Phoebe Reilly



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    Michelle Williams: Coolest Indie Actress Around?

    Few people have escaped the stigma of teen stardom -- or of stardom, period -- as entirely as Michelle Williams. Her roles this year in Synecdoche, New York and Wendy and Lucy are enough to make you forget her tabloid existence and even go, Jen who? Jen Lindley, of course. Williams first big-break was "the bad girl from New York" on Dawson's Creek whose sole reason for being there initially was to charm the substantially-foreheaded hero while the audience instead rooted for him to notice Katie Holmes. Over the course of the show's six seasons, though, Williams outgrew the Creek and outshined her stars (including the pre-Cruisified Holmes); towards the series' end she even made some vague murmurings to the effect of wanting it to be over, which resulted in the meting out of the Ultimate Character Punishment: single motherhood, fast-acting illness, death.

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    Welcome to Stardom, Kristen Stewart

    A few months ago, nobody knew who Kristen Stewart was. Now, thanks largely to Twilight's huge opening weekend, she's just a blog post away from her very own celebrity nickname. This might not be good news for K-Stew because it probably means she will be answering stupid questions about dating vampires until Breaking Dawn comes out on DVD. (For the uninitiated: that's the fourth and final book in Stephenie Meyer's young adult series; film adaptations of the other two, New Moon and Eclipse, are already a go and the whole enterprise has created mass hysteria --seriously, have you not heard about this?) Generally, though, Twilight's success is great because not only does picturing Stewart as Bella Swan make Meyer's swoon-y heroine more tolerable for some of us, it also helped her land the role of Joan Jett in the upcoming biopic The Runaways.

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    'Twilight': Movie Review

    At last, Twilight is in theaters! But is it any good? Basically, the movie succeeds where the book faltered. Rob Pattinson's Edward and Kristen Stewart's Bella not only look the part, but they massage the kinks out of Stephenie Meyer's characters: He isn't weirdly paternal, she doesn't come across as weak and insecure. And the supporting cast adequately modernizes the Forks High School clique, particularly Anna Kendrick as the aggressively ordinary Jessica. One of the minor characters even uses the word "chillax." Wha!? Meyer's prelapsarian, page-bound kids don't use slang, just like they don't curse or update Facebook pages.

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    5 Best Scenes from Hit Indie Director

    Times may be grim but director Danny Boyle is optimistic -- sort of. His new film, Slumdog Millionaire (out this week), is not the daffy, uplifting affair that Little Miss Sunshine was but much like that 2006 sleeper hit, it's a frontrunner for Heartwarming Indie That Earns an Oscar: An indigent orphan in India relates the story of his childhood and a long-lost sweetheart via his correct answers on the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Those answers result in a journey through the shantytowns and alleyways of Mumbai (M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" scores some of the light-hearted moments) and the romance that persists is unlike anything in previous Boyle films:no heroin, no zombies. Just two cute teenagers. To get you in the mood -- or, in the case of Trainspotting, maybe to ruin it -- we've called out five memorable scenes from previous Boyle enterprises:1.

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    Lost in the 'Twilight' Zone

    A few weeks back, I admitted to "investigating" (read: getting sucked in by) the Twilight phenomenon and reading the first book. In the intervening weeks, the madness continued.I not only bought and finished New Moon (more on Book 2 of the vampire saga later) but I also voluntarily went to Planet Hollywood to see Edward Cullen speak. The actor playing the blood-lusting leading man from Stephanie Meyer's' series has a name, of course, but Rob Pattinson is, in many ways, practically unknown. Pattinson drives twihards into paroxysms of desire -- the screams were nausea-inducing -- not because he's a handsome young actor (which he is) but because he is Edward's avatar, the closest any reader will ever come to a touchable version of the untouchable hero. Has a literary (used loosely) figure ever caused such pandemonium before?

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    Skip It: 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno'

    Seth Rogen has got to be kicking himself right now. There are only a finite number of opportunities for him to play a lazy twenty-something whose sarcasm is a substitute for ambition -- and he just wasted one of them on Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Judd Apatow isn't attached to this film -- not even as a producer -- so how did this happen? There are only two possibilities: Either Rogen hasn't seen a Kevin Smith film since 1997, or he wanted to be able to say "fuck" a lot. We'll hold Smith accountable.

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    How I Got Hooked on 'Twilight'

    So I might have read Twilight. Okay, I couldn't put it down and I'm not exactly sure why because the writing is atrocious. I could find excuses -- I was sick last weekend, I regretted having prematurely scoffed at Harry Potter -- but something about this book is appealing even when it shouldn't be. It's essentially the story of a dangerously co-dependent relationship: Edward, a vampire, and Bella, the only human whose mind he can't read, are obsessed with one another and spend literally all their time together. He even watches her when she sleeps, which would normally be grounds for a cautionary After School Special, but in this case, it's excusable because Bella is constantly imperiled and Edward needs to save her.

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    Oliver Stone's 'W': This Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

    Oliver Stone's W is like a greatest hits album: You're primed to respond to it because you've heard it all before, and mostly loved it. But, like a greatest hits album, there are no surprises. Which is the biggest surprise about Stone's latest political diatribe. Making fun of George Jr. -- his vocabulary, his pedestrian understanding of the world, his trouble digesting snack foods -- has been a small but necessary consolation for having to endure his presidency. Stone keeps the joke going. But he doesn't add much to it. Yes, W is a compact history of the almost unbelievable events of the last eight years.

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    Who Could Fall in Love to These Songs?

    Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is likable for a few reasons. Michael Cera as a droll boy-child in a hoodie isn't tired just yet, and the conceit -- two self-styled misfits trundling around Manhattan's Lower East Side (and Brooklyn!) in a beater looking for a secret show by their favorite band -- is totally cuter than, say, an unplanned pregnancy. Added to which is the amusing spectacle of watching teenagers (a group not generally known for being encumbered by charity) try to care for Norah's drunk friend, played with spot-on sloppiness by Ari Gaynor. But shouldn't a film that references a playlist in its title at least register on the Good Use Of Song to Important Adolescent Moment ratio? Somehow, it doesn't. It's not that We Are Scientists or Raveonettes or Modest Mouse aren't great bands. They just don't amplify Nick and Norah's awkward romance in any meaningful way.

  • Gossip, 'Live in Liverpool' (Music With a Twist/Columbia)

    If this CD-plus-DVD package included the tinsel wig and sweat-soaked leopard unitard that singer Beth Ditto wore at this July 2007 U.K. show, maybe it could've approximated the experience of Ditto dancing herself into a disrobing fever. Instead, it's her vocals that are left exposed -- neither the band's guitarist nor the drummer can match the intensity of her bellow. And even clever covers of classics by Wham! ("Careless Whisper") and Aaliyah ("Are You That Somebody?") don't change the fact that, other than the empowering title track of 2006's Standing in the Way of Control, Gossip lack the kind of anthems that demand a live document. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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