Friday, August 31, 2007

WHO'S HOTTER: Alan Cumming or James Marsden?

Who's the sexiest X-Man (aside from Wolverine, that is)? Here they are for your viewing pleasure, both in and out of costume. Now CHOOSE.

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WHO'S HOTTER: Aaron Eckhart or Harrison Ford?

Classic Indiana Jones vs. the guy who could've been the new Indiana Jones if Spielberg hadn't decided to keep the now VERY old Ford in the franchise. Harrison is indeed getting up there in years. But back in the day, he was mighty sexy. Aaron's mighty sexy now. But who was sexier in their prime? Eckhart or Ford?

Also, can I just share that one of my acting classmates once said, while commenting on a scene in which I portrayed Smirnov in Chekhov's The Bear, that I had an "Indiana Jones kinda quality"? That made my day.

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WHO'S CUTER: John Edwards or Anderson Cooper?

I'm mixing it up a little this week. For this match, you get two non-actor celebrities: former U.S. senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, and fabulous gay journalist Anderson Cooper. Yes, I DO know how most gay men feel about Anderson. But I myself have more of a thing for John. Which one gets a place in tourney? You decide.

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essential YouTube

Here are three clips I've found recently, on other blogs, through friends, etc. There's no through-line except that they're all really funny.

The first is a long but eventually HILARIOUS debate between Barack Obama and Alan Keyes from the 2004 Illinois Senate race. One thing that surprised me here is that the moderator actually gets tough with Obama about his ambivalent and illogical opposition to gay marriage, even pegging civil unions as "separate but equal." But that's not the real point here. The real value of this clip is just in the fact that Alan Keyes is BATSHIT CRAZY and just totally off the wall ALL the time. His inane rantings of jibberish, justapoxed with Obama's "whoa-I'm-embarrassed-for-you" reaction shots and blunt counterarguments, are priceless.

The second is a short-and-sweet clip of a totally dumb beauty pageant contestant trying to answer a difficult (and frankly inappropriate) question. When I saw this posted on two radically different blogs I read, I knew I had to post it myself. It's just horrendously funny in a disturbing kind of way. If you didn't laugh, you'd cry. Poor Miss South Carolina. No one should have to have said this on national television. How embarrassing. In her defense, she misunderstood and was overwhelmed and isn't really as dumb as she seemed right then... but still, yikes.

The last is an extremely random and ridiculous video called "Shoes" that seems pretty popular with my friends. I was just introduced to it, but apparently it's been around for a while (sorry if it's old news). There's not much to say about it, really. Just watch and laugh. And appreciate that this time, someone's being intentionally funny... instead of just being dumb.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And the winners are...

Gregory Peck (3-1)

Monty Clift (4-1)

Jimmy Stewart (4-0)

...and Cary Grant (2-2... a TIE, which means I cast the deciding vote)

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Monday, August 27, 2007

more Battlestar Galactica (no, I won't stop)

I just wanted to point out, to anyone who cares, that after having been over the first season a few times now (watching Galactica on my iPod at the gym is my new favorite thing), I've concluded that, at least during the first season, SEVERAL of the cast members were absolutely, without-a-doubt, 100% award-worthy, and were robbed.

Katee Sackhoff has found praise on this blog before, and I meant what I said. I think, pound for pound, she's probably the strongest actor on the show - just so spontaneous, alive, and fun to watch. In her big two-parter, Act of Contrition and You Can't Go Home Again, she really proves her worth, and her talent. If, after watching these, you can't appreciate all the range, presence, and sheer "va-va-VOOM" she puts into this character... then I can't help you.

Edward James Olmos, who gets first billing, is also choice. I didn't like him much at the beginning of the miniseries, when he comes off as not much more than a stern, one-note bore. But as the show progresses, you see why Olmos was perfect for the role of Commander Adama. For underneath his gruff, guarded exterior is a well of vulnerability, and a soft underbelly he only rarely shows. And it's immensely pleasurable to see it gradually revealed. It was during a tense, quiet moment with Katee Sackhoff in the aforementioned Act of Contrition when I first thought, "this man is a GREAT actor." He's confronting Starbuck about something in her past, seemingly cool as a cucumber, when suddenly, shockingly, as if from nowhere, vast streams of emotion flooded his face, and he was like a new man. That's called "revealing a character's soul."

Mary McDonnell, who gets second billing, is also quite strong in that "speaks quietly but carries a big stick" kind of way. Her feminine charms and presidential presence are always intermingled, creating an exciting and unexpected character. I hate to say it, but she does in fact outdo Geena Davis' Commander in Chief (easily), despite the latter's having the whole show handed to her week after week. Much of that is the writing, of course; Geena did fine with what was given to her. But Mary takes the role of President Roslin and really gives it life with her quiet power.

And finally, James Callis does wonders in the role of the slightly unhinged Dr. Gaius Baltar. I wonder if the role was written for a Brit, or if they just liked him? Cause I honestly can't see it any other way. What I love about Callis is that he provides a highly theatrical, comic counterpoint to the rest of the cast, who are pretty somber and naturalistic on the whole (give or take the constant highwire act that is Sackhoff's Starbuck). Plus, he's arguably the true lead of the show... especially the miniseries. Plus, all his scenes with Tricia Helfer are SMOKING hot.

Anyway, were I to campaign them for Emmy awards (a pointless exercise, given the show's genre and network, but stay with me), I think the most savvy (and appropriate) thing to do would be to put Olmos and McDonnell in the lead categories, and Sackhoff and Callis in support. Really, this is an ensemble show, so the distinctions are hard to make. Plus, a different person's the lead in every episode. But since these things are so fluid in episodic television, the only thing you can really do is go, "hmm, now in the grand scheme of things, which characters are the most important?" And in answering that question, you'd be hard-pressed not to go with Olmos and McDonnell as the leads... and possibly Callis, too, depending on where you are in the series and just how many leads the show can have. His character is in many ways the lynchpin of the ensemble, and almost certainly the most complex. But I think a supporting categorization is defensible. As for Sackhoff, she too has a huge role, and could arguably be a lead (in some episodes, she certainly is), but she's NOT the President or the Vice-President or a genius or the Commander of the fleet. She's just a really good pilot. And if she's a lead, then Jamie Bamber's really a lead, too, and that's just too many leads.

Speaking of Jamie Bamber, I go back and forth on his acting (he annoys me at times, but it kinda works for the character, so whatever), but what I do know about him is that he's REALLY HOT. Tricia Helfer also is REALLY HOT (like, even moreso). But I don't know if that equates to "great acting." In Helfer's case, maaaaaybe, but in Bamber's, definitely not. Not that he's bad - the whole ensemble's great - but when everyone's so great, it's hard to stand out, and he doesn't.

The only other two actors I think are arguably nomination-worthy are Aaron Douglas and Grace Park - Park in particular really steps up her game near the end of the season - but neither is so outstanding that I can cry "ROBBED!" they way I could with, say, Sackhoff. And if they're not THAT good, then it's not even worth debating in terms of actual awards, cause it just won't happen. Ever. Olmos, McDonnell, Sackhoff or Callis might - MIGHT - have a chance at scoring an emmy nod next year. But any of the others? Not gonna happen.


One more plea, for all those readers out there who don't know what I'm talking about 'cause they've never seen out the show: please PLEASE check it out. Just buy the miniseries and/or season one on amazon and/or iTunes, and give it a go. Within a couple hours, you'll be hooked, and mad that you didn't discover it years ago, back when it was first on. At least, that's what happened to me. I immediately cursed the gods of fate (and my own indifference) for the fact that I was late to the party.

You see, I just found out that Galactica is ending this year (sadly). So I'll barely have any time, once I'm caught up, to enjoy the show week to week. Damn. And if any of those actors (and of course the show itself) aren't nominated next year, then that's it. A great show will have been (mostyl) ignored for the entirety of its run, and Emmy will forever have to hide her head in shame. But at least they'll be going out on a high note, instead of being randomly cancelled like they almost were this year and last. That would've sucked. So good on them for having made it this far and had the good sense to end the show before it's killed.

So say we all.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

UM's "Required Cinema Screening List," and my reactions

As attentive readers know, I've recently started an M.F.A. program in film. What you guys don't know (yet) is that, as a requirement for my M.F.A. program, I'll have to take a "cinema literacy" test at the end of my two years.

I'd heard about this test, and the huge list of films it tests on, over the summer, but only yesterday did I get the actual list. It's been revised and expanded (emphasis on expanded) since last year, and now includes nearly 200 films. YIKES. That's a lot. But it's okay, because a lot of them are really good. Well, all of them are supposed to be really good, but a lot of them are things I already know and love, or in some cases, things I've been meaning to see forever.

The list includes all the usual suspects, those old films that all the straight, white, male critics of America typically revere. You know, the classics: Citizen Kane, 2001, Casablanca, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, etc.

It also includes many of those "essential" silent films that first established cinema as an art form: Grand Illusion, Un Chien Andalou, Battleship Potemkin, Metropolis, Birth of a Nation, Voyage to the Moon, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, etc. (The Passion of Joan of Arc was sadly excluded).

But what I found most interesting is which contemporary films made the cut. A mere FOUR films from the year 2000 or later managed to place. And they are:

Amores Perros (2000)
In the Mood for Love (2000)
City of God (2002)
Hero (2002)

Interesting that all four of them are foreign. I guess they figure we've all seen most of the notable American releases of the past few years. But couldn't they still have found room for, say:

Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Far From Heaven (2002)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

...and other similarly groundbreaking films of the past few years? I KNOW that not everyone in my program has seen them. But I have, so I guess it doesn't matter for me.

In fairness, there are several great films on the list that I didn't expect to find there, and others that I sort of expected to find but am nevertheless pleased to see. Some examples:

Thelma & Louise (1991)
YES. I really wasn't expecting this, so when I saw it, my heart swelled with joy.

Annie Hall (1977)
Always a good choice.

Breaking the Waves (1996)
Dancer was probably too controversial, but at least this one made it.

Singin' in the Rain (1952) and All That Jazz (1979)
The people who created the list don't seem to have much respect for musicals, but thankfully these classics made the cut.

Blue Velvet (1986)
Yay for David Lynch.

Imitation of Life (1959)
Almost every great contemporary film left out at least has a similar predecessor that made it. If they couldn't add Far From Heaven, I'm glad they added this.

The Graduate (1967)
Yay, Mike Nichols!

Do the Right Thing (1989)
There were other Spike Lee films as well, as I recall; they like him.

The Piano (1993)
Jane Campion's classic, given its due... and no Schindler's List in sight.

Who's Afraid of Roger Rabbit? (1988)
I think the only Zemeckis that made it; good choice.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)
I adore Gloria Swanson.

There were also some straight-up bizarre inclusions. For example: both All About My Mother (1999) and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) are there. The former is a given, and a great choice, but the latter? Obviously Volver is too recent for this list, but why not Law of Desire or Talk to Her instead? Or maybe they could've put only one Pedro film, and freed up space for a Haynes film? Weird. Devil in a Blue Dress (1999) also made it... to which I say, "huh?". Ditto Wallace and Gromit in the Wrong Trousers (1993).

Anyway, there are also lots of films I haven't even heard of that are there, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about. Maybe they're all good. But there are still some exclusions that are hard to fathom (no Wizard of Oz? no West Side Story? no Kaufman?).

I must say, the single best call, IMO, was Thelma & Louise. What a great choice. LOVE that movie.

Friday, August 24, 2007

WHO'S HOTTER: Gene Kelly or Gregory Peck?

More stars of yesteryear. I wasn't planning to include these two, but they've found their way to the tournament via write-in. Well, at least one of them has. Which one will it be? Singing, dancing Gene or serious Greg? Who's hotter?

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

WHO'S HOTTER: Montgomery Clift or Rock Hudson?

Now for the beautiful, tortured gays. This week's triple concludes with two of the most famous, high-profile closet cases in all Hollywood history. Both burned bright for a short time, and then were taken from their fans prematurely. Both were beautiful. Both are adored by several generations of gay men. Which one is more adored by YOU?

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WHO'S CUTER: Jimmy Stewart or Dick van Dyke?

More classic stars, this time of the "aww, shucks" variety. These two both found a place as the lovable "everyman," one on the big screen, and one on (mostly) the small. Yes, Dick van Dyke is just a TV star... which might make him less worthy in some people's eyes. But come on, just look at him. That is one fetching young lad. I think he deserves his place here as much as anyone. But will he make it past the initial round? Or will the similarly cute Jimmy Stewart trounce him? Let's find out.

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WHO'S HOTTER: Clark Gable or Cary Grant?

Aaaahhhh, the leading men of yesteryear. This week's theme is Old Hollywood, and who better personifies the Golden Age and classic cinema better than these two? Above, they're hard to tell apart, but for Gable's trademark moustache. But I know you can tell them apart... and prefer one over the other. Which one?

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And the winners are...

Eric Bana (6-4)

Orlando Bloom (4-2)

Colin Farrell (7-3)

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Friday, August 17, 2007

WHO'S HOTTER: Eric Bana or Viggo Mortensen?


They're hot and hunky. Masculine and muscular. Sensitive and sexy.

Which one does it for YOU? (you KNOW you like one of them)

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WHO'S CUTER: Christopher Atkins or Orlando Bloom?


Yeah, they're girly. But it doesn't mean they're not hot. Or does it?

Does one of these pretty goys strike your fancy? If so, which? (just so you all know, Chris Atkins is the naked blonde guy who frollicked around an island with Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon before fading into obscurity... I'm assuming we all know who Orlando Bloom is)

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WHO'S HOTTER: Colin Farrell or Joaquin Phoenix?


I dunno, they both just seem "dirty" to me... both sexually and hygiene-wise. They also both donned togas in Alexander and Gladiator, respectively. You gotta love togas. But who pulled it off better? Farrell or Phoenix? And which pulls off "dirty" better? The brooder or the wild man? In short, WHO'S HOTTER?

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The results are in...

...and it's a TIE! Click here for details.

And click here for the wrap-up on the massacre of Wilson by Newman (that one was never in doubt).

And just so y'all know, starting this week, there'll be multiple matches going on. This is now round one of a huge tournament in which you'll all decide who is the HOTTEST MAN EVER. Or at least, the hottest celebrity. 17* men have sealed their places in round two. These include gods Hugh Jackman, James Dean, Ryan Gosling, River Phoenix, Clive Owen, and Gael Garcia Bernal, among others. Some hotties we've yet see:

Eric Bana
Colin Farrell
Viggo Mortensen
Bruce Willis
Taye Diggs
Paul Rudd

...and many more. Stay tuned!

*Fred Savage, Luke Wilson, and P. T. Anderson have been removed from the round two lineup. Yes, they technically won matches, but no one was very enthusiastic about Luke or Fred, and as for Paul... well... his match was the very first one I ever did, and I was really just playing around at that point (as if the rest of this isn't just "playing around" ...hah). Anyway, I only have 32 spots (32>16>8>4>2>1), and I didn't think Anderson would make it very far. And I have a lot of hot men left to cram in...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just a reminder...

...that voting for Jake and Warren ends in just a few hours. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The women of Battlestar Galactica are...


One of the things I love most about this show (besides the epic themes, intimate struggles, stunning realism, gripping human drama, thoroughly absorbing atmosphere, great special effects, and pure addictiveness) is its abundance of strong female characters. As in the X-Men comics in their 80s prime (another of my obsessions, way back when), the coolest members of this troupe are the women.

While Commander Adama and Dr. Baltar are (IMO) the only REALLY cool, interesting, standout men on the show, there are tons of girls who I just can't get enough of. President Laura Roslin, Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, Sharon "Boomer" Valerii, and sexy cylon Number Six all do top-notch, obsession-worthy work. Katee Sackhoff, in particular, is quite the live wire. A dynamic and spontaneous performer in a role well-suited to her talents, Sackhoff is compulsively watchable, whether she's piloting raptors or harboring deep-seated guilt over the death of her lover (for all you heathens who don't watch, she plays Starbuck, the coolest fighter pilot this side of Han Solo). Mary McDonnell brings a grace and quiet intensity to President Roslin, making her at once soft and strong; her balancing act of strength and vulnerability is thrilling to watch. And in the realm of blonde bombshell cyborgs, Tricia Helfer puts Jeri Ryan to shame. Helfer is so effortlessly sexy and in control as the cylon siren Number Six that I often wish I were a straight guy (like most "Galactica" fans) and could appreciate her sensual glory on another level. Grace Park, as Boomer, is my least favorite of the female principals, but her season one arc is quite tricky and well played, and her character a thrilling enigma, so she's really worth a shout out, too... as are Cally, Dualla, and the rest of the supporting girls.

Here's to all the great women of sci-fi, with the Galactica girls at the top of the list. And where was Starbuck during Nathaniel's Action Heroine Blogathon??? Why was I not watching this show back then??? I hope someone else wrote her up. Because SHE ROCKS.


Monday, August 13, 2007

WARREN vs. JAKE: Make your voice heard!

This week's contest was a two-parter. One of the matches was a bloodbath (poor Patrick). But the other is still quite up in the air. In short: Warren is currently winning by one vote. And I'm not very happy about that. I spent forever finding someone capable of taking on Jake, and now I don't want Jake to lose! I really don't. But this contest isn't mine to decide.

Just so everyone knows (since I haven't really made this clear before), this WILL be a tournament. Round one involves fixed matchups between similar stars. So by the very nature of it, some of the hottest guys will be eliminated immediately (just to make it painful). But will JAKE be one of the unlucky ones who's eliminated in the first round? I hope not. That'd be tragic. I kind of expected him to go all the way.

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