Friday, March 31, 2006

Josh Hartnett's Tragic Audition For Fight Club

But he can't talk about it... (that's the first rule)

From the looks of things Lucy Liu definitely wants to talk about it.

[Actually this image is from the upcoming Lucky Number Slevin --thanks Billy.]

No. My First Name Ain't Baby. It's Janis. Miss Joplin if You're Nasty.

PopBytes has a wee report up that Britney Spears (yes, that one) wants to play Janis Joplin in a biopic. Ewww. But I personally don't think this biopic is ever going to get made. How many years have we been hearing about this biopic? How many leads has it gone through now? Let's see... Melissa Etheridge. Brittany Murphy (Seriously though, there's supposedly an insanely good audition tape of Brittany Murphy tearing it up as Janis floating around Hollywood) . Renée Zellweger Yuck. Pink. This is like Alexander the Great. Nobody is ever going to make a biopic about him. I don't care how many competing -- I --huh? I'm trying to write here. Stop interrupting me. What's that...?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Boy Beatty

Happy 69th birthday to my idol Warren Beatty! I worship the ground that he walks on. It isn't just that he slept with three different women from my "10 people I'd switch teams for" list (Natalie Wood, Madonna, and Annette Bening being the delicious trinity for the unduly curious among you). It's that he's a ridiculously handsome man, an intelligent director, and a smashingly good actor (that's the part that people forget). People are always so busy worshipping Eastwood, Nicholson, and whoever... but for this movie buff Old Hollywood IS Warren Beatty.

If you've never understood the fuss, rent yourself Bonnie & Clyde, Shampoo, Splendor in the Grass, McCabe & Mrs. Miller or Reds and be converted.

Thursday Triple: Vincent Van Gogh

I like to throw a curveball --bet you didn't see Van Gogh coming, did'ja? If Vincent Van Gogh hadn't been so crazy what with the ear chopping and not taking care of himself he woulda turned 153 years-old today.

Here are my three favorite Van Gogh self-portraits...

And yes, I'm aware I've neglected to include a bandaged ear shot. But who needs it when he can convey just as much sans prop?

My favorite Vincent moment in a movie: It's not from any biopic. It's Diane Keaton and Woody Allen arguing about the 'Hall of the Overrated' in Manhattan. "Van Gock" "Van Gock?" Hee.

Bitchy & Random

Seems that my "She's a Bitch @ The Movies" video-mashup has taken on a second blogosphere life. If that's what you're looking for click here. If this is your first time here -- look around, enjoy, and welcome.

Other recent most popular entries: A History of...Jodie Foster * Hugh Jackman Vs. Christian Bale who comes out on top? * March Madness --only two days left to properly celebrate... * Reader requests: The Sound of Music and Cher!

Coming Soon #1: "For Your Consideration"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#1 For Your Consideration
(Warner Independent Pictures. Supposedly arriving in September)

Confession: When I walked into the theater in 1996 to see Waiting For Guffman I had no idea who Christopher Guest was. The selling points were Catherine O'Hara who I loved at the time primarily due to underappreciated hilarity in Beetlejuice(1988) and Parker Posey, who was the hots***t hipster-beloved Party Girl (1995).

Guffman told us the side-splitting story of a troupe of (justifiably) undiscovered talent in small town America who dream that they're show is going to make it all the way to Broadway turned out to be the funniest thing I'd ever seen. I await every Christopher Guest project now with great joy and high hopes. His follow ups, A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, weren't quite as funny. But who cares, right? That's rather like saying that Hitchcock's Psycho isn't as fascinating as Hitchcock's Vertigo. Or vice versa.

For Your Consideration's plot sounds awfully similar to Guffman. But if you're going to lift from a a classic, lift from your own. In the new Guest film three actors on the set of a 40s drama learn that their performances in the film are generating Oscar buzz. [what happens next we do not know but we assume egos run amok and chaos ensues] This movie sounds like it was made just for me. I already love Christopher Guest for making it. Even if it's not as funny as his last three pictures, I'll still be laughing heartily.

FYC's cast deliciously makes room for nearly all of the regulars. Guest's insanely talented comic improv troupe includes the aforementioned Posey and O'Hara plus Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Michael Hitchcock, Michael McKean, Deborah Theaker, Eugene Levy, Don Lake, and Harry Shearer. New additions this time out are Ricky Gervais (of The Office fame), Kevin Sussman, and Claire Forlani. The Academy Awards don't understand comedy but I'm willing to bet that Guest understands the comedy of the Academy Awards.

And speaking of the Oscars...
Posting will be lighter than usual over the next few days but it's for two good causes. First, that project I asked for your well-wishes on. Second, I gotta type up and deliver that annual year-in-advance Oscar guesswork @ the big site . And then I gotta take a day off. whew

tags: Parker Posey, Christopher Guest, comedy, movies, entertainment, Academy Awards, Oscars,

The Entire Roster
The fourteen "coming soons" that I'm most excited / curious about...
#2 Marie-Antoinette, #3 The Prestige, #4 A Prairie Home Companion, #5 Dreamgirls, #6 The Fountain, #7 Running With Scissors, #8 Volver, #9 Inland Empire, #10 Little Children, #11 Margaret, #12 Bug
and two runners up ...The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford & Zodiac

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pfixating on Pfeiffer

UPDATE. The blessed time has arrived.
Follow this link to the THE BLOG-A-THON on April 27th starting at 9 PM

Exactly one month from today Michelle Pfeiffer, the most beautiful blonde on the planet (give or take Deneuve across the pond), celebrates her 48th birthday. A few months after that the goddess will finally return to the screen after a four year absence.

Q: So why am I mentioning La Pfeiffer now?
A: I am calling for a blogathon in her honor on April 28th. That's the day before her birthday, but we want people in a Pfeifferian mood for the weekend.

If you're thinking "blog-a-whatnow???" allow me to point you to Girish's blog. Girish and assorted cineastic-fantastic company have been doing these for a couple of months now. They've covered Showgirls , bad boy auteur Abel Ferrara and Michael Haneke's Code Unknown. It's a blast to read a bunch of different voices mulling over the same topic all in one day. Just to shake up that very academic-friendly lineup and keep everyone on their toes, I'd love to see multiple takes on a mainstream actor. There is an element of self-service here as well, I do readily admit. I want the blogosphere focused on my own (sometimes irrational) obsession for just one day. Michelle Pfeiffer is my primary film siren: the beauty that did lure me to my cinematic doom two decades ago. Now I am forever throwing myself against the jagged rocks of Hollywood, always hoping to be transported again by a memorable face, an indelible moment, a seductive song.

You don't have to lick Catwoman's heels or stand at attention when she makes whoopee on that piano to join in. You just have to write about her; a particular performance, general thoughts, stream-of-thought ravings, her place in the pantheon, her would-be successors, your dream role for her, etc... anything Pfeifferian.

If you would like to participate...e-mail me
If you would just like to read all the articles, come back to the blog on friday morning april 28th for the complete roster of links.

Green w/ Envy About This Red Lobster Pic

For Project Runway fans only:
OK. How did I miss THIS photo making the rounds!?!? Lurve it.

Coming Soon #2: "Marie-Antoinette"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#2 Marie-Antoinette (Sony / Columbia. Arriving in October.)

If you haven't seen the jaw-droppingly brilliant teaser trailer, drop everything and watch it now. It cleverly mashes 80s new wave with 18th century eye-candy (hey, they're both retro) for the tale of this frivolous teen-age queen. It's a bold move --not everyone gets how brilliant age appropriate the teaser is. But it shows again that Sofia is for real.

Could Coppola actually be three for three? The Virgin Suicides showed great promise for the famous offspring of Francis Ford and it also delivered a major performance from Kirsten Dunst. We all know what happened with her follow-up Lost in Translation. For her third trick, Sofia returns with her original star, "Kiki", in tow. This recipe looks risky but let us eat cake!

The Film Experience Kiki
A collection of previous Dunst-related posts

tags: Kirsten Dunst, Sofia Coppola, Marie-Antoinette, movies, Scarlet Johansson, entertainment

previous "coming soons"
#3 The Prestige, #4 A Prairie Home Companion, #5 Dreamgirls, #6 The Fountain, #7 Running With Scissors, #8 Volver, #9 Inland Empire, #10 Little Children, #11 Margaret, and #12 Bug

Posts I Recommend

Britney Spears' Open Letter to Go Fug Yourself readers
"Make Laura Dern Cry" -My New Plaid Pants
"A Can of Worms" -Dooce on HBO's Big Love and Mormonism
"Festen/Arrested Development" -Low Culture
Interiors features a great Maureen Stapleton performance. Stinky Lulu eloquently sings its praises.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Good Vs. Evil: Squinty-Eyed Oscar Winning Edition

Dianne Weist celebrated her 58th birthday today. Her movie time seems to have passed but in the 80s and 90s --oh the joy she brought. Think Patricia Clarkson right. now. and you begin to approach the level of brilliance Weist managed for two decades consistently. Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets Over Broadway, The Lost Boys, Edward Scissorhands, Parenthood --there was just no touching this woman for elevating a film with humor, genuine warmth, and inspired acting choices. Won't some major director give her one last superb showcase so she can win a third Oscar?

Another squinty-eyed actress won an Oscar not so long ago. If we never mention her name again maybe she'll go away?

A History of... Jodie Foster

It's Tuesday. Time for "A History Of..."

1962 Wee infant Alicia Christian Foster is born in Los Angeles. She will be known, very quickly I must add, as "Jodie". Her mom will pimp her out just two years later for her first professional gig. Over the next 40+ years Alicia will flash a lot more than her Coppertone tan.

1968-1973 Jodie on the lam! The young actor skirts child labor law authorities by accreditation as two different actors "Jodie" and "Jody" (her imaginary twin brother?) making 33 TV appearances and 4 movies.

1974 Jody and Jodie make a big impression as a tomboy in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.

1976 At the tender age of 14, whilst peers are having slumber parties and talking about cute boys, Jodie stars in three enduring films: One classic,Taxi Driver, and two family favorites, Bugsy Malone and Freaky Friday. Fearing she had accomplished too little that calendar year, she makes two more films, begins work on Flora Plum, hosts Saturday Night Live, and moves to France. C'est tout.

1981 Crazy John Hinckley Jr shoots President Reagan in what he claims is an attempt to impress Jodie Foster. It becomes The Subject That Dare Not Speak Its Name in interviews with the actress. Stephen Sondheim later speaks its name in his musical "Assassins." Meanwhile she attends Yale and adds another undiscussable to her resume: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name. Sondheim stays mum.

1984 Jodie emerges from college related obscurity to repeatedly f*** screen brother Rob Lowe in The Hotel New Hampshire. Hey, he looked like this. You would too.

Yes, even if you were a lesbian.

1988-1989 Jodie stars as rape victim Sarah Tobias in The Accused and steals the Oscar from its primary 80s lady-in-waiting Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons whose performance is, by rough estimation, 413 times better. Freaky Friday Monday, March 29th --That same night Rob Lowe dirty dances with Snow White, wishing it were Jodie all the while.

1991 Anthony Hopkins chews scenery and downs a nice quianti as Hannibal Lecter. Foster becomes Clarice Starling. They both take home Oscars. But what she really wants to do is direct (Little Man Tate).

1993-1999 Jodie enters her "romantic" phase, wherein she pleads for the suspension of your disbelief while jumping Richard Gere's bones, flirting with Mel Gibson, trembling with Matthew McConaughey, and making goo goo eyes at Chow Yun Fat. She is more convincing whilst playing Nell, a freaky twin. Her other half is dead. Hmmmmm. What did happen to little Jody, anyway?

1997 She offed the wrong brother. Buddy Foster publishes an unauthorized biography, Sister Dearest "Foster Child"

2002-2006 Enters her "trapped in confined spaces in thrillers" period.
... wherein she phones it in from within a high-tech bomb shelter and a big airplane. She mixes it up in The Inside Man by being outside of the confined space (a bank) where others are trapped. That Jodie ...always surprising us!

Previous Histories...
Gender Bending * Bald Women * Sarah Jessica Parker *
Gay Cowboys * Julianne Moore's Screen Kids * Gyllenhaal

tags: Jodie Foster, Stephen Sondheim, movies, lesbian, celebrities, gossip

Coming Soon #3: "The Prestige"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#3 The Prestige
(Disney Touchstone. Arriving in October)

I grew up in a fantasy/sci-fi loving environment. Played Dungeons & Dragons ...the whole deal. My childhood home suffered from geekaholicism. [or was blessed by...depending on your p.o.v.] Though I have largely left that world behind the cockles of my heart are still warmed by things magical, fantastical, or of similar ilk (excluding Harry Potter to which I am determinedly immune). The Prestige is a movie about rival magicians in turn of the century London. So, I'm there.

I love wizard battles. Gandalf Vs. Saruman , Queen Bavmorda Vs. Raziel , Madam Mim Vs. Merlin --give me more on a loop. I don't even care if the movie is cheesy or the f/x are lacking. Not that we need to worry about that in this case...

The production team who will be adapting this award-winning novel from Christopher Priest is led by director Christopher Nolan and DP Wally Pfister (both of Memento and Batman Begins fame). Headlining as the magicians are Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. The supporting lineup includes Michael Caine, Andy Serkis, and most enticingly David Bowie as the fascinating Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla and the ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson as...well, a love interest I'm guessing. Whew. That's a lot of prestige talent lined up for The Prestige itself.

Ah but who am I kidding. I've been breathlessly excited for this movie all because Joe Reid said "Batman Vs. Wolverine" back in October.

Reason enough.

tags: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, magic, movies, Scarlet Johansson, David Bowie, The Prestige

previous "coming soons"
#4 A Prairie Home Companion, #5 Dreamgirls, #6 The Fountain, #7 Running With Scissors, #8 Volver, #9 Inland Empire, #10 Little Children, #11 Margaret, and #12 Bug

Spring Sprung

Check out the ModFab Six's Spring plans which include book sales, cherry blossoms, Aussie Football, haunting paintings, and Liza with a Z. What are your big plans for the new season?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Request: Animals in Movies

Each Monday I take a request. This week's topic comes from Cal, who insisted.

Favorite Animals in the Movies
This post is not about Snakes on a Plane --please people calm down! The movie doesn't even come out until the summer and it's all anybody can talk about on the internet. Sheesh. Rather than scour through lists of all the films I've seen in my life I'm going to just speak to this spontaneously. I am certain to miss some scaley or furry friend but I have a real life furball to attend to who doesn't like me to spend 12 hours a day on the computer. Since this topic is so broad I will limit myself to household beasts (and revisit later should people request the wild things as well...)

The first fish that pops into mind is forgetful "Dory" from Finding Nemo. Ellen Degeneres voiced hilarity aside, that probably has something to do with the cultural dominance of Disney/Pixar. I mean, even if you don't like a film from Disney it's probably still sitting there in your head. I'm also partial to that perpetually alarmed cutie in the bowl in Pinocchio. You know the one who lives with Gepetto's cat.

But as far as creatures of the sea go, I have to go with "Madison" in Splash. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Nathaniel, mermaids are not domesticated. They are only found on the shorelines of Manhattan, Copenhagen, Greece, and Neverland. And certainly never ever in people's home!" But stop right there. You don't know everything. I mean, I bet you didn't know that mermaids used crimping irons before Splash swam into theaters in the 80s, now did'ya smartypants?

I've already obsessed on both Catwoman and The Jungle Book's Bagheera on this blog. As a child I loved The Cat From Outer Space. Readers? Your fav felines?

Skippy is both my favorite dog actor and plays my favorite dog character, "Smitty," in one of the greatest films of all time, The Awful Truth starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. It's easy to see why they fight over this loveable pooch in their divorce case. In a totally unrelated aside, it's not easy to see how Irene Dunne lost the Oscar that year. If you haven't seen this movie put it at the tippy top of your Netflix queue. You won't regret it. Although you might start weeping inconsolably when you realize that the phrase "they don't make 'em like they used to" is an actual thunderbolt truth rather than a reductive cliché. Today's romantic comedies are like microorganisms compared to yesterday's higher beings. And isn't evolution supposed to work in the opposite direction? sigh.

Use the comments to discuss this entry or make a request for next week
previous: Cher (for David) and The Sound of Music (for Anonymous)

tags: dogs, entertainment, cats, mermaids, movies, Snakes on a Plane

Geelong in the Piazza

Over the weekend I met Glenn which was fun. He was visiting NYC from Australia. [you get no photos because I seem to have lost my camera cord. I lose everything. Argh] We went and saw The Light in the Piazza. When choosing the show Glenn had the good sense to reject the musicals that he'd already seen as films or were in the process of being made into movies. Because, you know, he has good taste. Unlike most tourists.

This was my second time seeing it this show. I urge those who love Broadway musicals to buy this CD --clearly one of the best scores of the past few decades. Victoria Clark is --and this will be tough for anyone who has seen this Tony winning show to imagine-- even better than she was when this swooning musical first opened.

Hollywood has no clue how to make movie musicals (recently they gave the white-hot musical comedy property Hairspray over to the director of The Pacifier, you know? Hollywood does not care about movie musicals. But this is the kind of musical I'd love to see get a shot at the silver screen. Great score, sensational lead performance, and since it's set in Italy, it'd be beautiful to look at it as well.

Exciting breaking news about this show by way of ModFab: being filmed for posterity before it closes for a PBS airing in the summer.

previous posts on The Light in the Piazza Best Actress Tony Race * First Viewing Reaction * Best CDs of the Year *

Coming Soon #4: "A Prairie Home Companion"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#4 A Prairie Home Companion
(Picturehouse. Arriving in June)
See the New Trailer!

Before I begin my periodic genuflection to Robert Altman in the next paragraph. I would like to publicy forgive the Picturehouse distributing team for a minor scheduling error. 6s do look a lot like 9s. Especially if your desk is messy and you're working quickly. That has to be why they f***ed up this birthday gift to me. See birthday is the 6th and they're releasing this movie on the 9th. It's no biggie really. [Though sending some flowers or something would be a nice gesture for their error]. Because who loves Altman more than me? OK, maybe Ed @ Slant or Nick @ Nicks Flick Picks. But I love Altman muchly.

Here are 7 reasons why A Prairie Home Companion should be on anyone's list of 5 movies to be most excited about in this cinematic year:
3 Women
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Gosford Park
The Company
The Player

and here are 3 more for good measure
Lily Tomlin... how underemployed is she? Discuss.
Meryl Streep ... how happy are we that she's getting so much work at 56? Discuss.
Lindsay Lohan... even if you're luckier than I am and immune to her celebrity pull despite all evidence that her career will be over in two seconds I'm sure you're curious to see what Altman can do with her. Aren't You?

tags: Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Robert Altman, musicals, Lindsay Lohan, movies,

previous "coming soons"
#5 Dreamgirls, #6 The Fountain, #7 Running With Scissors, #8 Volver, #9 Inland Empire, #10 Little Children, #11 Margaret, and #12 Bug

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday Drift...

I am exhausted for no discernable reason today, so I give you... other people:

"Tom Cruise has telepathic powers" WWTDD? on Scientology's future surprise attack.
"Looking for the Off Ramp" -Dave Kehr on Crash. The last line is choice.
German "Lola" Nominations -europeanfilms. It sounds like we're going to be hearing more and more about this Requiem film.
"ModMusic" -new Sunday music download feature on Modern Fabulousity.
"When Cinephilia Goes Bad" -The downward slide of Jonathan Demme. [Arden is so cute when she's angry.]
"Randy Quaid Got Bent Over Brokeback" I Don't Like You In That Way on Quaid's idiotic lawsuit.
"MotherF*king Snakes -J.J. on the planned cult status of you know what...
Kirsten as Marie Antoinette Just Jared with new photos. [soon the world will catch up with my Kiki-love and stop with the hating. mwahhahaha -ed.]

And if you forgot your reading glasses. You Tube...
Michelle Pfeiffer used to date Animal!?! -70s dating game skit on The Muppets Tonight
Michael Berresse sings "Bianca" from Kiss Me Kate -He's currently in Light in the Piazza on Broadway. Love him.

Pass the Joint

So when Find Me Guilty opened you told us your favorite film by Sidney Lumet was Network. Now that Inside Man is in theaters it's time to look back at all the Spike Lee joints [I haven't seen Inside Man yet... very derelict in moviegoing this year. I shall improve]. Vote on the poll: What's your fav' Spike Lee joint? Why?

Coming Soon #5: "Dreamgirls"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#5 Dreamgirls (Dreamworks & Paramount. Arriving in December)

The official site for this big musical has been gleaming and generous for months now. It's got teaser trailers, production glimpses, and more. Imagine the publicity blitz when this Broadway behemoth's cast finally struts into movie theaters at Christmas.

Crazy in Love aside, I'm not much for Beyoncé (as previously noted), but I love the other two dreamgirls. Anika Noni Rose won the Tony for a recent favorite of mine on Broadway, Caroline or Change. And Jennifer Hudson, who has the daunting task of filling these legendary shoes [see video] to sing the show's showstopper, "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)", is my favorite alumni of American Idol from any season --winner, loser, whatever. Truly the only AI contestant I've ever truly cared about. Plus it's Dreamgirls. And I love movie musicals, maybe you've heard?

Oscarwatchers, please note: The roles to be played by Beyoncé and Hudson were both nominated in the lead categories at the TONY Awards on Broadway (but they have stricter rules about who is lead and who is supporting than the Oscars do) and Hudson's was the winner. The role to be played by Jamie Foxx won the Best Actor Tony. The roles to be played by Eddie Murphy and Keith Robinson were both nominated in the supporting actor category. Murphy's role was the winner. The roles to be played by Anika and Danny Glover were not nominated in their Tony incarnations. This might not mean anything when it comes to the Oscars (which always have more competition and which love to play category fraud games) but it's just something to think about for awards obsessives like you (presumably) and I (definitely).

tags: Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, Dreamgirls, musicals, Jamie Foxx, Broadway, American Idol

previous "coming soons"
#6 The Fountain, #7 Running With Scissors, #8 Volver, #9 Inland Empire, #10 Little Children, #11 Margaret, and #12 Bug

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Bening, Gender Benders, and Divine Visitations on Broadway

Week in Review: In Case You Missed Anything...

This week was crazier offblog than on. (I felt you. I did) But things were a little odd here as well: Women pretending to be men pretending to be women? Preposterous. A tribute to Pulp Fiction? Random. People complaining about Daniel Craig as Bond before they've even seen him (naked)? Silly. Sondheim and Webber born on the same day? Sick. Julianne Moore appearing on the Great White Way? Divine. Movie stars celebrating World Water Day? Hot. Cher? Cher!

Waiting for these movies is trying my patience! The 2006 Preview is in full swing. #6 Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, #7 "The Bening" is Running With Scissors, #8 Pedro & Carmen reunited in Volver, #9 Lynch invests in Inland Empire, #10 Kate & Patrick making whoopee in Little Children, #11 Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, and #12 the stage to film transfer Bug. Five more movies to go before the annual year-in-advance Oscar rundown / foolish guessing game.

Coming Soon #6: "The Fountain"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#6 The Fountain (Warner Bros. No release date announced.)

The IMDB Page for this long awaited film from Darren Aronofsky (director of cult hit Pi and the visionary addiction drama Requiem for a Dream) says the following regarding its plot: "Spanning over one thousand years, and three parallel stories, The Fountain is a story of love, death, spirituality, and the fragility of our existence in this world."

OK... So, we know already that it's crazy ambitious. Or just crazy. Still, you've seen Requiem, right? Crazy is a good look for this filmmaker.

The cast is also interesting: Mrs. Aronofsky, also known as recent Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz, headlines with X-Man Hugh Jackman in all three of the movies timeframes. The supporting cast includes the great Broadway star Donna Murphy, Aronofsky regular Sean Gullette, and the legendary Ellen Burstyn.

Watch the trailer. Discuss: Disaster-to-be or future sci-fi masterpiece? We love the movies that walk tightropes without nets.

tags: Hugh Jackman, rachel weisz, The Fountain, movies

previous "coming soons"
#7 Running With Scissors, #8 Volver, #9 Inland Empire, #10 Little Children, #11 Margaret, and #12 Bug

Friday, March 24, 2006

Happy Birthday Willow

Thank You For (Being) Smoking (Hot)

Aaron Eckhart plays a devil in nearly every movie he's in (the too good to be true biker boyfriend in Erin Brockovich a notable exception). But he's a handsome devil, isn't he? So his casting as Nicky Naylor, serpent-tongued tobacco lobbyist in Thank You For Smoking, is a bullseye. Maria Bello plays a fellow "merchant of death" lobbyist only she works for Alcohol. Her performance made me smile as well. In publicity photos and awards shows I keep seeing Maria with flowers in her hair and even though that's usually a better look for a drag queen, I find it endearing on her.

[Gaggy Name-Dropping Tangent: I went to the same college as Aaron and I have videotapes of him in short student films. No lie.]

Thank You For Smoking has lots of great tiny moments and a game cast (excluding Katie Holmes. Why would anyone cast her as a sexpot when she always looks so sexless and modest?) but the film is not as sharp and biting as it wants to be. It needs the machinegun blink and you missed it pacing of something like His Girl Friday but it moves like anything else at the multiplex. Mistake. The biggest flaw is that it has an intrusive parallel plot about Naylors warm relationship with his son, the creepy older than his years Cameron Bright from Birth, which throws off the satiric tone.

I really wanted to like this. I'm certain that many people will. But it's a mixed bag for me.

Coming Soon #7: "Running With Scissors"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#7 Running With Scissors (Sony. Supposedly arriving in September)

Sony is distributing this film. I don't know exactly how all their corporate film divisions work but I hope this means that we get that Annette Bening doppelganger Columbia lady before the film. You know, the one who holds that torch. I figure all movies with Annette Bening oughta have that intro. It's The Bening. We'd like a little warning prior to her appearance.

Sometimes I like to fantasize about the CG Columbia lady being replaced by Bening herself before each and every film. Bening could still hold the torch but she could make a different face before each film; a wink here, a sideways glance there, a shudder, or a twinkly laugh. Something that lets us know what she thought of the film before it starts rolling. I'd see everything Sony distributed if she did.

Now where were we? The Bening has distracted me.

Oh. Running With Scissors. Everyone says the book is great. I haven't yet read it. (Does it have pictures?) They also say it'll be hard to translate. Nevertheless I'm excited. Bening as a crazy person. Kristen Chenoweth as her lover? Kristen Chenoweth, my friends! (Y'all know how I feel about her) The cast also finds room for Gwynnie, Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, and Alec Baldwin. I'll be running with dollars to the box office.

tags: Annette Bening, Running with scissors, books, movies, Kristen Chenoweth

previous "coming soons"
Volver,Inland Empire, Little Children, Margaret, Bug and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thursday Triple: Pulp Fiction

It's Amanda Plummer's birthday. You know. Weirdass Amanda. The indeliby shy "Lydia" from The Fisher King (I personally think Robin Williams owes her his Oscar nomination. Seriously.) and "Honey Bunny" in Pulp Fiction and assorted weirdos in other films, too. Which brings me to my three favorite scenes in Quentin Tarantino's cooler-than-thou breakout smash...

The Robbery
I can still feel that jolt ripping through the theater on opening night when Tarantino froze that frame 70s style just as Plummer went ballistic in the diner. What a way to open a film. I can't even tell you how many times my roommate and I did the dialogue to this scene in college. We were always turning random events into "Pumpkin" & "Honey Bunny" spaz outs 'If any of you f***ing pricks move. Then I'll execute every last motherf***in' one of you!" When you need an actress to go way the hell out there, please consider giving Ms. Plummer a call.

The Dance
"I want that trophy!" Can I just say that a part of me died when Travolta and Thurman tried to repeat this classic screen moment in last year's Be Cool (which wasn't). That just ain't right. It's like trying to colorize a black and white picture. Don't mess with the best. Move on gracefully from past triumphs.

The Overdose
Because it set Uma up for my favorite post-Oscar nomination announcement quote of all time. Uma on the PR circuit 'to be included with all of these remarkable women is like a shot of adrenaline to my heart.' Hee.

Coming Soon #8: "Volver"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#8 Volver (Sony Pictures Classics. Arriving in June. Now playing in Spain.)

I still vividly recall my introduction to the colorful, supremely cinematic world of Pedro Almodovar. It was a one two punch in short succession. I rented Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown out of sheer curiousity (based on the title) and found myself both disoriented and highly amused. Then a friend of a friend of a friend begged me to sit down with Law of Desire. I was a devotee from then on. I never saw that acquaintance again but damned if I don't owe him a loudly uttered "thank you."

For the past six years Pedro has been enjoying a beautiful creative renaissance. All About My Mother renewed Almodovar fever in 1999 (and won him the Foreign Film Oscar). Improbably Talk To Her didn't suffer by comparison and was considered another instant classic (He won a second Oscar and neared the top of my top ten list). And two years ago Bad Education's "fag noir" provided more thrills for adventurous filmgoers. Put simply: Almodovar is the most consistently thrilling auteur that's regularly working.

His latest feature Volver reunites him at long last with the star of his first Carmen Maura, arguably his greatest muse. Spanish beauty and blight on Hollywood films Penelope Cruz also stars. But I don't mind. Almodovar knows just how to use her talent. Maura plays the ghost of Cruz's mother.

Now if Pedro would only invite Victoria Abril back in the mix...

My trinity of favorites
Law of Desire (1986), All About My Mother (1999), Talk to Her (2002)
Most underappreciated
¡Átame! (1990)
Performances I love the most
Carmen Maura in Law of Desire(1986), Victoria Abril in both Kika(1994) and ¡Átame!(1990), and Gael Garcia Bernal in Bad Education(2004)
My least favorite
Matador (1987)
Haven't seen [embarrassed]
Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980), The Flower of My Secret (1995)

tags: Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodovar, Volver, movies

previous "coming soons"
Inland Empire, Little Children, Margaret, Bug and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac

You Say a Little Prayer For Me

There will be another "coming soon" entry a bit later but for now, please consider saying a little prayer for yours truly. Should you not be the religious type, send me positive energy. Should you be the extremely unsentimental type, groaning at this request for cosmic assistance, merely wish me luck. I'm hard at work on a project that's important to me. [sorry, no details. can't discuss]. I appreciate any otherworldly, communal, or positive external forces speeding me along my way.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Good Vs. Evil: Musical Theater Birthday Edition

I never knew this before: Andrew Lloyd Webber, devourer of all things beauteous and subtle in musical theater and Stephen Sondheim, god's gift to the same struggling but invaluable artform share a birthday. God has a weird sense of humor, don'cha think?

Beezelbub Andrew is 58 today and Stephen turns 76. For Webber's birthday I would like to give him the gift of silence. It truly is golden. This gift is large enough to allow for the immediate closing of Phantom of the Opera. Let the curtain fall instead of that damn chandelier! May Sondheim receive immortality as a genius musician --oh, wait he already has that. OK, may he live to be 100 and write one or two more musicals as great as Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and Sweeney Todd (currently revived, deliciously, on Broadway. GO SEE IT).

tags: Stephen Sondheim, Broadway, theater, theatre, musicals, Sweeney Todd

Daniel and Daniel Jr. and Crazy People

[Please Note:this post is meant to have eye-candy photos of Daniel Craig in it. But, you know, every other hour Blogger has problems these days. Sigh. so no photos for you!]

I got a strange e-mail yesterday thanking me for my 'comment about Daniel Craig'. I thought "which one?" and then the e-mailer proceeded to say that they were thrilled every time they read a mean comment about the future James Bond.

It is clear that this person writing to me has either:
a) confused me with someone else
b) confused me with someone else
c) confused me with someone else
d) all of the above

For, you see, I love the Daniel Craig. I love the Daniel Craig Jr [nsfw]. I love his willingness to be naked in the new film and his smokin' hotness in his other films. I've given him awards. This is the most excited I've ever been for Bond. These people are crazy. That's my last words on this movie and this actor until the damn thing opens (hopefully).

[p.s. Daniel Craig will show up eventually on the Actors of the Aughts list. Voting on the first 1/4th of the list ends tomorrow. Have you voted?]

God Coming to Broadway in November

ohmygod. Julianne Moore herself -- coming to Broadway. I am so full of joy right now. My faith has been restored. I hope She will forgive me for doubting.

Coming Soon #9: "Inland Empire"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#9 Inland Empire (Canal + . No release date announced yet but 99% certainty of premiering at Cannes this year.)

We have a repetitive theme going on here with this breath-holding countdown and it's this: Directors we haven't heard from since 2000/2001. Is this a standard turnaround time for auteurs? I guess it is. (This means that Todd Haynes, P.T. Anderson, and more are coming up soon. yee-haw) Still, five years is too long for impatient little me. Inland Empire has a strange cloud hanging over it . And that's this: It comes on the heels of Mulholland Dr, certainly one of the most acclaimed films of the decade and maybe, eventually, an all-timer. Not that Lynch is sweating, mind. He has a way of seeming...well, if not really above it all perhaps to the side. A smiling observant unassuming man. And a weirdo genius, God bless.

Lynch's name on an upcoming project is enough to insure fever pitch in cineastes the world over. But aside from the inimitable auteur, I'm looking forward to seeing what Laura Dern will bring once thrown back into the Lynchian universe to which she so clearly belongs. I haven't been excited about Laura Dern in a good long while [you'll recall she was #80 in my fav actresses of this decade list]. She was best in show in the recent We Don't Live Here Anymore but, alas, that isn't saying much given the limpness of the entire romantic quadrangle in that film. The last time I was truly and unrecoverably into her was when she made Citizen Ruth with Alexander Payne in 1996. The reason for my love initially was time spent with Lynch. My favorite performance of hers is possibly in Wild at Heart. Her "Lulu" was 'hotter than Georgia asphalt.'

tags: David Lynch, Laura Dern, entertainment, movies, Inland Empire, film

previous "coming soons": Little Children, Margaret, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac, and Bug

Hotties: Wet Movie Stars

Did you know that today is World Water Day? Well, now you do! Don't say I never kept you informed. In honor of this important day of sanitation, resource management, and the stuff that keeps us all alive, enjoy these photos of movie stars generously polluting the world's water supplies with their own gorgeousity.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

An Illustrated History of...Gender Bending

It's Tuesday. Time for "A History of..." But today we're doing things a little differently. It's an Illustrated History of Gender-Bending @ The Movies. Today's topic is inspired in part by the fact that it's the birthday of one hit wonder Jaye Davidson who startled moviegoers in The Crying Game many years ago.

1930s Marlene Dietrich puts on a suit. Garbo strolls around like she has an extra bit between her legs. Millions swoon.

1959 Hollywood's first transgendered gay marriage

1970s Susan Sarandon squeaks. Tim Curry peaks.

1980s Hollywood's gender-bending apex.
Dustin hoffman plays "Tootsie", Streisand is "Yentl", Julie Andrews plays a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman. and Daryl Hannah begins passing.

1992 oops...

1993 Kurt Russell discovers eyeliner in Tombstone. Val Kilmer still upstages him.

1994 Guy Pearce cannot find a copy of The Texas Chainsaw Mascara. Still looking. Has now also misplaced his career. I swear that Guy. If his head weren't attached...

2006 Amanda Bynes in She's the Man finally replaces Barbra Streisand in Yentl as the world's most unbelievable and ugly boy. Babs sends 'thank you' note.

If you're here for the first time...
please check out the blog entire, homebase, and some other histories...
Jodie Foster * Bald Women * Sarah Jessica Parker *
Gay Cowboys * Julianne Moore's Screen Kids * Gyllenhaal

Tags: She's The Man, gender, movies, Amanda Bynes, Barbra Streisand, celebrities, Rocky Horror, gay, transgender

Coming Soon #10: "Little Children"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#10 Little Children (New Line. Supposedly arriving in November.)

As with yesterday's #11 entry Margaret, my tenth most awaited film of the year is from a writer/director who after a stunning debut left us waiting for more for five+ long years. Todd Field, the man in question this time, began his cinematic journey as an actor. He played the obnoxious best friend in films (like Eyes Wide Shut 1999) and the great family drama series "Once and Again" on television. His 2001 feature directorial debut In the Bedroom was a major success, delivering widely respected performances, solid box office, and deserved Oscar nominations. Can his new film, Little Children match that succes destime?

I'm feeling optimistic. Like Bedroom this is an adaptation of a respected contemporary work of literature (a novel by Tom Perotta), involves marital anguish and complex characterizations, and --on paper at least-- features very smart casting choices.

My soulmate and idol Kate Winslet and my loveslave Patrick Wilson are the leading characters. She is an insecure former bohemian who hates the suburban mommy clique she now travels with. He is a former football star and stay-at-home dad questioning the decision he's recently made about his life. The story revolves around a neighborhood child abuse scandal and the surprising/romantic (?) bond between these two parents. Both are married to other people. Broadway star Gregg Edelman (last seen very briefly as Peter Parker's doctor in Spider-Man 2) plays Winslet's older husband and Jennifer Connelly plays Patrick Wilson's filmmaker wife. It is with great relief that I tell you that this character is not a typical JConn type. If they stay true to the book (please hope that they do) we won't see that weepy/mopey/psychologically fragile Jen' that we are so fond of familiar with. This'll be a nice change of pace for her.

If the movie handles the book's tricky tone right and the performances ring true, it'll be special.

tags: Todd Field, Kate Winslet, Little Children, drama, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, movies

Haiku Capote

Capote arrives on DVD today so those "i'll wait til it's on video" viewers no longer have an excuse. See what all the fuss was about. In honor of its arrival, here's one last haiku from my Oscar Party (I did not write it).

"If I hear your voice
one more time on the big screen?
I'll throw up on you."

(related posts: Oscar Haikus and Munich Haikus, and Capote boys)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Coming Soon #11: "Margaret"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#11 Margaret (Fox Searchlight. No release date announced yet.)

Margaret, the new film from missing-in-action writer/director Kenneth Lonergan may well be the most hotly anticipated film of 2006 for two sets of moviegoers: The first group is the rabid fans of the fine 2000 sibling drama You Can Count On Me. The second might be The Piano (1993) junkies (you know who they/you are) desperately waiting for Anna Paquin to play something other than a mutant or a Lolita-esque sex object for a change --just to see if she has any more greatness in her. It has to suck to peak at the precocious age of eleven, so let's hope she does. Have more greatness in her, I mean.

I must confess that when I first saw Lonergan's feature debut You Can Count On Me I didn't love it the way I do now. It was clear then that it was a solid drama and well written but it's lack of cinematic pizazz must have obscured it's greatness for me. I was a little surprised to see it on virtually every top ten list annnounced that year. But it definitely holds up well to repeat viewings and, more importantly, it grows more emotionally affecting in memory.

Margaret concerns a young woman who witnesses a traffic accident that sends her into an emotional tailspin. If Lonergan's second feature is anywhere close to as finely rendered and performed as his first, Paquin may finally be topping her uncanny brilliance as Holly Hunter's mischievous mouthpiece child in 1993. This is not to imply that Margaret is a one woman show. The large supporting cast includes Matt Damon (this is but one of three prestige dramas he's in this year. busy guy.), Mark Ruffalo, Keiran Culkin, Jean Reno, J Smith Cameron, Allison Janney, and Matthew Broderick.

tags: Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Margaret, drama, Mark Ruffalo

previous "coming soons": The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac, and Bug