Love it. Love everything about it.
I don't give a fach: opera under the influence with a dash of non sequiturs...
“She somehow goes past the formula versions of what she does, and therefore, her results are unique. Even though she has characteristics that are shared by other great performers, the whole way that personality is put together seems unique.” - James Levine on Elaine Stritch
“I’d like to discover life. Quite frankly I don’t know how to be happy. I have not a clue. I only serve — and I don’t say that with any grandeur. I just serve others through entertaining. That’s when I am happy. I’m not just delighted with myself when I’m entertaining, but I’m happier than when I’m not.” - Elaine Stritch
I believe I was one of the 3 other people who actually stuck with “The Office” till the very end. I felt the show possessed other charms beyond Steve Carrell.
But unlike its prickly British predecessor, we all know the American version was not above wallowing in saccharine excess now and then. Jim and Pam were always the weakest aspect of the show. Their shy, wistful courtship grew increasingly grating with each episode. Mercifully, the couple finally tied the knot (in a two-part wedding episode that had me popping Tums with breathtaking dispatch) and the show dialed down the goopey sentiments (for the most part). It’s fortunate that Jenna Fisher and John Karisnksy are such unaffected, appealing performers, otherwise I don’t think Pam and Jim would have been tolerable.
But this moment was very sweet. I personally love Ed Helms and find him an affable, charismatic (and very underrated) performer; He deserves more than films like “The Hangover.” This song was the perfect blend of kitsch and sincerity. A lovely addendum to a character who was always unfairly cast as Mr. Carrell’s stand-in when he had so much more to offer.
This is really disturbing. The new ad for Chanel No. 5 features excerpts from a drunken interview with Marilyn Monroe just days before she was found dead. This commercial asks its viewers to engage in a kind of mock necrophilia. It’s positively disgusting.
If one more person dolls out another piece of glib, dime-store psychology, I’m going to stab them. Thanks for the advice, but what works for you doesn’t work for everyone. When people say things like “get busy” or “man up” or “face your fears” this is what my therapist calls “lazy advice.” Yes, when one is dealing with situational depression it can help to get busy and force oneself to do things that seem difficult…but when you are talking serious, profound, clinical depression there is more that needs to be dealt with.
Keeping oneself occupied and constantly surrounded by others can be an avoidance tactic, which is dysfunctional. And, I’m sorry, but we face fears everyday by just getting up. If you’re dealing with depression or any sort of mental illness and you’re functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of.
Nothing is ever just one thing…nothing is ever black and white. Sorry, but unless you’ve lived it, you can’t understand it.
Watch out. Angelina Jolie has found her focus. And when Ms. Jolie is truly focused, she’s a laser, she incinerates. Especially when she’s playing someone as dangerously obsessed as the title character in “Maleficent,” Disney’s somewhat ambitious, frustratingly uneven rethinking of their 1956 animated classic based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Though there are flashes of brilliance and some provocative ideas, this visually sumptuous, narratively inert film never quite conjures the fire and brimstone that Ms. Jolie brings to the screen. For Ms. Jolie soars to incredible heights even when her wings are literally clipped. With phallic horns, prosthetic cheekbones, a phosphorescent glare and blood red lips that cut across the screen like a dagger, Ms. Jolie delivers her most satisfying performance since “Gia.”
Those cheekbones and lips are not to be underestimated, when Ms. Jolie’s steely gaze fixates on anyone or anything, the effect is the most chilly and monstrous sight since Faye Dunaway got her crazy on playing a kabuki version Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest.”
Perhaps expectations were too high; Ms. Jolie’s vulpine demeanor and strange beauty sounded like the perfect melding of a star and a role. She has always been an adventurous and daring actress with a streak of wildness and danger about her. But her personal life has mostly usurped her work for the better part of her career. Alas, in “Maleficent,” Ms. Jolie is a tiger trapped in a sanitized Disney cage.
The film begins promisingly, giving Maleficent a backstory that closely resembles the gender politics of the Broadway musical “Wicked,” but Ms. Jolie’s absence is palpable and it is all too clear that the screenwriter Linda Woolverton wants her star on screen as soon as possible. The best part of the film (and the most convincing) is shoplifted directly from the 1956 animated film. At the christening of baby Aurora, Maleficent crashes the party with the force of a hurricane, illuminated by an acid greed aura of smoke. Ms. Jolie is irresistible in the scene. With a mix of chilly detachment and a grin that suggests something far more fowl lurking underneath, this Maleficent is every bit the personification of lethal femininity. Sadly, once the spinning wheels are destroyed and the giant wall of thorns is erected, the plot sags as the focus shifts to Maleficent’s maternal relationship with Aurora and our anti-heroine is slightly defanged.
It’s strange that, in the last few years, the reformation of women’s roles in film has largely been spearheaded by Disney. Princesses are no longer merely self-actualized and plucky. Their self-worth and happiness no longer hinges on the concept of romantic fulfillment. Elsa, the princess from “Frozen” is a particular case in point. “Maleficent” takes this idea even further by shattering the necessity of the Prince figure, but it does so in a very didactic way.These days, fairytale movies must express a sometimes explicit animus against the well-known European folk tales that are their sources. These movies set out from the start to scramble the traditional polarities of good and evil and gender politics, setting themselves up as a more sophisticated, knowing brand of magic. But those old stories — and those classic Disney movies in particular — were almost more complicated than the politically correct reboots of today. Their eerie subtexts and haunting ambiguities have always been more crucial to their power and appeal than the overt lessons they teach.
Sleeping Beauty, in particular, has been cited as a metaphor for the complexities of a woman’s sexual awakening. The thicket of thorns eventually blossoms into a garden and only then is the prince given permission to enter and awaken the sleeping Princess. If “Maleficent” weren’t a PG product of corporate thinking, the filmmakers might have had a ripe opportunity to explore various ideas of female relationships and female sexuality (and not just of the heterosexual variety). The gender binary needn’t overwhelm or diminish the central female characters, but rather it could be used to examine the deep complexities of what it means to be a woman (or a man) in society. “Maleficent,” is, sadly, a literal-minded mother/daughter story that offers up stock ideas of goodness and female empowerment.
Let’s face it, Maleficent is just no fun when she’s been turned into Mr. Rogers. Part of her appeal lies in the fact that she is a woman in power and she wields that power with an iron fist. And as beautiful as this film looks, it can’t approximate the gorgeous pictorial grace of the 1956 animated film. Many of the memorable, visually arresting sequences (the preparation for Aurora’s birthday, the somnambulant ascent to the spinning wheel and the color shifting dress during the final waltz) are deeply missed. Nor can the writers provide a decent spin on the original characters. The three good fairies have been transformed from charming, bickering, kindly grandmother figures into three shrill CGI composites played by Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple at a histrionic pace. To be honest Flora, Fauna and Merryweather had far more distinct personalities than the 2014 set.
It goes without saying that all the men are beside the point. (Don’t ask me why Ms. Woolverton saw fit to turn Maleficent’s pet crow into a man.) They mostly recede into the heavy CGI background. Aside from that, all the trappings of modern mainstream movies are abundant. There are long, unnecessary battle sequences, a lot of computerized creatures and head splitting 3D effects.
Still, Ms. Jolie keeps things interesting most of the time, and it’s nice that a corporation has finally realized that women are just as compelling as men. With all the cyborgs and superhero sequels flooding multiplexes, it’s nice to get a taste of something different.
Matter can neither be created nor destroyed but merely altered in form and transferred into energy. This more or less applies to Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the popular jukebox musical “Jersey Boys.” So here’s a question: How do you turn a highly derivative stage musical with a plot poured from a can into an artful (or at least entertaining) film? Given the movie Mr. Eastwood has come up with, the prospects don’t bode well.
For what Mr. Eastwood has done is to take a by-the-numbers rags to riches stage property that was never really good to begin with - but at least had flash and pizazz on stage - and turn it into a lumbering, drab biopic about the travails of showbiz; a film slightly altered from the stage version and seriously lacking in energy. Oh, how many times we’ve seen this story before, and oh how Mr. Eastwood makes it feel so heavy-handed.
Apparently, when “Jersey Boys” debuted on Broadway, the word on the street was that it had a lot of flash and showmanship, a hair thin plot and a bonafide, burgeoning star by the name of John Lloyd Young who was worth paying $150 to see. Mr. Young’s performance as Frankie Valli was so superlative that it earned him a Tony Award and made the show a runaway hit. (You can still get tickets to see the show live on Broadway for about $200.)
I saw the show live - though not with Mr. Young - and remember being mildly entertained and unable to remember a single moment from the show other than the songs. Yes, indeed, the Four Seasons churned out little pop confections that stuck to your brain like a leach. But even then, I remember thinking how predictable the plot was, and how hollow all the characters were. Thank goodness for director Des McAnuff’s highly energetic (perhaps even shrill) direction or the stage “Jersey Boys” could’ve been a real drag given Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s flaccid, blueprint of a book. To be honest I remember the night as one loud, withering blur.
The “plot” of “Jersey Boys” hardly needs summation. Local street kid with a set of golden pipes and his pals rise from a hard-scrabble upbringing, hit the big time, engage in self-destructive behavior, hotel rooms are trashed, betrayals are had, alcoholic wives complain about not seeing them enough, glasses of whisky are thrown against the wall as the characters wallow in bathos and after all this ensuing mishegas a redemption caps off the film.
But this is also a Clint Eastwood film, which means that every technical aspect has been handled with the utmost care and good taste and he has, admittedly, elicited fine performances from his cast. Erich Bergen is wonderfully sympathetic as the genius hit-maker Bob Gaudio. And Vincent Piazza delivers a small tour-de-fource as the narcissistic, conniving Tommy DeVito who’s impulsiveness and ego ultimately destroy everything. And, as far as I can tell, no one goes overboard with the whole “Joisey” schtick.
As for Mr. Young, despite his uncanny way of imitating Frankie Valli’s nasal countertenor, something must’ve happened with his performance in the nine years since he played the role on Broadway. Perhaps it has something to do with the mere transition from the stage to the screen. Either way, he tends to wilt on screen and gives his character a sullen cast which makes him tiresome to watch. Even the death of his daughter registers as a mild perturbance rather than a life-shattering event. It’s possible that none of this is Mr. Young’s fault. The character of Frankie is something of a blur both on stage and on screen. It’s easier to make an impression in a live theater through sheer charisma stage presence.
Who knows what went wrong. I personally don’t think “Jersey Boys” is a good musical, and I certainly don’t believe it was ever meant for the screen. It lacks the lightness of touch and buoyancy of “Hairspray” and it has none of the bold theatricality of “Moulin Rouge” or “Chicago.” Mr. Eastwood has retained some aspects of the stage show by breaking the fourth wall and having the actors express their thoughts directly to the camera, but this just seems like a self-conscious choice by a director who doesn’t really understand his material. According to IMDB “Jersey Boys” runs 134 minutes. It feels MUCH longer.
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it in anymore
Let it go, let go
Spread your cheeks and let it soar
I don’t care how it’s going to smell
Trumpet all night long
I shouldn’t have had all that Taco Bell
Let it go, let it go
My ass just might explode
Let it go, let go
Need a toilet for this load
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let my shit rage on
I shouldn’t have eaten Chipotle