Oscar's Got No Balls

Well Okay Then.
The Oscars Happened.
Feh. For the first time in many many moons, StinkyLulu says "Feh!" to Oscar!

Such a predictable ceremony with an even more tedious broadcast (such a disturbing trend that is just escalating year by year) but this year's stultifying stagger toward inconsequentiality? Jeepers. And someone needs to smack that Gil Cates (show producer)...

So StinkyLulu reluctantly proffers some thoughts on this year's broadcast:

1/ If you're gonna televise the award, respect the awardee. The incremental humiliation of the non-marquee awardees just needs to stop. Watching Jeremy Irons & Cate Blanchett wander amongst the people makes for some cute moments (ie. the snoozing nominee). But having the winner of best make-up accept their award in the aisle? Ta-Ta-TACKY! Chris Rock's right. They should at least be able to get fries with that...

2/ Blackness, with a smattering of Latin, does not in and of itself equal hip. The Oscar's are so not a black thing. So, why try so hard to make the proceeding legible to some distorted notion of a hip urban demographic? It's one thing to do the standard shot of Morgan, Spike, Samuel L. or Oprah anytime anything black happens; that's part of the racial vocabulary of award show production (witness this year's Latino Fan Club sensibilities). But Jay-Z and Puffy as two of the most prominent faces in the audience at the Oscars? That's just wierd. And very nearly insulting. Let it go and let the audience feel the love from the fact that, for the first time in Oscar history, both best actor and best supporting actor went to black men, neither of whom was named Denzel.

3/ If you're going for a capital-C concept for the "best song" category, take it ALL the way. Ok, StinkyLulu wouldn't normally ask for more Beyonce BUT...if you're gonna do "All Beyonce" make it "All Beyonce All The Time" NOT "All Beyonce Most of the Time." StinkyLulu says make her sing that Counting Crows song too. Make her sing in Spanish with Antonio. Then dump the Groban and bring Antonio back for the final nominated duet. Add a couple extra variations on the "Eyeliner by Sharpie; Eyeshadow by Reynolds Wrap" theme. Maybe bring in some Debbie Allen choreography. Drive the damn concept into the f'n ground! Drag Queens around the globe will take it to the heights. StinkyLulu knows these things...

4/ Dead Actor Roll Call. This is not the place to scrimp for time. Inclusivity trumps brevity. Sure, Sandra Dee just died but...she shoulda been on the roster. So, too, Ruth Warrick -- who died weeks BEFORE Ossie Davis & Johnny Carson. So, UNLESS the dead actor had to have some connection to AMPAS (Rodney Dangerfield surely did)... Admittedly, StinkyLulu's a little obsessed with award show necrologies but this year's Dead Actor Parade was (a) astonishingly attenuated and (b) seemed like it was pimping for AMPAS. Not cool.

5/ Spontaneous Spectacular Boobies. To be sure, the breakout star of this year's telecast was Sidney Lumet's Daughter's Chest. Indeed, the bosom on that babe provided some of the most riveting television of the night. Perhaps that could be the Big-C Concept for next year?

Cate Blanchett says she's a little freaked out by the fact that Oscar has no genitals.
Tragically, this evenings broadcast provided a case in point: Oscar has no balls.


Wascally Wabbit of Venice

Goodness. Time flies when one's in the midst of a low-grade flu.

Today, MrStinky was 'sposed to be off for a yoga-day-trip to Phoenix BUT had to cancel at the last minute cuz the friend he was to see had a stone in her single remaining kidney. (Sorta puts StinkyLu's flu in perspective, eh?) So an unexpected Tuesday afternoon at the googaplex for StinkyLu & MrStinky... Yay!

Unfortunately, the flick on the itinerary was to be the new Al Pacino version of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Now, it's not that StinkyLulu haaaaaaaaaaaaaated the film. Really, it's not. Rather, StinkyLulu just feels immediately overtired any time folks on film start iambing in a pentametric style -- it's like StinkyLu's got an automatic grudge against them just for trying. Then if they make the mistake of playing the thing all plummy just 'cuz it's da bard? Lord gawd almighty, StinkyLulu's knickers just start to pinch...

And -- to pile insult atop injury -- it was The Merchant of Venice. Ew. Just, ew. StinkyLulu's never hooked into the interest in this play. Of all of the major plays, including Shrew, staging this one just seems to be a big poopy idea. A riotous romantic comedy full to brimming with vicious anti-semitic humor? Make that one work on a 20th/21st century stage...

Anyway, in the car, after the screening, MrStinky said simply: "I didn't get it." Didn't get what? "The rings. The complete humiliation of Shylock. The cross-dressing. Everything. It was like a bad sitcom." So StinkyLulu went on a whole rant how all of sitcomedy is straight out of Shakespeare & how TMOV is totally structured as a slap-ass comedy, with Shylock being a big buffoon of the MrRoper variety, but it just can't work cuz of the jew-baiting humor... Here, MrStinky interrupted. MrStinky -- whose Bard-ucation is thorough, though nowhere near the freaky-obsessive levels gnawed on by theater geeks like StinkyLu -- said: "THAT was supposed to be a COMEDY?" Um. Yeah?

Here, MrStinky went all brilliant on StinkyLulu's ass: "Now that totally makes sense. When Portia dresses as the Judge and tricks Shylock? That's totally Bugs Bunny -- tricking Daffy Duck or Elmer Fudd..."

So, yeah. Next time you hafta think about The Merchant of Venice: imagine Bugs in the role of Portia, with Yosemite Sam as Shylock. It really works much better... Much much better.


Hollywood Piffle

This past weekend, as MrStinky & StinkyLu were settling into their seats at the downtown googaplex for a screening of Million Dollar Baby, MrStinky leaned over and whispered: "We shoulda gone to Hitch."

Now, having seen both films, StinkyLulu has to say --
MrStinky was so right.

StinkyLulu found Million Dollar Baby to be a morally vacuous melodrama, ponderous and overwrought in both acting and visual style. Righteous Hollywood piffle at its most lugubrious. Which might have been fine if the whole thing had been obliquely stylized in terms of period, location and setting like some early 50s weepie. What drained Million Dollar Baby of what soul it might have had, though, was the recourse to a thoughtless default naturalism -- especially in the boxing & hospital scenes. Here, the art directors are to blame for the incomprensible inconsistency that make this film not "a noirist masterpiece" but a superficial neo-naturalist exercise in irreality. Most noxious? The product placement on props and costume elements that actually have dramaturgical import -- the most obvious case in point being the luxurious shot of the everlast logo on the ringside stool that just minutes later changes the life of the Hilary Swank character. (And it'd likely be best not to get StinkyLu started on either the brands of beer at the diners or the Unversal studios tee-shirts...)

In contrast, StinkyLulu found Hitch to be surprisingly entertaining, in marked contrast to the insipid trailers promoting the film. Will Smith's a charmer; Eva Mendes needs a real movie; Kevin James stands out as a brilliantly dear romantic star. The movie's able to do the same thing that made Sex & The City (at its best) so entrancing: narrate the pursuit of love/affection/connection without succumbing entirely to sentimentalism or cynicism, all the while using excellent NYC locations to make the whole thing just giddily pretty. Hollywood piffle to be sure but without the insulting veneer of social significance...

StinkyLu loves Hollywood piffle more than most. But some piffle just pisses StinkyLulu off...


Goodbye Dragon Inn

This afternoon, MrStinky insisted that StinkyLulu honor a prior commitment to see a movie with him. See, StinkyLu'd been all caught up daily drama -- teaching, catching student plagiarism, arranging a haircut, preparing for a bigass/superlame conference this weekend -- the usual. But MrStinky prevailed & so StinkyLulu caught this afternoon's screening of Goodbye, Dragon Inn...

Wowie kazowie. Various folks have celebrated or reviled this flick for its studied minimalism -- but those folks seem to really know about the filmmaker & his other stuff. StinkyLulu knows not a whit about all that & even the minimalism is not really what StinkyLulu thinks is so nifty about this film. It's really a simple (yet somehow epic) portrait of the moviehouse as a venue for all kinds of things but -- most especially -- for romantic hope. From the clubfooted ticket-taker's unrequited love for the projectionist, and to the sweetly urban young man looking for a little tenderness among the many other men skulking around the edges of the cavernous theater, and finally to the two actors from another era watching themselves and each other both on the screen and in the moviehouse... And StinkyLu hasn't even mentioned the urinal men or the peanut-chomping lady. More happens in this film than any film StinkyLu's seen recently & yet -- you'd almost miss that for the nearly paralytic stasis of most of the film's elaborately extended shots. (Even more -- StinkyLulu totally did not expect the acting to be so heartrending OR for the whole dang thing to be so consistently hilarious throughout this bittersweet ode to moviegoing.)

Simply put -- Goodbye, Dragon Inn stands out as the most enthralling movie about the movies that StinkyLu's seen in some time...


Ossie Davis (1917-2005)

StinkyLulu wants to take a moment to remember the awesome Ossie Davis, who passed this morning.

Now, Mr. Davis never entered the zone of StinkyLu's favorite actors (though his performance as the Mayor in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing does stand out as one of the truest portrayals of mundane alcoholism). Indeed, much of StinkyLulu's appreciation for Ossie Davis the actor comes from the work he did opposite his wife, the incomparably amazing Ruby Dee. But -- like Jessica Tandy & Hume Cronyn -- Dee and Davis were a team, a pair of actors who shared their incredible lives in the theater/etc.

But the passing of Ossie Davis reminds StinkyLulu of how few citizen-artists really remain. Davis, along with Dee, stood steadily as an artist who was also a citizen also an activist also a human life. This is an age when entertainment figures like Bill O'Reilly have diminished and impugned the legitimacy of any actor/artist who dares to speak -- like Ossie did in honor of Martin Luther Kind, Malcolm X and Paul Robeson -- in the struggle for social justice. Somehow, Davis & Dee maintained artistically & commercially dynamic acting careers amidst ALL their work/s.

StinkyLulu wonders if such a path is still possible.
But -- to honor all of Ossie Davis' life works -- StinkyLulu's gonna be sure to remember Ossie Davis...the actor - the artist - the activist - the partner - the man. An uncommonly accomplished man, on all counts. Blessings.


Of Gorges & Giggling Ponies

SlackerLulu finally gets it together to post again... (Was trying to figger out how to adjust the template so it would show Lulu's Links AND read ok on Safari... but StinkyLu's not that clever...& that, plus work & other obligations, has slightly disrupted diligence on StinkyLu's part.)

In the meantime, MrStinky took StinkyLu on a little Taos getaway jaunt over the weekend.
Really nice. Barely 30 hours away from home but so nice to get away. And so nice to play with that MrStinky. Stayed in MrStinky's favorite Taos B&B -- the Laughing Horse Inn -- which StinkyLu found delightfully challenging to remember. The Giggling Pony? The Snickering Camel? Give that StinkyLulu an inch...

But -- to be sure -- The Guffawing Giraffe was very nice & cozy, with a big walk-in shower, crunchy-organic signs all around & a stumpy BlackLab/Corgi-cross name Yolita. What's not to love? After a quiet morning of public radio & french spelt toast, somehow MrStinky got StinkyLu to go on a HIKE! 'Magine dat! All the way down into the Taos gorge where there were hot & cold springs right next to the rumbling water of the river. (Now, don't you be thinking StinkyLu got all nekkid & hopped into the hotsprings. The hike was a plenty big enough step outside StinkyLu's comfort zone for one morning.) Once StinkyLu got out of that dang gorge, the other project of the weekend -- angling for a Lynn Anderson sighting -- continued to no avail. Lucky thing StinkyLu had MrStinky & the hike to be totally thrilled with. Not to mention the Chortling Donkey.

Oh. StinkyLu & MrStinky also snagged a screening of Callas Forever at the Screen in Santa Fe on the way back from Taos. A surprisingly effective meditation on performance & authenticity. Really. At first StinkyLu was afeared the flick would turn out to be a an overstuffed sausage of goofiness, but the truthfulness at the center made it one of the most interesting films about performance StinkyLu's seen recently...