Friday, December 22, 2006

Movie Review -- Thank You For Smoking

Thank You For Smoking is a hilarious satire that centers around the tobacco industry in this country. Nick Naylor (played by Golden Globe nominee Aaron Eckhart) is a tobacco lobbyist who is one of the most loathed men in America. He holds the seemingly-impossible position of getting new smokers in a world that is tobacco (and tobacco lobbyist) intolerant. But Naylor revels in his position, and his latest job seems to be getting his son to realize why what he does is so important.

This is a tough story to pull off. But it works by making all sides both likeable (and understandable) and loathesome. The movie doesn't take sides (though I will point out that not one cigarette was smoked during the film). Even the anti-tobacco parties -- headed by the always delightful William H. Macy as a Vermont Senator -- come across as full of lies and deception. It isn't a film that is anti- or pro-tobacco as much as it is a film that raises issues about freedom, choice, and personal responsibility; the subject of smoking isn't as important as the larger issues surrounding the debate. Through wit and politically-incorrect dialogue, we realize how all sides manipulate language and images to "sell" their message; we realize how the public is duped by these messages rather than being encouraged to make their own informed decisions. Naylor, as he attempts to raise his son to be a free-thinker, calls to question the self-righteousness that often surrounds politically-correct rhetoric, and his sometimes-surprising logic makes his arguments more powerful. His meetings with the M.O.D. Squad (that would be "Merchants of Death" -- representatives from the tobacco, alcohol, and firearms industries) are hilarious, and throughout the movie I found myself literally laughing out loud (and it take a lot to make me do so).

The cast all-around works (though I'm on the fence about Katie "a.k.a.: Kate Cruise" Holmes as a seductive reporter) but Aaron Eckhart definitely carries the film from start to finish. Doubtful that he'll win an Oscar (or even get a nomination for this; the meaning will sail over too many people's heads!) but it's a great performance nonetheless.

Four stars! An excellent holiday rental!

Goodbye 2006

Happy Holidays from My Muse!

Here's wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful holiday season...


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tech Help!!!

I'm having problems posting on other people's blogs. Is any one else having this problem???

(Also a note to my readers: I'm not ignoring you; I promise!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Movie Review -- Volver

Yes, folks. Tis the season when My Muse starts its annual Countdown to Oscar, 2007. D and I have already spent hours on the phone coming up with the best-possible strategy for seeing the most movies that will receive a nomination.

Truly, it's an addiction.

So let's begin the season with Volver, a Pedro Almodóvar film starring Penélope Cruz as Raimunda, the mother of a teenage daughter living in Madrid, Spain who faces both the aftereffects of murder and the ghost of her mother (played by Carmen Maura) who returns after the death of her sister to fix the problems she never resolved while she was living. The mother returns first to Raimunda's sister, Sole (played by Lola Dueñas) who works as an illegal hairdresser from her apartment. It is a film about life and death and family and friendship and forgiveness, both of oneself and of the people in one's life. And in some ways this is a film more than anything else about being female, female in modern Spain, and the bonds between women.

The story is excellent and beautifully crafted, but it would perhaps have fallen flat without such amazing performances all around. Cruz shines in her role; I've never been a huge fan of her films; she has always struck me as a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera, more a pretty face than an actress. But this film changed my view. When speaking her native Spanish, Cruz is a natural and on the same level as some of the great actresses of the day, and her Golden Globe nomination earlier this week is earned, deserved. There is a lot of comedy in the film, but also a lot of drama; Cruz and the other actresses must span a range of emotions, sometimes seemingly contradictory emotions, and every turn of feeling is real and not overplayed. It is a somewhat quiet film without the over-the-top action that dominates so many movies, a film that delves into some of humanity's most shared yet complex experiences.

Hopefully the rest of you will be fortunate enough to see this in the theater. Visually the film takes off on the big screen, though I fear that it won't make it to many towns. I give it four big stars!!! An excellent start to the season's best films!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hooray for Coats!

In honor of the folks at Blogdorf Goodman, I thought I'd post this find:

Coats! Max Mara: 55 Years of Italian Fashion

Looks like a fab gift for the coat addict in your life!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The best of the best

D called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that he had found me the best present ever. He said that it defines our mutual obsessions perfectly.

Something to do with American Idol? No, that's just me.

A signed photo of Michelle Kwan (or even better the entire Champions on Ice cast)? No.

A new ipod? No.

A detailed pictoral book on the history of the Academy Awards? No.

A case of vodka? No.

A new man? Sadly, no.

So tonight, over glasses of California cab, he pulls out a Macy's bag, and hands me this:

Yes, folks. That's right. I am the proud owner of Team Angela's award-winning, Project Runway I.N.C. jacket! And it fits as if it were tailored especially for me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Audrey Lives

Audrey Hepburn's stunning dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's has sold for £467,200 at a London auction. The Givenchy-designed dress was auctioned off with proceeds going to the City of Joy Aid charity and is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a celebrity gown. The gown, one of three designed for the film's production, Givenchy's own piece, was recently released by the designer for auction, which seems very in-tune with the late actress's compassion for children and charity.

Well done, bidder. Well done, Givenchy. And of course, well done, Audrey. Well done, indeed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's tragic

I just met a friend for dinner. In my purse, I brought with me three student essays, just in case a moment might arise that I could grade. During dinner. Or maybe in the ladies' room between courses? How sad is that?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Please, let it be true!

So, I've been biting my nails this past week, hesitating to speak too quickly, fearing that if I type the words, they won't come true. But the rumor mill has started to spin, and last week's Us Magazine reports that there are potential plans to bring Sex and the City to the big screen. Of course, the rumors in 2004 about why the movie was put on the backburner in the first place swirled stories about friction between castmates (well, between Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker....Samantha, Carrie, play nice). But, fingers crossed, here's hoping those alleged tensions are gone, dead, buried. We need our girls back!