Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seen and Heard: Ladyhawke

Ladyhawke's nothing new. I've been listening to (and enjoying) her self-titled album for close to a year now, it's a great addition to the synth based 80's revival that's been infiltrating pop-rock. Without a doubt one of my favorite tracks is "Magic", a slightly darker dance song that now has an appropriately awesome music video that mixes all the best campy fantasy of the decade it recalls with just a hint of Georges Méliès. Just for fun, because the film fanatic in me demands it, let's tangentially post 1902's Le Voyage dans le Moon (A Trip to the Moon) and then not add post the music video more directly (and obviously) influenced by Méliès: "Tonight, Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins. Somehow, this became a lesson, kids. Beef up your film IQ and watch this damn movie. It's short, i promise. Next time i'll find a way to sneak in Un Chien Andalou.

Brought to You By the Letters M-A-D-M-E-N

First there was "30 Rocks", now the folks behind Sesame Street have conquered more accolade drenched territory and done Mad Men, complete with opening credit parody and a muppet Don Draper. Who's happy? Happy happy happy?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Year of the Undead

The success of Twilight and "True Blood" inevitably meant an eventual blow-up of vampire related schlock. This fall safely marks the beginning of a massive onslaught of absurd attempts at the genre. It's not stopping with CW's "The Vampire Diaries" or Chan-Wook Park's highly rated Thirst, oh no, a quick google search will prove that there are literally dozens of vampire themed films in the works. To guide you through it all, i've compiled the trailers for the most intriguing, and the most absurd.

1. Daybreakers: This one's an action plague film more along the lines of standard zombie conventions than vampires. The concept is that most of the human population has been turned and is now faced with a dwindling food supply. The most promising thing about this movie is that it's well cast. Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, and Ethan Hawke all make convincing enough vamps in my book.

2. Suck: Weird indie vampire, rock-musical, comedy road movie featuring Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Dave Foley, Malcolm McDowell and Moby? It may not be much to look at in terms of production values, but there's got to be something to it.

3. The Vampire's Assistant: Originally titled Cirque du Freak, i'm a little perplexed about the genre qualifications of The Vampire's Assistant. Based on a young adult series, the story follows a 16-year old boy who volunteers to become a half-vampire assistant in exchange for an antidote for an ailing friend. Adventure? Comedy? Kids movie? Not totally sure. Also, not convinced it's even worth watching.

4. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead: Dustin Hoffman's son Jake stars in this low-budget indie comedy as a stage director who becomes entangled in a 2000 year old conspiracy connecting Shakespeare, the Holy Grail, and vampires. Absurd, yes, but possibly a literary absurd?

5. Transylmania: There is no way this film is going to be any good at all, let's just get that out of the way right off. However, it is a perfect example of the inevitable decay and exhaustion of the blood sucker genre. Transylmania is a cheap teen spoof about college kids doing a wild European semester abroad in Romania. The tagline according to IMDB? "Euro-trashed! Euro-smashed! Euro-slashed!" Believe it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In celebration and anticipation of MoMA's Tim Burton retrospective, Harper's Bazaar has shot a spread that plays up this season's more gothic elements (with appearances by the director himself). Fantastic. Check out the full series here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: The Informant!

Steven Soderbergh is one of those directors who has somehow managed to balance, almost perfectly, the mainstream blockbuster with the art house gem. He can make Ocean's 13 without breaking a sweat, then turn around and cash in the paycheck shooting the much lauded 2-parter Che. Or, in the same year he can release the sexually raw no-name Girlfriend Experience and follow it with the (in some ways equally risky) Matt Damon vehicle The Informant! You've got to admire that sort of reckless yet calculated drive to keep making cinema at all costs. Especially when your newest blockbuster (and yes, after coming in 2nd in the weekend box office, i think we can consider this a success) is a quiet, intricate, detail-oriented heist of a different color.
If you go into The Informant! looking for slapstick and Ocean's style deception, the likelihood is that you'll be disappointed. Forget the wide release, the poppy posters, and the ad campaign. The Informant! is comedic, to be sure, but not in the way you might expect. It's more cerebral giggles than thoughtless guffaws. Inspired by true events and based on the book of the same title, the story follows Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a biochemist who finds himself in the upper crust of lysine development company ADM. Confronted with a megalomaniac need to continue climbing the corporate ladder, Whitacre tells a small fiction that launches an FBI investigation. One lie begets another and another, and soon Whitacre is playing the part of informant and criminal, clumsily setting up and manipulating event after event in an attempt to cover his initial claim. While the actions themselves suggest a parodical procedural situation, the film is surprisingly invested in making this seem as thoroughly like business as usual as possible.
This means that as Mark Whitacre conducts meetings and day to day activities, the gags are few and far between and the humor is subdued. So, if you're not in it for the character, you might be wont to shy away from the mode of storytelling. This is not an exciting movie. It's not high-energy or combustible. It's almost a docudrama. Yet what it lacks in other departments, it makes up for in Matt Damon. Damon's Whitacre serves as our lens into the world of the film. His constant monologue of non-sequitors and thoughts are the only hints we get (through 75% of the movie) at what's really going on. Like a character from a story by Barthelme or George Saunders, Whitacre's corporate consciousness is misleading and underhandedly humorous. It's hard to imagine Whitacre as capable of effectively taking the trash out without distraction, let alone lead an FBI investigation.
Damon proves that he can act. He jabbers incessantly and plays his doltishly duplicitous character with a convincing air of latent Midwestern bravura. There's an escapist quality enhanced by the absurd Marvin Hamlisch score that forces us to see Whitacre's little lies as his own personal battle against Dr. No. Damon gets both the character's own ego and the viewer's sense of Whitacre as a sort of addlepated schlep and mixes them together in a way that seems effortless. In his wake, the other actors could be almost anyone. Melanie Lynskey functions well as Whitacre's loyal milktoast wife. Scott Bakula is suitably bland as Whitacre's FBI contact. And if you've been eagerly awaiting a shift to high-profile on the part of Soup host Joel McHale, this is a good start, but not a breakout performance.
Overall, I can't say that I enjoyed The Informant! as much as I wanted to. Yet, I appreciated it in a way which was surprising. The film welcomes an age of unexpected early 90's nostalgia and will undoubtedly be cause for several Matt Damon nominations come award season. Keep in mind, however, it's that kind of movie. Just because it showed up at your local multiplex doesn't mean it isn't the type that usually spends weeks slowly building up steam in limited release. I'd recommend a listen to the This American Life episode that got Soderbergh's attention several years back before you jump in unawares.
4 out of 5.

See all of Wilde.Dash's reviews at Love & Squalor.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Last week, I never would have imagined i'd be reviewing Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs before Jennifer's Body and The Informant!, and yet, here we are, discussing an animated movie based (loosely) on a beloved book from my childhood. How did this happen? I don't know. But I have no regrets. This is one meteorological disaster movie worthy of close inspection. Not only is it whimsical family fun, it operates as a wholly intact and remarkably effective work of comedy as well. SNL's Bill Hader lends one of his thousands of voices to Flint Lockwood, a bright young inventor with a track record of experiments gone kookily awry and a need to prove himself to his unibrowed father (James Caan) and community. Flint works in a makeshift laboratory built around the tree house of his childhood seeking to solve the world's epidemic of untied shoelaces and searching for a cost effective means of saving his struggling island town from eating sardines for the rest of their foreseeable futures. He invents a device that transforms water into any food imaginable, and after a powerful jolt, accidentally rockets it into the stratosphere. Hence, what would have otherwise been precipitation is not manifesting itself as falling food.

Flint's device is an accidental hit. Through the wonders of satellite technology he can order up food on request. It keeps wannabe weather girl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) on the island, promises to boost tourism, and makes for many a moment of wonder on screen. If handled improperly, the film could easily have lost itself to sight gags and an overwhelming sense of self-deluded grandiosity and syrupyness. However, the cloying moments are practically non-existent. The filmmakers here take on the content with a sparkling wit and imagination that makes the film infectiously fun and, believe it, thoroughly engrossing for its entire 81-minute run time. This is one of those bright, bubbly movies that's perfectly safe for little ones (it snows ice cream!) but has a whole 'nother level of humor adults can appreciate as well (while not over stuffing it with references and allusions that will render the movie obsolete in a few years, i'm looking at you Dreamworks...). There are puns, perfect reactions, and the vocal talent is a who's who of pop cultural cult icons: Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, and Neil Patrick Harris all find places here.
This is Sony's first outing with 3D animation, and certainly qualifies as a success. While it's no Pixar, the characters' expressive capabilities and goofy looks are perfectly suited to the storyline. Meanwhile, the film's humor is underscored by real heart. The messages here are several, but the main one is to be who you are, and if that person is a total brainiac nerd...that's cool, there's a place for you. It's delivery, it should be mentioned, takes place in a Jell-O mold palace complete with bouncing replicas of David and the Venus de Milo.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is an enjoyable romp that mixes genres (from disaster to romantic comedy) with ease and silly sophistication. While it's certainly a far cry from the 1978 book by Judi and Ron Barrett, it captures many of its memorable moments and delivers a charming explanation to the events depicted in Swallow Falls. If you've got a few ounces of imagination and the ability to suspend your disbelief, this is a great little addition in what is shaping up to be a year of surprisingly superior animation.

My main complaint? Not enough meatballs.

4 out of 5.

See all of Wilde.Dash's reviews at Love & Squalor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If I Picked the VMA's.

As mentioned previously, the VMA's are nonsense, less about artistry and more about hype. They're essentially one big commercial in which awards are doled out to a medium established as a means of advertisement. Promotion on top of promotion. Fun to watch, but of little consequence. While youtube has given new life to a different sort of music video, MTV corporate isn't much interested in pretending they care. So, without further ado, i present to you the videos from the past year or so that I would have considered deserving of public over-exposure (with only a couple repeats).

1. Beyonce / "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)"

Beyoncé - Single Ladies from minas on Vimeo.

So simple, and yet so intricately choreographed you can't look away. Surprisingly effective and really just awesome. It's true, this is the best...unless you go slightly further which case it's:

2. Lykke Li / "I'm Good, I'm Gone"

Lykke Li - I'm Good, I'm Gone from Lykke Li on Vimeo.

Eerie Kubrickian minimalism meets rhythmic indie pop and gives birth to an atmosphere that's as cinematically gorgeous as it is creepy.

3. Metronomy / "A Thing for Me"

A Thing For Me from Metronomy on Vimeo.

Oooo, an electro pop repetitive sing-a-long! Follow the bouncing ball...everywhere!

4. Goldfrapp / "Happiness"

Goldfrapp - Happiness from Mute Records on Vimeo.

If only because it does what it's supposed to.

5. Janelle Monae / "Many Moons"

Deftly delivers a concept, a story, and a persona in one swoop.

6. Gnarls Barkley / "Who's Gonna Save My Soul"

Who's Gonna Save My Soul from T-Tags on Vimeo.

What can i say? I'm a sucker for anthropomorphizing objects.

7. Fever Ray / "If I Had A Heart"

If I Had A Heart from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

Doesn't it make you nervous? Like, a little bit? Just, not so comfortable?

8. M83 / "Kim and Jessie"

M83 - Kim and Jessie from Mute Records on Vimeo.

A perfect fit. Innocent and nostalgic without becoming overwhelmingly hipster.

9. Lady GaGa / "Beautiful Dirty Rich" and "Paparazzi"

Lady Gaga - Beautiful Dirty Rich from Bruninha*Brubis on Vimeo.

Standard pop videos taken to extravagant and absurd high fashion heights. Strangely, MTV felt they needed to honor the generic "Poker Face" instead.

10. MGMT / "Kids"

Monsters! Joanna Newsom!

11. Rihanna / "Disturbia"

Rihanna - Disturbia from Olgu Sengul on Vimeo.

I'm so serious: this wasn't nominated for any VMA's. I mean, really? Doesn't this seem like a completely obvious choice? Rihanna does Blade Runner and MTV doesn't care? WTF.

12. She & Him / "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here"

She & Him - Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? from Toolshed Media on Vimeo.

Zooey Deschanel being charming in a way that's not wholly expected.

13. Vampire Weekend / "Oxford Comma"

A talk and walk Wes Anderson style.

14. Bat for Lashes / "Daniel"

Bat For Lashes - Daniel (HD) from Peter Pan on Vimeo.

15. The Mountain Goats / "Sax Rohmer #1"

A different sort of sing-a-long!

Runners Up: "Zero"/Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Treat Me Like your Mother"/Dead Weather, "A Volta"/N.A.S.A., "Two Weeks"/Grizzly Bear, "Happy Up Here"/Royksopp

Chuck Bass Would Not Approve.

I'm going to venture a guess here and argue that Chuck Bass wouldn't approve of real-life actor Ed Westwick's recent excursion to the tattoo parlor. I also don't approve. I mean, look at that ugly thing defiling his arm! I understand pin-up tattoos, they're classic, as things go, but this is a poorly drawn, poorly placed mess topped off by an idiotic and nonsensical catchphrase. "She's a pinup"? Who's a pin-up? To make matters worse, this is just one half of Westwick's inked additions. The other arm is graced with a giant ass feather quill (can you tell that i'm regularly very cynical and critical of other people's decisions when it comes to tattoo art?). Really? Really? Where'd you find your tattoo artist, dude, prison? Craigslist? A trailer park? Normally, this wouldn't be post-worthy, but it's obviously a horrible shame that someone so naturally pretty would defile their arms in such a manner. Small tragedy. Regrets, Chuck Bass, you will have them. Yes, i'm not entirely serious. [Source: ONTD]


Michael Kors, famed designer and one third of the finicky judging panel on Project Runway, presented a collection loaded with pastels to the crowds at New York Fashion Week. Simple lines, straight angles, shifts, all inspired by an architectural sensibility. This is what Kors is banking on for Spring/Summer 2010. Please god, no. Kors, i'm sorry, but you've just aged your models a couple decades. Your construction may be immaculate but your ideas aren't a fresh update of something classic, they just look tired and dowdy. This palette works best in bathrooms and on retro-inspired kitchen appliances. Those transparent plastic strips are cheap and make us question your taste level. Save it for the ready to wear department store line, not the catwalk. Michael, you're out. Auf wiedersehen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

We Need To Talk About Kanye...

You all know what happened. It's almost not worth repeating. Yet, alas, i just wouldn't be doing my job if i ignored it completely. So, we need to talk about Kanye. Last night at MTV's VMA awards, Kanye West once again made a fool out of himself, and hit a new low in his addiction to spotlight-grabbing douchebaggery. Basically: Taylor Swift won an award and Kanye decided this was an outrage. He leaped on stage to proclaim that Beyonce's video for "Single Ladies" was one of the best of all time and that Swift's video essentially was crap. Now, let's not pretend he isn't right. He is. The "Single Ladies" video will be as iconic as "Addicted to Love", but god, Kanye, that's so not the point. It's protocol! Basic social etiquette! Things you think but don't say (at least not right off)! You can't rob a 19-year old girl who seems perfectly nice of a moment and expect not to piss off the entire viewing public. Also, i'm not so sure you can pull a stunt like that and be in Jay-Z's good graces ever again. Basically...bad move Kanye. Especially since the VMA's are as inconsequential as it gets, they don't award artistry or even take into consideration any music videos that may actually be impressive. It's just a popularity contest where the same fifteen crappy over-produced pop videos are celebrated in a festival of exhibitionism and mediocrity. Get over it.

If you're from anywhere near Chicago it's sort of like required that you maintain a certain amount of loyalty to local artists. So, yes, i'm a Kanye West fan. I've seen him in concert and appreciate the construction on a good deal of his songs. I do think he's been robbed of a couple well-deserved Grammys and accolades. But, i think we've really reached a point where i have to own up to the fact that in spite of his talent and taste, he's not the brightest pair of sneakers in the closet. His inflammatory comments aren't publicity stunts so much as moments of immature tantrum throwing and idiocy. Even his blog apology (which appeared and is now nowhere to be found) is a poorly thought out display. Observe (edited out of all-caps by

"I’m sooooo sorry to Taylor Swift and her fans and her mom. I spoke to her mother right after and she said the same thing my mother would’ve said. She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers! I’m in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!

“Beyoncé’s video was the best of this decade!!!! I’m sorry to my fans if I let you guys down!!!! I’m sorry to my friends at MTV. I will apologize to Taylor 2mrw. Welcome to the real world!!!! Everybody wanna booooo me but I’m a fan of real pop culture!!! No disrespect but we watchin’ the show at the crib right now cause … well you know!!!! I’m still happy for Taylor!!!! Boooyaaawwww!!!! You are very very talented!!! I gave my awards to Outkast when they deserved it over me … That’s what it is!!!!!!! I’m not crazy y’all, i’m just real. Sorry for that!!! I really feel bad for Taylor and I’m sincerely sorry!!! Much respect!!!!!”

GRAMMAR, Kanye. Learn it. It's hard to take an apology seriously when it contains that many exclamation points (a personal pet peeve), text speak, and numerous references to the speaker's personal ego trips. Also, does "I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she's in the bleachers" even count as praise? I'm voting no. That's fifth grade level criticism. An "I like it because i like it" book report. One last thing: i've heard that only crazy people say they're not crazy.

I feel like i say this a lot of various celebrities, but Kanye is treading a dangerous line between remaining a well-respected talent and a blathering diva who accidentally stumbled upon a winning formula for a new breed of hip-hop. It's cool to have an opinion, but sometimes you just need to keep it quiet and stay dignified.

I like the remix.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Del Toro & Disney

Ok, seriously? The Disney corporation has taken a massive dose of steroids or something this year. They are on a major streak when it comes to smart moves and hype. If Marvel, Tim Burton, the return of 2D animation, and The Beatles weren't enough (Yes, if you haven't heard, they're working with Robert Zemeckis on a 3D update of Yellow Submarine), they're building a new branch of their animation department with director Guillermo Del Toro called "Disney Double Dare You". Del Toro has a slew of creature features and fantasy landscapes under his belt, and this new project will focus on family friendly films with a darker, more frightening edge. quotes Del Toro's appearance at the D23 expo, saying: "It is part of the Disney canon to create thrilling, unforgettable moments and villains in all their classic films...It is my privilege for DDY to continue in this tradition." Personally, this blogger concurs. I'd love to see Disney actively take on some bleaker projects, i always loved Black Cauldron when i was a kid, and with such a massive focus on saleable princesses and the bright poppy Disney channel tartlets, a more varied focus is just what they need. The company's first film will be entitled Trollhunters, no word as to details.

Novelty Treats: Drawn Gunn

Marvel recently released the first issue of its sartorially themed comic book series "Models Inc." (not related to the Aaron Spelling drama) starring a host of fashion forward ladies from the now Disney-owned pantheon of characters. Millie the Model, Hellcat, and Mary Jane will be teaming up to fight crime in style. But the real headliner? Issue one features Project Runway's much-loved Tim Gunn as he saves a fashion exhibition by putting on Iron Man's armor. Oh, Tim Gunn. Adorable. According to the New York Times, Gunn has a closeted past as a comic fan and at a recent signing of issue #1 participated in enthusiastic discussions on the semiotics of superhero costume design. Brilliant. Make it work, Tim, make it work. Edna Mode would approve...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Original 9

Whether you've seen, are thinking of seeing, or don't know anything about 9, you might want to consider watching its source material: the original Oscar nominated short that the film has been extended from. While I've yet to see the feature length version, i have it on good authority that Shane Acker's animated feature uses many of the same story elements as his theatrical cut. So, check this one out for free and see what all the buzz might be about.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ellen Joins Idol

I wish American Idol would stop making newsworthy alterations and commit to dying, but i'm not going to get my wish any time soon. E! Online (and every other media/news outlet) reported sometime last night that comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has accepted the job of Paula Abdul's replacement on the reality competition. She'll join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi as fourth judge and representative of the average American viewer. DeGeneres herself has acknowledged that her industry know-how and credentials might be a little questionable, but states ""Hopefully I'm the people's point of view, because I'm just like you. I sit at home and I watch it...I'm not looking at it in a critical way, from the music producer's mind. I'm looking at it as a person who's going to buy the music, and who's going to relate to that person." [Source] Yep, the Idol producers have cleverly swapped an intentional comedic element in place of an accidental one. Meh, I'm still pretty confidant i'm not going to resume watching the show...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The 80's Redux Will Not Die

Randomly premiering at the Venice Film Festival last night was a pseudo-sequel to 1984's cult classic Repo Man entitled Repo Chick. Repo Chick is actually written and directed by Alex Cox, the man responsible for the original film and is inexplicably produced by David Lynch. Starring the unknown Jaclyn Jonet, it's shot almost entirely on a green screen on a super-indie budget. Jonet plays a rich brat named Pixxi de la Chasse (for reals) who decides to make a quick buck in the repo business after being cut off by her parents. The film is supposedly a total hodge-podge in eye poppingly bright fluff & puff colors. Variety's early review provides a quick sense of what we're dealing with with this line: "A wacky blend of leftist, anti-establishment politics, eye-searing colors, outre costumes and manic overacting, "Repo Chick" could be likened to what you would get if Michael Moore directed an episode of Nick Jr.kiddie series "Lazy Town." In other words, it's fun but all over the map, an oddity that will prove an acquired taste for some, but way too annoying for others. "
All i see is a cross between Sleepover, Spy Kids, and, well, Repo Man. Yes, i'm sold. I will watch this nonsense. I probably won't like it, but i'll watch it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Novelty Treats: Just Between You And Me

Artist Keetra Dean Dixon has created a series of co-dependent objects entitled "Just Between You And Me". The results are charming and worth a glance even if they aren't necessarily the choices i would have made. My favorite is the piece that the series derives its title from, a two ended balloon that's either a fun party game or a wonderful way to test your body's carbon dioxide limits. [via today and tomorrow]

Novelty Treats: Bangarang

You've probably seen Pogo's sound & vision collages before, even if you never thought to look further. His song "Alice" surfaced on Youtube a couple years back, and mixed sampled sound snippets from Disney's Alice in Wonderland to create something wholly hypnotic. I've seen "Alice" dozens of times, and have stumbled across it on numerous occasions, but for some reason, i only just realized that "Alice" was merely the first in a series of artfully rendered pieces. Pogo's compositions are strikingly beautiful plays upon nostalgia and innocence. For me, it's as if he dug through my basement and re-edited all the VHS tapes i watched in a loop as a child so that in mere minutes the entire emotional impact of the films and the stories they're based upon resonates in a way that's as unexpected as it is welcome. Like Gang Gang Dance, but with a feeling of warm familiarity. It's like the internet tucking you into bed with a mug of hot chocolate.

Ben Lyons, You'll Never Work In This Town Again...

"At the Movies", the show launched by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel a few decades back, has been in turmoil for the last year following Ebert's departure. The syndicated program has recently been the subject of intense backlash following the appointment of the, frankly, ignorant and unqualified Ben Lyons (who famously made the mistake of stating that I Am Legend was one of "the greatest films ever made"...cue critical uproar!) and extraordinarily dull Ben Mankiewicz. The Bens first got their rights to "two thumbs up" revoked, then got their ass further handed to them by Roger Ebert, and finally, were removed from the air and tossed back out onto the street to take payola from someone else (E! most likely) and quit committing sacrilege. Now, a new day has arrived. "At the Movies" has been retooled for launch this weekend (check local listings) with real film critics with respected reputations: Michael Phillips from the Chicago Tribune and A.O. Scott of the New York Times. Yes, when you tune in you will now be able to watch a real discussion on a film's merit. Halle-freakin'-lujah. The best part about it, however, may be the ad campaign and promotional video on the show's site. It seems the folks at "At the Movies" are trying desperately to save face by really sort of slamming their own catastrophic direction and making bold note that what we've moved back to is "serious reviews" and "serious journalists". Check it out, at the end they even snarkily attack with "real reviews" and "real critics". That's right Ben Lyons. That's right. God, i'm vindictive this week.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Full Calendar Day With Kevin Smith

For those who Twitter without rhyme or reason, be prepared: writer/director Kevin Smith will be hosting a 24-hour Q&A via the networking device on Labor Day (9/7). It's a publicity stunt surrounding his book tour for Shooting the Sh*t with Kevin Smith. Why is he doing it? Why not? The quote from his press release explains all:
“This is not news at all. In fact, it’s kinda stupid. But I wanna see if I can do it. I’ve been training for this my whole life, simply by being a lazy fat-ass who’d rather stare at a screen than better himself with a brisk constitutional. Someone asked what my training regiment is gonna be, and I told them I’ve already stockpiled lots of Count Chocula.” [Source]

Amber Tamblyn Does What?

Add this to the list of things I didn't know: actress Amber Tamblyn (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Joan of Arcadia, Stephanie Daley) is a poet. She's also dating Tobias Funke, but that's neither here nor there. Tamblyn has just released her second book of poetry entitled Bang Ditto. Her first was a young adult portrait of her teenage years called Free Stallion printed by Simon & Schuster's children's division. First book: large house. Second book: small press. You have to hand it to her, unlike Lauren Conrad and other authors/actors, Tamblyn took the route less profitable. Manic D Press is likely not signing a massive royalty check or running a massive ad-campaign for Tamblyn's lyric wares, if anything, she's boosting their profile, so any benefits she's receiving come with a modicum of respect from yours truly. I'm not a big poetry reader, so i can't speak to how on target Tamblyn is with contemporary trends, or even whether she's decent at what she does, but least she didn't aspire to be a pop star.

Things That Make Me Giddily Content and Yet, Still Bitter.

All About Steve, the embarrassingly awful looking Sandra Bullock film that's been pushed relentlessly in the commercial breaks during Project Runway, is actually as embarrassingly awful as it appears. 46 reviews in on Rotten Tomatoes and we're at a 00% approval rating. I can't help the surges of relief and self-justification i'm feeling. I just wanted to hate that movie and that character that much. What a shame that Sandra Bullock, who's otherwise likable, keeps limiting herself to roles in slapstick romantic comedies and bland dramas. Time to learn, Sandra. Take this as a lesson or you'll go the way of Meg Ryan. It's a dangerous ledge you're standing on.

I'm thinking the only reason All About Steve got pushed through to theatrical release is the enormous success of supporting male Bradley Cooper's other summer vehicle, The Hangover. That must be it, right? Otherwise, why else would they be wasting space at all 5 or so of my local theaters to play this clunker instead of Cold Souls, In the Loop, or Thirst? Pfft. Bitter. If this film lands in first or second place at the box office, i'm afraid i'm going to have to move elsewhere.

Things That Make Me Emotionally Conflicted

Paper Magazine is celebrating their 25th birthday with a five cover collection of celebrity 25 year olds. Since i'm just shy of that age bracket, i poured over all five covers to look closely at the folks who are essentially my generational peers. Now, i don't know what to feel. On the one hand, i look at folks like Paul Dano, whose performances in films like There Will Be Blood have earned him a solid rep, and Patrick Wolf, whose musical sophistication is striking, and suddenly feel remarkably unaccomplished. Like, at what point in my education did my drive slow down? On the flipside, i look at Lydia Hearst and Kelly Osbourne and resent the wall built by a namedropping culture whose industry feeds upon nepotism and dynastic legacy. Then, I see MTV host and supposed model Alexa Chung and wonder where i was on the day MTV decided they needed to fill the lunch hour time slot with awkward & goofy teenage celebrity interviews. Seriously, MTV, I could fill that time slot and probably eventually work up to earning you a Peabody. Moving on down the line i notice Aubrey O'Day and am convinced she's lying about her age. Seriously. I never second guessed myself when pinning her for a surgically-enhanced 30-something. Mostly, looking at these 25 25-year olds makes me feel detached somehow, stunted and aged at the same time. With the possible exceptions of Osbourne and Avril Lavigne (and maybe Paul Dano, sometimes), who we watched grow up on television, i can't really form a connection or association (however begrudgingly)with these people. I try to imagine the real 20-something peers in my life and for the most part can't place them in the line-up. These people seem old to me, like they're 25 in an alternate reality (which, in a way, they are) or their biographies are entirely fictitious. Either way, i'm scared. Then I realize that Spencer Pratt, or, sorry, self-appointed King Spencer Pratt (i'm so sure he got this idea while stoned out of his mind watching Michael Jackson coverage, "What? That kid is named Prince Michael Jackson?") is 26 and i sort of lose all hope for the future.


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