Yours Are The Sweetest Eyes I’ve Ever Seen

People magazine recently named Channing Tatum as the Sexiest Man Alive and, while he obviously takes very good care of himself, I must admit he just doesn’t do anything for me.  Appearance matters, of course, but just as much (if not more), substance is what makes a man sexy (to women).  By which I mean, his sense of humor, his I.Q., his ability to listen and communicate, his wit and integrity of character – these are the things that draw a woman’s attention.

Charming Potato is by no means unattractive but he seems little more than your average jock.  A beefcake, if ever I saw one.  Here are 8 actors every bit as good-looking and infinitely more interesting than Channing Tatum:

Ewan McGregor

Idris Elba

Joseph Gordon Levitt

James McAvoy

Michael Fassbender

Jesse Williams

Tom Hardy

Chris Hemsworth

~Nikki

the sky / feeling I / get when you’re near / I’d give up gravity to feel

In my internet wanderings, I recently came across a Prometheus review that lambasted the movie for its inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Prometheus is certainly not perfect, and as Nikki pointed out in her review, it can be baffling at times. While Nikki stuck to pointing out basic character, motivation, continuity, and story flaws, the review I found – and the comments that ensued – were breaking down the actual scientific inaccuracies and plausibility of the film.

I should point out that I love and respect science. I devoted a portion of my life to it. I also love films, and the imagination and fantasy that many of them depict. And sure, I like a decent cup o’ plausibility with my fantastical universes. The Prometheus review that I stumbled upon was well-written, made some good points, and had me laughing. But it left me wondering how rigorously films should be evaluated on their scientific merit. And I am saying that as someone with a physical science degree – but that’s almost precisely why I’m saying it.

I am unsure of the scientific credentials of the author of this particular review and its commentators. I can’t expect they were too impressive, though, because there was a nine-comment thread where people were trying to work out the relativistic time and distance possibilities of the Prometheus and its journey. Everybody came up with a different answer to simply work out the ship’s distance from earth, yet each number was stated with utter certainty. The reality was that it took them six comments in to properly convert 3.27*10^14 km to light years, and that aint relativity, it’s multiplication. I especially loved a guy that commented, and I quote, “I’m familiar with general and special relativity, thanks,” and then proceeded to incorrectly convert kilometers to light years.

The fact is, crazy, (often impossible) complex shit goes down in sci-fi movies. My college physics textbook has a chapter on special relativity, and the example problems are all basic and simplified, assuming things like acceleration and deceleration. To truly work out the math of Prometheus, and how fast the ship had to be going…I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t need to take an upper level physics course on relativity. It’s not that I’m against scientific curiosity – of course not – but I’m against the common moviegoer speaking as though they have more authority on a scientific matter than Damon Lindelof, when likely they do not. Lindelof isn’t coordinating rocket launches, but neither are 99% of moviegoers.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moving away from the Prometheus example, I recently watched the independent film Another Earth, and enjoyed it quite a bit. And this was in spite of some serious, glaring scientific inaccuracies. For example, there is another EARTH in the SKY, appearing bigger than the moon, and yet our own orbit, tides, and moon seemed unaffected. Etc.*10^9. The thing is though, is that there can’t be another earth. Not like the one in Another Earth. To half-quote The Social Network, if there was going to be another earth, there’d be another earth. So of COURSE it can’t happen the way it does in the movie, because it cannot happen at all.

But the question is, what if it could? Not, “what if it could, what would the science be” – you can’t really ask that, that’s like saying, “but what if two plus two was five, how would the numbers work on that?” The question is, if it could, what would the emotional, humanistic, and societal ramifications be? And that, to me, is the purpose of movies. I enjoyed Another Earth because of its lead character, the unique situation that the parallel Earth afforded her, and the resulting choices that it caused her to make. (And just imagine Star Trek if they didn’t have warp drive!)

I’m not against things being realistically displayed, but sometimes they simply cannot be, because they are not realistic. To me, the ability to portray the physically impossible is one of cinema’s advantages. I am content with – and I think, no less the intelligent for – sitting back, suspending the laws and constants of the universe, and seeing what we would do if they were broken.

~X

I May Be Paranoid But No Android

The bottom line is: watching Prometheus is an excellent way to pass two hours, even if not quite as inspiring as Alien.  I tried not to make constant comparisons, but the truth is there are a lot of similarities.  So many, in fact, it’s all but impossible not to think of the Alien movies for at least the first half-hour.  From the way the title appears onscreen as a series of singular lines to the opening sequence wherein we see panoramic views of the spaceship Prometheus and all of its sleeping crew, all but the android David, that is, the similarities are uncanny.  A few days before the premiere, the internet teemed with articles in which Ridley Scott tried damn hard to downplay the fact that this is a prequel to Alien.  I can’t for the life of me figure out why.  It certainly does have an intricate, detailed plot of its own, but it all leads to the origin of those fantastic creatures we watched Sigourney Weaver flush out into space a couple of decades ago.

Prometheus is an ambitious film and while very entertaining, not every idea it introduces is fully realized.  Some remain open-ended questions and some just flitter off into the air like steam.  We’re introduced to the lead character, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), an anthropologist who together with fellow anthropologist and the man she loves, Charlie Holloway (the terribly attractive Logan Marshall-Green), finds a number of similar drawings made by ancient civilizations separated by centuries as well as hundreds, if not thousands of miles.  They convince billionaire tycoon Peter Weyland that the drawings are an invitation by the alien race who created humankind to seek them on their home plant.  Weyland is elderly and facing his own mortality so the idea of meeting his maker before he kicks the bucket appeals to him enough to fund this expedition.  We’re told along with the crew that Weyland died shortly before the expedition began, however, but not before leaving specific directives to the only “son” he had, robot David, expertly played by the inhumanly talented Michael Fassbender.

The flaws begin to surface as soon as Prometheus arrives at its destination.  Practically every crew member of Prometheus just couldn’t wait to break protocol.  They refuse to wait until morning to begin exploring, acting like petulant children instead, and even remove their helmets once inside the “cave” that is actually another spaceship.  They jump off their ship during a rock storm, try to bring obvious contagions on board, touch every fucking thing they see – basically acting in the exact opposite way that actual astronauts and scientists would.  Which is something I didn’t expect from Scott.  In Alien, (again, I hate to compare but it must be done) he gave us the reverse: a crew of utter professionals who behaved as real scientists would.  I could buy into there being one rogue, reckless idiot on board.  But in Prometheus, the crew was damn near made up of reckless idiots.

The bit of back story about Shaw’s faith didn’t fit for me either.  We see an early memory of her father expressing his faith in the afterlife but the only faith Shaw professes is in her belief that the drawings she found were made by what she calls “engineers” and that these engineers are, in fact, aliens from another planet who created humans on earth before returning to their homeland.  At no point did she speak of faith or religion, only that she wanted to meet this alien race she believed to be our creators.  She never brought God into it.  So when, suddenly, two-thirds of the way through the film, David asks if she feels like her god has abandoned her, I thought: she has a god?

Other inconsistencies surfaced as well.  The character of Dr. Holloway transformed with every scene, so much so he felt less like a person and more like a prop to fill whatever purpose that scene needed.  The absurdly handsome Idris Elba, as Janek, captain of Prometheus, spoke not with his natural British accent but one of the American deep south, which wouldn’t have been any problem except that as the movie progressed, his accent all but disappeared.  The geologist among the crew looked like an escaped convict and the biologist seemed to know very little of anything biological.

Setting all of that aside, though, Prometheus is visually stunning and entertaining from start to finish.  Because it takes place on an alien planet as opposed to a spaceship in flight, it doesn’t have the claustrophobic feel of Alien but it does have loads of action and some very suspenseful moments.  More questions are raised than are answered but judging by its end, we’re practically guaranteed a sequel.  The film’s three leads, Rapace, Fassbender and Charlize Theron (who, by the way, is so disturbingly beautiful, I think she may literally be a robot) give outstanding performances.  I will probably see it again before it leaves the theaters and will absolutely see a sequel.  Hopefully, Scott will better blend the impeccably professional and meticulous style of Alien with the gorgeous and technologically advanced Prometheus.

~Nikki

First You Must Learn To Smile As You Kill

When I saw Aliens, I felt certain no one could ever play a better robot than Lance Henriksen.  And while I still know beyond a doubt that no one alive and acting at that time could have been a better Bishop, a new generation of bad-asses has come to Hollywood.  And chief among them, Michael Fassbender, coming soon to a theater near you as David, an android so efficient, so utterly in control, so calculated and calm, you know that after casually inserting a knife into your skull, he’ll use your skin for lamp shades and sharpen your femur into a deadly blade, all in an effort not to be wasteful.

Here’s a little taste of what’s to come:

~N.

I Wish I Was Special

I’m beginning to think that Michael Fassbender is a genius.  An acting god among mere puppets.  Because the truth is, without his talent to carry Shame, it probably would have been a film easily forgotten.  Instead, it is a haunting, disturbing movie about a man who is slave to one of the most basic of human needs, a desperate addict tortured by his compulsions.  Fassbender stars as Brandon Sullivan, a seemingly successful businessman in New York who lives alone and makes no effort to maintain any personal relationships.  His sister, who calls regularly and leaves sad, lonely messages that Brandon ignores, appears in his apartment one night needing a place to stay.  Sissy, played by the lovely Carey Mulligan, is a bit of a train wreck – bleached hair and bad make-up, always braless and penniless.  Her sudden intrusion in Brandon’s life puts quite the dent in his rigid routine and he quickly unravels at the seams.

Steve McQueen, whose debut film Hunger put him on the world’s cinematographic map because of its bleak realism and heavy subject matter, stays true to form in Shame.  There are moments so genuine, so painfully real, you count the seconds until the scene ends, a feat not easy in itself because McQueen favors unusually long takes.  At times, they felt too long, slowing the film’s pace enough to make its 99 minute running time feel much longer.  But he makes up for it in general content and in the performance he gets out of his lead star.  Fassbender’s range is well documented here, for any of you fools out there who doubt him.  In an early scene, he manages to eye fuck a darling redhead on Manhattan’s subway effectively enough to make her squirm in her seat.  And you’ll squirm, too.  Without a word, without a single sound, he conveys more confidence and persuasive appeal than most men can muster on their best day.  Toward the end of the film and at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, after failing to react appropriately to a woman he actually cares about, he desperately seeks gratification in the company of what I assume are a couple of working girls and at the moment of climax, he (again, wordlessly) lays bare the wretched emptiness and self-loathing that feeds his addiction.

Carey Mulligan manages, somehow, not to be her usual adorable self here and instead looks like the junkie her on-screen brother is.  No details are revealed but it is strongly implied that these two siblings lived through something painful enough to essentially ruin them both.  Their relationship feels, at times, close and at others, unbearably strained.  The city of Manhattan is the third star and the duality so superbly showcased by Fassbender is mirrored in the back and forth between its impressive landscapes and the grimy, filthy bars and clubs where Brandon seeks an easy conquest.

Shame is not a movie one could watch repeatedly and it’s not one some could watch even once.  Bits of it are terribly slow and much of it is sharply uncomfortable.  Anyone looking for a sexy flick in which both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan offer full frontal shots will be disappointed here.  Oh, you will see every naked inch of Michael Fassbender and nearly as much of Carey Mulligan and there is plenty of sex to go around, but you won’t feel good about it.  In fact, Shame does for sex what Super Size Me did for fast food: it shows you just how sick it can be.

~Nikki

I Stayed In The Darkness With You

What is it about British period dramas that make me swoon?  A combination of things, I suppose, the English countryside, which plays its own role in each of them, the language – words like transfix, insolence, derision – words long lost in our impatient world.  The clothes they wore, the etiquette they insisted on practicing, the large stone mansions with shadowy hallways and heavy, wooden doors…I love all of it.  For all you fellow anglophiles out there, add the 2011 rendition of Jane Eyre to your list of must see’s.  I assure you: it will not disappoint.

Though my mother recommended Charlotte Bronte’s novel to me ages ago, it is a book I’ve simply never gotten around to reading.  (Now, it’s first on my list, just as soon as I can finish the book I’m currently reading.)  I knew it involved a young woman and a somewhat older, somewhat hardened man and, of course, that it was set in England sometime during the early 19th century, but otherwise, I knew nothing of the plot.  Then, one recent afternoon, while perusing the internet, I saw this:

I put it at the top of my Netflix queue, immediately sent back the movie that had nearly become a part of my TV stand and waited eagerly for it to arrive in my mailbox.  Usually I prefer to read the book on which a movie is based before seeing that movie, but I’m pleased this time that I did it the other way around.  The suspense and mystery was intoxicating, keeping me held in delicious anticipation from beginning to end.  Even now, I find myself reluctant to say anything of the story for fear of ruining the experience for you, dear readers.  (Though I know, of course, this is a famous and beloved classic and many of you will, no doubt, already have a good understanding of it.)  I will say nothing that is not already revealed in the trailer.  Simply that this is a fiercely smart and passionate love story, as clever as Austen but nearly as dark and gothic as Shelley.

Michael Fassbender stars as the male lead and continues to impress me with each role I see him in.  I adored every single part in Band of Brothers and was blown away by him in Inglorious Basterds.  This may have been the first time I felt attracted to him, though. ( I know, I know…he was young Magneto!  As phenomenal of a job as he did in X-Men: First Class, I’m afraid his sexual appeal was overshadowed by my intense burning for James McAvoy.)  The man is mesmerizing to watch and has a voice that just commands your attention.  I may have developed something of a crush now, honestly.  Mia Wasikowska was delightful in Alice In Wonderland and The Kids Are All Right but pulled out all the stops here, delivering a performance both heartfelt and severe, impressively holding her own with the exceptionally talented Fassbender.  Dame Judi Dench carries her supporting role with her usual ease and grace and the beautiful, haunting English countryside is practically a supporting character itself, as hypnotic as Mr. Fassbender.

I can hardly wait to read the novel on which this gem of a flick was based and become engrossed in the story all over again.

~Nikki

Do You See What I See

As you read just the other day, Silent House was a big let-down.  But, while waiting for the shitfest to begin, we did get to see some outstanding movie trailers that are a promise for a new day at the cinema.

You’ve all seen the teaser for Prometheus, but have you seen this?

Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba…it’s all but impossible not to get my hopes up.  Seriously, it looks like a new, modern, CGI-filled Alien!

Also on the horizon, an intriguing new mystery/thriller featuring our favorite John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe:

God, I love John Cusack.  And the dark, tormented works of Mr. Poe.  I so hope The Raven does justice to them both.

And finally, one that we did not see in the movie theater but something I just couldn’t resist sharing with you, because I’m more excited about this than anything else…

Someday, Ricky G., Stephen Merchant, Annie and I will all be bff’s.  IT WILL HAPPEN.  You hear that, Universe???  Make it happen!!

Have a great weekend. :)

~Nikki