Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today: Sci-Fi Kitsch. Tomorrow: Chat

That Terminator 4 buzz yesterday got me thinking about franchises again. The mind goes there in the summer. They're all around us. We've discussed this before but I've expounded a little over at Zoom In to ask about franchises that deserve to stay alive. I did not include this picture of Naomi Campbell and Marcus Schenkenberg in mirrored swimwear despite it's awesome and undeniable sci-fi kitsch factor. Can you imagine the new model (sorry) of terminators in this? Oh Thierry Mugler you crazy soandso...

Tomorrow: I'll have some late blooming thoughts on Cannes. And an experiment: I'll put up a live chat box right here at 1:00 PM EST and if you wanna ask me anything I'll be all sociable. Don't embarrass me by leaving me sitting by myself in the lunch room.

Next Week: I promise there'll finally be some new reviews and requests completed. Rough drafts be forming in me head.

20:07 (Rich Men, Poor Man)

Each morning a screenshot from the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie


Chris Wilton: [To waiter] Um...Roast Chicken
Chloe Hewett: God. Boring! Honestly they have the greatest caviar blini here. You should try them.
Chris: That's OK.
Chloe: No. Do you like caviar?
Chris: so so
Chloe: (laughter) so so... [To waiter] He's been brought up as a good boy to always order modestly. I'm very sorry.
Tom Hewett: He'll have the blini
*

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hump Day Spotty: Cruella DeVille

Last week I traded in the Hottie for the Snotty and this week I'm still addicted to the punny. My apologies. The lusty HDH series proper will return soon. But until then, I'm goofin' around. Today we salute Cruella DeVille.
Cruella DeVille, Cruella DeVille
If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will
To see her is to take a sudden chill
Cruella, Cruella DeVille

They sure don't make animated villains like they used to. They don't make animated films like they used to. But even when they do make great ones, the villains just aren't as resonant. Consider The Incredibles --great movie but the villain? Not much for the all-time lists. I only remember that he has HeatMeiser like hair and a clumsy cape.

Why am I thinking about Cruella today? Well that damn American Idol won't get off of my media. AI Winner Jordin Sparks is smiling at me from the latest cover of Entertainment Weekly and she's wearing dalmations --or leopards or something. I'm trying not to look...

Anyway: Cruella was classic, even Glenn Close overselling just that fact in a live action movie, couldn't dampen her legend. And this is how great Disney villains used to be --she's not even the best one.

Rank your favs in the comments. Here's a list to remind you:
The Wicked Queen (Snow White), Stromboli (Pinocchio), Chernabog (Fantasia), Man (Bambi), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella), Queen of Heart (Alice in Wonderland), Captain Hook (Peter Pan), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Madam Mim (Sword in the Stone), Shere Khan (Jungle Book), The Butler (Aristocats), Madame Medusa (The Rescuers), Professor Ratigan (Great Mouse Detective), Gaston (Beauty & The Beast), Ursula (Little Mermaid), Jafar (Alladin), Scar (The Lion King), Judge Frollo (Hunchback of Notre Dame), Hades (Hercules), Alameda Slim (Home on the Range), Yzma (The Emperors New Groove)

I Link Therefore I Blog

other people
Bright Lights on "review rage" --I've noticed this myself. I'm sure I've been guilty of it at times. Good advice herein.
Wow Report When Nora Blogged Rosie. Freeform poetry guest-blogging!
Movie Blog Marcus Schenkenberg talks Terminator (4)
This is What We Do Now and As Little As Possible both have different and interesting takes on the Lindsay Lohan problem.
MNPP "do, dump, or marry?" with the Battlestar Galactica boys

i get around...
Zoom In my June movie preview is up.
ModFab A few posts: K-Fed invading Hollywood (eep), viral I Heart Huckabees style set pranks, and Martha Plimpton. I didn't share this at that post but The Boyfriend belongs to a book group and when they're done discussing any given book they cast the movie. The only requirement in their casting decisions: Martha Plimpton must get a role in every movie. Hee.

20:07 (A Real Ice Queen)

Each morning a screenshot from the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie.


Only random unsubtitled chatter at this moment. Another character offstage has just been talking about the lead "Her name is Diane. A real ice queen..."

Diane's back is turned to you in this screenshot from a confounding but haunting film. The movie is gorgeously shot but still images almost never do it justice. You have to see it move to notice the lighting and camera work and appreciate the beauty of its many shots through glass

What movie are we looking at?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tuesday Top Ten: Women of Summer

I pretty much ignored the 'Lusty Month of May' and now it's June (My brain is on fast forward. Excuse) I'm already sweating from the humidity and abusing my air conditioner so I know that summer is here. Last week I celebrated the men so now it's time for the ladies who'll be raising the screen temperature from June thru August. Before we begin, this disclaimer: I know you're supposed to have Jessica Alba on lists like this. She'll be around again, all wooden and unfortunately invisible in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. But until she removes that awful Sue Storm wig, until she tries to act with her face... I aint goin' there. Gripe all you like in the comments if you're an Albaniac.

Top Ten Women ~ Summer Movie Season 2007

La Pfeiffer - Stardust and Hairspray
She's eternally #1 but she's also a perfect 10 at any age. So this is more of an honorary nod. You know I'm f***ing celebrating when these movies finally arrive. Until then I'll shut up.

10 Joan Allen -The Bourne Supremacy
What? I have a thing for icy older blondes. Shut up. Pamela Landy will cut you.

09 Anna Faris -Smiley Face
Because she's willing to make a fool of herself for our amusement. This comedy is too stoned for a solid release date. Who knows...

08 Katherine Heigl - Knocked Up
As much as I hate Grey's Anatomy as a whole, the individual actors don't bother me so much. Heigl's "Izzy" makes me dizzy -enough with the tears and the George cockteasing, please! Yet as an actress she obviously has talent. I'm excited to see this pregnancy comedy (mostly on account of the creative team behind it). Plus, she's one of those rare generically gorgeous blondes that isn't boring to look at. Yay.

07 Demi Moore -Mr Brooks
Demi is my favorite movie star who can't act. I know it's wrong to love her but my cold jaded heart gets smooshy and warm when she's around. I blame this on the potent successive combo of St. Elmo's Fire + Bruce Willis x Vanity Fair³.


06 Claire Danes -Evening and Stardust
I've loved Danes ever since I first laid eyes on Angela Chase in my so called life. I'm not sure that she can do "sexy" per se... but don't you wish she'd try? I wonder if she'll reveal new charms in either of these pictures. For now the wondering is enough. Deliver, Claire, deliver. It's time.

05 Liv Tyler -The Strangers
I can't say that I'm looking forward to seeing Liv and Scott Speedman (the screen husband) terrorized in this thriller but at least they'll make a beautiful couple. When I heard she had a new movie coming out I realized those three years in gelled closeups as Arwen had earned her a tiny enduring place in my heart.

04 Ellen Barkin -Oceans 13
I'm hoping that she'll have enough to work with in this cool caper comedy that younger audiences will discover her weirdly compelling beauty and talent for themselves. Plus, in real life she's Julianne Moore's best friend. So: points for that.

03 Lindsay Lohan -I Know Who Killed Me
I've been trying to ween myself away from this wildchild. It's starting to work. I'm just so tired of the idiocy of this girl. All that talent going to waste. Still: if she has to alienate me and everyone who responded to her early promise, at least she'll go down in the kind of flames that prompt much posthumous writing: she's doing some sort of weird meta commentary on her own life with the movie roles... chucking talent aside for shallow pursuits (Mean Girls) , death wish (Prairie Home Companion), wild and vulgar (Georgia Rule), and now she's playing a stripper. Oh Lindsay... didn't you see what Striptease did to Demi? I know you were only 10 at the time but can't you do your movie homework?

02 Maggie Q -Live Free or Die Hard
Back when I was doing last year's film bitch awards and talking about performances that caught my eye that weren't at all foregrounded by their films, I noticed Maggie Q love in the comments for her cool M:i3 turn. This summer she's back in action with Bruce Willis. May she turn heads again.


01 Anne Hathaway -Becoming Jane
If Hollywood held a pretty party, I'm pretty sure she'd be the prettiest pretty princess, the fairest of them all. That's all.
*

DVD Releases: The Sound of Crickets Chirping

It's quiet out there in DVD land. Maybe the holiday weekend had something to do with it? There's almost nothing new to choose from. But at least you can catch up with your Katharine Hepburn. 2007 marks her centennial so there's this new box set on offer with six of her movies. I'm not much of a fan (I know...) but I'm guessing that the jewel in this collection is Morning Glory (1933) since it marked her first of four acting Oscar wins. A record that's still unbroken and likely to remain so --though one can see Jack Nicholson tying that accomplishment before he's gone.

If you don't like old movies you deserve the other offerings this week...

[gasp!] Gaspard wants to eat your liver

Hannibal Rising the backstory of Hannibal Lecter. Turns out Hollywood's favorite cannibal used to be French hottie Gaspard Ulliel before he became Sir Anthony Hopkins. I know why Hollywood likes prequels (easy branding. easy money... at least in theory) but I'm sick to death of all mysteries being explained. I'm really starting to hate origin stories and I've always hated the personality forming event flashback (I'm talking to you Ray and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...) as if any person can or should be explained through one single moment. Why do we always need to know why? I prefer to wonder.
The Hawk is Dying Paul Giamatti and Michelle Williams (kind of a mopey pair, no?) costar in this indie drama about a sadsack rehabilitating a wild hawk.

That's basically it. I don't cover TV on DVD releases (they're endless) but --true story-- as I was researching this list I saw that The Closer was arriving (4th season). I confused it for a split second with Closer. Hee. Imagine Kyra Sedgwick duking it out with Jude & Clive & Julia & Natalie. Poor girl wouldn't last one round in that mix. OK, maybe she'd KO Julia. She did steal the whole show from her that one time.

World Domination Through Blogging

I am all over the place! At least this week. Over at ModFab I'm being totally obnoxious gabbing about the theater for his famous Stage Addiction column-- I didn't know what the hell to talk about, am not privy to the insider dish like Gabriel is. I had to wing it.

Meanwhile at Zoom In Online I'm theorizing about how Once so regularly seizes audience hearts. I didn't mention this over there... and I'm hesitant to say it here because it's so reductive Hollywood pitchy, but the movie is really like Before Sunrise / Sunset for musicians. That's just a clumsy way of saying that you should see it. It's not articulate and gabby like those films: this couple, a Czech immigrant and an Irish repairman compose music instead of talking about anything & everything) but it has a similarly expressive way of burrowing into two souls really responding to each other. I can't get it out of my head. Have you seen it yet?

20:07 (Hedley)

Each morning a screenshot of the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie


"Are you crazy? They'll never go for it."
*

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Strange Case of the Steel Magnolias Haunting

Is it just me or is the ghost of Steel Magnolias floating about in Hollywood's attics going booo-ooo-ooo, thus prompting strange reanimations of its 1989 heyday? I'm talking crazy so I should pro'ly explain...

When Brothers & Sisters started its first season run last fall on ABC, I thought it was cute that Sally Field & Tom Skerritt were playing incompatible husband and wife. They had already essayed one prickly enduring marriage in Magnolias. But when Skerritt's character kicked the bucket in the first episode and Sally was back in that familiar comic/grief mode I was a bit weirded out. This must have been intentional. When I started hearing reports about the casting of Poor Things I knew peculiar forces were at work. What's more, they weren't even trying to fly under the radar. For those of you who haven't heard about this,Poor Things is a comedy about two elderly women who are partners in crime. Who are the old women? Why "Ouiser" and "Clairee" themselves, Shirley Maclaine and Olympia Dukakis. They're not actually playing Ouiser and Clairee again but they might as well be. The early tagline is "These magnolias have thorns" and it's not hard to imagine Ouiser and Clairee's playful bickering redux
You are evil and must be destroyed

Is some secret ectoplasmic force at work trying to insure that Julia Roberts returns to work instead of having all these babies. Maybe it didn't want her to have thirty minutes of wonderful and would prefer she work on that lifetime of nothing special.

I don't really know that Steel Magnolias needs to be revived. I really don't. It is, after all, the strongest of all undead films endlessly lumbering through cable rotation. But if this weird pseudo resurrection is going to start, the least it could do is finish the job: How about one last bigscreen hurrah for Dolly Parton and another comedy hit for the eternally undervalued Daryl Hannah?

Zoom-In

I'm pleased to announce that I've been asked to join the team over at Zoom-In Online. So, please support their brilliant decision to hire me by clicking on over to my intro post and commenting: I'm sharing a sad/funny tale of youthful movie discrimination and the discovery of the cinephile within. You're all so good to me here. Please follow me there. You know that lyric line from Rent
Zoom in on Mark who's still in the dark. But he's got great footage.
That's playing on a loop in my head this morning. In this week's performance the role of Mark will be played by Nathaniel. I enjoy being in the dark. And I will be attempting to deliver great "footage" both here and there.

Kylie Kylie Kylie Kylie Kylie Chameleon

Today's paparrazi puzzlement is in honor of ModFab (I'm pinchhitting for a few days over there) since he loves himself some Kylie Minogue. And since its her birthday today. For me she's always be less of a beloved pop star than a mindblowing green fairie but still...

Speaking of absinthe drenched hallucinations, my question is this: Has Kylie's DNA become mixed up with a chameleon? Will she eventually blend into this here wall? Or is she actually becoming a pile of glitter? Perhaps this is the final stage in her mutant evolution from pleasant disposable singer to enduring world conquering pop diva? Your theories are welcome in the comments.

previous paparazzi puzzlements

20:07 (Goodbye to Blueberry Pie)

Each morning a screenshot from the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie


"What are you, a crazy woman?"
*

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Links, Long Weekend

Indie Wire Cannes jury prizes
StinkyLulu and compatriots look at the Oscar race in 1950
film ick Dancer in the Dark will be an opera in 2 years

and a few of my favorites from that Star Wars 'thon in case you missed:
Justine Elias has a great piece on Princess Leia in chains
Alan Lopuszynski interviews his young son. Very funny.
FilmFlap lessons from Star Wars for low budget directors.

Which Witch?

360 years ago the first witch was executed in Salem Massachusetts, poor thing. Well... today is the anniversary of the first recorded execution at least. There were probably others: there's always trouble for those on the fringe of societal norms. By and large humanity just ain't kind to the different. Maybe that girl just wasn't pious, subservient, or god fearing enough?

Witches have been great fodder for entertainment for centuries but I've always found their screen treatment suspiciously two-faced. In portrayals of the Salem trials and other witch hunting movements you're always asked to be on the side of the accused. But, here's the double sided catch: they're innocent. Think of Goody Proctor in The Crucible. She is done in by Abigail, the type of woman that the witches are accused of being. When witches are actually bonafide spell casting characters, as opposed to stand-ins for historical types or allegorical statements, they're often viewed as dangerous to themselves and others. There's plenty of fear but little sympathy when the ladies work real magic. Doesn't it sometimes seem like the fictional "witch" is just an exaggerated projection of ideas about women in general, sometimes sympathetic (when victimized falsely) but just as often all kinds of sexist and anti-woman. It's a simplification, sure, but Goody Proctor (god fearing, husband-obeying, churchgoing) is actually the ideal. Abigail (sexually driven, difficult to control) is the witch. So we're still up for burning dangerous women at the stake --for proper retribution to come their way.

When I was a little kid I enjoyed TVs classic Bewitched. Right I was drawn to supernaturally laced fiction. Obviously I was the ideal audience for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And though that shows focus was on the vampiric, I think it does a fine sideline job of covering the wide spectrum of options when it comes to screen witches. If you look at the portrayals of Willow, Tara and Amy (the three witches with the most screen time) you'll see a collective portrayal that's fascinating in its reach, however loose its magic rules may have been for plot needs and however misleading its controversial free use of the term "Wicca" was.

I'm just thinking and typing aloud but there's an enormous amount of material begging for proper exhaustive analysis. What kind of ugly/beautiful portrait of women do films about witches paint? Imagine what would happen if you stirred the witches from Chronicles of Narnia, The Brothers Grimm, The Craft, Practical Magic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bewitched, Macbeth, The Witches, Hocus Pocus, Bell Book and Candle and Disney films into one giant pop culture cauldron. My guess is you'd churn up a fascinatingly schizo stew of sexism and feminism.

Which witch portrayals do you find most spellbinding... or do you think the great witch film or television series has yet to be made?

Hairspray's Original Songs

Those three of you interested in the "Original Song" Oscar category --arguably the Academy's strangest category: song writing is a skill worthy of the movie industry's highest award but casting and stuntwork are not (?) --should take note: Hairspray's soundtrack listing shows three songs that weren't in the Broadway show. Only one song, "The Big Dollhouse", has been cut. It was a comedic number sung in prison by Tracey Turnblad (the hero), her mother Edna and various other female characters. Contrary to original rumors there's no new song for villainess Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) though her equally evil daughter Amber (Brittany Snow) gets one, "The New Girl in Town". This leaves Pfeiffer with the Broadway show's least successful song "(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs" --the tune is weak and applause was limp the night I saw it on Broadway --the other songs tended to provoke berserk applause.

The other two new songs have gone to Tracey's beau Link (Zac Ephron) who gets a ditty called "Ladies Choice" and there's a group number led by Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah) "Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)" Maybelle already has one inspirational tune. Now she'll have two? Seems like overkill... especially when you stop to consider that another new song "I Can Wait" written for Tracey has been cut from the film and the CD. Essentially the important supporting players have been given an extra number but there's no new songs for either the heroine or villain. I've listed the characters in rough descending order of their importance to the show and in parenthesis their number of solos/duet or group songs. Tracey Turnblad -Nikki Blonsky (2/5), Edna Turnblad -John Travolta (0/3), Link Larkin -Zac Ephron (2/3), Amber Von Tussle -Brittany Snow (1/0), Velma Von Tussle -Michelle Pfeiffer (1/1), Motormouth Maybelle -Queen Latifah (2/2), Wilbur Turnblad -Christopher Walken (0/1), Penny Pingleton -Amanda Bynes (0/2), Seaweed -Elijah Kelley (1/3) and Corny Collins -James Marsden (2/0). Alison Janney plays Penny's hysterical conservative mother (one variation on a stock character in John Waters ouevre) Prudy Pingleton but she has no songs.


The coolest track of the CD is likely to be "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now" given that it features three Traceys: the original Ricki Lake (from John Waters classic 1988 comedy) Marisa Jaret Winokur (a TONY winner for creating Broadway's Tracey) and this film's debuting big girl Nikki Blonsky. What does that mean? I'm guessing that it's been cut from the narrative and it's the closing credits song. But still, that's a potentially awesome number and a nice tribute to Hairspray's long journey from wonderful cult comedy to moneyed mainstream musical.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How Much Does David Lynch Charge For a Headshot?

The irrepressibly odd auteur behind Mulholland Drive and INLAND EMPIRE recently shot eight très jolie actresses for French Elle including TFE international favs Emmanuelle Béart and Charlotte Rampling (you'll recall that both actresses made my top 100 of the aughts a couple years back). You can see what David Lynch came up with for all eight stars (including covergirl Monica Bellucci) over at Oh No They Didn't!

I can't say that I find the photoshoot particularly stunning but I enjoy multi-hyphenate cinematic types --actors who write or paint, directors who dabble in other mediums, yes! David Lynch is king of the dabbling, isn't he? Television, film, comic strips, coffee making, and photoshoots. What hasn't he done? Jokesters might answer "made a coherent film" but, you see, he's done that too.

Are there any multi-hyphenates you're fascinated by?

Friday, May 25, 2007

20:07 (Tatooine)


"That malfunctioning little twerp... this is all his fault"
*
For my contribution to the 3oth Anniversary Star Wars Blog-a-Thon, I had intended to write about Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia. That won't surprise regular readers since I have read all of the woman's novels and am a card carrying actressexual to boot. But as is often the case in the past two months, I find I'm haunted by this random screengrab I pulled for my 20:07 series *

[
Edited to add: Unfortunately, as it turns out my DVD player or the DVD itself, a rented remastered copy of the 1977 film, has some sort of glitch. I can't get an accurate read of the time (it jumps from 3:32 at the end of the text crawl to 10:29 and the first glimpse of the spaceship, thus rendering the clock unreliable from then on -apologies, editor]

But anyway... If you're an irregular reader and just here for the 'thon, I'll fill you in: as an experiment in visual blogging, I've been stopping movies at a random point, the 20th minute and 7th second and posting the screenshot with dialogue. Sometimes this leads to revealing giggles and other times to fascinating meta-criticism. Occasionally the random image pulled makes me ponder the movie in a whole new way. And, though I couldn't get an accurate read on this Star Wars disc, this image I grabbed from my skipping disc is haunting me anyway. The more I tried to pull myself away to talk Princess/novelist, the more I found myself lost in this image of the desert vista on Tatooine.

The beauty of the image is this: there's next to nothing there. Its simplicity is vast. We've just witnessed one of the most exciting opening scenes in film history: a text crawl has informed us that we've arrived in the middle of a story! We've seen an outer space attack, a princess, an evil cloaked villain, and two droids narrowly escaping armed soldiers. And here we are marooned on a desert. George Lucas couldn't have chosen a smarter locale to toss a curious audience into. There is so much that's unknowable, even alien about a desert... and yet its a familiar and static image. There is no distraction. Your mind is then free to wander, to wonder, to fill in the possible details. There's nothing to look at and you want to see everything. What kind of creatures live on this planet? Is there only desert? How will these machines (C-3PO pictured and R2-D2 dissed) make their way in this world? What will become of the Princess's message, already embedded in the malfunctioning little twerp?

The simplicity here got me thinking about visual schemes in the entire Star Wars series. It isn't just the desert that's low key. The color palette is largely black (costumes, Vader, space) and white (costumes, Storm Troopers) with abundant beiges (costumes, endless sand) and grays (spaceships). The Empire Strikes Back is similarly muted in its color schemes. Instead of the desert we begin on an ice planet (also familiar yet alien and wondrous to the eye). Return of the Jedi adds a forest moon and with it more greens and browns. These fantastical worlds are really quite generously familiar and plain. It's our imagination, fully engaged, filling in the details of this galaxy far far away. We're intimately engaged in the mythology because we're helping to create it as we watch.

This desert image from the 20th minute of the first film solidifies for me this partially inchoate notion I've had about what went wrong between the first set of films (1977 to 1983) and the later ones (1999 to 2005). When we first return to Tatooine in The Phantom Menace it's still a desert but there's more detail. Technological advances fill every frame with ... stuff. The new worlds created are bizarre (who lives under water or on lava?) and the costumes are explosively colorful and odd. The second trilogy (Chapters 1 through 3) is so visually detailed as to be entirely cluttered and muddy. The audience's imagination has no work left to do. There's so much to look at that there's, metaphorically speaking, nothing to see. It's certainly alien but the humanity has gone right out of it.
*
* I use a VLC DVD Player on an iMac for my screenshots. All 20:07 images in the series are from this system (unless other wise noted from guest images) Not all DVD players match in their internal clocks.

Now Playing (05/25)

L I M I T E D

Angel-A Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) delivers what looks like a black and white stunner. And since its Besson you know there's a physically formidable girl at the center.
The Boss of It All Depressed Danish madman Lars Von Trier returns for this ... corporate comedy (?) He claims that it's his last film unless he recovers from depression. But then again, he's a famous prankster. Either way we should all see it. Even when his films are bad (which is rare) they're completely discussable. Jens Albinus (the group leader from The Idiots) is the boss of it all.
The Golden Door This trailer is so sweet and overscored that it hurts both my teeth and ears. I pray the movie is better. This was Italy's submission for last year's foreign film Oscar race.
Paprika Looks sensational, but can it tell a worthwhile story to go with the intriguing imagery? That's the key question with animated envelope pushers.
Ten Canoes Another foreign film submission from last year, the historic aboriginal film from Australia. We know Stale Popcorn is a fan.


W I D E

Bug Two strangers become lovers and lose their collective shit in a motel room. I've breathlessly awaited this movie for so long y'all are probably starting to suspect that I'm on the Lions Gate payroll. Nah. I just loved the play. Critics seem to agree that the transition was successful. Yay.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Depp, Bloom, Knightley, and every other actor who ever appeared in the first two movies are at it again. Sure to be overstuffed. The question is will the stuffing be clever fun (Curse of the Black Pearl, TFE top ten list) or antic filler (Dead Man's Chest)?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Aint Nuthing But a She Thing

UPDATE: THE ACTION HEROINE BLOG-A-THON IS HERE

R U Ready? an animated sneak peek...

soundtrack (intergalactic)

There's a few new tunes in the sidebar jukebox today. Are any of you listening to them whilst reading? If so... I'll try to keep them updated each week. If not, I won't fuss about with it.

Just added --I'm going with a extremely loose sci-fi theme to coincide with the Star Wars anniversary tomorrow --there's The Beastie Boys rapping "Intergalactic", Kate Bush with "Hello Earth" from her utterly brilliant must have album The Ninth Wave/Hounds of Love , Culture Club's cover of Bowie's "Starman" and Madonna's alien "Impressive Instant" --one of my favorite tracks from Music. Björk's "Earth Intruders" is further down the list from an earlier update.

20:07 (Pussy Willow)

Each morning a screenshot from the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie


"We have to concentrate on life, Eugene"
*
My favorite 20:07 (Cabaret, Carrie, Boogie Nights, Junebug, Rosemary's Baby, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert)
Lively 20:07 discussions (Showgirls, The Sign of the Cross, Corpse Bride, Mulholland Drive)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Links, Episode #hmmm


Cha Cha Cha ...the Three Amigos $100 million deal
Running Up That Hill if popbytes only could, he'd make a deal with God...
I Hate Moulin Rouge! You read that right.
The Joker A freakshow "I would absolutely not mess with"
Title Card... I love a good one.
Ask a Great Question get a good link
Now Filming more from the set of Australia


July in May
Released Too Late I knew people would come around to The Painted Veil
Cannes a helpful roundup (so far) if you're exhausted just thinking about it --as I am. Notice the lack of posts re:

Hump Day Snotty: Maggie Smith

Due to the excessively steamy tues top ten yesterday, the usual wednesday feature "hump day hottie" is preempted to bring you a special one off. Hump Day Snotty. Does anyone convey rich and superior better than Dame Maggie Smith? Can anyone else manage the unobstructed view whilst staring down through their nasal cavities at insignifant whomever?

I think not.


Sure Judi Dench can do über bitch as well as anyone including Maggie. They have very similar antagonist obstacle roles in Pride & Prejudice (Dench) and Becoming Jane (Smith) but I prefer Maggie. Judi comes on so strong that it seems like she'll decimate her opponent once she gets a clear shot. Maggie, however...when she's in rich bitch mode, she's simply above it. You couldn't possibly rile her up enough for her to require your destruction. You don't exist.

To my mind Maggie Smith (and several other actors for that matter) are wasted as the impossibly bone-headed faculty of Hogwarts Academy in the Harry Potter franchise. How is it that all these brilliant actors are asked to play characters who are invariably dumber than teenyboppers Harry and Hermione. The kids always figure things out first and best. I know that these pictures are formulas and good at their patented plot mixtures but more than anything I wish they'd let the grand thespians cut loose. How I'd love to see Maggie's Professor Minerva cut smarter-than-thou Hermione down to size with a withering stare followed by a hammering blow to the ego with the weapon being a witty and truthful jab.

I know we won't get to see that in a month when The Order of the Phoenix opens but for May and June, while the commercials play and the hype builds, I'll imagine the teachers taking the reigns for once.

20:07 (Let Me Rest in Peace)

Each morning a screenshot from the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie


"I died so many years ago. But you can make me feel like it isn't so."
*

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer Movie Going Memories

Last week when I reposted my illustrated memoirs of my childhood @ the movies, I challenged readers to share one or two of their own. I am pleased to point you to some four guys who took up the challenge.


"Do You Want to Go See a James Bond Movie?"
Damian recounts a moment in the 80s that changed him.
"These Days..."
Beau delivers an emotionally flushed tale of his growing love for the cinema
"Childhood Memories and Great Movies"
Marius recalls 17 movies that made an impact on him.
"Jurassic Park"
Adam reminisces about the thrilling Mesozoic blockbuster. Dinosaurs rule.
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DVD Releases

New to DVD
Apocalypto The one where Mel Gibson lost his mind. Again
Epic Movie It sucks. We measured
Fay Grim Didn't this just open last week? I'm so confused by all these new distribution models
Flags of Our Fathers / Letters From Iwo Jima for Oscar completists. Witness the shocking disparity in quality between the two
<--- The Good German Witness Blanchett's best perf from 2006
The Italian The Russian foreign film Oscar submission from 2005/
Venus The one where Peter O'Toole lost his Oscar. Again, poor guy

Older Films / Special Editions
The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Unrated (Double Your Pleasure) Love this movie but it was already too long. Oh for the days of succinct 90 minute laughs. And haven't they already released an unrated version?
Can-Can Shirley Maclaine high kicking it with frequent co-star Frank Sinatra in this musical
John Wayne His centennial, so a bunch of the films are out.
No Man of Her Own Gable & Lombard. If you've never seen Carole Lombard in action, please rectify it soon. With anything
Porky's: The Ultimate Collection This franchise was a big lowbrow hit in the 80s. Younger viewers should they see it (and I'm not recommending) will be shocked at how much nudity mainstream movies used to allow
Prince of the City (1981) Treat Williams back in the day...
Scarface (1932) Violent materialistic Tony rises through the ranks of the mob. He looks like Paul Muni instead of Al Pacino. I've never seen a teenager wearing Paul Muni's mug. 'tis a shame. Michelle Pfeiffer isn't in this one. Directed by the great Howard Hawks so it's probably better than the 83 version though I must admit I haven't seen it. Will try to rectify that as soon as I get done dreaming about how awesome Pfeiffer wouldn't been under Hawks guidance. Think what he got from Stanwyck (Ball of Fire), Hepburn (Bringing Up Baby) and Clift (Red River) alone! P.S. Those three films should go on your queue immediately
Summer School You know if crap like this Mark Harmon / Kirstie Alley comedy from 1987 can get a special edition how come there's so many movies still waiting for their first DVD offering? And how come I can't get my third season of Once & Again? Argh.

Tuesday Top Ten: Men of Summer

If you trust the calendar, summer is one month away. But why trust the calendar when the summer movies are already playing? It's the 'Lusty Month of May' so herewith a tour of ten men who will (hopefully) be turning up the temperature on the big screen. Thank god for air conditioning. Consider them fodder for your daydreams on the beach before your evenings at the movie theater.

Pssst 1. No May releases included --thus no Pirates. Depp and Bloom won't be hurting for coverage elsewhere.
Pssst 2. Next week, the ladies...


Top Ten Men ~ Summer Movie Season 2007

10 Bruce Willis - Live Free or Die Hard
Oh, daddy! I was surprised to find myself thrilled for the return of this superhero franchise. Oh, c'mon...John McClane might as well be wearing tights and cape he's so damn indestructible.

09 James McAvoy - Becoming Jane
One of last year's breakout actors is back with a new spin on the cocksure careless flirt he excelled with in The Last King of Scotland. Bonus points: He gets naked again. Anne Hathaway likes what she sees. Don't you? [more on McAvoy]

08 George Clooney - Oceans 13
I'm demoting all the "sexiest men alive" a bit. Just to play fair. I know that some people find the Clooney unbearably cocky/smarmy. But humor is a great aphrodisiac and he has just the right blend of classic appeal and comic timing --love his broad roll of the eyes in this trailer reacting to Andy Garcia's "I was born ready" [more on George]

07 Björn Hlynur Haraldsson - 11 Men Out
This 32 year old Icelandic actor stars as a soccer player who makes a media splash when he comes out of the closet in this sports comedy from Iceland (pictured right -"I'll give you a story that sells"). Björn looks a bit like Dominic West with a smudge of Heath Ledger (?) On the silent serious side in photos. Hopefully there's a fun side. I found one smile for this collective photo op below.


06 Patrick Wilson - Evening
Probably heading for the hall of fame. But after the workout he got as the object of lust in last year's suburban marital drama... well, that'll be tough to top. I'm thinking he's closer to a PG thrill for Evening's Claire Danes than that decidely R rated plaything he was for Kate Winslet.

05 Daniel Craig -The Invasion
Another hall of famer. But... he gets enough play here @ The Film Experience already and how much sexiness do they really need in this Body Snatcher rethink? Not that he won't bring it anyway... I'm considering this a mere warmup to the rematch with Invasion co-star Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass at the end of the year. [previous TFE Craig-centric stuff and also check out trailer excitement over at MNPP]


04 Arthur Dupont -One to Another
I figured I should throw a bone to some 20something. I'm picking this Gallic actor. Why? Well, it's just on faith that the French know what they're doing when it comes to cinematic sex. Dupont's film (Chacun sa nuit is the French title) asks him to be the object of desire for men, women, and even (or especially) his sister. Let's hope he lives up to his plot purpose. I thought about giving this one to Charlie Cox (Stardust) but decided to go foreign instead. Shia LaBeouf (The Transformers) was another option but I'm guessing he doesn't get a polysexual groove on in that film. That would give "transformer" another meaning entirely.

03 Chris Evans - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
'Stop drop and roll' He's always on fire. He was the only good thing about the first movie. And he'll surely provide the spark again. And...my oh my it's a busy year for him.

02 Brad Pitt - Oceans 13
Perpetually the hottest man on earth. the galaxy. the universe. To play nicely with others, you have to continually demote him when you're listing. I love him in the Oceans movies. Effortlessly sexy/funny Pitt is often (though not always) preferrable to effortfully sexy/dramatic Pitt. [a lot more Brad]

01 Matt Damon - The Bourne Ultimatum and Oceans 13
He's getting closer to the big screen's MVP status every year. One strong performance after another and this summer he has the unique distinction of headlining the only third sequels of the year that probably won't suck. Plus there's that hunky masculinity, the quiet intensity and, well... the big guns that have led some people -- I'm not naming names-- to copious drooling.


If you wanna make your own list, rank them in the comments.
If you're a picky, cast some aside for your own personal beach season fantasies.
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20:07 (Rehab)

Each morning a screenshot from the 20th minute and 7th second of a movie


"I'm tempted to marry him so I can tell people how me met."
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This is Meryl Streep as Suzanne Vale in Postcards from the Edge. Great movie. I'd also recommend
reading Carrie Fisher's original book of the same name. This is arguably my favorite Meryl Streep performance (yes, I argue with myself about such things). I alluded to just that favored status in my review of another musical comedy performance of hers in A Prairie Home Companion which you can read here if you somehow missed it. And I'm only pimping that review again because I'm feeling the guilt about it being so long since I wrote one that good. Oh to find the time...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Swinging Sally Field

Last night Brothers & Sisters, ABC's series about a liberal California family who are always up in each other's business, wrapped up its inaugural season. I tried to resist it all year. It's always trying too hard: pushing its jokes, pushing its drama. Everything falls just that side of the line I draw between a grand yarn well told and manipulative storytelling. But more and more I can't push back against its agressive "love me!" behavior. I just do what it tells me to do. I could still do without Balthazar Getty (playing the dullest sibling). I could definitely do without Rob Lowe's Republican Senator character, who has somehow defanged the once sharp counterpoint drama involving the conservative black sheep of the family: Kitty (Calista Flockhart). But minor annoyances aside, the rest of the show is like a drug. It's a perfect Sunday night hit.


I give a huge portion of the credit to Sally Field. She plays Nora, the matriach and widow of the huge Walker clan. She holds all the show's disparate tones together with fluid emotional glue. Remember the climactic funeral scene in Steel Magnolias when this two time Academy Award winner broadly marched through so many notes in quick succession: staccato sobbing, hysterical confusion, slapstick anger, cry-for-help earnestness? Well, Nora gets a little of that action, too. OK a lot. Brothers & Sisters is hyperactively emotional and it swings, often without a net, from laughs to tears. Brothers & Sisters is a real circus and Sally Field is one incredible trapeze artist.

Blogosphere Multiplex: Seth @ Defamer

As you stumble around the blogosphere each day there are certain constants: bloggers will be navel gazing, someone will be apologizing for not posting, copyrights will be gleefully infringed upon. And Defamer will be serving up celebrity gossip and entertainment news with consistent snark and hilarity. Today I'm talking with Associate Editor Seth Abramovitch about his film experience.

10+ Questions with Seth of Defamer

Nathaniel: How often do you go to the movies ...and what gets you there?

Seth: About 2 to 4 times a month, depending on the time of the year. I'll usually make the trip if 1) it features Ryan Gosling (though not always, as I didn't bother to see Fracture) 2) it's playing at the Vista, the world's greatest movie theater in the heart of beautiful Los Feliz, or 3) it features 300 naked, chiseled Spartans on an IMAX screen.

Nathaniel: Yeah that last was a draw for a lotta folks. Maybe they'll figure that out and bless us with more "dudeity" in the future? We can hope.

Seth: I hope they spin off Xerxes into his own movie instead of just going the 301 route with the sequel. Maybe he decides being a Dionysian pleasure god isn't his thing, and he goes to an Ivy League school to get the law degree he's always dreamed about, and learns something about the power of hard work and positive thinking along the way.

Nathaniel: Wow. Let's hope Rodrigo can pull it off.

As to draw #1... what do you think is going on with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams? Do they even want to be famous? They're seem so low profile for the amount of love people seem to be ready to shower them with.

Seth: R+M, I have no idea. They're on a break? That was last I checked. They seemed like the rare Hollywood couple that didn't make you want to puke, so I wish them the best. (Plus they're Canadian, like me.) Ryan is regularly spotted around Downtown LA in places successful actors aren't supposed to be caught dead in: The library, the YMCA... someone told me he still pinch-hits at the deli he used to wait tables at at 4th and Main. This dude is of the people! Except, you know, he was nominated for an Oscar and used to be on the Disney channel.

Nathaniel: Watching him sing on that Mickey Mouse show is one of those things that will be forever burned in my memory. It was just so... wrong. He wasn't meant for the boy band life. Thank god he found his calling.

Ryan is obviously famous for his work. Since you get a lot of celebwatching time in at Defamer, which movie star strikes you as the most underserving of their fame? All fame and no actual contribution worth a toss at the movies...

Seth: We're already at the hardballs, eh? Just one? I'm sure most people would say Lindsay Lohan or Ashton Kutcher, and they'd be right! But I gotta go with Kate Bosworth. She seems to me the classic person plucked from the multitudes and groomed for stardom, mainly because she kind of looks like Grace Kelly. Did you see Superman Returns? That movie kind of did her in. Suddenly, in a mousy perm and a mediocre movie, you were like, who is this person? What exactly does she bring to the table? It really made you long for Margot Kidder.

Nathaniel: Which is a sentence you don't hear very often. "It really made you long for Margot Kidder" Speaking of women in franchise action flicks. Stay with me here... Let's say a celeb is after you for something you posted on Defamer... who do you hire as a bodyguard: Ripley (Aliens), The Bride (Kill Bill) or Sarah Connor (Terminator)?

Seth: Ripley, hands down. She already has experience battling Queen Aliens who hatch drooling, razor-toothed Xenomorphlings, so taking care of a Dina Lohan or Kathy Hilton on the warpath seems a natural fit for her skillset.

Nathaniel: I can't tell you how thrilling it is to imagine Sigourney in exoskeleton removing Dina from Lindsay's side. Hee


On the other side of the spectrum now: who are the movie personalities you, yourself, feel protective of... who do you love and wish only the best for?

Seth: Right now, my favorite working actors are Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who both devastated me in Half Nelson and Mysterious Skin, respectively. (JGL was also amazing in Brick.) I'd also add Gael Garcia Bernal to that list, who's been pretty much astonishingly good in anything I've ever seen him in, including Science of Sleep, which for some reason I opted out of seeing in the theater and of course completely charmed my socks off when I finally rented it on DVD. I guess they are similar in type/role choices--i.e. characters who are their own worst enemies, characters confined and defined by their masculinity. Let's throw Matt Damon onto the pile, who is so compulsively watchable in everything he does, and I'm not sure why. It's all that that pent-up earnestness. Or maybe I just think he's hot.

Women-- I mean, I know it's a cliche, but watching Judi Dench is a real guilty pleasure, although there's really nothing to be guilty about, is there? --even with borderline exploitation material like Notes on a Scandal . Cate Blanchett was the perfect foil in that one too, though I kind of wish she'd play something besides whiney, weak shrews, like in Babel or Notes. Come on--where's the hardasses like Elizabeth I or Katharine Hepburn? Actually I think she's playing Elizabeth I again in The Golden Age. In any case, neither of these broads needs my endorsement. I'll drop Natalie Portman a nod, nice Jewish girl with the chops--I thought she carried V for Vendetta, which could have buckled under a lesser actress.

There you are, I love you all and wish you the best. Keep up the good work!

Nathaniel: What's your favorite movie ever?

Seth: Psycho

Nathaniel: You gotta love Gus Van Sant (kidding!) Hitchcock's Psycho is way up there for me, too.

Awkward segueway alert! Let's talk about "recreations" for a minute since the oft imitated Psycho was cited. Movies are always repeating themselves even when they're not remakes. Sometimes I get the sense that Hollywood is exactly the same at all times: only the faces/names change. The meal ticket child star crashing and burning as an adult is there. The supernova marriage of two ginormous stars is there. The sloppy final film in a big trilogy has just opened. The just-another-pretty-face actress who won an Oscar for a "gritty" stretch only to follow it with a string of bad movies is there. Jack Nicholson is there.

What's with all the endless cycling?

Seth: What is it they always tell us in those interminable presentations at the (repeatedly overlong and disappointing) Oscars? How Hollywood holds a mirror to the world at large? Well life is cyclical, too. War, famine, genocide, and frozen yogurt chains seem to keep rearing their ugly heads, so why should Hollywood get off any easier with its own domestic tragedies? They get Darfur and AIDS, we get Catwoman and Sarah Michelle Gellar-Prinze Jr. And AIDS.

Nathaniel: What do you think those of us outside of LA don't really get about your city?

Seth: I don't attempt to defend LA. The criticisms are all valid. But I don't for a second regret moving here. I'm both a creature of habit and a newness addict. LA feeds both those sides. This town suits me, even though I'm told I bring an East Coast sensibility to the proceedings.

Nathaniel: Describe the following stars in 5 words or less: Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie, Shia LaBeouf and Sally Kirkland.

Seth: Reese: Barking up the wrong tree.
Harrison: Can you really blame him?
Angelina: A solid B-movie actress.
Shia LaBeouf: Fastest backlash in recent history.
Sally Kirkland: The name sounds very familiar....

Nathaniel: Sally will be horrified that that's all the fame her fantasmogorically hideous Oscar fashions have afforded her!

OK last question. They make a movie of your life. Who plays you? Directs? What's the MPAA rating? what's the tagline?

Seth: Star: Fellow Canadian Jewbear Seth, Seth Rogen. Director: Zach Snyder Rating: R Tagline: PREPARE FOR GLORYHOLES!

Nathaniel: No title? How avant garde.

Seth: You didn't ask for a title! How about Seth Abramovitch? It's boring, but so was Erin Brockovich. "I'm smart, I'm hard working, and I'll do anything. And I'm not leaving here without a job."
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Like this interview? There's more in the series including chats with FourFour, Gallery of the Absurd, The Gilded Moose and more...

20:07 (Salome!)

each morning a screenshot of the 20th minute and 7th second of a film


"What a woman! What a part. A princess in love with a holy man"

[Pssst: This image courtesy of StinkyLulu who has a related post up]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kiki Zinone?

Another paparazzi puzzlement...
Is Kirsten Dunst auditioning for a remake of Grease 2? Is she about to bust into a subpar "Cool Rider"
I want a devil in skin tight leather,
And he's gonna be wild as the wind.
And one fine night, I'll be holdin' on tight...
To a coooool rider, a coooool rider
If you have a different theory, do share in the comments.

Previous mysteries:
Do you hear what Jake hears?
What's in Kate Winslet's gargantuan bag?