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March 2012 Archives

March 27, 2012

Today's Carrie: she's really pretty

Chloe Moretz in Dark Shadows

There's some more news today about the remake of Carrie, which I've been curious about since it was announced last spring. Maybe no one will be able to top the perfection of Sissy Spacek in the original (one of those rare perfect casting choices, as That Fuzzy Bastard noted) but the success of the remake will rest with the lead actress and her gym-incinerating prowess.

And hey! It's going to be Chloe Moretz! Wow. She's only 15, but she's definitely got the guts to pull off a dark, violent role (see Kick-Ass, Let Me In). The only problem I can find is that Moretz looks a lot more like one of the popular pretty girls who torment Carrie than a social reject whose rage bursts out of her in a swath of telekinetic scorched earth.

Chloe Moretz looking very pretty

But what are you gonna do, cast an ugly girl? In a major motion picture? Please.

The other news is that Kimberly Peirce is directing, who has exactly one good movie to her credit (Boys Don't Cry). But at least she knows how to make movies about rebellious young women who don't fit in and experience major trauma when they get their period.

For Carrie's scary psycho-religious mom, I still like Amy Ryan, or maybe--think about it for a second--Courtney Love. Terrifying, right?

March 26, 2012

Cronenberg's Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis trailer

A mini-trailer is out for the David Cronenberg adaptation of Don DeLillo's book Cosmopolis. Last year's A Dangerous Method was Cronenberg's first time making a sorta-biopic period piece, and overall it was OK but a little disappointing. Cronenberg just doesn't do Protestant repression and propriety as well as he does fatalistic descent into uncontrollable chaos, savagery, and squishy sexual weirdness.

Thankfully, we've got all that delicious Cronenbergian perversity and mayhem packed into this new 30 second teaser trailer (that's in French, and not exactly SFW.) Cosmopolis is about a 28 year-old coolly-detached rich guy and his journey by limo down the entire length of 47th Street in Manhattan. Things don't go as planned, and it gets pretty surreal and horrific. It might not be DeLillo's greatest book (reviews were "mixed to negative") but it gave Cronenberg plenty of disturbing material to work with: riots, naked people, stabbings, freaky limo sex, and what appears to be Robert Pattinson shooting himself through the hand.

By the way, Cronenberg has been touting Pattinson's acting chops all year, and recently said he was a dream to work with on the (Toronto, obvs) set. "A ray of sunshine." So sweet! I believe him when he says Pattinson's got more to offer than Twilight would suggest.

Here's the trailer:

The rest of the cast includes Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Juliette Binoche, and Jay Baruchel--pretty great! We'll probably end up seeing most of these people get either naked or eaten by a giant rat.

March 23, 2012

Bad Love: Back with a vengeance

Bad Love, Hot For Teacher

A few years back, we started a regular feature called Bad Love to chronicle the endless cases of adults who start inadvisable romantic relationships with teens. The hallmarks of Bad Love include poor judgment, narcissism, lust, a kid who doesn't know any better, and an adult who really should. Common scenarios are teacher/student, volleyball coach/team captain, guidance counselor/troubled youth, and a few memorable instances of "cool mom"/son's friends. Bad Love had its own website for awhile, which was fun while it lasted, but deep down we knew we shouldn't be doing this.

Until today! I came across an article from a few weeks ago (tx ADM!) about business and computer teacher James Hooker, who left his wife and children for his 18 year-old student, Jordan Powers. Powers' mom found out about their relationship when she stumbled across 8,000 texts they'd written to each other over the past few months, though the couple claims they didn't have sex until she turned 18 in September.

Now the lovebirds have moved in together. James Hooker was banned from the school (where one of his kids is a student), and Jordan has decided to stop going to school, probably because all the other kids would tease her out of burning jealousy that she's dating her bald 41 year-old married computer teacher.

But what makes this such a classic tale of Bad Love is the textbook delusion case of James Hooker, husband, father, and erstwhile mentor for young minds. In an interview about his decision to abandon his family for a teenage student, he said, "In making our choice, we've hurt a lot of people. We keep asking ourselves, 'Do we make everyone else happy or do we follow our hearts?' I just kind of knew that she's the one."

She's the one! Yes she is. They're gonna grow old together.

Jordan's mom is understandably enraged, and has been waging an anti-Hooker campaign on Facebook. She says, "She looked up to him. [He was in the] position of an educator, [and you] don't seduce your student. Period. She's still in high school. She still lives at home. She has a curfew. That's not OK."

Don't worry, lady. Just wait a few more months until she realizes that living with her weird daddy-surrogate teacher Mr. Hooker is not cool or fun and she'd rather be at college doing Goldschläger shots like everyone else.

March 15, 2012

Death of a Salesman. (Spoiler alert! He dies.)

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman

I'm going to be honest here. I think Death of a Salesman might be the worst Great American Play. Sure, it's sad and tragic, and we can all agree that the American Dream often fails to bring any happiness or satisfaction to people who chase it. But the story of Willy Loman is told with zero nuance or depth, and the themes are made obvious by the characters reciting them, repeatedly, in actual lines of dialogue. When a play has lines like, "Willy doesn't know who he is", "I get so lonely", and "The only thing you've got in this world is what you can sell," and they're repeated over and over, it seems like more of a reading comprehension exercise in a 9th grade English textbook than a great work of literature. This is what wins Pulitzers?

But for some reason, it's on Broadway, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. They do a pretty good job with limited material. The acting is mostly great, especially (of course) PSH at Willy Loman and Linda Emond, who plays his wife Linda. Willy Loman is a small man, but PSH has made a huge performance out of him. Linda Emond is more restrained than the other actors, and conveys the quiet desperation that I think is a good overall tone for a play this ham-handed.

The thing is, really high quality performances almost amplify the mediocrity of the script. I kept wishing I could see all these believable, compelling characters in a better play. The whole production seems to try to make up for the bad script by simply turning up the volume--there's a LOT of yelling, and lesser actors like Andrew Garfield fall into the trap of mistaking loud talking for acting.

But seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman on stage is a wonderful thing. Willy Loman is maybe the least cool character in literature, and PSH doesn't hold back with the unlikeable blowhard bravado, or with the disillusionment, self-loathing, and shame. He's amazing to watch, but he's so in control that sometimes I lost sight of how out of control Willy is. Maybe there's just no way to do a good job with a play this bad. The play opens tonight, so we'll see what the real critics think.

You know what would be nice? If Philip Seymour Hoffman got to do some more comedies. Remember how hilarious he is in The Big Lebowski showing Jeff Bridges around the house? Wow.

March 9, 2012

Johnny Depp as Tonto

The Lone Ranger

Have you seen this still image from Gore Verbinski's new action movie and probable first installment in an inevitable trilogy, The Lone Ranger? We've got Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, and Johnny Depp as that embarrassing reminder of bad cultural stereotypes in entertainment, and genocide, Tonto.

So, what's with that look, Johnny? If Captain Jack Sparrow was the flamboyant union of Keith Richards and Pepe Le Pew, Tonto appears to be a mishmash of Captain Jack Sparrow, a Victorian milliner, the Village People Indian, and either Peter Criss from KISS or a Juggalo. As to how that will play out in his characterization, I can't wait, but considering that Depp is doing this role in part to reinvent how Native Americans have been represented "throughout the history of cinema", I wonder what bizarre vision of cultural sensitivity and reimagining of post-racial frontier male bonding we're going to get.

My favorite imagined caption for the photo above comes from the AV Club: "So who's got the most distracting hat now?"

March 7, 2012

Sue Simmons and NBC

WNBC, New York's NBC affiliate, has announced that they won't be renewing the contract of their beloved 30 year news anchor Sue Simmons.

[Obligatory response to NBC:] The fuck are you doing?!

See one of my favorite TV clips, from a memorable news promo from 2008:

In a statement, the station said, "We have tremendous respect and admiration for Sue Simmons. For decades, Sue has been a critical part of New York's longest-tenured anchor team in the city and has more than earned her iconic status."

You know what goes a long way in earning iconic status? Swearing on the air. It's not just that she (accidentally) swore during a promo for the news, it's that she did it with such bravado and flair. No timid cursing for Sue Simmons! That incident, and her open, authentic style on the air, make her seem so funny and appealing. We'll miss her.

UPDATE: The Times has an adoring professional-obituary for Sue Simmons on today's front page!

Amy's Robot turns 10, suffers midlife crisis

10 years old

Well, it's been 10 years of watching TV, going to the movies, following fluffy political gossip and serious celebrity news, and guessing which famous person is older. Hooray!

It's hard to imagine that 10 years ago, the world wasn't yet flooded with countless websites about pop culture and celebrities and the crazy world we live in. But now it is, and here we still are, doing exactly the same thing as back then. That's the power of brand consistency.

Looking back, I'm not coming up with much in the way of "accomplishments", so instead, let's consider some of the pitfalls other blogs have succumbed to that Amy's Robot has heroically avoided. None of us have lost our jobs due to unscrupulous posts about our bosses. We've technically never lost an advertiser. No Washingtonienne-style sex scandals (still trying!) or embarrassing failed book deals. No Homeland Security investigations (we love America, please don't arrest us) or attacks by Anonymous. I'll take lack of catastrophe as a substitute for actual achievement.

So thanks, everyone, for reading. A tip of my hat to That Fuzzy Bastard, Tim, T-Rock, ooghe, ORStylee, Colin, essbeekay, and Matt S for your many smart and funny comments. Emily and Cushie for years of collaboration, and special acknowledgement to ADM for co-surrogate-birthing this weird little baby.

Now to figure out what to do for the next 10 years, besides my eternal dream of making Who's Fatter?™ into a regular feature.

March 6, 2012

Who'dat?™: Photographers go one step further with their guess

Last week we played a round of Who'dat?™ with a photo of a weirdly puffy, facially warped, and (in my opinion) completely unrecognizable Lindsay Lohan. We asked you to name the celebrity, and also guess what decade of her life she was in, because in the picture she looks like she could plausibly be in her 30's, 40's, or 50's. (She's really only 25.)


But apparently I didn't go old enough for New York's paparazzi, who seem to have mistaken Debbie Harry for Lindsay.

Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry is 66 YEARS OLD. Sure, she's a remarkably gorgeous 66 year-old, but this still means that Lindsay Lohan appears to the public to be an elderly woman. Lindsay's own paternal grandmother is 71.

For context, here are some of the guesses I heard about who the Who'dat? picture was:

  • Joan Jett
  • Nicole Richie
  • Jennifer Tilly
  • Lil Kim
  • Donatella Versace

But I like the photographers' guess best of all. They're the professionals.

[tx ADM!]

March 5, 2012

The Russian political machine

Putin crying at victory speech

Surprise! Putin won Russia's presidential election over the weekend with 64% of the vote, which would be impressive if you believed those results were credible in any way. As it is, Putin used government funds to pay for his campaign, business managers pressured their employees to vote for Putin and collected their ballots, there was "statistically improbable" high turnout in the North Caucasus area (all for Putin), and the new webcams that were installed to ensure proper voting were turned off when it came time to count the ballots.

My favorite bizarre example of Russian electoral reform is either a punny attempt at political humor, or a smugly literal interpretation of democratic concepts: the election commission installed glass ballot boxes to demonstrate the "transparency" of their process. Hilarious!

Another strange moment was Sunday night when Putin started weeping on stage while Medvedev was introducing him (above). It was an uncharacteristic display of emotion for Putin, who seems to be more comfortable in the "Action Man" role of Judo master, scuba archeologist, biker, or wildman hunter.

The on-stage tears could have been a perfect opportunity for Putin to show his humanity and relate to his supporters and opponents on a more emotional level. But no! He wasn't crying, "it was just the wind," Putin claimed. He continued, "I am totalitarian KGB robot. Robot not crying. Robot crush frying pan. And justice."

Other former KGB officers want nothing to do with Putin and his presumed next six years in office. One voter on Sunday was Sergei Tanikov, a retired lieutenant colonel in the KGB:

"Today nothing will be decided," Mr. Tanikov said outside a polling station in Moscow, where he planned to vote for [Putin opponent] Mr. Zyuganov. "I have never participated in a protest, but tomorrow I will go out because I can no longer tolerate this fascist regime."

The Times is keeping up with today's protest in Moscow, where opposition leader Alexey Navalny was among those arrested. He's been tweeting from police custody--gutsy!

About March 2012

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

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