Being a genitally gifted, A-list Hollywood actor isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Once the well-guarded secrets of your manhood are revealed — whether through the artistic bravery of on-camera exposure or the catty insinuations of a wardrobe stylist frustrated by the challenges of keeping an inseam-boggling talent properly swaddled — there's often a painful and awkward transition involved as your privates become "publics." Your life can change virtually overnight; the paparazzi begin to hound you in search of lucrative bulge-slip pics, every meeting with a director suddenly becomes fraught with the unbearable tension of when the "Can I get a peek? " question will drop, every casual handshake ends in downward-darting eyes as subtle as being handed a salami with a phone number carved in it. There quickly comes a moment when the snake puns grate rather than delight, the pressure too much to bear. And it's at this moment that the frustration bubbles over and the actor, in a moment of weakness, takes the junk-bait and complains to the media about his plight. "Stop talking about my enormous penis!" he bellows into an outstretched recording device before he can think better of it. "My penis is my business!"
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.
Here's one of those situations where you definitely want to know it happened, but you don't want any more than the bare minimum of information. Someone, a hairdresser called Ariel Ramirez, is deploying a furious melange of curses at someone else who has booted him from an SUV. The someone else is Guy Fieri, a man whose hair is as legendarily tasteless as his food. Fin.
When this vast, important film festival — street name: "TIFF" — moved its hub to downtown Toronto, it was a win. The streets are smaller. The food is better. And so are the multiplexes and nightlife. There are also fewer businesspeople to trip over and protests to avoid. (I'm not kidding: I have missed the start of many a movie because of some worthy-cause march.) The festival built itself the TIFF Bell Lightbox, which is in use year-round as a state-of-the-art moviegoing facility. Most years I leave sad I'm not Torontonian. But I think the downtown luster has begun to tarnish.
The Western Jane Got a Gun has been suffering through a historic string of defections, with Bradley Cooper its latest exit. You might even be tempted to say that Jane Got a Gun but very little else. (I'm so, so sorry for that. Please keep reading.)
The flick stars (for now!) Natalie Portman, Noah Emmerich as her estranged outlaw husband, and Joel Edgerton as the ex-lover Portman calls on for help when Emmerich rides back into town riddled with bullet holes. Cooper was set to play the villain — he's chasing down Emmerich to finish off the job, threatening Portman's homestead in the process — but has now dropped off the project because of scheduling conflicts. The sad/hilarious thing is that Coops had already been a replacement for Jude Law, who dropped out because of scheduling conflicts, and Jude Law had been a replacement for Michael Fassbender, who dropped out because of, yep, scheduling conflicts. Oh, also: The original director, Lynne Ramsay, didn't show up on the first day of shooting, so they had to get Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) to step in instead. What in the hell is going on here?
Early this morning, in a solemn ceremony during which tragically obsoleted sexy-person Bradley Cooper was relieved of his crown, smeared with hot tar, handed a garbage bag full of grocery-store-quality hair product, and left for dead in the Nevada desert, Channing Tatum was named People's newest Sexiest Man Alive. Considering a breakout year capped by his panty-atomizing stripper shenanigans in Magic Mike, Tatum's coronation was an easy — and dare we say uninspired — choice for the magazine's blue-ribbon panel of hunk-evaluators; one imagines the usually combative Selexxxion Sunday debate began with "Let's watch the 'My Pony' scene again" and ended with an intern ladling smelling salts from a bucket.
It all seems so easy, in fact, that we just couldn't let it go. There's another solution to the Sexiest Man Alive riddle, one far more challenging, but no less deserving, of the supermarket checkout rack's highest honor. And so we picked up the phone to get the reaction of this year's most upsetting snubee: Michael Fassbender's penis. Our conversation follows.
We know, we know. We've been tracking promotional Prometheus material — the viral videos, the various trailers, the top-secret Happy Meal toys* — like the artificial life of Michael Fassbender's enormous robo-penis depended on it. (There, we got that out of the way early. We can all relax knowing the obligatory dick joke has been dispensed with.) But indulge us once again as we proceed once more unto the space breach with the premiere of the Most Important Movie of the Summer (Non-Superhero Division) less than two weeks away. A little while ago, we looked at the clip that introduced us to Fassbender's David, an android that can approximate, if not actually feel, human emotions. Now they've deployed a "Making Of" featurette on the ship Prometheus itself, ostensibly important enough a part of this not-quite-Aliens-prequel universe that the whole movie is named for it, and it's worth the two minutes if you are as unapologetically in the tank for this movie as we seem to be. Think of it as an advance DVD extra. (Wait, did they just invent the "advance DVD extra"? They are really going next-level on this campaign.)
In a recent interview, Nicholas Stoller — the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Five Year Engagement, in theaters today — revealed that Jason Segel takes personal credit for jump-starting the latest golden era for male full frontal: “Jason will say, too, that [Sarah Marshall] was the first movie where a lead of a comedy showed his penis, and since then there have been penises … there’s been a wangolution, culminating in the Fassbender.” You can certainly quibble with the kick-off point (Vulture did happen to declare 2007, the year before Sarah Marshall, the Season of the Wang) but there’s no denying that a recent junk-upheaval has occurred, peaking with Michael Fassbender gloriously hanging dong in Shame last year. Now, with the end of the wangolution at hand with the release of The Five-Year Engagement (don't get too excited, we’ll explain later), we've charted out the course of its growth. (Get it?! Growth?!!) Anyway, here we go.
Names of every Tom Cruise character: Ethan Hunt (four times), Stacee Jaxx, Roy Miller, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, Les Grossman, Senator Jasper Irving, Ray Ferrier, Vincent, Nathan Algren, Chief John Anderson, David Aames, Frank T.J. Mackey, Dr. William "Bill" Harford, Jerry Maguire, Lestat de Lioncourt, Mitch McDeere, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, Joseph Donnelly, Cole Trickle, Ron Kovic, Charlie Babbitt, Jack (named Jack in three different films), Brian Flanagan, Vincent Lauria, Maverick, Stefen Djordjevic, Joel Goodsen, Steve Randle, Cadet Captain David Shawn, Billy, Woody. IMDb currently lists Cruise's next film as Top Gun 2 — so stay tuned on more info about that.
Before we get to the inevitable joke about Michael Fassbender's penis (and yes, that's going to happen; we really have no choice in the matter), let's all marvel at how well-executed and effective Fox's campaign for Prometheus has been so far after we take in this latest viral offering about "David," a robot virtually indistinguishable from a human, right down to the tears rolling down his artificial cheekbones. It's been flawless.
Too lazy to go to a movie theater, but still want some fresh-from-the-Hollywood-meat-grinder entertainment? Good news! We'll plumb the depths of Video on Demand so you don't have to!
A Dangerous Method
Canadian master of venereal horror David Cronenberg takes it to the couch to treat further psychosexual infections. Hoping for outtakes where Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Jung (Michael Fassbender), and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) all spank each other in a triangular formation, forming a human spankipede. If you cut A Dangerous Method together with Shame, you could potentially have a movie where Michael Fassbender treats himself for his own sex addiction, and solve the whole "porn for women" thing at the same time.
Hollywood just can't stop talking about Michael Fassbender's enormous penis! One might have imagined that the dong-sizzle might have cooled on the industry's most raved-about trouser-steak once Li'l Mike (you know, it's one of those ironic nicknames, like when your new, 300-pound cellmate tells you everyone calls him "Tiny," haha) was memorably snubbed for an Oscar nomination, even after George Clooney went out of his way to praise the short game of Fassbender's Titleist-quality manhood at the Golden Globes. But this weekend Prometheus costar Charlize Theron jump-started the junk-buzz at a Human Rights Campaign gala by praising the actor's artfully restrained work in Shame, according to E!'s Marc Malkin:
My weekend was peppered with some NCAA hoops (Go 'Cuse!), some Knicks (three in a row, baby), some 21 Jump Street (a hilarious, meta action-comedy), and of course some green beer and bagels. But my mind, my thoughts, my focus was elsewhere. For the last 72 hours, I’ve been unhealthily fixated on the slew of new Prometheus content slung onto the web.
There’s been such an overabundance of visuals, dialogue, and talking points to sift through. So in an effort to piece them all together in some king of satisfyingly comprehensive way, I figured it’d be best to break them all down into three categories.
What We Saw
Much of the hype around this film is centered on the question of “is Prometheus a prequel to Alien”? As I previously stated, I believe the answer is unequivocally yes, and much of the confusion is due to cleverly crafted talking points delivered from Ridley Scott (the film's director), Damon Lindelof (the writer), and 20th Century Fox (the studio). And why not? It’s hard to make a summer film stand out, much less one possibly (definitely) linked to a once-praised but now irrelevant and mocked movie series. So I have no problem with these folks stoking the fanboy fire with vague and sometimes conflicting messages.
As the Academy continues to discuss an accelerated awards calendar for future Oscars (coming in 2013: Goodbye, paper ballots; hello, electronic voting and endless conspiracy theories about hacking!), there’s one thing I hope the Board of Governors will bear in mind: They need to allow one week for generalized postnomination rage. This wasn’t necessary before the Internet, which tends to reinforce in everyone the need to express, via blog, tweet, or status update, the conviction that anyone who doesn’t share their taste must by definition be dumb or corrupt. This year’s anger seems to have taken two forms: