Oscar History

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Entries in Whitney Houston (8)


Soundtracking: "The Bodyguard"

Whitney: Can I Be Me debuts this Friday on Showtime. Chris Feil takes a look at the icon's biggest soundtrack...

The Bodyguard doesn’t deserve its iconic mega-selling soundtrack. Granted, most of us have never pretended that that the film was even a whiff as good as all that glorious vocal dexterity Whitney Houston lays into her six tracks. But rest assured: the movie itself is even worse than you remember.

Among its many sins, the most egregious is how it ignores its own musical assets. The Bodyguard exists in a world where you can enter someone’s home and just happen upon an extended dance sequence being shot for a music video - but it also presents a world where that isn’t anywhere near as fun as it sounds. It spends the first act under the illusion that we give a crap about five or six things more than we do about Whitney’s voice. Why go to the creative effort to cast one of the biggest music acts of the era (and in a quasi-musical!) if you don’t know how to use her?

No sweat for Whitney, even if her acting performance netted her some harsh reviews. As ever, her musical contribution remains untouchable...

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The Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 Is...

Chris here. The ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race came to a close last night with the series's most dramatic conclusion ever. At last week's reunion, Mama Ru teased that a sudden death lipsync battle would crown America's Next Drag Superstar from our beloved top four. This curveball was another shakeup from the show's formula, and feels like how the winner should have been chosen all along. While past seasons' crownings have been dull slogs to awarding an obvious winner, this kept the competition alive until the very second - and gave us two all-time great lipsync performances from the ultimate champion.

Trinity Taylor was the randomly selected first queen and chose Peppermint as her opponent, pitting a potential frontrunner against underdog lipsync assassin. But that meant leaving besties Sasha Velour and Shea Couleé to duke it out...

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Pride Month Doc Corner: 'Whitney: Can I Be Me'

This month for Pride Month we're looking at four documentaries that tackle LGBTIQ themes. This week it is Whitney: Can I Be Me, the latest in a long line of musical documentaries.

There is no need to introduce Whitney Houston; we all know her and her songs. I also have no doubt that people reading this know her story of soaring talent and troubled downfall due to drugs. Hers was an arc that is rooted in the blueprint of great cinematic tragedies, a story that we have seen play out plenty of times before (in life as well as in in the movies), that it would be easy to roll our eyes at how cliched it was if it weren’t so painfully true.

If it feels somewhat curious then that director Nick Broomfield has turned his documentary eye to her story then that’s because it is. Unlike his earlier music doco Kurt & Courtney (or even his pair of Aileen Wuornos docs in which he takes an antagonistic role with his subject), there isn't an antagonist to go after. Whitney: Can I Be Me’s central conflict is predominantly between Whitney and herself. The title, “Can I Be Me”, was a phrase used often by Whitney – at times in the backstage footage, her team are even seen joking about it – as a means of apologising for being herself rather than the perfect pop creation crafted by Clive Davis and her mother.

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OTD: Babs, Shirley, and "Cool" from West Side Story

On this very gay day (4/24) in history as it relates to showbiz...

1873 Silent film director Robert Wiene, best known for The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) born in Breslau (Note: other online sources disagree with the IMDb on this birthdate but it's always fun to think about Caligari)

1927 Oscar winning cinematographer Pasqualino de Santis born in Italy. Classics include Romeo and Juliet, The Damned, Death in Venice, and L'Argent

1930 Richard Donner, superstar director/producer of the 1980s, behind films like The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, and the first two Supermans. Apparently retired after 16 Blocks (2006) with Bruce Willis

1931 The Public Enemy starring James Cagney and Jean Harlow was enjoying its opening weekend at movie theaters. It was a big hit, ending in the top ten of its year. Variety claimed it was "low brow material" attempting to be high brow by its craftsmanship. If only critics knew in the moment -- they almost never do even now -- that "low brow" genres regularly produce classics.

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Brandy. Whitney. Bernadette. It's Cinderella... Again

Cinderella Week continues with Andrew Kendall on a true event in showbiz history...

On our journey through Cinderellas we take a stop in 1997 for an unlikely entry in the canon. Unlike the animated version it did not change a cinematic form, nor like the Julie Andrews version did it launch a star. When the 1997 TV production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella premiered in 1997 it was hailed as one of the most successful TV musicals in years and audiences did, love it, 60 million of them. But, it has endured as little more than a footnote on the résumé of its fêted cast and crew.

This would be the second remake of the Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella written for Julie Andrews in 1957 (the first remake a Lesley Ann Warren version in 1965). And, still, I’d swear on the altar of all things magical that this is the finest adaptation of the Cinderella story. Myriad reasons, but principally because this Cinderella has more on its mind than just the girl at the centre…

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Dear Link People

Cinema Blend Rian Johnson (of Brick and Looper fame) will direct at least one of the new Star Wars movies. Interesting choice
Very Smart Brothas has smart things to say about Yaya DaCosta's casting as Whitney Houston in that upcoming lifetime biopic. (I just discovered this site which I gather is pretty popular on the black internet. Some really funny posts)
MNPP Michael Haneke's Flash Mob is waiting on its lead actress. But who will it be?

In Contention top 10 performances in Roman Polanski films
AV Club talks Judy Garland and the Oscar fuck-up of 1954. One of my favorite topics!
i09 Pixar's next short is called Lava
Esquire 10 best films set in New Jersey from Atlantic City to Cop Land
Just Jared Matthew McConaughey on the red carpet for more prizes. Curiously talk is spreading that McConaughey won't be back for Magic Mike XXL. I actually think that's a great move on the movie's part but I wasn't expecting it since Hollywood usually tries to give you more of the same in sequels. (I've already discussed this but If Tatum wants to build a cash cow franchise out of this for himself as a producer that could even survive without him onscreen, he needs to understand that the topic calls for fresh meat each time. Sorry to be so crass about it but it's true!) 

Most Awesome Tweet of the Day/Month/Possibly the Year
If only they had done another one in a car with Brad in the back seat! 




I haven't seen this movie in way too long.

Opposing Netflix Views
Vulture wonders how Chelsea Handler and Netflix are going to work around the talk show format which requires topicality which you can't get when you film in advance. But...
Mashable thinks this won't be what we're expecting an disrupt television again 



Review: "Sparkle"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad.

Leaving for the theater to see Sparkle, the boyfriend wrinkled up his nose. "Is that that Dreamgirls remake?" he asked rhetorically. He doesn't care about movies (...I know!) so I just said "yes" rather than getting into it. Sparkle, like Dreamgirls before it, does pair an "American Idol" alum in her big screen debut (Jordin Sparks / Jennifer Hudson) with a genuine legend (Whitney / Beyoncé) to tell the story of a troubled female pop trio in 1960s Detroit attempting to make it big as Motown explodes. But the similarities are cosmetic. (Which is not, unfortunately, to Sparkle's benefit. If you're going to load up your screenplay with familiar clichés, rob from superior work!)

The immediate jarring difference between the two films is first noticeable in the Jennifer/Jordin continuum. In both films the biggest talent of the trio has to play second fiddle to "the hot one" but only in the earlier property does the Major Talent bristle mesmerizingly against her runner-up status; Jordin's "Sparkle" is a willing wallflower, happy to let her sister (the crazy gorgeous Carmen Ejogo) sing all of her songs whilst shimmering in the warmth of the spotlight. Sparkle's sister's name is "Sister" and their group is called "Sister and Her Sisters" and the men competing dramatically for their hands (that's a euphemism for vaginas) are named "Stix" (Derek Luke) and "Satin" (Mike Epps). So any moviegoer with a sybilant "S" should avoid all discussions of the movie

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RIP Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

Jordin Sparks and Whitney in the forthcoming "Sparkle"Breaking news as CNN is currently investigating the discrepancies within the details but Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48, the day before the Grammys no less. She won six of the music industry's top prizes over the span of her career, the last in 2000 for "It's Not Right, But It's OK".

She'll always be remembered as one of the great voices of the 80s and 90s but her career had been quiet for a decade, plagued as it was with substance abuse. I'll personally never forget that chilling "crack is whack" Diane Sawyers interview but there were occasional intermittent signs that Whitney was on the mend. She had recently returned to acting filming a remake of Sparkle with "American Idol" alum Jordin Sparks. 

That musical is currently in postproduction aiming for an August 2012 release date. Whitney's movie career previously was sparse and short but started with a supernova: The Bodyguard (1992) was a smash hit at the box office and the music was an even bigger deal launching a series of hits and becoming the bestselling soundtrack of all time.

Houston jumped from A list co-star to A list co-star: Kevin Costner to Angela Bassett to Denzel Washington. (I remember being miffed at the time that Angela Bassett had to take second billing but I was a possessed Bassett fan in college and hoping to see her snag a second nod for her literally fiery work in Waiting To Exhale.).

The song everyone remembers from The Bodyguard is of course Dolly Parton's immortal "I Will Always Love You". My fondest memory of the song is actually Dolly Parton related. My friends and I would always be like 'ka-ching. You get that money, Dolly!' whenever Whitney held that crazy note which was, appropriately, ALWAYS ♫ since she didn't seem to need to breathe and the song was always on. Mostly out of loyalty to Dolly and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas where 'I Will Always' was first movie-fied but maybe also because I go weak at the knees for a sparkly headdress or wrap, I was more partial to "I Have Nothing."

Rest in Peace, Whitney Houston.  Your voice had plenty and you gave quite a lot of it to the world.