Monday, September 30, 2013

Sexual Healing

In the first few moments of Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial opus to porn, juiceheads and jerking off, we are frequently shown Jon's face as he logs into his laptop.  We are bombarded by the flashing credits interspersed with adult starlets moaning and working for the camera.  Jon, played by Gordon-Levitt, explains that he loves his porn.  I mean, loves his porn.  Every man indulges in a little bit of adult entertainment, but Jon takes it to entirely new level.

My excitement for Don Jon reached a fever pitch by the time that I saw it.  I love everyone involved in the film, and I was super excited to see if Gordon-Levitt made a strong directorial debut.  Not only does he direct; he also wrote and stars in his first feature.  

Jon, a bartender with a traditional Italian family, prowls the clubs looking for tail.  He playfully argues with his friends (Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke) over the hottest girls.  Jon is sort of the epitome of a Jersey Shore sleazeball: muscley, tan, enough Dippity Do in his hair to cover the New Jersey turnpike.  He prides himself in being a man who takes care of himself and being able to take home almost any girl he locks eyes with.  Even though Jon gets tons of action, he always sneaks into the next room to watch porn while his latest conquest sleeps.  Jon needs to, in his eyes, get off the best way, and the women on the screen satisfy him way more than the women in his bed.  

When he sees Barbara Sugarman, he sets his sights on her, but she's not going to let him get her into bed as quick as he would like.  She forces a courtship on him.  Since Barbara is played by Scarlett Johansson, Jon will go the distance to get her into bed.  Being one of the sexiest actresses working today has its advantages.  Johansson's casting might be one of the best I've ever seen considering I know a million guys that would fly to the moon and back just for the idea of getting her into bed.  Gordon-Levitt and Johansson have a chemistry that is playful and fun.  I am starting to get reminded as to why I connected with Johansson when she first broke out.  Her acting doesn't get the credit it deserves, and here she's got a bubblegum-snapping energy that I loved.  Jon is the kind of guy who has a million moves, but Barbara always throws back. 

As Jon's relationship with Barbara continues, their friends meet and they introduce each other to each other's families.  Jon's parents are played by Tony Danza and Glenne Headley.  Danza walks around in a tanktop for 90% of his scenes, and, I must say, the man has very veiny arms.  You'll see it!  Headley is adorable as Jon's mother.  Brie Larson (Short Term 12) made me laugh out loud every time she was on screen.  Barbara convinces him to take a night class as well in order for him to get a better paying job.  

While at his class, Jon meets Esther who is played by Julianne Moore.  She initially makes him nervous and uncomfortable with how much she talks to him, because he obviously just wants to take this class and be done with it.  Moore is luminous in this movie.  Now, I am a bit biased as you might know, but all obsession aside she is great.  Gordon-Levitt shoots her with a digital camera and not with the same glossy one he shoots with Johansson.  Moore wears no makeup, and you can see every wrinkle on her face.  She's just a beauty, and her scenes with Gordon-Levitt are both charming and sexy.  

At the beginning of Don Jon, I kept thinking the same thing: wow, men are stupid.  The film explores the male perception of sex versus pornography as well as the role of sex in a relationship.  Also, the roles of men and women in a relationship.  There is a scene between Jon and Barbara in a hardware store when she is disgusted by the idea of Jon performing housework.  She insists that men shouldn't do certain things, and later they argue about Jon's porn viewing.  I've heard about arguments like this from friends, and I think Don Jon is very honest. 

Gordon-Levitt's first feature as a director is solid in my eyes.  There is a repetition in some of the themes that I got a bit tired of (Jon going to church and confessing how many times he masturbated to porn), but that all connects with how routine Jon's life is.  Not only is he good behind the camera, but he looks damn good throughout the whole film.  If you think he is cute, this is flick for you.  He is constantly flexing, thrusting and whacking it in this.  Narcissistic?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But I sure as hell don't care. 

By the way, can we bring back the adult comedy please?  Don Jon is a funny, smart film about relationships.  Can we have more of these, please?   

I Have Returned!

Never fear, readers! 

I went on an unannounced hiatus for a few days while my fiance was here.  Prepare ye for updates!!! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Battle of the Asses! A Scientific Survey!

Jason Adams from My New Plaid Pants posted a hot picture from Ron Howard's racecar drama, Rush featuring Chris Hemsworth's cocky driver flopping down on a bed.  The best part is that he bares his behind.  I am sure this is Howard's best work to date.  Thanks for the share, Jason! 

My question is this.  Who has a more bodacious behind?  Hemsworth or Channing Tatum?  I compare the two mainly because both leading, hunky men do the same thing for me.  I drool whenever one is on screen.  They are similar types: hunky, muscley, python-toting hotties.  Hemsworth is Australian and has made quite a name for himself in blockbuster films.  Tatum is the reigning Sexiest Man Alive.  He is taking his career in a different direction by working with respected directors like Bennett Miller and Steven Soderbergh.  Last year, Tatum was rather generous with showing off his backside, but I went with a shot from Magic Mike for comparison. 

So, what do you think, folks?

Hottie Turned Sleazeball Double Feature?

Two very dashing British actors are playing bad boys in their new films, and I think it would make one heck of a double feature.

Jude Law will star in Dom Hemingway as the title character, a safe cracker who is released from prison.  After twelve years of not ratting on anyone, Dom goes around collecting all the money he's owed.  Law has a gross belly and ugly sideburns, and he chain smokes through the whole thing.

From dashing to disparaging all with the beauty of movie magic!!!

Remember James McAvoy from Atonement, Wanted, and X-Men: First Class?  How adorable!  Those eyes!  How well-mannered!  Well here he is in the upcoming Filth:

Yup.  Just banging some chick from behind.  You know how it goes.  Well, I don't. 

McAvoy plays a drug-snorting, bigoted, drunk of a cop who is dellusional in thinking he can somehow win back his wife and daughter.  When I first saw the trailer for Filth, I was taken aback.  I am glad that he is challenging himself as an actor, and the movie looks like a real trip.  It co-stars Eddie Marsan, Jamie Bell, and Shirley Henderson.  Remember your first glimpse of McAvoy?  He's so dreamy.  Kind of like this...

Both actors can basically do what they want at this point in their careers.  They definitely look like they are having a great time.  Check out the trailer for both films below.

This Weekend Can't Come Faster...

...because I get to see Don Jon this weekend!  I sure hope it is a success for director-writer-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He's already conquered being utterly adorable, so I just wish him even bigger career success. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dark and Gloomy Atmosphere, Dark and Gloomy Film

Two things really struck me about Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners.  Hugh Jackman's angry fist of a performance and the gloomy reality these characters are trapped in.  His performance as a man who will stop at nothing to find his kidnapped daughter is unflinching in its intensity.  Jackman has always played men audiences root for in some way or another, but he delivers his best performance to date as Keller Dover.

Two families have their young daughters taken from them on Thanksgiving in a small Pennsylvania town.  Keller is a man who is always prepared (his basement basically doubles as a fallout shelter), but he is physically and emotionally unprepared for this.  As he runs around the neighborhood looking for his young Anna, the parents of the other daughter (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) join in, and the tension methodically begins to build.  Anna and Joy are nowhere to be found. 

As everyone knows from watching a million movies and television shows that feature kidnapping, the few hours are critical.  Detective Loki is appointed to the case, and he tells Keller and his wife, Grace (Maria Bello) that he will find the girls.  He is played by Jake Gyllenhaal, and he plays Loki mindful determination that contrasts with Jackman's character.

Within hours, an RV that the girls were playing on in their neighborhood is located at a nearby rest stop.  As police edge closer to it, the driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), tried to escape and crashes into a tree.  Alex seems guilty right off the bat.  He's creepy and still, and he barely speaks to Loki as he questions him even after he's roughed him up a little bit.  To say that Keller is convinced of his guilt is an understatement.  He wants the police to charge Alex even though there is no evidence that the girls were ever in the RV.  Keller needs to blame someone, and he begins to take matters into his own hands. 

I don't want to give too much away, so I will leave it at that.  I will say this, though: you probably think the trailer showed too much.  I definitely thought that, but I assure you that one of the best things about this movie is how it unfurls to the audience.  It's slow and dark.  Originally turned off by the over 2 and a half hour running time, I was floored when 75% of the trailer happens in the first half hour.  I didn't know what to expect.

The performances across the board are strong.  This might be the finest I've seen Gyllenhaal too.  He is one of my biggest school yard crushes, and he lost himself in this role.  We don't learn much about his character, something that typically annoys me when it comes to films.  Perhaps his job is his life?  We don't know.  I thought Viola Davis was going to be wasted, but she has some nice moments (especially in a moment with Dano).  I mean, come on.  The world needs more Viola Davis, and I will take what I can get. 

I noticed a lot throughout the movie that the camera focuses a lot on trees and the sky.  It's all so gloomy and dark.  I remembered zipping up my hoodie an inch or two, because it started to press down on me.  I had some very honest reactions while watching Prisoners.  I clutched my mouth in shock at some points, and the audience I saw it with was really connected with it.  Not being able to find your child must be an absolute nightmare, and this riveted me the entire way through. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Could 'Behind the Candelabra' Have Been a Big Awards Threat?

I was going to write about this after Behind the Candelabra made the Emmys its bitch at the technical awards last week.  I waited to see how the HBO film fared at the Primetime Emmys, and it's good I did.  After receiving rave reviews this past summer, Candelabra collected a boatload of awards.  It was widely reported that every major studio passed on the film saying it was "too gay."  Are all the executives kicking themselves now?

Candelabra was nominated for a total of 15 Emmys.  At the Creative Arts Emmy Awards last week, it lost in only one category--Best Cinematography.  The glitz of Liberace's lifestyle made it easy for the film to sashay away with Costume Design and Art Direction.  The sequins!  The rhinestones!  Those Emmys would probably feel right at home in Liberace's living quarters.  Last night, it won three more, bringing the total to 11 statues, including top honors with Best Made for Television Movie.  Behind the Candelabra tied with 1976's Eleanor and Franklin as the most decorated made-for-television movie in Emmy history.

Would Candelabra have been a major awards player if someone gave it a show with a major studio?  We must keep in mind that the Emmys and the Oscars are two completely different awards races.  I also wondered if Angels in America would have reached Oscar glory if Mike Nichols was able to finance it with a film studio.  That work would have probably have been deemed to ambitious or too weird or too artsy to have garnered Oscar attention.  Angels was a big winner at the Emmys winning 11 including four acting prizes for Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Jeffrey Wright and Mary-Louise Parker, respectively (please note that this was considered a mini series not a made-for-television movie).  

Candelabra would have undoubtedly faced battles concerning the content.  The "too gay" content included graphic sex scenes between Liberace (Michael Douglas) and Scott Thorson (a superb Matt Damon).  There was even a scene where Liberace and his young lover visited an adult bookstore and cruised for sex.  A studio would have probably tried to tone down the sex to appeal to a bigger audience or avoid making an audience uncomfortable.  The sex scenes aren't about sex obviously, but don't assume that people would misinterpret everything in the film as something else.  The same way that people thought Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike was about strippers titillating an audience.  Where is that double feature, by the way?

If anything, I think Candelabra would have been successful in the technical categories.  Those costumes and art direction are to die.  The makeup might have also played, but that's such a fickle category.  Michael Douglas would have maybe grabbed a Best Actor nomination (respected actor hasn't been nominated in quite some time with a performance unlike anything he's ever done before, etc.), but that category is always so crowded.  I will reiterate that I don't think I've seen Douglas better in any movie.  He's not phoning it in, and his chemistry with Damon is rather sweet and twisted at the same time. 

But, you know what?  It's all a moot point.  What's most important is that Behind the Candelabra is an entertaining film.  It features some great performances and it's a gorgeously gaudy piece of work.  You should check it out if you haven't already seen it.

Friday, September 20, 2013

'Grace of Monaco': The New Fragrance from Frank Langella

I've been waiting for a trailer to drop for Grace of Monaco to drop.  It was on my list of most anticipated movies of the fall, and, obviously, I will see anything with Nicole Kidman.  This is the international trailer, though, so we have yet to see anything but a teaser.  Is it actually coming out this year?  I feel like this will do well overseas, but a domestic trailer has yet to be seen.

A Puccini aria plays as Frank Langella speaks of Kelly's legacy over beautiful shots of Kidman walking through hallways and up stairs.  It's all very glamorous and chic, and it feels like a perfume ad.  That's not a knock, I assure you, but I am now waiting to see Kidman doing something other than be gorgeous and comtemplative.  

Directed by Olivier Dahan, Monaco focuses on Kelly's struggle to find her personal identity rather than try to film her entire life like a traditional biopic.  Kidman has stated that the film is more of a character study.  The film costars Langella, Parker Posey (gasp!), Derek Jacobi, and Tim Roth.  Dahan directed Marion Cotillard to her Oscar for La Vie en Rose, a film about legendary French singer Edith Piaf. 

One thing is for sure:  Kidman knows how to rock a period hat.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thank ya, Jesus...

I wasn't going to write something about this, because I was afraid I would be too mean to a little girl. 

Let's just say I was a bit...concerned...over the casting of YouTube sensation (and Nicki Minaj cover artist) Sophie Grace Brownlee (pictured, right) in the role of Little Red Riding Hood in Rob Marshall's Into the Woods adaptation.  I don't really know anything about Miss Brownlee other than that she sang Nicki Minaj and did an appearance on Ellen

I have never seen a Little Red so young.  Her interactions with The Wolf (Johnny Depp in the movie) always freaked me out because of its pedo nature (get it...predator...get it...), and I was concerned Marshall would cut out that creepy element.

I just discovered yesterday that Miss Brownlee will not be in the adaptation, because she has been replaced with Lilla Crawford, star of the latest revival of Annie on Broadway.  Bring more stage actors to the screen!  Here is her rendition of "Tomorrow":


Conversely, here is Sophia Grace's take on "Super Bass" by Ms. Minaj.

Shudder.  What do you think?

Fifty Shades of Suck: The Climax

Back in March, two high school best friends sat down to read EL James' erotic fiction sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey.  These two obviously had too much time on their hands.  Not only did they read Fifty Shades, they recorded every single chapter and shared it with the world--whether the world wanted it or not.  Those two friends are Megan McLachlan and Joey Moser.  The podcast was Fifty Shades of Suck.  This is the finale. 

First of all, I didn't realize how LONG it took it took us to actually read this book.  It clocks in at almost approximately six months.  Six months of nothing happening, if you ask me.  Never has a book promised me so much and delivered so little.  I proudly present the final two chapters of Fifty Shades of Suck: chapter 25 and chapter 26, respectively.  Well, not respectively since nothing in this book is respectable.  We are joined by two very avid fans, Megan and Robyn. 

I will miss the meetings with Megan, for sure, but that might be about it.  I am not ashamed to admit that.  These two podcasts might the most infuriating because NOTHING HAPPENS.  I've seen more climactic finales in gay porn.  For reals, kids, for reals.  Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele come to such a fittingly generic end, and I was so pissed that they wasted my time that I hurled the book into a nearby fountain upon reading the final paragraph. 

Robyn and Megan Number 2 presented us with a certificate of completion, a diploma if you will.  I think it's more prestigious and/or more respectable than a GED. 

My fiance, Jason, is going to be thrilled when I frame this and put it in our house.  I'm sure of it.  And there were presents!!!

We got our own flogger which Megan was super excited to take home.  No judgements, girl.  And theeeennnn:

That is the appropriate reaction.  I don't know if I could subject myself to Fifty Shades Darker, but never say never, right? 

Farewell, Fifty Shades of Suck listeners!  I hope you got, you know, something out of listening to us every week. 

If you are just discovering Fifty Shades of Suck, my galpal Megan and I are reading EL James's inexplicable hit Fifty Shades of Grey out loud and providing our own snarky commentary.  If you need to catch up, have a listen to each of the podcasts below.

Chapter 12

Monday, September 16, 2013

Is It Just Me...

...or does Carrie Underwood look utterly insane in this poster?  

I don't really like Underwood, so this is more or less a cheap shot.  This poster was released today along with the news that Broadway vets Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, and Christian Borle will join Underwood in NBC's televised production.  I originally thought this was just a concert, but I guess I was wrong.  

I'm sorry Ms. Underwood, but Julie Andrews you are not.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Seth MacFarlane Presents: Lazy Marketing Strategies!


This really shouldn't bother me, but it does.  Fox's new comedy, Dads, debuts this Tuesday.  We have all seen the promos and heard the racist allegations, but what you may not have heard/seen is the lazy marketing!

In all the ads I've seen, the title of Dads (dads?) is in lowercase, green lettering.  I couldn't put my finger on why this looked oddly familiar.  As the controversy piled on, I kept seeing print ads and television promos featuring the blazing green letters.  Suddenly, I remembered!     

The same font and colors were used in all the ads for Seth MacFarlane's directorial debut Ted, which came out last year.  In Ted, Mark Wahlberg played a stoner who had to choose between his talking teddy bear and his girlfriend.  Straight-white-boy-growing-pain-drama ensued.  Dads is about two successful friends (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) whose fathers (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert) move in with them.  Age difference antics are bound to ensue, right?! 

First of all, I didn't know Seth Green was still alive, let alone still getting work.  Second of all...well, I don't really have a second of all, but the show looks awful.

Dads is produced by MacFarlane, so I guess they thought the same font and colors would make people thing Dads is going to be just as fun as Ted.  That, or someone forgot to change their settings on their Microsoft Word.  Yes, I know that MacFarlane isn't directly responsible for this.  Yes, I know that this is something that was probably strategically thought up to lure in an immature, male audience.  Yes, I know this post is kind of ridiculous.  But it's bugging me.  It looks lazy to me. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Saints' is a Dusty, Doomed Love Story

Rooney Mara has a hardness to her that not a lot of people respond to.  Maybe hardness is not the right word.  When she was nominted for Best Actress for title role in David Fincher's American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, her quiet, awkward demeanor on the red carpet for countless events got more notice than her nomination itself.  Mara's performance in Ain't Them Bodies Saints might change some minds.  Her portrayal of a strong wife waiting for her outlaw husband is one of her best performances to date.

At the beginning of the film, Ruth puts a bullet in the shoulder of a sheriff in a shootout.  Her husband, Bob (Casey Affleck), convinces her that they are trapped, and they need to turn themselves in.  He gives her a kiss goodbye and takes the fall.  She's pregnant with their first child, and all he asks is that she wait for him.  It flashes forard about four years, and Ruth with the daughter that Bob has never met.  Sylvie is an adorable little girl.  

Bob makes a daring escape.  Affleck's desperation to see his wife and daughter is palpable, yet very restrained and quiet.  He is protected by his friend named Sweeter (Nate Parker), a bar owner.  Bob's escape has been made news, and soon the Sheriff Wheeler (the one Ruth shot) is looking for him.  Not only is he closing in on Bob's location, but he is building a relationship with Ruth.  

This film is gorgeous.  Some of the best photography I've seen all year.  The wide shots really soak in the beautiful scenery, and it looks someone loves Terrence Malick.  I thought I was going to be bored by the story, but its dusty, muted quality really kept me invested.  All three leads are subtle and powerful at the same time.  This could have been played melodramatically, but the cast keeps it all grounded.  Ben Foster as Wheeler is a standout--his work keeps getting better and better. 

One of my favorite scenes is when Bob forces himself into a car with a terrifed woman.  He holds her at gunpoint as she drives, and, without looking away from the road, she mutters: "I recognize you."  The score is also playing in my head over and over.  

Ain't Them Bodies Saints surprised me with its quietness and control.  Pretty good stuff.

J. K. Rowling's Announcement Made Me Pee My Pants

I was having a pretty crappy morning.  I fell on my way to the train station.  I forgot an umbrella for the torrential downpour.  That all changed when Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling announced her new project with Warner Bros. 

As you may have heard by now, Rowling is planning to adapt her Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, into a new film franchise.  The films will follow the fictitious author, Newt Scamander, not Harry Potter.  Rowling was quick to note in her statement that this is neither a prequel or sequel to the Harry Potter adventures.  It will, however, take place in her wizarding world, so fans familiar to the series (and who isn't, really) can look forward to seeing the atmosphere brought back to life on screen.  This will be Rowling's first screenplay.  Eeeee!!!

How excited am I?  I may have been rushing all over the office to tell people and scream like a little girl.  I've actually never read this short book (it usually comes with another textbook, Quidditch Through the Ages), but don't think I don't have one on hold right now at Barnes & Noble.  I know I will be picking it up right after work.  You can read the official announce (along with Rowling's statement) on Entertainment Weekly's site here.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling!!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Uncontained Excitement for 'Short Term 12'

You've never heard of the indie Short Term 12 have you?  It's a little film directed from Destin Cretton, and it is getting some pretty big notices.  

Brie Larson plays Grace, a supervising staff leader of a foster care facility for teens.  As she assists other people with their lives, she has to navigate the trappings of her own, including the relationship with her boyfriend and co-worker, Mason.  That's pretty much all I know about the movie.  What I do know is that people keeping talking about it.

Nathaniel Rogers at The Film Experience and Sasha Stone from AwardsDaily are big fans of the film, and there has been some low rumblings for some awards play.  But awards be damned!  Good movies deserve to be seen, especially smaller films from new feature filmmakers.  Short Term 12 has a perfect rating from top critics right now.  

Normally, it takes smaller movies FOREVER to get to Pittsburgh (does anyone remember my restlessness to see Beasts of the Southern Wild last year?), so imagine my surprise when I casually went onto Short's site to see that it will be expanding to Southside this weekend!  Color me full of glee!  I know where I will be on Saturday afternoon!!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

'Kill Your Darlings': Oh, the words...

I knew if I waited a few more days I would get a trailer for this!  Kill Your Darlings debuted high on my list of anticipated fall movies, and I ranked it before I even saw a trailer.  That was either really dumb or really ballsy.  Even though the film was getting nice notices already, I usually reserve the higher slots for things I've seen footage for.  The full trailer debuted a few days ago, and, if possible, I am even more excited.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as a young Allen Ginsberg.  He seems quite outspoken at Columbia Universtiy when he meets Lucian Carr (Dane DeHaan), a fellow undergraduate.  Carr introduced Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, and in Darlings, they are played by Jack Huston and Ben Foster, respectively.

The trailer focuses on Carr and Ginsberg's relationship.  Or friendship.  It has a sort of Talented Mr. Ripley feel to it a bit, I think.  The main plot of the film centers on Carr's murder of David Kammerer, played by Michael C. Hall.  The incident shocked the group of friends, and there is still debate as to the validity of Carr's story. 

The sound and look of the film feels great.  It's all very smokey and jazzy and intellectual.  The sound of typewriters seem to underscore the entire thing.  I am amped to see Radcliffe in such a "scandalous" role.  Chain-smoking and gay sex!  Oh my!  Some of the visuals are rather striking, as well.  There is a moment where DeHaan and Radcliffe wander through a crowd of still people like they are in on a secret that they share. 

DeHaan is an intense young actor, so I am also very eager to see his performance.  Anyone who caught Chronicle or The Place Beyond the Pines knows this guy is the real deal.  He also nabbed the role of Harry Osborn in the upcoming Spider-Man sequel.  This guy is going to blow up very soon.