Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gary Busey, Batshit Crazy

To anyone who missed Gary Busey's amazing red-carpet assault of Ryan Seacrest, Laura Linney and Jennifer Garner before the Oscars, check it out now. Jennifer Garner's face when Busey mauls her ("Where's Ben?!?") is priceless and better than anything she ever did in Juno.

Best exchange:

Ryan Seacrest: "I'm a little nervous."
Jennifer Garner: "I don't blame you."

My favorite moment of the night. I'm giddy right now.

I'd like to thank the Academy

I'll be liveblogging the Oscars later today over at Blast (provided technology cooperates). Check it out during the show for updates and witty commentary.

Until then, here are my predictions and wishful musings in the major categories:

Best Editing:
Should Win: The Bourne Ultimatum
Will Win: No Country for Old Men

Best Cinematography:
Should Win: There Will Be Blood or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Will Win: Atonement

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Should Win: Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Will Win: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

Best Original Screenplay:
Should Win: Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Will Win: Diablo Cody, Juno

Best Song:
Should Win: "Society," Eddie Vedder (Into the Wild) (not nominated)
Will Win: "That's How You Know," Enchanted

Best Score:
Should Win: Gone Baby Gone (not nominated)
Will Win: Atonement

Best Documentary:
Should Win: No End in Sight
Will Win: No End in Sight

Best Supporting Actor:
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Will Win: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Best Supporting Actress:
Should Win: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Will Win: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

Best Actor:
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Best Actress:
Should Win: Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose or Laura Linney, The Savages
Will Win: Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose

Best Director:
Should Win: Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Will Win: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

Best Picture:
Should Win: No Country for Old Men
Will Win: No Country for Old Men

"Bitches get stuff done"

Update: With links!

I was thoroughly psyched for Tina Fey's return to Saturday Night Live as a host tonight to mark the show's first episode since the end of the writers' strike, and she predictably lived up to my expectations. The show was a perfect way to tide Fey fans over until "30 Rock" returns in April. I thought the skits were a bit shaky at times but, you know, the cast and crew are a bit out of practice. The highlights, I thought, were Tina's speech about Hillary Clinton's qualifications ("Bitch is the new black!") during Weekend Update and the hilarious/creepy "I Drink Your Milkshake" parody sketch. The latter, I might add, nicely teased Ellen Page's hosting duties next week, which I'm equally excited for. (Re: Page: If her outfit at the Independent Spirit Awards yesterday didn't settle the "Is she or isn't she?" rumors, I'm not sure what will.)

Also, was it just me or did Amy Poehler look like she could barely conceal her disdain for Mike Huckabee during his cameo on Weekend Update? I have to say, I really admire Huckabee for having the good humor to explore a little humor at his own expense. His awkward exit-cue obliviousness was hilarious. Maybe once he finally drops out of the presidential race, he could find a future in comedy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My kind of Nationalism

I was literally moved to tears more than once by The National's performance at BAM last night. I've never been so emotionally affected by a concert before (and no, I wasn't on anything except a beer). My eyes welled during the opening chords of "Start a War" and I bookended the show with a similar reaction during the closing notes of "Gospel." The band's flawless performance, augmented by a nine-member pseudo-orchestra was 90 minutes of bliss. Opener My Brightest Diamond opera/indie/punk mishmash was easy on the ears too. And Sufjan Stevens' guest appearance playing piano for "Ada" was also a special treat.

The album "Boxer" pretty much acted as the soundtrack for my move to New York, which was a perfect fit, since the band's songs are so sentimentally evocative, both musically and lyrically. And having first row, dead center seats less than 10 feet from the stage, enhanced the experience immensely. (Singer Matt Berninger bumped into my foot as ventured off the stage during the first encore ::goosebumps::).

I also signed up for a "Friends of BAM" membership, so I'm really looking forward to checking out all the great stuff they have to offer in the next year.

The National, along with Modest Mouse, are opening for R.E.M. on their spring/summer tour. I'd encourage any music fans to get tickets yesterday.

Set list: (courtesy of The Music Slut)
"Start a War"
"Brainy "
"Baby We'll Be Fine"
"Slow Show"
"Secret Meeting"
"Mistaken for Strangers"
"Squalor Victoria"
"Wasp Nest"
"Racing Like a Pro"
"Apartment Story"
New song (title not given)
"Fake Empire"

Encore 1:
"City Middle"
"Mr. November"
"About Today"

Encore 2:

Saturday, February 16, 2008


My edited top movies list:

1. Gone Baby Gone (doubtful this would change)
2. The Savages
3. Charlie Wilson's War
4. Zodiac
5. No Country for Old Men
6. Juno
7. In the Valley of Elah
8. Michael Clayton

I'm in a movie-watching blitz 'til the Oscars. More updates will hopefully be forthcoming.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Please Don't Stop the Music

Amy Winehouse sure knows how to put the funk in dysfunctional. Judging by her performance at last night's Grammy Awards via satellite from London, rehab has done Winehouse a world of good. She may not have been able to get a visa from the U.S. government in time to appear at the show, but the crowd's reaction proved that at least some Americans are on her side (Although apparently not all).

Winehouse's performance (sans crack!) was undoubtedly the most anticipated of the show, and she surpassed my - and I'm assuming many other people's - expectations. Her defiant smirk as she belted out smash single "Rehab" made it clear that she understands the irony of her smash single and is perfectly comfortable laughing at herself. At the same time, she seemed truly grateful to the fans who have continued to support her throughout her struggles and to the show's producers for allowing her to perform - albeit from across the ocean.

The best was Winehouse's completely gob-smacked reaction when she won Record of the Year for "Rehab." Her stunned silence made it seem like, after winning five awards, she might have realized her true potential for the first time. She's drawn innumerable comparisons to Britney Spears for her tabloid-y exploits, but in my view there's no similarity between the two. For one thing, Winehouse has genuine talent and an incredible voice. Compare her performance last night with Spears' at the VMAs earlier this year. Britney's was a disaster. Winehouse's offered a glimmer of hope that she can overcome her personal problems and continue to make contributions to the music world for years to come. That's what I call a comeback.

A few more thoughts on the Grammys:

-I totally have a girl-crush on Rihanna and I'm not afraid to admit it:). Her performance with The Time was the best of the night. And while I loved Winehouse's shout-out to "Blake Incarcerated" in her priceless acceptance speech, "Umbrella" should have taken home the prize for Record of the Year.

-Kanye West's tribute to his "Mama" was genuinely moving. Too bad his inflated ego prevents anyone from feeling too sympathetic toward him.

-I wish Feist would have won at least one of the four categories in which she was nominated. Sigh. But maybe her lack of mainstream awards will keep her indie cred intact. Oh, wait.

-And last (and least), Herbie Hancock?!? No wonder the Grammys have a reputation for being out of touch with the current music scene. Given that the theme of the show was a 50th Anniversary celebration of stars from the past, I guess it's only fitting to give the award to a legendary old-timer. But what a letdown for mainstream music fans. Hopefully the upset won't send Amy back into the bottle.

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's lonely on the fringes

It's not an easy thing to admit.

All right. Deep breath.

I didn't like "Spring Awakening." There. I said it.

(Gasp). You mean the critically acclaimed Tony Award-winning musical that tourists are flocking to like adolescent girls to a Hannah Montana concert? Yes, that one. It was just ... meh.

It's a familiar position for me, being on the outskirts of what are typically held as self-evident truths in the pop culture world. I have no interest in Harry Potter. I don't see how people find Scarlett Johansson attractive (from the shoulders up, anyway). And don't even get me started on "Sex and the City."

But back to the show. Let me be clear. I didn't dislike it. I went in expecting to love it; I've been waiting for months to see it. I think it's a great story, both dramatically and metaphorically, and thought Lea Michele and many of the supporting cast members were outstanding. The final "graveyard scene" was incredibly moving and even brought a tear to my eye.

Still ...

I was too distracted by the sprays of spit flying from Jonathan Groff's mouth every time he said a line to appreciate his abilities as a lead actor. Blake Bashoff overacted too much for my taste as Moritz. I thought Duncan Sheik's score was nothing special. (Let's just say there's probably a reason he was only a one-hit wonder). And the choreography (when there was any) was a bit too spastic and seizure-like.

So maybe I'm missing something. Maybe if I had seen "Spring Awakening" before all the hype I would have had a different reaction. And maybe if I see it again it will strike more of a chord. But for right now, I'd tell people to save their money and go see "Avenue Q" or "Hairspray." Contrary to what its name implies, "Spring Awakening" left me feeling a bit drowsy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My latest review

The March issue of Blast is up, and in it is my review of Kate Nash's "Made of Bricks." Check it out.