Guns and girls.

This is going to be a very nerdy post: Three reviews of things, the first of…

The Miserable, and the wretched.

Saw Les Misérables yesterday.

Honestly, a musical is not my cup of tea, but the movie was just fine. I have familiarity and appreciation for the story, and the musical, from my youth, so I was curious to see how it would be adapted, and like everyone else, I had heard good things about the performances of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. I suspect they’ll both get Oscar nominations, but Anne Hathway is the one with the real shot here. She does a lot of heavy lifting with the relatively limited role of Fantine and even in her short time here no one hits the strides and the heights and depths that she can plumbs so easily. Jackman is good, but not as good as her. Plus, he’s got the unfortunate timing of potentially being nominated for Best Actor in the same award season as Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln.

I dreamed a dream.

Tom Hooper, however, is as boring in his direction as he was in The King’s Speech, and possibly less so. Somehow that film was both nominated and managed to win the big awards, but I don’t think that will be the case here. Especially not in a year that produced a Lincoln, a Zero Dark Thirty, and a Life Of Pi.

Anyway, minor flaws of the film that aren’t so minor: Way too fucking long and not interesting enough to sustain that length. The stuff towards the end with the June Rebellion was dreadfully boring, and anytime Jackman, Hathaway, or even Russell Crowe as Javert weren’t on screen, you found yourself checking your watch. I did enjoy Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (she’s just doomed to always play the gothic clown now, isn’t she?) as the Thénardiers, and they did provide some much needed comic relief to the film, but their rendition of the film’s second most memorable song was pretty boring.

Anyway, my second review is of…

Mad hilarity, merciless action, dark cynicism, and incorruptible bravery.

Gun Machine, the new novel by Warren Ellis.

This is a fun, slightly nuts book, which is the usual from Ellis. His first novel, Crooked Little Vein, was a silly but interesting little pulp travelogue through America, and Gun Machine comes from a similar place, but it’s more of a harder crime novel. This is Warren Ellis sodomizing writers like James Patterson and Ed McBain with his ideas, sort of.

The premise is simple: A cop stumbles upon an apartment filled with guns, hundreds of them and nothing else, and each crime can be traced to a different unsolved crime. Somebody has been keeping these guns all this time as trophies.

I believe I read somewhere the book has already been optioned to be developed into a TV show, which is… exciting, I guess. Granted, they’ll take the premise, and they’ll tone it down. They’ll have to. This book is a little nuts, and filled with a lot of little minutiae that’s probably closer to the harsh reality of crime in a big insane urban cityscape, but not the kind of thing that the flyover states are ready to tune into from their local affiliate. The first scene of the book, for example, involves the main character’s partner getting half of his face blown off by a shotgun blast delivered by a ranting naked man.

Gun

That said, there are lots of little ideas and the basic premise that could easily translate into a very interesting serial procedural. That, and I would like to see the type of characters that Ellis writes on either the small screen or the big screen, as they’re usually broken, mouthy creatures who are incorruptibly brave (a nice way of putting it from the Wired review quoted as a blurb on the cover) and very good at what they do.

Half of this book is written in the parlance of the internet, almost as if Ellis got tired of scanning the internet landscape and fueled some of that excitement and anger into a writing frenzy. At the same time, as a fan of his comic books and ideas shared in various places online, I am excited to see him evolving in a new medium, but I can’t say that it feels like he’s challenging himself here. But I have to say that I would secretly like to see Ellis tackle one of his nonfiction books that have more than one foot inside music theory and hauntological futures (which he is working on, thankfully), or maybe some kind of insane sci fi novel – I would love to see Warren Ellis become the new Harlan Ellison – or really get into TV, writing for Doctor Who or resurrecting Quatermass, something like that.

The second review being of…

Victorian values.

“The Snowmen,” the recent Doctor Who Christmas special.

I miss talking about Doctor Who, here or anywhere else. I really need to develop a venue for that, but as far as this episode goes, in short: This was a merely so so episode with great characters in it. Matt Smith is always good and shining with the Doctor, and only improves as he continues to play the character, and Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are welcome ongoing returns to the series, and I can’t say enough nice things about Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara, who is mysterious and a serious breath of fresh air. If I’m being honest, I may be doing this post solely to post pictures of her.

That said, this episode was not great. The webisode prequels were more interesting than a good deal of the regular plot of the episode, and I thought it was brave that the threat that the characters were facing down was given an extreme back seat to the character moments.

More guns.

Steven Moffat’s writing is always great, but if I had one major criticism of his tenure on Doctor Who as the showrunner it would be that everything feels too rushed. I assume that the fickle nature of television and the constant need to up the ante is what causes that, but as much as I enjoyed season 5 as the shakedown cruise for a new Doctor, companion, and way of looking at the show, season 6 seemed very rushed, big on set up and small on payoff, possibly because the payoff had to be pushed forward, forward, forward. Part of me wonders if a lot of that was necessitated by the upcoming 50th anniversary special.

That special lead to a lot of new additions in the Christmas special, including the introduction of Smith’s face in the main credit sequence (which I’m positive they’ve been threatening since he took over the role) and a redesigned TARDIS console room that brought back a lot of the blandness of the poorly executed production design from the show’s earlier regenerations in video with rubber monsters back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Cosby sweaters and scripts

And I’m as curious as the next person about some of the big things to come, like the presumed payoff of the First Question, but eventually it could get tiring to constantly finding situations for characters to say, “Doctor… Who?”

Anyway. That said, I’m looking forward to the second half of the current season and the (re)introduction of Clara, Mark 3. I suspect that she’ll be everything that we had assumed and hoped that Amy Pond will be, and I’m really looking forward it. The show regenerates each time a new Doctor steps out of the ashes of the previous one, but as they keep rightfully so telling us, the show is about the companions and the view they provide, and it really feels like the show could come to life again with the addition of Clara. I’m excited.

Remember.

The Oscars are on tonight, right?

Blah blah blah I am not excited about the Oscars this year.

I am not excited about trying to celebrate the bleakness that was Film in 2011. There were a few solid, good movies out there and a lot of… Sigh. A lot of trying to grasp at relevancy. A lot of trying to fit in while dumb down. It’s in my DNA to care about the Oscars and to be curious about winners and bitch about nominees and what have you, but the urge is just not strong enough this year to watch. Normally, when this flaccid about the Oscars, I’d at least watch the opening, then turn away, and check back in during the last hour, but this year… This year I’m going to follow Benjamin Light’s lead, and perhaps just keep one eye out on twitter, tumblr, and, shit, I don’t know… Yahoo! news, maybe? Ugh.

But I know. “Another guy bitching about being unenthusiastic about the Oscars.” How boring, right? Believe me, I’ve tried. I’m just not there. But like A. O. Scott said, “Oscar cynicism has become its own special form of Oscar hype.” Too true, I guess.

So anyway, I’m going to put up a thing here of my predictions of winners this year – just cause. Just cause it’s in my DNA, as I said. Review, debate, ponder, ignore, do as you please. Let’s look at the Top 7 Categories of Oscar Interest:

Best Picture

And the nominees are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight In Paris, Moneyball, The Tree Of Lie, and War Horse.

Fuck me. I’m not feeling any of this. Y’know, last year they added an additional 5 nominees to the Best Picture potentials and somehow The King’s Speech still beat out The Social Network.

Let’s talk about movies that don’t have a chance here: Midnight In Paris, The Help, and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. And Moneyball. I’ve seen Midnight In Paris, and it was okay, a fun little film, Woody doing Woody nicely, but Oscar material? No. Sorry. And that right there, ladies and gents, is the Theme of this year’s Oscars. Moneyball is a solid, good film, but nothing about it is strong enough to win an Oscar. But let’s not shit ourselves, we all know where this is heading: The Artist vs. The Descendants.

I’ve not seen The Artist because I think that I might rather watch paint dry on a mirror. I am enamored by old, classic Hollywood as much as the next amateur film geek sounding off from their internetastic soap box, but I’m not that hard up. The Descendants was a solid film, and it was about cancer and infidelity and bringing a family back together and a girl cries underwater. This is all Oscar material. I want The Descendants to win. I want that (I guess), but I suspect that The Artist will take it. Why? Because I think that the Weinsteins are going to prove to us yet again that money trumps talent every time.

Best Director

And the nominees are: Woody Allen, for Midnight In Paris. Michel Hazanavicius, for The Artist. Terrence Malick, for The Tree Of Life. Alexander Payne, for The Descendants. Martin Scorsese, for Hugo.

The winner will be: Alexander Payne.

I’ve seen some people predict a split and predict that The Descendants will win Best Picture and The Artist will be the Best Director choice, but… Nahh. I can understand an argument in which you judge the Act of Directing to be different from the Completed Product/Finished Film, and yet… those two should be so intrinsically connected that I would think that the Best Director winner would automatically cue you in to the Best Picture winner, but… What do I know? Everything. Nothing. Everything. Nothing! I don’t know.

Best Actor

And the nominees are: Demián Bichir, for A Better Life. George Clooney, for The Descendants. Jean Dujardin, for The Artist. Gary Oldman, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Brad Pitt, for Moneyball.

Again, I’ll admit that I have not seen The Artist, but I’m not enthused to (and I’ve long nursed a suspicion that you could judge all Oscar movies and their corresponding performances by the trailers, as weak of a suspicion though that may be), and I have my doubts about that being a Best Actor-worthy performance. I haven’t seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, only because it wasn’t playing anywhere in a theater remotely around me (thank God it comes out on DVD in March), but I like the idea of Gary Oldman winning, you know, just to fuck with people. IYFF, Hollywood. And Brad Pitt is a solid actor, always, and will someday have a performance that will be more than worthy a Best Actor statue, but to me, that performance wasn’t happening in Moneyball. So… George Clooney.Yeah.

Yeah. Sure. Yeah. That’s my pick for the winner.

I mean, c’mon, he’s the closest we have to real, functioning Hollywood royalty these days.

Best Actress

Glenn Close, for Albert Nobbs. Viola Davis, for The Help. Rooney Mara, for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Meryl Streep, for The Iron Lady (as Maggie Thatcher). Michelle Williams, for My Week With Marilyn.

Sadly I’ve only seen one of the movies that had one of these performances, and because I am a huge dork and Fincher fanboy, it was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Rooney Mara’s performance was very strong in that film, and equal parts very alien and very, very humanistic, at least compared to the terrible Swedish adaptations of those novels, but I don’t know if I think there’s a Best Actress performance there. And I doubt the Academy thinks so either.

I suspect you’ll see this award go to Meryl Streep, because she does a physical change and she plays the British Godzilla we call Maggie Thatcher, but I’d be okay with either Glenn Close or Michelle Williams winning, especially Michelle Williams, to further propel her along on an interesting career.

Or Viola Davis, just to make people spit out their drink when this award doesn’t go to an old white lady with blonde hair.

But, even still, my prediction: Meryl Streep.

Also, did I read this all right and Shailene Woodley is not nominated for anything? Seriously?

That makes me want to cry underwater, yo.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh, for My Week With Marilyn. Jonah Hill, for Moneyball. Nick Nolte, for Warrior. Christopher Plummer, for Beginners. Max von Sydow, for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.

My suspicion/hope: Christopher Plummer. Beginners was, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, one of those movies that I really wanted to see last year but just never got around to seeing for whatever reason. I have a good feeling about the movie, I guess.

Runner up suspicion/hope: Kenneth Branagh.

Third choice: I don’t know… Max von Sydow? Though, that said, I would strongly like to see Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close win nothing.

Side note: I originally mistyped that was “Extremely Cloud And Incredibly Loose.” Ha ha! Anyway. Here is another picture of Michelle Williams in pseudo-Marilyn mode (because we want those hits to be through the roof on this post):

I doubt Nick Nolte will take it, just because… well, who saw that movie? That’s the one with Bane vs. Uncle Owen, right? Whatever. And JONAH HILL, ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME!?!? I suspect his inclusion here is just the work of some jokester in the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences wanting to see if anyone actually even reads this shit.

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, for The Artist. Jessica Chastain, for The Help. Melissa McCarthy, for Bridesmaids. Janet McTeer, for Albert Nobbs. Octavia Spencer, for The Help.

My suspicion: Man, I don’t have a clue.

Octavia Spencer?

This is a picture of Bérénice Bejo:

And this is another:

Anyway, I have not seen a single one of these movies, so this is a real guess. The Weinsteins want to buy Best Picture awards, so I don’t think they care about Best Supporting Actress awards. And Jessica Chastain… I don’t know. I feel like she’s someone, like Jeremy Renner and Sam Worthington, that somebody in Hollywood really, really, really wants to make happen, so you’re going to see them crammed into a lot of shit. Kind of like how Spielberg adopted Shia LeBeowulf for a while and shepherded him for a while until that plane crashed into the mountain. And Melissa McCarthy? Is her performance worthy of an Oscar or is this someone trying to say that these awards are “relevant” and capable of being “edgy”? You tell me.

I was going to cover both Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay, because I am a writer nerd. I collect all the Screenwriter Trading Cards! But the nominees for Best Original Screenplay are boring as shit this year, so instead…

Best Adapted Screenplay

And the nominees are: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, for The Descendants. John Logan, for Hugo. George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon, for The Ides Of March. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin, for Moneyball. Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

My suspicion: Sorkin and Zaillian.

No, I take that back. My suspicion: The crew from The Descendants. Partly because a Google image search for “Sorkin COCAINE” came up with a lot of boring hits, but also because…

The Dean from Community with an Oscar? That’s total LOL worthy. That’s EPIC LOLZ FOR DAZE worthy. There’s an amazing meta-in-joke on a future episode of Community (whatever that looks, tastes, feels like) there. Shit, you might as well just had Jim Rash host the ceremonies this year in character as the Dean from Community. I mean, cause why the fuck not?

I read something somewhere the other day that said that they suspect that Alexander Payne develops his projects based on where he could film them, and that made me LOL hard.

Runner up guess: The duo who adapted John Le Carre.

Closing thoughts: The Ides Of March, based on the play, Farragut North, was an okay film, but just okay. Clooney and Gosling and Phillip Seymour Hoffman and even Evan Rachel Wood were all just okay in it. There wasn’t a whole lot to chew there. Sadly, I feel like The Ides Of March are more out of place here than even Moneyball is. Also, I don’t think the guy that wrote Star Trek: Nemesis (which, you’ll remember, or not, starred Tom Hardy as Captain Picard’s clone) should be allowed to be nominated for an Oscar. Sorry, bro.

Final category: The Host.

Billy Crystal? Ugh.

This seems like a direct continuation of The King’s Speech winning last year. A return to the tired and the slightly boring. Granted, the Oscars is always a conundrum, and a study in contradictions. The old classic Hollywood vs. the new, the exciting, the experimental. And I think the celebration of those sides is always lost, or the mix is always wrong. The artists who are always pushing this medium forward aren’t being celebrated and encouraged and appreciated like they should. Last year’s debate of The Social Network vs. The King’s Speech was really about the New vs. the Old, and guess what? Boring won. (I’m going to guess that perhaps Weinstein $$$ didn’t hurt that debate tipping to one side over the other.)

Okay, and I don’t hate Billy Crystal, with all the changes they made and their attempts to “revolutionize” and update the Oscars, they’ve basically already said they’re in trouble. An infusion of new blood wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I’m sure there’s equally vanilla hosting options out there, ones that are still something new to this operation. Maybe. Maybe not.

Anyway, Brett Ratner producing was just too bizarre, as was the idea of Eddie Murphy hosting, which would’ve been interesting, but ultimately a pipe dream. An insane, fascinating pipe dream, but Eddie’s gotten too weird with his ego lately. Maybe he could have co-hosted with Scary Spice? Or maybe not. Speaking of Eddie and Scary Spice…

Benjie Light and I discussed this before, but I don’t think that James Franco and Anne Hathaway being chosen as hosts was necessarily a bad choice, but the bad choice was to make them work (with an unfair division of labor because Franco was obviously stoned the whole ceremony and Hathaway was trying to compensate) with the same tired staple of Bruce Villanch jokes. There’s got to be better, edgier, and quite frankly, smarter and safer host choices out there. At least a host that can pick their own joke writers. A Jon Stewart, perhaps? Or Tina Fey? Donald Glover. I’m just spitballing here, but I’m liking it.

Anyway. Tonight’s the night. Let’s see where we end up…

You could have it all.

Mad linkage:

What happens when the scary predictions of speculative fiction start to come true earlier than expected?

I guess you could say that I’m excited to see A Dangerous Method.

Best Coast and WAVVES.

An interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh about Contagion.

Did Chris Martin cheat on Gwyneth Paltrow?

J.J. Abrams is doing some cool new shit.

Science fiction magazines and The Joy Of Sex.

from here.

Noah Baumbach is developing Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections as an HBO series.

Post-apocalyptic porn. Sure, why not?

Matthew Fox could be in some trouble.

Saturn is beautiful.

The critics of Joan Didion.

This is Peanut St. Cosmo’s new favorite picture on the internet.

What does clitoral stimulation do to your brain?

Post-Sept. 11 Saudi Arabia is modernizing, slowly.

Mos Def will no longer be Mos Def.

Kitty Ravenhart’s selection for The Best Of Yahoo Answers.

Did you drain your balls at DragonCon?

More leaks from David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

from here.

A guy jerked off to me in the subway and the NYPD didn’t do a thing.”

I feel like with each passing day I’m a little more amazed that The Avengers movie is happening.

The beginning of the end for Yahoo?

Johnny Depp to star in another fucking remake, this time of The Thin Man.

Female blogger threatened with defamation suit after writing about TSA rape.

Jeff Tweedy and the Black Eyed Peas.

Tech company to build science ghost town.

A new story by Haruki Murakami.

Very cool fan art.

A huge list of deleted scenes that are awaiting you on the new Star Wars blu-rays.

Yelping with Cormac McCarthy.

NYC bans dogs from bars.

A movie about Keith Richards?

Reality as a failed state.

Immigrant Song.

Look at this:

A bootleg look at the trailer for David Fincher’s upcoming adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Finally. Perfect timing too since I was just watching The Social Network again tonight with a friend. A NSFW work trailer (because of Rooney Mara nudity) for “the feel bad movie of Christmas.” I’m definitely excited.

Also, That’s Karen O’s voice on the cover of the Led Zeppelin song, which is an interesting addition to the soundtrack. And what do you think of Rooney Mara’s look as Lisbeth Salander?

Motion pictures arts & sciences.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the glitz and the glamor of the Oscars or Hollywood royalty or whatever, but let’s get down to brass tacks, people: Predictions. I want to hear yours. I only have a few I want to talk about here, so let’s get down to what I feel is the strongest lock of the night…

Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network‘s screenplay. What is that, Best Adapted Screenplay? Yeah.

Next: Best score.

Probably Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network? I guess? Though I do like Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception, but I just don’t see it or any of the other nominees taking it. Reznor and Ross’ score is just so different and stands out head and shoulders above the rest in so many ways.

Next: Best Acress.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think that Natalie Portman will get this?

I’m surprised they didn’t mail this to her like a week ago. Actually, that’s not true. I’m saying there’s a 94% chance it’ll go to Portman, and a %6 chance it’ll go to Annette Bening for Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right.

I want to make the point that, sadly, I haven’t seen as nearly as many of the nominated movies as I’d like this year, but that’s true of just about any year, unfortunately. Even sadder still is that I don’t think you need to see the movies to make fairly informed guesses on who’ll win. So much of the Oscar wins can be predicted on either buzz or what the Academy has done before or both.

Next: Best Supporting.

I feel like Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are both going to get it for David O. Russell’s The Fighter.

Much, much smaller chances: Geoffrey Rush or John Hawkes, but I just don’t see it.

Next: Best Actor.

I don’t have a clue. Colin Firth, most likely. If you’d put a gun to my head, that’s what I would’ve said. But maybe Javier Bardem too, but I’m saying that just because he seems like such a dark horse candidate.

Next: The main event. Best Picture.

Forget all the other movies, it all comes down to The Social Network and The King’s Speech. Right?

from here.

But not Black Swan. Sorry, Black Swan, you’re not perfect enough.

If I had to guess, I’d say that The King’s Speech will get it, unfortunately. I’d love for Inception to get it. You know why? JUST CAUSE. Fall asleep on an airplane and I’ll put that idea in your brain. But I think Time magazine pegged it most accurately: This all comes down to the new vs. old. The Social Network is a movie completely unlike anything else that’s been nominated for Best Picture before and The King’s Speech is just another helping of the same old shit. As Time also put it: This comes down to head vs. heart. The Social Network is a highly intellectual film and The King’s Speech is pappy crap, that same shit that tugs on your heartstrings again and again each award season. Vanilla bullshit.

Voting for The King’s Speech is a bullet in the head of a newborn kitten! You might as well go vote for Life Is Beautiful again! Ugh. And yet, I feel like it’ll win, as do a lot of people, of course. I feel like the writing is on the wall…

That said, I feel like this might be one of those weird years where whoever gets Best Director might not get Best Film as well. Or maybe not. I just can’t see Aronofsky or David O. Russell taking home a little gold man tonight.

This should be exciting though. Are you ready? Can you feel the heat?

And what’s your predictions?

The year in film.

This is a fun little montage:

from here and here.

Who is Natalie Portman fucking these days?

Came across this gem on the internetz the other day:

Oh, that gave me quite the chuckle.

And, from that, I have some points to share with you, all of them only barely related to each other…

1. The other day, while speaking to Benjie, I was just bullshitting and joking around, as I am wont to do, and I retorted to something or other that I should start a single serving website called Who Is Natalie Portman Fucking These Days?

I think I actually called it Who Is Natalie Portman Dating Now? in that conversation, but let’s get right to the bottom of it: No one cares who you’re dating. Or, if they do, that’s only half as interesting who you’re actually fucking.

2. Case in point: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. They’re still married. They have stayed married for five years past what the expiration date on that joke should’ve been. Congrats! You’re boring celebrities! But now we find out that he’s fucking around or perhaps they’re in an open relationship, whatever. Whoever you’re walking down a red carpet with will always pale in comparison to who you’re rubbing your genitals on. Of course we wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. Right?

1, continued: Meanwhile, Natalie Portman has certainly had an eclectic dating history. I don’t know all of it, which is probably a good thing, but Moby, for one. When I heard about that way back in the day I thought, “Well, great, that’s when I reach for my revolver. Ha ha. Bad joke, sorry.

But she also dated Devendra Banhart, which is… Well, regardless of whatever it is, that’s a thing that happened.

Perhaps she dated Hayden Christensen, an actor of dubious charm, too. I remember that was rumored around when they were filming the Star Wars prequels.

Though, again, were they dating or were they just killing time together while stuck in Australia spending hours and hours surrounded by green screen on movie sets? You can hardly fault an actor for the sexual shenanigans they get up to while filming a movie down under, methinks.

Also, Jude Law. Maybe. Face it, straight dudes, whoever that young ingenue that you have a masturbatory fantasy about, well, Jude Law’s probably gotten there first.

And, possibly Sean Penn. That’s weird, and kind of sad, but I’m not one to judge. At least it’s not Mickey Rourke, you know.

Some fashion designer/former male model or a British millionaire. Or Ryan Gosling or Gael García Bernal. Who cares? Those are less than tremendous choices for an inamorata.

John Mayer. Let’s just be thankful that, as far as I know, she hasn’t gone down this street yet. Thank God. That’s the kind of dead end that far too many cars have ran out of gas on or broken down on. I sincerely apologize for comparing women to cars in that metaphor.

But, speaking of John Mayer, there are a lot of things Natalie Portman is: a competent and incredibly inspiring actor that’s fun to watch, an Academy Award nominee, a good role model, a Harvard graduate, Jewish, someone with an Erdős-Bacon number, a director, a producer, a democrat, a vegan, a fashion designer (she has her own line of vegan shoes), a nonbeliever in the afterlife (good for you, Nat), someone whose birth name is Hershlag, an outstanding spokesperson and fundraiser for many fine organizations and causes around the world, a friend of Lukas Haas, a fan of NBC”s new hit comedy, Outsourced, and fluent in Japanese, German, French, and Arabic.

And thankfully there are a lot of things that Natalie Portman is not and one of those Jennifer Aniston.

And, of course, I made up the part about her liking Outsourced. Nobody likes that show.

I just typed “Natalie Portman” and “boyfriend” into google the other day and was informed that she is presumably currently dating a professional ballet dancer.

3. I really want to see Black Swan. It looks interesting and kind of b-movie cheesy brilliant. That perfect sweet spot where artsy films meet b-movie plots and Roman Polanski-esque level creepiness (I’m referring of course to the director’s movies, which I’m a fan of, and now his IRL creepiness).

4. Benjie Light and I were discussing that the other night and ruminating on what a poor year it’s been for movies. Also, we were kind of upset that we find ourselves having to say that thing every single year, it seems.

But 2010 has especially been strange since it seems like The Social Network, which is a fine, solid movie, will probably have serious Oscar potential (certainly Best Adapted Screenplay, but I’m talking Best Picture here too, party people)  just because we’re not going to have a lot of just stupendously great movies to nominate. Black Swan will probably be there somewhere in the Best Picture nominees too, I bet.

That said, I’d still prefer to see Aronofsky doing Superman rather than Zack Snyder, but that’s also kind of like saying I’d like to keep typing rather than sticking my hand in a blender, I know.

from here.

5. Because of The Social Network (and it’s strong success), I think a lot of blogs are having to step back and get a little meta maybe and also start thinking about the story of themselves. The amateurs map themselves onto the percieved personas of your Mark Zuckerberg/Jesse Eisenbergs and your Eduardo Saverin/Andrew Garfield/Peter Parkers, but that’s something you do after running around in the yard and peeing on plants and right before it’s naptime.

The big leagues is analyzing yourself, really getting into the dark and nasty places of your own blog/website, the twisted nitty gritty of your own origins, and pondering who’ll play you when your story of internet conquest hits the big screen.

Seriously, blogs o’ the interwebz, I am posing that question to you.

Benjie Light and I were contemplating that the other day ourselves. In a fucked up scorched earth production of the Counterforce story, we’d probably cast Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau as ourselves. But that’d be just so we could be dicks to each other about it.

Or, the recession era variation of that casting would probably be Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, I guess. And directed by Ron Howard. Ugh.

6. And Jeff Goldblum as Occam Razor.

7. And Kristen Stewart as Peanut St. Cosmo.

8. No, I’m just kidding about that. I wouldn’t even presume to guess at who could capture the bold essence of either Peanut or Maria, nor do I want to risk my testicles in the gambit of making a choice they’re not pleased with. They know who should play them far better than I could ever hope to guess, I imagine. That is, of course, if they’re too busy to not play the parts themselves.

9. But if they don’t comment on my fucking post then I swear to God I’ll combine them into one amalgamation character as played by Christine Hendricks!

10. You could probably cast any old twink as August Bravo. As long as they smell like straight up mayonnaise (that’s an inside joke that you don’t really want to nor need to get too inside on, believe me). Or maybe his favorite character on Mad Men (see above)? Or maybe one of Will Smith’s kids?

11. And, August Bravo, before you even say it…

…trust me, it could be worse. It could be Vince Vaughn playing you.

12. That said, I’ll say this in defense of Vince Vaughn: He’s probably the hardest working actor in that particularly bleak game of comedy films these days. Unlike the Owen Wilsons of the world, Vaughn is the long distance runner in this game. Just look at a sleazy guy like Bradley Cooper and tell me that you honestly think he’s got Vaughn’s stamina at this shit. No fucking way. That said, I’d say that Vince Vaughn is a lot like Magic Johnson in that he’s not necessarily great on his own, but he’s a great team player. If you pass him the ball in a really interesting way, then he’ll do something extra interesting when he shoots for the basket. And a little sleazy, as that’s the default of where his comedy riffage always seems set at (but still feeling classier than your average Bradley Cooper… anything). If he’s got no one to work with then it’s just a sad study in a man running up and down the court while dribbling.

13. Extreme side note there: I feel like every time I see a picture of Winona Ryder now, I’d describe the look on her face as if you had literally just caught her in the act of shoplifting.

14. In conclusion: Going back to point #1, Vince Vaughn, thank you for not being John Mayer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotten pretty fucking close to that territory more than few times, but you’ve still yet to fully cross that line and we appreciate it. I don’t think I could quite believe you as the romantic companion of Natalie Portman, but then again, I’ll believe just about anything these days.

Binary day.

from here.

Today is 10-10-10!

Mad linkage:

Douglas Adams and the answer to the ultimate question.

Susannah Breslin on This Recording.

John McTiernan is going to jail.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master delayed indefinitely.

Remembering David Bowie’s Station To Station.

Anthony Bourdain is writing a graphic novel “about ultraviolent food nerds.”

Great new albums coming out of the Milwaukee music scene.

David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King gets a release date.

This is some ridiculous bullshit.

John Gabriel’s G.I.F. theory.

from here and here.

More actors added to David Fincher’s version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Bob Woodward on President Barack Obama.

Are tests biased against students who don’t give a shit?

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.

Al Pacino to play Phil Spector.

Shia LeBeowulf wants to play Karl Rove. Suck it, Frankie Muniz!

Doctor Who is coming to America next season (and is going to face Nixon).

Scientists explain the parting of the red sea.

Rob Liefeld is writing a script about the founding of Image comics/the comics boom of the 90s. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

Yoda’s cousin: Night Eyes.

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

“Four legs good, two legs bad.”

-George Orwell in Animal Farm.

Mad linkage:

Good Christian Bitches.

The 10 unanswerable questions answered.

The 10 songs most likely to make a man cry.

Compare The Onion AV Club’s 50 best movies of the 00s to those selected by your friendly neighborhood Counterforce.

The pictures in this post (except one) are all by Dave Eggers., from a portfolio of his entitled “It Is Right To Draw Their Fur.”

Inconceivable vs. unthinkable.

Geeks vs. hipsters.

Criminals steal Interpol chief’s Facebook identity.

The beginning of the backlash against Joanathan Franzen?

Tao Lin parodies that Franzen profile in Time.

The FBI is still all up in John Lennon’s junk, whose birthday would’ve been tomorrow. “Nobody told me there would be days like these!” See:

via Google.

This is no longer relevant, but still humor to me: Jared Leto hitting on Lady Gaga.

Tony Gilroy is directing the next Jason Bourne movie, which may or may not include Matt Damon.

Talking comics with Jason.

The first ten pages of The Social Network.

Also, Fincher close to getting a deal similar to that which gave us “The Night Chronicles.”

“I change shapes just to hide in this place but I’m still an animal.”

Mark Z. Danielewski putting out a 27 volume masterpiece about lost cats?

David E. Kelley working on a new Wonder Woman TV show.

Maria Diaz quoted in LA Times.

Mark David Chapman had to go into protective custody to have conjugal visit sex with his wife.

“There are two things for which animals are to be envied: they know nothing of future evils, or of what people say about them.”

-Voltaire.

Powers and responsibilities/Up, up, and away we go.

Two announcements made in the last 48 hours after quite a bit of speculation online:

1. Zach Snyder will unfortunately be directing the next iteration of Superman, this one produced by Christopher Nolan and written by David Goyer and Nolan’s brother, Jonathan.

2. Natural blonde Emma Stone has been cast as love interest Gwen Stacy in the next Spiderman movie, to be directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield, recently of Never Let Me Go and The Social Network.

Some thoughts on these two prospects:

1. Zack Snyder? That’s fucking ridiculous.

2. Wait, didn’t we all think that Emma Stone was going to be playing Mary Jane Watson (who, if you know your true Spiderman lore, plays Peter Parker/Spiderman’s love interest and eventual wife after the death of Gwen Stacy), right?

1. The original short list of directors that Christopher Nolan was considering for this project included Darren Aronofsky (the presumed front runner who everyone seemed to assume would bring Natalie Portman along as Lois Lane), Duncan Jones, who directed Moon, Matt Reeves, of Cloverfield and Let Me In, Tony Scott, and Jonathan Liebesman, who’s doing a movie called Battle: Los Angeles that’s getting a lot of buzz but no one has seen yet . That’s not to forget that names like Robert Zemeckis (who is directing a new live action time travel movie, thankfully) were being thrown in as well.

Look at that list and tell me that if you had to rank those directors that you wouldn’t put Snyder dead last. Hell, I don’t think the guy would even win in a game of FMK.

2. Alternately, the list of young female actors that Emma Stone was possibly competing against for the primary and secondary female leads in the new Spiderman movie included: Dianna Agron from Glee, Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Scott Pilgrim and the upcoming unnecessary prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, Imogen Poots from 28 Weeks Later, Emma Roberts, Teresa Palmer (who had been cast in George Miller’s Justice League movie that didn’t happen), Lilly Collins, Ophelia Lovibond, Dominique McElligot, and Mia Wasikowska, who was last seen in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland.

Presumably Mary Jane is still in this movie, but just in the background, not taking center stage until a second or third movie?

1. Supposedly the choice of helmer for this project was Christopher Nolan’s, which, of course, would then have to be approved by the studio. But, based on the very realistic take that Nolan has always adopted in his previous films, can you really believe that Zack Snyder was his top choice? I call studio bullshit.

And if that’s the case, then it’s a shame. Warner Bros,  you’re not MGM, you know. You can afford to make some good decisions. I mean, shit, did you guys even see Watchmen? And can you actually look at the teaser trailer for Sucker Punch and say that you actually want to go see that? I’d hate to unfairly malign frat boys and date rapists in the same lumping, but let me put it this way: I wouldn’t want to be rubbing elbows with those kind of people at the theater on the opening night of a movie like Sucker Punch.

2. A lot of this ranting might really just equate to a thinly veiled reason to post pictures of Emma Stone. Sorry.

1. The minor story details that are leaking out of this Superman project are that it’ll include General Zod in some form, which is… whatever, and that it’ll ask and supposedly the answer of “Why Superman?” with young Clark Kent traveling around trying to decide if he should put on a pair of red and blue tights with a cape and go about doing super heroics to restore the status quo. Great. On a related note, who the fuck is still watching Smallville?

2. I’m not really sorry.

1. Now I’m reading that Snyder was not the studio’s first choice for the big chair – OF COURSE – but that Goyer’s script was a bit of a rushed mess, which isn’t all that surprising, and they wanted a director that would turn the project around quickly (most likely because of the stringent deadline imposed on them by that lawsuit recently), not spend time making the project a beast of quality and beauty like Aronofsky might.

A brief history lesson: Along with Terry Gilliam and about a thousand other people, Aronofsky was briefly (in Hollywood development hell terms) in charge of a Watchmen adaptation. I think this is a golden lesson for what happens when you let a guy like Aronofksy fall off a movie like Watchmen: you get a piece of shit director like Snyder instead.

2. I should say something else here rather than just posting copious pictures of Emma Stone, right?

I’ve got to say that while it was fun but not great, I was glad to see Sam Raimi go back to his roots with Drag Me To Hell after he finished with that first Spiderman trilogy. If, for nothing else, he needed a creative win, but it also pointed out, I think, that back in the 90s, directors like him and Peter Jackson really level jumped far too much past their station of talent with the Spiderman movies and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

If you give a bunch of low budget silly horror guys far too much money and responsibility and power, they’re obviously prone to a disgusting amount of melodrama, wacky musical numbers/”dance” sequences, and excessive slow motion shots.

1. I’m also seeing that now they’re offering Wolverine 2 to Arnofosky. This is not much of a consolation prize. I’m sorry, Darren Aronofsky, but the winner in this is not you. Nor us.

I’m terrified of who they’ll try to cast as Superman now. I didn’t necessarily love Brandon Routh, who will definitely not be coming back for the new film, but he was hardly the worst thing about Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. The worst thing was clearly the plot. And I’m think I’m paranoid about this because in the past the studio has seriously tried to cast Nic Cage, Ashton Kutcher, Brendan Fraser, and some dude from Mutant X as the last son of Krypton.

This especially all troubles me because A) given the chance, this will be fucked up, and B) we all know who desperately should be cast as Clark Kent/Superman:

Ladies and gentlemen: Jon Hamm.

2. I could really go either way on Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker but it just occurred to me: how great would Jon Hamm be in a Spiderman movie? Right?

3. For all the trouble that these super hero movies and their assorted bullshit can be, can Joss Whedon’s The Avengers come out already?

4. Side bar: Finally got around to seeing Kick-Ass the other day. That movie is fresh, raw bullshit. And was so incredibly boring. I could really see Chloe Moretz become a kind of adolescent Milla Jovovich-type action heroine (but better, of course), but I’m just sad that the road to that hard to start through a movie like this. Not that I was excited about X-Men: First Class before, but I’m somehow less excited now. If possible.

Though those pictures of January Jones as Emma Frost/The White Queen are giggle-inducing.

1. Keep thinking about that Jon Hamm brilliance. Why? Because it’s perfect. Jon Hamm could play Clark Kent and Don Draper could play Superman. Benjamin Light even pointed out it in because, well, do you remember that episode of Mad Men a few weeks ago where Don’s secret identity is about to be found out by the government and he’s having a massive panic attack? He comes into his place with Dr. Faye and tears open his shirt, buttons flying everywhere, and a lot of were thinking, “SUPERMAN!” But now we’ve got Zack Snyder and I can’t help but think that I just got INCEPTED.

But with the dream casting of Jon Hamm one would hope to not cast some 20 year old actress as Lois Lane, I would think.

2. I was re-watching scenes from (500) Days Of Summer and again have to mention how technically impressive that movie is. Marc Webb’s work in that film kind of reminds me of Fincher, to a small degree, who’s probably one of our most impressive working directors as far as the technical aspect goes. Makes me kind of wonder what he’ll do with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo other than just cash in on a hit a la Ron Howard and The Da Vinci Code. That said, I imagine that Fincher could produce a better film version of the Stieg Larsson book than the original Swedish version in his sleep.

You know how it’s upsetting to us when there’s a fine foreign movie that gets an American remake to dumb it down for the audiences on our shores? Well, I’ll go ahead and say what you should all be really thinking: The original Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is not that great. As a film, it’s actually kind of ridiculously poor. Noomi Rapace is fine in the movie, but the rest of the movie is very poorly constructed (not to mention that the book itself is hardly what I’d call “cinematic”). This isn’t a case similar to Let The Right One In and Let Me In.

1. I’m glad that they’re at least making an animated feature of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman, which is the quintessentially greatest Superman story ever. Oddly enough, Lois Lane in that is voiced by Mad Men‘s own Joan Hollway, Christine Hendricks.

2. Emma Stone.

5. Stringer Bell! Apparently Idris Elba has a deal with Marvel’s film people, which could mean either a Luke Cage movie or a rebooted Blade film or both. “Sweet Christmas!” That’s wild. And it looks like he’ll be joining Nic Cage for a Ghost Rider sequel. That’s… less wild.

from here.

1. Zack Snyder, I think I hate you. Is your version of Superman going to look like a cartoon?

2. If I only had two words to use here in conclusion, I’d say simply: Emma Stone. Like you didn’t see that coming. If I had three words…