Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Little Miss Musto

Finally someone - as it turns out, the very openly gay Village Voice columnist Michael Musto - agrees with me about the lavishly praised winner of Oscars and Independent Spirit Awards, Little Miss Sunshine.

In his review of the Oscars in the Feb. 28 edition, Musto writes: "11:14: Little Miss Sunshine claims original screenplay, which might be a good chance for me to finally state that the film is a tad overrated. When the once rebellious son insists, 'Go give Mom a hug,' you know it's gone strictly into formula land. And the ending just didn't work." You go, girl!

Monday, February 26, 2007


The Oscars' Depart-ure

Actually, it wasn't much of a departure for Academy Award voters to select legendary auteur Martin Scorsese (right) as the Oscars' best director and to designate his movie, The Departed, as best picture. Though The Departed lacked the depth of GoodFellas and Raging Bull, Scorsese was not to be denied again (as was the case mostly recently with Gangs of New York and The Aviator). The director award presented by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, with freshly crome-domed Jack Nicholson lurking in the wings, was a victory for the former bad boys of Hollywood.

More winners
Little Miss Sunshine - best supporting actor Alan Arkin, best original screenplay
An Inconvenient Truth - best documentary and best song, Melissa Etheridge's "I Need to Wake Up"
Pan's Labyrinth - best cinematography, art direction and makeup, but lost the best foreign film award to "The Lives of Others"
The Departed - also won best adapted screenplay and editing awards
• Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker - best actress and best actor

Babel - too much Scorcese, shutout except for best score award
Dreamgirls - too much Al Gore and Little Miss Sunshine, shutout except for best supporting actress Jennifer Hudson and sound editing awards
Children of Men and Apocalypto - nada

Host Ellen DeGeneres was predictably quick on her feet, running up and down the aisles working the crowd. At one point she vacuumed beneath the front now. Eyeing an odd-shaped item on the carpet, DeGeneres joked, "Somebody's rolling papers. Must be the band's."

Overlong and way too respectful to the many important cogs in filmmaking's machine, the Oscars seem to take relish in boring its infatuated audience. This doesn't make for great TV, but the producers of the show frankly don't give a damn.

Check out my review of non-Oscar contender, The Number 23

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Never mind the Oscars, here's the Bloomies

Not counting film festivals, I saw a total of 74 movies that were either released theatrically or on DVD in 2006 (see list below). Based on this list, here are my selections for the 1st-ever Bloomie Awards:

Best Movie, Drama: World Trade Center
Having not seen United 93, I can't compare the two. But Oliver Stone deserves way more credit than he's received for his passionate portrait of two fireman buried beneath the rubble caused by the 9/11 plane attacks on the World Trade Center.

Best Movie, Comedy: Borat
A longtime fan of Sacha Baron Cohen, I knew what to expect with this movie, but never thought he could pull off the media coup that led up to its release. Cohen proved to be the master manipultor both on the screen and off.

Best Director: Richard Linklater
Linklater helmed not one, but two important movies: A Scanner Darkly and Fast Food Nation.

Best Stoner Movie, Drama: A Scanner Darkly
Linklater's futuristic polemic about the drug war is both dark and comical, thanks to a cast of stony characters and psychedelic animation.

Best Stoner Movie, Comedy: Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny
Jack Black and Kyle Gass not only can sing, they can act. A heavy-mental musical for stoners of all ages.

Best Documentary: Commune
A wistful look at the California commune founded by the Diggers.

Best Music Documentary: Awesome: I Fucking Shot That
The Beastie Boys gave 50 concertgoers DV cameras and asked them to shoot the same live show, then edited all the footage down to a great concert film.

Best Foreign Movie: Mountain Patrol: Kekexili

Amazing docudrama set in the Tibetan tundra where a self-elected security force attempts to catch poachers in a forbidding climate.

Best Performance by an Actor: Nicholas Cage, World Trade Center
Underground and motionless for most of the movie, Cage and his partner hang in there as rescuers search for signs of life.

Best Performance by an Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sherrybaby
Gutsy acting by Gyllenhaal, who portrays a junkie just out of jail and adjusting to freedom.

Most Overrated Movie: Little Miss Sunshine
Tepid comedy hit a nerve with moviegoers, despite very few funny moments.

Most Overrated Director: Martin Scorcese
Scorcese has made so many better movies than The Departed - GoodFellas and Raging Bull to name just two - yet critics treated the film as some sort of masterpiece, which it's not.

Most Underrated Movie: Bobby
Critics hated it, but Emilio Estevez was onto something when he reconstructed the last day of Robert Kennedy's life.

Most Surprising Movie: Apocalypto
After all the controversy about Mel Gibson's anti-semetic remarks, he proved to be a powerful filmmaker, not just a blood-thirsty one.

Most Apocalyptic Movie: Children of Men
Alfonso Cuaron's look into the future (2027) is hopefully just a bad dream.

Most Topical Movie: The Road to Guantanamo
With this devastating depiction of overzealous policing, Michael Winterbottom continues to be one of cinema's most daring filmmakers.

Most Overrated Performance: Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
As the constantly stoned teacher, Gosling is neither compelling nor empathetic.

Best Pot Scene: Grandma's Boy
Allen Covert and Peter Dante light a fattie, then take a ride with a chimp.

Best Sex Scene: Abbie Cornish and Heath Ledger, Candy
Playing junkies, Cornish and Ledger get it on in a pool.

Funniest Scene: Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The dinner scene, with Will Farrell and his dysfunctional family.

Bloomie Achievement Award: Woody Allen
Allen rediscovered his sense of humor in Scoop, in which he plays a wacky character straight out of Broadway Danny Rose.

2006 releases: a/k/a Tommy Chong, American Hardcore, An American Haunting, Apocalypto, A Prairie Home Companion, Aquamarine, Art School Confidential, A Scanner Darkly, Awesome: I Fucking Shot That, Babel, Bobby, Borat, Brick, Candy, Casino Royale, Children of Men, Clerks II, Coachella, Cocaine Angel, Come Early Morning, Commune, Crazy Like a Fox, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, Dreadheads: Portrait of a Subculture, Dreamgirls, Duck Season, Factotum, Fast Food Nation, Flags of Our Fathers, Friends with Money, Gram Parson: Fallen Angel, Grandma's Boy, Half Nelson, Haven, Hollywoodland, How to Eat Fried Worms, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, London, Man of the Year, Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School, Mountain Patrol: Kekexili, Music Is My Life Politics My Mistress, Nacho Libre, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, Rocky Balboa, Romantico, Scoop, Sherrybaby, Stoned, Strangers with Candy, Tales of the Rat Fink, Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Thank You for Smoking, The Break-up, The Departed, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Kiss, The Notorious Bettie Page, The Outsider, The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, The Pusher III: I'm the Angel of Death, The Queen, The Road to Guantanamo, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Waist Deep, Wassup Rockers, Trudell, We Are Marshall, World Trade Center, You Me and Dupree.

Friday, February 09, 2007


My review of 'Hannibal Rising' + more

The prequel to Silence of the Lambs, Peter Webber's Hannibal Rising, starring Gaspard Ulliel (with syringe, at right), arrives in theaters today. Click here to read my review at L Magazine online

Check out my cd reviews of Disco Biscuits, the John Popper Project and Ziggy Marley at Relix online. Also, read Mike Greenhaus' revealing review of Trey Anastasio's appearance at the 92nd St. Y in New York on Wednesday night (he admitted he's an addict). Read more about Trey at Celebstoner

My main project right now is Pot Culture: The A to Z Guide to Stoner Language and Life, a book I'm writing with my old friend and colleague Shirley Halperin. It will hit stores in the fall. Harry Abrams is the publisher and Eva Prinz our editor. Eva co-curated the Radical Living Papers exhibit - documenting the alternative press from 1965-1975 - at 436 W. 15 St. in New York. The exhibit runs through March 7.

I'm excited to announce that I've surpassed the 1,000-friend mark after eight months on MySpace

I'm also busily working on the High Times Party & Doobie Awards @ SXSW, scheduled for March 16 at Redrum (401 Sabine St.) in Austin, Texas. They'll be plenty of awards and bands throughout the day, from high noon to 6 pm. Scheduled so far: reggae newcomer Joseph Israel, Austin's own White Ghost Shivers and Hellapeno and Flaming Fire, featuring High Times managing editor Natasha Lewin. Check them all out on MySpace.

Lastly, allow me rave about The Sarah Silverman Program. The first two shows (it airs on Thursdays at 10:30 EST on Comedy Central) have been brilliant. Look for Stoner of the Year Doug Benson in the latest episode about Sarah's homeless friend, played by another stony favorite, Zach Galifianakis.

NEWS FLASH: Check out my Skinterview

That's it for now, stoners!

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