Tuesday, July 28, 2009

12/29- I used to hate my birthday.

Having a summer birthday when you're younger sucks.  If you actually want to celebrate it with your friends you have to invite everyone over weeks in advance and you basically only have one option: the "pool-party".  This inevitably ends up being a disaster since it's so damn hot that the cake melts, everyone gets sunburned, and all your presents end up being pool noodles or floats.

But now that I'm older, it's great.  I get to use my summer birthday as an excuse to go on vacation. Which is what I did this year in San Francisco.  Such a great b-day treat.  And our dear friend Mark got engaged on the 24th as well (Congrats!).  It was a special day all around.  

Plus, it was the date of the annual film sci-fi/geek-gasm that is Comic Con.  This year, Comic Con was in San Diego and I swear to you, you could hear the fan-girl screams and nerd grunts as far as the Golden Gate Bridge.

For those of you who don't know, Comic-Con is (among many other things) an annual film/tv convention dedicated to sneak-peaks, pre-sceenings, and interview/discussion panels with cast and crew of what I will call "alternate reality films."  Comic books movies such as Iron Man 2 and Avatar work the rounds alongside fantasy films such as Tim Burton's Alice and Wonderland and those fucking Twilight disasters.

There's an awful lot to sift through at Comic Con, so for those of you more gainfully employed, I have attempted to separate the sheep from the goats.

Sheep: (aka. PLUGs)

"District 9"

Credit must be given to Sleight for this one.  She turned me onto this long before Comic Con, but apparently it was all the buzz at the convention this year.  Peter Jackson (LOTR) is backing it, but don't worry, this film is no child's play.  The plot revolves around "refugees" who land in South Africa and then are segregated, placed in confinement, and forced to work.  It's a documentary/sci-fi reinterpretation of Apartheid and looks pretty damn awesome.  

"Alice in Wonderland"

Yes. If you don't know about this, you should.  Tim Burton's doing Alice.  And it will be creepy as all get out exactly the way Lewis Carroll intended it to be.  There was a discussion panel and Burton was all weird and looking like a modern day version of Carroll himself.  He answered questions. He showed the first ever trailer.  If you are one of those chicks who loses it over Johnny Depp, this will either cement it forever or break it (beyond repair) for you. He's the Mad Hatter. See below.

"Iron Man 2"

I have a huge, eternal, un-wavering devotion to Robert Downey Jr.  I don't care that he was a drug addict and screwed himself up for a long time.  He is smart and funny and amazing.  While most of our generation wets themselves over Johnny, my heart and loins are much more susceptible to Bob. 

Robert Downey Jr. is a true maverick.  He's legitimately hard core and quite honestly makes Johnny Depp look like a pussy. Do NOT fight me on this.

Apparently he killed it at the panel discussion.  He and John Favreau (director) showed a fake clip that was really bad and passed it off as the real thing to a horror stricken audience before showing the real clip which was amazing (will post when they become available). 

And speaking of amazing, Bob was smiling and gracious as he pulled double duty promoting Sherlock Holmes as well.  Can't really tell you that I'm happy about this movie.  So, even though it pains me to say it...

Goats: (UN-PLUGs)

"Sherlock Holmes"

This is not Bob's fault.  He will be funny, and cute, and charismatic.  He will do a great job. But Holmes was not Jackie Chan.  In fact, he was actually a bit of a dandy.  Furthermore, his "love" interest was actually never interested in him, and they never made love.  So, if you want to see an action film where Bob is told by the writers and directors to play a send up of Arthur Conan Doyle amidst some explosions, go see this.  But for greater accuracy and enjoyment, read the books.

"Twilight: New Moon"

It looks like it will be marginally better than Twilight, but only just so.  Why, why do bad movies happen to good directors?  You would think that it would be all their fault, right?  A film is bad, it must be the directors fault?! Apparently not.  Apparently, if you have awful source material (for reference, please see any of the Twilight books), a bad screenplay, and a tight-wad studio budget, it will outweigh your innate ability to make a movie.  Just ask Catherine Hardwick.  Great director. Awful movie.

Sadly, it's now Chris Wiesz's turn.  He did "About A Boy."  Such a good movie.  It's on my top 30 for sure.  But he has been tragically bitten by the curse that is the Twilight universe.  I mean, really, is it so hard for a studio to scrounge up some cash to make a wolf not look like a teddy bear?  We are supposed to be afraid of that? Right.

And lastly...


Leave it to James Cameron to make an incredibly expensive movie that will suck.  It's what he does best.   And this, friends, is supposed to be cutting edge.  But apparently the sneak peak disappointed all but the die hards.  10 foot tall blue people are a tough sell. 

PS. Yes, my parents and I did meet Robert Downey Jr. when I was eight.  He had just been nominated for the Academy Award for "Chaplin."  He stopped and talked to us and was so nice and gracious.  I told him I thought he was funny, and he palled around with me for a few minutes doing Charlie Chaplin impressions while I laughed and my parents took pictures.  He then signed an autograph and took a "real picture" with me and couldn't have been nicer to anyone let alone a little kid.  We will meet again someday.  It's destiny.

Monday, July 13, 2009

If you normally read these in e-mail format, switch it up and read via. the blog-site http://www.filmfashionsnark.blogspot.com
You may not be able to see some of the post components if you settle for the e-mail version and you will want to see everything.
Because today is different.  Today is special. 

7/13-They're calling it the best yet.

Right now, The Half Blood Prince is at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. 97%. For those of you unfamiliar with RT ratings, 97% is damn good.  Oscar winners have gotten less.  Until now, Alfonso Curon's direction of the third Potter film (the Prisoner of Azkaban) has been considered the "best" of the franchise and it only received 89%.  

Point: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is fucking awesome.

Proof: Let's begin with the trailer. 

Amazing.  No one does sets or special effects like HP.  If you like films, you should go see it for this reason alone.

But for those of you who are still not convinced, here is why you really should shelve your disinterest and go to the theater.

"The Half Blood Prince" is the sixth Potter book and, it is (in my opinion) the best story for adult audiences.  It is by far the most philosophical and cerebral, since it deals with questions of identity, memory, and in a round about way, sex.  

In the book, Harry is 16.  His godfather Sirius has just been murdered and the War is now well underway.  Because of this, Prof. Dumbledore takes Harry under his wing to teach him, not advanced magic tricks, but about the character and person of Voldemort.  He uses "memories" to show Harry elements of Voldemort's past and hopes that, by understanding his enemy, Harry can defeat him.  

Meanwhile Harry is struggling to accept the terms and conditions of the prophecy "Neither can live while the other survives" and that he is the one who has to kill Voldemort.  The theme of identity is a big one in the Harry Potter series and is on full display in the 6th book.  Over and over again Harry and his foil Draco Malfoy are both struggling to understand the difference between "choice" and "fate" and how both shape who you are.  The Draco story line is my favorite.  

 In the midst of everything, all the kids (especially Ron and Hermione) are dealing with their own sexualities.  Love, hate, and fighting all ensue.  Finally, everything comes to a head when Harry uncovers a potions/spell book that belonged to someone called the "half blood prince" that begins to, in a way, "poison" his mind.  

Another reason to see it:  the actors.  You can NOT find another film with this many dames, knights, and general bad-ass actors in it.  Sir Michael Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Jim Broadbent (he's playing Slughorn!).  These are the gods and goddesses of stage and screen.  They are legends.

And the kids! They are sooo good.  They can act.  Especially Daniel Radcliffe.  And they're adorable.  I mean, just look at Emma Watson's new Vogue photo shoot.  I want to be there, wearing those clothes. Now.

The final clarion call:
Book 6 is one of the best.  David Yates (the film's director) understands the books and understands cinematography. And although "The Half Blood Prince" is still a pretty dark story, Yates is trying to make this one the most accessible Potter film yet.  It's a good plan.  Draw in as many lost sheep as you can before the finale.

Bottom line...Harry Potter is a great story.  JK Rowling makes it human and real.  Apart from the premise which is extraordinary, it is a very very ordinary tale about the struggle for the good in one's own soul in the face of the option which is infinitely more easy: evil.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's a busy blog post week.

I know I am inundating your in-boxes.  There was the post Monday, the one today, and of course, Harry deserves nothing less than his own separate post coming soon.  But I will be out of town for the next three weekends in a row, so there will be a nice long break.

Right now, though, sooo much to talk about.

First Up: The trailer for Diablo Cody's next film "Jennifer's Body" just hit the net!!!  Cody is, of course, the Academy Award winning screen writer of Juno looking to bypass the Sophomore Slump by writing a film that is nothing like her last one.  Jennifer's Body is about a possessed zombie cheerleader who makes it her mission to seduce and then devour over-sexed high school boys.  It's the Man Eater tale for our generation and looks very very promising.  If Cody does this right, it could be a really interesting expansion of, lets face it, increasingly outdated thinking about feminine psycho-sexual behavior.  Or it could fail miserably.  We'll just have to wait and see.  

But the trailer looks great. Really, you should watch it.  And, Megan Fox's acting doesn't look completely horrible.  Who knows, maybe the role of "plastic face femme fatal" is what she was born for. 

Next: 500 Days of Summer
Hold on to your skinny jeans, hipsters.  Because Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, the king and queen of the Williamsburg prom, are appearing in a movie together.  It's a "coming of your 20 somethings love story" full of indie tunes and vintage clothes.  And all the 40 year old ex-hipster film critics are loving it.  Personally, I'm a bit tired of the whole Garden State thing, but I'll give you the trailer for your consideration.

And lastly: Bruno. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know it's out there, waiting for you at the cineplex.  But will you see it?  Honestly, I don't really feel qualified to tell you what to do either way.  As with Borat, some critics love it.  Some hate it.  I like the fact that Sasha Baron Cohen is taking us to task for our adoration of the cult of the celebrity and taking the celebrities to task for adoring themselves.  But his message and his tactics for getting it are always problematic.  

Like Borat, this film is awash in controversy.  People are suing left and right for what basically adds up to extortion.  Plus, some gay activist groups are charging that the film is actually promoting homophobia (the thought being that Baron Cohen is 1. perpetuating gay stereotypes and 2. in so doing reinforcing homophobia among movie goers not intelligent enough to know that the finger is actually pointing towards them).  Basically, it's Borat Redux.  So I guess if you liked that, you can go see this.  Or, you can always watch it in a year when some cable network buys the rights and censors the s#*t out of it.

Provoking thoughts at the Berlin premiere.  Note the mismatching.  

Monday, July 6, 2009

7/6- A note on Shamefucks

We all have them.  I don't care how in love with your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other you are.  To deny that you have a Shamefuck is to lie.  There is a person, usually a celebrity or a musician (maybe even a writer or other admired professional), who you have never met, talked to, or had any interaction with that you can't get enough of.  Despite the fact that you know nothing about them, you are attracted to them.  Furthermore, you recognize that your desire for this person is shameful.  However, it's not simply shameful because of the "un-realistic"-ness of it; it is shameful because you know they are universally cringe inducing.

The person you're compelled to fuck, even though they're not the prettiest/sexiest/hottest or smart or clever or remotely appealing to most people. 
-Urban Dictionary.com

Example: I have made the claim that Robert Pattinson is mine.  This is only partially true.  I feel shame about my crush on him because it makes me feel like a delusional, 13 year old fan girl.   But he's not totally shame inducing because, let's face it, most people can objectively agree that the boy is attractive.  To be with someone who looks like that incurs no judgement or disgust.

Nicolas Cage is a different story.  He is my true Shamefuck.

Nicolas Cage is ugly.  I understand this.  Objectively, he is gross.  I get it. I won't argue with you. He's also a wack-o.  So, so strange.  But, still.  I just don't care.  I love him.  And those fucking National Treasure movies.

Lately, Nick has fallen off.  He has retreated from taking the kinds of roles that allow him to blow everyone away with his acting ability (I mean, have you see Leaving Las Vegas and/or Adaptation? Amazing acting) to indulge his obsession with comic books/fantasy novels.  With such gems as Ghost Rider and Bangkok Dangerous, Nick is fast approaching joke status.  

But, redemption is nigh! He's already getting buzz about the forth-coming "Sorcerers Apprentice" which comes out later this year.  Even better and sooner is Werner Herzog's new film "Bad Leutienant: Port of Call New Orleans".  Herzog is a widely proclaimed genius, and his films are either massive successes or burn up in the heat of their own ambition. Let's hope this one's the former.  The trailer is below.

I probably won't see this. Honestly, my only interest in this movie is the potential it has to reinstate Nick atop the Hollywood pecking order.  Because there's nothing better than seeing one's crush succeed.