Friday, September 30, 2011

A Cut of Prime TV.

Out of all the new TV shows this season, only Prime Suspect sounded appealing to me (sorry 60s retro porn) why? For one and one reason only: Maria Bello. Today I caught up with the first two episodes and as expected Ms. Bello was absolutely fantastic. Hell, more than that, she got me hooked on a procedural drama. Something that never really happens (I hat cop, doctor and lawyer shows, Damages being the one huge exception to the rule)

Now to my surprise (although not really) I'm finding out that nobody has given a damn about this show! Critics received it warmly but it hasn't generated enough buzz to save it from getting lost in the mix of procedural series, cop shows and Thursday night mammoths that prevail.

With that said, I believe this is a big crock of crap and will now proceed to give you ten reasons why you should be watching Prime Suspect instead of CSI: Milwaukee and Law & Order: Etiquette Infractors Unit.

1. Maria Bello.
No, really. Three minutes into the first episode where she complains about quitting smoking, scares the crap out of a cab driver and looks fabulous while running, I found myself dreaming of how lovely she would look at the Emmys next year.

2. The way it explores the dynamics between men and women. This show could become a rich study of gender politics in the 21st century!

3. Brian F O'Byrne. I'm thrilled he's becoming more and more popular this year! From Mildred Pierce to this, he proves he can work magic when starring with strong women.

4. The writing! Every line Bello utters is priceless without being too quirky or showy.

5. The cases have actual mystery in them...

6. ...but you're still more drawn to the characters involved.

7. The chemistry between Bello and her onscreen hubby (Kenny Johnson), you wonder how can they keep their clothes on when they're together.

8. Jane's hat!

9. Jane's trenchcoats!

Talk about efficient but understatedly elegant style.

10. The underrated Aidan Quinn is in it as well!

Now, for real, stop doing what you're doing and go check out Prime Suspect.

Were you a fan of the British version? I've never seen one and I'm curious now!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My First FYC of the Awards Season:

Mel Gibson might be insane but I still haven't seen a better male performance this year than his amazing star turn in The Beaver. To read more, check out my brand new review for PopMatters.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Style Sunday.

My god is Jessica Chastain lovely. Who the hell knows where she was hiding last year but she's proved herself worthy of future fashion icon appearance after appearance in 2011. This golden Vivienne Westwood is no exception and she compliments the Westwood-esque cuts with a simple hairstyle and nude color heels.

Will someone please get to work on the Marilyn Monroe movie starring Naomi Watts? This simple Stella McCartney pantsuit proves that this blonde needs nothing more than her star wattage to shine.

SJP, those who are about to die from stylegasms salute you. It's become cliché to have the lovely Sarah featured in this column, but really, do I need an explanation? This stunning Stella McCartney dress proves why she is such a remarkable dresser; the craftsmanship of the dress is fabulous and the combination of trends she pulls off so effortlessly just makes one swoon.

Which of these ladies do you think was the best dressed of the week?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

See, I can appreciate the fact that The Iron Lady is trying to do something different. The teaser was perfect (even if you're not into Meryl's mimicry) but as much as I can admire their gutsy advertising campaign, I don't get what they were trying to do with this poster.
We can see that Margaret Thatcher became equal to Parliament and England but what exactly is the shape we're seeing? It seems to me like the designers just thought that sticking two contrasting images together would make sense...but something's missing. No?

Johnny Depp bores me. This poster does not. Gotta love how even in its The Hangover redux feel (the tagline...) this one sheet still has a very playful tone to it. The fish! The bowling pins! Depp's cute boxers! The red plane with that sign! Even they font they used is perfect.

What's your take on these two posters? Is it ladies or rum for you?
"She has the tracking ability and body odor of a bloodhound"
- Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman)

Friday, September 23, 2011

"We missed 'Your Body is a Wonderland'".

"Here's an idea: next time, instead of being late, just shit on my face, cause that's kind of the same thing as missing Your Body is a Wonderland".

*Emma Stone is ♥

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Insidious ***

Director: James Wan
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Lynn Shaye
Ty Simpkins, Leigh Whannell, Andrew Astor, Angus Sampson

Perhaps inspired by Sam Raimi's recent attempt of reviving the scream and laugh-fest with his brilliant Drag Me to Hell, screenwriter Leigh Whanell and director James Wan have come up with a worthy entry to a genre that more often than not fails to satisfy. Insidious is a joyful ride of a movie that carries its "horror movie" badge with honor, announcing its camp from the instant the title appears.
Teasing us with the promise of haunting our nightmares for a couple of days after we're done watching it, the film cleverly sets its story in that most familiar of devices: the haunted house.
We meet the lovely Lambert family as they move into their new house; schoolteacher Josh (Wilson), his wife Renai (Byrne) and their adorable children are barely settling in when we get the spooky music, the wandering camera and an eventual flash of a ghost or two.
When their son Dalton (Simpkins) falls into a mysterious coma, the family is forced to move, only to realize that the demons and ghouls won't stop following them because they're not after a house, they're after their child's soul.
With this, essentially simple, premise the film turns into a truly delightful experience in which you're always conscious that something is seconds away from making you jump from your seat. It's this complicity with the audience that makes Insidious such a success. The film's friendly approach still gives you enough mystery and mood to make you feel like an active participant. This is boosted by the performers, particularly Byrne who owns up the scream-queen persona, getting rid of her usual onscreen arrogance. Shaye as a strange exorcist is a sight to behold (as are Sampson and Whannell as her unorthodox assistants) with Wilson using his reliable stoicism to turn in a surprisingly moving turn.
With all its intentional DIY scares and its constant, but self aware, use of homage, Insidious is the kind of movie that sneaks up behind you. Even if you'd like to think of it as a forgettable, cheap horror flick, you'll find yourself being haunted by its unusual sincerity days after watching it. 

Can Hardly Wait.

Trent Reznor's score sounds fanfuckingtastic!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emmy Fashion.

As usual we won't bother with Emmy discussions (although yay Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow!) so let's move to the only relevant thing about these TV awards, the fashion!

After the feathered disaster she tried to pull off in last year's show, Kristen Wiig was effectively stunning in this chocolate Zac Posen gown. The color and cut are perfect for her! Why couldn't the Best Comedy Actress nominees learn from her?

Other than Amy Poehler and Edie Falco, who were sartorial perfection (even if Edie has squeezed this cut too much), the others were just so dull. Laura Linney, seriously, I was rooting for you to win for The Big C but I'm glad you lost just because this dress is just so argh!

Elizabeth Moss has done the nude thing a gazillion times before but there is no arguing with this stunning Marchesa design. The fit is perfect, the simple makeup and hair are quite adequate but I wonder why is it that she always looks so much older? I can totally see Helen Mirren being more youthful in this.

Oh Paz de la Huerta, you are quite something, aren't ya?

Julie Bowen confessed how special she felt about wearing Oscar de la Renta and well, she should! This is the sexiest look she's pulled off in any red carpet! 

Yow-fucking-za! Poor Sofía Vergara might not get too much credit for her tremendous comedienne abilities (people still think it's all about the accent) but she gets her due with clothes. This stunning Vera wang coral dress more than makes up for the tacky yellow creation she chose last year. Gotta love how she let her hair down and recalls Rita Hayworth.
Say whatever you want but Kelly Osbourne rocked the hell out of this J. Mendel gown. Remember when she was a goth rock heiress with pink hair? We've come a long way and good for her!

Aubrey Plaza is the epitome of cute in this custom made Juan Carlos Obando white dress. The hair is lovely, the simple makeup works wonders and those bracelets give her a true wonder woman edge.

The always lovely Jayma Mays pulls off this Zuhair Murad pink concoction in a way Zooey Deschanel couldn't pull hers off (TOO princessy!) the layers and delicate ruffles could've been extremely tacky but the joyous redhead gives them a pinch of sass to make 'em work.
Dianna Agron was stunning last year in Oscar de la Renta which only makes this weird Roksanda Ilincic gown a weirder choice. Sure she wants to play the "I'm young but can dress up like a grown up" game, but
where last year's lace creation was timeless, this one makes her look like Elizabeth Moss' mom. She's hiding the boobs, covering the neck and the cut makes her look as big as Melissa McCarthy. Odd choice...

Armana Privé makes dresses that work just as well on red carpets and during space travel. Sometimes their flashy, usually stunning creations make your jaw drop to the flloor, however in the case of Julianna Margulies, they make us wonder two things: has Julianna been watching Frida too much and will tiny Lady Gagas hatch out of those crystal eggs attached to her bodice? 

A few weeks ago, Nathaniel and I held a battle of sorts, between Veda and Mildred Pierce. Opinions were torn on said occasion - apparently people dig Kate's rigid structural touches while I favored Evan Rachel Wood's adventure sense - and now we are given the perfect way to hold an ultimate showdown. Both ladies have gone with the same designer: in this case Elie Saab. While Kate went for the same red everyone else was wearing (and loosened up her hair obtaining a fresher spirit), her onscreen daughter went for a dramatic black siren gown, complete with a retro do and beautiful smoky eyes. I'm sorry Mildred but Veda has once again upstaged you. Both look astonishing and while Kate is beautiful, Evan remains iconic.

The retro beading and the draped cut of Christina Hendricks' dress totally reminded me of the deco decadence of Boardwalk Empire. The curvaceous beauty is stunning in this custom made Johanna Johnson dress.
If you weren't tired of Claire Danes and her Templen Grandin shtick already, you should've seen all the tweets that mentioned it yesterday...anyway, I too am tired of Danes but this Oscar de la Renta was just too pretty to pass up. The mosaic-like design might've been too Miss Universe but Claire pulls it off quite beautifully. No?

The most controversial look of the night came at the service of the amazing, Emmy winning Gwyneth Paltrow. While some found her midriff baring Pucci to be quite tacky and way too much for an awards show (have they forgotten the white one that showed her butt last year?) I thought it was an astonishing bold choice. When I saw it, it reminded me of a sexy version of the Oscar de la Renta Tina Fey wore last year and as the night passed it had flashes (no pun intended) of Nicole Kidman's wonderful gowns in the last part of Moulin Rouge! 
The see-through-ness might've been too much for some (I saw some people calling it offensive, yet overall she managed to class it up with simple hair, gorgeous makeup and effortless charm. Where do you stand on this Pucci choice?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Random Things I'm ♥-ing

Style Sunday (Rawr edition!)

Emma Roberts is just so cute! She's a vision in this remarkable Marchesa cocktail dress. the whole thing is very Audrey Hepburn by way of Givenchy, no? Gotta love the animal print and the delicate belt that gives her figure more prominence, notice the Tiffany blue color of it too.

Rachel Weisz seems to get more gorgeous by the minute! Look how effortlessly sexy she is in this short Giambatista Valli dress. The print, although similar to Emma's, makes her even more seductive. The pattern in Emma's dress have impressionistic touches, while this Valli just says "grrrr".

Which of these two beautiful creatures is your favorite?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

The poster for Albert Nobbs is a delightful reminder that movie stars need not be at the center of the advertising campaigns for their films. Not only is Glenn Close as a man, slightly creepy (she looks just like Robin Williams!) but the poster perfectly encompasses the film's alleged sparsity. 

Do you dig this risky design?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Under the Volcano.

I'm here for work. I miss the movies! What are you all up to?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Congrats to Gwyn!

Congrats to Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow for her Emmy win last night! Gwyn won Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her refreshing turn as substitute teacher Holly in the godawful Glee.
I know this isn't the most flattering picture of her EVER but I just noticed the Pixar people were wearing allusive Monsters Inc. gowns that year and couldn't resist sharing them with the world.
I'm sure Holly would appreciate the humor.

Style Sunday.


This Dior clad beauty and more were discussed by Nathaniel and I over at The Film Experience.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes ***½

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox
Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris, Andy Serkis 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is simply put: a history of evolution. To say it's simple is nothing but a hopeful invitation for audiences to discover the movie that might've contributed the most to popular culture iconography as far as this year goes. 
Not because the film is especially complicated, or convoluted, plot-wise, but because to dwell too much into its twists and turns might be to rob people of the pleasure of its discovery. How director Rupert Wyatt managed to not only reboot, but also refresh this franchise is perhaps a bigger mystery than the scientific alternatives offered in it.
Perhaps setting the tone for what will be a revolution of minorities, the film is set in San Francisco, where we meet Will Rodman (Franco) a young scientist trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease to help cure his father (Lithgow). Will tests the drug on chimpanzees who begin showing signs of cerebral improvement, but to fulfill dramatic purposes, the program is shut down after an accident involving one of the test subjects.After this Will is left in charge of a newborn chimp, which he names Caesar.
Like a story out of the Old Testament, Will raises Caesar in secret and realizes this is no ordinary creature as his brain capacity increases by the day. As he grows up though, Caesar is left adrift in an existential limbo wondering whether he's a human (because of his ability to communicate) or a wild creature (because of his inability to fully control his instincts).
The burning shrub for this figurative Moses (and this isn't the only nod to Charlton Heston and the 1968 classic) arrives in the shape of an ape sanctuary where he is sent after attacking a human. There -among the abused circus veterans and mistreated test subjects- he realizes that he must save his kind from those who have oppressed them. Singlehandedly, Caesar leads the revolution that will set the apes free.
It's safe to say that humans are the least interesting factor in the film. Other than Lithgow's moving performance and Cox's wicked villain turn, the human storylines are plagued with clichés and things we've seen a million times before (there's a strange romance between Franco and Pinto - who plays a vet - that never really clicks).
The film's soul is obviously Caesar, and more than him, it belongs to the man who plays him: Andy Serkis. Without the need to rely on phony ape suits, Serkis' motion capture performance is a thing of haunting beauty. Not for a second do we doubt this creature is alive and thriving with burning inner desires.
To witness this performance is to find ourselves at the peak of an evolutionary path that began with the first cave paintings, through which humans tried to emulate life using external tools. 
This is one of the evolutionary paths observed keenly by Wyatt and his splendid crew; the transition from rudimentary pencil creations, then to more complex methods and finally to recreate and encourage life using computers isn't a mere technological achievement, it also serves as a sort of ethical clause that makes us wonder: what's next?
The film doesn't rely on a Frankenstein theory to make us understand that its main point is to point out the thin lines that divide our existential ambiguity: we can be monsters or gods. 
Therefore the film follows a parallel road and through Caesar's biography we are given a glimpse of how the actual biological evolution must've occurred. How wild apes slowly had different needs and were forced to develop skills that would help their preservation.
Commanded with a precise, breathtakingly economical, hand by Wyatt, the film is an exemplary blockbuster that proves how our achievements as a race will always have the ability to both mesmerize and terrify us. 

When's the Last Time You Saw a Dinosaur?

Amir, Robert and I saw quite a few recently as we discussed what turned out to be a landmark year for Mr. Steven Spielberg. Click here to read all about it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Style Sunday.

Diane Kruger is such a fantastic dresser! Like seriously, how many celebrities ca you think of, that ALWAYS look so breathtaking? She rocks this simple Elie Saab in such an unexpectedly perfect way that you have to wonder if she has made a deal with the photography devils to always look so dreamy.

See how simple the hair and makeup are? How the color easily could've washed out being almost the same tone as her skin. Seriously wow! Also, this is supposed to be one of the first times Kruger does a big red carpet in Saab. Zhe should keep it up, no?

 Madge in Vionett. Sigh. Just perfect. For more on this look though, head over to The Film Experience where Nat and I engage in a good old fashioned red carpet talk.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

This poster epitomizes "indie" perfection. Gotta love how the movie's images are meant to seduce you, they call you into their spirit. Once you know what the movie's actually about this makes even more sense. The design for this one and its twee loveliness recalls The Virgin Suicides and the movie just keeps getting more interesting by the sheet.

Are you digging the MMMM as much as I am?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Very Short Takes: Sci-fi and Rachel and Abs! (Oh My!)

Daniel Craig seems to be having the time of his life in Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens an awkwardly titled nod to B movies, trashy sci-fi and the sexiness of the rugged male hero. Craig plays the lead opposite the aging, but still fantastically charming Harrison Ford (who plays a villain!). The movie lingers too much on character details that eventually make no difference - nobody came to this movie for John Ford melancholy - and by the time we get to the showdown between the title characters, our interest might've drifted elsewhere. Mostly meant for fans of the Western, the film takes too long to figure out exactly what it wants to be and other than Daniel Craig's ass in leather chaps, it offers nothing new, or exciting under the sun.
Grade: **

Out of all the comic book movies that have come out in recent years, none have been less spectacular, thrilling or fun than Green Lantern. Martin Campbell's film is an ode to how wrong CGI can go when used for the wrong reasons (a respectable superhero message if that's what he was truly going for). Ryan Reynolds tries to hold the movie together as the title superhero, even if the effects that make up his suit often make us think his head will move in the opposite direction of his body and you have to respect him for not relying on his abs so much this time around. Blake Lively gives rocks a run for their money in the dull department (all of her lines elicit laughter) and poor Peter Sarsgaard is relegated to playing a giant bugger. Then again, what can you expect of a movie that features a character who looks like a devil, is named Siniestro (Mark Strong) and still thinks we'll be shocked upon realizing he's a villain...
Grade: *

Rachel Weisz means business in The Whistleblower a real life story where she plays an American police officer who becomes part of a peace keeping committee in war ravaged Bosnia. Once there she realizes there's a huge human trafficking ring that involves UN members, army officers and even diplomats. Weisz remains a beacon of serenity and morality throughout the film and infuses her character with some rich ambiguities, reminding us of her brilliant portrayal in The Constant Gardener. The film however doesn't know what to do when she's not in the scene and makes a waste out of perfectly good actors like Vanessa Redgrave and David Strathairn. For a movie that tries to paint a time appropriate tale of corruption, the villains and heroes are too clearly divided most of the time and for those inclined to a good old fashioned social heroine tale, the lead never feels under actual danger, the cause in the end feeling like something she does out of an ulterior motive, in the very same way the movie feels made to get its leading lady some awards.
Grade: **½

If Alfred Hitchcock and Chris Marker decided to have a baby, it would be something like Source Code, this sci-fi thriller feels like a hybrid of Strangers on a Train and la Jetée. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a time traveling soldier sent to prevent a mission not even he's aware of. Revealing too much about this movie's plot is to deny the audience of the rich writing in Duncan Jones' sophomore feature. After the breathtaking Moon it's perhaps safe to say that the genre is in good hands with David Bowie's son. With moving performances, an unexpected climax and one of the most sincere romances portrayed in recent cinema, Source Code sends you away with a feeling of utter exhilaration. Like one of its major plot twists all you want to do is revisit it the minute it's over.
Grade: ***½