Friday, September 28, 2007
I recently read a terrific, inspiring Miranda July interview in the October/November issue of Bust magazine. Whenever I get a glimpse of Miranda's world view via a piece like that or read an insightful short story from her new collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You, or rewatch her beautiful feature film debut, Me and You and Everyone We Know, I'm left wishing that I could have her as a life coach. Or art teacher. Or friend.
There's just something about how she synthesizes the world that is preternaturally insightful and heart-swelling.
Like filmmaker Wes Anderson, July takes precious little details and makes them soar with greater meaning. She's an incredibly intelligent, real-life Amelie who makes art that makes sense.
I know I've linked her short story, "The Shared Patio", before, but it's one of her best and worth your click.
Here's an excerpt showcasing some of her quirky genius:
" I asked Vincent more questions, and his answers became longer and longer until they hit a kind of cruising altitude and I didn't have to ask, he just orated. It was unexpected, like suddenly finding oneself at work on a weekend. What was I doing here? Where was my Roman Holiday? My American in Paris? This was just more of the same, an American in America. I had not labored all week for this. At moments he would pause and squint up at the sky and I would think that he was constructing the perfect question for me, a fantastic question that I would have to rise to the challenge of, drawing from everything I knew about myself and mythology and this black Earth. But he was pausing only to emphasize what he was saying about how the cover design was not actually his fault, and then he finally did ask me something; he asked, Did I think it was his fault, you know, based on everything he had just told me? I looked at the sky, just to see what it felt like. I pretended that I was pausing before telling him about the secret feeling of joy that I hide in my chest, waiting, waiting, waiting for someone to notice that I rise each morning seemingly with nothing to live for, but I do rise, and it is only because of this secret joy, God's love, in my chest. I looked down from the sky and into his eyes and I said, It wasn't your fault. I excused him for the cover and for everything else. For not yet being a New Man. We fell into silence then; he did not ask me any more questions. I was still happy to sit there beside him, but that is only because I have very, very low expectations of most people, and he had now become Most People."
Monday, September 24, 2007
I was one of the millions upon millions of people who didn't watch this year's Emmy's Awards. I find it highly suspicious that I didn't even know they were on, and I live in Los Angeles. Something seems awry with the media placement on that bad boy. Hello—street banners, anyone?
Anyhow. The reason I'm bringing it up is that I couldn't agree more with the Emmy Committee or whoever it is that votes on these things. 30 Rock is totally, completely, absolutely the most outstanding comedy series on TV.
I didn't know that as a fact until recently, while watching season one on DVD. Holy crap, is it a whipsmart funny oasis in a simmering crockpot of sitcom mediocrity. Sure, we are in the midst of a new golden age of comedy with shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Weeds and Entourage (some might include The Office—OK, I'll allow it, although it's veering into cloying Ross/Rachel marshlands, and, oh how we miss you Arrested Development), but only one of those other terrific shows is on network TV like 30 Rock is (with the inherent creative roadblocks that involves) and none of those shows can quite match 30 Rock in delivering guaranteed, intelligent laughs per minute or in conveying such underlying tenderness towards its characters (an oft-missing ingredient in comedy—I'm talking to you, The Comeback).
I now offically crown Tina Fey as one of my comedy heroines. To pull off a successful chemistry experiment of this magnitude is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. She is a triple-threat stunner, with her dead-on delivery, brainy good looks and bulletproof producer chops. Alec Baldwin is absolutely delicious in every word and deed. And the rest of the cast delivers right on down the line.
While almost every episode is guaranteed to pack a Hawaiian punch of wry humor about human foibles, my personal favorite of season one is entitled "The Break-Up," starring Dean Winters as the delightfully self-deluded Dennis, Liz Lemon's menace of a boyfriend. Dude, that guy deserves his own series. Hysterical.
A special shout-out to co-writers of "The Break-Up" episode, Dave Finkel and Brett Baer. It is among my favorite TV comedy episodes of all time. I've watched it over and over and still find genius within its symphonic precision. Romantic relations, race relations, international relations (Condi Rice! OMG). It's got it all.
Comedy is back, America, and Fey & Co. should be proud as a peacock.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Quote from an AOL news story on MoveOn.org's latest controversy:
"The Senate on Thursday passed a resolution denouncing a MoveOn.org ad that appeared in The New York Times on Sept. 10 and challenged the credibility of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq."
Now I'm the first to admit that MoveOn.org has done some dumb-ass things in the name of democracy, but this ad is not one of them. Criticizing a public figure for what is commonly understood to be an "I'm your huckleberry" move on Petraeus's part is a matter of free speech. This is in no way a criticism of the US military or those serving their duties with integrity. In fact, it is in their defense. They deserve better. They deserve the true "conditions on the ground" to be documented and addressed without smoke and mirrors.
This ad is all about calling out an administration that feels great comfort in turning heroes into puppets to serve ugly agendas. Case in point: Colin Powell and his glass vial. Which is how this whole monstronsity of a world crisis got started. Ahem.
Sometime the truth hurts, but that's part of what it means to be truly free.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The witty pop culture wizard FourFour is bringing bitchy back as he gives Justin Timberlame the dressing down I've always felt the pop nerd's deserved.
FourFour's best beat down:
"The dichotomy of his pipsqueak Lothario and castrated pussy personas that made FutureSex/LoveSounds such a chore to get through is only amplified in his live show. I don't buy either act. They're so flashy and broad and cartoonishly dudeish, it's as though he was raised by '80s-movie frat boys."
FourFour's also posted a "great moments in douchebag-ness" reel here.
Monday, September 17, 2007
You know those chocolate cherry bon-bons they carry at most drugstores in the good ole US of A? They're cheap, tacky, nasty, but somehow undeniably irresistible?
I've found the reality TV equivalent of those syrupy maraschino delights: VH1's Rock of Love. Good gawd, I'm loathe to admit it, I admit, but this is one of the most gosh darn brilliant train wrecks of lip gloss and silicon valleys and overuse of the bitch word on record.
The premise: the lead singer of the '80s hair metal band Poison, Bret Michaels, is longing to find a true lady love. So all these gals occupy a nondescript mansion for a few weeks and attempt to "rock his world" for the ultimate backstage pass. Like all the dating en masse shows, it's disgusting with its multiple hookups and catty competition—yet I can't look away.
Since I don't know anyone else who is watching, I've been left to gasp and gag on my own. Now Bret Baby's down to two girls: a Cameron Diaz-esque smarty pants, Jes, and a stripper with a heart of gold (and a freshly inked "Bret" tattoo on the nape of her neck), Heather. I think Jes just wants to be on TV, but Heather is head over spiked heels for the do-ragged rocker.
Some might scoff at Bret choosing a stripper to take home the big prize, but it was just such an exotic dancer who broke his heart back in the day—becoming the inspiration for the megahit "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." 'Nuff said.
The thought of which inspires some heartfelt lyrics in me, as well:
"Some say the pole is mightier than the guitar,
But those folks would be wrong by far.
They both take the stage with big hair and leather,
She wears a string of G,
He strums the chord of the same letter.
Yeah, when a stripper and rocker fall in love,
It's sheer heaven, until he bites the head off a dove."
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Sometimes I just feel like watching a romantic comedy that doesn't ask too much of me. Sadly, these two films asked so little of me, I couldn't even sit through them in their entirety.
The Devil Wears Prada
While my Anne Hathaway issue kept me leery, the script is what really ripped the seams out of this one. More like, The Devil Writes Predictably. People rave about Meryl Streep's performance, but I wanted her to have even more bite.
Trust the Man
The first few lines of dialogue (David Duchovny talking to his kid about poop) clued me in that this movie was a stinkeroo. The script's indulgent screenwriter-y ain't-we-oh-so-witty attitude offended my ears post haste. Then my Julianne Moore issue arose again (I thought I'd cured it when she turned in such a great performance in Far From Heaven, but had a relapse with this film). Not cut out for comedy, this red-headed veteran of the silver screen. Awkward, awkward. When her character started dryly dictating an adult film's action at her onanistic husband's request, I lept for the remote. Ughhhhh. Not even appearances by two sentimental favorites of mine, Garry Shandling and James Le Gros, could save this one.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Definitely joining my Top Ten Films of 2007 list: Broken English, now on DVD. I want to call it a romantic comedy, but it wasn't ha-ha funny. In fact, at times it was downright painful in a "wow, that's truly how awful single life can be sometimes" way.
Zoe Cassavetes is the genius behind the lens and the script of this simply lovely film about a 30-something New York girl who just can't find her way romantically. Parker Posey is exquisite in the lead role. This is definitely an indie queen hitting her stride with remarkable vulnerability and subtlety. Never hitting a false note in a trip-wired range of emotions that darts from sarcastic to panic to ecstactic, she definitely earns an Independent Spirit award nomination for best actress with this part. I've always been a Posey fan, but this film put her on a whole new pedestal for me. On an unrelated note, she's becoming more and more Katherine Hepburn-esque, which is a wonderful thing in itself.
While it is obvious from Cassavetes' bell-clear ear for dialogue and the knowing nuances she captures in the performances that she is a Sofia Lost in Translation Coppola in the making, the casting by Adrienne Stern should be credited with a fair portion of the magic at work here.
Justin Theroux, who can do no wrong in my book, is hilarious as an up-and-coming actor who books a room at the hotel where our heroine works. Drea de Matteo is a nice surprise as the bitter best friend. Michael Panes only has a small role as Posey's coworker, but he does so much with so little screen time. (I recognized him from his other memorable turn in the L.A.-centric gem The Anniversary Party, which also starred PP.) Finally, wonderfully, are-you-kidding-with-the-outta-control-dreaminess: Mevil Poupaud as the French fellow who might just be the one. Oo-freakin-la-la.
Andrew Weisblum as editor deserves a shout-out, too. The opening title sequence stands out particularly in my mind as gracefully paced and emotionally bracing—thoughtfully setting up the emotional ebb tides to come.
This is a chick flick in the most flattering sense of the term. I will pay Broken English the same compliment I bestowed upon another Top Ten shoe-in for my movie list this year, La Vie En Rose—this is a film that captures the truth of a woman's heart, bruises and all.