Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Earlier this week, I posted something about the right kerfuffle involving Warner Bros., Daniel Radcliffe, and the Broadway production of How to Succeed….

The theatre's a small world, isn't it?

Well, according to Playbill.com, the Warners won.


Victory calls for Comic Sans.

Actually, this isn’t that big a deal.  I understand it’s just business.  (Or maybe it is a big deal:  Is this equivalent to the film saying theatre doesn’t matter?)   But two things stick with me.  The first is that selling out three nights of a Broadway show is about $500,000, which isn’t a huge amount of money and yet still covers about a half a week’s salary for lot of actors, technicians, ushers, etc., plus running costs, royalties, and all that good stuff.  The second is that, in the film industry, that same $500,000 is a nuisance.  It’s mind-boggling.  You could probably add all the budgets of all the shows I’ve ever done, and it still wouldn’t add up to $500,000.  In this case, it’s just an obstacle to getting a star to do some press.

But I digress.  This post isn’t about How to Succeed…, Broadway, or even the Harry Potter franchise.  It’s about the Warner Brothers.  And their sister Dot.


The theme of today's puzzle.

It’s Yakko’s world.  We just live in it:

Not to be outdone, Wakko rules the country (and he starts with my favorite capital city):

And Dot’s cute:

So, if How to Succeed… is dark those nights, then WHO’S ON STAGE?

Hahaha!  I love that show. 🙂


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So, Warner Bros. is at war with the producers of the new revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, over their refusal to release Daniel Radcliffe to do press and red-carpet for the final Harry Potter movie.  Radcliffe’s contract keeps him in NY and in the show until November, while the movie opens in July.  Warner Bros. feels they can’t adequately promote the film without Radcliffe, but How to Succeed producers have held firm, forcing the studio to buy out the houses for the nights they want Radcliffe, to the tune of about a half-a-million dollars.

It’s chump change, really, when you consider that the Potter franchise has grossed over $6 BILLION WORLDWIDE. To put that in perspective, based on my salary last year, I’d have to have lived 600 million years to make that kind of money.    Are they really concerned that if Harry Potter himself isn’t there, the movie won’t open big?

Can you find yourself?


Are they seriously worried about this?  Between the books and films, HP is a phenomenon that we’re not likely to see again in our lifetimes (unless it involves some skeevy, sparkly vampire, and even then, only maybe).










So, really, Warner Bros., thanks for “supporting” the theatre, and kudos to the How to Succeed producers for standing up to Goliath.  As for the show, it just went into previews, but the images I’ve seen from it so far are distinctive.  Here’s Hedy LaRue, on the left:

She does look great, though.


And here’s the Evolution of Bud Frump, from the 1960s to today:


From realistic nerd to fashion icon. See you in the Village, Bud!


The ad campaign and poster art are gorgeous, though, and another comparison leaps immediately to mind.

Hm. There are even faint buildings in the background.




I’m not imagining this, right?  You see this?


Palette, style, pose, truth, justice, and the American way.


And what’s amazing is you take the glasses off Clark Kent, and you get Superman; but if you put the glasses ON Daniel Radcliffe, you get…

The Boy Who Lived


Somehow, I think neither Warner Bros. nor How to Succeed have anything to worry about.



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This shocking scoop appears in the cast announcement for the latest installment of Dancing with the Stars, a show I literally have never seen.

Here’s the link: http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/02/28/dancing-with-the-stars-cast-ralph-macchio/?hpt=T2


I think it’s great that he’s being up front about it.  The Karate Kid was 27 years ago.  He’s not one of those people who has to hide his age, like some of the other gals.

He likes to stretch…

Sally O'Malley-san will show the way.



Impressive extension, both of you.


And heeeee’s 50!  50 years old!

He still looks the same, though.


For perspective, also on this season of DWTS is 60-year-old Kirstie Alley, who made her movie debut in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982.  Alley was 31 then, and co-star Leonard Nimoy was 51.  Here’s a shot of them then:

Too harsh?


And here’s a recreation of that iconic pose today:

Again, too harsh?


I wonder who’ll sweep the leg to try to bring Daniel down.  Wendy Williams?  The wrestler?  L’il Romeo?  I’m breathless with anticipation.

But I’ll still probably never watch it.

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I suppose it’s good to be exposed to the great works of literature at an early age.  It helps one develop a sense of cultural literacy, and if all goes well, it whets the appetite for more.  I wonder sometimes, though, if we’re just too young for some of the books we’re forced to read in school.  I mean, when I was really young, I was a voracious reader.  Everywhere I went, I had a bag of books with me. (Don’t believe me?  Ask my family.)  And I have a pretty good memory for stuff I read when I was that little, too.  For example, I still remember vividly the details of certain Encyclopedia Brown cases.

Bugs Meany was ALWAYS a douchebag.

SIDEBAR #1: Topless Robot has a fun list of the 10 Most Ridiculously Difficult Encyclopedia Brown Mysteries

SIDEBAR #2: It’s a shame what happened to Encyclopedia Brown in later years, too:  Read about the ultimate tragedy.

SIDEBAR #3, because I fell into a Proustian reverie with the Encyclopedia Brown reference and can’t stop finding shit to distract me: Mental Floss spins some quick EB trivia right here.

But I digress.

What I’m getting at, in my typically rambling fashion, is that I read The Great Gatsby in high school, and I’m shocked today that I remember very few things about it.  Here is an arguable candidate for the title of Great American Novel, and what I remember about it can be reduced to patter in a blogpost.

For example, I remember that the book had quite possibly the greatest cover I’d ever seen, one of the most iconic in publishing history:

Shut up. It's gorgeous, and you know it.

SIDEBAR #4, because I’m into it: The painting on the cover is called Celestial Eyes, and it’s the work of Francis Cugat.  Read this fascinating article about it by publishing scion Charles Scribner III. (Warning: the article has weird random characters throughout, like ò in place of intended punctuation marks.  Seriously, 2011 and we can’t stop that from happening or fix it when it does?  The article’s good, though.)

SIDEBAR #5, because I love this: Francis Cugat emigrated from Spain to Cuba in the early 1900s, and then eventually to the U.S.  He was the brother of bandleader Xavier Cugat, who himself was once married to Charo.  It’s all true, look it up.

SIDEBAR #6, because this freaked me out: When Cugat married Charo, he was 66.  She was 15.  TRUE.

Cuchi-cuchi. (I'd totally go see her live. No lie. In a heartbeat.)

Okay, so I remember the gorgeous cover.  I remember West Egg and East Egg, where much of the action of the book takes place, because I had no idea where the hell they were. (They’re imaginary, but Long Island.)  I remember the green light on the dock, but I don’t know why it’s important or what it’s meant to symbolize.  I remember people’s names: Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan, Jay Gatsby, Jordan Baker.  I remember – SPOILER – that Myrtle gets hit by a car.  (I did not remember until just now, when I looked it up, that the car was driven by – SPOILER Jay Gatsby Daisy, driving Gatsby’s car.  I looked it up, typed it in wrong, and my friend Ricky helpfully corrected me.  I’m telling y’all.  I can’t even retain what I read on Wikipedia anymore!)  And that’s pretty much it.

Oh, and I remember that Nick Carraway worked for the New York Probity and Trust Company, because I missed that costly question on a test in Mr. Templet’s class in 10th grade, and I AM STILL NOT OVER IT.

SIDEBAR #7, because it’s cool: Did you know that aspiring actress Susan Weaver chose her stage name from The Great Gatsby?  It’s true!  Looka:

Can you guess who it is?

Anyway, the point is, I should remember much more about this book.  I had to dig up my copy to take the picture above, and now that it’s out and I’m bitching about it, I’m going to reread it.  I mean, what am I gonna do instead?  Watch the movie?

I look great, but I am bad. Very bad. (Oh, how bad? Well, I once gave birth to the spawn of Satan, will that do?)

SIDEBAR #8: If only a possibly-insane Australian filmmaker with a middling track record would remake this movie — someone like Baz Luhrmann, yeah! — and maybe if he made it with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, and maybe if he’d shoot test footage to see if it would work in 3-D, well, then maybe that one would be worth watching.  Or not.

Hell, you know what?  If you watch the one below, it’ll make sense AND you’ll remember what happens. Because it’s Sparknotes.  But I still would have missed that sonofabitchin’ question on Templet’s test.  HERE BE SPERLERS (and droning, monotone narration):

But why bother with all that when you can play the VIDEO GAME!

(LAST SIDEBAR: This game is what inspired me to write this whole post. Thank you for making it this far and taking this free-associative journey with me.  Enjoy!)

Here’s an actual magazine ad from the late-’80s, early-’90s.

Click the image to go to there.

Below are some screenshots I took.

Beautifully done, even for 8-bit.

Your task: FIND GATSBY! Your wallpaper: FLEUR-DE-LIS!

A triumph, indeed. (There's a waiter on that bookcase!)

In case you didn’t click the game ad, here’s the link.  Thanks to Flavorwire and io9 for the scoop.  Good sites, y’all.  Check ’em out.

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James Franco.

Ubiquitous? HE biquitous!

James Franco is everywhere.

James Franco is a hero to a subversive underclass.

James Franco is getting some people’s hopes up.

James Franco doth protest too much.

James Franco is a “style icon.”

I repeat: James Franco is a “style icon.”

James Franco makes Art.

I repeat: James Franco makes Art.

James Franco wants to be a Broadway.

James Franco does soap operas because he feels like it.

James Franco does icons.

James Franco does writers.

James Franco writes.

James Franco might be the next Clint Eastwood or Kevin Costner.

James Franco got loved up on by James Lipton.

James Franco causes riots.

James Franco provokes protests.

James Franco doesn’t go where he’s not wanted.

James Franco is an Oscar nominee.

James Franco is hosting the Oscars.

James Franco loves himself.

James Franco really, really, really loves himself.

James Franco is a subject to be studied.

James Franco is a subject to be studied and taught by James Franco himself.

James Franco does whatever the hell he wants.

James Franco is, mercifully, being told “No.”

True story:  I was in an elevator at NYU with James Franco one time.  He uses a Blackberry.  He’s smaller than you’d think.  And he’s really normal-looking in person.

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Yesterday, Cammie and I took a roadtrip up to Connecticut for a job interview (don’t ask).  For a long leg of that trip, we listened to Muse on the iPod, and it got me to thinking: If this new James Bond movie happens, Muse would be a great choice to write the feem toon, sing the feem toon.  Apparently, they’d be down for it. Check out “Undisclosed Desires” and see if it doesn’t feel like a Bond song to you.  (Sorry about the ad.  Buy something from Target!)



Even more than I love James Bond movies – which is a lot, especially the older ones – I love James Bond theme songs.  Well, more accurately, I love the idea of James Bond theme songs.  Not all of the them are worthy, and some of them are even wretched.  But when they’re good, they’re exquisite.  I’ll get to the good ones in a minute, but for now…



5. “Another Way to Die” – Alicia Keys & Jack White, Quantum of Solace (2008)

I really want to like this one.  I do.  Keys and White are great artists, individually.  Here, they seem to be competing with each other, however, and all the disparate elements of the song fail to coalesce into a coherent whole.  The traditional Bond brass section is out of place here, seeming like an afterthought attempt to associate the song more clearly with the series.  The title sequence is edited fairly well, though, and it follows in the footsteps of the fabulous Casino Royale title sequence, giving the new entries in the Bond series a distinct feel.  But this song?  Fail.



4.  “Thunderball” – Tom Jones, Thunderball (1965)

This one has a curious gestation.  Originally, the opening theme was to have been “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” after James Bond’s overseas nickname.  You should check out versions of that theme by Shirley Bassey (huge, amazing, and a little scary)Dionne Warwick (sexy, classy, replaced Bassey and was to have been the official version), and Ann-Margret (an album track, kittenish, playful, but Vegas-y).  That song was written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse, following their earlier success on the Goldfinger theme (more on that later).  Producer Cubby Broccoli, however, decided the theme song needed the title in the song, so Barry teamed instead with lyricist Don Black and singer Tom Jones.  The horns are magnificent, the last note Jones sings is a stunner, but the song lands as a overblown parody of what had gone before:


For another take entirely, check out Johnny Cash’s submission.  It’s pretty great.


3.  “The Living Daylights” – A-Ha, The Living Daylights (1987)

Duran Duran had a huge hit with “A View to a Kill,” so why not get another European pop band to give it a go?  Well, A-Ha is no Duran Duran, and “The Living Daylights” is no “View to a Kill.”  It feels ripped from the soundtrack of a straight-to-video ’80s thriller.  Boring, repetitive, and minor.  You probably won’t make it to the end.


2. “Die Another Day” – Madonna, Die Another Day (2002)

This song was the most successful Bond theme since the 1980s.  It spent 11 weeks on Billboard’s singles chart, was the fifth most popular dance song of the decade, and earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Song.  And it sucks ass.


1. “Tomorrow Never Dies” – Sheryl Crow, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Sheryl Crow bleats, whines, and strains over a badly-executed title sequence.  Her take on this song is so bad, in fact, that it makes you wonder how she ever had a career in the first place.  Painful on every level.  Why didn’t anyone stop this from happening?


What makes it even worse?  Wait’ll you hear the song that plays over the closing credits.  Keep reading.



5. “We Have All the Time in the World” – Louis Armstrong, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Usually, the song we associate with a Bond film is the song that plays over the opening credits, but occasionally the secondary theme song  from the end titles is more than worthy of inclusion in the canon.  That’s the case here.

HERE BE SPOILERS.  After You Only Live Twice, the fifth Bond film, Sean Connery bowed out of the series, and Bond was played here, for the first and only time, by George Lazenby.  The film is a polarizing one, considered by many to be among the best in the series and dismissed by detractors as a film that suffers enormously from Connery’s absence.  Either way, OHMSS certainly goes the furthest in developing Bond as a character, for it’s here where he falls in love (with Diana Rigg!), gets married, and (SPOILER ALERT!) becomes a widower.  Right after his wife Tracy is shot and killed, Bond utters the title of the song as the last line of the film, and John Barry’s gorgeous string version plays over the closing credits.  But it’s full song, recorded for the film but never used, with lyrics by Hal David and vocals by Louis Armstrong, that’s really memorable.  Armstrong, quite old here and too ill to play the trumpet, is so simple and honest, it’s heartbreaking.  Bittersweet and beautiful.


4.  “A View to a Kill” – Duran Duran, A View to a Kill (1985)

Oh, yeah, it’s big ’80s.  But it’s awesome big ’80s!  Duran frigging Duran!  And the titles themselves are great, too!   Black light and fluorescents!  Fire!  Frozen skeletons!   The second best Bond theme of the Roger Moore era.


3. “Live and Let Die” – Paul McCartney and Wings, Live and Let Die (1973)

And this one’s the best of the Moore era.  It’s also the second entry on here to have a Louisiana connection (Louis Armstong’s the other one), as the film was partly shot on location in New Orleans and the bayous of Southeast Louisiana.  And, as with “A View to a Kill,” this title sequence has flames and skeletons, effectively and disturbingly evoking the voodoo that will figure so prominently into the plot.  The song has become a classic in its own right, and deservedly so.


2. “GoldenEye” – Tina Turner, GoldenEye (1995)

The best of the latter-day opening themes, written by Bono and the Edge.  Tina Turner knows exactly what to do here, and she does it, baby.  You can watch the opening title sequence here, or you can watch the music video for the song.  (I suggest B.  Tina Turner is almost 60 years old in it.  And still hot.)


1. “Goldfinger” – Shirley Bassey, Goldfinger

Okay, I’m the first one to call this an obvious choice, but it is the only song in the canon to become so iconic that even people who’ve never seen the movie can recognize it as a Bond theme.  John Barry, Leslie Bricusse, and Anthony Newley crafted a song that perfectly blends pop and theatricality, and Shirley Bassey puts it over the top, doing so much to create the villain Goldfinger in our imaginations that all actor Gert Frobe had to do was show up and say the lines.  Shirley Bassey, by the way, holds the record for the most Bond themes: this one, “Diamonds Are Forever” (a personal favorite of mine), “Moonraker” in both its traditional opening version and its disco end credits, and “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”  Goldfinger defines everything we come to expect from a Bond theme song, and even from a Bond opening title sequence.


1B.  “Surrender” – k.d. lang, Tomorrow Never Dies

Wait.  1B?  Well, that’s my apartment number, so I’m doing it.  And with good reason.  You just heard Goldfinger,” right?  Now, go back and consider for a moment that simmering piece of Sheryl Crow crap, “Tomorrow Never Dies.”  Nowhere near the same league, right?  Now, listen to this brilliant, BRILLIANT song that played over the closing credits for the same film.  It was supposed to be the title song, but it was switched out at the last minute because Crow was a bigger name than lang.  Huge mistake.  This thing is flawless.


What do y’all think?  Am I crazy?  Do I need better ways to occupy my time?  Take a minute to comment, and please vote in the poll!



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Oscar Nominations

Well, all of my predictions weren’t correct, but I was pretty spot-on with judging my own accuracy.  This is already all over the place, but here are the 2010 Oscar nominations, courtesy of IMDB.com.

And, damn, Mo’Nique looked good on the announcement, y’all.

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