This “holiday” season was not a holiday really for me at all. First, I miss my dad. Yes, he said Christmas is for kids however given that he is always going to be my dad, I’m always going to be a kid. This missing parent business blows.
Second, we had our car broken into in our building. What did the savvy cat burglar take, you ask? A Gap bag with my new long hand short story I’d not finished transcribing, some Mexican hot chocolate I got as a gift, a diet Coke that should have been in the fridge and some receipts for some gifts. Why couldn’t those damn fools LOOK before grabbing? Assholes. I have no sympathy for thieves. I am not the rich and you are not Robin Hood.
Third, California is hard place to feel festive. No snow. Some “cold” (it’s Western cold—the unexpected temperature below 60 degrees and wind).
Fourth, I was sick as a dog.
Good times. Good times.
We did get to catch movies! Ah movies! You know me so well. Like the close sibling I never had (I have a brother but we weren’t raised together so we have immense love for each other, from afar. Our lives separate us sadly).
First up, Dreamgirls:
Dreamgirls has been around much longer than some of its stars. A play that catapulted divas like Jennifer Holiday and Sheryl Lee Ralph, it’s story has been as much a part of black women’s history of loving as a heart valve. It’s also the bane of Diana Ross’s existence. Loosely based on the rise of The Supremes, our Dreamgirls go through racism, colorism (that’s when black people discriminate against each other for our various shades of color), collected family (when you choose your circle), betrayal, greed, gluttony and tremendous amounts of fashion trends.
Bill Condon (of “Chicago”, “Kinsey” and “Gods and Monsters” fame) is possibly the only person who could get this movie version right. His extreme respect for the musical is evident since he never pretends that this wasn’t a musical. Spontaneous musical numbers are treated the old fashioned way much like the Gene Kelley films of the 1950s – he trusts that you aren’t going to be pissed that there’s a musical number in the middle of a scene. Of course there is. It’s a musical. Also, the stage atmosphere is never far away from the story. The much buzzed about number of Jennifer Hudson’s “You’re Gonna Love Me” takes place on a stage – after a show. Of course it does. She is still performing for the audience in the organic atmosphere that the song is supposed to be performed in.
There is no weak link in this film. Even Beyonce Knowles is credible as the meek but beautiful Deena who realizes almost too late that she’s being going with the flow so long that she’s lost herself in the tide of fame. Jennifer Hudson is the one getting the most acclaim quite possibly because she can actually use her powerful voice for good and because she was told that she wouldn’t get very far by American Idol’s Simon Cowell when she was booted off the show. Eddie Murphy’s willingness to let himself go into the despair of James Early is heart wrenching, even though a bit brief over all in the film. And, lest anyone forget, Eddie Murphy could be considered Jamie Foxx’s predecessor to this whole acting/singing/comedy thing. Jamie Foxx is definitely believable as our Berry Gordy-esque Curtis Taylor character. The only thing that escapes me in his performance is exactly the moment his ambition turns into a typhoon like greed and desire to own those around him. A minor but pivotal character choice that I’m sure will spark some suggestions/debates from others. Supporting cast is strong and the cameos are fun (Loretta Devine, Danny Glover, Dawn Lewis). Overall, nobody will be disappointed spending a few hours with a bunch of dreamers.
Shoot The Shit Review:
I want Beyonce – I mean Deena’s eyebrows. Right off the back. Nice and full. Shaped lovely. Oh wait, she’s speaking. Hey, this is the first time her twang fits! Man, is she skinny! There’s no way I would do that hot lemonade cayenne pepper diet thing she did though. I tried once and lasted two hours. Blah! Back to the movie. The girls (Beyonce, new girl and Jennifer Hudson) are about to do an amateur night in MY HOMETOWN DETROIT (3-1-3—wha? Wha?) and need new wigs so they turn their current ones backwards for fluff factor. I knew Tina Turner did that but I thought she thought of it herself! Silly me! I wish I could wear wigs. I tried some on with my friend Jen once at Ricky’s in New York and I looked like a bad ho. Sigh. Back to the movie, again.
Jennifer Hudson has sour puss face throughout this movie. Yes, I cried when she sang “And I am telling you…” I cried like a potentially crazy pull-my-hair-out-you-can’t-leave-me-wayward-woman. But she still has sour puss face. Effie’s character was annoying. Yes, you’re talented but, bitch, get over it! We can walk into any church on the West Side of the D and pull out somebody who’s pipe are equal to yours. And take that damn chip off your shoulder while you’re at it. Some of you will have sympathy for Effie and, in certain parts, I did. Except she was a bully and self-centered through out most of the movie. Anytime you have a kid and you’re living in a room and you don’t take money your rich brother is sending you, you’re an ass. I don’t care what he did to you. AND, little do most of you know, but sometimes jealousy actually makes your man do what you’re accusing him of doing. The two of you have to be weak, by the way, which is not a judgment ‘cause we all get weak. However, one person can only listen to another squawk about cheating so much before they WANT to, Effie.
Deena aka Beyonce, is like milk toast. But she’s also that girl in grade school you absolutely hated because everything she put on fit like it was supposed to. Not too much booty. Not too much tummy. Not too much titty. Whatever, Deena. So you can rock a wig so great that you make me want to run out and get me a Cleopatra wig. Whatever. Something to make me and other Beyonce envious women out there feel better: NOT ONCE DID YOU SEE HER BARE LEG! Why? Because Beyonce fits her thighs tooth and nail like the rest of us. Believe it. What I couldn’t believe, speaking of, was her kissing Jamie Foxx. Blech! Pa-tooey. AND they had special sound effects trying to get me to believe it! YUCK! Stop the smacking effects. I just ate!
Eddie Murphy came back from transvestite-Scary Spice-Tracey Edmonds muck with a vengeance, dude! He must have been like, “Yo, Jamie, I been doing this thing right heah since you was in diapers!” I love that he was willing to look like somebody’s great drunk uncle towards the end of the movie. Any time you change your appearance to appear downtrodden, you are almost guaranteed award consideration. The more busted the better. Eddie may have trumped everyone.
I don’t really have the inclination to mention anyone else EXCEPT Dawn Lewis’s cameo as Eddie’s wife. Lady, I hope this makes your career sky rocket up there. One day you might catch up to Cree’s voice over career. Maybe. Hmm…okay, maybe not but at least you’ll try. You’ll be better off than Jasmine Guy, that’s for sure. “It’s a different world, from where ya come from…”
Summary: I loved it! I wanted to be Deena in her photo shoots. I wanted to be Effie when she sang. I wanted to rock a wig and a pencil skirt. Those are signs of success, Bill Condon. And you’re a white man. Hats off to you. Or wigs off to you. And by the way, Diana Ross should literally be plotting to blow up all things near you for not letting this story drop into oblivion like she’s been wanting since she let Florence Ballard die in poverty. Diana, that’s what you get for not changing up your wig for the past twenty years. Let that damn s-curl thing go! Jesus…
Our next movie? The Good Shepard.
Robert DeNiro is successful in making an almost three hour dive into the creation of the CIA actually interesting. The detail towards the time period is almost breathtaking – like a moving museum exhibit. Matt Damon’s restraint as our silent suffering conflicted hero is admirable. Angelina Jolie’s suffering wife performance is well earned. The movie is mostly the danger and Matt Damon, however. The intricate plotting of the carving out of America’s intelligence agency and its connection to other countries is done with a masterful skill…as though DeNiro was inspired by Soderbergh’s curious dives into the world behind the surface of well known organizations.
Shoot the Shit Review:
Okay. There’s absolutely NO way in hell a man married to Angelina Jolie, character or person, who could IGNORE her the way Matt Damon’s character did. I don’t care if she trapped you into marrying her by getting pregnant the first time you pump your hips into at a fancy party along the shore. So she’s easy? She’s a little on the skinny side but she’s hot, man! Don’t punish her! I guess you could also say she got what she asked for by being easy and thinking she picked a good husband. No, Angie aka Clover, you picked a Good Shepard (how do you like that tie in, baby?).
Matt Damon’s character starts off with something to prove. I like that in a man. My friend Jessica insists that he’s got some black in him (she also would pick him as one of her husbands, since she’s a big advocate of polyandry). Most times I find it hard to sympathize with rich people, especially rich white people who don’t look like they know any black people. However, this man essentially puts himself in the position of not ever being able to trust friends, family or lovers as he prepares the basis for espionage in America. I’m sure he wouldn’t be fond of the whole COINTELPRO bit but hey, that’s later. This is the gay 40s where women were lipstick, men where tweed three button single breasted suits and run through Germany like Agatha Christie characters. I buy into it.
At the end of the day though, having lost friends, having a gay old guy done away with cause he won’t stop hitting on the boys, suffering the annoying whining of your son (that kid was like an amoeba! You mean to tell me if Angie and Matt had a kid, he would look like something out of a science lab? I think not! Poor casting, Bobby! Get a hot kid next time), watching your African almost future daughter in law die a horrible death and realizing your sworn silent enemy is actually your homeboy is no life!
I guess somebody’s gotta do it though. “The Good Shepard” will not make you feel protected by the government! It will make you realize they’re just a bunch of paranoid dudes.
Favorite part (aside from seeing my favorite John Turturro in something not Spike Lee related every once in a while): The interrogation of the Russian by using LSD. Listen, if you’re not moved by this guy’s suffering, you have the cold heart of Jennifer Aniston—just kidding. I would also say that African Spy woman was a good part but we never really get to see her for very long even though we get to hear her throughout the movie. I’m interested in seeing African spies of the early 60s, especially women! I guess we’re lucky that DeNiro likes us chocolate women or else that part would have been on the cutting room floor.
A bonus review: The Fountain.
I’m late with this one and I’m not doing a Professional Review just because I don’t feel like it.
The Fountain (starring one of my celebrity crushes, Hot—I mean–Hugh Jackman—so what if some of you question his sexual preference, the man is hot) is a moving painting. The whole movie. It’s just a painting that moves with this very lovely tribute to one man’s love for his wife and inability to understand that nature is the cycle of life, not man. The dialogue wraps around the magical realism of the film like a modern day Iliad. Faced with the impending death of his wife and rejecting its inevitability, Jackman goes on a search for circumventing life’s timer. The beauty of his journey – set during early Christianity via his wife’s new novel she’s been working on, present day and some ethereal sci fi high planed consciousness within the nebula of a dying star – is that no one will completely understand what the hell is going on. Hey, go with it. Yaze says the Kabbalahs will get it. I sure didn’t and I was okay with that. Aronofsky is definitely a filmmaker and not a movie man in the classic sense. I would see almost anything he’ll do (didn’t love “Pi” but was obsessed with “Requiem for a Dream” to the point where I can’t ever see it more than once).
Happy New Year Everyone!
Find your stance and rock it!
Anywhoodles, Jen’s posted a writing exercise from another one of the blogs she reads and I decided to post my exercise and also to challenge you to do the same (in the comments section or not—whatev).
Achy dad heart. Piece of me in Yaze growing. Homesick for pedestrian concrete friends. My words not flying fast. No sun like Cali.
Back in the days of ole Sarah Lawrence Grad school, my immediate writing hero was Jennifer Mattern (now Lane). It was very easy. She had me at the play she wrote called “Just Resting” about a mom and a daughter at a flea market, selling their wares, while the father/husband sat there in a coma like state the whole play. Yes! A real guy played said character and no, he had no lines. It was AWESOME! More awesome plays followed. The last one I saw here in LA with my other dear friend Kristin Kahle (yes–THE belt wizard) and it was like visiting home.
And then her then boyfriend (now husband) directed the BEST version of Chekhov’s “The Seagulls” that I’ve ever seen (even if my date back then hated Chekhov–an obvious flag). You see, he made us move our seats in closer and closer with every act and towards the end, we, actors and audience, FELT the claustrophobia of life and our inability to avoid it. Cheers to you, David Lane.
Now the Lanes are living my dream life in the Berkshires with two GORGEOUS KIDS and creativity so prevalent that they don’t even realize it oozes out of them across the internet and up into the sky!
Please help me reward good people in this world (do we do that often anymore? Say “thanks” to people who deserve it? I’ve got a new mission…) Vote for Jenn’s fantastic blog, Breed ‘Em and Weep, for the Weblog Awards. It’s small but it’s big, you know?
I mean how could you turn down this request:
Hi lovely folk. The last thing I won were a pair of tickets to see Hall & Oates in 1987. If you could vote for me daily for the next week, I may be able to top that. I’m nominated for Best Parenting Blog for the 2006 Weblog Awards. Please vote and make me forget Hall & Oates! Links below (the blog has moved):
There are a few issues with the video below:
1) This is like they both got high and watched Prince’s “Alphabet Street” video and had a shit talking session soon after that went something like:
Eddie: Fuck that, Prince, man. I don’t need no Farrah Fawcett doo to show my manhood. I can float around hearts and clouds and shit.
Michael: Eddie, your skin is so smooth. What do you use?
Eddie: I mean seriously…what the fuck is an Alphabet Street? New York Alphabet City sho’ don’t look like that. You get killed down there. Lots of attractive men-I mean women–down there though.
Michael: Men-women? Oh…um, interesting. How old?
Eddie: We should make our own video, Mikey. Show that short weirdo how to do a real cloudy song.
Michael: How tall are you again? I really like your skin, Ed. What do you use again? I hear protein is good.
Eddie: We should make the song’s spelling all weird and shit like Prince does. What do you think of Watzupwityou?
Michael: It’s very childlike. I like it.
2) Does anyone else notice how dangerous it is to have the Harlem Boys Choir so near to these two?
3) I fear Tracie Edmonds may like the “sensitive” type. What do you think?
4) How much curl activator do you think they used for this video?
5) Was there a time when Eddie dressed like Patrick Swayze? I only remember Boomerang, Raw and the vampire movie wardrobe. I do not remember a Patrick Swayze period.
This particular episode was about a very delicious yellowish man who fell for a very delicious shorty rock dark skinned younger man. The catch? Older man is on the downlow (please feel free to sing R. Kelly’s “Down Low” here since it’s caught in my head). In about 30 minutes, they go through some entertaining ups and downs, including a mysterious young woman and….my friend Lynn! Now, don’t think I’m biased because Lynn is my friend. In fact, she’s my friend because she’s talented. I don’t have it in me to lie to untalented people and call them my friend. With Lynn, I think the short has a great cast, a very sound story and was a BIG hit at The Egyptian Theater (that’s big shit if you don’t live here in LA—it’s no rinky dinky home movie, grandma popcorn establishment) to a practically sold out audience of a lot of people. I don’t know how many for sure but it was a whole lot. And I must tell you I went in, expecting the worst (you know how us “folks” do sometime—not at all). Please go to the link and see when and how you can see this very necessary series.
What else can I say?
Oh! I’ve finished the first draft of my newest screenplay, “The Brooklyn Bubble.” It’s the story of an ordinary man and a super star, hiding out in Fort Greene. It’s out for reading (that means I’ve bugged all my friends who say they will read my stuff—guinea pigs if you will—and have stalked them about reading it). It’s a romantic comedy (I hope). And though I feel like I gave birth with that last period on the last page, something tells me I’ll be revising soon…such as the life of the writer.