Say Yes to the ‘House of Gucci’

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House of Gucci (CREDIT: Fabio Lovino/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Reeve Carney, Camille Cottin

Director: Ridley Scott

Running Time: 157 Minutes

Rating: R for Opulent Language and Sexuality, and a Little Bit of Gun Violence

Release Date: November 24, 2021 (Theaters)

How historically accurate is House of Gucci? I’m not sure, and at this moment, I don’t particularly care. The general bullet points at least are correct as far as I can tell: Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) marries her way into the legendary Gucci fashion family. She reveals her true ambitious self by pushing aside her brother-in-law Paolo (Jared Leto) and uncle-in-law Aldo (Al Pacino). But her union with her husband Maurizio (Adam Driver) eventually falls apart, so much so that after their divorce, she teams up with a psychic (Salma Hayek) to hire a hitman to murder Maurizio. The Guccis are clearing themselves right out of Gucci.

It’s a tale that’s as ripe as a tomato for building a legend around. When you’re going the mythmaking route, it helps if the real-life people being portrayed are dead, which is mostly the case here, except for Reggiani. I don’t know if she plans on watching the film, but either way, I hope she can make peace with the fact that her persona is now partly owned by the culture at large.

And what a persona it is! Gaga goes big. Perhaps the Biggest of Her Career. Now, you may be thinking, “That’s saying something, considering what she’s famous for.” But while her landscapes and scaffolding are frequently over-the-top in baroque and rococo fashions, her foundations are usually grounded in more straightforward feeling. But in this case, Patrizia cannot be contained. She’s the kind of person who wonders aloud, “Will I be successful?” And you know what she really means is, “Look out suckers, I’m not going to stop until I do everything I can to be successful.” You get the feeling that Gaga has captured some elemental force, and if she had let it get away, it would be like unleashing Pandora’s box.

The other performance I’m absolutely in love with is Leto’s take on the black sheep of the family. Paolo Gucci and I have similarly left-of-center views on fashion, so I’m already drawn toward him for that reason. Leto plays him as a sort of simpering Italian version of Rodney Dangerfield, with a voice that sounds like a certain video game plumber. Often when it comes to Leto, I’m put off by stories of his onscreen antics, and even beyond that, I’ve never quite connected with any of his performances. However, in this case, he’s making some wild decisions that perfectly embody the House of Gucci milieu. It’s breathtaking.

As for the rest of the cast, Adam Driver and Jeremy Irons (as Maurizio’s stick-up-his-ass dad Rodolfo) are much more subdued than everyone else. Pacino is subdued by his standards (which is to say, he’s in between the Gucci extremes). And we all know that Salma Hayek always brings it, and she brings it as hard here as she always does. In conclusion, I spent most of this review talking about the acting, and that’s because these are performances that are as hearty and life-sustaining as a Mediterranean diet. Dig in!

House of Gucci is Recommended If You Like: I, Tonya, Super Marios Bros., That Olive Garden commercial with the Selena Gomez song

Grade: 4 out of 5 Fabrics

That’s Auntertainment! Karaoke Korner 23

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Sarah Jett Rayburn isn’t just a Jeopardy! champion, she’s also the latest contributor to Karaoke Korner, as she has Jeff make his selections from the works of country gal Miranda Lambert, Euro-disco crew Boney M., and Mother Monster Lady Gaga.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 10/1/21

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Ghosts (CREDIT: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
The Addams Family 2 (Theaters and On Demand) – Still snappin’ those fingers.
The Many Saints of Newark (Theaters and HBO Max) – Getting back to waking up this morning.
Titane (Theaters) – From the director of Raw.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Theaters) – “Let there be carnage”? I demand it!

TV
LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales (October 1 on Disney+)
Saturday Night Live Season 47 Premiere (October 2 on NBC) – Kicking off with Owen Wilson and Kacey Musgraves.
Ghosts Series Premiere (October 7 on CBS)
Young Sheldon Season 4 Premiere (October 7 on CBS)

Music
-The Doobie Brothers, Liberté
-Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Love for Sale
-Yes, The Quest

Jmunney’s Favorite Songs of 2020

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

Damn, there were plenty of songs that made me go “Damn” in 2020. Check ’em out below!

1. U.S. Girls, “4 American Dollars”: What can I say, I love a good song about economic enlightenment that you can totally shake your little butt to.
2. Miley Cyrus, “Midnight Sky”: Miley is a rock star for the ages. It’s 100% official.
3. Doja Cat, “Say So”: Pure neon-soaked euphoria.
4. Cannons, “Fire for You”: Listen to the words she’s using: “I was on fire for you.” It feels like that to some of us sometimes, doesn’t it?
5. Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now”: Oh wow, that’s a lot of disco in the top 5. It’s back, baby! “Don’t Start Now”? More like “Don’t Stop Ever!”
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Best Musical Artists of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

One more list! One more list!

My Best of the 2010s list-making journey has finally come to a close! (Or has it? … For now, it has at least. The future will come as it may, and it may just surprise you, and me.) All this week, I’ve been posting my rankings of a few categories that I was inspired to put together after submitting them to a Best of the 2010s polls that I’m participating in with some of my fellow cultural aficionados. To wrap it all up, I guide you along to the realm of music and lyrics, as I present the Best Musical Artists of the 2010s.

My criteria was similar to that of my choices for Best Film Directors. I considered a combination of how much I enjoyed their musical output as well as how much – and how well – they influenced the industry at large.

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 5/29/20

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CREDIT: Aaron Epstein/Netflix

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
The Vast of Night (May 29 on Amazon)

TV
Central Park Season 1 (May 29 on Apple TV+) – From Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, but is it enough to convince me to sign up for Apple TV?
Space Force Season 1 (May 29 on Netflix) – Steve Carell and friends (including a posthumous Fred Willard) go to space!
Celebrity Family Feud Season Premiere (May 31 on ABC)
Press Your Luck Season Premiere (May 31 on ABC)
Match Game Season Premiere (May 31 on ABC)
Quiz Miniseries Premiere (May 31 on AMC) – A cheating scandal on Who Wants to be a Millionaire!
Fuller House Season 5 Part 2 (June 2 on Netflix)

Music
-Lady Gaga, Chromatica

This Is a Movie Review: ‘A Star is Born’ is Reborn Eternally

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CREDIT: Warner Bros.

This review was originally published on News Cult in October 2018.

Starring: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Andrew Dice Clay, Sam Elliott, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle

Director: Bradley Cooper

Running Time: 135 Minutes

Rating: R for Mumbled Profanity, Intense Alcoholism, and a Few Intimate Moments

Release Date: October 5, 2018

Bradley Cooper’s dialogue is often difficult to understand throughout A Star is Born, and I think that is part and parcel of the sort of storytelling he is presenting here in his directorial debut. This isn’t a film that is meant to be processed perfectly concretely, in which you hang on to every last word and every frame is a piece in the puzzle. Instead, it is about the overall experience, in which you let all wash over you. Logic and slavish accounting of details are beside the point. Does it make sense that someone could so suddenly become so famous and beloved on the basis of talent alone? And how come we never know how much time has passed? These are often worthwhile questions, but A Star is Born is more concerned about emotional and aesthetic truth within its improbable framework.

This is the fourth Star is Born film, with each of them telling the story of an unknown female entertainer discovered by a famous male performer who is on a bit of a decline. In this case, country-blues-rocker Jackson Maine (Cooper) stumbles across Ally (Lady Gaga) at a drag queen bar after one of his concerts. Immediately enthralled, he brings her onstage during his show the very next night, and thus begins a massively successful career and a whirlwind romance. This edition does not introduce anything particularly groundbreaking to the Star is Born template, but it is in the retelling that it derives its power. By emerging once again into the popular consciousness, it reaches the level of myth, as the rise-fall-endure narrative is how we continue to understand and process the fame narrative.

A myth story tends to work best when it is timeless. The fact that A Star is Born is set in the present day thus makes things a little tricky. Whenever specific markers of this day and age (Ally signing to Interscope Records, Ally performing on SNL with Alec Baldwin hosting, Halsey appearing as herself as a Grammy presenter) appear, it’s a little jarring. But these moments could be even more unsettling; instead, they go along with a dreamlike quality in which everything is woven into the timeless fabric. The details could be specific, as when Ally’s first duet with Jackson goes viral and her father (Andrew Dice Clay) marvels at how many views the video has gotten online, without ever mentioning the actual number of views. But that’s the thing about a star being born: it’s not a specific number of viewers that determine it, but when enough people are watching, you can feel that the birth has happened.

A Star is Born is Recommended If You Like: Creation and Rebirth myths, Lady Gaga as person and entertainer, Actors really flexing their directorial muscles

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Discoveries

 

Best Songs of 2016

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kiiara-gold

All songs on this list were released as singles in 2016, or 2015 but didn’t make an impact until 2016.

1. Kiiara – “Gold” – An ingenious production trick wins the top spot. The best music in the world rewires your brain.
2. Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom” – Beyoncé BUSTS out every emotion of the year.
3. Phantogram – “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” – I can feel myself dissolving in the despair.
4. Lady GaGa – “Perfect Illusion” – GaGa’s crying out in beautiful pain.
5. Kanye West – “Fade” – From another dimension.
6. Rag‘n’Bone Man – “Human” – The blues are alive and kicking.
7. Sia – “The Greatest” – Sia’s career is the soundtrack for perseverance.
8. Alessia Cara – “Scars to Your Beautiful” – What could have been an anodyne message piece instead infuses an influx of attitude.
9. Flume ft. Tove Lo – “Say It” – An airy, effervescent blast from 2016’s top DJ.
10. Childish Gambino – “Me and Your Mama” – Where did this burst of neo-P-Funk come from?!
11. Rae Sremmurd ft. Gucci Mane – “Black Beatles” – This sounds like nostalgia and the future.
12. Glass Animals – “Life Itself” – Alternative quirk’s top spot of the year.
13. Bishop Briggs – “River” – I need at least one lady rocker belting it out like this per annum.
14. Beyoncé – “Formation” – The production is so much more adventurous and more mature from Queen Bey than ever before.
15. BANKS – “Gemini Feed” – Icy and boopy, with attitude to spare.
16. Leonard Cohen – “You Want It Darker” – I’m vociferously nodding along to every declaration Mr. Cohen makes.
17. Kaleo – “Way Down We Go” – That title is sort of like musical onomatopoeia.
18. Highly Suspect – “My Name is Human” – These guys from Cape Cod ought to be rocking stadiums to their core.
19. Beck – “Wow” – Beck’s gonna keep uncovering these strange corners in the aural landscape.
20. Kongos – “Take It From Me” – These South African rockers are totally in control.
21. Tove Lo – “Cool Girl” – Tove keeps freaking up the airwaves.
22. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People” – A necessary anthem.
23. Sia ft. Sean Paul – “Cheap Thrills” – Bounce along when you’re looking for fun.
24. Ariana Grande – “Into You” – Features the year’s most killer opening line
25. Rihanna ft. Drake – “Work” – One of those great songs that defy natural analysis.

SNL Review October 22, 2016: Tom Hanks/Lady GaGa

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SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Tom Hanks" Episode 1708 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Tom Hanks as David Pumpkins, and Kate McKinnon during the "Haunted Elevator" sketch on October 22, 2016 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — “Tom Hanks” Episode 1708 — Pictured: (l-r) Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Tom Hanks as David Pumpkins, and Kate McKinnon during the “Haunted Elevator” sketch on October 22, 2016 — (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2016.

Love It

Black Jeopardy – If memory serves me correctly, Tom Hanks is the first guest to appear on both Celebrity Jeopardy and Black Jeopardy. I thought this concept had been played out, as it has already explored well-meaning white people who don’t mean to be offensive, and black people who defy easy categorization. But I had not considered a possible appearance from the “Make America Great Again” crowd, which at first seems like an easy target for meanness, but instead there is a pivot towards common ground like conspiracy theories, that one guy who fixes everything, and Tyler Perry. Race and class are both big factors in this country.

100 Floors of FrightsSNL enters a late, compelling entry for the most popular Halloween costume of 2016: David S. Pumpkins. Any questions? At first, Hanks’ Mr. Pumpkins gives off a Paul and Phil vibe of “goofy ruining spooky.” He and his skeleton pals are certainly delightfully out-there, but there is a lingering sense that this sketch may have blown its load too early with a too-soon reveal of the main attraction, but then it takes it to another level by doubling (or 73-ing) down on Pumpkins and saying, “We knew just how to scare you the whole time.”

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SNL Recap 11/16/13 Lady GaGa

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Death, please.

CBC News Toronto
I haven’t been following the Rob Ford circus very closely, so I don’t know how much this sketch was referring to actual moments or not.  Either way, it all felt rather perfunctory.  Where this sketch succeeded was when it fully embraced cheesy “Canadian” humor (a Boxing Day ham), which I guess is acceptable, because Rob Ford’s accent is about as thick as a Canuck’s can get. B-

Lady GaGa’s Monologue
Did they want it to be that obvious how fake the audience interactions were, even considering that it was cast members playing the audience? C+

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