2011 Oscar Backlash?

It seems like there's a lot of James Franco/Anne Hathaway backlash this morning. I understand that, but let's not forget that there's more context to the Oscars than the hosts. This year there weren't any controversial nail-biting races and in truth, there weren't any films or people that I was rooting against. So if the ceremony felt boring, some of that was circumstantial.

Also, the producers played with fire by trying to put a modern twist on what everyone always hopes will be a classic, throwback ceremony. Hollywood is a place we think of as jaded and sinister mostly today and The Oscars are the one time of year when we all hope to reconnect with old world glamour. I don't really think they made any huge missteps, other than maybe some of the writing and bantering that went past witty and ended up in accidental sarcasm shifting the tone toward a bit of audience confusion and discomfort. But maybe this will teach us all a collective lesson in trying to tell producers how to run their awards ceremonies.


Live Blogging - The 2011 Oscars

Well....here we go again. I've been watching red carpet footage for a while. Everyone looks stunning, as usual. But admittedly, I'm distracted thinking about the opening ceremonies.

I wonder, will they be cringe-inducing or classy? Awkward or elegant? As my friend Jen always reminds me this time of year, it will NEVER be worse than the Rob Lowe/Snow White musical debacle of 1988 that Disney has attempted to scrub from our collective memories.

Oh yeah...it happened.


"Best Action Heroines" Put On Hiatus

It's been killing me a bit, but I've had to put my blog all about action heroines on hiatus until further notice. It seems like a terrible time, with all the exciting action heroine news happening. Just a decade ago, Lara Croft seemed unusual and revolutionary. Geek girls, like myself, just had a handful of strong women from the adventure and action genres that they could enjoy. Now, well...take your pick. I used to feel like a lone voice in the world of feminist geeks.

But along with this emergence of more action heroines, there are also a slew of talented critics who specialize in reviewing and analyzing their appearances. So I'm going to let them take over for a while, maybe popping in for a review every now and then or writing up some criticisms to share with my fellow members of the WFCC, but right now I need to focus on my thesis and my freelance.

However, the site will stand indefinitely, as will my library of reviews and there is still a book in the works. So feel free to visit the site any time you like and leave as many comments and questions as you like. I check comments about once a week.


SyFy's "Face Off" - The Good, The Bad and The Annoying

If you haven't heard, there's a new show on SyFy called Face Off. It's a reality show that pits aspiring makeup and special effects artists against each other in a Survivor-like challenge to be the last one standing. The prize in this case is a year's supply of makeup and of course, the longer you stay on the show the more exposure you get as an artist.

The host of the show is McKenzie Westmore, an actress and daughter to one of the most prolific Hollywood makeup artists of all time, Michael Westmore. The show started a few weeks ago and I've been watching On Demand ever since because I'm usually too busy during the week to catch it when it airs on Wednesday nights. There's also the small matter of the fact that the show is completely addictive. (A little problem I've stumbled upon with An Idiot Abroad too...)

What's Good?

1. First and foremost, getting to spend time with the legendary judges is high on the good list. (Well, legendary if you geek out to behind-the-scenes info like I do.) Glenn Hetrick, Patrick Tatopoulos, and my favorite Ve Neill of Beetlejuice, Pirates of the Caribbean and Galaxy Quest fame, put other snotty judge panels to shame. They share as much as they can with contestants and they don't pull any punches, but they also don't put contestants through the obnoxious American Idol-like theatrics meant to build suspense. What results is a judging process that feels closer to something aspiring makeup artists might actually someday have to go through when auditioning for a job by talking through their portfolios and sharing work samples. They tell the audience exactly how they choose the eliminated contestant. Also unlike other shows, they seem to be able to sniff out personal drama and immediately disregard it as having any bearing on the artistic work. So unlike other reality shows, this competition might actually have a winner that deserves to win, and not one who wins because of personal craftiness or behind-the-scenes shenanigans.


The Enchanted Tiki Room - Details Galore

A fantastic post over at Neatorama documents some great details of this beloved animatronic show that I just mentioned in my Top 12 California Movies list. This ride is one of my greatest inspirations and it has been the source of many articles and blogs I've written over the years.

Read the Neatorama article and enjoy some of the facts behind the magic.

12 Iconic California Movies

We're headed to California for another visit soon. Naturally, I have the compulsive need to "prepare" by watching as many relevant movies as I can. Nothing says California more to me than the silent film era in that tiny, undeveloped orange grove known as Los Angeles. In one of Mary Pickford's biographies, she says the air smelled strongly of citrus at all times. Can you imagine?

When I dream of L.A., I imagine what it represents, not what it actually is today. Maybe that's naive. But hey...my vacation, my list. These are the 12 iconic California movies that scream Los Angeles to me.

1. The Rocketeer is an adventure classic. Made in an era before comic-book movies had truly taken off in the film industry, The Rocketeer has a straight-forward tone. No winking at the camera, no self-awareness, just a sincere story with high stakes. The cinematography is gorgeous, Alan Arkin adds gravitas and Johnston nails the tone and look of the comics. (It's what makes him the perfect choice for the Captain America movie, which he also directed.)

2. Chinatown is the film noir that chronicles the story of a city-wide fight for water rights in 1920's LA. This is a true classic, known for its tension and careful cinematography that frames each shot with care, pushing every scene to add something to the story visually even when no dialogue is being spoken.

3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit captures the same film noir spirit of Chinatown, but it combines that spirit with the pop sugary look and feel of late eighties Spielberg. Even the DVD menus have you zipping around a studio backlot. This movie is a love letter to the iconic presence of Old Hollywood in our collective consciousness.

4. The Three Amigos may seem like a silly choice, seeing as how the majority of the story takes place in Mexico. But once again, we have a humorous take on the silent film studios.

5. Chaplin tells the story of Charlie Chaplin, and though the film drifts from Los Angeles to Europe and beyond, it covers an important era in filmmaking history. It's also the story of the filmmaking industry.

6. Xanadu is a legendary cheesecake musical that may just be the eighties incarnate. It features iconic California locations, like the Hollywood Bowl and beach boardwalks.

7. The Big Lebowski is the surreal Coen Brothers comedy that takes you through some of the seedier sides of the city. It's palm trees, stucco, and hardwood floors. It's film noir. It's everything good, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and...up to Pismo.

8. Bowfinger is an underappreciated comedy about desperate filmmakers. And what's more LA than that? The story unfolds in studio bungalows and Hollywood hob-nob spots. It's better than you remember. Watch it. ASAP.

9.The World's Greatest Lover is a little known Gene Wilder classic. It tells the story of a frustrated Mid-Western man who pulls up stakes and moves to Hollywood in a vain attempt to become the next Rudolph Valentino.

10. Pee Wee's Big Adventure is a road movie, but it culminates in one of the most iconic Hollywood backlot scenes ever filmed. Hollywood is nothing like what this movie shows, but it's a perfect representation of the dream-like Hollywood we all have in the back of our minds.

11. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I know, I know. This made-for-TV movie starring Steve Guttenberg shows up on a lot of my lists. I can't help myself...I'm obsessed with theme parks...

12. The Muppet Movie culminates in the ultimate Hollywood movie studio scene and the real dream behind the image of California. "Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing. Keep pretending."

I know there are plenty of iconic California movies that didn't make my list. There's L.A. Story, L.A. Confidential, The Muse and more. So what movie really says, "California" to you?


An Internet Meme I Can Get With...You Can't Explain That

What is an internet meme you ask?

It's a fad, something like lolcats, a trend usually having to do with humor that pops up on the internet and inspires lots of guffaws and home-made spin-offs.

(Think "All Your Base Are Belong to Us", FAIL, and more.)

THIS is a new one I happen to be enjoying to the fullest, at a website that I didn't know existed before today. Which seems impossible...nevertheless, enjoy!

In Defense of the "Crazy" Bachelor Contestants or Pretty Hate Machine: The TV Show

I'm going to unapologetically begin this blog with a defensive statement. If you're the type of person who might read an article that's critical of a TV show and say, "If you don't like it, you shouldn't watch it," please stop reading now.

Don't waste your own time. I will likely infuriate you.

Everything floating around the public sphere is open for debate and discussion. In this post, I'll analyze parts of the show The Bachelor. This show is huge in the ratings right now, despite the fact that in 25 seasons there have only been two successful marriages.

It's largest demographic is women, in every age bracket of viewership. In other words, a gigantic chunk of female America is watching this show.  The fact that some people, believe it or not, think the show is real, makes it worthy of discussion.

Disclaimer over, let's begin...


Script Bits - Are Zombies Played Out? (and more screenwriting questions)

Jake and I trade off on some of the blogging duties over at Five Sprockets nowadays, but I've really missed blogging regularly and so I've made a brief return for the last couple of blogs. I love writing about what's happening in the film industry and for the past couple of years, it's been really fun to know about every film before it even enters production by keeping track of the world of screenwriting.

I look forward to getting back to Five Sprockets more often after finishing my thesis. I'm really in love with screenwriting, it's something I enjoy teaching my students. It's something I enjoy doing. I love to see the power of the written word translated onscreen.

And Five Sprockets is the best screenwriting website I've ever seen and it's why I continue to participate there. Not to get all soap-boxy, but I think that anyone and everyone should have the right to tell their story, or any story they can dream up for that matter, and Five Sprockets is a website that empowers people to do just that, walking them through each phase (or "sprocket") of the production process.

Still not convinced enough to click on the link? What if I told you I talk about Johnny Depp this week?

Click away friends, click away...

Script Bits - Are Zombies Played Out? (and more screenwriting questions)


Indiana Public Radio

Just another IPR story I recently completed. I don't usually post my radio stories here, because they don't often have to do with my much-beloved geek culture. 

Season One of "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" - What's Up With This Show?

When it comes to television, I've always loved 20/20, CBS' Sunday Morning, and as much non-fiction as I can get. There's a name for this type of programming and its called documentary television. And it's one of my many media addictions. I love all things PBS. I've recently discovered An Idiot Abroad, a priceless travel show hosted by an average Englishman hand-picked by Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant for his many similarities to Homer Simpson. I even love Destination Truth, a sometimes laughably goofy SyFy show that travels the world looking for cryptids. I'll watch any documentary TV having anything to do with travel especially if there's humor involved. (It's a big part of the reason why I started our little web series about theme parks, which is still very much in development.)


Eight Short Hair Inspirations from Film and Television

I went for a trim at my hairstylist this weekend and got the hack job of a lifetime. It's not a bad haircut, it's just nothing close to the haircut that I wanted. I even brought a picture and I gave two specific instructions.

1. Don't cut my hair above my chin.
2. Don't give me layers. I am a weak-chinned woman, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. It's just the way the bone-structure cookie crumbles.

But when my hair gets cut above my chin, I tend to look a little bit like Dana Carvey.

Bad haircuts seem to happen to me a lot. I must just not look like I know what I'm doing when I'm sitting in that chair. Well, there's that and the fact that I'm blind as a bat without my glasses, which are always removed during a haircut leaving me completely helpless to stop any overzealous snipping.

Instead of doing my usual month-long pout fest,  I'm going to make a list of a few of my favorite women of the stage and screen (big screen and small screen) who look sassy and stunning without long hair.

1. Special Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files - Who needs hair below the chin when you're an FBI doctor who is packing heat? Honestly...Scully didn't have time for curling irons or a half an hour for styling in the morning. She had conspiracies to track, so a practical style was a must.


The week in Theme Parks

Well, after a long and exhaustive search for a new name that isn't already trademarked or under copyright, our web series about theme and amusement parks is changing from "Park Geeks" to "Theme Parks with Audrey and Jake". We were *this* close to Shark Creeks, but we figure there's probably a Mr. Shark Creek out there or a website about dolphins or something that already has www.sharkcreeks.com trademarked. So "Theme Parks with Audrey and Jake" it is. It's been a long week of changing graphics, changing links and urls, and more and there's still a lot of work ahead. But we're well on our way to making a full transition.

Also, my most recent Retro Orlando column was published today. It has all of my favorite things in it...Disney World, The Golden Girls and Steve Gutenberg.