« May 2011 | Main | July 2011 »

June 2011 Archives

June 30, 2011

Pixar remembers girls like movies, too

Merida in Pixar's Brave

A new short trailer is out for Pixar's 2012 feature, Brave, which I'm pretty sure will be the first Pixar movie with a female lead character, the fiesty, curly-headed Merida. And it's definitely the first Pixar movie written and co-directed by a woman (Brenda Chapman).

Here's the trailer:

We don't know a whole lot about the story yet, except that it's sort of vaguely pagan and mystical and Scottish, but the Pixar Wiki says it involves Princess Merida, an aspiring archer who has no truck with ancient Scottish tradition, which she defies at every opportunity. This leads to problems: her attempt at being a contrary little feminist unleashes "chaos and fury" into the kingdom, then when she's granted a wish from a witch to try to fix all that chaos and fury, she blows that too. Somehow, I'm going to guess, it all works out.

But it sounds cool! Not only a female protagonist (about time) from the most consistently great mainstream animated producers out there, but a protagonist that screws up a lot! And then has to shoot a lot of fierce beasts with her bow and arrow and generally save the kingdom! Disney is certainly no stranger to female protagonists in its long history, but rarely have its heroines been what you could call tough or gutsy or even especially flawed (though I didn't see Tangled, which sounds kinda weird.)

Kelly Macdonald is the voice of Merida, which sounds more like a Mexican city than a Scottish princess, but, OK. I totally love her accent in Trainspotting and Gosford Park, so listening to her sass some druids for 90 minutes sounds great to me.

Just cuz, let's look at Kelly Macdonald's funny, sarcastic speech to a flustered Mark Renton outside the club in Trainspotting, when she describes to him his unsophisticated approach to meeting women:

You don't normally approach girls - am I right? The truth is that you're a quiet sensitive type but, if I'm prepared to take a chance, I might just get to know the inner you: witty, adventurous, passionate, loving, loyal. (Taxi!) A little bit crazy, a little bit bad. But hey - don't us girls just love that?

(I can only find the video of that scene dubbed into Spanish, though it actually works pretty well.)

The movie also stars Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson as the King and Queen, and it comes out next June.

June 27, 2011

John Wayne's America

Kicking off a bountiful campaign season of unintentional political comedy, Michele Bachmann announced her presidential candidacy today in Waterloo, Iowa, her hometown, and proudly drew a comparison between herself and another famous Waterlooian, John Wayne:

"John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That's the kind of spirit that I have, too." [video]

Except the John Wayne from Waterloo is John Wayne Gacy, a child molester and murderer who was convicted of killing 33 young men and teenage boys. Gacy lived in Waterloo with his wife in the late 1960's, which was where he was first arrested for abusing boys.

I thought I'd share my favorite photo of the John Wayne that Bachmann meant to reference, in espadrilles, which I remember seeing in Spy Magazine in its mid-90's heyday:

John Wayne in breezy ensemble

I believe the Spy caption read: "John Wayne in a breezy summer ensemble." Nice legs, Duke!

June 26, 2011



In today's edition of Who'dat?™, we invite you to consider the photo of a famous person above. She loves her cell phone and is quoted in the article accompanying this photo saying, "I definitely wanted [my artform] to be a spatial experience, where you can play with lightning or a crystal or the full moon."

Once you think you know who this is, click on the picture to see if you're right.

Here's the entire article, about phone apps, small apartments, and transistor radios, among other things.

June 22, 2011

Footloose remake

Footloose remake

The trailer for the remake of Footloose is out. If you're like me and you watched the original over and over again back in the 80's, you'll notice that there are many near-identical shots and sequences:

But because this is the 21st century, there's also 100% more backing it up.

Though the world has known this for over a year, I somehow totally missed that the guy directing this remake is Craig Brewer, who also made Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, two movies about poor people living in Memphis, driven by their situations to extreme, desperate behavior, such as working as a prostitute, laying down a crunk track with DJ Qualls, or chaining Christina Ricci to your radiator. They're flawed movies, but they have incredibly compelling characters, excellent soundtracks, and dark story lines that stay with you even though they're wildly unrealistic.

So, Footloose? It turns out that Craig Brewer is an intensely devoted fan of the original, and used to listen to an audio recording he made of the entire movie on his way to and from school. "I know every moment of Footloose," he said in an interview from back when he started working on the remake.

He also wrote the screenplay, scrapping an early, probably far sunnier version, and putting his own spin on the story. He calls it an example of "working-class cinema", so I'm guessing it's grittier and a lot weirder than it started out.

One other good sign: remember Willard, the rhythmically-challenged kid who befriends Kevin Bacon and adorably succeeds in learning some smooth moves in the "Let's Hear It For the Boy" sequence, which was one of Chris Penn's better roles? Willard is going to be played by Miles Teller, who was totally great as the teenage boy in last year's very heavy Rabbit Hole. Looks like the original sequence is faithfully recreated (see above) except that the guys' outfits are, sadly, nowhere NEAR as tight as they were in the original.

Basically, if you're interested in watching Footloose, but with more bare midriffs and less Kenny Loggins, this is your movie.

June 16, 2011

Laundry horror

Woolite ad by Rob Zombie

The Times has a funny story about a recent ad campaigns that use elements of horror and action movies to sell laundry detergent--a nice departure from the usual earnest white-bread Mom vexed by dingy whites.

The best one is a new TV ad for Woolite, featuring a Leatherface-like maniac hauling a load of laundry through a barren, muddy field to the yard outside a ramshackle old house. Surrounded by classic horror movie props (abandoned dressmaking mannequin, scarecrow) he proceeds to "torture" some preppy women's garments, including an argyle sweater and a pink t-shirt (featured in my favorite shot, above.) He stretches, fades, and shrinks the clothes with rusted hooks and a scary looking medieval rack.

Here's the video:

The reason it's so simultaneously classic and campy is that it's directed by prolific musician, horror director, and vegetarian Rob Zombie. The best quote in the article is from Zombie about his relatively tame ad: "It's not like it's scary." The central character is "like Uncle Fester, not like some child killer out in the woods."

The other, less good ad campaign, for Era, is basically a rip-off of the sometimes funny Chuck Norris Facts that were making the rounds a few years ago. The print ads and Facebook posts just adapt the online Facts and claim Era is Chuck Norris Approved. (Yawn.) Hope he got a fat paycheck out of it.

June 15, 2011

Get creative, Democrats

Joe Biden lasciviously eats an ice cream cone

Democratic leaders are getting increasingly impatient with bad boy texter and proud chest-shaver Anthony Weiner and his apparent refusal to resign. It's been over a week since his press conference confessional. He's in some kind of de rigueur rehab right now, but so far, he's not stepping down.

What are the Dems to do? So far, they're just repeating, over and over, that they think he should resign. Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan said, "I think we should send a strong message to him that he should resign, and let's see what happens. The more of us who say it, the more telling it will be."

So far, that message doesn't seem to be strong enough. Personally, I think Weiner's continued service in the House is a matter between him and the people who hired him, the constituents of New York's 9th congressional district. But if Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues really want to get him out (due to sheer political terror, I guess) they need to try a different tactic.

Here's what I can come up with: go for some retributive justice. Let the punishment fit the crime.

He wants to send sexy texts and photos? OK. Congress should start inundating Weiner's phone and Facebook with suggestive text messages and lascivious photos from our playboy partier of a VP, Joe Biden. A few hours of nonstop invitations to an evening of salacious hot tubbing and Jager shots with Joe Biden, combined with crotch bulge photos and a few strategically-angled shots of Biden washing his Trans Am in cutoffs, and Weiner will be a cowering, pleading mess of tears and regret.

It's time to bring out the big guns.

UPDATE (6/16): Looks like Biden got the job done. Weiner will resign later today. He blew it, and his party really threw him under the bus.

June 13, 2011

Neil Patrick Harris can do anything

Neil Patrick Harris hosting the 2011 Tonys

I only caught the last 45 minutes or so of the Tonys last night, but did you see this rap that host Neil Patrick Harris did during the closing credits that recapped the entire show? It's good.

Doing the recap was NPH's idea, but it was written by two of the creators of "In the Heights", who wrote it really fast in the basement of the theater while the show was happening, throwing in references to the big winners and the funny, spontaneous stuff that had been happening throughout night. Then NPH learned it, while also keeping the show moving, then performed it like he'd been doing this kind of thing his whole life.

Can we get NPH to host every awards show from now on? He made the Tonys more fun than any Oscars I can remember.

June 9, 2011

The Trip is funny

The Trip

A new movie from prolific filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is coming out tomorrow: The Trip, which was originally produced for BBC TV last year. It's a largely improvised, loosely structured comedy about Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing unflattering alternate versions of themselves, on a fluff-piece assignment for a newspaper to drive around northern England and eat at fancy restaurants.

All 6 episodes of the BBC version used to be on YouTube (some seem to have been taken down) and it's hilarious, though the following description isn't going to make it sound like it is: The two guys ride around, eat dinner, bust each others' chops in a way that usually sounds like friendly competition between actors, but sometimes crosses into open hostility and jealousy, and do lots and lots of impressions that are, surprisingly, funny. It's better than it sounds.

Here's a clip of some impressions, all taken from a single episode:

If you've seen Tristram Shandy, also by Michael Winterbottom and starring the same two guys, you've seen how good they are at funny endless improvised bullshitting: both are unattractively desperate to build themselves up and brag about their careers, and would occasionally seem like they genuinely loathe each other if they didn't work together so often and play off each other so wonderfully.

I'm doing a terrible job at making this movie seem like it's worth watching, but I'm psyched for it. For what it's worth, Time Out gave it 5 stars. Cutting 6 episodes of the TV show down to 107 minutes is going to make it tighter and better, while hopefully still leaving in things like the great circuitous riffs on medieval period piece speeches:

and singing Kate Bush in the car:

June 7, 2011

Should have seen it coming, Weiner

Anthony Weiner comes clean

Today's coverage of Anthony Weiner's confession about his enthusiasm for online dirty chatting has quickly moved from reactions to yesterday's announcement to broader discussions of the issues the matter most to each media outlet. The Post has offered the most consistently explicit use of original source material, while the Times has provided analysis of the political fallout and the weird ongoing involvement of blogger and "perpetually sweating conservative trickster" Andrew Breitbart, who isn't really part of the story anymore.

But the most interesting related story I've seen is an unbelievably prophetic interview that the NY Times conducted with Weiner less than three weeks ago, which specifically addresses his fast and loose approach to Twitter. Even before we knew he was contacting his female followers with jockey bulge photos, he had a reputation for being candid and sometimes flippant in his tweets. So the Times asked him about the risks he was taking.

Here are some actual quotes from Anthony Weiner about his Twitter use:

"I know the risk. I've seen enough stories about the risk, and I've kind of kicked the line of the risk a couple of times."

"There's a certain amount of risk that you take. And I kind of forget them as I write them," meaning the Twitter posts, "but if I saw all of them lined up, I'm sure I could probably point to one or two and say, 'Oh that got a little bit close there.' But they're mostly pretty playful."

The interviewer asked him if he had any safeguards in place, like having a staff member read over his Twitter posts before he sent them out. "The answer is no. Maybe I should." He laughed and then added: "Point taken."

He then made a comment about the waitresses at Coffee Shop, where the interview was conducted, and how attractive they are. Watching one waitress walk by, he turned around "in an exaggerated pantomime" to eye her.

It's almost too on the nose. If the Anthony Weiner scandal was a movie, I'd criticize the interview scene as obvious, clumsy foreshadowing.

The scandal itself doesn't surprise me, I guess, but I am surprised that a politician as openly ambitious as Anthony Weiner would engage in such high-risk behavior that, if he got caught, would ultimately ruin his political aspirations. He did, and it did.

About June 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in June 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2011 is the previous archive.

July 2011 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35