Monday, February 28, 2011

The Making of the Black Swan



Sometimes I wonder how my favorite movies get made. I decided to let my imagination go wild after I saw The Black Swan this month as I pictured director Darren Aronofsky pitching his movie before the big suits.

Also, congratulate me. This marks post #200 for me. Have a slice of scary ass ballet cake in my honor on your way out. (I hear Natalie Portman is celebrating some Black Swan related news herself, so have some grapefruit on her behalf if you like.)

Finally, if you enjoyed this, stay tuned next week for Movies in a Minute: The Black Swan.

Studio Execs: "Have a seat, Darren. So, tell us about The Black Swan.

Darren Aronofsky: "It's about a ballet dancer, Nina. She lives in a sad, pathetic uptown apartment with only her crazed mom and her food issues."

Execs: "That went over well in Precious. Let's replace the pig knuckles with ballerina cake. What else you got?"

Darren: "Well, dance and the ballet world are apparently even more competitive than the intense world of pro-wrestling. Nothing like my brief exposure to Angelina Ballerina led me to believe."

Execs: "Interesting."

Darren: "I was thinking that Nina could use her passion for dance to unleash her sexuality. Through dancing this intense role, she'll go from being meek and sweet to an erotic being. I don't think that anyone's approached it from that angle."

Frances "Baby" Houseman: "I'll go sit back in my corner now."

Fran, Strictly Ballroom: "I'll join you."

Gypsy Rose Lee: "Save me a pole."

Execs: "How are you going to signify that Nina has transformed from child to a sexualized woman?"

Darren: "I was thinking we could have her throw her stuffed toys down the garbage chute."

Execs: "Worked for Tim Burton's version of Selena Kyle!"

Corduroy: "You guys know this is the kind of thing that kept me obsessively sleepwalking to the attic for spare buttons for like months after I got adopted, right? This is my nightmare fuel."

Execs: "But it still needs a little something extra."

Darren: "Some really disgusting bloody scenes straight out of the Grossology that show the artist pushing her body to the limit? In case you'd like to get an idea of what I'm capable of, I brought the unedited versions of Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, some preliminary sketches, and my scab collection."

Execs: "Well, we were thinking along the lines of Oscar-bait."

Darren: "How about a movie that messes with the audience by including scenes that might be imaginary?"

Execs: "OK. But can you make it...sexy?"

Darren: "How about the hallucinatory scenes culminate in a lesbian scene, featuring a brunette actress low on ability but heavy on sensuality. Preferably one who's dating a former child star--it shows willingness to hit the casting couch. Megan Fox, or failing that, Mila Kunis."

Execs: "Sounds like Jennifer's Body meets Repulsion. It's a hit! Any ideas about the music? Something classy, no doubt."

Darren: "The score to Swan Lake?"

Execs: "Since it's either that or the only other classical score anyone on board knows about--the 1812 Overture--we'll go with it. What about the ending?"

Darren: "She stabs herself and then carries on with her art. The camera will go to black at the end, implying her death."

Execs: "I don't know. Didn't you just do that in The Wrestler?"

Darren: "Okay, how about the camera fades to white instead, implying her death?"

Execs: "Love it!"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pop Culture Musings: Reality Stars II

Last summer, I blogged about reality TV stars. Since the blight of reality TV stars hasn't gone away, I decided to do a follow up post.

In other news: just one more post till my 200th blog post!

The Situation




Rumor has it Mike of The Jersey Shore has spent most of this season glued to the duck phone talking to his agent, trying to parlay his success into movie roles. For this reason, I must compare the Sitch to Shelley Long on Cheers. Remember when Shelley mistakenly thought that she was going on to bigger and better things by leaving her old drinking buddies behind? (Incidentally, who would have thought we'd find a group of people to make Norm, Cliffy, and Paul look positively cosmopolitan?)



A little part of me hopes the Situation leaves, just like Diane left Cheers. Not so much because I want to see the show fall apart, but because I think a remake of Troop Beverly Hills could use a six pack. Also, because I want to see which Scientologist has to step up to replace Sitch.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills



What more is there to say about the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that hasn't been said, blogged, and tweeted by Andy Cohen and his production team? My own impression is that these girls are a bit like a minstrel show version of the First Wives' Club.



Taylor has clearly learned from Goldie Hawn and blown up her lips well before her husband starts eyeing an Elizabeth Berkley doppelganger. Camille Grammer, on the other hand, takes "revenge" by doing the talk show circuit and making single entendres on her husband's choice of underwear. Meanwhile, Kelsey smiles and nods, pretending that she's really shown him while mentally congratulating himself on the fact that his current lover has reached the age of majority and then some.

Tim Gunn



As you can see from all the reality stars I've been blogging about, sense and decorum are severely lacking. And that's why we need the Gunn. Tim brings order to the chaos that is reality TV. That's why I think of him as the Sidney Poitier of reality television, telling off everyone from to the Salahis to Kenley Collins.



Sometimes we need a well spoken Bo Brummel type to come in, sit us down, and tell us that yes, burning sanitary napkins is filthy. And no, you can't go to the White House sans invite.

Liz Lee



Liz Lee is the star of the MTV show My Life as Liz, a semi scripted reality program. Liz is Quirky and has the dyed red hair and comic book collection to prove it. Whether she's diving into a dumpster for a found object project or burning photographs of her former teen queen best friend, Liz is nothing if not studiously left of center.



But you can tell that she's not really quite as bizarre as she tries to be. I get the feeling that Liz is more at home at the Gap than Urban Outfitter and that she carries around the Hipster Handbook hoping that her fellow Pratt Institute students don't find her out. Liz's diligence at trying as hard as possible to be awkward puts me in mind of Natalie Portman in Garden State. Cute, perky overachiever trying her best to be as alternative as possible by spouting off random monosyllabic nonsensical words. (Doesn't it say something that the only way that Sam's shtick made sense was when the creators of Garden State decided to make her brain damaged?)

The Jersey Shore



Yep, I've got more to say about them. Remember that episode of Boy Meets World when Cory, Shawn, and Topanga star in a dumbed down academic bowl, answering frivolous pop cultural questions, only to have Mr. Feeny heap scorn and derision on them? Of course you do. The Jersey Shore gang is like a less cute, less pop culturally savvy version of Lips, Hair, and Brainiac-14.



I'm still waiting for Mr. Feeny to swoop in and scream at Mike, Pauly D, and Vinny for having over twenty different classifications of grenades and land mines but -- despite access to Google and Wikipedia -- no idea who invented the printing press.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Millionaire Matchmaker: Season 4 in a Minute

In honor of Valentine's Day, I present a recap of season 4 of the Millionaire Matchmaker. Yes, that's the New York City edition.


Patti: "I'm a third generation matchmaker with a 90% success rate!"

Destin: "New York is scary, Rachel. Do you think that our alternative act will impress the Manhattan hipster crowd?"

Patti: "Let's meet the new intern. OHN-drea? Get your skinny but incompetent ass out here!"



Andrea: "Brandon, is that you?"



Andrea: "Miranda! You called me thin?!"



Andrea: "I think it's me."

Patti: "This is Bryce Gruber. She's an uptight Charlotte York type who makes a living covering her vulva with sparkles on the LuxurySpot.com, and her hobbies include pursing her lips and eye rolling. Her turn ons are uncomfortably long silences and the Jewish version of George Clooney."



Bryce: "Um..."

Niles Crane: "She's perfect! Do you have her in WASP-white?"

Patti: "Our other millionaire is guido Derek Tabacco. Hmm. What girls should I pick out for him? You. Can you like the Mets and name drop the terms moozadell and cacciatore?"

Derek Tabacco: "So, Patti, I loved the girl you picked out for me, but she's too young to settle down. Do you got anyone who's got the face and body of a teenager, the nesting instinct of a thirty year old, the well-established career of a forty year old, and the inability to ever wrinkle?"

Rod Serling: "No, but I might. Number Twelve looks like she'd be a great match for you!"

Patti: "Stop picking with the penis!"



Caroline Manzo: "Patti, my boys are having trouble finding love because every girl around them just wants them for their fame. Can you find them love?"

Patti: "Destin, are you sure the Situation won't do our show? What about the other Jersey Shore kids? I'll settle for the ugly one."

Destin: "Which one's the ugly one? And no."

Patti: "OK, Caroline, your boys are on. Guys, who do you like?"

Christopher: "I like that one."

Patti: "Stop it! Stop thinking with the cannoli! Now Albie, Chris, go plan your dates."



Chris Manzo: "So, I'm planning the first date, and we're going to Medieval Times."



Adriana LaCerva: "Aw. Drinks at the Bada Bing and dinner at Medieval Times was where Chrissy took me on our first date!"

Chris Manzo: "So, yeah. I work so many hours, you'll never actually see me, but my job isn't so prestigious you can brag about that to your friends."

Patti Stanger: "I'm a third generation matchmaker with a 60% success rate."



David: "Hi..."

Patti: "So, can we set him up with the moon and be done with it?"

Date: "So, um, what are we doing on our date?"

Sadako: "Pissing off the pro life crowd and PETA with food more controversial than foie gras."

David: "Have some balut. That's duck embryo, you know."

Date: "No..."

David: "Yes. And then put the lotion on your goddamned skin."

Matt: "I'm a millionaire because my dad invented a cookie."

Patti: "You're Otis Spunkmeyer, Jr.?"

Matt: "No."

Patti: "One of the Keebler kids?"

Matt: "No..."

Patti: "Lil Debbie? You've...changed."

Matt: "My dad was Dr. Siegal and his cookie helps you lose weight. I want a young hottie who's also got his own money, too."

Patti: "You think a ten with money is going to consider you?"

Matt: "I'll browbeat him into submission. Watch. So, yeah. You're kind of juvenile. I was really attracted to the twenty five year old at the mixer. You seem like a nice friend. Want to hear about the fantasy I constructed where he played Ganymede to my Zeus."



Matt: "That went better than usual."

Patti: "This...is Robin. Robin has a pretty face after about three martinis, loves the color pink, and Hello Kitty. Her turn ons are TSA lawsuits and keeping Sanrio in business. Her hobbies are getting her dogs botoxed and inciting feminist parents to start class action lawsuits against the Disney Princess line."



Robin: "Oh, I want that one, please! Sexy plumber!"

Luke: "So do you people prefer the term Grenade or Fat Bottomed Girl?"

Robin: "I love you!"

Patti: "I'm a third generation matchmaker. Call on me when opening the phone book to a random name and number is too much work."

Stacey: "Patti, I've changed. Now, I'm going to plan the date. Eben, honey, we're going to a screening of how I made my very first lingerie shoot."

Patti: "What is WRONG with you?! You don't self promote on a first date! That's fourth, maybe. Showing a video of yourself? NOT COOL. GET THE HELL OUT OF MY CLUB."



Max Goof: "Oops. Sorry, Roxanne."

Patti: "Good bye, New York."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best 90210 Moments

Looking over my blog posts, I realize that I haven't talked nearly enough about Beverly Hills. Here are some of the all time best vintage 90210 moments:

Another Nerd Bites the Dust



When David Silver (currently known as Mr. Megan Fox) was deemed cool enough to hang with the Peach Pit gang, Aaron Spelling had to get rid of any remnants of David's former, uncool life (i.e., dorky best friend Scott Scanlon). So, in a story so tragic that gun control advocates will be itching to cite it in keynote speeches, Scott accidentally shoots himself in the head at his own birthday party. (For those of you who favored Saved by the Bell, consider this to be slightly less sad than Slater's beloved lizard passing on.) Darren Star generously lets David spend half of the episode mourning his best friend before moving on to his trajectory of becoming the white M.C. Hammer.

Scenes from that episode that ended up on the cutting room floor: One where a rotund, bearded, cap wearing liberal camps out with David outside Charlton Heston's pad with Scott Scanlon's school photo in hand.

Donna Martin Graduates



Before the prom, the school administration at West Beverly High makes a statement that any student seen intoxicated at the event will not be allowed to walk at graduation. Donna Martin gets drunk at the prom. The school, sticking to their guns in a manner that both Cesar Milan and Nanny Jo would approve of, tells Donna she won't be able to walk with her friends. Brandon and the rest stage a walk out protesting the enforcement of school rules.

It's stuff like this that makes it easier to understand why our generation thinks that "Free Snooki!" is a meaningful rally cry.

U4EA



Emily Valentine gives Brandon his first taste of illicit drugs. And Brandon gave the audience of the 90s a taste of what it's like to party at a rave. An unbuttoned shirt and a good natured lack of coordination are a must. A drug happy moll whose eyebrow color doesn't match her hair complete the look. I have to admit, I kind of liked Emily Valentine. Too bad Brandon was too clean cut (and ripped) to play the Sid Vicious to her especially clingy Nancy Spungen.

Meeting Mr. Pony



After Brenda is robbed at gunpoint at Peach Pit, she starts feeling panicky, having flashbacks, and rivaling Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July in terms of showing that pretty people can deal with PTSD, too.

Roger Azarian



Matthew Perry plays a tennis star named Roger Azarian who goes to West Beverly and has written a movie script about killing his father. When Brandon interviews Roger for the school paper, he discovers that he's got a terrible secret: he stole most of the details of his life from Lyle and Erik Menendez. And as Brandon showed us in episode six, plagiarism is no laughing matter, Mr. Azarian. Off to a rent controlled apartment in the West Village with ye!

Andrea's Secret



Andrea has been using her grandmother's address as her own so she can attend West Beverly. When she wins an award, a paper wants to do a story on her life--including her home and family life. Andrea and the gang struggle to make it work without revealing her secret.

Now that a real life mother in Ohio is facing legal repercussions for using her father's address to send her kids to a better school, Andrea's story is timelier than ever. Of course, in Andrea's case she ended up pulling a Topanga and giving up Yale to attend the Beverly Hills campus of Fictional Sitcom University, so I'm not sure she really needed to go to West Beverly High so badly.

You also have to appreciate the fact that Andrea's Jewish grandmother pulls a major guilt trip on her, invoking her own near miss with the gas chambers. Anyone else shocked that Andrea married out of the faith?

Kelly Taylor and the Date Rape That Almost Was But Then Wasn't (and Then Almost Was Again)



Sorry for the flippant tone, but this scene progresses a bit like, "He rapes me. He rapes me not. He rapes me..." Anyway, the gang attends a Halloween party. Kelly goes as a sexy witch and is almost raped, but gets rescued by Brenda and Donna just in time.

Brenda proves why she was voted Bitchiest 90210 Denizen three years running by taking the opportunity to point out that Kelly had been dressing and acting a little too sexy and what did she think was going to happen? (If Regina George were here, I'm sure she'd point out that Kelly forgot the requisite animal ears to go with her costume--hence, the slut shaming.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Things I Wish I Could Tell My 16 Year Old Self, Part II


(Thanks to Jasmine at We Heart It.)

Because my last installment of things I wished I could tell my 16 year old self was so popular, here are some more points of edification for young Sadako.

And please check out my guest post on the Secret Society of List Addicts. It's on movie quotes that should become memes.
  • When your best friend finishes up her tiger painting and asks you to help her dye streaks into it, put the dye down, back away from her preppy boyfriend, and ride off into the distance with her hot raspy voiced musician brother, El Cid style.
  • To the part of my 16 year old self that wants to jump on the famous for being famous bandwagon, stop spending so much time crashing at Judge Ito's place and make an effort to get out to Robert Kardashian's compound.
  • Stop making jokes about how someone's in dire need of "puberty in a can" when you see Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Third Rock. Time will be kind to Mr. Gordon-Levitt. (You can continue making said jokes any time French Stewart appears, however.)
  • Don't throw away that too small tan belt--it'll come in handy years from now when you want to impress your friends with your Nick toons knowledge by going to a Halloween party as Quail Girl.
  • Yes, the WB thinks that just about anything teen related can be exploited. Feel free to mock it mercilessly for thinking even Jack and Bobby Kennedy's lives can be made Dawson's Creek-esque. But hold off on your mockery of Smallville because snarking on superheroes is going to go out of fashion very soon.
  • Go back and rewatch Trading Places. Find a way to make Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd's selling short scheme work when you hear about the opportunity to invest in a Broadway musical to which both Julie Taymor and Bono will be attached.
  • When creating your burn book, don't leave it lying around unprotected. Make sure to take a note from your very first diary (I'm talking of course about the Talkback Dear Diary). Nothing says put down the burn book and walk away with zero knowledge of Trang Pak's fugliness like a pre-recorded "HANDS OFF, CREEP" message.
  • Career advice: in the long run working as a nanny trumps working for Goldman Sachs.
  • Once again, if that creepy caller phones you late at night, MOTHER VOORHES was the killer in Friday the 13th. Of course, you can avoid that little conundrum by telling the guy your favorite scary movie is The Ewok Adventure...
  • Don't spend so much time trying to play down looking awkward. Glasses, a bowl cut, and questionable posture just might take your blog to the next level.
  • "Sorry I'm not home right now, I'm walking into spiderwebs" isn't as witty a voicemail message as you think it is. No, not even if you invest in the above mentioned Julie Taymor musical. Go with, "Believe it or not, Sadako isn't at home" if you must adopt a cute message.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Inside the Mind of a Jezebel Reader

There's nothing I love to snark on more than Jezebel. For those not in the know, Jezebel is the self proclaimed feminist blog of Gawker. It stands for, "Celebrity, Sex, Fashion For Women. Without Airbrushing."

What does looking at Jezebel comments tell us about the users of Gawker's distaff site? Well, let's take a look!




In an environment ill suited for one's sighs and well timed eye rolls, why bother with anything Dorothy Parker-esque? Short, succinct sentences like, "Um? The point? You missed it" are enough. An "Uh?" or a "Seriously?" will also suffice. Sometimes, sentences prove to be too much for the Jezebel commenter. At times like this, she'll seek to show her approval with a gif of Orson Wells clapping or the single but potent word, "Hearted."



And as always, the words, "Why don't you have a seat over there," or the ever subtle inclusion of Chris Hansen's face work wonders in a way that an thoughtful analysis never could.



In the Jezebel world, a celebrity is like a good friend. And a good friend is there for you. As we learned from Judy Blume, a true friend doesn't lie about her menstrual cycle, and she certainly doesn't commit the faux pas of looking prettier than you, especially when you're not feeling at your loveliest. Megan Fox, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Laura Danker--the ladies at Jezebel are on to you.



But there's nothing like a woman who falls outside of patriarchal norms--usually due to weight or skin color. Mindy Kaling, Gabourey Sidibe, Crystal Renn, and Christina Hendricks are, thus, acceptable celebrities to love. Attention must be taken, though--at times, even the above mentioned celebs are considered attractive by a heterosexual man.



When that happens--when Crystal Renn sheds a dress size or two, or when Christina Hendricks appears looking scantily clad and ethereal on the cover of a men's magazine--careful measures must be taken. A good Jezebel commenter must affect just the right amount of concern and dismay for her idol inching closer towards mainstream appeal. Concern for the evils of anorexia or Photoshop must be invoked.



And at all costs: remember to rail against the evil that is sexyface. (Jezebel's odes against attractive women looking sexy in photographs rivals only Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God for pure vitriol.)



What else can we glean? The Jezebel reader is a busy gal. Jezebel lets her multitask. Posts about American Apparel's sexism, anti-fat policies, and propensity for dayglo unitards allow her to both exercise her outrage and find a cute outfit.



Righteous anger at the fact that most clothing stores cater to the non-overweight women are another way that the Jezebel commenter can get in her daily dose of outrage while finding an outlet for the angst created when she has to create another notch in her cute (but reprehensibly straight sized) Forever 21 belt to get it to fit.



Reading Vogue, looking at a billboard, or browsing through model memoirs are a convenient way to work up anger about The State of the World These Days. The best part? Railing against the proliferation of eating disorders and supermodel abuse means you don't even have to break out anything as complicated as Thomas Friedman for dummies (also known as Nicholas Kristoff).



When it comes to not fitting into the mainstream beauty ideal--whether it's due to not being white enough or thin enough, Jezebel's got you covered. Didn't feel like going for a run this weekend? Blame it on patriarchy 'n privilage [sic] and you're good to go.



Finally, if you're trying to get a Jezebel user to like someone, try slut shaming her. Kathie Lee Gifford found out the hard way that when you gently suggest that Snooki replace the Velcro keeping her legs together with say, super glue, even the most anti-Guido of the Jezebelles will leap to the defense of the Jersey Shore gals.