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Friday, Apr 20, 2012
In some ways, he was much more than Barnabas Collins. In many ways, that's all he was.

Okay, so his connection to cinema is specious at best. He starred in the first motion picture adaptation of the classic late ‘60s horror soap, and supposedly has a cameo in the new Tim Burton reboot. He appeared in a single TV movie, and Oliver Stone’s first full length feature (the schlocky Seizure). After that, nothing. No long running role on a nightly drama. No standing sitcom part as the quirky next door neighbor. Aside from personal appearances and stage work, Jonathan Frid was famous for one thing and one thing only - Dan Curtis’ insanely addictive Dark Shadows. As Barnabas Collins, the time-hopping vampire cursed with both a lust for blood and a romantic’s heart, he became an instant household icon. But beyond his supernatural stardom, there remained the typical actor’s tale.


Frid was born in Canada. He served in the military and graduated from McMaster University. He then attended The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, and received a Masters Degree in directing from Yale. While a student, he won a role in a play by William Snyder, and he would up spending the next three decades in the theater. Hoping to parlay his performances into a bit more financial gain (he planned on becoming an acting coach), Frid prepared to move to Hollywood. As luck would have it, his agent called informing him of the role on Shadows. Needless to say, he stayed put in NYC and, within weeks, became the talk of daytime television.


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Monday, Aug 1, 2011
Now that Olivia Wilde has put rumors of a turbulent post-divorce love life to bed by revealing a "no sex hex" on her new home, it's confront the all-sex hex that has plagued valuations of her acting.

Now that Olivia Wilde has put rumors of a turbulent post-divorce love life to bed by revealing to Jimmy Kimmel (July 27th) that there’s a “no sex hex” on her new home—supposedly left there by a certain trio of notoriously chaste brothers—it’s time to draw attention back to her acting. That is, as far as there ever was any attention; Wilde seems to have fallen prey to an all-sex hex, meaning that reviewers cannot seem to get past her physical appearance.


Wilde is quickly establishing herself as the breakthrough star of 2011 on the big screen. While many already know her from television series such as House (Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley) and The O.C. (Alex “Marissa’s girlfriend” Kelly), from last year’s holiday blockbuster Tron: Legacy, or simply from topping Maxim’s Hot 100 list, attention to her acting prowess has been limited in favor of discussions of her characters’ bisexuality or the actress’ supposedly turbulent love life. This summer, critics will have another shot at making things right: she’ll be all over a theatre near you, in Jon Favreau’s much-anticipated Cowboys and Aliens and the Ryan Reynolds/Jason Bateman-fronted body switch flick The Change Up, and butter-carving Butter and In Time are also scheduled for release this year.


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Tuesday, Apr 26, 2011
As Michael Scott fades into reruns, can Steve Carell continue his climb to movie star status?

In his first post-Office role, Steve Carell is playing it safe. First, he chose a familiar character—a depressed, funny, romantic everyman named Cal Weaver in Crazy, Stupid, Love (due July 29). Similar to his roles in Date Night, Dan in Real Life, and even The 40 Year Old Virgin, Carell plays a middle-aged man looking for love after a seemingly ordinary life racked with an extra dose of downers. In the sporadically funny two-minute trailer, Cal seems relatable, sympathetic, and even attractive after a comely makeover. Not a bad one-two-three punch for the funnyman (oh yeah, he’s funny, too).


While the trailer makes Carell’s top-billing clear, the other above-the-title names make Crazy, Stupid, Love seem like an even wiser choice for an actor who thrives in ensemble pieces. Just about every demographic is covered by the film’s four stars. Carell brings the Office crowd who loves Jim and Pam just as much as Michael. Julianne Moore lends respectability and Oscar cred to an otherwise youth-oriented cast. Speaking of, the enticing coupling of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone should prove irresistible for the cinema-savvy 18-49 group. Throw in a few extra fans paying for the cast’s respective sex appeal and Carell’s production company, Carousel Productions, should expect a $20 million-plus opening weekend.


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Monday, Feb 7, 2011
Hollywood's latest examples of overreaching hype finally hit the biggest athletic event of the year. Were they a "YEAH!"...or yawn?

After a couple of years of coping to economic and creative woes, Hollywood has reinvested in the Super Bowl in a mighty, mighty way. The 2011 installment of the annual football fever dream saw a dramatic increase in both actual ads (14…and perhaps more) and numerous tie-ins (why else would the Fox TV cameras “accidentally” pick out certain celebrities, only to have the announcers name-check their latest upcoming release???). Along with promised promotions that either didn’t pan out (critics got a Drive Angry 3D ad in their inbox, but as far as any could tell, the spot didn’t make the “show”...did it?) or were there, pre-game, without warning (really, Limitless?), we got numerous peaks at the upcoming Summer Movie season. While star studded both in casting and in clout, the jury remains deadlocked on more than a few of these films. Still, Tinseltown tried to give us its best product pitch, and for the most part, they delivered.


So amongst the pretend Vaders and magic Doritos dust, numerous dull car commercials and occasional WTF moments (Joan Rivers for GoDaddy.com…huh?), we got 14 celluloid sneak peeks. While few ventured far from their already established pitch, a couple came with some substantive surprises. So, in no particular order, here are the 2011 offerings, beginning with one of the year’s most hotly anticipated:


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Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010
Through a kind of final detachment from any intended lexical meaning, fake cursing can constitute a natural progression of a word meaning very little to one indicating only emotional residue.

Oftentimes artists use a baseline of existing superficiality to make larger points. Lady Gaga’s dance-pop songs, for instance, are effective as music, and also as an interesting critique of the superficiality inherent to the genre. Comedians like Sacha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman, and Chris Rock have effectively appropriated racial stereotypes, both expanding upon their stilted thought processes and lampooning them as a means to containment.


The use of profanity in movie dialogue also works with a baseline of superficiality, as cursing is meant in cinema to superficially distinguish along class lines or difference of cultural or moral standards, this somewhat parallel to the use of accents in film, as well as provide a certain transgressive emphasis within those designations of difference. Of course, cursing is used most effectively in playing against such stereotypes, as when a character employs the emphasis of a curse without following through to say the actual word. Words like “frick” and “shoot” allude to curse words through likeness of sound; others like “crap” have the same meaning as the more typical bad words. This second type of fake cursing is a bit like spelling “W-A-L-K” in front of a dog, where one wants the meaning of a word without any of the heightened emotion attached.


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