So who else is rooting for Mike Chang, aka Glee's “Other Asian," to break his silence?

I mean, have you ever heard him speak a full sentence in all 19 episodes?  And have you ever seen anything as delightful as the tap dance number between Glee characters Mike Chang and Tina Cohen-Chang?  Ew, I just realized they have the same last name, sort of. Guess that coupling is never going to happen.  

It's too bad, because even though Tina's supposed to be with Artie, she had about 100x more chemistry with Mike in that 3-minute dance number than she's had with Artie in the last 19 episodes.  And it's not because Artie's in a wheelchair.  It's because their personalities are so awkward together.  And Harry Shum Jr., who plays Mike Chang, is really such a better dancer (he's appeared in the triumvirate of modern street dance movies: Step Up 2: The Streets, You Got Served, and Stomp the Yard).
I just spent about the last hour playing the dance sequence over and over again, so charmed was I.  You can catch the full episode ("Dream On") on Hulu, of course.  The good news is, having shone in this episode, Mike Chang will get more of a storyline in future episodes!

The frustrating thing about Matthew Vaughn movies is that the trailers look so stupid, it discourages most people from seeing how awesome they really are.

I have a pretty short list of heroes:

Anyway, I want to talk about how director Matthew Vaughn is creeping up my list of heroes, and how everyone who thinks movies are dead ought to STFU, put down what they're doing, and go watch KICK-ASS right this minute.

Because KICK-ASS is easily my favorite movie of the year, and jumped pretty high up there on my all-time favorites list.  I know, I know.  I'm already a huge fan of comic-book movies, and you may be dubious.  But that's because all you've seen/heard of it are the totally stupid trailers they've been showing online and on TV.  I hear you - most of the time it's the trailer that is awesome, and the movie that is lacking.  But for some unknown reason, the producers backing Matthew Vaughn films have had a way of hiring the worst trailer cutters on the PLANET.  Either that, or the movies are so awesome that the trailer cutters don't know what to do with them.  Either way, I know what the trailer makes the movie look like: a dumb comedy about superhero-wannabes.
But believe me when I tell you this movie is so much more.  Yes, it's funny, but the movie took me through so many emotions it'd hard to keep track: shock, awe, sorrow, gratitude, empathy, excitement, relief.  It dealt with so many deep-seated problems in our society, in our relationships, in our very characters, I hardly know where to start.  It's a humbling reminder of how f-ed up we all are, and to what heights we aspire.  Not to mention, the movie had one of the most fantastic soundtracks I've heard in a long time. And who can resist a Tarantino-esque story of the superheroine-assassin born from tragedy witnessed at an age so tender it's unreal?
I couldn't quite place where I'd seen the name Matthew Vaughn until I looked him up afterwards.  But of course - Stardust, another one of those movies whose trailers made it look positively daft (like an even worse version of Hocus Pocus).  But that movie, too, exceeded all my expectations and lodged itself firmly amongst my all-time favorites for its ability to deliver exactly what I'm looking for what I go to the movies: escape, adventure, romance, heroism, and good humor.  Not to mention it's just superbly well done; great camerawork, great storytelling.  Vaughn even used the same actor in both movies.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie (well, besides the romantic ones of course):
Anyway, it's just a darn shame, a travesty really, that Vaughn's excellent work goes unnoticed by so many people because the movies suffer from the worst marketing job ever.  Please, please, go see KICK-ASS so it will make lots of money and Vaughn will be able to make the sequel.  IT really lives up to its name, because it's so kick-ass.
For further kicks, the Origin Story of O-Ren Ishii, which reminds me so much of KICK-ASS's heroine, Hitgirl:

Help! Does anyone understand Jean Cocteau's Orphic Trilogy?

I am watching The Blood of a Poet (1930) right now and I say, it is a bit too surrealist and avant garde for my liking.  I know, I know.  Seminal work, amazing masterpiece, etc. etc.  But I'm very much a philistine, and I've yet to come across a decent explanation for what really makes it so good.

I remember watching Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, my favorite fairy tale, and not enjoying that very much either.

Want to cry like a baby? Watch Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War

Hot damn. I mean I knew what I was getting into - no-holds-barred war drama. By Koreans, possibly the ruling class when it comes to melodramatic excess. Which means I was expecting the heartfelt set-up where you see all the characters in their relatively contented and peaceable civilian life (typical of a lot of war movies I guess, even American ones). And I braced myself for the dramatic, slow-motion coming-together and tearing-apart of families, loyalties, loves.

I wasn't quite expecting this level of carnage - (spoiler alert) - especially that one scene where a guy has had his guts ripped open and sewn back together again, only to be infested later with maggots.

And I certainly wasn't expecting big, fat, hot tears rolling down my cheeks when the inevitable end comes. The movie was released in 2004, about two South-Korean brothers sent off to fight "commies" in the Korean War, and all the older one wants to do is protect his kid brother. You can guess pretty much the whole plot form there. Yes, I'd say it was a good movie. Not particularly enjoyable, but good.

Oy, someone get me a handkerchief.

Can someone please refer me to a movie in which Gena Rowlands was ever good?

Because I've seen a handful of her later films - The Notebook, Playing By Heart, Paris Je T'aime, and in every one of them I'm flabbergasted by how bad of an actress she is.  Totally dull and uninteresting, unlike the effervescent Meryl Streep.

Maybe if I saw one of her earlier films, I'd be a bit more convinced.

Gena Rowlands then:

And Gena Rowlands now:

The Na'vi: Hot or Not?

So I know they were designed to be appealing to moviegoers. I think one review called them "familiar yet pleasingly exotic." I am not even sure what it means to be pleasingly exotic, but I think that hits the nail on the head. You feel really weird looking at these strange creatures and yet you find yourself strangely drawn in.

Non-sequitur: Why do tribal chiefs ever only seem to have daughters?  Why don't they ever have sons in the movies?

I'm not really sure what does it for me - the super obvious resemblance to Native American and African tribes? The hugely expressive cat-eyes and human-like mouths? The way you can readily recognize the human actors who played them? The sensually exposed blue skin? Their raw physicality? Whatever it is, it's the stuff of dreams.

That said, when I got out of the IMAX theater tonight, I called Garry and said it gave me the creepin' willies to watch avatars make out, let alone have 'avatar sex.' I'm not sure why, but I think it has something to do with my feeling that such shameless displays of affection are specifically a figment of Western filmmaking, and these creatures seem decidedly non-Western.

My favorite Brittany Murphy clip. Rest in peace, girl.

From Clueless, when she gets knocked out by someone's flying shoe and Elton comes dashing in and we get just the tiniest snippet of her gorgeous voice.  I always thought her talent was underutilized... I would have like to see her cast in a musical that was not Sister Act 2.

It's sad when the stars we grew up with are passing away left and right.

Lessons from the movies: Game-changing dresses.

Posted simultaneously to

I've been reading this excellent book, Audrey Style by Pamela Clarke Keogh, which is not a straightforward biography of America's most beloved silver screen star.  Rather, it's about the life-changing events, relationships, and personal convictions that went into creating Audrey Hepburn's innovative, singular and influential way of dressing--most notably her lifelong 'style' partnership with the designer Givenchy.

So far I've learned some interesting things that make me respect Audrey more as an individual, even though I haven't really been a fan of most of her movies (I know--gasp.).  Like the fact that from ages 12-16, during WWII, she practically starved and even tried to make bread out of grass.  Or that she spent her entire life yearning for warmth and affection from her rigid mother.

Anyway, I specifically wanted to discuss the one film that really put Audrey on the style map, and made every woman in America want to dress like her.  Most people assume that this film was Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), when in fact, Audrey's moment came much earlier, in 1954, in the original Sabrina.

It was a barely-known Audrey Hepburn that boldly made an appointment with Givenchy and dazzled him with the way she brought his designs to life, then proceeded to select three simple costumes from his 1953 Spring/Summer collection that would change everything:

1) The Glen Cove Suit: Audrey wore this with a simple white turban while waiting at the train station with her luggage and mini poodle.  Dark gray, double-breasted, cinch-waisted, scoop-neck jacket and a simple slim, calf-length skirt.

2) The White Ball Gown (pictured below): For her first party back at the Larrabee mansion, Audrey's character donned a magnificent concoction of silk and embroidery that stunned the Larrabee brothers, and the world.

3) The Denouement Date Dress (pictured below): The truly original Little Black Dress, a good 7 years before the one she wore in Breakfast.  Simple tea-length with boat neck and two sweet bows on her shoulders, it suited her gamine figure perfectly.

Interesting stuff, but what really got me fascinated was thinking of other game-changing style moments in cinematic history, when things changed very tangibly for the character because of what she wore, within the context of the film, or when what she wore changed the way the world, and especially women, viewed themselves and their potential.

I'm thinking specifically about dresses worn at pivotal moments in film, dresses we still think and talk and dream about, to this day.  Dresses that capture our imagination with their own breathless possibility.  Here are some of my favorites...can you think of any others?

1 Sabrina's white Givenchy ball gown. 2 Sabrina's little black dress.  3-4 The gorgeous green silk dress Keira Knightley wore in Atonement. 5-7Drew Barrymore's Renaissance-style dress and wings in Ever After. 8 The climactic flamenco ball gown in Strictly Ballroom. Anastasia's lovely dark blue opera dress and white gloves. 10 Kate Winslet in beaded finery in Titanic. 11-12 Princess Leia's slave girl chic vs. chaste white gown in Star Wars. 13 Penelope's wedding dress - corset and shredded skirt.  14 Nicole Kidman's satin confection in Moulin Rouge. 15-17 All of Maggie Cheung's gorgeous cheongsam-style dresses in In the Mood for Love. 18 I always had a thing for Maria's lovely, light-as-air frock in The Sound of Music. 19-20 Jennifer Connelly in an over-the-top concoction for Labyrinth. 21-22 Grace Kelly's opening scene dress in Rear Window. 23 Zhang Ziyi's debut in Memoirs of a Geisha. 24 Marilyn Monroe's classic halter in Seven Year Itch. 25-26 Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - love the unusual yellow color.  27 Kim Basinger's cloak in LA Confidential. 28 All of Jennifer Lopez's crazy get-ups in The cell. 29 Dustin Hoffman's sequined wonder in Tootsie. 30 Renee Zelleweger in a super simple little black dress for her first date in Jerry Maguire. 31 THe gloriously over-the-top wedding gown in Coming to America. 32-33 Julia Stiles' simple, striking blue prom dress + red flower in 10 Things I Hate About You. 34 And finally, the magnificent Lauren Bacall.