More Than Just a Pretty Face: Think All Celebrities Are Stupid? Think Again

It is the prevailing opinion amongst most people that the majority of actors are pretty but dumb. It is the multi-billion dollar tabloid industry in fact that helps promote these ideas and circulate them throughout the populace. Though there is no doubt that a great deal of actors and actresses these days are beautiful but lacking in the common sense and the whits department, I want to put the kabosh on the fact that they all are. Here is a list of some actors that are fluent in multiple languages. As one who speaks one and a half languages, I can attest that keeping up more than one in my head at a time is no mean feat.  

Bilingual Celebrities–
Sandra Bullock– (German)

     The always lovely and charming Sandra Bullock is more than just America’s funny lady. She has become more known of late for her authentic screen presence which can be seen in movies like “The Blind Side” for which she won an Academy Award. Her mother, Helga Meyer, was a German opera singer who met Bullock’s father John while he was stationed in Nuremberg. As a child, Sandra spent several years living in Germany and Austria. When she won a German film award in 2000 she gave the entire acceptance speech in flawless German as well as delivering press conferences in German while she is there.

Charlize Theron– (Afrikaans)   

 A native of Benoni, South Africa, Charlize Theron speaks fluent Afrikaans, her first language. Because of her flawless English, the average viewer is shocked that she did not learn English until later in life. Theron was the very first South African to win an Academy Award for her work in the 2004 film “Monster.”  

Natalie Portman — (Hebrew, Japanese, German, Spanish)
     Born Natalie Hershlag, actress Natalie Portman is fluent in 4 languages other than English. The Jerusalem native speaks Hebrew, Japanese, German, Spanish and a little French. She has also begun to study Arabic. Oh, and did I mention she graduated from Harvard and won an Academy Award in 2010 for “Black Swan?”
Mila Kunis– (Russian)
     In 1983 Kunis was born in Ukraine and lived there until she was 7 years old (when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union). Born Melina Markovna Kunis, she grew up under Soviet influence and was raised surreptitiously in the Jewish faith (this was not permitted at the time by those in power) by her parents. Her family left Ukraine when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. She remains fluent in Russian as her parents never learned much English.
Jodie Foster– (French)

     Foster attended prep school at Lycee Francias de Los Angeles growing up (at this school they teach every single lesson in French through all the years). Here she was her class valedictorian, (which says a lot at these snooty prep schools) and spoke French fluently. She took a break from her childhood acting to attend Yale University. Foster has won 2 Academy Awards and she performs the French Dubbing for all of her movies herself.

Viggo Mortensen– (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian and French)

     Viggo Mortensen was born in New York City to his Danish father and American mother. He speaks Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian and French. It is crazy to think that he could be fluent in all these languages, but it is said that he sounds like a native speaker with each and every one of them. He was the translator for the 1980 Swedish Olympic Hockey team and attended the “miracle” game between the United States and the USSR.

Leonardo DiCaprio– (German)

     Los Angeles native Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio speaks German fluently, thanks to his mother Iremlin, who was a German native. She survived a bombing raid during World War II, and married George DiCaprio, a comic book artist.

Jon Heder– (Japanese)

     An Oregon native, Jon Heder made his film debut in 2004’s cult favorite “Napoleon Dynamite.” Heder lived and worked in Japan for 2 years and is said to speak the language expertly. He is married, has kids and does a great deal of movie translation work for Japanese subtitles.
   
   

I Waited 2 Years For 3 Episodes…

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the season premiere of the BBC television show Sherlock. There were a few things I noticed that were a bit unusual for the precedent they had set in the previous seasons up to that point in the show, but I was not concerned for the episodes going forward. Now that I have seen all three episodes in the season (yes, there are only 3 episodes a season) I feel like I can give an accurate and true critique of the newest season.

I want to start out by saying that I enjoy this show and I thought the new season was good. It is well done with flawless acting. With that said (please Sherlock fandom do not jump down my throat, just let me explain myself) I thought this season was not as good as the previous 2. For those of you who have not seen the new season, never fear, I will not reveal anything about any of the episode plots, this is just an overall season critique.

In season three of Sherlock everything is bigger. The story-lines are bigger, the villains are bigger, even the cinematography is bigger and more in your face. The plots couldn’t be straight forward, everything had to be a trick or misleading or treacherous. Now, I am not trying to say that bigger is bad, a Chipotle burrito is better than a Taco Bell burrito cause it is bigger. But in this case, I thought the “bigger” aspect was very hit and miss. This season tried to be more “in your face” about most things, more so than it had been before. The humor and the action was more overt than previously. There were times where the writers rested on their laurels and depended too much on their built-in fan-base to pull them through some of the less than thought out scene sequences. This show got high viewership extremely quickly, with EXTREMELY dedicated fans. But with this season it felt like they didn’t repay the viewership with the same caliber of writing as with the previous 2 seasons. In this season, as opposed to before, the cinematography was big and flashy, every scene had something dramatic about it whether that is color distortion or a whole lot of slow motion. This ended up doing a disservice to themselves as in previous episodes the cinematic work is what made their show so beautiful and subtly brilliant.
 

  However, even disregarding everything I’ve written previously, the biggest irritation of mine from the recent three episodes is the sudden change in behavior from Sherlock and Watson. Sherlock and Watson’s basic characteristics are still the same apart from one. All of a sudden they are both very emotionally open with each other, sharing feelings and emotions several times an episode, and Sherlock has become very playful. Although most fans probably saw nothing wrong with this, in fact I know all the young teen girls just drooled about the feelings orgy going on,  it felt very off to me. Sherlock’s character is supposed to be someone who does not relate well with others, even Watson. He doesn’t have this sudden character development that makes him more relate-able. The other day a friend of mine argued with me that it was “off screen character development.” That is obviously what the show is trying to sell it as, but the big hitch with this argument is that Sherlock is unique, brilliant and hilarious because he doesn’t have this character development. He is a high functioning sociopath… he isn’t supposed to be related to (by most people).  
 
With all of that said, I want to reiterate the point that this show is still great. I enjoyed watching the episodes and I did appreciate what they were able to accomplish. The only difference is that I think the first two seasons are fantastic, but season three is still very good.

Some Seriously Messed Up Shit

Drugs, adultery, alcohol, incest, divorce, violence and death. No this isn’t the content of a rap song, it is all in the movie August: Osage County. This film is heavy from start to finish. If you have issues with hearing lots of swearing and racial slurs then you will not be able to handle this movie. August: Osage County is supposed to be ugly, gritty, rough and uncomfortable and it accomplishes all of these goals.
August: Osage County is about a family with more problems than any one person could possibly imagine happening at the same time in one family. The movie starts out by showing the audience that the matriarch of the family is addicted to prescription drugs and the patriarch is a (non-violent) alcoholic. From this starting point things go down hill from here.

The film gets rolling when Beverly (the father figure) goes missing and his three daughters return to their home in Oklahoma. What they discover when they all return are secrets, dysfunction, addiction and death. It is later discovered that Beverly (father) has killed himself. Normally when a funeral takes place, family usually bonds together in an attempt to get through the great loss. In this movie however, after the funeral is when the real fun begins. Meryl Streep (mother) starts what she calls “truth telling” that night after the funeral at the dinner table. It is at this time where she starts airing everyone’s dirty laundry at the table in the most venomous, malicious way possible. She is high at the time, as she is through most of the movie, as she goes down the line verbally attacking each person there, blood relation or not. In particular she has it out for her oldest daughter Barbara (played by Julia Roberts) as Violet (mother) has never gotten over the abandonment of Barbara moving away from home. The dinner is ended when Julia Roberts launches herself across the table, tackling her mother in an attempt to wrestle a bottle of prescription drugs out of her hands….. yep, this is the kind of movie this is.  
   

This film is dark, it’s heavy but it is also oddly funny as well. I know it sounds strange that a movie dealing with such big, tough topics would be funny, but it is. The humor is very dry and usually dark, but it is still fairly humorous a lot of the time. The acting in this movie is off the charts, hell, it broke the damn chart. I do not think any better cast could have been chosen to fill these roles. I saw a side of Julia Roberts that I have not seen in a movie in a long time and it was awesome. This movie delivered the raw look and feel that so many movies avoid today. These actors didn’t look or behave put together or fancy, it felt real, gritty and tough; and I believed it. The biggest issue I had with this production was the end. The movie gets to a critical point for every single character individually, there is this huge build up, then the movie ends. I absolutely HATE that! There is zero resolution for any of the characters. I got so involved and intrigued that I want to know what happened to them!!

This film is good, but only for an older audience. Do not take your kids. It is definitely worth seeing, but you might as well wait for the dollar theater.

Only Because I Love You

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Completely Superficial

Welcome back my beautiful angel faces. For this weeks blog I want to catch you up on a few things that have been happening in the world of actors/ movies. I am super stoked because tomorrow the film “August Osage County” comes out. Now, you may watch, or have seen, this trailer and think “This movie doesn’t seem like my kind of thing.” Now, that may be totally true, this film deals with some heavy stuff, but it accomplishes this in an oddly comical way. Family can be ugly and messy but funny at the same time, so I would qualify this as a “dark” comedy and something that I am sure we can all relate to. At this moment you may be wondering how I know what happens in this film before it has been released in theaters. The answer to this is that, I read. This movie is originally a play which I read a little while ago. Another reason that I am super stoked for this new film is the cast for it. Holy Crap is it an awesome cast! Only to name a few big names in this film, there is Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Durmot Mulroney and Abigail Breslin. So, within the next week if all goes according to plan I will have a write up of how the movie turned out.

On a heavy note, there was a very sad event that took place just over a week ago on New Years Eve. James Avery, best known for his role as “Uncle Phil” on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air passed away due to complications that arose from his open heart surgery. Avery can also be remembered (to those of us who are a little older) as the voice of “Shredder” on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon.

Crap You May Have Missed 
The 40th annual People’s Choice Awards took place tonight. In this semi-useless award show there seems to be awards and categories for just about everything. I am actually pretty surprised that the big nominated stars show up for this thing. Some of the notable winners tonight were Brittany Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Hudson and Sandra Bullock, who took home three People’s Choice awards. 

Deduce This: The Empty Hearse- BBC Sherlock’s Newest Season

(No Spoilers!)
     For those of you who have been living in a hole for the last 4 years, you may not have heard of a little BBC, British television program called ‘Sherlock’. This show is obviously about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson (as can be deduced by the title of the show). Although there have been many versions and portrayals of Sherlock Holmes in recent years including brilliant performances by Robert Downey Jr. and an American Television show where Lucy Liu portrays a groundbreaking Watson. The BBC television show has captured the attention of the world and catapulted its two leading men into immediate fame and stardom. 

In case you are one of the few who have in fact been living in a hole (or if you are like my sister and
purposefully have not watched it just to say that she hasn’t) and haven’t seen Sherlock I will do my best to give a brief synopsis of what makes it so great. When I first watched this show I did not think I would like it, in fact I was sure that I wouldn’t because I am a big fan of the books and I had heard that the show had taken Sherlock and shifted the story into the modern world. Sherlock and Watson are texting and Googling stuff, I just did not think that the story could, or should be modernized. However, to my great surprise the show worked amazingly well being taken into the modern age and the writers had obviously done their homework, keeping each episode very true to the books that they were based on. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock, an unrepentant, snarky, fast talking, self proclaimed high functioning sociopath. Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit) is John Watson, the level headed and socially conscious one of the duo.

     For those lucky bastards in England who legally viewed the newest episode of Sherlock on Wednesday night, their American cousins had to find less savory methods of watching it. In one way or another I was able to see the first episode of the new season and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it.
Audiences were left at the end of last season wondering how Sherlock was able to fake his death after jumping off the roof of Saint Bart’s Hospital. The episode starts out with Sherlock groupies trading theories as to how they hope he could still be alive after the jump. The audience is then showed some of what Sherlock has actually been up to before he returns to London. This episode deals with how John copes with Sherlock’s return, introducing John’s new woman as well as a new baddie.

     Although this episode does eventually explain how Sherlock survived the jump (at the very end) there were some aspects of this first installment of season 3 that felt off and out of character for the show. In this first episode it seemed as if the writers changed Sherlock’s personality a little, he was far more cheery and congenial to those around him even openly playful and smiley. Though this is not necessarily a bad thing it does feel very much out of place and out of character based on everything prior in the show. There were also moments where it seemed as if the show was playing directly to the fan-girls, giving them real image fodder to use in place of all the fan-art that has been created the last few years.
So What?!   
            This episode is a decent one. It serves its purpose in bringing back Sherlock and explaining his survival while setting up the baddie in the upcoming episodes. Though there were some odd inconsistencies with this particular one, I am not worried about the quality for the upcoming two.