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June 27, 2012

Cannibalism comes to the theater


The last few weeks have given us an alarming number of cannibalism stories in the news, so what better time to launch a new production that brings this trend disgustingly to life, onstage in the theater?

Horror director Stuart Gordon, who also made 1985's outstanding mad scientist classic Re-Animator (above), will direct a new play called Taste, which is based on the story of Armin Meiwes, the German man who killed and ate a guy he met online, and videotaped the whole thing in some extreme instance of sadomasochism, so he claimed.

Stuart Gordon is a guy who clearly understands the comedy of horror--his last play (which opened in LA, like Taste will) was Re-Animator: The Musical, because the only way you could make that movie more gleeful and sick is to add some "cheerfully perverse" song-and-dance numbers, to use Gordon's own phrase. The audience in the first few rows get totally covered in blood. It's coming to New York in July!

Taste will be one of many artistic interpretations of Armin Meiwes: several European metal bands have written songs based on his story (including the excellent "Mein Teil" by Rammstein, which has a phenomenally disturbing video) and Keri Russell starred in a movie called Grimm Love where she studies a Meiwes-like cannibal in Germany for her graduate thesis. Meiwes delayed the release of the movie in Germany when he sued, claiming the movie used his private story without permission. Eventually the German court decided he didn't have much of a privacy claim because he'd done loads of interviews and signed a marketing contract with a production company after his arrest.

I'm sure this will be a fun, gross-out, freaky kind of play, but how about if after this we all decide to put the brakes on eating each other for a while, OK?

June 25, 2012

World gets ready to scream, tear the spangly thong off of Magic Mike

Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum at the Magic Mike premiere

Magic Mike premiered in LA over the weekend, and today's Hollywood Reporter is like a hormone-addled divorcée going into a frenzy over a catwalk full of tan manflesh in fringed chaps. As we all get ready to head to the Xquisite, the fictitious Tampa venue in which Channing Tatum and his stripper buds collect dollar bills in their American flag thongs, I thought I'd share some of the finer moments of the recent press surrounding the movie.

At an interview before the premiere, dedicated Method actor Matthew McConaughey relates the moment when he was concluding one of his routines on set, and the women in the audience (who now that I think about it probably weren't professional actors) rushed the stage, jumped McConaughey, and ripped off his thong, leaving McConaughey "naked in a pit of screaming women." I'm sure when audiences see this scene, we'll all be transported by McConaughey's commitment to absolute artistic integrity and truth.

When asked what criteria they all used in selecting their individual thongs, by color, size, or fabric content, Steven Soderbergh, that coy little minx, modestly stated, "It was a very personal process. I know what I like, and it didn’t take long."

Stripper costumes featured in the movie include: fireman, cop, soldier, sailor, cowboy, and in the case of Matthew McConaughey, "black leather pants with the butt that comes off."

OK, this is quickly devolving into a journey into the mind/soul/ass-less leather pants of Matthew McConaughey, but the man is just a quote machine. When asked what it was like to work with Steven Soderbergh, here's what he said, with his no-rules approach to word usage:

He's very much a minimalist as far when he implements himself. He hires people for a reason, so you better show up with your bags packed and ready to work, and know your man. That kind of schedule is great for an actor because as time suppresses, you don't have time to over think stuff. Don't talk about it; show me. Press 'record' is what I like to say.

As for McConaughey, when he implements himself as club owner Dallas, the Hollywood Reporter review describes him as a "hilarious self-parody", a "gonzo showman in leather vest and tear-away pants", and a "self-deifying nut job". That's our McConaughey!

I'm not quite sure how to read the tone of this review, especially when it pointedly describes the stripper posse as "a heterosexual rethink of The Village People", then immediately describes their routine to gay anthem "It's Raining Men". Which reportedly begins with trench coats and umbrellas and, I'm going out on a limb here, probably ends with a row of naked dudes with shaved chests. I guess all strip clubs that feature male strippers have a similar aesthetic, whether it's women or men in the audience. At least in Tampa.

June 20, 2012

Celebrity lovebirds

The Daily News is running my current favorite celebrity photo: Mary-Kate Olsen, her 42 year-old boyfriend (aka Nicolas Sarkozy's half-brother,) and his tween daughter, out together in the West Village:

Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier Sarkozy

She owns her own fashion label; he's a managing director of politically terrifying private equity firm The Carlyle Group. And they're 16 years apart. But look at that cigarette-cellphone-sunglasses body language--it must be love!

June 14, 2012

Early TUSH considerations

Call Me Maybe

It's only June, so the 2012 Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hit, or TUSH, might still be a twinkle in The-Dream's eye, but some early activity in pop song market saturation is requiring our attention.

You've heard "Call Me Maybe". It's undeniably catchy, it's been on TV, and its spin-off videos and cover versions (The Roots and Jimmy Fallon, Bieber et al, NPR reporters) are getting even more attention than the original video. You probably can't remember the name of the Canadian teenager with the Deschanelian bangs that sings it (Carly something something, right?) but for now, that's incidental. We might have the makings of a TUSH on our hands.

Personally, I like my TUSHes to possess at least some passing whiff of soul or funk or something besides cute Canadian bubblegum. Also, the song was released way back in February--a classic TUSH bursts decisively onto the scene and is suddenly, unavoidably everywhere, instead of creeping up slowly on world domination. But even though it's taken 16 weeks to get there, "Call Me Maybe" is now at the top of the charts. New evidence suggests that the song has already burrowed its way into our psyches, because it's started generating its own references to the events that define our times:

Call Me Maybe Facebook face-eating joke

Most of the songs on the Billboard 100 have been kicking around for months (Gotye is still up there?!) so we're due for some spankin' fresh TUSH action. Carly whatever whatever's days as Queen of the TUSH may be numbered, but she's got it for now.

June 11, 2012

Mad Men finale: did my nose just start bleeding?

Mad Men Season 5 finale

Hey, has anyone figured out what the theme of this season of Mad Men was? 'Cause I'm not sure I quite got it. Maybe something about how even when you get what you wait, you're still not happy? Or maybe that ambition and desire are great motivators, but success and wish-fulfillment have a cost? Or that the things we want are always just out of reach, even when it seems like we've attained them? Or that satisfaction is fleeting and elusive? Or that you can find happiness, but it wears off?

Let's try to find a few dozen more ways to say the same thing, shall we? Because that's what this season felt like to me. My favorite descriptions of this season are in Time, last month ("The episodes sometimes feel overcrafted, the symbols and themes double-underlined.") and a great piece today about how the season feels like it's explaining its own jokes. Not only did the whole season keep coming back to the same central theme over and over again, but each individual episode was very overtly about some related theme (like competitiveness, ambition, disappointment, disillusionment, etc, get out the thesaurus.) The themes in themselves are interesting, and the story lines in which the characters played out those themes were fine, but man, just about every episode felt eye-wateringly, sucker-punchingly on the nose.

The finale had some good stuff in it, but first, the parts that bugged me: how many times did we need Lane's wife to say some version of "We stiff-upper-lipped British just get on with it, so don't give me that yank consoling business"? Three times? Because I think that's how many times she said it in one short scene. How many times did Marie have to say "Just give up on acting, it's a dream that's not panning out" to Megan? Three, four times? Maybe they didn't quite get it. One more time, Marie.

The parts I liked were Don and Peggy in the movie theater. They were so happy to see each other and so relaxed and comfortable together, it was a relief after all that Pete Campbell existential agony with Gilmore Girl who is so wrong for that role I can't believe it. Even if we had to hear how Don doesn't like it when people he loves grow up and don't need him anymore, AGAIN, it was still a nice and reasonably subtle scene. I also loved the scene of Megan getting ready to shoot the commercial when Don kisses her and walks away from that brightly-lit beautiful set into blackness (above). The season really could have ended right there. Even though he has a semi-functioning marriage and is trying to do the right thing, Don's still alone in the world. We get it.

But wait! Maybe we don't quite get it! Let's add one more scene in which a fetching young woman walks up to Don in a bar and asks, "Are you alone?" Don ponders this question grimly. Because yes, he is alone. On an existential level. Silence. He doesn't need to answer the question because Don and the audience and everybody on the planet have already answered it for him 10,000 times just in the last three episodes. End of season 5.

One more thing: I guess it would be a sign of mental instability if another character were dropping acid and getting naked alone in their apartments, but when it's Roger Sterling, it's just fantastic.

June 4, 2012

Who'dat?™: On-screen grit, off-screen glam

In today's edition of Who'dat?™, we consider an actress whose look in her movie career bears pretty much no resemblance to her look as created by stylists for the red carpet. The photo below was taken at a recent movie premiere, but it had me completely stumped.

To play, look at the photo below and try to figure out who this is. Then click on the photo to see if you're right.


[tx ADM!]

I like this actress a lot and am glad to see her get more high-profile movies this year. Click below for news on her upcoming movies, which look like they'll be some wonderful combination of lurid, salacious, and bizarre.

Continue reading "Who'dat?™: On-screen grit, off-screen glam" »

About June 2012

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