Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monthly Wallpaper - October 2008: Modern Monsters of Movieland

Kicking off a month of tricks and treats here at Movie Dearest, October's calendar wallpaper salutes the Modern Monsters of Movieland!

From Hannibal and Jack to Damien and Regan to Alex and Annie to the Thing and the Alien to the Mount Rushmore of Contemporary Cinematic Chills (Michael, Jason, Freddy and Leatherface), all the modern icons of horror are present in this ghoulish display, ready to download.

All you have to do is click on the picture above to enlarge it, then simply right click your mouse and select "Set as Background". (You can also save it to your computer and set it up from there if you prefer.) The size is 1024 x 768, but you can modify it if needed in your own photo-editing program.

Daisies Bloom Again

Emmy Award winner Pushing Daisies, the most imaginative and colorful series on television, finally returns tomorrow night. Hopes are high that the fantastical show will regain the momentum lost by last season's writers' strike.

Plans for the new season include more romance for Ned and Chuck (Lee Pace and Anna Friel), a mother (Debra Mooney) for Emerson (Chi McBride), and Olive (Kristin Chenoweth) in a convent (yes, there will be a Sound of Music homage). Also expect some familiar faces; guest stars slated to appear include David Arquette, Jennifer Elise Cox, Orlando Jones, Mary Kay Place, Stephen Root and Fred Willard, plus the expected returns of Raúl Esparza, Paul Reubens and Molly Shannon.

If you're new to Pushing Daisies or just want to refresh your memory after ten long months without a visit to the Pie Hole, ABC's "Starter Kit" video will get you up to speed. And for a preview of the new season, here's an extended clip from this summer's Comic-Con.

The Latest on DVD: Pia's Zadorable

Available on DVD for the first time today, the notorious camp classic "bad movie we love" Butterflywas supposed to make Pia Zadora a star. Instead, it turned the Golden Globes into a Hollywood laughing stock.

Financed by her sugar daddy husband (32-years her senior) and based on a novel by James M. Cain, Butterfly casts Zadora (in her first film since Santa Claus Conquers the Martians) as a white trash nymphet who seduces her own father (poor, poor Stacy Keach). The over-the-top, soapy melodrama also stars Orson Welles, Lois Nettleton, James Franciscus and Ed McMahon in a rare (this is why) dramatic turn.

Despite Pia's infamous Golden Globe for Best New Star (over Body Heat's Kathleen Turner, among others; after the following year -- when Sandahl Bergman got it -- the award would never be handed out again), Butterfly went on to "win" three Razzie Awards, including Worst Actress and Worst New Star for Ms. Zadora. Her next big movie, The Lonely Lady (sadly, not on DVD ... yet), would sweep the Razzies the following year.

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from Amazon.com.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Empire Strikes Out

Oh, those wacky Brits. Empire magazine has released the results of their poll for "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time", and the results sure are ... interesting.

Perhaps it's who they polled: 10,000 readers chimed in, but only 150 of "Hollywood's finest" and a paltry 50 film critics were also included. Not quite "the most ambitious movie poll ever attempted" as advertised, the list leans heavily on the recent (as expected with that many civilians in the mix), including five movies from this year alone (The Dark Knight sits at #15), as well as (naturally) a lot of English and other non-US films not quite as well known here in the States.

Furthermore, the mag's readership must be predominantly male (and predominantly straight, for that matter). How else to explain the inclusion of five of the six Star Wars movies (yes, even The Phantom Menace) and all four Indiana Jones adventures? And then there's such other head scratchers as ranking Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (one of the worst movies ever made) above Double Indemnity, To Kill a Mockingbird and All About Eve (among many many others) or seeing Point Break (yes, that Point Break) sitting in between Fargo and Amélie. It's enough to make a true cinephile cry/cringe/dissolve into a gelatinous blob.

I've posted the entire list of 500 films in the comment section below (in ascending order, from #500 to #1); read if you dare ...

Cinematic Crush: Gerard Butler

Crush object: Gerard Butler, actor.

- He made his film debut in Mrs. Brown, followed by a small role in the Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies.

- As two notorious villains -- Attila the Hun in the television mini-series Attila and Count Dracula in Dracula 2000 -- he graduated to lead roles.

- A co-starring role in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life proceeded his casting as the title role in Joel Schumacher's film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.

- Following an impressive dramatic turn in Dear Frankie, he next turned to sword and sandal epics as Beowulf in Beowulf & Grendel and as King Leonidas in 300, his biggest hit to date. The blockbuster won him trophies from the World Stunt Awards and MTV Movie Awards.

- After a few smaller films (P.S. I Love You, Nim's Island), he's back in action in next week's RocknRolla (watch the trailer here).

Poster Post: Beauty and the Bond

Daniel Craig's James Bond and new Bond girl Olga Kurylenko are featured on the latest poster for Quantum of Solace (in theaters November 14).

In more Bond news, 007 reportedly won't be uttering his famous catchphrases ("Bond, James Bond" and "A martini. Shaken, not stirred") in his latest adventure, while Craig insists that the secret agent won't be seducing any men anytime soon.

Out of the Celluloid Closet: Tea and Sympathy

His schoolmates catch him sewing. His father bemoans that he wants to be a folk singer. He reads! No doubt about it, there is something a little queer about Tom Robinson Lee.

Tom is the outcast protagonist of Tea and Sympathy, a fascinating peek into the celluloid closet of the 1950's. Deborah Kerr is the kindly wife of the school's headmaster (Leif Erickson) who takes a special interest in the troubled youth (John Kerr, no relation) in Vincente Minnelli's film adaptation of Robert Anderson's Broadway drama (all three actors reprise their stage roles; the younger Kerr won a Tony Award for his performance).

While Tom is the focus of all the sexual questioning in the film (he is proven heterosexual by Deborah's character in the classic "Years from now, when you talk about this -- and you will -- be kind." scene), keep an eye on Tom's jock roommate (who defends him) and Erickson's headmaster (he neglects his wife and spends all his time "with the boys") for even more coded gay content.

Tea and Sympathy, which is not yet available on DVD, airs tomorrow on Turner Classic Movies at 1:45 PM EST.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Somebody Put Baby on the Stage

Based on the sleeper hit of 1987, the literally titled Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage makes its US debut today in Chicago. This production, which officially opens October 19 and runs through January 17, is the first stop on a pre-Broadway American tour.

Unlike a traditional musical, Dirty Dancing offers "presentational pop numbers rather than a strictly character-sung score". Described as "part play, part dance event, part concert", the show features 35 songs, including such familiar numbers from the movie as "Hungry Eyes," "Do You Love Me?" and the Academy Award-winning "(I've Had) The Time of My Life".

Following its run in the Windy City, Dirty Dancing will then travel to Boston and Los Angeles. No Broadway dates have been announced at this time.

UPDATE: The cast album for Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stageis now available from Amazon.com.

Blithe Spirit

Seems all the bad buzz from Comic-Con has made the marketers of The Spirit take a fresh course.

While the newest trailer for Frank Miller's upcoming big screen adaptation of the classic Will Eisner comic still has all the Dark Knight-ish elements in place, there is now some humor and even sexiness thrown in ... and not just from Eva Mendes. Hunky hero Gabriel Macht shows some skin and shares some snappy repartee with Sarah Paulson.

The Spirit, which also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eric Balfour, lands in theaters December 25.

Farewell to Xanadu

The neon lights of Xanadu will shine one last time on Broadway today.

But don't fret, several international productions are currently in the planning stages (including London), plus the American tour kicks off in November, insuring that the magic of Xanadu will live on (as the song says) "All Over the World".

And what about the show's breakout hunk, Cheyenne Jackson? Well, according to this wonderfully candid "Ask the Star" interview over at Broadway.com, Cheyenne will finally be doing his own solo album! He reveals a lot more fun stuff in the video chat too, such as when a popular reality show asked him to be its star. Why did he turn them down? Watch it and find out.

Film Art: Have You Heard About Hugo and Kim?

"What's the story, morning glory? What's the tale, nightingale? Tell me quick about Hugo and Kim!"

Well, here they are caricaturized by Pete Emslie at The Cartoon Cave: Bobby Rydell as Hugo Peabody and Ann-Margret as Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reverend's Reviews: Coming Out Stories - Part 1

This is the first of Chris' three-part series of influential films that helped him in his coming out.

One of my high school theatre teachers was a huge fan of playwright Tennessee Williams and actress Elizabeth Taylor. To expose us sophomores to the work of both, he showed us the 1959 film of Williams’ play Suddenly, Last Summerover two or three class periods.

One of Williams’ stranger plots (adapted for the screen by Gore Vidal), it concerns the machinations of wealthy Violet Venable (an Oscar-nominated Katharine Hepburn) to have her niece, Cathy (Taylor, who was also nominated for Best Actress), lobotomized. It seems Cathy has been saying unbelievably ghastly things about the circumstances surrounding the recent death of Violet’s son, Sebastian, while Cathy and Sebastian were on vacation together. It falls to a psychiatrist, Dr. Cukrowicz (played by Montgomery Clift), to sort out the truth and determine whether Cathy is insane.

While no characters come out of their own volition in Suddenly, Last Summer, the late Sebastian is definitely outed during the film’s coded but still shocking climax. I knew exactly what Cathy was revealing during her truth serum-induced extended monologue, as Taylor screams such increasingly hysterical declarations as “She was procuring them!” and “They were devouring him!”

Yes, I knew that we were being told Sebastian was a big mo even though it isn’t stated bluntly in the film due to the censorship of the time. Interestingly, the Catholic-controlled Hollywood Production Code office actually gave permission for the first time to the producers of Suddenly, Last Summer to depict a homosexual character on screen, albeit in a negative light and after specifying Sebastian’s face couldn’t be shown nor his voice heard. That being said, most of my high school classmates were oblivious to the true meaning of Cathy’s revelation and probably remain so to this day.

I was surprised then but now think it’s incredibly cool that our teacher showed us Suddenly, Last Summer rather than the safer Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, in which the pivotal topic of homosexuality is even more sanitized. I watched Suddenly, Last Summer again last year, and it remains a fascinating film that is well worth seeing if one never has.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Great Performances: Matthew Rhys as Kevin Walker

Brothers and Sisters has not only proved to be a great showcase for some of our favorite TV actresses (Rachel Griffiths, Calista Flockhart, Patricia Wettig and the Emmy Award winning Sally Field), it has also given us a rarity for network television: a well-rounded, realistic gay character.

As portrayed by Matthew Rhys, Kevin Walker has been far from perfect ... but who of us is? Kevin can be curt, insensitive and self-centered at times, but he is never a stereotype, even with his frequent, sarcastically witty one-liners (which are always hilarious). Rhys' performance is multi-layered, but the love Kevin has for his family and new husband Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) is never too far from the surface.

Brothers and Sisters returns tomorrow night with its third season premiere. To catch up on all the goings-on with the Walker clan, watch the ABC "Starter Kit" video and/or this preview clip.

The Colors of the Wind Fade Away

Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends, the conservation-minded live stage show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, wraps up its ten year run today.

The 15-minute show, which featured Pocahontas, Grandmother Willow and a cast of real critters, was one of the theme park's original attractions. No plans for what will take its place have been announced as of yet.

For full video of the show and a gallery of pictures, visit LaughingPlace.com.

Daniel Craig Flashes Some Skin

Quantum of Solace isn't the only fall movie to star Daniel Craig. In Flashbacks of a Fool (in theaters October 17), Craig plays a big-time movie star with big-time emotional baggage. But don't worry; as you can see in the film's new trailer, he does get naked in this one as well.

Meanwhile, Back on Wisteria Lane ...

The Desperate Housewives are back tomorrow night in their fifth season premiere, but now its five years in the future. What does this mean for the ladies of Fairfield? (Insert spoiler warning here.)

Well, Susan (Teri Hatcher) has divorced Mike (James Denton), and is now sacking up with a mystery guy (Queer as Folk's Gale Harold). Bree (Marcia Cross), who is back with Orson (Kyle MacLachlan), is now a successful Martha Stewart-type homemaker mogul, with her gay son Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) and Katherine (Dana Delany) on her payroll. Lynette (Felicity Huffman) must deal with her now teenage delinquent sons as well as the midlife crisis of hubby Tom (Doug Savant). Glam Gabrielle (Eva Longoria Parker) has changed the most; she is now a frumpy mother of two, while Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) is still blind. And Edie (Nicollette Sheridan) is back, with a new husband (Neal McDonough), who is reportedly tied in to the season's big mystery, which also involves Mrs. McCluskey (recent Emmy winner Kathryn Joosten) and her sister, played by the one and only Lily Tomlin (fans of The West Wing will get the inside joke there). Oh, and Wisteria's resident gay couple, Bob and Lee (Tuc Watkins and Kevin Rahm) are back as well, and they now have a daughter.

If all of that soapy goodness has you lost, then you can catch up with ABC's "Starter Kit" and/or this preview clip.

A Partridge Back on TV

Get out those velvet pants, feather your hair, rev up the buss and "Come On, Get Happy": The Partridge Family is returning to television.

Paul Newman: 1925-2008

Legendary actor Paul Newman, creator of such iconic screen characters as Fast Eddie Felson, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and Frank Galvin, passed away yesterday at the age of 83.

Nominated for ten Academy Awards (nine for acting -- Best Actor for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Absence of Malice, The Verdict, The Color of Money and Nobody's Fool, Best Supporting Actor for Road to Perdition -- and one Best Picture nod for Rachel, Rachel, in which he directed his longtime wife, Joanne Woodward), Newman won three Oscars (for The Color of Money, plus an Honorary Award in 1986 and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his many charitable contributions, in 1994).

Through his over 50-year career, he received many other accolades, including awards from BAFTA, the Cannes Film Festival, the Emmys, the National Board of Review, the Screen Actors Guild, several critics groups and six honors from the Golden Globes, including their prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Newman made his film debut in 1954's The Silver Chalice. Other classic films he has appeared in include Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Long, Hot Summer, Exodus, Sweet Bird of Youth, Harper, Torn Curtain, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Sting, The Towering Inferno, Slap Shot, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge and The Hudsucker Proxy. His final film role was as the voice of Doc Hudson in Cars. In addition to Rachel, Rachel, he also directed Sometimes a Great Notion, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and The Glass Menagerie (the latter two again with Woodward) and wrote and directed Harry & Son.

For more on Paul Newman here at Movie Dearest, read his Cinematic Crush profile.

Potent Quotables: Mariska Hargitay on the Perks of Her Job

"Who doesn't want to make out with Chris Meloni?"

-- Mariska Hargitay, regarding her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit co-star, in a brief interview with Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reverend’s Reviews: Working 9 to 5

The recently released CD Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening,the 25th anniversary edition of satiric lyricist Gerard Alessandrini’s spoof of all things theatre, includes “You Can’t Stop the Camp.” Adapted from Hairspray’s “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and performed by actors impersonating Harvey Fierstein, John Travolta and Laura Bell Bundy of Legally Blonde: The Musical, it laments the seeming lack of original ideas that has led to an onslaught of new musicals based on movies.

It also names 9 to 5: The Musical (currently having its world premiere at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre through October 19) as one of the latest Broadway-bound productions destined to bear a “cute and cuddly stamp” in these shows’ efforts to reach the widest possible audience through their familiar titles and stories.

Having seen 9 to 5, I can assure Alessandrini and Co. that their fears regarding this particular film-to-stage transfer are largely, though not completely, unfounded. First, to answer the question most musical lovers have been concerned about: yes, Dolly Parton has written a (mostly) successful theatrical score! While her famous theme song from the original 1980 movieabout workplace and sexual politics of the time gets a bit over-used, her original songs for the theatrical adaptation are tuneful and similarly stirring.

Standouts include “Around Here,” in which new hire Judy Bernly (Stephanie J. Block, who doesn’t channel Jane Fonda so much as Mary Gross from Saturday Night Live circa 1987) is introduced to her office mates; “Tattletales,” a fun piece about the perils and delights of water-cooler gossip; “The One I Love,” in which the three leads sing about the current loves of their lives; Act One closer “Shine Like the Sun,” a powerful personal-empowerment anthem; and “One of the Boys,” a splendid piece showcasing Violet Newstead (a terrific Allison Janney, even if she’s the weakest singer in the show) à la Roxie Hart in Chicago’s “Roxie.” Block also gets to bring the house down with “Get Out and Stay Out,” in which she kisses her unfaithful husband, Dick, good-bye once and for all.

Completing the musical’s star trio of actresses is the excellent Megan Hilty. As Doralee Rhodes, the role Parton played in the movie, Hilty craftily pays tribute to Parton while making the character her own. She’s affecting as she sings the auto-biographical “Back-woods Barbie,” and hilarious singing “Cowgirl’s Revenge,” her dream sequence number is which she ropes the villainous Franklin Hart Jr. (a very funny, very physical performance by Marc Kudisch). Kudisch has his own standout musical moments in “Here for You” and “Mundania,” the latter of which he gets bonus points for singing while hanging and tumbling over the stage in leather bondage gear.

The only truly deficient song currently in Parton’s score (which could potentially be re-worked between now and the show’s New York opening next year) is “Let Love Grow.” An eleventh-hour duet sung by Violet and her significantly younger suitor, Joe (played by Andy Karl, who I didn’t recognize here as the actor who played the hunky UPS Guy in Legally Blonde: The Musical), it needs to go deeper in having the characters’ reveal their painful past losses rather than quoting Hallmark-card platitudes.

While reviewing 9 to 5’s score and cast, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the marvelous comedienne Kathy Fitzgerald, who plays Hart’s right-hand woman, Roz. Fitzgerald memorably played lesbian lighting designer Shirley Markovitz, among other roles, in both the stage and 2005 film versions of The Producers. Here, she gets the showstopper “Heart to Hart,” in which she declares her unrequited love for Franklin, as well as the clever “5 to 9,” which takes commitment to one’s job to new extremes.

9 to 5: The Musical avoids becoming camp, contrary to Forbidden Broadway’s prediction, thanks to Patricia Resnick’s book. I actually expected more jokes and over-the-top retro fashions playing off the musical’s “Carter administration” setting than there are. While the book could be accused of hewing a little too closely to the screenplay, and Act One is too long at one hour and 45 minutes compared to Act Two’s speedy 40 minutes, Resnick has nonetheless done an admirable adaptation.

While Joe Mantello’s direction is typically efficient and keeps the proceedings moving, recent Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography is a disappointment. It borrows appropriately from funk and disco stylings of the time, but I got the impression Blankenbuehler’s moves and, subsequently, the dancers were more constricted than they need be.

Lastly, scenic designer Scott Pask’s sets are problematic. The first LA preview of 9 to 5 was delayed a week and problems endured through the show’s official opening night due to set-related technical problems. It can’t be denied that Consolidated Industries’ offices — with their mobile desks, rising pillars, lowering light fixtures and working elevators — are impressive. However, I found myself fearing at times for the actors’ safety as well as the show’s integrity.

Such criticisms are minor, though, compared to the overall crowd-pleasing impact of 9 to 5: The Musical. It isn’t quite a “Well-Oiled Machine” (another of the show’s production numbers), but it provided me and the audience with which I viewed it a thoroughly enjoyable night at the theatre.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the show's official website. And for more 9 to 5: The Musical on Movie Dearest, be sure to check out Chris' interviews with the show's librettist, Patricia Resnick, and the show's producer, Robert Greenblatt.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Out in Film: Bryan Fuller

Idol worship: Bryan Fuller, writer/producer.

- A self-professed sci-fi geek, he successfully pitched a script for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and hasn't looked back since. He eventually moved over to Star Trek: Voyager, winding up the show's co-producer.

- He next created two critically acclaimed but short-lived series, Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls.

- His other television credits include the TV movie remake of Stephen King's Carrie, the animated comedy The Amazing Screw-On Head and the first season of Heroes.

- He left Heroes to create his own fantasy series, the Emmy Award winning Pushing Daisies. The quirky romantic comedy returns for its second season next Wednesday.

- He has received Emmy nominations for his work on Heroes and Pushing Daisies, plus Writers Guild of America nomination for those two as well as Wonderfalls.

Off the Shelf: Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema

New this week and just itching to be added to the Movie Dearest library is Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinemaby Steven Paul Davies (with a foreword by actor Simon Callow). From Victim to My Beautiful Laundrette to Brokeback Mountain and even the upcoming Milk, the book promises to be yet another valuable resource for anyone interested in the study of queer film.

The book also covers gay filmmakers and actors and their influence within the industry, the most iconic scenes from gay cinema, and the most memorable dialogue from key films. Sounds like a must read!

Click on the following link to buy Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinemafrom Amazon.com.

On the Road with the Frankensteins

Soon they'll be "Puttin' on the Ritz" on the road: Mel Brooks' stage musical version of his Young Frankenstein will launch a national tour next fall. No dates or casting has been announced at this time.

MD Poll: Is There a Doctor in the House?

In recognition of this week's fifth season premiere of Grey's Anatomy, the latest MD Poll takes a look at the crack surgical staff of Seattle Grace and asks, "Who is your favorite doctor?"

Would you rather go under the knife of brilliant brain surgeon Derek Shepherd, or ace plastic surgeon Mark Sloan? Or perhaps the gentle touch of George O'Malley is more your speed, while others would prefer the no-nonsense approach of a Miranda Bailey or a Christina Yang. Choose your physician and place your vote in the poll located in the right hand sidebar; results will be revealed in two weeks.

With only ten spots on the poll, relative newcomers Lexi Grey and Erica Hahn had to sit this one out (and I'm sure you know why Preston Burke isn't here), as well as the new hot doc on the block, Kevin McKidd as Major Hunt. If you caught his debut on the show last night, I think you'll agree that his Mc-less nickname should be Major Hunk.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed. Click here for the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

MD Poll: Hopelessly Devoted

For Movie Dearest readers, Grease really is the word. Topping an MD Poll for the second time in two months, the 50's flashback was named your favorite high school movie, with 23.9% of 71 total votes.

But those Breakfast Club-ers didn't go down without a fight, placing second with just a 1.4 % difference. Rounding out the top three, the only other movie to hit double digits was Mean Girls.

For the complete rundown of stats, see the comments section below.

Click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: Shia, Spike and Queen Raquela

What's new this week at a theater near you:
  • Eagle Eye: Well, if they can ape Rear Window, why not North by Northwest? Shia LaBeouf reunites with his Disturbia director D.J. Caruso for this "innocents caught up in a dangerous game" thriller. Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson and Billy Bob Thornton also star.
  • Miracle at St. Anna: Spike Lee takes on World War II (and Clint Eastwood) with this historical look at a battalion of African American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. The cast includes Derek Luke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Turturro, Kerry Washington and John Leguizamo.
  • Nights in Rodanthe: Richard Gere and Diane Lane re-team for this romance (based on the novel by The Notebook's Nicholas Sparks) six years after Unfaithful, and there's not a snow globe in sight. Christopher Meloni, Viola Davis and Scott Glenn co-star.
  • The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela: Filipino "lady-boy" Raquela Rios is the subject of this semi-improvised Cinderella story. For more on Queen Raquela, click here to read Chris' Reverend's Interview with the film's director, Olaf de Fleur.
  • Choke: Sam Rockwell plays a sex-addicted con man that takes care of mom Anjelica Huston by faking choking to death ... and then playing on the sympathies of those who rescue him. Based on the novel by Fight Club's Chuck Palahniuk.
  • The Lucky Ones: Three soldiers (Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Peña) take a post-Iraq road trip in this comedy/drama from writer/ director Neil Burger.
  • Humboldt County: Another road trip finds Jeremy Strong stranded in a remote community of pot farmers, including Fairuza Balk, France Conroy and Brad Dourif.
  • Forever Strong: Never Back Down's Sean Faris is a rebellious rugby player who lands in jail ... and on Gary Cole's team. Also stars Sean Astin, new Desperate House-husband Neal McDonough and Gossip guy Penn Badgley.
  • Smother: Diane Keaton moves in to the house of her son Dax Shepard and his wife Liv Tyler, who are trying to have a baby despite his unemployment, in this debut feature from Variance Films.
  • And finally: In Fireproof, Kirk Cameron (yes, that Kirk Cameron) plays a firefighter (!) trying to save his marriage. This is the one where we found out that Cameron won't kiss anyone but his real-life wife. It's called acting, Kirk; look into it.
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Disney Loads Up on Some Depp

Disney seems to like what the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy has done for their coffers, as they've recruited the movies' Academy Award nominated star, Johnny Depp, for not one, not two, but possibly three future films.

First up is no big surprise: he'll don the chapeau of the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland redo. Then there's the no-brainer, a possible Pirates 4. But the real surprise is Depp's casting in the long rumored about update of The Lone Ranger. No, he won't be the Masked Man of the Wild West, but his faithful companion Tonto! This one just got a whole lot more interesting, kimosabe, especially since they would (should) have to get an actor of equal stature to play the title character. Christian Bale immediately comes to mind, but he may be overloaded on franchise flicks of late.

In more Disney news, Cars 2 has been moved up from 2012 to 2011, while none other then Oprah Winfrey has joined the cast of The Princess and the Frog; she'll voice the mother of the title character (the princess, not the frog).

Omigod You Guys! Legally Blonde to Close

Following Xanadu into the Broadway history books, another Movie Dearest stage fave, Legally Blonde: The Musical, has set a closing date. October 19 will be your last chance to catch the pretty in pink tuner on the Great White Way.

Film Art: Sarah Marshall Edition

The Forgetting Sarah Marshall romantic quadrangle of Mila Kunis, Jason Segel, Russell Brand and Kristen Bell, by Hope Gangloff for The New Yorker.

The comedy debuts on DVD and Blu-raythis Tuesday, including a three-disc (!) unrated collector's edition. Click here to read Neil's Reel Thoughts review.

Hold Your Horses

Tonight is the official opening of the much buzzed about Broadway transfer of Peter Shaffer's Equus, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths and Kate Mulgrew.

The hot ticket revival (scheduled for a limited run through February 8) netted glowing reviews while in London, and it looks to reap the same accolades on this side of the pond as well. How do I know? Well, my exclusive Big Apple source -- Jeffrey, the Cynical-New-Yorker-Who-Literally-Sees-Every-Show-on-Broadway -- has already seen it ... twice. And if know Jeffrey, you know that's saying something.

For more on the history of Equus, including its original 1974 Tony Award winning Broadway run (starring Anthony Hopkins and Peter Firth) and the subsequent 1977 film adaptation (starring Richard Burton and Firth in Academy Award nominated performances), read Broadway.com's extensive essay on the subject.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Women We Love: Vanessa Williams

Object of our affection: Vanessa Williams, actress/singer.

- She made history in 1983 as the first African American Miss America. But controversy soon erupted when unauthorized nude photos of her surfaced and were published in Penthouse magazine, resulting in her resignation the following year.

- However, "the best revenge is success", as she later stated, and she went on to become a Grammy Award nominated singer/songwriter; her many hit records include "The Right Stuff", "Save the Best for Last" (featured in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and the Academy Award winning "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas, which she performed on the Oscar telecast.

- Conquering the Broadway stage next, she starred in Kiss of the Spider Woman and Into the Woods. In the latter, her performance as the Witch earned her Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. She has also starred in Carmen Jones at the Kennedy Center and in the TV remake of Bye Bye Birdie.

- She made her film debut in The Pick-Up Artist and would go on to star in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Eraser, Dance With Me, Shaft, Johnson Family Vacation and Soul Food, for which she won the NAACP Image Award. She'll next star in Hannah Montana: The Movie and the sports drama Phenom.

- Television appearances include guest spots on T.J. Hooker, The Love Boat, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Ally McBeal, as well as such TV movies as The Jacksons: The American Dream, The Odyssey and A Diva's Christmas Carol and the short-lived series South Beach. But it is as the deliciously evil Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty that has earned her her best notices to date, including two Emmy Award nominations and two more NAACP Image Awards.

The Dearie Award winning comedy returns for its third season tomorrow night, and you can get all caught up on Wilhelmina's Mode machinations with ABC's "Starter Kit" video and/or this promo clip, wherein you'll hear Williams and the rest of her cast mates belt out "The Theme from New York, New York". And for more Wilhelmina goodness, check out the season 3 vodcast and this hilarious "remix" of her encounter last season with poor Betty White.

Lighter Shades of Grey's

The sexy shenanigans of Seattle Grace return with the two-hour fifth season premiere of Grey's Anatomy tomorrow night. To get you all caught up on who is sleeping with who now (including the lady doctors in love Torres and Hahn), check out ABC's "Starter Kit" video and/or this promo clip, which already has fans buzzing about the possibility of Dr. McDreamy, Baby Daddy.

Or, for a rare glimpse at the lighter side of the steamy soap, here's a steamy shower scene with the boys, plus: the new McDoc in town -- Dr. McSwimmy.