Friday, December 31, 2010

My Year-End Crush

I thought quite a lot about what entertainment moved me this year. Certainly it has been a mix. From the exhilarating artistic high of "Black Swan" to the unexpectedly delicious chemistry of "Rizzoli & Isles," there has been plenty to enjoy. But out of all the things I watched and heard and felt this year, nothing stuck with me like Annette Bening's Nic in "The Kids Are All Right."

Those of you who hate this film or want to get into yet another drawn-out discussion about the "lesbian sleeps with a man" thing will have to just agree to disagree with me. That's not what this movie is about for me. That's not why it matters. That's not what makes it great. What makes this movie great is family. "The Kids Are All Right" speaks to the heart of what it means to be a family. How wonderful it is. How difficult it is. How you fight for it with everything you have. How you fail more often than you care to admit. 

At the center of the film's complicated ball of life is Nic. The rock of the family, the taskmaster, the breadwinner. Yet Annette makes her more than just the prickly doctor who spends more time with her red wine than her wife. She makes her human. She makes her face, with it's delicate latticework of emotions, the face many of us see staring back at us in the mirror.

We work too hard, we worry too much. We let sharpness and silence fill the spaces of our familiarity with one another. Yet we do it all for the family we cherish. If pushed, we would do anything in our power to protect that family. When Nic slams the door on interloper Paul, it's with a simple, declarative truth: "This is my family." And in that moment there is no such thing as a lesbian mom or a same-sex marriage or a gay family. There is just a mom and a marriage and a family, doing what it takes to make everything all right. Happy New Year, all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vacation Vixen: Cate Blanchett

If I could be a third as cool as Ms. Blanchett, that would be awesome, too.

p.s. Have you seen the “Hanna” trailer yet? If not, sweet fancy Moses, you should.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vacation Vixen: Olivia Wilde

She was the only thing missing from under my Christmas tree this year. Next year, Santa, next year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Make the yuletide gay

The one, the only, the original Dorothy. Merry Christmas, or happy whatever you celebrate. Make the yuletide gay.

p.s. Just don’t go decapitating all the snow people like Tootie did afterward in the movie.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

See Jane make merry

I’m on vacation for the next week. But fear not, I’ll have Vacation Vixens up each day to make like those proverbial sugar plums and dance through your head. I also plan to have a special year-end Weekend Crush to share on Dec. 31. Until then, please let Jane Lynch express my most sincere wishes for you this holiday season. May your days be merry and bright, just like a basket full of sick kittens.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Swan Dive

The line between awestruck appreciation and smutty sensationalism is lovingly straddled here at Surrenders. I will freely admit to giving in to my weaker (boobs) impulses (tank tops) sometimes (usually on Tuesdays). So today, I had a bit of an internal struggle about whether or not to post this. You see, it is most definitely smutty, but it’s also pretty fucking sensational. It’s the sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis from “Black Swan” that leaked onto the internet earlier this week. But it’s also Christmas. And at Christmas you tell the truth. The truth is this is just too hot not to post.

Though here is the thing, if you plan to see the movie you shouldn’t watch. No, really, you should watch it in the theater. In context, it’s even better. In context, it’s a revelation. In context, it’s not just two incredibly hot actresses going down for a little stimulating simulated sexytime. Context is everything. Of course, the urge to click play is probably irresistible and you won’t listen and you’ll watch and rewatch and rewatch. Honey, I do not blame you one bit. I’ll take my ladies loving – and other things that start with an “L” – on other ladies wherever I can get it. But you’re doing yourself a disservice and you’ve been warned. Don’t worry, I also realize how incredibly mean it is of me to post something and then tell you not to watch it. What can I say, sometimes I suck.

Though if you were somehow still on the fence about seeing “Black Swan,” perhaps this clip will be the one to, shall we say, sway you. I saw the film again last night and can attest to its continued magnificence and madness the second time around. The second time around, you can really enjoy its masterful claustrophobia and punishing perfectionism. And, yes, you can really, really enjoy each and every delicious moment of stimulating simulated sexytime – oral or otherwise. Though, the film is so much more than those two minutes in heaven (see, the conflicted thing again). The sex isn’t even really about the sex – it’s about control and release, passion and paranoia, unrealized longings and unexplored selves. The movie is a grand temple to the elegant, invigorating pursuit of art at any cost. Yes, fine, OK – it’s also hot. Right, at this point you’re probably thinking, “Jesus, Snarker – shut the fuck up so we can click play already.” Which I will now do. Hope it’s as good for you as it was for me.

[I would hope it’s already explicitly implied, but NSFW]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tank Top Tuesday

Wow, almost another whole year is in the history books. As with every end of the year, I tend to get a little retrospective. But instead of just reflecting on the historic and personal milestones for the year, I like to think about what really matters – tank tops. Or, more specifically, the women I failed to feature throughout the year in tank tops. I only have a few days left to right this terrible wrong. But, you know what they say, better late than never having Naomi Watts waiting for you in a tank top, fedora and wingtips on the kitchen counter.

Freida PintoShe has been MIA since “Slumdog Millionaire,” but we’ll see that beautiful face back on screen where it belongs next year.

Margaret ChoGetting bounced off “Dancing with the Stars” early was actually a good thing. The less you’re around a Palin, the better for your mental health.

Maggie SiffI’m not into biker gangs, but suddenly I can see the appeal.

Molly RingwaldI think I speak for all children of the 80s when I say, damn girl.

Catherine BellOn second thought, I think I like her out of uniform better.

Olivia WilliamsOh, “Dollhouse,” if only you’d been given a chance.

Rashida JonesI know, I know – I can’t shut up about how happy I am “Parks & Recreation” is coming back.

Natalie PortmanI know, I know – I also can’t shut up about how great “Black Swan” is.

Jessica AlbaThis picture is so hot I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in 32 states.

Whew, now on to 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ask. Tell. Enjoy.

Ding dong, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is dead. The Senate voted to repeal the policy 65-31 on Saturday, finally ending the more than 230-year ban on gay and lesbians serving openly in the United States military. You’ve come a long way, soldier. Granted, the legislation (which President Clinton Obama* will sign this week) did not immediately lift the ban – the military leadership ultimately controls the timing and implementation of the new policy. But it certainly doesn’t have long left. So there you have it, history. One step close to that more perfect union. Each step matters, each step is huge. We should savor this sweet victory, for they seem to come so slowly. We should salute all those who fought so hard for this day and served so proudly even while the country they were fighting for asked them to hide who they really were. And, to be slightly more shallow, we should celebrate how many more women will now be able to look really fucking hot in uniforms.

So while we wait, let’s enjoy some of the loveliest ladies to wear the U.S. military uniform on screen. Ten-hut, indeed.

Glenn Close, “Serving in Silence”Glenn looks great in a uniform and a suit, it’s almost unfair.

Dana Delany, “China Beach”God, green is her color.

Loretta Swit, “M*A*S*H”Hot Lips is one of the best nicknames for a character, ever.

Goldie Hawn, “Private Benjamin”Still my favorite Goldie Hawn movie.

Catherine Bell, “JAG”Finally, a color other than green.

Meg Ryan, “Courage Under Fire”Remember when Meg did that serious movie about that first war in Iraq?

Kelly McGillis, “The L Word”She didn’t get to wear a uniform in “Top Gun.” To her credit, Mama Chaiken rectified that on her show.

Rose Rollins, “The L Word”Oh Tasha, how I miss that smile.

Demi Moore, “G.I. Jane.”The shaved head, the one-armed push-up. Where do I enlist?

At ease, soliders. A grateful nation thanks you for all the hotness.

*Wow, now that was an impressive typo. I love how you all assumed I meant Hillary, but alas I was actually probably thinking about Bill. I had researched DADT's creation and signing before I wrote this and had too much Bubba on the brain.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Weekend Crush

I’ve already crushed all over Natalie Portman with her timeless beauty and regal elegance. Her performance in “Black Swan” is sublime, otherworldly, mesmerizing. But most of us already knew she was good. But after walking out of “Black Swan” (which opens wider this weekend and you should go see it immediately), you’ll probably come away with a new appreciation for Mila Kunis. Flat out, that girl is sexy. Like really, totally, super-duper, hot-diggity, not-kidding-around sexy. I’m not sure if I’m getting my point across well enough here. The girl is sexy.

Now I hadn’t thought much of Mila when she was on “That 70s Show.” I caught enough of her on the show to know she was a) cute and b) annoying. But in “Black Swan” she is something else entirely – carnal. If that sounds dirty, then good because I mean it in the most visceral way possible. In “Black Swan,” Mila is all loose limbs and smoky eyes. You could see why Natalie’s tightly wound Nina would be equally threatened and attracted to Mila’s effortlessly uninhibited Lily. And, trust me, even if nothing I’ve said here convinces you of Mila’s sexy, just wait until you get to that scene. If The Gay really was something that we could convert people to, Mila would be able to build a house out of the complimentary toaster ovens sent to her by grateful new recruits. Yeah, that sexy. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Park it

Five weeks! Five weeks until Leslie Knope! Five weeks until the return to Pawnee! Five weeks until Ron Freaking Swanson! You’ve been gone too long, “Parks & Recreation.” Never leave me like that again. For those of you unfamiliar with the encroaching joy I feel, please walk out your front door, get in your car (or bike or feet or whatever mode of transportation gets you from Point A to Point B), go to the store, find the DVD aisle and buy the second season of “Parks & Recreation,” get back in your car (or, you know, whatever), go home, close the front door and enjoy. You’ve got plenty of time to marathon the second season and get caught up before the third season starts Jan. 20. You don’t even have to take the time to thank me for my stupendously good advice.

Now, I realize I have been terribly remiss in not talking about my deep and meaningful feelings for this show that much on this site. Everyone knows I love me some “30 Rock,” but coming in an almost uncomfortably close second is the endearing zaniness of the Pawnee City Department of Parks and Recreation and its deputy director, Leslie Knope. This show was easily the most improved series from last year and the perfect one-two comedy punch for my Thursday night. I purposely time-shifted so I could watch my Tina Fey and Amy Poehler back-to-back. It’s like old times seeing them at the SNL anchor desk together again. But now, with “Parks & Rec” moving to 9:30 and “30 Rock” to 10, I won’t have to shift anymore. So as cautiously wary as I am of a 10 p.m. comedy block on NBC again (remember Leno? Better yet, let’s not), I love having them back-to-back naturally.

But back to the show. If you don’t watch you’re missing out on one of the zaniest, biggest-hearted, optimistically goofy shows on television. Yes, “30 Rock” has the urbane, zeitgeisty nerd humor. Yes, “Modern Family” has the rainbow flag of family values. Yes, “Glee” has jazz hands. But “Parks & Rec” has Leslie Knope. She’s like Hillary Clinton’s wildly enthusiastic and affably naive younger sister who makes up for what she lacks in political savvy with earnest hopefulness. Also, like her timeslot neighbor Liz Lemon, is an avowed feminist. That’s two shows on a major network television airing consecutively with female leads who call themselves feminists. Yeah, at this point I think it’s a sin against womankind not to watch.

p.s. I think Ron Swanson might be my spirit animal (minus the hating government stuff – and mustache) because I, too, like pretty, dark-haired women and breakfast food.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keeping abreast

Hey, hey. My words. They’re up here. OK, so, yesterday my thought process went like this: “Write many things and then spruce them up with some pretty pictures.” But today, I know better. Today I’m going to stop fighting it and reverse the equation. Why? Because it’s 10 days until Christmas (or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, a nice long weekend). I think we all deserve to turn off our brains a bit. And, as evolution would have it, my theme for today’s post has a habit of turning off brains anyway. I’ll freely admit, I’m not really a breast gal. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they’ve nice – no, really nice. But I can usually still make steady eye contact with a lady in spite her really nice rack. Not that I don’t enjoy a peek now and then. There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world, it would be a pity to not stare at these. [Though your work might think otherwise, so tastefully – that means no nip – NSFW.]

Scarlett JohanssonSo she is single now. So, you know – hey, girl.

Christina HendricksLike I could leave her off this list. Pshaw.

Anna FrielSize doesn’t matter.

Julianne MooreI can’t say this enough: This woman is FIFTY.

BeyoncéIt’s kind of not fair being both bootylicious and boobylicious.

Anne HathawayAnne is totally laughing at my boobylicious joke.

Dita von TeeseMatching one’s cleavage to one’s jacket is truly a lost art form.

RihannaIf she really was the only girl in the world, that would be a shame because we wouldn’t be able to look at her.

Blake LivelyIs it just me, or does that look uncomfortable?

Salma HayekWhen she arrives to vacation on small South Pacific islands the villagers always notice an abrupt change in the tidal patterns which subsist immediately after she leaves once again. They have yet to determine what is causing the additional orbital pull. Ahem.

Lynda Carter/Wonder WomanThe Wonder Boobs were responsible for untold numbers of nascent lesbian experiences.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Winslet and a prayer

Hey, you know who we haven’t talked about in a while? Kate Winslet! I know! How is this possible? Did I fall on my head? Possible! But the real reason is that Kate hasn’t really been in the news much lately because she hasn’t had a movie out. Sure, she shot and finished the mini-series “Mildred Pierce” for HBO, set to air next year. But it has been two full years since she was last on the big screen (“The Reader” opened in December 2008). Now in a way this is good, because it means Kate hasn’t fallen victim to the dreaded quickie Oscar follow-up flop that has plagued so many actors and actresses. Think Halle Berry and “Catwoman,” Charlize Theron and “Aeon Flux,” Cuba Gooding Jr. and the entire remainder of his career.

Since her win a lot has happened. She separated from her husband, director Sam Mendes, and was seen about town with a super hottie model and new boyfriend Louis on her arm. Now I will fully admit my double standard about this. When I see such behavior on a man I find it boorish and, you know, boorish. But on Kate? Get it girl!

Of course, seeing Kate out makes me want to see Kate on screen again. “Mildred Pierce” opposite Evan Rachel Wood should be amazing. But I’m more interested in the big screen. She has two films the docket. One is “Contagion,” which as you can guess from the name is about some sort of horrible outbreak of some disease that will kill us all. It also co-stars like all the stars – Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, and more. Though I bet this film seemed a lot more topical and a lot less like a rehash of that 15-year-old movie with Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo in Hazmat suits when we were all convinced we were going to die from the piggy flu at any second. But, still, Steven Soderbergh is directing and that’s usually promising. (cough, “Solaris,” cough, “Full Frontal,” cough, whatever the hell “Bubble” was).

But then the really interesting, and by interesting I mean perplexing, thing is her other project. Again, read the cast and think – I want to go to there. Kate, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christopher Waltz, Matt Dillon (I still have a soft spot for him from “The Outsiders”). But then you get to the director: Roman Polanski. Oh, fuck wank bugger shitting arse head and hole! I’ve already made my feelings on this subject very clear. And I’ve already lamented this decision from Jodie’s perspective. But, Kate, oh Kate. I realize that agreeing to work professionally with someone is not the same as agreeing with their personal views or actions. And I can separate the art from the artist. “The Pianist” was a great movie. “Rosemary’s Baby” was a great movie. But now, in light of everything that has both come out and happened in his case, it seems like a tacit pardoning of his crimes. In short, I’m disappointed. And, once again I’ll let my double standards show, I’m more disappointed in the women who choose to work with him than the men. Deep, deep sigh.

But through it all, I still love Kate. I’ll still see (most) of her movies. I’ll still love her wit and her propensity to swear. I’ll still love her style and her smarts. I’ll l still love her expertly arched eyebrows and fuck-you-I-will-eat-dessert attitude. I still love her, period. I miss her. Come back to the big screen soon in something we can all feel good about soon, dear.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lights, camera, acting

Sometimes we forget that acting is a craft, and a difficult one at that. Actors become celebrities and then who they’re fucking becomes somehow more important than what they’re portraying. But acting, that grand game of make believe wrapped up in the fabric of basic human truths, is difficult. And great acting, well, that’s something almost otherworldly. It is making something out of nothing. In fact, acting may be the most basic of arts – to create using only our bodies and brains. No paint, no clay, no music. Just emotion.

But, like I said, sometimes we forget that amid the razzle dazzle and the gaudy glitz that accompanies acting. So it’s nice when someone like the New York Times magazine reminds us once again that acting is indeed an art – and a thing of beauty. Like they did with female tennis players, the Times has crafted an amazing multimedia package featuring 14 actors acting. The magazine asked the year’s best actors to “show us — in a few gestures and with a few props but without dialogue or story — what acting is. And here they are, striking some of the classic attitudes of cinema, turning their bodies and faces into instruments of pure, deep and enigmatic emotion.” In less than 90 seconds, all of them manage to transport us somewhere and make us wish no one ever yelled, “Cut!”

A look at a few of my favorites. See all of them here:

Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”

Noomi Rapace, Millennium Trilogy films

Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”

Chloë Moretz, “Kick-Ass,” “Let Me In”

Tilda Swinton, “I Am Love”

I can’t stop watching Tilda’s. I don’t think she is human, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Weekend Crush

Harvey Milk was right: You’ve gotta give ’em hope. Now, hope for shippers is an ephemeral thing. Here today, dashed tomorrow. Brittana fans have seen their hopes recently beaten nonsensically the big crazy rock that is Bartie (Barfie, more accurately). Wait, what? This Brittany and Artie thing is actually happening? I don’t. I can’t. Wait, what? Stop eating glitter, Ryan Murphy, and start making sense. But then Santana herself comes down from on high and gifts us with this.

Now, say what you will about the character of Santana (she is mean, she is promiscuous, she is calculating – and those are just the reasons I love her), but Naya Rivera has proven in her interviews and fan interactions to be a sweet, thoughtful and prodigiously talented young woman. She has encouraged and supported the LGBT fans who have showered love on the Brittana pairing. She has made no attempts to distance herself from the sexual fluidity of her character or her close off-screen friendship with co-star Heather Morris. She has even said that Brittany is really Santana’s soulmate, which seems to be apparent to everyone except the “Glee” writers themselves. Also, wow, is she ever easy on the eyes.

Granted, hoping two fictional characters on a television show where characters randomly break into choreographed song and hoping for full equality for all LGBT people may not seem on the surface like comparable dreams. But sometimes something small can matter in ways we can’t even quite understand ourselves. So thank you, Naya, for giving us hope. Thank you for making a million little lesbian hearts flutter with anticipation of your every cocked eyebrow, withering glare and intertwined pinkies. Thank you for your grace and your voice. We will keep dreaming about The Beckoning Finger and keep our fingers crossed for the rightful return of our favorite Queerios. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gender Fuck Thursday: Red Carpet Attire

So in the last week or so I’ve noticed a lot of ladies showing up on the red carpet in full men’s wear. I’m not talking just a petite blazer over a pencil skirt, but a real formal suit. Obviously, I’m all for this. And, being driven by the unwavering pursuit of scientific excellence, my next step was naturally to conduct my own thorough research into this phenomena. And because no scientific finding can be verified without a thorough peer review, I present my findings to you. If science was always like this in high school, I would have become a nuclear physicist.

Leighton MeesterThis is a full-on traditional men’s suit. I approve.

Olivia WildeThis is a full-on traditional 80s suit. I disapprove.

Winona RyderThis looks like she stole it from Marilyn Manson’s closet. But, it’s Noni and she does an amazing job with her small but crucial part in “Black Swan.” So, um, forgiven.

Jane LynchThis looks like she stole it from the set of “Night at the Roxbury.” But, it’s Jane fucking Lynch. So, forgiven forever.

Julianne MooreFifty is the new OMFGHOWHOTISTHAT?

Christina HendricksThat thump you just heard was the sound of lesbians everywhere hitting the floor after passing out.

Diane KeatonLadies look good in white suits, too. Usually, better than men.

Janelle MonaeSometimes a lot better than men.

Tilda SwintonSometimes there is no gender, only Tilda Swinton.

Ellen DeGeneresHell, Ellen doesn’t even need a suit jacket. She already has the most beautiful life-size boutonniere you could ever want.

I think all these lovely ladies may have blinded me a little with their science. While I try to regain sight, tell me which of these specimens you find the finest. Science, it’s irrefutable.