Friday, December 18, 2009

Russell Crowe: The Rapprochement

Despite my inflammatory statement last year that Russell Crowe would have been a bad choice to play Drover in Baz Lurhmann's Australia, I have a soft spot for this actor, especially lately.  For the moment, we'll put aside that whole phone throwing incident, and focus on the positive.

First and foremost, he is an excellent actor.  Crowe initially made a name for himself stateside in Curtis Hanson's LA Confidential, a gorgeously-shot film noir, in 1997.  Check out this scene where his emotionally wounded yet oh-so-manly Detective Bud White meets Kim Basinger's Lynn Bracken for the first time.  This was Crowe's first major part in a big movie, and he absolutely holds your attention here.  It's very impressive. 

Another thing I admire about Crowe is his willingness to completely transform himself for a role.  He was completely believable as tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffery Wigand in The Insider, the true story of a man who revealed that cigarette makers Brown & Williamson intentionally formulated their products to be more addictive (and therefore harmful) to smokers.  Wigand was an older, slightly nerdy guy, and heavier than Crowe -- not a stereotypically sexy part -- but a real hero nonetheless, and Crowe totally inhabits him.

Not long after this film, Crowe won the Best Actor Oscar for Gladiator.  This is actually, I think, one of his less interesting roles, but that's not to say he doesn't make you believe he's a wronged man out to avenge his family's murder.  I am convinced to this day that Russell Crowe could hack off an opponent's limbs, romance a Roman princess, and terrify a tiger with ease.  And only a year after this, he displayed similar versimilitude as mentally-ill mathematician John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.  Watching Master and Commander made me damn near want to join the British Navy -- it looked so convivial and full of good, honest work, not to mention botany and entomology!  And cute sailors!  But I probably wouldn't be so thrilled about the whole surgery without anaesthesia aspect.

Besides all the aforementioned acting chops, however, let's consider other qualities.  There isn't anyone else out there who can be as forcefully masculine onscreen as Russell Crowe.  He isn't a pretty boy, and that is a very good thing.  His physical presence is rather overwhelming.  There's a reason the ladies on Sex and the City named him in their sex fantasy list: Russell Crowe, and those who are compared to him, is all man.

Next up, he plays Robin Hood in another collaboration with Ridley Scott.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Up in the Air

We're now heading into one of the most excruciatingly pleasurable times of year for movie fanatics like me. Pleasurable because the studios bring out all their prestige, Oscar-bait films, and excruciating because how are you ever supposed to find the time to see all of them?

High on my list is Jason Reitman's Up in the Air. The first trailer is here and the second trailer is here. (Fun/random fact: a former co-worker from my game show days was an assistant to someone on the set. Flashy!)

Jason Reitman has quietly and steadily created a good name for himself on the basis of only two films so far: Thank You For Smoking and Juno. I'm sure being the son of director Ivan Reitman doesn't hurt with opening doors, but the guy is clearly a very talented, skilled filmmaker in his own right. Just 'cause your dad is a hot shot doesn't mean you automatically get to be one (see Cameron Douglas).

The New York Times has a nice little interview with Reitman, as does Newsweek.

Like most women, I love George Clooney. Not just for his smooth, handsome urbanity, but also because he's never taken the obvious route with his career. I like how he bops between the Coen Brothers and Steven Soderbergh, once wore a batsuit with nipples, and was the one who campaigned for ER to do a live episode. And this might finally be the movie to push Vera Farmiga into greater awareness with American audiences. She was so fantastic in The Departed -- I can't think of anyone else who could have played that part.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let the "Harry Potter" machine start up again...

With Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince about to be released on DVD, the magical Potter PR machine is kicking into gear again. ABC Family will have another marathon weekend of the first four movies, complete with teases of the new film and other nerdy extras like Luna Lovegood visiting the costume department.

Check out this article for the first official photo from part one of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as a little bit of description of how this film differs from the others in the series.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hail to the Chief

Good Lord, Michelle Obama is absolutely stunning. And you can tell her husband thinks she's pretty damn foxy too.

Politics aside -- and I am disappointed that President Obama hasn't accomplished much yet; get going, Mr. President! -- reading about this administration's first state dinner is a lesson in coolness. Love the tablecloths, love the menu, love the guest list, love the way they combined Bush and Clinton China! Love it all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


You know what, I'm not embarrassed to admit that I'm a fan of the Twilight series. I've already admitted to several other embarrassing things here. And if you're into pop culture you pretty much can't avoid the Twilight juggernaught, especially in the past year since the release of the first film and the subsequent hysteria surrounding lead actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

Are these books ridiculous? Was the first movie laughable in parts? Big yes, but that's part of what makes them so fun.

Last spring, during an excruciatingly long airport layover on my way home from saying goodbye to a dying relative, I read almost the entire first book in the four-part series. At the time, I mostly appreciated how thoroughly distracting it was. Then I went on to read the remaining three books in the space of a month. Bella is a frequently annoying character -- whiny, grumpy, oh-so-ready to sacrifice herself -- and her relationship with sparkly vampire Edward has some disturbing undercurrents of control and sadomasochism. But the stories are compulsively readable, and lets face it, at base they're all about sex and self denial.

New Moon, the second movie adaptation, comes out tomorrow. I won't even try to see this for a few weeks at least. The shows have been sold out for a while and I'd like to maintain my hearing by avoiding the shrieks of teenage girls who go on opening night. The reviews have started coming in and so far, they range from pretty positive to so-so. Entertainment Weekly just posted theirs, here's one from the AP, and this is a very funny review from The Oregonian.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Count me in

I've professed my love for Gossip Girl in this space before. Although the show's main characters are largely teenagers, I suspect the audience is mostly people my age. This recent article in The New York Times certainly supports that theory: the Parents Television Council may not like the show, but it's undeniably influencing fashion and generates much-needed buzz for the CW network. As for me, I do think Blake Lively has eminently enviable hair.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Halloween is a great time to indulge your love of pop culture, because you can dress up as whoever or whatever you want. I've never been the most crafty person, but this past Halloween I made not just one, but two costumes! During a weekend visit to New York City, I went to a friend's annual party in Brooklyn on Friday night, and then on Saturday, to the Halloween parade and very fun event at the Soho House.

For Friday, my costume was Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz. Seeing as this year is the 70th anniversary of that landmark film, it seemed appropriate. Since I didn't have a lot of lead time, I bought the costume itself at a local store, and made the shoes myself. First, I started with an inexpensive pair of low white heels from Zappos, covered them liberally with spray adhesive, and then shook on two full bottles of Martha Stewart Coarse Glitter in Ruby. It's Dorothy -- you have to have the ruby slippers!

I decided on my costume for the next night on Saturday morning, and spent the day getting it ready. My friend went as hero pilot Sully Sullenberger, and I was his stewardess. Pretty simple when you get down to it: blonde wig, stewardess costume, sunglasses, and the red shoes again. We bought a brown feather boa from a street vendor and glued random feathers all over our costumes to symbolize the geese that caused Sully's plane crash.

On the way home on the L train that night, a drunk Princess Leia asked if I'd "sparkled my own shoes," which is now one of my favorite questions ever.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Can't get this out of my head...

And maybe you won't be able to either. This song made my drive home on 83 North much more fun tonight.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First five minutes of "Grey's Anatomy" season premiere

If you want to see it, the first five minutes of the Grey's Anatomy season premiere are online here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze, 1952 - 2009

Dirty Dancing was one of those movies my parents adamantly refused to let me see for years, which only made me all the more determined to watch it. And when I did, it was both less dirty than I'd expected, and more meaningful. "Dirty" to me sounds tawdry, and it definitely was not that. It's a quintessential coming of age story: a young woman, who's unconventionally beautiful (and easier to relate to), smart and compassionate, experiencing love for the first time and realizing she's not her father's little girl anymore, painful as that might be. And yes, the dancing and other stuff is pretty damn hot.

Most hot, of course, was Patrick Swayze as sensitively macho Johnny Castle. During my first finals week in college, my room mate and I unwound every night by watching Dirty Dancing. We picked up on all kinds of random things, like the woman in blue screaming louder than anyone in the final dance scene, or how the third time he kicks the post when he needs to break into his car, it makes a funny popping noise. (Seriously, fast forward to 1:35 in that clip.)

You had to love Patrick Swayze for this, and his other movies. Some of it was cheesy, some of it butch, but he always seemed to be having a good time, and I liked that about him.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Library school rears its ugly head

Over the past couple days, I spent a few hours organizing all of my CD's. They are now housed in six large plastic boxes under my bed in alphabetical order. What can I say, library school must have engendered a love of order and cataloguing. Each box holds about 66 CD's, and the last one is only partially full, so I think I have about 370. Is that a lot? I'm pretty sure almost no one reads this, but if you do, weigh in on how many CD's you have.

There were a few surprises, both good and marginally embarrassing. At the cooler end of the spectrum: I hadn't listened to Dummy by Portishead in a long time, or Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys, and was happy to see them again. Less cool? My copies of 'N SYNC's Celebrity (which I admit to listening to immediately) and Spice by the Spice Girls. In college, I somehow convinced two male friends to see their movie, Spice World, when it was in theaters. I owe you one, guys.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

After four days in a car...

Got back today from a road trip from Berekely, CA, across Nevada on highway 50 ("the loneliest road in America"), through Utah, to Boulder, CO by way of Denver. Phew! It was an amazing trip made in the company of an incredible friend, who's starting all kinds of new adventures. She's awesome and I think awesome things are happening for her.

She provided the music on the trip and I DJ'd, and here are some of the songs I liked most: Where Does the Good Go, Come Talk to Me, I Believe (When I Fall in Love), Flake, and One More Time.

Fun fact! Stevie Wonder recorded "Fingertips" in my hometown of York, PA back when he still performed as Little Stevie. At least my dad says this is true; Wikipedia disagrees.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Plane reading

While I fly from Baltimore, MD to Oakland, CA tomorrow, I'll be reading the following: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, and How I Became a Famous Novelist. The latter was written by Steve Hely, who I met a couple times and is a very nice guy; I'm excited to see what he's come up with.

When everything goes well, I actually enjoy flying because it gives me lots of time to read. Now watch me get a horrendous delay tomorrow.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New music Monday

I just got back from a great weekend in Philadelphia, during which I met my friends' new son for the first time, learned my cousin gave birth to her first child, and was introduced to the joys of Quizzo. I'm still annoyed that we missed the Jabberwocky question.

Thanks to some unused Thank You points from CitiBank, I was able to order some free new music last week, and the box from Amazon was waiting when I got home today. I look forward to listening to London Calling by The Clash and Conditions by the Temper Trap. I also replaced my lost copies of Funeral by the Arcade Fire and Give Up by the Postal Service. Except I accidentally ordered that last one on vinyl, and don't own a record player, so back it goes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What a sweet disposition

This afternoon I went to see (500) Days of Summer with my brother's lovely fiancee. It's a charming, funny movie, and a refreshing change from typical romantic comedies. It also has an especially good soundtrack. One of the standouts is Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Those aren't pillows!

Like a lot of people in my generation, I've been re-watching some John Hughes movies in the past weeks since he died. I think he remains so beloved because he made movies about teenagers that didn't condescend, and capture some of the awkwardness and giddiness that come with being that age. The intoxicating freedom of a day skipping school in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, one of the best father giving advice to his daughter scenes ever in Sixteen Candles (the scene with Samantha trying to sleep on the couch and telling her dad about her huge crush on Jake Ryan). Oh, that scene kills me.

And in a more adult spectrum, Planes, Trains & Automobiles is something I like to watch every year at Thanksgiving with my brother, and think of every time I'm traveling and something goes wrong.

Here are a few of the things I've enjoyed reading since Hughes passed away: had this very funny breakdown of the pros and cons of having a John Hughes boyfriend, written in early June.

This is one of the sweetest tributes ever: a woman who asked John Hughes to be her pen pal, and he actually did it.

EW ran remembrances from actors who worked with Hughes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

That's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise

I just watched The Apartment, directed by Billy Wilder, for the first time since film class back at Kenyon. I think I'm on a bit of an early 1960s kick, between this and Mad Men. The Apartment covers some similar ground but in a warmer, but not sentimental, way: workplace alienation, infidelity, the power imbalance between a young woman working as a secretary or elevator operator and the more successful, less emotionally involved guy with a wood-paneled office.

Billy Wilder's dialogue always impresses me afresh, and it's hard to believe he was not a native English speaker. He pairs beautifully with I.A.L. Diamond here, and together they walk a fine line between comedy and tragedy, being touching without getting maudlin. One of my all-time favorite movies.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bad ideas in football

I was surprised and disappointed to read that the Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick yesterday.

Clearly, the main goal of any sports team is to win, and the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. They lost to the Oakland Raiders in 1980, and failed again against the New England Patriots in 2004. Michael Vick, at one time the highest-paid player in the NFL, could be the one to get them that ring.

But on a personal level, I find the idea of Michael Vick playing for the Eagles abhorrent. My dad used to take me to Eagles games when I was a kid, and my parents even celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary by going to that 1980 Super Bowl. (My mom is a very tolerant person.) Vick disgusts me. I don't believe he feels any real remorse for what he did to those dogs, and anything he says on the subject is just PR bullshit in an attempt to rehab his image.

Signing Vick is a desperate move from a desperate organization, one I think the Eagles will come to regret.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Mad Men" is almost here!

I'm a mere three episodes away from finishing season two of Mad Men, just in time for the premiere of season three this Sunday. This is one of the most engrossing, surprising, and well-done shows I've ever seen. I'd also like to steal some of the character's wardrobes.

AMC seems to be ramping up the publicity for this year in hopes of increasing viewership -- while "Mad Men" is critically adored and currently up for 16 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama, their viewership isn't that high. One of the coolest things AMC has done is, a site that allows you to create your own Mad Men avatar. (See my profile for mine.)

Vanity Fair has this interesting article detailing how the show was created and the process for filming. Annie Liebovitz provides some great, beautifully tortured pictures of January Jones and Jon Hamm in character as Betty and Don Draper.

The current issue of Entertainment Weekly has a brief article with a recap and preview for each of the main characters, which I haven't read yet so as to not find out what happens in the rest of season two.

Friday, July 31, 2009

This makes me giddy

My dad is getting more comfortable with technology. I showed him how to send text messages, so now I get frequent updates from him such as "I'm at the car dealership," "it's so hot outside," and "where are you?" The other night at dinner, he excitedly asked my mom and me if we'd heard of the "latest YouTube sensation." Which one, we said. He ran back to his office, we followed, and he showed us the JK Wedding Entrance Dance. Which I completely loved. It's so uninhibited and joyous.

Read a little more about it in this Washington Post article.

Added 8/3/09 One more reason to like these guys: due to the massive enthusiasm for their video and the sad circumstances regarding the song, they started a website where you can make donations to an organization working to end domestic violence.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sweet Land

I just finished watching Sweet Land, an independent film written and directed by Ali Selim, and released in 2005. A simple, straightforward story told mainly in flashbacks, it concerns Inge, a German mail order bride in the 1920s, who arrives in a small Minnesota farming community to marry Olaf, a Norwegian man she's never met.

With anti-German sentiment following World War I still fresh, the community initially rejects Inge and her marriage to Olaf is delayed. Waiting for her official papers to arrive, Inge and Olaf slowly get to know each other through shared labor and tiny glimpses of poetry, music, affection for animals, and concern for neighbors.

It's not a flashy story and much of the dialogue is in German without subtitles, but the film quietly absorbs your attention and draws you into the growing relationship between Inge and Olaf. It's gorgeous to look at, too. Minnesota never looked so luscious.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Through the rabbit hole...

The first trailer for Tim Burton's live-action adaptation of
Alice in Wonderland was released today, and you can see it

I am personally not a big fan of Disney's animated version -- as a kid, I thought it was creepy -- and love Tim Burton, so this could be very cool.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Adventures with Mom-Mom

On Monday afternoon, my grandmother surprised me by calling and asking if I'd take her to see The Hangover. I've been wanting to see this for weeks, so I said yes immediately, but asked her if she was really sure this was the movie she wanted to see. Yes, she insisted, her friend said it was hilarious and she didn't even need to know what it was about.

Turns out, she loved it, and so did I. There are drugs, booze, boobies, full frontal male nudity, tigers, Mike Tyson, and vomit, but that didn't deter my Mom-Mom in the slightest. Afterwards we went out for dinner and she asked me to write up a list of good comedies for her to get from Netflix. She remains the coolest grandma around.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another side of Kelly Kapur

My love of "The Office" has been mentioned many a time before. The other night while enjoying a hamburger at
Old Town, I was astonished to learn that Mindy Kaling (pictured right) had a
hilarious blog and that I did not know about it. (I wasn't surprised that it was hilarious, to be clear, just that I was so ignorant of its existence.)

Mindy seems like her character on The Office a little, but in a more toned down, less crazy way. She shares Kelly's love of shopping, romantic comedies, and top 40 music, and let's be honest, I do too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Japanese trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This is a combination of completely weird and geekily exciting -- new glimpses of the next Harry Potter movie, out this summer, combined with Japanese voice over and subtitles.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Took the words right out of my mouth

Well, not exactly. I don't think I could put it as eloquently as David Carr of the New York Times does, but his thoughts on the current slate of Oscar nominees and what they reveal about America right now is perfectly in line with my own way of thinking.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sneak peek at The Office Super Bowl episode

Recently, I was wondering how The Office will end. Will the Dunder Mifflin crew finally see the documentary they've been filming for over four years? Might Jim and Pam move to New York and leave Scranton behind forever? E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos reveals some slightly spoilery answers to those questions and more, as well as look at what's in store for this Sunday's Super Bowl episode.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Daniel Radcliffe Interview

Kevin Sessums interviews Daniel Radcliffe at the Daily Beast. The once and future Harry Potter is about to end his Broadway run in Equus, and discusses his homesickness for Britain, things he loves about the U.S., and even invites Sasha and Malia Obama to the set for a personal tour of Hogwarts. Even if it is a persona, I really like the way he comes across in an interview.

Don't kill Ugly Betty!

Holy crapoly. I just read Michael Ausiello's latest post at and he says ABC is "temporarily" taking Ugly Betty off the air! They're placing it with Samantha Who? and a new show from Megan Mullaly.

I just don't get the networks sometimes. Maybe Ugly Betty doesn't get the same media attention as Grey's Anatomy, but it's a far superior show. Grey's was terrific in its first season and has gotten progressively more ridiculous until it's nearly unwatchable now. And Betty is worlds away from the crapfest that is Private Practice, which for some mysterious reason has not been cancelled yet.

Betty is consistently funny, moving, surprising, and flat-out a treat to watch with some of the best dialogue on TV. It better be back!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas Gluttony

My most obvious sign of Christmas gluttony is the four or so extra pounds currently residing on my caboose, but secretly, I have been indulging heavily in the entertainments afforded by my brand new Xbox 360, courtesy of my brother and his girlfriend. Not only can you play violent video games with startling image clarity and the ability to drive drunk, you can download movies directly from Netflix and watch almost instantly. The selection on Netflix is mainly older films and those that you have never heard of or would never want to see anyway, but there are some really good ones in there too.

For instance, I had a mini Dustin Hoffman retrospective, watching
and Kramer vs. Kramer over a weekend and then serendipitously catching his interview on CBS Sunday Morning. And after years of meaning to watch Robert Redford's directorial debut, I got to see
Ordinary People
within minutes of realizing it was available to download.

For a pop culture and movie junkie like me, the Xbox is one of the best gifts ever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Flight of the Conchords

My friends Martin and Miriam, who have consistently excellent taste, told me I should watch "Flight of the Conchords." I did for the first time today and this song sold me.