We may never be able to solve the mystery of how on earth Hollie Cavanagh manages to hang on so tightly to her spot as an American Idol finalist, but we can plead with voters to stop allowing her to sit pretty on the hallowed Couch of Safety. She can silence an entire auditorium of embarrassed by-proxy Idol fans with a single disappointing performance, yet she stays while ready-made performers like Jessica Sanchez and Colton Dixon receive the sting of the bottom ranks. Steven Tyler’s tangential compliments about floating spirits and ism and wasms make more sense than Hollie’s apparently stalwart position.
The Top 6 are about to tackle the classic catalog of rock legend Queen, and unless one of these miracles (or disasters) take hold, there is no way Hollie deserves to hang on like a sweet, flaxen-haired, pretty little leech. She may be a cutie pie and a total sweetheart, but to get all Simon Cowell on this thang: This is a competition, not a friendship circle.
1. The Idol Bug Strikes Back
The infamous illness that swept Idol’s Hollywood week audition rounds would have to make a comeback and take out at least three other contestants (Jessica, Joshua, and Phillip or Skylar) for Hollie to have any right to stay in the competition.
2. Her Idol Journey Has Been a Ruse Leading Up to a Miraculous Movie Moment Comeback
Maybe it’s all part of the plan. First, she won our hearts with her tiny frame and big voice coupled with her childlike love of her impossibly cuddly puppy. Second, she solidified her hold on our hearts by showing off her loving, cute-as-a-button parents. Then, she failed to improve and failed so hard onstage even Ryan Seacrest couldn’t muster a comforting comment. Next, she hung on past top dogs like Colton Dixon, defying all odds, and now, she’s ready to come out of her shell and show us that she had it in her all along. It’s the perfect Lifetime movie moment, but I’d bet a million of Jennifer Lopez’s bandage dresses that it’s never going to happen.
3. Elise Testone Gets Even More Lost
My problem with Miss Testone from day one is that I can never manage to pinpoint Who She Is As An Artist. You’d think after 10 years of America’s oldest live singing competition, our finalists would know how to carve out an image. Elise is more scattered than a Jackson Pollock painting, and if Now and Then week was any indication, she’s still lost. Still, she’s got a fire in her that deserves a little more exploration than Hollie’s vanilla ballads, but if she walks out this week and tries to convince us she’s the next Rihanna after trying on Rocker Chic, Blues Singer, and jazzy hats for the past few weeks, she may be the more deserving castoff.
4. Phillip Phillips Strains His Vocal Chords With an Over-Growl
As I’ve mentioned an embarrassing number of times before, I’m a Phil Phillips fangirl. Do they still make puffy, sparkly stickers for pop stars? Because my day planner could use some sprucing, and I wouldn’t mind using some Phil paraphernalia to do it. But seriously, he needs to watch his growling because he’s approaching dangerous levels. I know it’s his thing, and I love it just as much as the next obsessed Idol viewer, but he’s in danger overusing his superpower. And when he crosses that boundary, it’ll be like that time my cousin loosened the lid on the lemon pepper shaker and my salmon quickly went from pink to black and yellow. It’s bad, mmk? But as long as he continues to keep the grrrrr in check, Hollie should be packing her cute little (I’m assuming) pink and purple suitcase and head on home.
Do you think Hollie deserves to stay? Are you the one voting 10,000 times to keep her on the show? If so, who should go home in her place?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
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Contagion a sharp thriller from writer/director/cinematographer/editor/do-all Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11 The Informant!) is like an adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel that never was. The movie quickly sets up its pawns in order to engage you in a game of pandemic chess where the terror comes from science and the humanity comes from your own empathy. Instead of relying on a sci-fi backstory outlandish deaths or large-scale set pieces Soderbergh lets the facts do the talking—and it's scary as hell.
Much like his Oscar-winning film Traffic Soderbergh unfolds the story by weaving in and out between a series of character perspectives: Matt Damon's Mitch who loses his wife to a mysterious virus and strives to protect the rest of his family; Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Ehle members of the Center for Disease Control racing against the clock to find a cure; Kate Winslet's Erin a field agent tracking down the source of the American outbreak; Jude Law's Alan a high-profile blogger searching for the truth behind the disease; and Marion Cotillard's Dr. Orantes another agent hunting for Patient Zero in Hong Kong. While the drama spans globally each characters' quarrels are playing out in a claustrophobic scenario a world in which any person they meet any object they touch can infect them with the life-threatening disease.
Soderbergh doesn't have much time to dive into his characters' backstories but the film's screenwriter Scott Z. Burns carefully constructs each scene to deliver just the right balance of terrifying scientific babble and revealing personal drama. When the virus starts massacring the world population and vandalism riots and societal unrest emerge the thing that makes Contagion click is our interest in the personal stories. Damon as seems to be the case with everything he touches elevates the material being the perfect everyman and our surrogate for the too-plausible-for-comfort scenario. Fishburne too turns what's normally a plot-forwarding government agent role into a man dealing with the weight of his decisions watching citizens of the country drop like flies from his ivory tower. It's heavy stuff but Burns' playful dialogue helps the cast lighten the harrowing mood—only so the movie can pull the carpet from underneath you over and over again.
But in the end Contagion is Soderbergh's show. The director uses every ounce of cinematic artistry to leave us squirming in our seats with a fetishistic approach to shooting the most mundane of objects. The close-up is Soderbergh's weapon of choice honing in on common day objects that we realize are infested with germs (with the effect amplified by a thousand if you catch the movie in IMAX). A door handle a bathroom drier button the human face—Soderbergh lingers as a reminder of his invisible villain: the virus. That's a compliment: the design and photography is striking the purposefully pristine picture quality fills the characters' quest to stay healthy with tension. Composer Cliff Martinez's electronic score compliments the icky scenario germinating over the picture like audible infection. The world of the film is rich with detail. Just the icky kind.
Contagion isn't flawless. With so much going on things fall to the wayside—Cotillard's plotline specifically gets lost in the shuffle—but the reality keeps us engrossed. The movie plays like an oral history of a horrific event with each detail frighteningly exposed. Except in the case of Contagion it's not an event that has happened so much as one that could happen.
And at any moment.
Forget Black Swan – Natalie Portman’s real crowning performance is to be found in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached in which director Ivan Reitman asks her to convey sincere unqualified affection for Ashton Kutcher. Portman much to her credit gamely complies and though she may not have the emaciated figure bloody nails and bandaged ankles to tell of her labors the psychic scars must no doubt be just as severe.
Exhibiting strong chick-flick leanings and a rambunctious soft-R comic tone (i.e. lots of F-bombs some menstrual humor and a few shots of Kutcher’s naked ass) No Strings Attached is built around a basic relationship role-reversal: The dude Adam (Kutcher) longs for a deeper lasting commitment; the chick Emma (Portman) insists on keeping matters purely physical. Emma’s motive is a practical one: As a doctor-to-be her busy residency schedule with its 80-hour work weeks and intensive exam preparations precludes a serious relationship. But alas a woman has certain needs (foreplay apparently not being among them) and who better to fulfill them than Kutcher’s non-threatening boy-toy?
Thus a “friends with benefits” arrangement is cemented whereupon the ripcord is to be pulled on the occasion that either of them develops stronger feelings. This does not last long for soon Adam is cloyingly lobbying for escalation. Emma demurs – not out of disinterest we are told but because she’s intimacy-averse and afraid of a broken heart. Why else would she resist a more permanent attachment to someone like Adam?
Perhaps it’s because Adam as played by Kutcher is about as interesting as cabbage. And yet No Strings Attached would have us believe he’s some kind of floppy-haired Albert Schweitzer. This despite the fact that his greatest aspiration in life is to join the writing staff of a High School Musical-esque television series the shallow inanity of which is one of the film’s recurring jokes. In vain support of his cause the filmmakers decorate Adam’s apartment with various props – vintage posters books about 1920s movies a guitar that is occasionally picked up but never actually played – that hint at a depth that Kutcher himself never manifests.
Still Portman sells us on Adam and Emma’s inevitable union with every ounce of her not inconsiderable talent. (And her comic chops are legit – as those who’ve glimpsed her appearances on SNL and Funny or Die can attest.) But she asks too much. And Elizabeth Meriweather’s script while witty and stocked with some keen observations on the evolving nature of relationships in the modern age becomes weighed down by sentiment unbecoming an R-rated comedy not directed by Judd Apatow. In the end Kutcher seals the increasingly contrived deal with the climactic line “I’m warning you: Come one step closer and I’m never letting you go ” (I’m paraphrasing but not loosely) by which time the film's already lost its grip.