Have you ever heard of hirudotherapy? It was this thing old medical practitioners used to do with leeches. Bloodletting. Anyway, tonight might've been Saturday Night Live's way of getting some old blood out of the way in favor of the new. Not that it was bad blood, just blood that needed to move on. The series often goes through periods of quality-level fluxuation, and necessary change has been a long time coming. Saturday night's finale episode of SNL marked the changing of the guard. Many of the show's current stalwarts are taking their final bows in 8H — Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and (we're fairly certain) Jason Sudeikis — and to top it off, Seth Meyers is set to leave mid-season 39 for the Late Night desk. Times, they are a-changing. The 39th season sounds sure to bring many changes to the NBC sketch show.
Host Ben Affleck joined the Five Timers' Club with far less pomp and circumstance than recent inductee Justin Timberlake, and spent the majority of his monologue making a terrible joke about how marriages are hard. Har har har, right, wife/actress Jennifer Garner? The banter between the two winced its way to the finish line and mostly just made me feel like I should start calling him Grandpa Ben.
Because, man, grandpa humor was the name of the game tonight for a majority of the sketches. There were several sketches surrounding gay people (with varying levels of success as far as comedy goes). A video sketch "Xanax for Gay Summer Weddings" was a laugh, but Grandpa Ben was in full, cringeworthy glory during the "New Beginnings" camp sketch. Sure, we got that the point was admirable and a good premise for the ha-has (Look at how ridiculous those people who think you can convert gay people are!), but ultimately it fell flat with how one dimensionally (read: unfunnily) it played out. Its redeeming qualities were in short supply.
We'll tell you someone who's cup had runneth over Saturday: the mustache budget. Seriously: 'staches were in high demand for nearly any sketch Affleck seemed to be in. Slap on a bit o' them face hairs, Sally, and watch the funny fly!
"Weekend Update" proved to be a comedic sure thing of the night, even if it was a bit tired overall. Which was surprising, considering the show had to bid farewell to Stefon (Stefooooooooooon! Noooooooooo!) AND had the pleasure of Amy Poehler's company. Lord, I love a two-person "Update" desk. I do. I actually clapped and yelled "yay!" aloud in my room when I saw Amy — one of my favorite funny heroines — return to the desk that made me fall in like with her. And while the "Really?!?! With Seth and Amy" bit was not at all as punchy as once was (Again with these stale jokes! So many jokes tasted like communion wafers and those things are the worst), it ultimately didn't matter because Amy stayed for the rest of the segment! Hooray! Any time I can bask her hilarious glow, I'm game.
And without her, Seth might not have run after Stefon, resulting in the pay-off to what was perhaps the worst Stefon bit, ever. (I really wanted to like it, too! But it really just wasn't that funny.) It didn't matter though, because what came next was magical Stefon left "Weekend Update" to marry Anderson Cooper. And Seth, realizing that he loved Stefon, ran after him. Risking life and limb to the infamous AC360-spinkick? That love is true, y'all.
It was the perfect way to honor and send-off a character. At the nuptials there were dozens of Stefon's club friends (DJ Baby Bok Choy to the rescue!), past characters from Stefon segments, and Affleck himself (who appeared in the original Stefon sketch as his brother)! Ultimately, Stefon ran off into the sunset of studio 8H with Seth, where the happy couple were cheered on by several recurring "Weekend Update" characters. It was really quite lovely. I'll suffocate you in the folds of one of the Furkels. ...That's Fat Urkels. And you know what they say about those guys: "After you’ve been with one of those guys, you’ll ask yourself 'Did I do thaaaat?'"
The real clunkers of the night were the painful Funeral of Greg Pulino, and the Engagement Picnic sketch, which I will spare you the trouble of having to endure in printed word. Kate McKinnon once again proved that her physical comedy prowess is the thing to beat during her scene-saving moments during "Primadonna." The sketch was fine, I got what they were going for.
But the highlight sketch-wise was the return of the former pornstar/current aspiring salesgals duo that is Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong in the Hermés Handbags bit. Yeah, I know the sketch is a tad formulaic, but it's a damn good formula that makes me laugh every time. It surprises me how strong the recurring sketch is, but I'm into it: let them sell all of the things!
Kanye West debuted some new songs, and some very aggressive staging for two of his new songs: the pithily-named "Black Skinhead" and "New "Slaves." Well, Ye, tell us how you're really feeling these days, eh? That said, the production on the songs is amazing, but I kept wanting to apologize to Kanye for making him mad? Please don't yell at me, Kanye! I want to watch your little performance piece. Look, I even caught the Lou Reed stuff! But honestly, production value aside, I can't imagine any radio station's going to have an easy time playing these tunes. No wonder his new album is going to be titled Yeezus — you'd have to be.
Rounding out the evening was a performance by Ian Rubbish (a.k.a. Fred Armisen)'s band "The Bizarros," featuring all the leaving lads, and Taran Killam. A bevy of performers showed up, including Fred's Portlandia co-star Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon, Aimee Mann, Steve Jones: basically, it was impressive. And that's just the people I could name on sight! Adios, dear Fred. It was thoughtful and clearly meaningful to him — and a nice way of officially confirming his own departure. The tears at the end of the episode were hard-won for these three men who've spent so many years with Lorne Michaels' merry band of comedy misfits. The show will be very much changed without them.
Now, someone get me Lorne's number because someone needs to tell him to put SNL writer John Mulaney on that Weekend Update desk, stat!
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Valentine’s Day is a day to let that special someone know just how much you care and how important they are to you. It’s also the only day one can purchase a four-foot teddy bear and not be thought of as creepy or possessed of serious emotional problems. For cinephiles, this is a day to further declare our love for our favorite films.
We gathered a group of film critics from around the web, asking them to write their Valentine’s Day cards directly to the movies that won their hearts. It… got a little mushy.
Eric D. Snider, Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider
The Object of Your Affection: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
When Did The Infatuation Begin? Tuesday, July 6, 2004: I remember it well. 'Twas an evening promotional screening; you were to open theatrically later that week. From the moment I laid eyes on you, Anchorman — from Ron Burgundy's opening lines ("Mmm. I look good. I mean, really good. Hey, everyone! Come and see how good I look!") — I was in love. Witnesses said they had never heard me laugh so much at a movie. They may have been right. Rarely had a film so perfectly catered to my fondness for absurdity, pomposity, the 1970s, and TV journalism. Unable to satiate my newly aroused desires for you, I saw you again two nights later at another promotional screening. Several months later, on the day when a dear friend moved away, and I was about to move to a different city myself, and my life was melancholy and in flux, where did I seek comfort? In the arms of you, Anchorman, a film I knew could always lift my spirits.
Has the Romance Endured? I've seen you four or five times since then, mostly on DVD except for one special big-screen showing in 2008 of the original theatrical cut. You never fail to delight me. Your dialogue floats across my mind regularly. One time it was 105 degrees in Portland, and I went to Voodoo Doughnut with an out-of-town friend, and I got a little carton of milk with my doughnuts. I then got to say aloud as I walked down the hot sidewalk, milk dripping from my beard, "Milk was a bad choice!" What a happy moment that was! I'll always cherish you, Anchorman. Always.
RELATED: 7 Of The Strangest Valentine's Day Movies
Scott Weinberg, Twitch/Fearnet
The Object of Your Affection: The Blues Brothers
When Did The Infatuation Begin? It was your first TV screening, so probably late 1981 or so.
Has the Romance Endured? One cool thing about a musical that you love is that, even when the "movie stuff" gets a little old, the music and the dance numbers are always there to lift you back up. It’s like listening to a great album you love. Fortunately for me, Blues Brothers, you have no movie stuff that gets old. I love every damn frame of your weird, manic, sweet mash-up of buddy comedy, chase flick, and old-time musical. Not one of your musical numbers falls flat, there are endless cameos from people worth remembering, there's a lovably dry wit buried amidst all your absurd weirdness, and despite being 133 minutes long, you coast by like a well-oiled machine. Plus you were the very first SNL sketch to become a movie — and you’re still the best by a country mile. I love you.
Kate Erbland, Film School Rejects
The Object of Your Affection: Dirty Dancing
When Did The Infatuation Begin? I was but six years old—far, far too young for such a mature and consuming love. Too young for our love.
Has the Romance Endured? While I think we've both moved on—myself to actual human affection and you to Havana Nights we do like to meet up occasionally to check in on each other. I'm always surprised by how mature and deep you remain, how utterly human, and how wonderfully filled with incredibly sexy dance moves. Also, delicious watermelon.
Jeff Bayer, Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider
The Object of Your Affection: Back to the Future
When Did The Infatuation Begin? 9 years of age. For my ninth birthday I had a choice to make. I would take five friends to the theater to see either The Goonies or Back to the Future. I picked the Truffle Shuffle and it was a good time. But when I finally saw you a week later, I fell hard. When you finished with me that first time, and I read "To Be Continued..." on the screen, I was desperate for more. For the first time, I began reading the entertainment section in our newspaper, searching for information on when Part 2 would come. Every time the Summer Movie Preview came along, I quickly scanned, hoping to see you there. Finally, after four long years (which is equivalent to 237 years for a pre-teen), the sequels came to be.
Has the Romance Endured? It's you. It's always been you. For a while, I even claimed Back to the Future Part IIwas better. Luckily, I eventually matured, and I resumed believing the first is the best. Even if they remake/reboot/reimagine you, I know that you will never be tainted. You are my butthead. You are my nobody calls me chicken. And while I will always wonder why Marty couldn't just go back a couple hours earlier, or the science behind images slowly disappearing from a photo, I will never stop loving you.
RELATED: Last Minute Valentine's Day Ideas, With a Little Help from Leslie Knope and Shoshanna Shapiro
Germain Lussier, /Film
The Object of Your Affection: Swingers
When Did The Infatuation Begin? I'll never forget the first time I saw you, Swingers. I was a young boy working in a video store. Back in the Nineties, indies like you didn't come to the suburbs too often, so I saw most smaller movies on preview cassettes sent to the store. You looked so sexy; that yellow box, Vince Vaughn in sunglasses. Wow. I took you down to my parent's basement, remember? When I finally popped you in, I'll admit, it wasn't great at first. You sort of struggled finding your stroke but, once you did, and Trent and Mike get back to LA, it was instant love. Watching you, at the age of about 16, was the first time I had a true connection with a film. I'd watched tons of movies but suddenly, finally, here was a movie about those movies. We clicked on a deep, deep level. We both loved Reservoir Dogs, Goodfellasand NHL 94. I knew how good Jeremy Roenick was. And while I didn't love swing music like you did, you made me learn about something new. In you, I found everything I wanted in a movie.
Has the Romance Endured? These days, you and I are old lovers. Anytime I want to be transported to the days of 90s nostalgia and the birth of my film enlightenment, you get popped in. Sure you're a little shinier now, on DVD instead of VHS, but every year or so when we kick back with some Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and it's like that night in my parent's basement all over again. Why do you think this New York writer moved to Los Angeles to fulfill his dreams?
Sean O’Connell, Cinemablend/Movies.com
The Object of Your Affection: Die Hard
When Did The Infatuation Begin? In theaters in 1988. Yes, I'm that old, though I was barely 14 when you were released, and I had to beg my parents to let me see you—an R-rated, obviously violent movie—in the theater. They bought me a ticket. I went by myself as they shopped in the adjoining shopping mall. I was smitten.
Has the Romance Endured? That's like asking, "Is John McClane a thorn in a terrorist's side?" I revisit you every few years, , when I'm able to watch you from start to finish, and not merely catch chunks as you air on a cable channel. Lately, I feel like I've seen you close to four or five times in your entirety. I've noticed that you, , like a vintage wine, only improve with age. The airtight script holds up to scrutiny. The action is as riveting now as it was in '88, and the commendable lack of digital wizardry helps your blue-collar realism remain intact. Outside of a few hairstyles, nothing about you feels dated. McTiernan's direction, Jan de Bont's cinematography, Michael Kamen's score and the editing are contemporary. You are timeless; the high-water mark for action cinema. You created the quintessential smart-ass hero, launched a massive movie star (Bruce Willis), and you remain my personal favorite film of all time. And no, Live Free or Die Hardcan't take that away from me; from us.
Now it's your turn: profess your love for a movie in the comments below!
[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]
Rosie O'Donnell announced the shocking news of a near-fatal heart attack on her blog, in a free verse post aptly titled, "my heart attack," on Monday. "last week i had a heart attack" [sic] she writes bluntly. O'Donnell reports that on Tuesday morning she felt achy in her arms and body, then suddenly became clammy, feverish, and nauseous.
"maybe this is a heart attack" [sic] O'Donnell writes. According to her blog, she then Googled the symptoms of heart attacks in women and took some Bayer aspirin. "thank god / saved by a tv commercial / literally," she writes.
O'Donnell, who did not call 911 but rather took herself to the hospital the next day, heeds other women to learn from her mistake and take the warning signs seriously. She writes:my LAD was 99% blocked
they call this type of heart attack
the Widow maker
i am lucky to be here
know the symptoms ladies
listen to the voice inside
the one we all so easily ignore
O'Donnell's rep, who confirmed the heart attack for Hollywood.com, says O'Donnell is now "home and resting comfortably."
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone.
Additional Reporting by Lindsey DiMattina. [Photo Credit: WENN.com] More: Marc Summers Suffers Serious Injury in Car Crash Willie Nelson Hospitalized Due to Breathing Problems Rosie O'Donnell's fiancee battling rare cancer-like health crisis
When Platinum Dunes the production house created by Michael Bay Andrew Form and Brad Fuller first came into being it took on the father of modern horror films The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's safe to say everyone expected it to be a total failure given who was involved; when it turned out that it actually wasn't too bad of a film fans were justifiably surprised. A few mid-level misfires later Platinum Dunes raised their aim at iconic horror franchises even higher bringing back TCM's director Marcus Nispel to tackle Jason Voorhees. Again people weren't expecting much so it was another pleasant surprise that 2009's Friday the 13th turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining respectful recombination of the cabin-in-the-woods slasher. From there the studio didn't even bother to go back to lesser franchises they notched their crosshairs as high as they could go; Freddy Krueger.
Fast forward twelve months. The main thing anyone will want to know about A Nightmare on Elm Street is whether it is at the very least a worthy remake of the original Wes Craven film about a slain pedophile who resurrects in the dream world to kill teenagers in their sleep. The short answer is a resounding yes. Samuel Bayer's film is the best remake in the Platinum Dunes stable; Jackie Earle Haley is an excellent successor to the original's Robert Englund; and Freddy Krueger isn't just scary again he's the most disturbing he's ever been. The long answer is of course a little more complicated and requires plenty of qualifiers.
Yes A Nightmare on Elm Street is the best remake Platinum Dunes has produced but the reason behind that is also the film's handicap. For the most part Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer's screenplay hems incredibly close to Craven's original. There comes a point in the film however where staying faithful to the source material becomes a bit too problematic. Mainstream audiences particularly those who didn't grow up with Krueger will be unaffected but horror fans may soon grow bored with the lack of individuality in the scripting department. And then just as the film threatens to overthrow its predecessor by changing (for the better) Krueger's origin story it backs off once again sacrificing innovation for tradition.
It would appear to be a contradiction but that adherence to tradition in turn becomes the remakes' greatest strength. Bayer and company dive even deeper into the Elm Street mythos giving the audience in the process two crucial looks at what Krueger was like before the parents of the molested preschoolers delivered their gas-can brand of mob justice. Haley's astounding amount of talent makes profound use of every second of these brief glimpses into a pre-burn Freddy. Then once the kind soft-spoken kid-loving mask of the pedophile-in-hiding has been literally burned off the true monster underneath emerges. This contrast between the Freddy the kids knew and the Freddy they now know as teens makes for some legitimately bothersome bedroom nightmares toward the film's end.
As for the teens they too are marked improvements this time around. Johnny Depp may have emerged from the '84 classic but he was about it. Rooney Mara Kyle Gallner Thomas Dekker and Katie Cassidy all do an admirable job with the at times thin characterizations they're given. It's a testament to the talent of each of them that they overcome the limitations of the script to warrant some investment in their fight against their dream killer. And as for that dream killer...Haley is the perfect replacement for Englund. His take on the voice may be indistinguishable from his work as Rorschach in Zack Snyder's Watchmen adaptation but considering it fits Haley's commanding presence as Krueger as snugly as the iconic bladed glove whose newly stylized dragging across the pipes in Freddy's dream boiler room sounds skincrawlingly likely a cross between nails on a chalk board and an arc welder that's not too much of a complaint.
A little more worthy of complaint are a few failed attempts to reinact iconic moments from the original most notably Freddy's emergence from the wallpaper above Nancy's bed. It's inexcusable that a special effect in the year 2010 should look worse than the effect from the 1984 film it's imitating but CGI the perpetual enemy of the horror fan once again rears its ugly head. That embarrassing failure aside this film could not look better. Bayer did a tremendous job of altering the reality of the dream world with subtle visual distortions (a lot of straight lines are skewed obtusely outward while the edges of the frame curve oh so slightly inward) when necessary. And the effects work on Krueger's face is appropriately gruesome in all the right spots. One can even forgive the terrible wallpaper CGI scene in exchange for inspired touches like a partial singed cheek that flaps slightly when he exhales or moves too quickly.
While this rebirth of Krueger no doubt boasts a number of glorious kills (the bold opener sets the gore precedent quite nicely) its biggest strength in the fear department is this new far more disturbing structuring of the character as a joyless disgusting psychopath. Craven's original used Krueger's actions mainly as the logistical justification for why he would be killing these teenagers whereas Bayer's handling of the material leverages the origin story beyond just physical torture and into mentally disturbing psychosexual territory. The original franchise gradually acclimated to the idea of Krueger as a sexual threat but this iteration makes no qualms about it. It's not just the burns to Krueger's face that have been updated for realism; his motivations have as well — and that makes this new Nightmare on Elm Street scary as hell.