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Showing posts from January, 2010

Too attentive to not be offensive, than is healthy for you

But plumbing the appeal of Dwayne Johnson the actor requires setting the size of the package aside for a moment, the better to zero in on subtleties: The expressiveness of those unnaturally mobile eyebrows or the way, either in character or during the course of an on-camera interview, he almost seems to blush when he makes a self-deprecating joke, as if he were wary of calling too much attention to himself. Johnson is so good-natured that even when he's not wearing a smile, his facial muscles carry the ghost of one. Maybe that's part of his charm as a performer: For such a big lug of a guy, his star quality is of the quiet sort.[. . .]But they haven't tarnished Johnson either. Just as his body has been trained and disciplined to sustain all sorts of physical abuse in the ring (he retired from pro wrestling in 2004), so is Johnson, as an actor, fully willing to endure all kinds of humiliation, ribbing and teasing emasculation — and always with a smile. (Stephanie Zacharek, …

Hamlets without Hamlet -- Thoreau, or dark ages?

The application of the real world is the most powerful tool in our educator toolbox, and what better way to understand a philosophy about cultivating land than to do it? As we read pages of "Walden" and planted our seeds, quotes from Thoreau such as "I chose to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived," carried much more weight with action. And guess what? We even wrote paragraphs about it.[. . .]When your elementary-school child is forced to pick up his or her toys after recess, you are going to claim that because your child is a "privileged American" he or she should not be taught the values of simple tidiness? When your child has the opportunity to attend a field trip to the zoo to see the lions after studying the climate and culture of Africa you are going to say, "You're not going. Read another book"? And fr…

Jack Bauer gone soft: Salon's sexiest man alive!

The old Jack is long gone, though, replaced with this sad little half-caf Jack, who takes other people's feelings into account and looks straight into his own daughter's eyes when he's speaking to her. I mean, come on, Jack! What have you become?![. . .]But does Wilty Jack find Dead Inside appealing? Because, let's face it, Wilty Jack is more like a Sexy Lady Victim Du Jour this season, and Dead Inside is more like Classic, Casually Murderous Jack, which means that Dead Inside is likely to ignore Wilty Jack's pleading for sanity and mercy, sallying forth heedlessly kicking ass and taking names as necessary to round up plenty of wayward executail.But we don't want someone with carefully applied mascara on to save the world! We want Jack Bauer to do it, damn it! (‘“24’: Jack Bauer goes soft,” Heather Havrilesky, 16 January 2010)Re: “But we don't want someone with carefully applied mascara on to save the world! We want Jack Bauer to do it, damn it!”

Sense and Sensibility, with shovels

What's even harder to forgive is the way Anna is forced to wobble through the Irish countryside in a very pretty but extremely precarious pair of $600 (at one point she makes note of the price) ankle-strap platform shoes. The camera repeatedly lingers on these absurdly unstable shoes: Anna totters around on them, along city streets and through airports, as if perched on baby deer feet. The effect could be defended, I guess, as disgustingly adorable, until these shoes become an unavoidable symbol of how low a bunch of filmmakers are willing to go to humiliate a character: First their spiky heels sink deep into beach sand; then they find their way into thick piles of cow poo. When Anna finally has the good sense to take them off, she slips in the mud and becomes covered, from head to toe, in brown slime. (Stephanie Zacharek, “Leap Year: One giant leap backward for romantic comedy” 7 January, 2010)Strange, this, going to movies which entrench cow poo in such near proximity to all yo…

Talking smack to some old bird

Weaver's character -- her name is Dr. Augustine, and she's modeled, at least loosely, on Ripley from the "Alien" films -- is most believable when, in her human incarnation, she's puffing on her nearly ever-present cigarettes. (A chain-smoking scientist: Now there's something you don't see in the movies every day. I wish Cameron would show us more of his naughtier side.) (Stephanie Zacharek, “‘Avatar’:Dances with aliens,” Salon, 18 December 2010)Still, I think many of us have been wondering: What will become of Michael Cera? It's hard to be a sex symbol when you resemble a beatific, unassuming, preadolescent Jesus on a holy card.(Stephanie Zacharek, “‘Avatar’:Dances with aliens,” Salon, 18 December 2010)[. . .]But "Youth in Revolt" suggests, at least, the possibility of something more for Cera. He won't be able to do much about that baby face. But when he's wearing Francois' Eurowardrobe, his gait and his carriage are different. H…