Monday, January 30, 2012
I was busy watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo for the third time last night and forgot all about the SAG awards. I loved the winners, so there's that and now let's focus on what really mattered, how everyone looked:
Again, as much as I loved pregnant Natalie Portman, that baby bump robbed us of some magic last year, just look how stunning Natalie looks in this plum Giambatista Valli. Her figure has never been better and the simplicity of the makeup and hair are to die for.
I have come up with a theory. Every time Meryl Streep looks good she loses at awards shows. It's like they have something against the greatest living actress looking beautiful when she wins...
You want proof o my theory? Should I write a full post on this? Help me decide...
Anyway she was fantastic in Vivienne Westwood last night.
Is there anyone more adorable than Octavia Spencer? She's looking fierce in this light grey Tadashi Shoji. The high hairdo might be the best we've seen her in so far and the lovely top make her look truly regal.
Here you go. Anyway, the lovely actress stunned in a blue Calvin Klein that highlighted her upper body in a way she's failed to do recently. Doesn't she look dreamy?
Rose Byrne is gorgeous and this dazzling Elie Saab jumpsuit (and her new bob!) make her look even better! Only someone with real guts can pull off such a daring look on a red carpet. She's ace!
I will keep including Lea Michele in these lineups for as often as she looks completely ridiculous in her extreme posing and affected, almost constipated, in her facial gestures. This Versace dress is awesome, but Lea always manages to cheapen everything with her sluttiness and need to be in the spotlight. Sigh.
The always lovely Emma Stone rocked this Alexander McQueen tea-length dress which pays homage to The Help while reminding us of what a genius McQueen was...that top is SO Lee!
A Valentino red dress seems to be what Michelle Williams needed to finally look alive. She's a picture of joy in this column dress with delicate lace appliqués.
Someone needs to feed Angelina Jolie, she looks cadaverous in this Jenny Packham dress. The gown itself is lovely but Jolie's bracelet looks heavier than her entire body.
Who were your best dressed at SAG?
Sunday, January 29, 2012
There was a time when Madonna always topped the lists of worst dressed celebrities, during the last seven years or so she has completely turned that upside down and now often pushes the boundaries of style like she did when she began her career. No longer the reason of constant scandal, she has narrowed down her new style to ladylike but aggressive. See this wonderful Marchesa gown for example. The armor-like bodice would've been enough to cause a stir, but the tulle makes it a "look at me" dress and Madge owns ever inch of it.
watching their spring show, when she got the call. She already looked like a million bucks! (I hope she goes with Privé to the ceremony as some sort of good luck charm!)
What do you think of Madge's fashion evolution? Feeling the love for Kruger or are you tired of her always being in this section?
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I gasped, squealed with joy and peed my pants a little when her name came after the very deserving Viola Davis. I still wonder what people saw in Glenn Close's ridiculous performance as Albert Nobbs (even SaBu makes more sense in retrospect) but stranger things have happened...
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo got four other nominations and even if it missed out on the big ones (not that David Fincher would care) you all know I live for Best Actress, so this is quite a joy for me.
- The Tree of Life getting in Best Picture and Best Director.
- Allen, Scorsese AND Malick in for Best Director. In terms of pure auterist class this is the best year for the category since 2001 (with Payne taking the ugly Ron Howard spot)
- Jessica Chastain getting in for The Help.
- Bret McKenzie being an Oscar nominee for The Muppets, even if Sergio Mendes will probably win, considering how Oscar likes to be all "worldly" and "embracing of different cultures".
- Midnight in Paris' Best Art Direction nod, completely unexpected but incredibly deserved.
- J. Edgar failing to earn a single nod. Really Clint, even you need to make an effort sometimes.
and of course...
What were your fave things?
Monday, January 23, 2012
With extreme attention to detail and an earthy color palette - as well as stylized 70s camera moves - by DP Hoyte Van Hoytema, the film concentrates enough on the surroundings and period details, that it forgets that there's a story to be told, and more importantly as it should be in most spy films, there is a mystery to be solved.
In this case the British suspect there is a Communist mole in their organization, but ask anyone how they solve this and most will come to realize that at some point the movie lost their attention. Its execution is admirable but unless Alfredson was trying to make a point about the dullness of bureaucracy, or deglam crime as David Fincher expertly did in his masterful Zodiac, which he certainly doesn't seem to be doing, the film turns out to be an exercise in dullness in which elegant British actors are killed or double crossed while dressed in uninteresting khaki tones.
There is nothing wrong with him liking Valley per se but to choose one of Ford's most inferior, albeit award winning, works is the equivalent of being an opera singer and doing Christina Aguilera covers. With that said, War Horse desperately tries to recreate what once was Hollywood's way of filmmaking: interior sets, excessive melodrama and strong family values. Spielberg is either paying tribute to the least challenging productions of an era or writing a guidebook on how to win Academy Awards.
Everything in War Horse feels like it belongs in a different era, and more often than not, it should've stayed there. What once was sweeping, now is obscenely manipulative and as a postmodernist exercise the film doesn't have much to say about the current world.
Human characters are perhaps unnecessary as the movie follows the title horse, named Joey, as he goes from owner to owner, surviving WWI in the process. Because we are asked to devote our attention to an animal, the film gets away with complex character development and tends to rely too much on just how adorable we find Joey. The horse, like some sort of Jesus or Forrest Gump, changes the lives of everyone he touches, which more often than not results in unintentional comedy.
It's truly sad to see actors like Mullan and Arestrup at the service of an equine but by the time when Watson is forced to do her frumpiest Jane Darwell impression, the film reaches new lows in how it so cynically tries to squeeze tears out of its audience.
War Horse should've inspired the old fashioned adjective "jolly", instead it goes all out on the preposterous "mush".
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy **
War Horse *
PopMatters and read our list of the Best Movies of 2011. There is NO arguing with the Top 3 but if you want to go right ahead and read my entries, check out numbers 23 and 7. Actually no, read them all!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo
John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle, Penelope Ann Miller
Malcolm McDowell, Beth Grant
The one thing that was truly magical about movies when they first became popular was their immediacy. The fact that they had no spoken dialogues - and important lines were conveyed with title cards - meant that people the world over could digest them in the same way, regardless of what language they spoke and wherever they lived.
The movies values were never universal but at least everyone had the same chance of dissecting them without the undeniable effect language has on them and films had the same opportunity to be enjoyed by global audiences regardless of where they had been made. After sound was introduced, language became both the medium's most innovative technical achievement but also its greatest separator.
Except for that one genius who speaks every language in the world, the movies have lost their universality. Out of all the arts they are the one that perhaps are more affected by translation; whether its English subtitles determining that characters in an American production are speaking the language of Cervantes, or an Italian dubbing of a Japanese samurai movie, translation alters the way in which we decipher the conveyed messages. They challenge our perception of what the world we live in is actually like and more often they not they trick us into accepting societal and anthropological conventions that aren't our own.
We assume that if they're speaking in a way addressed to us, there must be some truth to what they're saying.
The Artist may not have these concepts behind its creation but it's a time appropriate reminder about the effects of globalization. This, almost entirely, silent film directed by Michel Hazanavicius was conveyed as a love letter to Hollywood's Golden Era and as such recurs to title cards and black and white to transport us to another place and time.
The film's story has shades of City Lights, A Star is Born and Singing in the Rain and centers on the life of movie star George Valentin (Dujardin), a silent era god who finds himself out of a job when he refuses to give in to the new "talking pictures". As his own star dims, George sees Peppy Miller's (Bejo) achieve blinding brightness. She becomes an overnight sensation doing the thing he refuses to do, even if the audience can't hear her talk either.
Directed with loving grace and style by Hazanavicius, the film isn't a strict silent film, it takes its visual cues from movies that range from Citizen Kane (look at the ceilings! Dark projection rooms lit by cigarette smoke!) to Sunset Boulevard (even if Cromwell makes a less creepy driver than Erich von Stroheim) and as such it isn't a silent movie as much as it's a greatest hits of the Golden Era flick.
However the film relies too much on the silent gimmick and refuses to create deeper characters; a flaw that must've been obvious from its screenplay, and one that sadly makes it difficult for audiences to connect with the characters because they don't even become archetypes.
To condemn the movie for its shallowness however would be to deny the pleasure that is watching Dujardin light up the screen with his Douglas Fairbanks smile or to surrender to Bejo's It Girl charm. It's no use to pretend you won't be enthralled by the tricks of Uggie the dog either, but upon its sparkly finale the film begs that we go and look out for the films it so meticulously homages.
Hazanavicius has proven to be a superb director of faux nostalgia films, for a less intimidating example check out his OSS 117 (also starring Dujardin) spy films which are James Bond by way of Serge Gainsbourg, and in The Artist he proves his worth as a cinephile with a great eye for symbols, references and masterful visuals.
He also has an adorable sense of humor, with several key moments in The Artist reminding audiences that they are in a silent film. "Why do you refuse to talk?" asks George's preoccupied wife and this elicits laughter in spite of its potential for eye-rolling.
The Artist is a harmless crowdpleaser that aims for the heart often forgetting about the brain. Its entire essence is conveyed in its very first scenes where we see George Valentin anxiously waiting behind the screen to see how the audience reacts to his latest picture. We see the title card announcing his movie had ended, this is followed by a haunting silence - what else could it be followed by - until the camera cuts to the audience who is enraptured and applauding incessantly. The movie selfconsciously invites you to love it or leave it and such sincerity should too be applauded.
Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster
Rob Huebel, Nick Krause
With his rugged handsomeness and sweet puppy eyes, George Clooney has gone from being a "movie star", in that unattainable, gold dusted sense, to becoming the perfect embodiment of the American midlife crisis. In movies like Up in the Air we are asked to suspend our disbelief and consider him not a star but a person: like the rest of us.
Clooney's likability has made this easy, if not entirely convincing and in The Descendants his charm is replaced by suntanned smugness as he plays the ruling patriarch of the Hawaiian King family. He plays Matt, an attorney who also is the sole trustee of a family legacy that owns 25,000 acres of virgin land in the island of Kaua'i.
When the film begins, and we are teased that richer, profounder themes lie ahead, we learn that Matt's family came to own this without making any effort and now, due to a law against perpetuity, they have to get either sell or lose it within the next seven years.
This plot twist suggests that we are about to find ourselves in the midst of a soul search, through which Matt would need to come to terms with his legacy in the midst of the modern world, for who can say they uphold such high values in these days?
The film then becomes something else, as Matt's wife falls in a coma, forcing him to raise his two young daughters: Alexandra (Woodley) and Scottie (Miller). Added to this, Matt begins to learn his wife kept secrets from him, including an affair.
This leaves Matt with no option but to fully become the patriarch his inheritance demands he is, but how can he do it when he's not even in control of his immediate family's life?
Clooney does his best "everyman" act but the film suffers from its imminent vapidity. Why should we care about these people when their problems seem so aristocratic?
The film even jokes when it begins that people think no one in Hawaii has issues but in all honesty can they blame us? When Alexandra learns her mother might die, she isn't in a hospital room but in a pool and when Matt decides to confront his wife's lover (Lillard) he does so through a series of real estate tricks. It's true that some movies have been able to hook and interest us in the lives of kings, queens and the extremely rich, but to try and do so, after hinting at larger themes ahead, isn't only ridiculous, it's an exercise in reverse empathy. Director Payne too, has become a specialist in chronicling the lives of men who can only be described as assholes, as they try to gain the humanity others around them seem to have. In movies like Sideways and About Schmidt, Payne's horrifying heroes have achieved salvation through the help of people around them who have more earthly values (remember Virginia Madsen in Sideways) and there would be nothing wrong if they never achieved it. After all life isn't always perfect and movies should under no circumstances be morality fables. What Payne understood so well in previous movies is that as humans we are flawed and what he does here is try to correct each of them by the time the movie is over. Not only does his practice backfire, it also makes sure we never want to see these people again.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts
Judi Dench, Josh Lucas, Ed Westwick, Jeffrey Donovan, Denis O'Hare
Somewhere between his cross-dressing and legacy as one of the most controversial figures in 20th century history, J. Edgar hoover might have been a fascinating man; however you can't tell this judging by Clint Eastwood's biopic.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hoover as a young idealist man, all the way to the eccentric, paranoid creature he turned into towards the end of his life. The film's framing device is having Hoover dictate his biography to several typists (among them Westwick in full Chuck Bass mode), highlighting his feats and hinting at events in his private life that make us wonder if they are part of said framing device or slips in Eastwood's uneven narrative.
Shot in absolute darkness by Tom Stern, who foregoes the chiaro in chiaroscuro, the film feels like if it wants to hide things from us because it's not even sure how to tell them or if it's even allowed to tell them. We see Hoover as a young man taking charge of the newly created Bureau of Investigation, trying to solve crimes as famous as Charles Lindbergh's (Lucas) baby being kidnapped and taking credit for arresting famed gangster John Dillinger.
Throughout the film there's a sense of conflict between the screenplay and the filmed result and this makes sense because the screenplay was written by openly gay writer Dustin Lance Black who, with reason, tries to push the film's gay agenda by stressing out Hoover's infamous love of cross dressing and his strange relationship with Clyde Tolson (Hammer). There is of course nothing wrong with revealing aspects of a public figure that might've been unknown by most people, but to do so when the film being made is an homage to old studio filmmaking only works out in disastrous ways.
You get a sense, because of the film's structure, that every time Hoover's homosexuality is hinted at, Eastwood immediately "denies" it with something more "macho" and has him abuse someone or explode in a political tantrum.
The performances don't really help convey any coherent message either with DiCaprio mumbling his way throughout the running time, Hammer being eaten alive by his ridiculous old age makeup and Dench as Mama Hoover not even trying to come up with a decent American accent in her Shakespearean mama-wolf portrayal.
With its conflicting ideologies, excessive running time and preposterous selfimportance, the only person who comes up truly revealed in J. Edgar is its director, who despite a productive run as one of the most iconic American heroes is revealing signs of sad, albeit expected, senility.
Why do I feel like Cate Blanchett hasn't been in movies forever, even if she stole Hanna out of Saoirse Ronan's young porcelain hands? Anyway, because of that feeling, it's elating to see her show up for red carpets. She's truly exquisite in this Givenchy short dress. Not everyone would've been able to pull off all those ruffles with such grace and elegance.
Miss Cate as much as I do?
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.
This week we have two throwbacks to classic horror films, starting with this lovely illustrated quad poster for The Woman in Black. The color palette is simply terrific and the fonts are magnificent. This movie has been doing a superb job so far with its advertising. The one thing missing from this would've been a sensationalist tagline. Something like, well, "it's simply sensational!". Still without that, this is still pure genius.
What's your take on these posters?
Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Where the movie could've been trashy and perpetuated the idea that gay men are promiscuous and soulless, it uses a very sensitive approach taking its time to explore who these men truly are.
You understand why Troy left and you understand why Jonathan would want him back. The film offers glimpses of their lives that could've been used for lurid purposes (how Raul for example is married to a woman in order to get a work permit) but instead it focuses on who these people are when no racial or sexual labels are attached. Troy's deep selfishness is heartbreaking in its black-hole voracity and Jonathan's naivete makes us all remember that sometimes we truly would give everything up to be with the one that got away.
The second one suffers because they aren't together all the time, in fact a recurring joke has Watson's fiancee (Kelly Reilly) worried about Sherlock getting in the way of her wedding. Give or take the queer subtext - even if in the end Watson always goes for Sherlock- the movie pretty much consists of sequence after sequence in which the heroes get in trouble while trying to save the world from the evil Moriarty (Jared Harris). Despite its glossiness and inarguable technical mastery the film drags because it reaches a point where you don't even know what mystery Sherlock is trying to solve. Ritchie always lets the big action scenes get the best of him and forgets to emphasize on the plot (an essential part of any mystery movie). Then all of a sudden Sherlock irrupts into Watson's honeymoon train compartment in full drag and you can't do but wonder how much better the movie would be if it had explored an angle as unique as this one.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows **
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I know y'all love Angelina and stuff but sometimes she looks extremely constipated. I'm loving that she's pulling the big guns for the Globes though (remember last year's emerald work of art?). This year she's back in Atelier Versace, wearing a luscious ivory dress with a curious red fold. It reminded me a bit of Cameron Diaz's napkin dress from the Oscars a few years ago but Jolie makes it seem almost vampiric, no?
Simple Chanel Couture dress + green earrings = perfection. (Remember what I was saying about redheads and green?)
For the 2006 Oscars, Charlize Theron wore one of the ugliest dresses I have ever seen: a mucus-colored contraption that had her carry a huge crazy bow around. Apparently she got in touch with the people at Dior and begged them to fix that previous sartorial sin. The result is this perfect pink confection. The bow is still there but the way she pulls it off this time screamed "movie star" like no one in the ceremony.
Jessica Biel's mind: I wanna so be like Florence Welch when I grow up! Especially cause sometimes I think I'm a machine and all.
People outside Jessica Biel's mind: are you trying on Victorian wedding dresses for your future nuptials?
Va-va-voom Viola! Seeing her sport this burgundy Emilio Pucci creation after looking like crap in The Help says: good acting!
Jessica Chastain had been flawless in all her red carpet appearances until the time came for her to actually attend big award shows. She was Pepto-Bismol embodied at the Critics Choice Awards and this time, even if she looks much better in Givenchy, there is something that still feels wrong. The dress is lovely in a Marilyn Monroe-meets-Joan Collins way but the hair makes her look like an extra from Nashville.
Oh you goddess of all that's avant garde and amazing...this Haider Ackermann pale blue dress-suit might be one your best looks EVER and you always look astonishing!
Foregoing her usual Calvin klein fetish in favor of this demure J. Mendel worked wonders for Claire Danes. She certainly keeps it very simple and safe most of the time but this was slightly more playful, despite the simplicity of the black and white.
Am I alone in thinking that Michelle Williams totally looked like Grimace?
Natalie Portman seems to have been doing an audition for Marilyn Monroe, yet somehow this Lanvin does wonders for her. I loved her all throughout last season and bless her baby and all, but pregnant women rarely get to make the most out of couture, so it's lovely to have her finally showing off what she can do when she dresses up minus baby bump.
This custom made dual tone Lanvin makes Emma Stone look positively diabolical and extremely sexy. Who knows what the hell that eagle's doing below her boobs, those smoky eyes have long hypnotized you before you get to question her.
Marchesa dresses are showy enough without the crazy-ass Lea Michele turning them into sideshow attractions. it would've been lovely to see this in someone less craving for attention, perhaps it would've made more sense (the liquid skirt is still to die for though)
Even if Rooney Mara has made us all get used to her love of black and white, this is quite an unexpected turn by Nina Ricci. The dominatrix meets old time screen siren dress is absolutely astonishing. The top recalls January Jones' Versace look from last year's ceremony but Rooney makes it all her own by toning the sexuality down, in the same way that January turned it up. The simple makeup and the - gasp - severe ponytail, were magical.
Diane Lane in Reem Acra is how all movie stars should look.
Octavia Spencer was lovely in this pale lavender Tadashi Shoji design. The slight folds made her curvaceous body achieve new levels of sexiness. The clutch, ring and smile were the perfect compliments.
I've said it once and I'll say it again: Sofía Vergara should be Vera Wang's spokeswoman.
Nicole Kidman has found a new ally in Versace. Their dresses make her absolutely ravishing and sexy. Some designers highlight her beauty and if this had been Chanel for example, she would've been more "ivory tower" than milky lusciousness.
Who of these ladies impressed you the most?