Posts tagged ‘Entertainment’

May 18, 2010

Bermuda Triangle: Vampires, Books, and Film

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The undead are everywhere these days. According to Variety , two big book-to-screen adaptations are on the horizon: Jack Kerouac’s American road novel On the Road and Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks , a non-fiction book about a woman whose cancerous cells were collected from her body after her death from cervical cancer and used, without her family’s knowledge or permission, in the study of medical advancements from polio cures to HIV-related treatments.

So what’s the vampiric attachment? Kirsten Dunst recently signed on to star in On the Road , joining Kristen Stewart, among others, on the project. Dunst’s film career took off after her role in the 1994 adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel, Interview with the Vampire , where she played a child-vampire locked in a pre-pubescent body for all eternity. Stewart stars in the Twilight film adaptations. Alan Ball, who is the creator and executive producer of HBO’s “True Blood” series, also about vampires, is attached to produce the telepic based on Skloot’s book for HBO, Variety reports. Oprah, who has yet to reveal her fangs, is also set to produce the project.

May 4, 2010

Natalie Portman is a Zombie!

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Well, maybe not. The New York Daily News reports that the actress will star in and produce an adaptation of the hit smash-up novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. The novel takes Jane Austen’s classic and adds what Austen would have included had she obtained an MFA: zombies. Director Richard Kelly (of Donnie Darko fame) is currently attached to direct. The film is set for a 2011 release.

Seth Grahame-Smith’s most recent novel is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and follows Honest Abe as he tries to keep the U.S. together while simultaneously battling vampires. According to the book, rampant vampirism in the south was a minor cause of the Civil War.

April 10, 2010

Eat, Pray, Watch the Movie

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Coming soon, Eat, Pray, Love (the movie) based on the blockbuster memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert.

February 3, 2010

And the Oscar Goes To….

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The nominees for the 2010 Oscar Awards were released yesterday and among the nominees for best picture (expanded to ten nominees this year) are several movies that originated as books (see below). Notably, the first screenplay by author Nick Hornby, An Education, which was itself based on an autobiographical essay by Lynn Barber, received a nomination for best picture, a nod for best actress, and Hornby a nomination for best screenplay.

The list is not exhaustive but, even among the big award categories, it’s easy to see how much Hollywood borrows from the literary world, a trend not unusual to this year, as past Oscar awards have shown.

So what are the major nominees and the books they were based on?

Best Picture:
The Blind Side
based on the novel The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

An Education
based on the autobiographical essay “An Education,” originally published in Granta by Lynn Barber

based on the novel Push by Sapphire

Up in the Air
based on the novel Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

Best Actor or Supporting Actor:

Christopher Plummer, ‘The Last Station’
based on the novel The Last Station by Jay Parini

Colin Firth, ‘A Single Man’
based on the novel A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Morgan Freeman, ‘Invictus’
based on the book Playing With the Enemy by John Carlin

Stanley Tucci, ‘The Lovely Bones’
based on the novel The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Best Actress:
Meryl Streep, ‘Julie and Julia’
based on the novel Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Best Animated Feature Film:
based on the young adult novel Coraline by Neil Gaiman

‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’
based on the children’s novel Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roland Dahl

July 4, 2009


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My upstairs neighbor is celebrating today by blasting Whitney Houston and bad, 90’s-era Madonna from his stereo, presumably to drown the sound of fireworks exploding up and down the neighborhood streets.


In this spirit, this zine brings you Link-o-Rama, a (hopefully) weekly smash-up of links we think you should check out. Consider it an explosion of topics from writing, women, book sites, book reviews, politics, entertainment, and the truly awesome/horrifying.





Link-o-Rama – Week of July 4, 2009


I love independent bookstores. For folks who don’t have an independent bookstore around, or who prefer the cloying comfort of anonymity in cyberspace,
Better World Books is a close second. Better World is an online social venture company that supports literacy organizations through the sale of its books. Now lets see if Amazon can do that!


Likewise, Salt Publishing is an independent publisher of novels, poetry, and short stories, based in England, but with “book club” subscriptions and books available worldwide.


The Evolution of Chase is a personal website and blog written by Chase herself as she muses her way through life after the trauma of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.


Amy Suskind of The New Agenda writes in the Huffington Post about how sexism against any woman – conservative or otherwise – is still sexism.


A blog post on why women writers continue to remain handicapped (hint: it’s not because we’re not as good).


Salon’s article “Unveiling the revolution” discusses how the world shouldn’t be shocked by Iranian women’s firce support of Mir Hossein Mousavi.

July 2, 2009

Mommy Mia!

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I don’t even watch TLC’s John & Kate Plus 8 but I still can’t escape the Gosselins. The affair, the divorce, the Kate Hate — the Gosselin’s are everywhere.


Kate Gosselin has been both vilified and praised in the messiness following the announcement of divorce. She’s been called “controlling,” “selfish,” and a “pyscho-bitch.” She’s been demonized for her transition from frumpy homemaker to reality-show parenting icon – for better or worse.


It seems that, in general, the media doesn’t know what to do with the matriarch of the Gosselin family. She’s routinely criticized for her bad parenting skills, as if she was the only person raising the children. So far, she’s received the brunt of the negative publicity following the announcement of Jon cheating on her and the couple’s decision to file for divorce. Not surprisingly, everything wrong with the family and the marriage is considered Kate Gosselin’s fault.


Whether or not you agree with Gosselin’s parenting techniques or the Gosselin family’s life in the limelight of reality television, she is a woman who has commanded both a career and a family simultaneously, albeit in front of cameras, and that’s no easy feat, as many women know. Raising a family is hard work. Holding down a career is hard work. Kate Gosselin does both at the same time and, unlike other women, her mistakes, missteps, and bad decisions are held up for judgement. I wouldn’t want to be in her very public shoes, nor do I necessarily condone the choices she’s made that affect both herself and her family, but in this screwy modern-day world where nothing is quite private, Kate Gosselin is Gen X rising.


July 1, 2009


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Check out the Top Hot Butches list for 2009.


#1: Rachel Maddow.


photo courtesy of Mother Jones

photo courtesy of Mother Jones

In “The Butch is Back,” Village Voice writer Winnie McCroy discuss the tropes of the new butch woman: someone who is comfortable being a woman redefining gender roles for both men and women. According to McCroy, gone are the days of the flannel wearing, work boot stomping man-hating butch dyke who polarized the lesbian movement in the ’60’s and ’70’s. Now butch women are more like Rachel Maddow–masculine but with make-up, intelligent and witty but female. As Josie Smith-Malave, of Top Chef fame says in the same Village Voice article, “Today’s butch is fashion-conscious: We get the mani/pedi, the waxing. We spend the day at the spa.”


McCroy further discusses how the new butch is part of larger culture shift as Gen Y comes of power and Gen X takes up the spotlight from the previous generations. Women are stepping into roles previously guaranteed to men and, as a result, lesbian women are coming more into their own. Jonanna Widner at Bitch Magazine talks about the Rachel-love floating around the internet – and even gives her own opinion of why even Middle America is so smitten with Maddow: she’s a lot like Sarah Palin.


Maddow has received criticism for selling-out, for being too much a t.v. news anchor. But isn’t that as much the culture in network and cable news as any of Maddow’s own doings? And she’s received a lot of attention for her ability to participate on an equal level with her male colleagues (should it come as such a surprise that women are smart and talented and attractive?)


Butch women, too, have been criticized for going too mainstream, for falling into Capitalism’s fashion-loving trends and hip aesthetic, for–Heaven forbid–caring about how they look. As Maddow and others, Ellen DeGeneres for example, become more universally loved by audiences that largely include straight women, homemakers, and straight men, they might be losing street cred with the older lesbian and butch crowd. They’re being normalized.


Is normalization such a bad thing though? If Maddow can make lesbians less scary to folks, maybe that will make it easier when the Jones’s daughter comes home with her girlfriend, or when the sister you’ve always wondered about comes out. And if Maddow’s androgynous/butch looks contribute to that acceptance, then maybe that’s just how we get to the next place of greater acceptance. Or maybe it’s too much to assume that letting someone like Maddow into your living room, in two-dimensional form via your television, is the same as letting the recently outed daughter or sister into your living room, not to mention explaining everything to the relatives later. Miriam Perez at Feministing warns that, despite Maddow’s big appeal, it might be too much to “pretend she’s some sort of lesbian savior.”


In any case, Maddow is a bit of a reluctant sex symbol.

June 28, 2009

Playing Mommy

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“I’m not the only 36-year-old woman who doesn’t have children,” Cameron Diaz says in USA Today. “In all aspects of my life, most of my friends don’t have kids. It’s not uncommon.” Sorry Cameron, you do have kids now, or did you forget that you’re playing a mother in your two new films?


Cameron Diaz, with Sofia Vassilieva, plays a mother for the first time on screen.

Cameron Diaz, with Sofia Vassilieva, plays a mother for the first time on screen.

By now, you’ve definitely heard about Cameron Diaz’s latest film, “My Sister’s Keeper,” which opened this weekend to mediocre reviews. You’ve also probably heard that the 36-year-old Diaz is — wait for it — playing a mom.


Yes, the same Diaz who gelled her hair with Ben Stiller’s spunk in “There’s Something About Mary”, or who played a kick-ass blonde heroine in “Charlie’s Angels” and voiced Princess Fiona in the “Shrek” franchise. The skinny, blonde, party-girl Diaz who has dated the likes of Jared Leto, Matt Dillon, and Justin Timberlake. And now she’s a movie mommy.


Because of course, in Hollywood, being 36 is almost like being dead. One of “Hollywood’s most delectable pop tarts” has aged out of the realm of youthful beauty (despite the fact that she’s still young) and therefore out of

Im not 25 anymore, Diaz told USA Today. Sure, but does that mean shes no longer sexy?

"I'm not 25 anymore," Diaz told USA Today. Sure, but does that mean she's no longer sexy?

the realm of delectability for directors casting sexier, more sensuous roles. Audiences have moved on from Diaz as the pop starlet of her earlier days (much like Farrah Fawcett’s biggest moments were her days tossing her hair suggestively) and onto the new brightest young barely legal things. After you’re no longer hot but still want to be employed as an actress, what’s left? According to USA Today, Diaz wasn’t even looking specifically for maternal roles but, big surprise, she was handed one now that she’s over-the-hill in Hollywoodland. Not incidentally, she’ll play a mother in another film, “The Box,” set for release this October.


In Hollywood, much like the rest of white American culture, mothers aren’t sexy unless they’re divorced or humiliating themselves sexually. Bonus points for the director of a film whose female lead is a woman-of-a-certain age who humiliates herself with a much younger man because her marriage is on the rocks.


Culturally, motherhood robs a woman of her sexuality and throws her into the caregiver role. Woman of childbearing age see their sex appeal wither as the expectations of bearing children become the prime cultural concern. Diaz has stated that interviewers often ask her when she’ll settle down and start raising a family, as if her place as a Hollywood star has served as a mere placeholder for the real work of her life. Women are seen as either sexy or motherly. That’s it. Woe to she who fails to conform to this binary, even though women do it all the time.


For Diaz, the shift from comedic roles to one of motherhood is underscored further by her Hollywood identity as a blonde bombshell, a category whose shelf-life is notoriously short. She’s had moments in dramatic films, such as “Vanilla Sky” and “Being John Malkovich” but, overall, she’s not known for her “serious” roles. Critics applaud her efforts in “My Sister’s Keeper” because she’s “careworn” and “not wearing any make-up.” By the time she’s forty, Diaz will be playing a grandmother on her death bed, comforted by the cutest blonde twenty-year old that is probably a lot like Diaz’s former self.


Check out the movie trailer for “My Sister’s Keeper” below.