Saving Mr. Banks Has Disney Magic

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers

It’s hard to live in southern California and not be touched by the magic of Walt Disney. It’s pretty much everywhere (even though I, myself, have never been to any Disneyland). The magic of Disney (whatever Walt’s own personal failings) is really the magic of the movies, which in Los Angeles is all around us.

Also, the behind the scenes workings of filmmaking is our daily life here. We know, for example, that Walt Disney’s cough was so strong, you always knew he was coming before he got there. (In fact, he died of lung cancer in the period shortly after this particular movie took place.)

What is kind of shocking (though really welcome) is that over the years, Disney’s image is so whitewashed that you never (or rarely) see any images of him drinking or smoking, both of which he certainly did. I applaud the filmmakers, and even moreso Walt Disney Pictures, which is presenting this movie, for showing Walt’s truth, finally.

That part was nice. All of the Disney elements were wonderful, a joy to behold, as with most Disney stuff.

What makes this particular show a tough sell is the rest of it.

Mind you, I saw it with a roomful of screenwriters in Hollywood, who pitch their trade (or dream of pitching their trade) every day. They know what is allowed and what isn’t. (One must know the Hollywood code to live here, and even moreso to work here.)

Bradley Whitford welcomes Emma Thompson to Disney

Bradley Whitford welcomes Emma Thompson to Disney

So it’s almost comical to watch a movie about, essentially, a crotchety writer who doesn’t want to sell the rights to her book. She makes herself the biggest pain in the butt you can imagine, and then some (all of this was really, in fact, TONED DOWN for the movie!).  For example, at one point, she huffs to Mr. Disney, “There will be no RED in this movie.” Done. No color red, at all. WHAT?

What is really missing from the script, actually, is any pushback from Disney, and I know there had to be some. Someone somewhere saying, this broad’s crazy! There is only eyerolling and some asides, but they basically go along with her nuttiness. This entire movie, btw, would never fly today.

Walt Disney actually pursued her for 20 years. TWENTY YEARS. Can you imagine? I cannot.

However, I, like most, have a magical remembrance of the wonder that was “Mary Poppins” that came of this struggle. Obviously old Walt knew what he was doing.

Tom Hanks (as Walt Disney) and Emma Thompson (as P.L. Travers) are extraordinary to watch on screen. The fact that this crotchety old bitch is made not only watchable, but at moments even likeable, is such a credit to Ms. Thompson’s acting that she is guaranteed an Oscar nomination for this.

It was a joy to see some singing and dancing from Bradley Whitford (the gruff Josh in “The West Wing”), BJ Novak (“The Office”) and Jason Schwartzman (many things, but most recently his own band, Coconut Records) are great as the Sherman brothers, who wrote the memorable songs for “Mary Poppins.” Melanie Paxson is quite wonderful, too.

BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman play a pair of songwriting brothers.

BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman play a pair of songwriting brothers.

Paul Giamatti makes the most of P.L.’s driver, adding some much-needed heart and warmth.

What is kind of shocking when one goes to a movie expecting the backstory of the making of “Mary Poppins” is that all of the above is only half the movie. And you might think, if you’ve seen the previews, where it mentions her father, that the other half takes place in jolly old England, and that her lovely dad was a chimney sweep. Nope.

Down to the wilds of Australia we go. That’s both what’s jarring and surprising, and exquisite and wonderful about this movie. Aside from the amazing acting, I credit the director John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”) and the editor Mark Livolsi for creating luminous lush joyous sequences.

Colin Farrell plays the girl’s dad, and does a lot with the role. Rachel Griffiths, as you may’ve already seen in the previews, plays the person that Mary Poppins is based on, although it’s not totally clear who she is in real life. (The girl’s mother’s sister? Some Australian governess?)

As a film experience, I do recommend “Saving Mr. Banks.” This you should know though. She finally caved on selling the rights because she needed the money. After all this folderol she put everyone through, she ended up hating the movie so much that she never let anyone else adapt anything of hers again. She died not speaking to these people ever again, bitter and alone.

Whereas Walt created, as he said he would, a joy for generations. In fact, I urge you to go watch “Mary Poppins” again. Remember too, that the landmark sequence that this woman complained about so much (the penguins and the animation) was ground-breaking for its time (to have live action and animation in the same sequence). Walt was busy making history and making children smile while this woman was bitching and complaining. I’d say, over the long haul, Walt won. The magic always wins.


Photos courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Les Miserables Adds One Miserable One to Its Audience (Not Me)

Here’s my journey with Les Miserables. I originally read the book in French in college. I loved it. Victor Hugo’s way of describing a situation just took my breath away. (I highly recommend checking out the book.) It is lush with detail and description, as books of that age were, and I have fond memories of the scenes playing out in my head as Hugo wrote them.

Then, when I first saw Les Miserables onstage, I was somewhat stunned and shocked at how much they endeavored to get onstage in such a short time. Of course, when you are condensing a massively intricate book into a few hours of stage time, some thing are going to have to go. So, I mourned them, but I cried throughout watching the show. At the big rousing number at the end, I was on my feet with the rest of the crowd, crying and singing along. It remains one of my most treasured theatre experiences.

Now, we get to the movie. And I have heard many rumblings from various people and critics. This one today prompted me to write this review:

It all really seems to boil down to this. If you are an avid reader and/or an avid theatregoer, preferably one who loves musicals, preferably one who loves and/or has seen this musical,  you’re going to enjoy the movie. A lot.

This poor man was way out of his element, and frankly, I don’t know why his wife didn’t just leave the poor sod at home.

Here’s what the experience of the movie was for me.

First, the whole “they’re singing live” is really, truly groundbreaking. For me, it was one of the most exciting things about the movie. It really was like combining the best elements of the play with the conventions of filming a movie. Maybe average theatregoers (like our Mr. Walsh) can’t understand that, but it’s truly a big big deal.

Let me explain a bit more. One of the greatest things about live theatre is that you are right there. If the actor forgets a word or is a bit off-key, it’s real. It’s in the moment. It’s life, it happens. In our saturized, prepackaged worlds of perfection (TV, film, magazines), all of that has been airbrushed out, sweetened, autotuned, so that ALL we have are sappy singers who can’t sing but with a few turns of a button they sound fantastic. ****COUGHTaylorSwiftCOUGH*****

And here we have a musical with VERY difficult songs, and the actors are singing them right there. What you see is what you get. And, I might add, NEVER been done before. Never, in any musical ever filmed. What it produced, for me, was a really stunning work of film that moved me nearly as much as the musical version. And that, for me, has never happened before (I usually always prefer the stage version).

A lot of people made fun of Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (saying they were out of place in the film). Well, this segment of the musical (which of course is nonexistent in this fashion in the book), is meant as comic relief. Every musical has to have some comic relief, or it’ll be dreadfully dreary. Especially this one.

In the musical, these two characters were the most fun, and were one of my favorite moments of the production. Their song was light and airy and funny. However, the movie lays bare the truth of how they are picking pockets and bamboozling people, and up close like that, it’s really not so funny. These two actors, precisely because of their quirks and known peccadillos, are absolutely perfect for these two roles. But these parts were not my favorite parts of the movie.

The “obligatory tragic love story” as the man wrote is, indeed, there. And yes, in movies, and even moreso in movie musicals, the whole love thing is a glance across a room. This is nothing new. The whole Sharks-Jets war was fought over Tony spying Maria for a moment at a dance, too. Falling in love, according to this theory, happens the moment you see someone. You know it instantly, and there it is. Now this magic occurrence doesn’t happen for everyone, you may never know it in a lifetime, but certainly those who’ve experienced it describe it this way.

Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne, while not standard movie choices for these parts, perhaps, were just wonderful, both of them.

The average moviegoer review I referred to commented how Inspector Javert and Jean Valjean have their fight in “one neighborhood.” I’m not sure where the fault is with this. That Americans don’t know the difference between the city of Paris and a suburb of Paris or a city far in the country? Dunno. It’s QUITE clear in the book that they traverse many miles of distance in their battles. Even in the stageplay, it’s clear that there is a chase at hand.

But let me just clarify a bit. When Jean Valjean leaves Inspector Javert at the beginning, he has traveled FAR to get away from him. You see him on a mountaintop in the movie, whereas he was originally in Paris. OK? That’s far. So far away that he becomes another man, with another name.  So much so that when Javert sees him, he doesn’t recognize him. He has heard of his fame and benevolence, and doesn’t connect the esteemed mayor before him with the lowlife convict he is chasing. Actually, I would have to check again, but I believe in the book, it’s a short visit to this town, and then back to Paris.

Valjean travels back to Paris to give away his identity AND to take care of Cosette. When he finds her and realizes he can’t leave her, they flee, but it is again to the country. So there is a bit of chasing going on, which you really have to know the book or the musical to fully realize. Also, in the movie, when Valjean realizes that Javert is again on to him, he mentions to Cosette that they have to flee again. He mentions another home they have in another city. But this was in French, so maybe it flew past our poor beleaguered audience member.

As far as Russell Crowe’s singing (and portrayal of Javert)… I was glad it was Russell Crowe. I can’t imagine anyone else in movies who both sings and can stand toe to toe with Hugh Jackman in a menacing way. That said, he was the one weak link in the movie to me. He just wasn’t mean enough. You really have to feel Javert’s meanness to your core, and he was way too nice. Also, you have to really know two things about Javert: One, he takes pity on no one, ever; two, he is a soldier who lives and dies by his rules (one of his rules being that he takes pity on no one, ever). If you don’t understand this about him (and Crowe really didn’t convey that), you won’t understand with full gravity why he does what he does late in the second act. But as a good soldier, he feels he has absolutely no other choice. The song is supposed to explain it, and the cinematography goes a long way toward this, but… still…

People have also taken issue with Tom Hooper’s direction (especially the continued use of close-ups). Here’s what it is. He filmed the stage musical, nearly exactly. There was very little of the magic that you look to a film director for. A new take on it, an inspired way of staging, etc. It was just the musical, straight-up. As close as possible. And, in that context, the close-ups on the actors, singing their solos kinda makes sense. It may be, and is, annoying to an audience expecting the distance of a movie; but if you are only expecting “the movie version” of the musical, you’ll be fine.

I’ve been saving for last the things about this movie I loved the most.

I want to give credit to all the technicians: the costumers, the makeup artists, the set designers, who made this version of 1800s Paris look as gritty and dirty and loathsome as it probably was.

But the gems of this movie to me were two people.

First, the luminous and amazing Anne Hathaway. She has one big number, and she is phenomenal in it. I am among the chorus of people who truly believes she is looking at an Oscar for this performance. I was sobbing at the end of her song (like many, I am sure). Sadly, she’s not in much of the movie (as she wasn’t in much of the play).

But the real, true revelation to me of the movie was Hugh Jackman. I’ve long admired him as an actor. And a singer. And a stage showman. He’s won an Emmy for his hosting of the Tony, but that’s about it for awards for this man. Well, that has to stop.

Of all the people who had really the weight of this movie on their shoulders, it was mostly Hugh Jackman. Of the people who would cause the whole “we’re going to sing it LIVE!” concept to sink or swim, it rested with Hugh Jackman. And because he is so knock-it-out-of-the-park awesome in this role, I truly believe that not only will he chalk up his first (so well-deserved) Oscar nomination for this role, but I think he’s going to muscle aside the current favorite, Daniel Day-Lewis, for it.

Singing and dancing is tough. But carrying every scene (nearly), going from scruffy convict to esteemed mayor (convincingly), to father caring for his child–it’s just incredible to watch. And the songs he performs (to perfection!) along the way. It’s truly a tour de force. Added with that, the fact that not only has he never won, he’s never been nominated, I really believe Jackman is going to walk away with the Best Actor Oscar this year.

Boy, is that going to piss that dude off! heh




Argo: A Well-Paced Thriller

I worry about movies where they show maps at the beginning. Maps with excessive voiceover usually make me cringe. It seems so amateurish.

But, I suppose, in the case of Argo, when one is trying to explain the complexities of Iran, one had better insert some briefing materials at the beginning for those Americans who don’t know what the heck is going on over there.

Or, what was going on in 1979 over there, which is when our story takes place.

First-time screenwriter Chris Terrio does OK, considering this is his first feature script. There are a lot of characters and situations to throw around, and for the most part, they are handled with ease.

Ben Affleck’s direction is another issue. This, his third movie, is the tensest of them all, with a juicy story. However, his propensity to have a closeup of himself just about every other shot really started to irk me after a while. Sorry, Ben, but this story isn’t about the guy who got them out. It’s about the hostages. (Or it SHOULD be.) They are the news here.

But if you can put all that aside, you have a story that up until President Clinton declassified it several years ago, no one really knew about.

The movie is exceedingly well cast. Lots of great actors, from Kyle Chandler as Hamilton Jordan to Bob Gunton as Cyrus Vance. Adam Arkin and John Goodman cover the Hollywood piece. Victor Garber is the Canadian ambassador. Tate Donovan and Clea DuVall are two of the hostages. Zeljko Ivanec and Titus Welliver play key roles.

But best of all, Bryan Cranston (really hard to not see him as Walter White anymore) is wonderful as the CIA guy. And Ben Affleck (in his “Hollywood won’t cast me, so I’ll cast me” role) is pretty good, save for all the closeups. There is a whole unnessary montage of Ben, alone with a whiskey bottle, which is overly long and somewhat extraneous.

So, a lot of people are lauding Argo, and it is a fun ride, but I have a lot of reservations about it being pushed into Best Picture territory.


The Master: Hard to Watch

I have a love-hate relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson. Mostly hate.

But let’s start with the love, shall we? “Boogie Nights,” my first introduction to him, was brilliant. I know some of the characters and stories from around these times, and the movie was meticulous and wonderful to watch. Great stuff.

His next, “Magnolia,” did have a pretty unforgettable performance by Tom Cruise, but was mostly a “WTF Was That?” kind of head-scratcher. (Cue raining frogs…)

“Punch Drunk Love” was so horrendously awful, if I’d thought to bring rotten tomatoes with me, I surely WOULD have thrown them at the screen. Instead, I just walked out. Hate doesn’t even begin to encompass how I feel about that movie. I still start seething when anyone even says those three words.

It is thus with trepidation that I approached “There Will Be Blood.” I do love Daniel Day-Lewis, so I did see it. Even sat all the way through to the end, but mostly hated it.

I’m realizing now why I hated these shows so much, as I scan IMDB for credits. All of these movies were not only directed by him, but written by him also. Not that people CAN’T both write and direct a movie. I just think HE can’t.

He’s one of those people who is so enamoured with the situations he’s setting up that he just thinks all is grand, while you’re sitting there wondering why the hell you are watching it. This is true, in greater or lesser degrees for me, in all his movies.

This latest one, I just realized has pretty much the same character as the oilman in “There Will Be Blood.” Except the guy in this one is (supposedly) the founder of Scientology. Starts out nice, becomes (through success) a crazed, greedy ego maniac. All along the way he is a charlatan.

So let’s just leave it at that. I pretty much hate Paul Thomas Anderson the writer. The director has some promise, if only he got another screenwriter.

However, all that being said, the actors he gets to work for him do amazing things.

In fact, the only reason to sit through this treacle is to watch some master craftsmen of acting do their thing.

Joaquin Phoenix, to my knowledge, has never turned in a better performance. He’s off the hinges and crazy. Sex-addicted, alcohol-addicted lunatic. One who barely fits into the confines of society. A psychopath.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is incapable of a bad performance, plays the “Scientology” leader. Charismatic and charming to his accolytes, but with a mean temper when crossed. Hoffman makes many subtle changes in character believable and stunning to watch.

Amy Adams, who just continues to be a revelation, sparkles as Hoffman’s wife. Laura Dern has a brief, but memorable, cameo.

As in “There Will Be Blood,” there are images in this movie that will be disturbing and hard to erase from one’s memory. But unlike “There Will Be Blood,”  I think this one is worth sitting through, just to see these actors work their magic.



A Fugue of Sex and Love Addiction: Shame

I waited, as I read some of the reviews of Shame. I watched all of the major reviewers sort of dance around trying to figure out if they got what was going on, what this movie was really about. Watched for the two words: Sex addiction.

Sadly, I saw them nowhere.


But this movie is to Sex Addiction what Days of Wine and Roses is to alcoholism. Ever wanted to know the sordid details behind a sex addict’s mind? Here you go. The lies, the hidden pornography, the near-constant masturbation. The near destruction of one’s own life, while being in complete denial about it. All here.

What (also) isn’t talked about is how his (Michael Fassbender, as our protagonist) sister (Carey Mulligan) suffers from a concurrent love addiction. She bounds into his life from who knows where, and opens up a door on his behavior. Make no mistake, they are cut from the same cloth.

They are both from New Jersey. Brother dear now lives in NY. When sister arrives, she has somehow booked a singing gig at a club. She does a gut-wrenching version of “New York, New York” that also makes her otherwise unfeeling brother tear up.

It’s also interesting to me that the first time you see both of them completely naked, it’s not in a sexual way. He, because he’s taking a piss. She, because she’s in the shower.

Also, to director Steve McQueen’s immense credit (which also other reviewers seem to have missed), it’s incredibly hard to show all the sordidness of a sex addict’s life, and not make it seem sexy. He does this partly through the script, and partly through excellent camera work and editing.

Sex addiction, for those not savvy to it, makes every person a potential sex object. The sex addict is skilled, like a sexual viper, always able to conquer their prey. But it’s a nameless faceless game. Know as little about someone as possible. Give away as little of yourself as possible.

So when the phone starts ringing early on, I was puzzled. Not like a sex addict to give out their phone number. Of course, it turns out to be his sister.

Later, he meets someone and goes on an actual date. She asks him how long his longest relationship was, “Four months,” he says.

Being present is also a very difficult thing for any addict, but especially a sex addict. So when he asks his date what time period, past or future, she’d like to live in, she responds: “Right now.” He’s completely perplexed. But she is, indeed, very connected, very present, very in touch with her emotions.

You see this in another way. You’ve seen his addictive sex in many ways. But when he beds this gorgeous emotionally connected black woman, she touches his face, lovingly. He can’t go on. He knows nothing of this kind of sex.

But, his sex addiction fuse having been lit, it has to be finished. You see him, moments later, with someone that he picked up from somewhere. Doesn’t matter. It’s another drug, and he’s scored.

The purging that he does after that experience is equivalent to what anyone has to do when they get sober. Alcoholics pour their drink down the sink, drug addicts destroy their paraphernalia, sex addicts throw away all the morass of their secret stashes. Yes, even their computers.

He has his emotions opened up now. He has a big blowout fight with his sister. It’s quite compellingly shot from behind as they sit on a couch. Sex addict vs. love addict, mano a mano. It’s brutal, and painful.

He caps his words with a night of sex bingeing that gets quite ugly.

And, in the morning, he is sobbing on the beach. Someone on Twitter said, “Oh big deal, so he cries on the beach.” They missed the whole point. It IS a big deal that he was sobbing on the beach. The way for a sex addict to heal (or any addict) is to actually feel their feelings. And yes, that usually does initially involve a lot of crying.

I was hoping that it would all end with Brandon getting into recovery. But that’s probably too pat and predictable an ending.

The way it actually ended was with one of his sex toys on the train, a married woman who constantly flirts with him. Once he ran out of the train, following her and lost her. This time, she starts flirting, and he remains seated, not taking the bait.

I looked behind his head. In the shot, is a poster for a place called “The River NYC.” Not exactly a recovery place, but its website said this: “Our goal is to create a warm and welcoming space where we can develop a genuine spirituality.” Yep. Sounds like recovery to me. All you have to do is look around, and find it.

A much better ending.

ADDENDUM: Roger Ebert mentions it in his review.


Moneyball: Way too on the money

Do you love a good baseball movie? Does thinking about Field of Dreams or Bull Durham just get you all wistful? Or The National? Yeah, me too. Moneyball is none of those.

Or were you stunned and amazed by Russell Crowe’s mathematical brilliance in Beautiful Mind? Well, me, not so much.

But this movie is kind of a combination of those two. If you’re going for a rousing baseball movie, you’d best stay home. Ditto if the sight of math (especially math on a screen) starts putting you into heaves.

I just don’t know what to make of this movie. There are so many reasons I wanted to like it.

For instance, I attended with my friend who (GASP!) had never even HEARD of Aaron Sorkin, much less cottoned to his patented “walk and talks.” Sorkin, though, is the second credited writer on this. After Steven Zaillian. Now, if one has a discussion of the top ten living screenwriters today, it’s pretty assured that both of those names would be on the list.

Still, the script pretty much left me cold.

Part of it was the script (or lack of it), part of it was the ham-fisted direction by Bennett Miller. You can just read the page in your mind: “and he tears up, hearing his little girl’s voice. He decides to stay.” CUT TO: Tears in his eyes.

No joke. The final (supposed to be poignant shot, I guess) was a close-up of tears in Brad Pitt’s eyes. I wanted to barf.

And you would think that with eight (and counting) little brats of his own, that he’d be able to convey this fatherliness that warrants the end tear-up. I musta missed it.

Also, while his team is out there, struggling it out, Brad Pitt’s character is anywhere but on the field or watching. He’s working out, he’s in his office, he’s driving, far away. Why? Well, if you rustle your popcorn at the wrong time you’ll miss it, but his little tyke at one point says, “You’re not gonna jinx it, go back.”

From this, I guess, that you are supposed to glean that he’s afraid of jinxing his own team. That’s why he stays away. And, to hammer that point home, he returns when they have an 11-point lead. The other teams starts scoring. It ends up tied.

Do we cut to the drama on the field? No, been there, done that. Instead, we get Pitt, agonizing in the locker room about whether or not he’s jinxing them. Yikes.

Maudlin crap like that.

So, the direction was dreadful. But let’s get back to the story.

Now, if it’s a good baseball movie, it should be understandable by anyone who watches it, whatever their level of baseball knowledge.

And I love baseball. I wouldn’t claim to be intimate with all its arcana, though.

The premise here is that MLB had gotten too full of its britches, offering million-dollar contracts to people who really didn’t deserve them. And that some Yale dude had figured out a mathematical way to know who deserved to be hired and who didn’t. Based on how often they got on base. Mathematically.

Jonah Hill does the best with this that he can. Coach Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who still wants to coach baseball his way, adds some fire to a nothing role.

But to me, in the end, baseball is really about those guys out there on the bases. Not the money men counting out their worth in back rooms. This movie dealt far too much with those guys. Did this new way of “counting” change baseball? Apparently so.

Do we care? No matter how many close-uped tears you shoot, the answer is still no.

Young Adult Is Infinitely Missable

The central problem for why “Young Adult” is so terrible is that its protagonist is loathesome.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just me, but I no longer find someone drinking too much, acting out when drunk, or acting out when seriously love-addicted, to be a funny thing. I cannot root for this person, other than to root that they seriously find rehab soon.

Our lead, Mavis Gary, is hell-bent on her own destruction, chasing down her “true love,” who is happily married and just had a child. She plans to steal him away. This never goes well, nor is it a viable plot premise anymore, I would argue.

(I found Julia Roberts similarly reprehensible in “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” though her guy was not quite married yet in that one. No matter, same conniving horribleness at hand.)

So, beautiful statuesque Charlize Theron (who does give this part the old college try) drinks way too much. In real life, if someone drank as much as she did, she would not be in any semblance of shape, certainly would not have the flawless skin that she has (no matter how many facials she received; the movie shows us no less than three times that she gets manis and pedis and spends a lot of time with her hair and face). No, in fact a woman who drinks like this would be already developing that bulbous red nose thing that many full-blown alcoholics get.

But then, this is a romantic comedy right, with the guy who’s not the guy she’s chasing whom she’s supposed to fall in love with. And SPOILER they don’t. She spends most of her time bending his ear about her totally-in denial love addiction plan. He tells her she’s crazy and needs therapy (true!). After making a complete fool of herself later, she consents to sloppy last-stand sex with him, and leaves him and his sister (“Take me with you!” she demands; Mavis doesn’t, with the cold line, “No, you’re good here.” Here being their vapid small town.)

Just a loathesome person from start to finish, who learns nothing along the way.

Other actors: Patrick Wilson as the “true love” is wonderful. Elizabeth Reaser (what is with her as “the other woman”? Between this and “The Good Wife,” sheesh), but she’s also wonderful as the man’s wife.

Even Patton Oswalt, getting more and more juicy roles in cinema, is quite the charmer.

I loved “Juno.” Normally, I like Diablo Cody. Didn’t like this. Normally, I like Jason Reitman, the director. Didn’t like this.

(Although the nihilistic end of the world Kendra-Kardashian double bill on her TV screens was a wonderful touch.)

This movie is really best avoided. Unlike you like loud mouthy desperate out of control love-addicted alcoholics. Then, you might find this a laugh riot. Me, I like to like my protagonists.

Or, you might wanna really punish yourself. Go see this on a double feature with that sex addiction movie, Shame. Fun times!

Who should be the new Oscar host?

So, who should we have hosting the Oscars this year? Hurry, people, time’s a wasting…
Eddie Murphy’s out (*sob*). Totally joking. I can’t stand Eddie Murphy, and he would’ve made a terrible host. In fact, all ego-maniacs need not apply, so sit down Will Smith.

It really and truly should be a comedian of some flavor, because it needs to be someone who will keep on with the funny when people are staring at him/her blankly.

It should be someone who knows Hollywood and isn’t too fanlike about it (Rosie O’Donnell can sit down). But someone who is also sufficiently deferential to it. (David Letterman can sit WAY down and take both Uma and Oprah with him.)

It should be someone who can sing and dance, so the old standbys come to mind: Hugh Jackman (busy with that Les Miz movie), Neil Patrick Harris (busy with his TV show). Billy Crystal has just done it too much. He also needs to sit down.

Someone who thinks quickly on their feet, preferably someone comfortable with improve or standup, cause stuff happens at the Oscars that you just have to be prepared for, and willing to go off script for. (Steve Martin can sit WAY down.)

While we’re at it, forget the youngsters (especially after the “talking too freely” that got Brett Ratner bounced, we have to have some older dude or dudette who isn’t going to let the wrong thing slip. Who knows the meaning of politically correct, yet is savvy enough to know who to take jabs at (and who NOT TO). Please sit Ricky Gervais down and shut him the hell up. And while you’re at it, take that drink out of his hand.

So, in short, someone who’s polite, savvy about Hollywood, works hard enough to step in to this madness quickly, someone who can sing and dance or at least tell a good joke.
My own personal short list would be this: Craig Ferguson or Jimmy Fallon (though, this being ABC, probably not likely), Dan Finnerman (from “the Dan Band”)—he would rock it!, Marc Maron, Chris Hardwick, Jay Mohr.

Women? There aren’t too many choices there. Kathy Griffin comes to mind, but she has the sassy mouth that got Ratner bounced. You know who would be a fantastic female Oscar host? Loni Love! She would rock that Kodak. And you know she looks great in some gowns.

Or maybe Ricki Lake, after she wins Dancing with the Stars, to promote her new talk show? Nah. Loni Love would be better.

Those would be my final choices: either Dan Finnerman or Loni Love.

Boy, would those be some fun Oscars. Enough with the overpriced, full of themselves celebs and young people who haven’t got a clue. These two have been around the block a time or two.

Another wacky, but perfect choice? Ross Matthews. You know he respects the Oscars enough. It may even compensate for his youth and inexperience. He’d be a great choice.

What say you?