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Mystery: is Jared Leto Attractive?

15 Aug

Yesterday I saw the new DC Comics movie Suicide Squad.  Overall, it wasn’t very good.  In fact, I have a lot of problems with it.  Perhaps my biggest problem after seeing the movie is that I am now faced with a dilemma that haunts me: is Jared Leto attractive?  I have never been attracted to Jared Leto before.  I had zero opinions on Jordan Catalano.*  I saw him in Fight Club when I was twelve, but my loins only burned for Brad Pitt.  I saw 30 Seconds to Mars live in 2012.  I bought all of their albums and enjoyed them.  But was I attracted to Jared Leto as he sang in an allegedly haunted old theater in Colorado Springs? I don’t think so.  No, in fact, I know so.  I have never been attracted to Jared Leto.

But yesterday, something changed.  Perhaps it’s a visceral change that took place within my body, in an involuntary manner.  But it finally happened.  I was attracted to Jared Leto.  He was in costume.  He was in full-body makeup.  His hair was dyed lime green.  He was wearing a very strange silver “grill,” as the kids would say.  He had a face tattoo that said “damaged”.  There was no denying it in this moment.  I was in love for two hours.  I am upset that most of the Joker’s scenes were cut from the movie.  I want to know more.  I need to see more. I yearn, I pine, I scream inside, for this….

Jared Leto Joker 1

I forgot about this too…

Jared Leto Joker 2

Let the record show that on August 14, 2016, I, Heather Marulli, was finally attracted to Jared Leto.  This is a day for the history books.

*I did, however, have very strong opinions on Heath Ledger and I probably watched 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight’s Tale hundreds of times because he was indeed, an undeniably beautiful man.  However, I did not find Ledger attractive as the Joker.

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88th Annual Academy Award Predictions

28 Feb

Wow, it’s that time of year again.  Another year that neither you nor I will not be winning a gold statue and the recognition of our peers.  Another year that Hollywood will praise each other for making it into a small circle of elitism.  Another year of dresses and jewelry more expensive than what most Americans could ever own or dream of.  Another year of gift bags worth hundreds of thousands of dollars!!!

2015 was a strange year for film, one that Bret Easton Ellis calls “the worst year for American film ever”.  Tell us how you really feel!  Did you see the films?  I saw most of this year’s films, and the only Best Picture nominee I skipped is Bridge of Spies.  Quite honestly, it looked like a snoozefest and we get it, Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg are important entities.

Here are my predictions of winners, along with who I believe SHOULD WIN!!!

Best Picture

  • “The Big Short”
  • “Bridge of Spies”
  • “Brooklyn”
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road”
  • “The Martian”
  • “The Revenant”
  • “Room”
  • “Spotlight”

WILL WIN:

Spotlight.jpg

“Spotlight”.  The Best Picture category seems to swing away from the films that win for acting and directing.  For some reason, I feel like this will win Best Picture.  However, I have some criticisms of this film.  I think they were trying to make a contemporary “All the President’s Men,” and the subject matter and era simply do not fit.  How many times did we see Mark Ruffalo frantically running?  Did we need that? Why was Liev Schreiber’s character so boring?  Why was he there?

SHOULD WIN:

“The Revenant”.  This was the best film of the year.  I was captivated.  Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast called it a “theater of pain”.  Honestly, if that’s what this film is, I love theaters of pain.

Best Actor

  • Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo”
  • Matt Damon for “The Martian”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”
  • Michael Fassbender for “Steve Jobs”
  • Eddie Redmayne for “The Danish Girl”

WILL WIN:

Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant.jpg

Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”.  What a performance.  Leo has been nominated many times and he’s never won.  He’s played many roles and nailed all of them.  He is, quite honestly, the greatest living actor of his generation.  This was a simple performance, but it highlighted his strengths.

SHOULD WIN:

Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”.  There is no other choice for me.

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett for “Carol”
  • Brie Larson for “Room”
  • Jennifer Lawrence for “Joy”
  • Charlotte Rampling for “45 Years”
  • Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn”

WILL WIN:

Brie Larson Room.jpg

Brie Larson for “Room”.  Larson’s performance was simply astonishing.  This film had me captivated the entire time.  Larson was calm and complex in this role.  She deserves this.

SHOULD WIN:

Brie Larson for “Room”.  See Above.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale for “The Big Short”
  • Tom Hardy for “The Revenant”
  • Mark Ruffalo for “Spotlight”
  • Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies”
  • Sylvester Stallone for “Creed”

WILL WIN:

Creed.jpg

Sylvester Stallone for “Creed”.  I think Stallone will get this award as a default achievement award.  They tend to give Best Supporting Actor to older guys.  He also won the Golden Globe.

SHOULD WIN:

Tom Hardy Revenant

Tom Hardy for “The Revenant”.  Tom Hardy is a superior actor and he impresses me very time he is onscreen.  Did you see Locke?  What about Legend, where he played two very different twin brothers?  This guy is a powerhouse who deserves an award soon.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh for “The Hateful Eight”
  • Rooney Mara for “Carol”
  • Rachel McAdams for “Spotlight”
  • Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl”
  • Kate Winslet for “Steve Jobs”

WILL WIN:

Alicia Vikander The Danish Girl

Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl.”  Alicia has a lot of heat in her career right now, and I see her picking up this award.  She won the SAG Award as well.  I actually think her performance in Ex Machina is more worthy, but The Danish Girl was an obvious prestige film that was released during awards season on purpose.

SHOULD WIN:

Jennifer Jason Leigh for “The Hateful Eight.” If you haven’t seen her in this film, just get ready to be shocked by the transformation.  She is a little powerhouse.

Best Director

  • Adam McKay for “The Big Short”
  • George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road”
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “The Revenant”
  • Lenny Abrahamson for “Room”
  • Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”

WILL WIN:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “The Revenant”.  I have a feeling that the single shot that opens this film is Best Director-worthy.  I also feel somehow that The Revenant might not win Best Picture, which means they will give Best Director to Inarrritu.

SHOULD WIN:

Adam McKay for “The Big Short.”  This was an amazing film from someone who normally does lowbrow comedy.  I was truly impressed.  I cannot wait to see more heavy subject matter from McKay.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen for “Bridge of Spies”
  • Alex Garland for “Ex Machina”
  • Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley for “Inside Out”
  • Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”
  • Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff for “Straight Outta Compton”

WILL WIN:

Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”.  This is a tough call for me since the Golden Globe winner, Aaron Sorkin, was not nominated for Jobs.  Was that a snub from the Academy?  I suppose Spotlight will win here.

SHOULD WIN:

Alex Garland for “Ex Machina”.  The fact that Ex Machina was an original story blows my mind.  Ex Machina is not being talked about enough at all.  Oscar Isaac deserves a nomination for his role, and I see this film as worthy of being a Best Picture nominee.  I think it’s early 2015 release date hurt those chances.

Best Adapted Sceenplay

  • Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for “The Big Short”
  • Nick Hornby for “Brooklyn”
  • Phyllis Nagy for “Carol”
  • Drew Goddard for “The Martian”
  • Emma Donoghue for “Room”

WILL WIN:

Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for “The Big Short”.  I loved this film and since McKay won the BAFTA for Best Adapted, he’s my pick.  The script did a good job of explaining a complicated problem to normal people.

SHOULD WIN:

Drew Goddard for “The Martian”.  This film was hilarious, dramatic, gripping, and honestly, one of the most entertaining of the year.  Goddard should win for making a story about getting abandoned on Mars actually quite hilarious.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • “Anomalisa”
  • “Boy & the World”
  • “Inside Out”
  • “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
  • “When Marnie Was There”

WILL WIN:

Inside Out

“Inside Out.”  This is the clearly superior film of the year as far as animation.  There was something about Anomalisa that I kind of hated, even though I love Charlie Kaufman and consider him to be a god.

SHOULD WIN:

“Inside Out.”

I’m mostly looking forward to Chris Rock.  Enjoy tonight!

I Just Watched the Complete Series of Six Feet Under and All I Got was This Lousy Sense of Existential Dread

11 Sep
Six Feet Under starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell

Six Feet Under: starring Rachel Griffiths, Peter Krause, Michael C.Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez, Mathew St. Patrick, Justina Machado, Jeremy Sisto and James Cromwell.

I am not a traditional television binge watcher, but it took me a little over a month to watch all 63 episodes of the 2001-2005 HBO series Six Feet Under, and today, I can say that I am finished with the series.  The show, which follows the Fisher family, a multigenerational clam operating a funeral home in Los Angeles.  The show opens with the death of its patriarch, the mysterious Nathaniel Fisher, whose life remains somewhat of a mystery to his three children Nate (Peter Krause), David (Michael C. Hall) and Claire (Lauren Ambrose).  To me, the show was a bit dated and filled with references to things that no one speaks about now – Sarah McLachlan, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and old cellphones, but if you can move past that bit of weird frozen-in-time feeling, you will make it through the series.

One of the things that I believe makes the series very difficult to watch is the low likability of several of the main characters.  We often see some members of the Fisher family and their surrounding characters acting in very selfish and narrow-minded ways.  Rico (Freddy Rodriguez) is one of the characters who only continued to build in his self-righteous and self-preserving ways.  I will never understand why Rico continued his employ and later partnership with David and Nate – he always seemed ready to fight with nearly everyone.  Rico’s character also provides moral conflict when the supposedly upstanding religious father and husband begins an affair with Sophia, a stripper who apparently gives him the best BJ ever, placing his marriage in jeopardy.  This storyline eventually becomes so stale that there is no way audience can continue to support Rico, and his character essentially becomes tarnished for the remainder of the series.

The major theme of the series of course is death, and each episode of the series begins with a death that demonstrates the delicate nature of life and the possibility that death is always nearby and a very real possibility.  Of course, from the pilot opening with the death of Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins), and the final episode of the series imagining the future deaths of the major characters of the show, the series stays true to its theme.  Despite this strength, the series is marred by a parade of selfish, over-bearing characters who are concerned with nothing but themselves.  Perhaps this is the aspect of the show that is truest to life, as learning that most people are selfish by nature is a part of reality.

Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) is a character who never quite gets over the fact that there is little more to life than getting older, working a job that you probably don’t really care for, and having difficulties in personal relationships.  He is consistently selfish in his interactions with his longtime on-again/off-again girlfriend Brenda Chenowith (Rachel Griffiths), which leads me to believe that Nate is actually the unbalanced person in that relationship, and not the long-suffering Brenda.  A good portion of Nate’s storyline finds him struggling with the idea of death, especially when he learns that he has a medical condition known as AVM, an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain.  This will become important again later in the series.

Brenda, often portrayed as the “crazy one” on the series (alongside her brother), was formerly the subject of a psychology book studying her odd behavior as a child (Charlotte Light and Dark), is thoroughly damaged by her wealthy psychiatrist parents who were openly sexual in front of her and her brother Billy.  Billy Chenowith (Jeremy Sisto) is Brenda’ s bipolar artist brother who has a relationship with Claire early in the series and again once more later on.  Billy, seemingly forever unstable, later confesses to Brenda that he is in love with her – one of the few moments in the series that caused me to audibly gasp out loud.

Out of the more impressive performances in the series, Frances Conroy as Ruth Fisher, the widowed matriarch, is followed on a near-endless series of romantic mishaps and frustrations.  It is interesting to see an older woman struggling to not only reconcile the death of her husband, but to also seek love in unlikely places.  We think that Ruth finds true happiness and love with George Sibley (James Cromwell), but we see how that relationship has its own flaws.  Ruth’s experiences serve as a mirror of reality for viewers, teaching them that although life is ultimately good, it is filled with endless challenges and surprises.  My favorite character on the show is David Fisher (Michael C. Hall), Nate’s initially closeted brother and the heir apparent of the Fisher and Sons funeral home.  This is the most genuine performance on the series, with David confronting nearly every fear and personal problem possible.  His tumultuous relationship with Keith (Matthew St. Patrick) is a major focus of the show, in addition to the couple’s struggles to have a child.  For a television show produced in the early aughts, this is groundbreaking writing and focus on a committed homosexual couple, which was really never seen before.  Michael C. Hall, who later went on to play Dexter Morgan on Showtime’s series about a moral serial killer, is a national treasure as far as I’m concerned.  There is, however, a very long storyline involving an incident in which David was held at gunpoint by a crazed stranger that continues to drag on far too long.

Overall, the series is a great precursor to Alan Ball’s later work, which of course includes another familiar HBO series, True Blood.   The subject matter of Six Feet Under is daring for the time in which it aired, bringing death, humanity, and sexuality to the forefront of paid cable television.  This is one of the original series that established HBO as a powerhouse, as it originally aired on Sundays, following The Sopranos.

My biggest criticism of the series is perhaps not a valid criticism at all, but I truly was annoyed by several characters on a regular basis.  The biggest offender of this was the character of Nate Fisher, Jr., who is also the protagonist of the series.  In his relationship with Brenda, I found him to be insufferably selfish, and when he later marries Lisa out of obligation (i.e., pregnancy), he becomes even more unbearably obnoxious.  I suppose the goal of Nate’s character was to show us that life really does not have to be something amazing that we imagine in our heads – it can simply be what we have, and our obligation is to enjoy it as best we can.  Nate’s narcissistic worldview that he was worth more than being a funeral director and worth more than being with Brenda was hard to watch.  If you make it to season five, some of Nate’s actions will leave you very upset, including a fateful scene in which Nate crosses the line.

If you can bear the thought of watching a show with the primary theme of death, Six Feet Under is worth watching.  However, be prepared to wallow in thoughts of death and dying for far too long during your day.  This series successfully explores the classic question of existentialism: what does it all mean?

Question: Is Overboard the Greatest Movie of All Time?

24 Apr

Overboard

Answer: it is quite possible that Overboard is the greatest movie of all time.  There are several reasons for this, which will be outlined below in a convenient listicle.  For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the 1987 Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn comedy, I feel nothing but sorrow for you.  This is a film filled with hilarity, life lessons, and a great 1980s-style switcheroo plot. HBO Go was recently streaming Overboard, which means you have no excuse to not watch it immediately on some type of streaming platform. DO IT NOW.

For those of you who have not seen Overboard, the film tells the story of Dean Proffitt, a widower father of four crazed boys who works as a carpenter by day and in various odd jobs at night in order to support his family.

On a fateful day, Dean is called out for a job to build a closet on the yacht of a very wealthy couple, Joanna Stayton (Goldie Hawn, in her comedic and physical prime), and Dean Stayton (Edward Hermann).  Joanna, wearing some of the most ridiculous 1980’s fashions and constantly berating Dean, is a classic rich bitch.

After she refuses to pay Dean for not building her closet to her standards, Joanna falls OVERBOARD her yacht when she drops her wedding ring and attempts to retrieve it. Joanna is then found the next day, but she is suffering from amnesia and has no idea who she is.  Dean, seeing the news report on Joanna, goes to the hospital claiming that the woman is his wife, using knowledge of a birth mark he saw on Joanna’s bottom as proof that he knows her in the biblical sense.

Joanna, renamed Annie Proffitt, then learns the real hard knocks of life, including raising Dean’s kids, cooking, cleaning, and more.

Here are solid evidentiary reasons why Overboard just might be the greatest movie of all time:

1.  The reasoning behind the use of cedar closets, as told by Goldie Hawn’s character, Joanna Stayton, pre-amnesia:  “Because one would think that you would know that closets are made of cedar…the entire civilized world knows that ALL closets are made of cedar.”

2. “I’m a short, fat, slut”. – Goldie Hawn realizing her new reality as Annie Proffitt while wearing one of Annie’s oversized dresses.

3. Goldie Hawn’s outfits before she falls “overboard” her yacht.

Goldie Hawn as Joanna Stayton

4. Kurt Russell’s bulging muscles.

Kurt Russell

5. Amnesia – what was more funny in the 80’s than a good old-fashioned case of amnesia and the comedic effects of a switcheroo?  This is second only to body-swapping films of the 1980’s.  (Does anyone remember Kirk Cameron and Dudley Moore in Like Father Like Son?)

When you really think about it, the plot of Overboard would really never happen, because what Dean did is kind of creepy…but he gets away with it because he’s hot.  Ah, the 80’s – a time I barely remember because I was an infant.  Please watch Overboard for a dose of nostalgia!

Because the Internet: In Defense of Childish Gambino

7 Jan

A few weeks ago, Gawker featured an essay by Kyla Marshell as part of their ongoing “True Stories” series published every Saturday morning.  Ms. Marshell’s choice of topic was glaringly irrelevant, ill-researched, and all-around unnecessary.  With the anticipation of the release of Because the Internet, the third album by actor-writer-rapper Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover, Ms. Marshell found it an appropriate time to attack the character of Glover, calling him a “sad black boy”.

The majority of her critique of Glover is admittedly ill-informed.  Marshell notes that hip-hop is not something she knows too much about:

I don’t know much about rap, so I’m not sure who the reigning emperor of pussy and bitches (what’s the difference?) is, but whoever claims the throne, they don’t need any more subjects. Which is funny, because he should make Donald their jester.

Marshell goes on to say that she saw Glover’s picture and thought he was cute, and that’s how she eventually ended up at one of his shows.  Clearly this is a poor measurement of a rapper’s worth. Then, Ms. Marshell takes a real jab at Glover:

Donald is just so awkward, so uncomfortable in his own skin. In addition to his posture problems and unwillingness to blink is the fact that he’s so caught up on his childhood. Childish Gambino could be fudged into simpler terms to mean Babyish Baby, and that’s apt. Donald’s childhood, I glean, was very similar to mine: an ethnically black child who grew up culturally white because of the surrounding school system and neighborhood. The difference between him and me, however, is that I found something else to say besides Ow.

This seemingly endless personal attack on Glover does nothing to substantiate any legitimate claims about his music.  Instead, the focus simply becomes how “awkward” and uncomfortable” Glover appears onstage.

I am well-aware of my minimal connection to Glover, but I somehow find the need to defend him and his work.  I first saw Donald Glover live onstage in a Hammerkatz sketch performance at NYU in 2006.  I was a freshman, and he was either a senior or just graduated, and already employed by 30 Rock.  I’ve always had aspirations in comedy, which I am currently pursuing, and I was thoroughly impressed to see someone who was making a similar dream and goals a reality for himself.  To young aspiring writers, especially those in comedy, Donald Glover is a model of perseverance and hard work and where it takes you when it pays off.  Not to mention that he is one of the most gifted people around today.  A lot of people try comedy, try to write, and try to act.  And many of them fail.  the fact that Glover does all of those things professionally and on a high level of success is something to admire.

Marshell’s observation that Glover’s stage performance overflowed with nervousness and tension is nearly irrelevant.  Given that Donald Glover is a seasoned performer, primarily in sketch and improv, perhaps it is natural for him to show tension in his nascent music career.  Because the Internet is a diary of contemporary disposable culture, wrapped in pretty rhymes and inverted wordplay.  This album is the birth of a truly great rap artist, and displays much more maturity than the previous Gambino effort, Camp.  Perhaps Glover is nervous onstage for a reason; not everyone finds their way in every art form the first time.  The progression of his lyricism speaks volumes about how seriously Glover is taking his work.

Gambino’s new album is a nonstop confessional of a fast come-up and the tangled mess of love and loss that typically makes up the experience of someone in their mid to late 20’s.  “Telegraph Ave. (“Oakland” by Lloyd)” is probably my favorite track on the album.  Gambino moves between singing and rapping a la Drake, but with what feels like a more genuine sense of depth.  Gambino is a more nuanced version of Drake, less about the platinum on his wrist, and more about the feelings he gets from his big come up.  There are flourishes of humor throughout the album, and it feels as though Gambino is purposefully twisting around some of the tropes of rap and making them all his own and inherently intellectual.

On “Sweatpants,” Gambino chants “don’t be mad cause I’m doing me better than you doing you,” reminding his haters that his grind is all about him, even if he is trying to be ironic.  Gambino also displays some fun wordplay on this track: “I’ve got a penthouse on both coasts, pH balance;” “I got more tail than that PetCo, you faker than some Sweet ‘N Low”.

On the final track, the most appropriately named “Life: The Biggest Troll,”  Glover makes the most important observation of the album: “Because the internet, mistakes are forever”.  This is essentially the new motto of the millenial generation.  In an age where everything is tweeted, blogged, Instagrammed, and Facebooked to death, our past remains in this odd little capsule, and anything we say can be used against us, especially the dumb things we say. Perhaps Kyla Marshell did not get this memo.

Because the Internet: 8.5/10

Cash, Hoes, and Coke: Reconciling the Realness of The Wolf of Wall Street

28 Dec

People really hate this movie.  Martin Scorcese’s three-hour opus to money, drugs, and sex is The Wolf of Wall Street, and oh my, how people hate it.  I use the Fandango app to check on movie times at my favorite theaters, and some of the reviews written by moviegoers sum up the main reasons why people hate this movie:

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

Essentially, people hate this movie because of the sex, drugs, and profanity.  Some of the anti-sex comments in these reviews are ridiculous and point to the highly puritanical views held deep within the American consciousness.  Middle America does not find amusement in the depiction of sex of any kind, even though sex is happening at all times and in all places.  Despite the nudity and depictions of threesomes, homosexual sex, and blow jobs, this movie is not simply about sex.  It’s about drugs, too.  And money.

The film follows the story of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a penny stock trader who recruited a group of buffoons he knew in Queens to push crappy penny stocks on unsuspecting victims, eventually targeting the wealthiest one percent of Americans.  Although Jordan Belfort is far from a notorious financial criminal like Bernie Madoff, he certainly made some enemies at the peak of his trading scam, from the late 1980s to the early aughts, when he eventually went to prison (country club prison, natch) for a total of 22 months and received a sentence to pay $110 million in restitution.  The problem that many have with this film is the establishment of Belfort as the protagonist.  This of course stems from the assumption that the protagonist of a story must always be virtuous, which is simply not the case.  In fact, Jordan is a problematic protagonist, and the audience knows right away that his focus is money, and that he’ll go any length to get it.  We know that he’s an asshole, but guess what? He’s a likable asshole!!! This is the crux of the film, which everyone seems to have overlooked.  Not only is this film satirical, but much of its satire is found in the behaviors of Jordan himself.  This is a man so full of himself that he breaks the fourth wall to tell his own story, and what a gloriously vain story it is.  Jordan Belfort is certainly no Gordon Gekko, but, referencing that famed Clint Eastwood quote, he’s a legend in his own mind.  What Belfort is is just an ambitious blue collar kid from the Bronx, not yet knowing that swindling his clients is the only way to make real, tangible bank on Wall Street.  On his first day on Wall Street, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) provides Jordan with sleazy advice (accompanied by a Native American war chant that recurs throughout the film) to simply take money from your clients and keep it.  This is the mantra Belfort adopts, and he begins to target people who he deems to be idiots – people dumb enough to dump thousands of dollars into penny stocks that will go nowhere but down.  He is twenty-two, hungry, and willing to stop at nothing.

From Slate.com

DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort.

One of my friends found this film to be a poorly executed attempt at satire.  He found that the “choices” made by Marty and Leo were simply too much, and did not work at all.  He felt that the film glorified debauchery.  That is indeed what this film does, but the satirical aspect of what Scorcese is trying to say is easily overcome by the stunning visualizations of what money can indeed buy.  Money can buy Lamborghinis, cocaine, and hookers, in an infinite amount, and this movie contains all of that and more.

Like my friend, many are saying that Jordan is glorified throughout the film, however, there are many scenes and incidents that show how much of an asshole he really is.  The reason why the audience ends up liking him is the great irony of what society thinks of money: we hate the assholes who have it, but having it is everyone’s ultimate goal.  We all secretly want to be that kind of asshole who can fill a wastebasket with hundred dollar bills.  Jordan is both who we would never want to be and who we really want to be when we daydream of riches.  Jordan thusly represents that great paradox of contemporary society.  Conspicuous consumerism is pushed relentlessly upon Americans, even in the years following a deep recession.  Even though no one seems to have any money, and stories of loss and poverty flood the mainstream media, companies are still pushing their products, rap stars still flaunt ice and cash, and kids carry around iPads instead of books.  Capitalism is still king.

Another argument my friend makes is that none of the female characters have any depth or anything to say.  That is indeed the very point of how the women are meant to function in the film – Jordan’s wife and the other women are little more than trophies with nothing more to say or do than to spend the money their husbands earn from the work of others.  They are not meant to act as great insightful wells of knowledge.  However, Jordan’s second wife, Naomi (Margot Robbie)  appears to completely understand her role as a sexual object in Jordan’s life.  She uses her sexuality as a tool in order to get the things she wants, and she does not carry guilt about this.  Naomi embodies “pussy power” that she holds over her man, and she uses it to get whatever she wants, including those fly Gucci boots she so knowingly unzips.

As far as the drug use depicted in the film, it was hardly shocking.  Drugs are commonplace among those with money, hell, they are commonplace among those without money.  Maybe I know too much about drugs, maybe I understand all too well that women are really nothing more than tits and ass to many men, or maybe I am simply too jaded to find anything to get angry about in regard to this film.  The acting and editing was great, the script was quite good, and the message of the film is there, as long as you take your time to sift through the orgy of cocaine and hundred dollar bills left behind by Marty.  This is a film that blatantly points out the obsessively capitalist things that are morally remiss in our culture; however, in glorifying cash, hoes, and coke, Scorcese and Terrence Winter, who wrote the screenplay, are sending the message that what our culture obsesses over is not necessarily a good thing.

The Newsroom: Aaron Sorkin Forgets What Year It Is

24 Jun

The cast of HBO’s The Newsroom, looking Sorkinish.

Watching The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series following the misadventures of a Keith Olberman-like cable news anchor (Jeff Daniels), is like being subjected to a horrible children’s show without the pleasure of a cartoon dog. Aaron Sorkin attempted the show-within-a-show genre before in 2006 with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. That show, which you may not remember, failed miserably when it tried to be edgy and smart.

Sorkin is at it again, writing characters who are so unrealistically sharp and quick that their believability is lost when “Written by Aaron Sorkin” appears across the screen.  The way the actors yip their dialogue at each other with such violent speed leaves no time for anything to be absorbed.  The audience is left behind to try to piece together everything that’s just been said as the dialogue continues barreling onward.

The biggest problem with the show is that it takes place two years in the past. I have no idea why and I don’t care to find out why, but the main action of the pilot centers on the news of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  That’s right, the breaking news on The Newsroom happened over two years ago!!! Amazing! Maybe Sorkin is going to try some sort of time-jumping plotting, but I truly doubt that The Newsroom will end up being a science fiction show.

Here’s a sample of Jim Harper (Hello, Jim Halpert!?! Too close!) explaining the seriousness of the oil spill to Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), anchor of News Night on ACN:

Jim: “They don’t know how to cap the well.”

Will: “Why is this well different from other wells?”

Jim: “It’s depth.”

Riveting.

Another issue in the show is the way the female characters speak. In true Aaron Sorkin style, there are two female characters and everyone else has a penis.  Those female characters are Mackenize (Emily Mortimer) and Maggie (Erin Andrews). Could those names be more “Most Popular Names for Children of Yuppies 2007”? Mackenzie dated McAvoy one million years ago (but of course it is a HUGE deal) and is now his executive producer on News Night. She spent her last few assignments in Iraq and is our solitary strong female character, even though she spends the episode whining about McAvoy going on vacation with Erin Andrews. Our other female character is Maggie Jordan (ew), played by Allison Pill. Maggie, most naturally, obsesses over relationships just like Mackenzie. How much penis worship can Sorkin force these two ladies to spew out? Not enough, as the first episode indicates.

Another tired Sorkin standard is the use of camera zooms to emphasize tension between characters and in the story.  If a character says something that is should be perceived as dramatic or intense in any way, the camera will quickly zoom in on their face and then pull back.  This happened at least twenty times in the pilot episode. That zoom is played out, Sorkin.

The Newsroom is another show about a TV show that fails to capture anything relevant.  The fact that the plot of the show centers on an event so far in the past (though not too far as to diminish the impact of the disaster) makes it feel stale and irrelevant.  And who is Jeff Daniels playing? I sense a strong scent of Olbermann with a hint of Bill O’Reilly, without the extreme conservative bent. Supposedly he is a right-leaning journalist, but we have not seen that quite yet. When McAvoy refers to the one minority character (Dev Patel, although I am not counting the nameless black man) on the show as Punjab, that O’Reilly scent arises once more. In any case, Jeff Daniels does not look as serious as the man he is trying to play. He also looks like he had some botox, but that’s just my opinion.

Should you watch The Newsroom? Meh. The Newsroom airs Sunday nights at 10 PM EST on HBO.

Get Your Underthings Right: The Stretch Lace Thong

27 May

As a lady, I like to think I know a thing or two about underwear. I’ve worn it all my life, just like a lady is expected to. It’s taken many years and many trials of various types of underwear, but I’ve decided that there is only one kind for me: the stretch lace thong.

I have not always been a fan of thongs. Early versions I tried dug in on my hips and left strange marks deep in my skin. These early attempts at wearing thongs were also marred by terrible graphic designs on the crotch: cherries, martinis, and smiley faces. Someone actually thought that those were good things to appear on someone’s crotch. These early defeats lead to years of dedication to the boyshort, a cute hip-hugging design that is comfortable but not necessarily forgiving when it comes to VPL. Boyshorts typically do not look okay underneath tight skirts and dresses. As a fan of tight skirts and dresses, though I am not a prostitute, (even though sure they save money on underwear) I am in need of something that will both eliminate VPL and hide my ladyparts. I chose to experiment with the stretch lace thong. Here follows an analysis of four major brands of stretch lace thongs, along with a grade.

1. Victoria’s Secret: The Lacie Thong

The Lacie is a very popular style sold by Victoria’s Secret. It comes in a rainbow of colors and an array of animal prints. Unfortunately, the “one size fits all” title does not seem to apply here. I have around five pairs of the Lacie thong, and they all fit differently. Plus, I have found that the level of annoyance I experience while shopping in Victoria’s Secret while being bombarded by the questions of salesgirls simply is not worth it. No, I do not need help choosing out my “Lacies”. They’re all the same damn size.

Overall grade: C

2. Soma Amazing Stretch Lace Thong

I worked at a Soma store for a few months following my college graduation due to the horrors of the Great Recession. When I got hired, I was able to choose three different pairs of underwear for free. Out of all of the ones I tried, the “amazing” stretch lace thong was the best one. Unfortunately, I found that the lace was really too thin and probably very cheap. The act of putting them on caused my nails to get snagged on the lace and for small holes to show up. I got fired for this job because as the manager told me, “it’s clear to me that your future is not with the magic of Soma.” Damn straight it’s not.

Overall grade: B-

3. Express One Size Fits All Stretch Lace Thong

Express is one of my favorite stores for two reasons: lots of pieces that come in leopard print and coupons. Unfortunately, even though I tend to own half of the items carried in the store at any one time, their thongs are not anything I will seek out in the future. The fit is all wrong and the underwear ends up riding up, riding down, riding sideways -you name it. Also, the material is clearly very cheap. DO NOT BUY THESE.

Overall grade: D

4. Hanky Panky One Size Fits All Stretch Lace Thong

This pair of underwear is a gift from above. Started thirty years ago, Hanky Panky is the brainchild of designer Gale Epstein. Epstein created a custom set of underwear from handkerchiefs for a friend, and after fashion industry professionals got hold of Epstein’s work, Hanky Panky was born. My favorite design is the low-rise lace thong. It’s available in 40 colors. The only downside is the price. At $18 a pair, they are an investment that every lady should make. The Hanky Panky Stretch Lace Thong is the ultimate pair of underwear. It’s also available at Anthropologie and Free People stores.

Overall grade: A