Film Independent has revealed the line-up for this year's Los Angeles Film Festival, cherry-picking this and that from Sundance and Cannes with a few other things thrown in here and there.
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I missed the first episode of MTV's “Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life” last week but if the second episode, which aired Tuesday night is any indication, I missed nothing.
As we catch up with Ke$ha in this six-episode “documentary” culled from footage shot by her brother Lagan Sebert over a two-year period, it’s June 2011. This immediately begs the question, “Why on earth would we care about seeing footage that’s two years old?”
She’s headed to play at Glastonbury and she’s lost her voice, but even more trouble looms as one of her two tour buses breaks down en route to the British festival. The “essential” personnel from bus 2 hop on Ke$ha’s bus, while others, like her mother, are apparently left by the roadside to fend for themselves. Oh, the inhumanity!
But it gets worse! The Glastonbury field is so muddy, there’s no way to load in all her production, so Ke$ha has to scale back her show. Her peppy guitarist Max tries to get her to cheer up and it’s a good thing that Ke$ha is resting her voice and not speaking, because otherwise she’d probably fire him on the spot.
“My voice is everything,” she declares, as we go into a montage of her on stage at Glastonbury (interestingly, we never see more than a few seconds of her actually performing), and yet she seemingly relies on every trick in the book on stage to distract people from her vocals.
The crowds love her, but she’s bummed because she hasn’t made out with any hot guys yet, so she resorts to watching “penis movies.” She’s lamenting her months-long dry spell, as she declares she wants “a beard.” Hmmm, that clearly means something different in Ke$ha’s world than what it means to the rest of us.
And so it goes for 30 minutes, with lots of commercials thrown in every four or five minutes because MTV knows it’s hard to watch more than a few minutes of this drivel at a time. Lagan may have had 24-hour access to his sister, but he doesn’t seem to know what to actually do with that and how to create any kind of story arc out of the footage.
Ten minutes in, I’m wondering what Ke$ha had to promise to MTV to get the cable outlet to air this. This feels like someone’s very boring, bad home movies. She’s touring Europe and there’s not even any pretty scenery to distract us. There’s no way this series will help her sell records and there’s certainly no way it’s going to get good ratings for MTV.
“In 2009 The New York Times names Beirut the top place to visit,” her manager tells Ke$ha, as they sit on Ke$ha’s bed in the Lebanese capital. It’s almost impossible to calculate the cultural divide between Ke$ha and the New York Times. There seems to be a great deal of security for Ke$ha who worries that she’s driving down the same road where the Lebanese president was assassinated a few years ago. It’s this fake sense of drama—trust me she’s in no real danger—that makes the show even more asinine. Not to mention the fact that she goes from worrying about getting kidnapped back to moaning about not having a boyfriend in about 30 seconds flat.
Her European tour over, she returns triumphant to Los Angeles. Next thing we know she’s at “Conan” complaining to fellow guest Pauly Shore (doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know) that she can’t get laid and that her mom, who is along for the ride for no discernible reason other than to irritate her daughter, is a horrible wingman. Shore looks like he’s torn between suggesting that he help Ke$ha through her rough patch and knowing he’s going to get shot down if he even hints at that. (Conan O'Brien wisely isn't seen on camera at all)
In a move that can’t end well, Ke$ha picks up one of her crew members and hangs out with him and eventually gets laid...and no one seems to think it’s weird and that this guy couldn’t say no since she’s his boss. She nicknames him “Baby Spoon” for reasons that I can’t quite figure out because she’s explaining it while riding in a car to someone we don’t see and the sound is so bad. Plus, by now I don’t care if she calls him “Grown Up Spork.”
The show is frenetic and horribly edited and, worst of all, boring. It’s not even that Ke$ha is unlikeable, because she isn't, she's just nothing; an endlessly yammering voice. I wish that she were unlikeable; that would make for more interesting television. She’s just there and the camera never stops long enough to focus on any of her thoughts for more than a nano-second. Oh! Ke$ha has lost her voice! Oh! Ke$ha’s bus breaks down. Oh! Ke$ha wants to get laid! Oh! Ke$ha picks up a boy in her crew! Oh! Get me out of here.
Ke$ha’s second full-length album, “Warrior,” hasn’t come near the success of first album “Animal,” and maybe the series was seen as a way to goose sales, but all this will do is get people to change the channel. I’ve dropped in on “Ke$ha” and I won’t be back. If you decide to watch the rest of the series, you’re on your own.
I'm hardly alone in this, but I continue to resist the notion that Steven Soderbergh's professed retirement from feature filmmaking is permanent -- not least because he's been on such vigorous creative form lately. "Magic Mike," of course, cracked my Top 10 of 2012 list, while his lithely nasty Hitchcockian thriller "Side Effects" is on course to be one of my favorite mainstream genre entertainments of this year -- it would be an enormous pity for him to bow out just as he seems to have perfected the rarely performed trick of the counter-intuitive audience movie.
Sundance Channel has renewed "Rectify," its great new drama about a Death Row inmate (Aden Young) unexpectedly released into a world he never expected to see again, for a second season, with 10 new episodes set to debut sometime in 2014.
I love watching a long-term artistic collaboration come into focus. When Neill Blomkamp released "District 9," one thing that was obvious was that Blomkamp and his star Sharlto Copley had a great chemistry, and that they were both equally important to the way that film worked.
A few weeks ago, when I went to the special event for "Elysium," both Copley and Blomkamp were present and they were talking about how they adjusted their method of collaboration for this new film. What was evident was the kinship they feel and the connection they have. They have that thing you need in a constant collaborator, that ability to not only know what the other guy is thinking but to throw things at him that he might not expect. There is a trust that is inherent to the way they communicate, and as a result, I hope they continue making films together for as long as they're both interested.
One of the ways I feel like I'm disconnected from the way a lot of people digest pop culture is the way I tune out celebrity gossip almost completely. When I hear someone say that they "hate" a celebrity, I wonder what gets them to that point. There are no celebrities who matter enough in my world for me to hate any of them, and certainly not because of the way they live.
Case in point: when I think of Gwyneth Paltrow, I think of her onscreen work. I think of the first time I saw her in the largely unseen gem "Flesh and Bone," where she was captivating and carnal and impressive. Over the years, I've liked much of her work, and she's made her fair share of films that did nothing for me. Through it all, it never occurred to me to hate her.
Is it because she's married to a rock star and because she runs a lifestyle blog? Because I've never visited it, and I'm not even sure what it's called, and I certainly don't think there's any chance anyone's going to force me to read it any time soon. And who cares who she's married to? I think the reason many people love gossip is because it gives them something to compare their own life to, and when they see someone living better than them, it gives them a specific target for their anger.
Is it because she was just picked as "The Most Beautiful Woman Alive" by People magazine? Because that's another thing that seems very silly to be upset by. It's not like she demanded that they run the headline, like when M. Night Shyamalan insisted they call him "The New Hitchcock" in a story. I doubt she campaigned for it at all. She's got a big new high-profile film coming out, so it makes sense that they'd pick her.
When we sat down, all I knew was that I wanted to talk about the way her role in "Iron Man 3" has evolved. I think I accidentally offended her a bit when I asked her how it was to step into the energy between Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black, because she made a point of explaining that Shane was the newcomer, and that he was the one joining their family. That's totally true, of course. She's been part of the Marvel Universe since "Iron Man," and now that her contract is up, it's time to reflect on the experiences she's had so far and decide if she's going to stay involved moving forward. The things they have her do in this film definitely shook up the sense of sameness that can set in after playing a part four or five times, and she sounded like it was a good experience.
Will we see more of Pepper and Tony? I'd bet on it. Right now, these people have a real sense of ownership over the characters they've established on film, and I think money is only one small part of the decisions they'll be making about the future.
And if you seriously feel like you need to say terrible personal things about Paltrow, do it elsewhere. I would rather have a conversation about her work than about any weird baggage you've picked up because you spend too much time reading about her personal life. Everyone I've ever known who worked with her has great things to say about how she is on a set and what she brings to the table in a collaboration, and those are the things that matter here.
"Iron Man 3" will blow the back wall out of your local theater starting Friday.
The latest trend in comedy has been focused on women behaving (or talking about behaving) badly. They pooped in the sink in "Bridesmaids" (don't tell me that's a spoiler at this point), they have awkward sex on "Girls," they curse and get drunk and high and screw around. Somethings the cursing and drinking and screwing around is supposed to pass as fascinating insight into the female psyche. Sometimes it's supposed to be funny. But piggishness in either men or women isn't inherently funny.
While pundits argue about whether lowbrow distaff humor delivers a bad message to young women (who are probably too busy plopping drunk photos of themselves on Instagram for future would-be employers to find) or shows that women are breaking into previously unattainable arenas by acting like dirty old men, the argument at the heart of it all is very simple: are they funny?
Thank God Amy Schumer is funny. Really funny.
"Looking forward" is the phrase we use most often when discussing the Cannes Film Festival, given that it showcases many of the year's most anticipated specialty films -- many of which stoke that anticipation by taking their sweet time to land in theaters. But looking backward is also a significant part of the festival... or it has been, at least, since the Cannes Classics strand was introduced to the Official Selection in 2004.
Listen to "Fool Metal Jack" in full here.
A review of tonight's "The Mindy Project" coming up just as soon as we spend eternity together playing doubles tennis with Abe Lincoln and Tupac...