Top 10 Performances of the 2000s Tuesday, Dec 22 2009 

With all the magazines and web sites doing recaps of the top 10 of everything of the past decade — what will we call it in the future?  The 2000s?  The oughts? — I decided to put together a few lists of my own.

To start: here are my top 10 movie performances of the 2000s:

10. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain

He’ll be remembered for his psychotic, over-the-top performance in The Dark Knight, but his portrayal of Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain was beautiful in its restraint.  He barely spoke in the film, and as he struggled to hold back his emotion, it couldn’t help but be written all over his face.

9. Penelope Cruz, Volver

Until now, she had been a mediocre, albeit beautiful, actress who happened to be dating Tom Cruise.  But in this movie, speaking in her native Spanish, she exploded into a passionate performance that hit every note.  And she was absolutely, completely, drop-dead, unforgivably gorgeous.  After seeing this movie, I immediately tried styling my makeup and hair like her.  God, if only I had a fraction of that beauty.

8. Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This should have been his Oscar movie.  I wish the Academy would look beyond his comedies and reward Jim Carrey for his incredible (and incredibly underrated) acting.  How does a shy, soft-spoken man show rage?  You’ll find out in this movie.

7. Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind

Russell Crowe had won the Oscar the year before for Gladiator, but he deserved it more for his performance as brilliant schizophrenic mathematician John Nash.  Whether falling into delusions, then heartbreak, his performance was captivating.

6. Meryl Streep, Julia & Julia

The great debate is whether she was better as Julia Child or Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.  Meryl took a historical figure who had been imitated and mocked several times before and turned in a performance that was as well-rounded as it was pitch-perfect.

5. Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

There were plenty of top-notch performances in Babel, including Gael Garcia Bernal, Adriana Barazza, Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, but newcomer Rinko Kikuchi was the one who broke my heart as a deaf-mute teen trying to cope with her disability by acting out more and more inappropriately.

4. Diane Keaton, Something’s Gotta Give

Diane Keaton is fabulous in every film she does, but in this movie, she positively glowed.  Even when she shrugged and tipped her head back, it was the most perfect shrug and head tip anyone could ever do.  There wasn’t a weak moment.  And though she was playing a tongue-in-cheek version of herself (as was Jack Nicholson), if only we could all play ourselves so well.

3. Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Bill Murray losing to Sean Penn was one of the worst Oscar mishaps of the past decade.  Sofia Coppola wrote this role for Bill Murray — a disillusioned movie star adrift in Tokyo, spilling his life to a complete stranger.  But the beauty in this performance is Bill Murray’s humor — he’s on the cusp of being the funniest guy in the room, the life of the party.  And he knows it.  But he doesn’t go all the way.  He’s tired.  He doesn’t see the point.

I don’t think anyone else could have hit the role as well as he did.

2. Jamie Foxx, Ray

The greatest portrayal of a historical figure of all time.  The role Jamie Foxx was born to play.  Nobody even came close that year — it was Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.  And he deserved every bit of it.

1. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

The most creative and original performance of the 2000s, Captain Jack Sparrow was a new kind of pirate — a flamboyant Keith Richards with a wicked sense of humor.  Johnny not only made the movie and the franchise — he made his career.  And to think that the industry called him box office poison!  He’s now one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood (as well as one of the nicest stars in Hollywood).

Honorable Mentions: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler; Helen Mirren, The Queen; Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder; Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose; Amy Adams, Junebug; Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich


Entertainer of the Decade Saturday, Nov 21 2009 

Each year, Entertainment Weekly chooses an Entertainer of the Year.  This year, they’re crowning an Entertainer of the Decade and giving people a chance to offer their ideas.

First of all — end of a decade?!  How weird is that?  What do we even call this decade?  The 2000s?  The oughts?

Anyway, I started thinking about who best exemplifies the entertainer of the decade — someone who was incredible and revolutionary throughout the entire decade, not part of it.

Here are some of my ideas:

Johnny Depp. Every performance was incredible — and he also broke out with Captain Jack Sparrow, arguably the most inventive performance of the decade.  He also broke out as an A-list star, finally getting the recognition he long deserved, and got several Oscar nominations as well.  Think of all the performances: Pirates of the Caribbean, Finding Neverland, Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…

Pixar. Taking Disney movies to a new level, this studio churned out massive hits that were perfect for kids and funny enough for adults.  Films during this decade include Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and the inventive Wall-E.

Kanye West. Love him or hate him, when Kanye West burst onto the scene early in the decade, people couldn’t believe him.  Besides churning out hit songs and producing tons more, being outspoken about just about any issue, and delivering George Bush a beatdown on live TV, he brought fashion to this genre like nobody else (sorry, Diddy).

American Idol. The most popular show of the decade, a permanent fixture in our lexicon, and they managed to turn quite a few nobodies into enormous pop stars, with Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson leading the pack.

iPod/iTunes. They changed the way we listen to music, the way we purchase music, and the way artists release music.  The world will never be the same.

YouTube. It changed TV, music videos, and how view video — and how we entertain ourselves.  Anyone can become a star, but you can never predict what will go viral.

Tina Fey. SNL’s first female head writer, a star on Weekend Update, created and starred in 30 Rock, one of TV’s best comedies, skewered Sarah Palin in a legendary impression, and proved that geeky girls — though beautiful — have a spot in comedy.

The Daily Show. Believe it or not, a comedy show has been the strongest media watchdog out of all of them. This show is as smart as it is hilarious.  It is must-see TV during the presidential elections because it’s the one most likely to point out the absurdities of the candidates and how other networks were reporting.

Britney Spears. We watched her spectacular rise and fall and were captivated every minute of it.  Nobody else better represents the growing popularity of celebrity observation.  In this decade, celebrity blogs grew massively, while celebrity tabloids continued strong, unlike other print media.

But my #1 pick:

J.K. Rowling. She created an incredible, imaginitive world of wizardry with so many layers and details, and who among us hasn’t dreamed of attending Hogwarts?  Both the books and the movies were commercial  and critical hits.  Today, the hottest trend is college Quidditch teams.  Though I think the series would have been better if the final book had ended a few chapters earlier, you can’t deny her influence.  She truly defined this decade.

Any other ideas?

I went blonde! Sunday, Jun 7 2009 

Most of my friends know that I rarely do anything to my hair.  Lately, I’ve been cutting it about once a year to once a year and a half.  I haven’t colored it since I was 17 — since I got highlights before my senior prom!

Well, I was ready to do something different.  Not losing the length, of course (I love my length and have had some TRAUMATIC haircuts when I lost more than I wanted to!), but giving it a trim and changing up the color a bit.

And I had a bit of an odd inspiration for my new look.

Bradley Cooper.

I saw The Hangover on Friday night, and it is now one of my favorite movies of all time.  I have never laughed harder at a movie in recent memory.  I had to sop up my face with a Kleenex as we were walking out of the theater!  SEE IT.

And Bradley Cooper…he looked good.  There was a part when he came out in an all-black suit, and he looked SO, SO, SO good.  I was ready to hurl myself at the screen.

There are no pictures of him in the full suit, but you’d die if you saw it.  Here’s the best I could find:

So, why is Bradley Cooper, clearly a dude, my beauty inspiration?

Blue eyes.  Dark hair.  Olive, borderline golden skin.

That’s what I have.  (The skin is a bit of a stretch, but it gets SO gold in the summer.)  But he has such a fantastic GOLDNESS about him.  It makes him gleam.  I want that.  Gold in my hair, golden skin, eyes a wild blue contrast.

So I went to the salon.

Before picture on Newbury Street:


After picture at the salon:

After picture, with makeup:


I was freaked out about it at first — and still am, a tad — but everyone has been giving me so many compliments, it’s made me feel good about it.  (Everyone loves it straight, too, but I NEVER straighten it because it’s so tough to do and takes so long.)

I think I’ll keep it through the summer, then go dark again.

What do you think?

Oscar Predictions 2009 Sunday, Feb 22 2009 

For some reason, I didn’t get into the Oscars this year.  That’s a first.  I don’t know what it was.  Just not feeling it this year.

I did see Slumdog Millionaire, but I didn’t think it was the be-all and end-all of movies.  It was very good, and probably the best picture of the year, but it didn’t hit me hard and stay with me.  That’s what Babel and Lost in Translation did to me — and, to a lesser degree, Michael Clayton, and Good Night and Good Luck, and Crash, and Million Dollar Baby, and Little Miss Sunshine, and Sideways.

But I never let a year go by without predicting the Oscars.

I want one thing to happen this year — I want Mickey Rourke to win for The Wrestler.  I am still bitter about Sean Penn robbing Bill Murray of his deserved Oscar for Lost in Translation, and I don’t want it to happen again.  And Mickey is unbelievable in that movie.

But mostly because he could give a hilarious speech like this:

THAT would be must-see TV.

Here are my predictions:

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk (It kills me to do this, but I would LOVE to be proven wrong.  Mickey Rourke deserves it.)

Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Doubt

Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Screenplay: Milk

Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Song: “Jai Ho,” Slumdog Millionaire

Best Editing: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Cinematography: The Dark Knight

Best Art Direction: The Dark Knight

Best Costumes: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (I strongly prefer Australia.)

Best Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (I am now tempted to write THAT BENJAMIN BUTTONS SHIT, Kanye West/Michael K-style)


Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight

Best Sound Mixing: The Dark Knight

Best Documentary: Man on Wire

Best Foreign Film: Waltz with Bashir, Israel

Best Animated Film: Wall-E

And I’d like to give some love to my favorite movies of the year: Tropic Thunder, Gran Torino and WMamma Mia and Pineapple Express were great guilty pleasures as well.

But as far as the Oscars go, what I am looking forward to most is seeing the criminally sexy Hugh Jackman.  I think he’s going to be a fabulous host and he better have his shirt off for a good portion of the evening.

I caved. I read Twilight. Sunday, Sep 21 2008 

It’s a huge hit among the tween girl set, and it’s been dominating the bestseller lists for months.  It’s becoming a movie this fall.

Despite the fact that it’s a kid’s book, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and read Twilight.

I bought it at Borders.  I hid it underneath a more literary book until I got to the register.  The cashier was about my age.

“Is this for you?” she asked.

“I, um…” I began.  I had to come up with a witty self-deprecating reply.

“It’s okay!” she reassured me.  “They’re really addictive.  And the worst part is that she includes the first chapter of the next book in it.”

Well, I read it.

And I loved it.

And I’m in love with Edward Cullen.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not nearly as imaginative and brilliant as Harry Potter.  But Twilight is something different.  It’s insanely romantic.  It’s sexy without being deliberately sexy — making it perfect for tweens.

Twilight is told from the point of view of Bella, a high school junior who moves to the rainy town of Forks, Washington, to live with her father.  She struggles to fit in at school and finds herself captivated by one of the guys: the pale, golden-eyed Edward Cullen.

She then learns, deduces and finds out for sure that he’s a vampire.

Here’s the movie trailer.  I LOVE the casting — Edward is played by the HOTTTTT guy who played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies!

I can’t wait to finish the series!  Working right by Borders is so dangerous that I’m going to order them all from Amazon.

Watch this…

CHAOS at the Somerville Theatre! Sunday, Aug 17 2008 

My sister and I went to see Pineapple Express at the Somerville Theatre yesterday.  The movie was pretty funny but not really my thing; if you’re looking for a stoner movie, I think Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is MUCH better.

But the real drama had nothing to do with the movie.

I adore the Somerville Theatre and not just because it’s in my neighborhood (at least until I MOVE TO THE BACK BAY two weeks from tomorrow!!!!).  In fact, I give it glowing reviews because they show great movies, they have a giant theater where concerts take place (and where you can also watch movies), and they sell beer and wine.

And about 20 minutes into the film yesterday, disaster struck.

Someone actually POURED BEER OFF THE BALCONY and hit the group in front of us.

Can you believe it?  You always picture that happening — I had always imagined it happening since childhood — but you never REALLY expect it to happen.  And then it does.

And of all the stuff to pour off a balcony, could you really do worse than beer?

Here’s the weird part — I would have been hit as well if I hadn’t moved my seat.  The three people sat directly in front of me.  I think that sitting directly in front of someone in an uncrowded movie theater (there were probably 20 people there, total, in a room that could fit several hundred) is a really rude thing to do.

So I made a face at them and switched seats to Sars’s other side so I could have an unobstructed view.  Sars rolled her eyes at the time.

Dude, I am SO glad I did that.

Jesus Camp: Praying to Bush Wednesday, Jun 4 2008 

Here is a clip from the phenomenal documentary Jesus Camp.  The film is about an evangelical Christian community in the midwest and how the children are indoctrinated to a level that some consider borderline child abuse.

But they don’t always have the kids pray to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes they skip the deities and pray to George Bush.

Check it out:

It’s worth noting that after the movie came out that the people featured in the film, including Pastor Becky Fisher, Ted Haggard and children’s parents, were thrilled with the result.  They thought it depicted them exactly how they wanted to be portrayed.

It’s also worth noting that Ted Haggard used to be the gay-bashing pastor of one of the biggest megachurches in the U.S. and an advisor to President Bush.  Well, he was — until he admitted to receiving a “massage” from a male prostitute and underwent intensive therapy to “cure” his urges.  After completing treatment, his spokesperson declared him “now 100% heterosexual.”

But I digress.

I find this far more disturbing than anything we’ve seen in this election.

The 5 Best Sex and the City Episodes Saturday, May 31 2008 

It seems like everyone is picking their top Sex and the City episodes.  My friend the Missus recently wrote about her top five, and her are the top 10 from Yahoo! Canada and MSNBC’s top 5.  A few of them fall in line, but I’m surprised that so many of my favorites aren’t on the list.

Quick background:

  • I don’t have a favorite character (I love them all!) but I’m most like Carrie and Samantha.
  • I ADORE Harry.  Charlotte and Harry are my favorite couple on the show.
  • I hate Berger.  Mostly because I’ve dated two guys who had similar insecurity issues.
  • I love the later episodes best because you’re so invested in the characters by then.

First, let me say something about the finale: An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux.  I love it, and I think it ends the series well.  In particular, Miranda’s subplot of taking care of her dementia-afflicted mother-in-law is moving.

However, I’m not putting it in the top 10 because I feel like there are so many out-of-character moments.  Take Big’s reaction to Petrovsky slapping Carrie — it doesn’t look like him at all, and his lines are so forced, they’re painful.  Also, it didn’t seem natural that Charlotte was at peace and calm that she and Harry would be getting a baby, while Harry was freaking out, despite being duped by their potential baby’s birth parents.

And that slap from Petrovsky.  We didn’t need it.  He was enough of an asshole without the slap.

I do have to say, the finale has one of my favorite moments — Carrie running down the street and Big in the car next to her, unaware that she’s there — and I always tear up when Charlotte and Harry find out they’re getting their baby.

Anyway, I like the episode, but it’s not good enough for the top 10.

The 5 Best Episodes of Sex and the City:

I Love a Charade (Season 5) — The girls get invited to the Hamptons wedding of Bobby and Bitsy — the obviously gay piano bar legend (played by Nathan Lane) and his businesswoman.  Miranda sleeps with Steve, to her dismay.  Charlotte has Harry wax his back, starts dating him publicly, then finds herself falling in love with him — only to learn that he can only marry a Jew.  Samantha throws a party at Richard’s Hamptons house.  Carrie finds out Berger is now single and tries to hook him.

I love, love, love this episode, and it seems like nobody else does!  It’s entertaining, it has a great location in the Hamptons, all characters are in top form, there are so many fun lines and it introduces HARRY to the rest of the girls!

Details I love: Harry trying to coax Charlotte to dance with him and her friends encouraging her.  Miranda and Samantha dancing while Miranda holds Brady.  Harry joining in the witty one-liners during the vows.  Bobby mime-grating cheese across Marcus’s abs.

Best quotes:

Carrie: “He doesn’t need the money.  He was one of the original investors in A Chorus Line.”
Miranda: “Just when you think you’ll never hear a gayer sentence than Mr. Broadway has to go tinkle.”

Miranda: “I find the love part the most insulting part of all.  I don’t care what you do, just be straight with me.”
Carrie: “I think that’s how Bitsy proposed to Bobby.”

Miranda: “Not having sex was the only thing holding our relationship together.”
Carrie: “Well, you’re fleeing to the right wedding.”

Hop, Skip and a Week (Season Six, Part One) — After their tearful reunion at Jewish singles night, Harry proposes to Charlotte.  Samantha transforms Smith into the Absolut Hunk.  Miranda feels guilty about not spending enough time with Brady.  Carrie and Berger decide to take a break, then decide to work things out; hours later, he breaks up with her ON A POST-IT.

Really, this episode is about two things: the proposal and the Post-It.  The proposal is one of the most romantic TV proposals ever.  Charlotte’s tears while asking him if they can start dating again, and then gasping as he gets down on one knee…wow.  It’s perfect.

The Post-It breakup became a cultural phenomenon.  EVERY girl remembers this episode.  And this episode branded Berger as the ultimate asshole of Sex and the City.

Beyond that abomination, I think that the episode is great with depicting what it’s like when a relationship is disintegrating and everything about the other person is starting to bother you.  To be honest, this is one of the episodes that I found to be truest to life.  I hate when you’re in that time of a relationship when you’re constantly at odds with another person.

Splat! (Season Six, Part Two) — Carrie and Petrovsky throw a dinner party for Carrie’s friends.  Petrovsky invites Carrie to live with him in Paris.  Carrie and Miranda have a huge fight.  One of Carrie’s old party friends dies in a freak accident.

I love seeing all five couples (including Stanford and Marcus) together.  It’s kind of odd, actually.  And that whole party scene, especially with the death of Lexi, oh, God.  She actually says, “I’m so bored, I could die,” before tripping and falling out the window.

Most of all, I think it’s easy to relate to this episode when you think about how you act when you’re with your boyfriend and when you’re with your friends, and how when the groups don’t seem to mesh at first, it feels like trouble.  It makes you question to whom you give your loyalty.  And in this episode, Carrie chooses her guy, who hasn’t even said that he loves her.

There are a lot of good quotes in this episode.  The best:

Steve: “That’s a nice piano.  Do you play?”
Petrovsky: “Yes, I play.”
Steve: “Do you know any Billy Joel?…No?  Uptown Girl?  She’s Always a Woman?”
Marcus: “Piano Man?”
(Petrovsky shrugs.)

Hours later:
Charlotte: “What are they doing down there?”
Miranda: “Not having a Billy Joel singalong, that’s for sure.”

And my favorite:

Carrie (after introducing Enid’s “date”): “He’s really sweet.  And smart.”
Enid: “He’s a hobbit!”


What Goes Around Comes Around (Season 3) — Carrie is robbed at gunpoint and thinks she has bad karma for her affair with Big.  Miranda starts dating a gorgeous detective, thinks she’s not good enough for him, and overcompensates by drinking heavily.  Samantha meets (and sleeps with) Sam Jones, a college student whose calls she keeps getting.  Charlotte and Trey decide to separate.  Carrie tracks down Natasha to apologize for the affair with Big, which ruined their marriage.

The Samantha plot has some of the funniest scenes in the series (“I LOVE YOU, SAM JONES!!!!”), and the rest of the episode is great, but what REALLY makes this episode stellar is the interaction between Carrie and Natasha.

When Carrie cheated on Aidan with the married Big, it was the ugliest her character had ever been.  She made tons of mistakes in her dating , but this one was by far the worst.  Still, her attempts to apologize seemed to almost redeem her…until we heard this painstaking conversation:

Carrie: “I heard about — your marriage.  And it’s — just so terrible.  I never, never meant for any of this to happen, and if there was something I could do to take it all away, I would.  So I came here today because I needed to say how sorry I am.  I am deeply sorry for what I did to you.  It was wrong.  And I’m sorry.”

Natasha: “Are you through?”

Carrie: “Yes.  Thank you for listening.”

Natasha: “Wait.  I’m sorry, too.”

Carrie: “You are?”

Natasha: “Yes.  I’m sorry about it all.  I’m sorry he moved to Paris and fell in love with me.  I’m sorry that we ever got married.  I’m sorry he cheated on me with you and I’m sorry that I pretended to ignore it for as long as I did.  I’m sorry I found you in my apartment, fell down the stairs and broke my tooth.  I’m very sorry that after much painful dental surgery, this tooth is still a different color than this truth.  Finally, I’m sorry that you felt the need to come down here.  Now not only have you ruined my marriage, you’ve ruined my lunch.”

That’s some of the best writing the series has ever had.  And that moment drives it home.  For a while, there, we thought the show was going to redeem Carrie — but it wasn’t even close.  That moment drove home that what Carrie did was much worse than even she thought it to be.

Perfect scene.

One (Season Six, Part One) — Charlotte and Harry finally conceive, but she miscarries less than a month into her pregnancy.  Samantha discovers a gray hair “down there.”  Carrie meets the intriguing Aleksandr Petrovsky.  Robert surprises Miranda with an “I Love You” cookie, which she promptly devours; she can’t say the words back to Robert…but she can to Steve.

It’s all about the moment: the moment when Miranda is putting candles on Brady’s cake, Steve brings out the giant 1 candle, and she looks at the candle, then him, and says, “I love you, Steve.”  Even though they’re both involved with other people — people who are in the next room! — Steve grins and tells Miranda that she’s the one.

Over time, I think a lot of us have rooted for Miranda more than any other character, and I think that all of us fans always had Steve in the back of our minds.  It was this moment that shows us that we were right all along — we knew Robert was perfect, but he wasn’t Steve.  Steve was who Miranda always needed, and she finally got her happy ending.

Details that I love: Harry comes to Brady’s birthday party alone.  I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the music when Carrie first meets Petrovsky and when Charlotte loses the baby.  I love Charlotte’s pink dress at the end, and I love that she tells Brady to make a wish while wishing for a baby herself.

Sex and the City — one day early! Thursday, May 29 2008 

Counting down the hours until Sex and the City premieres tomorrow?  Planning to hit the midnight show tonight?

How about the 7:30 PM show tonight?

I don’t know how they’re able to do it, but Loews Boston Common is showing Sex and the City a day early.  This is the only performance ahead of time — the next two are at precisely 12:01 AM.

The Missus was first to discover this early show on Tuesday, and I immediately snapped up two tickets.  Several of us in the office are going.

I checked Fandango just now, and the show is now sold out.  Word travels fast.

I can’t wait!!!

Filming in Boston Wednesday, Apr 30 2008 

I love how Deval Patrick authorized tax cuts for film production companies in the state of Massachusetts.  Because of that, tons (TONS!) of movies have been filming in Boston!

It’s fantastic — not only for the economy, but also because of the celebrity sightings!  Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson went to the Upper Crust in Beacon Hill; my friend ran into Cameron Diaz at the Starbucks by Park Street…

The Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis, is one of the latest.  According to IMDB, Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop (Willis) is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates.

I work in the Fort Point Channel area of South Boston.  This is a view of the filming area, as taken from right next to my office:

Heh.  Not that exciting yet.  But it could be…The Departed also filmed in the Fort Point area, and the scene when the body falls off the building was filmed just a few streets away from my office!

Let’s hope there’s another celebrity sighting in 2008.  I haven’t met anyone famous since Vanilla Ice.  Hmm, Matthew McConaughey is currently filming in town…so is Steve Martin…

Making Music with Sars Wednesday, Apr 16 2008 

My sister, Sars, is a sophomore film major at Emerson College.  She is hilarious and deep, and her films are great — but whenever she needs music in a pinch, she gives me a call to play piano for her.

I write scores for her the way Clint Eastwood does for films like Million Dollar Baby — I just sit at the piano and play whatever comes to mind.  At least I did that in high school.

We just ended up playing whatever pop songs immediately came to mind and recorded them.  Here is the very odd playlist:

  • The Beatles, “Something”
  • Damien Rice, “The Blower’s Daughter”
  • Marvin Gaye (and MANY others), “If This World Were Mine”
  • Britney Spears, “Gimme More”
  • Smashing Pumpkins, “For Martha”
  • The Beatles, “Across the Universe”
  • Ray J, “Sexy Can I”
  • Jon Brion, “Row” and “Peer Pressure” (from Eternal Sunshine)
  • Ryuchi Sakamoto, “Bibo No Aozora / 04” (from Babel)
  • “What Sweeter Music” (FU Glee Club!)
  • David Bowie, “Life on Mars?”
  • David Bowie, “Space Oddity”
  • Ferras, “Hollywood’s Not America”

It will make an interesting soundtrack, indeed.

LOL of the Day Wednesday, Apr 2 2008 

I came across this in my gmail contacts:


Whenever I have a tough day, I like to pour myself a glass of wine, order some take-out and put on a DVD of a man getting his skin ripped off for two hours.  Nothing like it!

I did see The Passion of the Christ when it opened sophomore year in college.  I wasn’t exactly the model viewer…

Of all days, I chose that day to order nachos.

At The Passion of the Christ.

Whip!  *Crunch.*  Slap!  *Crunch.*

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

“Express Train to Davis” — or, 21 was AWESOME! Sunday, Mar 30 2008 

Lisa and I went to see 21 last night.  What an awesome movie!  We both absolutely loved it, and Jim Sturgess is the hottness.  (We also thought that the film’s lackluster reviews were largely undeserved.)

Before anything else, I want to mention an error that irked me a bit.

There are two scenes that take place on the red line.  Each time, the sign on top reads “EXPRESS TRAIN TO DAVIS.”

I’ve lived in Davis for over a year, and I have NEVER seen an express train to Davis.  There’s no point — Porter may be less significant, but Harvard is a major stop and Alewife is the end of the line!  Express red line trains go to Alewife.

Also, on the second red line scene, it reads “EXPRESS TRAIN TO DAVIS” and Kate Bosworth’s character gets off at one of the Quincy stops.  That’s impossible.


If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s a loose adaptation of Ben Mezrin’s book Bringing Down the House, which is based on the MIT Blackjack team that went to Las Vegas and made millions counting cards at Blackjackc.  They robbed Vegas casinos of quite a bit of money for quite a long time before they were caught.

Card counting technically isn’t illegal.  However, as the movie so deftly shows, if you’re caught, there’s a chance you’ll be beaten up by big, beefy security guards.  From what I’ve read, if you’re caught, you’re likely be asked to leave the casino.

I loved seeing the glamorous scenes in Las Vegas, and I always love to see Boston on film, too.  I thought that Kevin Spacey was absolutely electric in his role as the math instructor and leader of the team.

It was so thrilling — it gets your adrenaline.  My heart was racing the whole time, especially during the scenes in Las Vegas.  It made me so excited for my upcoming trip there in June.

(There’s one part when one girl on the team is sitting by a pool, getting a back massage and a foot massage from two different guys at the same time.  Lisa and I geeked out over that.  “That’s so us!” we crowed.)

In runs a bit out of steam later in the film, and there is absolutely no chemistry between Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth, but I thought that it was an overall enjoyable film.

Also, I guess I have to say something about the alleged racism.  There has been a lot said in the news about the film being purpotedly racist against Asians.  The real MIT team was primarily Asian, including the guy it’s based on, Jeff Ma, and in the film version, there were only two Asians on the team.  Both of them were goofy, one of them being a total klepto.

First of all, the fact is that casting never reflects real life — at the very least, much more attractive people are cast in the roles than they ever would be in real life.  Not everyone who goes to MIT is hot!  As my college writing advisor said in our classes so often, “Just because it happened that way, that doesn’t mean it makes good fiction.”

Secondly, there are hardly any well-known Asian-American actors.  I can only name one: John Cho (a.k.a. Harold in the Harold and Kumar movies).  Should they have cast more Asians on the team?  Honestly, I didn’t expect them to cast two in the first place.  Maybe one more would have been slightly more relevant, but I don’t think omitting any further Asian characters was an act of malice.

Additionally, plenty of other characters were used for comic relief, including the main character’s two white friends.

In conclusion, I think people are seeing what they want to see when it comes to alleged racism in this movie.  People are making mountains out of molehills.

Try to get out and see 21 this week or next weekend.  I bet you’ll love it!

Oscar nominations are out TOMORROW! Monday, Jan 21 2008 

I go Oscar-crazy every year, and this year, I’m actually doing quite well in seeing all of the major pictures ahead of time.  I just saw No Country for Old Men today, and it was fantastic.  I can’t wait to do my annual “Kate’s Top Ten of the Year,” which I will unveil right before the Oscars (or right after I see enough movies).

There are always upsets at the Academy Awards, even with nominations.

My prediction for this year’s big shocker?

No Best Picture nomination for Atonement.

Mark my words.  I knew that would happen with Cold Mountain, I knew that would happen with Dreamgirls, and I swear to you, that’s going to happen with Atonement as well.

So, what will the five nominees be?  Here’s what I think:

  • No Country for Old Men
  • Juno
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Michael Clayton
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Just wait and see.

I can’t think of any other major upsets, but I hope to see nominations for my favorite performers of the year: Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl, Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men, Ellen Page in Juno, Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone, and George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton.

Watch.  Atonement will be overlooked for Best Picture, but it may win the most nominations — it’s a shoo-in for cinematography (that GORGEOUS four-minute shot was so good, I was LAUGHING!) and costumes alone, and will probably garner several other tech nominations.

Enchanted was surprisingly GREAT! Wednesday, Nov 28 2007 

Me: “I don’t know why my friend Lisa wants to see this movie. She hates Disney.”

Jackie: “Well, it’s supposed to be really cool, with the animation turning into real life.”
Me: “Yeah, I don’t think that’s enough to convince her.”
Jackie: “It’s supposed to be great for all ages.”
Me: “Still, I don’t know….”
Jackie: “McDreamy’s in it.”
Me: “THAT’S the reason!”
Lisa is a huge fan of Patrick Dempsey and Grey’s Anatomy, so I’m not surprised that this was the reason she wanted to see it so badly!

Personally, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I’m not a fan of kids’ movies, family movies or anything rated PG or G (I haven’t even seen any of the Shrek movies, Finding Nemo or The Incredibles!). I only go when my friends drag me.
I did know that Amy Adams would be great. She is phenomenally talented. I first saw her in Junebug two Oscar seasons ago, and she was INCREDIBLE. She lost the Oscar to Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener, but she picked up virtually every critic’s prize.
Amy is so ebullient, so genuine, and so damn LIKABLE that you can’t help but adore her.
And she was the highlight of this movie as Gisele, a fairy tale princess in an animated Disney world, who is tricked by an evil queen and sent to modern Manhattan. Gisele still has all of her princess tendencies, including randomly breaking out into song and dance (in a great scene in Central Park) and summoning the animals of the city to clean Patrick Dempsey’s apartment: only since it’s New York, the animals are pigeons, rats and COCKROACHES!!
I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. Yep, it definitely gets saccharine, it’s shamelessly predictable, and the final major conflict at the end is disappointing. But it was charming and lovely, and Amy Adams is pure joy.
I guess I can enjoy a sweet kids’ movie after all!

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