This spring Josh and I sat down with the cast of Sex and the City in a suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York for exclusive chats about the show’s gay fans, plotlines that never made it to the show, Sex-y fashion, and what it was like to return to their characters’ (high-heeled) shoes for Sex and the City: The Movie.
On The Show’s Gay Fans
Cynthia Nixon: In the first couple years of our show we didn’t have any female writers. Our two writers were gay men. There was a lot said about, “These aren’t really women—these are gay men disguised as women,” and that really bugged all of us. It was like, Why aren’t they really women? Because women aren’t having this much sex? That’s annoying.
It’s a very gay friendly show. Not only do we have gay characters, but one of the central themes is a very gay conceit, which is your family is not the family you came from. Your family [develops] when you come to a place you always wanted to be and you meet people who are like you, and you create your own family. You notice in the series that we almost never meet anybody’s family. Once we met Charlotte’s brother. We heard about Miranda’s father after he was dead. But we never meet anybody’s parents or family. And they really wanted to keep it about the family you create.
Sarah Jessica Parker: Because I’m from New York, and I was raised in the theater, the gay community was always part of culture to me. They were always some of the first audiences, always the first people at the preview of a Broadway show, so it wasn’t so shocking to me that they were some of the first, most committed audiences [of our show].
There was a particular attachment to this show, among even my gay friends. It’s less about the salty dialogue and the candid, forthright chat-chat. Your relationship with your gay friends is like your relationships with your straight women friends. It is that deep and that intense and they care about friendships in the same way; they talk and they share. That has been my relationship with gay men, and, of course, the majority of my friends are gay men. And it’s extremely comforting: They always make you feel good, they always make you feel at even your worst moments like a lady—like a girl—and they are never afraid to be honest. They loved the ridiculousness and the absurd and the dirty and costumes, but if there wasn’t an emotional connection to those friendships and what they meant—you know, the gay community can grow weary, and they can move on quickly. But I think that’s what it meant for [the gay community], that kind of connection.
Kim Cattrall: A lot of people ask me if they feel that I’m playing a gay man in New York, and if I am, I am having the most fabulous time as a gay man in New York. I don’t personally think that, but I think it’s a fun thought. I was very happy to be on the cover of The Advocate. I feel like I have arrived in some ways. But there has been a tremendous amount of support from the gay community, and I’m grateful for it.
Kristin Davis: We have been hugely supported by the gay community, absolutely, and we love that. I feel like we’ve got support from a lot of different groups, which I think was edifying to us. I think people in general identify with well-written characters.
But I think also for gay culture—men and women—we were not locked into anything particularly rigid—there’s Samantha and Charlotte and everything in between. It’s colorful and pretty to look at, and we’ve got crazy clothes, and it was risky in a way, and with sexuality, and I think that people felt free about that, and so of course the gay community would vibe with it. But also, when I go home to South Carolina, old women come up to me, and I say, “Really, you watch it? You don’t have heart palpitations?” So it’s been a really good cross section. But we love our gay fans, obviously.
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On Friday night Josh and I chowed down at Chipotle (burrito bowl--yum!) before retiring to his apartment for a documentary double feature.
First we watched No End In Sight, a definitive documentary on the war in Iraq. Where other Iraq documentaries are plodding and mind-numbing, this one is whip-smart and engaging. With the constant barrage of headlines about this bombing or that citizen revolt, it was nice to back up and get the bigger picture from a well-made, non-preachy documentary featuring interviews with some very high-ranking government officials (who actually concede errors were made) and other well-respected talking heads. As Josh said, "It's nice to see all this information in one place."
Next we popped in Shut Up and Sing, which I've now seen three times (it was Josh K's first time) and seeing it again set in stone my love for the film. The documentary explores the controversy when Natalie Maines, one of the Dixie Chicks, said at a concert "I just want y'all to know that we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas" just before the Iraq war broke out in 2003. A media hailstorm ensued, complete with country fans smashing and burning Dixie Chicks CDs. The film is an intimate portrait of the group, whom you can't help but grow to love and admire as the cameras follow them from that fateful moment up until their win three years later for Best Song of the Year for "Not Ready To Make Nice." I'm not a country fan, but after seeing the documentary I definitely went out and bought their CD.
Both are must-see DVDs. They really are pefect to watch as a pair, too. Check 'em out.
On Saturday Josh and I had brunch at our favorite diner in Hell's Kitchen before hopping the 2 train to Brooklyn to check out the Brooklyn Museum.
The Brooklyn Museum.
Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party," the much-celebrated 1970s feminist art milestone.
Josh H. browsing the collections, hoodie and all.
Goodnight, Brooklyn Museum!
Afterward we took the train to Union Square where we hit up Strand Books. (I may or may not have purchased three books in a measure we all like to call "retail therapy.") We went to Paragon to hunt for a winter jacket for JK and then got sucked into the nearby Barnes & Noble (where I bought another book--oops!).
After our Brooklyn/Union Square Saturday we went to Josh's and decided to have a good old fashioned Josh & Josh slumber party. We bought snacks and sprawled out on the floor to watch Battlestar Galactica. Later I bunked down on an air mattress and Josh crawled up in his loft and we talked long after the lights went out.
On Sunday we had brunch again and talked about our respective breakups. Every time we talk it all out it seems to gets easier and easier to metabolize. We each went home for the afternoon (I spent most of it finishing Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl) and then met up in the early evening for a shopping excursion to SoHo that included Uniqlo and Urban Outfitters.
We finished the night off at a Village coffee shop (one of my favorites, on Mercer Street) where we sipped drinks and basked in the rush and steady low rumble of NYU grad student conversation, listening to the piped in indie music and assiduously practicing our best covert people-watching skills.
The walk back to the subway was brisk. The autumn weather had finally decided to show itself in clouds of exhaled air that went before us as we walked. We zipped up our jackets as we passed the brightly-lit arch in Washington Square Park. A few blocks later we descended into the West 4th Street stop and caught our train home.
A couple weeks ago Josh and I saw a screening of Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs. (One of the lovely Manchattan boys set us up with tickets.) We went mostly because we wanted to see Meryl Streep do her thing, which indeed ended up being the one true reason to see the film. The movie is another in a string of somewhat preachy, cloying war movies (see Rendition, Redacted, The Kingdom, et al), and indeed yet another co-starring the venerable Ms. Streep (who played a government torture supporter in Rendition, the latest war film box office stinker).
In Lions, however, we get to see Streep pull out quite a few stops as journalist Janine Roth, a veteran newswoman interviewing a conservative senator, Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise--ugh), about a "new plan" to "win the war" in Afghanistan. Watching the cat-and-mouse interview between the two is a treat, and Streep's precision timing is sharp as ever. Later, after the interview, she has an even more riveting scene as she decides what to do with the information she's been given during her tense talk with Senator Irving.
Things get a little muddled when more stories are mixed in, including Robert Redford as a professor lecturing a college student during office hours on why it's important to "get involved," and another following two soldiers fighting a losing battle in Afghanistan. And--surprise, surprise--all the stories later tie together.
The Bottom Line Lions for Lambs (opening this Friday) is okay--preachy, but interesting enough to get you through--but Meryl Streep certainly makes it worth seeing, even if you do wait to see it on DVD.
The Television Roundup
Heroes | What's with the sophomore slump, NBC? This show showed so much promise when it debuted last season, but now things are getting scattered, slow, and uninteresting. I flipped through a magazine during the last episode, whereas I used to watch with rapt attention. Maybe we should stop with 800 story lines, characters we don't care about, and principals we don't see often enough? If not careful, we could have another Lost on our hands. The show's creator, Tim Kring, swears that things get better during episodes seven through eleven, and we pray he's right. It's gonna require a few heroic moves to save our Heroes.
Grey's Anatomy | YAY! Our baby is off life support! The last two episodes of season four have brought the show back from the dead. After the debacles otherwise known as the deer in the parking lot and Lexie Grey, the addition of the brilliantly bitchy and bitchily brilliant Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) to the cast has added true hope to the menu at Seattle Grace. Also, the last few minutes of this week's episode, with George and Izzy in bed ("Izzy, did you shave just one leg?") made us simultaneously laugh and also care about the George-Izzy romance for the first time, rekindling our romance with the entire show.
Ugly Betty | The season two premiere had us at hello. The following episodes have been just fine, with a few great moments. We love the new romance between Mark and Cliff and we're looking forward to Posh's guest appearance on next week's episode. The over-the-top camp show still has enough laughs and heart to keep us tuning in and loving (almost) every minute.
ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway | If you bear any love in your heart for Broadway or musical theater, it's time to snatch up this fantastic new documentary. ShowBusiness follows the 2003-2004 Broadway season when Wicked, Taboo, Caroline, Or Change, and Avenue Q first opened. The cameras go behind the scenes and into rehearsal rooms, recording studios, critics' dinners (and private conversations featuring hilariously wrong prognostications), and business meetings, as the season that brings two major hits, and two soon-to-be-canceled critical darlings, to the Broadway boards. Featuring Kristen Chenowith, Tony Kushner, Idina Menzel, Tonya Pinkins, John Tartaglia, and many more, this is a theater lover's must-see, must-own.
Project Runway: Season Three | The best thing about the Project Runway DVDs is that all of the season's episodes are extended with scenes (i.e. tantrums and bitchery) that never aired on television. It's also the best way to get ready for the debut of season four on November 14th. Josh and I huddled up watching back-to-back episodes (love you, Laura!) and triple-checked our season pass sign-up for the next edition. Either you're in or you're out, and this one is definitely in.
A couple weeks ago, as part of Josh K's birthday week, we saw Charles Busch's Die Mommie Die, now playing Off-Broadway at the New World Stages. The show is garnering great reviews (Ben Brantley from The New York Times basically wrote the show a love letter) and it's easy to see why. After seeing the movie a few years ago, Josh and I fell in love with the high-camp comedy thriller, written by and starring Charles Busch. (Sexy Emmy-nominated actor Van Hansis, who plays gay teen Luke Snyder on As The World Turns, co-stars as Charles Busch's sexually confused son. He's great eye candy between and during the jokes.) Check it out before the curtain goes down in February.
On The iPod
A confession: We were never really that into The Beatles. We respect them, we get the love and craziness, but the music just wasn't necessarily for us. This week, however, we started listening to the Across The Universe soundtrack and found ourselves enjoying some of the new takes on Beatles classics, including Jim Sturgess's "All My Loving" and "Across the Universe." (On a related Beatles cover note, we also love the Fiona Apple and Rufus Wainwright renditions of "Across the Universe" and Sarah McLachlan's "Black Bird," also available on iTunes.)
In other soundtrack news, not only did Josh and I see Lars and the Real Girl and thoroughly enjoy it, but we also enjoyed the music by David Torn. It's mostly instrumental, but it's fresh, quirky, and upbeat. Check out tracks "Bowling With Margo," "End Credit Suite" and "Lars and Margo" to see what we mean. It was definitely worth the download.
And lastly, our most reticent admission of all: We've been listening to Britney's new album, and we kind of love it. (It pained us a little bit to write that.) Perhaps we should be lauding Brit's producers since they're the ones who put together the songs while Brit showed up between blackouts (pun intended) to moan and mumble over the great beats and hooks the producers and writers cooked up. Besides the naughty fun of "Gimme More" (and the giggles inspired by remembering the VMA performance), the songs "Piece of Me" and "Radar" have turned into favorites. It's sad to say that the girl has done her best work (and we use "work" lightly) when her life is at it's "hot mess" heights.
Josh K. just finished Headlong by Michael Frayn.
Josh H. just finished I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb.
Josh K. is now reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
Josh H. is now reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.
Wondering where the Joshes have been lately? The answer: Busy, busy, busy. Lots of changes, lots of stuff happening. We're doing well, though, and we promise to be good little bloggers and post more regularly again. More details on us soon.
On Saturday morning, after a street-side brunch in Hell's Kitchen (it was in the mid-70s and muggy--paging Al Gore), we headed uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our first stop was the rooftop of the Met where several sculptures sit amongst one of the best views of Manhattan.
Looking south from the roof gallery.
Josh H. and Josh K. sporting their blue Met gallery tags.
After lazing around the roof for a while (it was so quiet and peaceful above the fray of the city), we headed down into the galleries and did some browsing.
One of the highlights of the visit was seeing Damien Hirst's "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living," colloquially known as Damien Hirst's shark. The 14-foot tiger shark, immersed in formaldehyde, sits in a gallery of its own on the second floor of the museum as part of a visiting exhibit. I surreptitiously shot this photo (note my fingers reflected in the glass) as we made our way through the gallery. Naughty, naughty! (Who, me?) I did it for the art, people. It's not every day that you get to stare into the mouth of a shark.
After our visit to the museum we sauntered down Fifth Avenue (Josh K. bought a painting on the street from a talented artist), and then meandered through Central Park. It was hard to believe it was the third week of October as we walked through the still-green park, filled with families and couples enjoying the summer-like afternoon. Maybe this is the upside of global warming? At least it's fun for the moment.
Later that night Dylan and I went to one of his friend's birthday parties, held on Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side, in a rented-out club. The birthday man, a kind and generous self-made kazillionaire, hired Deborah Cox to entertain the 150 party-goers for the evening.
Before dinner Deborah sang songs from her new jazz CD, Destination Moon, on which she covers the songs of Dinah Washington. Deborah has some serious pipes, and it was fun seeing her do her thing up close and personal.
Besides sounding great, the woman also looked great. She's popped out two children, people.
After dinner Deborah did another set, this time in jeans, performing some of her big-hit club anthems. At one point she came off the stage and the fella above couldn't help busting out a few moves. (Seriously, how many gallons of sweat have the gays poured out over the years on dance floors to Deborah's "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here," "Things Just Stay The Same" and "It's Over Now"?)
On Sunday Josh and I went to an early showing of first-time director Ben Affleck's new movie, Gone Baby Gone. Starring his kid brother, Casey, who made quite a splash in the recent Assassination of Jesse James, he turned in another great, subtle, winning performance.
Casey's character, Patrick Kenzie, is a small-time private detective hired to investigate the kidnapping of a young girl on Boston's rough South Side. A maze of corruption, scandal, and twists follows. It was well acted and directed, but it was also definitely on the grim, dark, slightly-depressing ride.
After the movie we headed to Cafe Utopia, a diner with great burgers on 72nd and Amsterdam, before heading southward to do a little shopping and browsing. We did a few turns around a giant Pottery Barn, fantasizing about someday having apartments of our own in the city. (Just as soon as we start our jobs with $100,000 salaries it may even become a possibility. Score!)
We hit up Banana Republic, where I snapped up a few sweaters for work (but will it get cold enough this October to wear them?) before grabbing drinks at Starbucks and settling in at a mini park near Columbus Circle to rest and chat. Afterward we made our way down Ninth Avenue, kissed each other on the cheek at our "goodbye corner" and headed home after our Sunday in the city.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) runs after Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) on her way to confront Big (Chris Noth, far right near Town Car), armed with a bouquet of flowers. Photos by Josh K. taken just after 2 p.m. today.
Whoa! So, Josh K. and I just got back from the Sex and the City: The Movie set. They're filming outside The Bryant Park Hotel (40 W. 40th Street).
At one point we stood a few feet from Sarah Jessica Parker in full (crazy) wedding regalia, as well as Miranda and Charlotte in their (gorgeous, non-matching) bridesmaid dresses. (We also stood close to Mr. Big and Steve, who chatted amiably between takes.)
It seems that we may have been there for the climactic scene of the movie. Here's what happened.
A limousine starts cruising down West 40th, goes about fifteen feet, and then abruptly stops in the middle of the street. Carrie gets out of the right rear door, a huge bouquet of flowers in her hands, and starts running at a tux-clad Mr. Big, who has just stepped out of Town Car. Carrie starts beating Big with the bouquet, screaming, “I knew you would do it!” looking both angry and heartbroken.
Miranda and Charlotte bust out of the limo and come after Carrie, ushering her back to the limo. Miranda and Carrie make it into the vehicle before Charlotte turns around, her face contorting, and yells something at Big before getting into the limo, which speeds off another fifteen feet or so before “cut” is called.
We watched the whole thing three times.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) rushes to Carrie (SJP) as she beats Big with her bouquet. Photo by Josh K.
Charlotte (Kirsten Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) comfort Carrie as she makes her way back to her limo.
Steve (David Eigenberg) and Big (Chris Noth) chat together between takes.
Charlotte (Kristin Davis) on the set between takes.
All photos by Josh K. for Josh & Josh Are Rich and Famous. If you wish to use them credit Josh & Josh and link to the permalink for this post.
Also, The Sex and the City Movie Blog has picked up our story and pictures.
Yesterday we headed over to the Helen Hayes Theater on West 44th Street to see our first show. We settled into our (great) seats and flipped through the Playbill. We were both a little skeptical (um, a musical based on a monumental cinematic flop?), but we were both game.
We were so wrong to be skeptical. Lord forgive us, we knew not what we did. We hadn’t known the pleasures of . . . Xanadu!
What Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed) and Jeff Lynne did is brilliant. They took a maligned box office disaster and played up all the jokes about it and spun it into Broadway gold, a truly delicious musical comedy. Honestly, this is the funniest musical we’ve ever seen on Broadway. (We saw Spelling Bee on Adult Night, which came close, but Xanadu still kinda won.) The audience giggled, guffawed, chortled, and plain old screamed laughter through the whole 90-minute non-stop show.
The plot is deliciously ridiculous: A Greek goddess appears in Venice Beach, California, in the 1980s to inspire a sidewalk chalk artist to greater things—like starting a roller disco in an abandoned building!—while the Greek goddess’s six sisters (two of whom are male) lurk and plot and schtick around on the sidelines. Oh, and most of the show is performed while on roller skates. Score! It's oh so wrong that it's oh so right. And, yes, there’s a dance number in a telephone booth and a Greek goddess riding a merry-go-round horse high in the air while belting a pop rock number.
And it’s all wonderful. Perfect. Hilarious. Great voices, fantastic deadpan humor, an Australian accent that will leave you incontinent, and great dance performances. There are even songs I want to download on iTunes from the show. How many musicals have you seen lately that you can say that about, right?
Kerry Butler as Kira, the Greek goddess, is amazing. (If Nicole Kidman and Sarah Michelle Gellar had a love child, it would be Kerry Butler.) She’s hilarious, she can sing, she’s gorgeous, and she plays the material perfectly.
Cheyenne Jackson, from the moment he got on stage, had us drooling. And then, of course, there’s the gorgeous voice and deadpan comedic delivery that go with the jaw-dropping gams, chiseled face, and big soap opera smile. (He wears daisy dukes and short shorts most of the show. If you weren’t reaching for Ticketmaster already, you should be now.)
Kira’s sister goddesses, including those played by Mary Testa and Jackie Hoffman, are really the cherries on top of a great show.
Basically, if we could go out on the town with any cast on Broadway, it would be the cast of Xanadu. (We eliminated Spring Awakening because they’re all, oh, five or six years younger than us, and if we wanted to play high school, we’d go out with the cast of The Hills. You know?)
We can’t say enough good stuff about the show. Josh and I were yelling out one-liners all the way down the street after we left the show. Ten minutes later, over slices of pizza, we were still laughing.
Tonight, continuing our JK Birthday Week Celebrations, we’re seeing Charles Busch’s Die Mommie Die at the New World Stages. We saw the hilarious film of the same name, starring Busch (natch!), and we can’t wait to see it all live. Long live Angela Arden!
The Movie To See This Weekend: Michael Clayton
So little needs to be said other than, “Go see this damn movie this weekend.”
Dylan and I saw the movie over the weekend and loved it. (Um, people, it’s George Clooney and Tilda Swinton. Hello!) George plays a law firm fixer who’s in a heap of trouble in his own life and then finds himself in more when he gets involved with a case involving a weed killer that’s killing people and weeds, a product and company defended by the amazing Ms. Swinton (Orlando, The Deep End).
It's smart, it's entertaining, it keeps you guessing and intrigued, and we actually get to know our well-drawn main characters and what makes them tick. It makes the final ten minutes of the movie—the ultimate booyah!—even more amazing.
Also (drum roll, please!) today is NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY!
Are you a big ol’ happy homo, an ever-so-lovely fruit fly (the positive form of “fag hag”, obvs), or a great big ally of the community?
If so, time to come out! Feel free to do so in the comments, y’all.
Tonight Dylan and I ventured out to see Curtains at the Al Hirschfeld Theater. Written by Kander and Ebb (Chicago and Cabaret, anyone?) and starring David Hyde Pierce, who won a Tony this year for his performance as Lieutenant Cioffi, Curtains was as good as, if not better, than the good press it has earned.
David Hyde Pierce, as Lt. Cioffi, is a homicide detective sent in to investigate the murder of a struggling musical's leading lady, who is missed by no one ("She had no voice / She had no wits" someone sings of her, to which the producer bawdily adds, "She had no brains / She just had tits"). Indeed, what unfolds from there is a murder mystery musical comedy thriller romance. And what's more, it works.
David has the comic timing, charm, and believability to carry the show, and supported by the formidable Deborah Monk as the show-within-a-show's producer (remember her as George's mom on Grey's Anatomy?), buttressed by the one-liner slinging show-within-a-show's director (think Stewie from The Family Guy directing a Broadway musical), and accompanied by Cioffi's surprisingly believable love interest, Jill Paice as Niki Harris, everything comes together well.
Beyond the three-jokes-a-page show, the Hirshfeld is one of the more beautiful theaters I've been to in New York. The golden proscenium and the rich, red velvet curtain speak of true old Broadway glamour. It is also, however, the coldest theater I've been to in New York. Bring an extra sweater for grandma.
Curtains isn't going to be curtains anytime soon, but I'd certainly recommend you see it before the not-to-be-missed David Hyde Pierce bows out of the show.
In March, when the winners of the NBC reality show Grease: You're The One That I Want were announced, the results of which decided who would play Danny and Sandy in a new Broadway production of Grease, I got an e-mail from my mom the next morning. "Did you know that Laura Osnes, the girl who's going to play Sandy, is from the suburbs of Minneapolis?" Indeed, it turned out Osnes grew up twenty minutes away from me, and that I had seen Osnes years ago when she starred in the Minneapolis Children's Theater production of The Wizard of Oz.
Five months after winning their roles by America's phoned-in vote, 21-year-olds Laura Osnes and her Danny, Max Crumm, are starring on Broadway. Josh and I saw the show this weekend when it opened, and the idea of using a reality show to select the leads and generate publicity, ticket sales, and audience allegiance apparently worked. The performance was sold out, and reportedly Grease has tickets sold well through spring. When Laura and Max stepped on stage as Sandy and Danny there was uproarious applause from the crowd, the kind usually reserved for multiple Tony-winning legends. Ah, the powers of reality television.
One of the standout performances in the show came from Kirsten Wyatt, who played Frenchie, and had comic timing that would make Didi Conn, who played Frenchie in the 1978 film version, proud.
After more than 3,000 performances in the 1970s and another 1,500 in a star-laden 1990s revival, Grease is back on Broadway.
Now on DVD: Disturbia
Shia LaBoeuf, you've done it again, my friend. First you racked up serious acting credibility in the indie pic A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, then you proved your box office mojo here and in this summer's Transformers (read the Josh & Josh review), and now you're set to star in Spielberg's upcoming Indiana Jones movie, opposite Harrison Ford. Disturbia, now on DVD, is a great little addition to the Shia LaBoeuf film library. Loosely based on Hitchcock's Rear Window (which is a film lover's must-see), Shia stars as Kale, a trouble teenager on house arrest for the summer who begins spying on his neighbors and sees more than he should see. Disturbia is a taut little thriller, a well-designed summer movie ride that will have you clutching at your couch pillows. Rent and enjoy.
From the Josh & Josh DVD Archives: Out of Sight
Jennifer Lopez may be starring in the new biopic El Cantante, but with the film's hot-and-cold reviews maybe it's safer to just rent Out of Sight instead. Starring Jennifer Lopez just after her critically-acclaimed performance in Selena, and before her string of drippy romantic comedies (and Gigli, for the love of God), Lopez and George Clooney sizzle and snap with chemistry opposite each other in director Steven Soderbergh's 1998 film. (Out of Sight is the first pairing of Soderbergh and Clooney, who have since made six films together. Indeed, watch this film and trace the genesis of some of the storytelling tricks the duo employ together in the coming decade.) Clooney plays a bank robber with impeccable charm and Lopez plays a federal marshal in charge of hunting him down. Mix and sizzle. Do want you want with El Cantante, but do check out Out of Sight.
Josh & Josh Books
Josh H. just finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.
Josh K. just finished More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.
Josh K. is now reading The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud.
Josh H. is now reading Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman.
This weekend Josh, Dylan and I saw The Bourne Ultimatum with a sold out crowd. (We tried to see it the day before but every showing until almost midnight was sold out.)
In the third film of the series Jason Bourne's memory is returning and he's going back to the people who started it all to feed them a slice of accountability pie. The anti-James Bond, Matt Damon rocks out as the endlessly crafty Bourne. The always excellent Joan Allen, as Pamela Landy, brings all of her lioness fierceness as an adversary who may prove to be a Bourne ally. With more than 30,000 fast cuts, the movie is a visual feast with smarts and a few well-timed laughs that make the film a popcorn movie must-see.
This weekend Josh and I also saw Sundance-favorite documentary Small Town Gay Bar (out today on DVD) from first-time director Malcolm Ingram and executive producer Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma).
Small Town Gay Bar is beautifully shot (we'd love a coffee table book of stills from the movie) and a moving exploration of the importance of gay bars to gay and lesbian communities in small town America. Growing up in gay-friendly Minneapolis and now living in New York City, the film was a welcome reminder for us of the resilient LGBT people living their lives across America, making a place for themselves in sometimes unwelcoming and conservative towns.
Well done and populated with interesting interviews (including drag queen Alicia Stone, whom we'd watch a whole film about, as well as famed gay hater Fred Phelps), it's a film worth popping into your Netflix queue. Don't miss the special features interview with gay-friendly Kevin Smith, which had us laughing out loud.
Yesterday Josh and I saw the film Moonstruck for the first time. Today we're both wondering how we went so long without seeing it.
The twenty-year-old film follows the travails of Loretta Castorini (Cher), who gets engaged to Jonny, whom she doesn't love, and then falls in love with his one-handed baker brother, Ronny, who happens to have a penchant for opera.
The film is worth watching for Cher's delicious comedic performance alone, playing the thirty-something Italian Brooklynite with gusto. (That must be why she won and Oscar for the role.) Olympia Dukakis, who won an Oscar as Loretta's mother, Rose, is the cherry on top.
Some of our favorite lines:
Loretta: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two months since my last confession.
Priest: What sins have you to confess?
Loretta: Twice I took the name of the Lord in vain, once I slept with the brother of my fiancee, and once I bounced a check at the liquor store, but that was really an accident.
And, of course, the all-time favorite:
Josh and I are fans of the classic ladies of jazz, so it's no surprise that we dig the new CD "Billy Holiday Remixed & Reimagined". Some of the biggest in-demand remixers and producers of today, including Nicodemus, DJ Logic, and Jazzy Nice, combined master-tape Holiday performances with modern beats and ended up with a spot of magic. You can easily imagine these songs playing at a gallery opening, a funky cocktail bar, or while you're making dinner.
The Plain White T's song "Hey There Delilah" has been on iTunes' list of Top Ten Downloads for weeks, including a lengthy stint at #1. Check it out.
Today I returned to my office for the first time since last Wednesday's explosion near my building in Midtown. Our building, among dozens of others, ended up closed not only on Thursday, Friday, and the weekend, but also Monday and Tuesday of this week. Everyone in our area ended up with a surprise six-day weekend.
It's been a little spooky for some people returning to our building. Though I left about twenty minutes before the explosion, I overheard the story of co-workers who heard and felt the explosion while sitting at their desks, saw the rising plume of smoke and debris, and after reaching the ground floor by stairs saw only the explosion site, fearing the entire surrounding area had suffered the same fate.
Another co-worker reported being on the street when the explosion occurred and witnessed a man start losing it on the street, screaming "They're blowing up the subways! They're blowing up the subways!"
There are still stretches of streets and avenues shut down, blockaded and guarded by police. A gaping crater remains where the pipe exploded and ripped open the street. Buildings in the vicinity of the crater have windows blown out or covered in mud and debris.
Most of the people I talked with were glad to be back to work after the extended break, especially with deadlines coming down the line, disaster or not. It seems that, for many here, returning to our office's regular rhythms and routines is something of a relief.
(No Harry Potter spoilers here, so read on without fear.)
Harry Potter fever struck New York City this weekend. At Saturday brunch in Hell's Kitchen I saw the orange cover peeking out from under quite a few arms and nestled on more than a few tables beside piles of pancakes and half-finished mimosas. This morning on the way to work I also saw the book poking out from more than one bag.
Many Potter fans finished their copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this weekend. I was reluctant to finish the book in one burst, however, purposely dragging it out. This being the last Harry Potter book, I didn't want it to be all over only hours after I got the book in my hands.
I'm about two-thirds of the way through the book (page 502 of 759). Things spice up half way through the book, and since reaching that point, I'm definitely having a harder time putting it down.
This weekend I'm going on a camping and canoeing trip in the Adirondacks with Dylan and our friends Addison and Evan, and I plan to finish the book while on the five-hour drive. That is, of course, assuming that I can put the book down between ogling the scenery, talking with the boys, and stuffing myself silly with copious amounts of road trip snackage. (Did anyone say mini powdered donuts?)
On Sunday afternoon, after reading several good reviews, I decided to see the Sienna Miller and Steve Buscemi film Interview, and I have to say that I'm a little disappointed.
Sienna Miller plays Katya, a popular film starlet almost known more for her off-screen antics than her acting (feel free to insert the name of any number of young, blonde actresses here), and Steve Buscemi, who also directs, plays a political reporter who has been assigned to interview Katya. What transpires is a cat and mouse duel to the death in the form of a celebrity interview between the spoiled, coke-snorting actress and ego-driven, ethics-averse reporter.
Sienna Miller delivers a livewire performance (as she did in Factory Girl, which was just released on DVD last week and is definitely worth seeing for her gritty and stunning portrayal of Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick), but her performance alone isn't enough to propel Interview to the realm of true greatness. Steve Buscemi is enjoyable, too (remember how great he was in Fargo, too?), but the film seems to stay too long, and the characters threaten to leave too many times without doing so, leaving the audience feeling like both characters are eventually crying wolf.
That said, the movie isn't a disappointment altogether. There are moments that crackle and snap, and the ending provides a little whoop of satisfaction. The biggest reason to see it, however, still lies with Sienna Miller, who's becoming an actress to keep your eye on now that her performances are being seen outside her native England.
Today Josh and I got a very sweet e-mail from actor and singer/songwriter Jay Brannan. We're trying to arrange an interview with him, and hopefully we'll be able to bring that to you guys soon. Cross your fingers!
In the meantime, check out some of his songs here.
At 9:22 a.m. the front door phone in the apartment started ringing. I lifted my head off the pillow, squinting in the direction of the beeping. Dylan leaped out of bed to answer it.
Why would the front desk be calling us this early on a Saturday morning? What the hell could--
And then I remembered: It's Harry Potter Saturday.
Minutes later the delivery was in my hands.
Originally Josh K. and I were signed up to go to the midnight book release party at Lincoln Center, but then he had to bail because of a flight back to Minneapolis. I enlisted another friend to attend the Union Square book party, but at the last minute she wasn't able to go, either. Thus on Tuesday morning I logged onto Amazon and ordered my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I can't believe that overnight delivery was included in the already half-off price. Don't you just love Amazon sometimes? (I ordered another six books to show my gratitude. Not that I need a 12-step meeting for book buyers or anything.)
I couldn't wait to get the book in my hands. Dylan smiled obligingly from across the room as he tugged on a robe and began reading the morning news. I tore apart the package.
You know what I'll be doing today.
I wonder how many people will be sheepishly rescheduling plans today so they can have uninterrupted Harry Potter reading time.
The First Paragraph
"The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few years apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. For a second they stood quite still, wands directed at each other's chests; then, recognizing each other, they stowed their wands beneath their cloaks and started walking briskly in the same direction."
On Monday night, only moments after returning from a three-day weekend in Provincetown, I headed up to Lincoln Square with Josh to see the fifth Harry Potter movie. It was, unsurprisingly, a sold out showing. (In its first ten days the film made $368 million worldwide.)
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) have all been struck by puberty and are looking pretty grown up. There's a brief flashback to earlier Potter movies, and it's jarring to see how young they were in the first films.
Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg (Peter Pan, Contact) and director David Yates took the longest Potter novel and turned it into the shortest and tightest Potter movie. All the extraneous stuff is gone; only the best is left on screen.
Order of the Phoenix is darker than previous Potter films. Voldemort has returned, but Minister Fudge and his coterie refuse to believe it, casting Harry as a liar and possible lunatic. Delores Umbridge, a Fudge crony, is sent to take over the school with her vaguely sadomasochistic take on things, wrapped in pink outfits and strained smiles. (Imelda Staunton turns Umbridge into the series' best villain--other than Voldy himself, of course.)
It's tightly plotted, wonderfully shot (including an action movie-style opening sequence, complete with shaking camera), and the young actors (supported by an A-list of adult British actors) just keep getting better. The tone of the movie is a perfect parallel for our current times and style of governance, something which I'm surprised more reviews haven't addressed.
Can't wait for six and seven.
Last night Dylan and I saw Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth and final installment in the Bruce Willis series. I have to say that I'm surprised that it got better reviews than Transformers. The truth is that Transformers is the better movie, if only because it's truly funny, charming, and has three times as many awe-inspiring special effects. You saw all the good special effects in the Die Hard trailer; Transformers just keeps doling them out as the movie goes on. (Read the Josh & Josh review of Transformers)
There are quite a few movies coming out that Josh and I can't want to see. There will be a few that we'll make a point to skip, too.
* We can't wait to see Bourne Ultimatum. Matt Damon brings the sexy back to New York City, and (the fantastic) Joan Allen as Pamela Landy looks unnerved. (She should be.) Opens August 3.
* The new Get Smart, starring Steve Carell, looks hilarious. Opens next summer.
* This movie's campaign is brilliant. We don't know what the movie is, but we know that we kinda want to see it. Opens January 18, 2008.
* What's Nicole Kidman doing in this movie? (Nicole's a busy girl. This year she's also in Margot at the Wedding, from the director of the fantastic The Squid and the Whale, and also in the fantasy film The Golden Compass.)
* Badass Jodie Foster is back, and she's taking names. Opens September 14.
* Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise, all in one movie. Can't stand Cruise, but we'll definitely see it for Streep. Opens November 9.
Last night Josh, Dylan and I went to see Transformers, which opened a day early in New York and Los Angeles.
Let's start by saying that this is the only action movie I've been to where the special effects repeatedly got applause from the audience and the credits got hoots and hollers. People loved this movie, and it's easy to see why. Shakespeare it's not, but a good time it is.
Shia LeBeouf (remember his fantastic performance in A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints?) is the heart and soul of the movie as Sam, providing both dramatic gravitas and great comic timing. Indeed, one of the big surprises of Transformers is how funny it is. The filmmakers were smart to pack the movie with legitimate laughs and special effects that look simultaneously believable and flawless.
Julie White, who won a Tony this year for her performance in Little Dog Laughed, plays Sam's mother, and gets some of the best laughs of the movie. (Remember Julie as Mitzi Dalton Huntley in Six Feet Under, the sassy southern woman who wanted to buy out the Fisher's? Hilarious.) Josh Duhamel is great man candy as a soldier working to stop the evil Decepticons, and Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes, Sam's love interest, will surely turn the crank of every lady-lovin' teenage boy in the audience.
And the effects? Let's just say that I can't remember the last time I said "wow" out loud when watching the effects sequences in an action film.
The story may sometimes be a little thin, and the finale of the movie could be cut by a few minutes, but the laughs and the effects and the general sheer fun of it make up for everything else. If you're looking for a movie to spice up your Fourth of July holiday, this is it.
John Travolta (Edna Turnblad) and Nikki Blonsky (Tracy Turnblad) in Hairspray.
Last week Josh and I went to a preview screening of Hairspray, the film version of the Broadway musical based on John Waters's classic film. (Not many movies have a genesis like that, right? Divine to Harvey Fierstein to John Travolta in a fat suit in a big summer movie? But I digress.)
The film mostly follows the Broadway plot: we follow a chubby-yet-spunky teenage girl in 1960s Baltimore who wants to dance on an unsegregated TV show. (The movie takes a few liberties with the Broadway plot, including a major change to the Broadway ending; I won't spoil it here, but perhaps after the movie debuts we'll revisit the plot changes.)
Nikki Blonsky, plucked from obscurity to play Tracy Turnblad, the film's hero, does her job well. She maneuvers the opening number smoothly, which takes some adjusting to for those who have seen the Broadway production. Tracy's mother, Edna, played by John Travola, is more of a stumbling block. Travolta takes on a faux-Baltimore accent that comes and goes and is never convincing. Travolta wears his fat suit but forgets to bring the sass and strength that made other Edna Turnblads so much fun in the original film and on stage.
There are plenty of stars in this Hairspray. James Marsden, perhaps best known for his role as Cyclops in the X-Men films, plays Corny Collins, the host of the TV show Tracy longs to infiltrate. James dances, sings, and shows his pearly whites with abandon and is one of the surprise treats of the movie. Michelle Pfeiffer plays a racist diva, but we're reminded that, as we learned in Grease 2, the poor thing can't sing. (Also, we hereby vote "Miss Baltimore Crabs" the song most in need of cutting from the Hairspray oeuvre, but maybe that's just us.)
Amanda Bynes is fun, if a bit underused, as Tracy's best friend, Penny. Christopher Walken plays Tracy's father, and hams it up in his big romantic number with Travolta ("You're Timeless To Me") in full blubber suit regalia. Queen Latifa is again a dependable movie musical star (with her post-Chicago breast reduction on display here) as Motormouth Maybelle, turning in a wholly respectable performance.
Allison Janney has what amounts to a cameo role as Amanda Bynes's ultra-conservative mom, Mrs. Pingleton. She gets the biggest laugh of the movie, though, when she grounds her daughter for unladylike behavior and splashes holy water at her daughter saying, "Devil child, devil child!" It's the kind of comedic turn we haven't seen her do since the cult classic Drop Dead Gorgeous.
The bottom line is that Hairspray, despite a few foibles, is a lot of fun. It's got great energy, and the music and choreography are in great form here.
Last week, while on a brief vacation to visit my family in Minneapolis, I read Anderson Cooper's book Dispatches From The Edge. I had first read an excerpt of the book in Vanity Fair more than a year ago when Anderson did double duty as cover boy.
After reading the Vanity Fair excerpt I thought the book would explore more of Anderson's personal life, but instead it focuses much more on his years covering wars in Iraq and Bosnia, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and civil war and starvation in Niger and greater Africa.
Anderson's past is woven throughout the book in a flashback format that works fairly well. Amidst the stories from his travels and reporting we hear about Anderson's privileged upbringing in New York City as a descendant of the Vanderbilt family, about his father's death at an early age, his brother's suicide, and his early years as a reporter gunning to go wherever the story is, danger be damned.
Anderson's background as a TV reporter works well here as his story unfolds in easy to digest segments, as if they were a part of one of his television shows. (Anderson is also a regular contributor to Details, and his prose style is much the same here: emotive and direct.) Though the language can at times be a little over the top, as is frequent with television reporters, it's easy to move beyond that and invest in the story.
It would have been easy to make this a dry, boring read, but the book turns out to be a page-turner, informative yet interesting. Another great boon is getting to hear honest opinions from Anderson on the stories he's covering, telling us what he's thinking while he's reporting from around the globe. (He has no kind words, for example, for some members of Congress and for the president during Hurricane Katrina.)
Notably absent here, of course, is any mention of romantic interests or intrigues. It's widely speculated that Anderson is gay and unwilling or uninterested in coming out. However, gay or not, Anderson seems to show us a reporter's life thrust forward from grief: after his father's early death and brother's suicide, Anderson is something of a workaholic who feels he has nothing to lose when signing up for dangerous assignments. It would have been interesting to hear about how Anderson's life as a globe-trotting reporter has affected his romantic relationships, assuming that he has had them, but it seems we'll have to wait for another book for that.
In the meantime, Anderson has written a book worth picking up, providing perspective on his reports from abroad and even a bit on himself.
Josh and I have been Jay Brannan fans since we saw the movie Shortbus (and met a few of its stars) and fell for the film's song "Soda Shop", performed by Jay. (The video of Jay singing the song has since been seen more than a million times on YouTube.)
Now Jay has released an L.P. on iTunes called "Unmastered" and two of its tracks ("Half-Boyfriend" and "Body's a Temple") have been burning it up on my iPod for the last couple weeks.
Below check out Jay performing "Half-Boyfriend." (The song starts two minutes in.)
If you need a little more Jay Brannan, check out the video for "Body's A Temple."
Off-Broadway | Some Men
Last week Josh and I were invited to see Terrence McNally's new play, Some Men, at the Second Stage Theater in Midtown Manhattan. The play opens at a same-sex wedding in present day Manhattan, and then zooms out to give us the back story of eight wedding guests, and even the stories of some of those guest's forebears, tracing history that paved the way for same-sex marriage. When I heard the synopsis I wondered if it was going to be something I'd seen before, but I was proven entirely wrong. McNally weaves an intricate, compelling, and fresh tale, both hilarious and moving, and the actors deliver jaw-dropping performances. David Greenspan, as a Stonewall-era drag queen, brings the house down in one poignant-yet-pointed scene, and Kelly Aucoin and Romaine Fruge, as a long-standing gay couple, manage to break your heart and restore your faith in actual love at the same time. This show is absolutely, without question, not to be missed. It may very well be the theater event of the season. It closes April 15, so get yourself to Second Stage as soon as you can. Tickets are $65, but prices drop to $25 if you're under 25, and to $15 if you're a student (both with valid ID). [website]
In Theaters (Wide Release) | Blades of Glory
Last week Josh and I were invited to a screening of the new comedy starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) as a same-sex figure skating duo. Ferrell and Heder begin the film as individual skating rivals, but after an unfortunate event that tarnishes their good names, they are banned from skating for life--until they find an obscure rule which will let them compete as couple. Yes, it's standard Will Ferrell, and Jon Heder is pretty much what you'd expect (though it is nice to see him take a step away from Napoleon), but if you're into that, you'll have a great time. It's probably one of the better-written and better-paced films either of them has turned out in quite some time. Also, Josh and I thought the same-sex stuff was handled well, and in a manner that was funny without being homophobic (though some may decline to agree, especially gender studies majors, et al). Former SNL star Amy Poehler does hilarious co-starring duty as the rival, and there are several well-placed, amusing cameos, including Nancy Kerrigan, Scott Hamilton, Sasha Cohen, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, and Peggy Fleming. The film opens March 30. (For second opinions, check out Trent, who liked it, and Joe, who didn't so much.) [trailer]
In Theaters (Limited Release) | The Lookout (opening in limited release)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who wowed critics and audiences alike in 2004's Mysterious Skin, is back in another compelling role. Gordon-Levitt plays Chris, a once-promising young athlete before a tragic accident left him brain damaged and working as a janitor in a bank, where he is eventually ensnared in a bank heist plot. The Lookout is a tightly-plotted thriller driven by well-drawn characters, snappy dialogue, and, of course, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's spot-on performance. [trailer]
New on DVD | Children of Men
The year is 2027, and all women on Earth are suddenly and mysteriously infertile. Chaos ensues as the human race waits to die off, until one fateful girl surfaces, carrying a secret that may hold the key to the future. Starring Clive Owen (Closer, Derailed) and Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven, The Hours) as protectors of the last known fertile human, Children of Men is a dystopic thriller meticulously directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien). It isn't light subject matter, but with the rare combination of a movie packed with heart-racing car chases and stellar acting, it's worth checking out. [trailer]
It seems you can't click anywhere in the gay blogosphere these days without reading about British singer Mika. His new album, Life in Cartoon Motion, hit shelves today in the U.S. After seeing the video for his single "Grace Kelly," I have to say that I kind of dig it. As for speculation about his sexual orientation, I would think very little discussion would be necessary. Regardless of who Mika wants to sleep with, check out his new video, 'cause it's kind of fun.
On Friday night Dylan and I went to a press screening of Dreamgirls.
The movie, based on the 1980s hit Broadway musical that helped make Jennifer Holliday a star, follows the career trajectory of the Dreamettes (played by Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, and Anika Noni Rose), a singing trio trying to make it big, facing plentiful bumps and diversions on their ascent to the top.
Written and directed by Bill Condon (who won an Oscar for writing the Chicago screenplay and also directed the critically-acclaimed Kinsey), and starring Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, and Anika Noni Rose, Dreamgirls is going to be the movie to beat this holiday season, and a movie to beat in February at the Oscars.
Let's just cut to the chase about Dreamgirls: The acting is on point, the songs sizzle, the voices are big, and the lush sets, costumes, and wigs dazzle.
The Dreamettes seem to echo The Supremes and even the story of Destiny's Child, the group that made Beyonce a star. In fact, the subtext and parallels with Beyonce and Destiny's Child and Dreamgirls' Dreamettes is undeniable: the group begins singing with each other as teenagers, they get a big break, group members are oustered to streamline the group and its image, and eventually Deena/Diana/Beyonce steps out on her own to become a superstar. You can't watch the movie without wondering what Beyonce really thinks about her role as Deena Jones.
The real Dreamgirls revelation, however, is Jennifer Hudson, the third-season American Idol finalist, whose acting and performance as Effie White is entirely natural and unaffected, and whose voice steals the film. Jennifer hits it way the hell outta the park in a solo half-way through the movie ("And I Am Telling You"), and after that there's no question who this movie belongs to.
World, say hello to Jennifer. Jennifer, say hello to the world.
"It actually felt like we went to see a big Broadway show," Dylan said to me as we were leaving the theater. The energy and pacing of the movie never flagged. There were times during the screening that I forgot I was watching a movie.
Dreamgirls is, without question, one of the best movies I've seen this year, if not the best movie I've seen this year.
You've got to see it when it opens nationwide on December 25.
The Behind-the-Scenes Scoop from the Dreamgirls Screening
Dylan and I took seats in the center section of the movie theater, a few rows up in the main section of seats. Auditorium 13 at the Loews Cinema on 42nd Street is the largest movie theater I've been to in New York City. I settled into my seat and saved Dylan's while he went to get free popcorn and soda, courtesy of the movie studio, and I started eyeing the crowd.
Suddenly I spotted a well-heeled familiar face as she walked into the theater. It took me half a second to realize the woman walking in was Gayle King, Oprah Winfrey's best friend, and editor-at-large of O Magazine.
Gayle, flanked by two handsome men in suits, began looking for a seat. I watched her climb a few stairs, scan the theater, and then approach my row, which was still mostly empty.
And then Gayle King sat right. Next. To. Me.
Dylan came back with two big bags of popcorn and giant sodas ("Can you believe these are only the mediums?" he asked me) and I pulled him down into his seat and whispered into his ear about who was sitting next to us.
"Well, talk to her!" Dylan said.
Gayle, however, made the first move.
"I am so excited to see this movie!" Gayle said to Dylan and me.
"Oh, I know, I am too," I stammered. I wanted to bury my face in my bag of uber-buttered popcorn. Is that all I could come up with? "Ooooh, me too"?
I experienced a sudden wave of shyness, something that's somewhat rare for me. I wasn't nervous, per se, just entirely unsure of what to say to Oprah Winfrey's best friend. I mean, what did I have to say to her?
I started munching my popcorn and guzzling my Diet Coke while she chatted to her male companion (so much for those lesbian rumors?) and mentioned a woman who needed to be invited to an upcoming party and said, "Well, I told Oprah we have to invite her, and she said, 'Well, okay, remind me, because you know I'll forget otherwise.'" Then she perused the contents of her BlackBerry. I did my best to nonchalantly eye the screen to see if any of the messages were from Opie herself, but alas, I couldn't get a clear look.
When the lights went down Gayle said, "Here we go!" And I thought to myself, Oprah's been rubbin' off on her (or vice versa?).
Gayle talked back to the movie every now and again ("Oh, you go, Beyonce!") but Gayle and I actually started talking after Jennifer Hudson's rendition of "And I Am Telling You" half-way through the movie. The number actually caused adrenaline to begin pumping through my veins, and afterward the crowd burst into applause, including Gayle and me.
"Oh my God, that was incredible," I said to her.
"I know! Wasn't that unbelieveable?" she said.
"I want to rewind that scene and see it again," I said, both of us still clapping.
We kept chattering a bit more until somebody behind us actually hushed us. (Oops, sorry!)
After the movie, and after the considerable applause, Dylan and I chatted with her about the movie sweeping the Oscars in February. We said goodbye to her and Dylan and I filed out of the theater.
* The critics have been wetting themselves for months about the movie Babel, starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education), lavishing the film with praise. Look for this one to be on the Oscar ballot. Opens October 27th.
* Pedro Almodovar, one of my favorite directors, has a new film called Volver out on November 3rd, starring Penelope Cruz. (Penelope was also in my favorite Almodovar film, All About My Mother.)
* Trust The Man is a weak title, but with star power including Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and also featuring David Duchovny and Billy Crudup, this film looks like it could be worth seeing. (Have you noticed that Maggie Gyllenhaal is everywhere these days? She's also in World Trade Center, opening a week before Trust the Man. Go girl.) Opens August 18th.
* Apparently John Lennon movies are the new hot thing. The U.S. vs. John Lennon comes out in September, and Chapter 27 (about Lennon and his assassin), starring Jared Leto and Lindsay Lohan, is due out later this year.
* The trailer for Running with Scissors is finally out, and I have to say that it looks like it could be good. The movie has some serious star power (Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood, Alec Baldwin, Kristin Chenowith, etc.), and with a script based on Augusten Burroughs' national bestseller, this could be a hot ticket when it comes out on July 28th.
* I can't wait to see Little Miss Sunshine. I've been waiting for this one since I saw the preview two months ago. This is the kind of smart, semi-dark comedy that I want to see. It opens July 26th.
* I don't know if I'm ready for this movie to be coming out. I still contend that it's too soon for the onslaught of these movies.
Here's what you need to know about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: It's 150 minutes long, and during approximately 148 of those minutes you will be bored, uninterested, uninvested, and praying that it'll eventually "get good" and be more like its predecessor. Eventually you just pray for the credits to roll.
You'll be waiting a long time.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is officially going on my list of Ten Most Disappointing Movies of 2006. (It shall reside in the slot next to King Kong.)
Johnny Depp was funny, but not funny enough to save the film. They didn't make me care about the characters, the story and plot were wimpier and thinner than Mary-Kate Olsen, and the creators apparently didn't realize that having constant action isn't a solution for not being at all interesting.
But, hey, maybe the third one (coming out next summer, I kid you not) will be better.
Then again, maybe not.
The initial reviews for The Devil Wears Prada, the movie based on the fashion magazine tell-all novel, are good. As expected, Meryl Streep as the editor from hell is supposed to be the highlight of the movie: "Streep’s performance is the chief reason to see the picture, which otherwise follows a fairly conventional path. For adults looking for a summer comedy with some bite and sophistication, it’s definitely an improvement on the latest works of Jack Black and Adam Sandler. But you’ll guess exactly where it’s going in no time. Only Streep keeps it moving forward, underlining each insult and humiliation with a tasty twist, and she’s missed in every scene that isn’t about her."
*Britney Spears pulls a Demi Moore and poses nude and pregnant on the cover of Harper's Bazaar.
*Star Jones gets the axe from The View, and Barbara Walters ain't mincing words: “We gave her time to look for another job and hoped that she would announce it on this program and leave with dignity,” Walters said. “But Star made another choice.”
Last Saturday night I saw A Prairie Home Companion at the Lincoln Center Cinema on 63rd and Broadway. It was interesting seeing the movie, which is essentially a Minnesota comedy, with a room full of Upper West Side New Yorkers who were categorically twice and three times my age, but they seemed to dig the movie nonetheless.
The movie, starring Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Virginia Madsen, Kevin Kline, Maya Rudolph (SNL alum), and Tommy Lee Jones, is the fictional look at the final broadcast of an old school Minnesota radio show, with the stars mostly playing the parts of the radio show performers.
To break it down, the real reason to see the movie is the pairing of Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin. Meryl Streep just fucking floors me. There's really no other way to put it than that. I'd watch the woman in anything. (And I have.) In this case she shows up with a slightly higher pitched voice, with a light Minnesotan lilt, and plays with spot on perfection one half a singing sister duo (and also plays Lindsay Lohan's mom--and Lindsay actually isn't half bad, whatever your personal feelings on La Lohan are).
It's a movie that some are going to like, and some are going to hate, but I have to say that I enjoyed it. In Goldilocks terms, for me, the movie was just right. (Did I really just say that? My God.) As one reviewer put it, "There doesn't seem to be much point to A Prairie Home Companion, but it's smart and charming and the music is lovely. Maybe that's the point."
The Verdict: Consider seeing it. You just might like it.
My top pick for the week, however, is a different movie: Mrs. Henderson Presents. Judi Dench stars as a wealthy British woman during World War II whose husband dies and leaves her with an enormous fortune. Instead of sitting at home and working on her cross stitch and doing charity work, Mrs. Henderson buys a theater in London and starts putting on shows. Judi Dench's Mrs. Henderson is a witty, smart, strong, hilarious, pushy English lady, who eventually shakes up London by deciding she wants her theater to put on a nude revue. (No, it ain't raunchy, y'all.) See it for Judi Dench. If you loved last year's Oscar winner Being Julia, you're guaranteed to enjoy Mrs. Henderson Presents. And if you didn't see Being Julia, rent that one immediately, too.
The Verdict: See it. Really. Do yourself a favor.
I saw Goodnight and Good Luck this week and generally liked it. It's smart and informative, and likeable. You have to see it on a night that you're looking for a film that looks at McCarthyism in 1950s America. It's good, it's worth seeing, but you have to see it on the right night.
The Verdict: Yeah, see it. But. You know.
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, the stand-up comedy film by (obviously) Sarah Silverman was, well, okay. It was fine. The girl takes the line of politically correctness to a whole new level, baby. That is to say, she'll make your ears burn with the things that come out of her mouth. Believe me, I can handle a lot, but there were a couple times that my jaw just dropped. It was funny, sure. But I think I prefer Sarah Silverman's four-minute appearance in The Aristocrats.
The Verdict: Eh. Maybe rent it with your super Christian relatives just to scare the shit out of them?
His Secret Life? Eh. It's a gay-themed foreign film (made in Italy, with subtitles), and it sounded good on paper, but it just wasn't good.
The Verdict: Nah.
The first reviews of The Da Vinci Code are out and what the press has to say isn't friendly:
"The Da Vinci Code" drew lukewarm praise, shrugs of indifference, some jeering laughter and a few derisive jabs Tuesday from arguably the world's toughest movie crowd: critics at the Cannes Film Festival.
While readers worldwide devoured the novel, reaction from Cannes critics ranged from mild endorsement of its potboiler suspense to groans of ridicule over its heavy melodrama.
One especially melodramatic line uttered by Hanks drew prolongued laughter and some catcalls, and the audience countinued to titter for much of the film's remainder.
Some people walked out during the movie's closing minutes. When the credits rolled, there were a few whistles and hisses, and there was none of the scattered applause even bad movies sometimes receive at Cannes."
The critics also had harsh words for director Ron Howard: "He doesn't make bad [movies]," one critic said, "but he doesn't make great ones."
Colin and I read Da Vinci Code a month ago when it came out in paperback and had a reasonably good time with the book. It wasn't brilliant, but it was kind of fun. Colin and I had planned to go and see the movie Friday night when it opens, but maybe now we'll save our $11 each and see something else.