Monthly Archives

January 2012

Book Review: THE RETRIBUTION by Val McDermid

This originally ran in Shelf Awareness and is reprinted here with permission.

For her seventh thriller featuring profiler Dr. Tony Hill and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, Val McDermid unleases not one but two serial killers. The first, Jacko Vance, is their worst nightmare from the past, someone they put away years ago in The Wire in the Blood. Vance escapes from prison and is hell bent on, well, retribution. Jordan and Hill have to predict and protect the people, including each other, they feel are most in danger, but Vance seems to be several steps ahead of them. Meanwhile, they also have to hunt another killer doing grisly things to prostitutes. The cases are solved in the end, but Hill and Jordan experience unfathomable loss along the way, and their relationship, as well as their lives, will never be the same.

As usual, McDermid doesn’t flinch from exploring the dark passages of humanity, if one can even call the killers human. Vance does something so revolting at one point that my stomach dropped to the floor, as if I were in an elevator plunging into hell. But McDermid’s deft prose, sprinkled with psychological insight and sparks of wit, makes it hard to turn away. She also keeps the pace humming along, which helps since a lot happens. The ending is a bit anticlimactic, and the story could probably do with less of Hill’s internal monologue about how much he cares for Jordan—a point that’s repeatedly and clearly established—but McDermid has thrown such huge obstacles into the pair’s already rocky path that it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.

Nerd verdict: Gut-wrenching Retribution

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Reactions to SAG Awards 2012 & Fashion Roundup

Wow, I was bored throughout this show, despite the fact it’s produced by my union and I got to vote for the awards. I can’t even do a best & worst list because the show was, ah, listless and predictable. (Except for when Tina Fey took Steve Buscemi’s wine glass from him and chugged it.) It got to the point where I was happy people didn’t show up to accept their awards because then the show could move closer to its conclusion.

I did wake up a little when Jean Dujardin won best actor for The Artist because, while I adore George Clooney, I liked Dujardin’s performance more. After he won, I crossed my fingers for Michelle Williams to pull an upset, too, for her transformative work in My Week with Marilyn, but I’m good with Viola Davis’s win for The Help.

I voted for Artist for best movie ensemble (wonder if Uggie would’ve gotten an Actor?) but Help‘s win is fine. I did wish, though, that Cicely Tyson had been allowed to make the acceptance speech since 1) she’s a legend, 2) Davis already had her moment when she won her individual award, and 3) Davis herself said Tyson was the reason she wanted to be an actor when she was eight years old.

Anyway, the rest of the winners are:

Supporting actress in a motion picture: Octavia Spencer for The Help

Supporting actor in a motion picture: Christopher Plummer for Beginners

TV drama ensemble: Boardwalk Empire

TV comedy ensemble: Modern Family

Actress in TV drama series: Jessica Lange for American Horror Story

Actor in TV drama series: Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire

Actress in TV comedy series: Betty White for Hot in Cleveland

Actor in TV comedy series: Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock (he’s hilarious but pleeeease give it to someone else next year! Six is enough for this role!)

Actress in a TV movie or miniseries: Kate Winslet for Mildred Pierce

Actor in a TV movie or miniseries: Paul Giamatti for Too Big to Fail

Movie stunt ensemble: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

TV stunt ensemble: Game of Thrones

Even the fashion was ho-hum, not many eye poppers or obvious train wrecks. Some highlights:

1. Michelle Williams. I love that she wore a bright color, and the Valentino is very pretty, but the shoes look a little mall-ish.

2. Viola Davis. Fantastic gown; not sure about the hair, though. Perhaps pulled back and sleek would have been better for a whole goddess-like look.

3. Sofia Vergara. This color is smashing on her, but she still stayed safe in the same body-hugging silhouette she usually wears.

4. Jessica Chastain. The vibrant blue is much better than the white she wore to the Globes, and it’s striking against her red hair, but overall the dress is pretty dull.

5. Shailene Woodley. This dress didn’t make sense to me at all. Maybe she was going for a Hawaiian motif to represent The Descendants?

6. Lea Michele. This made me think of Dave Matthews’s “Crash into Me” lyrics: If she hikes up her skirt a little more, she’d show her world to everyone.

7. Jennifer Carpenter. This is one of my favorites. It might be shorter and more casual, but the beading and details are beautiful, and the dress looks perfect for a sunny, almost 80-degrees day.

8. Emma Stone. She’s so adorable, she can wear whatever she wants.

9. Tilda Swinton. You know you’re in for a slow night when even her gown looks drab.

10. Angelina Jolie. The draping is very sensual, and the metallic gives it a touch of rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s black. Zzzzzzzzzz.

11. Naya Rivera. I’m tired of looking at her breasts at every award show. If it’s not front cleavage, it’s side boobs. We get that you’re hot, now try something classy next time.

12. Emily Blunt. This is a difficult color to wear, but she looks stunning in it. The fit of the gown is divine.

13. Meryl Streep. Mr. PCN said he kept expecting her to pull out a lightsaber from her Jedi-looking outfit.

14. Rose Byrne. She said she was inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s Scarface look. Works for me.

15. Regina King. We end with my favorite of the evening. It makes me think of spring.

Which were your favorites?

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PCN’s Banished Words

At the start of the year, Lake Superior State University published its annual list of words and phrases it feels should be banished. I perused the list and found that several are not that offensive. “Amazing”? “Baby bump”? “Trickeration”? I’ve never even heard of that last one (I don’t watch sports), much less be sick of it.

So I decided to compile my own list of words that I wish would go away, because they’re annoying, abused, misused, or they just don’t make any sense to me. I want to stop making the expression in this picture because it causes wrinkles.

Here goes:

  • Nom nom. Is this supposed to be an onomatopoeia? It doesn’t sound like any noise I’ve ever heard anyone make while eating something delicious. It sounds more like someone chewing with their mouth open.
  • Interwebs. I think someone was being cute, came up with an alternative to Internet—a smush of Internet and World Wide Web?—and then that person’s friend said, “Hey, that’s cute! I’m going to use it, too!” A million people later, it’s not cute anymore.
  • Lurve. In high school, all the “luv” in my yearbook made my teeth hurt, and now it’s the updated version of the lame-ass alternative people use when they can’t or don’t want to say “love.” Say the real word and mean it, or don’t say it at all. Who wants to be lurved?
  • Shit ____say/s. First it was my dad, then it’s girls, black girls, white girls, San Franciscans, L.A. people, rich people, and now even Liz Lemon. Say it isn’t so, NBC. Enough with all the shit already!
  • Can of whoop/whup ass. It’s not 1998 anymore.

  • Grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. I was in a bookstore recently and saw this phrase as a blurb on 1 out of 2 books I picked up. Granted, I was in the mystery/thriller section so this phrase may not be as prevalent on, say, romance novels (unless the characters like a little rough action). But seeing it on so many books I read has made it completely useless to me, and I wish reviewers/blurb writers would let the phrase go.
  • Totes (in place of “totally”). Do I have to say more?
  • Anyhoo. This one confounds me. It’s not a shorter version of “anyhow,” and is spelled almost exactly the same. When you get to that last letter, is it so much easier to type an “o” instead of a “w”?
  • Literally (when it’s not literal at all). Just today, I read that a recently Oscar-nominated actress said, “Literally, like, my brain snapped in two.” Really?

Of course, I’m not literally having conniptions over these words; this is done in ranty fun. Now it’s your turn. What words or phrases would you like to see exiled from our vernacular? Did I use any of them in this post?

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Academy Award Nominations 2012

I’m sure you’ve heard the nominations so I’ll just share some of my reactions to them. For the most part, I like the nominees but of course, there were a few omissions I wasn’t happy about. First, where’s the Ryan Gosling love for best actor? He had a stellar year, starring in three different films and was outstanding in all of them, most notably Drive. I can only assume his absence from the shortlist is because Academy members couldn’t decide which of his performances to vote for.

Michael Fassbender’s work in Shame is also woefully missing from the same category. It’s brave and raw, and he made a difficult character sympathetic. I’m glad Demián Bichir got a nod, though I don’t know why people found that shocking since he was nominated for a SAG Award.

Rapace as Lisbeth

Rooney Mara did just fine as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but if anyone deserved a nomination for playing that role, it should’ve been the fierce, original Lisbeth, Noomi Rapace (here‘s what I thought of her performance). I don’t know anyone who’s seen both versions who doesn’t agree.

I have no problem with Albert Brooks being omitted from the best supporting actor race. Why should someone get a nomination for playing against type? It should be because the performance is remarkable, right? His work was solid as the gangster in Drive, but I didn’t find it exceptional or among the best of the year.

McGregor with Cosmo in BEGINNERS, Photo: Focus Features

Best Supporting Actor is the weakest out of the acting categories for me. Why is Christopher Plummer the front runner? I liked Beginners and his performance as a gay man who’s liberated by the death of his wife, but it wasn’t more outstanding than anything else he’s done in the past. Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, and Goran Visnjic (maybe even Cosmo the Jack Russell terrier) moved me more in that movie. Plummer’s nomination smells like a lifetime award thing.

I also didn’t find Kenneth Branagh’s work in My Week with Marilyn to be anything special and don’t mean that as an insult. He was just, you know, doing his usual Branagh thing. One of the slots in this category should’ve gone to Sir Ben Kingsley, who got snubbed despite being Hugo‘s most valuable player on screen.

Speaking of which, Hugo got the most nominations of any film? Puh-leeze. I completely agree with best cinematography, visual effects, and art direction, but most of the rest were generous.

I also don’t understand Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close being nominated for best picture, but I’m not alone here so enough said. I do agree with the Academy leaving Bridesmaids out of the best picture category. Yes, it made me laugh a couple times, but the fact people thought it deserved to be among the best movies of the year confounded me. This is not because I’m against comedies getting Oscar love; I’m very much for that. Bridesmaids just wasn’t that comedy.

So, my winner predictions for the lead categories are:

Best PictureThe Artist

Best Actor—George Clooney (though I’d love a Jean Dujardin upset)

Best Actress—Viola Davis  (but am rooting for Michelle Williams, who’ll get my vote in the SAG Awards this weekend)

Best Supporting Actor—Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress—Octavia Spencer

Best Director—Michel Hazanavicius

Here are the major nominees:

BEST PICTURE

The Artist (Thomas Langmann, Producer)

The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin, Producer)

The Help (Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers)

Hugo (Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers)

Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers)

The Tree of Life (Nominees to be determined)

War Horse (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers)

Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers)

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Demián Bichir, A Better Life

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis, The Help

Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

ACTRESS IN SUPPORTING ROLE

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer, The Help

DIRECTING

The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius

The Descendants, Alexander Payne

Hugo, Martin Scorsese

Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen

The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick

WRITING (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Hugo, Screenplay by John Logan

The Ides of March, Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

Moneyball, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

WRITING (Original Screenplay)

The Artist, Written by Michel Hazanavicius

Bridesmaids, Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

Margin Call, Written by J.C. Chandor

Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen

A Separation, Written by Asghar Farhadi

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli

Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal

Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Puss in Boots, Chris Miller

Rango, Gore Verbinski

Click here for the full list. What did you think of the nominations?

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TAKEN by Robert Crais: Q&A and Giveaway

Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate it! Today is the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, which sounds like it should be my year but it’s not. I’m actually Year of the Goat, an animal that has facial hair and gets eaten.

Photo: Greg Gorman

But speaking of happy and new, Robert Crais‘s latest novel, Taken, drops tomorrow (Jan. 24, Putnam), and I have a Q&A with him today. The novel moved me so deeply, I almost can’t talk about it for fear of diluting the feeling. So I’ll just say a few words and force encourage you to experience it for yourself.

Taken has the usual action as Elvis Cole and Joe Pike go up against deadly human traffickers, but it’s also a story about love, friendship, compassion, and chasing your dreams. There’s a scene that defines how Joe feels about Elvis, expressed in the only way Joe knows how—wordlessly. It’s breathtaking for both its simplicity and depth of feeling, and one day, when someone compiles a list of iconic scenes in private eye novels that best exemplify the relationship between a detective and his partner, this moment must be on top. It makes you wish you had friends like them; it makes you wish you could be like them.

I’m thrilled to have Robert in the PCN house, answering questions about the different ways he’s been taken (stop snickering) and sharing his personal photos. Afterward, stick around for a little giveaway.

Pop Culture Nerd: What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken (physical or chemical)?

Robert Crais: Prowling through bear country on Admiralty Island, Alaska, and through the East Kootenay Rockies in Canada at 9000 feet before the snow melts. Dangerous, primitive, natural, beautiful. I enjoy physical outdoorsy things like mud runs, scuba diving, and the adventures I have doing research, but the isolation and purity of rugged wilderness areas like inner Admiralty and the East Kootenays call to my heart. If it’s easy to get there, I don’t want to go.

90 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico

With his team, doing the Camp Pendleton Mud Run

PCN: Where’s the weirdest place you’ve been taken for research?

RC: A whorehouse in Mississippi.

No whores here, just doing research with the ATF

PCN: Huh. I noticed you didn’t send over photos of that. Speaking of which, favorite picture you’ve taken?

RC: Sunrise breaking over Los Angeles while the city sleeps.

PCN: Biggest risk ever taken?

RC: Writing L.A. Requiem.

PCN: What do you most fear will be taken from you?

RC: My mental faculties.

PCN: Best advice ever taken?

RC: Write what you love.

PCN: Biggest misTaken assumption about you?

RC: What do people assume?

PCN: I’ll ask them. Last Q—what do you hope will be taken away from Taken?

RC: That people find it exciting, gripping, moving, and truthful.

Thank you, Robert, for answering my questions. Readers, it’s your turn to be Taken. For more info, go to his website or peruse his tour dates on Facebook.

But first, I have a little giveaway. I’m giving away five Elvis Cole Detective Agency business cards with a slogan that comes straight from the novel. I won’t ruin it by showing or saying what it is. If you win one and don’t like spoilers, make sure you read the book before I send it to you!

I printed these cards myself and they are in no way official, but they will be signed by Robert. To enter, leave a comment below answering his question of what you assume about him. Be creative—the more wrong the assumption, the better!

Winners will be chosen randomly via random.org. Giveaway is open to everyone, and will end this Sunday, Jan. 29, 5 p.m. PST.

UPDATE: Winners have been announced, and the card looks like this.

Buy Taken from Amazon| From an indie bookstore

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HAYWIRE Q&A with Steven Soderbergh and Cast Members

From L: Soderbergh, McGregor, Fassbender, Carano, and McHale

Last November, Haywire was the secret screening at the AFI Fest, with a Q&A session afterward with director Steven Soderbergh, Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, moderated by Joel McHale. I discussed the movie back then with my contributor Eric Edwards, but since the movie is opening tomorrow (Jan. 20), I thought I’d post some highlights from the lively Q&A.

McHale asked Soderbergh, “How’d you find Gina?” Soderbergh said, “I watched her fights on CBS on Saturday nights…I just thought, ‘Wow’—somebody should really build a movie around this woman…She’s a natural beauty and she beats people into a pulp in a cage.” He’d just been fired from a movie (he didn’t say which one but it’s believed to be Moneyball), he’d always loved early Bond films, so he decided to combine a spy film with “this new thing” because “why is Angelina Jolie the only woman currently who’s allowed to run around with a gun?” When Carano said yes to the movie, he called screenwriter Lem Dobbs (The Limey) and mapped out a plot outline about revenge, with the directive: “She needs to beat her way through the cast.”

And beat them she did. Ewan McGregor was asked about his fight scene with her. He told a story about how he was supposed to throw a punch over her head at one point, but instead, “I punched her in the head. She came straight up and said, ‘Are you okay?’…I really f**king hurt my hand! She didn’t even feel it!”

Soderbergh said he approached Fassbender and asked, “How would you like to get your ass kicked by a woman?” Fassbender replied, “It’s one of my fetishes in life.” He said his brutal fight scene with Carano in a hotel room took two days to shoot, after which “I went back to my room and puked. I put it down to a bug and not getting my ass kicked by Gina.”

McHale asked Carano about her experience fronting the movie, surrounded by such an impressive supporting cast. She said, “It was surreal. I felt more vulnerable than I’ve ever felt in my life.” There’s been press about how her voice was electronically lowered in the movie, and though she sounded softer in real life—probably due to being nervous as a newbie doing Q&A in front of a film audience—she didn’t sound drastically different than she did as Mallory Kane.

In the movie, Carano sports cornrows at one point and McHale jokingly wanted to know if she was doing a Bo Derek homage. “I fight in cornrows,” Carano said, explaining that it keeps her hair out of her face while she’s working. McHale quipped, “I know. I work at E! Ryan [Seacrest] is always punching me in the knees.”

Speaking of hair, McGregor’s character has a geeky cut that’s “based on a guy who owns a private army,” the actor said. He declined to identify that person.

McHale moved on to Fassbender, asking about the roots of his surname. The Irish-German actor said, “In English, it means Cooper, which is someone who makes binding for barrel carts.”

News of the Kardashian divorce had recently broken back on the day of this screening, so McHale asked Soderbergh, “How do you feel?” Soderbergh said, “I almost didn’t come tonight. We’re all in a period of mourning.” He added, “I’ve been on some miserable shoots and 72 days is a long time.” Judging from the good humor and camaraderie of the cast, I’m guessing Haywire‘s shoot wasn’t one of those.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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Who’s That Actor?! Pt. 3

In the last month or so, I’ve watched a lot of films and TV and noticed how many actors show up repeatedly. I’m not talking about big stars but thespians who do a ton of work but whose names still escape you. So I decided it’s time for “Who’s That Actor? Pt. 3,” where I post pictures of actors who should look familiar to you, and ask you to name them or at least one role they’ve played (here are part 1 and part 2). I will give no hints, since it’d be too easy to Google the info and arrive at the answer. There are also no prizes, only bragging rights that you are also a pop culture nerd, which I believe will get you lots of phone numbers at a bar.

Ready? Here goes.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

How many can you name? Hit the comments and show off your nerdy stripes. If there are answers before yours, you don’t have to copy them because they’re not necessarily all right!

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Golden Globes 2012 Fashion Roundup

The red carpet arrivals started at 3 p.m. PST, and I thought I’d watch this live, too. Mr. PCN came in after a while and watched with me, and I think it’s clear his observations were much more astute than mine. (My recap of the awards show is here.)

3:06 Kelly Osbourne, one of the commentators, says that from where she’s sitting, she could literally reach out and touch the stars as they get out of their limos. She couldn’t, ergo she doesn’t know what “literally” means. I want to punch myself in the head whenever someone misuses that word.

3:13 Claire Danes looks great. Her black and white gown is so…interesting. Ooh, the back is really cool!

3:15 Jessica Chastain‘s hair looks dull, not its usual vibrant red. The white Givenchy dress washes her out, too. Since her complexion is so pale, she needs more color, not less.

3:16 OMG, UGGIE IN A BOWTIE STANDING UP ON HIS HIND LEGS FOR THE PAPARAZZI! Best moment on the carpet so far.

3:24 Sarah Michelle Gellar just showed up. Her I Dream of Jeannie ponytail is cute, but Mr. PCN says her dress looks like a tie-dyed tent. Her two-year-old picked it out, which explains it. It’s not horrible, just…messy.

3:29 Paula Patton looks radiant in sunflower yellow. Best accessory? Her big smile. Almost everyone else looks stuck-up, pissed-off, or constipated, but she looks like she’s having a blast!

3:32 Kelly Osbourne has no idea what “monochromatic” means, either, since she used the word to describe Claire Danes’s dress, which has two colors: black and white. She’s making me reach for migraine meds.

3:33 Shailene Woodley looks too matronly. Her Marchesa dress is lovely…for a much older woman. Her hair in that bun is not helping. You’re 19, Shailene! Everyone else is trying to look your age; you should, too.  

3:39 Sofia Vergara usually pops in vibrant color, but she’s wearing a subdued blue Vera Wang tonight, which is kind of boring, especially since it’s the kind of mermaid/body-hugging silhouette she usually wears. Mr. PCN remarks that when she poses with her back to the photogs, she’s basically saying, “Look at my ass!”

3:42 Octavia Spencer looks lovely in lavender. This is a great color on her.

3:45 Freida Pinto is a gorgeous woman, but the blue poofy textured dress makes her look twice her size. Mr. PCN: “It looks like painted elephant skin.”

3:47 Julie Bowen is Old Hollywood classy, so beautiful in her Reem Acra dress. Her ’40s-style hair perfectly complements the gown.

3:50 Who knew Rooney Mara had dimples? Adorable. I’ve never seen her smile (well, she’s not smiling in this photo, only when she was talking to Ryan Seacrest). Her dress is a little predictable, and it looks too big on her. She’s worn edgier ones on her international promotional tour for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

3:54 The Deschanel sisters, Emily and Zooey, are posing together. They’re cute, but their dresses are bad. Emily’s is ill-fitting, and Zooey’s is just not attractive. Not feeling Z’s sideburns, but she has tuxedo nails! Best thing about her outfit, bar none.

3:56 Charlize Theron looks like a sexy fairytale princess, with her sparkly headband and plunging pink Dior gown. None of this would look good on me, but I find it striking on her.

4:01 My first wow moment: Angelina Jolie. White satin Atelier Versace dress that fits like second skin and the red accents and hair and red lips = perfection. No one will be able to top this.

4:10 Evan Rachel Wood looks like she killed a bunch of crows and glued their feathers to the bottom of her dress.

4:13 Mr. PCN says Salma Hayek is wearing the top of the Transamerica Building on her chest. I don’t have a better description. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. It’s unusual, and I like it when stars go for something different.

4:25 Michelle Williams has perfect posture as usual, and she’s more adorable than puppies, but her dress is unfortunate. It looks like drapes at a bed and breakfast. Headbands must be the new trend. Don’t think I’m on board.

4:31 Nicole Kidman‘s dress is an architectural wonder. Impressive, lots going on, but it works. It gets the most unique award.

4:32 I never realized Reese Witherspoon was so, ah, busty. Her loose hair and the big grin indicate she and the girls are ready to party!

4:37 Dianna Agron says her dress is laser cut swans, but Mr. PCN says she’s just wearing red doilies from head to toe.

4:38 Mr. PCN: “If you make Lea Michele‘s dress green, she’s Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin.” That’s it, exactly!

So, the best dress goes to Angelina Jolie, with Charlize Theron in second. Honorable mention goes to someone whose outfit wasn’t featured in the E! coverage, but who deserves kudos for being in a class of her own. Tilda Swinton sometimes confuses me with her style statements, but I think this one is stunning.

Whose gowns did you love? Who did you think must have gotten dressed while drunk?

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Golden Globes 2012 Recap

I usually DVR the show so I wouldn’t have to watch commercials, but for once, I thought I’d try watching it live (it started at 5 p.m. PST) and blog my reactions to it without thinking about it too much. This is not comprehensive, since there were many moments about which I had nothing to say (I usually zoned out whenever anyone read from a sheet of paper). For the rest, here goes:

5:02 After coming out and saying, “So, where was I?” Ricky Gervais’s statement that “the Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem” made me chuckle.

5:03 Gervais says the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave him a list of things he couldn’t do: “No profanity. That’s fine; I’ve got a huge vocabulary. No nudity. See, that’s a shame ’cause I’ve got a huge…vocabulary, but a tiny penis.” Haha! Way to make fun of yourself first, Ricky.

5:05 Talking about Bridesmaids, he said, “The girls finally proved that they could be as raunchy as the men—farting, burping, cursing, performing wild sex acts, even pooping in the sink. I actually heard, for research, the cast spent the weekend with Dame Helen Mirren. She’s dreadful…off the rails.” Ooh, I’d love to spend the weekend with Helen Mirren. Who wouldn’t?

5:07 Love that Gervais put first presenter Johnny Depp on the spot by asking him if he’d seen The Tourist. Depp: “No.”

5:09 Depp reads nominees for best supporting actor in a motion picture. We all know it’s going to be Christopher Plummer. Yup, no surprise. Yay! Cosmo (the Jack Russell terrier who plays Plummer’s character’s dog in the movie) gets a shout-out in his thank-you speech!

6:00 Seth Rogen comes out to present with Kate Beckinsale and says, “I’m Seth Rogen and I’m trying to conceal a huge erection right now.” Gross. No one wants to hear or think about that.

6:01 So happy for Michelle Williams winning best actress in a comedy or musical film! The movie is neither comedic nor musical, but who cares? She’s magnificent as Marilyn Monroe and the race really shouldn’t be between Meryl and Viola. Love how she thanked her daughter for enduring months of bedtime stories being read to her by Williams in a Marilyn voice.

6:07 It’s the battle of the huge dresses between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Piper Perabo. “My dress is bigger than yours. Give me your lunch money!” Gellar may have slayer skills but I think Perabo takes this one since her dress can be used as a parachute.

6:08 Peter Dinklage wins best TV supporting actor for Game of Thrones. He shared that his mother said, “Have fun, but have you seen Mildred Pierce? Guy Pearce is really good and he’s going to win.” He thanks moms for keeping us humble. Aww. As if that weren’t sweet enough, he says he’s anxious because it’s his new baby’s first night with a sitter, then he mentions he’s been thinking about someone named Martin Henderson and tells us to “Google it” as music plays him off the stage. Here‘s what he was talking about. Henderson’s story is quite sobering.

6:22 It’s cute how Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy sang while presenting best supporting TV actress, but why? It’s not a musical category.

6:45 Matt LeBlanc wins for playing himself on the comedy series Episodes! Well, a version of himself. The LeBlanc in the show wouldn’t win a Globe.

6:57 Sydney Poitier comes out to present Cecil B. DeMille award to Morgan Freeman and gets a standing O. Wow, he can sure rule the room. Love Morgan, but I may have to take a food break since these tributes run forEVAH. Oh wait, Helen Mirren! My goodness, is there no end to her amazingness? Hmm. That Driving Miss Daisy joke about driving on the wrong/right side of the road is kind of bombing but she’s so sassy, she’s making it work. She and Freeman should do more movies together! Oh my gosh, why is he taking a bubble bath in a casket? That clip is so weird and great!

7:11 Scorsese wins best director for Hugo. No! Wrong!

7:19 Modern Family wins best comedy series. Sofia Vergara and co-creator/exec producer Steven Levitan get to make the acceptance speech, with Vergara speaking in Spanish and Levitan “translating.” Here’s what she said, according to him: “Thank you to the Modern Family writers, who are so funny and so sexy. Film actresses, do yourselves a favor…and give them your phone numbers. They may look pasty and nervous and out of shape, but they’re the best lovers I’ve ever had. Seriously.” No idea what Vergara really said, but would love to know, especially since she made repeated references to presenters Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.

7:23 Yay, Michelle Pfeiffer! She’s introducing a clip for War Horse. Producers, please employ her more.

7:25 Oh dear, Jessica Biel’s dress makes her look like she’s wearing soap bubbles after stepping out of the bath. Her pronunciation of Jean Dujardin’s name is perfect, though. And he wins best actor in a comedy or musical film! Not a surprise, but still fun, since we’ll get to hear him talk. He says an agent once told him his face is too expressive, too big, and that he’d never be able to do film [where reactions are more intimate]. It’s a good thing Dujardin proved that agent wrong, because his face is what makes The Artistwork. It’s so expressive, no words are needed to indicate what he’s feeling. Oh, love how he ended the speech with a silent bit!

7:34 Gervais introduces Colin Firth by rattling off his attributes—Oscar winner, beloved by women, etc.—but then says what we don’t know is that Firth is “very racist…also, I’ve seen him punch a little blind kitten.” Not gonna work, Ricky. We still love him.

7:35 Meryl Streep wins best dramatic film actress for The Iron Lady. Oh, goodness, what in the world is she wearing? Mr. PCN says she looks like she’s dressed for a hoedown. She begins her speech by saying, “When Ricky Gervais’s deal fell through and it came to me to play Margaret Thatcher…” Ha! And then she got bleeped for saying “shit” when she realized she didn’t bring her glasses on stage.

7:41 The Artist wins for best comedy or musical film, and Uggie takes the stage with the creative team! He’s doing tricks and everything! I felt a little bad that he was pulling focus from producer Thomas Langmann, who was trying to give a heartfelt speech involving his late father, but how often do you get to see a dog accept a Golden Globe for best picture?

7:50 As expected, George Clooney wins best dramatic movie actor. He goes from graciously paying tribute to his buddy Brad Pitt for his performances and humanitarian work, to thanking Michael Fassbender “for taking over the frontal nudity responsibility that I had.” He also tells Fassbender, “You can play golf…with your hands behind your back.” That’s the umpteenth penis joke tonight. I think this is the most phallic Golden Globes ceremony in recent memory.

7:56 The Descendants wins best picture drama. I’m good with that, as long as The Artist takes the top prize at the Oscars next month.

For a complete list of Globes winners, go here. Here’s my fashion commentary. What did you like or dislike about the show?

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Book Review: RAYLAN by Elmore Leonard

This review is by contributor Eric Edwards, a cowboy in his own way.—PCN

Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal whose no-nonsense way of upholding the law is viewed by his higher-ups as too reminiscent of the Old West, gets relocated from Miami, Florida, back to Harlan County, Kentucky, where the friends and enemies of his youth don’t exactly admire his current profession.

Although the dust jacket suggests a single plot involving our hero on the trail of redneck brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe when they decide to branch out from pot dealing into organ trafficking, the story actually covers multiple cases. There’s Raylan tracking down a college-poker-player-turned-bank-robber who skipped out on her arraignment, and reluctantly playing bodyguard to a sexy female spokeswoman for the coal industry as she faces down an angry crowd of Appalachian locals who suspect her of murdering one of their own. These stories play out as vignettes initially and connect as a whole by the end of the book, but the appeal for me was not so much the plot as Elmore Leonard’s mastery in putting it all together.

I was able to embrace this novel on two levels. First, as an appreciative reader of Leonard’s succinct and unique, character-tailored prose, and secondly as a fan of the current TV show based upon this character. Die-hard Leonard fans might remember Raylan from two of the author’s previous novels (Pronto, Riding the Rap) as well as a novella (“Fire In The Hole” from his collection When the Women Come Out to Dance). I was first introduced to this character via the FX series, Justified, but don’t judge me too harshly because Leonard’s name is what made me watch the show in the first place (season three premieres next Tuesday, Jan. 17, the same day the novel comes out).

Actor Timothy Olyphant’s portrayal of this righteous badass with a past is so on point with the author’s intention, it’s hard not to visualize the actor while devouring the prose. Justified fans who pick up this book will undoubtedly recognize Boyd Crowder (played by Walton Goggins) and Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), but may have a few head-scratching moments when encountering plotlines the show took creative license with during the first two seasons, and the difference in gender of one pivotal character. But hopefully, this won’t discourage watchers from becoming readers and enjoying the work of the man who created Raylan.

Buy Raylan now from Amazon| Buy from an indie bookstore

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Quick Impressions of HOUSE OF LIES & THE FIRM

Sunday night brought two anticipated TV debuts, but after I saw them, I was ready for them to go away. Showtime’s House of Lies starred Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan, head of a team of management consultants. He’s a slut, having casual sex with various women in the pilot, including his ex-wife, and a shark at work, landing a big account with a bank by telling top execs how to make themselves look good publicly while still taking fat bonuses and screwing the little people. Despite Cheadle’s charm, Kaan is so slimy, I couldn’t root for him, especially when he’s hitting on one of his team members, Jeannie, played by Kristin Bell. The erstwhile Veronica Mars doesn’t have much to do yet except resist Kaan’s advances, but even if the role gets meatier, I probably won’t be around to see it. Nerd verdict: House of sleaze.

The other show was NBC’s The Firm, taking up the story ten years after the events in the movie starring Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere. Josh Lucas has taken over the role and boy, is he bland. I never thought I’d say, “I miss Tom Cruise.” He can be intense, while Lucas just looked frazzled and couldn’t hold my interest for two hours. So I can’t give it a verdict, because I bailed after about forty-five minutes, but that alone is a sign that—its title aside—the show didn’t hold up well.

Did you watch either? What did you think?

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My Weekly REVENGE Ritual

It’s ridiculous how much I anticipated Revenge‘s return tonight. When it debuted last fall, it was the show I was least interested in watching. It had a generic title and marketing campaign, which didn’t make it clear why the girl in the thorn dress was out for revenge.

But I like to sample everything, and just like potato chips, I couldn’t stop at one episode. This thing sucked me in and next thing I knew, I was chatting up strangers at the supermarket and—gasp!—teenagers at the movie theater, saying, “Oh my gosh, slutty FauxAmanda needs to go away!” and “I can’t stand Tyler!” and “Can they please get rid of stupid Declan and annoying Charlotte?” I make my friends watch it, I’ve recommended it to my sister-in-law who’s on maternity leave, even Mr. PCN watches it with me.

If you haven’t tuned in yet, here’s the basic stuff you need to know. Emily VanCamp plays Emily Thorne, who arrives in the Hamptons and immediately takes up with Daniel, the handsome son of Victoria and Conrad Grayson, prominent figures in the social scene. Thing is, Emily is actually Amanda Clarke, who lived in the area as a little girl with her father, David, who was framed by the Graysons for a heinous crime and sent to prison, where he was killed. With the help of local rich boy Nolan, who knew her dad and remains loyal to him, Emily/Amanda is out to take down all the people responsible for ruining her life.

The word I hear most often about this show is that it’s addictive. All the nasty twists and turns, fabulous clothes, and bad people getting what they deserve add up to a satisfying hour every week that usually leaves me wanting more. The MVPs are undoubtedly VanCamp, nimbly switching between blond innocence and dark avenging angel, and the gorgeous Madeleine Stowe, who has mastered the art of smiling sweetly at people while her big soft brown eyes say she wants to stab them in the face. And Joshua Bowman, the British actor who maintains his American accent well as Daniel, has surprised me. I was prepared to hate his character but Bowman, with the help of the writers, has made Daniel quite likable, if a bit clueless about his friend Tyler.

**Spoilers if you haven’t seen the latest ep**

Ah, Tyler (Ashton Holmes). I don’t love to hate him, I don’t love anything about him, I just hate his ass. I detest his skeevy, two-faced, blackmailing ways and hope we won’t see him again anytime soon after he got hauled away by his brother. I am a bit disappointed he didn’t actually shoot somebody, though, before Jack and Daniel tackled him. There were a few characters around that dinner table I wouldn’t mind seeing eliminated—namely Declan (Connor Paolo), Charlotte (Christa B. Allen), and the useless party planner, Ashley (Ashley Madekwe). She should be killed just for entertaining the idea of Tyler as a boyfriend.

Oh well, I can’t have everything, but I would like to see the following happen as the show moves forward:

  • Emily using some of her ninja training. When Nolan mentioned that she held back her inner ninja during the gun situation, I shouted at the TV, “Unleash it!” There are certainly plenty of people who deserve a good whupping, and I thought Victoria’s divorce lawyer, who was involved in the frame-up of David Clarke, was going to feel some pain from Emily after the way she looked at him when she recognized him.
  • Ashley either contributing something valuable to the show or leaving the Hamptons. She showed a nasty side recently and I thought she was going to team up with Victoria against Emily, but she’s slipped back into uselessness, lurking in the background looking pretty and not doing much else. She did throw a snippy remark at Emily last night—“Empathy. You should try it sometime”—but it’s still not clear why she hangs around when Victoria treats her like a doormat and she can’t even pull off one stinkin’ event without some disaster happening. “Hey, come to the party I organized and you’ll get a gun pointed at your head! Or see yourself on video confessing your most embarrassing secrets to your shrink!” How does this girl keep her job?
  • More people who were directly involved in the David Clarke situation destroyed. In the beginning, Emily took out a person a week, and while I’m glad the show expanded beyond that formula, we haven’t seen anyone taken down in a while.
  • Tyler staying away permanently. The story is not about him. He’s just a distraction.
  • Jack realizing that FauxAmanda is not the girl he fell in love with years ago. If love is a chemical reaction, and he didn’t feel it with FauxAmanda when he first met her, wouldn’t that clue him in that something’s not right?

What would you like to see happen? Are you sucked in by this show yet? If not, go here and get caught up now!

Photos: Top two—ABC/Colleen Hayes; bottom two—ABC/Carol Kaelson

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