Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RuPaul's Drag Race Finale: "I Cry Foul" or "Raja's Tearless Win"

As my drag crystal ball predicted, last night Raja won RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3.  Her versatility and catwalk skills dragged her to the top.

Once again, when Raja was announced as the winner, she did not shed a tear, even though she was "crying".  Girl, your motto appears to be "always the make-up first" (or as my best friend says, better dead than bloody, although in Raja's case, she might prefer the blood - has she had her period yet?).

Manila Luzon sported a look and walk very similar to the ones she had already done.

As to Alexis, poor Alexis, she dressed as a show girl for her final look (which was not very flattering).

But, in my humble opinion, Alexis aced the challenge, which was to be part of RuPaul's new music video (are we repeating challenges too early in this show?).  She was the best dancer, did the best in her solos and in the group shots.  But if she was in the final two, she would have won, because she is the best lip synch-er of this season (my favorite of the three seasons is Jujube in her Black Velvet performance).  Hence, she was conveniently eliminated, and Manila and Raja performed for the title and crown.  Also, I find it suspect that Mathu Andersen was the director of the music video (he also is an alumni from America's Next Top Model, as is Raja).

I think that Alexis' weakness was that her drag was pageant all the way.  Hence, she was in a niche, limited in her looks.  She did not realize it.  More versatility and edge would have given her the crown.

My favorite moment on this episode came from Untucked, when they were discussing the other girls. Alexis said that Carmen Carrera was resting on her beauty, and Raja and Manila clearly did not agree.  Their faces were priceless (I do agree with Alexis.  Carmen's problem is that she rests in her body and she lacks charisma, that je ne sais quoi so important for performers.)

 I am looking daggers at you, Alexis.

Leave Carmen alone!

Well, this is it, until next week's reunion episode.  

I will be bold, since my drag crystal ball is anxious: next season, a plus sized girl will win!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The horse blew first"

This is part of the series Hit Me With Your Best Shot at The Film Experience.

I must make a confession:  I have never seen a Charlie Chaplin movie before.  The Circus was my first experience, and oh, boy, how I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I have a little aversion to silent movies (although I think that Maria Falconetti gave one of the best performances ever in La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, it being one of my favorite movies).  But Charlie Champlin might have cured me of said aversion.

This movie was filled with visual gags and some jokes (like the one in the title of this entry, in which they are trying to give a pill to a horse using a straw and blowing through it, but when The Tramp attempts it, the horse blows first and the pill ends in The Tramp's stomach; I laughed very hard).  But it is also infused with sadness and some violence, the dire conditions of the circus people, the dictatorship of the Ring Master, unrequited love, acceptance and, ultimately, letting go.

These themes are represented in a wide array of memorable images.

At the beginning of the movie we see Merna failing to go through the hoop.  She is but another failed act in this circus.  When her father confronts her, he uses violence (physical and psychological), depriving her of food and pushing her, making Merna to go at last through the hoop. 

The hoop has a star in its center, which ties up nicely with the final sad and sorrowful shots of the movie.

Merna has found love (and it is not The Tramp) and she, as well as the circus, move on, leaving The Tramp behind, alone in the dust.  But he finds the star at the center of the loop.  The Tramp, after picking and caressing it, continues with the travails of his life.

But my favorite shot (and sequence of the movie) is actually the mirror maze.  In it, we see reflection upon reflection of The Tramp.  Almost like a symbolism for where he is, where he wants to go, what he has to do to continue with his life, of been lost before finally finding the way.  The sequence in which he loses his hat and tries to retrieve it is particularly fascinating.  The physical comedy is at its best.  

Charlie Chaplin was truly gifted.  He directed, scripted and wrote the music for this movie.  In the version I saw, he even sings the title song.

Thoroughly entertaining.  I will definitely see more of these silent gems.
This is part of the series Hit Me With Your Best Shot at The Film Experience.

To Touch the Sky/Tocar el cielo

In this movie, several stories are intertwined via familial bonds, even though the action takes place in Argentina and Spain.  The movie is somewhat muddled for it.  It involves the marriage for convenience of a Spanish woman with an Argentinian man in Argentina, because she wants to adopt a child (this story is underdeveloped).  In Spain, a father (named Pedro) has a dysfunctional relationship with his son, with his best girl friend Gloria (not a girlfriend per se), and with his mother, who lives in Argentina.   The movie begins on New Year's Eve, with everybody writing down their wishes and tying them to balloons filled with helium (hence the title of the movie).  As the movie unfolds, Gloria is diagnosed with cancer, which serves as a catalyst to the denouement of the action. 
The acting is somewhat uneven.  The character portraying Pedro is mostly over the top, and his relationship with his son and his mother (an excellent China Zorilla) is not credible.  The movie is interesting, although it takes its time to move the action forward.  Nonetheless, it is entertaining in spite of its obvious flaws.
On a side note, the IMDB's page for this movie has the wrong poster.  The poster there is for a movie called Make a Wish, which appears to be a horror movie (although disfunctional families sometimes are horrors stories). 
Seven stars out of ten. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"But what is dinner without a little music?"

This is part of the series Hit Me With Your Best Shot at The Film Experience.

Beauty and the Beast is my second favorite animated movie (Sleeping Beauty being my favorite).  The first time I saw this movie I was astounded at the animation, how the camera moved, the color palette used and the music.   As to the animation, in some instances we might be focused in the foreground, but the background would held beautiful images worth contemplating.  

Nonetheless, my favorite sequence in all the movie is Be Our Guest. This sequence includes not only a catchy song with beautiful lyrics, but also the energy, warmth, and strength of eating and drinking (and serving).  It is also a joyous and long awaited hiatus in the lives of the servants, as is put into song:  

Life is so unnerving
For a servant who's not serving
He's not whole without a soul to wait upon

Ah, those good old days when we were useful...
Suddenly those good old days are gone
Ten years we've been rusting
Needing so much more than dusting
Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills!
Most days we just lay around the castle
Flabby, fat and lazy
You walked in and oops-a-daisy!

A daisy, indeed.  And what joie the vivre!

But my favorite shot is actually in the reprise of the song Belle, when Belle has said no to Gaston's marriage proposal and she goes to the woods to sing her heart out.

She is definitely not Madame Gaston.  Belle also wants much more than her provincial life can provide (even though one might say that she is privileged to live in such a beautiful and luscious place- it all depends in one's circumstances, I guess).   

This sequence reminds me so of another of my favorite movies: the beginning of The Sound of Music, when Maria is also singing in the woods (even the music, to my untrained ears, sounds similar).

Come to think of it, Beast's castle reminds me of the von Trapp house.

What a marvelous library.  I've always been the nerdy type, so I fell in love with the Beast's library.  So much knowledge and so little time to read it all.

Tale as old as time, indeed.

A very deserved Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  

Goodby, Yara Sofia, we hardly understood you

Last night was the second to last episode of RuPaul's Drag Race.  The final three were revealed:  Raja, Manila Luzon and Alexis Mateo (as foretold by my crystal drag ball).  This is Raja's to lose.

In this episode, Yara Sofia suffered a breakdown in the middle of her lip sync.  No wonder there, due to the weight of her costume.  She had to take it all off (literally).

I do agree with the judge's criticism.  The dress was too much.

Alexis Mateo, who was also in the bottom two, sported a mermaid inspired dress.  She also wanted to look like a beauty pageant participant (no surprise there either).

Raja's evening gown was stunning.  But once again, she cried without tears (remember last episode, when she was in the bottom two and RuPaul announced that Raja will stay in the competition?) .  Girl, teach me how to do that (maybe she does not want her make-up to run).

Her cocktail dress, on the other hand, was horrific.  If she only had a heart (and cry with some tears).

Finally, Manila Luzon won the main stage challenge.  She used an asian inspired gown and image for the gazillion time.

Of the final three, Raja has the most versatility.  But, in my humble opinion, when she tries to look pretty, she actually looks like a man in women's clothes.  Manila and Alexis have the same problem:  they are one look wonders.  Do not take them out of their comfort zones.  For this, I think Raja has the edge to win it all.

Next week, to lengthen this series, a recap episode!  RuPaul's Drag Race does not want to end.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

RuPaul's Drag Race final four

Yesterday the final four were revealed, when Carmen Carrera (once again) was eliminated from the show.   Although I believe that Raja is going to win (and I have said so since the very first main stage challenge), it is interesting (and somewhat helpful) to analyze the wins of each of the girls.  In the mini challenges, Manila Luzon has won 3 (Totally Leotarded,  Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Style, and RuPaul-a-Palooza).  Raja has won two (The Queen Who Mopped Christmas and RuPaul's Hair Extravaganza).  Alexis Mateo has won one (Jocks in Frocks).  Sadly, Yara Sofia has not won any.

As to the Main Stage challenges, Raja and Alexis Mateo have won three each (Raja - The Queen Who Mopped Christmas, Face, Face, Face of Cakes, and RuPaul-a-Palooza; and Alexis- Queens in Space in a tie with Shangela, Totally Leotarded, and Life, Liberty & the Pursue of Style).  Manila Luzon has won two (QNN News and Jocks in Frocks) and Yara Sofia just one (RuPaul's Hair Extravaganza).

Here are the four queens, in their first outfits in the show.

Alexis Mateo:
 Do I look like a Mexican beauty queen?

Manila Luzon:
 Asian realness

The next drag supermodel?

Caribbean Hurricane

As I see things, the next girl to be eliminated will be Yara Sofia.  The final two are either Raja and Manila or Raja and Alexis.  At least the two Puertoricans (excluding Carmen Carrera) made it to the final four.   

Source Code and The Beatles

Last Saturday I went to the movies with some friends.  As always, my best friend chose the movie, this time, "Source Code".  The premise of the movie is simple, but garbled with a lot of mumbo jumbo:  you can tap into the lingering conscience of a dead person and experience their last eight minutes on this Earth.  As expected, the military forces had developed a mechanism to use this.  In the specific case of "Source Code", it is to discover a terrorist that has planted a bomb in a train and also has a dirty bomb for Chicago.

What, are we going to die again?

One of my problems with the movie came the first time we see/live through the eight minutes (and we suffer through the eight minutes several times), because I was able to pinpoint who the terrorist was (it was pretty obvious), which spoiled the movie for me.  Moreover (and this is something I also deplore of the Harry Potter movies in their pensieve scenes), if you are tapping into somebody's conscience, are you not restricted by what that person saw or felt during those eight minutes?  Aren't we supposed to only see what that person saw?  Then, how come we followed Jake Gyllenhaal to a train station (he was following an Indian or Arabic guy), and then see the train explode in the distance when he was supposed to be inside the train?  How can they tap the lingering conscience of a dead person who was never at that station during his last eight minutes alive?  Be advised that the last scenes of the movie try to explain this (for me the explanation came too late in the movie).

These issues took me out of the movie.  Hence, I couldn't enjoy it to the fullest.  Nonetheless, the acting was very strong throughout.  I give a shout out to Vera Farmiga, who did not really have a fully developed character as written, but she made wonders with what little she had.

As a curious note, in the final credits Eleanor Rigby was credited (I think).  In her honor, the following Beatles' song from The Yellow Submarine movie (which is appropriate due to the state of Jake's character):

6.5 stars out of 10.