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February 2012 Archives

February 29, 2012

Who'dat?™: Which decade?

Time for another round of Who'dat™? In today's game, look at the celebrity in the photo below and try to guess who it is. Early test rounds suggest this is a tricky one, so as a bonus question, you can also try to guess the general age of this person. Is she in her 30's? 40's? [gasp!] 50's? Be sure to look around the photo for other little clues.

Here's the picture. Try to guess who it is, then click on the picture to see if you are right.


For the bonus Which decade? question, pick your decade and find the answer here.

Oscar follow-ups

Jean Dujardin in Les Infideles and No Strings Attached

In the unpredictable world of movie release dates and awards season, it sometimes happens that an actor gives a great performance, dominating awards shows with triumph after triumph, then follows up their Oscar victory with an appearance in a very different kind of movie. Last year, at the same time Natalie Portman was hefting her pregnant belly up onto a succession of stages to accept endless awards for Black Swan, there she was lasciviously buttoning a dress shirt at Ashton Kutcher on the posters for No Strings Attached. I can still hear her perky, nasal voice chirping "I think monogamy goes against our basic biology!" in the trailer, which perhaps didn't project the image of an accomplished thespian she may have wanted to cultivate while campaigning for her Oscar.

But then she continued the downward trajectory with the wretched Your Highness and Thor, so maybe she's less interested in cultivating thespian status than I thought.

This year, immediately after winning the Oscar and pretty much every single other major award for The Artist, Jean Dujardin appeared in ads for his next movie, which is called Les Infideles in French, cutely translated to "The Players". Dujardin wasn't exactly marketed as a serious dramatic actor here in the US, but there's still a sizable gap between the image of the charming, dapper Valentino-esque silent film star and a dude about to nail some faceless woman who, in keeping with the movie's title, is not his wife. Dujardin created the movie, and co-wrote and co-directed--the guy can do anything.

Check out the next poster in the ad series, representing another emphatic step down from the gravitas of "Academy Award™ Winner" (though I just realized this is actually his co-star, Gilles Lellouche):

Les Infideles

(Would a poster this vulgarly funny fly in America? Probably not.)

Nods also to Philip Seymour Hoffman for following up Capote with Mission Impossible III (though I'll acknowledge he was the best thing about the movie) and Halle Berry as a Bond girl in the worst James Bond movie ever after Monster's Ball.

February 23, 2012

Oscar Predictions

The Artist

I can't say I'm looking forward to this Sunday's Oscars with enthusiasm or anticipation. But like the folks over at the AV Club, I embrace the mediocrity of the Oscars. Sure, there were many really great movies that came out last year, but hardly any of them are going to win any awards. What will probably win are the movies, actors, and other artists that are pleasant enough, easy to like, or that the Academy suddenly realizes it forgot to give an award to after all these years.

Here's what we have to look forward to: Sasha Baron Cohen, who the Academy has sternly instructed not to show up in character as The Dictator, which I'm hoping he will interpret as a thrown gauntlet. The list of presenters includes people like Zach Galifianakis and Tina Fey, but don't we know better than to get excited about actors we like presenting Oscars, when they have to stand there and dutifully read limp jokes that aren't any funnier than the ones they give to Angelina Jolie?

I'm only going to make predictions for the categories that I know anything at all about, to spare myself the annual admission that I barely watch any documentaries and don't know the difference between sound mixing and sound editing.

Here are the nominees, and the ones I think will win:

The Artist [It's become the inevitable winner, but that doesn't mean it's a bad movie]
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Demian Bichir in A Better Life
George Clooney in The Descendants
Jean Dujardin in The Artist [He's expressive as hell and out-charms Clooney. Still, I wish Gary Oldman would win.]
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt in Moneyball

Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis in The Help [She's gonna win, right? This isn't the strongest category, in my opinion. Where's Charlize Theron? Elizabeth Olsen? Kirsten Dunst? Tilda Swinton?]
Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn

Kenneth Branagh in My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill in Moneyball
Nick Nolte in Warrior
Christopher Plummer in Beginners [Wait, we never gave an Oscar to Christopher Plummer?! Whoops!]
Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Bérénice Bejo in The Artist
Jessica Chastain in The Help
Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer in The Help [The one thing that would make me love the Oscars is if Melissa McCarthy won.]

Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist [It's a fluke, but at this point he can't lose.]
Alexander Payne for The Descendants
Martin Scorsese for Hugo
Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life

Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist
Jeff Cronenweth for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Robert Richardson for Hugo
Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life [It's not going to win any other awards, but this guy really deserves it.]
Janusz Kaminski for War Horse

EDITING (living with an editor means I'm required to include this category)
Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
Kevin Tent for The Descendants
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Thelma Schoonmaker for Hugo [Hugo looked really good, so I think Thelma will get it. Remember, "Best" usually means "Most" for the technical categories.]
Christopher Tellefsen for Moneyball

Belgium, "Bullhead"
Canada, "Monsieur Lazhar"
Iran, "A Separation" [Glad it's the favorite, maybe a few more people will see it if it wins.]
Israel, "Footnote"
Poland, "In Darkness"

"Man or Muppet" from The Muppets [Could have easily been an all-Muppet category.)
Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
"Real in Rio" from Rio
Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown; Lyric by Siedah Garrett

The Descendants [Most of the other nominated scripts were actually quite bad.]
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Artist
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris [This is my favorite category--these movies are all great and well-written. Giving it to Oscar-dissing Woody would be a very mature gesture on the part of the Academy, which might mean it's not happening.]
A Separation

Any other predictions you want to throw out? Any guesses on how long it'll take to watch the Oscars on our DVRs, once we fast-forward through all the montages and boring parts? Less time than it takes to watch an episode of "Louie"?

February 21, 2012

Lena Dunham: a voice of a generation

Here's a trailer for Lena Dunham's new series on HBO, "Girls". If it's as good as it looks, it's my new favorite show that I won't get to watch for another 18 months when HBO gets around to releasing the DVD.

A few notable cast members:

Lena Dunham's line delivery somehow achieves a balance of self-confident, self-righteous, needy, wry, and deadpan, which magically adds up to funny and likable. She's amazing.

February 19, 2012

Chronicle movie math

Social rejection, bullying, and stress caused by our ineffective health insurance system lead an enraged teen to use newly-discovered telekinetic powers to wreak havoc on his enemies, and everything else. All captured in somewhat-contrived found footage!








[Cloverfield + Carrie + Sicko = Chronicle]

February 17, 2012

More from the Linky

Jeremy Lin Hey Girl

The Robot Linky over there on the right of the screen is still having technical problems (how 'bout supporting an RSS feed for Plus, huh, Google?) so here are a few things from the past few days:

  • Inevitable: Jeremy Lin Hey Girl Tumblr.
  • A good piece about the ongoing battle between Presbyterian minister Jane Spahr (an old family friend of mine) and her church. Spahr was the first out lesbian minister leading a congregation and has been marrying same-sex couples within the church for years. She's an inspiring crusader for gay rights in a religious context, and has always spoken about marrying same-sex couples within the church as her spiritual calling, which pretty much means the Presbyterian church is arguing that God is wrong.
  • Nicolas Cage has been talking for years about his innovative acting technique he calls "nouveau-shamanic" and the rest of us would probably call "mental", but now he's comparing his inexplicable career choices to Led Zeppelin, which I hope means he's going to play a Norse hermit blues guitarist wizard soon.
  • Ken Jennings' response to yesterday's "aspirin between the knees" attempt at folksy contraception humor by Foster Friess that became an instant self-parody:

    I call b.s., BOTH my kids have been conceived with an aspirin between my knees. (Long story, pharmacy-themed roleplay.)

[tx, Cushie!]

February 15, 2012

Britney is indestructible

Britney in Chaotic

The Robot Linky feed isn't working today, so here are a few little things about politics and Factory Records and Britney Spears:

  • Over at the AV Club, Nathan Rabin continues his "My World of Flops" series with a look at the brief, unwatchable reality TV show that Britney Spears created during her ill-fated romance with Kevin Federline, "Chaotic". This "Flops" series is a continuation of Rabin's "My Year of Flops" in which he takes a fresh look at a movie (or TV show, or album) that was a commercial and critical failure, and considers why it flopped. Sometimes he finds heretofore unacknowledged value in the flops, which is not the case with his review of "Chaotic", possibly the worst TV show ever made.

    Rabin comes away hating Kevin Federline with such intensity and venomous rage it's almost worth reading just for that. But his analysis of the disaster that Britney was unwittingly getting herself into, in the form of a marriage and subsequent breakup that was so awful it made her literally insane and probably almost killed her, is the interesting part. If Britney could survive being married to someone as horrible and parasitic as Kevin Federline, he argues, she can survive anything.

    Here's an excerpt:

    [The show] captures the bizarre, counterintuitive power imbalance at the heart of Spears and Federline's relationship. Spears may be the world-famous, multi-millionaire sex symbol ogled and desired by tens of millions, but Federline is the one with all the power in the relationship. In "Chaotic", Spears looks to Federline for the approval, validation, and affection she gets constantly from the entire world, but he's able to control and manipulate her by strategically withholding them. In her mind, she's the lucky one. She's the one dating an older, wiser, more sophisticated man who's kind enough to let her experience the benefit of his wisdom.
  • In excavating the old bank that will be the site of his new restaurant in Manchester, Jamie Oliver stumbled on some Joy Division master tapes in a safety deposit box. [!?!?] Whoa! What's on them? Are there any new songs? Covers of "Louie, Louie"? Was it Factory Records founder Tony Wilson's safety deposit box? I worry we'll never get the follow-up this story deserves.
  • With the camps pretty much over, the Occupy movement is looking at one-day protests and actions, which I think is great--this has to be about something more than camping in public spaces. But a story today reports a planned event for February 29th: "Shut Down the Corporations Day". Um. I want to get behind this movement, but moronic non-strategies like this make it hard.
  • Kraftwerk is coming to MoMA! Ralf is going to do a series of 8 shows, one for each of their albums. Cool.
  • And if you didn't find Romney's insistence that he is "severely conservative" creepy enough, how about this: he mistreats dogs. Dogs Against Romney is doing two protests this week. If it takes stories about dog abuse for people to think twice about voting for Romney instead of his policy ideas, that's fine by me.

February 13, 2012

When Abraham Lincoln Comes Around

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

A new trailer came out for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter that isn't that remarkable, except in two ways: it's strangely humorless and po-faced, like the movie itself is completely unaware that it's titled "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". And it uses Johnny Cash's menacingly biblical spoken word section of "When The Man Comes Around" as the soundtrack.

Johnny Cash released "The Man Comes Around" in 2002, and it was one of the last songs he ever wrote. I don't know if you've noticed this too, but this song gets used in movies and TV shows A LOT. I understand why it's become the go-to soundtrack choice for horror movies or any apocalypse-themed entertainment form. It's like a more poetic version of the (pretend) Bible verse that Samuel L. Jackson pulls out in Pulp Fiction: in Jules' words, it just sounds like some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker.

So here's Johnny Cash quoting Revelations in the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter trailer. Here he is again in the excellent opening credits sequence in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. And in the season 1 finale of the short-lived "Terminator" TV show, and in a (fan-produced) trailer for season 3 of "The Walking Dead". Any movie or TV show in the sci-fi/horror genre that involves a day of reckoning and/or the undead, this song fits so perfectly that producers probably need to stop using it for the next 10 years or so. Stick it in the penalty box along with the all-time champion of irritating soundtrack ubiquity, Jeff Buckley's cover of "Hallelujah".

I hope the Lincoln movie is goofier and more fun than the trailer makes it look--two hours of a solemn presidential hunk in a stovepipe hat screaming and swinging axes around in slow-motion sounds like undead tedium.

About February 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in February 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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