Sunday, December 27, 2009
NINE 4.5 stars (my rating out of 5)
How could this movie NOT be seen: starring the truly hot (and talented) Daniel Day Lewis and a cast of goddesses: Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, plus performances by Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, and Black-eyed-Pea's Fergie. I'm SO glad they didn't cast that awful Catherine Zeta Jones.
This film was wonderful. It was actually better than I expected. I thought Daniel Day Lewis was marvelous, although maybe miscast (can that be possible-to be marvelous and yet miscast in a movie?). Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, and Penelope Cruz were remarkable. Kate Hudson was quite fun and delivered an infectious performance. My main problem with the movie though was Nicole Kidman...completely miscast. She seems soul-less to me. Although her simple musical delivery of her song was admirable. Go see this movie!
Here's the other films I wish to see over the next few days and months. Have you any suggestions?
THE YOUNG VICTORIA
starring the marvelous Emily Blunt and the delicious Rupert Friend who starred in one my favorite movies this year, Cheri
A SINGLE MAN a movie by the beautiful Tom Ford starring the most beautiful Mr. Darcy Colin Firth and by the book of one of my favorite writers, Christopher Isherwood (although this is not my favorite of his books)...not to mention the always fabulous Julianne Moore
Terry Gilliam's THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS with the delicious Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell taking on the unfinished scenes of Heath Ledger.
IT'S COMPLICATED .....but of course because of La Streep, the goddess of all movie-time
VALENTINE'S DAY...starring everybody! Usually movies that includes a cast of a thousand stars turn out to be stinkers but this one might defy the odds. What a gorgeous of cast of absolutely wonderful interesting actors. the hottie Ashton Kutcher, the hottie Bradley Cooper, the hottie Topher Grace, almost-a-goddess Julia Roberts, almost-a-goddess Anne Hathaway, Emma Roberts, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Taylor Lautner, the hottie Patrick Dempsey, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Garner, the goddess Shirley MacClaine, Jaime Foxx, the hottie Eric Dane, Jessica "I'm not Latin" Alba (as per Perez Hilton), the diva Queen Latifah, George Lopez, Hector Elizondo, Joe Jonas. Who isn't in this movie? How did the afford to pay all of those people?
Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND with the delicious Johnny Depp and another star-studded cast including: Helena Bonham Carter, the almost goddess Anne Hathaway, Michael Sheen, always brilliant Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Crispin Glover.
Guy Ritchie's SHERLOCK HOLMES with the hotties Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr
WHEN IN ROME with Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel because I love romantic comedies/chick-flicks
As you can see I like chick-flicks mostly.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Finally, Time has recently had some pictures that are interesting to post. Isn't this gorgeous?
Tourists walk around one of the displays at the Ice and Snow Festival during its preview in Harbin, China.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
TIME Pictures of the Week
December 23, 2009
Tell Me All About It
Baby elephant Jamuna Toni cuddles with a zookeeper at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
So, here's my thoughts about some of the GREAT movies that I've just seen (and my ratings: 1 to 5 star, 5 star is the best):
UP IN THE AIR 5stars
This is an unusual movie. It is a serious comedy. Not really a black comedy, although it is that in a sense as it accurately reflects the rather bleak economic world we live in today. What I think makes this movie unique is that it has a perfectly blended balance of both humor and serious, upsetting material.
UP IN THE AIR is about a man who works for a company that specializes in termination of employees. The firm, unlike the rest of the world, is enjoying a boon....it is thriving thanks to the rampant economic disaster which is rampaging through the world at the moment. Staff downsizings and layoffs are big business at the moment and this firm is riding the wave, doing the dirty work for companies who are facing bleak economic realities. Clooney is a professional "terminator" so to speak.
The movie is brilliant primarily because of the script. A script which crackles with humor and intelligence and a defiance of traditional choices that would have made most filmmakers turn this into a formulaic feel good movie with just a happy ending.
The movie is also brilliant because of the director, Jason Reitman (who also wrote the script).
But, finally, perhaps the most important ingredient in the alchemy which makes this a perfect film, are the actors. I must say that I've always thought George Clooney was an interesting, easy-on-the-eyes celebrity. But I never thought that he was necessarily a great actor. Until now. His performance is genius in its restraint and nuance. In fact, I really am not sure what other actor could have taken this role and created such a remarkable and gorgeous performance.
Vera Farmiga is absolutely stunning in a role that is in my mind an historical first in modern movies. She plays Clooney's equally ambitious sexual partner. As she says in the film to Clooney: "Think of me as you with a vagina." I won't say anything because I don't want to spoil the films dénouement .....but she is so gorgeous and sensual and her character so appealing and then, in its sheer originality, the script gives us a most unusual, nontraditional diversion. This actress deserves a nod from the Academy. A brilliant performance. And a brilliantly realized character by both the Reitman and Farmiga.
Anna Kendrick, who plays the naive young woman who Clooney is assigned to teach the ropes of his industry, is absolutely spot on with her interpretation of this young upwardly professional, just out of college, who begins to learn that life is not the idealistic perfection we all are raised in the US to expect.
Oh, and did I say that Clooney, in addition, to Farmiga is as delicious to look at as could be.
This is a perfect movie. Give it the Academy Award.
THE BLIND SIDE 4stars
This film has I believe been rather panned by reviewers. Some of the criticisms are that it is a schmaltzy story about a rich white family who "adopt" a young black man. But it seems rather foolish to criticize a film for being "formulaic" if the film is based upon a very true story. I doubt the Tuohys and Michael Lewis (the movie is based upon Lewis' book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game) lived their lives to tailor make a perfect Hollywood script for a future movie. The story is what it is. It happened. And it is a wonderful, uplifting story, saccharine though it may be. I perhaps could support criticism of the script if it was not based upon a true story, as it would seem blatantly formulaic. A movie to make rich white people feel happy about their Christianity and their good fortune. A movie that would make most rich white Republicans affirm just how good their white-bread world really is (most of these audience members would probably never have done what the Tuohy's did). But this story really happened, just as it is depicted in this film.
But the thing that makes this movie a great movie, is Sandra Bullock's tour-de-force performance, which I think is the best of her career. The same can be said about Quinton Aaron's portrayal of the film's protaganist, Michael Oher.
Bullock portrays a Southern socialite with absolute precision. The vocal cadence is absolutely spot on.
I do hope these two actors receive a nomination for an academy award nod despite the academy's usual snootiness when it comes to films of this genre.
Kathy Bates is just another great reason to see this film.
I must admit this movie made me feel wonderful, which I could have judged as being formulaic, contrived, gratuitous, and manipulative, if it wasn't a beautiful true story with two brilliantly beautiful performances by Bullock and Aaron.
MOON 4 stars
Okay, so I'm a HUGE fan of the Stephanie Meyers book series. LOVED every single book. Which is what I like about the associated film series, New Moon the most recent addition. The films are so true to the original stories and the casting so absolutely true to the original book characters that you cannot HELP but love these films. But, the reason I love the movies all the more is because his HOTNESS, Robert Pattinson, who plays the vampire Edward Cullen.
This actor is so beautiful....and his co-star, Kristin Stewart, who plays the book's protaganist, Bella, is equally as compelling.
I loved this film. Can't wait for the next two.
And, as much as I LOVE Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson SHOULD have been People's Sexiest Man Alive this year. Forget the just post-pubescent Taylor Lautner. Pattinson is sexiest.....first of all he is well-beyond the legal age. But also, I'd prefer to have the life sucked out of me by a vampire rather being chewed up by a smelly old werewolf.
This is quite simply a stunning film. Audrey Tautou gives an incredibly nuanced and brilliant performance of Coco Chanel. But it is her two male love interests in the movie that I thought made the film unique. Benoît Poelvoorde (Étienne Balsan) and Alessandro Nivola (Boy Capel) play her older and younger lovers, respectively, and each of these men are absolutely delicious to look at. But this movie does something unusual: it imbues the male characters with vulnerabilities which make them all the more erotic and if anything only intensifies their virility. Coco and UP IN THE AIR both share a "pioneering" spirit in film in that they portray women who are equal in strength as men. I wish we could see more movies that represent the world as it is, not the cardboard one-dimensional portrayals of men and women right out of a Republican Party members' Bible.
But ultimately this movie is brilliant because of Audrey Tautou. She must receive a nomination for Best Actress.
If you follow this blog, you know that one of my fascinations is with courtesans in history. Coco was a courtesan of sorts and the film gives an interesting portrayal of courtesans in France.
And by the way, tell me if you don't swoon every time that hotness Alessandro Nivola is onscreen.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE 4stars
This is a wonderful movie. The true brilliance is in the "Wild Thing" characters. They are so perfectly brought to life.
This film is such an incredible journey because of the sets and the costumes as well (and the soundtrack).
This film also has the always brilliant Catherine Keener cast as the mother.
Monday, December 21, 2009
It's a plane! No, it's a space ship. No it's a boat. A Boat? Yes, the WHY is quite simply the most magnificently realized yacht ever. Beyond comprehension.
Wally Yachts is no stranger to innovative, fabulous yacht designs but this one in particular strikes my fancy.
I've wanted a yacht, like I've wanted a jet, forever. I guess I'm lucky that I haven't had a chance to sink my money yet into a traditional yacht because this yacht, the WHY (Wally-Hermès Yacht) is a dream. It's not even remotely like a traditional yacht but more like a floating island. Almost
as wide as it is long (58m x 38m or 190ft x 124ft), it seems like its half beachfront property.
And the soaring open interior.
One of my heroes (because he's so rich and he likes toys that I like/want), that cute Russian oil oligarch billionaire, Roman Abramovich (see previous listing here about all of the things this guy has that I'd like too), has a fleet of yachts, one of which, aptly named The Eclipse (the photo of boat below Abramovich pic), is the world's largest in the world at 557ft. His other yachts include: the Pelorus (377ft), the Ecstasea ( 282ft) and the Sussurro (161ft)....but I'll bet he'll be building the next world's largest, but a WHY version.
FEAST your eyes/dreams upon this. Couldn't you just sail away on this and NEVER come back? Bye bye Republicans! Bye bye radical fundamentalist Christians! Bye bye neo-Nazis! Bye Bye Dick Cheney!
So just retract those roofs and put the petal to the metal and blue skies from now on. Right? Watch the video below.
For more information visit the WHY's official website: http://www.why-yachts.com/
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
"Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common."
I am sorry for introducing such hideousness in the photos below, which is the opposite of this blogs purpose: this website is dedicated to beauty. But the hideous atrocities below illustrate Parker's beautiful observation in the most effective way:
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
It's wings almost resemble a bird??
New commercial aircraft are a rare breed these days. According to Boeing only every decade or so (although I think they left out Airbus planes, including the perfect A380). So yesterday was a special day....the birth of a new aircraft which will usher in a new era of aviation. Read more about the Dreamliner to find out just why this will be an historical aircraft.
I watched the takeoff live yesterday. It made my day! The photo below is of the plane's first landing.
The plane is the fastest selling aircraft in aviation with almost 900 orders currently, before the plane has even received its airworthy certification. The interior will usher in a new era for passenger comfort. Because of the composite material of the body of the aircraft the plane will not need to be pressurized at as high an altitude which will dramatically decrease passenger jet lag. The windows will be larger (I love large windows...see my post on the Gulfstream). The cabin will be more open.
This is a really gorgeous plane. It is designed to replace Boeing's 767 aircraft. It has two aisles and can fly long distance international routes, like the big boys 747 and A380, but with a lot few passengers.
The aircraft will carry 200-290 passengers depending upon the configuration and model of the aircraft.
Please visit the Boeing website to see this beautiful plane and find out more.
Wonder if Roman Abramovich will also order one of these as a private jet (see my previous posting on the A380 private jet).
I still think it a damn shame that our stupid species hasn't created a new breed of supersonic passenger jets after the demise of the pioneering Concord SST. It is one of the few examples in human history of mankind taking several giant step backwards.
Maybe Boeing's only number left: the 797 will be supersonic jet?
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Can we please just outlaw the following: Scary Dick Cheney, the US political institution called Christianity, the Pope, Dim-wit Sarah Palin, Jon Gosselin, Carrie Prejean, Ann Coulter, the porcine Rush Limbaugh and all of the Tea Party people.
Please! SILENCE....the cacophony is too exhausting......Go away..........bury yourselves. Just don't inflict yourselves and your wretched screeching on this world anymore. It is just too torturous. And utterly devoid of any possible constructive benefit.
Sorry for venting but I just can't help myself anymore. We are literally barraged by the din of these whining, shrill, extremely limited individuals and their Über limited thought processes.
There is nothing intellectually required to exert and spew hatred and violent and myopic emotions. It takes no effort spiritually or philosophically to practice pure hatred. I'm not Christian (I'm actually an atheist) but as far as I'm concerned it takes more rigorous substance as a human being to overcome one's own hatreds and prejudices rather than to give in to them and feed them. Practicing hatred is simply laziness.
Hatred really is a "no-brainer."
The planet Saturn is captured in a photograph taken by the Cassini orbiter. Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Imaging Team on the Cassini mission to Saturn, comments, "This year we had the thrill of observing the Saturn equinox. That's the moment when the sun, seen from Saturn, crosses the equator going from south to north. The sun sets on the rings, illuminating them edge-on. The geometry revealed structures and phenomena in the rings we had never seen before. We saw this famous adornment spring from two dimensions into three, with some ring structures soaring as high as the
For more information and beautiful photos of the Cassini Project visit the link below: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Before anyone (except Garland, Callas, and Merman) there was and is La Diva Streisand. This album is a lovely selection of some of my favorite old standards. Before her overdone symphonic albums like Yentl, etc, Ms. Streisand was putting out some of the most brilliant works ever recorded. This album harkens back to that time, in my opinion.
The entire collection of songs and Streisand's restrained and brilliant vocal interpretation coupled with the exquisite piano and instrument arrangements by Diana Krall and her band, make this in my opinion one of the diva's best albums ever.
Here's two of my favorite songs that are on her new album. See what I mean. Sheer perfection, this woman.
Some Other Time
Music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Comden/Green
On the Town is a musical with music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on Jerome Robbins' idea for his 1944 ballet Fancy Free, which he had set to Bernstein's music. The musical introduced several popular and classic songs, among them "New York, New York", "Lonely Town", "I Can Cook, Too", and "Some Other Time". The story concerns three American sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City during wartime 1944. Each of the three sailors becomes enamoured of a particular woman — and of the city itself.
On the Town was first produced on Broadway in 1944 and was made into a film in 1949. The show has enjoyed a number of major revivals. The musical integrates dance into its storytelling: Robbins made a number of ballets and extended dance sequences for the show, including the "Imaginary Coney Island" ballet.
See my other blogs about the masterful Leonard Bernstein.
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most...
Lyrics by Fran Landesman, set to music by Tommy Wolf.
Landesman's first career was in the fashion industry in New York. She and her husband then moved to his home of St Louis, where he and his brother started up the "Crystal Palace", a cabaret. This was a successful venture, attracting big-name acts as well as producing avant-garde theatre.Fran Landesman's experiences sitting in the bar of the Crystal Palace, listening to musicians and audiences, led her to begin writing song lyrics in 1952. One of her best-known is "Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most", her exploration of T.S. Eliot's "April is the cruelest month..." The Palace's pianist Tommy Wolf set her lyrics to music, and the song became a hit, leading to more Landesman–Wolf creations.
This is an album for anyone who truly is devoted to the honest telling of brilliant lyrics, songs sung angelically, and the emotional landscape realized perfectly.
Bravo, La Streisand!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/today-in-pictures/0,31511,1945722,00.html#ixzz0YpyT5zvO
Or I should say they used to be. Time has a great photo collection on their website. I usually select the "cool" photos for this blog from their Today In Pictures or Pictures of the Week collections but for the last 2-3 months the options have been really slim, if non-existent. They haven't had any photos? you ask.
Yes, they've had plenty of photos. But they are all so bleak and depressing....photos of natural disasters; wars; death; destruction; decay; widows/orphans in dire straits; disease; despotism; jingoism/Republicanism (they both mean the same thing); former fascist, dastardly, deceitful, devious ex-Vice Presidents; dead superstars; disastrous, deceitful, devious, delirious, former Vice President Female Republican candidates; morbidly obese, drug-addicted, right wing talk show hosts; dim-witted former reality television stars with overly large families; dead-end wars fought by decrepit, antediluvian, archaic, duplicitous, religious political institutions; .....I could go on.
Don't, please! you say. I can't take anymore! you say.
Well at least we used some of my favorite words in the diatribe above. Don't you love words? I love a Thesaurus.
I suppose that this dearth of happy/positive photos is representative of the time in which we live. But couldn't they include a fucking frivolous photo like the one above, at least occasionally? So the world is coming to an end. Couldn't we have a happy moment or two as part of the mashup? It's our last possible chance for a smile.
My favorite word is fuck. It is the most expressive and exquisite word in the lexicon. Sorry to shock. But I have to be honest. What's even better than a fuck?.....saying the word "fuck" ("Prolly", as daninoksc says, because the word is the only thing available for my use!)
Or antediluvian. Or dearth. Aren't these great and fun words to speak??!!!
Dictionary.com sends out a daily email with a word of the day which, besides my first cup of coffee, is usually the only highlight to facing another "fresh hell" of a day ("fresh hell" thanks to Dorothy Parker: A line attributed many times to Shakespeare but actually it's from American author/critic/poet and wit Dorothy Parker. She is reported to have exclaimed "What fresh hell is this?" when her train of thought was interrupted by a telephone. She then started using it in place of "hello" when answering the phone or a knock at her door.)
Here's a really cool, interesting word from yesterday's dictionary.com email transmission. The word just sounds curious and the meaning is interesting (it's almost an onomatopoeia, no?).
Word of the Day
Friday, December 04, 2009
gallimaufry\gal-uh-MAW-free\ , noun;
Thursday, December 3, 2009
"Inspired by mountainous Chinese landscapes and the traditional villages built their hillsides, MAD Architects has unveiled plans to create a towering vertical Urban Forest. Designed for Chongqing, China, the projects consists of a stacked vertical forest set in the heart of the city, designed to bring more nature and open space in a dense and compact way. MAD Architects is becoming more known for their sustainable designs, and hopefully the green design aspects of this new tower extend beyond the garden spaces on each floor."
The excerpt and photos above are from http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/12/01/mad-architects-unveil-urban-forest-skyscraper-for-china/.
This architecture firm has some really interesting designs. Check out another blog list on inhabitat for MAD's proposed design of a Taiwanese civic center (below): http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/09/25/mad-unveils-taichung-convention-center-with-solar-eco-skin/
Visit an earlier blog post about another similar building design, The Dynamic Building, by clicking here: http://markgsmusings.blogspot.com/2009/08/those-dubai-dudes-are-really-amazing.html
This building, which was to have been built in Dubai (not sure if that will happen now) will rotate and will be constantly changing its shape unlike the China skyscraper which I think will be static. But the varying shapes of the floors are very similar. I'd like to live in either of these buildings actually.
China and UAE are definitely the places to be these days, architecturally speaking. I still think that Dubai is one of the modern wonders of the world, despite all of the recent press about their financial difficulties. They at least have something historic and noble to show for it.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I've read all of this author's books, so I am a fan. But this particular book was unique in that it really was also a mystery novel. While it explored the same intense human relationships and emotional themes that Ford's other books typically cover, I have a feeling the author wanted to try a different approach. The novel, which explores a murder in a family, is essentially a mystery or thriller experience which I found rather refreshing change but it I still wasn't short-changed the pleasure of reading a very well written drama.
This book is about a New York family, the McClouds. This family is about as dysfunctional as a family can get. The present time in the book is the early 90's. Sheriff Dan McCloud, the father, nine-years before, committed suicide leaving his widow and three children, oldest daughter, Celeste, James, the eldest son and Billy, the baby of the family. The family life of the McClouds is complexly entwined with the family of Dan's best friend, A.J. Derry. Almost incestuously!
I quote from the Booklist review:
'“No secret stays buried forever,” says one character, wielding a knife and summing up the action ignited when the nine-year belief that Sheriff Dan McCloud committed suicide is exploded. His uniformed body is accidentally found, shot twice and shoved into a trunk, which also contains his eldest son James’ class ring. Skeletons tumble from family closets in a small town where everyone seems to knows everyone else’s business as James, the family’s pride, returns home, and the legal investigation ensues. None of this is easy on James’ mom, junkie kid-brother Billy, or sister Celeste, now married to Cold Falls’ current sheriff, Nate, stepson of A. J., Sheriff Dan’s friend and partner. Twists, surprises, and cover-ups abound, as Ford reveals the truth about A. J. and Dan and the complex secrets linking their families, including substance abuse, forgery, rape, illegitimate birth—and yes, murder. The reappearance of A. J.’s daughter, Nancy, James’ high-school flame, brings new shock waves of revelation in Ford’s fast-moving yet thoughtful exploration of family love and the things we do in its name.'
I'm telling you this book has more plot twists and more murder suspects than you can keep up with. Which is really why the book reads like a thriller. I just couldn't put the book down.
Alternating between the book's present (the early 90s) and a retrospective look at the time of the suicide, the author slowly unfolds the complex plot and the "truth" of what happened with these two families. And in trademark Ford fashion he presents an indepth multi-dimensional cast of characters who all have flaws. There are a couple of villains, who are actually portrayed with some objectivity by Ford.
I highly recommend this book....and any of Michael Thomas Ford's books.
If you'd like to purchase the book, just click here. You can see some of the other titles by Mr. Ford as well.
Friday, November 27, 2009
This remarkably beautiful man recorded one of the most amazing live performance in concert of a song that I've ever heard (although I didn't hear it live)
I've talked in previous blogs about how much I love Leonard Cohen's music. And Rufus Wainwright, who did an amazing cover of Cohen's Hallelujah. But it would seem that the gorgeous Rufus may have had his inspiration from Jeff Buckley. Listen to this performance of Hallelujah. My heart breaks. Watching this gorgeous man sing with such intensity and passion is truly remarkably beautiful experience.
Jeff Buckley died in a tragic drowning accident in Memphis on May 29, 1997. Since then, he's become recognized as a very influential songwriter/singer for his generation, even though he had a very short-lived career.
A documentary has been made about his life, Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley. And an upcoming movie will feature either James Franco or Robert Pattinson in the title role. The trailer for the documentary is below:
Many performers have acknowledged Buckley's influence in their own musical style, including the exquisite Rufus, who wrote the song Memphis Skyline, as a tribute to Buckley. Watch this video here:
The lyrics to the song Memphis Skyline by Rufus Wainwright:
Never thought of Hades
Under the Mississippi
But still I've come to sing for him
So southern furies
Prepare to walk for my harp
I have strung, and I will leave with him
Relax the cogs of rhyme
Over the Memphis sky
Turn back the wheels of time
Under the Memphis skyline
Always hated him for the way he looked
In the gaslight of the morning
Then came hallelujah sounding like mad Ophelia
For me in my room living
So kiss me, my darling stay with me till morning
Turn back and you will stay
Under the Memphis Skyline
Thursday, November 26, 2009
There are a number of other wonderful songs from this composition and I'll feature some of my other favorites in future entries.
This song is coupled with one of the most beautiful voices, that of the diva Renee Fleming. It is the perfect example of a heavenly song finding the perfect vehicle to deliver it. See. It is perfect in every way.
For the perfect simple beauty of this song and this beautiful voice, I give Thanks. They enrich my world.