Off to a good start with the hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, inserted into scenes from several of the Oscar nominees, on an Inception theme. The writing is funny and their performances sparkle – but mostly, the writing is funny. Best gag: Morgan Freeman narrating Alec Baldwin’s dream. Then Franco and Hathaway opened up with a decent opening banter poking fun at themselves as tools to attract a young
Tag: Nicole Kidman
Huff Post weekend box office 103011 The Rite tops charts Mechanic opens solid Oscar nominees get big boost
While there were two major openers over the weekend and both of them opened within expectations, the real news was the performance of the various Oscar nominees that were in a position to capitalize on last week’s nominations. Generally speaking, the news was good all around. Topping the weekend was The Rite, as the heavily-advertised religious thriller opened with $15 million. As far as religious horror pictures go, it pales to the $30 million scored by The Exorcism of Emily Rose in 2005, the $19 million earned by The Exorcist: The Beginning in 2004, the $20 million earned in the opening jaunt of The Last Exorcism several months ago (a surprisingly terrific little movie, by the way), and even the $19 million opening weekend of Stigmata from way back in September
Panama is passion. Pristine beauty. Palatial architecture. Panama is the place to experience a world of curiosity, a world of adventure and a world of absolute, natural
I’m not going to lie to you folks — at least not this week: There hasn’t been a lot of “funny” stupid news lately. Headlines here in the U.S. have been dominated by the Tucson tragedy, while the rest of the world seems to be getting washed away by floods. Even someone as callous and inappropriate as me would consider it in bad taste to make fun of things like that.
But I still had to write a column this
Shining Star – A.J. McLean
Here’s to heading to rehab without first:
a)Allegedly punching a dancer on your tour (we’re looking at you, Demi Lovato)
b)Failing a drug test while on probation (that nutty LinLo)
c)Reportedly going on a bender with a lady of the night and locking her in a closet (oh wait, Charlie Sheen’s not in rehab yet)
That’s right, Backstreet Boy member A.J. McLean apparently checked himself into rehab before any of these potentially embarrassing scenarios could occur. How refreshing!
McLean, 33, said in a statement, “For personal reasons, I’ve checked myself into a rehab
Shining Star – Joan Rivers
At the age of 77, one of the (nipped and tucked) queens of comedy is showing those young whippersnappers how it’s done.
Pretty soon Joan Rivers will soon have not one, but two (or possibly even three) shows on the boob tube.
The saucy comedienne already returned to E!’s airwaves earlier this year (after parting with the channel back in 2003) for her weekly “Fashion Police” show. And she put her gift of gab to good use as host of TV Land’s “How’d You Get So Rich?” series (which hasn’t yet been renewed for a third season).
Now, she’s getting Kardashian-ed. In other words, River’s getting her own reality show with her daughter. “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” debuts on We TV at the end of January.
Oh, and all this TV work’s in addition to her standup gigs and QVC jewelry line. So if they complain that they’re tired, tell those seniors at the old folks’ home to take one look at Rivers’ energy, and play an extra round of bingo tonight!
Falling Star – Jennifer Aniston
When one A-list actress works with a fellow A-lister in a film, they can light up the screen. But when one A-list lady attempts to interview another one for a magazine, there’s only one way to describe the results: gag-inducing.
Apparently facing such tough economic times that they no longer can pay seasoned reporters to talk to celebs, the February issue of Harper’s Bazaar has “Friends” alum Jennifer Aniston interviewing her Just Go With It co-star, Nicole Kidman. One example of Aniston’s hard-hitting questions:
Ok, there wasn’t really a question in that “question” from Aniston – regardless, Kidman answers:
Wow, truly eye-opening stuff! Aniston is surely no Barbara Walters, folks.
The rest of the interview goes something like this:
Aniston to Kidman: “Okay, let me just say this: Physically, you are a masterpiece.”
Kidman to Aniston: “Excuse me, you wear a bikini in the film and you look like you’re 20 years old.”
Aniston to Kidman: “You are a freak of nature. You have the best body I’ve ever seen. And I’m a heterosexual girl. You look good morning, noon, and night.”
I’ve heard of flattering someone in an interview…but Aniston could bake a few dozen cakes with all that buttering up she’s doing!
Everyone experiences loss and grief but few films show it in such a naked and matter-of-fact manner as does Rabbit Hole. The Aussie actress Nicole Kidman was so passionate about David Lindsay-Abaire’s original Pulitzer Prize-winning play that she signed on as one of its producers as well as its star in order to see to that his script would get made into this film.
For such a glamorous Oscar winning actress, making this John Cameron Mitchell-directed film offered her an incredible chance to see this award-worthy examination of loss and recovery come to fruition. With a cast that included Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest, this unvarnished and austere movie tells the story of a couple suffering through the process of coping with and living past the accident death of their child.
During a recent press conference and afterwards, the 43-year-old lithe redhead answered questions about what it took to get this film made and play such an emotionally-wrenching part.
Q: This film is about understanding the process of coping with grief. What did you learn about that process in making this film — did you draw from experiences in your life to connect to the characters?
NK: It’s something that I’ve always wanted to explore. I’ve explored it in other films in different ways. I explored it in a film called Birth which was in a very different way. So I feel like it is territory that I would even explore again because it’s so much a part of our journey, what we love, what we lose, and the fear of that.
Those emotions are so palpable and so powerful that I’m just drawn to exploring them and expressing them. But I think that with this film it’s very much about a family as well and it’s about how a family works through it together, about how you can help people and how in some ways you’re just so isolated. I think that’s what Howie and Becca are, completely isolated, and yet they are reaching out and they don’t know how to connect.
I find that so touching and it was something that was beautifully, beautifully rendered in the screenplay. It’s a very difficult place to exist in, but also the words came easily and the emotions. Actually, a lot of it was how to keep them in because they were available I think to all of us and all the actors in the film. A lot of it is restraint because as actors those areas are mined quite a lot. We’re asked to mine those things often and a lot of it is up to the editing and to the director about how you modulate it.
Q: Did you go under the radar and attend grief counseling sessions likeAaron Eckhart — who plays your character’s husband Howie — did?
NK: We both had different experiences. I tried to and was told, “Unless you’ve actually lost a child or a loved one you’re not to come into the room.” I completely respected that because they said, “It’s just too raw and it’s too dangerous and it’s a very sacred place and we can’t let you in to observe.”
I’m glad that they didn’t now, when I look back because the way that the emotions came to me in the character were through just my own, the way that I vibrate and the rawness of loving my children. I was able to leap there very quickly. I was amazed at how deep that well is and how available it is.
It’s probably as David [Lindsay-Abaire, the play's creator and film's screenwriter] said, that he wrote about this thing that terrifies him the most, and as an actor I played the thing that terrifies me the most. Aaron has a different story.
Q: It seemed that at some point that your character would want her husband to show more of an emotional reaction, have an outburst or something — to be talking about the tragedy with her?
NK: That I needed to have an emotional outburst? He did? No. I mean it’s eight months down the road. This [also] answers the other question about how we prepared to play the role — we rehearsed. We talked.
Part of the preparation that I do as an actor is that I create from birth through now — which is sort of like my homework — of where we met, how we got married, all of those things. What happened to my father because you never see my father, just all the details of the [character for the] performance.
Then you come to the rehearsal period and you do scenes and then sort of slowly layer the performance. So, no, I don’t think it [needed] an emotional outburst. I’m not saying that didn’t happen in the period of eight months prior that you don’t see.
That’s what I find very beautiful about this film, that this is not about five days after. This isn’t the day of the loss. This is [happening] eight months later. This is life. This is how do you stay alive — how do you choose life when you feel like everything to live for has been taken away. How do you then live? That’s the subtlety to the film.
How do you live with someone that you used to have moments of great joy with and a normal life with when suddenly you’ve been completely destroyed. That’s why I wanted to make the film because there are so many people in the world existing in [such] places. I’ve certainly been in a place of extreme depression and pain where choosing life everyday is a choice — if that makes sense.
Q: When you’re shooting such dark material what’s the atmosphere like off-camera? Is there joking around or do you try to maintain that serious level of emotion?
NK: Well, with someone like Miles [Teller, the actor who plays Jason, the teenager who accidentally runs down their young son] I purposely didn’t have any conversations. I didn’t want to rehearse the scenes. John and I talked about it and we wanted to keep the tension and the way in which we were relating [to each other] which was with some nervousness and [anxiety]. That was good for the performance, and I think that I probably stayed a little bit in character for the whole film. I was kind of half aware and half not aware.
For this sort of film it’s not like you have to be called by the name of the character, but certainly something [remains], there’s the presence of the character [there] at all times. Aaron and I would talk, but a lot of our conversations were about our lives. That was good because there was an intimacy to the conversations that I probably wouldn’t have had with him if we weren’t in a deeply intimate film together. Those will always remain secret.
We had a lot of interns and [such] on the film which is nice because you have people that just absolutely want to be around that are new to film making so they have an enormous amount of enthusiasm, energy and curiosity. And that is a good energy.
Q: Aaron had said that when you walked around the neighborhood you were staying in character just wearing your pajamas…
NK: Not my pajamas, my Ugg boots [laughs]. And the other thing is that when you have the writer on the set you can be very nervous because the idea of not pleasing him holds. It’s like, “David is here!” But he was so supportive and encouraging and he came to some initial rehearsals as well.
I’m always asking questions of the writer. I just love it because they have the key. They usually have the key.
Q: How did being a parent help you in playing this role?
NK: It’s one of those that for me I could go right back into the place that we existed in so quickly. So that it means that the strengths of that love, I mean it’s profound. I think from the minute that you have a child or the minute that I’ve experienced taking care of a child, being the caretaker of a little one, the power of that and the responsibility of that and so therefore the fear of the loss of that child is extraordinary.
I still can’t even watch some of the scenes because they affect me so deeply and I’ve never had that [happen] with a film before. Because I’m a producer, I’ve seen this film a number of times. I probably won’t see the film again, if that makes any sense. I watch two scenes and I’m like, “Ugghhh,” because it still affects me so deeply. So I think that’s the power of parenting and playing this role.
Q: This project probably wouldn’t have happened without your involvement. What struck you about this story or the play that led you to option it and get it going as a film?
NK: Obviously, I just immediately connected with the subject matter. It was interesting to me from [reading] the reviews and then, when I actually read the play, the characters, the whole story I thought, was so available [to me]. I could immediately just jump in and feel [it]. John [Cameron Mitchell] and I did an interview yesterday, and we were saying that with this whole film… We didn’t approach it from an analytical point of view. We did it from a sort of visceral place and that’s what it’s been.
Q: John is such a unique filmmaker; did you see his movies beforehand?
NK: Yeah, and I just think that I work by my gut and with [producer] Per Saari — he and I optioned the material and we worked on the script with David, when we heard that John had worked on the script we were like, “Wow,” that he was really interested in it I thought, “How unusual because of what he’d done and that he was interested in it.”
Then I spoke to him on the phone and I just really liked him. I mean, it’s that quick. We shared things, but we didn’t have any extremely deep conversation. I just liked him and I’ve made most of my career decisions based on very quick, spontaneous things. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I like bold directors. I like directors that go against the norm in a way, and I thought mixed with this material and his heart, which he has a big heart, was a good combo.
Q: You did an extraordinary thing here considering that you had the toughest job as both an actor and producer…
NK: I don’t know if it was the toughest job, but she’s in so much pain and so unable to let it out, trying desperately to move on and cannot move on. So that’s why she lashes out at herself and hurts other people and then there’s regret. It’s so complicated — each little [aspect] — and that’s why I wanted to make it a really detailed sort of performance. So, I hope that [I succeeded].
Q: Not only is making this film important, it’s important that people see it.
NK: Yeah. Thank you. I think it’s important and hope that it makes people feel not so alone. That’s the [whole] point of it.
For more stories by Brad Balfour go to: http://filmfestivaltraveler.com/
Nicole Kidman is a solid actress with, too frequently, unfortunate taste in scripts and projects. But she reestablishes herself as a force to contend with in Rabbit Hole, a touching film version of the Pultizer Prize-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire.
Simple in its outline, Rabbit Hole deals with intense and devastating emotions and the complex reactions different partners in a marriage have to them. Ostensibly a drama about the aftermath of a tragedy, “Rabbit Hole” is also about healing and forgiving, about resuming a life that seems to have lost its reason for being.
Kidman plays Becca, married to Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and residents of what looks like a toney New York suburb. (The film was shot in Queens, though the play originally was set in Larchmont.) Their lives seem oddly constricted until we learn what’s eating at them: Eight months earlier, their 4-year-old son ran out into the street chasing the family dog and was killed by a car.
So they attend a grief-support group, though Becca finds some members’ discussion of “God’s plan” off-putting. Kenny, however, takes comfort in the gatherings – and finds himself drawn to Gaby (Sandra Oh), a long-time member, after Becca stops attending.
Becca and Howie seem at odds in their ability to move on with their lives. For Becca, everything seems to be a reminder of her loss, whether it’s her younger, more irresponsible sister (Tammy Blanchard) and her unplanned pregnancy with a boyfriend who lives with another woman or just a mother speaking harshly to a child in the supermarket. Kenny, by contrast, takes solace in watching video of their dead son on his iPhone and is angered when Becca starts taking down their son’s paintings from the refrigerator or talks about selling their house.
Lindsay-Abaire never hammers the material; he doesn’t even needle the characters. Rather, he lets natural moments take wing, even when the story takes an odd turn and Becca spots the teen-age boy whose car killed her son. She finds herself drawn to him, with almost a maternal interest. Does she see him as the young man her son might have been, will never be?
In the end, Rabbit Hole is about the ultimate test a marriage can face: not infidelity, though there are hints of that, but the loss of a child. Even the strongest couple would question its own resilience, each individual’s sense of responsibility for the loss and their willingness to forgive (even when no one is at fault) each other and themselves. Lindsay-Abaire deftly captures the sense of mourning that can suddenly rise up like a tidal wave and momentarily drown the sufferer.
Yet Rabbit Hole is not a downer or a depressing film. To the contrary – director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) shows a firm but gentle touch with this material. He’s keenly attuned to the shades of sorrow, but also to the possibility of humor, of laughter, forgiveness and resolution.
Kidman captures the tightly wound quality of Becca, a woman who is holding it together for – who? Herself? Her husband? She seems perpetually on the verge of a serious breakdown yet just as perpetually able to turn a page on those feelings, to set them aside in order to carry on. Eckhart is equally good, capturing the male imperative to tamp down those feelings, while still choking on them. Dianne Wiest balances ditziness with feeling and insensitivity as Becca’s upbeat mother, who worries about Becca’s condition but, seemingly, only as it affects her.
Rabbit Hole sneaks up on you, catching you by surprise in both the levels of tragedy it reaches and the way it is able to show you that life does go on. It is never the same, to be sure, but it does go on in ways that takes these characters to unexpected places.
Click here: Find more reviews, interviews and commentary on my website.
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Miles Teller, who has a leading role alongside Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart in the upcoming film Rabbit Hole, is so new in Hollywood that he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. In fact, a Google search reveals little about the 23 year old actor beyond the fact that he will soon appear in three films – Rabbit Hole, Project X and a remake of Footloose with Dennis Quaid and Julianne Hough. The fact that he is barely known to movie-goers will surely change with this month’s release of Rabbit Hole. His role as Jason is pivotal and he has some wrenching scenes with Kidman that won’t quickly be forgotten.
Miles grew up moving around the country as his father chased work in power plants. In South Jersey, he was heavily into surfing and skateboarding before his family moved to a very small town in Florida where, he says, the Super WalMart was the biggest thing in town. His interest in movies began young, with frequent viewings of The Wizard of Oz and Indiana Jones. But a love of sports – he was an avid baseball player – led Miles to plan for a career as a sports broadcaster. That dream was derailed when a “pretty and enthusiastic” drama teacher showed up at his high school. Ironically, Miles’ first role was as Willard in a high school production of Footloose – the same role he would play in the film remake which will be released next October. By his senior year, Teller was president of the drama club.
Now, just a few short years after earning a BFA at New York University, he is appearing in a major motion picture. “It’s nice that I got shot right out of the cannon,” Teller muses. “I auditioned and it went well, and then went back for another audition. John (Cameron Mitchell, the director) called one night to say I got the role of Jason. I thanked him and told him how excited I was. There was silent cheering in my head. Then I called my mom and that was where the yelling and screaming and celebrating began.”
Rabbit Hole is a dark, poignant film, difficult for parents especially to watch. Its searing story is made particularly painful by the beautifully understated performances of such actors as Kidman, Eckhart, Sandra Oh and Dianne Wiest – and Miles Teller. “I was learning how people at the top of their craft carry themselves,” he recalls. “I watched them doing the work, their process. You can’t learn that in the classroom. My character, Jason, is never by himself in the film. So much is defined by who he is with in each scene. ”
He gets to exercise different muscles in Footloose, while admitting that, for many, it is “sacred ground.” But, he explains, “We have brought it up to modern times. It’s not a dance movie. It’s fun, it’s a great story and we’ll be transitioning fans of the original and people who’ve never heard of the movie.”
As Miles Teller takes meetings with producers and does media interviews for Rabbit Hole, he is also enjoying living in California. “The weather is great. It’s hard to be upset when it’s sunny all the time,” he says. He does some long-boarding and makes occasional trips to the driving range. He is also passionate about music, playing both guitar and drums. His favorite musicians are from an earlier era – Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters.
As the buzz around Rabbit Hole – and Miles Teller’s role in it – gathers steam, a Wikipedia page about the actor will surely evolve. Until then, when asked what it should say, Miles say simply, “To be determined. Click back here later.”
United Nations — At most International conferences, especially those held by the United Nations, women’s issues are usually highlighted first. Child custody, violence against women, gender equality and the right to personal property are the most popular subjects debated during these gatherings.
These issues are passionately discussed for a week or so, and then everyone typically forgets what they signed or promised to review upon returning to their own countries.
During last week’s Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in New York City, achieving key advances for women is one of the most critical issues being discussed amongst the world leaders who have gathered for the summit in New York. They have made it a priority to formally agree that certain developments for women must be realized by all signatories of the agreement by 2015. If history serves as a guide, we should expect that the same problems discussed this time around will remain on next year’s Summit agenda.
The landmark declaration adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948, reaffirms that “all human begins are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and “everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms… without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, and religion… birth or other status.” When the international feminist movement began to gain momentum during the 1970s, the General Assembly designated 1975 as International Woman’s year, and held the first world conference on women in Mexico City. At the urging of the conference, it declared the years 1976 to 1985 to be the UN decade for women. The second world conference on women was held in Copenhagen in 1980, and five years later another conference to review the United Nations decade for women held in Nairobi. Then a fourth one was held in Beijing in 1995 and then Beijing+5 was held in New York, and so on. Many more gatherings and conferences took place that expressed the importance of women rights, and unfortunately, none of them managed to get anywhere.
UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman is the spokesperson for Say NO — United to End Violence against Women. But how does a beautiful television clip featuring Ms. Kidman actually help, for example, the women of Rwanda who suffered through genocide and were raped during their country’s brutal civil war? The reality for women on the ground is too detached from the international conferences in Geneva and New York and the beautiful video clips featuring attractive actresses. When we talk about the use of force against women, we are referring to the countless underage girls who are forced by their families to enter into an arranged marriage. When we talk about sex trafficking, we are talking about the families who, deep in poverty, sell their daughters for food. Shall we believe that Nicole Kidman’s messages will actually reach the ears of a girl who is brought to Dubai to be a sex worker and locked up inside of a shelter, and convince that girl to say “NO”?
The kind messages conveyed by celebrities asking for help for victims of violence don’t materialize into actual aid on the ground for those people who really need it. But education and development programs that, for instance, pressure families to send their girls to school ultimately put those girls on the track towards understanding what gender equality is, and empower them to stand up for their own rights. Girls whose futures would otherwise be scarred by forced prostitution and drug use could follow a different path if states make funds available to them for education or employment programs.
To solve women’s issues globally, policy makers and educators must focus on reducing poverty and increasing education rates in those countries reporting the highest levels of violence against women.
No matter what part of the world in which a woman lives, education and financial independence are what will help her become more aware of her rights, and give her the strength to demand those rights from her own government? That kind of empowerment can lead to major changes and achieve the goals that world leaders say they would like to achieve by 2015.
First an apology that I dropped off the face of the planet last week and was unable to rubberneck Episode 7. Real life and my job intervened as I had to leave town for a few days for a certain Film Festival taking place in a border country. Suffice it to say that, although I felt sure it was inevitable, I felt bad to see Casanova go. He brought a certain je ne sais quoi? to the show that was quite hilarious. Also I very much enjoyed seeing Michael Kors make the rounds with Tim in the workroom. He seemed to be in his element with that added dimension and was completely engaged in the critiques. It was kinda fun to watch. And April’s win was nice. Her black gothy babydoll outfit was cute, even if it did look like Bonjour, Tristesse on acid.
This week the show begins with everyone (ok, Ivy and Michael D) tweezing their eyebrows in their pocket hand mirrors. Michael C dishes on Ivy to Andy and honestly, I can no longer feel sorry for him as he appears to be waxing more devilish by the day. A little faux Bo Diddley beat is the musical bed as the designers leave their digs for Parsons to hear about their newest challenge. Gretchen to camera: “You never know what’s going to happen on this show. All I know is I don’t want to be forced into making a corset.”
Gretchen’s corset face
The group joins Tim who is standing in front of a collage of photos of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in different outfits. La Gunn explains that their challenge this week is to create a look that is your own take on classic American sportswear, using Jackie O as their inspiration. They’ll have 30 minutes to sketch and a budget of $150 at Mood to shop with. Interesting. Whereas Peach might have actually shone at this, this group doesn’t have Jackie O’s aesthetic ingrained into their personal zeitgeist. Good thing they have the collage up there on the wall to refer to.
By the way I need to divulge here that Mondo (swoon) is nattily attired today in a red and black striped sweater and the cutest black and white tights. See below.
Christopher feels he has it in the bag, because classic American sportswear is what he does. Andy’s worried that his aesthetic is imbued with Asian influences which might not mix well in this particular challenge (duh) but Jackie O was a risk-taker without even knowing it (his words) so “it’s going to be a statement piece.”
Tim reminds them before he lets them loose at Mood to “think quality taste style sophistication elegance…expensive.” Mondo reminds us that the fabrics speak to him, “those bolts of fabric have voices and they say come over and pick me up and I usually do.” This time he hears the dulcet tones of a bright purple and black houndstooth and I like where he’s going with this. Meanwhile, at the cash register, Michael D is having second thoughts, which never portends well: “Crap! Did I make the right choice?”
Back in the workroom, Michael C is hamming it up in the sewing room with a swath of gold fabric around his head, very Sophie’s Choice meets September Issue. “I think it’s very Jackie O, don’t you?” he giggles. Full disclosure: I’m really over him, and wouldn’t care a fig if he was ejected at this point.
Gretchen’s oversharing as usual, this time she’s “concerned” about Mondo’s look. She feels that because of the materials he chose, he “might not be hitting the nail on the head with this one.” (Snicker…sorry, can’t help it given the eventual end of this episode). Meanwhile Mondo is worried about his original design so he decides to make a skirt and top instead.
Michael D opines that “this is either going to be really good or really bad.” He doesn’t like sportswear so wants to make a look that is a little dressier using sportswear fabric. Oh, my. I really don’t like where this is going. Meanwhile Valerie is hysterical over his quips. “He’s the funny that I wish I could be.”
“For this challenge I decided to channel the earliest Americans – the Puritans,” Michael D intones (still sporting his Butterfly McQueen headscarf by the way), pretending he’s defending himself before the judges. His outfit is looking more and more like a 1960′s version of Big Love, sans bonnet (Also, per Christopher, The Crucible). “I’m not sure what’s going on but I really really don’t care at this point because I think I’m losing my mind.”
Valerie tells us that she feels like she is “the Susan Lucci of the show. I’ve been in the top like four times and have not won a challenge yet.” Sadly I feel Valerie’s glory days are behind her after the last few weeks, and she has to really step it up to matter again. I no longer feel like she’ll make it to the end, though I hope she makes a turnaround. Mondo tells the camera that Valerie has to get feedback from everyone on her work and her design decisions, which is the kiss of death. Confidence is everything on this show (and in life, come to think of it).
Ivy thinks that some of the other contestants “don’t really know what sportswear is.” “To me Michael C’s look looks very cocktail and I would have to say the same thing for Christopher’s.” Meanwhile Michael C is draping the aforementioned gold scarf around his blue backless dress and asking Andy, “That looks too flight attendant stewardess doesn’t it?” Andy says kind of but he’s not all that concerned because it is, after all, a competition. And everyone is still hoping for Michael C to slip up and be gone.
Meanwhile, Andy – oh Andy. He’s working on a pair of huge cargo pants that even he admits he could fit into one leg with his model. He declares, “a fashion forward person takes risks.” Which means he’s going five hundred miles an hour, I guess.
Tim arrives for his mentoring check-in. As he takes a look at Christopher’s form fitting dress, April shares to camera that it looks like her grandmother’s clothes, which I take to mean that her grandmother is very similar to, say, Lily van der Woodsen Bass on Gossip Girl. Tim thinks Valerie’s fitted-almost-a-legging pant could be “pretty vulgar” and she should “be very mindful of the fit.” Michael C has whipped up two dresses because he’s worried that one might be too cocktail but actually they both are and don’t resemble sportswear in the least little bit. OK, we get it – you can sew fast. (Even if Valerie does say later your looks are very Donna Karan).
Tim likes Andy’s experiment, which I have to say is the best word for it. “It’s a very beautifully draped cargo pant. It’s you.” He’s not very into Michael D’s look and we get the famed Tim Gunn hand to mouth face. “I mean, the more I look at this it’s Annie Oakley, it’s Annie Get Your Gun” both references probably zing over Michael D’s head in the same way that Jackie O must have if he really believes she would ever have worn something like this). Michael D comes back with “I don’t want people to think she’s also got a ruler and she beats children, do you know what I’m saying, I mean it could go there” to which Tim doubles over in laughter and then whispers “that could be the other side of her.”
Mondo’s calling his fetching outfit “First Lady Fabric” then “First Tranny.” YES! April shares that Jackie Kennedy would never wear Andy’s weird pants. “I don’t care what time period it is.” Late in the day Exhaustion Giggles are setting in as Andy puts a black lace mask around Michael D’s eyes. “Michael Drummond, I can’t tell if I should be harvesting wheat, or smacking you with it,” Gretchen intones, channeling La Klum. “All of a sudden, it’s Prairie Home Sex Shop.”
Ivy is so behind with everything she can’t even give her model something to try on, and her buddy Gretchen tells the camera that she thinks Ivy is a “beautiful tailor,” but doesn’t think of her as “one of the more forward designers in the room.” I’m now allowing myself to fantasize about the next season when the show will no doubt have Gretchen blog episodes in the same way that Laura Bennett is doing now. That will be worth reading, n’est ce pas?
When our little friends rise and shine for the runway day the next morning, April thinks the girls are all in the clear, and that Andy’s look is “more Jackie Yo! than Jackie O.” Michael C is buttering Andy up by telling him that the judges will think if Jackie O was alive today, she’d probably wear pants like Andy’s because she was such a risk-taker. Yeah, right.
Mondo, meanwhile, is dressed in a pink shirt and tie, a denim vest, and a cute little blue knit newsboy cap. His roommates, Michael D and Christopher, think he kind of looks like Jackie O “if she came back as a tranny.” And off they go to Parsons.
As the usual runway morning madness ensues, Tim enters the room to make an announcement. “I’m so happy about this little twist you have no idea!” It turns out they have to create an outerwear item to go with their look, 15 minutes of sketch time and another budget of $150 for Mood. Michael D is pleased because as a knitwear designer, “I am Captain Outerwear” (remember this later).
Mondo’s not hearing the fabrics talk too clearly this time. He’s a little bit deer in the headlights. Michael C picks out a roll of fabric and Gretchen comes over and takes it right out of his hands, saying, “I’m grabbing that actually.” The color is oatmeal, which may as well be renamed Gretchen, since it’s a staple of her palette. Michael C tells the camera he could have been a bitch about her grabbing the fabric out of his hands, but he rises above that kind of stuff. Christopher is having a crisis de coeur about using leather, but he thinks it’s his only option as the other stuff he could use for a shrug looks too cheap. He later wonders if the leather was male or female, and reveals he has never sewn leather before.
Gretchen likes Michael D’s jacket on top of his Big Love skirt which tells me he is irrevocably doomed. (Spoiler alert – he is). Michael C made a beige jacket but he feels it looks like a terrycloth towel so he has to make another look. Gretchen tells the camera that in every challenge, Michael C creates multiple outfits and waits until Tim comes in and tells him what to do. “He has no conviction or vision.” Mondo feels like Harry Potter as he tries out the cape cloak he made. Christopher: “You are Harry Potter.”
Tim Time. He is very concerned about Michael D’s skirt. “I had it on my model yesterday and it looked really good,” says MD. Tim obviously does not believe this. “It did? The skirt?” He shakes his head and puts his head in his hand. Michael D reveals to us the Gauges of Tim Gunn.
There’s this one
And this one
To Andy, Tim kvells, “this is the most you you’ve been all season.” But he is concerned about the crotch. “Jackie Kennedy would not have a camel toe.” Michael C brags that he made three jackets, oh yeah, and three other dresses too. Eyebrows are raised and you could cut the disdain in the air with a pair of pinking shears. Tim tells Christopher that his dress is so form-fitting “it looks kind of anemic.” Christopher tells us “a little piece of my soul is dying every second.”
As runway day dawns, Michael D is freaking. “I don’t want to go home, that’s all I’m asking, please don’t send me home.” Mondo says kindly, “I don’t think you’re going home, Michael Drummond” and tells camera that he thinks Michael D is probably the most artistic designer in the group. (Alas, not this time.) Christopher loves Mondo’s runway day outfit, which is kind of like he stepped out of the Lollipop Guild in the Wizard of Oz. He says it was inspired by the Cotton Club. Michael D says he’ll give him a dollar if he’ll tap dance, so Mondo gives us a little soft shoe. He’s wearing a white t-shirt and suspenders, little black shorts, black and white knee socks, a chunky punky stud bracelet, mascara, and has his hair lacquered in place.
Here’s an awesome gif of Mondo tapdancing created by those fantastically creative people over at Jezebel.
At the workroom, Tim comes in to recite the litany of product placements and send in the models. The usual backbiting and Michael C hating commences, Andy worries about the crotch of his cargo pants not fitting, smokey eyes all around in the makeup room, Christopher worries about the shrug he made, and ten minutes before the runway the zipper in Mondo’s skirt breaks and he almost loses it. Gretchen shares with us that she’s concerned about “50 percent of the room…Andy’s is pure Andy but doesn’t read Jackie at all…Michael C’s is a cocktail dress with a mom jacket over it….Christopher’s outer piece is just odd.” She’s of the mind that more than three could be in the bottom this time.
Hey by the way it looks like some great footage ended up on the cutting room floor this week of Andy trying on April’s look. Quite possibly in the Exhaustion Giggles timeframe last night.
The guest judge this week is Mad Men actress January Jones, who knows a thing or two about period piece clothing, one would think. Heidi starts the show.
He thinks it hit all the notes and is pleased. I think it’s pretty much a snoozefest but does fit beautifully and the dress, at least, channels Jackie well. You’re cute and safe, CC, and I think there’s something there but in future you better step it up big time to stand out from the madding crowd (And they are. Madding that is).
Seems very gothy vampire to me (and very April). She’s happy with it and thinks it fulfilled the challenge. I can’t really see Ms. Onassis in this number at all though perhaps the Vampire Queen of Louisiana from True Blood would like it, but c’est moi. I never thought you’d make it this far, Savannah Girl. I’m watching you closely.
Ivy’s all puffed up thinking it’s very original, different, expensive looking, even stupendous. It gets the Gretchen seal of approval. The sunglasses and chignon certainly don’t hurt.
He’s a little nervous, since it’s clearly a cocktail dress. He thinks the model looks great. Again with the schizoid hem. This is really ugly, and that jacket doesn’t match in the least. Again color me surprised that he gets away with this.
She feels good about this, I’m quizzical as to me this is as far off the mark as Andy’s look in a whole different way. January Jones has a bit of a knitted brown in a reaction shot. Earth to Gretchen: get over yourself. Your two wins are now far in the past, and you’re way too obsessed with this beige/oatmeal/fawn palette. The writing’s on the wall, sister.
Nina has a face on her you don’t ever want Nina to have – kind of like she’s figuring out a math problem. Michael D must have seen this because he perceptively whispers, Oh God I’m dead, and then Bye Guys to the group. To which they all nervously laugh.
She honestly thinks this looks good. I will now officially declare that my love affair with Valerie’s work is over. Ish! I’m still rooting for you, sort of, and hope you pull out of this slump you’ve been in.
He is sweating because the fit is really off on the crotch area but he thinks it’s great overall. Oy vey ismir!
He is 150 percent happy with the look and says “I think I’m gonna win this one.” Earlier, Michael D told the camera “if you took Jackie Kennedy to the desert and gave her some mescaline to eat then you would have Jackie Kennedy in Mondo.” Oh yes and oh yes.
The judges declare Michael C, April, and Gretchen to be safe. (Wait, what? Gretchen? How long is she going to get away with this sub par crap??!) In the dishing area Michael C tells April and Gretchen he is astounded, he really thought he might go home for sending down a cocktail dress with a denim jacket on the runway. He smarmily brown-noses Gretchen, telling her that he could imagine Jackie Kennedy in her outfit so he doesn’t understand why she is merely safe and then turns around and tells the camera it’s total bullshit, he doesn’t think JK would ever wear any of those pieces.
Back out on the runway the following designers are ready to face the music: Valerie, Christopher, Michael D, Mondo, Ivy, and Andy. Valerie’s up first. The judges are curious as to why she put a jacket over a jacket. MK says “it has no impact at all, it’s just sad looking.” Valerie says she wanted to keep it really simple, to which MK returns, “Simple doesn’t mean boring.” Heidi finds the colors drag it down even further. January says “the ankle boot confuses me with that length of skirt.” Nina’s all, “any time that you want to make a design reference it’s pleating and zippers…some of the best things are very simple and have no design gimmicks to them.” And take THAT, Susan Lucci!
January loves Christopher’s dress, “this was my favorite.” They all like the dress, but the wrap well not so much. Heidi says it looks like a dirty old rug. They all agree it looks better without.
Michael D is next. He states that he wanted to make something modern but something that could also transcend to the past. Whaaa? MK goes in for the kill: “She’s an old lady on top and a cheerleading ice skater on the bottom. I’m mesmerized that you can take the inspiration of a woman who frankly looked fabulous for four decades and now suddenly she’s in a mall. The skirt is so unbelievably unflattering, the top underneath the jacket is just an insane concept – that you would think that that has anything to do with American sportswear. I think it’s insulting.” The others aren’t quite as stinging, but they all echo MK’s concerns. Not flattering, surprised, top doesn’t fit, it looks sloppy, etc.
Next up on the chopping block only not really: Mondo. Even Heidi has noticed how cute he looks today in his outfit. She jokes that she wants to hear all about his look but she means his look, not the model’s. Mondo reveals that he has a photo of Jackie Kennedy in his kitchen. (Whew! Someone in the group actually had a preconceived idea of JK!) Mondo was very observant that last week on the runway his look was called cheap, so he wanted to make sure this week that didn’t happen. Heidi loves the plum fabric inside the cape jacket which perfectly matches the houndstooth skirt. “It’s fun, yet it’s still elegant and chic,” quoth Nina. “Really well done,” January chimes in. By all accounts, a home run.
Mondo’s Look and Mondo’s Look
They all like Ivy’s look too, except for the jacket – not so much. Ivy agrees that the coat is too small. January loves the tailoring, the seam on the blouse, the twisted tuxedo pant. Nina says it was smart to keep the palette black and white and she loves the shoes. They all like the outfit without the sheer gray jacket, which Heidi feels confuses the eye. “There’s almost too much design in the top.”
Andy is next. This critique makes Michael D’s look like the reception to a big dinner. Andy tells the judges that he felt there was a chicness about Jackie O, she wasn’t afraid to have her own style, hence of course his look which veers into the realm of cray-cray. Heidi starts by saying she is having a hard time keeping it together because “I want to burst out and crack up, especially for this challenge, to come up with this? I feel like I’m on a different planet….I don’t see it at all. At all. At all.” (yes, she repeats this three times) MK moves in, “I mean come on, if someone said to me the inspiration was MC Hammer meets the Beverly Hillbillies’ Grandmother, I mean that’s what that looks like. The fit is horrific. And then the ankle boot, I mean come on!” La Klum agrees the boots look like they’re from the 1800′s. (It’s called Steampunk, kids) MK on the boots, “It’s like she’s making soap or something.”
Nina asks Andy to take “the terrible vest” off the model. Andy does. “This is just a trainwreck,” sighs NG. MK twists the knife by saying Andy obviously had a problem with the silk jersey of the top also, it’s not fitted enough to be fitted and it’s not draped enough to be draped. “It looks like a mistake.” Andy: “I did want to take a risk, so….” MK responds, “Oh, you took one.”
At this point the group traipses off to the dishing area allowing the judges to further slice and dice. Obviously they hated Valerie’s look (boring, nothing special, no design, no imagination), Andy’s (ill fitting, ill appropriate, from top to toe it’s a mess) (they also question why the model is wearing Nicole Kidman’s boots from Cold Mountain and her hairstyle from Far and Away), and Michael D’s (terribly unflattering, overthought, ill fitting).
They liked Christopher’s dress though they hated the shrug (Heidi called it “a dirty dish rag” in her notes), Ivy (sleek and elegant, she’s stepping up especially from the first week when she made that hideous flimsy gray blouse with Peach’s print pants – but the jacket this week doesn’t work), and Mondo (clean, classic, chic, outside the box).
To no one’s surprise (especially mine) Mondo is named the “clear winner” of this challenge. Christopher and Ivy are safe in a good way. Andy is safe but just squeaking by, and he’s still inexplicably pleased as punch with his look. The bottom two are Valerie and Michael D. Valerie is told that she missed the mark in a big way by Heidi, “Your look did not read chic sportswear” but rather “badly executed mallwear.” To Michael D, she says, “your look was an unfortunate mismatch and your proportions were way off. The top was ill fitting and the bottom was bulky and unflattering. And no woman wants that silhouette.” Michael D is out.
Tim comes in to the dishing area to wish him goodbye and good luck and “that damn skirt!” Michael D is resigned, but “at the end of the day I had to do what I wanted to do” to which Tim says, “you did, you stand by it and it was your Waterloo.” Michael D: “I have to go look that up now.”
Upstairs he goes to clean up his space and pack up his little Virgin Mary statue.
And sew it goes!
Next week: Drama! (I know, I know. That never happens)
Project Runway airs Thursday nights at 9pm ET on Lifetime TV.
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The Toronto International Film Festival has five more days to go but it feels like things are already winding down. Most of the talent available for interviews are done working by Wednesday, the press screenings dribble down to nothing on Friday and most of the big movies have been seen (by others — I’ve shown a gift this year for missing the big films).
The new headquarters for the fest is the Lightbox. It’s a five story building (I think) with a number of top-notch cinemas, a second-floor bar/chat area and other nice touches. I hope somewhere in there is an apartment/crash pad reserved for the Reitman family because director Ivan Reitman and his kin donated $20 million to the decade-long effort to get this building finished. There’s even a Reitman street or square abutting the place and rightly so. Who knew that when I was going to see Ghostbusters three times during its initial run that I was also supporting the arts? Year round, it will be a screening center, with classics like The Third Man slated in the weeks to come.
That’s all well and good but I’d trade it all for some more electrical outlets. The fest has a very tiny — VERY tiny — space set aside for the media, which consists of two small round tables, a few chairs and about six electrical outlets. That for thousands of media attendees. It doesn’t help that the local neighborhood isn’t quite as funky as last year so there are fewer cafes with wifi. So every available space is taken at the Starbucks next to the hotel and the Chapters bookstore located in the same space as the main venue for press screenings. That bookstore also has virtually NO electrical outlets. I mean it. I went on all three floors peering into every corner and all I found were a few on very centrally located pillars (making them useless for me) and one, just ONE outlet in the Starbucks cafe on the second floor. The cinema also has no useful outlets except one by a pay phone and the wifi from the cafe two floors below doesn’t reach up. This makes it very difficult indeed to do any work during the day. But no one else seems very worked up about it. Maybe they’re all filing on their iPads?
On to the movies, but first…a short.
THE LEGEND OF BEAVER DAM *** out of ****
It’s a pleasure to catch up with this short, which played on the opening night of Midnight Madness. The typically rowdy crowd really wanted to see the main film and even booed in a bored sort of way about having to sit through a short, even though they knew it would be something right up their alley. By the end of the short, they were clapping and cheering. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel: this is basically a horror film crossed with Glee, with our dweebish little hero picked on by the group leader on a Scout camping trip. All the adult wants to do is scare the kids with a ghost story. Out of nowhere, a maniac attacks, the kid breaks into song and we’re off. Wittily done with a solid cast, the real winner here is the script by Eli Batalion and Jerome Sable (who also directed). It’s silly and scary in just the right balance, topped off by an ending that is surprisingly satisfying. With a calling card like this, these two should have offers to direct a feature film any minute now. Or at least the Halloween episode of Glee.
RABBIT HOLE ** 1/2 out of ****
I missed the Broadway run of the acclaimed play Rabbit Hole, which is a shame. It’s always a shame to miss theater but I would also love to compare Nicole Kidman in the feature film with Cynthia Nixon in the play. Both played grieving mothers mourning the accidental death of their four year old son. Kidman is married to Aaron Eckhart, who for a change manages to play a decent guy and quite convincingly. The dominating mood is awkwardness. Kidman feels awkward at group therapy, feels awkard around her mother (played by Diane Wiest, who keeps comparing the death of her son — a 30 year old heroin addict that od’d to Kidman’s little boy running into traffic), feels awkward in the grocery store, around friends, and even in her own home. The heart of the film is Kidman’s tentative approach to the high school boy that drove the car which killed her son, a boy who clearly wasn’t speeding or drunk — the child just jumped out into the road and that was it. Miles Teller (the teen) and Kidman are good in their scenes. But surely the whole film and especially those moments should feel wrenching and dangerous and sad, with an almost unbearable tension. The movie is directed nicely by John Cameron Mitchell and the performances all around are solid. But for some reason, it doesn’t have that frightening edge to it, where you feel the pain at every moment. I don’t quite know why that is, but there you are.
LAPLAND ODYSSEY *** out of ****
What a relief. just when I’d given up hope about uncovering some unknown gem, along comes this winning comedy. Set in Finland, where some towns have a 40% unemployment rate, the premise is simple. Our hero is a lovable lunk whose girlfriend is tired of his loser-ish ways. He’s been talking for ages about getting a digibox (a cable box that gives access to all sorts of programming) but has done nothing about it. Even when she gives him the money for a 50 Euro box, he can’t make it past the bar to the store in time before it closes on a Friday night. Disgusted, she says either he finds a digibox by the next morning at 9 am or she’s moving out. Our hero turns to his two friends (a somewhat depressed fellow played by the handsome and compelling Jasper Paakkonen and another one obsessed with a naughty video game) and they head out on the road, three guys with a mission. First, they have to earn some money (the 50 Euros is mostly gone) and then they need to find a digibox. Washing cars, trying to serve as a taxi, breaking the ice on an outdoor jacuzzi for an all-female sporting team, crazy Russians with paintball guns: misadventures pile up, as they will. But it’s all done with charm and wit and three very likable actors. Writer-director Dome Karukoski delivers it all with polish and flair; as they say in the trade papers, the tech credits are top-notch. The film is very funny at times, but like all the best comedies of this kind, it also has heart and genuine characters, not just nutty situations and over-the-top caricatures. A treat on its own terms, Lapland Odyssey also demonstrates Karukoski is a serious talent. If you speak Finnish, this trailer is for you!
JOHN CARPENTER’S THE WARD * 1/2 out of ****
The Ward is such a retro film in concept and style (it’s set in 1966, I believe), I sort of went with it longer than I should have. A teenage girl found burning down an abandoned farmhouse is committed to a mental ward where the other inmates are all girls (each one cuter than the next), the nurse is evil and the doctor in charge wants to try some new experimental treatments. None of that matters much when our heroine realizes some sort of ghoulish female haunts the place and wants them all dead. Amber Heard is pretty good as Kristen, though I even heard two guys on the way out complaining about how she ran. She ran like a jogger and no one jogged in 1966, they complained. Indeed, though the film is a period piece, that’s easy to forget since the attitudes and manners of the female inmates somehow feel modern, even if technically there’s no reason to say that. This is just a spooky, old-fashioned film by director John Carpenter. It’s best asset is the cast, including Mamie Gummer, Lyndsy Fonseca, Danielle Panabaker and Jared Harris of Mad Men as the doctor. It’s ambitions are modest and ultimately unmet, thanks to a howler of an ending that spoils any slight pleasures offered earlier.
AFTERSHOCK * 1/2 out of ****
At first I was intrigued. A Chinese film about earthquakes? Would it take on the corruption that resulted in buildings so shoddy that they simply collapsed like pancakes? No, they would not. A resolutely mainstream, rather tepid drama, it politely uses the devastating 1976 earthquake in Tangshan as a backdrop for a family saga. The aftershocks are the emotional damages felt by the survivors: in this case, a mother filled with guilt, a son who lost his arm and a daughter who felt abandoned and unloved and was taken in by a foster family that thought she was an orphan. The situation is wrenching but the presentation is so middle of the road and obvious that very little resonates emotionally. This may be a step forward: China can make dull Oscar bait just as competently as the US. Poor direction but boy some of the crowd scenes are impressive; you sure can get cheap day players to work your film when your country contains one billion people and counting.
Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.
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