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Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

I remember being handed Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future novel A Handmaid’s Tale in high school English and promptly trying to figure out a way to get out of reading it, seeing as Atwood’s novels are dreary ( her essays are anything but). So I tracked down a tape of the film at the local video store and watched. It was dark, dreary, dystopian, like Atwood, but there was this young actress, luminescent even in the red burqua they made the handmaids wear.

That was Natasha Richardson.

By all accounts, she was like that in life- boisterous, warm. with a throaty laugh and an energy that consumed the space she inhabited. She convinced confirmed bachelor Liam Neeson to marry, and their nearly fifteen year marriage was one of the most sane, normal, human relationships in Hollywood history. Their backgrounds couldn’t be more different- he, a working class lad from Ireland who fell into acting after a career as a boxer and a fork lift operator for Guinness ( that, my friends, is very Irish).  She was the member of a famous theatrical family whose legend predates modern acting, even film.  Her mother was an Oscar winning actress and activist. Her father was an Oscar winning film maker and well known rogue. Her uncle, her aunt, her sister- they all act. It’s the family trade. And she was wonderful at it.

It doesn’t take much for Natasha Richardson to worm her way into your heart by acting- the performance she gave as Patty Hearst is the stuff of legend. But her best performances never happened on screen. There was the electric 1993 production of Anna Christie, in which she and Neeson devastatingly portrayed lust while falling in love behind the scenes. Her now legendary turn as the luminous Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes’ reconfigured Cabaret, for which she was awarded a Tony award. Her most famous film role was that as Lindsay Lohan’s mom in the remake of  The Parent Trap, where she was amusing and charming and warm. It was my daughter’s favorite movie for years.

As a fan of film and theater, I am deeply saddened by the loss of Ms. Richardson yesterday. She passed away in New York, after being transferred from Montreal, suffering head trauma after a fallon a ski hill. She was only 45 years old.  My heart goes out to Mr. Neeson, their two sons, Micheal and Daniel, her mother, sister Joely, and the extended family and friends of this astonishingly beautiful, gifted woman.

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It seems that there is a plan for a musical version of the 1989 noir comedy classic Heathers– the one where you love your gay dead son and you get fucked gently with a chainsaw, and look out for Draino in coffee mugs?

I’m dubious about this. Heathersis one of my all time favorite movies. But it’s also a movie of it’s time, which is to say, pre-Columbine and every other devastating school shooting of the last decade. Would the threat of blowing up a school be frowned upon in the post-9/11 world? And who the hell would they cast to play JD? Christian Slater IS JD. And he’s way too old for the part now.

I’m gonna take a wait and see approach.

PS: EW.com is reporting that Veronica Mars herself has read for the role of… well, Veronica in Heathers: The Musical.  Kristen Bell? Awesomeness!!! Like that bit of casting, I really do.

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Eddie Murphy presents the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award to Jerry Lewis, who gives a short, humble speech. The orchestra then launches into a medley of Oscar nominated scores, and Slumdog’s A.R. Rahman wins that category. We then get a medley of Oscar nominated songs, in which John Legend aquits himself nicely doing Peter Gabriel, and we learn Jai Ho and We’re Going Down mix beautifully together ( Peter Gabriel- there’s your next record!). A.R. Rahman wins that one as well, for Jai Ho.

We finally get a WTF? winner- Freida Pinto and Liam neeson announce the only real surprise of the evening as Japan’s Departures beats out the better known Baader Meinhoff Complex, The Class, and preshow fave Waltz With Bashir ( the one that won almost every pre Oscar award it could). There has to be a surprise every Oscar,a nd this appears to be this years. So far.

Queen Latifah does the In Memorium section of our show. She sings ” I’ll Be Seeing You” beautifully as Paul Newman and Sydney Pollack win the applause-o-meter. So sad to see the faces of Stan winston, Michael Crichton, Bernie Mac, Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, Harold Pinter, James Whitmore, Charlton Heston, Cyd Charrise, Newman, and Van Johnson pass by and remembering what they contributed to cinema.

Danny Boyle accepts his best director Oscar ” in the spirit of Tigger”, and gives a warm sppech in which he pays tribute to the city of Mumbai. He’s a delightful man. The award is well deserved ( Shallow Grave was one of my favorite films of the 1990s).

As the show now runs 20 plus minutes over schedule, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Shirley MacLaine, and Marion Cotillard present Kate Winslet with her long overdue Oscar. Kate was warm, witty, and charming in her speech, almost tripping over her words as she honored Pollack and Mingehella for their role in The Reader. Sean Penn eked out a win over Mickey Rourke, and was funny and shit stirring in his speech, as he was the only one who acknowledged the protesters on the way in. Then Steven Spielberg presents the best picture award to Slumdog Millionaire.

Overall, I think that the show was one of the best in years. Hugh Jackman was a delightful host, and the show, while it did run long, felt a lot shorter than usual.  I thouroughly enjoyed myself despite the telegraphed winners.

And I’ll be back in 2010.

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Another video clip, this time directed by Judd Apatow, starring the Pineapple Express boys Seth Rogan and James Franco, with a cameo by two time Academy award winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. Among one of the funniest things I  have ever seen at the Oscars.  The trio present the live action short award to a German short I cannot spell the mane of ( German not being a language i’m familiar with).

Hugh comes out in tails, and launches into a good Oscar musical number ( those are rarer than… well, I can’t recall the last one.) A tribute to Fred Astaire, a gorgeous reveal of Beyonce, add in Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens ( High School Musical), and Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried ( Mamma Mia!), and we get a show stopper. Thanks, Baz Luhrman.

Best Supporting Actor- a foregone conclusion, but I still sobbed as Heath’s family payed tribute to the missing talent from the show.

Bill Maher presented the Doc categories, and Man On Wire wins best feature, and Smile Pinki wins short.

Will Smith shows up to present the post production awards after another thrilling video piece, and the go as follows:

Visual Effects Editing- Ben Button

Sound editing- The Dark Knight

Sound Mixing- Slumdog Millionaire

Editing- Slumdog Millionaire

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OSCARS! Live Blog Part 2

Well, Ben Button will not be going home empty handed ( fears were it would be the most nominated loser in Oscar history). It takes the Art Direction award ( deservedly- it’s gorgeous to look at). Costume design goes to The Duchess, another deserved award ( those costumes are astonishing).

Daniel Craig makes a funny! The award goes to Ben Button ( the only award it’s up for that it had no real competition for, unless the Academy went overboard on honoring the Dark Knight due to it’s oversight at Best Picture).

The show seems to be moving at a fast clip this year. I’m not bored at all.

Robert Pattinson ( sqealing commences- NOW!) Amanda Seyfreid looks gorgeous.  Another montage sequence- I like them better this year. They’re on point, have great music, and are edited superby.

Natalie Portman and Ben Stiller are funny as Ben channels Joaquin Phoenix ( Natalie gets off the best line -” You look like you work in a Hasidic meth lab.”) Slumdog wins again for cinematography.

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First off, Hugh Jackman was hilarious right off the bat, and that medley made my girls and I laugh for serious long stetch. ( Personal fave- having to mention Brad and Angie a minimum of five times). He’s also incredibly hot.

I’m also liking this new system of honoring the performers and performances. You pull out Anjelica Huston, Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn, and Whoopi Goldberg, you get genuine emotion ( and with Whoopi, a few laughs). No surpsise that Penelope Cruz wins, and she’s emotional and warm and charming, finishing up in Spanish to quick for me to translate.

So far, I’m liking some of the changes the new producers put in the show. And Hugh Jackman is Wolverine.

The intro with Tina Fey and Steve Martin was another hilarious moment ( it’s safe to say that so far, this is the funniest Oscars in the last decade).  Dustin Lance Black wins origianl screenplay for Milk, and his speech almost made me cry. No surprise that Simon Beaufot wins best adapted for S;umdog Millionaire. Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black present Animated feature, and Wall-E wins, another no shocker. Animated short goes to La maison la petite cubes ( or, as Gwen pointed out immediately, The House of Small Squares- those provincially mandated french classes are paying off).

Note: Aniston presents with Black, who costarred in Kung Fu Panda with Angelina Jolie, who is with Brad Pitt,  who used to be married to Aniston. Notice, though, Angie was laughing during their bit.

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This is the place to discuss fashion, your picks, and how RyRy Seacrest still annoys the crap out of you.Just look in the comments for my blinding wit…

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