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Archive for the ‘R.I.P.’ Category

I’ve been putting off writing this because I’ve not been sure how much I want to share about what this man meant to me. But it’s late, I’ve had a few beers, and I’mma just say what I want.

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May you forever avoid Sybil Fawlty.

 

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Gonna make an attempt to comment on the Grammys – they’re on CBS so there’s no new The Good Wife tonight. Drinking game: one for every mention of Whitney Houston. Have 911 on speed dial for alcohol poisoning.

– Blonde, bridal on the RC: must be Taylor Swift.

– Looking the complete opposite: Adele. She looks great, but one presumes that’s not her performance outfit.

– LL Cool J, being remarkably straightforward about what the show’s going to like.

– Katy Perry just goosed Robyn on camera. I … don’t know what to do with that.

– Nicki Minaj just turned up with “the Pope.” Slightly less attention-grabbing than Gaga’s arrival via egg, but still: keep it classy, Nicki.

– I feel like I’ve seen Fergie’s dress before. (Edit: I have! Gaultier, stealing from himself. Thanks Fug Girls!) She clearly decided against “sombre and respectful.” She is also tripping all over it to show it off to ET Canada. At some point, you just need to give up on the shoe cam, guys.

– Aaaand, Rihanna’s barely wearing a dress at all.

– Aw, Mumford & Sons are cute! I don’t think I knew what they looked like before tonight.

– Daaaaaamn, John Legend looks GOOD. He’s dressed in chocolate brown, can I lick him?

– NPH! He looks adorbs.

– THANK YOU, ET Canada, for explaining the difference between Record/Song/Album of the Year. I’ve always wondered. I will probably forget within a week, but it’s nice to know they’re not arbitrary designations.

– Having the Boss and the E Street Band open is kind of like having Prince do it – there’s nowhere to go but down. Hope there’ll be some kind of tribute to Clarence Clemmons in there, too.

– O…kay. A prayer for Whitney – interesting idea?

– So this Bruno Mars performance is quite fun, but of all the artists one should not try to imitate, James Brown is, like, #1.

– Damn, Bonnie Raitt sounds amazing. More like what Etta really sounded like than all the melisma Alicia Keys is bringing.

– I’m turning the channel while Chris Brown is on in protest. He shouldn’t be allowed on that show in the first place, but it’s particularly ironic on a night they’re paying tribute to Houston, another battered woman.

– And the makers of AutoTune shut off Dave Grohl as he rails against crappy pop music. Bonus: he cut into Seacrest’s time. Love it.

– Why are we celebrating the Beach Boys? I missed the memo.

– If Chris Brown wins a Grammy right now, I’m turning it off.

– And he did. Bye-bye, Grammy broadcast.

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While not as foreseeable as Amy Winehouse’s passing, the death of Whitney Houston, though shocking, doesn’t come entirely out of the blue, given her lifestyle for the past 15 to 20 years. There have been rumours for a long time that the sweet image she projected in her numerous videos was simply a creation of her label’s PR team, and that the drugged-out, nasty piece of work she became in later years was her true self. After all, one of the big hits off her breakthrough album was about sleeping with another woman’s husband.

Nevertheless, it’s always heartbreaking to see a true talent gone so terribly wrong. Her eponymous album was one of the first I owned when I started breaking away from my parents’ steady diet of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, and as much as Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Tina Turner, she helped define an era. Really sorry you didn’t get your shit together, Whitney. Rest in peace.

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Sometimes it’s awful being right.

Obviously, I’m one of probably several million people who foresaw an early, tragic end for Amy Winehouse, I’m not claiming some kind of clairvoyant superiority here. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not fun to have “Man, that poor girl’s going to wind up dead” confirmed.

What is it about talent and addiction that so often seem to go hand-in-hand? Would everything from Rubber Soul on have happened if the Beatles had never discovered drugs? What about Alice in Wonderland? I’d never deny that mind-altering drugs can open gateways to new ideas and thus, new art. But are they necessary? Would Aaron Sorkin and David Milch still be in the company of David Chase, David Simon and Matt Weiner if they’d been clean and sober all their lives? (I am assuming the latter three do not have addictions in the AA sense – I’ve never read anything suggesting that they do, anyway.)

More importantly, how do you separate the survivors from the non? What makes Keith Richards different from Winehouse, not to mention Joplin, Cobain and Hendrix (all of whom died at the tender age of 27)?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. It’s something I think about from time to time, but I’ve yet to come to any conclusions. The most definitive piece I’ve ever read on the issue was from Baked Potatoes: A Pot Smokers Guide to Film and Video, which took the examples of Caddyshack, early SNL, Animal House and various other well-baked comedies of that era and compared them to, well, Caddyshack II, later SNL, etc. As you’d suspect from the title, the authors of the book were in favour of the effect of drugs on comedy, and using those examples it’s hard to disagree, although I’d argue that, say, Christopher Guest’s work is funnier than anything John Belushi ever did (both on SNL and in film) and so far as I know he’s never been a user.

(Can you even imagine what Chris Guest on drugs would be like? Worst. Trip. Ever.)

Anyway. The real tragedy of Winehouse’s death is that she wasn’t able to pull herself together enough to create more music. It’s possible she might never have surpassed Back to Black, sober or no. But we’ll never know one way or the other. This news means mourning not only the life snuffed out, but the art she might have created. “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.'” Winehouse married a retro vibe with contemporary lyrics in a way that hadn’t hit the mainstream for ages – Harry Connick, Jr’s, Red Light, Blue Light was a forebear and Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” was a descendant. Back to Black also introduced the Dap Kings to a wider audience, for which we should forever be grateful.

Rest in peace, Amy. I hope you’re happier now.

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You and me are gonna go round and round

Mr. Pink. Marcellus Wallis. Viola De Lessups. Jay and Silent Bob. Graham Dalton. Laszlo de Amalsy. The Bride.

If you’re of a certain age, you can barely remember movies without Bob and Harvey Weinstein. They started out as a tiny distribution company, and grew into a mini-major that changed the face of film, helping to usher in what will some day likely be seen as a third Golden Age in Hollywood.

As of today, Miramax, the studio that brought us Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Clerks, Shakespeare in Love and The English Patient, among others, is basically dead. The film business got medieval on its ass.

According to Disney, which bought out Bob and Harvey in 1993, Miramax is “not dead” and will continue to operate within Walt Disney Studios. But the company’s offices in L.A. and New York are closing, and around 80 people are losing their jobs.

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Do you suppose John Hughes is being laid to rest at the Coughlin Brothers mortuary? We could call, but we’ll probably get the answering machine. Fortunately, they’ll get back to us just as soon as humanly possible.

John Hughes’ films, particulary his 80s opuses Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, are a part of your childhood/teen years, if you’re of a certain age. I was younger than all his characters when these movies came out, but boy, did I understand them. The Breakfast Club remains, in my opinion, the best teen movie ever made – above even Fast Times and Dazed and Confused – because it dealt with not just sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and the insufferable stupidity of adults, but, most importantly, class. Other teen films would take up that theme, but The Breakfast Club did it best.

I remember reading an oral history in Premiere about TBC, where Hughes said he thought he’d better become a director because his scripts kept getting screwed up. And he shot TBC in sequence, because he didn’t know you could do it another way. And how Molly Ringwald (who was a heroine of mine as a pre-teen) had wanted to play Allison, and how Ally Sheedy was relieved because she (Sheedy) could never have played Claire.

People complain now that the nerd doesn’t get the girl – but that was realistic for the time frame. Nerd culture wasn’t as dominant in the mid-80s as it is now. People also complain – with more reason – about Allison’s transformation into a brunette Barbie at the end of the film. That bothers me now, but as a pre-teen Allison myself, all I wanted at that age was to be a Claire. (Actually, the person I identified most with at that time was Brian. If I’d ever got an F in high school I’d probably have considered killing myself too.)

All that said, Ferris Buellers’ Day Off is my favourite Hughes film. I doubt I’ll ever agree with Ben Stein on anything else, but he calls Ferris a life-affirming film, and I totally concur. Yes, it’s a fantasy, with a happier ending than a) happens in most of Hughes’ films and b) usually happens in real life. But it doesn’t matter. Ferris was the kind of popular guy we all wished existed at our high schools: friendly and helpful to one and all. Plus, the film is hilarious. One of my best friends routinely starts laughing at the beginning of the “Twist and Shout” parade sequence in anticipation of the guy who flips over the crowd. In honour of him, in honour of all of us who grew up in the 80s, in honour of Mr. Hughes, please enjoy the above film clip – one of the best sequences of contemporary cinema, film snobs and artistes be damned. So long, John Hughes, and thanks for all the flicks.

 

 

(An appreciation on Suite 101)

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