Best blogs from movie celebrities

October 2, 2007

With so many blogs on entertainment these days, how do you know where to go to get the juiciest stuff? (besides, obviously, going to this blog!) You go straight to the source, of course! For better or for, well, worse, many celebrities, or at least people who would kind of look familiar if you saw them on the street, are actually blogging.

Here are some of the best entertainer blogs out there, organized, most conveniently if I do say so myself, into easy referencing categories:

Quirky fun – is there anything better?

Kevin Smith (My Boring-Ass Life) – From the wealth of content here, some might argue not so boring, but in either case, this blog features relatively regular posts (up to a couple times a week) from the man behind Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Mallrats, and, of course, the whole Jay and Silent Bob saga regarding what he is up to these days. Features lots and lots of pictures, long posts and helpful information about Smith’s new projects and appearances – all told, naturally, with his signature dry, self-deprecating, casually R-rated humor.

Zach Braff – More down-to-earth chatter from that quirky guy from Scrubs and Garden State. Yes, he has “shameless plugs” (his words, not mine) in his blog, and not just in their officially designated area, but they’re scattered amongst (unfortunately infrequent – about once a month) blog posts full of funny and casual chatter. Skip past the seemingly obligatory “sorry it’s been awhile” at the top of each post and you’ll find cool nuggets of fun. My favorite – Zach’s answers to posted questions:

Answers to questions:
No
Yes
Cinnamon raisin.
That sounds like it would hurt me. No thanks.
Wrinkly, like a stone mason’s elbow.
I have several.
It depends; if it’s itching and burning, I would see a doctor.

Also included in the blog: videos, his favorite music, and yes, “Shameless Plugs.”

Funny or Die – Okay, yes, not technically a blog, but it does include a blog! (So ha!) This video site from Gary Sanchez Productions, a production company run by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay (SNL writer, director Talladega Nights and Anchorman) and Chris Henchy (producer on Entourage), features original comedy videos from Ferrell and other celebrity guests as well as user-generated content. Users vote on which videos are funny and which, alas, are not and thus deserve to die (get it – funny… or die?). The blog itself features such gems as:

I spent the last week in Reno and it was great. I went there with some eyeshadow and a dream and came back with a vanity license plate, a sprained ankle and a new husband, one Mr. Rowdy Roddy Piper.

Just for the suspense

Matt Groening – Is it a blog? Maybe a Simpsons archive? The future site for a new version of Mr. X? Or, gasp, a top secret storage space for as yet unaired Simpsons scripts? Sigh. We may never know. As Matt Groening himself says, according to simpsonsfolder.com:

I’ve reserved mattgroening.com. (Laughs) It’s said “This Site Is Under Construction” for three years now. I’ll get around to it. I know how disappointed I am when I go to a Web site and nothing has changed, and until I’m ready to wade in on a regular basis, I’m holding back.

Well, I suppose we’ll have to take his word for it. For now.

Voted Most Likely to Succeed

Wil Wheaton – If you’re a recent convert to the movie blogosphere, this name might not sound familiar, but for an actor who once starred in Stand by Me (1986) and Star Trek, Wil Wheaton has quickly become what the New York Times (not too shabby of a reference) called “a quirky star of the blogosphere” in 2005. With an important dose of that ever-popular self-deprecating humor, Wil’s blog features frequent posts (almost every day or so), pictures and favorite music. For you Alexaholics (you know who you are), his Alex rank currently stands at 110, 149, which ain’t too bad for a random blog. The blog is currently up for a Lifetime Achievement Award in the 2007 Bloggies.

The Omnipresence Award

Rosie O’Donnell – People are just going crazy over this thing. Now admittedly, the recent scandal can’t have hurt, but it certainly does feel like everything really is coming up Rosie (sorry, it was just too easy). Quotes from the blog, pretty much Rosie’s personal press agent at this point, pop up all over the news media (“on her personal blog,” “in a post on her official blog,” etc. etc. You get the idea). The blog itself is a tribute to all things Rosie, presented in that classic Internet format (i.e., no caps or punctuation) and in, well, poetry, plus photos, videos, links to her charities, and, of course, her gift shop. Posts are impressively frequent for a celebrity blogger – essentially every day. The blog currently has the most votes for “Best Celebrity Blogger” at the Blogger’s Choice Awards.

For “flans”-in-training (and those who understand what that means)

Nathan Fillion – The charismatic star of the cult film Serenity (and the Joss Whedon show, Firefly, on which the movie was based) writes every month or so on his MySpace blog about his life, interests and the crazy world around him. His down-home, direct talk is funny and refreshing and makes for an enjoyable read, although you may struggle not to be jealous as he describes his visit to the only paper supply office truly worth visiting:

I had lunch at the Office a few weeks ago. The Annex, the kitchen, the office itself- it’s all real! There is so much space between Pam’s desk and Dwight’s that I never knew about. I rummaged through Michael’s safe. I watched as cast members updated their myspace pages and checked their emails while on lunch, but at their character’s desks! Can you believe it? Now, many of you may have weirded out- sputtering stupid things excitedly while being ushered around on a first class tour. I’ll have you know… I’m not above that. Thank you, Jenna, for putting up with the high pitched squels [sic] of excitement, the stupid questions, and demanding that you answer as Pam.

And just cuz I can’t resist plugging it, if you’re as into The Office as Nathan here, and especially if you’re not into it at all, check out Jenna (aka, Jenna Fischer – Pam Beesley)’s own MySpace blog on my blogroll.

For the Faerie in you

Neil Gaiman – The award-winning author of illustrated fantasy works like The Sandman and Stardust (yep, the one that recent film is based on) and the co-author of the new Beowulf film shares his many, naturally well-worded, thoughts on his life, works, appearances, and other projects, and answers questions from fans and others. There are also lots of extras: book excerpts, interviews, essays, background info on some of his books, a schedule of his appearances, various message boards, and so on.

In memorium

Quentin Tarantino – The now-defunct diary of “QT.” Sure, it was fake, but hey, nobody’s perfect, right? And it certainly had its crazy day in the sun while it lasted.

Misc.

Other celebrities with a will to blog:

David Hewlett – The guy from Stargate: Atlantis (Dr. McKay) and the director of the recent independent film A Dog’s Breakfast shares his thoughts, and promotes his film, at this well-liked blog.

Michael Moore – The documentary star finally finds a way to express himself.

William Shatner – How could this guy not have a blog, I ask you? Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder.

The Huffington Post – Features blog entries from David Mamet, John Cusack, Christopher Guest, Ellen DeGeneres, and more. Click on the Huffington Post link for an index of all Huffington bloggers, or go here for the Wikipedia list of celebrity bloggers on the site.

Goro Miyazaki – From a man who knows something about living in a father’s shadow, the son of acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki discusses the development of his animated film, Tales from Earthsea, based on the Ursula LeGuin novels. For those of you who can read Japanese, enjoy! For us mere mortals, here is the English translation.

Margaret Cho – The well-known comedienne (Notorious C.H.O and, believe it or not, Face-Off) shares her thoughts on life, loves and the world at large, as well as many, many (many, many) pictures and videos.

Pamela Anderson – The eternal blond bombshell writes personal, and frequent, entries about her life, malicious rumors and the world at large in her bubblegummy diary (and I mean that literally – I’m suddenly craving something pink and fluffy…).

Michelle Rodriguez – Lengthy but sporadic messages from the tough Fast and the Furious and Lost beauty on her official website.

And finally…

Check out EW’s best and worst celebrity blogs for their take on some of these blogs, and others not mentioned here.

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“Other” great science fiction movies

September 7, 2007

According to the Times UK, Ridley Scott claims that sci-fi films are dead and that since 2001: A Space Odyssey, there has been nothing new and different. The director said that:

…science fiction films were going the way the Western once had. “There’s nothing original. We’ve seen it all before. Been there. Done it,” he said. Asked to pick out examples, he said: “All of them. Yes, all of them.”

The flashy effects of recent block-busters, such as The Matrix, Independence Day and The War of the Worlds, may sell tickets, but Sir Ridley believes that none can beat Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Hmm, so I guess he doesn’t think his own takes on science fiction, the classics Blade Runner and Alien, measure up as well?

Now, I will probably take a huge credibility hit for saying this, but 2001: A Space Odyssey is not one of the absolute best science fiction movies in my opinion. Yes, it’s certainly groundbreaking and is a very important origin of the science fiction special effects you see today, but is it an enjoyable or even understandable movie experience? No. I’m sure it was revelatory in its day, but I personally think it succeeds more in imagery and theory than as a cohesive film with an actual plot.

That said, I simply can’t agree that there aren’t sci-fi movies out there that don’t have, as Scott claims, “an overreliance on special effects as well as weak storylines.”

To prove my point (hopefully somewhat definitively), I have compiled a list of what I think are great science fiction movies that, shall we say, move to the beat of their own drum and do not rely on or have minimal special effects, and that, of course, have been released after 1968.

science fiction (dictionary.com)
n. A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background.

Children of Men – A chilling look at a post-apocalyptic world in the not-so-distant future where humans can no longer have children due to mysterious scientific circumstances (in other words, what humans are doing to each other and the world). Essentially no futuristic science fiction effects to speak of.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Spielberg’s classic UFO film. True, it’s got alien abductions and spaceships, but much of it centers around the very human drama of its main characters. Certainly almost as if not just as influential in its science fiction imagery as 2001. The depiction of spaceships and aliens (they’re thin!) has never been the same.

Contact – Based on the book by Carl Sagan (if you don’t really like science, stick with the movie) and starring Jodie Foster. Exploring politics, religion and faith, science, and human nature, it’s a powerful and probably realistic portrayal of what would happen if we did make contact with another intelligence. Only at the very end of the film are classic science fiction effects used.

Gattaca – A very personal look at the human cost of technological advancement. Serious and dark, but not in a Blade Runner “film noir” sort of way, it’s a tragic and romantic tale of human hopes and dreams without any of the flashy sci-fi trappings. Opinion may be divided on this one, but I think it’s an intense and captivating story. With Ethan Hawke, Jude Law and Uma Thurman.

The Prestige – A recent film with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, it’s an almost Memento-style look at the rivalry between two magicians at the turn of the century. Featuring more twists and turns than could ever be explained in a plot summary, this is not a “Harry Potter” magic film, or even just a slight of hand (like the other similarly titled magician movie released around the same time, the great film The Illusionist) but instead a look at the relationship of two men and how science can itself be magical. The real life scientist Nikola Tesla makes an experience, in the form of David Bowie. Yes, David Bowie.

The Fifth Element – A cult classic from Luc Besson, there is no other sci-fi movie quite like it. Sure it uses plenty of special effects, but you cannot deny that it’s different. And the most important thing: it’s a lot of fun. Starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich and Gary Oldman.

Galaxy Quest – The perfect spoof of “classic” sci-fi, this is a hilarious take on the fan world of Star Trek. What if the world of Star Trek really did exist? Enjoy this movie and find out. Tony Shalhoub, Alan Rickman and yes, Tim Allen do a great job, and Justin Long of “I’m an Apple computer” and Live Free or Die Hard fame puts in a great appearance as a “Trekkie” whose wildest dreams are finally coming true. Plus, a pre-Dwight Schrute Rainn Wilson as a techie alien!

Serenity – Based on the cult series Firefly from Buffy creator Joss Whedon, this dark (and slightly scary!) sci-fi action flick features Wild West-type dialogue, characters and action alongside spaceships and a slightly Star Wars-like Empire, the Alliance. There’s definitely special effects, but you can’t claim it isn’t creative and passionate.

Ghost in the Shell – An anime classic and crime thriller about artificial intelligence and the relationship between humanity and technology. The film was a huge influence on The Matrix, just check out the poster.

Nausicaa and the Valley of the WindHayao Miyazaki‘s animated take on a futuristic world decimated by humanity’s treatment of the environment. Dealing with issues of war and, of course, the environment, this 1984 film from the anime master behind Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke is an elegantly sad addition to the science fiction genre.

28 Days Later and 12 Monkeys – Similar sci-fi idea (world-ending virus), very different approaches (zombie horror vs. Terry Gilliam), both insane and mesmerizing in their own ways.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie – Ever heard of the early sci-fi film This Island Earth? There’s a good reason why not. It’s awful. But watching the characters from this cult TV show take hilarious jabs at it in their only feature film, you’ll think it’s the funniest movie on any earth. Incomprehensibly out of print on DVD, if you can find a worn-out VHS tape or DVD at your local Hollywood Video, rent it immediately. It leaves you with only the “fresh scent of pine.”

Honorable Mentions: Minority Report and V for Vendetta

Go here for Cinematical.com’s thoughts on Scott’s statements.