Tuesday, August 30, 2005


If my posting becomes erratic or prolific or emotional or incoherent in the next few weeks, please forgive. I am closing one particularly giant chapter of my life (my day job) this very week.

free at last. free at least. god almighty i'm free at last

I'm also opening all sorts of others (new jobs, creative explorations, other personal stuff) so I have no idea what's about to happen. But that's good. You have to shake it up once in a while.

Badlands (1973)

This weekend I watched Badlands --one of those 70s classics I had never gotten around to seeing. Having loved The Thin Red Line I assumed it was a must-see. Which it is. But sometimes you leave certain classics underwhelmed. I recognize that it's a thing of beauty and I admired the almost-frustrating distance and objective tone that Malick maintains. But I can't say that it suddenly became a personal favorite.

The revelation for me was Sissy Spacek. I was never really a fan of this actress but her 70s work is sublime. More on this topic and Julianne Moore as Spacek's acting descendent at Cinemarati...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Battle of the Goddesses

Over at the main site, the results of the Classic Actress Poll continue to surprise me. So far it's clearly Hepburn Vs. Hepburn in a virtual dead heat. All others seem mere pretenders. I'm going to leave this up a bit to see if it attracts some more votes but for now it's 01. Audrey 02. Katharine 03. Bette Davis 04. Ingrid Bergman 05. Julie Andrews (!!!) 06. Vivien Leigh 07. Liz Taylor (thought she'd be higher I did) 08 (tie) Faye Dunaway (who I suppose shoulda been left to the 70s up-to-current poll) & Grace Kelly 9. Anne Bancroft 10. (tie) Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Geraldine Page, Barbara Stanwyck (strange 4-way there) 11. Judy Garland (thought she'd be much higher)

Everyone else. And I mean everyone else including major stars like Crawford, DeHavilland, Garbo, etc... received no more than 3 votes each. People said there were too many choices but I even forgot some major players like Myrna Loy, Greer Garson, Jean Harlow, Mae West, Shirley Maclaine, and Marlene Dietrich. Eep!

"We Don't Need Another (Awards Page)"

What do Saturday morning high school detention, married mobsters, prison sentences, medieval curses, Amish hotties, and depression era moviegoers have in common? They're all part of my retroactive 1985 awards page. Check it out and report back.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (The Epilogue)

So... that was fun. To round up ~Those actors who are most likely to end up filling the annual early bird slots:
Actor: Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener
Actress: Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger
Supporting Actor Matt Dillon, Crash& Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Supporting Actress: Thandie Newton, Crash

I suppose you know what this mean. The films are also (outside of The Upside of Anger) in play, too. How can they not be? Every year some of the year-end films do not justify their early Oscar hype. And that makes room for the early birds if they can muster new momentum.

Other possible early bird nominees?
Picture: Crash or The Constant Gardener if the campaigns are strong, smart, well timed. And, perhaps most importantly, if their fans rally.
Director: Fernando Meirelles if the directors were made devout fans byCity of God
Screenplay: Crash and to a lesser extent Broken Flowers
Editing: Crash multi narratives have noticeable editing and they like to see the seams
Costume Design: Cinderella Man Daniel Orlandi is a rising talent. Some day he'll be a nominee. And on account of you never know in this category there's also The Brothers Grimm and Kingdom of Heaven -showy work by former nominees...
Visual Effects, Sound, Sound f/x: War of the Worlds and SW Episode 3
Animated Film: Madagascar
Score or Song: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory if they are in a Danny Elfman mood.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (Actress)

Part 4 of 4
Statistics show that each year produces at least 2 acting nominees prior to the fall film arrivals. Who will they be?

Here's a quick look at the 5 likeliest nominees (according to my idea of AMPAS tastes)if the year ended on August 31st. This is the final category. If you've doubted each and every candidate in each and every category, check yourself. Someone will make it through the final four-month stretch of 2005.

Jessica AlbaFantastic Four
Sandra Bullock Miss Congeniality 2
Nicole Kidman Bewitched
Lindsay Lohan Herbie: Fully Loaded
Jessica SimpsonThe Dukes of Hazzard

Let's try that again... (Slim pickings so far this year, huh? )

Joan AllenThe Upside of Anger
Glenn Close Heights
Jennifer ConnellyDark Water
Radha Mitchell Melinda & Melinda
Rachel Weisz The Constant Gardener

You can love the performances of many of these gals listed and the unlisted ones like Nathalie Press (the star of last year's Oscar winning Short Film Wasp) who is beautifully natural in My Summer of Love or Connie Nielsen's grieving wife in Brothers or Miranda July's precocious performance artist in Me You and Everyone We Know but people actually have to see the movies (and love them) to get the buzz going. Oscar voters don't seek contenders out for themselves. They need buzz to reach them.

If you accept my premise that the five women above are the leaders for now... which one of them has a marathon sprinter in her? Obviously Jennifer Connelly is out. The Academy doesn't like horror. Next we drop Glenn Close for Heights. If you've seen the picture you may have felt like genuflecting to this semi-lost actress. Hollywood has lost interest but she's still a riveting presence. The movie is also a true ensemble.

Pros & Cons
That leaves us with a murdered activist wife, a funny/sad neurotic mess, and a drunken abandoned wife --Lots of anger in this category. Radha Mitchell is a rising actress (+) in a Woody Allen film (+) with an interesting character (+) but it's not the mindblowing performance it needed to be to elevated the good but not great film (-) the film didn't breakout (-) and given the very competitive comedy category this year she seems unlikely to get a boost from a Globe nomination (huge -). Joan Allen hit it out of the park three times in a row with envy-inducing reviews for Yes, Off the Map and The Upside of Anger (enormous +) and she's due for an actual statue (big +) But the movie wasn't a big hit (-) and she might suffer a wee bit of vote splitting for the artier Yes (-) . Rachel Weisz is all the rage at the moment (+) and getting loving notices for an acclaimed drama The Constant Gardener (+) but she needs the picture to stay in the race for true play (-) and she's not as famous as many upcoming competitors nor is she 'due' (-) .

Most Likely to Survive?
Unless The Constant Gardener reaches maximum density of AMPAS interest, Wiesz loses this one to Joan Allen who seems a very likely nominee IF any precursor awards go her way to remind people of how great and unexpectedly funny she was in Upside. It also can't hurt that she's never held an Oscar in her hands despite a rich filmography and three prior nominations.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (Actor)

Part 3 of 4
Statistics show that each year produces at least 2 acting nominees prior to the fall film arrivals. Who will they be? We're checking out each category to find out

So here's a quick look at the 5 likeliest nominees (according to my idea of AMPAS tastes) in each category if the year ended on August 31st. We'll get to some other roundups in the next installments. How much endurance can these leading Actors muster going into the final four-month stretch?

Don CheadleCrash
Russell Crowe Cinderella Man
Ralph FiennesThe Constant Gardener
Terrance Howard Hustle & Flow
Bill Murray Broken Flowers

In addition to these names there's some other stars I want to mention. For the Baleheads out there, sorry about the inevitable Oscar skipping of Batman Begins. Nobody has ever been nominated for playing a superhero. The villains have never even been able to make it in with the lone exception of Al Pacino in Dick Tracy. Other men who can't have Oscar runs but could factor (theoretically) into awards season? For the Indie Spirits you've got Joseph Gordon Levit Mysterious Skin, Michael Pitt Last Days, Tony Leung 2046, and Romain Duris The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Longshot Golden Globe Comedy contenders? Brad Pitt Mr & Mrs Smith, Owen & Vince The Wedding Crashers and Steve Carell The 40 Year Old Virgin

But back to the Oscars.

It's all about the Oscars in the end. If you accept my premise that the five men bulleted above are the leaders for now... can any of them survive the dozens of stars aiming for gold in upcoming films?

If any can it won't be Don Cheadle. Oh sure, there are some who are no doubt still smarting from his loss last year. But he's part of the ensemble in Crash and when someone in an ensemble asks for lead consideration Oscar voters don't usually comply. They're more than happy to make adjustments in the other direction but that's a story for another time. It may surprise you to see who I'm also dropping right away: Bill Murray. I just don't see another nod happening again so quickly for another tour of his by now iconic comic deadpan face. Oscars and big media like to have "stories" or angles to their awards season and Murray's huge breakthrough was the story of 2003, not 2005. Methinks Broken Flowers will wilt.

Pros & Cons
This leaves us with a boxer, a pimp, and a grieving widower, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Russell Crowe is always Oscar bait (+) he's playing a boxer (+) he's a great actor (+) but he's also an asshole (big -) with a recent embarrassing incident (-) and he's been amply rewarded already (-) and Cinderella Man needs him rather than the other way around for Oscar play (-). Ralph Fiennes is a former nominee who hasn't won yet (+) getting awesome reviews for The Constant Gardener (+) and he has another Oscar bait role coming up (+ and a - ?votesplitting?) but there are those who believe Rachel Weisz steals this show (-). 2005's Critical darling and breakout actor (huge +) Terrance Howard leads a hit indie film Hustle & Flow (+) anchored the earlier hit drama Crash in a supporting role (+) but he's a new face (-) not half as famous as his upcoming competition (-) and Oscar likes new actors to sweat a bit before giving them props (-)

Most Likely to Survive?
Hard to call. Crowe is doing damage control and Cinderella Man will probably get a huge campaign. Fiennes could vote-split and Howard might have to settle for critics prizes. I'm going with Fiennes for now. He's respected. He's been out of the big race for a while. He has two films and his resurgence can be a media-friendly story.

Friday CatBlogging: Sappho

This week one of my friends and I have been trading off housesitting duties for another friend. I must confess: I'm totally saddened when it's my day off. You see, in this studio apartment resides the second cutest cat in the world (My beloved Montgomery being first of course). This isn't a great picture of the sweet thing but the only one I have at the moment.

Sappho is from Russia and she is tiny and long and weighs nothing. Unlike Monty, who lives for all things floor, Sappho is all about verticality. When they briefly lived together in the summer of 99 Monty would sit under whatever magnificent heights that Sappho had ascended to (be it bookcase, door, clothes hangers (no joke), refrigerator, etc...) and just stare up at her longingly for hours. Monty isn't the only one who Sappho has whipped. Sappho is the kind of feline most humans fall for. She always wants to play. She always wants to cuddle. And she always seems hellbent on outcuteing her last pinnacle of shameless cuteness.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Click the title above for a hilarious read. [Note to Self: Next time you feel like crying at the state of the world, remember that you can laugh instead.]

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (Supporting Actress)

Part 2 of 4
Last time on "Where We Stand Now" we documented the only current supporting actors who might survive through the fall season to an Oscar nod.

Here's a quick look at the 5 likeliest nominees (according to my idea of AMPAS tastes) if the year ended on August 31st. What are the chances for these candidates going into 2005's final four-month stretch?

Supporting Actress
Dakota FanningWar of the Worlds
Taraji P Henson Hustle & Flow
Thandie Newton Crash
Renee Zellweger Cinderella Man
Zhang Ziyi 2046

I wanted to throw in Mary Lynn Rajskub for Mysterious Skin just for the helluva it. She'd be lucky to even be considered for the Indie Spirits though. (I thought she was terrific in Punch Drunk Love too.) As for the gorgeous collection of acclaimed ladies in Broken Flowers ...I haven't yet seen it --but we're talking buzz here and that is all about Bill Murray. Not a one of the women have been singled out to any substantial degree.

But back to the imaginary August year-end roundup. If you accept my premise that those five are the leaders... will they hold up through the Fall? Taraji P Henson won't be in play. Her leading man Terrance Howard, who is having a great year, may be able to make a bid for lead actor for Hustle & Flow. That is IF the critics give him a boost at year's end. But he would have to be a slam dunk to help pull someone else in. And he isn't. Neither of them are well-known enough for easy balloting from the fame-loving Oscar voters. Ziyi Zhang is also dead in the water. Well, for this film at least. Her performance in 2046 is sensational. In fact, it's my favorite in this category so far and I'm not even a "fan" of the budding superstar. But how many voters will see this Hong Kong gem? They didn't even nominate Wong Kar-Wai's masterpiece In the Mood for Love for Best Foreign Film in its year. He and his films are apparently too cool for the Academy's school.

So that leaves us with a frightened little girl, a Crash victim, and Oscar's numero uno favorite type "The Supportive Spouse". None of these contenders will survive until nomination day but we'll complete the exercize anyway because we love talking about Oscar.

Pros & Cons
In Crash's acclaimed ensemble Thandie Newton has the meatiest female role (+) she's gorgeous (+) and the Academy loves victims (+). Unfortunately her performance is uneven (-) she has internal competition (big -) and she's not "due" (-). Speaking of "due" ---how's that for an unlikely segueway into conversations about an 11-year-old??? Who'da thunk that Dakota Fanning would have such a career already? Given her work to date and her 'it' status as thechild star right now, it's easy to imagine her as a future nominee --or at least as the next Drew Barrymore. She's an unusually gifted child star in a category that does, in fact, reward child stars (+) she steals the movie from a big star (+) Too bad her character is missing an arc (big -) and it's a summer blockbuster (-). Finally there's the desperate Oscar-lust of Renee Zellweger to consider. She plays Oscars unarguable favorite supporting role in Cinderella Man (enormous +) and they like her (+). But, after a four year dominance of the red carpet and a recent win they really owe her zilch (-) her film wasn't a hit (-) and the press doesn't fawn over her anymore (big -).

Most Likely to Survive?
All five of Oscar's eventual nominees in this category have yet to surface. But of those we've covered I'll say Thandie Newton in Crash is the only one that any upcoming performer should consider fearing. But even then, she'll need the film to win its marathon run to the Best Picture shortlist in order to pull it off. Thandie's a conceivable nominee but a total longshot.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Happy News

Awww, I'm mean. I suppose a gay ol' institution in Chelsea closing down shouldn't fill me with such glee but somehow it does. The boyfriend nicknamed it 'The Hellmouth' long ago... so upon hearing of its closing we wondered if Chelsea would cave in around it like Sunnydale did on Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (Supporting Actor)

Part 1 of 4

Though many Oscar writers do some sort of halfway-mark article in June or July of each year (here's mine) it would probably be smarter to do a halfway-mark article at August's end. It don't make no calendar sense but awards sense? That, my friends, it makes. You see, in awardage memes it all begins in the fall. Since statistics surprisingly support at least 2 acting nominees annually prior to the fall season, the struggle for any performers arriving prior to September is this: If you're in the hunt now, can you hold your place as the prestige offerings come galloping into theaters?

So here's a quick look at the 5 likeliest nominees (according to my idea of AMPAS tastes) in each category if the year ended on August 31st. We'll get to some other roundups in the next installments. What are the individual struggles of these Supporting Actor candidates going into the final four-month stretch of Oscar's long-distance race?

Supporting Actor
Kevin Costner The Upside of Anger
Matt Dillon Crash
Paul Giamatti Cinderella Man
Terrance Howard Crash
Jeffrey Wright Broken Flowers

I wanted to throw in Mickey Rourke for Sin City just to be in-your-face about this exercize. But even though his unrecognizable turn was perhaps the one non-visual talking point from that hit, Oscar will never be vacationing in that town. I also wanted to tip my hat to Paddy Considine who was terrific in My Summer of Love but I am the only person in the known universe who saw it so... moving on.

If you accept my premise that those five men listed are the leaders now... how will they hold up through fall and winter? Wright is the surest candidate to fade. Though he's a great actor (Belize in Angels in America anyone? Wow.) Broken Flowers' Oscar hopes are riding entirely on AMPAS recently acquired taste for Bill Murray's deadpan nuance and on the media angle of a Jim Jarmusch breakthrough (of sorts). Costner currently seems second-most-likely to drop. He's the earliest contender to arrive. But even though he's a winning actor in this one type of role (only that one -sorry Kev') he's played it (too?) many times before.

So that leaves us with the trifecta of the Crash boys and Oscars-Most-Egregiously-Snubbed wine lover. I don't think it's far fetched to say that all three of them could make a real play for a nomination. Surely not all three of them will choose too do so, considering the publicity and time demands. And not all three will survive the blows from the dozens of competitors who are yet to surface. But if I were the person responsible for "who-to-campaign-for?" decisions, I'd still consider investing pr dollars in these three.

Pros & Cons
Bad cop Matt Dillon has an enduring career (big +) charisma (+) and a lynchpin role in an acclaimed drama (+). He also has a semi-hateful character (slight -) and lots of internal competition (big -). So we move over to victim of his character's ill placed prejudice, Terrance Howard. He has a breakout year (big +) another acclaimed performance and film in Hustle & Flow (+) and the most sympathetic role in this acclaimed hit drama (big +). Paul Giamatti has pluses and minuses as well. He has real acclaim-momentum (huge +) an Oscar friendly role (+) and last year's most visible and surprising snub (big +). On the negative side he's got a film that people like a lot but don't really love (big - )...well, it's a big minus when you're talking about early releases. Early releases need to keep people talking. Long-lasting discussion requires: 1) ardent supporters/detractors 2) hot-button issues/controversies and/or 3) big hit status. Cinderella Man fails on all three of those Oscar mnemonic-helper counts.

Most Likely to Survive?
I actually think this is a tough call to make. The heart says a nod to Matt Dillon's unexpectedly lengthy career but the head says Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man. It's that Sideways snub pushing him closer to his first Oscar nod.

Whatever Happened to Serving the Material?

This morning in one of those free cheesy newspapers that they're always passing out on the subway I read the following:

Considering that sex sells more than ever these days, most actresses seem to relish the role of sexy vixen ...[blah blah blah deleted] So we were impressed to hear that while filming the upcoming Aeon Flux, Charlize Theron demanded to keep her clothes on. The movie's costume designer originally made a bikini and thigh-high boots for the 30-year-old to wear, which is funny considering that the role involved stunt work. Theron sent them back to the drawing board with a request for a bodysuit instead. "When playing with aspects of sexuality, certain things have to be hidden-that's what my mother always used to tell me," she says, according to Star magazine.

Now. You could chalk this up as another case of the rampant ineptitude of "journalists" who seem to do no research whatsoever when they write about something --especially if they're writing about Hollywood. For instance: Implying that a costume designer's idea is stupid because of stuntwork when the idea adheres closely to the visual hooks of the source material is just rude to the designer. Everyone with 90s pop cultural awareness knows that Aeon Flux's outfit looks like this:

not this:

Yes, sometimes you have to alter things for the screen...I'm not saying they shouldn't have made adjustments. But in championing Theron's newfound modesty (seriously, where did that come from?) they come off as just plain ol' clueless about the character. But obviously the costume designer (Beatriz Aruna Paztor whose credits include Alfie, Vanity Fair, Psycho (98), and The Fisher King among many others) wasn't.

So, you can choose to blame the reporter but I choose to blame Theron. If this story is indeed true it is just yet another example of a star unwilling to serve the material for personal reasons. Like Will Smith refusing to kiss his co-star well after being cast in a gay-themed project (Six Degress of Separation)or any number of stars who demand character changes for any selfish reason...even if the character ends up making no sense. My respect for Theron dropped a notch this morning.

It's one thing to not like a costume sketch that a designer hands you. It's another thing to act all high and mighty about your reasons for rejecting it when the truth is probably as simple as 'I'm too famous to show my bits now that I have an Oscar.'

I always felt that Theron wasn't right for this role. It should've gone to someone with a weirder charisma...or a more 'out there' edge. This gossip tidbit only confirms my suspicions. The new release date in December does suggest that the studio has some faith in the film (or Theron perhaps) to draw a crowd. I hope it's good but I'm not banking on a successful crossover.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hopelessly Devoted to Her

Olivia Newton-John's longtime beau is missing. This has been a very bad news week for my favorite gals. First Madonna's accident...now this wrenching news regarding my first beloved celebrity obsession. I'm praying right now that all is well in the lives of the other ones: Julianne Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cyndi Lauper.

Opinions on Actors

No online prognosticator can wait for Toronto to arrive. Can we get this Oscar season going already? Summer is so so dull for Oscarwatchers.

Who do you think has their finger on the future Academy voters pulse right now? (You don't have to say me). Online pundits think the Best Actor Category is going to pan out like this:

Kris Tapley @ 'In Contention', a new blog (but not a newbie Oscar expert don'cha know), says it'll be Phoenix, Jones, Penn, Straithairn, & Murphy good bets all. Andy @ Everything Oscar counters with Phoenix, Bana, Fiennes, Lane, & Mortenson. Russ @ "And the Oscar Goes To..." thinks Phoenix, Fiennes, Crowe, Mortensen, & Clooney David Poland thinks highly of the chances of Phoenix, Penn, Lane, Bana & Jones. and me? I'm currently going with Phoenix, Fiennes, Jones, Penn, & Straithairn though I do, like Kris, feel that Murphy is a substantial threat just waiting to see if the film is strong enough to support his breakout bid. Had I made my list today I probably woulda bumped him up.

You may notice these are all one-man vanity sites. The two biggest awards sites GoldDerby and Oscarwatch don't really stick their necks out with guesswork just yet. Is it too avoid embarrassment later on or just to wait until there's actually a field of competitors? GoldDerby lists 33 (!!!) contenders in this category. Oscarwatch's practice is to only list those candidates who've already arrived. (Not a bad practice in a way) They see only Russell Crowe Cinderella Man Bill Murray Broken Flowers and Terrance Howard Hustle and Flow as real possibilities so far.

Madonna's Recovery

I continue to be sad about this... the accident. not the recovery of course. I miss Madonna.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hey Crude

Today I discovered that I wasn't alone in wondering why people wanted to ridicule Jude Law's peepee. Turns out the internet was still talking about it.

I thought I was behind the curve (I've been a wee bit out of it news-wise) but it turns out I was sizing this thing up along with the thinkpieces the other day. It's always slightly gratifying as a writer to feel like you're talking about stuff that theoretically one can get paid to talk about. But alas, my services are free. I'm not famous enough for any huge site to link to me. Sigh. My blog remains limp and unfluffed to the eyes of the world. I wish it were bigger.

Monday Moaning

I had a ca-razy housewarming party on Friday night (you don't even want to know...) Last night, while still out of it (can hangovers last for two days?), I played Boggle like the insane wordgame freak that I am and then I read a bunch of political blogs. This would usually sober me right up as its hella depressing.

But instead I was amused. Some things that have been cracking me up in the past couple of days.

Thanks to A Life Less Revealed


God forbid! Seriously who in their sane mind would want that job. Besides Geena Davis. I hope the thousands of people ahead of me don't suddenly perish.

and, I leave you with hours of entertaining kitten wars between the jingosphere and the progressives.

Start with Obsidian Wings and work your way through the seemingly innocuous but deadly kitten galleries.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Measure Your Pleasure

This post is NSFW and is rated R... or maybe NC-17 given your level of prudery.

As Joe pointed out recently, and as you may have noticed for yourself, 2005 is a crazy celebs-gone-wild year. So much going on. It's a good thing too. The movies have sucked so we need other forms of entertainment.

Latest gossip: Are Kristen and Jake pregnant?. You can look at a funnier take on this story at Pink is the New Blog. Though I do have to wonder why people are always so down on Kristen in this relationship (to me Jake is the lesser star in the Hollywood firmament. I love me some Kristen.) Any thoughts?

But on to the real point of this post: Penis. Is it just my imagination or is 2005 packing more than usual in this department? People always talk about penis when Ewan MacGregor makes a movie. It goes with his territory. But Ewan has been pretty low profile this year despite two summer releases. So on to the other men out there.

I don't get why everyone is so chatty about Jude Law's package --it's not like it's the first time we've seen it. I guess male celebs should never take off their clothes unless they're fully erect. Given that Jude has a perfectly great everything maybe it's just jealously that has prompted all the size-queen snickering. Hasn't anyone seen The Talented Mr Ripley? His penis was on full display there and I don't recall anyone wanting to kick him out of bed in 1999. What a difference Sienna Miller makes? Why anyone would want to find physical fault with a man this beautiful beats me.

Given this type of treatment when guys go wild, Jake was probably smart and Heath not so much when it comes to flashing their manhood on old Brokeback Mountain. Supposedly Heath is the only one we'll see in the altogether although this tiny (not a size joke ;) ) image from filming suggests otherwise.

The imaginary soundtrack to this post is Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Joe's Friday Gig

Click here for the article. I wish I were as excited about George Clooney's sophomore effort Good Night and Good Luck as I want to be. The truth is I didn't much care for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind which was his directorial debut. Maybe he's worked out the kinks since that film which was a touch, um, purple. Over-directed methinks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bad News for Selfish Fans

You have to understand that I'm beside myself today. After hearing about Madonna's 47th Birthday riding accident (horse trouble ---broken collarbone, etc...) my immediate thoughts went like this.

1. Ohmygod --What!?!
2. I totally forgot her birthday. my bad. Bad fan.
3. S@%^ This means her CD release will be delayed and maybe no tour? F%#@!!!
3. Yeah, this definitely means no tour. Or at least a delayed release of the album. It's not like she can make the videos with a broken collarbone... [editors note: this train of thought goes on for a long time. we won't bore you]

(it finally dawns on me)

4. wow. I'm selfish. I hope she's OK.
Get well soon Mo!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


A sneak peek to what enthuses me about the cinema from, er...ahem, 23 years ago --In short, it's one giant Blade Runner love-fest. To my credit I must share this impressive factoid: My love for Ridley Scott's classic sci-fi noir, which was much dismissed and a big old flop upon release, did not begin way after the fact as it did with most of the world's population. I actually loved Blade Runner right away.

["I have good taste" he says, patting himself on the back reassuringly.]

So, um. How about that 1982!? How obsessive am I? Why do i do these things to myself? I do not know. You demanded retro-active stuff so I'm a-typing away at home as a way of procrastinating other things. This retro project could conceivably fill every single remaining hour of my lifetime. Looking at the list of things I haven't seen: How can I get my cinema-hungry eyes a look at Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean, Cat People, and Shoot the Moon? Netflix doesn't have them!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bond = Bored

The Boyfriend is watching a James Bond thing on TCM. I don't know what it is about James Bond but I just am never excited about those movies. I've seen a good portion of the entire series but it just doesn't do much for me. Anyone else left cold by the uber successful franchise?

Golden Globe Best Actress: Comedy or Musical

Recently while updating my Oscar predictions it became clear that the Best Actress field is pretty deep (provided, of course, that a third of the upcoming films contain solid performances even if they don't totally deliver as films). Whenever the race is very competitive the category to watch is Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. That category always manages to keep some names afloat that would disappear if there were not split precursor awards.

So... let's look at the names. Immediately you can discount Paltrow, Hayek , Huffman, Theron, Richardson, Binoche, Zhang who will all be shooting for a spot in the dramatic lineup. There won't be any hesitation with those categorizations.

The obvious COMEDY/MUSICAL contenders? There's Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents... the women from Prime Meryl Streep & Uma Thurman, Diane Keaton in The Family Stone, and Rosario Dawson from Rent. And because the Comedy lineup usually has at least one (sometimes two) performers with zero shot at subsequent Oscar recognition there's always Diane Lane in Must Love Dogs, Jennifer Aniston in Rumor Has It, Jane Fonda as a Monster in Law or Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality 2 as celebrity seat fillers.

But the real important "what to watch" in the coming months is the women who could categorize themselves either way. Some campaign teams may wait to see what others do before they decide the best move for their woman. Having a Comedy Globe nomination to campaign with is a smarter Oscar move (in most cases) than being left out of the Drama field altogether... even if you really belong in the drama field. The wait and see contenders? Joan Allen in The Upside of Anger. She's very funny in the movie but it's a pretty serious comedy. Claire Danes as the Shopgirl will probably go the comedy route but you can't be sure. Reese Witherspoon as June Cash in Walk the Line for a pure Oscar win bid she'd probably be smart to attempt the drama category. Except that if you compete in a musical drama you almost always win in the comedy category. So does she want the maybe-Oscar or the sure-thingGlobe? The women of In Her Shoes Cameron Diaz & Toni Collette , Radha Mitchell in Melinda and Melinda (whose character can sorta compete in both categories ;) ) and Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown.

Who goes where? And who benefits from their decicions? It looks like an exciting race.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Development Heaven

Check out this link. I didn't know that this movie,The Family Stone, was supposed to be made two years back. More often than not we hear about "Development Hell" But when you get delayed and suddenly your movie stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, & Luke Wilson --well, I guess not all development is hellish.

Bridget Monayhan and Selma Blair < Sarah Jessica Parker and Claire Danes.

That's casting up! Love it. I hope the movie is good...but I am a little doubtful that Diane Keaton is our leading Best Actress candidate as David Poland suggests. Nothing in any synopsis of this movie seems to suggest that the story is about the mother at all. Of course the leading plot-shakers (in this case Parker & Danes) are not always the leads in Oscar's eyes.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


...The Film Experience had a podcast would you listen?
...The Film Experience had a store would you buy something?
I'm feeling restless again. Need to do something new.

Bakers Dozen: Reasons Why I Can't Wait For The Fall

13. No more 90-100 degree days. An end to unplanned sweating.
12. The return of Wallace & Gromit. It's been a long time.
11. Michelle Pfeiffer is going before the cameras again! I'm a hopeless optimist I guess but this time there's evidence that it'll happen: Amy Heckerling's romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman actually has a full cast now! Paul Rudd (yum), Tracey Ullman, and Stacey Dash will co-star.
10. Lots and lots of Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead, Proof, and Brokeback Mountain)
09. Huge quantities of Tony Leung arriving from my Netflix queue.
08. Sweeney Todd returns to Broadway.
07. Always wanted to see this since the days of reading My So Called Life interviews: Claire Danes dancing.
06. Another season of "Project Runway" arrives (?)
05. Enjoying the Toronto International Film Festival...if only vicariously.
04. Deciding for myself whether Match Point really does return one of my favorite filmmakers (Woody Allen) to top form. If it does I'll be breaking out the bubbly.
03. Halloween. It's already August and I haven't started planning my costume. [cue: panic]
02. MADONNA releasesConfessions on a Dance Floor
01. Real Movies! The fall season looks promising going into Oscar season.

too darn hot

From my window it looks like the city is actually steaming. Cue: Summer exhaustion. So I'm staying in. And being a productive boy. TFE is refreshed. Plus, the August Oscar Predictions are finalized so check them out.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Aquatic Tenenbaums @ Rushmore

I finally watched Wes Anderson's Rushmore. (In preparation for the 1998 retrospective @ TFE.) Having seen it now, I am curious as to why The Royal Tenenbaums was greeted in many places as a step back when it debuted 3 years later. To me it was an athletic leap forward...

a little more on this topic over @ Cinemarati)

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Some things to read until I have something else to say herein:
1. David Poland's Fall Preview (still very high on The Family Stone)
2. Broadway bitch-fight (thanks to ModFab for pointing it out)
3. La Streepwins her 3rd Oscarin February 2007. Just remember I called it first. I saw Dirty Tricksonstage and the part is ultra-dreamy for any actress.
4. Ain't Jake cute? (courtesy of towleroad)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

All The King's Men (1949 & 2005)

Last year came to be known as 'the year of the biopic.' So far it looks like 2005 is 'the year of the remake'. Considering the dearth of quality that's been so far evident in this year's crop of unoriginals, it's easy to assume that the crown jewel of '05 do-overs will be December's update of All the King's Men. The 1949 Best Picture winner, which I recently screened, is not beloved enough to provoke angry articles about the injustice and creative bankruptcy of remakes. And, as a bonus to the 2005 filmmaking team, not good enough to be impossible to beat.

The 1949 adaptation of the novel by Robert Penn Warren is sturdy subject matter wise. The topic is dirty politics. Or rather, how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No matter how many times you hear certain messages, they stand to be repeated. This is obviously a lesson that's always timely. But the 1949 movie is still something of a mess. It's extremely evident throughout that it's an adaptation of a novel. It races along at warp speed, dropping nuggets of info (cliff notes of the novel no doubt) and never really developing character motivations (you figure it out -you've read the book!). And when it ends, it just, well, ends. Rather abrupt and less than devastating (which I think was the intent). Even if the remake suffers from the same stumbles, the assembled cast is strong enough to make this devoted moviegoer interested in the final outcome.

Though the 1949 film is largely told from the point of view of a reporter in the orbit of an ascendant politician, it is the politician who is the focal point. His name is Willie Stark. This is a rough and showy role. Stark begins as an idealistic man of the people type, fighting for scraps of power. Once achieved this power grows until it corrupts him. His only ideal becomes the maintenance of his own power. It's a rough, charismatic, and showy role. It won Broderick Crawford the Oscar. Whether or not Sean Penn can repeat that trick is unknowable...for now. My money says no, given his recent win but a nomination is easy to imagine. As Stark's tough talking righthand woman, Sadie Burke, Mercedes McCambridge made a splashy and memorable film debut. Patricia Clarkson will essay the role in this new version. She's not a new face like Mercedes was but she's an immensely talented veteran who clearly deserves one of those 'career Oscar's by know given her filmography.

Willie Stark's otherrighthand man is the aforementioned idealistic reporter, Jack Burden. Burden. Hmmm, perhaps that's too 'on-the-spot' given the weight of his idealism and the crisis of conscience he suffers as the film progresses. This is also a juicy role (yes the film is full of them) and Jude Law has shown in the past a remarkable access to interior spaces (see Cold Mountain or Gattaca). My guess is his performance will be more crucial to the new film's success than John Ireland's was to the original. Not that Ireland wasn't rewarded for his trouble: He too received an Oscar nomination. Finally rounding out the main cast is the beautiful socialite Anne Stanton, who begins the picture as Burden's girlfriend and ends the picture as something else altogether. It's a character that could if written or performed differently have a rather huge arc, but in the original film the character makes very little sense. This time around Kate Winslet tries to divine what Joanne Dru couldn't find about the Stanton role.

Could a remake really score big with the Oscar branches? They're said to be averse but it wouldn't exactly be the first time. Just for the first time in quite a long time. The original was nominated for seven Oscars and won three. History could repeat itself. Though probably not in the exact same configuration. We shall see.

Monday, August 08, 2005

2046: The Collection

This is a post from a special guest. Enjoy

Hello darlings, it is I, The Boyfriend. I have hijacked this little blog to bring you a breathless report from the rarified and heady world of haute-couture.

William Chang has set the Hong Kong runways ablaze with another very strong collection this year. In his new collection, titled “2046”, he continues to work with the elegant sleeveless, form-fitting silk gowns that he debuted in his show “In The Mood For Love”. As in the previous collection, these dresses are the epitome of Sixties Hong Kong chic, yet he managed to make them exciting and fresh, never passé.

In this new collection he boldly expands his palette, employing a wide variety of rich colors (a particular standout is the green and gold striped dress with hand-sewn sequins, worn with a mink stole, modeled by Ziyi Zhang), and patterns both elegantly subtle (a black on black rose print worn by Gong Li) and dramatic (an oversized black and white tartan). But in keeping with the futuristic theme suggested by this collection’s title, he’s also added new elements to his repertoire: A series of vaguely futuristic gowns, which paradoxically suggest deconstructed Victorian frocks, featuring cutaway bodices revealing titillating décolletage. One of these, seen on Faye Wong, in a faintly shimmering mother-of-pearl crêpe-de-Chine is particularly breathtaking. And Monsieur Chang has not forgotten the men this time either. Of particular note here is a quilted selvedge jacket in a rich, yet muted, color with a strong, dynamic sculptural form.

The show itself was the typical lavish spectacle we’ve come to expect from this theatrical couturier. The models were arranged in almost cinematic vignettes (he hired the film director Wong Kar-Wai to assist him with runway direction), with moody lighting and a soundtrack of melancholy instrumentals (reprising the theme of his earlier “Mood for Love” collection) and repeated snippets of the “Casta Diva” aria from "Norman". All together, this show is bound to set the fashion world atwitter and is sure to re-spark the debate that’s been buzzing for the past several years: has Asia done the unthinkable – have they finally stolen the title of Fashion Capitol from Paris?

What Your Queue Says About You

Last night I watched The Same River Twice which was moving due to its subject matter (aging & how one either clings to or let's go of the past) but somewhat unfocused-- less than it could have been I think.

I was reading this post on Netflix queues @ Cinematical this morning and it got me thinking: what is coming my way and why?

I tend to use My Netflix service for "projects"; i.e. my planned retroactive awards or for silent movie festivals, or to bone up on the classics, or to watch things I read about that went straight to DVD (usually gay or foreign), or to watch everything by one director (Bergman) or actor (Tony Leung). But, the queue is also gargantuan (169 and counting...) and unwieldy (all mixed up project-wise). So, I have to tell you: It's very much like my life. I'm always adding new 'projects' and i have an inability to let the past projects go. What I really need is to pare down, just like Cinematical suggests.

What does your queue say about you?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Laughs at His Own Jokes

Every once in awhile (probably not as often as I should given my sloppiness) I click around my site to see if links are working. Sites tend to grow and grow when they've been around for multiple years. I don't even know where to find things anymore... Occassionally I click on something and end up reading a little.

Like this "Best Picture Through the Eyes of the Snubbed" thing (at the bottom of the page). I didn't even remember writing this but it amused me to read it. Maybe because 2005 is boring, 1999 and 2004 have to keep me awake.

Party Like It's 1999

Your wish is my command. Some retroactive pleasure for you. Let me know what you think and let me know what I'm missing. Very much a work in progress. I'll do other years if response is good.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Damnit!!! Despite my obsessive love for Tony Leung Chiu Wai I, like the cinefool I am, did not buy tickets last night for the opening night showing of 2046 tonight and now the latest Wong Kar Wai (presumed) masterpiece is sold out. Tonight I will hone my self-loathing skills and cry myself to sleep. Why did I procrastinate?

Tantalizing Nathaniel w/ tickets to Tony only to tear them away is truly torturous.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Plays Well With Others

It's my total pleasure to finally share my Film Experience sandbox. Please welcome Joe Reid to The Film Experience with his first column. Some of you may already know his work from his former column "Happy Hour" at 411 Mania or his blog Low Resolution (which has been linked in the side bar here for some time as one of my favorite blogs). For those who are new to Joe...

Joe, You.
You, Joe.

You'll like each other.

Must Read: Joss Whedon Interview

Thanks to Trent @ pink is the new blog for pointing this out. It's a lengthy interesting interview with the man Joss Whedon on the Wonder Woman feature film, Firefly, Comicbook films in general, and of course the Buffyverse.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

March of the Penguin Lovers

So I go waddling off to this movie March of the Penguinstwo nights back with my favorite co-worker. I say 'waddling' because the nights events centered around penguins and, prior to the film, we ate scrumptious fattening cupcakes at Billy's Bakeryon 9th Avenue.

My friend and I both love penguins so naturally our response to the release was "we are there!" This might account for the movie's already sensational box office. At $16 million and counting it's one of the most successful docs ever. If everyone (literally) who loved penguins were to go see it I shudder to think how high the box office could go... it could share icy waters with Titanic, because, who doesn't love those cute tuxedoed critters?

[SPOILERS AHEAD] Surprisingly, for a movie about exceptionally cute birds who can't fly, it's also hard to watch at times. Penguins do die. One violent death felt uneccessary to show -exploitive even. Why show that? For When Animals Attack thrills? No thank you. And for every cute awkward floppy moment there's at least two ominous: "but it gets worse!" style doomsday narrative bombs for our favorite wild animal friends to fear. My co-worker cried basically the whole time. But for me the most difficult moment was a slow shot of one egg cracking and filling with ice. Deeply sad.

It's not that March of the Penguin doesn't revel in cuteness --it just doesn't have to work for that part. What it really wants to do is teach. The movie is educational, too... at least in that trivia-game "I did not know that" way. But I couldn't help but feel that the narrative was very narrowly focused --As if it did not want to overburden me in any way with thoughts extraneous to penguin marriage, childrearing and fidelity. Did Rick Santorum edit it? Kidding. (sort of) What I mean is that the movie just kept dropping issues as they came up if they did not relate to the procreative miracle. Were the filmmakers not interested in the penguins who didn't pair up or produce offspring? Or lost offspring halfway through but still seemed to be helping the team survive the winter? I cared about those marchers too. The movie doesn't.

After the movie in all its cool beauty (ice is really photogenic) was over I did feel a little bad for being hyper-critical. So I waddled away slightly embarrassed but happy to have basked in arctic cuteness for 80 minutes. B

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Q & A (remainder)

More answers.

I have not read Brokeback Mountain but in general I think short stories and novellas are better source material for movies than full-length novels ---specifically because of their length and focus. As for another gay film, I think Happy Together is just swell. I will admit that when I first saw it I was too in love to accept its rather bleak outlook on gay couplings. Or at least I misinterpreted it then to be an overall statement rather than an excellent critique of one particular relationship type.

Moving to TV questions: I love the Golden Girls as long as it's in small doses --unlike many other fans I cannot watch them round the clock. Every episode has virtually the same jokes. Not that they aren't good ones. My favorite character is Rose. In the Sex & the City edition of this show Carrie is my favorite.

Travelling back in time for some other movie questions. THE best actress in 1997 was Helena Bonham Carter in Wings of the Dove or maybe that little 4 year-old Victoire Thivisol in Ponette. Further back to 1994? The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most overrated movies of all time. It's so overrated that I can't begin to process the outpourings of love for it. But I don't hate it or anything. It's harmless. Forrest Gump is dead to me. 1994 is all about Pulp Fiction, Heavenly Creatures, and La Reine Margot. Seriously. Those three movies are hard to beat.

Speaking of time travel, many times I've planned to do retroactive awards for the site but the problem is i don't want to commit without rewatching. I'm thinking that will never fully happen. So perhaps I should just put an in-progress retroactive thing? Thoughts? What do you want?

Q & A (personal)

You asked some nosey questions. I give answers.

* I am thirty-[muffle/grunt/scream]in order for you to better delineate the Nathaniel fandom timeline. People tell me i look 28 but they are lying to flatter me. it's more like 32. Pop-culturally speaking I am 34. my back (the bane of my physical existence) thinks that its 57 and wants me to join the AARP.

* BFA in Illustration. Thinking about going back for a masters but in another field.

* versatile.

* My New York is about possibility, diversity, progressive thinking, and an unending smorgasbord of arts to choose from. (this last bit is why i can't ever leave despite the financial sacrifices.)

1 Detroit.
2 Michigan and Utah.
3 not close to the biologicals.
4 Christine. We've been friends since I first started walking her home in the 8th grade when we were, what, 12? 11? Her first child is my goddaughter! We are still super close.
5 its the seven year itch.
6 Brooklyn to Harlem.

* Enchiladas & Margaritas (with salt)

* 5'10" ...weight ? I lost my scale some time ago. Though I did recently achieve my former svelteness on the South Beach Diet.

* my most vivid experience in the movie theater is probably seeing Madonna as Evita. I went with the largest group of friends I think I've ever seen a movie with and when she started addressing her minions from the balcony i totally started crying even though I am not a Webber fan, not an Evita fan, and don't usually cry at movies. I have always worshipped @ Madonna's feet and I knew this was a life-dream for her actualized. In the legit theater it was seeing Angels in America. In nature it was being in the waves in the ocean my first summer in New York... nothing special about the day. not even close to my favorite beach. But I just. i love the water and it felt like one of those pure bliss and nothingness feelings as I was tossed about mildly.

* Her name was Stephanie. We dated for a year and 1/2. I met her family. We talked about marriage. It ended in tears. I last saw her about 10 years ago (two years after breaking up). We cried. I hope she's very happy --great girl.

* the only internet people I've met in the for reals are my colleagues at Cinemarati. And a couple of people who posted there.

now, it's your turn readers. Tell us six things about yourselves.

Q & A (actor love)

from Dusty: I love the lists of your favorite movie actors and actresses. In fact, you (nearly) inspired me to compose my own. But I'm curious: If you hadn't limited your lists (actors & actresses) to only film, what other actors may have made the cut? Any TV stars? Any un-filmed Broadway talent?

The actors i most love who don't really touch the big screen are few. Eventually the ones I like seem to cross over. The ones I have trouble putting on lists though are the ones who seem uncategorizable due to their constant medium hopping. Like Sandra Bernhard, Alan Cumming, Sarah Jessica Parker, Harvey Fierstein, Sela Ward, Billy Campbell, Lauren Ambrose, and Mary Louise Parker for example. Love all of those actors but their film work doesn't come close to giving you the whole picture of their career. In most of these cases you have to add television or stage roles or even musical gifts into understanding my cup of love for them (which runneth over).

As for Broadway unfilmed talent? That is tough to say. It's really difficult to know if their stage charisma would transfer. It's a very different thing. I've always been crazy about Norbert Leo Butz & Sherie Rene Scott who are co-starring again on stage in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I also deeply dig Raul Esparza (currently in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang who is both an immensely talented musical actor and a fine dramatic one in non-musicals. Other Broadway stars that I wish would get a shot at the movies: Kristen Chenowith (her cameo in Bewitched you have to disregard) will get a shot opposite Annette Bening in Running with Scissors. I think Sutton Foster, Kerry Butler, and Audra Macdonald could be utilized in film. Audra is a vocal powerhouse but if all that's going to happen for her on TV is the boring assistant roles on political dramas I stay: Stay on Broadway! And of course my lovely naughty Jane Krakowski... but methinks she no longer needs (;) my push. She's onstage singing and dancing with Ewan MacGregor (Guys and Dolls)? Onscreen gettin' hot and heavy with Evan Rachel Wood (Pretty Persuasion)? She's doing just fine.

from Adam K: Given your love for the Beatty/Wood pairing and 'Splendor in the Grass', do you think Beatty would've been a better choice (chemistry-wise at least) for the Richard Beymer role in West Side Story or not really?

If you're asking me if I would have liked to see Beatty in another movie in 1961 when he was the most clearly beautiful man on Earth the answer is a 'hell yeah'. If you're asking if I'd like to change anything about West Side Story in actuality the answer would probably be no. I mean all movies have imperfections but...no, never mind. I'll keep West Side Story as is. I love it so.

from darkcypherladDo you truly believe that Audrey Hepburn was the best actress for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" or do you agree with Truman Capote that Marilyn Monroe would've been better? (It would've been great to compare two separate versions!)

You answered your own question I think. I'd love to compare the versions and I think Monroe was a much better actress than anyone realized at the time (ftr my favorite Monroe performances are: The Misfits, Bus Stop, and Some Like It Hot.) but I don't really want Breakfast at Tiffany's changed... unless we can digitally remove Mickey Rooney's entire landlord character. That'd be swell.

Monday, August 01, 2005

ask nathaniel

monday blog vacancy. I turn to you. ask me something. anything. any topic. you can comment or e-mail me at flmbtch(at)hotmail(dot)com --i don't know why i just typed that in the no-spam way since the spam has already found me years ago.

P.S. if your question is something movie related that I want to respond to at length I may add it to an upcoming "reader mail" column on the mainsite. if unrelated to the silver screen it'll go here