Monday, January 29, 2007

The 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Fashion & Film Review

13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
January 28, 2007 at the Shrine Auditorium

In 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, and boy were we depressed, a group of actors got a bug up their collective asses regarding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who were wielding a tad too much power over their contract negotiations between producers and artists. Basically, they said enough was enough and formed their own union, and with the backing of some of Hollywood’s most prominent and respected thespians formed the nascent Screen Actor’s Guild. Over sixty years later, they finally got their shit together to start presenting annual awards recognizing each other for the fine work they do. Nobody ever said unions worked quickly. Sheesh.

And so now, here we are at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held last night at the lovely Shrine Auditorium! And aired live on the TBS / TNT stations. Thud. No wonder we were the only viewers in this hemisphere. So, lucky for you dear readers we are here to tell you that absolutely no surprises happened last night and everybody who has been winning an award this season pretty much won another one. Which is not a bad thing when it comes to the talented Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker. Okay, so maybe it’s a bad thing when it comes to Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy. But let’s skip that part for now, and take a gander at the real shock of the night – the fashions!

While we still abhor the latest “Drape Yourself in White / Nude” look that seems to be sweeping Hollywood faster than a stay in rehab, we were more than pleasantly surprised to see that some of the gals who had previously been scaring the living shit out of us, had managed to pull their act together. Case in point!

Back on the Line!
Reese Witherspoon in Nina Ricci and a pair of kicky Christian Louboutin heels!

Everybody stop what they’re doing, put down that cocktail / beer / coffee / rubbing alcohol and pay attention! Our faithful readers will remember that despite our strong admiration for Miss Witherspoon’s acting talent, we have been consistently and horribly disappointed at her fashion choices for walking the red carpet. From her frowsy Mamie Eisenhower look at last years Oscars, to her hand me down ill fitting cocktail dresses to her recent Starburst® Yellow atrocity at this years Globes. Well, we are here to tell you that for the first time in a very long time, Miss Witherspoon is NOT headlining our Worst Dressed List! No, kids, she finally has found an outfit, that while it certainly won’t rate her the most stunning woman of the night, we whole heartedly and blissfully approve of!

What is happening! The gals are really pulling it together!

There She Is!
Vanessa Williams in Pamela Rowland

Stepping out of the 19th century whore drag replete with dead mammal she sported at the Globes, she is positively glowing in a baby blue simple frock from Pamela Rowland. Slap on a pair of complimentary earrings, and let the hair escape from under the hurricane hairdon’t – and Miss Williams is back on top!

Out of the Trailer Park and Onto the Red Carpet!
Jaime Pressly in Badgley Mischka

You know, sometimes the trashy girls really surprise us. This would be one of those times. Jaime Pressly who was rightfully nominated for her take-no-prisoners comic turn in “My Name is Earl” looked lovely, and radiant. Blame the thug on the right for the bun in the microwave – but she was working the red carpet in full parturient splendor!

We’ll Give Her 24 Minutes Before We Pull the Cord
Kim Raver in Kevan Hall
“Tea cozy, tea cozy, who’s got my tea cozy?”

Cutting Her a Lot of Slack!
Mariska Hargitay in Carolina Herrara

Probably still recovering from her humongous baby’s birth last summer, and being the daughter of one of our fave Hollywood Sex Sirens – we’ll let this one go. As should she.

Portrait of a Towering Housewife
Brenda Strong

This cheeky Amazon had the temerity to tell Ryan Seacrest during the preshow that her frock was inspired by the famed John Singer Sargent painting, known widely as “Madame X”. Poor thing had no idea she was wasting her breath since the walking highlight-applicator had never heard of Sargent or “Madame X”. He misunderstood and was heard to shriek: “Sargent?! Oooooo, is he in the military? I love a man in uniform.”

Here We Go Again - One Grecian Urn!
Julia Louis Dreyfus in Carolina Herrera

Better than the last frock she wore to the Globes, but still.

Two Grecian Urns . . .
Katherine Heigl

Working the whole glam thing, and you know what for a young TV starlet she manages to pull it together quite well. Yes, it’s a little too Vintage Beauty Pageant, but we’ll let it slide.

And the Big Finale!
Cate Blanchett in Giorgio Armani

Alright, if you have to go with that whole draping, flowing, Dean Martin’s Golddiggers kind of look, this would be our choice. Honestly, darling. Gold? On your white as lard skin? Okay, A bit too waterfally for our taste, but we do adore this classy and extremely talented lass from Down Under. The whispy hair with the flyaway tendrils is getting on our last plucked nerve – God willing this trend will pass before the Oscars.

Hey, Big Spendor!”
Heather Graham

In Oscar de la Renta’s tribute to “Sweet Charity” replete with a pair of Versace-let-me-lap-dance-over-you-‘cause-I’m-a-dimestore-whore looking pair of hooves.

Spend a Little Time With Me!”
Ryan Gosling
with some two dollar whore . . . what? Excuse us? No, that can’t possibly be Rachel McAdams, could it? Even that half-wit wouldn’t dress like a two year old with a pair of Barbie® pumps and show up with hair that looks like she slept in her own vomit after a night of drinking Pink Ladies, would she? She would.

As Bad As We Remember
Helen Hunt
slowly disappearing into the ether in a fleshbag colored schmatta. Go ahead and vanish you tired relic from the 90s. We liked you once. On “The Bionic Woman”, when you were ten years old. And never since.

Transamerica Was LAST Year!
Felicity Huffman in Moschino

What in the hell? You play one tranny, cop a few awards and it all goes back to rack in ruin, doesn’t it. We have no idea what happened to Felicity Huffman last night, she was looking surprisingly put together at the Globes, and now this Widow’s Weeds silhouette from 1959 coupled with a miserably failed attempt at a chignon which she has apparently stapled to her earlobe.

Flavorless Flave
Ellen Pompeo in Lanvin
This is what a toothpick would look like sporting a Hubcab or Victorian Bell Pull.

Marionette Sheridan
Nicolette Sheridan in Collette Dinnigan

Poor, poor Miss Sheridan. This is actually the only way she can ambulate down the red carpet of life. One too many nips, tucks, pulls and soldering experiences has left the poor thing with the body alignment of . . . well, a marionette. (Can’t you people read?) Rumor has it; she has to sneeze to take a dump. We know, we don’t want to think about it either. Moving on.

Ugly is I-N!
America Ferrara who is sporting Badgley Mischka, and mastering the art of making a silk purse out of a sows ear. Yes that was a back handed compliment. Deal with it.

The Nasty Professor
Outstanding Performance to a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Whew!) winner Eddie Murphy and his Outstanding Transformation by a Male Hustler in Female Drag / Date for the night. His date’s real name is Ramon Estevez (No relation to Emilio) who works the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega Blvd. That Ramon, let us tell you, he’s a hard worker. He could suck the varnish off a banister with those collagen bloated lips! (Not that we would know from personal experience, we prefer our men a tad manlier.)

Speaking of which . . .
Michael C. Hall
The former fagaleh / mortician from “Six Feet Under” is now wowing the critics and all three regular viewers by playing another outcast from society, a serial killer / forensics expert in “Dexter”. On Showtime. Go figure, so edgy that cable channel. We’d still let him tie us up and slap us around for awhile, but we draw the line at actual instruments of torture. Okay, maybe a ball gag, but that’s it!

The Demented
Mark Wahlberg in Giorgio Armani

A. Stop chewing gum – spit it out – you’re on camera! And B. We’re happy you were nominated for an Oscar, but get some perspective, Marky Mark! He had the nerve to say it was his “First Oscar Nomination”, as if there will be others. Puh-lease. For what? “Planet of the Apes Pt 2”? And for the Oscars, we recommend he wear this ensemble, it shows off his real talents.

And We Are Telling You We Don’t Give a Shit!
Jennifer Hudson in Michael Kors

This beaded frock is way too Margaret Dumont for our tastes. Matronly on a gal so, how shall we say it . . . F-A-T!! It does fit her well, and her stylist should be given an Award for finding the extra large whale bone corset that helps considerably, but that neckline is not flattering to the big boned gals. Her boobs were well under control in her Globes frock, but here they’re just listless and drooping and spreading to the far reaches of the galaxy. All in all, we wish she would just go away and that the Academy would hand the Oscar over to Abigail Breslin or Cate Blanchett, actresses that actually deserve it. (We can dream, can’t we?)

And Speaking of the Diminutive Dynamo . . .
Abigail Breslin in some Gypsy Garb and Jimmy Choo’s?

We love her, more than her overpraised movie. She absolutely slew us last night when she revealed she had lip gloss and cookies in her purse. We hope she beats the oversized skirt off of Jennifer Hudson at the Oscars.

Dame Helen Mirren in Morgane Le Fay (
How apropos)
Helen Mirren looking appropriately glamorous and stately in a draped midnight blue ensemble. You know what, its fine. It ain’t gonna win any awards for her, unlike her competition quashing performance in “The Queen”. But, hey. We’re thrilled there was no veiled hat with matching gloves atrocity.

Being Baked Would Explain This . . .
Mary Louise Parker in J. Mendel and Neil Lane

Such a talented lady. Attractive too. Not tonight. In theory. What is this? Seriously? She resembles one of those decorative paper caps you place on a rack of lamb.

Moving Target
Sandra Oh in Giorgio Armani

Where do we begin? She can spin around till her head pops off, but this dress is doing nothing for her. Although we are grateful for the bullseye on her sternum, helps tremendously in lining up our shot.

Best Excuse for Stronger Immigration Laws
Eva Longoria in Vera Wang

This useless puta had the nerve to say that she didn’t “Put much thought into” choosing her gowns. NO! Really? Could have fooled us. Unless “Lopped off at the knees” is the “New Black” this season, somebody needs to put this tired twat out of our misery. And we mean NOW!

The 2nd Best Excuse for Stronger Immigration Laws
Sara Ramirez in BCBG Max Azria

Listen, girly, when you are shaped like a Dreidel, you might want to avoid gathering your skirt into your generous waistband. Just a thought. No need to thank us.

Am I Late?
Marcia Gay Harden
Hey, do you remember that horrible story of that girl that gave birth at her prom, killed the baby and went back to the dance floor? This is her.

Ground Control to Major Tom
Jeremy Irons
in that damn frockcoat look he’s so fond of. Fucking ponce.

And We’ve Reached Our Limit!
Rinko Kikuchi, who absolutely charmed us at in her multi Award nominated turn for “Babel” has managed in the past few weeks to completely steal the “Dress Like a Retard” spotlight from every other gal in town! Now, that is a rare combination of talent, absolutely no fashion sense and a commitment to offending the viewing public that we just have to stand up and cheer!

And speaking of which, we did enjoy watching the SAG’s, if for nothing else than to watch the original cast of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” emerge from their mausoleum in time to bring the audience to its feet, delivering the biggest and heartiest standing ovation we have seen in many a moon. What a grand tribute to the sitcom of all sitcoms. We were thrilled that they got the opportunity to present the Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series to the best of the nominees, the cast from “The Office”. The little show that somehow managed to buck the odds by adapting the already brilliant British comic gem, and turned it into their own.

Kudos to them, and to Dame Helen’s two wins and to Forest Whitaker (Please GOD, memorize an acceptance speech for the Oscars, will you?) and the rest. Full list of winners listed below. Bless you all!


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Helen Mirren for THE QUEEN
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Eddie Murphy for DREAMGIRLS
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Jennifer Hudson for DREAMGIRLS
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Alan Arkin
Abigail Breslin
Steve Carell
Toni Collette
Paul Dano
Greg Kinnear

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Jeremy Irons for ELIZABETH I
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Helen Mirren for ELIZABETH I
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Laurie for HOUSE
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Chandra Wilson for GREY’S ANATOMY
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin for 30 ROCK
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
America Ferrera for UGLY BETTY
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Justin Chambers
Eric Dane
Patrick Dempsey
Katherine Heigl
T.R. Knight
Sandra Oh
James Pickens, Jr.
Ellen Pompeo
Sara Ramirez
Kate Walsh
Isaiah Washington
Chandra Wilson
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Leslie David Baker
Brian Baumgartner
Steve Carell
David Denman
Jenna Fischer
Kate Flannery
Melora Hardin
Mindy Kaling
Angela Kinsey
John Krasinski
Paul Lieberstein
B.J. Novak
Oscar Nunez
Phyllis Smith
Rainn Wilson
Screen Actors Guild Awards 43rd Annual Life Achievement Award
(Yes, we know that it was the 13th Annual SAG Awards, but they've been giving out the Lifetime Achievement Award since 1962! Go yell at them, not us.)
Julie Andrews


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Breaking and Entering - Movie Review

Breaking and Entering 2006

When our dear old chum Lana Turner rang to invite us to be her guest at the premiere of Anthony Minghella’s “Breaking and Entering”, we cancelled our dinner plans, rang 21 to hold us a late table and hailed a cab over to the Paris theatre! As we sat laughing over old times . . . the Artie Shaw stories alone never fail to make us howl out loud, I had to remind Lana about the career of Mr. Minghella. (Poor dear, she may be a star but the years have not been kind to her memory.)

Anywho, as you may or may not know, prior to his multi Oscar winning “The English Patient, Anthony was a talented British writer / director that burst upon the scene with his lovely “Truly Madly Deeply” – a thinking man’s “Ghost” if you will. And by “thinking”, we mean anybody with a pulse. However, after the success and numerous accolades for “The English Patient”, Anthony began to focus on the big epic novel to screen adaptations with the deliciously ripe “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and the lovely Civil War romance “Cold Mountain” which earned him further praise and launched the career of one Jude Law who quickly ascended to the ranks of hunk stardom.

Well, Anthony and Jude are back with Mr. Minghella’s first original screenplay in sixteen years. Now, one of the many nice things about attending a premiere is getting to hear the creators and performers introduce their film in person. Last night, Harvey Weinstein, the meshugenah producer and Oscar glutton brought forth Mr. Minghella who charmed us with his delightful back story to the script prior to introducing the extremely talented distaff side of the cast – Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright Penn and Vera Farmiga. (No, Jude was not in attendance but it was worth the price of the comp admission to watch every woman and ‘Mo in the place crane their necks in rapt and lustful anticipation that he might actually appear.)

The downside to attending the premiere was in realizing that the genesis to the script for “Breaking and Entering” is more interesting than the finished product. For you see, Mr. Minghella beguiled the audience with his plan to write a story about a married couple who is going through a crisis only to discover that their home has been broken into. When they begin to take an inventory of their possessions, they realize that the criminals left behind objects instead of stealing them. The objects begin a discussion and examination of their failing marriage and act as a sort of metaphor for the very things they might have been missing from their lives. We loved that idea!

And then the film began. What we got instead was a complicated and a bit too distractingly baroque drama about a couple portrayed by Jude Law and Robin Wright Penn, who are suffering severe strain on their marriage, much of which circles around Robin’s thirteen year old child from a previous relationship that has been diagnosed with autism. Jude works as an Urban developer / architect with an office in the King’s Cross section of London, where crime and vagrancy and worst of all – a good amount of immigrants are the norm. When his offices are broken into, his life is completely turned around by the series of events that lead him to the home of one Amira, a refugee from Bosnia played by the luminescent Juliette Binoche in the stand out performance of the flick.

Now, while it still may sound like a manageable story, we suddenly flashbacked sixteen years ago to the pluses and minuses of “Truly Madly Deeply”. We remember enjoying that film, in particular the performances by Alan Rickman and the divine Juliet Stevenson – seen here in “Breaking and Entering” in a nicely done cameo as the child’s therapist. We also remember being slightly annoyed by the pontificating and the speechifying that emitted from the characters lips. Their dialogue was less dramatic and more declamatory. It played like a book on tape in the worst scenes. Thankfully it managed to overcome that hurdle with its sense of whimsy and sterling performances.

Breaking and Entering” never quite overcomes a similar curse. Instead of dialogue that flows and bends with the characters intentions, we get actual exchanges like the following: “I think the reason I like metaphors is . . .” followed of course by extended metaphors. C-L-U-N-K-Y, Mr. Minghella, clunky. And while we think Anthony is more than capable of dramatizing a good novel, he may not be able to produce an original screenplay that soars to match his casting choices and production values.

On the plus side, the acting and direction are very fine indeed. Jude Law has always been a fine actor, hidden under the deliciously pretty face of a star. We first sampled his gifts on Broadway with his breakthrough role in the soaring Sean Mathias production of Jean Cocteau’sIndiscretions”. While his onstage bath in his birthday suit caught the tabloid attention, his acting talents earned him a Tony Award nomination. His screen debut in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” earned him an Oscar nomination. And so, a star was born. Here, looking a bit more grey and puffy around the corners he is completely believable as a man who views his domestic life as work, and his office as play.

Robin Wright Penn is simply wonderful as the half Swedish (We hope it’s the half that eats.) wife and mother whose life is consumed with the care of her daughter who loves gymnastics and hates the color yellow. Don’t ask us, it’s an autism thing. She works small miracles with the underwritten role and makes the audience care far more than her character deserves.

As Amira, the Bosnian refugee who works as a seamstress in her cramped apartment and dotes on her teenage son who as of late is giving her nothing but grief, Juliette Binoche has the meatier role and positively soars. And when we say “meatier”, we mean the dramatically shaky and almost operatic moments of the screenplay that she is asked to embody. For this is a woman who has suffered greatly in the past (Bosnian, go figure.), and will do or say anything to safeguard her child. The manner in which Miss Binoche handles the very tricky transitions is admirable to say the least. Clearly, the bond between actress and director is just as strong as it was for her Oscar winning turn in “The English Patient”.

As her son, Miro – newcomer Rafi Gavron has a face that the camera loves and the required acting skills to pull off the role of a young man whose near poverty status at home convinces him to dabble with some very circumspect chums who usher him into a life of crime by exploiting his own gymnastic skills. For Miro and his buddy are athletic and boisterous youths who can seemingly scale blank walls with the agility of a spider. They use their street smart skills to enter office buildings from the skylights and perfect their art of breaking and entering (!) to make off with all sorts of fabulous new technological toys that belong to Jude’s business.

Once Jude’s offices begin to get broken into, there is no let up. For their line of work necessitates a steady stream of computers, laptops and plasma screens to demonstrate their plans to gentrify the Kings Cross area with an ultra modern structure that they hope will revive the local economy. Throw into the mix, a police detective played convincingly by that scene stealer Ray Winstone and a saucy prostitute with a knack for insinuating herself into the lives of others, played with a terrific sense of guile and playfulness by our beloved Vera Farmiga and you have the acting talent to smooth out the more lumpier aspects of the plot. (Sidenote: Winstone and Farmiga are to be seen in far better and even more complicated material in Martin Scorsese’s gangster comedy epic, “The Departed” which returns to theatres this weekend on the heels of its five Oscar nominationsgo see it now!)

And speaking of lumpy aspects, there are many. We understand perfectly well how the two sets of families are meant to mirror each other. What we remain less than convinced about is the impetus that drives Jude’s character to begin a tryst with Amira that can obviously only end badly considering her son’s involvement in the crimes. This is an affair that seems to benefit nobody but Jude’s cock. Which we have no problem with in theory, but think it is a bit much to hang a movie on. Take that for what you will.

The scenes that work well are handled imaginatively by Mr. Minghella. After a couple of break-ins, Jude begins to monitor his office from the safety of his parked car. A location that beckons Vera Farmiga from the dark streets, assuming he is on the prowl for some quick relief. As the nightwatchman routine extends into a few days, the begin to develop a quasi friendship that hinges on her being able to keep warm while on the lookout for fresh Johns, and his being supplied with coffee as a method of payment. One night as they sit bickering about the nature of their relationship, young Miro is at a distance scaling down the buildings façade. Minghella gets the shot spot on; with a nice combination of sight gag and mounting tension as we wonder if Miro will get away with it again as the two sit quarreling.

We also loved the way Mr. Minghella handled the trickiest scene. For once Jude and Juliette begin their affair and she becomes fully aware of his connection to her son, the lengths she will go to in order to safeguard her family is fairly shocking. It is handled with a dashing bit of camera work and a sterling reaction shot from Mademoiselle Binoche.

Would that the rest of the film could juggle the disjointed storylines and clumsy dialogue with equal panache. With the exception of those two scenes, we felt the film was lovely to look at, but lacked a sense of visual storytelling that Mr. Minghella is clearly capable of. And while we can stand back and admire the very fine acting throughout the film, we are never that invested in the characters lives to be able to swallow the series of events that closes this muddled melodrama. We are positive that Mr. Minghella has many more fine films dwelling within his breast, and perhaps next time he will have the fortitude to stick with his original bright idea for his scenario and learn to trim the excess. Something one could never accuse Lana or ourselves of having committed. Bless you all!

Written & Directed by Anthony Minghella

Jude Law as Will Francis
Juliette Binoche as Amira
Robin Wright Penn as Liv
Martin Freeman as Sandy
Ray Winstone as Bruno
Vera Farmiga as Oana
Rafi Gavron as Miro
Poppy Rogers as Beatrice
Juliet Stevenson as Rosemary
Romi Aboulafia as Orit

Cinematography by Benoît Delhomme
Film Editing by Lisa Gunning
Costume Design by Natalie Ward
Production Design by Alex McDowell
Set Decoration by Anna Pinnock
Original Music by Gabriel Yared, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith