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Dany's RaaD Roundup

Black Swan Review

Director Darren Aronofsky seems to be driven by obsession, whether it’s an obsession for knowledge (Pi), drugs (Requiem for a Dream), love (The Fountain), a fading wrestling career (The Wrestler) or with the perfect ballet performance in this film, Black Swan. This makes for an exciting career and Arrenofsky‘s most recent film delivers fully.

I came into this movie only knowing about Aronofsky‘s previous films and that this was a film about a ballerina’s struggle to perform, but I left the film admiring the grueling performances by the lead, Natalie Portman, and Barbara Hershey, who plays Portman‘s mother who struggles to bring up and support her balerina daughter along with her own demons.

There were many cringe-worthy scenes that instead of making me want to turn away, drew me in closer to the screen and story. I had no idea that this was going to be an enthralling story of sex, drugs and ballet that turns into a disturbing descent into the mind of a lead performer obsessed with the challenge of becoming both the white and black swan for Swan Lake, not always being perfect and what that does not just to her body, but her mind, not to mention how to keep from falling behind the competition and losing her position to others in her ever growing ballet troupe, in the same way that the previous upstart, Winona Ryder, did in the dog-eat-dog world of ballet.

Aronofsky has never been been a prolific special effects director, he dabbled during The Fountain, but the way he utilizes visual effects in the Black Swan would put most directors to shame, he utilizes it so flawlessly, so subtly and in such a way that unequivocally improves the story that it’s barely noticeable as CGI, but instead just blends into what are amazing visuals in what is already a visually stunning film, never more memorable than in the opening and closing scenes of the film.

Mila Kunis also brings in a top notch performance as the newest and most up-and-coming ballerina in the troupe that seems to be Aronofsky‘s disturbing version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in a role where you can not take your eyes off of her while she’s onscreen. Kunis also shows that along with her performance in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, that she has the acting chops to leave behind That 70’s Show and become a solid movie star, a jump that many TV stars have struggled to do.

This is a tough film to watch, it is not for the faint of heart, unless you are willing to close your eyes or cover your eyes with your hands during particularly intense scenes, but it is definitely a must-watch film of 2010, with intense performances and yet another wonderful film for Aronofsky. There are very few directors that on their name alone, I would jump to see their newest film, but Aronofsky is one of those names. It is also stunning how much prep work the actresses did to prepare their bodies for these roles, just looking at the tone and definition in their back musculature alone for these performances was quite impressive.

Thanks to Zimbio and Joblo for the above pics

Enjoy

Dany

December 23, 2010 2:01 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment

Burlesque Movie Review

In the film Burlesque, Christina Aguilera is frequently over-makeupped while performing onstage, she almost always looks best during her scenes with low-key makeup. The film has segments of terrible dialog with a predictable storyline and twists. That said, I ended up liking the movie and the woman I was with loved it…

I say this because the movie is also filled with very sexy ladies who perform dressed in various degrees of, for lack of a better word, sex, the musical numbers and vocals are very well done and Christina Agulerra and Cher do a good job sharing the screen together. Also, you really can’t go wrong watching the extremely entertaining Stanley Tucci and Alan Cummings.

Guys out there should take their ladies to see this film. You will win points with your partner as you get to enjoy the eyecandy and the great vocals.

Thanks to HollywoodGiants for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

December 21, 2010 3:19 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies, music | Leave a comment

The Daily Show and Colbert Report for December 19th, 2010

It is rather amazing that the Republicans can still balk at the idea of passing the 9/11 first responder health bill especially after all the negative health effects facing those first responders. Well, here is just some of the outrage and video montages put together this week on this issue:
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Former Governor and Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, promotes his book, Can’t Wait Till Christmas.
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Former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, promotes his new book Beyond the Crash. He talks about global demand or current lack thereof and financial markets.
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Ricky Gervais is just insanely funny and he has a new HBO standup special, Out of England 2.
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Hmm, what would you do with a Goldman Sachs MasterCard? Thanks Buckley T. Ratchford for losing your credit card for the Colbert staff to find on the street.
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Stephen tackles gay marriage so you don’t have to by interviewing lawyer David Boies.
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All I can say is that Colbert won Twitter for 2010. He won the first Golden Tweet from Biz Stone.
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Stephen Sondheim promotes his book Finishing the Hat and explains how his first musical was edited.
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Pancakes are going to be the terrorist scourge of of 2011 since they are invisible to TSA x-ray scanners.
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Enjoy

Dany

December 21, 2010 2:33 am Posted by | books, clips, DC, health, Law, London, medicine, New York, NYC, politics, technology, travel, tv, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

True Grit 2010 Remake Review

Later this month, the remake of the John Wayne classic, True Grit, will be released nationwide. I first saw the original film with my father growing up and I loved it, but that was then. This current version stars Jeff Bridges as the salty ol’ sauced US marshal who is convinced by a 14 year old girl played by Hailee Steinfeld, to track her father’s killer. She convinces him after it is already well established in a very funny negotiation scene that she is the quickest wit and smartest tongue west of NYC. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper all make appearances in the film, but the screen time is dominated by Bridges and Steinfeld as they hunt a murder.

The Coen Brothers know how to interject comedy into what is inherently a very dark film and Bridges is impressive as the one eyed marshal who is coherent and sharp shooting enough when he needs to be, but drunkenly incompetent after a long day and a bottle or two of drink.

I miss the regular release of the American western film and if Jeff Bridges wants to come in and take the cowboy mantle from John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, after this performance, I would go and see every production.

Thanks to the wonderful Sara for getting me in to see this pre-screening and thanks to AllMoviePhoto for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

December 17, 2010 12:59 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment

This Week in News, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for December 12th, 2010

President Clinton gives a 3omin press conference to support the tax deal that President Obama and Congressional Republicans recentyl made. I don’t like the deal, but I am more partisan than either the current or former President, so I think the deal should pass and the sooner that happens, the more likely other bills can also get greased through to the President’s desk finally. It also shows that Bill Clinton is STILL the best spokesman in politics today.
I can’t embed this video, so watch it here on CSPAN.

Oh how I love getting offended by nothing, especially around Christmas.
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Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Hugh Shelton, has some very interesting stories, but for me, none more interesting than how Veterans Affairs doctors cured his paralysis after a fall and head injury, thanks to Jeff Lang raising his blood pressure for several hours. His new book is Without Hesitation.
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When is printing money not printing money? I guess when Ben Bernanke says so!
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Seth Green promoting Robot Chicken Star Wars Episode III, which I think I need to see… NOW!
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Obama’s getting annoyed with his own base.
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Steve Martin gets grilled by Stephen Colbert as he promotes his new book.
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Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers comments on Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
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Enjoy

Dany

December 13, 2010 5:37 pm Posted by | books, cartoons, clips, DC, economy, health, Law, medicine, military, movies, politics, tv, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

This Week in The Daily Show and Colbert Report for December 4th, 2010

It’s nice to know that the biggest revelation coming from the latest wikileaks file release basically consists of international cattyness and information that we basically already knew.
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Can we finally end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell already? If they are already there, let them stay, they already want to volunteer to do the job that other Americans didn’t want to do. I don’t know what battle Senator McCain is fighting, but while he keeps fighting against his old views, this issue just won’t die. Last time I checked, America has a civilian controlled military, all these surveys about what the soldiers think is trumped up anyway, the way our Constitution is written, if the civilian government wants to change the rules for the military, it is their decision to make and I hope they decide to repeal DADT, it is time.
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Sarah Palin may be the most reported on twitterer on mainstream news… Is that a good thing?
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Here is an interesting interview with Stacy Schiff, the author of the new book Cleopatra: A Life… I only found out this month that Cleopatra wasn’t Egyptian, but of Greek/Macedonian decent!
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Beware a Frankenbride that nobody recognizes anymore… also, go to buylife.org to donate to AIDS research.
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Colbert interviews Dan Savage as he promotes his campaign to spread the word at itgetsbetter.org to LGBT youths after all the news about recent suicides in the community. Savage even gets Colbert to agree to do an It Gets Better PSA.
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Product placement is annoying and can really take you out of a movie or tv show, but there comes a point when the placement lasts so long and is so blatant that it goes beyond bad and back to amazing… I think soap operas now have hit that point. Why not, the whole name soap opera was thus named because soap companies were originally trying to sell their products to housewives.
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Colbert interviews David Stockman, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan administration. He is promoting the idea of letting the tax cuts expire while cutting spending on defense.
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Enjoy

Dany

December 4, 2010 2:18 am Posted by | books, clips, DC, economy, gay, Law, military, politics, tv, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment