Thursday, October 30, 2008

honestly, my favoritest thing ever

"Not all of our costumes are sexy! Check these out."

Sexy Mustard. Sexy Palace Guard. Sexy Jesus. Sexy Wolverine. Sexy Abe Lincoln. ("Wouldn't you like to four score with me?") Sexy Pope. Sexy Lobster. Sexy Mental Patient. Sexy 1900s Steel Conglomerate Tycoon. Sexy Sexy! And Frog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

film news: late october 2008

hello, my name is inigo montoya
by artist Rakka

From The Movie Blog, Spartacus is coming to television. Anyone who's ever eaten at a restaurant with me knows that Spartacus is my code name because I'm always hoping that somewhere there is a man who will stand up at the announcement "Spartacus, part of two" and shout "NO! I AM SPARTACUS!" Apparently, this show, which is being developed by Starz, will not come from the page of Kubrick, who directed the 1960 film Spartacus. But that works in the show's favor because it could not keep a multi-season story working within that framework. I'd be really interested to watch this show -- simply because Spartacus is the ultimate underdog and I will always root for him.

In the bizarro world of Tim Burton, Alan Rickman will be playing the Caterpillar in the upcoming Alice in Wonderland. I really can't picture this... which means I will be there opening weekend to see this.

Yet another Nicholas Sparks novel is being adapted for film. This time, it's Dear John. Let's see... it's about a soldier who falls in love with someone and then re-enlists after the 9/11 attacks. I don't even need to read the book, watch the movie, or heck, watch the trailer to know that someone dies -- most likely by self-sacrifice and for the good of the country. My friend was an extra on this film for a week, and he says that Channing Tatum, who plays the soldier, has done a good job... but I don't know if I can shake his Step Up persona. Regardless, I won't be seeing this movie.

Here's the trailer for Lord of the Rings and the Half-Blood Prince. Oh, wait, I'm sorry. This is the next Harry Potter installment. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Film School Rejects lists the 10 Hottest Sex Scenes on Film. The best part of the list is the commentaries. Who knew there were so many adjectives to use when describing sex? The commentaries are porn in their own right.
10. Damages
Jeremy Irons lusts after Juliette Binoche and shows it by fucking her on every hard surface in his house. And make no mistake, the duo is not making love, they’re fucking. One scene starts on his desk before moving to a stand-up position against his counter top and, eventually, the floor. Binoche is on her back with her feet up around Irons’ neck, her thigh-high stockings rubbing against his face as he thrusts into her French patisserie, gently knocking her head against the floor each time. Her moans begin to match the impacts until finally they both stop happily and simultaneously… and then they move to the bed.

Film School Rejects also creates a list of 7 Rejected High School Musical Plotlines. It's hard to decide which one is my favorite, but it may very well be High School Nudical, solely for the musical number:
In an effort to widen their audience, High School Nudical begins with drama teacher Ms. Darbus’s retirement from the school system and a much-needed vacation to the Caribbean. However, her replacement is a young, Danish teacher (played by Charlize Theron) who corrupts the now-full drama club by forcing them to do a reprisal of Hair, complete with full frontal nudity. After seeing what Troy is packing, Sharpay finally loses interest in him, but sparks still fly when Kelsi comes out of the Disney closet and tries to pry Gabriella away from Troy. Meanwhile, Chad has become a full-fledged hippie, coming under the influence of the classic free-love musical. Eschewing the tenants of capitalism, Chad slowly builds an underground network, creates a commune and firebombs the school during, “Hoony-Boony-Lacka-Wacka-Die-Capitalist-Pig-Dogs (The Clap Hands Song)”. The crew is split by political association, but after the national guard is called in to quell the uprising, and most of the minor characters are killed, Troy, Gabriella, Chad and Sharpay mourn their brethren and celebrate their enduring friendship with some of Zeke’s Freedom Cupcakes as dawn breaks on a new morning.
And lastly, studios are apparently looking to remake Hitchcock's The Birds, which is just mind-boggling. Isn't this movie so great because it's ridiculously campy and absurd and filled with horrible special effects... and yet you still freak out by flocks of birds? How can they "update" or "reimagine" this movie without destroying the silliness of the original? Is Hollywood so unoriginal that they can't even make remakes of movies worth remaking -- like, say, Audrey Hepburn's Wait Until Dark?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"they should be called the featles"

I'm still crazy busy with grading midterms and writing papers... so instead of a Chuck review (which might come later in the week), I bring some delightful Lego art (which sounds redundant, doesn't it -- isn't all Lego art delightful?). The images below are obviously recreations of Beatles album covers, but there are other covers -- like Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA and Nirvana's classic Nevermind -- that you can see here.

A Hard Day's Night

Please Please Me

Let It Be

Abbey Road

Monday, October 27, 2008

homer simpson on madison avenue

It was bound to happen, and yes, The Simpsons have pulled through with an opening credits parody of the Emmy-winning Mad Men. The season finale was AMAZING last night -- Pete and Peggy broke my heart -- and I really don't know how the show was able to top Season 1. I will eventually get around to posting commentaries on Season 2... just as soon as my parents watch the season. (I don't want to spoil things for them, despite my love for spoilers.) But here, below, are the screencaps from The Simpsons.

top 30 moments of 30 Rock

Is this list of Paste Magazine's Top 30 Moments of 30 Rock premature? Perhaps -- but when a show is cranking out as many jokes as this show, I'm surprised there's not a list of 30 Moments for every episode. The list is great and includes some of my favorite moments (denoted by ***). I've posted some stand-outs below. One question, though: why the omission of Kenneth's line, "Son of a married couple!"?

28. You're going down, Jack
Jack's gay rival Devon Banks (played by Will Arnett) has long-devised to supplant Jack on the road to becoming CEO of the company, inspiring some witty insults between the two. Case in point: "You're going down, Jack." "No, Devon. I don't do that." Two claps for gay subtext. (Season 1, "Fireworks")

25. Do the worm! Do the worm!***
Liz gets upset at Josh after he uses an offer from The Daily Show as leverage in his contract renegotiation. Being the cool, level-headed boss that she is, she makes him do the worm, an act so degrading it must have originated in Nazi Germany. (Season 1, "Hard Ball")

23. Tuxedo man***
Jack is a classy guy. So classy, he waltzes around in tuxes after work. "Why are you wearing a tux?" Liz asks. "Lemon, it's after six. What am I, a farmer?" (Season 1, "Tracy Does Conan")

20. You must know Arsenio Billingham
Tracy needs $100,000, and Jack explains how a certain washed-up celebrity friend of his was able to make some quick cash. It leads to this brilliantly silly exchange:
Jack: Look, Tracy, I can't just give you money. But what I can do is show you how you can earn all the money you need. You must know Arsenio.
Tracy: Hall or Billingham?
Jack: You know someone named Arsenio Billingham?
Tracy: No.
(Season 1, "The Rural Juror")
16. Kenneth looks on the bright side of life
Kenneth is a gold mine for hopelessly naive bits of advice, but this explanation on why he's always so chipper takes the cake: "My mother always told me that, even when things seem bad, there's someone else who's having a worse day. Like being stung by a bee, or getting a splinter, or being chained to a wall in someone's sex dungeon." (Season 1, "The Baby Show")

11. Tracy explains affirmative action
In the show's fledgling first episode, Tracy gets all metaphorical on us: "Affirmative action was designed to keep women and minorities in competition with each other to distract us while white dudes inject AIDS into our chicken nuggets. That's a metaphor!" (Season 1, "Pilot")

8. The Rural Juror (it's a Kevin Grisham novel)
The confusion over the title of Jenna's movie leads to one of the funniest running jokes in the series. The Roar Her Gem Her? The Oral Germ Whore? The Roaring Junior? Whatever the case, you can't go wrong with a Kevin Grisham adaptation (the slightly less famous brother of John). We can't wait for the sequel: Urban Fervor. (Season 1, "The Rural Juror")

7. Kenneth hates hot liquids
Country bumpkin Kenneth has a strange aversion to hot beverages: "I don't drink coffee, sir. I don't drink hot liquids of any kind. That's the devil's temperature!" (Season 2, "Episode 210")

2. Jack the therapist*** (funniest thing EVER)
Mere words cannot express how brilliant Baldwin is in this scene, easily his shining moment in the series thus far. OK, maybe one does: DY-NO-MITE! Tracy's daddy issues resurface after Jack berates him for dog fighting, prompting a therapy session. Things quickly go astray when Jack takes the role playing a bit too far ("a bit" being the understatement of the century). (Season 2, "Rosemary's Baby")

1. Tracy's novelty party song "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah"***
The clip of Tracy's gold-selling Halloween-meets-Jewish rite-of-passage song might have lasted mere seconds, but it was enough to steal a place in our hearts forever. "Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves." It's so genius, it's spooky scary. (Season 2, "Jack Gets in the Game")

Sunday, October 26, 2008

SNL: solid as barack, don draper's guide to picking up women

Some parts are funnier than others... but "Solid as Barack" and Biden's comedy sketch cracked me up. I don't think that making fun of variety hours will ever get old to me... Of course, you have to understand why variety hours are so lame to get this sketch.

Jon Hamm did such a good job at, well, playing Don Draper. "There was a man with bright shiny shoes... I saw him dancing... until the accident." "Oh, how mysterious!" My favorite part is Step 4: Blow people away every time you say anything. And this reminds me...

The season finale of MAD MEN is on TONIGHT on AMC at 10pm, 11pm, and 1am! It's going to be AMAZING!

Friday, October 24, 2008

blerg! season 3 premiere of 30 Rock

Here's a little show you may not have heard of before... it won Best Comedy Series and Best Actress and Actor in a Comedy Series, and it's quite possibly the successor to Arrested Development in the inside joke-within-a-joke category (Rock's blatant product placement parallels Arrested's blatant plea for ratings)... and, oh, everyone thinks it's the greatest thing since the discovery of DNA. (It's a new catchphrase I'm starting. We'll see if it catches on...) The good folks over at have brought us a sneak-peek of 30 Rock's Season 3 premiere, and it's everything you could hope for and so, so much more.

You know a show is brilliant when every single actor steals the show. (I think the character of Jenna is vastly underdeveloped, but everyone else is just so good.) I can't decide what's better -- Jack and Liz's near-kiss, or Cathy's signature of stickers? Or perhaps it's the closing line -- "I just like seeing you in there." Aww. Jack and Liz are my favorite non-couple TV couple.

Quotes from "Do-Over" (3.1)

Devon: The only thing Cathy and I need assistance with is deciding which John Mayer song to have 'do it' to.

Devon: You know what they say about rumors, Jack. They make a Ru out of Mor and S.

Devon: Keep your friends close and you're enemies... so close... that you're almost kissing.

Jack: (to Liz) Have you ever been harassed? Of course not. (on sleeping with the boss's daughter to get ahead) I mean, how far would I have to go to get my job back? Are we talking over-the-shirt, frontsies, backsies, or would I really have to give her my gift?

Jack: Don't dress for the job you have. Dress for the job you want.
Manny: So tomorrow I will show up to work dressed as a Mexican wrestler.

Devon: (on the company GE) We're just the G now. I sold the E to Samsung. They're Samesung now.

Kenneth the Page: I think adoption's wonderful. Three of my nine siblings were adopted... and one day, I'm going to find them.

Tracey: I want to thank everyone for making my video game the most profitable thing since the War on Terror!

Liz: It is imperative that you keep Banks down here until I get to Jack. Do you know what 'imperative' means?
Kenneth the Page: Tell me! Tell me!

Jack: Thank God I don't have your biological need for children. That would make success impossible.

Jack: This job is all I've ever wanted, and now it hinges on how far I'm willing to go with a woman in Dora the Explorer panties that were clearly made for an obese child.

Jack: We may not be the best people.
Liz: But we're not the worst.
Both: Graduate students are the worst.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

cinematical seven: the problems with chick flicks

Oh, Cinematical, how I love thee... their recent list of problems with chick flicks is right on the money. The problems are hysterically applied, and more importantly... they're true. And thank God, they're written by a female. This list covers the location and disconnection of family, the fact that careers and relationships are not antithetical, the grand romantic gesture, and the offensively gendered idea that shopping will make everything better. Whereas I would've just been angry, author Jessica Barnes takes a rant-tastic look at chick flicks.

1. Two Kinds of Stories -- married or dead?
According to conventional Hollywood wisdom, women are only interested in trying to get married, getting married, getting divorced and then eventually dying of a horrible disease. It doesn't exactly take a Women's Studies degree to see the pattern in most feature films marketed to women -- they are centered solely on personal relationships. I'm not saying that these stories don't have value, but it can't be the only game in town, and I refuse to believe my entire life revolves around making a family, losing a family, and then keeling over after coming to terms with something.

See: Terms of Endearment, Stepmom, One True Thing... and just about any film starring a woman that has been released in the last 100 years.

2. They Make You Feel Bad about Having a Career... and being good at it.
Cut to 2007 and The Devil Wears Prada. This time our fearless heroine goes up against the dragon lady of all bosses and then ... dumps it all and runs off after her boyfriend (a character that was relatively unimportant in the original novel compared to the film version). Or How about Kate and Leopold? A bitter ad exec finds love with a time traveling aristocrat and decides to follow him back to 1876! Yeah, because who wants the stresses of the modern world? You know, like voting and equal rights.

In the world of chick flicks, successful women are by all appearances, terribly unhappy women. Heck, they are worse than unhappy, they are are alone and unloved simply by the matter of their success.

See: The Devil Wears Prada, Working Girl, and Kate and Leopold. [Although I take note with Working Girl. Melanie Griffith gets the guy and and the job, and she's an intelligent character... despite being portrayed by Melanie Griffith.]

3. The Grand Romantic Gesture...or the 'You Complete Me' Syndrome
Have you ever chased after a loved one in an airport? Stopped a wedding? Proposed in the middle of a crowded subway platform? Probably not. If you even tried half of those romantic tricks in an airport, you would be tackled by NSA agents before you even got through the gate. I've been watching movies long enough to know that the grand romantic gesture is usually the most convenient way to wrap up a story line. If you've had your two leads circling each other for two hours, you're probably looking for an economical way for them to ride off into the sunset -- enter the grand romantic gesture.

So what's so wrong with that you may ask? For starters, you could fill an Oprah audience with women lamenting the loss of a romantic spirit that never existed in the first place. Just remember, for every girl out there waiting for Lloyd Dobler to stand outside her window blaring a Peter Gabriel song, there's a guy cursing the day that John Cusack was put on this earth.

See: Jerry McGuire, Notting Hill, and Love Actually.

6. Shopping Makes Everything Alright
In the ultimate chick flick, Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts is a woman who has worked as a prostitute on the streets of L.A. Presumably she's a streetwise gal. But what's the worst thing she feels happens to her? Not the murder of one of her 'co-workers' or her best friend's drug habit. What makes her stop and re-examine her life is that she isn't allowed to shop -- because being denied access to a Rodeo Drive boutique is right up there with the great tragedies in life, I guess. Never has mindless consumption been so pronounced as in last summer's chick flick behemoth, Sex and the City. I lost count of the amount of 'ohhs' and 'awws' when Carrie is shown her new shoe closet by Prince Charming/Mr. Big -- I still gag thinking about it.

See: Pretty Woman and Sex and The City.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

an amalgamation of awesome

Word! Above is the new promo for Season 5 of Lost. The idea of the show is better than its execution, but I'll be damned if this promo doesn't get me all excited again.

I completely own up to my dorkiness, and an animated parody with Superman and Batman is always going to make this fangirl smile. But what really gets me is the Batman voice, replicated to perfection. Once Batman says, "He dresses like A CLOWN," I can't stop laughing.

What if Wes Anderson made an attack ad for McCain? It would look like this and it would be awesome. (Note the yellow jogging suits!) Also included are fake ads from John Woo and Kevin Smith.

Here's the trailer for Zac Efron's 17 Again. I'm a sucker for these illogical body-swap movies -- Big, 13 Going on 30, Freaky Friday -- and although Efron looks nothing like Matthew Perry, I think the movie looks cute enough. But... is anyone else freaked out that Efron's character seems to be hitting on his daughter? An over-protective boy in high school? Isn't that an indicator of a crush?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

films news: october 2008

Showtime has just ordered two more seasons of Dexter. I'm with Alan Sepinwall on this: the idea of Dexter should have been one-to-two seasons but two more seasons will be overkill for the character. This third season is not nearly as intriguing as the first nor as entertaining as the second. The first season dealt with the history of Dexter and an idolizing man-crush from his secret brother (who looks nothing like him), and the second season dealt with Dexter choosing the code of civilization over the code of Harry (he kills the one person who accepts him as he is!). This third season is not interesting in the realms of psychology or sociality, and they're taking Rita and Deb into boring territory. Side note: Part of the attraction of Rita and Dexter was that they didn't have sex, but now that they do, they do it all of the time. It's not so much a will-they/won't-they scenario, but there's no real conflict in that relationship anymore (and no, her pregnancy does not count).

Yet another Chuck Palahniuk novel is going to be adapted for screen. Seriously? This time it's Haunted. But again I ask, seriously?

A sequel to The Hulk has been announced. But there have been rumblings that Edward Norton doesn't want to do a sequel, so... what? Marvel will have three Hulk movies with three different Hulks? Who do they think the Hulk is -- Dr. Who or James Bond? He can't be reinvented three times in one decade.

Director Ridley Scott is returning to science-fiction to direct The Forever War. From Film Junk, it's about "an intergalactic battle between Earth and an alien species known as the Taurans. Soldiers enter the fray by using something similar to wormholes, which allow them to cover massive amounts of space in a few seconds."

Everyone's been talking about Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, but let's be honest, she was underused and the jokes weren't that funny. What was funny, however, was Mark Wahlberg showing up to threaten Andy Samberg for doing an insulting impression of him the previous week. So what happens? With good heart, Wahlberg does a similar sketch. You can watch the original Andy Samberg impression over at the NBC website, and in case you don't understand why it's funny, it's because Wahlberg really does talk like that! It's a stupid sketch set up to display Samberg's impression.

Over at The Movie Blog, John has posted October predictions of the Oscars, and I have to say, his Best Picture list isn't bad: WALL-E (it's about time another animated film is up for Best Picture), In Bruges (as John writes, "tragically underrated"), Burn After Reading, The Dark Knight, and Son of Rambow. It's an interesting post that notes that The Soloist has been pushed back and The Changeling is getting mixed reviews, so maybe the Oscars might actually open up to include mainstream blockbusters and animation in their oft-stuffy Best Picture category. But... probably not.

2009: A Space Odysseus? Reportedly, Brad Pitt is in talks to play a sci-fi version of Odysseus. Considering my love for science-fiction and the Classics, this should be right up my alley. But considering how Hollywood destroys Classical stories and the way Pitt portrayed Achilles in one of my least favorite films, Troy, I just can't get behind this idea. And, oh yeah, this movie was already made, and it's called 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Kubrick made a parallel allegory to The Odyssey that, I guarantee, is far superior than anything Hollywood will make today. Of course, O, Brother Where Art Thou? comes in at a not-close-at-all second.

And lastly, to end on a good note, here's the most fabulous news I've heard in a while: Steve Martin, Meryl Streep, and Alec Baldwin will star in a Rom-Com. It's fabulous because, of course, the actors, but it's also fantastic because it bothers me that most rom-coms are targeted towards 13-25 year olds. What's funnier than these two actors vying for Streep's love and affection? It will be written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who wrote and directed Father of the Bride.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

episodes: big bang theory, how i met your mother, house, the mentalist, eli stone, pushing daisies

The Big Bang Theory: This was not a very engaging episode. I don't find this show to be particularly funny -- but there certainly are some funny lines. Sheldon's always a riot, but Leonard and the other fellows are such a drag. Penny has potential to be interesting, but she's really just enabler. She's simply there to point out how dorky these guys are. I think that the characters could be fleshed out more. Oddly enough, the most stereotyped character (Sheldon) is also the most realistic. But still, this episode did bring us this gem:
Awkward guy: You don't have to worry about Penny anymore. You have hundreds of Croatian women waiting for you!
Awkward guy: You can use my username, WealthyBigPenis.

How I Met Your Mother: I agree with most of the criticisms about this last episode being formulaic, and according to a comment on Alan Sepinwall's recap, the whole intervention gag was stolen from Mr. Show, right down to the "we're having too many interventions" intervention). And at first I was in defense of the character Ted because I think Josh Radnor's cute and likable enough, but Ted is not a very interesting character. Although, his mispronunciation of encyclo-day-dia/ren-ay-ssance allowed for Robin to respond, "It's douche-y, not douche-ay." I always feel awkward about episodes that deal with moving on, and this one did not handle the transition well. First they're moving out of the apartment and packing everything up. With five minutes left in the show, they decide to stay because they have too many memories in the apartment. Then with two minutes left, it switches back to growing up and moving on. It just range false to me. But... there was a flash forward to one year later and fans are going crazy trying to decipher the hidden messages. Ted's not wearing a wedding ring. Robin's sitting suspiciously close to Barney. Speaking of Barney, as per usual, he was the best part of the show. Dressed as an 80 year old man, he convinced a young woman in a bar to have sex with with his former younger self in the efforts to save humanity from global warming. Well, it made sense in the show... and it was hilarious. This storyline escalated into Barney creating a bet with Marshall that he could get a 22 year old to make out with him in his 80 year old costume.
Barney: Every year, there are hundreds of 22-year-olds coming into bars, and call me Glass-Half-Full, but I think they're getting dumber.
House: I still prefer House's relationship with private investigator Lucas, but at least this episode showed me his relationship with Wilson. Throughout the past four seasons, I've continuously asked, "Why in the world are they friends?" and now I have my answer. I get it now. But why are the original threesome still part of the credits when they only have 2 minutes (tops!) of screen time on an episode? And does anyone still care about them? And why is the new threesome so uninteresting?

The Mentalist: This episode was better than the second, but not nearly anywhere near the awesomeness of the pilot. On the one hand, I like that the show isn't like Bones. I like that Simon Baker and Robin Tunney share few scenes together because when they are actually in a scene, it works. On the other hand, I wish they had more scenes together because when they have separate scenes, the show is fragmented. Why was Baker's Thomas Jane making sandcastles on the beach? To show that he's quirky? Unfortunately for the writers of the show, there are too many comparisons to be made about this show. Now, the writers could fix the disjointed nature of the narrative by having Baker tag along on the police action, but that would be too similar to USA's Psych. They could put Baker and Tunney in more scenes, but then the dynamic would be like Bones and fans would immediately start reading into sexual tension. (As it is now, there's a mutual respect between the two of them -- and I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoy Tunney's character. She's feminine and masculine, guarded but still smiles in secret. She's not a bitch; she just gets the job done. It's real progress for female representation.) I wonder if maybe the writers can give Baker's character something to obsess over -- like a hobby, not like the Red John murderer. Or perhaps an enigmatic female character that he can't figure out or read, and she lasts a couple of episodes. There just needs to be something tying the episodes together. Still, it's better than Fringe.

Eli Stone: More to come on this later. But just so you know, this is one of my favorite shows. :)

Pushing Daisies: Truffles? A nun died because of truffles? Sigh. They finally have an episode where Chuck can actually examine her life-as-limbo and to question her faith (Mother Superior tells her she will get to know her mother in heaven, but she's undead so now Chuck is debating dying for good), but it doesn't last very long. Ned tells Chuck that her aunt is actually her mother. At least now the show can get out of the convent and put Olive back in the Pie Hole. Is it just me, or is every episode pretty much the same as one before? I love Lee Pace. I love Kristin Chenoweth. I love the premise and production design of the show. But the bad puns and the annoying characters just aren't enough to satisfy my creative needs. Also, the storylines just don't work for me. I repeat, truffles?

I'm going to be really busy for a while due to grading midterms and writing papers, so I probably won't be posting for a few more days. I'm half-tempted to only post once a week now...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

new poll: best comedy series?

In the last poll, you guys voted Leoben Conoy (BSG) and Jim Halpert (The Office) as Best TV Husband, with my man Chuck Bartowski (Chuck) coming in second (or is it third?) with four votes.

Today's poll is also TV related. What is the best comedy series on TV right now? My next poll will be drama series. And then perhaps the following one will look at hybrid shows, like Bones, The Mentalist, and Desperate Housewives. Your choices for Best Comedy Series (on current TV) are:
How I Met Your Mother
30 Rock
The Office
Okay, so these are my favorite comedies and the options are biased, but they're solid choices...

nostalgia for 1963

Forever ago (post-Mr. and Mrs. Smith days), photographer Steven Klein collaborated with Brad Pitt to create a portfolio of 1960s-era photos for W Magazine. They certainly have a Cindy Sherman quality to them, although these photos actually have a masculine presence, but they are some of the most beautiful photographs. I usually don't like photos of celebrities because I can't disassociate the actor from the image of the actor -- I blame the paparazzi -- but I am mesmerized by the mise-en-scene of the images. There are 32 photographs in all, and you can view the others here. I've posted my favorites below (the last one is my absolute fave).

Monday, October 13, 2008

review: religulous, city of ember

Let me get this out the way: Bill Maher's Religulous (a combination of "religious" and "ridiculous") preaches to the choir. The film sets out to investigate the paradoxical "absurd logic" of religious people, and Maher does this by interviewing a variety of religious authorities -- from the everyman on the street, to the actor playing Jesus at Florida's theme park Holy Land, to rabbis and that guy who thinks he's the Second Coming of Jesus. Initially, Maher asks intelligent, objective, and entirely non-offensive questions, such as "why is faith good" or "how has God spoken to you." These are good questions, but, where Religious becomes potentially off-putting, Maher tends not to accept the answers to these questions. For example, an ex-Jew for Jesus says that Jesus performed small miracles for him, and that's why he became a Christian. When asked for an example of a miracle, the man told a story about sticking his cup outside and asking for rain -- and lo and behold, it rains. Maher points out that this isn't a miracle, that sometimes it just rains -- but I can certainly understand how some religious audience members might think this is negative atheism. Is Maher trying to make these people wrong? Well, no, I don't think so. I think he's just pointing out that people believe weird things and that logic is not part of these beliefs.

Bill Maher has repeatedly expressed and emphasized that he is not anti-religion, nor is he an atheist. He is simply anti-certainty (in fact, the term he has recently used is apatheism, which I might start considering myself). The question of the existence of God (or any god) is irrelevant to morality on Earth. We can be moral without religion. Don't believe me? I don't cheat, steal, or murder. Not because it's in the bible, but because it's the law. And although Maher says outrageous things like "religion is insanity by consensus," I do agree with his other comments, such as "faith is just making a virtue out of not thinking." It would be easy to be offended by a statement like that, but that's what faith is -- it doesn't negate thinking, but it does disregard logic. Faith is not concrete; it's a belief.

But back to the movie... I think it's unfairly misrepresentative of religious people. Almost all of my friends are Christians, and they are perfectly normal (although I do have a few that try every Christmas to convert me by giving me a bible with highlighted passages). But this movie isn't about level-headed religion. It's about how religion as one's dominant ideology is often harmful to the good of humanity. For instance, Maher goes into the Creationism Museum (which is an oxy-moron, of course), where dinosaurs co-exist with humans. Is there anything wrong with Creationism? Well, not inofitself, but when it interferes with science and evidential data it becomes a problem. I really don't understand this retrogressive movement against science, how people today can deny evolution. It's mind-boggling to me.

But other than religion-as-opposition to science, Religulous explores connections between Christianity and other religions (the similarities between the Egyptian god Horus and Jesus are mind-blowing!), how this country was founded on the separation of church and state and that our founding fathers were deists (Ben Franklin once said, "Lighthouses are more helpful than religion"), and religion's part in wars. The movie ends in a montage that I think would've served better in the middle of the film, because I don't think the last thought people should leave with is that religion causes war (which may very well be the case sometimes, but it's such a nihilistic note to end on). But sometimes Religulous doesn't even need to say anything because the interviewees will do it for them. A senator from Arkansas, Mark Pryor even says, "You don't have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate."

But there was one interview that I particularly appreciated. Bill Maher tends to rag on the idea of the Holy Trinity -- which, by the way, is not mentioned in the bible (neither is the Virgin Birth which, you know, might've been important to mention). Maher interviews an actor playing Jesus at Holy Land, where he also interviews some idiotic tourists. (I think it's rather unfortunate that Maher doesn't interview intellectual religious people. He interviews people who can't construct logical arguments.) And I thought this interview was significant because this actor analogizes the Holy Trinity to ice -- ice can be steam, a solid, or a liquid (water). One thing can be three different things while staying true to itself. Maher is actually impressed with this analogy initially, until later he reveals how silly the concept actually is. But I do think the analogy is an intelligent response.

Is this movie for everyone? Absolutely not -- especially not for people sensitive to questions about their beliefs. But I do think it's important for people to question their own beliefs; if you are right in your beliefs, you shouldn't be afraid of knowledge. Science should support your beliefs (so stop negating or disregarding science!). Taking offense to questions indicates insecurity and a lack of knowledge; taking offense to Maher's approach, however, is a bit different and I can understand how one might feel attacked. But the movie is definitely made for a specific audience... and I am a part of that target audience. I laughed. I clapped. I cried from laughing so hard. There was a comment about Native Americans being Jews, and then the film jump cuts to a scene of Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles. I don't care who you are; that is hilarious!

I don't necessarily recommend the movie to everyone, but I loved it. A lot. For what this movie is and for what is was trying to accomplish, I give it a solid A.

City of Ember is based on the 2003 apocalyptic book of the same name by Jeanne Duprau. The book, as well as the movie, is about a self-contained, self-maintained underground city called Ember, whose sole light source is a generator that was only meant to last 200 years after the destruction of the world. It's been so long, however, that people have forgotten that a world ever existed outside of Ember, and people have stopped venturing out into the dark Unknown Regions outside the city's boundaries. The movie follows Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan of Atonement) and Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway), two 12-year-olds bordering 16-year-old territory. (Treadaway is too old to play a character of 12, although I think the movie does not distinguish their ages for this reason.) The movie is apparently very close to the book, but, due to this close adaptation, some aspects are lost. Lina is artistic and enjoys drawing things she's never seen, like skyscrapers and blue skies, but in the movie, she is only seen once coloring the sky blue. And Doon discovers rather large animals without much of an explanation as to how they got so big.

But this movie really excels in two areas: the production design and a really well paced plot. The production design is gorgeous. It's exactly what I would imagine a 200+ year old underground city would look like. Everything -- from the tape they use to how they dress to the layout of the city -- is intricate in its detail, and the very look of the movie is infinitely fascinating. (Although I have to note that in some scenes, when the generator fails, there is still light coming from somewhere. It looks like blueish moonlight, but obviously there's no moon underground.) As for the narrative, everything is spaced out evenly. I never got bored. I never thought, "I'm sticking with this character for too long. What's next?" I never got anxious for it to end. It progressed in an ironically natural way (ironic because editing is anything but natural). The main actors were charismatic and not at all annoying -- I mean, how often are children actors annoying? More often than not. But I wanted to spend times with these characters. And it was smart that movie keeps you in the dark (pun intended!) about the myth of the city so that, as the kids discover more clues about Ember, you discover with them.

Of course -- spoiler! -- the kids find a way out of Ember. There are so many "family movies" (what an unfortunate genre) that seem to set up the idea for a theme park ride. Journey to the Center of the Earth is the most obvious example, with the mine carts on a roller coaster track. And how City of Ember ends is no exception, except this time it's a log flume rather than a roller coaster. The CGI is a bit awkward here, but it's such a short scene that that's easy to overlook. The difference is, though, I would love for this to be a ride. I can't even imagine what the production design for the waiting line would be. Wait, yes I can. It would be awesome! I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I was expecting, and although it is a family movie, it's a smart one and it's well-crafted. It's inventive and it encourages curiosity. I would love to see screen adaptations of the other books in the Ember series. I give this movie an A-.


Jeopardy! has a special tribute to Mad Men online, and you can play an entire round of categories Mad Men related, such as Ad Slogans, Fashion, New York Nightlife (really hard), and the year 1962. Did you know Target first appeared in 1962?

And apparently, on October 17th (Friday), the show Jeopardy! is going to have an entire category dedicated to Mad Men. I'll need to set my TiVo!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

best/worst lines of dialogue

My addictive pop culture foe, Entertainment Weekly, has another list out. This time it lists the worst lines of dialogue from films. Wait, this is something I can actually get behind.

There's "I'm just a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her" from Notting Hill (which, let's be honest, is a God-awful line that is delivered well by Julia Roberts) and "Love means never having to say I'm sorry" from Love Story, which sends all sorts of wrong messages about love. (No, you really should apologize.) I don't care for some of their other choices -- like Baby's line "I carried a watermelon" from Dirty Dancing which is appropriately and justifiably awkward. But the list includes my second least favorite line of all time: "She rescues him right back" -- the closing lines from Pretty Woman. There are so many reasons why I'm anti-Pretty Woman, yet I've seen it about twenty times and continue to watch it if I ever happen across it on TV. (Damn you TNT and your constant repeats!)

So if that's my second least favorite line... what's the worst? Hands down, no question about it: "Nice boys don't kiss like that," "Oh yes, they fucking do" from Bridget Jones's Diary. I'm sorry... what did he say? The ending of that movie rings so untrue to me (he leaves to buy her a new journal without telling her...?), and those closing lines just confirm that Hollywood trite will find its way into any Jane Austen adaptation. That line goes completely against Mr. Darcy/Mark Darcy's character and it's just so... ugh.

So hmm... what are some of the best lines of dialogues? Let me know if you have any suggestions, but I certainly think these are top notch:

"But... it goes to eleven." -- from This is Spinal Tap, also entirely usable in life. Example: "On an Awesome scale of 1-10, I go to 11."

"Inconceivable!" "I do not think that word means what you think it means." -- best delivery EVER, The Princess Bride, and you can certainly use these lines (and certainly this whole scene) in almost every situation.

"To my big brother George, the richest man in town." -- from my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life. This line alone makes me cry.

"Daisy... Daisy..." -- from my other favorite movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Perhaps one of the saddest deaths in cinema.

"Fra-gee-lay. It must be Italian." -- it's impossible to pick a favorite from A Christmas Story.

Umm, Robin Williams's entire speech by the lake in Good Will Hunting

"My real name is plain Jane Jones." -- from Closer, though it's difficult to understand the gravitas and sadness of this deceptively simple line. This scene is brilliant. Also, another great line is Clive Owen's character describing a heart: "A heart is a fist covered in blood!"

"Yipee-kay-ay, mother fucker!" -- from, of course, Die Hard. There are a lot of great lines from this, but I certainly use this line whenever I have a feeling of accomplishment. Or, if I'm around children, I censor it as TBS does: "Yipee-kay-ay, melon farmer!"

"It's for me." -- closing lines from The Lives of Others. Perhaps one of my favorite last lines of a film. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this movie. I think it's the best movie made in the last 25 years, and it's my third favorite movie. It's a film that really sticks with you. -- HGW XX/7.

"Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks." -- from Forrest Gump, another deceptively profound lines. I swear, I learned more about love and life from Forrest Gump than I did my own life. (By the way, I think Tom Hanks won his second consecutive Oscar because of one particular scene -- the scene where Jenny and him are dancing and the camera pulls back through a window into the outside rain. Hanks is Gump in that moment.)

"He was my father. And my mother... my brother... my friend. He was you... and me. He was all of us." -- from V for Vendetta. Not going to lie. I saw this movie with about 15 people and I left them without explanation so that I could go cry in my car for a good thirty minutes. This movie really spoke to me, and holy cow, V has my two favorite paintings in his lair.

"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in." -- from American Beauty. People tend to think of this movie as overrated, but that's one of the consequences for being brilliant and then other people noticing that brilliance. Is it pretentious? Maybe, but that's such an unfortunate word to apply to this movie. I heart this movie.
Hmm, perhaps I'm getting carried away here. There are certainly some great scripts out there. But these are lines that effect me emotionally -- they embody the essence of that film and my relationship to that film.

Alan Sepinwall recently posted something similar. He asked what pop culture dialogue makes it into everyone's daily lives, and he received 110 comments -- and counting! Below are some highlights from (some earlier) comments on his post:
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Bring out your dead" becomes "Bring out your laundry" or "Bring out your recycling", etc.

The Simpsons: "Oh Lisa, it's not that I don't understand, it's just that I don't care."

Arrested Development: "Her?" "I think I just blue myself." "COME ON!" "STEVE HOLT!" "I'm an ideas man, Michael. I think I proved that with Fuck Mountain."

The Big Lebowski: "This is not Nam. This is (insert word). There are rules."
As far as pop culture in everyday lives, I think I say "He's a clean old man" (A Hard Day's Night) and "This is a very inter-esting situation" (It's a Wonderful Life) fairly often, and I'm going to try and incorporate the following line into my common vernacular: "He irks me. He's irksome." (The Mentalist). Perhaps on another day I'll post all of my favorite lines from 30 Rock. I seriously should make an effort to quote that show every day. I wish my life were like an episode of 30 Rock -- BLERG!

nathan fillion is nailing your wife

Nailing Your Wife

From The Movie Blog:
James Gunn (writer and director of one of the most underrated films in the last 5 years “Slither”) is apparently putting together this little web series called “PG Porn”. It is so PERFECTLY done (ie feels exactly like a porn) that you can’t help but laugh every second. And here’s the catch… this episode stars Nathan Fillion and real porn actress Aria Giovanni.
For people who love everything about porn... except the sex.

Friday, October 10, 2008

bill maher on the tonight show

I've posted the entire episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno because Hulu doesn't have just clips yet. But note that Bill Maher comes on after the second dot and he sticks around after the commercial. I wouldn't normally post an entire episode if I only wanted you to watch one portion, but Bill Maher was on fire last night. You know what patriotism is? Patriotism is questioning and criticizing our government. You know why? Because we're one of the few countries that can do that. The 1st Amendment is patriotic. I'm going to see his film Religulous tonight, and you can look forward to that review coming up this weekend.

But for now, here are some highlights from the video above:
(about McCain's campaign) "I think McCain is getting desperate. Am I wrong? His new campaign slogan is 'McCain: The White Obama.' [...] I think he's desperate to get to the White House because the White House is an excellent manage-care facility. You move in there and they have your whole day planned out, plenty of activities to keep the older mind sharp. You can even have your own pet."

"You can type anything on the internet and as long as you don't type LOL after it, it's true. I could type 'John McCain is a cyborg made out of spare parts of Freddie Mercury and aborted stem cells fetuses.' [...] So I think I should go in tonight and type 'Barack Obama is white. In fact, he's Irish. It's O'bama'"

(on Sarah Palin) "Competency is like pornography -- you know it when you see it. And that governor Avon lady just doesn't pass the smell test. Sorry, but she couldn't name a newspaper. Katie Couric asked her -- three times, 'What do you read?' and she said, 'I read them all.' Bush said he didn't read the papers, but he could name what they were. She could not name a newspaper. She could not name a Supreme Court decision. Katie Couric, again, said can you name a Supreme Court decision, and she finally said, 'Alien vs. Predator.'" (Jay's response: "Yeah, I remember that. As I recall, we both lose.")

(still on Palin) "I guarantee you, if you put a gun to her head and asked her, 'What is the FCC?', she could not tell you. Although she could tell you what kind of gun it was."

(on McCain) "He's a very brave man. It's a great quality. But this isn't the Middle Ages. We're not actually going into battle behind him with a spear. We need a smart guy, smart people to get us out of this mess." (Good for Maher correcting "guy" with "people.")

(when asked if he feared for his safety in a Muslim country while filming Religulous) "We were in Jerusalem. That's not exactly a Muslim country. There's a large Muslim presence." (Oh, snap!)
And if you're a fan of James Taylor -- and really, who isn't? -- stick around to watch his cover of "Suzanne" at the end.

the office: business ethics

Tonight's episode, "Business Ethics," was surprisingly uncomfortable to watch. Normally, the show's humor is awkward, but tonight it was personal. Holly, the new Human Resources representative, follows protocol and submits a proposal that Meredith be fired for sleeping with their supplier and getting discounts on the office products. And then what happens? Holly gets yelled at for not getting signatures for an ethics seminar, even though she did something much more than that. It was still a great episode, and I agree with Alan Sepinwall's assessment that this episode was heavy with reaction shots. There was even a moment where Dwight reacts to the camera in the same frame and only a nanosecond after Jim reacts to the camera. Crazy!

Some notes that Alan mentions in his post... Jim's prank on Dwight was one of the best of the show. As Alan put it, "Jim exploited Dwight's self-righteousness, his obsession with rules and his love of both facts and "Battlestar Galactica" all at once." He also drew my attention to -- how had I not noticed this before? -- the fact that Kevin's nickname for Ryan has evolved from The Fire Guy to Fired Guy to Hired Guy. Nice.

A pretty solid episode, but nothing too exciting. One of the few episodes, if not the only, where Pam doesn't make an appearance. I missed my PB&J tonight. Rating: B.

Highlights from the episode:
Michael: People expect a lot from these meetings. Laughter. A sudden twist, surprise endings. You need to be Robin Williams and M. Night Shyamalan.

Andy: Here's an ethics bomb for you. Would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your family? Boom! I took Intro. to Philosophy. Twice.
Dwight: Trick question. The bread is poisoned. And it's not your real family. You've been cuckolded by a stronger, smarter male.
Andy: No... that's not how it works...

Michael: When I discovered Youtube, I did not work for five days. I watched Cookie Monster sing "Chocolate Rain" about a thousand times.
Holly: What was the dilemma?
Michael: Whether to tell you or not. And now I'm glad I did. I feel cafarctic.

Holly: Why the [Outback Steakhouse] coupons?
Meredith: I don't know, and maybe it's a girl thing, but after we did it and he gave me those coupons, I just felt good about myself.

Michael: (after throwing out Holly's bought lunch to take her out for a meal) Dunder-Mifflin's treat. Actually, you're not a client so... just split it? (to the camera) Ethics.

Jim: (clocking Dwight for "time theft" for having personal conversations) Did you see Battlestar Galactica last night?
Andy: No, I did not. Is it any good?
Jim: It's so-so. It's got all kinds of monsters... and Klingons...
Andy Is it anything like the original Battlestar Galactica?
Jim: You know what's weird? It's practically a shot for shot remake.
(Dwight -- and myself -- crumples a piece of paper in anguish)
Jim: The story's kind of bland. It's about this guy named Dumbledore Calrissian... and he has to return to the ring back to Mordor...
Andy: That doesn't sound right...
This last quote? My absolute fave. The writers of the show are fans of Battlestar Galactica, and I love how often they publicize the name of the awesomest show that ever awesomed. Dumbledore Calrissian?!? AMAZING!

And speaking of awesomest awesome that ever awesomed... I bring you Awesome!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

an attempt to make up for my absence...

The Big Bang Theory: This is obviously not a review but my favorite quotes from Monday night's episode. From what I hear, Sara Gilbert's character will be getting romantically involved with her arch-nemesis, Sheldon. Normally I hate the despised cliché of two-people-hate-each-other-but-really-love-each-other (because really, sometimes different sexes really do just hate each other), but because this show is a comedy and because it's those two, this idea is really funny to me.
Penny: AFK?
Sheldon: Away from keyboard.
Penny: Oh, I see.
Sheldon: And what does that stand for?
Penny: Oh. I. See.
Sheldon: Yes... but what does it mean?

That Awkward Guy: What the frak?
Cinematical brings you the funniest ladies of 2008. I definitely agree with #7 Elizabeth Banks (she was hilarious on Scrubs), #4 Amy Poehler (loved her in Blades of Glory -- she and her real-life husband Will Arnette are hysterical together), #2 Sarah Silverman (her politically incorrect political short film is hilarious), and of course, #1 Tiny Fey (she did just win her second consecutive Outstanding Actress for a Comedy Series Emmy).

I'm glad to see that other people love Chuck as much as I do. Both Film School Rejects and Alan Sepinwall loved Monday night's episode, which was apparently an allusion to My Favorite Year.

Some film news for you:
Ridley Scott is making Brave New World
A Get Smart Sequel is apparently in the works
Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter join Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
Another sequel: Blade Runner 2 (Noooo!)
Blind people are protesting Blindness (they're refusing to see it...)
Yet another sequel: Bull Durham (Nooo!)
Showtime and Kevin Bacon are working on a John Wilkes Booth series (say what?)
Lastly, I recently saw Raging Bull -- AFI's current #4 greatest film of all time. I hated it. It was two and a half hours of blatant misogyny and violence. I love violence don't me wrong, but the whole point behind sports movies is that we root for the underdog. Robert de Niro may have won an Oscar for his performance, but it doesn't make his character (based on a real boxer) any less of a douchebag. Seriously, how could Scorsese make a movie about a guy with zero redeeming qualities??

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

project runway: finale, part one

The first part of Project Runway's season 5 finale was on tonight, but it wasn't too interesting -- the first part rarely is because it's only a sneak peek at Bryant Park. Plus, I don't think there were any surprises, but I think everyone wanted Jerrell to make it to the top three finalists. Images leaked online during Fashion Week, so everyone got a glimpse at the finale when there were still five finalists left, and these images come from the Bryant Park runway. I've only put up my favorites.

From Kenley's Collection: As rude as she may be, I don't think she's a bad person. And, let's be honest, she could have been a lot worse. It wasn't like she was a diva. Her jewel tones are gorgeous, but I really dislike the childish/floral prints she used for some of her dresses. Still, her silhouettes are lovely, and these bottom two dresses are beautiful. The first teal dress come from the bridesmaid challenge from the tonight's "final surprise" finale. The second dress has an amazingly detailed neck ruffle.

From Kato's Collection: Or is it Korto? They keep switching between the spellings and pronunciation of her name. At any rate, I didn't care for the palette of her collection but I do really love this dress. It has a great shape and beautiful colors -- I can't get enough of mustard yellow right now.

From Leanne's Collection: She's the favorite to win, and it's easy to see why. Her collection was inspired by an afternoon by a lake, and the wave motif is apparent in all of her designs. Similarly, the color palette maintains a translucent white-blue presence throughout. The first dress is beautiful because of the shifting pattern of the waves. It represents the impermanence of water and of life, in a way, because it's multi-directional. Even the binary colors play off of this duality. The second outfit is downright gorgeous -- perhaps my favorite outfit. The skirt is mind-blowingly beautiful (how can someone conceive of such architecture in a dress??), and the cupped tube top is the perfect shirt to highlight the skirt. And the third outfit was Leanne's wedding dress, which is nothing short of heavenly. And who wouldn't want to feel light as air on their wedding day?