Getty/Roger KisbyInitially scheduled for release as far back as 2010, Sky Ferreira's debut album had been delayed so many times that it had almost taken on mythical status. Launched by her label as the next Britney, her electro pop-inspired first attempt instead dribbled out as an E.P. Despite releasing one of the finest singles of last year, "Everything Is Embarrassing," her second genre-hopping stab suffered the same fate. And even though her belated full-length first studio effort, Night Time, My Time finally hit iTunes last week, it still remains unavailable anywhere else.Thankfully for the 21-year-old, its twelve tracks prove that all the years of being stuck in development hell haven't been for nothing, even if the majority are likely to baffle the few who previously bought into her hipster-pop sound.Indeed, you have to wonder what the team who wanted to mould her into the next teen-pop starlet would make of "Omanko," a scuzzy slice of synth-punk named after a Japanese slang word for female genitalia, and the title track, a brilliantly creepy David Lynch-esque wave of ghostly vocals and doom-laden drones which opens with the line, "I'm useless and I know it."But that's not to say that Ferreira has entirely abandoned her pop sensibilities. "I Blame Myself" is an impressively self-aware piece of bubblegum electro which accepts that her career may have been hindered because of her sometimes questionable extra-curricular behavior. Lead single "You're Not The One" is a hook-laden gothic number which recalls The Cure at their 80s commercial peak, while "24 Hours" and "Love In Stereo" are the kind of swoonsome new wave numbers you'd expect to hear over the closing credits of a John Hughes Brat Pack movie.Following her party girl persona, string of modelling contracts and recent drugs bust, Ferreira was in danger of becoming more renowned for her lifestyle than her music. However, Night Time, My Time proves at last that there's some substance to her style.
The tagline reads "The wives of Stepford have a secret " and boy do they ever. Of course Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) a former tough-as-nails television network president doesn't know the secret. Not yet anyway. She just thinks she's moving to the peaceful upper-class suburbs of Stepford Connecticut with her attentive husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) and their two adorable children--to try to recover from a nervous breakdown after being summarily dismissed from her high-powered job. What Joanna finds instead is a group of eerie '50s-type perfect housewives lead by the ultra-coiffed Claire Wellington (Glenn Close) who tend to their beautiful spacious homes excel at crafts and cater to their geeky husbands' every whim. The women's behavior is more than a little odd to Joanna even if Walter thinks it's all very quaint as he rushes off to join the other men folk at the Stepford Men's Association lead by Claire's manly husband Mike (Christopher Walken). Luckily Joanne isn't entirely alone in her suspicions discovering allies in recent transplants Bobbie Markowitz (Bette Midler) a frumpy best-selling author and Roger Bannister (Roger Bart) a gay-and-proud-of-it architect. Together they try to unravel the mysterious of Stepford while also managing to learn how to make the perfect Christmas ornament from a pine cone.
Stepford Wives employs a stellar cast. The over-exposed Kidman finally gets to loosen up a bit after such downers as The Hours Cold Mountain and Dogville and has fun with Joanna. Her bitchy TV executive is particularly comical as it is realistic especially when she's spouting off ideas on how to turn a tragedy into "real" television. Honestly the Oscar-winning actress can do just about anything--but it may be time for her to take a vacation. As Joanna's husband Broderick is spot-on as the mousy Walter who eventually shows some backbone (of course he does). Close and Walken also have their roles down er perfectly as the masterminds of their own little version of heaven. But the real standouts are Midler as the caustic Bobbie and Broadway actor Bart as Roger who provokes the biggest laughs from the audience with his flare for the flamboyant. Yes it may be a tad stereotypical but he sells it girlfriend. Even country singer Faith Hill tries her hand at the whole acting thing making an appearance as one of the Stepford wives--come on she certainly looks the part doesn't she?
Trouble brewed on The Stepford Wives set. Director Frank Oz (In & Out) apparently had difficulties with producers over the direction of the film (which veers completely away from the suspenseful original) as well as run-ins with co-stars Midler and Walken--and the end product reflects it. Stepford is muddled and savvy moviegoers will no doubt scrutinize the film's glaring flaws especially the whole "robot" component (are they actual robots or what?) and the over-the-top maybe-you'll-guess-it twist at the end. But Stepford's intentional ribbing of social mores and quest for perfection comes shining through thanks to Paul Rudnick's campy script. There are more than a few hysterical scenes including one where Joanna Bobbie and Roger sneak into one of the Stepford houses and after hearing a particularly vigorous lovemaking session between perfect wife #34 and her husband Roger runs up the stairs because he's "got to get some of that" or the scene where Claire talks about the great things to make at Christmas while Bobbie throws out her own clever ideas on what to do with pine cones. The important thing is Stepford Wives doesn't take itself seriously--well not really--and neither should anyone else.