Monday, December 31, 2007

Movies in the (212)

Every year I think I say that it was the worst year for films ever, and 2007 was no exception. Surprisingly, when I went through the releases from the past 12 months I was able to come up with more than 10 that I liked, although the prevalence of documentaries is starting to alarm me (watching reality television, reading nothing but biographies and now this?). So without further ado, here are my movie picks for 2007:

  • "The Savages": Tamara Jenkins' story of a brother and sister who come together to care for their elderly father who is suffering from dementia is without a doubt my favorite film of the year (the rest are in no particular order). My review will help you understand why.
  • "The Hoax": Lasse Hallstrom's film was inspired by true events in the life of Clifford Irving, the writer who nearly pulled off one of the most audacious media scams in history, when his "autobiography" of Howard Hughes was published. Maybe it's because I'm in "the business," but I was thrilled from beginning to end. (Read what I said about it here.)
  • "Knocked Up": Judd Apatow's story about a twentysomething guy who finds out he impregnated his one-night stand is wonderfully charming. Katherine Heigl couldn't be more wrong about this film when she said it makes guys look lovable and women look like nagging shrews. Men have taken a nonstop bashing in the popular culture -- have you seen the cellphone commercials where the kids and mom are so cool that they won't even talk to the dorky dad but they have no problem having him pay for everything? -- so "Knocked Up" was merely the balanced look at being a guy that was just screaming to be made. (Read my review here.)
  • "Superbad": Greg Mottola's high school comedy about two co-dependent seniors looking to score alcohol for a party is simultaneously hilarious and heartwarming.
  • "Juno": Jason Reitman's teen pregnancy comedy starts out too cute for its own good but ends up being one great film. (Read what I had to say here.)

  • "Zodiac": David Fincher's film about the notorious serial killer is based on the actual case files and while not an earth-shattering endeavor, is highly entertaining (Read what I had to say here.)
  • "Show Business: The Road to Broadway": This documentary looks at one of the most controversial and high-profile seasons on Broadway in decades, following the production of four top Broadway musicals -- "Wicked," "Taboo," "Caroline, or Change," or "Wicked" from rehearsals to opening night. The best part of this film is watching Charles Isherwood (then of Variety), Patrick Pacheco (L.A. Times correspondent), Linda Winter (Newsday), Jacques Le Sourd (Gannett Newspapers) and especially Michael Riedel (NY Post) meet for lunches throughout the season and completely get everything wrong about what was good, what would be a hit, what would be a bomb and what would win an award. (Do these people actually get paid to write about theater?!!!!)
  • "Trantasia": The best documentary about a transsexual beauty pageant of all time, Jeremy Stanford captures the joy and the sorrow of the transgender experience with side journeys home and interviews with the contestants' families.
  • "Sicko": Michael Moore's look at the American health-care system didn't make nearly as big a splash as I thought it would, but I really loved it. Should he have timed it better with the '08 elections? (See my review here.)
  • "Control": Anton Corbin's biopic of the Joy Division's tragic lead singer, Ian Curtis, works because Sam Riley becomes the "Love Will Turn Us Apart" crooner. (Read my review here.)

    ADDENDUM: Because MovieWeb provided (what turns out to be) an incomplete list of all of the year's releases, I forgot to mention the gay hustler romantic comedy "Boy Culture," which definitely makes my list of faves. Read the various things I've written about it here.

  • Honorable mentions:
  • "Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten": Julian Temple would have been better off making a straight-forward documentary, but there's so much good footage here that all of his quirky editing tricks can't detract from how enjoyable this is to watch. (Read my review here.)
  • "Hollywood Dreams": Henry Jaglom's tale of a damaged young woman from small town Iowa who arrives in Hollywood with dreams of stardom is a flawed but compelling look at how you can never really escape your past.
  • "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" Julian Schnabel's ambitious "little" film about an injured fashion editor who can only communicate with one eyelid is indeed original but doesn't quite live up to the hype.
  • "American Gangster": Top drawer cast and crew and an wonderful (true!) story somehow falls short of brilliant. (Read what I wrote about it here.)
  • "Man About Town": Mike Binder was the creative force behind HBO's intelligent "Mind of a Married Man," so when I saw his 2007 film had gone straight to video I just assumed it was because it was too cerebral for the general public. The first half is smart and clever -- Ben Affleck is terrific as a Hollywood agent who has everything yet still feels like something is missing. And then it gets bad. Really bad.

    Haven't seen yet: "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," "The Kite Runner" and "Michael Clayton"

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    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    The Only Reason to Tolerate Jay Leno for (Even) 3 Seconds

    Natasha on the Tonight Show

    Add to My Profile | More Videos
    Natasha Leggero might just be the funniest comedian ever -- and her bombshell Susanna Hoffs looks don't hurt either. Check out her MySpace here.

    Friday, December 28, 2007

    What Does a Gay Horse Eat?


    A scene from the hilarous "Sports Action Team,".

    (212) Year in Review

    As you've probably noticed, I'm taking it easy on the blog this week. It's been a great year but like all things, once in a while you need a little vacation. A couple of other bloggers have been busy compiling "best of gay blogs" year-end features and kindly asked me to submit a favorite post of mine from 2007 . Like anyone, picking a favorite anything -- movie, book, television show, album, song -- is next to impossible, so I ended up sending a few faves, kind of a "depending on what you're looking for" hors d'oeuvre platter. In doing so it forced me to scroll through more than 1,500 posts(!) from this year, so I thought I'd wish you a very happy new year and take a moment to share with you some of my fondest blogging moments from '07:

  • Favorite original essay: Blue Gremlin

  • Most exciting: 'Love Allergy' by Kenneth M. Walsh (Instinct magazine)

  • Biggest story I "broke": CBS Eye on Homophobia?

  • Most painful: Troy, Star of Funny Stories, Is Dead at 13

  • Favorite Larry story: (tie) Wean on Me and Cool for Cats

  • Most personal: 'Savage' Love

  • Better Than Summer Camp: The Night Larry Kramer Dissed Me

  • Favorite celebrity run-in: Roger & Me

  • Kenneth's heart runneth over: 40 Candles and Birthday Dinner at Moran's

  • My attempt at reviewing architecture (hilarity ensues): Control Issues

  • Most popular: Just Asking (see also: The Sizzler)
  • Zach Attack!

    Don't know too much about handsome Zach, but I hear he's a model in Los Angeles and he apparently wears tighty whities. If anyone knows which park he goes, uh, jogging in then please contact me in private ...

    'Who Do You Think You Are?' by Saint Etienne


    Saint Etienne's breezy 1993 dance hit "Who Do You Think You Are?" has some interesting pedigree. Although it sounds like classic Etienne magic, it's actually a cover of an old song by Jigsaw, best known for 1975's delightful No. 3 single "Sky High", and featured almost "co" lead vocals between Sarah Cracknell and Debsey Wykes of Dolly Mixture fame. (Notice how fab she looks in the video!) The song was previously a hit in the '70s when covered by Candlewick Green (watch video here) and was also recorded by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods ("Billy, Don't Be a Hero") long before the Saint Etienne version (hear Bo's version, below).

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Bekins Brothers

    Larry's long-lost brother?

    Sporting Goods: Iker Casillas

    I have to say tennis sure would be more fun if all the guys dressed like Real Madrid's goalkeeper Iker Casillas, above left, did at this tennis charity match in Madrid last week. Iker's pretty easy on the eyes all the way around ... even more after the jump. ----->

    Photo Flashback: 1985

    The boys from Arizona -- Greg, Terence and Kenny -- take Manhattan circa Christmas 1985 ...

    Belated Christmas Present


    Shemar Moore's abs ...

    Wednesday, December 26, 2007

    I HEART Alec Mapa!

    America's gaysian sweetheart is back with what has to be the best-titled show of all time (tickets/details here and here.)

    Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    Merry Christmas!

    Here's hoping you have a leisurely Christmas and a happy new year, from my family to yours

    Mistletoe and Holly

    I had to work and have caught a horrible head cold, but Michael and I managed to have a tres romantique Christmas Eve with a late dinner at Gascogne here in the neighborhood. Michael had a Mesclun salad and shell steak (delish!) and I had the lobster ravioli in truffle sauce appetizer (outstanding!) followed by (my personal French fave) cassoulet ("traditional bean casserole, duck confit, and garlic sausage"). If you haven't been to Gascogne then you must. The service is outstanding and the candles, the Christmas tree in the back garden and the dreamy dinner company were about all I could ask for this Christmas. Michael's off to be with his family on Long Island today and I'm -- you guessed it -- off to work. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas wherever you are ...

    Monday, December 24, 2007

    Were You Born on Christmas Day?



    This song makes me smile from beginning to end ...

    SAINT ETIENNE
    "I Was Born on Christmas Day"

    [intro:]
    [laughs] roll the tape!

    [sarah:] spent the summer holed up in a room. /
    [tim:] looking pretty, won't you be here soon? /
    [sarah:] eurodisney, could not work at all /
    [both:] a little bird had told me in the fall. /
    Getting groovy after hallowe'en, /
    Mid-november, got back on the scene. /
    I'm so glad that I just got my pay! /
    I was born on christmas day. /

    [tim:] in december, my heart's full of spring. /
    [sarah:] I could phone you, tell you everything, /
    [tim:] like the crazy evenings on the yacht; /
    [both:] tim and sarah went and tied the knot! /
    Did you know they pulled the town hall down? /
    I don't think you'll recognise this town. /
    Never could have been a tennis wife, /
    Get into the acting life. /

    Getting groovy after hallowe'en, /
    Mid-november, got back on the scene. /
    I'm so glad that I just got my pay! /
    I was born on christmas day. /
    I was born on christmas day. /
    I was born on christmas day.

    Love Hangover

    It hasn't been beginning to feel a lot like Christmas this year but I couldn't quite put my finger on why until I was goofing around on YouTube this morning and realized that although I've never watched "Grey's Anatomy," "CSI" or "Desperate Housewives," there was one valuable thing the writers strike had robbed me of this year: Darlene Love's annual visit to David Letterman to perform what must be the greatest Christmas song of all time, "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)."

    I saw Darlene perform at the Bottom Line back in early '94 and it still ranks as one my favorite concerts of all time. Her critically acclaimed musical revue, "Portrait of a Singer: The Life and Music of Darlene Love," featured all of her legendary hits -- some of which she (understandably) is quick to point out that she wasn't credited as singing back in the day) -- like "He's a Rebel," ""Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," "He's Sure the Boy I Love," and my personal favorite, "Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry." The show also included riveting covers of "The Change Is Going to Come" and "Don't Make Me Over" as well as "River Deep, Mountain High," Phil Spector's $20,000 masterpiece. (Legend has it that she begged Phil to let her sing lead on the song but settled on singing backup for Tina Turner.)

    After the show Darlene inadvertently slipped me her paycheck as she was autographing my program. I have no way of knowing exactly what the check was for, but it sure seemed that not a lot had changed since her days of being undercredited and underpaid back in the Phil Spector days. I ended up calling the venue and mailing it back to the address on the check only to have it returned to sender -- now permanently in my scrapbook.

    So here it Christmas Eve and with no 2007 Letterman show to get me in the spirit I watch 2006's glorious performance to help get me in the mood. Darlene can still bring the house down with this one, as she has every Christmas for more than 40 years. By the time she hits "If there was a way/I'd hold back these tears," I've already got goosebumps. Like Ronnie Spector, Darlene does an annual Christmas show here in New York. Hers was on a "school night" this year so we went to see Ronnie again instead. But next year, come what may, we're going to see Darlene in '08. Seeing her live is long overdue ...

    Calendar Boys



    With one just day left to buy presents, HX offers some last-minute ideas you might get hung up on. Watch the behind-the-scenes making of sexy West Virginian and HX cover man Michael Edward's calendar below.

    Earful

    Music for the soul
    Stuck In Traffic Lyrics
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    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Roger Clemens Is a Big Fat Liar


    Thou dost protest too much (yet not enough under oath). Mark my words, he will be admitting the truth one day. It's Pete Rose all over again. Roger is so ashamed and embarrassed to have been exposed in front of his family and friends that he is in full-on denial mode, but he knows the truth. And whether he admits it or not, so does everybody else.

    Santa Baby

    The countdown to Mr. Claus' arrival is on ...

    Friday, December 21, 2007

    Afternoon Headlights (12/21)

  • Baby Steps: The trailers (and reviews) for "P.S. I Love You" are absolutely atrocious, but it is pretty cool that a trangender actress is the lead in a big-budget studio film. Calpernia Addams has never looked more gorgeous -- and ditto for Gerard Butler! (ST)

  • Lost in Translation: Channel 3 in Philadelphia has offered an olive branch to gays over anchorwoman Alycia Lane's "dyke bitch" comment. What she meant was "Lesbian meanie!" (Philly)

  • Daily Grind: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will return to the airwaves early next year, with or without their writers. As I miss their shows I have to admit that I was enjoying having fewer television "responsibilities" each night, but I"m glad. (LAT)

  • RIP: Borat is dead. Sacha Baron Cohen tells The Daily Telegraph that he's retiring the clueless Kazakh journalist, as well as his alter ego, aspiring rapper Ali G. They will both be missed. (AP)

  • Shotgun 101: I'm guessing Britney's marriage to Jason Alexander will last longer than this one. (NYP)

  • GayPal: This helps to explain why PayPal looks all pretty but is really rather conniving and just trying to hose you every time you have an encounter with it. (ValleyWag)

  • Tiger Tales: Funny how the gay go-go boy, Carson Kressley "Tiger," originally linked to the mysterious Palm Beach drowning of hedge fund manager Seth Tobias has gone from saying he never met the guy to recalling elaborate sexual exploits and lavish vacations togeter. Cats are known for their keen sense of the smell and this kitty smells cash. (Rush&Molloy)

  • Golden Boy: Tom Brady was selected as The Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year. (AP)

  • Yarn Festival: You have to see the weaves of "Clash of the Choirs" to believe them! (AP)
  • Morning Wood: Chace Crawford

    I've never seen "Gossip Girl," but these photos of its star Chace Crawford (from an upcoming Abercrombie & Fitch catalog?) sure explain why the show is television's hottest sensation. Hot, hot, hot!

    Workin' for a Livin'

    Meet the working class cats of New York City -- the ones who prowl the aisles to keep the mice and rats out of your local bodega. (NYT)

    Angel of the Morning, Night and Day

    While normally I'm well-ensconced in my Phil Spector and Frank Sinatra Christmas collections by this time of the year, for some reason I find myself obsessed with playing Juice Newton's "Greatest Hits" over and over and over. (God, she's good!) Anyone else experiencing this?

    Smokin' Josh Brolin Does GQ

    The new GQ arrived in my mailbox this afternoon and I swear the cover photo of Josh Brolin made my heart skip a beat. He's one fine man -- and he's one hell of an actor, too. (Now quit smoking, would ya, before you ruin everything?)

    Anhedonia

    Usually when I see pictures of movie premieres and parties littered with celebrities I think, "Wow! I would have loved to have gone to that." So when I came upon WireImage's gallery from this week's screening of "Cassandra's Dream" -- the new film by my favorite director, Woody Allen--- and saw my favorite singer, Debbie Harry, was among the people listed as attendees, I was quickly growing green with envy. So why do all of the attendees look like they're lining up for the firing squad? I guess Woody really sets the mood wherever he goes -- but Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor as brothers? I'll still race out to see it. He may not make good movies anymore, but he's still my Woody! Have a look:

    Woody and Soon-Yi Previn are beginning to look like each other. Debbie Harry's wig can't even distract me from wanting to punch that look off of Miss Guy's face
    Colin Farrell, Rosie Perez and Maxwell look for the emergency exit
    No Restasis necessary: The way Janine Turner looks these days has me producing more than enough of my own tears. Even the "always chipper" Carson Kressley doesn't know what to make of this funeral

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