Powerhouse vocalist Cheesa first came into our homes on last season’s The Voice. The Honolulu native swept Cee Lo off his feet at her blind audition with her rich and soulful voice. He gushed, “You could go on from here to be everything you were meant to be.” Now at 22, Cheesa has released her debut album Naked via her own independent label. It’s reminiscent of 90’s R&B/Pop vocalists like Mariah Carey and Brandy, and features catchy hooks and sweeping melodies bolstered by vibrant, unflappable beats. Her journey to entrepreneurship and the music industry was by no means an easy one. Her family was plagued by financial hardships, converting their home into an elder care facility and moving themselves into the garage to pay their mortgage. Despite her parent’s initial hesitancy and the strong Filipino traditions which pointed to a more traditional career, Cheesa’s family moved from Hawaii to Los Angeles for her to pursue a career in music. We recently caught up with her to chat about the new album and her newfound exposure.
1. You’re just back from a stint doing shows and press in Hawaii, where you’re originally from. What’s your favorite activity or food spot to hit up when you go back home?
There’s so many things that you can do and so many things that you should eat. But my favorite, and I think a lot of locals can agree, is Kahuku shrimp. You can either go to Romy’s or Giavonni’s shrimp truck. And you also have to hit up THE BEST - Masumoto’s Shaved Ice. What I like to do is go to the beach. It’s quite as simple as that.
2. How old were you when your family moved to LA? What was that transition like for you?
I just turned 16 about 2 weeks before we moved to LA. It was such a culture shock. I went to an all girls Catholic school in Hawaii, so to go to a coed public school [in LA]...I think I had way too much freedom. I kind of wilded out. It’s definitely difficult to adapt.
3. What is The Assembly?
The Assembly is the production company that I’m in. One day we just decided let’s do it; let’s produce songs, make albums, and just go full force with it. We never thought that it would become this serious, so for us to produce a full-length album is really surreal. [It’s] gratifying that we have everything on iTunes and people from around the world are appreciating the music that we put out there.
4. What is your creative experience like? Where do you find the balance within The Assembly, as far as who writes, who mixes, produces, etc?
It’s a very collaborative effort and everybody has their certain niche. I think we mesh well together because everybody has a specific role.
5. You mentioned your brother, Troy who is also a musician and music director, and has toured with the likes of Demi Lovato , David Archuleta, and Cherice (aka Sunshine Corazon from Glee). Is music something that your parents impressed upon you two growing up?
It was something we were introduced to by my dad who also sang when he was young, but it was never really an option to be a career choice. Because my dad sacrificed a lot for us, he was more expecting us to be in the medical field or in law, something more stable, and, from his standpoint, more realistic. He never really wanted to see us struggle because he knew how hard it was to struggle in his own life, living in the Philippines. But after a lot of convincing he agreed to move to LA so we could pursue music.
6. Being from a close-knit Filipino family, did your parents have a reaction to your rather provocative album cover?
[Laughs] I remember the day after we got it, I remember thinking this is really controversial and I was really scared to show my mom. But surprisingly the one that we thought was going to be more mad about it was the one who was more accepting. My dad was like, she’s not really showing anything.
7. Was there a moment or battle for you on The Voice that was particularly challenging?
It was my first time ever doing things on my own. My brother and I have been performing for quite some time as a duo. And as I was in a competition show, social media is such a big outlet for people to express themselves. It’s an open forum for people to talk negatively and positively, and it was my first time seeing all these comments. I don’t think anyone can mentally prepare themselves for that, so that was a big challenge for me. It was like a flashback to times in my childhood where I was bullied, so it was definitely challenging. It actually led to one of the songs on the album “I’m Not Perfect.” I want to inspire people to accept themselves and love themselves despite all the flaws and insecurities. You’re still beautiful.
8. Your single “Crash Boom” (my personal favorite) features Jamar Rogers from your season on The Voice. Are you still in contact with a lot of your teammates/ Cee Lo?
I just recently watched Cee Lo’s show in Vegas, Loberace. Great show! And I do keep in contact with a lot of people, Anthony Evans, Jamar obviously...we become so close being on the show. I’ve gained a lot of good friends from being on that show.
9. Where does the album title, Naked come from?
Naked was not meant to be that controversial. For me Naked meant stripping out the outside layers and the perception that people had of me. It was being able to use this album as a therapeutic journey to reveal my soft side. It was to inspire women, most importantly young girls, because society shows that women should look thin when really all sizes, all shapes, all colors should be accepted. Thats what I wanted the album to be about - for people to accept who they are and not be afraid to show it.
10. How has the post The Voice experience been for you?
I love the show. It gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of great people, Cee Lo and all the other great coaches and it opened doors for me. I would have never gotten the opportunities that I get now to travel around the world and sing, to be interviewed by people like you. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity and now I get to live out my dream.
For more of Cheesa be sure to catch her upcoming summer promo tour on both on the west coast and in Asia. More details to follow on her websites.
To say I have been waiting for this movie to come out is an understatement. When I heard it was delayed from December to May the stakes became even higher. I was one of the first to buy tickets to see The Great Gatsby in 3D when it finally premiered, and it was a lot like attending one of Jay Gatsby’s famous parties: loud, glittering and in your face.
Director Baz Luhrmann’s earlier work, such as Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet, is known for being over the top. The Great Gatsby is no different. Luhrmann paints for us the image of a whirlwind era where great men are striking against a sky lit up by fireworks, and women are coated in crystal dresses and Tiffany & Co. jewelry. But beneath all the pomp and the Jay-Z soundtrack, there is a haunting story. It is one many of us know from the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, but probably haven’t heard in a while. Luhrmann’s films all seem to be about tragic romances that are doomed from the start, and Gatsby is no exception. Despite this being a familiar tale, Luhrmann is able to reintroduce this story to us and even catch us off guard a time or two.
Luhrmann got a lot of things right with this film, which he and his wife spent two years researching. His casting choices are spot-on. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, or Carey Mulligan as “golden girl,” Daisy. Both light up the screen. Everything about them is rich, from their clothing (which I am sure costume designer Catherine Martin will be getting an Oscar for) to their passion for each other in this forbidden love story. Tobey Maguire is the perfect Nick Carraway, and he successfully carries the narration throughout the film, a task that many other Fitzgerald adaptations struggled with.
The authenticity of the era is greatly appreciated. Everything from the Art Deco design and architecture to the clothing, cars, and social mannerisms have been reconstructed to a tee. It’s obvious that Luhrmann is meticulous and that several scholars were consulted for the film. But I delight in the fact that he mixes in slight anachronisms to make the film relevant to modern day audiences. Luhrmann weaves Jay-Z, Lana Del Rey, Jack White and Beyonce into the background music, reminding you that this tale is not the Jazz Age’s alone, but a timeless one; one that could even take place today.
As someone who has studied literature, Fitzgerald, and this period, I feel that Luhrmann’s Gatsby accurately sums up the 1920’s: a big party that is ruined by a great crash. Leaving the theater was like leaving Gatsby’s house after a long weekend. While Luhrmann dazzles us with effects he is also telling us a deep story, a sad story, one that if told differently would perhaps eat at our core. It is my hope that audiences are able to recognize the depth of Carraway’s words and the portrayal of this period among the champagne soaked parties. I recommend seeing the movie in 3-D (how Luhrmann intended it), buying the soundtrack, and re-reading the book. The memories of Gatsby linger long after it ends, and any story that stays with you is a story worth examining.
Thanks to YouTube, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can upload a video of anything, anytime they want. While this means the world has been inundated with cat videos, it has also revolutionized entertainment and launched some careers - I mean, Justin Bieber was discovered there. There is a lot of crap, but there are also some people who have perfected entertaining through their videos and have amassed a following. While a lot of the YouTube heavyweights are males, there are a collection of female stars who have mastered the art of creating videos that people want to see. The next time you have some time to kill, check out these YouTube sensations:
Michelle is a beauty vlogger who is an amazing makeup artist. Seriously. She can make herself look like Angelina Jolie or Taylor Swift using makeup alone. Michelle started her channel after she was rejected for a job at a makeup counter. But now, she is so popular that she is a spokesperson for Lancome and has developed her own skincare line, IQQU. Next time you want to switch up your look, look no further than Michelle’s YouTube series.
Hannah maintains a series called “My Drunk Kitchen,” where she cooks while she gets hammered on various alcoholic beverages. Yep, it’s that simple. While her recipes are a drunken mess, people love her because of her humor. Her ability to make puns is unmatched. Hannah also has her own channel where she talks about her daily life. She recently held a fundraiser online to raise money so that she could tour the country and cook in people’s kitchens. She exceeded her goal quickly, and expanded her tour to the international level. Hannah is no joke.
Better known as Daily Grace (named after her YouTube show), Grace maintains a channel where she uploads a new video every damn WEEKDAY. Every day has a theme (Sexy Friday, Review Wednesdays), and she basically just sits there and lets things fly out of her mouth. For example, on “Sexy Fridays,” she will ask her fans what kind of love, sex and dating topics they want her to give advice on. She then answers a bunch of questions in that day’s video. I use the term advice loosely. Her response to someone asking how to get a guy out of the apartment the next morning was to lock the bathroom door so they’d be forced to leave to take their morning s*&t. She acts a little awkward and does this funny sing-song thing with her voice, and that sh*t works for her. She manages to make the most inane-seeming things sound interesting. In my opinion, this is definitely a talent. Just watch a video -- you’ll see what I’m talking about.
This list wouldn’t even be valid without including Jenna. Chances are, you already know this chick. She’s got 8.5 million subscribers on YouTube, and her collection of videos have over 1 BILLION views. Jenna is popular because she’s hilarious, she swears a lot, and she’s hot. My personal favorites are her videos about gender differences. She is great at pointing out -- and making fun of -- how different men and women are. Confession: I lowkey want to stalk her and be her best friend. She’s just that awesome. How she hasn’t been given her own TV show yet, I don’t know. But I’m going to put it out there now that eventually, it’s going to happen.
Better known as iJustine, this girl makes videos about everything. Her everyday life, her thoughts - essentially whatever she wants. Case in point: one of her biggest videos was her ranting about wanting a cheeseburger at a restaurant that was out of them. She’s known as a “lifecaster” - which I never heard before putting this article together - which apparently means that she broadcasts her life. Duh. Justine also occasionally acts and hosts TV shows. If you take a look at her, you can see why. Her appearance is pretty much flawless. Justine is smart and fun to watch, and she’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.
What may seem like frivolous videos to some, has created big fame and big profits for these ladies. They make ridiculous amounts of revenue from the ads on their videos. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Ugh, why don’t I have a video series again? These YouTubers are some of my personal favorites, but this is far from a complete list of all the great people on the site. Let me know who your favorite YouTubers are, and what videos I should watch in the comments below!
If the widespread use of techno beats and cheesy lyrics weren’t enough of an indication, R&B music today simply isn’t what it used to be. The R&B acts of the 80’s and 90’s set the bar high (Jodeci anyone?), and the timeless vocals, iconic fashion and -- of course -- the dance moves, simply can’t be forgotten. While you can find amazing R&B groups in recent history, most of us are 80s-90s babies, so we decided to put together a list of some of the best acts of that time period. Join us for a trip down musical memory lane, won’t you?
It was borderline impossible to choose one video to feature from Boyz II Men’s crazy catalogue of hits back in the 90s. Simply put, Boyz II Men was one of the biggest R&B acts of the 90s. From Motown Philly to End of the Road to One Sweet Day to On Bended Knee....these dudes were everywhere. At the height of the group’s popularity, they could literally do no wrong. Ooooh baby, the I’ll Make Love To You video had it all! Signature crazy vocals, super soft mood lighting, carefully coordinated outfits in the hallway, then look! They’re in a driveway! Ahhh, the simple setups of music videos back then. We miss it. Today, three out of the four original members (minus Michael McCary, aka Mr. Deep Voice with the Cane) can be found opening for New Kids on the Block on the Package Tour (ouch), and soon they’ll be taking up a residency at The Mirage in Vegas.
OK, let’s pretend that 2:28 where Nokio pours hot candle wax down his chest while holding his neckpiece in his mouth never happened, shall we? Good, glad we’re on the same page. Questionable videos and blonde hair aside, Dru Hill was once a force to be reckoned with. Sisqo’s signature wail was hard for anyone to compete with, and he stole the shine from the rest of the group most of the time, which ultimately led to his short-lived solo career (thong-th-thong-thong-th—no). The group tried to pull it back together, but member switch outs and failed albums that no one paid attention to left the group dead in the water. Luckily, they left us with enough great material to keep the memories of their glory days alive.
Let’s have a moment of silence for the demise of one of the greatest female R&B acts of all time. Listening to their music today will make you pine for the girl group action of yesteryear. En Vogue was the perfect mix of strong vocals, attitude, style and beauty. Unfortunately, internal differences between the group (including lawsuits against one another…yikes) lead us to believe a reunion isn’t in the cards. That being said, we can all try to keep the En Vogue love alive at karaoke.
Cuz my heart starts beating triple time… Was there a female alive in the 90s that didn’t know this song backwards and forwards? SWV was one of the top female R&B groups of their time, and have since made attempts to put out new music. As recently as last year, they released a single and appeared on Wendy Williams. But is anyone checking for them? Not really. Still, there aren’t many acts on the radio these days who can belt out a song or have it resonate the same way these ladies can.
If you were looking for babymaking music back in the day, these were your guys. Jodeci was so crucial to the game that they influenced R&B performers, whether it be groups or solo acts, for years to come. They tried to reunite on stage last month at a show in the UK, and apparently sucked so bad they were booed off the stage. But we still love them for all their shirtless videos and for being sensitive thugs.
Total was more known for their guest stars and cameos than their own music, but you could find their vocals on tracks from Biggie to Missy to LL Cool J to Mase and beyond. They added a soulful vibe to every track and made short hair sexy. We probably won’t see Total back together again, but they are a quintessential component of Bad Boy's heyday.
112 is one of my favorite things Diddy ever did. Slim’s unique voice (let’s be real – it was pretty nasally, wasn’t it?) was a bit of an acquired taste for most people, but once you got used to it, 112 was absolutely one of the smoothest sounding groups of the 90s. They have since disbanded, and have made a couple attempts to reunite in recent years, but apparently a couple of them keep holding out to focus on their “solo careers.” Let us know how that turns out.
We all know what happened to TLC, and there’s just no way for that group to ever get back together without Left Eye. Even though you can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness over Left Eye’s untimely death when you listen to their music, classics like Waterfalls, Creep, No Scrubs, Lets Talk About Sex and this song mean they will always stay in our hearts and our rotation.
I often consider myself the queen of procrastination. Deadlines and due dates motivate me best when anticipation of their looming approach stimulates my adrenaline. It’s better than an espresso.We all know the internet provides countless opportunities to waste time -- from stalking obscure friends on Facebook to watching a video compilation of adorable kittens on YouTube. But if you want to do some serious damage to your schedule, check out this list of top five ultimate time-killer websites.
WARNING: The sites mentioned may seriously compromise your work efficiency and productivity, drawing you away from boring tasks and entertaining you with silly photos and GIFs.
Get out your glue guns, oven mitts and wallets! Catalogued by image, Pinterest is the motherload of everything you never knew you could be so interested in. Making gourmet cupcakes decorated with gold? Check. DIY glitter (anything) project? Check. Homemade organic face mask with eggs and lemon juice? Check, Check. Pinterest is deceivingly addictive because you can browse lots of different categories at once. From fashion to health, food to humor; once you're in, you may never get out. But hey, you will look fabulous and know how to make some great food!
Offering a daily dose of pop culture and just plain ridiculousness, Buzzfeed is by far one of the best sites to waste time. It capitalizes on packaging viral content, usually in list form, and sharing it with the masses. With plenty of entertainment news, hilarious GIF compilations and a touch of real news sprinkled in, Buzzfeed keeps our attention with features like “30 Reasons Why You Love To Hate Pete Campbell” and “20 Funny Cat GIFs.”
Boasting some biting (yet often truthful) commentary on A-list celebrity families and their kids, Suri’s Burn Book is a must read. Written from the POV of Suri Cruise, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s daughter, no one is spared from her commentary -- including her parents. Some of the best posts include her take on baby and kid fashion, and a hilarious rivalry with fellow A-list kid, Violet Affleck.
If you operate on a more visual level, and have finally logged off Pinterest, Imgur is the perfect place to waste the next 3 hours. With the best of viral photos from around the web, Imgur operates like Reddit. Users upload photo posts and the community comments, captions, and promotes photos to the front page.
If you love finding cool tricks for completing tasks more easily (since you wasted all that time everywhere else), Lifehacker is a great site for how-tos and “hacks” for complicated processes. We especially love the laundry hacks and tips on how to deal with annoying people.
We couldn’t end our list without mentioning these other great websites to waste some time. Animals Being Dicks has hilarious GIFs of animals, well, being dicks. The Oatmeal is a great site full of comics and quizzes that we can’t get enough of. Fail Blog has posts and images about pretty much anything that is a “fail.” And Cracked keeps us endlessly entertained with posts like The 7 Least Sexy Songs about Sex and 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person.
What are your favorite sites to waste time on? Tweet us at @MadeWomanMag, tell us on Facebook, or leave a comment below!
A&E attempts to prove it’s more than just the Storage Wars channel with its newest scripted thriller, Bates Motel, which is meant to serve as a sort of back story to the horror classic, Psycho. Most pilots suffer from exposition-overload to ensure the audience doesn’t feel lost. Fortunately, Bates Motel does not fall into that trap and thus makes for a swift-moving and intrigue-filled first episode. That said, it is a bit contrived and heavy-handed in its foreshadowing attempts. Those familiar with Psycho are painfully aware of the disturbed relationship Norman Bates had with his mother, which resulted in his killing and then dressing up as the dead matriarch (perhaps as a twisted token of his affection). Bates Motel could have left us wanting more by setting a trail of emotionally scarring bread crumbs leading from Norman’s adolescence to his pseudo-oedipal and homicidal adulthood throughout the season. Instead the show basically connects all those dots for us in its first 30 minutes.
The show stars everyone's favorite adorable British child actor, Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) -- now all grown up -- as Norman, and Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) as Norma ‘Mother’ Bates. We’re introduced to the Bates clan when Norman awakens from a nap with a suspicious feeling that something in his house is amiss. Sure enough, Norman finds his father in the garage, crushed under the weight of a fallen shelving unit. A panicked Norman runs to alert his mother, who is locked away in the bathroom, taking a shower. Norma takes her sweet a*s time cinching up her robe. She sighs a breath of beleaguered annoyance, and finally saunters on her merry way. It doesn’t take long to see something is very wrong with Mommie Dearest.
Six months later the twosome are starting anew in White Pine Bay, Oregon; a small, tightly-knit, coastal community. Norman, still mourning the loss of his father, is reluctant for the new start that his mother so desperately desires. With a glint in her eye, Norma shows off the rundown Victorian mansion and adjoining hotel she scored as a foreclosed property. Norman’s not so sure. And he is even less sure when the previous owner, Keith Summers, comes over to express his claims on the property, which he lost as a result of financial problems.
In an effort to make the best of his situation, Norman tries to be social. He takes his teacher’s advice to try out for the track team. Norman requests his mother’s permission to join at the candlelit dinner she’s prepared for him. Again, here we are overtly treated to the suggestion that Norman is more akin to Norma’s husband than her son, because really, who prepares a candlelit dinner with flowers for their child? Less than eager to sign his track team permission slip, ‘Mother’ lays on the guilt so thick about having just opened the new motel and needing Norman’s help that Norman relents. Their slight altercation at dinner leads Norman to sneak out to a party later that night, where he meets up with Bradley Martin, the coolest girl at school.
While Norman is out at the party, Keith Summers breaks into the Bates’ home, handcuffs Norma, and rapes her against the kitchen table, grunting “Everything in this house is mine”. Norman interrupts, mid-assault, and wallops Keith over the head with an iron. Keith collapses, momentarily unconscious, to the ground. As Norman searches for the First Aid Kit, Keith rouses, lumbering again towards Norma. She retrieves a knife, and as Keith goads, “You liked it”, Norma plunges the knife, repeatedly, into Keith’s distended beer gut.
Rather than suffer the embarrassment of a sensationalized rape case, or the lost revenue from patrons too afraid to stay at the would-be rape and murder motel, Norma declares that the police will not be called. The two dump Keith’s body in the bathtub of one of their motel rooms. Some impromptu midnight motel renovations ensue in order to cover the evidence. While pulling up bloodied carpet, Norman finds a small notebook with anime type female figures drawn inside. Some chained up, some with needles in their arms, all frightened. The unexpected activity summons the town police for a 2 AM check-in, whereby they miss the dead body in the tub by the narrowest of margins. After the Bates’ close call, mother and son set sail on the lake to drop the body in the water, proverbially washing their hands of this unfortunate incident. It is here that Norma confesses that all she has ever wanted for Norman was a stable, promising life. That was her dream. Though a nice thought, with a body count of at least one -- maybe two (daddy, anyone?) -- and a brewing oedipal complex to rival Hamlet, Norman is in for anything but.
We are left with the final scene where the images found by Norman in the notebook are brought to life. The audience is transported to a basement where a faceless girl is chained up, and a needle is injected into her abused, tired arm. Just as quickly as we arrived in the basement, the show cuts to black. Mission accomplished, appetite whet for episode two.
I never had a problem disliking Taylor Swift because she was always “Country.” They say that Country music is the most popular genre. Now I don’t know who “they” are, but I’m pretty sure they’re the same liars that tell us that kale is delicious, and we probably want to eat it in chip form now too. Way to ruin chips. But then, Taylor Swift had to get all mainstream on us, and the earth shifted on its axis. Now whenever I hear “I Knew You Were Trouble” on the radio, I begrudgingly have to stop. Why? Because it is just so damn catchy and innocuous. Taylor doesn’t even sing. She talks her way through this entire number, and somehow I'm not even bothered by that. I mean she is faking it Rebecca Black-style, and yet, I’ll still “Ooo” along. Damn her.
Tegan and Sara is the musical equivalent of driving through the pouring rain in an old Volvo station-wagon. Its crass, depressing, filled with teenage angst - and yet despite all that - provides you with a small ounce of fun. The sisterly duo, however, has recently put their trademark sound through the ringer. But it came out the other side drenched in an undeniable pop-synth sheath that can get you through even the worst day at work.
Robyn certainly has gone through a transformation over the last 15 years, but it is hard to forget her late ‘90s Show Me Love phase. Seventh-grade me was way too cool for that brand of generic pop. That said, I do have to give it to her. No song better travels from the club dance floor, to your own bedroom dance party in nothing but undies and a bra, better than Dancing on My Own. Lena Dunham got one thing right when they featured the song on HBO’s Girls episode 3. Bad mood, good mood - sometimes girls just wanna dance with their best friends.
Its Whitney, B*%ch. Unwieldy hair. Giant bows. Saxophone interlude. An incomparable voice. Cheesy lyrics. It’s terrible and amazing, all at the same time. I’ll dance to it anytime.
No one quite does a sappy ballad like Seal. If there was one song that was played to death throughout my adolescence, and can remind me that no one wanted to dance with me in middle school, it was this one. I get misty every time. But then again, who doesn’t love a good, cathartic cry...
Speaking of crying, that b*%ch Sia haunts my dreams with this tearjerker. With its sweeping strings and driving piano melancholia, when I listen to Breathe Me, I cry until I don’t even know what I’m crying for. She’s gone a little pop-y these days, but before Sia was writing hooks for Ne-Yo, she ripped our hearts out with this track. Don’t get me wrong here, I am in no way ashamed of my love for Sia - just don’t tell anyone how weepy I get at the song’s crashing crescendo, okay?
Every year at about this time, movie lovers everywhere spend time in theaters, reading reviews, and debating their critical assessments in preparation for The Oscars. The nominees have been selected and we’re waiting with baited breath to see who will go home victorious. Unfortunately, the Academy doesn’t take our opinions into account, but let’s take a look at what regular people are saying about some of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture.
Whoa, Ben Affleck! Argo, the gripping tale of the mission to smuggle American embassy employees out of Iran during political upheaval in the 1970s, took the film world by storm, with both critical and mass audience appeal. “Just so we're straight, Ben Affleck doesn't merely direct Argo, he directs the hell out of it, nailing the quickening pace, the wayward humor and the nerve-frying suspense,” wrote Peter Travers in his review for Rolling Stone.
Social media tends to agree with the positive reviews, with an extra dose of love for our main man, Ben Affleck… and his beard.
Beasts of the Southern Wild:
As a dark horse contender, Beasts of the Southern Wild caught attention with its small budget, heart and indie vibe. Critics and viewers alike were charmed by the tenacity of 9 year old actress Quvenzhané Wallis’s performance, which earned her a Best Actress nomination for her role. Reviewers praised the film’s drama and beauty, but acknowledged that it required possibly more thinking than should be required. “Its impact, its glory, is sensory rather than cerebral,” said critic A.O. Scott in his review for The New York Times. “Let me try out an analogy. Discovering this movie is like stumbling into a bar and encountering a band you’ve never heard of playing a kind of music that you can’t quite identify.”
Accordingly, some thoughts on social media reflected similar feelings: beauty, but also a little confusion.
One of this year’s front-runners is yet another version of Victor Hugo’s classic romantic novel of crime, love, and redemption in the midst of the French Revolution. Les Miserables is packed with an A-list cast, including a highly-anticipated performance from Hugh Jackman. But critics had mixed feelings about this film, citing lots of emotion but a lack of fulfillment . “At the end of 158 minutes, you really have experienced something. What exactly, I'm still not sure,” said critic Peter Bradshaw in his review for The Guardian.
Views on social media were also mixed, but there were plenty of fans who just simply love Wolvererine (aka Jackman) no matter how ragged and dirty he is.
Life of Pi
Brokeback Mountain director, Ang Lee, made waves again with his adaptation of author Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi. The visual effects and emotions in the movie earned it a staggering 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director and a bunch of other “bests.” Accordingly, critics were also awed by the beauty and story of Lee’s film. "Ang Lee’s 'Life of Pi' is the best-looking film I’ve seen this year, and possibly so far this century," said Lou Lumenick in The New York Post. "It's so hypnotically beautiful that people will be using it to calibrate their new TV monitors."
Similarly, viewers were dazzled by the cinematography, and many seemed caught unawares by the deeper themes of the movie. Or by thoughts of actual pie.
So who will take home the Oscar? The victor could be any one of these films, but you can bet that we will be watching.
Last week we saw Marnie make a dumb move; in “I Get Ideas,” it’s Hannah’s turn. Hannah has always been the queen of gigantic missteps, but last week it looked like she was headed in the right direction when she broke up with Adam. She also made it a point to tell her new boo, Sandy, that, with him, she would do things differently: “I’m going to make logical, responsible decisions when it comes to you.” But it’s one thing to say you’re going to change your behavior; it’s an entirely different beast to actually do it, especially for someone like Hannah. She’s not going to stop being self-obsessed or stop putting her foot in her mouth overnight. And she’s definitely not going to be the girl we want to be best friends with any time soon.
We open with her doing an exercise video in her room while Elijah and his boyfriend George argue over his brief sexscapade with Marnie. Hannah’s oblivious to the argument, even as George is screaming at Elijah about the whole ordeal and wondering if Hannah knows. Elijah’s adamant that Hannah can never know, and George proceeds to break up with him. The next morning, things are a bit tense between Sandy and Elijah because Sandy’s a Republican and Elijah assumes that means he hates gays. Their beef isn’t of concern to Hannah, though. She’s more pressed about Sandy claiming to be too busy to read her essay.
Later, Hannah visits Thomas-John and Jessa (who are sporting new matching tiger tattoos) and Jessa offers Hannah her view on the Sandy debacle. “He’s not reading your essay, he’s not reading you.” Okay then. Jessa’s wisdom comes as she plays with three dogs her husband gave her as a surprise present – dogs that she named Garbage, F**ker and Hanukah. And how are things with the new hubby? She describes her marriage to Hannah simply: “This is what it’s like when the hunt is over.” Like Hannah, it feels as if Jessa is all talk here. She’s saying marriage is great, but I’m not sold on the fact that she actually enjoys a settled life. Meanwhile, Shoshanna’s relationship with Ray is back on. They pillow talk about her time at camp, and later Shoshanna helps Marnie get a “pretty girl” job as a hostess after Marnie fails to land a job with an employer who says she doesn’t seem fit for the art world.
Later that evening, while making out with Sandy at his place, Hannah stops mid-kiss to talk to him about her essay. After some pushing, Sandy admits he read the essay and didn’t like it because it wasn’t about anything significant. Obviously hurt, Hannah lies and says she’s glad Sandy doesn’t like the essay because it will lead to better dialogue between them. For instance, now they can talk about how he’s a Republican, something she doesn’t understand. “I also would love to know how you feel about the fact that 2 out of 3 people on death row are black men,” Hannah says. And from there, things go downhill with Hannah eventually telling Sandy she doesn’t think they should be together because they have different political beliefs.
“This always happens,” Sandy fumes before accusing Hannah of being just another white girl who’s dating him because he’s black. To which Hannah scoffs because, as she puts it, she doesn’t see the world in divisions and never thought of him as a black man. Anyone who says they don’t see race is incredibly naïve and dishonest and in this case, Hannah is a bit of both. I don’t doubt that Hannah may have liked Sandy but I also think dating a black Republican was too much of a great story for her to pass up. Hannah’s all about the story, even if, as Sandy points out, the ones that she writes aren’t substantial. Fed up, Sandy kicks Hannah out, effectively ending Donald Glover’s stint on Girls and simultaneously depressing me.
Back at Hannah’s apartment, Adam – who, earlier in the episode, posted creepy videos of him singing about Hannah – lets himself in with a key she gave him for emergencies. Hannah dials 911 but reluctantly hangs up and demands Adam leave. After Hannah repeatedly yells for him to get out, it finally hits him that Hannah is done with their bizarre relationship. He leaves only to be confronted by two cops who show up to check on Hannah because she dialed 911. Hannah tells them Adam didn’t do anything wrong but it’s too late. They run his name, he’s arrested for outstanding tickets and it looks like I was right about Adam reaching a new low. Next week, it will be Hannah’s turn to hit rock bottom, literally, as she goes on the hunt for cocaine to help her write and be vulnerable. Sounds like another bad essay in the making.
Best line(s) of the night:
“You don’t need two Republicans to make a Republican … like you don’t need two terrorists to make a terrorist.” – Sandy
“You were with George for a very long time and he’s still on Hotmail.” – Hannah
Thursday, January 10, 2013 started off like any other day. I woke up feeling a little under the weather, hit up 3 different stores looking for flavored coconut water in an attempt to hydrate, failed miserably at finding any at all (really, LA?), then arrived at work unable to find parking. This, my friends, is clearly the life.
As I rode the elevator up to my office, I asked myself if I should just throw in the towel and write Thursday off as a loss, because things were obviously not going to go my way. But then. THEN! I logged into Facebook, and saw a status update from Beyonce. I felt my mind slowly unhinge as I read the following simple, beautiful words: “The first original Destiny's Child music in eight years! Pre-order it at http://smarturl.it/dc_lovesongs_amzn“ I excitedly logged into Gchat to voice my excitement to anyone online that would listen, one of my friends retorted, “As if Justin Timberlake’s announcement about his new album wasn’t enough.” Wait, what? JUSTIN. TIMBERLAKE. NEW. MUSIC. ??? Clearly the universe is trying to give us all a collective heart attack. It’s almost too much to handle. Did Justin and the DC ladies get together and say let’s freak out the entire world today? OK everyone, why is this such a big deal? If you need any sort of reminder on how momentous this is, let’s recap:
From No, No, No to Bills, Bills, Bills, Destiny’s Child (Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, LeToya Luckett, LaTavia Robertson) proved they were awesome at repeating themselves and also dominating the airwaves. From the very beginning, Beyonce always stood out as the star, and after four albums and a string of hits, it didn’t really hit anyone as a major shock when the group disbanded in early 2001 to embark on solo projects. Michelle Williams achieved success in the gospel circuit, while Kelly Rowland had some hits domestically (most recently, “Motivation”) and achieved even greater success internationally. I don’t really need to say anything about Beyonce. We all know everything she’s been doing because her career skyrocketed and she became one of the biggest superstars in the entire universe, with incredible success in music, movies and everything else you could possibly succeed in. Fans of the group have longed for a reunion ever since they split up officially in 2004, but it didn’t seem in the cards up until very recently. There was a period when it seemed like the girls weren’t really close anymore, and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine some resentments between them. I mean, would you want to stand in Beyonce’s shadow? Yikes. However, the girls have been increasingly publicly friendly and supportive of each other the past few years.
With Beyonce planning her big return to the music scene following some time off to birth the next ruler of the world, aka Blue Ivy, with hubby, Jay-Z, and a hugely anticipated Super Bowl halftime performance in the works for February, this seems like the perfect time for a Destiny’s Child reunion. Their new single, Nuclear, leaked on Friday and that track plus a slew of their hits will be released into an album called Love Songs on January 29th. The single definitely has a 90’s vibe about it, and it’s a smooth sounding mid-tempo track that should make for a sexy, fun performance during the Super Bowl. So get your popcorn ready, the “writings on the wall” (sorry.) are telling me this sh*t is going to change your life. Or at least entertain you for a few minutes.
Much like Beyonce always stood out in Destiny’s Child, Justin Timberlake was arguably the spotlight hog in N’Sync. N’Sync had a crazily successful run, selling 50+ million albums together over the course of their career together. But in 2002 the band said Bye, Bye, Bye to each other (are we sensing a pattern here?) and Justin wasted no time getting to work on his solo material. Can you remember when his first solo single, “Like I Love You” hit the radio? I sure do. I was one of those girls who was so anti-boy band. Then I heard the track and grudgingly admitted to myself that I straight up loved it. His first album solo, Justified, was a huge success.
There was no denying that JT knew what he was doing, and his follow-up album, Future/Sex Love Sounds cemented him as a solo star sex god from the heavens. After touring to support the album, Justin, now at the absolute top of his solo career, did the only logical thing he could do at that point. He said, “f*&k this, I need to act now.” He announced his hiatus from music in 2004. Since then, he’s been in several movies and occasionally pops up in other people’s songs, but he has shown no interest in putting out his own material. In fact, the man always seemed rather annoyed when people would ask him about it. His claim that he just wasn’t ready or inspired enough was repeated so much that his fanbase couldn’t help but write off his return to music as a pipe dream. Which is why the short video he put on YouTube Thursday culminating with him standing at a mic saying, “I’m Ready,” then flashing to a countdown leading up to Sunday, 1/13 at 9PM PST was such a huge surprise. Maybe his marriage to Jessica Biel was the inspiration he needed to get back in the booth.
I logged onto Twitter at 9 on the dot last night and saw Justin share the link to his new song right on time. The song? Suit & Tie featuring none other than Jay-Z. The song doesn’t break any new ground for Justin; it’s the vintage JT/Timbaland combo we all know and love. Not mad at all at the premise -- what woman doesn’t like to get dressed up and go out with a guy in a fresh tux? Jay-Z blessing the track is the icing on the cake. Justin sent out an open letter to his fans with the song, saying he started creating what’s shaping up to be his next album, The 20/20 Experience, back in June, and he promises a “big 2013.” That’s all he’s sharing for now. I, for one, can’t wait to hear what else he’s got for us.