Music Video of the Day: Slow Clap by Gwen Stefani (2021, directd by Matty Peacock)


“Clap clap….”

Gwen Stefani goes back to high school and, let’s be honest, I think she’s the only 50-something out there who could pull this off. I’m guessing that she’s some sort of spirit of eternal youth and freedom in this video which, again, is probably something that only Gwen could have pulled off.

It’s a fun video. We need more fun in the world.

Enjoy!

My Top 6 Super Bowl Commercials


Let’s just admit that the Super Bowl was weird this year.

I’m not talking about the game.  To be honest, I could really hardly care less about the game.  When it comes to winners and losers, I’m one of those people who wishes that both teams could win. I think the coach of the winning team should let the losing team score a touchdown so that no one’s feelings get hurt.  I worry about concussions, broken ankles, and compound fractures.  I can handle some of the most graphic zombie films ever made but football just freaks me the fug out.

Instead, I’m one of those people who watches for the commercials and this year, the commercials were odd.  I guess that’s to be understood, all things considered.  But even when you take into account the pandemic and the general sappiness of modern American culture, the commercials felt weak.  There were a lot of inspirational commercials.  Bruce Springsteen gave a two-minute monologue about America while sitting in a jeep.  There was a Ford commercial about how we’re all in this together or something like that.  The beer commercials were less surly and more cringey this year.  There were a lot of commercials with celebrities where the whole joke seemed to be, “Hey, look!  A celebrity!”

There were precious few commercials for any upcoming movies or TV shows.  In fact, there were four.  FOUR!  Every previous year, I’ve worked myself to a beautiful exhaustion trying to keep up with all the movies being advertised during the big game.  This year, I wrote a few — very few — words about Coming 2 America, Old, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Raya and the Last Dragon.

Anyway, with all that in mind — here are 6 commercials that I did enjoy.  I don’t know if it’s right for me to say that any of these really qualify as a “favorite” because I really didn’t have any favorites this year.  But, the important thing is that I enjoyed the commercials below.

6) Edgar Scissorhands — Cadillac

I guess Edward is dead or something?  Because Edward’s definitely not in this commercial.  I can only assume that he died or he moved to Paris and was later judged to be too problematic to be invited back to appear with his son.  Well, regardless, this is a cute commercial.  I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a good commercial because people are going to remember Edgar on the bus more than they’re going to remember the Cadillac but still, it was nice.

5) Adam Levine Sets Up Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton — T-Mobile

But if not for the spotty network, Gwen and Blake never would have gotten together!  Oh well.  What matters is that Gwen and Blake are a cute couple.

4) Jason Alexander Hoodie — Tide

This was actually kind of a disturbing commercial but then again, I like the idea of clothing that screams at you.

3) Doritos — Flat Matthew McConaughey

It was weird enough to work.

2) Alexa — Michael B. Jordan

It was sexy enough to work.

  1. Reddit

This made my night.  This ad was short.  It wasn’t pretentious.  It didn’t pretend that it was going to bring America together.  It didn’t feature Bruce Springsteen doing his Kerouac imitation.  Instead, it popped up for five seconds, it freaked a lot of people out, and it kind of gave the finger to the whole silly culture that’s sprung up around Super Bowl advertising.  That was brilliant.  (Considering that Reddit has now become the favorite scapegoat of the establishment, I applaud them for raising their profile as opposed to just meekly waiting for the storm to pass.)

Reddit wins the night!  And, just in case the above video gets taken off of YouTube for some reason, here’s the ad:

Music Video of the Day: Cool by Gwen Stefani (2005, dir. by Sophie Muller)


I ain’t no hollaback girl …. I ain’t no hollaback girl ….

Oh wait, wrong Gwen Stafani song.  This one’s Cool too, though.  In fact, that’s the name of the song!  It’s all about how Gwen used to date this guy but they broke up but they’re still cool, as in they’re still friends.  In this video, Gwen proves just how cool she is by inviting her ex and his now lover to her Italian villa.

This video was filmed at Lake Como, Italy and the main reason I like it is because I like Italy and watching a video like this reminds me of how much I want to go back and visit Italy.  That was kind of the plan for the second half of this year but then the COVID-19 panic hit and upended everything.

By the way, are we still doing the quarantine thing?  It’s hard to keep track.  I know that two weeks ago, people were threatening to throw me up against the wall for wanting to go outside.  Now, they want to do the same thing because I don’t want to go out.  Personally, I just want to know that I can safely travel to Italy.

Anyway, enjoy this video and hopefully, we’ll all get to travel again at some point in the near future!

Music Video of the Day: 4 In The Morning by Gwen Stefani (2007, dir by Sophie Muller)


This may not be one of Gwen’s more popular videos but I like it because, like her in this video, I’m usually up at 4 in the morning.

Of course, in the video, Gwen’s up at four in the morning and looking totally put together because she’s waiting for her lover to return.  They’ve had a fight.  He’s left her.  And now, she can’t sleep.  Not even going for a drive through the early morning darkness helps.

Myself, when I’m up at 4 in the morning, it’s mostly because I got wrapped up either reading or watching something and, for whatever reason, I lost track of time.  Usually, around two, I always say, “I really should get some sleep …. but let’s see what’s on TCM!”  If it turns out to be a classic film noir or an old horror movie, there’s no way I’m going to sleep.

Even worse is when I’m trying to turn off my TV but I accidentally click the button for Netflix instead and, before you know it, I’m watching old episodes of Degrassi: The Next Class.  Then suddenly, I’ll realize that it’s not five in the morning and I’ve spent an hour yelling, “No, Maya!  Zig’s no good for you!” at the TV.  That’s happened more times than I want to admit.

Much like Gwen, I usually react to discovering that I’ve stayed up too late by walking around the house.  Usually, I end up accidentally kicking a wall while barefoot or tripping over a stair.  Once I wandered out in the backyard and somehow managed to lock myself out of the house.  Of course, I was only wearing my beloved Pirates t-shirt and it was like 21 degrees outside so I quickly came to regret not getting to bed at two.

So, my point is, I like this video because I can relate to it.  In fact, I’ll probably think about it a few hours from now, when I realize that it’s 4 a.m. and I’m still awake.

Enjoy!

 

Shattered Politics #74: The Aviator (dir by Martin Scorsese)


The_Aviator_Poster

“The way of the future.” — Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Aviator (2004)

As I recently rewatched the 2004 best picture nominee, The Aviator, I realized that, in the film’s scheme of things, Ava Gardner was far more important than Katharine Hepburn.  (Or, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that Kate Beckinsale’s Ava Gardner was far more important than Cate Blanchett’s Katharine Hepburn.)

Over the course of the film, both Hepburn and Gardner are involved with billionaire-turned aviator-turned film director Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio).  Throughout the film, Katherine is portrayed as being flighty, pretentious, and overdramatic.  There’s a lot of dark humor to the scene where Katherine breaks up with Howard, largely because Katharine is incapable of not acting as if she’s making a film.  Her every word is so carefully rehearsed that you have to agree when Howard says that she’s incapable of not giving a performance.  Ava, on the other hand, is always direct.  She has a sense of humor.  She has no trouble telling Howard off.  Whereas Katharine put on airs of being an incurable romantic, Ava tells Howard flat out that she doesn’t love him and is only using him to forward her career.

But, while Katharine Hepburn gets more screen time, it’s Ava Gardner who actually saves Howard’s business.  Towards the end of the film, after Howard has had a nervous breakdown and has locked himself in a hotel room, it’s Ava who suddenly shows up, cleans him, and dresses him.  She’s the one who gives Howard the strength to leave his room and to face down the corrupt senator (Alan Alda) who is investigating his business.

Of course, Howard Hughes is best known for once being the world’s richest recluse.  In the 1960s, Howard locked himself away in a hotel room in Las Vegas and spent the next decade laying naked in bed and watching television.  The Aviator doesn’t deal with this period of Howard’s life but it’s full of scenes where we catch glimpses of Howard’s future.  Throughout the film, we watch as Howard obsessively washes his hands.  We watch as he gives precise instructions on how even the simplest of tasks are to be accomplished.  We watch as he grows increasingly paranoid about the germ-filled outside world.  The film suggests that Howard’s obsessive compulsive disorder both served to make him a great engineer and a great filmmaker while, at the same time, ultimately destroying him.

The Aviator was the second film that DiCaprio made with Scorsese.  And, as bad as DiCaprio may have been in Gangs of New York, he’s absolutely brilliant in The Aviator.  As a character, Howard Hughes has so many quirks and tics that it would have been easy for DiCaprio to go overboard.  Instead, he gives a surprisingly subtle performance.  And, even more importantly as far as I’m concerned, he actually sounds authentically Texan when he speaks.

In many ways, much of The Aviator reminds me of Gangs of New York.  Both films are gorgeously produced period epics that try to cover a lot of material.  Both films are absolute cat nip for history nerds like me.  But, whereas Gangs of New York leaves one feeling vaguely dissatisfied, The Aviator actually improves with subsequent viewings.  Whereas the action in Gangs had no center, The Aviator revolves around Howard and the actor playing him.

While the Aviator starts off with Howard making movies and romancing Katharine Hepburn, it’s at its best when Howard appears before a committee chaired by Sen. Owen Brewster (Alan Alda) and passionately defends both himself as an engineer and a businessman and the right of innovators everywhere to freely pursue their passion.  The film suggests that Brewster was bribed by Howard’s main business rival, Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin, in unapologetic villain mode), and it’s hard not to applaud when Howard stands up for himself.

Speaking of which, it’s odd, so soon after reviewing Alan Alda in The Seduction of Joe Tynan, to see Alda playing a far less ethical politician in The Aviator.  That said, Alda’s corrupt performance in The Aviator is a hundred times better than his cutesy work in Joe Tynan.  If anything, Alda gives a performance here that will remind everyone of why they don’t care much for their congressman.

The Aviator was nominated for best picture but it lost to the far more low-key Million Dollar Baby.  Scorsese would have to wait until the release of The Departed for one of his films to finally win best picture.