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Media Morsels 12.31.10

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Happy New Year!
Ring in the New Year with American Idiot! The cast will be performing on NBC's New Year's Eve with Caron Daly. (You may remember that the Tribe performed on a New Year's Eve special last year.) Also appearing on the show will be Bono and The Edge, who will chat with Daly about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. (Scroll down for the latest injury and casting updates.) After counting down to 2011 with the Idiots, why not start off the year right? On New Year's Day, Billie Joe begins his return engagement with the powerful show. He's only appearing for 50 performances, so catch him now.

Casting News
I'm very excited to report that the multi-talented Raul Esparza (!) is joining Billy Crudup (!!) in the upcoming Broadway revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia!!! Crudup's return to the stage (and this work) was announced several weeks ago, but this week we learned that Esparza would join him and that the play will run at the Barrymore Theatre (home to the…

True Grit

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The Coen Brothers seem to like prologues. If I remember correctly, A Serious Man, which was out at this time last year and justifiably earned various nominations for the brothers and the film’s star, Michael Stuhlbarg, began with a tale of a dybuk. In their adaptation of Charles Portis’s novel True Grit (in press appearances, they and their stars have made clear this is an adaptation of the novel, not a remake of the John Wayne movie) they begin by quoting Proverbs: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth, Proverbs 28:1” appears on screen. Then the movie begins. What I found interesting (and I didn’t know this at the time - I had to look it up) was that the rest of that Proverbs quote is really what the movie is all about: “But righteous are bold as a lion.”
14 year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is our guide through the West. Her daddy was killed by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) and Mattie wants revenge. The “eye for an eye” kind of revenge. She asks a law man to pursue the wicked man; …

Black Swan

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Black Swan is a coming of age story, albeit a thrillingly horrific one. In just under two hours, we watch a girl become a woman. It’s a thoroughly engrossing story - a narrative ballet on film - enhanced by just-right direction and terrific performances.
Nina (Natalie Portman) is a soloist at a ballet company in New York City. (Much was filmed in and around Lincoln Center and the State Theatre, though this company is definitely not City Ballet.) Though she is twenty-something, she still lives and is treated like a 12 year old girl. Her room is full of plush stuffed animals and way too much pink. She lives on the Upper West Side with her failed-dancer mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey). Mommy Dearest is completely overbearing and fully infantilizes her daughter, enabling Nina in her obsessive drive toward perfection.
It’s the start of a new season. (We know this through dialogue and also through a montage of Nina breaking and breaking in her pointe shoes - a montage not unlike the one in C…

Media Morsels 12.24.10

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Dancing Through Vanity Fair
On the heels (or pointe shoes) of the recent Robbie Fairchild/Chase Finlay profile in the current issue of Vanity Fair, the magazine posted to its website a photo pictorial of dancers featured in VF over the years. The look back begins with the photo of City Ballet’s Fairchild and Finlay and ends with an in-motion Gregory Hines. The pictorial also features a photo of dancer/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon (Estancia), along with a link to a 2007 article and slide show, featuring Wheeldon wearing a Giants jersey!

Spider-Man Update
The seemingly cursed new musical spectacular, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which announced last week it would delay its official opening until February, suffered another set back this week: Actor/stunt-man Christopher Tierney fell from a raised set piece meant to pose as the Brooklyn Bridge (“The Boy Falls From the Sky” now seems tragically ironic) and into a pit below th…

How Do You Know

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Reese Witherspooon’s last movie was an animated one called Monsters vs. Aliens. Keeping with that titular syntax, her latest live-action movie, How Do You Know, could have easily been called Platitudes vs. Attitudes. In James L. Brooks’s relationship dramedy, Reese’s Lisa attempts to steer her way through a fling with Owen Wilson’s Matty and a budding friendship with Paul Rudd’s George, who is currently under federal investigation for some shady business relations, brought to light by his father, Jack Nicholson’s Charles. Some people have said that the plot is confusing, but I disagree. I found it to be pretty straight forward. The characters and their interactions are a little confusing, like how, for example, it’s even a choice between the jerky Matty and the charming George. But, maybe that’s just because I like Paul Rudd. In any case, on possibly the worst day of their respective lives, Lisa and George go on a date (though Lisa is already involved with Matty). It seems like a disa…

The Fighter

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The movie is called The Fighter, singular, but it really could be called The Fighters, plural, as everyone in Lowell, MA, is fighting for something: Pride; a better life; their own story. The street-wise characters populating this town (and the actors who play them) tell a compelling, true story of redemption.

Our protagonist, (perhaps) the titular fighter, is Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), a boxer and the little brother of Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), also a boxer. Dicky is known as the Pride of Lowell, having taken down Sugar Ray Leonard. (Although, that will come into dispute: Trying to make Dicky recognize his own shortcomings, a couple characters tell him he didn’t knock out Sugar Ray; rather, Sugar Ray slipped.) Dicky is now addicted to crack and when we meet the two brothers, they are being filmed by a documentary crew from HBO. Dicky thinks they are making a film about his comeback; really, they’re making a film about crack addiction.

As Dicky falls deeper and deeper into his ad…

Media Morsels 12.17.10

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Awards, awards and more awards. That’s the theme this week. Nominations came out for the Critics’ Choice awards, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actor’s Guild. This week’s media morsels are a round up of award-related “stuff” (plus a couple of bonus, non-award items).

Let’s begin
The Critics’ Choice Nominees: Black Swan leads the pack with a record 12 nominations (I’m mostly listing the nominees I’ve seen or simply like their body of work; visit bfca.org for the full list of nominees)Picture – 127 Hours; Inception; The Fighter; The King’s Speech;The Social Network; Black SwanActor – Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Colin Firth, The King's Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours; Ryan Gosling, Blue ValentineActress – Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right; Natalie Portman, Black SwanSupporting Actor – Andrew Garfield (!!!), The Social Network; Mark Ruffalo (!!), The Kids Are All Right; Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech; Christian Bale, The FighterSupporting Actress – Helena Bonham Ca…