Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ben, You're Always Running Here and There

Jason and I went and got our asses some culture last night, seeing the Off-Broadway production of The Pride, starring Hugh Dancy, Ben Whishaw, Andrea Riseborough, and Adam James.

And so, because I know Jason's going to post his own Hugh Dancy-obsessed assessment of the play today (and why shouldn't he? Dancy's fantastic, and a worthy crush object), I figured I owed it to the universe to balance the scales and throw some Ben Whishaw love out into the universe. Because if Brideshead Revisited got my attention, and Bright Star got me to swoon, seeing The Pride live and in person has turned my Ben Whishaw thing into a Ben Whishaw Thing.

I mean, yes, on one level, it's reductive to boil down the praise of an entire rather excellent play to one actor whom I love. Truly, the entire cast was wonderful. Dancy, Whishaw, and Risebrough each play parallel characters whose complicated relationships revolve around the fact that both men are totally gaybones for each other. The story bounces in between two time periods, one contemporary and one back in Repressed Times, and the way the transitions bleed into each other -- ghosts crossing the stage, morphing and diminishing, at times half-aware of each other's presence -- is striking.

I should also mention the two characters who are not hot, gay(ish), British actors with name value: Adam James plays multiple characters and, in two of three instances is a total scream, though he's grounded enough to be more than simple comic relief. And Andrea Riseborough ... I said to Jason, I'm going to have to develop a Kerry Butler-style ladycrush on her. She's amazing, heartbreaking one moment and a hilarious, rapid-fire chatterbox the next. She reminded me of Kate Winslet, actually, in both storylines, and I don't throw that praise around lightly.

But it does come back to dear Ben, who in person is just impossibly thin and slight (yes, even more so), but whose presence couldn't have been more substantial. His character(s) burned the brightest, for me. His Repression-era hopefulness and wide eyes folding into a modern version of the character for whom openness hasn't been the cure-all you might have hoped. This is a play where changes in expression, demeanor, voice (I really wish I had a better grasp of British dialects, but the modern characters are decidedly less bourgeois in their speech) are all incredibly precise as they change from one storyline to the other, and Whishaw's face, his spindly frame, down to the way he peers at other characters just tells you a million stories at once.

I can't recommend this play enough -- if you're fortunate enough to be in New York before March 28th, seriously don't miss it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring* Movie Preview, Part 3

*Yes, I realize we're well too soon for Spring, but calling it a "Winter" preview doesn't seem right either. I'm learning to make my peace with it, and so should you.

Previously: Part 1, Part 2

Movie: Cop Out (Kevin Smith)
High-Concept Synopsis: Bruce Willis and Tracy Jordan Morgan do the buddy-cop thing in Kevin Smith's first directorial effort from someone else's script. Seann William Scott, Adam Brody, Guillermo Diaz, and Rashida Jones co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Hardcore Kevin Smith fans. Grizz and Dot Com. Park Slope residents who may have seen them filming a scene from this movie at the Mexican restaurant around the corner.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Casual Kevin Smith fans who would have no idea he directed this, given the marketing. People who have come to the frequently observed conclusion that this is one of those fake Tracy Jordan movies from 30 Rock, like Fat Bitch and Honky Grandma Be Trippin'. People who might have given this a curiosity peek if it remained under its old title, A Couple of Dicks, but now are not interested, thank you very much, MPAA.
Why I'd See It: I wrote the preceeding entry before the whole Southwest imbroglio, so allow me to amend: FAT FATTIE FAT FAT JORTS OVERHANG TOO FAT TO FLY TWITTER AIRPLANE FAT. February 26

Movie: The Crazies (Breck Eisner)
High-Concept Synopsis: The residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa start going catatonic, then murderous, then ... maybe zombiefied? Whatever it is, it's not good news for non-crazies Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the 1973 original by George A. Romero eager for an updated take on it. Fans of the booming zombie-or-zombie-adjacent genre. People looking forward to seeing Timothy Olyphant in a sheriff's uniform, however blood-spattered it may be.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Fans of the 1973 Romero original who are indignant about a remake and would rather wait for Romero's next pale imitation of Dawn of the Dead. People weary of the zombie genre and who don't feel The Crazies falls far enough away from the trend. Publicists for the farming equipment industry who don't like the looks of what that crazy-eyed hick is doing with that thresher.
Why I'd See It: The Town Gone Mad is a fine trope to explore for a fun Saturday night of horror, and this looks like a promising enough entry. Plus Timothy Olyphant! I tend to enjoy him. February 26

Movie: Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton)
High-Concept Synopsis: The classic Lewis Carroll tale gets the Tim Burton treatment -- which, at least these days, means Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and color saturation to the point of diabetes -- and an update. Here, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is 19 years old, returning to Wonderland, and trying to unseat the Red Queen.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Burton's latest "adapting potentially freaky original works" phase. Alice fans who think they've found the perfect match to helm a feature film in Burton (and Depp). Folks intrigued by the MPAA rating addendum that cites "scary images and situations, and a smoking caterpillar."
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People worn out by the manic-cartoon trend Depp has been riding hard lately. Alice and Through the Looking Glass fans offended by the wonton mishmashing of characters, storylines, and bobbleheaded Helena Bonham-Carters. People who hate walruses and/or carpenters
Why I'd See It: I can't say I'm 100% confident that this won't be just as messy as Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which it closely resembles. But the Alice story is rich with possibility, and Anne Hathaway is in it, and I do think Mia Wasikowska is a huge upcoming talent. March 5

Movie: Brooklyn's Finest (Antoine Fuqua)
High-Concept Synopsis: Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, and Don Cheadle do the hardscrabble/possibly-corrupt cop thing in my favorite NYC borough.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the last Fuqua/Hawke team-up, the 2001 hit Training Day. Fans of The Wire so desperate for gritty cop drama that they'll turn to Richard Gere. People looking to get ahead on the Wesley Snipes comeback story, as he's got a supporting role.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who burned off all their Fuqua goodwill on Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, and Shooter. Fans of The Wire too busy hectoring other people to see it and rank it #1 on any number of lists to go to the movies. Manhattanites.
Why I'd See It: I feel like this got good notices at some film festival or another last year, but honestly? Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, and Antoine Fuqua aren't exactly going to get me running. March 5

Movie: Green Zone (Paul Greengrass)
High-Concept Synopsis: Matt Damon plays a military intelligence type who stumbles onto a conspiracy of faulty intelligence or something or other. Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, and Amy Ryan co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who would have seen The Hurt Locker if it starred anyone whose name they knew. Fans of the last two Greengrass/Damon team-ups, The Bournes Supremacy and Ultimatum. U.S. Senators who think watching a movie about fabricated intelligence in the ramp-up to war will balance out that they voted for such a war.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Non-fans of the shaky-camera genre. People who remain uninterested in movies set anywhere close to an area of the world the U.S. is currently engaging in military action. Members of the Bush administration.
Why I'd See It: I've grown to like Paul Greengrass as a director quite a bit. And I love Matt Damon, though I doubt this will be much of an actor's showcase. I wonder if The Hurt Locker has set the bar for this kind of movie too high, but Green Zone looks to be far more of a political thriller. March 12

Movie: Remember Me (Allen Coulter)
High-Concept Synopsis: A brooding angry young man (Robert Pattinson, obvs) falls in love with pretty, quirky Emilie de Ravin. She eats dessert first! And her father is the cop who beat up R-Patz! Meanwhile, R-Patz's dad is a powerful and bellowing Pierce Brosnan.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of ROB ROB EDWARD R-PATZ TEAM EDWARD EEEEE! Fans of director Coulter's TV work (he's directed episodes of The Sopranos, Damages, Rome and other fantastic-looking TV. People who have somehow not seen this exact story told in a thousand ways before.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Kristen Stewart fans ready to cut this bitch from Lost for usurping. Non-Twilight fans who might not entirely buy Pattinson as a growling tough guy. People rightfully angry that Lena Olin and Martha Plimpton have been callously omitted from the marketing.
Why I'd See It: It honestly looks pretty rough, and the prospect of watching Robert Pattinson and Pierce Brosnan get their angst all over each other is not so appealing. March 12

Movie: She's Out of My League (Jim Field Smith)
High-Concept Synopsis: A dweeby airport security screener (Jay Baruchel) happens across a totally hot blonde (Alice Eve) and they pursue an unlikely relationship. Can a "10" and a "5" really make it work? No, really, that's the thrust of the marketing. (Mike Vogel, Krysten Ritter, Kyle Bornheimer, and Jessica St. Clair co-star.)
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the Judd Apatow subgenre who see a familiar actor (Baruchel) and plot (hot chick dates loser). People who liked Baruchel in Tropic Thunder. The handful of people who saw Starter for 10 and have an OCD need to see Alice Eve make the leap, as co-stars James McAvoy, Dominic Cooper, and Rebecca Hall have done.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have seen the underwhelming trailer, filled as it is with tired bro gags and a predictable plot. Principled folk who refuse to support a film that is attempting to make "moodle" (man + poodle, get it??) happen. Equally principled folk who refuse to support a film in which Mike Vogel apparently remains fully clothed throughout.
Why I'd See It: I'm torn! I am happy that my decade-long support for Jay Baruchel has finally paid off in a leading role in a movie. He was so good in Tropic Thunder, too, so he's definitely deserved it. If only the movie that has resulted looked better than this. Kyle Bornheimer and Jessica St. Clair look passably funny, and Mike Vogel's fine even with his clothes on, but I've maybe had my fill of The Emasculated Man as a subgenre. March 12

Movie: Repo Men (Miguel Sapochnik)
High-Concept Synopsis: In the near future, artificial organs are plentiful (but still no jet packs, probably), so long as you can make the steep payments Big Organ. If you can't, Repo Men (Jude Law and Forest Whitaker) come a-calling. Until the day Jude needs a replacement heart ... and can't pay it off. Liev Schrieber, Alice Braga, and Carice van Houten co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of futuristic sci-fi action. Fans of Jude Law, who hasn't looked this charismatic in a movie in a long, long time. Fans of co-writer Eric Garcia's Matchstick Men, which was, like Repo Men based on one of his novels.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who find the whole premise to be a bit too silly. People freaked out by Forest Whitaker's lazy-eyed, low-key demeanor. People already too depressed by the current economic climate to watch a movie where our internal organs are being foreclosed on.
Why I'd See It: From what I've seen, the film is more interested in darkly comedic sci-fi action than in making heavy-handed parallels to These Troubled Times, which is a good thing. I'm also not lying when I say Jude Law hasn't looked this appealing on screen in a long, long time. I'm ready to start obsessing over him again. Let's make it happen, Repo Men. March 19

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Bronze That Wasn't

Sadly, that above pic of Johnny Weir with a bronze medal was from the U.S. Nationals and not from last night's conclusion to the men's long program. Studly heterosexual Evan Lysacek took the gold, America's first in men's figure skating since the legitimately awesome Brian Boitano did it in the '88 games ... which were also held in Western Canada. Coincidence? Or Illuminati??

Our man Weirsie finished an unacceptable sixth after skating a gorgeous -- and, even more notably, clean -- long program that even had Scott "Hater" Hamilton gushing praise. Why the low scores? Unfortunately, figure skating's scoring system comes complete with a 1040EZ form you have to fill out in triplicate before they tell you what's what. Would that these were the old days of perfect-6 scores and crooked Soviet judges. (Though, duh, a Soviet judge would have probably nudged Johnny's scores way higher.)

Anyway, I'm so thrilled so many of you liked the liveblog Anna Beth and I did for the short program. My superterrific sister was in town last night, so I wasn't able to fire up the blog again for the long program. AB and I did have a short conversation afterwards, but that was mostly just us saying "AMAZEBALLS" about Johnny's performance and talking like Galina ("I bring you pomegranate juicer!" "I keep missile codes hidden in haircut!").

Anyway, feel free to comment on the skaters in this post. And come on back in 2014, when I will be completely in the tank for that Brazilian-French kid who skated the marionette routine. Love!

P.S. Elvis Stojko is a jackass. Almost makes me like Evan.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter Olympics '10, Men's Figure Skating Liveblog

All right, y'all. AB Chao and I have time-shifted by about an hour and a half, which should give us enough of a cushion to FF past the filler without having to waste a moment of our commentary on losers who can't hit a double toe-loop. Comment along with us -- I'll try to update fairly regularly, so just refresh this post for further commentary.

Joe: Yeah!
AB Chao: I'd like to begin by commenting on Plushenko's hair.
Joe: OMG for real.
Wait, have you started watching?
AB Chao: I just started.
Joe: OK me too.
AB Chao: Joe, he is doing aerobics.
Joe: You're starting from the beginning, yes?
AB Chao: Yes. Mine started by showing Plushenko warming up. He looks like a sad Louisiana redneck.
Joe: His face is so unfortunate.
No wonder he wears his hair so shaggy.
AB Chao: His hair is bi-layered.
Not to be confused with bi-curious or bi-lingual.
Joe: I totally thought he had retired; he dominated the 2006 Olympics so thoroughly, I was kind of happy he'd be out of the picture here.
AB Chao: I wish he had retired, but I think he made some kind of Sasha Cohen comeback.
Damn Russians.
Joe: OMG this Brazilian French kid [ed note: Florent Amodio] is so cute.
AB Chao: OK but how many bad things have happened to him?
"Adopted by a French family as an infant..."
Joe: Disease. Famine.
AB Chao: "He was born with no feet and doctors surgically attached them."
Joe: He is seriously four feet tall.
That's not a fake ailment.
That's truth.
AB Chao: Osgood Schlatner disease.
That is made up.
Joe: I hope so.
AB Chao: That's when you see dead people on Priceline.
Joe: So not to take away from Frenchie's skating.
But we should maybe mention why we're doing this foolishness in the first place.
AB Chao: You mean, because of ... our boyfriend?
Joe: Yes.
AB Chao: I'm sorry, I mean MY BOYFRIEND.
Joe: We share him, like April's two gay boyfriends on Parks and Recreation.
AB Chao: Right, I forgot.
Joe: Because I have loved Johnny Weir for many years.
Back when he was causing ruckus with his Soviet zip-up hoodies.
AB Chao: CCCP forever!
The real reason we're here is because Johnny needs to be vindicated from NBC's scurrilous coverage of him.
Joe: Seriously!
It was bad enough they did Conan wrong.
But they seriously slight Johnny at every turn.
AB Chao: No, they have their heads all the way up that jackhole Lysacek's ass.
Joe: Which: don't get me started. Watch Be Good, Johnny Weir, people.
You'll know.

Click below for the full liveblog!

AB Chao: You WILL know. Why aren't more people watching that show, BTW?
It's an actual documentary.
Joe: Who knows where Sundance Channel is?
AB Chao: Let me also say this at the outset: Shut up, Scott Hamilton.
You know he hates Johnny real bad.
Joe: All the Figure Skating Establishment seems to hate Johnny.
Except Kurt Browning.
AB Chao: Kurt Browning loves him!
Joe: So are you drinking your champagne?
In Johnny's honor?
AB Chao: OK, I almost don't want to tell you what happened to my champagne because you will make fun of me. housekeeper poured it out.
Joe: !!
So sorry, Baroness!
AB Chao: Shut up! It didn't have a cork!
Joe: That is some nonprofessional champagne drinking.
AB Chao: He thought it was trash. So I have had to drink wine.

Oh this is some pale Austrian we've got here.
[ed note: Viktor Pfeifer]
Skating to some very familiar-sounding chamber music.
AB Chao: He is clearly Austria's answer to RPattz.
Skate, little vampire! SKATE!
Joe: I hesitate to ask, because the last time I inquired as to the identity of a piece of orchestral music on TV, the answer turned out to be "Rhapsody in Blue."
He IS very RPatz.
AB Chao: No, this is something we should know.
Like, maybe I played it at a piano recital once.
I am unimpressed with Austrian RPattz.
Joe: Yeah he's okay
Seriously, Plushenko is SO SCARY.
"Fueled in part by his critics and oponents who doubted him."
WHO the FUCK would doubt this guy? He was pretty much unbeatable.
AB Chao: Is the song Moonlight Sonata?
Joe: ohhhh maybe probably
AB Chao: I had an Everwood flashback, and I think that's what it is.

[ed note: I told that story completely wrong. The last time I couldn't recognize a piece of orchestral music it was, in fact, "Moonlight Sonata." Which it also was during Austrain RPattz's routine. So that's twice now I've failed to recognize the same piece of super-famous classical Beethoven music. This time while telling the story of the first time. I am not cultured.]

AB Chao: See?!
"11 months ago!"
He is so Sasha Cohen.
Oh a fluff piece.
Joe: I love that we have an Evil Russian on the Olympic scene again.
AB Chao: Haaaa. "They afraid, a little bit."
Joe: Even this music is very Angels & Demons Illuminati.
AB Chao: Please, please, let him star in an ice skating remake of White Nights.
(Joe is furiously Googling White Nights because he is 8 years old)
Joe: I know it!
Was that the one with Robby Benson?
AB Chao: GOD.
No, that was Ice Castles.
AB Chao: White Nights is the one with Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines.
Joe: Which one was "Looking Through the Eyes of Love"?
AB Chao: Ice Castles.
Joe: Jesus!
Why do I know so much about Ice Castles?
AB Chao: I don't know!
White Nights is "Say You, Say Me."
(Joe Googles more)

AB CHAO: Aw, shit! Plushenko's on.
Joe: fuuuuck
here we go
Joe: But first: Canada.
AB CHAO: Oh, Canada.
Where's our boy?
Joe: I don't know, but Canada Boy
[ed note: Vaughn Chipeur] just fell
AB CHAO: Wait, I missed his name and it sounds like they called him "Bon Chigger."
Is that French?
Joe: I missed the name too.
AB CHAO: There is something bad on the back of his shirt.
Joe: Kurt Browning choreographed him. Sad he's not doing so well.
AB CHAO: Aw, Kurt.
Joe: Yes, it's like a mural made out of colored sequins.
AB CHAO: He's cute, too.
Ooh, bad fall.
Joe: There really is a lot of electric guitar in this routine.
AB CHAO: You know Kurt Browning is way into metal.
Joe: I'm a smidge ahead of you, tell me when he's done
All caught up.
Joe: Good, But: poor kid.
Von Chigure?
Bon Iver?
AB CHAO: I swear, I am so country. "Chigger."
Joe: Girl, you have got to stop.
(sorry, I'm coming down from a RuPaul's Drag Race episode, I'm all "girl"s and "please"s)
AB CHAO: You know where you get chiggers? In your bed. At the huntin' camp.
They ITCH.
Joe: That is seriously country.
AB CHAO: I know. I apologize.
Joe: FINALLY Plushenko time.
AB CHAO: I mean, he's this scary Russian and he is in the Olympics. Why didn't anyone tell him to shave, DAMN?
Oh God. I'm scared.
Joe: There's a little Ephram Brown there, speaking of "Moonlight Sonata."
Aw, Ephram. Sniff.
Joe: He seriously looks like a sorcerer.
AB CHAO: He IS one. An eeeeeevil Russian sorcerer.
Why is he so jerky?
Joe: I dunno, but I'm kinda glad we have him.
AB CHAO: What is he doing with his hands?
Joe: We need our evil Russian villains.
AB CHAO: It's making me nervous.
I think he just put a curse on you.
Joe: Casting spells!
His cat, Gargamel, is cheering for him in the stands.
That's the second Gargamel joke I've heard today, oddly.
And that's IT?
That little Tiger Woods fist pump?
Yes, maybe Plushenko put a spell on the WORLD.
Joe: Certainly on Scott Hamilton.
AB CHAO: I know. Ass Kiss.
Johnny would COVET Plushenko's warmup jacket.
Joe: For serious

Joe: Oooh, Dick Button is not quite so impressed by Lord Plushenko
AB Chao: I love him. He is not any kind of ass-kisser like SH.
Joe: He just said "folderol"
AB Chao: I wonder why Dick Button (who has the best name ever, BTW) isn't commentating.
Joe: I know!
Another NBC fuckup.
AB Chao: Probs because I have actually heard him say nice things about Johnny Weir before.
I think we should have a nickname for him.
Joe: D-Buttz?
AB Chao: No, for Johnny. But D Buttz is awesome.
J. Weir. Weirsie.
Joe: I like Weirsie
AB Chao: D Buttz! HA! (Still laughing about that.)
Joe: OMG once AGAIN Johnny gets no pub on the bumpers!
Joe: Who do you think all the fags watching this came to see??
AB Chao: Since opening ceremonies they have fucked him.
And all the girls who love fags.
Joe: Ladyfags
AB Chao: (Me)
Joe: (you)
AB Chao: Who has two thumbs and is a ladyfag?
Joe: hee!
AB Chao: Ok let me fwd past the dumb snowboarding
Joe: Okay, I think we have to/get to FF some snowboarding now.

AB CHAO: Gross. I did not need to see this guy's ACL.
Joe: Ew, where are you?
AB CHAO: The Chinese guy?
Joe: Okay wait, I need to catch up.
AB CHAO: HAHAHAAAA he is Japanese. [ed note: Daisuke Takahashi]
I need not remind you that I have been married to an actual Chinese guy for 10 years.
Joe: OK I am just starting the segment now
AB CHAO: Insert "they all look alike" joke here.
Joe: This is why I say "Asian," AB
So I don't look a fool
AB CHAO: Noted.
The Asian guy is about to skate.
Does he look a little like MJ to you?
Joe: The costume does not help
AB CHAO: With the frills and the tiny waist?
Joe: Epaulets made of glitter?
AB CHAO: Right.
I find it so endearing that you know what epaulets are.
Joe: Do you think this is what counts as masculine in figure skating?
Because he's got shoulder pads and is skating to paso doble music?
AB CHAO: I think it does.
And God forbid anyone would think a male figure skater were in the least way feminine. PASO!
Joe: I love that his name is Dice-K, like the baseball player.
AB CHAO: Or a Chinese rapper.
Just kidding.
Joe: He even did the Paso hand motion at the end!
AB CHAO: I saw!
Joe: What a cutie.
AB CHAO: But the more masculine men would NEVER do any kind of hand motion. Or be graceful.

Joe: OMG this Swiss boy [ed note: Stephane Lambiel]
With the Shakespearian costume.
AB Chao: He is fully wearing an outfit he found in his middle school's theatre department.
Joe: YES
AB Chao: And I do believe that his skates are BLACK PATENT LEATHER.
Joe: hot
AB Chao: They are boot skates!
Joe: Oh I do kinda remember him from Torino.
They ARE boot skates.
AB Chao: Yeah, me too. Or from Be Good Johnny Weir?
Joe: This bitch is feeeeeerce.
AB Chao: Skate boots. They're Skoots.
Sad little double Axel.
OH! Went down on the quad toe.
The skoots are impeding him!
Joe: My legs weep at the muscles needed to grind that axel out, though.
AB Chao: No kidding. Skaters always have so much back.
Get ready for an "insane" foot sequence.
Joe: OMG those SPINS!
AB Chao: That was pretty good.
He is cute. And sweet looking.
Joe: I know, I feel bad he stumbled.
"The greatest strength for these men is a lack of weakness." Shut up, Scott.
AB Chao: Cram it sideways, Scott.

AB CHAO: Ooh, that's pretty low scores for Lambiel.
Joe: Personal Best, AB!
AB CHAO: OK! Personal best! That's good.
And now, another...Asian. [ed. note: Nobunari Oda]
Joe: Oh man, he looks adolescent.
Like a gymnast.
His costume looks like his teammate's costume had a baby.
Joe: Wait, he has his own SuperNintendo game?
Did I hear that right?
AB CHAO: Japanese people will make a game out of anything.
Joe: Racist.
AB CHAO: "Super Double Fantasy Tooth Brushing!"
I am a racist.
"eXXXXtreme Lovely Rice EATER!"
Joe: Yikes.
Disclaimer: I do not know this lady.
AB CHAO: Tea Make to the MAXXXXX!
Joe: This music feels like it's eternally 2 seconds away from becoming the beginning to "It's Raining Men."
AB CHAO: Good spins, though.
Joe: Yes.
Well done, SuperTerriffic Eleven Year Old Child!
Joe: Damn it!

Mary Carillo is about to introduce some kid.
Patrick Chen. A fluff piece. Is he Chinese or WHAT?
Joe: You are gonna find a Chinese kid one day soon,
AB CHAO: HA, NO, he's Canadian.
AB CHAO: Who has two thumbs, is married to a Chinese person, and is racist?
Joe: Mary Carillo is my favorite lesbian puff piece reporter.
AB CHAO: She is amazing. Did you see her in those tennis togs?
Joe: And this Canadian Not Chinese boy is cuuuute
AB CHAO: He is. Super cute.
OK. He is adorbs.
Joe: Marinate on that as we FF past some snowboarding

Joe: Can we stay paused for a moment?
AB Chao: Yes.
Joe: And discuss Johnny's outfit?
AB Chao: Yes.
What would you like to discuss?
Joe: The hot pink trim is taking my breath away.
AB Chao: Why Joe, I do believe you're smitten.
Joe: Also, we should explain Galina.
To the uninitiated.
AB Chao: Right, so Johnny had a wonderful coach for years and years and years, but he is a huge Russophile, so he went out and got himself a Russian coach who yells at him in Russian and I think it kind of makes him feel special.
BTW, she also used to coach...
Joe: Yes. And she is easily identifiable by her no-nonsense Hillary Rodham Clinton haircut and the pomegranate stains on her her thick Russian fingers.
AB Chao: Correct.
Joe: Okay, unpausing for Brian Joubert (of France).
AB Chao: Ok.
Joe: He is not Chinese.
AB Chao: Oh, Galina coached Oksana Baiul, who is Johnny's inspiration for skating.
Joe: YES!
Which I love. Talk about a shot-of-vodka, line-of-coke type girl.
AB Chao: Fer realz.
Joubert is Chinese-French, right?
Talk about Ephram Brown.
Joubert is totes Gregory Smith in sparkles.
Joe: oof, flubbed that quad toe
AB Chao: Do you do that face when they fall?
Joe: Where is Gregory Smith? Maybe he DID become a Chonese-French figure skater?
AB Chao: He is on a show!
Joe: No.
AB Chao: A show I cannot remember the name of.
And also I think it may be an internet show.
Oh shit!
Joubert is losing it.
Joe: Yeah, he's been reduced to just running on the ice
AB Chao: Bo-ring.
I want Johnny.
Where is Weirsie??
AB Chao: AW!
Joe: Sorry, Brian Joubert of France/China.

AB Chao: Bring on our man.
OK, this next skater is Asian. And is wearing some CRAZINESS. [ed. note: Takahiko Kozuka]
Right after I typed that Scott Hamilton goes "Great shirt." He would think that.
I mean, first of all, the "great shirt" is made of snakes, demons, and despair.
Joe: haaaaa
I notice you're not going out on a limb.
I will say that his pants have been puffy-painted to look like jeans.
Joe: They have!
AB Chao: I gotta be honest, some of these skaters could use some Crest WhiteStrips.
Joe: Also, I think Tom Hammond and Scott Hamilton stepped out for a smoke during that routine.
A la Simon Cowell.
Sorry, I just saw him walking.
Do you think after he reads this live-blog, he will love us?
Joe: Why wouldn't he??
We gave him awesome nicknames.
We hate his nemesis.
AB Chao: We do not like Asians.
Joe: We are also very disappointed with his wayward roommate, Paris.
AB Chao: SO disappointed in Paris.
I feel that Paris has a meth habit.

Joe: Who the eff is this Lumberjack Jack here? [ed. note: Samuel Contesti]
AB Chao: I heard he was Italian?!?
Oh, born in France, became an Italian.
Joe: He's from Italy. Is this like if you or I dressed up like a matador or something?
AB Chao: That still does not explain the jeans.
Joe: Or the theme from "Roseanne" as his music.
AB Chao: Excuse me, but I think I just bought that shirt from American Eagle.
And I bought those overalls from Chiggertown.
Joe: You can't skate in OVERALLS
AB Chao: You can if you're French/Chinese/Italian!
Oh NO.
Joe: I think this is all secretly a 1-piece.
AB Chao: Well, he fell on his overall.
Joe: This is insulting to Americans.
This is like us saying "Spicy Meat-a-ball!"
except in the form of a short program
AB Chao: Insulting to good Americans who wear overalls for REAL.

AB Chao: CHEN.
Joe: I am suddenly rooting for him.
(soft racism)
AB Chao: (vince forgives you)
Joe: Clip package on Canadian skaters throughout history.
Elvis Stojko is a douche
I like Canada better for Kurt Browning
AB Chao: Elvis Stojko can kiss my Patrick Chen.
AB Chao: He is the one who ruined male figure skating with all his machismo bullshit.
Shut up forever, Elvis Stojko.
Joe: Oh no! Chen Fall!
AB Chao: Noooo!
Well, what is he, 12? He has lots of years left.
He got close to that wall, didn't he?
Joe: Damn, but he is still good.
Did you see that high kick?
AB Chao: Still really good.
I did!
Joe: He might be my successor to Weirsie.
Joe: Boitano begat Baiul begat Weir begat Chen
AB Chao: Brill.
He's got a little bit of the crazy eye.
Oh. Hello, Weirsie.
Are you watching Johnny Weir drink a bottle of water?
Because I am.
I wish we had time to tell the people the story of when you acted as a human dressing room for me in Uniqlo.
Joe: Tell the story, while I post.
Speaking of cute little weird Asian things.
AB Chao: OK. So one time I was in New York, and I made Joe go to Uniqlo with me. But it was really crowded and all of the dressing rooms had really long lines, so I made Joe stand in a corner, with his arms outstretched, while I tried on clothes behind him. And then I bought all of the clothes in Uniqlo, the end.

Joe: Okay, Chen is over, Johnny skating to the center
Sorry, this is just gonna be a bunch of exclamations.
He is so beautiful.
Joe: He really is.
AB Chao: WOO!
Joe: Honestly, if he didn't skate so well, I wouldn't be so queer for him.
Oh he NAILED that combo!
AB Chao: I love watching him skate better than anyone.
Triple axel!!!!
Fucking awesome.
I will watch this over and over again.
Joe: Yes.
AB Chao: I am typing this without looking.
Because I am looking at Johnny.
Notice how Scott H is SILENT
Joe: Oh he is WORKING it.
It's like when the Saints won.
Joe: Fuck yes.
High-five, Chao.
High five!
Whatever, all Scott Hamilton can say is "He rocked the tassel?!?"
Joe: OMG did you throw that heart pillow?
AB Chao: Yes.
Do you like it?
Weirsie does.
Check out Galina's CRAZY fur.
You know that's somehow some real Russian animal.
Joe: Man, I really hate this condescending "he finally respects the game" crap.
He has ALWAYS shown respect on the ice, bitches
AB Chao: He HAS!
That was the shit.
I am so happy.
I am sorry but I love how he speaks Russian.
Joe: ...Okay those scores are some bullshit
AB Chao: 5th place is bullshit.
He is still happy.
Joe: Whatever, that was better to watch than anyone else's so far.
And now Evan can go and get his bronzer all over everything.
AB Chao: Fucking Lysacek and his weird shoulder pads.
I think at this point this is less a liveblog and more a sex blog.
Joe: We are ChatRoulette, only every time you click it's still us, loving Johnny Weir.
AB Chao: HA. We are Johnny Weir ChatRoulette.

AB Chao: Rewind: fluff piece on Lysacek and Abbott. But not Weir.
Joe: assholes
Okay, let's watch this bullshittery.
AB Chao: Poor Jeremy Abbott looks like Poor Man's Eminem on here.
While they somehow make Lysacek look like a god.
Even though he is, as you said earlier, a douche-and-a-half.
Joe: Seriously, this puff piece. What is this back-lit, gritty locker rooms macho foolishness?
U.S. Figure Skating is pathological.
AB Chao: And all DETERMINATION behind them in gothic letters.
Like it's a Clint Eastwood movie.
Joe: Situps! Black clothing! Medicine balls!
AB Chao: Anything to avoid the pansy-boy in pink elastic.
Joe: Can't hide those sibilant "s" sounds, boys
AB Chao: ssssssibliance!

AB Chao: Oh, a skeleton. [ed. note: Kevin van der Perren]
Joe: obvs
AB Chao: This might be sad.
Joe: Let's ignore the tragic Belgian skeleton.
And explain why we hate Evan Lysacek so.
It's not just the bronzer.
AB Chao: It's not the bronzer at all.
I could get past the bronzer.
It's the smug all over him.
And OK, the homo-denial hetero thing.
The "I dated Tanith Belbin for 5 years" thing.
Am I wrong?
Joe: Well and it's just the way U.S. Figure Skating tries to lionize him as the Great Hetero Hope
Which: dubious, but even if it wasn't, it's gross.
AB Chao: Right, it's disgusting.
Joe: And he's said some suuuuper bitchy things to/about Johnny, and only Johnny gets called out for being bitchy.
AB Chao: He's way more bitchy than Johnny, actually, but he just gets called "competitive." While Johnny gets called a poor sport.
Joe: Exactly.
So we hate him.
AB Chao: Also, I hate his ass face. The end.

AB Chao: Then commercials.
Are you on the sad little Czech kid who is somehow wearing a French sailor outfit? [ed. note: Tomas Verner]
Joe: OK I am ready and waiting with the little Dutch Boy
Czech, yes; the kerchief remains the same
attempting a quad at some point
AB Chao: I think I just bought that outfit from J. Crew.
Joe: you would look really good in this outfit, Anna Beth
AB Chao: Well, I hope so, because I'm pretty sure I bought it. But his jeans are not real.
Joe: Aaaaand he biffed the quad
AB Chao:
Why can't Scott Hamilton ever shut up?
Joe: We need to get D-Buttz to take over.
AB Chao: D-Buttz got screwed.
Joe: Also, this music is, I think, from a movie about a big fat Greek wedding.
AB Chao: Well, obvs. This routine is about a big fat Czech French Dutch Greek Chinese boy.
Joe: I see zaftig first-generation Americans running to and fro.

AB Chao: GAH. Guess who's next.
Shoulder Pads Lysacek.
Joe: Ew.
AB Chao: Sometimes I ask people to jump up my ass, Joe. And I know it's not nice, or classy, but I can't help it.
And I'd like to invite Evan Lysacek to jump straight up my ass.
Joe: I'll allow it.
AB Chao: I hate his outfit.
Joe: Are those feathers on his gloves? WHO IS HE KIDDING?
AB Chao: Yes.
Vera Wang designed this outfit.
Joe: omg Scott Hamilton's hard-on for this guy is so gross
AB Chao: I done tole you girl
AB Chao: How old is Frank Carroll?
A million?
Joe: who is that even?
AB Chao: The Crypt Keeper sitting next to Lysacek in the kiss and cry.
Joe: Oh you're ahead of me
but seriously
AB Chao: Oh GOD Scott Hamilton shut the frak up.
Joe: How was that routine harder than Johnny's?
AB Chao: It wasn't.
It was more MANLY I guess.
Fuckin' A.
Joe: Come ON.
AB Chao: Oh, I'm sure those are real tears.
Joe: Those shoulder ruffles are so offensive.
No, he's so totally fake.
AB Chao: He's such a disappointment to me as a person.
Joe: "THAT'S how it's done."
SHUT UP, Hamilton.
Evan is actually tenting his fingers in front of his face!
The world's most insincere gesture!!
AB Chao: I know!

AB Chao: Aw, Jeremy Abbott. Using some weird Beatles thing.
Single axel.
Joe: sad
AB Chao: wait.
why is double lutz a huge error?
Joe: I think it was supposed to be a triple?
It looked like he shorted it.
Poor kid.
AB Chao: Oh, looks like it should have been a triple.
He's falling apart. Poor baby!
Joe:Ii know.
While George Harrison's guitar gently weeps.
AB Chao: I feel bad for him because he is tiny and he's dressed all in purple.
Joe: Yes
AB Chao: Aw damn. That was bad.
Even dummy Scott Hamilton is speechless.
Wah! He is crying!
He's such a baby he has acne.

AB Chao: OK. Do we really care about anyone else?
Joe: Not really.
AB Chao: Poor kid here. Puttin' on the Ritz for no one. [ed. note: Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic]
Joe: And I am tired.
AB Chao: Same.

Thanks for sticking with us through this, guys! We'll be back with a wrap-up of the long program on Friday morning.

Get Ready Y'all

It's the Men's Figure Skating short program from Vancouver tonight, featuring our hero Johnny Weir, that cute Jeremy Abbott boy, and the detestable Evan Lysacek.

And to mark this occasion, AB Chao and I will be here tonight live-blogging the show! We're rocking some time-shifting tonight, so look for updates here at Low Res starting around 9:30 ET or so. Feel free to comment at your own pace -- given NBC's liberal use of filler, we'll have caught up to you soon enough.

See you tonight!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Hi, I'm Beth Grant for Skittles"

No, unfortunately, that's not how this new Skittles ad goes. Would that we lived in a world where Beth Grant's name value was enough to sell truckloads of Skittles to the masses.

But as a real-world alternative, this ad's pretty awesome:


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Week in TV

Big Love (2/14)
God, Bill Henrickson is such a dick. And this episode saw that paternatistic dickishness reflected in the compounders (those monstrous sealings) and the more "legitimate" LDS leaders telling Dale to keep supressing his gayness. What a shattering final moment for poor Albie. I enjoyed Marilyn's scenes with Barb and Sarah -- even though they were manipulations, it's always nice to see Barb stiffen her spine. Also fine work by Grace Zabriskie (Lois dancing with Ben at the beginning was so sweet), Anne Dudek (Laura's vengeful wife act was tempered with real sadness), and Nicki's side ponytail.

The Amazing Race (2/14)
The race is back! And so are Jeff and Jordan! I still find my favorite Big Brother pair totally endearing and delightful. And I might even be leaning towards liking Miss Teen South Carolina, no small thanks to Gay Jordan and his excessively mean comments.

Survivor (2/11)
For a season that initially seemed dreadful due to how many of the heroes and villains I didn't care for, I am suddenly super excited for this all-star season. For one thing, I could not be rooting harder for Ms. Sandra Diaz-Twine. From removing Sugar's bra to busting Boston Rob's balls, that lady is all sorts of all right. Second of all, speaking of The Godfathuh, I am suddenly hugely into Boston Rob for the first time ever. Creating fire from nothing AND setting himself up in opposition to stupid Russell? I'm down with that. (P.S. I called Sugar as the first vote out from the moment I saw the cast list. Let's see if I can keep this going: Next out will be Randy (Villains) or Cirie (Heroes).

The Real World D.C. (2/10)
This season feels so retro! Storylines about coming out and body image and learning to respect each other's boundaries! Andrew was one yanked blanket away from earning an "It wasn't! Not! Funny!" award. But I have to say, I'm enjoying the (relative) emotional maturity of how most of these storylines are being resolved. Yes, it was fairly excruciating to watch Ashley and Erika go thirteen rounds of therapy-speak about how "You're not acknowledging my right to be heard" or whatever; but I liked how Erika was ultimately like, "We are not friends, but I owe you my courtesy and respect." Also? I know coming out stories are passe these days, but I'm fairly captivated by Mike's unfolding story. The "bisexual" weigh station between the closet and full gayness is a relatable struggle, and Mike is likeable and genuine enough that I'm rooting for him to make that transition. I'm sure this season is boring the hell out of viewers looking for drunken hookups and fighting, but I'm into how low-key it's been.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lost 6.2: "What Kate Does"

Okay. It's only the second episode. And this is a show that I have L-O-V-E-D for the past two full seasons. But there were more than a few times while I watched Tuesday night's episode when I actively felt my enthusiasm for the series down-shifting, as I realized that when Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse promised a return to Season 1 form, they really meant it.

Because here's the thing: I didn't totally love Season 1. I mean, I liked it a lot. It was bright and shiny and new and I had great fun with it, as the canvass of the show expanded and new and fun questions were raised. But even back then, I had two significant problems with the show. And no, they weren't "too many questions, not enough answers" / "there doesn't seem to be a plan." Those problems arose in seasons 2 and 3. My Season 1 problems were that the flashbacks grew exponentially less enlightening and/or interesting as the season wore on and began to feel like time-filler so as best to stretch out the series' story. That problem finally got solved at the end of Season 3. The shift to flash-forwards doubled the forward momentum of the show, when before it had been halved, and the time-traveling structure of last season all felt like it was working towards the same end, even when it was confusing.

My second problem was one that never really got solved: I really don't like most of these people. I've watched shows with frustrating protagonists (Buffy) or morally compromised ones (The Sopranos), but I don't think I've ever watched -- and loved, if we're talking the last two years -- a show where I hated the majority of major characters. In fact, up until last year's LaFleur twist, I probably hated or didn't care about all the major characters but for Ben. I really grew to root for Sawyer last season, both because he was paired with Juliet (the one character I loved) and because he actually grew during those glossed-over Dharma years. But Jack? HATE. Kate? Ugh. Locke? Dead (and while he was alive? Overly credulous, Boone-killing jerkface). Hurley? Sayid? Desmond/Penny? Meh.

On Twitter last week, C.H.U.D.'s Devin Faraci was complaining about the Jacob/Smoky focus in the season premiere by saying he didn't care about "plot" concerns (what is the island? Who is Jacob? et cetera) because for him, the show comes down to the characters. And 90% of the time, that's how it is, and should be with TV. Great characters -- or at least ones you're attached to -- keep you hooked even when the plot is murky/shaky. But for me and Lost, it's almost completely opposite. Here's who I like: Ben, Jin, Sun, Miles, Frank Lapidus, and Sawyer, so long as he doesn't regress into the bitchy nickname-generator he was pre-LaFleur. And since 2/3s of those people are minor characters, you can see how what I'm left with, what's kept me hanging with the show, is a fascination with the plot and how it's going to work itself out.

So now, cut to Season 6, and at this point, we seem to have regained the problem of the flashbacks (yes, they flash-sideways now but they feel just as inconsequential at the moment), and my problem with the characters (which never really went away) has been amplified by the focus on Jake and Kate stories. "What Kate Does" didn't bother me simply because it was a Kate story (on the spectrum of characters I don't care for, I hate her less than Jack and care about what happens to her more than Sayid), but that didn't help.

And so without that crutch of likeable characters, I was left with the annoyance that we're seriously retreading with this new faction of Others. Once again, there are prisoners and butts of rifled being brought down on heads and communication breakdowns and cryptic hints. Yes, we finally got Ghengis Khan from Bill & Ted to tell Jack what was up with Sayid (more or less; ...he's a Dybbuk now?). And I won't lie, when Claire ("CLEEEEYAH!") wandered out from the jungle at the end, I was mucho intrigued. But that's pure Season 1 too: 55 minutes of running in place, plus a corker of a plot development at the end to get you primed for next week.

It's not that I don't have faith that the show is going somewhere and will be getting there sooner than I think. Seasons 4 and 5 bought Lindeloff and Cuse that much slack at least. But it'd be nice if I could have an hour of compelling television now to go with my faith in what's to come.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bright Star, You Guys

So, THAT was a mistake. Not the fact of seeing Jane Campion's Bright Star at long last, mind you. But it was a mistake to write up my Best of 2009 Movies post before I did.* I honestly don't know why I was expecting it to underwhelm me. Maybe that the few people who were even talking about it were already such huge Jane Campion partisans that their raves felt expected? Won't be making that mistake again. (And honestly, I would have seen it eventually. I just wish I'd gotten my hands on it two weeks ago.)

*[For posterity's sake, I'd have recognized it for Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Screenplay, Costumes, Art Direction, Cinematography, and it would have made my Top 10 list. And I may yet amend those posts to reflect that.]

Anyway, inside-baseball hand-wringing aside, what a movie! I've always liked Campion -- even her one big failure, In the Cut, was an incredibly interesting one -- and in Bright Star she delivers one of the most honestly romantic stories I've seen in a very long time. She depicts the love affair (if one could even properly call it an "affair," it's so delicate) between the poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne as a decidedly juvenile thing, entirely sweet in its courtship, without ever making it feel juvenile, or silly, or in any way fleeting. Due credit to Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw for their performances, each alive with the emotional boomerangs of young love; each exquisitely intimate in their quieter moments.

But I can't help seeing Campion as the star of the show here -- or at least co-starring with DP Greig Fraser. There is an endless string of breathtaking images, each one evoking young love in one or another of its incarnations. Lying in a field of violets, or in the accommodating branches of a tree, or the relaxed choreography of intertwining fingers, or first kisses, or the moment when holding hands feels so permanent that you side-step away from each other to see how far you can now reach.

I was absolutely captivated by Keats and Fanny's romance, and by Campion's camera that captured it; so please indulge me as I post about a dozen reasons why below:


Monday, February 08, 2010

Do I Make Her Proud?

The Week in TV (featuring LOST!)

America's Best Dance Crew (2/4)
So I have finally remembered to catch a season of ABDC at the beginning. I'm in. Here's the good news: awesomely entertaining dance crews, at least two of which I am already rooting for (Royal Flush and Saltare, if you're playing at home). The bad news: new judge Omarrion, whose smugness and self-regard are going to be huge impediments. And with Lil' Mama being loveable but nearly incomprehensible, that means JC Chasez is default my favorite judge. We'll see how this goes.

Parks and Recreation (2/4)
I'm not sure what I love more, DJ Roomba or April and her gay boyfriends.

30 Rock (2/4)
Jan Hooks as Jenna's mom! God, talk about pre-ordained by the universe. That storyline was a total winner (the tattoo of a mermaid doin' it with Captain Morgan), but I also have to give props to the Liz/Frank storyline that led to an unexpected little "Paranormal Activity" parody.

Project Runway (2/4)
It's official: the judges and I simply don't see eye-to-eye on Mila.

Lost (2/2)
So! That all happened! I made it until the day of the premiere before someone tweeted "speculation" that the detonation of Jughead would cause a parallel timeline to begin, And as annoying as it is to pretend you're guessing when you've really just read spoilers, I have no excuse for not thinking of it myself. It makes perfect sense, at least in theory. In practice, I'm not sure I'm ever going to really care about the 2004 offshoot universe where the plane doesn't crash and the island is underwater (though Boone being alive again is sure pretty nice). I've spent too much time with the Lostaways in the original timeline to see this version of them as anything but speculative boondoggling. At least thus far. But besides that, my only other mini-complaint is that we got OTHER Others -- I really thought we were past the point of needing a new group of unknowns whose motives and histories we have to inspect. Isn't there enough story with the people we have? Plus Claire is back ("CLEEEYAH!"), so shouldn't we be figuring out what her and Ghost Dad are up to? I mean, I'm sure we will. Otherwise, happy the show's back, rooting for Sawyer to make good on his promise to kill Jack, think Jacob's behind the reanimation of Sayid's corpse, and think Terry O'Quinn is knocking it out of the park as Smoke Monster Locke.

American Idol (2/3)
Without having to recap the show, I've really allowed my interest in the audition episodes to wane to an appropriately vague level. I'll watch, but it's not like I'm taking much in about the actual contestants. At least until Wednesday's episode. I still don't know their names, but that fragile girl who was singing for her best friend reminded me of Carly Smithson (in that I like her and feel I'll be yelling at her to pull it together all season), and the 16 y/o boy who sang "The Climb." They're my favorites so far.

Kell on Earth (2/1)
I'm recapping this show over at TWoP, pretty much solely because I loved Kelly Cutrone on The Hills and can't wait to see this even bigger glimpse of her lion's den of a workplace. The premiere started off reeeeeally slowly, but a couple characters (the gothy assistant, the frazzled junior editor, Kelly herself of course) really emerged as likeable people you want to see succeed, and by the end I was seriously FREAKING about whatever contrived Fashion Week emergency was left hanging over a cliff. I'm in.

RuPaul's Drag Race (2/1)
Oh no SHANGELA! Man, I loved Shangela, at least for the one hour she graced my TV screen. And while I do worry a smidge that the Season 2 contestants are there to bitch at/about each other first and celebrate each other/themselves/drag second, I'm just so happy to have this show back! RuPaul still has her finger exactly on the pulse of where this show needs to be, half-parody and half-celebration. Plus all those false eyelashes fluttering in the wind machine? Too, too funny. Team Pandora Boxx (for now)!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Contemplating "Lost"

I haven't had a spare second to get into my thoughts on the final season premiere of Lost (except to say: OTHER Others? Really?). For now, though, I need to mention that the (super helpful) clip show that aired before the premiere did me a huge solid by including my very favorite reaction shot of the whole series, bar none. One that often sums up the audience's relationship to the show.

Right there with ya, Kate.

Monday, February 01, 2010

LowRes 2009 Movie Awards: Part 7, Best Picture

My look back at the best of 2009 (and my semi-sad fantasia of If I Had an Oscar Ballot) continues with a look at my favorite movies of the year.

Previously: 25 Best Moments; Worst Movies/Performances; Best Trailers; Best Supporting Actors; Screenplays, Etc., Lead Actors; Techs

First, I want to mention my runners-up. This was a strong movie year, for me, and any of these five next-bests were delightful in their own way: Moon, Coraline, The Informant!, Whip It!, and The White Ribbon.

#11 --
Inglorious Basterds: This movie bounced all around my Top rankings throughout the year, but I knew it would never not be on this list. It seems more fragmented than Tarantino's movies tend to, despite the fact that its characters are more connected on a narrative level than, say, Pulp Fiction. But I'm still in love with the audacity, with the controlled tension, and with QT's enduring golden touch with crappy actors (no, he couldn't salvage Eli Roth, but how about that Diane Kruger??).

#10 --
Sin Nombre: A film about looking ahead, looking back; about the marks on you that'll never go away; and about invisible tethers and how you can't always tell if they're still there (because: invisible, duh). Cary Fukunaga -- with a big assist from Edgar Flores and his sad, sad eyes -- delivers a movie that doesn't confuse gritty realism for ugly and unrelenting.

#9 --
The Brothers Bloom: Like he did with 2006's eye-opening Brick, Johnson goes for high stylization, this time with the spinning-yarn, pan-Euro, daydreamy tale of two con artists/brothers and a mark that wants in on the game. Some of the most purely funny filmmaking all year, with excellent performances and a weirdness I found delightful.

#8 --
A Single Man: It was stylish to a fault, for some, and I get where they're coming from, but I don't think it was empty. The sad heart at the center of this movie really got to me, and the prettier the packaging around it got, the sadder the center felt. There are images imbued with deep feeling -- the look of a lover on the other end of a couch; the gaudy eagerness of youth; the desperate, cracked beauty of Julianne Moore's mascara -- that go beyond the "fashion" label that's been tossed around like an epithet.

#7 --
In the Loop: A movie so good I want to see it ten more times so I can quote it daily. Perfectly cast with barely an A-lister in sight (and honestly, even Gandolfini's presence doesn't make it a Gandolfini Movie). Making the march to war into an absurd farce isn't a new idea, but I like the modern spin they put on the Dr. Strangelove thing for 2009. More ferocity, more beaurocracy, a possessing an absolute cheerfulness for misinformation.

#6 --
Adventureland: For me, this was a pitch-perfect snapshot of post-collegiate lingering adolescence, combined with the class warfare that arises in even the most transient of ecosystems (in this case, a low-grade amusement park), combined with the cluelessness of young love.

#5 --
Fantastic Mr. Fox: I had my say about the smug Wes Anderson backhanded compliments already; maybe now's the time talk about why I loved the movie. It's classic Anderson, from the diorama-like design to the low-key, trailing-off dialogue, to the existential angst. And I love how he plays with the animated genre, from the choice to use stop-motion (with King Kong-style animal hair) to gags like Kristofferson's perfect dive and Kylie's spiral-eyed bewilderment.

#4 --
Precious: Here's another one where I somewhat understand the objections to it (the well-thought-out objections to it, not the ones that start and end with "why should I be expected to watch something so unpleasant?"). But I was captivated by Precious Jones, her character, her dreams, her friends and mentors. The filmmaking took necessary chances to bring the viewer into a character who can barely articulate a grocery order, much less her own life. There's no easy redemption to be found here, just the triumph of incremental gains.

#3 -- Bright Star: I didn't see this movie until just after I made this list, so I've had to retcon it in here now. But this post says everything I need to say about Jane Campion's utterly breathtaking return to form.

#2 --
The Hurt Locker: Looking at these awards posts, I see I am the farthest from the Oscar consensus than I have ever been. I'm usually a solid 3/5 match with the Academy's choices. This year, with its Avatars and Up in the Airs, I find myself more than a little removed. And yet, if The Hurt Locker can pull off an improbable Best Picture win, we'll at least agree on something. I'm fascinated by how this movie is never spoken of as the taut action picture it is, probably because the strong acting and the narrative nuance are so strong that it feels like a character study. Not to mention how, with the character Jeremy Renner plays, it makes for a rather brilliant metaphor for a country that seems unable to exist without the constant rumblings of war all around them that we can't withdraw troops from one place without committing them to a surge in the other.

#1 --
Where the Wild Things Are: I never read this book as a child (or as an adult for that matter), so I had absolutely zero expectations going in. What I got was a touching, awe-inspiring statement about childhood isolation, an apology for youthful misbehavior, and probably my favorite depiction of the vast big-kid/little-kid divide ever. I feel for you if you walked into the theater looking for an adventure story, I do. But I'm happier for the people who got to experience Max and his melancholy monster friends and his harrowing snowball fights on their own terms.