Cute TV Couples

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow & Oz
Besides being ridiculously adorable, Willow and Oz made dating look so easy.

"I'm gonna ask you to go out with me tomorrow night. And I'm kinda nervous about it, actually. It's interesting."
"Oh. Well, if it helps at all, I'm gonna say yes."
"Yeah, it helps. It creates a comfort zone. Do you wanna go out with me tomorrow night?"
"Oh! I can't!"
"Well, see, I like that you're unpredictable."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow & Tara
Even though I thought I would never love one of Willow's loves again at the end of "Wild at Heart," I ended up liking both Oz and Tara as Willow's partner. While I want Oz to hold my hand, I want to hold Tara's hand, if that makes sense.

"I am, you know."

Charmed: Piper & Leo
I was a Piper/Leo 'shipper from the beginning. I could have done with them being a lot less on and off again, but they reunited in the end and that's the important part.

"Piper, are you mad at me?"
"No, don't be ridiculous. Why would I be mad at you?"
"I don't know, that's why I'm asking. What is it?"
"It's just, um, Dan."
"Oh. Never mind, sorry I asked."
"Um, he's-he's going to be... He's going to be very upset when he finds out... You're the one that I really love. "

Joan of Arcadia: Joan & Adam
Their actual romantic relationship was doomed from the start when Adam didn't believe Joan about talking to God, but they still managed to be totally adorable when they were friends and when they were together. I hated how their relationship ended.

"Maybe I'm bad at stuff like this...but we kissed. It's not like I've kissed a lot of girls. Maybe I've only kissed one."
"Well maybe it meant something to me."
"Maybe it meant something to me, too."
"I don't... I don't know what to do with it now."
"Me neither."

Medium: Allison & Joe
I know that Allison and Joe will never cheat on each other. It's amazing how comforting that fact is. They have their fights and disagreements, but you know their relationship is solid. I like that the Medium writers really work at making a long-term relationship interesting, and you know how they do that? They make both Joe and Allison interesting individuals. It's an amazing concept.

"Psychic with a bad sense of time."
"Do you remember where you live?"
"Hmm, I'm seeing a house. I'm seeing a guy in his underwear. I'm seeing lots of dishes in the sink."
"It's amazing how you do that."

South of Nowhere: Spencer & Ashley
I've only recently started watching South of Nowhere, but I was surprised how quickly I became a Spashley fan. Mandy Musgrave and Gabrielle Christian have such great chemistry as both friends and lovers. And they're both so adorable!

"I'm glad you came back tonight. I couldn't handle another night without talking to you."
"Me too. I love... These brownies."

Spashley or Death!

So South of Nowhere recently aired its midseason finale to make way for Degrassi on The N's schedule. Perhaps I'm in the minority -- and granted I've never seen an episode of Degrassi -- but do people really care about Degrassi? Go do a search for 'Palex' and then a search for 'Spashley' on YouTube and get back to me.

"Gay Pride" ended with the raciest scene we've had from cable's hottest teen lesbian couple since the season three premiere. And maybe even ever.
I really like Mandy Musgrave's line reading of "There she is." I also love that the director chose to use a wide angle on Mandy when she says the line, "I know. I'm amazing," because, yowza, Mandy does look amazing. And Gabrielle Christian looks fantastic in the shot of her right before she drops her trench coat.

The network and producers are keeping up the season's trend of delivering on more intense lesbian affection with kisses that last longer than .25 seconds. Maybe we might even see a post-coital scene with the two of them actually in bed together when the show returns? I'm trying not to get my hopes up, lest The N bans us to the asexual land of hair brushing and hugs of season two. They had some really cute moments at the end of season two, and I don't want to forsake that. But can't they be cute and hot?
And kiss on screen?

My hopes for the latter part of season three, besides many girl-on-girl kisses:
  • Ashley needs to pull her head out of her butt and realize that there are other people in this world besides herself. I think Mandy is doing the best that she can with the material to make Ashley likable, but she is still coming off as completely self-absorbed and undeserving of a sweetie like Spencer. Oh, and can Ashley be a little less angsty and more funny? Because Mandy cracks me up when she acts all goofy.
  • Can Kyla be awesome again? Please?
  • Chelsea needs to find herself a non-"my illegitimate child fathered by my dead boyfriend is gestating in my womb" storyline stat, because Aasha Davis is super cute and talented.
  • No one cares about Aiden's PTSD from 'Nam. Seriously. Even though Matt Cohen is doing a good job.
  • Madison isn't gone for good, right? SoN needs her spiciness. Maybe she can bring back Sean with her from her tour with JT. I miss him. Ooh! Then he and Chelsea could get together. Sweet!
Really, the whole season has felt a little aimless and flaccid, so if the writers could just not do that anymore that'd be great.

1:30 to WTF

Alex Sichel's 'All Over Me' (1997)

The Sichel Sisters' modest 1997 debut is an exceptional, affecting coming-of-age story that deserves and rewards multiple viewings. Claude and Ellen are 15-year-old best friends growing up in Hell's Kitchen. They are nearly inseparable though physical and temperamental opposites. As summer begins, Ellen takes up with a controlling, volatile drug dealer named Mark, and Claude befriends a gay musician who sees that Claude's love for Ellen is more than just platonic.

I hesitate to call All Over Me a lesbian movie, though it is definitely lesbian-themed. The Sichels address emerging sexuality: in Ellen's case she is straight while Claude happens to be gay. Both Claude and Ellen's developing sexual feelings become entangled with their close relationship. Ellen recognizes that she isn't gay but returns Claude's physical affections both because she craves them in her emotional fragility and uses them to maintain control over Claude. When Ellen pulls away from Claude through her relationship with Mark, Claude breaks out of the caretaker role she plays with both her mother and Ellen and goes to a gay bar. Though she hugs the wall when she first arrives, she quickly begins to flirt with Lucy. Claude isn't so much coming out as she is finally trying to connect with someone besides Ellen. Claude does freak out when she goes home with Lucy, but her reaction is caused not by Lucy kissing her but by confronting the realization that no matter what she does Ellen will not love her back and that she may need to let Ellen go.

Both Sylvia Sichel's writing and Alex's directing attempt to make the film as real as possible and grounded in the characters' emotional journeys. Yes, one of the characters is murdered, but the event takes place off-screen and is less important than the ripples it causes in Claude and Ellen's relationship. Alison Folland and Tara Subkoff's performances are spot on: intense, earnest, and natural. The score and music also add to the moodiness, utilizing The Patti Smith Group's "Pissing in a River" particularly well. (The Sichels received a grant from the Princess Grace Foundation to make a film showcasing the riot grrrl movement.)

My one complaint about the film is that it feels just a little too short. The secondary characters, though well-acted, are slightly under-developed. In particular, I would have liked to have seen another scene with Claude and Jesse and had a bit more dialogue between Claude and Lucy. I think I understand what Claude sees in Lucy, mostly that Lucy is comfortable and confident in who she is, but I would have liked for them to talk a little more at the bar to establish Lucy as more than just an accessible lesbian musician, which isn't exactly a stretch for Leisha Hailey to play.

There are several very simple images in the film that I like in particular. First, the scene between Claude and Ellen in front of the mirror provides a nice visual representation of the distortion in their friendship. Both characters seem unsteady throughout the movie, with Claude on her rollerskates and Ellen wobbling because she is drunk or high or both. I also really enjoy the short scene of Claude and Lucy walking together and sharing an ice cream cone. I like that scene in contrast with the opening scene of the movie in which Claude and Ellen walk together, and Ellen complains that she cannot eat Claude's candy because she is dieting and then half-teases Claude not to eat the candy like such a pig. The scene with Claude and Lucy suggests an equal footing between the two -- Lucy doesn't criticize Claude for her weight like Ellen and Claude's mother do. The final scene is perfection. I love how Claude half turns toward Ellen just as the picture cuts to black, leaving the audience to wonder if they will be able to repair their relationship.

Favorite Guilty Pleasure Movies

Clue (1985)
This movie is a classic of the broad comedy genre if you ask me. As a board game-to-film translation goes, I don't know if one could hope for much better. The cast is top knotch with Tim Curry standing out particularly. The comedy isn't particularly subtle or smart, but does it get any better than Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn) expressing her hatred for Yvette?

Mean Girls (2004)
While this satire doesn't entirely succeed due to the final 30 minutes resembling an after-school special, Mean Girls offers some quality laughs and an excellent performance by Rachel McAdams. I have lost count of how many little quotations from this film ("I know, right?" "Suck on that!") have been adopted as catchphrases by various friends of mine. Lindsay Lohan was still in the phase of her career in which she was actually acting and looking fresh-faced and fantastic. Oh, and we get sexy, funny, bespeckled Tina Fey in only her bra and a see-through tank top.

Music from Another Room (1998)
I can't really explain why I like this movie, but I can say that it's not because of Gretchen Moll. Maybe it's Brenda Blethyn, whom I always think is fabulous. Maybe it's Jennifer Tilly, whom I admit I kinda like despite her helium-infused acting voice. And I think that the blind sister storyline is actually the most interesting part of the movie. Maybe it's Jude Law, who at the time was still a new, very cute face that came with a charming accent. Maybe it's because I've always wanted to live above a bakery because my apartment would smell fucking amazing.

Freaky Friday (2003)
As a youngster I enjoyed the 1976 Freaky Friday, featuring the very cute and very butch Jodie Foster, and I did not expect to enjoy the remake. But pleasantly, Freaky Friday is one of the very few remakes that outshines the original. Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis have twice the chemistry of Jodie and Barbara Harris, and they actually try to act like each other. As far as the writing, the remake has something of a plot and is there anyone who doesn't think the Crypt Keeper line is brilliant?

Bring It On (2000)
This movie would have been worth the cost of admission if the projectionist had lost everything but the first and last reels with the opening credits cheer and Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey" homage at the end. Thankfully, the reels in between have memorable dialogue like, "This is not a democracy. It's a cheer-ocracy. I'm overruling you." "You are being a cheer-tator, Torrence, and a pain in my ass!" and Eliza Dushku playing the gayest straight character ever. Torrence totally wanted Cliff to go away at the end of the movie so that she could jump Missy's bones.

Allan Moyle's 'Pump Up the Volume' (1990)

Pump Up the Volume posterThough made in 1990, one is tempted to include Pump Up the Volume amongst the Hughesian-like melodramas and gross-out comedies such as Porky's that targeted a teen-aged audience in the '80s. However, doing so would be a mistake. This film has characters that defy the stereotypes of most high-school movies and an intelligent, well-written script that seems as applicable to the cultural landscape as it did almost 20 years ago.

Christian Slater delivers what must be his career-defining performance, borrowing not just a little from his fine work in another '80s classic, Heathers. Though he lowers his head perhaps one too many times in conveying Mark's timidity, Slater oozes charisma when Mark turns on his short-wave radio and broadcasts as Hard Harry. A bulk of the film consists of Mark just talking, but the combination of Slater's energy and wit and the thoughtful script keeps the pace up and holds the audience's attention. Samantha Mathis, in her first major role, also gives a nice performance, which begs the question, what happened to her career? Mathis and Slater have chemistry that practically crackles when they are on screen together.

Mathis' brief topless scene bothered me when I initially watched the film. I recognize that Nora taking off her shirt was less about sex and more about both she and Mark exposing themselves, making themselves vulnerable to each other. And, granted, Slater was topless too. I'm still not convinced that it was absolutely necessary, especially in a film aimed at a teenage audience, but Moyle directs in a way that does not make the scene about Mathis showing her breasts.

Pump Up the Volume addresses issues like teen pregnancy and suicide with a surprising amount of sensitivity and kindness. Moyle also explores the isolation and homogenization that the suburbs can encourage and, sometimes, inflict. Frankly, this film is one of very few projects that portray teenagers kindly and does not underestimate their intelligence and compassion or belittle the strong emotions that accompany that period in one's life.

Heather (Grody) Reid and Leisha Hailey: A Photographic Perambulation

Leisha Hailey, Heather Grody (The Murmurs)
The Murmurs, ca. 1994
(Heather Grody, Leisha Hailey)

Leisha Hailey, Heather Grody, Sheri Ozeki, Sherri Solinger (The Murmurs)The Murmurs, 1997
(Heather Grody, Leisha Hailey, Sheri Ozeki, Sherri Solinger)

Leisha Hailey, Heather Grody (The Murmurs)The Murmurs, 1998
(Heather Grody, Leisha Hailey)

Leisha Hailey, Heather Grody (The Murmurs)The Murmurs, 1999
(Heather Grody, Leisha Hailey)
I can't back you on that haircut, Leish.

Brad Casselden, Dave Doyle, Heather Grody, Leisha Hailey, Jon Skibic (GUSH)GUSH, ca. 2001
(Brad Casselden, Dave Doyle, Heather Grody, Leisha Hailey, Jon Skibic)
You're looking very Shane today, Leisha. Except you have hips.

Dear Bernard (Heather Reid)Cast of Dear Bernard, 2004
(Producers: Jorja Fox, John Switzer, Katherine Kendall, Heather Reid)
(Book, Lyrics and Music: Heather Reid)

Heather Reid, Jon Skibic, Ryan MacMillan (REDCAR)REDCAR, 2007
(Ryan MacMillan, Heather Reid, Jon Skibic)

Leisha Hailey, Camilla Gray (Uh Huh Her)Uh Huh Her, 2007
(Camila Grey, Leisha Hailey)

David O. Russell's 'Spanking the Monkey' (1994)

Spanking the Monkey promo posterSpanking the Monkey's playful title will cause you to expect this film to resemble David O. Russell's subsequent films, I Heart Huckabees and Flirting with Disaster. Even the promotional poster calls this film a "comedy." In actuality, Russell's 1994 feature, which has become something of an indie classic, is quite a dark and disturbing film.

All of Russell's films that I've seen have had a distinct flavor. Flirting with Disaster is a zany, road trip movie; I Heart Huckabees blends more subtle comedy with philosophical musings, resulting in something similar to a Wes Anderson affair; Three Kings is an action/adventure war movie unlike any other war movie I've seen.

Spanking the Monkey explores the psychological effects of isolation and lack of privacy, including incest and suicide, with the darkest of dark humor. While none of the main characters are particularly likable, with perhaps the exception of Carla Gallo's Toni, Russell's script and story are compelling, lulling the viewer into almost a dull, unsettling resignation, much like Ray. Though none of the faces are very familiar ones, the acting is solid and Russell's direction effectively duplicates Ray's sense of claustrophobia. Spanking the Monkey is not what I would call an enjoyable film, but it is a well-made one.

For another Monday

Amber Benson, Adam Busch, Danny Strong and others
Ahh! Look at teeny tiny Danny Strong on the end there. He's so little!

Russell Brown's 'Race You to the Bottom' (2007)

Race You to the Bottom is a character study that delves into the sometimes complex feelings that can arise between straight women and their gay male friends. Besides issues of negotiating one's sexuality, Russell Brown's first feature film explores being in one's mid-twenties and trying to transition into the responsibilities of adulthood. However, neither Nathan, a gay travel writer, nor Maggie, a temp with a political science degree, has the maturity to handle those responsibilities, and they are drawn together by their need for romantic escape. Though Maggie has a steady boyfriend, his apparent depression prevents him from fulfilling Maggie's emotional and sexual needs. She is drawn to Nathan's charisma and sleeping with him assuages her insecurities about her body. For serial seducer Nathan, his relationship with Maggie most likely began as a standard flirtation, but as the film begins he confronts his increasing affection for her.

As insecure, vulnerable Maggie, Amber Benson turns in a beautifully textured performance. From her first appearance on screen she imbues the film with energy and warmth. Even as Maggie becomes nastier toward Nathan, Benson never loses the audience's sympathy, giving each of Maggie's actions an undercurrent of desperation. Maggie is one of a string of characters in Benson's recent work who are unapologetically sexual beings, and Benson continues to choose projects that address matters of sexuality.

Co-star Cole Williams' performance is solid though not as affecting. At times Williams' acting comes across as a performance, but that tendency may have been a deliberate choice given Nathan's manipulative nature. Despite Nathan's brash veneer, Williams is charismatic and compelling, giving the audience enough glimpses of Nathan's humanity to make him more than just a one-dimensional character. Williams gives Nathan a certain flamboyance but he never crosses over into "screaming queen" territory. I don't know whether Williams identifies as straight or queer, but he doesn't balk at his intimate scenes with other men as some young actors worried about their careers might. Though Benson and Williams click as friends and companions, they do not generate quite the sexual heat needed for some of the steamier scenes. Benson had better romantic chemistry with Buffy co-star Alyson Hannigan. Making a lot of a small part, Justin Zachary leaves an impression as Maggie's cuckolded boyfriend.

Though some of the directorial flairs distract, Race You to the Bottom is beautifully filmed. The color palette and photography give the film an almost nostalgic presentation, which contributes to the romantic fantasy world that Nathan and Maggie have created for themselves. Surprising for a contemporary film, Kristen Anacker's wardrobe is a highlight. Nathan's clothing projects his pretensions, especially the corduroy jacket and open-collar shirt he wears for most of the film, which I thought of as a slightly dated ensemble of an intellectual. Maggie's clothes reflect a burgeoning sexuality slightly hindered by a lingering child-like quality. My favorite of Maggie's ensembles couples a sexy red boatneck and short black skirt with a pair of canvas sneakers. I also thought Ryan Beveridge's score was a lovely addition.

The film's main weakness is the script, which is choppy at times and overwritten. Brown's writing doesn't demonstrate enough trust in his actors to convey some of the emotional beats. However, I do like Brown's willingness to linger in gray areas. During Maggie and Nathan's first big fight, both characters are portrayed as doing the right thing: Maggie for telling Nathan that she is in love with him and Nathan for refusing to say something insincere in response. The ending is also nicely ambiguous. And the flashback structure works amazingly well with the exception of one or two of the scenes.

Though not a perfect film, Brown's directorial debut is a solid effort and worth a viewing for the beautiful scenery and Amber Benson's performance.

They're cute

But Ganya or death, baby!

Catchy song

But more importantly, cute close-ups.

Gap Classics campaign

Annie Leibovitz has photographed a new series of ads for Gap. As always, I love the simplicity of her images and how she photographs women in particular. She sexualizes them without being the least bit exploitive.

Lucy Liu
Sarah Silverman
Selma Blair

More Leisha

The sequence at -1:32 in this video exemplifies why I have a big ol' crush on Leisha Hailey.

Also, I prefer this simplified version of "White Rabbit," because it isn't trying too hard to be the Jefferson Airplane original, which it can never be.

Adrienne Shelly's 'Waitress' (2007)

Waitress - Keri Russell, Adrienne Shelly, Cheryl Hines
Reading a description of the plot of Waitress won't fully prepare you for seeing the film. Adrienne Shelly's posthumously released final project is a dark, risky film with a warm, inviting color palette and a happy ending. Knowing that Shelly started her career in Hal Hartley films (and having seen a Hartley film) gives you an idea of the tone and style -- everything seems just a little off and slightly heightened. Complementing the dialogue and acting style, Shelly blows out the color a bit, making everything seem a little too warm and golden.

Keri Russell disappeared for a while after Felicity ended, but she has come back strong with some nice performances in The Upside of Anger and now this film. She has able assistance from the supporting cast, most notably Cheryl Hines as her feisty coworker and Andy Griffith as the curmudgeonly owner of the pie shop where she works. Nathan Fillion is charming as the bumbling new OB/GYN, and he and Russell make a cute couple. However, I was distracted throughout the film by Fillion's eye color. I don't remember his eyes being that blue on Firefly or in Serenity. Perhaps he was wearing contacts or the color correction on the film altered his eye color.

Waitress - Keri Russell, Lew Temple, Cheryl Hines
Scenes with Jeremy Sisto made me downright uncomfortable, which speaks well of his performance. The abuse that Earl inflicts on Jenna is more emotional than physical, and from his first appearance in the film he sucks the air out of the room. I could have done without the scene in which Earl practically rapes his wife. His character is not drawn very three-dimensionally, but I can see why Shelly might have made that choice. This film is more likely to attract a female audience. To make some women sympathetic to Jenna, who is vocal about her displeasure about her pregnancy and who, in fact, writes hate letters to her unborn child, Jenna's situation needs to be pretty terrible.

Waitress is very much about discovering possibility. At the beginning of the movie, Jenna can only see possibility in the pies that she makes because of her suffocating home life. Her affair with Dr. Pomatter causes her to see more possibilities for herself, and the birth of her child allows her to see so much possibility that she finds the strength to leave Earl and start her own life.

Yes, I just gave away the ending, but Waitress isn't exactly breaking the mold where plot is concerned. Despite that fact, Adrienne Shelly's final film is appealing, offering likable characters and several laugh-out-loud moments.

Waitress - Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion

Punky Leisha Hailey

I think this cover of "White Rabbit" is pretty banal — Heather Grody's twee voice cannot compete with Grace Slick's aggressive, throaty wail and the instrumentation isn't new and interesting enough to compensate. But I love how intense and fierce Leisha is trying to look in this video. I also love all the electric guitar feedback at the end of the song and the complete absence of an electric guitar in the video.

Kinda creepy

Amber Benson
That painting is a horrible likeness. That's like the wicked stepmother version of Amber.

A fair amount of ridiculousness

I'm slightly charmed more by "Hott4Hill" but I'm a little turned off by both videos.


Willows, Doppelgangland
I wonder if that's Alyson Hannigan's stand-in on the far right there. She's really pretty.

Gore Verbinski's 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End' (2007)

Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Johnny Depp
Who allowed this mess of a film to leave the editing room? Rather, who let production begin with that hodgepodge of a script? The Curse of the Black Pearl offered two hours of fairly fast-paced fun and clever one-liners, and though not quite as strong, Dead Man's Chest maintained the tone of the original. At World's End offers very little of either. While both previous PotC films enjoyed employing various plot twists, this film becomes bogged down by the complications it tries to throw at the audience, which are downright confusing at times. And ultimately many of the plots end up not mattering very much.

After two films, Johnny Depp has become complacent in Jack Sparrow's skin. While he still delivers a zinging line or two, Jack has lost some of his sparkle. Initially I did enjoy Jack's more jaded persona, but no interesting subplots emerge from his change in demeanor. The adventures in Dead Man's Chest have pleasantly made Will a bit darker, adding a little spice to a white-bread character. But the film really belongs to Keira Knightley. Over the course of the three films, Elizabeth has progressed from being a passive damsel in distress to a confident, assertive leader. Unfortunately, Depp and Knightley's sparking chemistry is absent from this installment as they only exchange a handful of lines. Instead, the writers attempt to reignite Will and Elizabeth's flagging relationship to contrived though fairly satisfactory ends.

As far as supporting characters, Geoffrey Rush returns as Barbossa but isn't nearly as enjoyable due to his switch to the hero side of things. Davy Jones (voice of Bill Nighy) also returns as less menacing and less of a villain. Newcomer Chow Yun-Fat attempts to fill Rush's campy villain role and does his fair amount of scenery chewing. Tom Hollander gives a nice performance as the East India Company's Beckett, but the audience never considers that he will best Jack. Stellan SkarsgÄrd again does some nice work as Bootstrap Bill, earning sympathy from the audience and keeping his scenes with Orlando Bloom from becoming too schmaltzy.

Chow Yun-Fat, Keira Knightley
This film contains some interesting visual images pertaining to its portrayal of women. For the majority of the film, Elizabeth minimizes her feminine appearance by keeping her hair under a hat or in a braid. Even though Sao Feng dresses her in a gown, Elizabeth first struck me as looking really feminine when she lets her hair down after she has become Pirate King and is motivating the crew of The Black Pearl to lead the brethren into battle. Indeed she has defined her own femininity rather than allowing society (the corset in The Curse of the Black Pearl) or men (Sao Feng) to define her femininity for her. Though Elizabeth only seems to gain power when men give it to her (Sao Feng makes her captain, Jack's vote make her Pirate King), she embraces that power and does not rely on men to employ it. I do wish that there had been a scene at the end of the film that confirmed whether she remained captain of Sao Feng's ship.

I cannot decide if the Calypso storyline inadvertently hints at racism. The brethren stripped Calypso of her power and bound her to human form: a Black woman human form. When Calypso's powers are unbound she retains her physical appearance — except she gets bigger — so perhaps she would possess that form as a god as well. However, even after she regains her powers, she remains bound by ropes and only escapes by obliterating her human form and, um, turning into a bunch of crabs. (Yes, I thought to myself, "Hee! She has crabs," when that happened. Because I'm 12.) While the fact that a Black actress portrays a god in the film pleases me, that final image of Calypso suggests that she did not have any power when she resembled a Black woman.

Despite its sluggish initial half hour, I recommend Dead Man's Chest because the latter half of the film delivers the same goods as The Curse of the Black Pearl. I cannot do the same for At World's End, which never manages to be as funny, exciting, or spectacular. The problem with multiple sequel, big budget films such as PotC is that the producers feel compelled to make each succeeding film bigger and crammed with more special effects. With At World's End, PotC has grown big to the point that it has become unwieldy.

Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp

Amber also likes to tie shirts around her waist

Amber Benson
Amber BensonAmber BensonAmber BensonAmber Benson

What was the rationale behind this photoshoot?

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas BrendonSarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas BrendonSarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas BrendonSarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon
Or perhaps the better question is what was the rationale behind Nick Brendon's striped pants? And why is Alyson Hannigan shoved into the background in almost all of the photos?

All of them are trying for the mysterious, sexy pout that American mags seem to like, but none of them are entirely succeeding.

Alexander Payne's 'Election' (1999)

Election is a delicious satire of high school student council politics that manages to generate both humor and poignancy. Alexander Payne's direction is perfect, and his vision is realized by a quartet of strong lead performances.

I'm amazed that Reese Witherspoon experienced difficulty landing roles after appearing in this film because I think her performance is tremendous. Witherspoon plays Tracy as manipulative and vindictive, but the audience can feel sorry for her when she sobs after losing the election and can still see her as a victim of Mr. Novotny's inappropriate attention and her mother's unfulfilled ambitions. She more than any other actor has to walk a very fine line between character and caricature, and a less-skilled performer in this role would have sunk the film.

With this role Matthew Broderick comes full circle from his star-making performance in the John Hughes classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Jim McAllister is the opposite of Ferris in every way, from his age and occupation to his personality. The Jim character and Broderick's performance elevate this film from being just another high school movie.

Tammy very rightly asserts in her campaign speech that school elections only matter to the students who run because "Student Council President" looks good on a college application. For the student candidates, the election represents a stepping stone into a promising future. Jim, who feels trapped and emasculated by his own life, resents that sense of possibility and drive, which he sees particularly in the overzealous Tracy. As Jim's life falls apart he becomes more and more desperate to deny Tracy her trajectory.

The visual techniques Payne uses, such as the freeze-frames, dissolves and wipes, as well as Tracy's "Navajo Joe" musical cue feel like an organic part of telling the story rather than mere directorial flourishes. Visually, Payne associates Tracy with straight lines and Jim with circles, implying that Tracy can move forward while Jim will forever remain on the same path. Payne also uses a recurring image of trash, suggesting that people are forever making and cleaning up messes.

Payne's script that he co-wrote with Jim Taylor is just as strong as the direction with one tiny exception: Tammy's story feels strangely truncated. Jessica Campbell plays Tammy so beautifully that I want to see more of her. I want to know what happens to Tammy after she lies about tearing down her brother's posters before the epilogue rolls around. Payne and Taylor's script demonstrates confidence in actors' ability to define characters, and they do not write more than the story demands. For example, Jim's conflict with his wife is wonderfully low-key. Election also distinguishes itself as one of a handful of films whose narration is actually good and adds to the tone and flavor of the movie.

For some reason I really like this picture