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As you know, this blog is largely TV-focused, but every now and then I get to leave the mancave and see a movie at roughly the same time as the rest of the adult world. I saw "Skyfall" over the weekend, and though HitFix's movie team has done a terrific job covering the film, I have a few specific thoughts on the movie (spoiler-filled, just like my TV episode reviews, so don't click if you haven't seen it yet), coming up just as soon as I'm expecting an exploding pen...
"Boss" is out of a job.
Starz announced today that it would not be ordering a third season of the drama starring Kelsey Grammer as the corrupt, ailing mayor of Chicago.
With HBO's "The Girl" hitting the small screen recently and Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock" due in theaters this week, and with Universal's big boxed set of most of Alfred Hitchcock's great works on shelves, it seems that most identifiable of rotund maestros of the cinema is en vogue. But what has always been fascinating about "Hitch" for Oscar watchers is that, despite his legendary status -- "the premiere image-maker of the 20th century," as author Mark Cousins called him -- the man never won a competitive Oscar.
It really does seem like Oscar's big miss. Stanley Kubrick is a big deal -- my favorite filmmaker -- but there's something really strange about a guy like Hitchcock, who certainly never dallied in inaccessible realms, having never received his due. Sure, a mid-career work won Best Picture, and he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy in 1968, but Best Director eluded him throughout. As did the DGA prize, in fact (though the guild saw fit to bestow lifetime achievement recognition the very same year he received the Thalberg).
It's been 15 years since Anthony Hopkins was last in the Oscar hunt, and even with Best Actor buzz brewing around his performance in "Hitchcock," he's in no hurry to get back on the campaign trail. Though he's not as impolite as Joaquin Phoenix recently was about the institution itself, he doesn't mince words when speaking about the "disgusting" process of industry glad-handing in pursuit of a nomination: "Kissing the backside of the authorities that can make or break it... It makes me want to throw up, it really does. It's sick-making. I've seen it so many times. I saw it fairly recently, last year. Some great producer-mogul and everyone kisses this guy's backside. I think, 'What are they doing? Don't they have any self respect?' I wanted to say, 'Fuck off.'" [Huffington Post]
Just so you know, Yolanda Foster throws fabulous dinner parties. Yes, her husband tells some guests they're not talented enough to engage in the after-dinner sing-along, but that's mostly because it's all about him telling stories of his youth and all the famous people he's worked with. But really, they should shut up simply because they're in the presence of greatness. If he wants to tell stories about Boz Scaggs, they'd better listen! Even if they don't know who Boz Scaggs is! But I'm getting ahead of myself. A few other things happen, thank God, because just watching the Foster's fabulous dinner party makes me want to throw something at the screen after a few minutes. Maybe I would feel more patient if I'd been given a tempura avocado roll. Just a thought.
I have been an ardent supporter of Ang Lee's work over the years, and if nothing else, "Life Of Pi" demonstrates just how much control he maintains over his craft, both technically and artistically. In 1997, when most people were arguing over whether "Titanic" or "LA Confidential" was the best film of the year, I was of the opinion that the sadly-underseen "The Ice Storm" was better than either of them. When his "Hulk" came out, I loved it precisely because it was such a left-of-center take on the material, and there are images from the film that are still among the most beautiful in any superhero film so far. And when I posted my article about the 50 Best Films of the last decade, "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" landed right on top of my list. It is safe to say I am a fan of his work.
I am not, however, a fan of "Life Of Pi."
I believe that David Magee's screenplay is the best possible adaptation of Yann Martel's novel, but the problems I have begin with the book, and they've been carried over to the movie, completely intact and just as problematic. This is one of the most striking cases I've ever seen of the craftsmanship of a film being at total odds with the text itself. I love how the film tells the story, but I don't like the story. It is almost purely metaphorical, and for much of the running time, it is an overwhelming visceral experience. Lee's use of 3D in the film is remarkable, and as a theatrical experience, it's hard to argue with the impact. But it is also hard to argue that the film isn't also frustrating and flawed on a fundamental level, one that bothers me far more than the visuals dazzle me.
The second season of "Smash" returns Tues. Feb. 5 at 9:00 p.m. with a two-hour episode, but if that's too long of a wait for you, check out this sneak peek below. We spot just a few of the major stars who will be popping up on the show, including Jennifer Hudson, Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order," the Broadway musical "Rent") and Debra Messing's old "Will & Grace" co-star, Sean Hayes.
We kick things off with a Michael Jackson tribute, because it’s the 25th anniversary of his album “Bad.” So, that will explain last week’s whackadoo dance assignments, right? Well, no. It just adds another level of confusion, as the second half of the evening will be dedicated to Michael Jackson, but not the first. Yeah, the weird mash-ups will just be freestanding weird mash-ups. Let's just hope this is something that will never be repeated on the show. Never, ever.
A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I send you a fax machine and a Charo calendar...
The clip starts out in black and white, and transitions into color (get it? Freedom from the confines of black and white? Or something? Anyway) as Minaj poses elegantly against Noah's Arc to mansion banisters to modern sculpture. It's the rapper-singer through the ages, an eternal beauty proudly hocking her wares from Macy's.
One repeating motif in this epic is Minaj's inability to quit touching her hair. Her many wigs are no match for wandering fingertips, but frankly, if I had that many weaves, I'd be poking at 'em too.
Minaj performed a chilly rendition of "Freedom" at last night's American Music Awards, as it's one of the new tracks off of her "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded - The Re-Up." It hit stores today (Nov. 19).