May 2, 2009

I laughed. A lot.

BANZAI - Mr. Shake Hands Man 2 - Anjelica Huston

It's funny as is but it's funnier that it involves Anjelica Huston. I've now honored her with the dubious title of World's Most Gracious Shaker of Hands. "I just won't think about my hand. That's the key, just forget about my hand." If Mr. Shake Hands Man is the Olympic gold medalist of hand shaking, Anjelica is like his padawan. She doesn't excuse herself until well after a full minute of handshaking. To quote Jem, it's truly outrageous.

April 30, 2009

Ten Talented Temptresses

1. Anjelica Huston
Hollywood has a handful of royal families but one of the most blue-blooded (by film standards) is the inimitable Huston clan. Anjelica Huston is a third generation Oscar winner, succeeding her revered actor/director father John and legendary grandfather Walter to the podium. Born to English-Irish and Italian parents, Anjelica is the sort of raven-haired aristocratic beauty who puts mere mortals in place just by entering a room. She's not ordinary pretty but rather is undeniably stunning. Her high-class features and mesmerizing soulful eyes made her a sought-after model in her youth but the true gift of her genetics would nonetheless always be her talent which she proved with the aforementioned Oscar for the nuanced and devilish performance in Prizzi's Honor early on in her career. Since then she has made an art form of playing haughtily beautiful villains (The Witches), dangerous con artists (The Grifters), wicked mothers (Ever After), and Morticia Addams besides. She is a formidable talent, breathtaking both in her presence (which is considerable even without dialogue) and in the careful vulnerability of some of her most brilliant performances (Enemies: A Love Story, The Royal Tenenbaums). In keeping with her lineage she also directs and Bastard Out of Carolina, her directorial debut, is as gritty and unflinching as it is achingly beautiful. When you consider it alongside Agnes Browne (in which she directs herself), her gift for working with children is as apparent as her inability to be pigeonholed. And she is an outspoken advocate for animal rights, recently filming pleas for Hollywood to abandon the use of great apes in show business. She commands attention because she is royalty but exudes an approachable almost earth-mother glow, because she is truly gorgeous, and because she has the sort of talent that renders mortals speechless with awe. If Anjelica Huston, Sigourney Weaver, and Tilda Swinton ever decide to star in a film together, the world will implode due to the sheer majesty and force of talent onscreen.

April 29, 2009

Ten Talented Temptresses

2. Sharon Stone
China hates her, Oscar snubs her, audiences tend to avoid her films, and Rupert Everett called her "utterly unhinged". But everybody knows her name. Sharon Stone is a great beauty, perhaps one of the last in Hollywood who truly understand the meaning of glamor and who isn't afraid to pour on either the drama or staggering satin-and-diamond sex appeal. Even stripped down, literally, she is captivating. She won the genetic lottery with porcelain skin, perfect lips, piercing sky-blue eyes, and golden blonde hair. Her talent is a more hotly debated commodity. Everyone can admit she's beautiful but is she an actress? Uncrossing her legs in Basic Instinct made her an undeniable star but does she have anything else to offer? I say she does, and how, what with truly knockout performances in Casino, the little-seen Simpatico, Bobby, and the comic gem The Muse. Besides that she is a tireless force for charity, chairing auctions in the name of AIDS research (she's an amFAR spokeswoman) and bullying fellow luminaries into parting with millions at a time for the cause. She's the co-founder of Planet Hope with her sister Kelly, a charity that provides winter coats and medical care for kids who can't afford it, counseling for victims of domestic abuse, and a summer camp for the underprivileged. She's definitely something utterly unique. And I find that 'je ne sais quoi' element as utterly entrancing as her looks.

April 28, 2009

Ten Talented Temptresses

3. Gina Gershon
While not the first woman I ever admitted to crushing on, she does hold the distinction of being the longest-running. Her mouth is either her Achilles heel (according to those not smitten by her) or the single greatest feature ever created by God (according to those in awe). She's comprised entirely of a growl of a voice, Mulholland-like curves, that sassy fuck-you-anyways attitude, a mane of brunette hair, and That Mouth. Not to mention the fact that she doesn't mind shedding her clothes and kissing girls (Showgirls, Prey for Rock and Roll). When she's not prowling through gritty femme noirs ( the brilliant Bound) making both men and women hot and bothered, she's shooting guns (Face/Off), pushing porn (Demonlover), or talking law to Russell Crowe (The Insider). She's got the kind of talent that doesn't earn her critical darling status but does translate seamlessly into a wildly diverse singing career alongside her acting. She's a growling punk goddess on the Prey for Rock and Roll soundtrack and her own solo album, 'The Search for Cleo', is a fascinating mixture of folk, rock, and indie-pop. Sort of like her. She's also one of the original founding members of New York theatre troupe Naked Angels and has recently appeared in several Broadway shows to the sort of acclaim that eludes her in film. She even co-wrote a kid's horror book, 'Camp Creepy Time', with her brother Dann. All that and she can still amp up the sexual heat with a smouldering look better than anyone half her age.

April 27, 2009

Ten Talented Temptresses

4. Marg Helgenberger
Torch hates her and her CSI alter-ego Catherine with such an amusingly burning passion that it's almost worth putting her near the top of the list just to see his eye twich and vein throb. But really that's just icing on the cake. On the sassy, blue-eyed, redheaded, throaty-giggled cupcake, to be precise. I'm unable to pinpoint exactly what it is about Marg Helgenberger that is so appealing, I just know that I like what I see. I liked her vaguely-undefined but gutsy scientist in Species. I liked her sympathetic but exasperated wife in In Good Company. But mostly I like her mouthy, irresponsible, smart and smart-ass, unapologetically sexual Catherine in CSI. There are a lot of reasons to like her but the best is how well she plays a hot bitch. And the beauty isn't just skin deep. Since 2006 she has loaned talents of another kind (did you know she also sings?) to the 'What A Pair!' duets concert series that raise money for breast cancer research. The support is personal, too: her mother is a breast cancer survivor. So maybe the appeal is her heart or perhaps the fiery hair or the endearing dichotomy of seeing her giggly and adorable on talk shows. Whatever it is about her, it's good enough to have prompted CSI co-star Gary Dourdan to appropriately nickname her 'Margalicious'.

April 26, 2009

Ten Talented Temptresses

5. Sigourney Weaver
Perhaps it's actually Ellen Ripley who belongs on this list: a woman so defiantly strong, so achingly human, and so utterly capable that she can't be summed up and must only be marveled at. But as the woman behind Ripley, Sigourney Weaver proves that she is just as hard to sum up. She pendulums from alien ass-kicker (Alien) to comedic busty blonde (GalaxyQuest) to bored sex mistress (The Ice Storm) to lovely hostess to demonic forces (Ghostbusters) with such ease and style that you know the appeal is all her own. After making Gorillas in the Mist she became a member of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and is currently an honorary chairperson for the organization. She's an environmentalist, too: she held a news conference on the dangers deep-sea trawling pose to ocean habitats and she narrated the BBC/Discovery Channel show Planet Earth. She majored in English literature at Stanford and took her name, Sigourney, from 'The Great Gatsby' (she was born Susan). She's better than a star, she's a talent to be reckoned with. It's the sheer power of her, the range she has, and that tall-leggy-talented-gorgeous thing she has going on that makes her so devastating.