Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mother May I Sleep With Danger 2: The Real Question is Whether Lohan Stacks Up with Tori Spelling, not Liz Taylor.

I'm bringing Weenie Enema out of blog retirement to capture the brilliance of Lifetime's Liz and Dick, premiering tonight at 9pm. Much has been hashed and re-hashed about the casting of Lindsay Lohan as violet-eyed icon Elizabeth Taylor, and it doesn't really interest me all that much. I enjoyed Mean Girls for what it was, but Lohan has never come close to the brilliance of a performance like Liz had in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or even in A Place in the Sun, so comparisons are needless. The real reason to watch this is because it's stacking up to be a train wreck of massive proportions. This is basically Riding the Bus with My Sister except that Lohan is riding Richard Burton instead, and is holding expensive jewelry in lieu of safety scissors. While we patiently wait, some pre-viewing questions to consider: How will this stack up with the classic Lifetime movies of yore, such as the aforementioned bus film, anything starring Candice Cameron Bure, Fred Savage, Lisa Renna, Kellie Martin and the D-list locust Tori Spelling? How amazing is Lohan going to look as ancient 1980s Liz? (My money is on a dead ringer for Delta Burke.) And is Lifetime, which can be notoriously prudish, even when it comes to movies with a sexual theme, going to show actual 1960s thrusting? Stay tuned. I'm getting a coffee so I don't fall asleep in the midst of raspy Lohan dialogue.
8:03pm - Massive, massive drama for about 10 minutes. I couldn't find Lifetime and I started flipping my shit, thinking Optimum would DEFINITELY have screwed me over for signing up for fake triple play last month. But then I found Lifetime and I feel much better about the situation.
8:39pm - Since this is my first time on Weenie Enema in almost two years, I'm going through the comments and finding an astounding amount of spam. My personal favorite: Marcia Gay Harden was born on August 14, 1959, in La Jolla, California, the third of five children. Her father was a star in gay ebony porn films,and the family relocated often -- she first became interested in the theater when the family was living in Greece, and she had attended plays in Athens. Harden began her college education at American universities in Europe and returned to the US to complete her studies at the Universityof Texas in 1983; went on to earn an MFA at NYU, and, thereafter, embarked on her acting career when she appeared in a series of free gay celeb porn short movies Would people really refer to that porn genre as "gay ebony porn?"
8:40pm - Lifetime has a countdown clock on the top right of the screen. They definitely did not have that for Riding the Bus with my Sister.
8:53pm - What is this shizzle on Lifetime right now? They're not content to have two straight hours of crap?
8:54pm - I bet Danica McKellar gets called Danica Patrick ALL the time now.
8:55pm - These people are clearly hiding under the same table that Hayden Panettiere was crouching under when she first met Olivia in Law and Order SVU Season 2 Episode 11 "Abuse."
9:00pm - HERE WE GO!
9:01pm - Ooooh, Steve from Sex and the City is in this.
9:02pm - What is with this voiceover narration? Is it weird that I immediately thought of a pervy Morgan Freeman?
9:03pm - A Maggie Smith lookalike is playing the maid. Excellent casting.
9:03pm - It is unclear why they stole the score from Homeward Bound for this.
9:06pm - No Mom, I'm not picking up the phone right now. Honestly.
9:07pm - Did Richard Burton die already? What is with this?
9:08pm - This kind of makes me want to see Cleopatra.
9:09pm - There is no way the real Richard Burton had guns like this.
9:10pm - Oh my god, I want that weird gypsy doo-rag Lohan is wearing. It's like African safari meets laundry woman.
9:12pm - So just to recap, Richard Burton told Liz that her boobs were her heart and soul, and that's all it took for the carnal lusting to commence.
9:13pm - I feel like this sort of tawdry galavanting on a movie set is EXACTLY what happened on Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Poor Aniston.
9:14pm - Every time Lohan starts giggling, she's clearly on the verge of a smoker's coughing fit.
9:15pm - This guy playing Eddie Fisher is a little too hot for the role, like a hunky Seth Cohen.
9:17pm - Is Bradley Cooper jogging in a garbage bag in this preview?
9:20pm - Michelle has informed me that they're airing Liz Taylor fragrance commercials during Revenge. Subtle advertising?
9:21pm - I just spent 10 seconds honestly thinking the ad for The Client List was the actual movie coming back on.
9:22pm - AGAIN with the Homeward Bound music!
9:23pm - "I don't need a pool - I have my whole ocean in you." JESUS.
9:24pm - If he starts having sex with her in this pool and she begins flopping around like a dead fish, it will be EXACTLY like Showgirls.
9:24pm - Um, Richard Burton did NOT have pecs like this. If Jon Hamm can get a little flabby for Mad Men, why couldn't this guy?
9:25pm - Didn't anyone tell these people that you can't give Lohan free reign in a jewelry store?
9:26pm - This shot by the Spanish Steps looks REALLY fake. Did Lifetime not have a budget for travel expenses to Rome?
9:27 - This Irish lackey of Burton's looks like a tubby, blonder version of Mark Summers from Double Dare.
9:28pm - "I can't live without you!" - Lohan, who then runs out of the room in a hideous kimono.
9:34pm - Liz Taylor is chain smoking. Perhaps Lohan is finally in her wheelhouse.
9:36pm - Sometimes it sounds like Lohan really has the shrill, nasally Liz Taylor voice down, but then she yells and the rasp comes out.
9:37pm - Gstaad? I'm pretty sure I went to a blogger party at a place called that in Chelsea.
9:38pm - Lohan started screeching that she's bored, and a handful of maids came running out of the house towards her. But then they inexplicably disappeared and I have no idea what just happened.
9:39pm - It would be a real hoot if Theresa Russell, who's playing Liz's mom, decided to switch into her character from Wild Things aka slutty Denise Richards' mom.
9:40pm - What is the deal with Burton's hair? This looks like a really bad wig, and I can't figure out if the actor playing him is bald or not.
9:43pm - The guy playing Richard Burton really isn't bad at all. But man, this Lohan performance is I Know Who Killed Me epic.
I Know Who Killed Your Career.
9:46pm - Hahahaha they're promoting a Tori Spelling Christmas movie. Tori is Lifetime's meal ticket, whether either wants to admit it or not.
9:47pm - OOOH ROB LOWE.
9:48pm - Lohan is dressed like an Easter egg.
9:49pm - "I'm getting a divorce!" "Well, hurry back." Emmy screenplay nod?
9:51pm - Lohan is dressed in another kimono and is (coincidentally?) having another nervous breakdown.
9:52pm - Smoker's coughing fit #7.
9:52pm - Lohan is looking VERY Delta Burkian in that hat. This is promising.
9:54pm - "Elizabeth wants to play." - Lohan. Ew, I'll pass on this game.
9:56pm - "The best Twilight ever" is really not the greatest movie endorsement.
9:58pm - I don't pretend to have extensive knowledge of the Lifetime demographic, but are there regular Lifetime viewers who know who Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is?
9:59pm - "You do know I'm shagging him senseless, don't you?" I don't even think Austin Powers ever said that.
10:00pm - It's unclear if anyone will know what I'm talking about, but do you remember that Fred Savage episode of SVU where he plays a serial rapist and seduces one of the jury members? Sybil Burton looks just like that juror.
10:03pm - So...we all think the vast majority of this movie was filmed in a Plaza suite, right? Possibly the one from Home Alone 2?
10:05pm - I love that Richard Burton is wearing the exact same black outfit performing his stage monologue that he wears during those atrocious fake documentary scenes.
10:05pm - Ah, I see Anderson Cooper is an uncredited extra.
10:07pm - I know this is about Liz and Dick, but I would have thoroughly enjoyed a Debbie Reynolds/Liz Taylor catfight.

10:10pm - "Thank youaaaaaahhhhhrrrrrcoughcoughcough." - Lohan
10:10pm - Steve! Hi, Steve! It's so weird to see you without Miranda.
10:11pm - Fake Oscar ceremony! Yes!
10:12pm - The idea that Lohan knows who Laurence Olivier is...I can't.
10:16pm - I'm missing a brand new episode of Finding Bigfoot. Frown.
10:17pm - I haven't watched anything on Lifetime in years, but is there supposed to be some significance in that weird Lifetime icon that looks like a red amoeba in the lower righthand side of the screen? It's lost on me.
10:17pm - God! They're re-enacting Virginia Woolf! Heresy!
10:19pm - "I will love you even if you get as fat as a hippo."

Apparently Liz circa 1985.
10:20pm - They're both nominated. Haha I know what's coming.
10:21pm - "And the winner is...Paul Scofield." Ouch.
10:22pm - I have to say, this isn't nearly as bad as the reviews made it out to be. Riding the Bus With My Sister is still setting the bar.
10:24pm - Theresa Russell is criminally underused.
10:27pm - Les Miz preview!!! YES YES YES!
10:28pm - Russell Crowe hasn't been nominated since A Beautiful Mind. He's kind of due. Just saying.
10:31pm - This is almost over and Liz is still skinny. I demand Delta Burke.
10:32pm - Amazing Titanic connection - the auctioneer is definitely the Titanic crew member Kate Winslet walloped. He responded with, "The hell with you," and wandered off to safety.
10:35pm - They're not even giving the Richard Burton guy a fake beer belly. You find me a raging chain smoking alkie with a six pack, and I'll show you a mentally challenged pony.

Too easy.
10:38pm - If Lohan actually thought this had a chance of being a comeback vehicle, why is her next project Scary Movie 5?
10:39pm - Liz Taylor is now 40. Aka Lohan needed zero makeup.
10:41pm - Lohan's either crying or coughing. Probably coughing.
10:43pm - Remember when my mom called at 9:06pm? I just listened to the voicemail. "This may be the worst thing I've ever seen on television." HA. I would point out that she did NOT see Riding the Bus With My Sister.
10:44pm - They might have DNA linkage to Bigfoot. But I can't confirm that because I chose to watch this pigslop.
10:45pm - The bottom line for me: this movie isn't bad enough. Lohan is pretty atrocious, but I've seen her in at least two other movies where she was worse.
10:47pm - "I killed my brother." I really thought he was going to say, "I know who killed me."
10:48pm - She's wearing her third kimono whilst having a nervous breakdown. That has to be some kind of record.
10:49pm - Coughing fit #27.
10:50pm - She's now pushing 50, and they seriously haven't put any makeup/prosthetics on her.
10:51pm - "We should have just lived on a boat." You did. Around 10:30pm.
10:52pm - UM. We have eight minutes left. Where is Delta Burke?
10:52pm - Lohan is in a hospital bed dressed like Rosie the Riveter. No one on screen has mentioned it.
10:55pm - I'm really not clear on how they can possibly wrap this up in less than five minutes. It's still 1975ish.
10:57pm - Oh my god. This isn't going to be over in three minutes, is it? THIS IS GOING TO LAST UNTIL 11:30PM. NO NO NO NO.
10:59pm - DELTA BURKE! YES!
11:00pm - I'm still not convinced Lohan has any makeup on.
11:01pm - "Forever an ocean....forever an ocean." Yes, this is probably how it had to end.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

I'm Back.

Like the crippled, hobbling Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of Kindergarten Cop, I have returned. For the first time in roughly three years, I not only have a stable broadband connection, but a cutting edge second generation MacBook Air. All of the keys function, although the squiggly brackety key is suspiciously slow on the uptake. No matter. Get ready.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Miley Cyrus Skinned The Little Mermaid And Wore Her Tail to the Oscars.

If Ariel had just stayed in the kingdom and performed with her sisters like King Triton wanted, this would never have happened.

Oscars 2K9 has come and gone, but in its wake we're left with the remnants of a giant shitfest, courtesy of too many people to name. There were many giant hits (K-WIZZLE!) and misses (the horrendously directed In Memorium, in which you couldn't see Cyd Charisse's name because apparently it's a real treat to watch Latifah slog her way through tuneless shizzle), and Weenie Enema will supply the highlights and lowlights for those unwillingly to sit through a quarter of a day watching pretty people congratulate and laud each other.

The Hits.

"I'd like to thank Jack Dawson, who froze to death so that I might live and win this prestigious award."

1. As already mentioned, K-Wizzle has finally snagged the Oscar she deserved for almost drowning in the North Atlantic and getting shot at by Billy Zane, stolen at the last minute by the mediocrity of Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets. Despite being 11 years late, it was a real treat to see one of the premier actresses in the world getting her due - and besting Meryl in one of her stronger nomination years. Meryl, demure and noble in defeat (it HAS happened 13 times now), also treated the public to an excellent hairdo that was clearly inspired by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, minus the poon flashing. For that, we are grateful.

2. So there was no question that the Brangelina/Aniston drama goodness was going to be at the fore this year. For all of its entertainment value, it does make one question how truly evil the organizers of the awards show have to be to not only get Jennifer to present TWO awards, ensuring her presence on the stage for at least five minutes, but putting her basically TWO FEET from the other two equilateral angles in that cursed love triangle. Who wouldn't choke a little from that kind of pressure? Sadly, it wasn't surprising when Jen's comedic timing, a bit rusty since Friends went off the air, was slightly a kilter during a badly written banter with Jack Black. What did the directors of this noble show do when she stumbled for a second? Well...what would YOU cut to?

At this point, I think Jennifer Aniston has won the right to never go to any televised awards show ever again. That said, it's pretty amazing that the wretched drama lived up the hype for yet another day.

3. For some reason, the decision to get five previous winners to present the award in their respective categories has been pretty polarizing. I LOVED IT. You clearly can't do that every year, as you'd run out of people in less than 10 years, but they should definitely keep this one in storage for a good time in the distant future. They could have picked some real douches for this, like Gwyneth or Julia Roberts, but were largely successful. It would be interesting to see how they arrived at the decision for who got to introduce each nominee, as some of them didn't seem right. For instance, wouldn't it have made much more sense for Julie Andrews to get the Anne Hathaway assignment? She's a former Best Actress winner and was her co-star in the movies that jump started her career. Very baffling. And as much as I consider Sophia Loren a fairly legit legend in her own right, she's no Meryl, but who is? Ideally, I would have dug up Katherine Hepburn's corpse to deliver that speech. And if I WERE forced to select a living actress, I'd probably go with Olivia de Havilland or Joanne Woodward, both of whom probably aren't up to teleprompter reading, but a Weenie Enema can dream.

"Meryl, you were WONDERFUL in Doubt. Almost as good as I was in The Heiress and Gone with the Wind!" <3<3<3

The Misses.

1. Beyonce? Really? As much as I appreciate the millions of calories Hugh Jackman burned up in rehearsing his mother dance routines, this isn't a 1950s musical - there's a reason Hollywood isn't chomping at the bit to remake An American in Paris and Gigi. I myself don't know how to successfully navigate the line between retro badassness and stale shiz, but neither does Hugh. I get that the dude doesn't really do comedy, but all homie had to do was walk on stage like this and instantly win the approval of millions:

Having never seen the movies, I'm mildly surprised to see that Wolverine appears to have some sort of wolf ear things to go with his claws. Interesting. Which reminds me - Halle Berry was there. Couldn't they have done an X-Men skit? It would have been infinitely better than Beyonce lip-synching her way down a staircase with the cast of High School Musical. Is the Academy THAT desperate to capture the tween demographic?

2. Natalie Portman was subjected to ruthless treatment by the Academy in 2005 when they thought Cate Blanchett's mimicking, trouser-wearing Hepburn imitation exceeded her superb performance in Closer. Frankly, Natalie has every right to ignore their existence until they rectify this error and put her on the podium - preferably at Blanchett's expense. But Portman is a better person than I, and having been given an invitation to present an award, not only showed up, but looked even better than she did four years ago (was it really that long ago?) when she showed up straight out of a Latin textbook.

Natalie est melior quam Blanchett.
Anyway, what does she get for her troubles? She's given the thankless task of playing the straight man for Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix imitation, thus being totally and unfairly overshadowed once again. Sigh.

3. I had a few people over for a quiet Oscar get-together, which included Drunk Erin and 2007 Emma Grimshaw Letter Writing Contest winner Steven. Before the festivities got under way at 6 (I watch EVERYTHING), we decided to have an intense drinking game, which included taking a swig when the camera cut from Brangelina directly to Aniston (it happened several times) and whenever we saw someone on the red carpet and immediately asked, "What the hell are they doing there?" Since Jennifer Grey and the aforementioned mermaid snatcher were invited, it meant much liquid consumption. I stuck to Diet Pepsi, but I had a bottle of Cuervo left over from a party last summer, which I mistakenly gave to Steve. Of course, Steve ended up drinking pretty much the entire bottle by hour two, and passed out shortly thereafter. This meant that I had to turn the TV up during K-Wizzle's acceptance speech because SOMEONE was snoring. Loudly. Growl.

I will now leave you with a little white pony.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Excessive Indian Armpit Hair, Illiterate Nazis, and Other Goodness.

Wait, she's not a Nazi!

Weenie Enema is returning from obscurity to offer unsolicited Oscar wisdom. This is the first time in the history of all things that I've pretty much seen every major film nominated, though I lost interest in bestowing my four-star blog reviews on the populace after seeing two malnourished leads in the space of a week. Although this awards season has had few surprises thus far, it should still be interesting to see whether K-Wizzle finally nails down that Oscar, if Christian Bale backlash affects any of The Dark Knight nominations, and if Jennifer Aniston shows up on the red carpet, steals one of Angelina's children and attempts to reenact a scene from Changeling, which might actually help the ratings for years to come.

Clearly, one baby from the Brangelina clan would not be missed terribly.

Best Picture.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Reader.
Slumdog Millionaire.

This, by virtually all accounts, has been a weak Oscar year. As best as I can figure, the definition of a strong year means having at least seven or eight legitimate Best Picture contenders, 2007 being a case in point, where films with early Oscar buzz like Into the Wild, The Assassination of Jesse James, Gone Baby Gone and others weren't really even considered because the five slots filled up pretty quickly. However, it's kind of a moot point if you didn't like more than one or two, which was certainly true for me, where I was on Team Atonement and little else. This supposedly lame year has been filled with quality shizzle in my book, and none rate higher with me than The Button. I heart all buttons, and comparisons with Forrest Gump - a movie that really hasn't held up very well, along with Tom Hanks' "pectorals" - are erroneous. You would think that Brad Pitt getting younger and younger would be a delight to see, but at a certain point - I would say when he hits middle school age - it becomes surprisingly heart-wrenching, especially if you're not used to 13-year-old boys acting like present-day Sargent Shriver. Despite Button's 13 nominations, it would be shocking if Slumdog didn't win, which was a perfectly good movie, though it sadly doesn't have the magic of age reversal. But really, how many movies do?

The answer to the question - What would Maria Shriver look like if she ate and had testicles?

Best Actor.
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor.
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon.
Sean Penn - Milk.
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler.

Conventional wisdom suggests a throwdown between the plastic surgery victim and Madonna's ex-husband. I would submit that Mickey edges out Sean by virtue of two elements - giving a shout-out to his dogs at the Globes, thus ensuring the votes of chihuahua lovers the world over, and getting shot with a staple gun in the ring, though the shooting was so frenetic that it might have been a stunt double. Still. It's hard to argue that he didn't have the harder role, since he was playing an ugly mug who bore an uncanny resemblance to that weird dog flying thing in The Neverending Story and had a bunch of folding chairs smashed on his head and Sean Penn had to...what? Make out with James Franco? What a rough gig.

"I'm a broken-down piece of meat...and I can fly!"

Best Actress.
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married.
Angelina Jolie - Changeling.
Melissa Leo - Frozen River.
Meryl Streep - Doubt.
K-Wizzle - The Reader.

It was recently brought to my attention that although Meryl is a goddess who will forever be recognized for her talent and ability to rope in prestigious award after prestigious award, she has never won an Oscar in my lifetime. I was born during the high point of the Reagan Revolution (1984) and Meryl copped Best Actress for Sophie's Choice in 1982. A sobering fact indeed. At any rate, Angelina is really only going to the ceremony to show off her arm candy (and who wouldn't?), and not enough people appreciate Homicide: Life on the Streets or her amazing turn in the best Law and Order episode title ever (Who Let the Dogs Out?) to vote for Melissa Leo in an upset.

Which brings us to three. One would think this is Meryl's best chance so far to get Oscar #3, although I personally would have nominated her for the brilliance she brought to Mamma Mia!, but the smart money is on K-Wizzle, who has patiently sat by while actress (Mira Sorvino) after actress (Helen Hunt) after actress (Jennifer Connelly) after actress (Hilary Swank) after actress (Helen Mirren) has gone up to the podium. Although it has been subjected to some merciless reviews (the NY Post headline "Deathcamp for Cutie" almost made up for their anti-K-Wizzle vitriol), The Reader is much like Brokeback in that its very definition has been misinterpreted. If you'll recall, Brokeback was unfairly labeled "the gay cowboy movie" even though they were actually SHEEPHERDERS and there was a total of maybe 30 seconds of leather cheerio love throughout the entire movie. Very unfair. The Reader is being labeled a Holocaust movie even though there are hardly any Jews to be found on screen (two) and the purpose of the film isn't to show, "Hey, Nazis have feelings too!" but that a lot of Germans, not even necessarily ones who truly believed in the Hitler methodology, were forced into horrible circumstances that in hindsight made them look less than human, when that wasn't truly the case. Such a badass movie. Also, Anne Hathaway probably shouldn't get an Oscar when Rosemary Dewitt aka Slut from Mad Men and Amazingness Defined Debra Winger were better, but some sort of award for working side-by-side with Kate Hudson should be in order.

This woman CANNOT be happy that she's the fourth search result for "who let the dogs out."

Best Supporting Actress.
Amy Adams - Doubt.
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Viola Davis - Doubt.
Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler.

You have to think that if there's a chance at a crazy upset, this is probably where it would happen. Penelope is excellent and makes Scarlett look even worse than usual, but some of these nominations just seem baffling. I feel like they just started looking at the casts of the Oscar movies to fill in the spaces. Viola Davis is in basically one scene in Doubt, and the vast majority of it involves a thick stream of mucus forming a pool between her nose and upper lip. I couldn't tell you what she says to Meryl while the boogers coagulate, though I suspect it was something like, "That really sucks that PSH is touching my kid, but we are an impoverished black family and he needs to graduate from your good school, so...I don't know. Tell PSH to stop doing it." Not a very good movie, and Amy Adams is really starting to get on my nerves, but was thankfully snot-free. This is a slightly difficult call, since K-Wizzle was sweeping up all the Best Supporting Actresses until the nominations for this came out, but I'm going with Marisa Tomei, who may actually be better than Mickey "Neverending Story Dog Thing" Rourke, and is apparently having a contest with K-Wizzle to see who can make the most movies whilst flashing boobs and nethers. It's hard to imagine anyone topping K-Wizzle in that department, who by my count has been in at least four. Whew.

If Halle can get an Oscar for straddling Billy Bob, perhaps Viola can win for her unintentional cold medicine commercial.

Speculation on Supporting Actor seems pointless as Heath's corpse is primed to take the Oscar that he should have gotten for the shepherding.

They didn't go up there to fish.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Winona Called - She Wants to Know Why She Wasn't Cast in Another Movie Where Angelina is Involuntarily Dragged Into a Psycho Ward.

2 stars.

Before composing this post, I went back through the Weenie archives to see how often, if ever, I've extemporized on Angelina Jolie. I figured I must have at least a few times, since I've resented her existence going back to 1999, when her scenery-chewing performance as a sociopath in Girl, Interrupted unfairly soaked up all the attention from Wino's career-best turn as Susanna Kaysen. Although this primitive blog doesn't come equipped with a state of the art search engine, I successfully located the only entry where she was mentioned at great length - from June 2007. (In case you ever want to peruse the Weenie archives, I would recommend googling "Weenie Enema [term you're looking for]." I have never met with failure.) This is the snippet in question:
If you ever play the Movie-off Game, where you pick an actor or actress and go back and forth naming their movies until someone runs out of titles, you want to pick Whoopi, and you want to save Girl, Interrupted for the end because she's so unassuming slash amazing in it that NO ONE remembers she was even in it. Admittedly, this is partly because Winona was even better - to the point where her greatness emanated out of every kleptomaniacal orifice and was mistakenly assumed to come from Angelina Jolie, but that's another post entirely.

I guess that other post is this one.

Having come off a viewing of another movie starring a calorie-challenged actress, I can assure my readership that in a 'rexic throwdown, Angelina is infinitely more distracting to the potential enjoyment of a movie than Keira Knightley. It is abundantly clear that Ms. Jolie has not consumed solid food in many moons, and the fact that she appears to be roughly 7'5 does not help matters. However, since I am a hardcore mature individual, I tried to ignore her totem pole appearance and try to concentrate on the matter at hand.

"Have you seen my son?"

It was a difficult undertaking, made no less so by the plot moving slower than MO-lasses. Having never directed a movie about a child abduction in the late 1920s, I cannot attest to how easy it is to move along such a story, but you'd think with Angelina getting thrown into the nutty house with Amy Ryan (whom I am now convinced is building a career based solely on looking like shizzle) and a subplot involving a quasi-pedophile serial killer who bares a frightening resemblance to a fey Brendan Fraser (redundant?) would get the ball rolling. Alas, it was not to be, and for two and a half hours, I was subjected to watching Angelina alternate between staring off into space (perhaps her lethargic way of looking for her kid) and screeching at cops. Her only deviation from this pattern was to politely smirk at a court ruling in the waning minutes of the movie, perhaps as much to the creatures who shelled out money and a lot of time to watch this as to the corrupt LAPD. Somewhere, Rodney King is smiling.

Exit poll: Would you rather have the LAPD undertake a nationwide search for your missing child, or start up race riots with the aid of a trusty baton and your face?

I'm completely baffled by the accolades Angelina is getting for this movie. Part of me thinks it's the natural byproduct of a society that desperately needs to find something of value in the Brangelina phenomenon - sending Jennifer Aniston off the deep end notwithstanding. Every time a larger than life celebrity - by definition, someone who is more well known as a famous creature than an actor or whatever profession they claim to be involved in - is actually productive, we need to effusively praise the effort, regardless of whether it's deserved. So when Whoopi Goldberg decided to take time off from shaving her eyebrows and appear as a spastic medium in "Ghost," she gets an Oscar for it, even though performances like that are a dime a dozen. When Cher had enough of Sonny and decided to become "a serious actress," the Oscars nominations (and one win) began flooding in. In short, there are more advantages to being Angelina Jolie besides the aesthetically pleasing life partner and self-financed UN refugee children farm.

If they had cast HER as Angelina's asylum roommate instead of the troll screeching, "This is MY room!" you pretty much make up for the rest of this movie's shortcomings.

I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you that there are roughly 10 minutes at the beginning of the movie where Angelina actually has her real kid (there is a very creepy scene later on where she emphatically confirms that the boy the LAPD brought home for her is a fake - and it involves prepubescent penis) and life is perfectly adequate. She brings her son to school every day on the streetcar and spends her workday zooming around the telecommunications center on roller skates. One would believe she'd be a bit more upbeat during that short sequence of the film, but if you didn't know any better, you'd think she already knew her son was about to disappear, possibly at the hands of the sexually ambiguous Brendan Fraser. It's a decidedly one-note performance that's probably going to block a deserving actress' nomination come January 22.

"Hello, young boys of 1928 California."

The supporting cast that Clint Eastwood installed around the popsicle stick is much better than anyone deserves. John Malkovich (who I thought was incredibly hot in 1985's Death of a Salesman, but it appears that he doesn't look remotely like that in ANYTHING ELSE) in a refreshing change of pace is cast as a benevolent creature, though he appears to be channeling too much John Waters in the process. In the small role of an insufferable medical practitioner at the psychiatric hospital, avid SVU fans will recognize a guest star from Season 1 - the mentally retarded dude who accidentally rapes a geriatric because he confused her unconscious body with a conscious romantic overture. Shiver.

In a story where roughly 50% of the two and a half hours (someone else can do the math) consists of Angelina encountering frustrating obstacle after frustrating obstacle, there better be a pretty damn good reason to sit through it. Personally, I HATE watching extended sequences where someone is clearly in the right (in this case, Angelina thinking the creepy LAPD boy is not her own kid) and everyone condescendingly tells them they're wrong ("I'm SURE this is your own son. You're just under a lot of stress.") The bottom line is that there isn't a whale of a lot of payoff in the end. Without ruining this for potential ticket buyers, there's a clear moment with about 20 minutes left where Clint could have EASILY ended the movie. There's a closing shot of Angelina's face (not exactly smiling, but you can't have anything), the lighting goes dim...and then the movie continues. So at that point I'm thinking, "Okay, there must be a REASON why he kept going. Surely something momentous to cap this mediocrity off is in the works." No, it wasn't. I guess he just wanted to get in a few more shots of all the costumes and scenery, quite possibly the best part of the movie.

"We put Angelina to shame!"[Editor's note: There were no flappers in this film.]

For the record, I am all for introspective pieces that focus on the inner wranglings of main characters with minimal action. Those movies can be very good - I would point to 2001's In the Bedroom as a high water mark. However, it doesn't work here because Clint tried to balance a character-driven piece about a woman searching for her genetic progeny with a true-life crime murder mystery. The result is that the movie starts and stops, sputtering at its inability to define itself. There will be 15 minutes of Angelina in a zombie trance, trying to figure out how so many elements in her life went awry with minimal effort - with the added bonus of multiple women screeching to be let out of their cages. But then the movie rapidly switches gears, as we watch detectives frantically trying to uncover the mystery behind a plethora of missing children, while other employees of the LAPD try to cover it up. This might have worked if there was any discernible difference in Angelina's character, but for whatever reason, she doesn't. There's a lot of potential in this tale, but aside from a few solid scenes (anything with the creepy non-son, John Malkovich and the nuthouse), the film doesn't work, and it's all Angelina's fault. Stick with the tomb raiding.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For - Turns Out A Movie Dedicated to Keira's Jawline Isn't Very Good.

The Duchess
2 1/2 stars.

I tend to give Keira enormous leeway that I would never even consider bestowing upon another human being. For instance, if anyone else had a jaw that took up 75% of their face, I would say they were ugly. If another creature resembling a skeleton more than, say, an actual person who eats, starred in movies, I would helpfully suggest they look into participating in horror movies rather than period pieces. And if any other actor starred in a movie as bad as Silk, I would stop following their career. But Keira redeems herself time and time again by legitimately being a hardcore badass who is one of the top two or three best actresses of her generation, and it's the only reason why I even considered seeing a movie that looked as boring as The Duchess.

There are two reasons why this movie isn't particularly noteworthy. First of all, this has been done before, to the point where it's getting rather grating and tedious. I'm not sure why the movie-going public is honestly supposed to be bowled over by the idea that people in the 1700s not only diddled their wives, but occasionally sought bed partners who would best be described in present terminology as homewreckers. In this instance, it's more of a castlewrecker, but I digress. This is a two-hour movie that consists of little more than a naive but optimistic Keira getting hitched with a dour Ralph Fiennes, who spends his screen time looking extremely constipated and pissed (pun?), and then Keira sulking for a giant portion of the movie while Ralph screws other corsetted beings. Nothing new - people don't like getting cheated on (though Keira DOES have some legit beefs, as both her husband and his lover literally scream orgasmically through the castle while she's there. Besides not possessing deoderant/modern hygiene implements, tact also appears to be rather lacking.)

Think of the action Ralph could have gotten with THIS.

The ending - mild spoiler alert, as this isn't exactly a movie you go to looking for mouthdropping plot twists - is also supposedly to be edgy and really isn't. After lots of WASPy drama and emoting, the Duke and the Duchess continue to hang out together in the castle with the skanky ho who nearly sent Keira to the nearest moat. I'm by no means an expert on this time period, but again, it doesn't surprise me, and I doubt it would shock anyone else, that there would be living arrangements like this in the aristocratic British social circles of the late 1700s. I doubt it was a regular occurrence, but still. In fact, I would think a duchess would have to deal with a trampy third wheel living companion more often than, say, a barmaid. Although the barmaid would probably end up being that third wheel.

"Can I come live with you and Ralph?"

Now, the real dilemma for me came about halfway in, when I realized that 20% of the movie was just jawline closeups. Every time something inhumanly crappy happens to Keira, and that quickly becomes a regular occurrence, the camera just STAYS on the lower half of her face for about 40 seconds while Keira pensively stares out over her gynormous backyard. It's the English countryside equivalent of Jennifer Connolly in every one of her movies, except with a grayish body of water (see Requiem for a Dream, Dark Water, House of Sand and Fog, The Hulk). I stand by every positive accolade I have bestowed upon that jaw, but it turns out its potency is in moderation.

Also, some of the costumes went a LITTLE too far. I get that one of the only interesting activities you can do on a British period piece set is dress your star up in lots of dresses, corsets (there's a very disturbing quasi-sex scene with Keira and Ralph where he undresses her and we see the indentation of the corset on her back. The idea that an emaciatrix has to deal with tight apparel is kind of a downer.) and feathered hats, but when Keira's tromping around at regal balls dressed like the love child of a Musketeer and Dee Snider, I think a line has been crossed. A very serious one.

Twisted Sister?

There's a very strange lesbo scene in this that has absolutely no relevance to the movie, but I feel it's worth noting since it's one of the only memorable moments I took away from the film. I'm still trying to figure out why it wasn't eliminated in post-production; the only theory I can grope at is that one of the film editors thought there was a slim chance they could attract that elusive 18-25 male demographic if rumors were circulated throughout the lands that Keira engages in some woman-on-woman love. Keira's BFF (who quickly becomes noted more for her loud moans than any semblance of friendly loyalty), realizes Keira's attraction to a young politician and subtly suggests that she seize the initiative. When Keira quickly (too quickly) squashes the idea, the evil BFF coyly tells her that a non-Ralph Fiennes experience would be infinitely more pleasurable than the awkward, solely for procreation shizzle we endured previously. Keira, believing that all sex is like Ralph Fiennes sex (this movie must have done WONDERS for his self-esteem), looks dubious, until the BFF starts unbuttoning her dress. Keira starts breathing heavily...and that's as far as it goes. It's very strange, and they never address the possibility that Keira might swing from the other side of the plate. In my mind, it would have made for a more interesting movie. Victorian, passive aggressive affairs are a dime a dozen, but a lesbian duchess? If that movie has been made, I have heard nothing of its existence. Also, the politician dude she ends up sleeping with looks more like a badger than a studly sex toy, which in my mind is a mistake.

"Keira, I am WAY better in the sack than Ralph!"

Despite a sense of overall pointlessness, The Duchess isn't a total crapfest. Keira is excellent in a fairly two-dimensional role, though she fails to capture the greatness of Pride and Prejudice or the near-greatness of Atonement. I'm not sure though that I buy the view that she brings hip modernity to these otherwise-antiquated characters she has been playing in recent years, which is a contention that I've read in multiple reviews for an assortment of Keira films. That theory works for a movie like P&P, which I believe was a solid success in 2005 purely because the character of Elizabeth Bennett is completely relatable to any era, as well as because it was a career-defining moment for the Jawed One. However, there's only so much you can do with a spurned duchess, and the fact that director Saul Dibb falls back on the jawline at the end of the day screams of desperation rather than completely understandable mandible love.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Weenie Tribute to the 50-Year Plus Six Pack.

I remember several young lads from my high school days, most of them on the wrestling team, who sported fairly impressive six-packs. I also recall very clearly how those ripped abdominal muscles quickly metamorphosed into beer bellies by their second year of college (if they chose to pursue higher education). So perhaps that's why I've always been impressed that Paul Newman had as toned a stomach as you can get from the mid-1950s, possibly earlier, and still pretty much had one in 1994's The Hudsucker Proxy. One suspects he had a genetic predisposition to it, as well as healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle, but perhaps the media personality who gets the honor of interviewing Joanne Woodward in the coming days should ask her how many sit-ups Paul did during the half century she was acquainted with him, because I would wager it was a staggering number.

Promoting six-packs and straw hats since 1982.

What I've always found very interesting about Paul's career is that his big break pretty much came at the expense of Marlon Brando, who was offered the role of Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me" after James Dean's corpse wasn't really up to the task, and he declined it because he didn't want to go through the arduous process of getting into boxing shape. Some actors can clearly let themselves go and still maintain very successful careers (see manboobs, Jack Nicholson), but Marlon's decline seemed to be directly aligned with his pudge and unwillingness to tackle it full-on. While I enjoy Paul Newman immensely, it's very difficult not to compare the last 30 years of his career with that of Marlon, who for all intents and purposes bought AT&T and phoned in his performances to maintain his Tahitian paradise. Paul Newman rocks hardcore, and Weenie Enema has several recommendations for the loyal reader base to take home and peruse at their leisure.

He has looked like that for decades.

When I heard that Paul Newman was dying several months ago, I made it my mission to see every Newman film before he died. I DID make some considerable progress, but fell far short of my goal. I made it to 1969's Winning (possibly the worst Newman movie I've ever seen, and he has a lot of crappola on his resume), and Netflix didn't have most of his cinematic efforts from the 1950s, so there are gaping holes of Newman knowledge in my noggin. That said, I have hand-selected two movies from each decade that are either hardcore badass, or are simply overlooked in the face of Butch Cassidy and Luke.

1. The Long, Hot Summer.

In my mind, the best Newman/Woodward movie by a long shot, and in many ways better than the more highly acclaimed Southern family drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Although a morbidly obese Orson Wells looks purple and is supposed to be plausibly diddling Angela Lansbury (and not Winston Churchill-lookalike Angela of present day), Paul spends most of the time wandering around the sweltering fields shirtless or close to it, and Joanne is deliciously frigid. This observation will come up later as well, but Paul Newman has to be the only person in Hollywood history who plays gigolos and general skeeze, and comes off looking classy. That cannot be an easy task.

England called. They want their war-time Prime Minister back.

2. The Left-Handed Gun.

Full disclosure - I hate this movie. I thought it sucked beyond all reasonable expectations, but it has been included because in many respects, I found it to be one of the most engaging and interesting Newman performances. His hotness factor is through the roof. I feel the movie-going public has been really shortchanged by his closely cropped hair in most of his films, because when he lets it go for a few months, it's deliciously hunky and curly and makes him look more sleazy. But in a non-STD kind of way. In terms of characterization, Paul's playing an incredibly immature, impulsive man-child, who can immediately transform into a hardened killer with colder eyes than Keifer Sutherland in The Lost Boys. If you can zone out the rest of the inept movie, dot dot dot.

Spurned of a nomination? You decide.

1. Hud.

This isn't exactly an unknown product, but Hud to me is the best Paul Newman movie ever, surpassing Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler, The Sting and every other heralded classic that comes to mind. I know that many people, especially in my own demographic, have never even heard of this movie, and I suspect that's partly because a) it was shut out of most Oscar categories and Paul was outshone by Sidney Poitier's history-making win, and b) Paul's eponymous character does not inspire the legions of hero-worshipers that an outsider like Cool Hand Luke does with his repeated jail escapes, or Fast Eddie Felson does with his cue stick - he's so hideously unlikeable that the genius of the character isn't received as such on the scale of some of his other portrayals.

2. Sweet Bird of Youth.

Apparently the original play involved venereal diseases and castration, and the film version suffers for their glaring absences. Instead we're treated to an abortion on the down low and a black eye. Not as fun as the clap, but it WAS 1962. Like the other Tennessee Williams/Paul Newman collaboration, there's an unevenness that puts it at odds with the Broadway original. It seems too easy to simply say that Newman was miscast, though a fresh-faced debonair creature doesn't seem like the optimal person to be playing a washed up male ho. Watch out for a young, non-pedophile looking Rip Torn!

Perhaps someone ELSE should have played the gigolo.

Largely considered the weakest period of Paul Newman's career, the decade highlight is unquestionably 1973 Best Picture winner The Sting, though Slapshot has gained a loyal following over the years, as has the more suspect Towering Inferno. Since I only made it to 1969 during my mission and have only seen one movie from the 1970s, I feel it would be disingenuous of me to wax eloquent on the subject. Though I have heard that Pocket Money is really underappreciated. Take that for what you will.

I seriously wonder if this movie was pulled from television broadcasts in the weeks following 9/11. Since it apparently sucks, it might not have even had to come up.

1. Absence of Malice.

Also known as The Last Movie Where Paul Newman Was Insanely Hunky, Absence of Malice isn't exactly a tour de force of film-making, but it was enough of a parallel to Newman's publicized battles with the press, namely my BFF The NY Post, that he signed on and ended up with what is probably his least-known Oscar nomination. While the entire movie is extremely irritating, namely because Sally Fields is playing the kind of journalist that in real life would end up fired after about two days of employment, and is instead lauded for her tenacity and ability to seduce a 56-year-old Newman, who looks more like MAYBE 40, in his second-weakest decade, it's sadly a highlight of sorts.

Keep fighting the good fight.

I'm not selecting a second movie, because, like the previous decade, my choices are limited, and his most heralded roles are in two movies that don't deserve any sort of recognition - The Verdict and The Color of Money. Newman's Oscar win for The Color of Money is exactly why so many people hate on the Oscars for their politically motivated decisions, and The Verdict is a lame two-star movie that's constantly being labeled a classic for no good reason. I've heard Blaze is interesting, but again - I haven't even gotten into the nitty gritty of the 70s.

I am ashamed that such a noble creature was forced to share screen time with that L. Ron freak of nature.

1. Nobody's Fool.

To me, this otherwise nothing special, mediocre movie is worth watching because it serves as an affirmation for how great Paul Newman can be. It's rather sad that he has such a mediocre cast to work with, the exception being Jessica Tandy in her last film role, but I daresay only a noble creature not of this earth could make Melanie Griffith watchable. I've heard rather nasty shizzle uttered about how the Academy was simply nominating Paul for previous contributions, much like his 1986 win, but I don't buy it. I have a co-worker who remains utterly convinced that Jack Nicholson hasn't deserved any of his Oscar nominations since the early 1980s, and I feel a legit case can be made for that argument, but this is a subtly brilliant performance, and even Mr. Die Hard himself should feel honored for being allowed to participate in the production.

Wouldn't it have been amazing if Paul Newman was in a Die Hard movie? Heart.

2. The Hudsucker Proxy.

Um, you should just watch it to see a 70-year-old six pack that isn't Jack LaLanne's. One of the earliest Coen Brothers' pictures, and very ambitious in scope, it falls short of expectations, but is just gorgeous to look at, with the exception of perennial gawkyness Tim Robbins, leagues away from his badass Shawshank performance. In another highlight, Jennifer Jason Leigh isn't being raped or abused in some way, which is about as rare as Charlize getting through a film in one piece.

We are ALL on to you.

The 2000s are also a sparse cinematic wilderness, and the only project worth viewing is probably Road to Perdition. Empire Falls, a star-studded miniseries that won a whole bunch of Emmys, is kind of lame, but I'm a bit biased, since my primary gripe was how nasty Ed Harris' hair looked. It was mangy.