Saturday, July 28, 2007

Good Riddance, Harry!

“Goodbye Harry”

That is the cover of my Entertainment Weekly. This is the second time in a month that some form of Harry Potter—whether it be Daniel Radcliffe or creepy adult with lightning bolt scar on his forehead—have commandeered the attention (36 pages worth!) of my favorite magazine and filled it with gobble-dee-gook about Snape and spells and wizards.

I have nothing against the man-wizard or the prolific J.K Rowling. She is the personification of what I would aspire to be (as I write this, my finished novel is printing and being readied for the terrifying search for an agent). But after more than month the book dominating the news and water-cooling talk at work, and more recently, my sister reading the last two books and leaving her daughter to call her favorite auntie four times a day, and the coverage of Daniel Radcliffe finally gaining access to his fortune, I’m sick of hearing about all forms of Harry.

Although, as Lindsay sitting in rehab again (that’s a whole other entry folks), Britney wades through the freeing waters of insanity, and an annoying squeaky-voice British soccer player invades America and pimps his marriage on the cover of W magazine, I’m not sure I’m all that keen on hearing about them either. (I mean, seriously, what is the big damn deal about Posh and Becks? I don’t get it. The only admirable quality about them is how they are shameless about being fame-whores.)

K loves her pop culture, but less is more!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Become Transformed!

My car, a 2005 Toyota Corolla named Valentino, is a loser. I recently came out of the theater and whispered into the right rear view mirror, “It’s okay. I know all about the autobots. You can transform whenever you want.” And nothing happened. Sadly. So, my car is a giant non-transforming loser and reality blows.

I wasn’t sure how to review such a large-sweeping movie, such as Michael Bay’s “Transformers,” because I am easily seduced by an imaginative idea and phenomenal visual effects. I had to read a few other reviews to get my footing and wait for the chill of adrenaline to pass so I could sort out my thoughts.

“Transformers” is this generation’s “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids”—a film that is the first of its kind and an explosion-laden standard for others to follow. The CGI’d autobot action is such a thing to behold, and it allows other aspects of the film, like plot, to fall by the wayside. But it still sucks you into the story’s action and into a reality where you truly believe that there may be a homicidal alien robot in your cell phone.

While I am very much a fan of well-told, emotionally powerful stories, I don’t think I minded this one time. Because, um…visual effects! And Shia LaBeouf! And Josh Duhamel! And Tyrese! And Optimus Prime, who’s voice sounds exactly the same as it did in the 80s! (It is the same dude. Really!)

The movie is about Sam Witwicky, played by the amazing Shia LaBeouf. He is the great great grandson of an explorer that discovered Megatron and the All Spark. Sam has the glasses that have the location of both imbedded in the lenses. A rusted out yellow Camaro is immediately drawn to him. The car later turns out to be Bumblebee, a mute Transformer with very bad luck. The movie has three different but brittle plots that all orbit around the same sun until they are eclipsed into the final Climax of Action.

“Transformers” is a summer movie that knows it’s a blockbuster, and tries to entertain with silly jokes that are funny the first time, but will turn irksome after multiple viewings (there’s a whole scene with Bernie Mac and his “Mammy” that is just a waste of time and very unfunny). LaBeouf is over-the-top as a teenager outcast just wanting a ride to impress Mikaela (played by the rather stoic Megan Fox), a porn star-in-training, in his history class. The director should have reigned in the young actor, but he peddles his passion for the Autobots better that Bobby Boliva can sell cars. He was the life of the movie, and I loved see him adlibbing and back-talking to Optimus Prime. (Sidenote: I’ve had my eye on him since I stumbled across a very nutty, quirky Disney show called ‘Even Stevens.’ I remember being amazing at how talented this strange little kid was. That little kid has gone up to be the Transformers dude, and Indiana Jones’ son). He and Justin Long from “Live Free or Die Hard” should start a new cool club, because they are re-defining cool.

The action is probably the best action sequences I’ve seen in my entire life (Sorry, all the winners of the Excellence in Ass Kickin’ Awards. They’ve all been given to the Trans Crew. Megatron made me do it!). I knew it is CGI mixed with live action and even motion capture, but I didn’t know how it was even attempted. At some points in the final battle scene, it seemed like too much to absorb all at once, which could be how battle is. It was chaotic and confusing and messy and scary! It feels like a roller coaster ride that loops around skyscrapers and hoops of fire, but I loved every minute of it.

All in all, everyone should see ‘Transformers’ on the big screen. I’m a girl and I loved it. I went with my mom and she loved it. You can’t not love the action.
For now, I’m going to go back to hating my Corolla and wishing it was a kick ass Autobot so it would at least drive me to work in the morning.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Excellence In Ass Kickin'

Why are there Academy Awards honoring every strange, eccentric and over-hyped type of dramatic film (Little Miss Sunshine wasn’t all that!), but there is not category to recognize the courage and cojones of stuntmen and women as well as the hyper-kinetic visionaries of the directors, screenwriters and stunt coordinators.

My recent viewing of “Live Free or Die Hard” inspired such a questioning. The third sequel to the “Die Hard” franchise is a visually insane action-thriller, starring Bruce Willis, a man in his early fifties. My stating this is no dig at his age, but a testament to his youth (I played kickball last week, and I think I pulled every muscle in my body, and I’m 25).

The beauty of action movies is, like superhero franchises, they exist in a different plane of reality, enabling John McClane to drive SUVs through buildings, shoot cars into helicopters, and save the nation by well…shooting himself. If you happened to catch the FOX movie channel any time this month, you would have seen all 3 “Die Hards,” wonderfully undubbed (“shit” and “suck” sound so much better on cable TV. It’s naughty!), but also a juicy little making of “Live Free” and a step-by-step, don’t-try-this-anywhere segment on how they filmed the sequence where McClane is trapped in a tunnel with cars speeding at him in both directions. Amazingly, it was mostly live action, meaning, yes, cars were flipping like a college cheerleader on crack and landing on other cars…and helicopters.

While the movie itself is ridiculously over-the-top and the villains FRENCH?! (How imtimidating can they be?!), the action itself is award-winning…and I’m not talking about an MTV Movie Award or a People’s Choice Award either. Unfortunately, what pleases the lowly masses, does not please the stuffy Academy. With that in mind, should I really value their opinion? They robbed Djimon Hounsou of the Best Supporting Actor gem for…Alan Arkin’s five-minute turn as a druggy granddaddy.

So I will hand out my own awards for Excellence in Ass Kickin’.

Best Unnamed Bad Guy— “Hamster”. He looked like an angry reject from Cirque Du Soleil (and Toad from the first “X-Men” movie), but provided one of the best fights and deaths in the movie.

Best “Live Free” Fight Sequence— John McClane kicking the shit out of the stoic kung-fu lady (and hopefully that played out stereotype).

Best “Die Hard” Sidekick— Sorry Samuel L. You were horribly miscast in “Shaft” and you don’t win this one either. It totally goes Matt Farrell, (played by the adorable Justin Long) the techy geek-turned-“That Guy.” Could they pass the franchise onto him? If they can think of anything left to do, I hope they do! Long was fabulously entertaining and stole a lot of the scenes. “This is like shoving a pine cone up my ass, dude.” Me likey!

Best “Die Hard” Villian—Timothy Olyphant. I know Alan Rickman is, like, it for most “DH” fans, but bear with me. He’s got great skin and wears chic black, but he also pulls off that eerily controlled crazy-rage so well; it was reminiscent of my mother when she found out I took her car without asking. Bravo, dude, bravo! The only downer was that he never really got to explode.

Best McClane Moment—His blood-choked laugh after sending the car careening into the chopper.

Congrats to all the winners! I appreciate all that you do! Now go blow shit up! Up next "TRANSFORMERS." SO EXCITED!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"He really needs not to talk in public" Katherine Heigl

In the beginning, Isaiah Washington seemed to handle his dismal from the break-out hit, “Grey’s Anatomy” with a surprising amount of class and dignity. When Washington was released from his contract earlier this month, he took the high road and did a very dignified interview with Entertainment Weekly. He actually took responsibility for his actions for the first time in a year. And I forgave him a little bit. I hoped he’d get another job and learn from this whole ugly experience. How stupid I was.

He’d made two tremendously bad and highly publicized mistakes using the word “faggot” in reference to T.R. Knight. There was one on-set kerfuffle, but it boiled down to “he said, he said” which left room for doubts on both sides. The second infraction was completely televised and took place at the Golden Globes and hundreds of members of the press. It also ignited the latest nearly seven months of scathing coverage that overshadowed the show’s win for Best Television Drama.

Recently, Washington is blaming everyone but himself. It was T.R. campaigning for his release and turning his castmates on him (If he called him that horrible word, he reserves the right to campaign harder than Barack Obama for his firing). It was ABC making him jump through proverbial hoops for their on sinister pleasure, and then dumping him (Disney owns ABC and having a purportedly homophobic man on their payroll doesn’t exactly fall into their squeaky clean image). Now, it is because he is black.

As a black woman, I understand that the thought always lingers somewhere in the back of your mind when you’re denied a job or ignored by a salesclerk. In this situation, however, Washington needs to put his race-card away. He deserved to be fired after his unprofessional and disturbing behavior at the Golden Globes.

Also, I’d hope that if T.R. Knight or the angelic Patrick Dempsey referred to Washington a nigger in the exact same situations, they’d be fired as well. For now, I really just want Washington to own legendry problems with anger and move on from this. He has a fabulous actor and I’d hate to see his shortcomings keep a black man down.