February 5, 2013

You want commentary? Sure. Next month, HBO will release Phil Spector, which chronicles the murder trial against legendary record producer Phil Spector that concluded with his 2009 sentencing for a very long time. Today, HBO released a trailer showing Al Pacino (as Spector) and Helen Mirren (as his lawyer) chewing on all kinds of dramatic scenery, but the most notable thing is the assortment of truly garish wigs on top of Pacino’s head—which, along with the hammy delivery, make it seem like the movie could find its place in the pantheon of ironically watched movies for years to come. Or maybe it’ll actually be good, but really: Those wigs! It’s out on March 24. As follows:

1. Psycho afro (pictured above)

2. Increasingly irrelevant cool dad

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3. Sideburn Spector

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4. 21st century Mick Jagger

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5. Bomb shelter chic

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The Bullet Shop
June 26, 2012

With his latest restaurant, Red Rooster, breathing new life into Harlem all over again with its multi-culturati scene, we were eager to sit down with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, the cock of the New York foodie walk.

The first amazing thing we found out?

He’s not a celebrity chef, he says. He’s just a guy who loves to cook, who has more endorsement deals than knives: television shows, websites, social networking accounts, a hospitality group, and a self-designed line of shoes called MOZO Chef Signature, which look like a cross between skater shoes, high-end sneakers, and Italian driving moccasins. He’s an Iron Chef champ. He huffs for HuffPo. He’s cooked for the Obamas—their first state dinner at the White House. And he helped The Man feed the fat cats at a DNC fundraiser at Red Rooster in March (lobster salad and short ribs). He’s handsome and married to a model, Maya Haile. He’s a fashion plate, and we’re not talking starters and sides: Burberry, Acne, Dior, Valentino, “Brooklyn” Nikes, Ralph Lauren, and Vuitton bags to travel. He’s a philanthropist (Tap Project for UNICEF, World Childhood Foundation, CCAP) and an activist. And he has a biographical back story that James Frey or JT LeRoy wouldn’t have tried to float past their publishers: Ethiopian-born, orphaned at 3, raised in Sweden, three stars at 24, with a new concept of “fusion” cooking that seems to express not only his life, but a vision of a world on the edge of ethnographic change, forever.

What we learned from our talk:

Five of Marcus’ favorite words are: platform, conversation, proposition, journey, and community.

Why Rooster? Why Harlem?

“I thought, I live here. Why is it the case that there are more sodas than fresh apples on my block? What can I do in that conversation? Food is my platform, and I can bring that to this community. No one is coming to Harlem for anything. You have to create it.”

And:

“That’s the proposition. Create a magnet, create the jobs. If we hire just 60 people—some of these kids, maybe they worked in a fast food restaurant before, so when we serve and they meet the person who just graduated from school, they meet the Harlemite guy, you’re creating a new language. A new conversation.”

And:

You have to separate yourself from the conversation in order to give your best. All of these people, they’re connected, they aspire. None of them would work at a four-star restaurant, a three-star restaurant—they would not actually have been spoken to. But they’re good people and they deserve a chance, and these standards that I was taught and trained by I got in my blood when I was 17 years old. Some of them are 19, some of them are 45—it doesn’t matter. They’re still going to get a chance. The restaurant was an opportunity to create a community and a place where people who go by say, ‘I’m going to work there.’”

The next trend is “local, authentic.” The last trend was “fusion, exotic.” But Rooster is authentically local because Harlem is exotically fusion. Two birds with one stone.

“The authenticity first is by the intent. We are here, and we are authentic because our staff is from here, and because of the conversation of the menu. East of us is the Harlemite from the Latin community—that’s why we have a big section of that [tacos and tostadas]. The center of us is the Trinidadian and Jamaican community [dirty rice and jerk beef]. And then you have the African-American community [mac and greens, fried chicken], and then you have the Jewish [braised short ribs] and Italian-American [asparagus with pine nuts, lemon chicken]. The menu’s laid out so that we are ‘a place.’ It’s not like, ‘I like foie gras, so let’s have foie gras on the menu.’ It doesn’t fit.”

What we love about Marcus: He’s put his money where his mouth is.

“When I was 21, I ate at a fuga restaurant in Japan. I was completely broke afterwards. I flew to Japan to do this and I did it, and I left with a smile. It was still fantastic. When I ate at Alain Ducasse the first time, same thing. Every year I took one trip that put everything in the red and saved up all my money and ate. It’s the only school. But I worked every weekend for it. You just work and you do it. Getting there—with your borrowed tie and pants, but getting there. Eating a tasting menu. Those are experiences.”

What Marcus tweeted the day we talked to him:

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.” —Rabindranath Tagore.

Was it something we said?

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The Bullet Shop
September 29, 2011

We’ve always harbored a not-so-secret obsession for actor Michael Shannon, and with Shannon Season fast approaching, it’s obvious we’re not the only ones. This fall, we’ll be enrapt by his baby-mama drama (with BULLETT babe Paz de la Huerta) as he reprises his role as Agent Nelson Van Alden on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. We’ll also be front row when he portrays a man with a serious mental illness in the psychological drama Take Shelter (costarring Jessica Chastain, another actor who’s having a major moment), and when he embodies a drug addict alongside Gerard Butler inMachine Gun Preacher.

In this exclusive video interview, the lovable oddball discusses conspiracy theories (which he endearingly calls conspiracy “truths”) and his thoughts on extraterrestrial life.

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The Bullet Shop
September 20, 2011

Celebrity sorcerer David Copperfield once made the Statue of Liberty disappear. He’s walked through (yes, through) the Great Wall of China. With his trademark smolder, he even wooed supermodel Claudia Schiffer, to whom he was engaged for six years. The 55-year-old New Jersey native is the proud owner of eleven Guinness World Record, 21 Emmys, and a chain of 11 islands in the Bahamas. It’s safe to say he lives a, well, charmed life, which is why we were so excited when he invited BULLETT to hang out in his magic archive in Las Vegas.

Check out the behind-the-scenes footage in which our Editor-in-Chief Idil Tabanca, Creative Director Sah D’Simone, and Art Director James Orlando team up with the King of Magic to create images that are beyond enchanting. To see the results of the shoot, pick up BULLETT’s Cosmic Issue, on stands now.

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The Bullet Holiday Gift Guide
September 18, 2011


Mary-Louise Parker could not be more ready for BULLETT’s Cosmic issue.

“I’ve been called an alien all my life,” she says warming to the topic. “They can’t get a pulse on me and for some reason I break electronics – like my computer and my cell phone. No-one knows what it is.”

Thankfully, today her negative ions are set to low, so digital pictures remain faithfully on SD cards while her words are recorded for posterity on an iPod.

We’re in Los Angeles, her home-away-from-her-NYC-home for three months a year while she films the hit Showtime series Weeds, chronicling the bad decisions and wild missteps of a mother/widower/dope dealer/gangster’s moll. It’s a role that’s given the 46-year-old both a regular gig, and the opportunity to indulge her love of theatre (she won a Tony for her Broadway role in “Proof“), cherry pick some choice film roles (Red, Solitary Man) and raise her two kids (seven-year-old William with actor Billy Crudup, and adopted daughter Caroline, five.)

She’s a lot on her plate, which could explain her croak of a voice, words propelled mere inches from her mouth by the slightest puff of her lungs before falling almost unheard onto the ground. Almost unheard…

At the end of the last season of Weeds, after years of getting away with it all, Nancy finally got caught.

Yes, she went to jail for three years. This is the first time the show returned after a break with a three-year gap in the story.

Did three years in the big house finally teach her a lesson?

No way. We wouldn’t have a show if it did.

How soon before she starts getting into trouble again?

About 20 minutes. Maybe more like 11.

Have you personally ever had any issues with the decisions she’s made?

No. I’m not like her. She’s really immediate, and I tend to worry more and think about the future and my children and the effect things will have on them, even down to what they eat.

America is still essentially a puritanical society: was it inevitable that she ultimately had to be punished for her crimes?

The writer and creator of the show wasn’t looking for something punitive to appeal to middle America: she’s more along the lines of wanting to shock people. I think she just thought it was good for the story.

Nothing in the name of moral duty?

No – I don’t think there’s much of that on the show.

Showtime has a rep for seriously flawed characters – Nancy, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, Hank Moody, Frank Gallagher – that at the same time seem very likeable. What do you think is the appeal?

I was the first one! I personally think there’s something lovely about watching a slightly more fictionalized ideal, like Leave It To Beaver. I’d rather watch that, but maybe people can’t live up to that, and it feels more subversive and voyeuristic to see something that is closer to real life.

Though however extraordinary her situation, her response is always relatively passive.

That’s because she feels, whatever’s happening, ‘Things will ultimately work out for me’. It’s not even being able to relate to the fact that it might not. That’s a hard attitude for me to relate to.

Has anything been difficult for you to film or deal with?

Honestly, driving was the hardest thing for me because I don’t drive.

So you’ve been beaten, sexually abused, kidnapped, gone to jail, attacked… yet driving has been the most difficult.

I would say so. I’m pretty bad. They had a gag reel one season that had seven takes of me trying to back out of a parking space.

Apart from forcing you into a car, has Nancy influenced you at all?

Just with her taste in jewelry. I worked for a long time to try and find her wardrobe and I really want her jewelry. I don’t dress like her otherwise.

You look pretty badass on the new poster, with your leather pants and chain.

I know – isn’t that silly! My kids saw it from the car – ‘Oh, it’s mummy!’ I think they think everyone’s mummy is on a billboard.

You’ve interviewed and written for Esquire: if you were interviewing yourself what question would you ask?

God… what a good question. I guess… why do you want to keep doing it? The answer? I don’t want to seem melodramatic, but in some ways it feels like this is what I have to be doing. My father just died, so that changes the way I feel about what I do.

Sorry to hear that – do you believe you’ll get to see him again in the afterlife?

I want to so badly. Nobody knows – everything is philosophy as far as I’m concerned. Or hope.

If there is an afterlife, where do you think you’re going and where do you think Nancy’s going?

Nancy’s going to a land full of shoes and jewelry. I’d just like to be somewhere I can see my dad again, and ultimately my mum and my kids.

When you were a kid yourself did you feel you had a purpose?

To keep people around me happy.

That’s a serious responsibility for a child.

It wasn’t in a mammoth way, not like some Dickensian-type thing. I was kind of a disaster socially, so I didn’t have a lot of friends, which in the end brought me all kinds of other things.

Do you believe in fate?

No. I believe in effort. And results. Effort counts, and that’s what I respect in other people. It’s like, ‘Why even bother? I’ll just sit here and let it all happen to me.’

Do you think there’s another version of yourself sitting somewhere in a parallel universe, and if so, what’s she doing?

I don’t, but if there is I wish she’d show up and let me take a nap.

How important to you is order as opposed to chaos?

I have to create order because there’s so much chaos in my head. I can’t have both.

If you had an opportunity to take a glimpse into the future 50 years from now, what would you want to see in it?

I’d have to know first that it’s true; otherwise I wouldn’t want to see it. If someone could say your children are happy and doing well, I might want to peek. But only if I was on my way to die.

How about just a year from now – do you think you’ll still be playing Nancy Botwin?

I didn’t think they’d even pick up the pilot so I didn’t think it would go a year. Now every year I’m like, ‘You’re kidding!’. Certainly I’d do another year after this – I’m happy to have a job.

What would you like to see happen to Nancy in the future?

I like the really extreme scripts, and I wish she’d go back to a suburban setting: I love the dynamic of her trying to fit in with other women that she should be able to fit in with and just can’t. She is one of them but she isn’t.

Do you think there’s a chance that ultimately we’ll see grandma Nancy dealing drugs?

Oh, quite possibly…

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The Bullet Shop
August 25, 2011

Ashlee Simpson isn’t the only one swooning over actor Vincent Piazza. The Boardwalk Empire star has been a BULLETT favorite since his turn as a kleptomaniac named Earl in 2007’s Rocket Science. But he really sealed the deal when he stepped into the role of notorious mobster Lucky Luciano (“the father of modern organized crime”) in HBO‘s prohibition-era drama, where he holds his own among his formidable costars Michael Shannon and Paz de la Huerta (also BULLETT crushes).

For BULLETT’s Cosmic issue, Vincent Piazza was tasked to invent something that would change the world for the better. Thus was born the Negativity Neutralizer, a machine that turns complaints into a source of pure, renewable energy. We filmed Piazza as he tested his machine on the whiniest people in New York, a city of whiny people.

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The Bullet Shop
August 16, 2011

It’s almost apocalyptic, the sickly sky and the on-cue cacophony of construction. The weight of bulky chains clank and grate against the cement floor as workers heave-ho through what suddenly seems an obtrusive hallway. As Michael Shannon and I sit in the lightless offshoot hideout, the ground rumbles with pulsing vibrations, and the air fills with the staccato drilling of jackhammers. For all we know, the jarring dots and dashes could be a warning of the end of days.

It’s not the end of the world, but if it were, Shannon would have you know it’s not an act of God or mystical revelations realized: it’s science. “There are too many people,” he says. “The earth cannot sustain the amount of people that are on it right now. It’s just a fact. We use too many resources, and eventually, it cannot continue.”

An actor whose trademark is his ability to ooze intensity without sacrificing subtlety, Shannon reunites with director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories) in the slow-burning (until it erupts) psychological thriller Take Shelter. The film follows Curtis LaForche, whose stormy apocalyptic visions are either premonitions or the first signs of mental illness. In his rising panic, he struggles to protect his family.

Leaning in close, attempting to conquer the chaos, he is focused. Gazing at the ground, fingers laced, the actor says, “The story resonated with me because I’m very anxious about the state of things in the world. I have a family, and I oftentimes have to try to figure out how to balance the anxiety about the world with being in a family. You don’t want to bring that into the family—you want the family to be a peaceful, calm thing. How do you block out that anxiety? You also don’t want to be oblivious to what’s going on, because that doesn’t seem to be the right way to handle things, either. It’s trying to find that balance. I think the storm is a metaphor for a lot of different things. Although recently there’s been a lot of horrific weather in the world, so it may not even be a metaphor anymore.”

When you signed on to make the film, was it discussed with Jeff Nichols whether or not your character was truly having premonitions?

It was really not something we spoke about. It wasn’t important for us to even agree on it. As much as we’ve been talking about this phenomenon and the end of the world, [the film is] actually much more about the relationships between the people, regardless of whether the outside circumstances are true or false. That’s insignificant. The fact of the matter is that your attention can be drawn away from your family by anxiety, by outside forces, and it’s ultimately about the best way to protect your family from that anxiety.

But if the audience concludes that Curtis is schizophrenic, or is in fact experiencing premonitions, it’s likely to color their opinion. Which point of view do you think they’d be more sympathetic to?

I don’t know. Some people have a lot of sympathy for people with mental illness and some people don’t. Mental illness has always had its skeptics anyway, because some people take it very seriously, while some people don’t really believe it’s a disease. Either way, whether it’s a delusion or whether it’s really happening, his issue remains the same—he’s still trying to protect his family from himself. There’s ambiguity in the film and it’s purposeful. I know Jeff tries not to talk about it that much because he wants people to have their own experience.

The inability to trust one’s own mind and the fear of losing control are familiar territories for Shannon, whose career is built on the exploration of human complexity. In HBO’s period drama, Boardwalk Empire, he plays Agent Nelson Van Alden, a corrupt cop in Prohibition-era Atlantic City whose religious fanaticism allows him to sacrifice his own morals in exchange for the punishment of those who revel in a bootlegged pool of sin. In some ways comparable to Curtis LaForche’s personal battle, Van Alden snaps under the burden of intention and compulsion, ultimately hurting those he means to protect. Shannon pinpoints this as a great irony. “It’s a question of intimacy,” he says. “How intimate can people really be with one another? You have the family, you have a relationship, but at the end of the day, how much do you really share with another person? Can people accept another person in totality, every little facet of them? I think that’s what we’re all looking for, and to give someone that acceptance is very hard.”

Is there a fine line between sane and insane, good and bad, in people? 

Yeah, I definitely felt that with Nelson Van Alden on Boardwalk. People would stop me and tell me they enjoy the show, and they’d say something like, “You’re really good at being crazy,” or, “Oh, I really hate him, he’s so evil.” It strikes me as odd because I actually think Nelson started out with very good intentions, and I think he’s a genuine person. The significant journeys that people take in their lives—they’re not just one direction in a straight line, you know? Point A to Point B. The journey of self-discovery, self-actualization, enlightenment or wisdom is not just a straight walk down the road. There are a lot of twists and turns, and sometimes you go back the way you came. It’s hard to figure out the right thing to do every day.

Are most people inherently good?

I do have faith in that. I think people who are really violent or harmful are not born that way. There are people who withstand a lot of negative activity and abuse, and that informs who they become. Any sort of atrocity that’s committed is usually sort of handed down through the ancestry of that person. It’s not just something somebody thinks up in the moment like that.

The term “losing control” has both positive and negative connotations. What does it immediately trigger for you?

I think control is an illusion, always. If you ever have control, it’s very isolated. You have control if you tie your shoes successfully; you’ve controlled that one small inner exchange between you and that object. But in terms of having control over something, like Curtis trying to have control over that situation—it’s absurd, yet it’s something that people really look for. It gives people comfort to feel like they’re “in control,” but it seems like an illusion to me.

In the flesh, Shannon dwarfs any potential adversary—an effortless way to assert control. He’s a towering presence that could easily nestle himself among the heroes of the Golden Age of Cinema, but as if to spite his on-camera intensity and strapping build, he also exudes a subtle boyishness. If not for his easy sense of humor, it’s likely the Michael Jackson moonwalking jokes he throws around on set would have been left hanging, woeful and lingering. In this dichotomy, he effuses a charm that is distinctly his own, at once simple and intricate.

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The Bullet Shop