're watching. It employs the standard thriller tropes, sometimes effectively, sometimes less so. And there's one rather large plot hole of which I became aware via the IMDB boards. The film sometimes rides the edge of kitch with its made-to-order thriller music, borderline-cartoonish villains, and even a family dog who narrowly escapes being shot by Wade and then returns later to help save the day. But it's really very entertaining nonetheless. I had a great time with this one, as would any fan of Streep, Bacon or rafting. Plus, Meryl Streep gets to hit people with ores. You can't beat that (really, you can't... it's AWESOME).

Streep Review: Oh, Meryl, how I love thee. It's the early 90s, you've conquered the world of drama, perfected every accent imaginable, played characters from Denmark, Africa, Australia, England, Poland, and middle America. You've even made successful forays into comedy. But you think oscar may have gotten his fill of you, since you haven't been nominated in (gasp!) four years. So what do you? You go, "f**k it, I wanna be in an ACTION movie!"

OK, well maybe she never actually said THAT, but I still love that Meryl decided to dive head-first into the action/suspense/thriller genre. Seeing badass Gail Hartman brave the rapids, beat down her foes with ores, and then cuddle with her young son reminded me of Meryl's old classmate Sigourney Weaver and her fierce maternal love in Aliens (which I just bought on amazon, btw... it was on sale). In fact, someone like Sigourney would seem a more obvious choice for this role (tough-and-fierce-but-always-loving mother), but it was great fun to see Meryl try her hand at it. Her trademark vulnerability and silliness added unexpected layers to the often tough-as-nails Gail.

This isn't one of her very best performances - that is to say, it's not a Sophie's Choice, Silkwood or Angels in America - but it fits right in with her great ouvre of dramatic work. Plus, she gets to hit people with ores. Did I say that already? It bears repeating. Gail Hartman is SUCH a badass. Actually, one could argue that Meryl's persona, even as chameleonic as it is, was not quite suited to such an action-based role. But it was an admirable stretch, and I think she pulled it off. I don't know 1994's slate well enough to say whether she deserved the oscar nod she was denied, but I certainly wouldn't have minded if she'd made it. In any case, she would return to the oscars in a big way the following year with...

Next in the marathon: The Bridges of Madison County

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Random reviews of my family's Blockbuster rentals (i.e. stuff I'd never have sought out myself)

The Last Kiss: Okay. You know when you just can't articulate why you disliked something? And you feel like maybe you have no rational reason for disliking it, but it just bothers you nonetheless? That's how I felt with this one. I know I'm predisposed to hating anything Paul Haggis does, after the debacle of... well, you know. Don't get me started. But anyway, I'm trying to stand back and be objective, and give it the benefit of the doubt. But I just can't seem to shake the feeling of dirtiness.

This film is basically about men doing monumentally stupid things, and women then behaving like psychobitches when they find out. So, yeah. Maybe that's enough reason to dislike it. Too much ridiculous melodrama and less than believable circumstances. The actors do pretty well with what they're given, though I kind of hate Casey Affleck in this, and Zach Braff, while admittedly cute and charming in this way, really annoyed me. It's kind of the same situation as in Garden State, where I can relate to the people and situations on display, but still don't feel like they're doing any work to reach people who don't share their little self-involved post-Gen-X worldview. Whatever. Moving on. Jacinda Barrett as Zach Braff's pregnant wife reminds me of Bryn, my actress from Proof, oddly enough, so I guess that's good, though she's unfortunately saddled with a lot of the more inane over-the-top moments, so I couldn't help but be annoyed with her by the end, too. What's her name from the OC is cute and effective as Zach Braff's temptress. Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner are certainly interesting. The acting on the whole is quite redeeming.

But still, I just kept thinking... why? Why should I care? Why can't these people just make better decisions, and stop behaving like children? And why does Paul Haggis things shoving "important issues" and "high drama" in our faces is good storytelling, regardless of the plausibility of anyone's actions? And why do so many others seem to agree with him that this is good writing (hence his annual oscar nominations/wins)? I just don't get it. I don't even want to talk about this film anymore, cause it's films like this one that make criticism seem irrelevant and make want to just say "MOVING ON..."

Verdit: "I found it annoying, but whatever, see it if you want."

So yes, MOVING ON to The Break-Up. Another one I didn't particularly like, but I didn't particularly dislike this one either. Aniston is appealing enough in yet another Rachel retread. Vaughn isn't my own personal cup of tea, but I can't really fault him either (I just think he's boring and kind of gross... decent enough actor, though). I don't think this film was as bad as the reviews suggested (maybe the critics were still reeling from Gigli), but I can't really say I liked it either. I hate that. I hate when I didn't like a film but can't exactly point out its flaws. But alas.

Basically, I didn't find the whole first part of the movie funny, and was kind of ready for it to be over, and then just when the film got sort of serious and I was starting to care about the characters, it just fizzled away into a cop-out ending, and I ended up not caring again. Feh. Again, I didn't dislike it. I was just not enthused. I wish Aniston and Vaughn the best in whatever stage their real-life relationship is in now (I haven't followed it much), but I'd rather not see it up onscreen again. Once was more than enough. As much as a can respect this film on a basic level, there are far better contemporary examples of this kind of "relationship dramedy" genre. This film falls far below the uneven-but-often-hilarious fun of a Knocked Up, let alone the transcendence of an Eternal Sunshine. So is it really worth my time? I don't think so.

Verdict: "Not bad, but not exactly worth your time either. See it if you like Aniston or Vaughn."

Blah. It was a waste of time to write these. I felt the need to work out my thoughts in writing, but I seem to have failed. Has anyone else seen these? What did you think?


Monday, July 09, 2007

Four days left for Gael and Antonio

If you haven't voted yet, please do (the contest is here). Turns out my initial worries that Gale outsexified Antonio were for naught: Zorro is gaining on Zahara. But it's not over yet.

Also, I will probably make this some kind of tournament, but before I can do any kind of second round, I have to go through all the initial matchups I have in my head (these are NOT random, they are theme-based). And I always have these things planned out several weeks in advance. Still many more men to come. So maybe I'll make the feature more frequent to expedite things? I dunno. I have to think it out, but I've been busy. If anybody has a particular favorite hot celebrity who's not appeared yet, let me know.

And yay for all the good response to my Thelma post and the latest Streepathon entries. It's been nice to get back to some stuff with substance (not that posting pictures of hot guys isn't fun, but you know). There will be more Streepathon and Atmanathon in the near future.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Geena Davis as Thema Dickinson in Thelma & Louise

Yes, I said Geena, not Susan.

Thelma & Louise, which I first saw about 4 years ago at age 20, has etched itself into my soul as possibly my favorite film of all time. Because I first encountered it at a period in my life when I totally identified with - and needed - this kind of story, it's become an integral part of my psyche. I first watched it in Buffalo while visiting my Aunt Jill, who insisted we rent it on a trip to Blockbuster (back when Blockbuster was the thing). And I knew the very first time I saw it that this film was something special, and that I LOVED it, though I'd only grow to love it more over time. There was a phase after I finally bought the DVD when I'd watch it about once a week, for what seemed like months. For a while, Thelma & Louise were my best friends.

And I always identified more with Thelma. Most people cite Louise as their favorite (and Sarandon's perf as the more impressive), but I've always had a soft spot for Thelma. She's the one who changed most throughout the film, the one who gets the big love scene and the big laughs, the one who robs the convenience store, the one who holds the cop at gunpoint, the one who first suggests that they "keep going" at the end. She starts off as the ditzy, naive sidekick to Sarandon's more savvy Louise, but ends up calling the shots once things really get rolling.

Who can forget the moment when Thelma first reveals that she's brought a gun on the road trip, citing "bears and snakes" as her reasons? Or when she's listening to her headphones at the pool when Louise calls for her to get out into the car? Or when she walks out into the diner with her frizzy hair? Or when she suddenly finds the balls to pull off an armed robbery, and then later to hold a police officer at gunpoint? When he pleads with her and tells her of his wife and kids, and she responds: "Yeah? You be sweet to 'em. My husband wasn't sweet to me, and look how I turned out."

Don't worry, Thelma. I think you turned out just fine.

It was incredibly liberating and empowering for me to see Thelma find herself and her strength. I don't think any single performance has moved me more. Geena's done some great work over the years, but I don't think anything's ever topped (or will ever top) Thelma Dickinson. It's the definitive Geena Davis performance, and one of the all-time great performances, period.

"Somethin's... crossed over in me. I can't go back. I mean... I just couldn't live."

I, like Louise, know what she means. And I just couldn't live without Thelma.

(for more "Performance That Changed My Life" Blogathon, click here)

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Random Realization of the Day:
Charles Durning played Les in Tootsie!
(and Christine Ebersole played some random woman)

So I was watching Tootsie today (again) and looking at its IMDB page. And I just realized that the actor who played Julie Nichols' father, Les, who I always thought was Brian Dennehy, is actually Charles Durning! Like, whoa! I don't know why I always assumed it was Brian Dennehy (other than that it kinda looked like him), but I always, ALWAYS did. Even though I knew Charles Durning was in Tootsie. I guess I thought he played John Van Horn or someone. Weird.

Also, this is random, but Tony winner Christine Ebersole (of Grey Gardens fame) is also in Tootsie, but only has a tiny part in the beginning (the part I usually skip). I just thought it was funny, because it's still listed on her resumé in the Grey Gardens playbill, even though she was barely in it.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Streepathon Stop #8: Death Becomes Her

"Wrinked, wrinked little star... hope they never see the scars."
-Madeline Ashton

Time: 1992 (19th film)

Role: Madeline Ashton, endlessly vain and endlessly "undead" actress

Awards: GG (comedy) and Saturn Award nominations

Fun Fact #1: Meryl once said in an interview that she'd originally assumed Goldie Hawn's role was meant for her, not the singing, dancing, vampy part of Madeleine.

Fun Fact #2: Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn were looking for a movie to do together in the early '90s, and at once point were interested in Thelma & Louise, but ultimately chose Death Becomes Her instead. Thelma & Louise, of course, was eventually cast with Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon.

Fun Fact #3: For the scene where Meryl takes Lisle's anti-aging potion and her breasts are lifted and firmed, the filmmakers had originally intended to use a pneumatic bra. But when the effect didn't look realistic enough, they scrapped the bra idea and instead had Meryl's dresser actually stand behind her out of view and pull her breasts into position.

Choice Clips: Here's Meryl Streep's "Me" song, sung and danced over the opening credits. Most of you've probably seen it already, but it's worth seeing again. Meryl's sounding a lot like Barbra Streisand in this clip. And can you recognize Bruce Willis in his reaction shot? I couldn't for a long time. Goldie's also hard to spot, looking very Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich. Creepy:

And here's Meryl experiencing the anti-aging effects of Lisle's potion:

And now here are Meryl and Goldie, in their cat fight extraordinaire:

Film Review: Such fun! I'd previously heard this film described as "comic gold" and that's totally true. Like Streep's recent Devil Wears Prada, this is a terrific comedy with everyone firing on all cylinders. The writing, acting, directing, music, and design are all doing their part. The comedy is highly stylized but always rooted in truth, the characterizations are broad but specific, the visual style is striking and elegant, the music is tense and moody, the flashy surface deepened by serious themes. Everything just clicks. It's great entertainment.

One thing that struck me about Death Becomes Her is how much it has in common with She-Devil, despite being superior in every way. They've got the same basic setup: Two women - one frumpy, one fabulous - fight over a man. The fabulous one is still played by Meryl Streep. She's still rich and famous, still beautiful and shallow, still makes references to "paying extra" for special favors, still breaks up a relationship and marries the guy.

But this time instead of the lazy Roseanne and annoying Ed Begley Jr., Streep gets to share the screen with a dowdy Goldie Hawn and a near-unrecognizable Bruce Willis, as well as an unnaturally young Isabella Rossellini. LOVE the switch. And unlike in She-Devil, where Streep outshined everyone else by far, the whole cast of this film is ace. I guess I'd still say Streep was best-in-show if forced to choose, but everyone else is totally on her level; this is a knockout ensemble. Their material is deliciously dark and satirical, and they mine it for all it's worth. Lots of fun.

The story concerns two friends and girlhoold rivals, actress Madeline Ashton and writer Helen Sharp. Madeline (Streep) impresses Helen's fiancé, Dr. Ernest Menville (Willis) with her beauty and talent, and takes a liking to him due to his being a plastic surgeon. Ernest soon marries Madeline, leaving Helen (Hawn) bitter and alone. Eventually, however, the love falls out of Ernest and Madeline's marriage, and Helen returns determined to win back her man. And before long, both women have drunk from a magic potion given to them by the mysterious, erotic Lisle (Rossellini), a youth serum that causes them to live forever. But things get a bit sticky when they die.

This is a wonderful dark comedy and satire of our culture's obsession with youth. It doesn't have the best reputation, but I highly recommend it. I love that it's an oscar winner, if only for its visual effects. They, like the rest of the film, were quite impressive.

Streep Review: Meryl's much better here than in She-Devil (and she was good in She-Devil, too). This characterization is much more clear and crisp, seeming more like a real person and less like a broad "type." Much of that is the script's fault, but Meryl knows exactly what to do with good words. Plus, to borrow a certain chic oscar campaign phrase: "She sings, she dances, she dies!" (sort of) In short, this performance is a LOT of fun.

What I love, though, is that Meryl doesn't really stand out; everyone is great in this film. Goldie matches Meryl blow for blow, and Bruce Willis is surprisingly great. And Isabella Rossellini is PERFECT as the immortal Lisle, hella-sexy and a total riot. You know a cast is great when they can all keep up with Meryl. Totally awesome.

But that doesn't take away from Meryl's individual achievement. This is one of her best comedic performances; in it's own zany, ensemble-serving way, I'd say it's up there with her oscar-nominated turns in Postcards, Adaptation, and Prada. It's great to see Meryl embrace her inner ice queen. Especially when her body is literally icy (due to death). Don't miss this one. Go out and rent it now. You're in for a treat.

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Streepathon Stop #7: She-Devil

"My books reflect my own experience of lovemaking as sacred and beautiful, something to be shared and treasured." -Mary Fisher

Time: 1989 (16th film)

Role: Mary Fisher, rich, beautiful and sexy romance novelist

Awards: GG (comedy) nomination

Fun Fact #1: This was Meryl's first attempt broad comedy (at least on film), to be followed later by Death Becomes Her (1992) and Prime (2005), among others. It is still generally considered her most low-brow effort to date.

Fun Fact #2: The name of Streep's character in She-Devil (Mary Fisher) is strikingly similar to the name of the writer of her follow-up film (Carrie Fisher, on whom Streep's Postcards character is loosely based).

Fun Fact #3: The book on which She-Devil is based has a very different and far more disturbing ending. In it, Mary Fisher dies of cancer, and her rival Ruth Patchett (played in the film by Roseanne Barr) has extensive plastic surgery in order to make herself look like Mary, including having having her leg bones surgically shortened via chopping.

The Trailer: It's a hoot. Have a look:

Film Review: This one falls squarely in the "guilty pleasure" column. I wouldn't say it's a very good film, per se. It's definitely the least impressive in the Streepathon so far, in terms of sheer quality. But I can't say I didn't enjoy it. And for Meryl Streep completists, it's a must. In She-Devil, she vamps it up like never before as a beautiful, famous romance novelist with a pet poodle and a house that's entirely pink (you can tell she was really trying to subvert her "prestige" dramatic queen image).

But despite how it seems, Meryl's Mary Fisher is not the She-Devil of the title. The film's titular character (and protagonist) is Roseanne Barr's dowdy, fat Ruth Patchett, the woman whose husband Mary steals at the beginning of the film. Ruth's titular status is confirmed when her husband (played by Ed Begley Jr.) gets fed up and tells her: "You're a SHE-DEVIL!". The rest of the story mostly revolves around Ruth's antics in exacting revenge on him and Mary.

Unfortunately, the film incorporates a lot of lazy voiceover by Barr (made even worse by her lazy acting) and generally gives off whiffs of mediocrity. It's also rather hard to believe that Ed Begley Jr. would be married to Roseanne Barr, and also that Meryl Streep would be attracted to Ed Begley Jr. (he differences in relative attractiveness are striking). Plus, the film somehow manages to feel long at just over 90 minutes. So that's not good.

But if you like bitchy catfights, this film's for you. And Streep as a catfighting bitch is quite the spectacle. Add in some kitchy music, Mary's Latin manservant "Garcia," and enjoyable supporting performances by Linda Hunt, Mary Louise Fisher and others, and you've got yourself a film that's lots of fun, if a bit pedestrian. I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, but it is worth seeing for the "kitchy and bitchy" factor. I prefer to think of it not as a blot on Meryl's resumé, but rather as a fun diversion from all her prestigious, "serious" films.

Streep Review: Hee. It is great fun to watch Meryl strut around in pink, stealing men. There were times, however, when I found her a bit "over the top." It's obvious that she was working hard to play against type (her "type" being subtle, graceful performances of lovable characters). Still, I can't really fault her for going all-out in her big chance to be silly. And her comic timing is impeccable, as always, whether she's having loud sex or spouting a one-liner.

It's interesting, actually, that Meryl went over the top here, since Roseanne is decidedly "under" the top. And by that, I don't mean to say that she exercises restraint; it's more that she just resorts to her trademark style of "be your wry, bitchy self while reciting lines." Pretty lazy acting. I do love Roseanne on Roseanne, but she can't just be "Roseanne" in everything she does and call it good acting. Maybe Meryl knew Roseanne was phoning it in, and wanted to overact to balance it out?

In any case, I'd rank this awkward entry into comedy below Streep's later comedic high points in Postcards from the Edge, Death Becomes Her, Adaptation, Prime and most recently, The Devil Wears Prada. But her Mary Fisher is still very funny, and there's a certain pleasure in seeing Streep in the part that wouldn't have been there with, say, Kristin Chenoweth or Scarlett Johannson or any typical "blonde bombshell" in the role. Casting against type yields nice rewards, and Meryl's the best thing about the film.

Next in the marathon: Death Becomes Her

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Antonio Banderas or Gael Garcia Bernal?

Latin boys, continued. Ricky vs. Enrique may not have been a tough call, but I hope this pairing is better (crosses fingers). This time, it's Almodovar muses of past and present: Antonio Banderas and Gael Garcia Bernal.

Now, I know what you must be thinking: "WHAT? Sure, Gael's young and hot, but Antonio's just a dirty old man." But don't think about it that way. You know the rules of this game. You should compare the currently young and hot Bernal with the once young and hot Banderas (erase the part where he got old and married Melanie Griffith). And then this becomes a little harder. Also, remember that Bernal is 5'6'' short, whereas Banderas is a normal-sized man (movie magic tends to make this less obviouos). Not that Bernal isn't hot (he very much is), but Banderas is no slouch either.

Now, I'm not in the business of posting nude pics (my little sister reads this blog), but anyone without parental controls can do their own homework on this subject. You don't need me for everything; seek out more info yourself if you're so inclined. And then come back and vote: Bernal or Banderas? Who's hotter?

And the hotter is...

(eight days pass)

Gael Garcia Bernal. No surprise here. But at least the results weren't embarrassing; the final tally was 6-3. Not a bad showing for Antonio, who had his work cut out for him in a match against one of the most stunningly beautiful, sexy, and talented actors EVER. Rare is the actor that can overcome the foreign language barrier to become famous around the globe. Even rarer, perhaps, is one who can become a huge sex symbol at a mere 5'6''. But this guy had the stuff to do both. He's a dynamo.

It's hard to overestimate my love for this man. He has that perfect mix of beauty, charisma, mystery, versatility, and potent-as-hell screen presence that together create that special "star" quality. Some have expressed doubts about Gael's ability to find good older adult roles; given his smaller stature and "young heartthrob" appeal, he seems naturally better suited to younger, romantic characters. But I don't think he'll be going away any time soon. Dustin Hoffman was basically Gael with less sex appeal, and look how his career has shaped up. Hoffman was not even famous yet at Gael's age. Though he's been in the international spotlight for over 5 years, Gael Garcia Bernal is still only 28 years old. And it seems the sky's the limit for his career.

"I believe fervently in nature, in truth and imagination. I believe in the blood, in life, words, and motivations." -Gael Garcia Bernal

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Great Bird of Fire

As I'm sure you all know, last week's hotness crown did indeed go to River Phoenix. Johnny made it close, but in the end, River still emerged victorious. I do love Depp, but I'm glad he lost to the great martyred body of water whose spirit rose from the ashes in the form of his brother Leaf... or something. Seriously, though, I really REALLY love River Phoenix. And I thought he deserved an additional follow-up post with kind words.

This contest got me back into a big River phase, during which I actually bought My Own Private Idaho and a book called In Search of River Phoenix: The Truth Behind The Myth, by William Richert (they were impulse buys, but I think they were wise ones). And I've started to feel bad objectifying River in the way these contests do. I feel like I'm exploiting River's image for personal enjoyment, and that makes me feel bad, since he was known to be averse to the "cult of the image". But it's only because I love him deeply, and because his image always communicated so much. Just look at his eyes. I can't think of another actor with more presence and spirit right there in plain view. Plus, he's just so damn beautiful. Just utterly, undeniably gorgeous. Like an angel.

River was revered for the tremendous innocence he projected onscreen, and I think it was actually that innocence, and (I'd argue) a certain naivité, that did him in. Almost painfully straight-laced before the Young Hollywood got to him, he apparently didn't see the real dangers in the things he'd once sworn he wouldn't do. It seems the cleaner they are, the harder they fall, at least in this case. And River was just not prepared for what life had in store for him. It's easy to blame his own carelessness and stupidity for what happened, but I just can't. I can't let myself believe such a lovely person could've brought that on himself. I have to find some other way to make sense of such a horrible tragedy. I prefer to believe it was the world that did it to him... that we just didn't deserve to keep him for any longer, and he suffered for it. Only the good die young.

I guess I have nothing more to say now, so I direct fellow fans to the very interesting sites Rio's Attic and The River Phoenix Pages. I'll also report back on how good this Behind the Myth book is. Who knows, I could be all wrong... but I want to know as much about him as I can. There really is a "myth" of River Phoenix that transcends both himself and his celebrity. Not since his fellow fallen star James Dean has an actor been made into so much more from being taken so early. RIP, River Phoenix. You'll always be dearly missed.