Just so you know, Yolanda Foster throws fabulous dinner parties. Yes, her husband tells some guests they're not talented enough to engage in the after-dinner sing-along, but that's mostly because it's all about him telling stories of his youth and all the famous people he's worked with. But really, they should shut up simply because they're in the presence of greatness. If he wants to tell stories about Boz Scaggs, they'd better listen! Even if they don't know who Boz Scaggs is! But I'm getting ahead of myself. A few other things happen, thank God, because just watching the Foster's fabulous dinner party makes me want to throw something at the screen after a few minutes. Maybe I would feel more patient if I'd been given a tempura avocado roll. Just a thought.
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I have been an ardent supporter of Ang Lee's work over the years, and if nothing else, "Life Of Pi" demonstrates just how much control he maintains over his craft, both technically and artistically. In 1997, when most people were arguing over whether "Titanic" or "LA Confidential" was the best film of the year, I was of the opinion that the sadly-underseen "The Ice Storm" was better than either of them. When his "Hulk" came out, I loved it precisely because it was such a left-of-center take on the material, and there are images from the film that are still among the most beautiful in any superhero film so far. And when I posted my article about the 50 Best Films of the last decade, "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" landed right on top of my list. It is safe to say I am a fan of his work.
I am not, however, a fan of "Life Of Pi."
I believe that David Magee's screenplay is the best possible adaptation of Yann Martel's novel, but the problems I have begin with the book, and they've been carried over to the movie, completely intact and just as problematic. This is one of the most striking cases I've ever seen of the craftsmanship of a film being at total odds with the text itself. I love how the film tells the story, but I don't like the story. It is almost purely metaphorical, and for much of the running time, it is an overwhelming visceral experience. Lee's use of 3D in the film is remarkable, and as a theatrical experience, it's hard to argue with the impact. But it is also hard to argue that the film isn't also frustrating and flawed on a fundamental level, one that bothers me far more than the visuals dazzle me.
The second season of "Smash" returns Tues. Feb. 5 at 9:00 p.m. with a two-hour episode, but if that's too long of a wait for you, check out this sneak peek below. We spot just a few of the major stars who will be popping up on the show, including Jennifer Hudson, Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order," the Broadway musical "Rent") and Debra Messing's old "Will & Grace" co-star, Sean Hayes.
We kick things off with a Michael Jackson tribute, because it’s the 25th anniversary of his album “Bad.” So, that will explain last week’s whackadoo dance assignments, right? Well, no. It just adds another level of confusion, as the second half of the evening will be dedicated to Michael Jackson, but not the first. Yeah, the weird mash-ups will just be freestanding weird mash-ups. Let's just hope this is something that will never be repeated on the show. Never, ever.
A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I send you a fax machine and a Charo calendar...
The clip starts out in black and white, and transitions into color (get it? Freedom from the confines of black and white? Or something? Anyway) as Minaj poses elegantly against Noah's Arc to mansion banisters to modern sculpture. It's the rapper-singer through the ages, an eternal beauty proudly hocking her wares from Macy's.
One repeating motif in this epic is Minaj's inability to quit touching her hair. Her many wigs are no match for wandering fingertips, but frankly, if I had that many weaves, I'd be poking at 'em too.
Minaj performed a chilly rendition of "Freedom" at last night's American Music Awards, as it's one of the new tracks off of her "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded - The Re-Up." It hit stores today (Nov. 19).
On "Numb," only the third song on "Unapologetic," Rihanna tunelessly repeats precisely what is required of the listener to enjoy her new album: the phrase "I'm going numb" insists the designated effect on both the singer and her public. What is needed to enjoy this, her seventh album, is to turn off.
It's not so hard turning off when dancing, on diversions like "Right Now" featuring David Guetta. She puts on a saucy little number in "Jump," borrowing heavily from Ginuwine's "Pony" and re-purposing it for a dubstep mash-up.
Turning off proves more difficult when the album seems to be catwalking off in a half dozen different directions, starting with infernal headache "Fresh Off the Runway." This album could have kicked off with any other track -- SERIOUSLY, ANY OTHER TRACK -- and made more of an impact than this colorless boaster of explicit lyricism. But to make "Unapologetic" to appear without apologies, there's a slavish tromp through it; the new so-so single "Diamonds"; the aforementioned "Numb" with Eminem; and exasperating non-song "Pour It Up," a Mike WiLL-produced experiment which is far more aimless and depressing than its title implies.
I've been kind of waiting to see how J.A. Bayona's "The Impossible" will fare with Academy and guild voters. The film hit first at Toronto. I saw it just before that and loved it. It felt, to me, like a sure-fire Oscar play. But will it find room in the bait-infested waters of December?
An award for star Naomi Watts will sure give it some higher wattage going into the holidays, and that's just what the Palm Springs International Film Festival has done. Watts will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award at the 24th annual fest, an award that, in recent years, has gone to Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet and Halle Berry in recent years.
Are you ready for Hollywood to go crazy about magic?
In June, we saw the first images from the set of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," which stars Steve Carrell as a Vegas magician who tries to get back together with his former partner Anton Lovecraft (Steve Buscemi) so that they can work together to destroy Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), who seems like a cross between Criss Angel and David Blaine. That is obviously the big comedy version of doing a film about the world of magic, but since Hollywood can't do one version of something without also doing a ton of similar films at the same time, we can also look forward to the slick stylish heist movie magic film, and if the first trailer's anything to judge by, "Now You See Me" looks like it could pull off a major trick at the box-office.
It has traditionally been very different to do a film about stage magic that works, and part of that is because the thrill of magic comes from seeing it live, with no edits, and still being fooled by what you see. On film, anything is possible because it's film. When Christopher Nolan made "The Prestige," he made the entire notion of misdirection and lies part of the thematic structure of the movie, and he shot the magic scenes in a way that made all of it seem possible, even when the film took a turn towards the surreal. It looks like director Louis Leterrier is going in the exact opposite direction with "Now You See Me," which appears to have gone through a whole lot of hands on its way to the screen.
In a recent Long Shot column, I wrote about the shabby treatment typically given by awards pundits and voters alike to the Best Actress category, a race routinely described as "weak" due to the scarcity of major female-propelled prestige titles -- despite the abundance of outstanding work on the independent, genre and foreign fringes. One of the names I highlighted as unlikely to receive the attention they deserve was Linda Cardellini, whose measured, quietly aching performance as a returning war vet in Liza Johnson's microbudget debut feature "Return" went largely unseen on its release back in February.
I'm not the only one who believes the film and the actress, still arguably best-known for her TV work in "Freaks and Geeks" and "ER," deserve a second look. Over the weekend, the LA Times reported that Cardellini herself is launching a self-financed awards campaign for herself and for the film, mailing screeners to all 2200 members of the Screen Actors' Guild nominating committee, as well as to the actors', directors' and 'producers' branches of the Academy. More power to her, I say.