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 suburb of the soul.

Mad linkage:

Who is Arcade Fire?!

It seems like the theme of Sunday’s Grammys were “I don’t know who this person is.”

The most British movie ever.

The oral history of Party Down.

The Machinist‘s Brad Anderson to adapt J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island, starring Christian Bale.

Robots to get their own internet.

You can buy the new Radiohead album this Saturday!

PLAY The Great Gatsby for NES.

Sex, drugs, and cannibalism: the Chilean miners’ story.

Fuck Yeah Lady Writers.

Hello! And RIP Uncle Leo.

House group proposes shifting Earth science funds to manned spaceflight.

This guy will buy you breakfast if you can explain Lost to him.

The science of heartlessness.

Michel Gondry is adapting Philip K. Dick’s Ubik.

from here.

Michael Moorcock on J. G. Ballard.

Sarah Jessica Parker wants to do a Sex And The City 3 and she wants to do it just for Benjamin Light.

What makes black holes so black?

Crystal Renn addresses her weight loss and maintaining plus-size model status.

The Criterion Collection is on Hulu Plus (and so is your mom).

Americans know so little about the bible.

James Van Der Beek to play himself on an ABC sitcom. Seriously.

Also: Aaron Sorkin to guest as himself on 30 Rock.

“We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind — mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.”

-J. G. Ballard

The sun unleashed a huge solar flare towards the Earth.

CBS News’ Lara Logan hospitalized after sexual assault in Egypt.

Living towers made of humans.

Hans Zimmer promises that the score for The Dark Knight Rises will be both “epic” and “iconic.”

Also, 1 in 5 films coming out in 2011 will be sequels.

Click here to see the beginning of something wonderful.

Natalie Portman cries a lot.

Who makes shittier movies, Guy Ritchie or Zack Snyder?

by Jason Brockert, from here.

Pakistan issues arrest warrent for Pervez Musharraf.

Whatcha thinkin’ about?

There’s a DuckTales comic coming out. How awesome is that?

Twitter, translations, and the new geopolitics.

The Onion’s AV Club interviews PJ Harvey.

Look at the trailer for this Dead Island game. I know nothing about this game, but based on this trailer, I want to play the fuck out of it.

Why the Oscars snubbed Christopher Nolan.

You rock, rock.

from here.

Why I want to fuck J. G. Ballard.

Maria Bello a reasonable replacement for Helen Mirren in the unnecessary remake of Prime Suspect?

An underground village in France where people lived for hundreds of years.

Jeff Mangum is touring.

Billy Ray Cyrus blames the Devil and David Lynch for his problems.

Facebook’s growing web of frenemies.

Justina Bieber doesn’t believe in abortions, even in the case of rape. Man… whatever.

from here.

Michael Emerson to star in Person Of Interest, the CBS pilot from J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan about predicting/fighting future crime.

Pitchfork gave the new Mogwai album a 6.6.

Top 10 famous people who didn’t actually exist.

Donnie Darko‘s Richard Kelly to do a normal, traditional thriller next.

What would Hüsker Dü?

There’s a campaign to replace the N-word in Huckleberry Finn with “robot.”

“I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that’s my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again … the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.”

-J. G. Ballard

I like and respect Jill Thompson’s visual take on Wonder Woman.

Speaking of which, Adrianne Palicki is the new Wonder Woman (in that David E. Kelley TV pilot).

…and here is the audition tape for Tanit Phoenix, who didn’t get the role, that shows how obsessed the pilot script seems to be with breasts.

Iain Sinclair on J.G. Ballard’s favorite artwork.

The underage cast of MTV’s Skins pose in their skimpies in Elle. Now go crazy, people.

The age of consent around the world.

The businessmen drink my blood just like the kids in art school said they would…”

The guy who was raised by cats.

The Post-Game Wrap Up for the Oscars…

from here.

In case you couldn’t tell, we’ve always been on TEAM BIGELOW (As much as we love Point Break, come on, that’s a no brainer, right?.) And, as far as we were concerned, no one else had a shot.

I’d like to tie her winning and becoming the first female best director winner into today’s celebration of International Women’s Day, but I can’t. Is this a momentous thing, her winning and being a woman? Yes, of course it is. But she won for the reasons the same reasons you want anyone to win an Oscar, man or woman, and it’s something that’s been sorely lacking from this dog and pony show for a while: She is a brilliant storyteller and crafted an amazing movie. The Hurt Locker is a taut tale about the men and women who serve in Iraq, but it’s not about politics. It’s about people and it’s bombs walking around and just waiting to go off, both literally and metaphorically.

As for the rest of the night…

Well…

Fuck, it was kind of sad and boring, right?

Sleep when you’re dead.

Just a reminder:

Our 100 Greatest Moments Of Lost are coming!

Until then…

Islands of waste.

Is The Book Of Eli remarkably Zardoz-esque? (Zardoz is awesome, BTW.)

Damon and Carlton reveal the identities of Adam and Eve.

It looks like Kathryn Bigelow (who could be facing off against ex-husband James Cameron at the Oscars) has picked her next project.

Speaking of which, Google employees in China may soon be laid off, but at least they’re getting free passes to Avatar.

All the latest from the Late Night TV wars.

Blah blah Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson, blah blah.

Pack a gun to protect valuables from airline theft or loss.

I want to see the new Andrea Arnold movie.

The 5 creepiest unexplained broadcasts.

Skeezy husband tries to seduce own wife on Facebook (not realizing it’s her).

Porn on the big screen can stop up traffic.

Jetting into the Quark-Gluon Plasma.

This post was Jin-approved.

A Movie Script Ending

Marco and I were talking the other day about how the Best Screenplay Oscar never seems to fit.

Exhibit A: Juno. Great movie. Feel good without pandering. The kind of movie you want to give an award to. But the academy didn’t really know what to award it for, so Diablo Cody ends up with a statute, even though Ellen Page carried the film on her back.

Exhibit B: Lost in Translation. An instant classic. Surely Sofia Coppola deserved some kind of honor for making this film, but again, the academy doesn’t know what to do, so they give her a screenplay trophy when the script was the least of her accomplishments.

What Marco and I decided was that there needs to be a Best Filmmaker Oscar. For the film with that certain je nais c’est quoi where everything comes together to make a movie you’ll never forget.

Of course, while we’re at it, the Academy could stand to take back the trophies for Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Return of the King, Crash…

Anyway, apropos of nothing, these are a few of my favorite scenes…

Before Sunrise

“Baby. You are gonna miss that plane.”

Brick“What’d she whisper to you?” “She called me a dirty word.”

Bruce Campbell vs. The Army of Darkness

“I never even saw these assholes before!”

The Dark Knight

“You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with all your strength.”

I Heart Huckabees

“How am I not myself?”

The Big Lebowski

“The plane has crashed into the goddamn mountain!”

The Life Aquatic

“What happened to Jacqueline? “She didn’t really love me.”

Serenity

“I’m gonna show you a world without sin.”

Lost in Translation

“There were Japanese surfers there. And the guy was playing really, really, really great music.”

Idiocracy

“It says here on your chart that you’re fucked up. Uh, you talk like a fag and your shit’s all retarded.”

V For Vendetta

“Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr. Crede. And ideas are bulletproof.”

Zero Effect

“There aren’t evil guys and, and good guys. It’s just — It’s just… It’s just a bunch of guys!”

Counterforce on Vacation: Tina Fey’s Hot Fashion

You all thought I was kidding about gaying and girling it up in this blue little house, did you now? If this were my real house, I’d have thrown up some tasteful lighting, a few vintage trunks, hung some pearls off my 40s mirror and thrown a little lacey things on top of the armchair and have a bottle of Beringer White Zin chilling in the fridge (only the best in the Gomez house). But it’s not a real house so instead let’s talk dresses!

I still can’t stop thinking about Tina Fey’s beautiful dress from the Oscars on Sunday. Tina is a normal girl, an every day woman, and her signature look of jeans and a fitted blazer is clearly what she’s most comfortable in. So, when she has to go to an awards show and get dolled up, she always looks very uncomfortable. What a surprise to see her in a dress that actually fit the beautiful woman she is, she usually doesn’t hit the mark. For example, her Golden Globes dress was just not doing it for me. A low neckline should enhance your boobs, not flatten them like it did here:

But her gorgeous Zac Posen Oscar gown, with a similar neckline was so flattering in both color and fit. Examine the difference:

Tina Fey in Zac Posen

She looks fantastic, like a very hilarious brilliant mermaid.  The shinyness of the gown is so old school Hollywood glamour without the pill addiction. Everything about the look is simple and perfect, from the minimal jewlery to that little clutch.

I think my second favorite of Tina’s red carpet looks is her Emmys 2008 gown, when she went home with a shitload of awards (what I call “ladiez is pimps, too”). She talks disparagingly of her “Greek butt” in her recent Vanity Fair profile,  but really, who can hate this wonderfulness:

Yes, plain black dresses are overdone, but when it’s custom made to your measurements: baby, you’re a star! Her hair which she rarely wears down for awards, was so sultry and sexy. Her expression in this photo makes one want to ask her if she can teach us how to whistle.

Tina is just now realizing she’s hot and can pull off the glam starlet look, her previous dresses were indicative of someone who did not think they could pull of the va-va-va voom Hollywood red carpet. For example, check out her 2007 Golden Globes dress, which was just awful (although I’m sure it looked good on the rack).  She was going for the A-line skirt to emphasize her cute little waist and Tina knows the value of well placed cleavage, but this dress makes her look like a reverse pyramid and does her absolutely no favors. The top print is also dowdy. And the hair?  Let’s not even go there.

Her 2006 Golden Globes dress was even worse. Again, Tina knows her assets are her waist and boobs, so she plays that up, but it’s so plain. That shade of green is so cheesy and reminsicent of a Ren Faire.

But really, do we love Tina because she’s beautiful? That’s only part of it. We love Tina because she’s brilliant, hilarious and cunning. In Liz Lemon has created a character that is infinitely relatable despite a glamorous job:  She doesn’t make her character better, we see her on her first date in months getting caught on the toilet by her date. She took our anxieties about a nobody named Sarah Palin just a few steps away from the most powerful seat in the house and gave them a name; made them tangible and said it better than any of us could. She did the impossible on SNL and made them realize that there were women on the show and you know, they were kind of funny, too. Hell, she even made Jimmy Fallon tolerable for a few seasons. So, to Tina, with or withour your glasses, we salute you. Now stick with the Zac Posens and step away from anything green.