Monday, February 28, 2011

Random Thoughts on Oscars 2011

This is not my fashion commentary.  This is what would have been a live blog, except that it's already the next morning.  So sue me--I was enjoying watching it.

Anne Hathaway walked the red carpet in a Serious Red Dress.  Awww--she looks happy, relaxed, and ready for anything.  Isn't it amazing that she's an American actress?  She's beautiful in such a "you have a funny looking face" kind of way that American movies so rarely allow on-screen.

James Franco, however, has totally failed a softball interview in the "green room," which looks like a bar to me.  This may ultimately be the explanation for why he spent the majority of the telecast holding his head verrrrrry still.  Oh yeah, I just implied that Franco was drunk and/or hungover.  It was like he was emitting anti-charisma particles most of the night.

Kirk Douglas!  OMG--I was sure he was dead!  Interesting fact from continue growing even after the rest of the body stops.  But isn't he being charming?  He's milking this appearance like the biggest ham ever, and I start to worry that the orchestra is going to be ordered to drive him off-stage with the Official Oscar "Your Time Is Up" music before he even gets the envelope open.  But no, it's good.  I love the rapport he sets up with Hathaway and how she responds.  And then the good looking Cane Caddy!  Is he KD's personal assistant, or was he provided by the show?  Either way, the hand over hand battle was well done.  Oh, and then Melissa Leo and KD--give these two kids a show!

Then the ceremonial appearance of the Lifetime Achievement award winners--kind of sucky, Oscar telecast, to be sooo committed to sucking up to the "Younger Demographic" that the people you feel are sufficiently talented to deserve awards for a lifetime of acting directing and producing don't even get a second at the mic.  But then I am unable to guess who is older--Kirk Douglas or Eli Wallach?  IMDB to the rescue--it's Wallach, by almost exactly 1 year.

Lots of costume changes for Anne Hathaway--love the beaded number, and then she twists in it!  She is now officially my favorite Oscar(TM) host ever.

In contrast, a surprising number of presenters are wearing the same thing they wore to walk the red carpet.  I have come to expect multiple costume changes from everybody.  Okay, Dion and Paltrow and Welch all changed, so the dressing rooms have been reserved for performers perhaps?  Or maybe Anne "A Different Look For Every Category" Hathaway has used up all the closet space.

Cate Blanchett: her generation's Helen Mirren?  Discuss.

Why is Russell Brand?  My brain has such a hard time with him, because one part is screaming "LOOK AWAY FROM THE SKEEVE!" while a different part is saying "he's funny!  He makes me laugh!"  Tonight a new part of the brain weighs in with "Oh honey, no--clean-shaven is not the right look for you."  And then I have to think about something else, lest the three-way brain battle causes my head to explode.  Oh look!  Helen Mirren speaks French and I can understand it!  She's so cool.

ABC is proud to host the OscarsTM until 2020.  You say that, ABC Lady, but somebody literally just screwed up your telecast.  Local maybe?  I got part of the OscarTM buffer--camera pans across statuettes with the envelopes leaning against them, then I got 2.5 seconds of what looks like young couple buying their first home ad, then a couple more seconds of OscarTM panning buffer, then the last half of the young couple ad--which turns out to be an ad for cat food, but cute as it involves young man giving young woman a kitten which is wearing a tag that says "will you marry us"--and THEN I got the first half of the cat food/new home buying ad, which ran up to the part where the second half had already aired, and then suddenly we were in the middle of one of your sentences where you were bragging about what a great job ABC does with the telecast.  I call "Shenanigans!"

Obama has a favorite OscarTM song and it isn't "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp?"  Color me disappointed.

Kevin Spacey has a nice voice.  Does he still make movies anymore?  He's also kind of creepy looking in a way inconsistent with movie musicals.

My kids are already scouring the interwebs for "Autotune the Oscars" in order to download "Tiny Ball of Light."  I kind of love "He Doesn't Own A Shirt" myself, mostly for the blatant pandering of it.  Here you go kids!

Oprah, wearing a dress from the Dollly Parton Couture Collection.  Honestly--do boobs like being pushed around like that?  I'm thinking she's going to have some strange marks about her chestal area by the end of the night.

Billy Crystal is kind of unrecognizable in a weird way.  Like a "lots of bad plastic surgery unless it's steroid therapy for lupus" kind of way.  He's still funny, but it's like his expressions don't recognize his face--there's a weird disconnect when he mugs, where I have to mentally assemble what the different parts of his face are doing to get the emotion he's conveying.  I hope things are ok in Chrystal World.

RDJ and Jude "I Used To Be Sooo Handsome" Law are bantering.  The banter is awkward because it seems like RDJ is talking about  tech issues from his Other Franchise, Not The One Jude Law Is In.  RDJ is my third favorite Sherlock Holmes, behind Benedict Cumberbatch and Jeremy Brett.  Which I guess means that the RDJ Sherlock Franchise is no longer necessary.  Jude Law is not on my list of favorite Watsons at all--or if he has to be on a Watson list, he's down below the Jeopardy-playing computer and my aunt's Maltese.

 Bob Hope Hologram--boy, do I see where Johnny Carson got his delivery.   How many more awards seasons until the Bob Hope Clone is perfected to take over hosting duties?

Something about Celine Dion's face is so annoying that I close my eyes so I don't have to see her, and miss the first however many seconds of the I See Dead People Montage.  Some of those faces just jump off the screen, don't they?  Jill Clayburgh, Tony Curtis, Leslie Nielsen.

Halle Berry is having such a sad life right now--I wonder if the fact that she is gorgeous is any consolation to her. 

Tom Hooper and James Cameron: Separated at Birth?  I know I couldn't figure out why James "Smurfs in Fern Gully" Cameron would be at the OscarsTM this year.  Let's go to the replay:
James Cameron

Tom Hooper

Nope--the age difference is too great for Separated at Birth.  I'm going with "unacknowledged love child."

Portman wins Best Actress.  After watching the clips, I was kind of hoping for an upset.  God knows I'm more interested in seeing "Blue Valentine" and "Winter's Bone" than "Black Swan."  The sad thing--Portman's life has nowhere to go but downhill from this moment.  Trust me--pregnant is much more fun than newly post-partum, even without diaper changing and sleep deprivation.  Pregnant, cute, dolled-up and Oscar-winning--nothing in the real world will live up to this moment.  Ever again.

Sandra Bullock ragging Jeff Bridges--"ya think ya might wanna stagger these out a bit?"  Give that woman a reality show or something.  I don't want to watch her act, I want to watch her be Sandy.  She too has had a terrible year.  Does being gorgeous, funny, and universally beloved offer her some consolation?

Colin Firth wins!  Of course he's charming--I think they must have charming lessons in school in England.  Except Christian Bale skipped out of his.  Maybe they're elective.

I like the speech somebody wrote for Steven Spielberg--the winner of the Best Picture will join such movies as [undeniably great films here].  The other nine (losing) nominees will join [undeniably great and unjustifiably OscarTM-less movies here].  That's a great way to say what everybody says--the honor is being nominated.  The winning kind of misses the point sometimes (often).  (But I still love "Shakespeare in Love" and you cannot take that away from me!)

And The King's Speech wins, everybody comes up to celebrate, and the orchestra plays over the third guy's chance at the mic, but He! Will! Not! Be! Denied!  So he cleverly thanks the Academy and they let him talk.  Ya know, HBC was so dang charming in that movie, that I might just have to go see it again.

What's the deal with this P.S.22 school choir?  Damn!  There's some cultural allusion I've completely missed--because you KNOW the OscarsTM wouldn't just pick some kids' choir--however good they are--and put them on the telecast unless they had already been a YouTube sensation of some sort.

And the show is over in less than 3.5 hours.  Franco can go back to school--he did himself no favors tonight.  But Anne Hathaway can come back next year.  Please?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscars Frivolity

Yes, I know you are all expecting deep insights into the geopolitical morass that are the Libyan demonstrations. . .but I'm punting!  Because it's OscarTime (TM)!

Besides, I'm actually quite shallow.

So--this made me smile.  It's a photo gallery of Hollywood stars at a pre-Academy Awards party from last night, as posted on a site I'd not seen before, called TooFab.  Here is the first image that popped up.

Say what you want, but I kind of love Anne Hathaway letting her inner dork come out to play.  Those glasses are the kind that Mia Thermopolis would have worn pre-Princess lessons if The Princess Diaries had been made today.  Sure, she's Hollywood royalty, she's the youngest person to ever host the Oscars. . .and she's putting in an appearance at an event, but clearly all ready planning to put on the jammie bottoms that go with that jammie top and pull an all-nighter to memorize her lines.

But who is that she is standing next to?  I can't quite tell who it is, and I'm sure I should be able to identify her.  Hmmm. . .I'm going to have to look at the text under the photo because I can't quite place the face.

But wait!  This is how we know "TooFab" is just a pretender to being a reliable gossip site.  Because the only text underneath this photo is:


Who knew?  I mean, Harvey has totally shed some pounds and upgraded his image since the whole Miramax/Disney failure, but that is quite the make-over.  And I hadn't heard that Anne Hathaway had changed her professional name.  "Dior Dinner" could be a stage name, although it's a little too vaudeville and burlesque for my taste.

Hey--TooFab, I've got some advice for you.  Hire a webmaster.  This is ridiculous.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This One Will Not Be Funny

It's pretty rare that I use this blog to write about something that I am passionate about, something that is serious, something that I am not attempting to use humor to deal with.  This is just too horrible.

Last night, I flew home from Las Vegas and arrived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport at 9:30.  Every last seat of the large plane was filled and so even though I had packed a carry-on sized bag, I had checked it.  As a result, my girls and I were standing at the baggage claim until 10:30 waiting for our luggage.  There is a large television screen mounted above the carousel, and despite the lateness of the hour, Anderson Cooper was broadcasting about the protests and government crackdown taking place in Libya. 

I hadn't seen anything remotely new related for a few days, and I was floored.  It was less than a month ago that the protests began in Egypt, and it seemed that the entire Middle East was rising up against the limited benefits of "stability" and demanding civil rights and democracy.  Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya and Bahrain, refusing to accept more decades of repression and tyranny.

However, Libya is not Egypt, and Mommar Qaddafi is not Hosni Mubarak, and the military and the police were using extreme force to put down the Libyan protests.  Qaddafi had shut down media outlets, and Anderson Cooper was getting what news he could through cell phone conversations with residents of the areas where the protests were happening.  There was no video of the caller, and in the airport there was also no sound: only stock film clips running under the closed captioning of the dialog.

One caller admitted to being frightened, and hiding inside, because the military were shooting any young people who were found outside.  At the same time, the caller felt that it was his obligation to take some risks in order to create a future for his country.  He was afraid to die, but he was also afraid to let the moment pass without forcing the regime to change.

Periodically, Cooper turned to in-studio experts to analyze what was happening in Libya, and the situation remained horrifying.  Qaddafi had called out helicopter gunboats and had ordered the military to fire and bomb his own citizens. The expert was appalled at this brutality, and felt that it showed how completely out of touch Qaddafi was with the political realities of his country.

When Cooper returned to the caller, something was happening that the caller couldn't explain.  All that I could glean from the closed captioning was a sense of utter chaos descending, and the caller's desperate belief that Qaddafi would rather kill every last Libyan rather than step down from power.  The caller began to plead, passionately and hopelessly "please, it is important that the media stop this.  Call President Obama, contact someone who can get Qaddafi to stop the killing, because he will not stop.  Please, do what you can to force him to stop killing people, because he would rather rule an empty country than give up his power.  Please do what you can to make this stop!"

And then, in a move that smacked of every cynical movie or novel I have ever seen, Anderson Cooper cut off the call and faced the camera, saying "What do you think about this situation?  The chat lines are open.  Call us or post your thoughts on the web site."

I literally could not believe it.  A profound human tragedy was taking place--live via cell phone connection--as a country tried to throw off a brutal dictator who had no qualms about gunning down his own population.  There was a desperate cry for help to stop the slaughter. . .and Anderson Cooper simply turned it into a call-in show and an internet chat topic.

Qaddafi has been dictator for some 40 years of a country that is trying to end the corrupt regime.  He has shown that he is willing to put down the protests in a brutal fashion.  Surely there was something more to do that to open up public chat.

I have become embarrassed by my country, and this elevation of television/internet audience protocols over actual information and assistance is something we should all be embarrassed by.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Did I Not Know This? Jimmy Buffet Has Let Me Down.

It turns out that today is "National Margarita Day!"

Actually, every day is National Margarita Day, if you are me. Just like it's always 5 o'clock somewhere.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Appreciating Shakespeare: the "Nooooooooo!" Edition

Spotted this on Slate's Browbeat blog--a full eleven and a half minutes of people shouting "No."  Check it out.

At about the 4:00 mark, I was thinking nostalgically of how Shakespeare railed against the heavens in the under-appreciated classic King Lear.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
    You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
    Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
    You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
    Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
    Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
    Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at once,
    That make ingrateful man!

And he goes on from there for another three paragraphs, cursing his fate.  Or earlier, when his two daughters between them refuse to allow him to drag his extravagant train of one hundred knights into their homes, he refuses to believe them and calls down curses.  Although at the moment, he can't think of any specific revenge, he knows he will come up with something horrible:

No, you unnatural hags,
    I will have such revenges on you both,
    That all the world shall--I will do such things,--
    What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth.

Or, he could just keep screaming 'Noooooooooooo!"  

Oh, that Shakespeare--you have to admire him.  Especially after watching eleven and a half minutes that demonstrate how far we have fallen over 400 years.