Friday, October 31, 2008
Onscreen? You gotta love Robert Rodriguez, who showcased him in two of his flicks. Savini was a deputy in Rodriguez's zombierific Planet Terror, but, more famously, he was Sex Machine in From Dusk Till Dawn.
Now go watch something really disgusting and squeal and scream and thank Savini for it.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The only difficult part is trying to narrow down my favorite film role of his, and I'm sure plenty of people would disagree with my choice. How can you go wrong with a bloody, violent, Tarantino/Rodriguez film which helped launch George's film career? From Dusk Till Dawn still boasts one of the best opening sequences in modern films. And one a line from Clooney near the end that still cracks me up every time I hear it: "Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a fuck how crazy they are!"
Clooney's turn as Seth Gecko was about as big a departure from his ER role as possible. He flaunted his .44, he robbed, and he punched people out if they looked at him funny. And yet, in trademark Tarantino style, he managed to make the bad guy utterly redeemable. He was a bastard, but not a fuckin' bastard.
And yet, though I love me some Gecko, that's only the runner-up. A couple years later, Clooney perfected his "honor among thieves" coolness with sultry elan in the terribly underrated Out of Sight.
This movie was so good and Clooney and Lopez threw off so many sparks that they managed to make Detroit -- in winter -- seem exotic and desirable. Seriously. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on a novel by the great Elmore Leonard, this movie even features a superb supporting cast. And yet, for some reason, it tanked at the box office and is still overlooked to this day. People just don't know what they're missing.
Maybe it was Leonard's character of Karen Sisco that was the kiss of death. Carla Gugino couldn't strike success with her on a short-lived tv series, either. It wasn't Michael Keaton's fault, who reprised his brief role of Ray Nicolette for this flick, even though it was a different studio and director. (I do believe he's still the only actor to ever pull off that trick.) And it most certainly wasn't Clooney who sunk this vehicle. What he did do is manage to refine his irresistible bad-boy role with this choice of film. He upjumped Seth Gecko with his character of Jack Foley here, and then we got the ultra-suave, high class Danny Ocean which rocketed Clooney to riches just a few years later. And while this movie lacks the luster of the high-tech Vegas hijinks, it has every bit the panache and punch, with even more romance between the leads. Like I said. Detroit. In winter. Hot. It's a Clooney classic.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Based on Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark, and boasting Alan Ball (American Beauty and Six Feet Under) at the helm, this show is just one delight after another. I hadn't even heard of the books until this series started, but I've now torn through the first two already and am set to dig into the third. They're fast and addictive. And with Ball thrown in the mix to bring it onscreen, the humor is dark and quirked. There's a definite dash of Claire Fisher in Sookie Stackhouse, but Anna Paquin is making her all her own. Strong and seductive, sweet and sassy, all mixed together. I do STILL have problems with this unattractive male cast, especially because there is so much graphic sex (yay!) and their bad looks just totally detract from the sex appeal. I mean, when you've got Anna Paquin and now Lizzy Caplan (!!) getting naked, give them something to work with, dammit. But there's just enough gore, and plenty of thrills, and they just keep unveiling shock after shock in the plot.
After several shitfests like John From Cincinatti and Tell Me You Love Me, it's nice to see HBO get its groove back here, and True Blood is a great lead in for Entourage. On that subject, though, man. I don't know. Suddenly, I'm not feeling it so much for Vince and the boys this year. There have been plenty of laughs, and Ari is in rare form, but now he's basically carrying the show. And, unfortunately, I don't think it's the economic downturn that's making me a little bristly toward Vince this year. Last week, when he pissed on Ari's parade, I sort of had it with him. And now, this week, Drama took macho-male ball-busting with Turtle a step into nasty territory. This show's in a precarious position, because it's a little more difficult to watch millionaire fuckheads floundering around when everyone around you is truly struggling. But when those fuckheads are also suddenly starting to act a little more assholey and superficial, it makes it even more unpalatable. Worse? I find I'm really liking Eric this year. It's just weird.
Also weird? Jimmy Smits on Dexter. They've taken the tantalizing turn with Lila knowing Dexter's nature last year and pushed it to a whole new disturbing level this week as Jimmy's DA has trapped Dexter. And he wholeheartedly approves of Dexter's disgusting bloodlust for criminals! YAY! I love it! I haven't got a freaking clue how Dexter is going to handle this twist, but that's what makes the show so good. Also? I really hope Angel gets some from his fellow vice cop.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Speaking of the Pacino-Garcia resemblance, and knockout flicks, it's easy to peg what should've been Garcia's immortal role -- Vincent Mancini-Corleone in The Godfather III. This film had the pedigree and star power, but, unfortunately, unlike its predecessors, it didn't have the tight script in its arsenal. As Sonny Corleone's illegitimate son Vincent, Garcia got to pull the best qualities from all three Corleone brothers. He had Michael's machinations, Sonny's temper, and Fredo's lovable sweetness.
And he looked smashing in a tux. But it's perhaps because of this mishmash of qualities that Vincent lacked focus. This lack of shaping wasn't a shortcoming of Garcia's performance, which earned him an Oscar nomination, as he managed to be both smoldering and romantic, alternately threatening and endearing, all while looking like the very definition of a movie star. It's just that this movie had some fundamental problems. So although it's still more than watchable and a worthwhile entry into Coppola's canon, if for nothing else than the beautiful look of the film, it's really not worthy of the first two installments and it can't be considered the apex of Garcia's career, because he, unfortunately, has some major screen time devoted to the structural problems. And that's all I have to say about that, since I'm being nice and not scathing.
So instead, for me, it's a much more simple character -- in an equally visually stunning movie -- that finally gave Garcia an iconic turn. Littered with enough stars at its disposal to make even Ari Gold blush, it was 2001's Ocean's Eleven where Garcia got to turn up his wattage, and, for my money, outshine everyone else. Why? Simple. It's a fun movie, and no one, no one on that screen was having more fun than Andy.
As the classy-but-nasty casino owner Terry Benedict, Andy got to condescend to Clooney and romance Roberts with a coldly calculating elan. He wasn't one of these sympathetic villains. He was a good, old-fashioned villain, snide and sly, finally getting his comeuppance.
I will admit that I have very fond personal memories of this flick, as I actually lived in Vegas when it was filming. And, being young and mostly drunk, I spent a lot of time stalking the Ocean's cast, generally to little success. But one day at the Bellagio, I happened to luck out, and, from a roped off area at the Fontana Bar, I got to watch as Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts filmed a re-shoot of their kiss-off elevator scene. It was awesome. Dazzling.
And even as the charm of this Ocean's franchise sort of faded, Andy's Terry Benedict kept the funny coming, along with the snarky laughs. And so it's fitting that Al Pacino joined him as a nemesis for the final installment in Thirteen. In The Godfather, it was still ultimately all about Al Pacino's Michael Corleone, not Andy's Vincent. But this time around, in the Ocean's world, Andy's Terry Benedict, he may have gotten the shaft from Danny Ocean once again> But Andy, in this movie, I think he finally got the best of old Al Pacino.
Name that tune, you say? Okay, now name the erotic legend that goes with the tune...
As I mentioned before, Susie Bright has a new book out for the holidays, a fancy-pantsy slip-covered hardback called X: The Erotic Treasury, with forty stories from her favorite erotic literary fiction authors.
She asked all her writers, "What song would you like to dedicate to your story?"
Twenty-three of them answered— including me.
Twenty-three of them answered— including me.
Above is Susie's "jukebox," where you can hear snippets of all the songs. Below is a list of all the stories, with the title, author, song, and synopsis. Susie said she loved doing this... "it gives me another insight into what each author was thinking as they twisted the short and curlies!" Naturally, leave it to me to pick a spectacularly cheezy song amongst some hardcore punk. But that's me, you know. Always there to bring a handful of anachronisms and vapidity along with the martini ingredients.
Above is Susie's "jukebox," where you can hear snippets of all the songs.
Below is a list of all the stories, with the title, author, song, and synopsis.
Susie said she loved doing this... "it gives me another insight into what each author was thinking as they twisted the short and curlies!" Naturally, leave it to me to pick a spectacularly cheezy song amongst some hardcore punk. But that's me, you know. Always there to bring a handful of anachronisms and vapidity along with the martini ingredients.
1. Wish Girls
by Matthew Addison
"Wished for You" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers
A boy grows weary of his two devoted fembots.
2. On the Road with Sonia
by Paula Bomer
“Freeway,” by Aimee Mann
One mother's erotic road trip.. several months pregnant.
by Corwin Ericson
“Barnacle Bill the Sailor,” by The Controllers
A fisherman applies a shocking gift from the sea to his lingam.
4. Beyond the Sea
by Susan DiPlacido
"The Girl from Ipanema," Getz/Gilberto
Beautiful con artist works washed-up surf star on last chance cruise.
5. Night Train
by Martha Garvey
“Take Off Your Clothes (For World Peace),” by Royal Pink
They got on at Broadway-Lafayette... and the rest is history.
6. Electric Razor
by Irma Wimple
"Good Vibrations," by American Black Lung
The potential of household appliances in one woman's life.
7. Must Bite
by Vicki Hendricks
“Monkey Man” by the Rolling Stones
Stripper takes on a new husband with an exotic pet collection and a huge insurance policy.
8. Loved It and Set It Free
by Lisa Montanarelli
“Memories of Times Square (The Dildo Song),” by The Neal Pollack Invasion
(What a perfect, perfect, song- SB)
Two young women's night of debauchery have to cover up their misdeeds in a hurry.
by Nick Kaufmann
"Magic" by Olivia Newton-John
A broken down porn star gets one hell of a supernatural last chance.
10. Parts for Wholes
“Cue The Strings,” by Low
A tender, painful, and pleasurable intervention.
by Bill Noble
“Food and Pussy,” by Dan Reeder (How did I never hear this before?-SB)
Two unlikely lovers set adrift off the Na Pali coast.
12. A First Time for Everything
by Rachel Kramer Bussel
“Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)” by Garbage
One woman's self-made bukkake party is no Martha Stewart affair.
by Peggy Munson
"Carnival,” by Bikini Kill
A trio of outlaws and crips take their sex act to the carnival grounds.
by R. Gay
“Angel,” by Massive Attack
A guy who doesn't think he stands a chance with a certain kind of woman finds he has a physical gift he didn't realize.
15. God’s Gift
by Salome Wilde
“Big Bottom,” by Spinal Tap
A legendary Rock Star is reincarnated beyond his wildest sexual imagination.
16. Red Light Green Light
by Shanna Germain
“L'il Red Riding Hood,” by Sam the Sham
A tourist takes a turn in a brothel window in Amsterdam.
17. Puffy Lips
by Susie Hara
“Flamenco Tangos,” by Manuel Salado
A dare at a bar goes one step further than either lover expected.
18. Gifts from Santa
by Tsaurah Litzky
“Jingle Bells,” by Duke Ellington & his Orchestra
That jolly ole' elf knows exactly how to get you off.
"4'33" by John Cage
Two refugees from a charismatic religious cult know they have one catharsis left undone.
Watch the Cage performance here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HypmW4Yd7SY
"The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News
Just how far you can take one dinner guest, one accommodating hostess, and one highly authoritative master of ceremonies.
21. Cold Ass Ice
by Chelsea Summers
"Hot Child in the City, " by Nick Gilder
A sweltering summer in an un-airconditioned apartment in The City can take one right past the point of no return.
23. Rock of Ages
by P.S. Haven
“Pictures Of Lily” by The Who
One young man's coming of age, thanks to rock'n'roll and his sister's unintentional inspiration.
24. A Perfect Fit
by Katya Andreevna
"I'll Be Seeing You," by Françoise Hardy and Iggy Pop
A last-minute trip to the shoe shop takes one customer into a fitting session she'll never forget.
24. Clean Comfortable Room
by Pam Ward
"Swordfishtrombone," by Tom Waits
What's a woman gotta go through for a decent room and a pack of cigarettes?
24. Valentine's Day in Jail
by Susan Musgrave
"If You Were Crying Over Me," by Rita Chiarelli
This autobiographical-based story was made into a film for the Canadian TV series Bliss, which is devoted to women's erotic memoir. Rita's song was used on the soundtrack.
Photos: Rachel Kramer Bussell hitting the bowl again, and P.S. Haven, coloring outside the lines.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Cage has carved out his niche in the flicks by alternately making odd little pictures where he gets to chew scenery to making bona fide blockbusters where he gets to chew, regurgitate, and then rechew scenery. Or, sometimes, he even chews cockroaches onscreen. But that's what makes him Nic, and that's what makes me love him. Now, even though I'll watch any movie he's in, no matter how crappy it is, I do still realize that many of his movies are, indeed, crappy. But hey, that only makes the non-shitfests that much more delightful!
Unlike Keanu, Nic isn't aging with a whole lot of grace. He's still got a nice face and hot bod, but I can't believe that with all the money thrown at special effects they can't come up with a workable way to deal with his rapidly receding hairline with a little more style or ingenuity. That said, my favorite Cage flick isn't what I'd consider the peak of his physical prowess. That'd probably came a decade later with The Rock, and though that's still a worthy action flick, his character was just a bit too normal to consider it the pinnacle of Nicness. Instead, I give that honor to 1987's Moonstruck.
This movie is pure fluff, a straightforward mix of romance with a dash of operatic fairy tale and just enough cultural detail to ground it while lightening it. Cher, of course, took home the big prize for her turn as a Loretta, a practical widow who unexpectedly finds a second chance at romance with Nic's character, Ronny Cammareri. As if that name isn't enough to get me interested, Nic's Ronny is also a moody, eccentric baker, who toils away in front of a hot oven, wearing his white wifebeater, while hiding his deformed hand. Oof. He's sweaty and luggish, more than a hint of Stanley Kowalski around his edges, but instead of violently purging his demons like SK, Nic's Ronny finds passionate fulfillment through opera, and, eventually, Loretta.
Though he was only twenty-three at the time, and only had a handful of leading roles under his belt, this movie works primarily because of the way Nic and Cher manage to carry to the frothy material and keep it charming. Already, the now-famous affectations in his voice are already appearing in this performance, and, even more interesting, his prosthetic, metal hand only makes him sexier. That's surprising, because if you're a Nicolas Cage aficionado, as I obviously am, you know that his hands are a primary part of his appeal. He's got these long, strong, expressive fingers, and since he uses his hands so often while speaking -- insert your own Italian joke about that here -- they're very often on display. Although he's missing one here, it gives him that rough edge while simultaneously pulling more attention to the other one he's still got.
He doesn't have that approachable charm that Keanu had going in Speed. Instead, he's definitely working a borderline misanthropic angle, prone to tortured outbursts, but that's complemented with a raw, needy lust that combines with a starry-eyed adoration.
Over the years, Nic would go on to successfully play all sorts of lunatics, louts, and losers, many of them with a great deal of success. But in Moonstruck he wasn't just wild or weird, he was also woefully lovable and wonderfully endearing. And that, even more than tall, dark and dago, is just my type.
Friday, October 17, 2008
So I figured I'd start this off with the one that actually kept me up last night. It's not a secret that I've harbored a long standing crush on Keanu Reeves. Before it came to be known as a "bucket list," I often put that as one of my primary goals in life -- to kiss Keanu Reeves. Believe me, I know it's never gonna happen, but a girl has to dream. I don't harbor fantasies about hooking up with him or anything like that. (Though, sometimes, in the middle of summer on a hot day when I'm not feeling up to the task, I do daydream about having him cut my lawn. I guess it's the "hero" thing. Or just that I still imagine he'd look the best sweating in a white t-shirt. Whatever.) But just one smooch, even on his cheek, and I'd be pretty happy.
Keanu is a strange specimen. He's aging curiously, almost preternaturally well, so it's hard to say if he even has hit his actual peak yet as far as his looks. But he also doesn't always make it easy to adore his movies, because he waffles between offbeat-borderline-bizarre roles and sometimes over-the-top sentimental dreck. But he has, though his many critics would deny it, also managed to bag a few choice gems over the years. It's hard to turn down the surfer fun with Gary Busey in Point Break, and, of course, The Matrix was a feast for the eyes not just because of the introduction of bullettime effects. But even with those in the running, it's still 1994's directorial debut from Jan de Bont that races to the lead. Speed blows past the others.
Not only did Keanu finally cut his hair, but he also showed off an easy charm that kept the action hurtling along without ever derailing the audience with cringe-worthy line deliveries. (Okay, one or two slip in there, but mostly at the end, when he's really emoting, dude.) The movie boasts a simple plot with a tight script and all the right smart flourishes to keep it a classic among action flicks, but Keanu does carry the flick. Instead of the cocky swagger that Bruce brought to the modern action hero template, Keanu grounded his do-gooder with a decided lack of pretense or depth which worked in his favor.
There was no nagging tragedy in his backstory, and instead of smirking at his own cleverness, it was scripted right in that Dennis Hopper, between his mustache-twirling antics, would often mock Keanu's Jack Travers for not being fully cocked in the brain department. And it worked. His forearm muscles rippled while he flirted with Sandra Bullock and managed to figure out all the right moves, and he undertook his death-defying tasks with a mix of gum-chewing cool and stoic resignation. But he even delivers the required smart-ass line at the end --when he speaks of the villain's fate -- with a deadpan gravity instead of twinkly-eyed wit. And he does deliver plenty of crinkle-eyed smiles along the way, but they're all directed with an earnest intent, not laughing at his own jokes, but reacting to Jeff Daniels or Sandra's quips. And it's precisely those unguarded, light moments that catapult this movie to the top when ranking Keanu-eye-candy moments. He always looks great, but in most of his roles, he's confined to his "brooding" or "intense" looks, carrying a dour demeanor. But his smile unleashes his happy-go-lucky demeanor, and it knocks my socks off, allowing him to accomplish the seemingly impossible -- become even better looking.
And his looks are nothing to scoff at. Frankly, I'm not sure a man can be made any better looking than he is. He is the very definition of tall, dark, and handsome, and yet, somehow, he never seems to allow even a recognition of his physical appearance to manifest onscreen in his manner, let alone ever give off a whiff of typical macho/preening/smug attitude. And that's not vapidity, as many of his detractors would try to say. Plenty of vacant people still recognize -- and wallow in -- their own good looks. But instead of narcissism, he, particularly as Jack Travers, absolutely drips approachability. Which is perhaps why I put him, and not Nic Cage, on my to-do list to be kissed.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Speaking of cast additions, Dexter added Jimmy Smits this year. Adding Jimmy Smits to the cast of an already successful show is sort of like taking a perfectly good beverage like the gin and tonic and then adding a lime to it. It had always been a perfectly good, stiff, refreshing drink before the lime, and you didn't really miss it. But then you added the slice of lime and suddenly you don't know how you lived without it. Wisely, the writers of the series have veered far away from Jeff Lindsay's novels now. All respect to Lindsay, because "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" was wonderful, but he really went off the rails in the third installment, and the series is wisely staying with a more compelling suspense formula. It's a testament to the episodic pull of the series that I'm totally willing to blow off some of the credibility-stretching of some events. I just honestly don't care about some minor hiccups because overall, it feeds the forward momentum.
Losing all forward momentum, for me, is DWTS this season now that Maks is out. I'll still watch it because Bruno makes me happy and cracks me up. I still long for my own pocket Bruno to give me encouragements and affirmations, but since that's not on the market, I'll tune in to the show.
Also keeping me tuned in is True Blood. I still have trouble with all the unattractive guys, particularly when there's so much sex abounding. I mean, why does the one good looking, sexy dude have to be the gay guy, LaFayette? As brooding vampire Bill, Stephen Moyer has presence and mixes the spooky-predatory vibe with the smoldering-protective appeal. But, just, a fucking haircut or something here? I know he has to be pasty, but, come on. But the show is still grossly bloody, creatively campy, and surprisingly funny, so on the whole, I'm getting past the fug-factor and liking it anyhow.
Still good looking and crusing along is Entourage. It's not its tightest season ever, but it's still plenty entertaining even if it has, finally, managed to drain the last bit of water from its already shallow pool. But they still manage to hit some absurd heights with Eric Roberts in the best as-himself cameo since Gary Busey.
Haven't really fallen for any other new shows this year, yet. You watching anything spectacular?
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
About the book:
X: The Erotic Treasury -- If there's only room for one book on your bedside table, this should be it.
The reigning mistress of erotica, Susie Bright, has expertly chosen 40 of the hottest stories ever written: breathtaking new stories as well as the most sought-after stories from The Best American Erotica series. Designed in a "gotta-touch-it" slipcase with a cloth-covered book, the package cultivates the quality and taboo satisfaction of the stories themselves. Luminaries like Carol Queen and Robert Olen Butler contribute to the stories about all kinds of lovers: heartbreakers, foxes, maniacs, romanticists, hell-raisers, and utter bandits. This delicious collection is certain to satisfy.
Back to me now:
Shiit. Can you believe I got something in there? The book is now available, but I'll have interviews with some of the other writers in it, along with some other promo madness in the future, cause I've a feeling you'll want this book near your bedside for a long time to come.