Friday, November 27, 2009
How did i miss this? The Muppet Show may not be on the air these days, but that's alright, because the frogs and pigs and chickens and things have found a new outlet for their performances. That's right, kids, it's the 21st century, and Muppet Studios has a Youtube channel. This totally makes my Black Friday. It's absolutely divine. Their cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a brilliant ensemble show, but it's certainly not the only gem on the channel. No, no, they've got a shortlist of Statler & Waldorf web commentary, Sam Eagle giving us "culture, morality, and patriotism" on the internet, and, best of all, someone over there is making spectacular use of the Swedish Chef and Beaker. Really...watch them perform the "Habanera" from Carmen. Forget today, it totally makes my week. Week = set. I love this. So much. So so much.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sometimes Wes Anderson collaborator and otherwise solid in-his-own-right director Noah Baumbach's last movie was Margot at the Wedding. Which was sort of disappointing. I really wanted to like that movie, and I kind of did, but in a way where i never really want to watch it again. You know, like a half interesting New Yorker story with characters you try to identify with and then start hating yourself. Before that, though, Baumbach made two of my favorite go to movies for collegiate, east coast, pseudo-intellectual jibber-jabber: Squid and the Whale and 1995's post-grad truth, Kicking and Screaming. Both of these are why i'm feeling optimistic about his next film Greenberg, about a 40-year old underachiever played by a subdued looking Ben Stiller. Stiller hasn't really done anything past straight comedy in awhile, and while i'm amongst those who enjoyed the violent absurdity of Tropic Thunder, my favorite level of high-strung Stiller will always be Chas Tenenbaum. Maybe he and Baumbach, alongside Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rhys Ifans, and Greta Gerwig (Hannah Takes the Stairs) can both stage a respectable comeback. Yes?
Friday, November 20, 2009
Since it's all over everything in terms of buzz, here's the video for Beyonce's new single "Video Phone" which has Beyonce looking awesome, and happens to feature GaGa as a rather normal, pint sized human being in the presence of the diva otherwise known as Sasha Fierce. It's pretty generic music video stuff. Looks a bit like "Gold Digger", has some Tarantino sight cues, AK-47s, super bright colors, and epileptic strobing (yeah, don't watch it if you're prone to the grand mal).
Let's be honest, Althea's 50's themed sci-fi collection looked a little more 80's/90's post-apocalyptic. If some of that wasn't torn straight from the Nebuchadnezzar, i'd be surprised. Aside from that, it was, as Michael Kors mentioned, standard sportswear. Well done, but not particularly memorable, and occasionally reminiscent of Jay McCarroll's season one finale. I can see it on the racks at Urban Outfitters. Actually, i think i have. Gah, harem pants.
Carol Hannah, as likable and hard-working as she was, delivered the Project Runway standard. There's one in every finale: the designer who makes things that are 'pretty'. Very nice, very lovely. Maybe they drape well, maybe they use color well, maybe they're flattering, and (more than likely) maybe it's something the designer herself would wear. Problem is, Carol Hannah's collection lacked an overarching theme, and in between her standout gowns were garish maternity tops and garments so wearable, they already exist. Though, i'd like that puffy tutu skirt to wear to a holiday party or two.
Irina was the only designer to shoot beyond Project Runway 101 for Milan. Everything, down to the little helmet hats (which i loved) brought her closer to Balenciaga than semi-pro. While her New York Warrior theme was maybe a bit contrived, it's still (to argue with Kors) a character that always works on the runway. Irina's outfitting followed through and revealed a remarkably solid understanding of presentation and an ability to work within and beyond couture trends. Irina's got skill. She makes opulent but ultimately wearable clothes. While i would have liked to see her transcend her limited palette, i could definitely use one or two of those giant hooded sweaters.
So, Irina had to win. Mathematically, she got it right. Her collection was cohesive. It was operating in perfect synchronicity with an understanding of high/low luxury and accessibility, the creation of an unusual silhouette, and the then (at the time of filming) exploding menswear for women trend. Irina created a look that was tailored, finished, edgy, and very New York without sacrificing femininity. She gets it. And on Project Runway, that sort of full comprehension is always rewarded, deservedly so.
Still, this was a season that celebrated mediocrity. I don't know if the move to Lifetime or the legal trouble had anything to do with it, but it was bland. It was boring. Its designers were generally subpar. They lacked interesting personalities and outlooks and some made up for that in misplaced boasts (Nicholas, your house is made of ticky-tacky. And Johnny, if i ever see you, it'll take a lot not to put my fist through your jaw). Adding to this seasons issues was a series downgrade in terms of editing. Each episode's focus was so particular it made the winners/loser obvious 5 minutes in. There's nothing quite as uninteresting as watching a competition where you know from the beginning who will be up for discussion. Dull. All said and done, Irina might be boring, she might be mean, but she had talent. Talent and a taste level that was never questionable. You know, not like Christopher.
It's probably bad that the proton entry, and the assumption of significance just assigned, echoes of "eskimo" in Heathers.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Hey, guess what? America's Next Top Model finally got it right. My early pick, Nicole Fox, the girl who was smart, savvy, and talented enough to pay attention and study the behaviors of models (while remaining above the drama in the house), walked off with the title, Cover Girl contract, and cover of Seventeen magazine. For the first time ever, the most interesting girl, and the one with the brightest future, has won. I know it's superficial tripe and you don't care, but give me this moment to yammer on about this, because it seriously never happens. Every cycle, the tie-ins with Cover Girl and Seventeen get in the way of letting the person who deserves it win, and a commercial, fresh faced, 'girl next door' winds up winning. Nicole, at last, is someone who can manage approachable while maintaining editorial. She's going to get jobs, she might actually have a future once she gets past hawking mascara in guest appearances in the next cycle. The awkward nerd finally wins! It was so close last cycle, with saucer-eyed Allison, but wound up going to bubbly, wind-in-her-face sporty-type Teyona (who could turn it out in pictures, but even in her cameo on tonight's episode was underwhelming). Victory. All my time spent watching this show has been validated.
When you need something to space out to late late this evening, try watching these videos, the first for Massive Attack's "United Snakes", the second for Air's "Heaven's Light". The former, black and white and clear as crystal. The latter, vibrant and subdued.
I enjoyed actress/singer/fantastic dresser Charlotte Gainsbourg's last album 5:55, it had some pretty solid indie pop ("The Operation" wracked up a staggering amount of play counts for me) and for whatever reason i just love her voice. She has that strange sort of split French/English murmur from her divided ancestry, it's charming. I'd hesitate to call it elfin, but, I mean, it's almost there.
For her upcoming album IRM (the French version of MRI, much of the work was inspired by her near death 2007 water skiing accident, in which she suffered cerebral hemorrhage), Gainsbourg collaborated quite a bit with Beck. Now, we have a video for the single "Heaven Can Wait", a duet with the man himself. It's a meandering piece of alt-pop, a bit woozy and tinged with the sounds Beck has worked with on albums like Sea Change and Modern Guilt. Plus, the video features a man with a stack of pancakes for a head, so that's always good. If for no other reason, you should watch it for the pancakes.
So, it's not news that boring old chick lit author Candace Bushnell has been working on a prequel to her book Sex and the City. The book, uncreatively titled The Carrie Diaries, is a young adult novel about Carrie Bradshaw's teenage years. You know, relationships, clothes, the beginning of her interest in writing. Admittedly, while I'm not particularly interested, I'd argue the young adult book is a more interesting forum for Carrie Bradshaw's story than some sort of sequel, and if she can manage to write it properly, it could make for a fascinating commentary on how a character like Carrie's perspective is formed by her high school environment.
Ultimately, though, no good can come of this. I shouldn't have to tell you that I have little faith in Bushnell. Yes, i am ashamed to admit that as someone now devoting copious hours to the study of literature and writing that from ages 14-16 I read essentially all of what is now considered the basis for the 'chick lit' canon (between the consumption of the major Russian novels). Fielding, Kinsella, Green, the lot. And though Bushnell is better than most (and perhaps not as fluffy), I wasn't impressed. Somehow, though, out of the wreckage, Darren Star's HBO adaptation did wonders with the source material. I'm a big fan of Sex and the City as a television show (not as a book, not, repeat, not, as a movie....eegads). It was consistently entertaining, had strong character development and a core of really solid ladies with perspectives that kept things moving. The show has already been partially corrupted by the heavily edited reruns and the absurd big screen moneymaker, and now this, The Carrie Diaries, could be the blow that transforms it into a parody of itself.
Following the release of this book (April, 2010 for those curious), it's only a matter of time before someone ::cough:: The CW::cough:: decides to adapt it into a television series. And when we have a high school Sex and the City (complete with 80's ensembles!), then we open the floodgates for all sorts of other quagmires and issues. Personally, i think i'd like to live in my little bubble. In my bubble, the events of the movie never occurred (because they're absurdly out of character, all of them, every woman). In my bubble, the 8th and 9th seasons of The X-Files never happened. In my bubble, Lindsay Weir went to college instead of getting on that damn bus.
Also, i really hate to devote this much space to this, but i've just gotta make a prediction. People claims that the Stephen Sprouse-esque cover art of the book "specifically references an incident between the character and her mother" [source]. Right, so, here's what's totally going to happen. Tell me if i'm wrong. Carrie Bradshaw's mother has high hopes for her daughter, a respectable career, a respectable school, because Carrie's no dummy. So, she gets her some sort of nice gift. A respectable bag/wallet/briefcase/portfolio, likely to bring to interviews and such. Carrie, fashionista that she is, is disappointed. The item just isn't her. She wanted something else, something edgy. Carrie decides to put her own personal flair on said item and deface it. Mom gets pissed. Eventually, both reconcile and reflect on Carrie being her own person. Am i right, or am i right?
PJ Harvey - This Is Love
Vezi mai multe video din Muzica
If you weren't already aware, Lady GaGa is less Britney Spears than Elton John. Here's a video of Stefani Germanotta (that's the Lady before her reinvention) performing original works at an NYU talent show. Anyone who watches Gossip Girl will find the clip relevant to this week's episode, but what is perhaps most noteworthy is that for those who doubt the overproduced sounds of "Poker Face", it's an interesting sort of musical revelation. Yeah, the girl can sing. She can also play. But unlike dozens of other female singer/songwriters, she shot the ambitions of her project away from Lilith Fair and towards glam rock.
While her music, including the recently leaked tracks on next week's Fame Monster release, veers mostly towards the radio friendly, she is lyrically** and performatively on par with a solid tradition of musical chameleons. While i was initially dubious of GaGa (and i think my past writing reflects this), and still think that as catchy as her songs are, they aren't up to snuff with the incredible amount of thought and artistry put into her image (the look and the sound just don't fully match up, too bright and effervescent, if i didn't know better i'd say a song like "Summerboy" was sung by a Pixie Lott or Candy-era Mandy Moore type), i've become a definite GaGa fan in the last few months. Maybe it was the VMA martyrdom, maybe it was the 10-minute Paparazzi video, I don't know, but once we got past the abysmal overplaying of what is perhaps her worst song ("Just Dance") i embraced GaGa as a serious pop performance artist. She's got staying power. She's a storyteller, a visual artist, and damn ambitious.
That said, I'm surprised she's as successful as she is with such diverse audiences. Is it because the image and the sound don't fully sync? That the music remain accessible while the persona is off-putting? I'm not sure. All I know is, it never seemed to fully pay off for Grace Jones or Roisin Murphy.
** I recognize that generally her lyrics are absurd. That's the beauty of them. Their hypersexualized postmodern nonsense saves the song from becoming just another pop puff piece on relationships and moves it towards that which recognizes and operates within its own absurdity. "Disco stick", "stunnin with my love glue gunnin'", etc. are perhaps the female post-Warhol and Madonna response to sci-fi reminiscent cut up lyrics of earlier glam artists like Bowie, T-Rex, and (at times) Queen. GaGa essentially reclaims and appropriates the sexual stance of homo/bisexual androgynous past performers and remixes it for the electronic era. If you can't imagine Lady GaGa pouring over "Killer Queen", "Moonage Daydream", or proclaiming "tell you who you are if you nail me to my car", you're listening but probably not hearing.
Monday, November 16, 2009
My Little Pony is coming back to TV. The Hollywood Reporter has announced that the toy franchise, which has had its fair share of cartoons and VHS tapes in the past (check the original theme song, oh memories), is the first official title to be added to the line-up of a brand new kids cable channel from toy giant Hasbro and Discovery.
Wait, Hasbro and Discovery? I mean, i'm not surprised that My Little Pony is back, it never really went away, and luckily, i don't think there's too much they can do to corrupt or sluttify the candy colored ponies (they've already been branded with rainbow tramp stamps)....but, Hasbro and Discovery joined forces to bring us television? I don't think i'm too far off base when i guess that the newly created Hasbro Studios will build the station as one massive commercial. Next up: Transformers, GI Joe, Clue, Candyland, Battleship, Mr. Potato Head, Cabbage Patch Kids, Pokemon, and a return of Jem. What I'm really looking forward to, though, will be when they run out of ideas and go for Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, and Easy-Bake Oven: the television series.
No, it has nothing to do with Walt Whitman. Instead, Leaves of Grass is a stoner comedy thriller about a college professor who gets involved in a drug war led by his redneck twin brother. Yes, it's a movie about pot and twins. While it may sound like a recipe for absurdity and disaster, believe it or not, it has nothing to do with Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, or any of Hollywood's other half-baked regulars. Leaves of Grass is written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson and stars Edward Norton as Bill and Brady Kincaid. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Fest and has picked up a fair amount of buzz as Norton's comeback after a series of relatively forgettable films (Pride and Glory, The Incredible Hulk). More importantly? It looks pretty entertaining, like Pineapple Express with the sort of absurd sight gag we haven't seen used in a decent film for awhile. Also featuring Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss (as the southern fried drug lord), Waitress's Keri Russell, and this year's indie queen Melanie Lynskey (The Informant, Up in the Air), the film is slated to start appearing in theaters come Christmas.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Man, would you look at that fuckin' hipster? I mean, those glasses, that ironic mustache, the primary blue pants, and...oh my god, that shirt. Holy crap, that shirt. Hipster...where did you get that shirt? Why, from American Apparel of course. Crazy Dov Charney got something right when he signed on to produce some commemorative t-shirts celebrating the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. The Big Bird design might be my favorite, as it really captures the yellow one's wanderlust. He was always one to tie on a neck scarf and jet off to Asia. The others are pretty good as well. Prairie Dawn tries to feed Cookie Monster something healthy, and if I'm not mistaken Guy Smiley even made it into the group shot. Am i too old to add these to my Christmas wishlist? Is this going to be like that middle school Tigger trend all over again?
Here are the possible contenders:
Battle for Terra
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Disney's A Christmas Carol
The Dolphin – Story of a Dreamer
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Mary and Max
The Missing Lynx
Monsters vs. Aliens
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
A Town Called Panic
Out of those, I'd say some are definite write offs. Don't place bets on Alvin and the Chipmunks or the Tinker Bell sequel, but don't write off relative unknowns like Australia's Mary and Max or the vibrant Secret of Kells. There have been quite a few worthwhile animated features this year, and even no frills comedies like Monsters vs. Aliens have been better than the average Dreamworks showing. My prediction, though, is that a few are definites. Coraline's whirlwind use of stop-motion is something the Academy can't ignore. Up, as Pixar's latest emotional masterwork, is a no-brainer. Same goes for Ponyo, since no one can ignore what Miyazaki brings to the table. My other two guesses, though I have yet to see them, are Fantastic Mr. Fox and Disney's The Princess and the Frog. The former because it's Wes Anderson's aesthetic in complicated stop-motion, the latter because the film is being heralded as the rebirth of the Disney 2D animated fairy tale. But, again, the Academy is known for their upsets, and we have yet to see what the upcoming month will bring.
Trailer Park MySpace Video
The much murmured about film adaptation of Mark Millar's (of Wanted fame) graphic novel Kick-Ass finally has a trailer those who weren't at Comic-Con can watch. That means the independently produced movie has found a distributor and has an actual release date, and come April you'll be able to check out the ultraviolent adventures of some teenage vigilantes. Don't let the bright colors and kids lull you into a false sense of security, rumor has it that this film lives up to its title and then some, and is as brutal as they come. Now if only the printed version i've had on my Amazon.com wishlist for two years could get an actual publication date. I'm guessing that'll come soon.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Guess what guys? Brooklyn based indie stars Grizzly Bear have a new music video as well. While the artsy fartsy claymation trip for "Ready, Able" doesn't have any costume changes, i'd argue it still manages to rival GaGa on the imagery front. Though, you know, it's more placid than frenetic.
Another epically over-the-top Lady GaGa video premiered while you were sleeping. This one, for "Bad Romance", the single leading the release of The Fame Monster, features enough costume changes to make your head spin (including the return of the White Witch-esque crown). Check it out.
Fashion designer Tom Ford, the man responsible for turning around Gucci in the 90's, has written and directed a film. A Single Man, starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, and Nicholas Hoult (About A Boy, Skins) chronicles a day in the life of an English Professor whose partner has just died. More importantly, it looks 100% stunning, and is purportedly the role of a lifetime for Firth. I'm now obsessed with having to see this movie, don't know how i'll wait until its limited release December 11.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Yet, An Education is no Lolita. Jenny is dazzled by David and he dotes on her in a way that's more charming than creepy. He showers her with gifts, with champagne, small talk, and impromptu trips to Paris. He allows her to take her time getting to know him. While their relationship lacks the chemistry needed to make An Education the horribly romantic film every bookworm anglophile girl wants it to be, it's perhaps for the better. The film uses the relationship as a catalyst for Jenny's repressed teenage rebellion. She's too analytical to get swept up in something truly passionate, and the relationship feeds off of her own desire to live, and her eagerness to experience as much as possible. Carey Mulligan gives a subtle, starmaking performance that captures her character's conflicts, excitement, and heartbreak perfectly. She oscillates wildly between a refined Leslie Caron (yes, I'd disagree with all the comparisons to Audrey Hepburn, she lacks the requisite enthusiasm) on the night they invented champagne, and a smart alecky, disappointed schoolgirl. Even as Jenny makes foolish decisions and bad judgment calls, she does so with a joie de vivre that makes her seem brave instead of stupid. Sarsgaard, too, plays David with the requisite hint of devilry, but makes him likable. He's not a predator so much as a man repeatedly making the mistakes Jenny is making for the first time. Together, they're less infatuated with each other than with the idea of what being with the other, being in love, means.
Director Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners) and screenwriter Nick Hornby have made a lovely, fairly light adaptation of journalist Lynn Barber's memoir. While the world has its fair share of cautionary tales of young ladies falling into the traps of older gentlemen, and An Education is certainly one of them, the film never quite takes the turns you expect when you expect them. David and his high living friends Danny and Helen (Dominic Cooper and a brilliantly vacant Rosamund Pike) manage to obscure their true natures as the film twists, turns, and jet sets. The conventional format of the film is there, but not immediately obvious. Jenny, eagerly along for the ride, is equally mercurial, and at times it's unclear whether or not she understands the risks involved, or if the realizations the audience slowly receives are fully veiled from her as well. In the end, it doesn't matter. Jenny's education, while it careens towards detrimental, is an experiment in worldliness.
Admittedly, it's perhaps because of this imposed distance that I couldn't shake the feeling of being less involved in the events of the film than I ought to be. Without a dangerous passion, or any real chemistry, the film tiptoes around the darker elements of the material it puts forth. Jenny, though she plays at being so, is not fully in control of her situation. When word gets out of her philandering, the headmistress (Emma Thompson) of the stuffy all girls school she attends seeks to eliminate the risk of one bad apple spoiling the bunch. She succeeds. When propositioned by a man with an overflowing bank account, Jenny's parents seem to lose focus on their dreams for their daughter's education. It doesn't matter anymore so long as she's provided for. The social commentary on postwar England and the drawbacks of the time period are there, but underdeveloped. While Jenny's teacher Miss Stubbs (Olivia Cross, minus Max Fischer) fights for her future, the film sidesteps dramatic tension and difficult material for paltry distraction. Ultimately, while An Education is compelling, it's not quite as smart as it could, or should, be.
As a coming of age story, however, it's delightfully refined. Though its make-up is pure melodrama, An Education remains afloat on something that's not quite comedy, not quite nostalgia, but feels close enough. See it for the performances and the entertainment value, don't expect a masterpiece.
3.5 out of 5
See all of Wilde.Dash's reviews at Love & Squalor!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Robert Zemeckis revealed in an interview with MTV that the Roger Rabbit sequel is in the works. Though its only in the scripting stages, Zemeckis, the man responsible for the freaky deaky performance capture animation seen in The Polar Express, Beowulf, A Christmas Carol, and the upcoming Yellow Submarine reboot, fortunately is wise enough to state flat out that Roger, Jessica and the toons will remain 2-D. That bullet may be dodged, but we're not safe yet. Zemeckis can't seem to stay away from 'technological advances', and rumor has it performance capture will still be used. I don't like this idea, personally. We've gone over two decades without a second feature length Roger Rabbit film, and the first one is certainly impressive enough on its own. Aside from being a potential moneymaker, what makes now the right time for a return?
I've really got to hope, hope, hope a new Roger Rabbit maintains the 2D/live action interaction without transforming the humans into awful animated beings themselves. That would truly be awful.
Hugh Jackman isn't returning to sing and dance his way through the Oscar telecast this year. Instead, in a turn that could perhaps prove that Tina Fey does indeed now control Hollywood, hosting duties will be shared between It's Complicated co-stars Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. The last time anyone co-hosted the Oscars was 1986, and on top of the 10 Best Picture Nominees, it seems like the Academy is looking back to the future to boost their popularity. While I'm not a huge fan of Martin's over-the-top comedy, he's a diverse enough talent to keep things interesting. Alec Baldwin, too, has carried enough SNL monologues to prove he'll be an asset to both Martin and the never ending ceremony.