Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Television Doldrums

The holidays are a great time for family and friends ... but it's a terrible time for TV! Sunday, I actually watched several episodes of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. I was that desperate. I get it, a lot of people are out and about and networks don't want to showcase a lot of new shows if the audience isn't at home to watch them but still ... can we at least get a decent marathon (and dear God not another Conspiracy Theory marathon) or some decent movies to watch?

Unable to endure another moment of Jesse Ventura, I turned off the TV and read a book. Who does that?

And it will at least be another week of wading through a vast wasteland of reruns and ... football. Heaven help me...

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering

Yes, Halle Berry got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Frankie and Alice. Never heard of it? Well, it only opened in one theater in Los Angeles in December, so it could be considered for Awads season. It doesn't go into wide release until February 4, 2011. Berry plays a woman with a multiple personality in the 1970s (notice the cool afro in the trailer). Rounding out the cast are Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård (Frankie's psychiatrist), Phylicia Rashad (Frankie's mom), and Grey's Anatomy's Chandra Wilson (Frankie's sister).

Take a look at the trailer.

Does the trailer pique your interest?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movie Review: Black Swan

Black Swan chronicles a prima ballerina’s descent into madness and it is both beautiful and horrific. The story of Swan Lake starts out as if it’s destined for the animated Disney treatment. An evil sorcerer casts a spell on a beautiful princess turning her into a beautiful swan. Only a confession of true love can break the spell and as fate would have it, a young prince becomes smitten with her. However, this is where the story takes a dark and unDisney-like turn. The sorcerer tricks the prince into falling for the seductive Black Swan, who impersonates our pure princess and gets the prince to declare his love to her. When the deception is revealed, the star-crossed lovers realize that they can only be united in death.

I can tell you the story of Swan Lake because it is a backdrop for Black Swan and it isn’t the story of Black Swan. Black Swan is about Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a sweet ballerina with a doting former ballerina mother (Barbara Hershey). For several years, Nina has danced with a major New Your City dance company, with aging prima ballerina Beth McIntyre (Winona Ryder), when she is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassell) picks Nina for the lead in the company’s new production of Swan Lake. Although he appreciates her technical perfection and has no doubt she can master the role of the White Swan, he doubts she has the ability to let loose and become the seductress needed to master the Black Swan role.

As we get to know Nina, we can see his reservations. She and her mother live in a happy bubble that consists of Nina’s ballet and her mother’s artwork. The décor of Nina’s bedroom gives us a glimpse into her world — complete with teddy bears in tutus and its 14-year old girl motif. Her innocence is painfully obvious when she’s with the other girls in the troupe. She doesn’t fit in with the catty, Mean Girls atmosphere. In fact, you question if Nina has what it takes to make it in the competitive, cutthroat world of dance.

Then a new girl joins the company. Lily (Mila Kunis) effortlessly embodies the essence of the Black Swan. She’s seductive. She takes chances. She’s even a little dangerous. Nina is immediately intrigued but keeps her at an arm’s length, at least initially. However, as her obsession with nailing the Black Swan takes over, she and Lily get closer.

Director Darren Aronofsky has crafted a psychological thriller that uses the demanding and all-consuming world of ballet to show one woman’s descent into madness. It’s beautiful and graceful and at the same time brutal. Aronofsky shows the physical sacrifices that dancers must endure for their art. He also uses a growing rash on Nina’s back to mirror Nina’s psychological change.

As she begins to embody the Black Swan, we see Nina actually grow up before our eyes. She questions her mother. She allows herself to experience her sexuality, first timidly and then boldly. As she puts her innocence aside, her interpretation and performance of the Black Swan improves.

The kudos and acclaim Portman has received is well-deserved and an Oscar could very well be in her future. While I enjoyed Kunis as the catalyst, Lily, her part was not as big as I thought it would be. The person who surprised me the most in her supporting role was Winona Ryder as the aging ballerina forced into retirement. At turns bitchy, bitter and needy, I think her performance as good as it was, is being largely overlooked.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You a DivaSoulMama or a DivaSoulBrotha?

If you are a mom or a guy or just someone who has opinions about movies and TV, I'd love to give you a forum (that's about all I can give)! Specifically, I'd love to have a DivaSoulMom who can review kid's movies and give a mom's perspective. It's just too weird for me to go to a kid flick on my own. It makes me feel kind of sleezy.

Also, a male perspective is always welcomed and appreciated! If you're a guy who wants to offer his two sense on all things television and music, I'd love to hear from you too. (you don't have to be the 'DivaSoulBrotha' if you don't want to!)

What if you have something to say and you're not a mom or a dude, I would love to hear from you too. I'm always looking for ways to expand the DivaSoul Family

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Hate to Say It but ... I'm Excited!

I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t … but … I’m getting excited about this Simon-less season of American Idol. I used to think of Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson as an unholy triumvirate of terror … but, now I’m interested in seeing how it actually plays out. I’m actually looking forward to three judges without the obligatory acerbic Brit on the panel. Hey, it works on The Sing-Off so maybe it can work here.

Plus there are a few other changes I’m looking forward to.
  • No more top 24. They will move straight to the top 12.
  • The contestants will have to make a music video, learn how to deal with a backup band and dancers as well as promote themselves (I guess they’re trying to steal some thunder from the upcoming X-Factor).
  • Instead of having theme weeks based on artists (Elvis, Beatles) … the themes will focus on decades giving the contestants more to chose from.
Now, if only they’d gotten rid of Ryan Seacrest!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And the Nominees Are ...

The nominees for the Golden Globes have been announced. Of course, the Golden Globes kick off the awards season and are also a precursor to the Academy Awards.

Confession Time: I am not a fan of award shows. I find them painfully boring and prefer to get the recaps of the show the next day. With the advent of YouTube, I can watch all of the good parts in a manner of minutes, as opposed to hours.

What I like about the Golden Globes is that they don't always mimic critical favorites. Movies like Burlesque, The Tourist and Love and Other Drugs get the nod even though the critics didn't appreciate them. Having said that, here are some of the Golden Globes nominations.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Alice in Wonderland
The Kids Are All Right
The Tourist

Best Director - Motion Picture
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell , The Fighter

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice (opens in wide release 2/4)
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy
Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version
Jake Gyllenhaal , Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone, Easy A
Angelina Jolie, The Tourist

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Best Animated Feature Film
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Best Television Series, Drama
Boardwalk Empire
The Good Wife
Mad Men
The Walking Dead

Best Televison Series, Comedy or Musical
30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
The Big C
Modern Family
Nurse Jackie

Best Actor in a Television Series, Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House

Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Piper Perabo, Covert Affairs
Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matthew Morrison, Glee
Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hope Davis, Special Relationship
Jane Lynch, Glee
Kelly McDonald, Boardwalk Empire
Julia Stiles, Dexter
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Scott Caan, Hawaii Five-0
Chris Noth, The Good Wife
David Straithairn, Temple Grandin
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Chris Colfer, Glee

Best Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Lea Michelle, Glee

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Biggest Loser Losing Its Biggest Star

Trainer Jillian Michaels announced, via Twitter, that this upcoming season will be her last on The Biggest Loser. She is leaving the show to, among other things, concentrate on starting a family. The 36-year old was diagnosed with endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome as a teenager is unable to have children but is considering adoption.

Jillian will be replaced by two new trainers who will be announced next week.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Sing-Off

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger! I haven’t updated this site since Thanksgiving weekend! I promise faithful readers that I will be a better blogger. Hopefully, it’s not too late to move from Santa’s naughty list to the nice one!

Anyway, I am writing quickly because I am about to watch the second installment of a show I fell in love with this time last year, The Sing-Off. A cappella music groups from around the country compete for a cash prize and a recording contract.

The ten acts cover all of the bases starting with a high school group and several singing collegiate groups. One act features a father-daughter team. There’s also a gospel group and even an old school doo-wop group with over 30 years of performing behind them.

The format is pretty standard. We get a little back story about each group, they perform and then get feedback from a trio of judges. Ben Folds of the Ben Folds Five is the main judge, followed by Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussy Cat Dolls and Shawn Stockman of Boys to Men. Unlike other shows, these judges offer both effusive praise and constructive criticism.

What I love about this show is that these are people who genuinely love to sing. Their passion and their energy make them fun to watch. And as television grinds to a halt around the holidays, it’s good to have something fun to watch!

Monday night’s show took the 10 groups down to eight. Tonight, we’ll lose two more groups. If you can’t catch it tonight, it will air Monday and Wednesday nights next week as well.