Archive for ‘Life and Times’

May 26, 2011

Life and Times: Jack Black

The crazy eyes tell you he's funny.

Jack Black is something of an anomaly in the entertainment industry. And by that I mean he’s incredibly talented. He’s probably the only comedian I would describe as a triple threat and he’s actually funny (I’m looking at you Steve Carell). He also has an honest rise to fame. He worked hard, took small roles, and was just super talented and continues to make good movies. He’s even a Golden Globe nominee for School of Rock. I think that as soon as the right role about a mentally handicapped abusive father comes around, he’s got himself an Oscar nomination.

Jack Black officially has the most boring life for a celebrity and I’m fine with it. He’s going to be 42 years old in August and has been happily married for 5 years. He dropped out of UCLA to pursue an acting career (No degree? In this economy? Good luck!) and Tim Robbins remembered him and cast him in things.

But let’s take a visual history through the man’s mystical career, ja?

The first worthy thing  Jack Black did was guest star on the absurd sketch show Mr. Show. Here is easily the best sketch from that show, The Joke: The Musical. What you need to know? Earlier someone tells a bad joke. The joke goes like this:

A man goes up to a farmhouse and asks for a place to say and the farmer tells him he can sleep in the barn on one condition – the man cannot stick his penis in any of the three holes. So the man jams his cock into hole one and it feels great. He jams it into hole #2 and it feels mindblowingly good. When he rocks that bad boy into the final hole, he feels an incredible pain and what ever was touching him wont let go. The farmer returns the next morning to find the man in pain. The farmer describes that his wife was behind the first hole, his daughter was behind the second, and behind the third was the cow’s milking machine that won’t let go until it has 50 gallons of milk. The end.

See? Not funny. But you bet this clip is wonderful.

Black then landed himself an HBO series of his own, Tenacious D. The band actually came before the show, but it certainly all of its fame from this masterfully weird show. So weird. This is my favorite Tenacious D song, because really, whose isn’t it?

And then Jack got his break out role as best friend in Barry. I will just let the clip speak for itself.

Then he acted in a series of shitty movies and now Kung Fu Panda 2 is coming out this weekend! That’s the story. He’s really made himself known as just a generic comedy icon, but he’s actually got some great stuff on the interwebs.

My favorite thing is when celebrities do things on Sesame Street. It’s always weird looking at them in kiddie mode. Jack Black teaches us about the word “octagon” – because who better knows when to stop…

And here’s some shameless Kung Fu Panda promotion that’s actually worth watching… and you should click it.

And now, here’s a list of Jack Black’s 10 best movies as taken from IMDb, Flickchart, Metacritic, and Rotten Tomatoes:

1. High Fidelity
2. School of Rock
3. Kung Fu Panda
4. King Kong
5. Tropic Thunder
6. Ice Age
7. Enemy of the State
8. Dead Man Walking
9. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
9. Be Kind Rewind
9. Bob Roberts

That’s a really weird list considering he has cameos in most of them… Get on your shit J.B!

November 18, 2010

Life and Times: Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter is opening two movies in two weekends! The girl is busy. First we’ve got the behemoth Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and then it’s Oscar porn The King’s Speech for which she’s nearly secured a Supporting Actress nomination. All of that makes her the perfect candidate for this weeks Life and Times.

Helena is a Brit through and through. She was born in Golders Green, London which just sounds British on May 26th, 1966. After a turbulent childhood involving a psychotic mother and a semi-paralyzed father, she decided to forgo college to pursue acting. She had a humble acting debut with a television film called A Pattern of Roses. Her first leading roles were all in British period pieces such as Lady Jane or A Room with a View. This gave her the title “The Corset Queen” which I quite like.

Her personal life is a two man show. It started with a five year relationship with one of the leading British male actors (“The Corset King?”), Kenneth Branagh! After dating for 5 years, their relationship ended. In 2001, she and her current beau Tim Burton met on the set of one of the most romantic films of all times – Planet of the Apes. They have been an item ever since (but not married! how quirky and unconventional). Since she and Tim are not married, but they share two children, Billy Ray and Nell, they have a unique (unconventional) living situation. They have 2 houses next door to each other in Belsize Park, London with a door connecting the two houses. ADORABLE!

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October 21, 2010

Life and Times: Damon in Demand

In honor of Matt Damon’s new film Hereafter AND True Grit, I decided to feature him as this weeks Life and Times recipient. And he is truly an interesting one. Born on October 8th, 1970 (Happy belated 40th!) in Cambridge, MA, his life took the course of many who live there – he attended Harvard University. He dropped out to pursue his acting career, a move that while risky, clearly paid off. After a couple of less than stellar roles, he decided to make his own luck.

That's when the big breakthrough happened. He and his distant cousin Ben Affleck, maybe you've heard of him, wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting. After the movie became a sleeper phenomenon, Damon proved to the world that he was here to stay with a string of lucrative roles.

Since Damon’s movie star life is, well, kind of boring and his big Hollywood narrative was the plot of Good Will Hunting, I’ll just include my favorite smattering of random facts.

– He quit smoking with the help of a hypnotist.

– He founded the H2O Africa Foundation, the Not On Our Watch Campaign, and is a prominent supporter of the ONE campaign fighting AIDS in Africa.

And let’s take a look at his awards:

2 Acting Academy Award nominations

1 Writing Academy Award win

3 Emmy nominations for producing “Project Greenlight”

4 Acting Golden Globe nominations

1 Writing Golden Globe win

5 Screen Actors Guild nominations

I think we can tell that he’s very well respected and is just about due for a few big acting wins.

My least favorite thing about Damon is that in trailers, they always say starring Academy Award Winner Matt Damon, but his Oscar was for Original Screenplay… I’m not taking acting chops away from Damon, but I do see it as a bit of a lie.

But maybe the best thing about Matt Damon is that he’s not afraid to make fun of himself. I think his response to his “Jimmy Kimmel Controversy” says enough, but I’ll also include what may be the best cameo in any movie ever made. That’s right Bill Murray… better than Zombieland.

And now for the composite top 10 list of Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, Metacritic, and Flickchart. And this one’s a doozy. We have a tie for tenth AND a tie for first place! Which is why I’ve put my first poll question up – to settle this tie.

1. Saving Private Ryan

1. The Departed

3. The Bourne Ultimatum

4. Good Will Hunting

5. The Bourne Identity

6. Ponyo

7. The Bourne Supremacy

8. Courage Under Fire

9. Chasing Amy

10. Ocean’s Eleven

10. The Talented Mr. Ripley

October 7, 2010

Life and Times: The Year in Mirren

For all of the cinephiles of the world, I’m sure it’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren is an excellent actress. However, this year, she may have just done too much! In 2010, she will have done 6 movies! Six! That’s far more than any actress ever does. While I’m very excited for her gender bending turn as Prospera in “The Tempest,” she has a new action movie coming out next weekend called “Red.”

In “Red,” Mirren’s character teams up with a rag-tag gang of the rest of Hollywood’s aristocracy and fight crime. In honor of Mirren’s productive year, she wins the honor of being the first subject of my Life and Times section.

Born in 1945 as Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov (say that 10 times fast), she is currently the sexiest 65 year old. She started a career on the British stage, accumulating working with the Royal Shakespeare Company numerous times. I would kill to see her perform as Lady Macbeth. The reputation that followed Mirren from early on was that of a sultry, sexy, yet very good actress. Most people were taken aback by someone who was so comfortable with being sexual and could actually act. To this day she still is very comfortable in championing “naturalism” and frequents nude beaches. Good for her!

In this old interview, a young Helen Mirren challenges the quasi-chauvinistic interviewer with her cool confidence and her flirtatious manner. She is clearly an individual. I love that she confesses to getting a tattoo on an Indian Reservation when she was drunk on Brandy. She mentioned this on Conan too. She met her husband, director Taylor Hackford, on the set of “White Nights” and have been together ever since. She also starred in a several other successful films such as “The Madness of King George” and a very popular TV film series called “Prime Suspect” for which she was highly acclaimed.

In 2003, she was made a dame (damed?) by who ever gives out these things in the U.K. Her most famous performance, and my favorite, was given in 2006’s “The Queen” as Queen Elizabeth II. For this role, she won her Oscar and looked great doing it. And now here we are, in the year of Mirren.

Lets look at her impressive resumé, shall we?

4 Oscar nominations, 1 win.

10 BAFTA nominations, 4 wins.

2 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress wins (she is only one of 4 actresses ever to do this. She stands in the company of Vanessa Redgrave, Isabelle Hupert, and Barbara Hershey… wow.)

10 Emmy nominations, 4 wins.

10 Golden Globe nominations, 3 wins (she is also the only person ever to have 3 nominations in 1 year).

8 Screen Actor’s Guild nominations, 4 wins.

2 Tony nominations

This means that she has over 40 nominations and 18 major wins and is half-way to the hallowed EGOT (Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony). And she can do it, too!

Finally, let’s wrap this retrospective up with my master list of Dame Helen Mirren’s best films. I composited top 10 lists from IMDB, Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes, and Flickchart, to get this ultimate top 10 list.

1. The Queen (2006)

2. Gosford Park (2001)

3. The Long Good Friday (1980)

4. State of Play (2009)

5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

6. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)

7. Excalibur (1981)

8. The Madness of King George (1994)

9. O Lucky Man! (1973)

10. Savage Messiah (1972)

Helen’s impressive filmography is only bolstered by the fact that everyone loves her. From what I’ve read, when she shows up at events, the crowd goes nuts, and now she gets nominated for things partly for being well-liked. This sexy dame is running into 2010, and I couldn’t be happier.