Friday, May 29, 2009

Quick Quips for May 29th

"Talk low, talk slow, and don't talk too f***ing much."
- John Wayne

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guys and Dolls...and Guy

Hollywood’s at it again – remaking a classic. Guy Ritchie (the director and, more famously, Madonna’s ex) is reportedly taking on a re-imagined version of Guys and Dolls (1956). Just how re-imagined is it? Ritchie is said to have pegged Jason Statham to star in the musical. The dude from Crank, Transporter and Death Race can sing?! The beefy bald actor seems more apt to beat a guy’s face in, than resolve a conflict in song. But hey, maybe they said something similar about Marlon Brando back in the day. No, I take that back. Statham is WAY more of a stretch.

Ritchie has apparently been throwing around the idea of making a musical for some time now, and the idea of doing Guys and Dolls “really tickled him,” a source told the British newspaper The Sun. The source adds: "He is torn between keeping the script true to the original in New York and taking it to familiar surroundings in London." Once you have Jason Statham on board, you should probably just stop worrying about staying “true to the original.” You’re already pretty far gone. Thank God he’s not married to Madonna anymore. He may have tried to throw her in, too.

Quick Quips for May 28th

"Hollywood parties? In the old days, if you didn't take the young lady on your right upstairs between the soup and the entree, you were considered a homosexual."
- Walter Wagner

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Terrible Tweets

If you haven’t heard of it, Twitter is the newest fad of Young Hollywood. It’s a social networking tool used for shameless self-promotion by anyone seeking attention from younger fans. Users include us and Demi Moore’s 12-year-old husband (but definitely not Kanye West). With the fad skewing so young, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that legendary screen actress Elizabeth Taylor tweeted her release from the hospital.

Taylor is 77-years-old. Have you ever seen someone at that age try to work a computer? Cable TV is still a source of confusion for most of those people. My mother is 59-years-old and has trouble finding her email, for crying out loud.

The point I’m trying to make is this: there’s no way that Taylor is the one doing the tweeting. Which newly-hired inter, then, thinks that Taylor has enough computer-savvy fans to warrant a Twitter page in the first place.

Hell, I don’t even use Twitter because I’m sick of new technology. I capped out at Facebook. Andrea handles the tweets (as well as any advancement in the Internet social networking world here on out). If I’m too old for this crap, there’s no way it’s worth the time for Taylor to have one.


Quick Quips for May 27th

"Why do people treat me with fun just because I am the biggest, strongest, and most beautiful man in the world?"
-Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quick Quips for May 26th

"The average Hollywood film star's ambition is to be admired by an American, courted by an Italian, married to an Englishman, and have a French boyfriend."
- Katharine Hepburn

Matinee Man: James Stewart

Last week was James Stewart’s birthday, and while it would have made sense to have him as our Matinee Man then, alas, life got in the way (dontcha hate when that happens?) and the post got delayed. But being that yesterday was Memorial Day, Stewart – a former veteran – is still an apropos choice. Better known to the public as Jimmy Stewart, the guy was an unlikely movie star. His often geeky, down-home persona was the exact opposite of the suave, romantic leading man, but audiences loved him in films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Shop Around the Corner and The Philadelphia Story. And if you've ever turned on the TV around Christmastime, we guarantee you've seen his face in the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life.
But he left all that success behind to join the Army Air Corps during World War II, rising to the rank of colonel in just four years. After the war, he took on darker, more contemplative roles in films like Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958), and Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959).

As for being named our Matinee Man, Stewart - always the self-effacing star - would probably flash us that shy, "aw shucks" smile. And that’s precisely why we love him. In my opinion, he was one of the first to make geek look good. See for yourself:

When Stewart won the Best Actor Oscar in 1940, he sent it to his father in Indiana, Pennsylvania, who kept it in his hardware shop for 25 years.

Stewart was a true "regular guy." He shunned Hollywood glamour and avoided buying expensive clothes and fancy cars.

He was also super-protective of his privacy. When a family of tourists decided to camp out on his front lawn, his came out of his house and promptly turned on the sprinklers.

While filming the emotional “let me live again” scene It’s a Wonderful Life, Stewart was so moved that began crying for real. Rather than risk losing the moment’s authenticity by shooting more takes, director Frank Capra created close-ups by enlarging frames of the long shot.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quick Quips for May 22nd

"When I first arrived in Hollywood, I met a studio executive who said, 'Loved your work, Joe.' When I asked what he had seen me in , he said, 'Nothing.'"
- Joseph Fiennes

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quick Quips for May 19th

"In Hollywood it's not how you play the game, it's how you place the blame."
- Don Simpson

Who Would Play...Natalie Wood?

A few weeks ago Andrea introduced (some of) you to Natalie Wood – the Miracle on 34th Street cutie turned West Side Story hottie turned conspiracy theorist centerfold when she tragically drowned off the side of her and her husband’s boat. Naturally, this sparked one of Andrea and my favorite games: “Who Would Play.” In this case: Who Would Play Natalie Wood in a film about her life.

We surprised ourselves by coming up with not just one, two or three, but four Natalie Wood look-a-likes. Here are the contenders, in no particular order except for Katie Holmes, who goes first because she’d never get the job anyway (we’d need someone who can actually act).

So, yes: Katie Holmes, whose only chance to get the part comes from her marital ties to Tom Cruise – the head of Scientology and, in turn, the head of Hollywood. Looks-wise, Holmes would easily be molded into a young Wood.

Catherine Zeta Jones. Because, really…

And then Andrea was all, “What about Katharine Heigl” and I said, “What? No.” And then she posted these pictures and I was all, “Holy crap.”

My dark horse, though, is Jeanne Tripplehorn. I’ve loved this chick (in a totally platonic way) since I saw her in Sliding Doors as the skanky ex-girlfriend-slash-other woman who Gwyneth Paltrow’s spineless boyfriend goes back to while cheating on Paltrow in the first place. She played the part perfectly. I hated her. Anyway, you may not agree with me, but tell me Tripplehorn couldn’t pull it off after looking at these:

See? Don’t question me. I own this game.

The Cannes-Do Spirit!

The Cannes Film Festival – the classier, more sophisticated European older sister of film festivals, if you will – is currently taking place (from May 13-24) and the stars (American and international alike) are out in full-force. It’s one of the oldest and most prestigious festivals in the world and it’s held every year in the resort town of Cannes (pronounced like “con”) in the south of France – only fitting since cinema was, after all, invented in France. The idea for the festival was born in 1939, but because of World War II, the festivities didn’t actually begin until 1946.

Films shown at the first-ever festival included Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend (starring Ray Milland), David Lean's Brief Encounter (a British flick starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard – and no, it’s not about aliens), George Cukor's Gaslight (starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer) and Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman). Add those to your Netflix – Cannes knows how to pick ‘em!

The top prize back then was known as the Grand Prix, until it was renamed the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) in 1955. And by the 1950s, the festival also became infamous for its celeb-laden beaches. A bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot became almost a permanent fixture at the festival during this time. Sort of like how Paris Hilton and Tara Reid infiltrate the Sundance Film Festival every year. Ugh. Who approves the guest lists for these things?

This year, the festival opened with Disney/Pixar’s Up. Plus, American films like Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (starring Brad Pitt) and Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock (starring Liev Schreiber and Emile Hirsch) are in contention for the Palme d’Or. But since neither of those has been released yet, get into the Cannes-do spirit by checking out the flicks from festivals past! And since we can’t be here, it’s the next best thing. Sort of.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Quick Quips for May 18th

"No one 'goes Hollywood' - they were that way before they came here. Hollywood just exposed it."
- Ronald Reagan

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quick Quips for May 15th

"There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen."
-Bette Davis

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scorsese & Sinatra!

Well this is quite a coincidence. On Monday, I interviewed actor Ben Barnes (more on that later) and we spoke about his hidden singing talents. He told me he used to sing Frank Sinatra classics, and I joked with him about starring in a Sinatra biopic. Little did I know one was actually in the works! I’d like to believe my telepathic abilities had something to do with it.

Variety announced yesterday that a little director named Martin Scorsese (ever heard of him?) is on board to direct a film about the life of Ol’ Blue Eyes. And although they haven’t cast a lead yet, rumblings are that it could be Scorsese go-to guy, Leonardo DiCaprio. No singing talents needed – all the music in the film will come from Sinatra’s real recordings, kinda like in Ray.

We’ll be keeping a close watch on this one. What do you think? Do you think DiCaprio’s a good choice to play Sinatra? Sounds like it could be Oscar-bait, no?

Ed Note: According to Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke, Universal's first choice for the role might be Johnny Depp. Hmm...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quick Quips for May 13th

"Sidney Lumet is the only director who could double-park in front of a whorehouse. He's that fast."
- Paul Newman

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Katharine Hepburn Was a Tough Biotch...And We Love Her For It!

Who knows, maybe playing Hedy Lamarr will bring Rachel Weisz some more Oscar gold. Playing a Hollywood legend worked for Cate Blanchett who won Best Supporting Actress for her uncanny portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. Hepburn was born on this day in 1907. (Incidentally, Cate Blanchett’s birthday is on Thursday.) Hepburn died in 2003 at the age of 96. With a long life like that, she must have done somethin' right! In addition to starring in some of my favorite movies, including Holiday, Bringing Up Baby, Woman of the Year and The Philadelphia Story, here are five other reasons why we think Katharine Hepburn was so great.

1. She refused to play the Hollywood “game,” rarely posing for pictures or giving interviews. She also preferred pants to skirts, and often wore no makeup. A far cry from other actresses of the day – or today for that matter! What celeb nowadays could get away with not giving interviews?!

2. Her cheekbones.

3. Despite her wealthy upbringing in Connecticut, she didn’t mind getting down and dirty. The self-proclaimed tomboy golfed, swam, played tennis and perfected the screwball comedy pratfall.

4. She is the only movie star to win four Academy Awards, all for her leading roles in Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981).

5. She said things like this: “If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.”

Smarter than Your Average Woman

Hollywood actresses often get a bad rep. People think they’re dumb. Not model-dumb or anything that bad, but dumb nonetheless. And sure, most of them might be (we’re looking at you, Alba) , but it’s just not fair to make sweeping generalizations (unless you're talking about models).

Take Hedy Lamarr, for example. The 1940s MGM actress - famous for roles like Delilah in Samson and Delilah - was not only beautiful…chick was a scientist! True story. We know this, of course, because Rachel Weisz is allegedly being considered to play Lamarr in an upcoming indie film about the undercover scientist’s life. Face Value will focus on Lamarr’s private life as an early pioneer of what would eventually bring us cell phones and internet and all that stuff.

I’m not a fancy scientician or anything, so bear with me as I cut and paste the following words from The Hollywood Reporter. Lamarr helped “to create a method of changing frequencies – known as frequency-hopping – that became a forerunner to modern wireless communications.”

Tah dah! A woman with beauty and brains. And in the ‘40s, to boot.

Positive side note: Face Value is being directed by Amy Redford, Robert’s daughter. Andrea and I are very excited.

Quick Quips for May 12th

"One thing about how the media likes to show us at our worst is, you figure why be on best behavior all the time when all it takes is one slip-up?"
-Robert Downey, Jr. (who should know)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quick Quips for May 11th

"Katharine Hepburn isn't really stand-offish. She ignores everyone equally."
- Lucille Ball

Friday, May 8, 2009

Quick Quips for May 8th

"Two hours of sparkling entertainment packed into a four-hour show."
-Johnny Carson on the Oscars

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Matinee Man: Sir Richard Burton

Richard Burton was a notorious Hollywood drunk. And that’s no joke. In fact, he was one of the four actors written about in the book Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Burton, Harris, O’Toole and Reed, described as “the story of four of the greatest boozers who ever walked – or staggered – off a film set and into a pub.”

You may be asking why I would choose such a character to be today’s Matinee Man. Simple, really. I was inspired by Jack Bauer, who has proven to me that it is possible to save the world (and Brooke Shields), one stiff drink at a time. Unless, of course, you’re an unsuspecting Christmas tree minding your own business in a hotel lobby.

Anyway, Richard Burton.

The man began drinking his way through film sets in 1949 with The Last Days of Dolwyn all the way through 1984, when he finished up with Nineteen Eighty-Four. Of course, the almost forty years of booze had caught up to him by then. He was reportedly in terrible shape and had to wear a neck brace around set. But the man was married to Elizabeth Taylor twice so, you know, all that drinking may have been a necessity.

I don’t care what any of you say, though. There’s a direct correlation between a guy’s looks and the amount of crap he can get away with. Burton was hot enough in his day to make the constant flow of alcohol permissible. And with that, here he is (was?): Sir Richard Burton:

“When I played drunks I had to remain sober because I didn’t know how to play them when I was drunk.”

“I have to think hard to name an interesting man who does not drink.”

“I rather like my reputation, actually, that of a spoiled genius from the Welsh gutter, a drunk, a womanizer, it’s rather an attractive image.”

Siren Centerfold: Anne Baxter

Anne Baxter wasn’t particularly a bombshell, nor was she stupendously famous, but she nevertheless made her mark in the movies. Plus, she was born on this day in 1923, so it feels only right that we honor her with today’s Siren Centerfold. She started her career on Broadway, then splashed onto the big screen in the 1940s, winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for 1946’s The Razor’s Edge. In 1950, Anne played one of her best known roles, as the title character in the film All About Eve. As the conniving Eve Harrington, Anne went toe-to-toe with the fearsome Bette Davis – and almost got the best of her! Now that takes bravery. Her inherent confidence garnered her a second Oscar nomination, and an eternal place in movie history. We give you: Anne Baxter.

Despite reports of on-set feuding, Bette Davis actually liked Anne. That’s saying something.

She was the granddaughter of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Now that's a hairdo!

She was initially cast in All About Eve when Claudette Colbert was still set to play the Bette Davis role. Anne got the part because of her resemblence to Colbert. When Colbert broke her back, Davis stepped in.

Quick Quips for May 7th

"Being married to a beautiful girl is expensive. Because you also have to hire a cook."
- Sammy Davis, Jr.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back to Basics!

Following in the footsteps of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Mariah Carey, Mandy Moore and Beyonce before her, it was announced yesterday that pop star Christina Aguilera is taking on her first movie role. The role doesn’t seem like much of a stretch—which is promising. It’s called Burlesque, and Aguilera will star as a small town girl with a big voice who finds success in a Los Angeles neo-burlesque club. The project was apparently written with her in mind, so let’s hope she can pull it off. Currently her only movie credit to date is lending her voice to the animated Shark Tale. Part of me wishes Aguilera would just stick to her strengths. (I’m having flashes of Mariah Carey’s Glitter.) But then again, Mandy Moore has made a nice little career for herself by balancing mainstream rom-coms with solid indie flicks (like Saved! and Dedication), and Beyonce had the number one—albeit terrible-looking—movie in the country two weeks ago with Obsessed.

Plus, take a look at these stars of yesteryear, who all started out singing yet ended up successful on the silver screen.

Frank Sinatra: Old Blue Eyes started out as a saloon singer in Hoboken, New Jersey, then found work as a band singer with The Hoboken Four, before breaking out in his first big movie hit, Anchors Aweigh (1945). Proving he wasn’t just a song-and-dance man, Sinatra won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for From Here to Eternity in 1953.

Elvis Presley: Before he was dubbed the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis sang locally in Memphis, Tennessee as “The Hillbilly Cat.” He signed with RCA in 1955 and in 1956 he was cast in his first movie role in Love Me Tender. From there, Elvis starred in 33 films, including Jailhouse Rock (1957) and Viva Las Vegas (1964).

Doris Day: Doris began singing with local bands after an accident derailed her dancing career. She toured with the Les Brown Band at age 15. One day her agent talked her into taking a screentest, which lead to her first movie, 1948’s Romance on the High Seas. Popular films like Calamity Jane (1953) and Pillow Talk (1955) followed, as well as several hit records, including “Que Sera Sera.”

Quick Quips for May 6th

"Novelty is always welcome, but talking pictures are just a fad."
-Irving Thalberg

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Another Dimension for Films

Inspiration for this blog post came from an unlikely source: My brother’s high school homework assignment. For his film class he had to write a paper about House of Wax (the 1953 version, not the disastrous Paris Hilton remake). While proof-reading his paper (yeah, I’m a good sis like that), I learned that House of Wax was the first 3-D color feature from a major American studio. It premiered just two days after Man in the Dark, the first 3-D film released by a major studio. Together, these films sparked a 3-dimensional craze in the early 1950s. It was the studio’s way of competing with the new threat of television.

Sound familiar? Cut to over 55 years later and the gimmick is booming once again. This time, it’s to compete with the threat of the dreaded Internet. (Wolverine leak, anyone?) 3-D has been a go-to trick studios will use in order to get more seats in the theater. And, hey, as cheesy as it is, it works. Let’s count the recent number of 3-D films, shall we? There was Journey to the Center of the Earth, Coraline, Monsters vs. Aliens, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and My Bloody Valentine 3-D, to name a few. And then there are the 3-D films yet to be released: Disney Pixar’s Up, Final Destination 4: Death Trip, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Avatar.

(Psst… it even works on TV. A February episode of the NBC gem Chuck shot in 3-D gave the show it’s highest ratings of the season.)

Who knew this silly experiment from the ‘50s would turn a profit decades later? You can thank House of Wax for those goofy glasses, and for bringing movies of today to new depths.

Quick Quips for May 5th

"Good original screenplays are almost as rare in Hollywood as virgins."
- Raymond Chandler

Monday, May 4, 2009

For Mr. Flag’s Secretary

The Clearview Theater in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan has a series called “Chelsea Classics.” It’s hosted by famed (and fabulous) drag queen Hedda Lettuce, who you may have seen on Project Runway and The Tyra Banks Show, and shows classic films on the big screen every Thursday night (Saturday this week for some reason, but who’s paying attention anyway). This week’s film: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

Andrea discovered the hidden gem and so we ventured out for some sushi and psychosis and we've both agree that there's no way we're not going back. Who cares if we were the only straight ones in the house! For 10 bucks we got a stand up routine from Hedda, the chance to win fab prizes like boy butter (we hadn’t heard of it, either, but we’re pretty sure it has something to do with the disclaimer, “Pre Show for Mature Audiences Only”), and the unique experience of viewing a classic with commentary from everyone’s favorite drag queen. To add to the ambiance of the night, the audience is encouraged to follow along by shouting out their favorite lines (I was pleasantly surprised by how much that didn't annoy me). I couldn’t imagine any other way to first see the 1962 film about family, about pride and about dreams…all of which have gone terribly terribly wrong.

The plot reads like so: Baby Jane Hudson (Davis) was a child star who overshadowed her sister Blanche (Crawford). Baby Jane then becomes an alcoholic while Blanche rises to stardom. Baby Jane cripples Blanche in a drunken, jealous rage by hitting her with a car only to end up caring for Blanche for the rest of her life while she tries to rebuild the fragments of her gin-soaked career. Reads like a Lifetime movie, no? Essentially, it’s about the jealousy of two women who couldn’t stand each other. How appropriate to cast two actresses who took unveiled swipes at each other throughout the better parts of their careers.

While I don’t understand why Davis thought Crawford was talentless (she really wasn’t horrible, and she’s a good crier), I must admit that Davis does steal the show. If you’ve never seen Baby Jane, you can imagine Davis’ performance like that of Jack Nicholson in The Shining: an absolute, terrifying, sick fall into insanity played so well that all you can do is laugh at the brilliance of the role. Davis is - hands-down - my new classics obsession.

Check out the pictures below of the night:

Here's Andrea outside our new find after we had sushi for dinner: Alan's Alley Video on 9th Avenue. Classics in the windows. Brilliant. From there we went on to the theater...

...where we got gift bags filled with chips...

...and got to watch Madonna videos while we waited...

Nothing says, "This theater is in the Chelsea district," more than watching '80s-era Madonna videos in sequential order...

And then Hedda came out (no pun intended), did his (her?) stand up...

...gave out some prizes and introduced the movie.

After the film, which - as I said already - was awesome, Hedda was cool enough to take a picture with Andrea and me.

We are absolutely making this a regular event. Those of you in the New York are, check out a flick some Thursday night. Hedda hosts the 7pm showing.