Category Archives: Film

Foxy Lady

megan-fox-fhm-2

Megan Fox in FHM

What are photographers saying to women when they’re posing like this in men’s magazines? Is it the same crap they say for the high school yearbook photos? “Hey there, pretty girl. Chin up. That’s right…”

But then, no one really needs to tell Megan Fox how pretty she is. She’s very well aware. (Gorgeous eyes and I do love this shot.)

I came across an interview with Fox in New York Times Magazine that I feel raises pertinent issues about women in Hollywood, particularly young, hot women in Hollywood.

The article, titled “The Self Manufacture of Megan Fox”, addresses Fox’s canny manipulation of the media. She’s managed to keep herself squarely in the spotlight despite the fact that she’s only made three films, albeit two huge blockbusters, Transformers and Transformers II (sheesh). Through a series of provocative interviews, seemingly off-the-cuff controversial remarks and ubiquitous photo spreads she’s become Hollywood’s next BIG THING. It seems innocuous, at this point, to mention that she’s not an actor.

Well, not by my definition anyway. An actor is someone who has studied acting as a craft, not as a means to gain notoriety, fame and lots of cold hard cash. An actor takes a written work in any genre and brings the story alive, delves deeply into character and takes the audience on a cathartic journey. Hollywood could give a shit less about any of that. Actors are products designed to make money and for many (not all) producers, studio executives and publicists the “sexy starlet” is the easiest path to a paycheck. That only works, however, if the starlet in question allows it to be so.

“All women in Hollywood are known as sex symbols. You’re sold, and it’s based on sex. That’s O.K., if you know how to use it.”

You know, I don’t think Kate Winslet got that memo. If she didn’t, I don’t want to be the one to give it to her. It takes talent and hard work to create the memorable performances that actresses like Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Christina Hendricks and Elizabeth Mitchell deliver. What saddens me about the immediate fame Megan Fox cultivates is that it may prevent her from pursuing the gift that is acting. Learning the craft, failing at it, hitting the boards night after night, finding something within yourself that you never knew was there, the glorious sound of riotous laughter from an engaged audience, the moment when you and your fellow actors realize you finally, finally got it right.

I don’t blame Megan Fox for pursuing her dream. I blame the people who cast her. When women like Fox, who freely admits her lack of acumen,

“I’m not one of these people who grew up studying acting or went to theater school,” Fox told me at the hotel. “I don’t know if I’m talented, I don’t know what I can do or can’t do. I had no skills at all.”

are cast in film after film based on their look and celebrity what message does that send young female actors? Quit the whole Stanislavsky thing! Get a nose job and an attitude, honey! Why should any hot, young girl think she has to act to be a star? Why should any hot, young girl think she has to act to be an actor?

I don’t have a problem with Fox’s beauty or her use of it to further her career. Beauty is a useful tool in this business but it can’t be the only one you rely on. I don’t begrudge her the wonderful, amazing opportunity that’s been dumped in her lap. I just don’t want her to sell herself, and us, short.

Rising Star Zoe Saldana

Ziegfeld Theater

Zoe Saldana

Provenance…Queens, New York with a stint in the Dominican Republic for boarding school. Saldana won a scholarship to Ritmos Espacio de Danza Academy, where she studied ballet, jazz, and modern and Latin dance. In fact, it was her dance skills that led to her first major film role in Center Stage, (2000) but her acting skills placed her opposite Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl.

Point of EntryLaw and Order/\”Merger\”/1999

Sur Les Pointes…Saldana’s star turn in J.J. Abrams successful reimagining of the classic \”Star Trek\” as Nyota Uhura.

Pointless…A lead role in the 2002 Britney Spears vehicle, \”Crossroads\”.

Power Play…Scoring a starring role in the most anticipated film event of the year, James Cameron’s sci-fi thriller \”Avatar\”.

PressA woman men love according to AskMen.com.

Photo Montage…Vanity Fair brings the native New Yorker back to her old stomping grounds for a Harlem Renaissance photo shoot.

Pictures…a Rotten Tomatoes filmography.

ParlayEsquire interview (with expletives)

 

 

 

Nikki Finke Dishes It Out and Hollywood Loves It

Maybe I’m dating myself but do you remember the old EF Hutton commercial…”when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”? Well, when it comes to the Hollywood establishment, that applies ten fold to Nikki Finke. Author of the fast and furious blog Deadline Hollywood Daily, Nikki Finke has her fingers on the pulse of the L.A. based entertainment industry and she’s not afraid to apply pressure.

She’s been described as relentless and harsh and thuggish but she’ll be laughing all the way to the bank when the check comes in for the multi-million dollar sale of her blog to Mail.com Media Corp.

Finke

I started reading Finke’s blog upon the suggestion of a close friend of mine who works in casting. She mentioned it in that “guilty pleasure” tone, like it’s the kind of thing you read with a giggle and lots of bon-bons. Finke’s pull-no-punches style is a heady mix of investigative journalism (debatable) and Walter Winchell style gossip and I love it. I think the fact that Variety felt the need to attack her personally in a series of “fear the blogger” articles indicates that she probably gets more right than she does wrong.

She’s an ardent supporter of creatives and writers. Her blog served as an up to the minute portal for information during the WGA strike. Nikki Finke is not afraid to take the power elite to task in a company town. Accountability is as rare on Rodeo Drive as it is on Wall Street and that makes Nikki Finke and blogs like Deadline Hollywood Daily a necessary counterbalance to the old media establishment.  One recent post outs the salaries of the major media CEOs which are wildly out of sync with stock performance and shareholder equity. Searched Variety.com. Couldn’t find anything on it.

It’s true, she can be a little harsh at times. In one post she describes Nicole Kidman; “she has zero charisma onscreen: women don’t like her and men think she’s sexless”. Ouch. Except, I kind of agree. And that’s the great thing about Nikki Finke and blogs in general, they’re opinion portals. You should always take the information you recieve from them with a grain of salt. In fact, with the current state of journalism and media we should be taking all of our information or “news” with a grain of salt. Hello! FOX “News”? Not so much.

The Hurt Locker

Still from "The Hurt Locker'

Still from "The Hurt Locker'

IFC calls her “the most bad-ass chick in the action movie boys club” and Kathryn Bigelow\’s latest film “The Hurt Locker” proves the point. The film follows three members of the elite U.S. Army bomb-disposal squad in Baghdad, finely played by relative unknowns, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, as they try to make it through the last few weeks of their tours in one piece, literally.

Although taut, suspenseful and explosive, the real impact of the film comes from the interplay between the three characters. In her interview on Charlie Rose Bigelow expresses her desire to work with “hungry” actors, ones that don’t come with any preconceived ideas for the audience that they “can’t die until the end”. Personally, I think this casting philosophy is critical to great independent film making. With the exception of a few truly gifted actors, like Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Daniel Day Lewis who immerse themselves so deeply into their characters that celebrity fades from the screen, most “A” list actors are a distraction. I’m too aware of the persona, the tabloid presence and the blockbuster bankability that got the film greenlit in the first place and therefore to a certain extent disengaged from the story.

Bigelow also garners critical praise for her handling of the war in Iraq, or rather, the way she doesn’t handle it. There’s no ham-handed politicizing or moral high ground here, it’s a story that allows the audience to learn about the war in a certain context, from a compelling, boots-on-the-ground point of view. That’s what makes Hurt Locker a war movie and not a movie about the war in Iraq, the majority of which have completely bombed, pun intended.

Bigelow’s aesthetic sense and curiosity frame the story in such a way that the action never overpowers the story and thats what I feel women bring to the table in the action genre. I get so sick of the term “chick flick” and men who seem to think that any film written or directed by a woman or containing actresses in roles other than “girfriend” or “hottie” should be tagged that way and avoided at all costs. Hurt Locker doesn’t pull any punches. The violence is real, visceral and unapologetic but the characters are fully realized and deeply explored. Character scenes don’t get cut to allow for one more second-unit explosion extravaganza to appease an undiscerning, under thirty male audience. That’s what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is for.

Check out \”The Hurt Locker\”

Justine Speaks Freely, Really Freely

Scrappy!

Scrappy!

Nikki Finke printed Justine Bateman’s fiery resignation letter to SAG and it’s a doosey. I really admire her courage and her committment to her fellow actors. Although fairly new to the entertainment industry, I’m quickly learning where all those jaded, bitter actors come from. This is a tough and dirty business. Reading the comments on the blog post gives some insight into how divided the acting community is in regards to their union representation and the recent deal struck with the AMPTP.

As a non-union actor this is something I’ve been keeping tabs on but I remain largely on the sidelines. Personally, I believe that content creators should recieve 80% to 100% of the profit from their endeavors. This will only become a reality, however, when creatives dedicate themselves to learning the business side of show business along with marketing, contracts and self promotion. If you want to keep your head above water in this town get the slashes going…actor/producer….writer/web producer etc. Lawyers and bean counters should be on your payroll, not calling the shots.

Model Turned Actress

What Cam does best.

What Cam does best.

I fully support women making the same amount of money that men do in the entertainment industry, I just want them to earn it. In one review of Cameron Diaz’ new film “My Sister’s Keeper” I read that “Diaz plays the role in a single key – fierce – but the note is a welcome change for this actress.” What? She gets paid millions of dollars a film but it’s okay if she’s a one note wonder? Why is that exactly? Because mediocrity is acceptable if you’re beautiful? Frustrating.

Barthelona

Javier Bardem (Juan Antonio) and Rebecca Hall (Cristina)

Javier Bardem (Juan Antonio) and Rebecca Hall (Vicky)

I was definitely seduced by “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” although I think it had a lot more to do with the enchanting location and beautiful people than the script or the acting. I agree with Mom that Penelope Cruz’ stand out performance shines and she draws fascinating levels out of what could have been a stock character, the “tortured artist”.

I’m not a Woody Allen fan. While I’ve enjoyed a few of his films (“Sweet and Lowdown”, “Bullets Over Broadway”) I don’t automatically purchase a ticket when his name graces the marquee. I’m not even an “Annie Hall” fan. Just recently a friend said to me “well, maybe it’s a New York thing” when I told her I just wasn’t that into the movie after the first half hour. Well, I’ve never been to India but I certainly loved “Slumdog Millionaire”. I’ve even spent considerable time in New York but there weren’t any neurotic, bespectacled men whining in my ear so maybe I didn’t get the full effect. I realize that “Annie Hall”‘s iconic status must come from somewhere so I’ll give it another try.

With “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” I recognize Allen’s slighty quirky, offbeat neuroses but I kind of like it. The characters don’t always seem authentic, Javier Bardem is way too good to be true as the hot, impetuous artist Juan Antonio and I didn’t get enough charm and wit from Rebecca Hall’s Vicky to sell me Juan Antonio’s attraction.

Scarlett Johansson’s Cristina is wonderfully airy, if a little irritating, as the soul searching traveler open to both Juan Antonio’s advances and those of his tempestous ex-wife, Maria Elena. Why do Spanish people always get two cool names? But it’s Penelope Cruz who grounds the film and gives it depth with her ferocious and painful portrayal of a troubled artist who needs more emotionally and creatively than anyone can give her.

I agree with Mom’s assertion that the character arcs in the film are limited. By the end of the film Cristina still searches, Maria Elena lives on the knife edge of yet another breakdown and Vicky marries the “safe bet”. But I still get the characters and the choices they make. There are people like Cristina who may wander for years before finding a home or purpose and artists like Maria Elena who will always need to much, cost too much for the people that love them. And what about Vicky, drawn to the exotic and dangerous “other” but unable to find her way past her own inhibitions. Will that little seed of doubt and dissatisfaction turn to something darker in the future? Allen leaves us to wonder but the lush, sensual summer trip he takes us on his certainly a gorgeous one!

Shannon