North Carolina Republicans Have Successfully Instituted One-Party Rule Against the Wishes of the Electorate

Here’s the situation right now in North Carolina: After a contentious governor’s election, a Democrat, Roy Cooper, will be taking over as governor in January. However, the state legislature is still dominated by Republicans, thanks to gerrymandering that has since been ruled illegal. The state, which is roughly evenly split between blue and red, will not vote for legislators under the new redistricting plan until next year.

In an effort to ensure that they don’t lose any power under a Democratic governor, shifting demographics, and redrawn districts, the North Carolina Republicans have sought to strip the incoming Governor of much of his power. They have sought — and succeeded now — in passing bills to reduce the number of Civil Service appointments from 1500 to 30, they’ve stripped him of his ability to appoint University of North Carolina trustees, and they have passed a bill forcing the Governor to submit his cabinet picks to the State Senate for approval for the first time in the state’s history.

Those bills were passed despite massive protests outside of the general assembly last night.

Peaceful protestors were arrested and forced to leave.

Even journalists who were not protesting — and only doing their jobs — were arrested.

In other words, the Republicans are making all of these changes behind closed doors — the door are locked and police surround the building — and these are same Republicans whose gerrymandering plan targeted African Americans with «surgical precision.»

You can call it a power grab, or you can call it a coup. Whatever one wants to call it, it is f*cked up. Not only are Dems displeased with it, but even former Republican governors are disgusted with it.

This morning, during an «open session» (again, this open session has barred the public from attending, and police are surrounding the building), Republicans are planning to pass another law that would change the makeup for county election boards. Currently, there are three board members in each county, two from the controlling party and one from the other. With Cooper in charge, they plan to even the numbers — two and two.

But here’s where it gets even more infuriating: Ultimate control over election decisions will alternate years, with the Republicans controlling election decisions during high-turnout election years and Democrats controlling during off years.

This is insane. This is the end of Democracy in North Carolina, and if it survives court rulings, look out other swing states.

Pajiba

David Tennant Sings ‘DuckTales’ Theme AND WHY IS THAT SO HOT!?

Nerd girls have been crushing hard on David Tennant since he raced about in tailored suits and Converse sneakers in Doctor Who. More jumped on the bandwagon as he played the villainous—but uncomfortably alluring--Kilgrave in Jessica Jones. What can we say? This Scottish member of the Pajiba 10 has got swagger for days. But even we were shocked when our lions roared over his performance of the DuckTales theme song.

Why does such a thing exist? Well, Disney XD is rebooting the beloved cartoon series, and with a cast we’re geeking out about. See them all «whoo HOO!» below:

Admittedly, it’ll take a bit for me to adapt to newly drawn ducks. But come on. Danny Pudi, Ben «Jean-Ralphio» Schwartz and Bobby Moynihan as Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Kate Micucci as Webbi, and DAVID TENNANT AS SCROOGE MCDUCK!

I guess we’re adding Scrooge to the animated characters we have embarrassing crushes on?

DuckTales will premiere on Disney XD channels next summer.

Kristy Puchko has maintained one clamshell from childhood.

Pajiba

‘Collateral Beauty’ Review: What the F*ck Did I Just Watch?

ProTip: If you ever meet TK in person, do not drink an entire Texas-sized margarita at Dallas Barbecue and sass him to his face.

ProTip the second: If you ever meet TK in person, do punch him in the jaw for me, because he’s the only reason I had to watch this festering, melodramatic circlejerk of a movie.

Collateral Beauty.

Where to fucking start.

Major spoilers.

Will Smith plays Howard, an ad exec who’s lost his daughter to cancer. Two years after the fact, he’s not coping particularly well—he doesn’t pay his rent, he barely sleeps, and instead of working, he goes into the office every day and sets up elaborate domino structures. If you ever wanted a movie where a SUPER INTENSE Will Smith plays with dominoes while a sub-Hallmark Movie schmaltzy score plays in the background, this movie is for you. There’s also SUPER INTENSE biking against traffic and SUPER INTENSE visiting the dog park and SUPER INTENSE riding the subway in awkward silence.

WILL SMITH: MAXIMUM INTENSITY.

Howard’s coworkers—Claire (Kate Winslet), Simon (Michael Peña), and Whit (Edward Norton)—decide, hey, sad about their boss’ dead daughter and all, but this company’s going to go under if he doesn’t get his shit together. Their genius plan is this: Howard is obsessed with the concepts of Love, Death, and Time, which is a completely reasonable character trait and not some bullshit plot conceit, no sir. He’s so obsessed, in fact, that he wrote a letter to each of them, which Whit finds out about from the private detective (Ann Dowd) he followed to hire his boss around. That seem a little shifty? Just wait. Whit, Claire and Simon hire three struggling actors to confront Howard while pretending to be Love, Death, and Time. They even pretend they don’t see them. The idea is that he’ll either have a breakthrough or they’ll be able to convince the board he’s had a mental breakdown and force him out of the company.

That sound like a horror movie to you? Assholes convince grieving father he’s going insane for their own financial benefit? SURPRISE, IT’S A FEEL-GOOD CHRISTMAS MOVIE.

To be clear, Collateral Beauty writer Allan Loeb (oh of fucking course it’s Allan Loeb) knows that there’s something ever-so-slightly morally suspect about this plan. Brigitte/Death (Helen Mirren), when it’s pitched to her, straight-up says, «So you want us to gaslight this guy?» Amy/Love Actually (Keira Knightley) initially objects, too, on the grounds that WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE. But those objections are brushed aside, by Howard’s coworkers and by the movie itself. It’s for Howard’s own good, you see. Even if part of the deception is goading Howard into blowing up at Love (Actually), Death, and Time, secretly filming him, and then digitally removing the other person from the video so it looks like he’s ranting at thin air.

Yes.

That’s completely fine.

No one here is a sociopath.

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Everything about Collateral Beauty is bizarrely misguided. It thinks it’s some soulful meditation on loss and grief, but it’s about as deep as a kiddie swimming pool.

Here’s Whit, reflecting on the birth of his daughter: «I realized I wasn’t feeling love. I had become love.»

Raffi/Time: «I don’t understand dominoes. There’s no board to play them on, or basket to throw them into.»

Brigitte/Death: «They grieve. Dogs. They grieve, they fully understand death.»

And Brigitte talking to Simon, who doesn’t want to let his family know that his cancer has come out of remission: «You’re dying?» «Everyone’s dying.» «Yeah, but you’re doing it now

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Raffi/Time is referred to as a «thug» and jokes with Claire that he’s going to use his ill-gotten acting money to buy designer drugs—she’s nervous that she had to bring his $ 20,000 in cash up to (gasp) 181st St., you see. Whit, meanwhile, aggressively flirts with Amy, following her around and initiating unwanted physical contact. Amy, despite her clear lack of interest, finds Whit endearing and suggests that he apply his «persistence» to spending time with his young daughter Allison, who’s refused to have anything to do with him since he cheated on his now-ex wife. «So you’re stalking me?,» Allison asks Papa Dearest when Whit announces his intention to wait for her outside her school every day. It’s supposed to be cute.

The twist, of course, is that Brigitte, Amy, and Raffi really are Death, Love, and Time, and they’re here not just to help Howard but Whit, Simon, and Claire as well. (Claire’s dilemma is that she’s been so focused on her career that she worries she hasn’t left herself enough time to start a family. Of course. Women. Can. We. Have. It. All?!?!?!?!) You see it coming form a mile away. Another plot twist, this time involving Howard and group therapy leader and grieving mother Madeleine (Naomie Harris), is equally predictable and equally cheesy.

OK, so, Collateral Beauty is batshit. You may be wondering, at this point, whether it’s batshit enough to qualify as a hate watch. The answer to that is a decided «no.» Collateral Beauty is nonsensical, but it’s not nonsensical in a Winter’s Tale flying rainbow horse way. It’s just dull. It’s impossible to connect with the characters, because all the characters are fucking assholes, even if they’re not acknowledged as such. The cast is top-notch, and the actors give it their all—particularly Smith, who’s a goddamned professional even in crap movies, cough Suicide Squad cough—but nothing can make up for the utter tone deafness of the movie as a whole.

So thanks, TK, you asshole. You may have won the battle, but I’ll win the war.

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Pajiba

Margaret Cho Called Out Tilda Swinton, Tilda Swinton Hit Back With The Receipts

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Tilda Swinton reached out to Margaret Cho back in May to get her thoughts on the Doctor Strange whitewashing controversy. It gets even more weirder, Margaret Cho claims that Tilda Swinton got her e-mail and number for Alex Borstein. Alex Borstein was in one of my favorite shows ever Getting On and also played Ms. Swan on MADtv.

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Does that mean that Tilda called Alex because she thought that Alex was Asian and when Alex told her that wasn’t the case, she said, “Okay, well then give me the number of the next most famous Asian in Hollywood or whatever?” It doesn’t. Tilda tugged at Margaret, because Margaret went off about whitewashing on Twitter.

When it was announced that Tilda was cast as The Ancient One in Jaden Smith’s Religion (aka Doctor Strange), many people were not happy, because in the comics that character is an old Asian dude. People were pissed, because there’s not that many lead roles for Asians in big-budget movies as it is. Tilda argued that it’s not whitewashing because she’s not white. She’s not even human. She was born in a moonflower on the banks of a lunar water river on the moon. No, Tilda’s argument was that The Ancient One in the movie isn’t Asian so she’s not doing yellowface.

Tilda ended up reaching out to Margaret Cho for Margaret’s thoughts. Margaret told the story on Bobby Lee’s podcast, TigerBelly (via Vulture). It came up during a discussion about how there’s not many great roles for Asians in Hollywood movies. To Margaret, her exchange with Tilda was every layer of bizarre and that she went away feeling like a house Asian. I’ve condensed Margaret and Bobby’s conversation a bit:

Margaret – She contacted me. It was Mrs. Swann, you know, Alex Borstein, she hooked us up, which is the most ironic…..

Bobby – To me, Ms. Swan was hilarious.

Margaret – I think it’s hilarious. So she said, “Is it cool if I give Tilda your number because she wants to talk to you?” And I go, “Alright.” So then Tilda eventually e-mailed me and she said that she didn’t understand why people were so mad about Doctor Strange. And she wanted to talk about it. You know, and wanted to get my take on why all the Asian people were mad. It was a long conversation and it was so weird. She’s like can you please tell them to not be so… And I’m like, “Bitch, I can’t tell them.”

Bobby – You are the President of All Asians. Well, you are. You are, American division.

Margaret – I don’t have a yellow phone under a cake dome. But we had a long discussion. She also wanted me not to tell anybody, so don’t tell anybody. It was a long, kind of a fight, about why the part should not have gone to her. That’s what I thought. The part should not have gone to her and we had a fight about it. Basically it ended with her saying, “Well I’m producing a movie and Steven Yeun is starring.

Bobby – Oh, like “I have a black friend. I can do this.”

Margaret – Yeah, I’m paying my dues for the Asians and therefore I can be them. It was weird because I felt like a house Asian, like I’m her servant. Like the ones they have in the raj, they would have the house servant who was sort of your confidante. The sort of servant that was close to you. That’s sort of what I felt like, like I was following her with an umbrella. I had a weird feeling about the entire exchange, especially the part of, “Don’t tell anybody.”

BUT WAIT! Tilda has the receipts! Tida’s rep spit up what he says is the e-mail exchange between her and Margaret, and it’s VERY different than what Margaret said. Tilda’s rep told Too Fab that Margaret spun their conversation into a work of semi-fiction to make Tilda look like an asshole.

“Please note the inaccuracies in Margaret’s assessment of their conversation, starting with her implication that they talked at length when they only e-mailed a few times. Also note that Margaret seemed to imply Tilda was trying to get points by saying she had just produced the film Okja with Steven Yeun when she only mentioned it after Margaret suggested that she produce a film with Asian actors.”

The rep also gave Too Fab the e-mails. Too Fab has the screen shots, but below is the back and forth. The TL;DR version is: Don’t fuck with Tilda.

Tilda to Margaret:

Dear Margaret,

We’ve never met, but you’ve been in my head for years – I’m a fan. I want to ask you a favour now which is sprung out of a truly important social conversation but may be heading for some crazy-making shit. The diversity debate – ALL STRENGTH to it – has come knocking at the door of Marvel’s new movie DR STRANGE. I am told that you are aware of this. But since I am that extinct beast that does no social media, I am unaware of what exactly anybody has said about any of it. I believe there are some ironies about this particular film being a target, but I’m frankly much more interested in listening than saying anything much.

I would really love to hear your thoughts and have a – private – conversation about it. Are you up for this? Can we e-mail?

No wrong answer here. Tell me to fuck off if you feel like it. In any and every case, Much love to you,

Tilda

Margaret to Tilda:

Sure! I’m a big fan of yours – since orlando!

Well, what do you know so far? I can tell you from my perspective what’s happening!

The character you played in Dr Strange was originally written as a Tibetan man and so there’s a frustrated population of Asian Americans who feel the role should have gone to a person of Asian descent.

The larger part of the debate has to do with the ‘whitewashing’ of Asian and Asian Americans in film. Our stories are told by white actors over and over again and we feel at a loss to know how to cope with it.

Protest seems to be the only solution- we just want more representative images of ourselves in film. TV is getting better in terms of diversity but film is lagging behind.

Anyway – hope this helps! We can totally email and we can be private! Best, m

Tilda to Margaret:

Here’s the situation I reckon Marvel was in. The old comic books from way back when are stuffed with stereotypes that we could all find offensive for any number of reasons.

The film – like any film adaptation – is a riff on the books. The Ancient One may have been written as a Tibetan man in the comics, but Marvel, in a conscious effort to shake up stereotypes, wanted to avoid tired cliché. They cast Chiwetel Ejiofor as the second lead – a white Transylvanian in the books. And wrote a significant Asian character to be played by Benedict Wong.

With The Ancient One (the ‘wise old Eastern geezer’ Fu Manchu type in the book), wanting to switch up the gender (another diversity department) and not wanting to engage with the old ‘Dragon Lady’ trope, they chose to write the character as being of (ancient) Celtic origin and offered that role to me. Presumably on Ancient grounds. I accepted happily, impressed that, for once, they aimed to disrupt the ‘wisdom must be male’ never-ending story – and, by the way, for once, wanting to feature a woman who’s a badass, over 26 and not simply bursting out of a bikini.

The biggest irony about this righteous protest targeting this particular film is the pains the makers went to to avoid it.

A – personal – irony to my being even remotely involved in this controversy is what I stand up for and always have. Whether it is challenging the idea of what women look like, or how any of us live our lives, or how we educate our children, diversity is pretty much my comfort zone. The idea of being caught on the wrong side of this debate is a bit of a nightmare to me.

I am as sick as anybody at the lack of a properly diverse cinematic universe. Pretty much sick of the Anglophone world in general, sick of all the men’s stories, sick of all the symmetrical features and Mattel-inspired limbs..

I’m a Scottish woman of 55 who lives in the Highlands. There’s precious little projected on contemporary cinema screens that means a great deal to my life, if truth be told.

So

How best might we focus this thing? To offer intelligent and empowered thinking.. And see something constructive coming out of this moment?

Ducking the issue is not what I am about. I want to meet it, but, if possible, move things forward by how I meet it.

I realise, as far as I am concerned, this possibly means saying nothing: so far I have attempted to correct the notion that I accepted an offer to play an Asian.. (!!) the most significant and damaging misunderstanding out there, it seems. Beyond that, I don’t feel it appropriate for me to add anything, certainly at this point.

But I would love to know what ideas you – or anyone you know – have of something properly progressive to bring to this table. The debate is so important for all of us. It needs to build itself on strong ground.

love

Tilda

Margaret to Tilda:

I’m totally unfamiliar with all the comic books so I can’t speak on anything about that – and the efforts to make this film more diverse is unfortunately lost in the translation here. Hopefully that comes up more when the film comes out and is finally brought to audiences! I think that it’s just a timing thing – Asian Americans are fed up with not being given roles even if the part called for someone of Asian descent – and that the Ancient One role was being used as another example of ‘whitewashing’. Social media has grown to the point where we can use it effectively to express – well whatever.

I believe very much that you as an artist are about diversity and your body of work shows that – but this particular case of the Ancient One is just another in a long list of ‘whitewashed’ Asian characters and so you’re likely to feel the heat of history.

I am not sure what to say other than I am glad you want to meet the issue head on – it’s a tough one I know.

I think that talking about the issue frankly – as you have done with me is the right way to go. It’s hard I know – people get very angry and it’s difficult to know what to do to get around that anger. But you should know that it’s anger built up over many many years of invisibility within film/tv/media that’s just exploded now with this film. And it’s not just you – It’s also directed at Scarlett Johanssen for Ghost in the Shell.

Maybe what’s best is the highlight the diversity that you do see in the film and that being why you felt drawn to the project.

Also acknowledge that you’re all about diversity and how you want the films you make to be diverse and how film can benefit from that.

I’d even suggest getting into producing content that would give Asian American voices a platform? That’s really what is being asked for. Asian Americans feel as if we have no place in film and so we want one to be created. Whether that is found in supporting projects that would bring Asians into the foreground or even just discussing what it would take to do such a thing would help.

Tilda to Margaret:

I can’t thank you enough for this.

It really helps me sort out the lay of the land. To be continued.

x

By the way, the project I have been developing as a producer over the past two years is with Bong Joon Ho – my colleague from SNOWPIERCER – a film called OKJA shooting this summer in Korea, NYC and Vancouver – to my knowledge the first ever half Korean/half English speaking film, which we are making with Plan B and Netflix, in which the lead is a 14 year old girl from Korea and which stars Steven Yeun, amongst others.. fingers crossed it will be a big deal and help the landscape somewhat.. I hope and believe it will..

Margaret to Tilda:

Hey that’s great about OKJA!

Here I was thinking that the feud between Chachi and the Red Hot Chili Peppers wife would be the weirdest feud of the week, if not month. But then Margaret and Tilda came along and took that title.

And if you look up at the moon tonight, you’ll probably see the letters “F U M C” on it. Because I’m sure Tilda’s moon creature subjects are going to carve out a special message to Margaret Cho for messing with their queen.

Pics: Wenn.com, FOX

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Update: Wow, Margaret Cho Seriously Mischaracterized Her Conversation with Tilda Swinton

Update: Our illustrious commenters (below) alerted us to a Jezebel piece wherein they asked Tilda Swinton to comment on the below exchange. Swinton provided her entire email exchange, and Cho seriously mischaracterized it. Swinton was incredibly classy, mortified that she was caught up in a whitewashing scandal, and mentioned her project with Steven Yeun in an entirely appropriate fashion. Read the full email exchange here. We apologize for doubting SWINTON.

In your sounds-like-a-parody-but-is-horrifically-true news, Margaret Cho got shoved into the ongoing Doctor Strange whitewashing controversy, with «holy shit» results. Cho tells the tale of racism and woe on Bobby Lee’s Tigerbelly podcast, during a discussion of Asian casting in Hollywood.

Through the random middleman that is Alex Bornstein (who notably played an Asian caricature on MadTV), Tilda Swinton contacted Cho, simply not understanding why folks were ticked off at her casting as the Ancient One, a Tibetan monk in Doctor Strange. After Cho’s explanation of why Swinton’s casting just wasn’t chill fell on deaf ears, Swinton then reminded Cho that her upcoming film, on which she was a producer, had The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun in it, thus fulfilling Hollywood’s variation of «It’s okay, I have a black friend.»

I’ll give you a moment to scream, laugh, shake your head, throw your phone, whatever.

All done? OK.

To add to the weirdness of it all, after not getting Cho’s approval, Swinton asked Cho not to tell anyone. Luckily for us, Margaret Cho doesn’t give a fuck. Is it ANY surprise why actors of color remain skeptical of diversity in Hollywood?

In related Steven Yeun news, on the same podcast, Bobby Lee recalls auditioning for the same five-line stoner Asian role in a comedy film. He talks about being surprised Yeun even had to read for the role, and Yeun responded that he had to read. Lee then expressed his frustration at Yeun and other breakout POC actors having to audition for small roles, reminding us that all notable white actors wouldn’t have to audition, comparing Yeun to Aaron Paul.

I’ll leave this with a line about Hollywood from Bobby Lee: «To not think of this as a racist business — of course it is. It is. The truth is that we have to read. We have to go in for things and it’s shocking, especially for somebody like him.»

We — and Hollywood — have a long, long way to go.

via Vulture

Pajiba

A Jezebel Guide to Caroling

One of the most satisfying and good-natured activities to do during the holiday season (unless you’re Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually) is going from door to door in your neighborhood for a night of caroling. Though it may not sound like there’s much involved in the process, we at Jezebel recommend you follow our guide for an evening of spreading good cheer that neither you (or your neighbors) will soon forget!

Read more…


Jezebel

What Was 2016’s Most Attractive Movie Cast?

This being December and all, we’re going all in on year-end lists, like our roundups of the best TV and movie lines of the year. But it’s Friday and it’s cold out, so for today’s list, we’re going a slightly different route. That’s right: It’s time to warm yourselves in front of the fires of blistering hot hotness. What’s been 2016’s most sexXxolicious movie cast? Your contenders:

Captain America: Civil War
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Pros: Civil War takes an early lead by virtue of having 18,000 characters. You have Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Daniel Brühl, and CHRIS EVANS’ ARMS, plus industrial strength space-heaters Paul Rudd, Emily Van Camp, Don Cheadle, Frank Grillo, and Marisa Tomei popping up in smaller roles. And Florence Karumba as Black Panther’s hot bodyguard («Move. Or you will be moved.»): Never forget.
Cons: Jeremy Renner looks kind of like a troll doll, and Paul Bettany is purple.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
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Pros: Diego Luna is unbelievably hot in Rogue One. Just. Like. Motherfucking wow. It’s a difficulty. He’s hot normally but in Rogue One it is B E Y O N D. You also have Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, and silver fox Ben Mendelsohn.
Cons: Riz Ahmed’s bullshit manky braids.

Hidden Figures
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Pros: Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monáe are luminous beings, and Kevin Costner is hot in a dad sort of way. And, in smaller roles, we have Leverage‘s Aldis Hodge and Glenn Powell, the latter of whom you may know as the man with the average-sized dick in Everybody Wants Some!!. But really, it’s all about Mahershala Ali as Taraji P. Henson’s uniform-wearing love interest. It’s swoon worthy. Let’s get him in a romantic drama, stat, please.
Cons: Kirsten Dunst gets a dowding down as Octavia Spencer’s racist supervisor. And, not to be mean, but… Jim Parsons. He waters down the hot. Just saying.

Suicide Squad
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Pros: Margot Robbie, obviously. And Jai Courtney… being good in a thing? Viola Davis was also sexy, in a scared-she’s-going-to-murder-me sort of way. But none of it matters, because…
Cons: …Jared Leto fused my vagina shut.

Moonlight


Pros: Janelle Monáe and Mahershala Ali of Hidden Figures hot it up once more, as does Trevante Rhodes playing the adult incarnation of main character Chiron. Naomie Harris has the bone structure of a goddess, which not even playing Chiron’s drug-addicted mother can take away. And just thinking about the above shot of André Holland makes me weak in the knees.
Cons: There’s less of a volume of hotness than in larger movies like Civil War. But Holland should count as three people, at least.

Doctor Strange
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Pros: Chiwetel Ejiofor. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s arms. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s arms. Mads. Rachel McAdams. Chiwetel. Ejiorfor’s. Arms.
Cons: Michael Stuhlbarg’s awful blonde wig, the dread specter of whitewashing and Benedict Cumberbatch’s space alien motherfucker self are major drawbacks. I’m not going to argue about it. You can discuss in the comments if you want.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
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Pros: That scene of Lex Luthor-Max Landis shoving a Jolly Rancher into some old white dude’s mouth was particularly sexy.
Cons: LOL

Star Trek Beyond
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Pros: The Star Trek franchise is low-key rocking one of the hottest casts out there. You have Chris Pine and his freakishly blue eyes (do a Google image search for «Chris Pine desert hooker.» I’ll wait.), Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon «nerd chic» Pegg and KING JOHN CHO all in the same movie. Plus Sofia Boutella, getting her she’d-punch-me-in-the-face-and-I’d-like-it alien on.
Cons: Being sad about Anton Yelchin. AND HOW ARE YOU GOING TO COVER IDRIS ELBA’S FACE LIKE THAT?

X-Men: Apocalypse
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Pros: Oh that’s right, this came out. McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, Hoult, Byrne. The usual suspects. We’ve seen it all before, and hotter elsewhere. Alexandra Shipp was hot as mohawk Storm. Olivia Munn and the Mystery of the Missing Pants. I got nothin’.
Cons: Oscar Isaac cosplaying Ivan Ooze. Lucas Till’s abominable hair.

The Magnificent Seven
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Pros: Mag 7 isn’t a particularly memorable movie, but it is 2016’s only major release to feature superbabe Byung-hun Lee. See also the slow pan up Chris Pratt’s body. I think we’re supposed to be focusing on the gun? And: Denzel, Haley Bennett, Martin Sensmeier. Oh, you don’t know about Martin Sensmeier? HI.
Cons: Vincent D’onofrio is Orson Welles in Chimes at Midnight!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
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Pros: Colin Farrell.
Cons: Johnny Depp.

Pajiba

Padma Lakshmi’s Guide to an Unforgettable Party

Padma Lakshmi has had a busy year between wrapping up the fourteenth season of Top Chef in Charleston and releasing her newest cookbook, The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World. At a dark Manhattan speakeasy, Lakshmi and I sip on the Patrón cocktail she developed while she dishes on unforgettable parties and a very unexpected gift for your host. 

How did you choose to focus on spices in your new book? 

I didn’t choose spices. They chose me! I was born in India to a family of women who loved cooking. The first smell I remember is the smell of spices roasting in my grandmother’s hot iron wok. I’ve grown up around them, so they’re just second nature to me. I’m from the same part of India where most spices originally come from—turmeric, ginger. They’ve been a part of my existence since before I could spell.

I love spices because they’re the thing that change your food from being ordinary to special. Think about it. Every culture has chicken and vegetables—Chinese stir fry, chicken fajitas, chicken cacciatore, chicken tagine, chicken vindaloo, chicken pot pie. What makes those dishes all different? It’s the spices. If it wasn’t for the spices, it’s just chicken and vegetables. You can’t be a good cook if you don’t understand spices.

Tell me about what we’re drinking. There’s turmeric in it? I feel like turmeric is pretty trendy right now. 

It’s not trendy to me! I’ve been using turmeric since I was born. It’s ubiquitous in India, to all our cooking. It is having a moment. So I thought, sure, why not use something that is part of my heritage that is having a moment in American culture right now. It has turmeric, ginger, lime juice, mint, and a splash of tangerine juice. It’s not too sweet. It’s important to be mindful of your guests not waking up with a hangover the next day. (Laughs).

You recently visited the Patrón hacienda to tape this season of Top Chef. What was that like?

It was great. I mean, I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess I expected a factory. They told me they grow the agave there. They distill it. They package it. They do everything there, so I didn’t expect it to be such a beautiful, warm, inviting place. It couldn’t have been more beautiful. You go through the gates, and the house is this beautiful gothic style architecture with balconies and archways—you know those old Spanish villas. I don’t think they built it that long ago, but it feels like it was built 100 years ago. All of a sudden you feel like you’re in a Marquez book. You feel like you’ve stepped out of an Isabel Allende novel. It has a House of the Spirits feel to it. 

Everyone there is really nice. I think they employ over half the town. I have to tell you that everyone I met—and I met over half of their employees—everyone was smiling. When I went to find out how the agave is turned into what you’re drinking, the farmers were happy, the guys chopping the big balls of agave, they’re happy. It takes like 60 people to make one bottle of Patrón. I had no idea! I think they also have a church there. I think it’s nice the way the owners of  Patrón have thought about the wellbeing of their employees. I think if that was just for show, I would’ve found out. I spent two days there, and then a day and a half with the show. I really got into the culture of the hacienda. Everything is hand done, and this day in age, it doesn’t have to be.

Do you entertain a lot during the holidays? 

I entertain a lot all year round, but yeah, I have a couple gatherings. My entertaining tends to be very loose and relaxed. If the hostess is relaxed, the guests are relaxed. I try not to make it stuffy. I try to keep in mind how busy everyone is, and how everyone has to run home from work and put their kids to bed and do all of that. I try not to start a party too early, but I do start it early enough that people don’t have to get home at like one in the morning and feel like it took up half their day.

I have a child, so children are always welcome at my parties. I never want someone to have to decide between coming to hang out at my house and being with their kids. I always give them that option. It’s a holiday for them too! The holidays are about spending time with your family.

What type of parties do you normally throw?

I usually throw buffets. I do have sit down dinners, but they’re more like dinner parties throughout the year. For the holidays, I have a buffet because people can come for a little bit and then leave or come back. It’s a little more loose, and people feel like they can stop by. If you have a sit down dinner, then you can only talk to the person on your left and on your right. And if you’re late, you feel really awkward because you come in and people are already eating. But at a buffet, you can take what you want. You can mingle.

How do you enjoy the party if you’re the host? 

Make 75% of your menu ahead of time. Don’t kill yourself. No one is there because…well, maybe some people are there because you’re an excellent cook, but most people are there because they want to spend time with you. The only thing I save until the last minute is usually putting the dressing on salad or ripping up the herbs which can oxidize and get black. Unless you’re making guacamole, don’t wait to do anything.

Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to help. It also gives the guests something to do. If you want to break the ice and start conversations, get two people that don’t know each other to make the salad together. People appreciate that. They want to talk to other guests, but they feel intimidated.

Padma Lakshmi

What would you want to receive as a hostess gift?

I think a bottle of wine is not a good idea for a hostess gift. There’s always this awkward moment as a hostess, where I’m not sure if you want me to open that wine, and it’s just one bottle, and I’ve got ten people here, and maybe it doesn’t go with the other wine I’m serving. But I don’t want you to feel offended if I say thank you and put it away. You know? If you’re buying wine, if you can afford it, buy two bottles of the same wine. Or buy a bottle of Patrón. Bring a nice bottle of something. Some people who want tequila can enjoy right away, but that gift is going to stay in that person’s bar cart for a while. That’s a nice, solid gift.

And I have to tell you the truth, I think my book would be great. (Laughs). Because if they’re hosting a dinner party, they like to cook. This is about every spice in the world. It’s a reference guide, so it’s not “oh, I hope she likes Mexican food or Thai food.” This is something that will last in his or her kitchen and be useful to them.

If you’re going to a place where you know the host or hostess, like if they’re a reader, you can go to a used bookstore and find a first edition of something or even an old vintage copy of a magazine. Once, for a birthday present, I found a Playboy magazine from the 60s which had a pictorial of not only Brigitte Bardot but Vanessa Redgrave, and an article in it by Alan Ginsberg. I found it outside of Lincoln Center. This guy had a sheet with all these vintage magazines. I bought 2 or 3 and kept them, so when I need a last minute gift, it’s a cool item. It’s nice to have those kinds of gifts that aren’t gender dependant or size dependant.

Who did you end up giving that to?

My ex-husband. I didn’t forget his birthday, but I thought, “this is a juicy present.” 

What makes an event great? 

You can serve hot dogs and potato chips out of a bag. You can do what most French women do, which is buy everything and just throw out the packaging. That’s totally acceptable. The point is you’re taking the trouble to open up your home. If you have a good guest list. You always want to have a few loud mouth funny people. You also want to have two other people who are a more reserved. If everyone is shouting, that’s awful too. You want a mix. I was at a party once where I saw Kate Moss talking to Henry Kissinger, and I thought it was the best party I’d ever been to! You know? You want whatever your own universe’s version of that is in your own circle of friends and family. You don’t need to worry about fancy recipes and good china. Of course you want your home to be beautiful and you want people to feel like you fussed over them, but really, you want the company to be good.

What was the best party you’ve ever been to?

The best party I’ve ever been to was on Liberty Island. It was on August 2nd, 1999. It was for the opening of Talk magazine thrown by Tina Brown. That was the party where I saw Kate Moss talking to Henry Kissinger! I also met my husband there that day. But there was everybody. There was Demi Moore. There was Madonna. And there was no electricity there, except for generators. So you had to actually walk around. You couldn’t just sit back and people watch. You didn’t know who anyone was until you got 3 feet away from them. So people were very open. They would just say hi to whoever because they didn’t know enough to put their guard up. There were blankets and pillows everywhere on the lawn. There were fireworks. Literally Martin Scorsese was having a hot dog with Julia Roberts. I mean, I’m making those two people up, but I’m sure they were there. (Laughs). 

Again, it’s the people. I don’t remember what I ate. All I remember is all these people were there, and they were talking to me. Tina Brown is the best hostess that I have ever met in my life because she understands that. She knows that it’s about people. A party is about people. Nothing else but people. 

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