Tag Archives: Charlize Theron

SXSW: Atomic Blonde

I was sitting on the floor of the Austin Convention Center, waiting to get into the SXSW conversation between Nick Offerman and Nick Kroll when I got the news: Stella was gone. Out for a walk in the mountains near her Zurich home with her husband and her beloved Boxer, Odin, she slipped in some snow and fell 40m to her death. Just like that, one of the most vibrant women I’ve ever known, gone forever. Unfortunately I’ve had some experience with losing people unexpectedly, but that doesn’t make it easier. It’s unreal, incomprehensible. Sean held me tight as I fell apart in the middle of hundreds or thousands of happy festival-goers. I think Sean’s first thought was to get my soppy self back to the hotel room where I could grieve less publicly, but instead I found myself being filtered into the Nick Offerman thing, and then following my rigorous SXSW schedule, one thing after another: Bob Odenkirk and Fred Armisen, followed by Lemon, followed by Atomic Blonde. But it just so happens that the screening for Atomic Blonde ran late, and as I sat in an increasingly crowded theatre listening to a DJ spin some danceable 80s music, I had too much time to think, and my thoughts were filled with Stella, my own Atomic Blonde. This review is inadequately dedicated to her memory.

Atomic Blonde is a cross between James Bond and John Wick, except its protagonist, Lorraine (Charlize Theron), could kick both their asses without smudging her lipstick. Charlize made a splash as a kick-ass hero in Mad Max: Fury Road but this movie is pure Id, all sex and violence, with some 80s fashion and music thrown in for your hedonistic pleasure. Lorraine is an undercover MI6 agent sent to Berlin in the days before the Wall comes down to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a important list containing the names of double agents.

James McAvoy plays David, a fellow agent who’s been in Berlin a little too long. Berlin is, of course, in a state of chaos. Everything is changing, everything is moving fast. Lorraine has basically been sent into an impossible situation, and she’s going to have to fight like hell just to survive, let alone fulfill her mission.

The fight choreography on this film is amazing. Full stop incredible. Director David Leitch co-directed the first John Wick (uncredited) and will direct the second Deadpool, but he got his start in stunt work in films like Blade, Fight Club, Daredevil, and The Matrix films. His action sequences, which are perhaps 80% of Atomic Blonde, are faultless but relentless. The actors are BRUTALIZED.  Charlize Theron had 8 trainers to prepare her for the role, and she trained alongside Keanu Reeves as he got ready for John Wick 2. Theron is fearless and dauntless. The violence is graphic and unending. The story, however, isn’t quite equal to it.

The story is retold during an investigation conducted by an MI6 officer (Toby Jones) and a CIA executive (John Goodman). They’re an odd couple good for a couple well-needed laughs, but it drags you out of the action and out of Lorraine’s flashy world where her slick 80s ensembles (big props to Cindy Evans for creating so many memorable looks) are an interesting juxtaposition to Berlin’s crumbling dumpster fire of a city. And the thing is, with a premise that’s almost silly in its duplicity, the action is really the justification for this movie’s existence. With long cuts and mind-numbing body counts, the fight design won’t disappoint action purists. But anyone requiring a satisfying story should maybe look elsewhere.

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A Million Ways to Die in the West

So my mother gave me a film recommendation last weekend. She couldn’t remember the title, naturally, but she said it was an 1800’s western where they “say modern jokes.” Had my brother-in-law not come to the rescue I may never have guessed Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. A critical and commercial flop, I would never thought that its only thought was my mother of all people: the woman who taught us that “shut up” and “vagina” were bad words, and who to this day can barely utter “Frig” when the absolute worst has happened.

a-million-ways-to-die-in-the-westYet just ten seconds in, someone’s shouting “Pussy!” – a term I’m sure was used very sparingly in the western novels by Louis L’amour her father always read. Then there’s the death by flatulence, and Oscar winner Charlize Theron’s fat ass, and Sarah Silverman’s sore asshole. And MY MOTHER WATCHED THIS.

The premise of the movie is “the west fucking sucks and I bet I can get a lot of mileage out of that.” In truth, you can get a little mileage out of it.  Seth McFarlane, managing to only half sound like Peter Griffin, somehow attracts not just Theron but Amanda Seyfried as well, even though he’s a terrible sheep herder and looks stupid in a bolo tie. There are a few laughs along the way but the plot is useless-to-nonexistent, yet it still takes entirely too long for nothing to ever happen.

So, Mom, what was your favourite part? The daisy up the butt? The 15 year old spinsters?maxresdefault The sheep penis? No, wait. It was the pooping in hats, wasn’t it? I bet it was the diarrhea-filled cowboy hats that really got you giggling. A Million Ways to Die in the West will cost you 116 minutes of your life, but finding out your mother has a dirty, disgusting sense of humour? That’s priceless.

 

Kubo And The Two Strings

A little dark, and a little melancholy for kids, but for me, near perfection.

Kubo is a little boy with a magical, ancient Japanese banjo. Well, technically the banjo wasn’t ancient at the time – he lives in ancient Japan. And the banjo isn’t actually a banjo, it’s a shamisen. When he plays his magical shamisen, his origami comes to life and helps him tell awesome stories about warriors and samurai. He’s busking, essentially, and the captivated crowd rewards him with a few coins – a good thing because he provides for his sick mother, who lives outside the village in a cave.  When she’s not in a trance, she’s adamant that Kubo always return before sundown. It was surprisingly sound advice from the mentally ill because THE ONE TIME he doesn’t, hell breaks loose. Ancient Japanese hell.

kubo-and-the-two-strings-530x298Turns out, Kubo’s grandfather is some sort of Moon God. Grandfather has already “stolen” one of Kubo’s eyes and wants to get his hands on the other – in blindness, his grandson can join him in immortality, ruling the sky. He sends his 2 creepy daughters to do the dirty work while his 3rd daughter, Kubo’s mom, struggles to protect him with what little magic she has left.

The movie is a grand adventure with more beauty in any random 30 seconds than The Secret Life of Pets has in its entire running time. As usual with Laika productions (they brought you Coraline), there are darker feelings at play, a sometimes ominous and foreboding tone unusual in a children’s movie, and yet the kids in the audience seemed to tolerate it better than they did Pete’s Dragon. It’s a glorious act of story-telling that feels like something genuinely passed down for generations. Every time Kubo picks up his shamisen, be prepared for some of the loveliest music you’ll hear at the movies. It sweeps you up into the magic of his origami, and the whole thing feels alive and vibrant, steeped in a culture filled with divine tradition.

Kubo And The Two Strings is surprisingly well-balanced tonally, able to incorporate gags meant Kubo-and-the-Two-Strings-just for kids between bouts of horror, humour, and yes, tragedy. It’s quite brave, when you think of it. Suicide Squad pulled back on the Joker’s villainy, and Ben-Hur rewrote some of its savagery. This, a meticulously animated piece of art, has the backbone to trust children with some rather heavy themes. And it does it while also being the most visually arresting thing I’ve seen at the movies this year. It’s a spectacle, and a technical triumph. Having no wordly idea how they pulled some scenes off just adds to the magic. Laika is no stranger to Oscar nominations for animation, and is sure to earn another, but this movie demolishes even their own high bar. Laika doesn’t have the cachet of Pixar so politically, beating Finding Dory will be difficult. But the proof is on the big screen: it is undoubtedly the better film.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is the sister we know: kinda evil, not above killing kings in order to usurp their kingdoms. Ravenna is the one who the-huntsmantormented Snow White in the last movie, the wicked step mother, if you will. Her younger and less-known sister Freya (Emily Blunt) has powers that resemble Elsa’s, from Frozen, and they’re awakened when she undergoes a personal tragedy. She flees in grief, and tortured by sad and angry thoughts, she establishes her own land, her own army, all ruled with the vengeance in her heart. The best of her army turn out to be Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) and they attract Freya’s unwelcome attention. They also attract each other and there’s a little bow-chicka-bow-wow. But Freya, scorned by love, can’t bear to seem them together, and slays Sara.

Meanwhile, back at home with Ravenna are the events of the previous movie. Ravenna recruits Eric, aka, The Hunstman, to capture Snow White after her escape, and promises to bring his wife back to life as a reward. a-sneak-peek-at-the-gorgeous-costumes-in-the-huntsman-winters-war-1740031-1461183847_640x0cHowever, he quickly switches allegiance and together they defeat and kill the Evil Queen, and Snow White is crowned in her place.

In this movie, an unseen Snow White (Kristen Stewart does not reprise her role) asks The Hunstman to do one final thing: to get rid of Ravenna’s magic mirror, still a source of evil.

You’ve probably already heard that this movie is not super good, and I’m not able to tell you any different. I’m also pretty grumbly about the fact that a movie with 3 strong female leads is still named after the man.

I’m going to focus on the thing that this movie does right, and that’s noticeably its costuming. It should be a surprise to none of you that Colleen Atwood is behind the genius designs.

a-sneak-peek-at-the-gorgeous-costumes-in-the-huntsman-winters-war-1740028-1461183847_640x0cOn Freya’s costumes, Atwood says: I sourced a lot of fabric in Italy for the dresses that she wears. She has a lot of Italian velvets and silk in her dress and croquets from different vendors in Italy. Some of her fabric is vintage fabric I had in my stock. We wanted Freya to have something that wasn’t a crown. I have a 3-D printer in my crafts department, and this guy is a genius at operating it. I said, “Let’s do little tiny feathers and glue themmaxresdefault together.” So we grew that mask as separate elements in a 3-D printer and applied them to a facemask.

On Ravenna’s look: We built a different kind of cloak with feathers that I had all hand-foiled and made into the cape. It was quite an a-sneak-peek-at-the-gorgeous-costumes-in-the-huntsman-winters-war-1740032-1461183847_640x0cordeal for the people who had to feather it. I had a feather room, where it was just feathers stuck into Styrofoam. It was really beautiful, you walked in and there were all these shelves with gold feathers stuck in foam before we applied them to the cape.

On working in the fantasy\period genre: The big challenge is that you’re working with modern bodies, you’re working with people that are three times the size what people were in the actual periods. When you look at all the costumes from historical figures, you realize how small they were. You have to adapt that period or that fantasy silhouette to a modern body so that it doesn’t look charlizereally goofy. You back away from it to get the proportions right, so that you feel it’s historical, even though it’s on somebody eight inches taller than the average man was in that period, and it’s a woman.

Poor Charlize Theron

Because we all have deep wells of sympathy for gorgeous, billionaire blondes, here’s why Charlize Theron thinks you should feel sorry for her today: she’s just too pretty!

“Jobs with real gravitas go to people that are physically right for them and that’s the end of the story,”says the woman who won an Oscar for playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster.

“How many roles are out there for the gorgeous, fucking, gown-wearing eight-footcharlize model?” Charlize said in the May issue of British GQ, whining that “when meaty roles come through, I’ve been in the room and pretty people get turned away first.”

This coming from a woman who not only has a robust career as an actress, but also makes millions on the side every year modelling for Dior and the like. Sucks to be her!

Weirdly, her best example of beauty-discrimination is a role that she actually did get. “I was auditioning for a lot of stuff where they thought I was too pretty,” Theron recently told the Wall Street Journal, complaining that she almost didn’t get a role in the 1997 film f881eef577c711b4609f0a4091deec40_largeDevil’s Advocate because director Taylor Hackford thought she was too good looking to play such a gritty role. “Devil’s Advocate was probably the hardest — they put me through the wringer,” Charlize told the publication recently, “Taylor just wasn’t convinced. He was like, ‘If you were his wife, why would he cheat on you?’ So there. She’s also too pretty to be cheated on. And definitely too pretty to realize how stupid she sounds. I mean, if you’re going to show up to accept Spike TV’s “Decade of Hotness” award, you just have to be prepared to accept all the terrible fallout that comes along with it.

So here’s a list of ugly women Hollywood cast instead of Charlize Theron, the woman too pretty to land jobs in a looks-obsessed industry:
nicole23Nicole Kidman – this ugmo got the lead role in Moulin Rouge instead of Charlize, who can’t sing, incidentally, but the main reason was of course, her distracting beauty, which is why they replaced her with Kidman, who after all, only models for Chanel, Jimmy Choo, and Omega, though that’s not an exhaustive list.

 

Theron was originally cast as Greta Wegener in The Danish Girl but she was just tooGwyneth_Paltrow_s_450x300 beautiful, so she has to be replaced by someone far plainer – Gwyneth Paltrow (who admittedly models for Hugo Boss and Estee Lauder), who actually was still too damned beautiful, so they got rid of her and went with the plainest woman they could think of, Marion 04-Marion-CotillardCotillard (yes, she technically models for the same brand as Charlize – Dior – but it’s in the uglier handbag section, so it barely counts), and then they thought, jeez, I don’t know, maybe even crummy old Marion is still just a little too pretty for this, so let’s call up that frumpy dancer, Alicia Vikander (who barely manages a Louis Vuittoalicia-vikander-the-danish-girln campaign)

 

 

25C2136A00000578-0-Naomi_wears_Revitalift_Filler_Day_Cream-m-6_1424282506380Theron was in consideration for the role of Helen Gandy in J. Edgar, but the director realized, no, this woman is just too beautiful, and so he hired the repulsive Naomi Watts instead, once voted #2 in the French edition of FHM magazine’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World 2006”, presumably right behind Miss Theron, and a model for Pantene and Ann Taylor.

tumblr_nk72jbtvJn1r3scxwo1_1280

Charlize’s utter radiance has had to be replaced not once but twice by plain Jane Reese Witherspoon, in both Sweet Home Alabama and Legally Blonde (a role arguably meant for an attractive blonde woman, but I suppose there’s attractive and there’s too attractive). Luckily Witherspoon, ranked #1 on E!’s Hollywood’s Hottest Blondes, had time between her successful Gap modelling campaign to accept these wallflower roles.

 

Kate Winslet by Alexi Lubomirski (Kate Rock'n'Roll - UK Harper's Bazaar April 2013) 6And then there was the time Charlize auditioned for the role of Rose in Titanic. James Cameron must have also been ultimately discouraged by her exquisiteness, poked around for someone a little less stunning and thankfully landed upon the face of Lancome herself, Kate Winslet. Gross.

So there you have it. Charlize has suffered immensely from her beauty. But she’s not always replaced by uglies. Sometimes she’s replaced by the just so-so, the average people, like you and me, like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. She’s no Charlize, so few are, but since she’s angelinejolie1-jpgdefinitively a few rungs lower, a solid 6 on a good hair day, she was able to land the role of a video game character, who are known for their realistic-looking women.

So there you have it: Charlize Theron is beautiful, and also a bit of an ass. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out how she’s also been discriminated against for being white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Cameos in Music Videos

Not so very long ago, we were discussing famous movie directors who cut their teeth on MTV, but actors have an even more storied history of popping up in random music videos. Here’s a batch of my favourites (sorry James Van der Beek, as much as I appreciate rainbow lasers, this post is for A-listers only):

Make Some Noise, Beastie Boys

When Adam Yauch was too sick to appear in this video, a whole slew of celebrities lined up to help out their favourite MCs. Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, and Elijah Wood stand in for the Boys, but you’ll need all your fingers and all your toes to count the celebrity cameos on this video. Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman, Will Arnett, and Will Ferrell with his cowbell all make appearances, but blink and you’ll miss em! For an extended (like 30 minute) version with Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Adam Scott, Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Dan Aykroyd and more, follow this link.

I Really Like You, Carly Rae Jepson

I would never have heard this song if not for the fact that Tom Hanks (yes, that Tom Hanks!) stars in the video, solidifying our already niggling suspicion that Hanks is pretty much the most interesting human being ever. How on earth did they land such a huge star? “I literally had a beer in my hand and I said, ‘Yeah sure I’ll do it,'” – it was as easy as that. This will absolutely put a little joy in your heart, and be sure to stay right to the end when he joins in the inevitable choreography: it’s fucking worth it.

Weapon of Choice, Fatboy Slim

Predictable but absolutely necessary inclusion to the list. This video reinvigorated Christopher Walken, turned him into an icon for a whole other generation, and turned a stale music video industry on its ear.

Giving Up the Gun, Vampire Weekend

They brought out the big guns for this video: Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a drunken tennis player (“Well, that’s the only way anyone’s going to beat me, if I’m that wasted,” Gyllenhaal joked. “They call me, like, the John McEnroe of action films”) showing some major leg – and shout to RZA while we’re at it. “They’re all really cool guys … and the Jonas Brothers, the RZA and Lil Jon, we all usually chill anyway. Actually, we were up in San Francisco, and I was like, ’You guys, do you want to come down with me?’ And Lil Jon was like, ’I’m busy,’ and I was like, ’Come on, man, get in the car!’ So we all chilled out, listened to the whole album, and the RZA was dope. He was great. He sat shotgun, because that’s where he likes to sit usually. … We all hang out because we’re all really good friends.”

Stylo, Gorillaz

So Gorillaz, who are animated, naturally, get into a car chase with Bruce Willis, who is not. Some things are too strange to be made up.

I Want Love, Elton John

It makes sense that the rocket man would tap iron man for a little help once in a while – and before he donned that Marvel suit, Robert Downey Junior had some time on his hands.

Crossfire, Brandon Flowers

Charlize Theron is everyone’s favourite badass heroine, so I suppose this video was probably stolen right from the director’s wet dream.

What Goes Around Comes Around, Justin Timberlake

A huge hit deserves a huge star, so Scarlett Johansson gets cast as the cheating whore who gets what she deserves: a fiery death. Kind of harsh, isn’t it? Brought to you by the same director who did Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Trouble, Pink

Recognize the sherriff of Sharktown? It’s none other than Jeremy Renner in eyeliner and a cowboy hat, that’s who!

Anybody Seen My Baby, The Rolling Stones

Need someobody who’s “more than beautiful?” You can’t do better than Angelina Jolie. Angelina was married at the time (to Jonny Lee Miller) but that didn’t stop her and Mick from hooking up, or from Jagger’s obsessing over her for two whole years.

Mumford & Sons, Hopeless Wanderer

Mumford and his sons prove they DO have a sense of humour about themselves with this spoof video starring Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis,and Will Forte. The video’s a lot of fun, and these guys sing a lot more earnestly than the real sons ever dared to.

Elastic Heart, Sia

This one may push the bounds of A-list, but how can we not talk about hot mess Shia Leboeuf bringing us yet another chapter in the dude’s book of dubious experimentation? I mean, haven’t you ever wanted to watch a 28 year old mentally unstable man beat on a little girl in a cage match?

Honourable mentions: Daniel Radcliffe in Slow Club’s Beginners; Aubrey Plaza in Father John Misty’s Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings; Olivia Wilde in Dashboard Confessional’s Stolen; Rupert Grint in Ed Sheeran’s Lego House; Helena Bonham Carter in Rufus Wainwright’s Out of the Game; Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone in Aerosmith’s Crazy; Courtney Cox in Bruce Springstein’s Dancing in the Dark (or Counting Crows’ Long December); Christina Hendricks in Broken Bells’ The Ghost Inside; Keanu Reeves in Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush; Macaulay Culkin in Michael Jackson’s Black or White; Zach Galifianakis in Kanye West’s Can’t Tell Me Nothin.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

Wow! I was excited going in to Mad Max last night. I was expecting something crazy and strange.  I got that, only ten times more crazy and strange than I thought. And that is a very, very good thing.

I saw the three Mel Gibson Mad Maxes a long time ago. I don’t remember much except for snippets (the end of #1, the hockey mask guy and tanker chase in #2, the Thunderdome and a bunch of kids in #3). So your mileage may vary but for me, Tom Hardy more than fills Mel Gibson’s shoes. He is amazing. He only has about ten lines in the whole movie but he really doesn’t need to say anything more for us to know what he’s thinking because we are thinking the exact same thing (usually, “What the hell is happening?”). Max isn’t crazy, he’s us. And together we go on a mind-blowing ride through his world/what’s left of ours.

I really don’t want to say anything more. Just see this movie for yourself. I am not promising you will like it (though if you like seeing shit blow up this has to be the one to see in 2015). But they really threw everything into this and made a spectacle. And it is glorious.

Mad Max: Fury Road earns a well deserved rating of 44 chrome-mouthed trips to Valhalla out of ten.

That Thing You Do!

Imagine Tom Hanks on the whirlwind press tour for Forrest Gump. He’s tired of talking about himself all day long. He needs to recharge his creative juices. So what does Tom Hanks do? He spends a month doing press junkets by day and writing a script while eating room service in his hotel room every night. The pages were probably stained with ketchup.

That Thing You Do! was born unto us. It’s about a band of young dudes in 1964 who experience fame for the first time as their pop song rises up the charts. Band-467It’s sweet and wholesome and damn if that song wasn’t catchy – it even got played on our 1996 radio waves for a brief blip in time. Real 60s music was too expensive (and it had been done well and to death in Forrest Gump, thought Hanks) so it was cheaper just to have stuff written. That Thing You Do! was the result of a competition for a “faux-Beatles” song, and it was Adam Schlesinger, the bass player from Fountains of Wayne, who won. When you hear the song in the movie (and BOY do you hear the heck out of that song in the movie!- 11 different times, and the song went on to be nominated for an Oscar but lost to You Must Love Me from Evita), the actors aren’t really playing, but they could have been. Tom Everett Scott, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry and Jonathan Schaech all learned to play their instruments, and learned every note of every song that appeared in the movie.

Charlize Theron appears in the movie as an early groupie of the band: it was 2only her second movie credit. Tom Hanks auditioned her and knew instantly that she’d be famous one day. She was the first person he auditioned, and the first person he cast.”No matter what, I will always claim to have discovered you” he wrote in her script. She won her first Oscar in 2004.

Tom Everett Scott almost didn’t get the part because Hanks thought he looked too much like Hanks. The crew nick-named him Tom Junior and before every take Hanks would remind him “Don’t do it like me!” – but you know what saved him? Tom’s wife, Rita Wilson, thought he was cute.

Speaking of which, when we saw Tom Hanks at the Tribeca Film Festival, he said that this was the movie he was most proud of, because his whole family 2205573,9QsfDywp4n5t1ZzuCiZFMx1wAtqhZbnzpd6pe701UzN1Em+3vDb9zfon3uv_jNxJfz3ogxTr3jHE26akqhRXcA==showed up to work on it. Wife Wilson appears as a cocktail waitress, but Hanks was so tired from pulling 19-hour days the day she showed up on set, he didn’t even recognize her, merely noting that she was “an attractive lady” and he hoped she’d be nice to him. His son Colin also briefly appears in the film, and his daughter Elizabeth even brieflier. Unrelated but also of note: keep your eye out for Bryan Cranston playing an astronaut, and Jonathan Demme playing the director of a major motion picture.

So yes. Tom Hanks wrote, directed, and co-starred in this movie, and even composed some of the music (surprise! He’s also a drummer in his spare time). It was Sean Penn who encouraged him to direct (they were trick or treating with their kids at the time), saying it would ultimately make him a better actor.that-thing-you-do-whysoblu-7

Tom Hanks’ favourite part? Bruce Springsteen once told him that he nailed the scene when the band first hears their music played on the radio. And really, how much better of an endorsement can you get?