It's easy to forget that nerds and teenagers aren't the only moviegoers who want their fantasies indulged. I thought about that watching Morgan Freeman in Last Vegas. As Archie, a twice-married Air Force retiree who recently suffered a stroke, all Freeman does for his first two or three scenes is sit in an armchair watching television. He's surrounded by bottles of pills. He looks comfortable. But when a life-long friend, Billy (Michael Douglas), puts him on a three-way call with Sam (Kevin Kline) and tells them that he's getting married, Archie springs into action. He gets to go to Wonderland.
The plan is that they'll fetch their pal Paddy (Robert De Niro) and join Billy in Las Vegas for a bachelor weekend. Archie tells his worrywart son (Michael Ealy) he's going to a church retreat, which is a nice irony. Morgan Freeman doesn't go to church. He is church. You go to him. And that’s the real pleasure of watching Freeman in this amusing, smart-enough comedy: He finally has something fun to do. He has played so many totems of virtue, cool, wisdom, and assistance that it's almost shocking to hear him bust Douglas's balls with such exasperation and goodwill.
The Emmys Are Become Death, Destroyer of In Memoriam Tributes
Alex Pappademas: I think if Cory Monteith were still alive, he'd have wanted his mom to find a way to for some reason get into an argument with the heirs of the late Jack Klugman via TMZ. But that's beside the point. I need to talk about this show's treatment not of individual deaths but of death itself. Knowing that there's an In Memoriam montage on deck has always been the thing that gets me through the slough-of-despondiest moments of even the most endless and joyless awards-show telecast. I don't even care who wins or loses. Give every award to Modern Family, even at the BET Awards. Dig up Jonas Salk and give his Presidential Medal of Freedom to Seth MacFarlane during the next Golden Globes — whatever, I don't care. Just bring out the dead. As long as I get to sit on the couch and watch my wife suddenly learn, thanks to this montage, of the often-not-recent deaths of at least five famous actors, and hear her say "[He/she] died?" with a pang of genuine sadness in her voice, I'll sit through travesties of justice and entertainment alike.
But this year's Emmy People Who Died montage reduced everyone to a black-and-white head shot, like a tribute assembled by a very bereaved dry cleaner. No clips? Not even in those very special spotlighted tributes to extra-iconic performers we're meant to feel extra-sad about, the Oneworld Elite Pass Dead People Club treatment that Jack Klugman was controversially denied, thus causing his spirit to roam the wastelands of Burbank in eternal torment forevermore?
So it happened. It really happened. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences called AMC's bluff and went through with its awards ceremony last night despite running against the first, Twitter-spoiler-rife airing of Breaking Bad's supersize, penultimate episode, blithely handing out every last one of its statuettes like nothing more important was happening down the programming grid. They did not, as we humbly suggested in a very polite letter addressed to the President of Television, divert the hundreds of limousines carrying the presenters and nominees into the Nokia Theatre parking structure and hold everybody there until Monday night, with full in-car food and beverage service by always-accommodating host Neil Patrick Harris, so that we could have the necessary time to digest the more important show before dealing with the unnecessary distraction of their awards presentation.
But they never answered that letter. And so we, either because we are insane or because we made a cold, hard calculation about how to get through four hours and 15 minutes of total viewing as efficiently as possible, actually watched the Emmys first. Well played, TV Academy. We were weak. We blinked. We hope you feel good about the fact that we waited around to discover who took home your biggest prize before we allowed ourselves to actually watch that very same series demonstrate its current creative dominance. You're the winners today.
Oh, right: winners. We're here to talk about the winners. If you require the list of all the Emmy winners, you can find that right here, from your Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series to your Outstanding Costume Design in a Two-Time Variety Special (if that was a category — maybe it was. It's hard to be sure; they're handing stuff out for three hours). Right now we're more interested in the big winners, the totally unexpected winners. The winners we're still thinking about this morning, in the moments when we're able to catch our breath between the post-traumatic heart palpitations Breaking Bad gave us.
The real winners.
Let's run through them before the shortness of breath kicks in again.
Khloe Kardashian & Lamar Odom: "She once picked him up at a downtown L.A. crack den. In June, she busted down a door at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to find him with another woman. Two months later, he assured her he was sober — and then promptly got a DUI." Then she found Lamar's drug paraphernalia in her room. "She said, 'That's it.' She didn't feel comfortable in a place where Lamar had abused drugs." Khloe is no longer speaking to Lamar. "There's no hope for reconciliation. She feels like she never knew the real Lamar." Really? "This is her Lammy, the love of her life. But he lied to her. There are only so many things you can do for love."
Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones Split Up: Michael Douglas and his children Dylan and Carys were spotted at the Quebec resort town Mont Temblant. "It looked like another picture-perfect vacation for the Douglas clan — except one person was missing: Michael's wife and Dylan and Carys's mom, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones." CZJ was "seen grocery shopping and browsing a nearby consignment boutique with her mom" back in Bedford, New York. "She seemed a little down." The reasons for the split remain secret so far. "Only the couple's closest friends know exactly why they weren't together. After nearly 13 years of marriage, Douglas, 68, and Zeta-Jones, 43, one of Hollywood's most powerful and admired couples, have decided to spend time apart," as confirmed to People magazine. "Michael and Catherine love each other very much, but they're taking a break. Neither has made a move towards a legal separation or divorce. No legal people are involved whatsoever."
Happy cat video festival day — and no, I'm not going to waste an exclamation point on that. Friends, today is the day when thousands of people will congregate in Minnesota to watch cat videos together, because according to the festival's organizers, "We wanted to make it more of a group experience instead of a solo act you do on your phone or computer.” My mind is dirtier than a litter box, so I'm just going to skim right past that one and onto the next sub-topic of cat videos, which happens to be this Funny or Die short starring Julie Klausner as Shula Von Hollow, "the Stanley Kubrick" of cat videographers. Cat videos may get old, but you know what never does? Humans eating feline vittles straight from the can, maybe even the "breakfast Fancy Feast meals with the eggs." Don't forget the aspic. Never forget the aspic.
Michael Douglas is fully aware of the uproar his comments linking oral sex and HPV to cancer have caused, and he'd like to clear something up. It's not like he was saying oral sex, and the contracting of HPV, definitely leads to cancer. He was just saying it could in some cases. Cool?
One of the most poignant moments of Behind the Candelabra, besides of course Matt Damon clawing at his plastic surgery mask of a face, was seeing Michael Douglas as a failing Liberace. The photos of Douglas that appeared in tabloids and online during his throat cancer treatments — and his appearance at the Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps premiere — were startling enough that obituaries were written in advance. Liberace notably died of AIDS, and in an interview with The Guardian, Douglas links his cancer with another sexually transmitted disease, HPV, and because he used the word "cunnilingus" everyone has to go giggle in the corner. I certainly hope the phrase "the vagina-glazed mouth of Michael Douglas" was meant as the highest compliment.
While Emily is in space for the week visiting Leonardo DiCaprio on his voyage to the stars, Tess and Molly hold down the Hoodies homefront. Topics on the table include Behind The Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh's incredible Liberace biopic for HBO, which thrilled us with outrageous Vegas schmaltz, genuine emotion, Matt Damon's stank face, a tender Michael Douglas in a variety of rhinestone capes, and the world's best supporting cast of character actors. Also up for discussion; the sudden proliferation of Room 237-style Mad Men conspiracy theories. Is perennial coffee-offerer Bob Benson evil or just misunderstood? Plus speculation on Leonardo's cosmic journey, his transformation into Jack Nicholson, and whether letting a fan on your rocket will just lead to Misery in space.
When a week of constant moviegoing fails to rouse either unanimity or contentious division, the world's film press gets a little antsy. Where is The Movie? You know, the one that will bring us to tears or to war. Where's the movie that incites peals of laughter, intentional or otherwise? Where on earth are the Oscar-caliber, midmovie storm-outs? The applause has been tepid. The boos have been virtually nonexistent. No one seems willing to kill for anything. No one has any idea what the Steven Spielberg jury will or should do.
That sense changed this morning with the unveiling of Steven Soderbergh's Liberace movie Behind the Candelabra. When the film ended, the house applauded Soderbergh's name and cheered for Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. The song that sends you floating up the aisle and through the exits is Douglas doing "The Impossible Dream" as Liberace. It's a strangely moving moment in exactly the same way that the film itself is strangely moving: It's determined to see beyond the obvious kitsch of Liberace to find something close to the man.
Do you remember thinking the phrase "Steven Soderbergh is making a Liberace biopic with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon for HBO" sounded ridiculous when the project was merely in development? Well, wait till you see moving footage!
Amid all of the secrets and lies being spilled at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour are highly intriguing reports about Behind the Candelabra, the long-in-the-works, “too gay for Hollywood” Liberace biopic that Steven Soderbergh was finally able to get made thanks to HBO. Critics were treated on Friday to “a lengthy first look” at the movie, which is about the scorchingly flamboyant entertainer’s turbulent affair with his much younger assistant Scott Thorson. Vulture reports that Michael Douglas “disappears into his role” as Liberace, whose involvement with Thorson (played by a blond mop-topped Matt Damon) eventually ended in a highly publicized palimony suit. The preview included clips of Douglas and Damon making out by a pool and bickering at home in bed, as well as Douglas consulting his plastic surgeon (played by Rob Lowe, “whose eyebrows were arched to a stunning extreme for the role”) about how to make Thorson appear more Liberace-like.
There may be a WikiLeaks political party, and Julian Assange plans to run for Senate in 2013. “Mr Assange hopes that WikiLeaks' internet presence, which includes a Twitter account with nearly 1.7 million followers and a Facebook page with more than 2.1 million "likes", and the formation of ''friends of WikiLeaks'' groups would mobilise Australian supporters,” says the Sydney Morning Herald (at smh dot com, so I can’t help but conclude that they’re all shaking their heads over lines like “2.1 million ‘likes’”). The newspaper’s poll shows 72 percent of readers would vote for Assange, which would be great because SNLneeds the material.
Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace movie has been in the works for years, and now it’s got both a home and big-name lead actors. HBO has picked up Behind the Candelabra and set Michael Douglas to star as Liberace, with Matt Damon playing his live-in lover Scott Thorson; the movie will revolve around their relationship. This is great news and everything, but now we’re going to have to come up with a new title for our candelabra documentary. Grade: A [HR]