Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dance Like Everyone's Watching: Hollywood's Best Choreographed Musicals

About a year or so ago, I did a piece on my favorite musical numbers for any movie. It could be a drama, contemporary, anything. I mean I even put Burlesque on that bill. If you've been following my IG, you know that I have an unhealthy obsession with dance, kind of Zelda Fitzerald style, and it's freaking hard! The whole point is to make it look easy. Also, as someone obsessed with musical theater, and the recent success of Hamilton, I'd like to pay tribute to choreography on FILM rather than the stage. A little bit of history first: Choreography for film started with Busby Berkley and the addition of sound. Trained dancers like Joan Crawford got their start playing chorus girls in the line-up of circular kaleidoscopic shots or one of the girls dancing in a swimming pool around Esther Williams. This transitioned to the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rodgers era, whom I don't think made a bad film, and could dance on air. Fred Astaire's protégé was also his contemporary, the incomparable Gene Kelly who fused his own unique brand of ballet and jazz with ballroom and took the movie musical to new heights. Let's not forget the guy tapped as well. He really was the whole package. I honestly don't think anyone's better. He ruled the movie musical landscape with Astaire until like every dancer, he got a bit old, and tired and before you know it, it was the 70's, and former Broadway boy-wonder choreographer Bob Fosse was making movies. His approach totally revolutionized the genre and indirectly gave birth to all that dancing you see in music videos. Whereas back in the day, the musical numbers were shot on a singular presidium arch, where the camera followed the dancer, Fosse would shoot his numbers from about 20 angles and in a frenzy edited them to free his dancers from gravity. You can call it 'montage dance'. Also, his style was unlike anything done before. Even the most experienced dancers said that he was by far the hardest choreographer to work with and would come home from shooting covered in bruises. Ironically, his numbers look effortless, and his contribution to cinema (though he only made 4 films) cannot be overlooked. Without getting any deeper, here are my favorite musical numbers from movie musicals, in order this time. 

Red Light from Fame (1980) choreographer: Debbie Allen
I love this film, because I went to art school, it was very close to my heart. This film takes place in the 80's, in what would become the Laguardia school for Dramatic Arts. Shot in perhaps the worst time in New York's history when the whole city was filthy and in turmoil, it centers around a bunch of misfit kids who find their calling in a high school that allows them to express themselves through art. In this particular sequence, a rather ammeter and awkward wannabe dancer named Shirley auditions with a friend of hers, Leroy, who just happens to dance like a motherfucker, he ends up stealing her audition and getting in whilst she is left rejected. 'Who wants to go to a fucking school of learnin' dance anyway?' she shouts. 
Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra from An American in Paris (1951) choreographer: Gene Kelly
Our story concerns...you guessed it; an American in Paris who falls in love with a mousy but beautiful ballet dancer played by stunning French actress Leslie Caron. Story goes is that she was a classically trained prima whom Gene Kelly had to teach to dance more 'contemporary', except for this one sequence when they each dance in their own style introducing themselves and their cultures to each other. 
Ain't There Anyone Here for Love? from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) choreographer: Don't Know
Forget the whole Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend number that's too iconic for its own good. This particular number is so deep in the closet it's hilarious. Jane Russell is bored at a gym amongst a plethora of male athletes at the gym who are all training for the olympics that they are all on their way to on a yacht. Oh and Marilyn is in the movie too. While they work out in their peach vintage skivvies, Jane is singing about why no one wants to hang out with her, I wonder why. The beauty of this sequence is how en pointe all of the male athletes/dancers are with their exercise. And Jane's not too bad either. 
Simon Zealotes from Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) choreographer: Don't Know
I saw this live in San Francisco and could not have been more disappointed because the beautiful songs from the rock opera penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are totally lost without dynamic choreography. A bunch of obviously trained dancers in hippie garb create beautiful scenes of dance married with music, none more memorable than the Simon Zealotes sequence, when ...Simon Zealot sings the praises of Jesus Christ with a huge chorus of hippies/disciples. 
Cheek to Cheek from Top Hat (1935) choreographer: Fred Astaire
I have to throw at least one Fred and Ginger movie into here and this is by far my favorite. Never has there been a more brilliant dance couple than Fred and Ginger. They are literally built to dance with each other. It's a lovely little romantic comedy, with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and was made quite early so it put Fred Astaire on the map. 
Cell Block Tango from Chicago (2002) choreographer: Rob Marshall
Rob Marshall worships at the alter of Bob Fosse who originally put up this play on Broadway in the 70's, and it shows. A lot of people were nervous if he could deliver, but fusing the Fosse essence with his cinematic skill really made for a great musical in an age where no one cared about musicals anymore. Every single number is brilliant, but the one that is most dynamic, eye-catching, and Fosse-esque is the violently colorful and fierce Cell Block Tango. 
Everything Old is New Again from All That Jazz (1979) choreographer: Bob Fosse
Yay! Now to the Fosse part, and this is just the first. Prior to this film, Fosse had had a heart attack, and after he recovered, Shirley McLaine suggested that he write a film about that experience. Roy Scheider plays Fosse, and Fosse's own girlfriend Ann Reinking plays...his girlfriend. There are amazing numbers in this sequence but one that truly stands out is when he goes back home and his girlfriend and daughter Michelle perform a surprise 'welcome back' dance to Everything Old is New Again. It's minimalist, but very heart-warming. 
Moses Supposes from Singin' in the Rain (1952) choreographers: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
This could be the greatest movie musical of all time; scratch that, to me, it always will be. Every single number is absolutely fabulous and you're probably wondering why I chose this number instead of the iconic Singin' in the Rain with Gene Kelly dancing around with an umbrella in the rain. Moses Supposes is a number that includes hoofer Donald O'Connor who plays best friend to Gene Kelly's movie star who now has to learn how to talk considering the movie concerns the advent of sound to film. During a lesson, the two decide to take over and just have some amazing tap dancing, high jumping fun in their teacher's office. They're dancing style is so different that it compliments each other much like Fred and Ginger, and overall, it's just really really fun. 
Mein Herr from Cabaret (1971) choreographer: Bob Fosse
This is probably one of my favorite movies; not just musicals, movies. I think last time I did an all time best list it was #3. The movie concerns a showgirl played brilliantly by Liza Minelli in Weimar Republic Germany right at the onset of looming Nazism. She has high hopes of becoming a grand actress, but has to face a lot of harsh realities, and despite this bleak exterior, she always escapes to her place of work the Kit Kat Club, where she headlines. The last song says it all. 'What good is sitting alone in your room? Life is a cabaret ol' chum, come to the cabaret'. This particular dance sequence, where all of the Cabaret's performers dance with chairs has been mimicked more times than I care to remember, but this one is and always will be the best. 
Prologue from West Side Story (1961) choreographer: Jerome Robbins
Bet you thought Fosse was going to top my list? Well this was on TCM the other day and I just completely could not believe what I was seeing. This musical is an anomaly. The music, composed by legend Steven Sondheim was very jazz-based and improvisational and the dancing went along with it. A lot of the original Broadway cast reprised their roles in the film, and all of the dancing is not only ridiculously complicated set to jazz hybrid music, but looks so graceful and easy. But try doing one of them at home, and you'll knock over all of your furniture. The dancers/actors later said that when principal photography wrapped, they all burned their knee pads in from of Jerome Robbins' trailer. 
Below, any videos I can find regarding the aforementioned numbers, now go dance your heart out!: 








Monday, July 11, 2016

11 Things I Loved In The 90's: Part Deux

Hard to sum up everything awesome about the 90's in just 11 things. Here's 11 more. Because 22 just about covers it. Look at how good my math is. So here's some more stuff that gives me a nostalgia boner. Again, in no particular order:

Raves.
Before you Coachella jerk offs made music festivals basic, and mainstream, raves were the it thing in the 90's. I'm not going to incriminate myself and talk about ALL of it, but it was our Studio 54. I was a bit of a Candy Kid, wearing bracelets up to my elbows and honest to god thought House music was the shit. (no comment). This was back in the day where you had to go to like an abandoned warehouse, get a secret map, go to another location get another secret map and a glitter butterfly sticker and finally find yourself in an abandoned warehouse between stab street and murder avenue. Good times. 
Nu Metal.
Yes darlings, your angelic friend was once full on into baggy wide legged pants, the Vans Warped Tour and Korn with a backwards R. It was all very angsty and alternative; two adjectives that defined my teens. Fun fact: I was a cheerleader despite all of that my junior year of high school and our big end routine was to Limp Bizkit's Rollin' yeah...I get sick just thinking about it. 
The Bee Girl.
If you had ANY time in the 90's the damn bee girl from the Blind Melon 'No Rain' music video is seared into your memory. No one even remembers the song, or what the bee girl has to do with it. They honestly don't go together but she is doomed to spend the rest of her life living down being the definitive cliché of the 90's. 
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon winning Best Screenplay.
Before Batfeck and Jason Bourne, there was Ben and Matt, two kids barely old enough to drive who wrote arguably the best script of that year, turned into Good Will Hunting with iconoclast director Gus Van Sant at the helm. But it's their speech after receiving the golden naked dude presented to them by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau that I can watch over and over again.
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
In 1991 Freddie Mercury, legendary frontman of Queen added his name to an ever growing list of casualties of AIDS. By then, Queen was my favorite band (my dad taught me well) and a year later his remaining band mates accompanied by some of musics' biggest acts such as Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie and Annie Lennox paid tribute to him in an unprecedented concert at Wembley Stadium, the profits of which went to various AIDS charities. It gives me goosebumps to watch it to this day and though most people's favorite part was Elton John's duet with Axl Rose of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', but George Michael singing 'Somebody to Love' steals the show.
Life After Death.
After the fatal shooting of its artist, the aptly titled album 'Life After Death' hit Tower Records, and yeah I camped out for a CD. Helmed by anthems like 'Hypnotize' and 'Mo Money Mo Problems', even us white dorks were able to appreciate its artistry, sadly it would be the last of Biggie's gifts. Put it on a loop and drive aimlessly. Trust me. 
O Captain, My Captain.
Again, if you grew up in the 90's this scene from Dead Poets Society is tattooed on your skull. Do you know how much the youtube views jumped after the tragic and untimely death of its star Robin Williams? That's what makes this scene even more resonant now, and even more heartbreaking. I seriously can't watch it without crying, but now it's can't watch it without full on bawling. Fight the power boys. 
The 'Closer' music video.
Long before Taylor Swift's annoyingly iconic 'Shake it Off' video, Mark Romanek was just a struggling short film director until Trent Reznor tapped him to direct Nine Inch Nails' breakthrough video for the song 'Closer'. Shot on a hand crank silent 16 mm Bolex similar to the cameras used by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin and layered with disturbing imagery like a monkey tied to a cross and a pig head spinning on a metal torture contraption I don't have to tell you, I immediately loved it.
Death Row Records.
When Death Row Records was formed in 1991 by Dre, Suge Knight and The D.O.C., it launched some of the greatest artists of the early 90's including Tupac, Snoop, and Nate, and inadvertently ignited hostilities between West coast and East coast rap empires that lead to the untimely deaths of Tupac and the aforementioned Biggie. Beyond the tragedy and politics, Death Row Records gave us kids in the suburbs something we couldn't stop listening to and something that terrified our parents. Talk about two birds.
Welcome to the Dollhouse.
You probably know by now that I don't go for your typical movies, or even a-typical. And it's even more rare that I watch a movie that I still would bear hug today. Welcome to the Dollhouse might be that anomaly. Director Todd Haynes didn't push the envelope, he built an airplane of it and shoved it sideways up Hollywood's ass. It's the most bizarre, non sequitur, heart-felt, and heart-breaking story you'll ever see about an 11 year old. I saw it at 11 and at 32, it still speaks to me.
Paul Verhoeven.
Here's a list for ya. Basic Instinct. Showgirls. Total Recall. Starship Troopers. Need I say more?
Below...more crap!








Sunday, July 10, 2016

11 Things I Loved in the 90's

Remember the 90's? I do. I was raised in that decade. Unambitious Gen-X'rs, Presidential sex scandals, a surplus economy, and Kurt Cobain? What we who remember the 90's wouldn't do to go back to that. National Geographic called it the last great decade, and seeing where things are right now, I think they were right. Anyway here's a range of things some superficial, some cataclysmic, that influenced my adolescence. In no particular order:

The Craft. 
Let's be honest, who didn't play light as a feather stiff as a board after watching this cataclysmic 90's chick flick about teenage witches? But mostly it was all about the fashion for me, and the appropriation of a lot of 70's songs. Nancy Downs was my girl, I'll fight anyone who says different.
Silverchair. 
Of all the alt-rock post-grunge music that dominated the airwaves of the 90's, this band from down under definitely spoke to my soul, and perhaps not until their third album release; Neon Ballroom, but we all fell in love with Daniel Johns if we grew up in the 90's. In fact I think that's exactly when I started puberty was seeing the video for Anthem for the Year 2000.
Colin Quinn on Weekend Update.
Argue all you want. I think that he is the best person to do Weekend Update on SNL, maybe with Tina and Amy as a close second. He was brash, sarcastic, and snarky AF. He gave zero fucks, and never broke character. One of my favorite Weekend Update guests of the Colin Quinn era is Will Ferrel's frat guy...you don't even know! :)
Goth chic.
Yeah I was a bit alternative in middle school. When all the girls were wearing body glitter I was wearing dark lipsticks and fishnet stalkings and t-shirt that said 'Fuck Grunge'. I thought I was so bad ass. Whether we like it or not goth chic and general 90's fashion is coming back, for got knows what reason, but if you were really into it like me you spent most of your time at the now defunct Hot Topic.

Empire Records.
Most girls my age would probably go the Clueless route, but this film I watched at another 90's archaic behavior; a sleepover, and it was magical. Everything is dated AF such as, oh I don't know setting the whole film in a record store. But look that the principle cast, they couldn't be more 90's if they tried. Say no more mon amour.
TOW With the Prom Video.
I hope you remember oh I don't know, the BEST episode of Friends ever? Season 2, 1995...where we were introduced to perhaps the most heartbreaking and beautiful thing to happen to sitcoms. Monica and Rachel find an old video of themselves getting ready for prom just when Rachel is severely mad at Ross, but what she didn't know is that he completely embarassed himself in trying to help her. They make up and every thing was right in TV land. Nice dresses ladies.
Knee high leather Doc Martins.
The prerequisite of cool in the 90's was doc martins. Now there were many incarnations, but my personal favorite was the knee high black boots. I never left the house without them. They were clunky and heavy, and very threatening.
Hole.
As a marginalized teenager who didn't listen to top 40, Courtney Love and her band really spoke to me, perhaps even more than her legendary late husband. Nirvana was very male centric, and even though it was at times problematic, it was akin to reading Sylvia Plath. it was the first real feminist presence I remember being into. Fuck Lilith Fair.
Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding.
Even if you gave zero shits about figure skating you remember this clear as a bell. Supreme ice princess Nancy Kerrigan was whacked in the knee by what we found out later to be Tonya Harding (her arch rival) and her goons. Though they have all been charged and prosecuted, Tonya has yet to admit culpability, but honestly who cares. The media rode that wave all the way to the Olympics in Lillehammer where NEITHER of them won, and it was a Lifetime movie you couldn't have written. 
Christina Aguilera's Stupid Red Streaks.
The reason I'm not juxtaposing a picture of myself with a cheap salon version of this pic is because I have dignity left, screw that, it's really because I can't find it. But I for real loved this look. Little did I know that Christina was just getting warmed up in the questionable fashion statement idiom. 
Silver Body Paint.
Ever since the Red Hot Chili Peppers video for Give it Away Now premiered, I like many was intrigued. Have you ever tried it in real life? That shit hurts. But hey it was a fun conversation starter at raves, and no Rihanna did not invent it. Sorry ya'll. 
Bill Clinton...duh.
Way before Obama, if you were a kid when Clinton was first released, it was amazing. We'd never had a cool President before. He wore Ray-Bans, played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall, and always had some smooth hillbilly logic to throw our way. Blow job, Shmow job, he was a hell of a president. I miss him. 
Below, all kinds of crap!





Tuesday, July 5, 2016

We Need to Talk About Hiddleswift

Take off that stupid fucking shirt. You're her 'boyfriend' not a 12 year old girl at her concert. 
Happy America day and all that...on to something in pop culture that is more ridiculous and offensive than Trump...I'm kidding, nothing is. I don't usually take a vapid interest in celebrities' love lives, in fact I've come to believe that everything is just one giant PR stunt. Especially when it come to Taylor Swift. Whereas prior I thought she dated guys or material (you definitely see more candid paparazzi photos right before a new album of hers comes out) I'm starting to think that she just desperately wants the publicity. 
Instead of writing yet ANOTHER break up song or for that matter break up album...she should write a song called 'My Vagina's Magic'. It has a nice ring to it, and I'm convinced some kind o witchery is involved to bag a Hiddleston. Up to this point, her revolving door of boyfriends have been meh at best. Not exactly prime breeding material. But great for her next basic bitch anthem.

She's got a blank space baby...and she'll write your name...Hiddleston if you don't get the fuck out. 
Apart from basically all reasons that make them incompatible, let's consider this. Tom Hiddleston went to RADA and appeared in many Shakespeare plays at the Old Vic before breaking into film, I'm not trying to be elitist, but TS is not exactly in his intellectual group. I can't even imagine what they talk about. After watching a few of her interviews I'm going to say something to do with her cats? 
Now he's spending time with her girl squad. The pictures honestly make him look like that really creepy dude in his thirties who hangs out with millenials...which is kind of exactly the case.
Another thing; if you went on twitter the other day, what's trending? Not the Turkey airport bombing, not Bagdad, but Hiddleston's ridiculous tank top. Little backstory, I'll try to give it to you without getting nauseous. Grown man, college graduate, esteemed actor Tom Hiddleston wore an I Heart TS t-shirt. For the love of god. The internet couldn't stop being embarrassed for him. I've done a few embarrassing things in my life...ok a lot of embarrassing things, but I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed via third party.

Where exactly in this group of fools does Hiddleston fit? Go stand in between Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid, it will make you look like even more of an asshole. 
Did they have some kind of sleepover the night prior and Hiddleston got talked into some kind of dare? Did they then retreat to Taylor's mansion where they painted his nails and braided his hair? Come on Tom, you're a grown man not that creeper at the bar who hits on girls half his age. Please don't tell me they made you drink cosmopolitans either. It was just ghastly and wrong, and there goes my witchery angle. No way in hell does a man that is respected in the arts, that's a RADA graduate, a serious actor, who votes and pays taxes behave like that. Taylor's vagina must really be magic. Either that or her squad knows some serious brain washing techniques. If so, Urban Outfitters (known for making ridiculously offensive T-shirts) needs to put out a 'Free Hiddleston' t-shirt, overpriced cotton-poly blend, and extra soft? Get on that because this has quickly devolved from ridiculous to embarrassing to just plain sad.

The two supposedly met at the Met Gala, but I have a feeling Taylor hunted him down right after her and Calvin called it quits, and made sure that a photographer was there. I mean who can resist a gothy skinny bitch who can't dance? 
They've been officially online for like only a month, and for this short time, they've done nothing but profuse PDA for the camera. We know more about their relationship than they probably know about each other. And in that short time, they've met each other's parents, and have traveled all over the world. Something doesn't smell right.
Post script: There might not be that much to freak out about. There is a lot going around the interwebs that the whole thing is a Joaquin Phoenix I'm Still Here piece of performance art. Hiddleston is a fabulous actor after all. If so, I'm very excited for the basic AF music video...do I sound jealous? I'm so not jealous.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Sociopolitics of OITNB Season 4 (Spoilers, duh!)

Last shot of the season. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching ending ever. If you're like me, you choose to believe that Poussey's New York adventure was a beautiful limbo that she'll live forever. 
Unless you've been in a cave or are pathetic human being (yeah I said it) you've binged the 4th season by now of the Netflix juggernaut Orange is the New Black. I've been waiting to write about it for a while because unlike most, I care about not spoiling shit for people. As the show usually ends on a cliffhanger, I thought people would be more careful about that, especially because this season was perhaps the most gut-wrenching and as Kate Mulgrew (Galina Reznikov) said on Good Morning America 'excruciating' season to film. And that's coming from a cast member who knew...imagine how it was for us. 

Class structure and institutionalized racism take front and center seats this season, where Litchfield becomes a microcosm of the hypocrisy we live in 
I'd like to talk about something I at first considered to be Easter eggs of socio-politics, but lets face it; they were front and center this season. Let's backtrack to a few of them. Some of my favorite ones that were so hilarious and painful at the same time were amazing as commentary about the world that has completely gone to shit, from the mind of Jenji Kohan. When we finally find out why Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren is serving time at Litchfield, we start with her working merrily at a Costco-type warehouse. There's a receipt she checks and it goes something like this 'mayonnaise, orange juice, ASSAULT WEAPON' ok have a nice day!' 

Chapman has to suffer some serious consequences for inadvertently creating a prison gang full of white supremacists. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and in prison, they will brand a swastika on you without hesitation. 
Sensitive topic? Most definitely, but poking a stick at how ridiculous it is that people can purchase assault rifles in this country is brilliant commentary, especially considering what just happened in Orlando. It's about time SOMEONE addressed it, because it's clearly being overlooked (save for the congress filibuster). Something else that sticks in your craw like an uncomfortable zit that's in the weird part of your back was when a CO mentions that she knows about 'extraction techniques'...yeah, she's a torturer, a lot of them are. The Abu Graib parallel was so apparent this season; like when a CO asks Blanca to stand on a table which she does for days. I think someone even says that its 'a bit Abu Graib' but let's face it; the new CO's are former vets with shiny faces that used to be torturers...thanks Bush Regime. 
We see institutionalized racism so much during this season. The fact that a huge conglomerate of new inmates that are stuffed into Litchfield are all from the DR basically gives credence to the fact that the system has been doing that for years. For every white person locked up, there's 10 people of color. Think about that, don't want to? Ok. 

CO Coates tries to explain to his rape victim that he didn't see it that way. Guess what, doesn't matter. And you have to wear that rape badge the rest of your life. And rightfully so.
Well anyway, if you're a girl especially, you followed the whole Stanford rape fiasco, where a dipshit judge gave a Stanford swim star 6 months for a violent rape where there were witnesses? 3 months with good behavior? How shitty is that sweaty turd to swallow? Rape is rape, and that's something that couldn't be clearer. Remember last season when Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) was brutally raped by CO Coates? We didn't see it coming, in fact I'm sure some of us hopeless romantics thought that they might actually get together a la Daya and CO Bennett, and then he rapes her. Horrifying. In this season, it's made apparent that CO Coates like for real didn't understand that what he did was rape. Rape is rape bro. He's not an idiot, probably a bit on the dumb side, but I'm sorry, he's a rapist. Just as Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) said; there's no forgiving that. Pennsatucky eventually does forgives him, but to her, and to basically everyone with a pulse, he'll always be a rapist, dumb or not. 

A peaceful protest is met with abhorrent violence. It doesn't just happen in the world of fiction people. 
On to the next and most excruciating thing ever, of all time...not just on OINTB. When Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley), an audience favorite gets killed. What starts out as a peaceful stick-it-to-the-man protest where the entire prison population stand up on their tables in the cafeteria, Dead Poets Society style, demanding that the captain (Piscatella) resign. CO Piscatella is a misogynist, sadist, and all around monster. Instead of doing the rational thing which would be oh I don't know, anything except for what he ends up doing, he brings the close of the season to the most egregious end imaginable. He calls in the rest of the staff to forcefully take down the inmates. CO Bailey, a boyish dimwit that looks like he wouldn't hurt a fly, ends up being responsible for the worst thing to happen on that show to date. Mirroring the Black Lives Matter movement, he accidentally murders Poussey by jamming his knee into her back, effectively cutting off air to her lungs. That was a scene that stays with you like whatever scene from whatever film still makes you cry just by thinking about it. It was cataclysmic, especially because most of the cast didn't even know what was going to happen until they shot it. 

Poussey's death scene. I still can't get it out of my head and probably won't for a while. It's not just that she was a 'fan favorite'; this was an indictment of every single time a person of color was murdered in cold blood and the perpetrator got away with it in the end. 
Taystee (Danielle Brooks), Poussey's BFF, who works as the secretary to prison warden Caputo, overhears his statement to the public where he decides not to reprimand CO Bailey. Outraged, she launches a full on protest at Litchfield. 'They didn't even say her name!' she screams, rallying the rest of the inmates to follow her. The greatest injustice just happened, and all the higher-ups can think about is how to play it to the media. If that's not a full-on retrospect on the truth, I don't know what is. Her greatest line, which I believe sums up the gravity of the situation, is when Caputo says he's sorry for her loss, to which she retorts; 'I'm tired of people calling it my loss like it was my 100-year-old granny that croaked instead of cold-blooded murder'. There you go folks. There ain't no justice in the world, and especially now that the world is basically on fire. And as long as people in positions of power are only concerned with is how to spin it to make themselves look good in the face of a horrific injustice, innocent people will continue to die, and the disenfranchised will continue to suffer. Was that too dark? Well, it's supposed to be. Here's to Jenji and her chrome-plated balls for addressing all of it so blatantly and with such pathos that it broke all of our hearts. This is what makes Orange is the New Black more than just a fun binge-watching session on Netflix. The towering statements it makes are brilliant, and they are not crammed down the audience's throat because someone on that team studied literally devices. I have respect for a lot of what the show brings to the front, but what I respect the most is how unapologetic and brutally honest it is. Time and time again, that's the art that stands head and shoulders above the rest, that touches the heart, and doesn't care if it hurts, because it's supposed to. 

Trailer for Season 4 below: 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Tribute to Anton Yelchin


In the past few weeks, a lot of things have happened. None bigger than the mass murder in Orlando. I want to express so much regarding it. But sometimes I feel like it would be too much, and in the words of Jane Fonda when she accepted her Academy Award in the midst of America's invasion of Cambodia during the War in Vietnam; 'There's a great deal to say, and I'm not going to say it tonight.' As if to say, this is not the right platform for this. And my blog is far too mediocre a platform for any of my thoughts, prayers, and outrage at the horrific tragedy. Though, I would like to take this time to pay tribute to a talent gone far too soon from our lives. 
Last year, I was a publicist for the regional film festival, Cinequest. It was a great experience, and I got to meet and converse with a lot of up and coming filmmakers. Our closing film was Mad Men producer Victor Levin's directorial debut 5 to 7 starring Anton Yelchin. Both were there, and both I met in brief at our closing night soirée. 
I had loved Yelchin's work, as understated as it was in the few films he had made in his short time on this earth. I particularly fell in love with him in the film co-starring Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence; the brilliant and again understated romantic drama; Like Crazy. He gained international acclaim as Pavel Chekhov, the brilliant Russian navigator on the USS Enterprise. He brought new brevity and heart to a rather minor role in a reboot of a classic, where every actor was nervous that they wouldn't live up to their 60's counterparts. 
Yelchin was a very smart kid. I would say man, but he was so young when he undertook the role. I don't know how he prepared for it, but for me, he stole every scene that he was in. But it was the smaller films, the sleeper hits that I first fell in love with him; Charlie Bartlett, House of D, and the aforementioned Like Crazy.

A still from Like Crazy costarring Felicity Jones (also pictured)
To me, it felt like when we lost Heath Ledger. In that, it is a tragic waste. Heath could have gone on to have a career that eclipsed his contemporaries and been eventually compared to the otherwise incomparable Brando. As is the case with Yelchin in my humble opinion. And not just because he's damn talented, but that he was amazingly bright, forthright, and dignified...qualities that are too much amiss in the current slate of Hollywood upstarts. 
Yes, the fact that we're both Jewish emigres from the Russian Federation was kinda cool in a superficial way, but to watch him perform was quite astounding. Whether in high-octane action-packed blockbusters like Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, or Terminator Salvation, but in everything he did. He was a unique talent and the potential lost on June 19th is a tragedy that is genuinely shattering. 

As Pavel Chekhov, a role which he nailed. Even the original Star Trek crew was proud of him.
Unlike Ledger, who had at least given us performances to cherish like Brokeback Mountain, or The Dark Knight, and my personal favorite; I'm Not There. What's very difficult to reconcile is that I truly believe we hadn't seen yet what Yelchin was capable of gifting to the art of cinema, and now we'll never know. Had this not happened, I could definitely see comparisons between himself and Ryan Gosling, Jeffrey Wright, and eventually perhaps the great Philip Seymour Hoffman, whom we also lost too soon. Too often we see a shooting star, and too often it moves too fast for us to fully appreciate its beauty. Perhaps this metaphor is tired, and Yelchin was more than that. He was a gift to the art of film, and the craft of acting, and we're all left wondering not 'why', but 'what could and would he have been had he had more time.' It's not only a waste, but it's a huge loss. The potential we'll never see, and that potential was enormous, much like his heart. 

Below trailer: 


Below: an interview he did for the Cinequest red carpet last year. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

Bye Bye Chad!

Can you sense the pungent smell of douche?
Yes assholes, I have been binging The Bachelorette. It's a show full of sociopaths that I can use as leverage when my friends tell me I should 'date more'. Oh really friends? The Bachelorette, boom. Shut the fuck up. It's a house of idiots competing for the heart of a bigger idiot. It's almost like a brilliant Monty Python sketch. And hey, if Ben Rothlisberger can admit on national TV that he has viewing parties, I can admit it to the bloggerverse. Sometimes I can't get the alcohol out fast enough, and aside from making me slightly suicidal, it's beautifully ridikidonk. 
Something that I haven't seen usually on primetime is someone that is so outward with their major major sociopathy that they wear it as a badge of honor...or a sash, whatever. Congratulations Chad, the 'luxury real estate agent' you're Mr. Sociopath of 2016. Here's your bouquet of poison ivy, and your sash stained with the blood of orphans. 
Chad's general attitude trying to establish himself as the alpha male. More like alpha tool.
Every time, well not every time, just most of the time when a friend of mine goes through a break up, I bring up something I learned when I was going through a bad break up that a Psych major alerted me to; The Dark Triad. For those of you too lazy to use the hyperlink, it's a trifecta of sociopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. If you don't know that last term...I'm fascinated that you've made it this far in life. Now obviously it doesn't apply to all men, it's just a nice way of saying 'hey whomever broke up with you is a piece of shit and you deserve better and blah blah blah'. It cushions the blow of a break up, even though most of them don't involve divorce, child custody battles, and go as far as 'what am I to do Vera? We brunch at the same place!'
That's something he said to the women he's competing against 25 other guys for...Urly?
Now, Chad (of course his name is Chad) is a shining example of The Dark Triad, and I've come across my share of complete psychos. He's manipulative, he threatens people, he's two faced, and controlling. And just like a sociopath he was able to pull the wool over Bachelorette Jojo's eyes long enough to stay in the house for about 4 weeks. You have to seriously fuck up as a person to be hated by all other 25 dudes in the house like with a passion. 
But with Jojo, his Machiavellianism takes over and he's able to play the lost puppy with a dark past that just wants some love in his life damn it, when he's clearly baby steps away from punching a wall in front of her. Finally someone (I don't know his name, I'm not THAT into the show people) spilled the beans, and she sent him packing. 
Yes, give a rose to the serial killer. I fully support this plan.
Here's the thing though, I think he's a straight up serial killer. Instead of just going back home after Jojo told him to peace out, he comes back to the house Patrick Bateman style with like a thousand yard stare knocking ominously on the windows...and then it flashes to 'to be continued' THANKS ABC, you bastards. I want to see blood spilled. You finally made the show interesting, and now you're leaving me hanging? Not cool.