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Archive for the ‘actresses’ Category

There was a time when all science fiction movies were just that – fiction. Written and told by future thinkers…storytellers. But the close ties to reality painted by the screenwriters and actors who contributed to “District 9” changed my views of science fiction during the course of the movie.

Having only watched “District 9” once, I’m sure I’ve missed all the subtleties of present-day politics, human rights and persistent (and evil) search for control and power. Oh wait. I caught these three parallels so obviously portrayed in this movie. But there’s more. Much more.

“District 9” brings home the nuances of just how ugly human kind can be when placed in odd circumstances. Not that the war crimes committed by Nazis in WWII could ever be forgotten, but it’s just one instance in which this movie shows through parallel how completely brutal people can be when self-motivation overrules common sense.

This story is unique and unfolds in ways no unsuspecting movie watcher could anticipate. And while there were one or two moments in which I thought, “okay, that wasn’t necessary,” by and large the vast majority of this movie seemed more real and possible than any alien-based movie I’ve seen since “Signs.”

And I’ll admit, I have a thing about aliens on Earth that tends to keep me up at night.

Go see “District 9” and you’ll forget its even about alien creatures and “what if” scenarios. Because, in the end, we are such an imperfect bunch of humans.

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Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder star in this set-in-LA movie about greed, sex, rock and roll and “the industry.” The screenplay, by Brett Ellis, highlights the continuum of those on the pinnacle of success with those in the far corners of darkness and anonymity.

I want to see this movie!

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I once watched a truly terrible movie, “Kabluey.”  (Should have known it was gonna be bad when the flick starred Lisa Kudrow…but the premise of it seemed good). Afterward I thought to myself, “Why would anyone produce such a major waste of time?” Now, whenever I pass that DVD jacket at the local rental store, I laugh inside. Last week while shopping at the rental store, I noticed someone pick up the movie and I had to refrain from shouting, “Don’t rent it! It’s awful!” But I hushed myself.

Moments later in the store, I was checking out a flick called, “Lake City.” Little did I know it was equally sucky. We watched “Lake City,” on Sunday and at one point during the movie, I looked across the living room and said, “This feels like it was made for TV.” It wasn’t, but it was written, directed and produced like it was. Note to self: Sissy Spacek can’t really act and she can’t get by in movies on her good looks. What’s more, Dave Matthews can’t play the evil bad guy. His face is too kind.

Meanwhile, I’m thoroughly enjoying season one of “Deadwood,” which I’ve nearly completed watching. I’ve added season two to my Netfkix queue along with Will Smith’s  “Seven Pounds,” something I never saw in theaters.

The occasional bad movie resembles a bad cup of coffee. It’s bitter or weak and gets cold before you can finish it…but it’s still coffee and if you love coffee you drink it anyway.

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Valentine’s Day night found me at the W Hotel in downtown Minneapolis celebrating the 30th birthday of a friend’s friend. I’ve not been to the Living Room bar at the hotel, adjacent to Manny’s Steakhouse, since last October.  And unlike that first experience, which was quiet and comfortable, last night the place was rockin’ with people – beautiful, unassuming couples and ostentatious men and women whom I was embarrassed for because of their crazy costumes on Feb. 14. It’s Valentine’s Day, not Halloween, right?!?

So our small group of eight stood in the midst of all the couples enjoying their evening at a hip bar/restaurant and we drank our Grey Goose martinis or Manhattans. One lively conversation led to another and another, including the topic of Obama’s economic stimulus package recently passed by the Senate and scheduled for signing on Feb. 17.  As I talked with young 30-somethings just getting married and starting their lives, their interest in owning a home is a clear priority. But some don’t have the financial wherewithall to make it a reality. Obama’s plan allows for first-time home buyers to obtain an $8,000 tax credit if they purchase a home by Dec. 31, 2009. Not bad, but wouldn’t this stimulus plan be even better if that a$8,000 could be immediately applied to the downpayment a first-time home buyer needs to make? That would finally enable many who don’t have an adequate downpayment to push their ability over that hurdle. I guess there’s more than one way to stimulate the economy, but in our current woeful economic state, I’m of the opinion the best way to stimulate the economy is to put funds and programs directly into the hands of people who have long-term plans. Homebuyers, for example.

From the trendy and hip W, the group moved west several blocks to a bar along First Avenue called, The Ugly Mug. Here is where I had a quick glass of Blue Moon and then checked out for the night. Not only is this place designed exclusively for Gen We-ers, it’s also excessively loud. At my age, I prefer not to stand in a bar pretending to hear conversation when all I can do is see lips moving, nod in return and smile a lot.  God, I sound old.

Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei make “The Wrestler,” an Oscar worthy movie. I finally got to see this film on Saturday afternoon. The audience was small, but it was Valentine’s Day at 5 p.m., and this movie isn’t really a feel-good kinda show.  Those who haven’t seen Rourke since his pretty boy days of “9 1/2 Weeks,” won’t recognize him. This role was essentially written for him, and I got the impression that Rourke barely had to act to fulfill his part in the film, especially given the past two decades of his life and the hard knocks he’s lived through. Still, the story is a good one, the father/daughter struggle all to painfully real, and the wrestling scenes almost comical in a very WWE kind of way. Tomei, in her role as stripper/single mom, deserves a solid for making her part not just relevant but dominant throughout the movie. Her torn life and dream to make something more of herself become the antithesis of Randy “Ram’s” day-to-day, piss it all away rut that he can’t get out of. In the end it seems they both get exactly what they want.

See “The Wrestler,” in theaters if for nothing else to say you saw Rourke in his comeback effort and Tomei looking beautiful in her plain-Jane kinda way she does so well. Stay for the credits and hear Bruce Springsteen sing the title track to the movie.

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Where does the time go?

Friday found me at The Guthrie in Minneapolis taking in a play written by the late Wendy Wasserstein. “Third,” proved an excellent production and, as The Guthrie productions are known to do, left the audience with plenty to talk about afterwards. I’m always amazed at the caliber of theatre productions throughout the city. So, when my 17-year-old (who is purely theatre-hungry at her young age) opts to go with her pals to Duluth to see a play I scratch my head. There are, of course, various reasons to travel 150 miles to see a college production – the road trip and adventure being excuse enough. I chalk it up to that and recall my own experiences at that age – when my best friends piled in a car and drove six hours to see George Winston and Spyro Gyra at the Kool Jazz Festival right here in Minneapolis. Those are memory keeper moments.

Saturday was father/son day including a karate lesson (my son is a red belt), an oil change on the Mazda 6, and lunch at Culver’s. Culver’s Restaurant is known for its butter burger – something which I haven’t eaten for more than two years. The place does make a good chili, though, which has far fewer bad things loaded in it than a butter burger and basket of french fries.

And today was laundry day – which seemed to last ALL damn day. In between washing and drying, I did purchase and install a new light fixture. Naturally, the manufacturer failed to provide adequate instructions as well as all the needed parts. But after some loud, tourette-inspired swearing, I found a work around and managed the install without a return trip to the Home Depot. Light in Minnesota is such a valuable thing. And even though we gain an hour of daylight on March 9, it seems we can never have enough light during the dark, winter season.

Speaking of winter, it is back in the atmosphere again. Freezing rain turned to snow after the sun set making streets and roads just slippery enough to create havoc. As hurried as we are for spring to arrive, we have to temper that excitement with the simple fact that it’s only March 2 and we could easily have a good snow fall or two (or three) before the end of April.

CCI wrapped my Sunday with an episode of “Dirt,” featuring Courteney Cox. In “Dirt,” Cox plays Lucy Spiller, editor of the tabloid magazine. She is a manipulative, take-no-prisoners , ruthless, Type A personality who rules over a chaotic newsroom. Lucy is intimidating, cold and, most times, a straight-up bitch. Indeed, the FX Network’s show cuts across a wide swath of my interests including adult themes, Courteney Cox, tabloid editing, Courteney Cox, photography, Courteney Cox, and bizarre plot twists. Did I mention Courteney Cox?

Life could never be quite so enthralling or creative as those who create such original theatre scripts as “Third,” or television programs like “Dirt.” But, we can still create and direct ourselves.

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Pirates of the Caribbean actress Keira Knightley has done it. She’s capitulated to the demands of the entertainment media and allowed herself to be photographed sans clothing (well, she’s kept a little dignity it appears). The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reveals a couple of the provocative, for-public, printable photographs on its web site.

KKWhy do starlets do it? Attention.

It wasn’t that long ago that Little Miss Knightley graced the pages of all entertainment and gossip magazines – taking heat for being a walking skeleton with some skin attached to her tiny bones.

When that coverage died down, and other actresses like Lindsey Lohan dominated the media with drunk driving and doping antics that landed them in jail and rehab, Knightley’s publicist no doubt schemed the semi-clad photo shoot.  What a perfect excuse to get the star back onto the covers of magazines all over the world.

You just can’t go wrong with nudity. Brilliant work!  Knightley should double her publicist’s salary.

So, alas, here is Ms. Knightley in all her…errr….scantily clad glory. It appears she’s put on a few pounds in the past year or two. Success does have its rewards, eh Keira?

Photo Credit: Sam Taylor-Wood

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New movie releases that only open in New York and LA often get ignored in fly-over states like Minnesota. But if there’s a movie to keep on the radar this fall, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” sounds like the one.

Reviews such as this one in The New York Times, make me jittery to see this film. Directed by Sidney Lumet, who happens to be an octagenerian (and who also happens to have directed 40-plus movies in the past 50 years), “Before…” is an all-in-the-family crime-gone-wrong story. The trailer sucked me in. The cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney to name a few. And yes, Hoffman plays the bad seed…the provoker. His ability with characters such as the one in this movie always make viewers despise him…in a good way.

BTDKYD

Those getting sneak peeks at the film are saying Lumet has hit his prime…in his senior years. If you don’t know, Lumet also directed such films as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Prince of The City. “Before the Devil…” may just make him a household name.

Interestingly, several years ago The NY Times ran a piece about Elmore Leonard and his 10 Tips on Writing. In that piece, Leonard suggests that if a writer must provide detailed descriptions about characters, he or she isn’t doing his job. Liken that to this line written in The NY Times review of “Before the Devil…”:

Andy and Hank are not explained, dissected or excused. They speak their lines and carry out their actions, and, by the time the film is over, we know them inside and out.

Seems like Lumet and Leonard are on the same page.

I’ll be seeing this film.

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