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Quevenzhané Wallis – If She Were Kim and Kanye’s…

Last night was Oscar night and everything was going along as I had planned.  Seth MacFarlane proved what can go wrong in American entertainment when the nerds dominate and are given full alternative, punchlines-optional (Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy provided the worst humor moment I can remember in Oscar History), Star Trek co-hosting free reign.  It was not a disaster in hosting, but I did cringe when he told a Lincoln joke that was so lame and so designed to just get to a trite “too soon” quip (see this for my official rules).  As far as the Awards go I had predicted most of the awards correctly including Ang Lee and Argo wins, but did fail to get best animated feature correct (Brave sort of sucked, Wreck It Ralph was robbed).  And just as I was retiring for the night I saw some tweets about a controversial tweet by the satirical newspaper The Onion. So I looked it up and here is what they tweeted:

“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013”

It was the hardest I laughed all night.

The Onion has taken it down, but has not issued an apology yet.  And they should not.  The Onion is a hilarious, envelope pushing product, but sadly they upset part of the liberal fans, who delight in bashing and mocking everything from sports to religion and everything celebrity.  But why did this one hurt so much?  Because they used the word cunt?  Please.  The Onion is always irreverent.  And if the story came out 9 months from now, but instead of referring to Wallis, it said “Kim and Kanye give birth to 7 lb 6 oz cunt” do you really think the outrage would be the same?  I doubt it because their child, despite being an innocent child, will never have the sympathy or affection of the general public.  In fact, just this week I saw hundreds of tweets about Kim and Kanye’s unborn child that were “horrible.”  This is of course because people are treating the unborn girl as a celebrity already.  But Wallis is more darling to the liberal crowd that The Onion courts and Wallis makes that crowd feel good about themselves.  She is a tiny black child playing a poor black child in a movie that became a little-engine-that-could to Hollywood.  The movie was not even that great, but it had the kind of story and star that can make people feel good about themselves.  Not because the movie is super feel good, but because by watching it and cheering for a tiny black child, Hollywood and the liberal readers of The Onion can feel good about themselves for cheering for her and the movie.

It is too bad that The Onion deleted it, but I really hope they do not apologize.  The joke had nothing to do with the kid.  It is clearly meant as a mockery of the cattiness of Hollywood culture and the fact that she is nine years old is the source of 90% of the humor.  Unlike, say Don Imus’ infamous comments referring to the Rutgers Women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hoes””( a rude joke that I don’t think he should have been punished for either), this joke is even more obviously a joke because of the age of Wallis.

I consider myself left of center, but probably center to center-right as far as the comedy community is concerned, but stories like this annoy me.  It feels like partially fake-outrage because of the arbitrary lines some in the general public and in comedy are willing to draw.  This is not about preserving Wallis’ integrity, but about preserving the feel good moment for those that enjoyed patting themselves on the back for having a tiny black girl nominated for best actress.  I am sure you are not conscious of it if you are reading this and disagree (and maybe some of you do feel genuine outrage), but once again, if this were about Will Smith’s kid, would you be as horrified?

I understand that Wallis is a tiny and adorable child and that referring to the girl as any bad name is cruel and crude, but it does not mean that it is not funny, and in this context clearly is not about delivering an actual insult to or about the young actress.  But the new battlefront in comedy appears to be protecting non-conventional celebrities from the glare and satire that comes with celebrity. Folks like Lena Dunham, Adele and now Wallis are deemed untouchable by people within and outside of comedy. Any joke about them (or in Wallis’ case, mentioning them) is deemed some sort of cruel, below the belt attempt at humor because they give good feelings to their fans about themselves.  Rooting for Dunham or Wallis gives the fan self-worth, so a joke about these women or others like them becomes an attack on the fan who in defending the celebrity is really guarding the good feelings they feel for themselves.

So hopefully The Onion does not apologize for doing what they do, but if they do I hope all these outraged folks remember this when they start an onslaught of jokes and Kim and Kanye’s baby later this year.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning about the Oscars check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes tomorrow (Feb 26th)

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Movie of the Week – Thor

As promised here is my movie of the week post.  Be sure to become a fan of “Righteous Prick” on Facebook.

Last night I went to see Thor.  Marvel is obviously running out of it’s top tier superheros (Spider Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, X Men – if I am wrong on any of these I don’t really care comic book nerds – I just know that Batman is DC Comics) so they have now turned to Thor – a character who is basically a Rider of Rohan equipped with a giant mallet.  In other words, if Gallagher were from Norway you would have Thor.  It doesn’t seem like it would make for a good comic book, let alone a good movie.  I am not familiar with the comic book in any way, other than knowing it exists, but the movie is barely passable summer entertainment.  But it still passes.

The Comedian of Thunder?

The Cast, The Director & Why Natalie Portman Should Give Her Oscar Back

One of the biggest positives of the movie is its cast.  Stringer Bell, Will Hunting’s professor, Hannibal Lecter and the Black Swan are all in this movie.  The star of the movie is a big Australian actor, who was presumably discovered at a Thunder Down Under show.  He is actually pretty good for what the movie is.  He is strong, has pretty good comedic timing and looks like Brad Pitt’s slightly uglier brother who lifted weights to compensate for being the uglier brother in the Pitt household.  I expect the actor, whose name is Chris Hemsworth, to pass Dwayne Johnson soon as the go-to-actor for underachieving action films.  That said, the acting is actually quite solid, perhaps because the director, Kenneth Branagh, is a famed Shakespearean actor and well-respected guy who probably uses the world “craft” to describe acting. 

Sidebar – Kenneth Branagh

Quick moment – why is Kenneth Branagh directing Thor?  The man was nominated for several Oscars for Henry V 20 years ago!  He was even great in the second Harry Potter!  This would be like Jerry Sloan (Hall of Fame Utah Jazz coach emeritus – if you are not a regular reader of my blog) going to coach in the WNBA this Summer, but not even for a Spider Man/Seattle Storm level WNBA team – they won the title last year – I had to look it up obviously, but for a shitty WNBA team – presumably all of them that did not win the title).

 
 
 
 

I'm an Oscar nominated Shakesperian actor and director, but my real passion is for 3rd Tier comic books.

 

But there is one noticeably weak performance/character in the movie – Natalie Portman’s astrophysicist character.  The last time I believed a female scientist less was when Denise Richards played a nuclear scientist in a James Bond Movie.  The difference is that the Denise Richards character, whose name was Christmas, provided one of the greatest lines to end a movie since Gone With the Wind (“I thought Christmas only came once a a year…”).  Natalie Portman’s character had no such value.  Her acting was poor, but to her defense, the writing of her character was even worse.  The only thing of value that she did was when she ran in slow motion in a tank top and the theater giggled with glee as we watched what was one of the benefits of Ms. Portman’s then early pregnancy.  But let’s discuss Ms. Portman briefly

Sidebar – Natalie Portman’s Oscar

There are two types of Oscar winners/nominees.  Those who are worthy “every year” of an Oscar and those that get “lucky.”  In the “every year” category are actors like Tom Hanks, Russel Crowe, Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet – they always do good work and have confidence and taste that always has them trying to pick quality roles.  Then there are the “lucky” nominees and winners, which include people like Forrest Whitaker, Cuba Gooding Jr, Jamie Foxx, Kim Basinger, Marisa Tomei and now topping that list – Natalie Portman.  Her three movies after Black Swan have been a terrible romantic film (No Strings Attached), a terrible comedy (Your Highness – I was told it was terrible) and an action movie that appeared to have terrible potential (Thor).  This is not the career of someone with Oscar pedigree – they are the choices of someone who is desperate to work and got lucky with Black Swan, which called for someone pretty, small and pouty.  Based on that, Shaq has a claim for a supporting actor nomination from Blue Chips for playing a large, black, basketball player.

 
 
 
 

She is very pretty. I mean give your Oscar back.

 

So my advice for acting nominations is that the Academy take into account the potential of the actor (or their track record).  DiCaprio has done a dozen excellent films, but is one Oscar short of Cuba Gooding Jr.  Matt Damon has never won an acting award, but Forrest Whitaker has one, which he followed up with the movie Vantage Point – one of the 15 worst films and performances of the last 10 years.  Giving Oscars to actors like Natalie Portman is the same as giving Ron Artest a citizenship award.  She may seem like she deserves it, but next thing you know she is face raking you at midcourt with No Strings Attached.

 
 
 

Ron Artest, a week after winning the NBA Citizenship Award a/k/a The "No Strings Attached" move.

 

Visual Effects

The movie was filmed in New Mexico, but after the 18 minutes of footage that take place on actual land, I think the rest was filmed on an Apple computer.  As much as I wanted to roll my eyes at this, the truth is that some of the fight sequences were extremely entertaining, not in small part due to the underused villains – the Ice Giants (or whatever the hell they were called) who were cool and menacing.  But for a big time Summer movie that is heavily reliant on special effects, the effects were barely aiiiiight for me.

According to Men's Health he did not lift weights before training for Thor. From a has been fit person I have two possible responses: 1) Stop lying or 2) Go fu*k yourself

Overall Impression

If I had to give the movie a grade it would probably be around  C+ (although my joy in eating Goobers during the movie made me feel like it was more of a B- last night).  The star is good and the humorous moments in the movie are actually enjoyable (better than the tortured hammering you over the head style of humor in a Michael Bay movie).  But at the end of the movie I was just left feeling like “that’s it?”  There was no origin story of the superhero because he already has his powers.  The story of Thor is “how did this awesome hero come to Earth,” which is less interesting than “how did this average person become a hero,” which is usually the story of superhero movies.  To put it in non-comic book movie terms, everyone wants to see the sex tape that made Kim Kardashian famous, but no one wants to see Kim Kardashian talking with clothes on now that she is famous (ok, to be honest of course I do, but you get my point).  That is more the fault of the source material I am guessing, but they still made the movie so some of the blame lies with them.  If you can catch this movie for $6 in NYC by seeing a pre-noon show at an AMC Theater then do it.  Otherwise wait for Netflix or HBO.

If you liked this post, please click on the Facebook “like”  button and become a Fan of “Righteous Prick: The Official Blog of Comedian J-L Cauvin” on Facebook. 

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Oscar Podcast Preview!

I was featured today on The Check Spot podcast along with Nick Cobb, breaking down the Oscars.  It is funny and will make great listening as you do something else that does not require your ears.  Go to the link below”

http://thecheckspot.com/archives/j-l-cauvin-and-nick-cobb-oscars-special

Enjoy.

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Oscar Breakdown & Predictions

If you read this blog regularly you should know that the first thing I hope (and certainly expect) from the 2010 Oscars is a prominent role for the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling ” in the pre-show hype fueled montage. 

When can we stop having a feeling? Sometime after the Oscars is my guess.

My biggest hope is that during the Oscars someone comes out and says, “By the way, The Blind Side is actually not nominated for Best Picture.  That was a big joke.  And also, An Education was extremely boring and we apologize for nominating that so congratulations 500 Days of Summer and The Messenger – you are actually nominated for Best Picture.”  Not going to happen, but here are my predictions for the major awards and what should occur (within the realm of possibility):

BEST PICTURE

I would be OK withany of the following winning in descending order of preference: District 9, Up In The Air, Inglourious Basterds, Up, Precious, Avatar, The Hurt Locker. 

I think Inglorious Basterds is going to win in what I will call the “Norah Jones Strategy.”  In 2002, the Best Album Grammy went to Norah Jones despite The Rising by Bruce Springsteen and The Eminem Show being nominated.  I think voters split on Eminem and Sprinsgteen leaving a plurality to Norah Jones.

I like Basterds' chances.

The Hurt Locker has a lot of momentum and Avatar is the most financially successful film of all time.  But I think people who put The Hurt locker first would not have Avatar second and I do not think people that vote Avatar first would have The Hurt Locker second.  But those voters who put either of those first could very well put Basterds as their second choice.  And since Quentin Tarantino is a Hollywood favorite and an original I think he could pick up some small percentage that think it is time he won a big prize so I am putting my money on Inglorious Basterds to edge out Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges is going to win the Oscar that Mickey Rourke should have won last year.  Jeff Bridges is a really good actor and it will be nice for him to win. 

 I would vote for Clooney for Up In The Air.  It was his best acting job yet and finally fulfilled all the love that Hollywood had bestowed prematurely on his high brow films (which were generally sort of boring  -Michael Clayton, Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana were all overrated, relatively boring movies, but Hollywood loves the high school quarterback who also hangs out with the geeks and that has been Clooney for the past decade).  And the look that Clooney gives his lady friend when he meets her at her house was one of my favorite acting moments of the year.

Best Actress

This is a two horse race.  Meryl Streep was great in Julie and Julia and this is her 134th nomination. She has won twice, but I think it is time she get another win.  She is like the Michael Jordan of actresses – she should win the MVP every year, but doesn’t because some obscure actress did something obscure and artsy or some pretty actress got fat, or naked, or sassy. And with that let’s discuss the other best actress front runner – Sandra Bullock.

The Meryl Streep of basketball.

Sandra Bullock was a B+ in The Blind Side, which was good because the movie was a C/C-.  But other than a benign racism that is sweeping the country (“Hey, we voted for a black guy, we like movies where white people save black people – damn we are awesome white folk!”) I do not understand why Meryl Streep is not guaranteed a third Oscar.  If you need ant other reasons not to root for Sandra Bullock and/or The Blind Side please watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_oK6EPc6QA

So I am going to go with what is right and say Meryl Streep over Bullock.

Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Waltz from Inglourious Basterds might be an even bigger favorite than Heath Ledger last year.  What a great performance – he is the front runner and deserves to be.  He was so good that the Academy is considering granting him a Polanski (“a pass for a rape of a minor based on high quality work”).  I enjoyed Woody Harrelson in The Messenger and must admit I did not see The Last Station yet, but am glad to see Christopher Plummer nominated (in my mind his lack of a nomination for The Insider is still the biggest snub I can remember).

Best Supporting Actress

Mo’Nique in Precious. Also a no-brainer.  The most raw performance I think I have ever seen.  Her motivation may have come from the fact that Mo’Nique’s husband has a hairy leg fetish, which probably means he is on the down low.  That would make most women pretty angry, but Mo’Nique took it to another level. The only thing that may detract from this for Academy voters is that the film is very black in both mood and casting.  It is sort of the Anti-Blind Side.

She has an "open relationship" with her hairy leg-loving husband. Keep it on the down low and go win your Oscar Mo'Nique!

Best Director

Without ten nominees to thin the voting, this will be between James Cameron (Avatar) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).  I enjoy the fact that they were married and that I think James Cameron bounced.  That will make it even more painful if she has to lose to him, which I think she will.  The breadth and technological advancements and sheer volume of time spent on Avatar should give it to Cameron.

I might go for Tarantino or Reitman (Up In The Air) with my vote. Which I don’t have.  But Avatar is pretty hard to deny.

Best Animated Feature

Up. 

The only thing that would make me madder than a Blind Side victory in any category would be Fantastic Mr. Fox winning here.  I think Wes Anderson films are incredibly irritating, though Mr. Fox was relatively enjoyable.  But Up’s first 15 minutes alone crush the competition.

A moment of silence for Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, which was ignored and not even nominated.

Best Adapted Screenplay

I think Precious should and will win here because form what I have heard the original text is written in the first person and might pose a challenge to make into a quality film, which they did.  However, the hilarious and extremely clever In The Loop, as well as the most original film of the year, District 9 would make me happy as well.  Fu-k An Education.

Best Original Screenplay

Inglourious Basters should win and almost definitely will win.  Part of me is rooting for Up though. It is about time Pixar got recognized for being the most consistently original and great film studio.

Best Score

I genuinely can’t remember any of the scores, so here is my list of my favorite scores of all time (shut up Star Wars fans):

1) The Last of The Mohicans

2) Brokeback Mountain (the score literally could have been called “sad and lonely cowboy”)

3) Chariots of Fire

4) Hoosiers

5) Rudy

Alright – there it is a comprehensive list of the categories you care about.  If you want incessant humorous commentary by me during the Oscars – check out www.twitter.com/JLCauvin

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The Top Ten Of The Summer

Summer Movies, Had Me a Blast

The Summer film season kick off was Wolverine, which was the worst thing not named Swine Flu, Paul Blart or Blue Dog Democrats to emerge this year.  Fortunately, the rest of the Summer with a few exceptions, turned out to be pretty damn good.  Although I was pleased with last Summer’s movies, especially The Dark Knight, I think this year’s were overall stronger.  Here’s my top 10 if you want any recommendations before heading back to school, work or prison:

1. Up – Amazing and touching Pixar film about an old man who is too busy having an adventure to complain about Obama’s death panels.

The Summer's winner by a nose.
The Summer's winner by a nose.

2. District 9 – The most creative movie of the year and probably going to get a Best Picture nomination now that the Academy can nominate ten movies.  In short it is about an alien who lands in Africa who is harassed by locals when they begin claiming he was born in Hawaii.

3. Bruno – People were mixed on this – whether they liked it or hated it.  I thought it was brilliant and more daring that Borat.  So what if the only redeeming message was that the only thing more gross/funny to watch than gay male sex is angry, homophobic rednecks and disgustingly ambitious L.A. parents; it was all absurdly hilarious.

4. Drag Me To Hell – This film was gross, creepy and hilarious.  And like Joan Rivers – it was all intentional (have soem Comedy Central Roast people).  I probably enjoyed this movie more than any others this Summer.

5. The Hurt Locker – Interesting and tense movie about a guy who diffuses IEDs in Iraq and seems to like it.  They are talking Oscar potential for this one, but my guess is because it is not political enough and because Sean Penn is not blowing anybody, its chances are not that high that it will be remembered in February 2010.

6. The Hangover – This will be remembered as the comedy of the year and the film that finally made Las Vegas a destination for young men to go party.

7. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – I thought this was the best adaptation from the books and Alan Rickman does more with little dialogue than anyone I’ve ever seen.  But I wish one of Potter’s classmate’s name’s was Joseph Takagi.

Harry......Pot..........ter.....Haaaaaaave   ......you seeeeeen.... Jozef....Takaaaaagi?
Harry......Pot..........ter.....Haaaaaaave ......you seeeeeen.... Jozef....Takaaaaagi?

8. Public Enemies – I was disappointed by this film, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.  Oddly enough I thought Johnny Depp was the weakest part of the film – stick to playing weirdos and heartthrobs.

9. Star Trek – This movie surprised me in that it did not suck.  In fact it was pretty good.  Of course I found it strange that the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage was still relevant centuries later (I do not equate Mike D as the Mozart of the 2300s), but it was well done by JJ Abrams and company.

Welcome to JJ Abrams Future: Lincoln Center is Proud To Announce Its Mostly Beastie Festival
Welcome to JJ Abrams Future: Lincoln Center is Proud To Announce Its Mostly Beastie Festival

10. Terminator Salvation – Fu-k you, I enjoyed it.  The second half of the film made the first half make a lot more sense and seem relevant and I actually hope they make a fifth and final one.

The only thing left for me to see this Summer will be Inglourious Basterds.  If it is amazing I will make note of it, but more than likely it will just annoy me.