Sunday, March 14, 2010

Julie & Julia: A Review

So, you know that scene toward the beginning of the movie, when Amy Adams, as Julie Powell, is having "Cobb Salad Luncheon" with three of her alleged friends? And one friend keeps taking phone calls about the $190 million real estate package she's trying to put together, and another one is bragging about her new position as Vice President of Blahblahblah, and the third wants to interview Julie, but can't find a time to "fit her in," and there sits Julie, with her barely above entry level job and living in a walk-up in Queens over a pizza parlor?

Yes. That. Exactly that.

And okay--Julie Powell decides to cook her way through Julia Child and blog about it, and before the end of the year of her project she gets interviewed for the New York Times and literary agents and publishing houses are calling. So she gets a happy ending. But she's a totally narcissistic and self-absorbed jerk and she's mean to her husband and is in no way a role model.


And of course I'm not jealous or second guessing my own life or anything, just because this blog will be five frickin' years old by the end of the month, and I'm waaaay past 30 and of course I'm not wondering what the hell I am doing with my life, and whether I matter to anybody outside the tiny bounds of my own little life.

Of course not.

So--Julie & Julia. Meryl Streep is a National Treasure, and if Nicolas Cage makes another movie in that franchise he better bloody well find HER at the end of the trail of clues left behind by Woodrow Wilson and the Trilateral Commission or something. We watched the movie with both of the girls, and they literally cheered, cheered, when she came on the screen. Capt. Sweetie and I used the movie as parental propaganda, encouraging them to only date and marry guys who were as good to them as the husbands in the movie.

What is there to say about this movie that hasn't already been said a hundred million ways? Meryl Streep was fabulous, and it's hard to imagine a time when Julia Child was just a diplomatic spouse, and not Julia Child! If I got the time line right, she spent the better part of a decade on that first cookbook, retyping it with carbon paper and onion skins, and all those years she was just Paul Child's wife, moving from post to post across Europe. Only after he retired and they moved back to the US did she find a publisher for that first book. Only then did she become the icon of French cooking we know her to be.

Stanley Tucci--what a wonderful husband he made. He can marry my daughters if he wants to, as long as he remains in character as Paul Child. Amy Adams--is still darling and winsome and even as a self-involved and whiney proto-author, I'll still watch her. Nora Ephron directed this movie, which wasn't "The Hurt Locker," but also wasn't a "typical female rom-com" and she deserves some real credit for this movie.

Because I knew this was going to be what we did this evening as a family, I made more of an effort than I usually do, and I cooked. I mean, I cooked. We had a thyme chicken stew that took two hours to cook on the stove, and I made creme brulee, and since Sursels doesn't really like creme brulee I made two different flavors--white chocolate and dark chocolate, with fresh raspberries and whipped cream and I started researching recipes this morning and I went to the grocery at 4:30 and I COOKED until 8 this evening, when we had the stew and started the movie.

And the food was delicious and my family was wonderful and we all loved it. And when the movie was over we all went into the kitchen to torch the creme brulee, and Capt. Sweetie turned on "Burning Down the House" by the Talking Heads and we all danced around the kitchen and turned on the butane torch and melted the sugar and plopped fresh raspberries and squirted the Reddi-Whip and we all said "Oh man! This is delicious!"

For that kind of response, I would even cook more often, I think. But I will not do so with Julia Child's recipes, because they are still too hard. But I love her anyway.

Hold Your Horses!

This is frickin' brilliant!

70 Million by Hold Your Horses ! from L'Ogre on Vimeo.

I came across this after wondering a bunch of links--isn't the internet amazing? Aren't humans wonderful sometimes?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oscar Backlash! The Ryan Seacrest Experience

The New York Times has the latest of Oscar backlash. No, not that Kathryn Bigelow isn't "really" a female director since she directed a "boy movie." No, not that "Avatar was robbed." Not even that Giuliana shouldn't have been stuck upstairs in the skybox. (Okay, I made that up. Nobody has said that.)

Ryan didn't ask about the designers. When interviewing A list celebrities, many of whom were actually nominated for their performances, he failed to make "Who are you wearing" his very first question, or even a question at all.

This from New York Times article.

The fashion designer Nicole Miller said she, too, was disappointed (and not just because Mr. Seacrest didn’t chat up the “True Blood” star Deborah Ann Woll, who was clad in a Miller gown). “It was almost like he wasn’t that interested in the designers,” Ms. Miller said. “He seemed more interested in the celebrities and their careers.”

Um. Yes. Given that the man had about 22 seconds per Famous Person, and the event was the Oscars--you know, that thing about MOVIES--and was NOT "Project Runway."

Don't get me wrong--I love the Oscars, and a very big part of what I love about the Oscars is the fashion. Well, obviously. But "who are you wearing" is not really a story. It's advertising. Learning what designer someone is wearing is why Al Gore invented the Internet. LOOK IT UP.

Maybe next year, stylists and publicists will make their clients' information available so E! can post it on the lower screen crawl, so people who care can read it.

Maybe the real "story" here isn't that Seacrest failed to ask about designers, but that the only people the NEW YORK TIMES (you know, the one that used to be called "the paper of record") interviewed about this were themselves fashion designers? It's not that there is a broad based backlash against Ryan Seacrest, as the article promotes--it's that people who care about the clothes than the people inside of them were disappointed. You know what? Mammogram technicians were also disappointed by the lack of X-ray films carried on the red carpet as well.

---The Mistress of All Evil is NOT wearing Marchesa or Armani Prive while producing this post.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tiara Woes




Because, dammit, I am already married and not planning to ever do it again, I will never open Parliament, and I will never go to a Royal Ball in an outfit created by a fairy godmother where I will accidentally forget to give my prince my cell phone number so I will be forced to leave behind a glass slipper that he can use to trace me via DNA typing with the help of Gil Grissom.

So, for my birthday I am wearing a tiara, and you know what sucks? I keep trying to pull it down onto my face because I think it's my reading glasses.

Guys? I waited too long to start wearing a tiara.

Oscars 2010 Fashion Mistakes -- Sarah Jessica Parker

SJP here is one unfiltered cigarette and John Hamm away from a cameo on "Mad Men." It's all about the accessories.

Oscars 2010 Fashion Mistakes -- Charlize Theron

You don't even need me to comment on this one.

When you wear John Galliano, you get more than just "body conscious." You get "anatomically exaggerated."

I saw a performance of "How To Succeed In Business Without Even Trying" about 30 years ago. In one song, every woman shows up at the office party in the identical "Irresistible Paris Original" dress, which was a black halter dress with a large white flower at the neck. The only dress any of the men noticed was when the slutty secretary showed up with two large white flowers, pinned over each of her breasts.

Who knew Galliano was there too?

Oscars 2010 Fashion Mistakes -- Elisabetta Canalis

This may be mean, since poor Elisabetta is not herself an Oscar invitee--she's a "plus one," and it is hardly fair to assault someone who's only claim to our attention is that she is dating George Clooney.

That's a fair assessment, but this is a fashion mistake. Maybe we can blame somebody else for it, though.

It's her undergarment. You can see it pretty clearly here, just as I saw it on television. It's a corset or something, with a panel that runs in a triangle down her abdomen and points straight at her ladybits.

Now, maybe, she decided she wanted to wear something sexy and glamorous under her red satin gown, something that would make her feel more fabulous than a pair of Spanx, and really, who can blame her? I mean, why pull a Bridget Jones buzzkill on Oscar night with a pair of practical and unattractive underpants.

Fortunately for her, somebody must have spotted it early in the evening and whispered in her ear, because most of the rest of the night she has her clutch or her wrap conveniently posed to hide the lines.

Oscars 2010 Fashion Mistakes -- Cameron Diaz

You know I love the Oscars with an unreasoning affection--and I have to say beforehand that the fashions this year were uniformly great. Sure, I have quibbles, or personal preferences, but there was nothing this year that made me slap my forehead and scream "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING" at the screen.

And that does happen sometimes.

So even the "worst dressed" are only so in comparison--and are still better than just about anything anybody wore from about 1972 to 1990--just to pick some dates at random. So realize that most of these "mistakes" aren't really Big Mistakes. On the other hand--there is still Room For Improvement.

Let's start with Cameron Diaz.

Give the girl her due--in the past, she has looked like she just rolled out of bed and grabbed whatever was closest.

This was 2002, and whatever she meant to accomplish with the kimono inspired dress and International Festival accessories, it was the messy hair and lack of make-up that guaranteed this was going to be considered a very expensive bathrobe.

She has atoned for that look in the past, which is weird. I mean--why is Cameron Diaz at the Oscars so often? It can't be for her body of work, can it? Does the Academy value "Shrek" and "Charlie's Angels" so highly? Sure, fine, there was "Gangs of New York," but even Leo DiCaprio hasn't been to as many Oscars as our girl Cam here.

Cameron at 2007 Oscars

Cameron at 2008 Oscars

Which brings us back to the 2010 look.

It's fine. It's just fine. It's golden, it's formal, her hair and make-up are lovely.

It's just--meh. Frankly, the look is both generic and matronly. It makes her look "middle aged," which is a phrase I hate, but it's accurate. She looks like she's over 40 (she isn't) and she's got a bunch of kids in a minivan parked somewhere. She sent them off to hockey practice and came on over to the school fundraising formal.

I mean, whether you liked that 2002 bathrobe or not, it was unique. You couldn't imagine it on, say Drew Barrymore, like you can this one. Or just about anybody, really. Susan Sarandon could wear this, or Demi Moore, or Carey Mulligan. It just is a lovely shiny dress, but it fails to give us a quintessential Cameron Diaz look, and that's what I'm looking for at the Oscars.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oscars 2010--The Red Carpet Pre Show

It's 5:00 p.m. The Dog is fed.I have a large glass of white wine. Ryan Seacrest's mug is on my TV screen. It's time for the Oscars! This year's post is going to be an experiment--live blogging combined with editing the following day. And pictures! (From So let's get started!

The telecast has already started out better than the Golden Globes, because Seacrest is alone on the carpet, and Giuliana has been sent to detention in the skybox with Jay Manuel. So no more awkward "how do you get that rockin' body" "interview" questions by the tone deaf Rancic. The show is also denied the "360 Glam Cam" that was almost as awkward as Giuliana's "interviews."

Is anybody who is anybody going to be here this early? Why, yes! The leading man in the Avatar juggernaut Sam Worthington and his anonymous girlfriend. (If Seacrest doesn't already know who she is, she must not be worth talking to, right?)

It used to be fashionable to complain about a "Best Picture" nomination if it wasn't accompanied by a "Best Director" nomination as well. What do we say about a "Best Picture" nomination with NO acting nominations? Answer: ANIMATION! Of course, there is some live acting in
Avatar: the lack of acting nominations just sums up the problems with that movie--technological break-throughs are all very fine, but you need a story and some emotional investment to make a movie.

Sam Worthington is sure working his Aussie accent--it's much more broad than it was in the movie. Is this on purpose? It's been said that anybody can sell anything to Americans if they do it with an accent: maybe this is Worthington's broadcast audition tape for any job in Hollywood. In fact, he's being quite open about being "at liberty" at the moment.

And now he and his girlfriend are being pushed off the dais in favor of Zac Efron: which, wait. Why is he here? He's not nominated, he's not got a movie out right now, he's not a past winner--is this the attempt to reach out to a Younger Audience? But how late can we expect 8-year olds to stay up?

Zac Efron is this generation's Rob Lowe--and we begin to see a theme, in which Hollywood is already developing replacements for currently established actors. Maybe they are clones!

Giuliana has changed outfits from the earlier "Countdown to the Oscars" time filler show she was hosting, while Jay Manuel is griping that he didn't have time to change, although he quickly realizes that this sounds dismissive of the designer outfit he is wearing, so he changes his tune. And--we are treated to a montage of what some people wore to other awards show as a time filler in case Seacrest can't find anybody worth televising.

But the Giuls 'n' Jay show gets shut off because Anna Kendrick is here! She's apparently decided to get the gauntlet out of the way by arriving early.There has been a lot of speculation about what she's going to wear and it's--blush and lots of pleating and structure, shoulder bearing, but not something that will photograph well—kind of washing her out.

It's a beautiful dress, it fits her beautifully, and she looks comfortable. It's just, well, kind of meh. You would think that a pastel dress would make her strong coloring stand out and emphasize her gorgeous face, but something is missing. She looks lovely, she looks fine--she doesn't pop or sizzle the way I want someone so young to be at her first Oscars.

The interview set up appears to be terribly squashed both physically and in terms of the amount of time Seacrest will spare any given celebrity. And here comes Mo’Nique, in royal blue and makes poor Anna look like Pasty White Chick, which she is so much not.

Mo’Nique doesn’t actually look good—the color is great, but the cut doesn’t do much for her, and she’s got a frickin’ bouquet on her head. She’s a big woman but she’s looking stuffed into her gown. Not good, honey. If course, later we find out that it's a tribute to Hattie MacDaniel, who wore a flower in her hair when she won for "Gone With the Wind" so Mo'Nique gets a pass on a questionable fashion choice because it is Historically Significant. And we can all breathe a sigh of relief that this doesn't mean Big Hair Flowers are the next Big Flower Pins.

Somehow, it's raining again in LA—just like at the Golden Globes. Seacrest expresses worry that actresses' heels will start sinking into the ground—but it’s all paved, so I don’t know what he’s been drinking. Coming up: Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon. Mariah has apparently covered up those Golden Globes of hers.Buh dum BUM!

Great ad for cervical cancer—it’s totally a perfume ad, with magic sparkles and everything. Followed by an ad for Dentyne Ice, with the slogan “practice safe breath”—gum as condom. Ads have rediscovered the old bait and switch. These are clever, but the cervical cancer ad gets run too frequently and loses its power.

The question for every awards show is: Is Mariah drunk? Has she already started her celebrations?
She might have—she’s looking off into the distance as if she's not able to focus her eyes. Maybe she's just tired of looking at Seacrest? She's wearing something that threatens to float in the breezes and show us more of Mariah than even Mariah wants to show us. Seacrest sounds genuinely panicked at the possibility, but Mariah reassures us that she has a "built in body suit." This solves one problem, but makes the status of her inebriation even more important--how will she pee?
At this point, it's only 5:24, and they seem to be cramming in all the ads they can. Ads are getting weirdly pre-empted before they finish by yet more ads.

Zoe Saldana and the mayor of L.A. have run into one another and Seacrest has failed his traffic cop training, so there seems to be a four or five way interview in progress. I love Zoe, and she’s in lavender and sparkles, which are two of my very favorite things, so I fail to remember what it is the mayor manages to say. But then we see the skirt.

This skirt has apparently sprouted lavender fungus from the LA rain. Some other commenters have likened the dress to plastic leis, or bathroom loofah poufs. Whatever it's actually supposed to be, it's random ruffles and an origami waistline, with ombre coloring to boot. It's all just too much on a small frame. If I could enforce fashion swaps, I'd throw away the entire skirt, and substitute Kate Winslet's skirt--dyed the appropriate lavender, of course. Then Zoe could keep the purple shoes and we'd all be a lot happier. (Except perhaps for Kate Winslet, at least until we got her another skirt.)

Joel Madden and Nicole Ritchie.He’s dj-ing. Nicole isn’t saying much, but she looks like she eats now, and it's a good look for her.
Vera Farmiga in crimson pleats and ruffles and matching lipstick.She’s lovely, and the dress is a statement, and she’s trying to convince us that nobody ever recognizes her in real life.She’s picking Hurt Locker and forgetting to pick Jason Reitman for Best Director.She’s fabulous and human and is even slouching a bit, which can’t be easy in that dress.

Ryan Reynolds is here without his wife, Scarlett Johansson, who is back in New York appearing on Broadway. That's fine with me, as he looks good enough all by himself.
Reynolds is presenting Best Picture nominee “The Blind Side” and Seacrest is asking how likely Sandra Bullock is going to actually win.Because presenters of a single nominee have all the inside information, don't they. We are treated to the less than absorbing factoid that Ryan and Ryan train at the same gym. This is the definition of “Too Much Information.” Reynolds reports he has taken his trainer with him to “The Green Lantern” shoots. The additional training is necessary, apparently, and he promises us a “snug costume.”

Sigourney Weaver coming down the carpet in vivid red, which is such a great color on her, plus is such a fearless choice. Back in the day, no one would have suggested that anyone over 30 wear such a vivid color, much less someone 60 years old an nearly six feet tall. Life is better these days.So what is her secret? Whatever it is, this is what a movie star looks like, Anna Kendrick, I'm talking to you!

James Cameron is in line behind Jason Reitman, which is awkward, and it’s totally like Ryan Seacrest point it and thus increase the awkwardness.OMG—Suzy Amis looks like a skeleton wearing a dress.I hope she’s well, because she looks like a cancer patient.You CAN be too thin.

[I can't find a photo that fully shows the Crypt Keeper look Amis is working, but trust me, it's as scary as Cameron's bad haircut was at the Golden Globes. She's got a great blue dress on, though, I'll give her that.]

Photo from here.

However, I am gratefully distracted by the "coming up" camera shots down the red carpet: Elizabeth Banks in inset is more fun to look at than JC and his death maiden.

Photo from here.


Maggie Gyllenhall in blue and black strapless nothing. It's Peter Skarsgaard’s birthday, but Seacrest says he won’t sing, because “Happy Birthday” costs too much.

I like this dress--it's simple lines are flattering, the print fabric is interesting--you don't see many patterns or prints at the Oscars. Maggie looks lovely and confident. Is this the Biggest Dress Of The Year? Of course not. But it's perfectly appropriate while being a bit out of the mainstream and expressing a bit of Maggie's own personality.

Elizabeth Banks makes it to the interview platform in a gray highly structured gown, with her hair tied back severely, and OMG flamenco ruffles. It's like the mullet of Oscar gowns: business up top, party from the knees down. I can't tell if E! actually believes we want to hear from Ryan Seacrest rather than looking at the dresses, or if they are so crammed for space there is no way to show the entire outfit. Or both, maybe.

Tom Ford drops in to make some compliments, and to mention his movie as well. Did you know he directed "A Single Man"? Which is a different movie than the Coen brothers' "A Serious Man," FYI. Ford has a fabulous accent, which he is working as hard as Sam Worthington did, and is –surprise, surprise—wearing Tom Ford! And so is Jay! Up in the skybox! Now text your prediction about who will win Lead Actress. Why?

Sigourney Weaver in red, talking about reading the Avatar script. Have you seen it yet? Not in Imax yet, but 3D—which she’s selling. Signorney has a Disney Movie coming out with pole dancing. . .is Miley Cyrus involved—and then she gets pushed off for Lenny Kravitz, who is irritated he has to speak. Or maybe it’s just talking to Ryan Secrest. But he’s going to be touring with U2?!?!

Tina Fey in black? What a surprise. Michael Kors. She's texted with Alec Baldwin earlier today, and he is calm and ready, and it’s probably easier than SNL, because it’s only 20 minutes of material. Insert your own joke here about SNL also only having 20 minutes of material spread out over an unconscionably long time period. At least at the Oscars there are awards to give out to fill the time. That must be why SNL has musical guests.

So, is Amanda Seyfried is wearing Kate Hudson’s dress from the Golden Globes?

There is definitely a theme of highly structured torso armor going on this year--Kate Hudson's looks like it was immaculately constructed out of fondant icing--she looks less like a bride and more like the wedding cake, actually. Seyfried's looks like it's made out of bubble wrap, but it's definitely got the same sort of structural architecture to it. Hudson's was Marchesa, Seyfreid's was Armani Prive, I think, which make it perhaps the same as Lady Gaga's dress from the Grammys, but without the representational orbital paths around it.

Seyfried apparently opted to do without the bejeweled body-head stocking as well, but the bodice seems similar. Nothing wrong with that--I loved it on Gaga, and I like the version that is wearable by people from this planet as well. In her interview with Seacrest, we learn
Seyfried will be leaving Big Love, because she’s not working enough.

Seacrest hints that she'll be doing something called “Red Riding Hood,” which the two of them discuss in some sort of secret code that they understand, but that gives the average viewer (me) no clue about whether it's a movie, tv show, nightclub act or even a life-style change. Spell it out for us next time, if you actually mean to promote it guys.

Cary Mulligan went with black sequins, and a weird tea length plus train hemline. She just about pulls it off, but the heavy straps on her shoes end up making her legs look stumpy, and at a distance the look is all about her shins. Not really what a devastatingly lovely young woman with killer dimples should be reduced to, actually.

Apparently the beading on this gown is eccentric, containing tiny knives, forks, crowns, and other irregular items--which is exactly the sort of detail that takes this gown out of the basic, boring, black, and into something that suits Mulligan's youth.You can see those tiny items in the zoomed photo here.

I'm still not a fan of the hemline, which might actually be what I hate more than the shoes. If the entire dress were tea length, for example, we'd get less of the "proscenium arch curtain call for the shins" effect that spoils this look.

Sandra Bullock, heavily favored to win Best Actress tonight, wearing a sequins and kind of golden paillettes look.J&G think it would best be accessorized with an Oscar. I like her super shiny hair, and the bottom of the dress is apparently panne velvet, although it looks like liquid metal.

I think it's risky to wear beads over illusion netting this close to the Olympics, myself, but the asymmetic bodice is done so artfully that I like it the more I look at it. I'm not happy with the make-up in close-up, but I think its a matter of lighting. In some lights, it's absolutely fabulous, but in other lights it comes off as heavy and aging. In the picture above, it's just fine.
The interview with Seacrest is marred by the odd camera angle: the dress is interesting, but hard to evaluate this close. I’m seeing too much of her arm wrinkles at the top of her armpit—the cap cleaves don’t particularly do any favors in silhouette.

Diane Kruger is such a conundrum--such a lovely woman, who clearly revels in fashion, and yet so often looks terrible. Tonight is not a look I'd ever like to see again: severe hair, and a busy busy dress in black and cream.

She’s such a beautiful woman and is all but unrecognizable in an ugly dress. It's like a black, feathered anaconda is slithering down her torso, and as though she's got different micro-climates going on all up and down her body. Not sure why anyone thought it was a good idea to carve her up visually into thirds like that.

Tyler Perry, who is very very tall, promoting Precious—how he and Oprah kept it from going straight to DVD, so good for him.

The crawl tells us that Apolo Ohno thinks Pam Anderson is “a little too top heavy” to win DWTS.This is what we watch the Oscars for? Answer: NO.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill promoting “The Blind Side.”Also the guy who played the football player--Quinton Aaron. Oh yes, Tim McGraw was in that one. Faith's dress is a small fail--weird deployment of lace that makes the whole thing look like it was repurposed from somebody's grandmother's attic.
Photo from here.
And due to some issues at home, I have to take a break from recapping. More to come in separate entries.