Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Jane Eyre

There are several people who, if they read this, will probably laugh and consider me something of a hypocrite.  That's fine, I'll own up to it.  It's no great secret that I'm not the world's biggest Jane Eyre fan.  As novels of the time go, I'll take the sisters Brontë any day over any sort of dalliance with Jane Austen.  The Brontës, at least, had a flair for the gothic and a penchant for a bit of melodrama.  Books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights had a movement and the movement was haunted, the inherent romance more passionate and a little less calculated.  Manners, social standing, it's all still there, of course, it's just more fun when it's shaded a little darker.  Regardless, I've read Jane Eyre twice in my life so far.  Once of my own volition and the second time because, um, I was an English major and that kind of thing sort of happens...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Unreleased Bowie Album Leaks

This morning I learned the perils of stepping out on the internet for a second.  I mean, I thought I had the fort held down when Elizabeth Taylor passed yesterday, but I was wrong.  Turns out that after nearly a decade of total silence, the unreleased David Bowie album 'Toy' leaked on BitTorrent a couple days back.  While Bowie himself is reportedly "livid" about it, I have to admit that as someone who cites the Thin White Duke as a sort of personal pop culture patron saint, the news is pretty exciting.

The album reportedly features a fair amount of early work, including new versions of tracks from very early in his career, including "In the Heat of the Morning" and "I Dig Everything."  While it was set for release sometime in 2001, the album was shelved due to a dispute with Virgin Records.  The article forwarded to me was from TorrentFreak.com, and you can read more about their contact with the original poster here.  Rolling Stone has reported that the artist himself has declined to comment on the events.

My hope would be that now that the album is floating around in the internet ether, they'll force it into actual release and make it accessible for those wary of piracy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RIP: Elizabeth Taylor

After six weeks of hospitalization at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles: screen legend, pop cultural icon, and longtime tabloid figure Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning after suffering congestive heart failure.  She was 79.  

Taylor was a star whose life and achievements need no introduction.  As perhaps the last remaining supernova in the studio star system, Taylor was a striking beauty, a textbook definition for Hollywood glamour and a cult figure for fans fascinated by her off-screen love affairs, scandals, eight marriages, and seven divorces.  Born in London, England, Taylor grew up on screen, launching her career in the early 1940's with films such as National Velvet and continuing seven decades and some 50+ films.  At the height of her acting career, Taylor won two Academy Awards for her work in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1960)  and BUtterfield 8 (1966).  She's our most iconic image of Cleopatra, took on Tennessee Williams in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and starred in a fair amount of critical hits and misses including the epic Giant in 1956. 

In the 80's, Taylor moved away from film and solidified her roles as businesswoman and pop omnipresence through cameos, cartoon voice work (she was the voice of Maggie in a Simpsons episode), and perfume lines.  Beyond this, however, her philanthropic work with various AIDS foundations have helped push the issue into the public view.  In a recent Harper's Bazaar interview, Taylor said it best: "I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot of husbands...For me, life happened, just as it does for anyone else." [source]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Paul

I usually love when Simon Pegg and Nick Frost join forces.  The previous entries in their collaborations (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and UK television series Spaced) have been smartly executed, surprisingly sophisticated genre send-ups loaded with all the right pop cultural references and never skimping on comedic flair.  I'd forgotten, however, that that duo is a trio.  This time, director/writer Edgar Wright has been subbed out for Superbad director Greg Mottola.  I'm sorry to tell you this, but apparently, without Edgar Wright, the duo falls pretty flat...

Friday, March 18, 2011

RIP: Nate Dogg

Nathaniel Hale, better known as Nate Dogg, passed away this week after suffering complications from a stroke. He was only 41.

Hale was recognized as a "hook singer," frequently appearing on songs with rappers and longtime friends Snoop Dogg, Warren G., and Dr. Dre.  He's credited with being one of the artists responsible for shaping what we now consider "west coast hip hop."  He was most definitely too young to go... [source]

The Trivial Pursuit: March 18th Edition

I'm not sure what the time stamp on the entry will read once I've actually finished it, but I'll have you know that as I write this portion it's about 4 AM and for some reason my brain is wired.  I am the insomniac I was in high school: just wishing I could fall asleep as I struggle to get comfortable.  This feature seems to have become an every other week event.  Perhaps when my schedule gets straight things will be back to normal.  Right now, though, finding time on a Thursday or Friday simply to look back on the week's events in Google Reader is almost impossible.  C'est la vie, kids, c'est la vie.  There are just point in life where (if you're not getting paid for it) you can't do every little thing...

For those still buying into the whole "Natalie Portman became a ballerina through hard work" thing,  her ballet double for the film Black Swan is speaking out a little here and there.  It seems that Sarah Lane was silenced during Oscar season and not permitted to give interviews as the studios tried to rally behind the 'method' acting of one Ms. Portman.  Lane was fairly exploited; given little credit for her work in the film and even omitted during a special effects reel on face replacement.  Yep.  This is why you shouldn't hand out Oscars while talking up physical taxation.  Portman was good, sure, but generally her performance ran a manically camp course I feel I've seen final girls in horror films manage just as convincingly...[source]

The BBC reported Monday that director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean's 11, Erin Brockovich) plans to retire from filmmaking soon, and that the two movies he makes after the films already slated for release this year (Contagion, Haywire) will be his last.  [source]

Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) has been cast as Katniss in the film adaptation of the YA series The Hunger Games.  I still think she's too old.

RIP: Michael Gough, the British actor who famously portrayed Alfred in the 20th century Batman films passed away this week at age 94. [source]

In the wake of the horrid looking Mars Needs Moms tanking (absolutely and completely) at the box office last weekend, Disney has passed on future MoCap endeavors and will not be shooting the Yellow Submarine remake with Robert Zemeckis later this year.  Finally, Disney, finally.  I mean, you should have stopped before Mars Needs Moms, because that movie looks like it was a terrible idea.  Easily the ugliest character design I've seen in ages.  [source]

Quentin Tarantino has sued neighbor Alan Ball (writer for American Beauty, Six Feet Under, etc) claiming Ball's exotic bird menagerie emits "blood curdling, prehistoric sounding screams" which seriously interfere with his day to day routine.  Hey Alan Ball: if those birds are what's standing between the world and another Tarantino movie: you best get rid of them.  [source]

In Spider-Man Broadway news: director Julie Taymor has been fired and the show has been delayed a sixth time, now slated to open on June 14th.  If The Producers' math holds up, they should be making a killing on this sinkhole....[source]

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have broken up.

If you hadn't heard: TeenNick is bringing back the 90's Nickelodeon programming you love in their 12-2AM timeslot. All That, Keenan and Kel, Rugrats, Pete and Pete, Clarissa Explains it All, etc will be there for all procrastinating nightowls, college kids, and stoners to enjoy. [via EW]

There is now a slow loris with a tiny umbrella:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Novelty Treats: It's Sort of Like the Movie Calendar Girls...

...but with jackhammers and a lot of tongue.

Your grandma is getting suggestive with a power tool. But, you know, don't worry, it's all for a good cause.   A pack of admirably gutsy middle aged and senior women pulled on their hot pants and eschewed all modesty to reenact the music video to Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" for Equal Pay Day (April 12).  The point?  Women still have to work longer into their lives just to earn the same amount as the average man.  It's pretty great, actually, and I tip my hat to these ladies.  Good for you, Monique!  Good for you...

EDIT:  On a similar note, Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench are also in the PSA game for International Women's Day.  Granted, the video isn't as fun as the last one, but you do get to see 007 in a dress.  All in all, it's a clever concept, and I applaud them for using a character generally considered misogynist (though I love him anyhow...) for such an awesome reappropriation.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Rango

Rango is an animated film that's nothing like your average storybook.  It's an animated film that doesn't bother with candy colored confections, 3D gimmicks, or the infantilization of the adult half of its audience.  It's wonderfully gutsy, gloriously verbose, supremely oddball, and never bothers playing down to the ten and unders.  You'd never know it from the cloying advertisements, but Rango is more than just talking animals in cowboy hats.  Much more..

Late Night Signs of the Apocalypse (or something)

This is the latest model to come from the Geminoid series of disturbingly realistic androids.  It's the first Caucasian edition and I don't like it.  When I say I don't like it I don't mean that the science isn't incredible or that it's not really amazing.  What I mean is this:  we're all going to die.  I mean, let's break this down.  1. Yes, that's a robot.  2. Yes, that robot looks just like a normal dude.  3. Yes, you could meet that robot and not know that it was a robot.  4. Yes, the machines are definitely scheduling an uprising.  5. Yes, this is just one small step of many in the direction of very bad things to come.  First this, then Gigolo Joe, then Roy Batty, then Terminator.  If we're lucky we get Data instead.  Chew on that, world.  Good morning!  Soon, the human race will be upgraded to a newer model!  [source]

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Trivial Pursuit: March 3rd Edition

If the Oscar telecast proved nothing else, it successfully put forth an argument for James Franco's inability to master all domains (some may argue Palo Alto already managed this).  If you haven't already heard: Franco's hosting ability was blasted by all who saw it this week, and the gossip has been relentless.  Franco was a no show at his own post-awards bash, prompting a fair amount of discussion.  He also ditched Oprah the next morning.  Anne Hathaway's desperate attempts at overcompensation have led to rumors that she is/was frustrated with him and that the two are now sworn enemies.  Her camp denies this.  Fact?  Fiction?  You be the judge.  My opinion: if he's actually taking his doctoral candidate studies seriously on the other side of the country (Yale), dude is too exhausted to commit to something like this.  Shouldn't have done it, Franco.  Sometimes it's ok to say no....

Christina Aguilera got hit with a misdemeanor public intoxication charge and thrown in the drunk tank earlier this week after downing a little too much while out to dinner with her boyfriend.  The charge follows months of speculation on the pop star's mental state.  Of course, the fact of the matter is that Aguilera wasn't the one driving. Her boyfriend, Matthew Rutler, was the one arrested for driving under the influence.  Bad decision, but probably not hers.  [source]

Designer John Galliano was suspended from fashion mega haus Christian Dior after video surfaced of him harassing a Jewish couple, spewing anti-semitic remarks, and praising Hitler.  Smart, Galliano.  Brilliant.  Needless to say, his tirade has not been taken lightly, least of all by Dior spokesmodel Natalie Portman, who condemned Galliano in a statement released Monday.  [source]

RIP: Gary Winick, director of Bride Wars, 13 Going on 30, Letters to Juliet, and Charlotte's Web, lost his battle to cancer last Sunday night at the age of 49. [source]

94-year old actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was told by doctors this week that she'd have to have her left leg amputated.  Or course, the thing about that is, her right leg was already amputated in January to stop the spread of gangrene. One word: yikes. [source]

In the wake of his Oscar win for the score of The Social Network, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor will be scoring and acting in the film adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Yes, he will be a vampire.  [source]

Obnoxious reality character Kim Kardashian has released her first single, an autotuned to hell track entitled "Jam (Turn it Up)."  This is obviously symptomatic of all that's wrong with America.  Also, even with production by the Dream, it's making Paris Hilton's pop attempt sound lively.  Turn it off.  Google that on your own time.

For those following the casting of the film adaptation of the massively popular young adult sci-fi series The Hunger Games, some rumors have been floating around about the casting of heroine Katniss Everdeen.  While True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld was previously listed as the age appropriate front runner, it seems fellow Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) may be sneaking into the lead.  While Lawrence put in a fine performance, I'm not so sure she'd fit the bill for Katniss.  One reason? Well, she's already almost 21. Katniss is 16.  By the time they get to the third novel? Um... [source]

Author Kathryn Stockett has been sued by her brother's longtime nanny Ablene Cooper, claiming that, in essence, the plot of bestselling novel The Help stole too liberally from her life and was "humiliating." [source]

Rihanna and Ryan Phillipe may be banging.  Just think about that for a minute.  Justin Bieber is heartbroken. He curses himself.  He looks up into camera one and says "why must I be so young?" [source]

Glee's Dianna Agron is said to be terrified of her ex-boyfriend (and I Am Number Four) co-star Alex Pettyfer.  He's such a "psycho loose cannon" in fact, that she's taken to staying in a hotel under an alias.  Hmmm. [source]

Also, did you know that Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) has a music career?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Which We Become Suddenly Fascinated by Charlie Sheen...

Or, more specifically, totally fascinated with the words that come out of Charlie Sheen's mouth, and the memes that he spawns like a true "Vatican assassin warlock."  I have to admit, until this morning, I had absolutely no interest in following the Charlie Sheen media blitz.  Sheen's largely a non-entity to me.  Two and a Half Men?  Excuse this bit of elitism but, um, yeah, that show is/was some sort of sole surviving paean to a variation on the sit com that should have been culturally irrelevant fifteen years ago.  In the days of my youth, Sheen was culturally relevant.  This much is true.  At one point, Charlie Sheen was responsible for pop culture moments (Platoon, Wall Street, Major League, Hot Shots) apart from seven gram rock tomfoolery and "the Devil's aspirin."  Still, in spite of this, whenever I hear the name Charlie Sheen the first thing I picture is the cracked out juvenile delinquent hanging around the police station at the end of Ferris Bueller.  Now, however, that image may have to be replaced by the spastic image of  a man who spews slang ridden, wordsmithy sentences that crystallize in midair like quotable non-sequiturs from an 80's ironic action hero chock full of braggadocio and misplaced testosterone.  Charlie Sheen is a man who has spent too much time reading Chuck Norris jokes on the internet.  Charlie Sheen has adapted the Chuck Norris jokes to apply to his own life.  Charlie Sheen knows that the best way to diffuse negative press is to twist it into that which makes him larger than life instead of a sad little celebrity victim downing premium blends of erectile dysfunction drugs, cocaine, kahlua, porn stars, and self loathing.  After reading a lengthy analysis of the Sheen phenomenon on The A.V. Club this morning, I found myself Googling "Charlie Sheen quotes."  Next thing I know, I'm watching the 20/20 interview and learning what it means to be "bi-WINNING." There's nothing else to say, we must allow Sheen to speak for himself and experience cathartic schadenfreude as we live the Sheen dream:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RIP: Jane Russell

Actress Jane Russell passed away Monday in her California home of respiratory related illness, she was 89.  Russell, who starred opposite Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, is perhaps most famous as the young starlet whose sultry looks sparked an old Hollywood censorship controversy when she appeared in the Howard Hughes film The Outlaw.  Or, more specifically, the poster for The Outlaw, which review boards (and the Catholic Church) felt revealed a little too much of Russell's chest.  Oh, Hays Code Hollywood, so silly.  Russell went on to star in mostly fluffy film fare, including Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, and Bob Hope's The Paleface.  She retired from acting in 1986 and is survived by her children and grandchildren.

[via NYT]


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