Thursday, July 31, 2008

July. It's a Wrap

Instant nostalgia. Just add water. One last look back at July --my 10 favored posts in case ya missed any here @ TFE.

"Let me tell you something about Lindsay Lohan..." ~Regina George destroys lives! (still)
@ the beach ~bathing beauties, shirtless hunks and time capsules. The beach is the only thing I love about the summer time (I'm more of a Fall/Winter guy) so I thought we'd indulge.
Ray's Remorse ~Colin Farrell is so expressive In Bruges. Rented it yet?
Top 100 Actresses
T'was only a rough draft list but fun to make. God I wish I had the time for a whole moving images edit. Imagine the goddess bliss
Cast This! The first edition of the film experience book club. I liked the book, a historical fantasy called The Curse of Chalion. We discovered that casting is very difficult... even when you have no budgets, no scheduling conflicts, and no agents hounding you. Join in next month for And Then We Came to the End. It's on the bestseller lists and getting great reviews. Let's cast it on August 21st.

Two Million Acres Baby on Million Dollar Baby & Cimarron.
Dark Knight for Best Picture Will a nomination happen? Are they any precedents? And what of the once bright hopes for WALL•E?
Cry Babies My god... had no idea how much y'all liked the hanky-fests. Your response: blubbery and immediate.
Great Moments in Cinematic Adultery
Laura Linney LOL.
Penélope Erotique who's with me? This post was paid for by "The Committee to Elect Tom Cruise As Official Hollywood Service Stud/Dumpee"

Coming in August
Olympians, Joan Allen, Traitor, More episodes of "Best Pictures From the Outside In" (with Gladiator, American Beauty, Shakespeare in Love, Mutiny on the Bounty, It Happened One Night and The Great Ziegfeld), Scarlett & Woody (again), The Car for Final Girl's film club, Calamity Jane (first edition of "Musical of the Month Club"), the Fringe Festival and updated Oscar predictions. More? Maybe. Probably. Definitely. You know how it goes.

Melissa Leo and Frozen River

I can't recall whether the first shot of Frozen River is a wide shot of an actual frozen river or a tight closeup of actress Melissa Leo, inhaling nicotine outside a battered trailer... but both images are equally frosty and unforgiving. Combined in quick succession as they are, they neatly forecast both what's pedestrian and what's impressive about writer/director Courtney Hunt's debut feature which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The movie isn't always surprising and it's not visually expressive in the way one wishes cinema to be but it is unusually intimate and perceptive as a character study about women in the inclement climates of hard living.

Melissa Leo is really very good in the demanding lead role but I'm not sure how far her future rave reviews will take her (they're coming --just wait) on the road to a coveted Oscar nomination. It's a small film and she isn't famous enough to win huge points for that beloved "deglam" trick (she's far more attractive in person than she ever lets her character "Ray Eddy" be) but an Independent Spirit nomination seems very likely once awards season hits late in the year.

I had a chance to meet Melissa and the film's director recently and I've written about the film over @ the Tribeca Film Festival site. Enjoy.

Fun Facts From the Movies

Oh the things we learn from the Movies

1. Soylent Green is people! - Who knew? I thought it was tofu.

2. There's just no living with a killing. - Not according to Crimes and Misdemeanors.

3. Your name is "Mud" sucker! - I thought it was Chuck.

4. There's no crying in baseball. - Did I ever tell you about that time the ball was rolling down the first base line towards Buckner...

5. Love means never having to say you're sorry - I saw the movie. Apologize. Now!

6. King Kong the first was only three foot six inches tall - And he did his own stunts.

7. Tomorrow is another day - This just in: The sun is hot.

8. When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything - Except the Star Spangled Banner.

9. Napalm smells like victory - I had no idea "victory" had a smell. I like to think victory smells like rainbows and lollipops.

10. A boy's best friend is his mother - Anyone feel like a shower?

Bonus Fact: One day a real rain's gonna come and wash all the scum off the street - Do I have to move my car that day?

Fourth Time's a Charm

Robert here again from The Country Fair and the Circus. I was just reading an article from Cinematical about Mike Myers writing Austin Powers 4 and it got me thinking...

It used to be that part three was where franchises went to die. In fact, the "trilogy" is still looked upon with certain reverence because only a handful were planned solidly and done correctly without being killed off by the third (Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings, although that was bound by the books... still, you know what's coming...).

But in this era of the sequel, the third film is rarely the last film. Personally I blame quality second installments for the abundance of fourth installments. See the box office of any film in a series is directly proportional the the quality of the film that preceded it. A great part one means fans get all crazy about part two. Even if part two sucks, Hollywood takes the great returns as a sign that part three is needed. By this logic, a quality part two naturally leads to a fourth. But by that time the fans have reacted poorly the phoned-in third installment and part four limps through theaters without much notice. Is part four now where franchises go to die? Or is it where they go when they don't know they're already dead?

Sick and tired of the fourth parts? Just recently we've seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull flare fan's ire. Live Free or Die Hard failed to live up to the expectations of Die Hard: With a Vengeance (whatever that means). Rambo returned for a fourth time too.

But wait, we get to look forward to McG and Batman what's-his-name in Terminator Salvation, more cute kiddies dying in Final Destination 4, Austin Powers 4 (Austin meets the Love Guru?), more dinos swallowing cell phones in Jurassic Park IV, Shrek Goes Fourth (and the Puss in Boots spin-off), Mission: Impossible 4 trying to revive Tom Cruise's career, more cute kiddies dying in Scream 4, Resident Evil 4 (these have all been bad, but I have a soft spot for Milla Jovovich), Bronson Pinchot hopefully returning for Beverly Hills Cop IV, and proving my earlier theory correct: Spider-Man 4.

But perhaps I'm being too cruel to the part fours. This is just a natural phenomenon in the world of Hollywood. And while we all poo poo the lack of originality out there, we should be used to it. Still, is anyone looking forward to any of these?

Do I look good? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Rosario @ the Beach

Rosario Dawson on Malibu in Vanity Fair's November 2004 issue.

va va voom. Have any of you been following the news about Rosario's NBC web series Gemini ? Even the major corporations are getting into the web series act now. Here's a good WIRED article on the evolution of webisodes.

She's quite the "I'll try anything" sort of celebractress, isn't she?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hump Day Hottie: Matthew Goode

Sexy angst-filled period drama Brideshead Revisited opened in top markets this past Friday. It expands in a couple of days and more of you can take a good hard look at it. It's a reworking of the famous Evelyn Waugh novel which was already visualized (some would say definitively) as a miniseries in the early 80s. Even if you dig period pieces (and who doesn't love the early 20th century on celluloid?) you might be knocked right out of period and back into your seat in 2008 the second Matthew Goode (left) unveils his impossibly beautiful body. I don't think they had no-carb diets, body waxing or personal trainers back in the post Edwardian era but don't get me wrong... I'm not complaining about this particular anachronism.

The new Brideshead Revisited isn't in the same league as the previous milestones of the very specific cinematic subgenre of Stuffy British Boys in Quasi-Romantic Relationships. It's not Another Country (starring Rupert Everett & Colin Firth) or Maurice (starring James Wilby & Hugh Grant) but it's got plenty of eye candy if you're into that sort of thing.

I was so distracted by Goode's beauty (and the directors obvious reverence towards the same) that I could barely concentrate on what was being skipped over in the reduced plot. Just about the only other thing that registered (and how!) was the brilliant Emma Thompson in an against-type role of the controlling devout matriarch of the wealthy Flyte family.

Goode was profiled in this past Sunday's NY Times Style Magazine which featured several mouth-watering photographs.

You may remember Goode as the upper crust object of Jonathan Rhys Meyers' envy in Woody Allen's Match Point. One of the unintentional tricks of Brideshead is that Goode has essentially switched roles for this follow-up. Now Ben Whishaw is playing Goode's privileged rich boy role and Goode himself is in social climbing Rhys Meyers position. When well-heeled Matthew was done ordering his food in a great scene in Match Point (previous post) he closed his menu with a delicious flourish. "Num num" he said. I didn't even need to look at the menu after that.

Forget the food, this man's the main course.

Thus ends the 4th season of Hump Day Hotties. It is now officially 'on the bubble'. Film Experience executives will convene this summer to determine whether to cancel or renew for fall. Hump Day Hotties has been a Polysexual Blog Offering.

Season 4 Penélope Cruz, Clara Bow, Shia Labeouf, "Boobs & Abs" Engaged, Savage Grace, Baz Luhrmann, Dennis Quaid, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Barney, Natalie Wood, The Oscar Nominees, Kathleen Turner, Russell Harvard, Carice Van Houten and Helena Bonham Carter

<--- Most Popular Past Episodes of HDH
Season 3 Paul Newman, Anne Hathaway, Rodrigo Santoro, Maggie Smith Season 2 Hot TV, Channing Tatum, James McAvoy, Uma Thurman Season 1 Cillian Murphy, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmanuelle Béart and Lady Tottingon

Death Life in Venice

The cinema lives! Whenever I get fatigued by summer explosions and men in tights, I just remind myself: the festivals are coming, the festivals are coming. The auteurs will soon return . My good friend Boyd @ the great European Films has the Venice lineup for you. It looks yummy. Not only do we have the new Coen Bros (I love their comedies, I do) but a new toon from the master Hayao Miyazaki and a new flick from Darren Aronofsky --we didn't even have to wait that long this time --and that's just scratching the surface of what will be there. My oh my. Which film are you most looking forward to?

They Want to Suck

... "your blood" I should probably add before you go thinking that Lost Boys: The Tribe is one of those straight-to-DVD offerings that, well, sucks. I can't vouch for quality or lack thereof as I haven't seen it. But ... you know how I feel about the vampires...

[tilts head, exposes porcelain-skinned neck]

CONTEST: I have one DVD copy to give away and 3 soundtracks. If you've got a thing for vamps or The Lost Boys or even Corey Feldman (you might want to keep that last one to yourself), enter the contest by sending me an e-mail with
  • LOSTBOYS in the subject line
  • your name and address (t'will be kept private)
  • and tell me one thing you cherish or remember about the 1987 teen classic which started this whole franchise.
The film stars a bunch of people you haven't heard of but Tad Hilgenbrink (right) might look familiar from the gay film The Curiousity of Chance. He also put that jawline to use mocking James Marsden's 'Cyclops' in Epic Movie --not that I saw it! Dear God give me some benefit of the doubt.

The contest winner (drawn randomly) will win both film & CD and two runners up will get just the CD featuring tracks from Aiden, Yeah Whatever and Dave Gahan (!) among others.

Cavalcade & Chicago

The Letter of the Day is "C". It's episode 6 of "Best Pictures From the Outside In" and Nick, Goatdog and myself take on the Frank Lloyd stage-to-screen history epic known as Cavalcade (1933) and the stage-to-screen musical Chicago (2002)

You're familiar enough with Chicago but you probably haven't seen the earlier film --it's a hard-to-find title. No one seems eager to release it on DVD. (If I ran the world all movie studios would receive much pressure to have all of their films available on new formats, regardless of profit potentials *sigh* ...but I don't run the world.) Cavalcade is based on a Noel Coward play and it follows the Marryots (Clive Brooks and Diana Wynyard headline), the Bridges (Una O'Connor and Herbert Mundin support) and all their children through 32 years of British history. It begins with the Boers War sails on through the death of the Queen. It pauses for the sinking of the Titanic and trudges on through World War I. That's only the history part. They make room for family drama and romance, too. If that sounds like a chore, well, luckily our conversation wasn't.

Read the discussion @ Nick's Flick Picks

Spot The Dame!


JA from MNPP here. I'm tickled pink (a la a certain deranged Dolores) by the above shot - click it to make it bigger and play the game yourself! - from the new trailer for the sixth Harry Potter flick: those are the hallways of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and my fave Dame's head is boxed in there, barely indistinguishable from the rest of the muckity muck... kind of fitting for a series so crowded with classic Brit thespians, no? I always feel like I'm scouring the sidelines for a glimpse of Miss Maggie. If I don't see her shepherding a fleet of magicked desks down a hallway to battle in the final film (highlight that only if you've read the whole series; I wouldn't want to spoil anything) I will be a very very sad fanboy.

Anyway, I took a bunch of screen-caps and made some notes on the trailer over at MNPP, but here at TFE I thought it'd be a more appropriate place to ask who you're most excited about seeing in the new flick. My memory's dodgy since it's been 3 years since the book came out and I read it in a span of about 24 hours, but off the top of my head I know we've got Jim Broadbent showing up as Horace Slughorn... then there's Fenrir Greyback, "the most savage werewolf alive today" ... but the one I'm most curious about is Helen McCrory as Narcissa Malfoy, especially with what comes later.......... I will shut up now.

Excited, y'all.

"Cranberry Juice"

Leonardo DiCaprio = amazing in The Departed. You knew that already but it's worth repeating from time to time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Batman, the Man

Note from Jonathan Lapper: I just wanted to say that I'm nervous about the idea of "guest" blogging with Nathaniel still here. It was easier when he was in Disney World and I felt he wasn't watching me. Now I feel he will judge my every word, slash and edit and rap my knuckles with a ruler any chance he gets. But enough of my massive insecurities, let's move on.

I have a question and I hope an answer: Why is Batman so popular? Seriously, there's about a million different comic book characters out there, many of whom enjoy popularity that is of the mass appeal sort (Spiderman, Superman, and Iron Man and the Hulk to a lesser degree) but Batman. Geez! They just keep reinventing him, bringing him back for more. And I think I know why. He's normal.

Okay, so he's not that normal. I mean, he dresses up in a bat suit almost every night (I only do it on weekends) but he wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider. He doesn't have the power to alter the course of a planet due to his astonishing strength (Superman). He doesn't turn into a big green behemoth (figure out that one on your own). He's just a guy in a suit. And unlike Iron Man, you can see him in the suit, see his eyes, see his mouth. He's human, not a CGI creation.

I haven't seen The Dark Knight yet (though I'm itching to) but I suspect a large part of its acceptance has to do with the fact that Batman somehow makes it easier for all of us to suspend our disbelief. When we watch him we're watching a crime movie, not a comic book movie and it appeals to a larger audience. Even his enemies are average joes who go psychotic due to one bad break or another. He doesn't fly or spin webs and stretch or burn or surf the universe. He puts on his uniform and goes out to make Gotham safe for everyone. If only every billionaire were that cool.

Hey Buddy, Take it Outside!

Rob from The Country Fair and the Circus here. Have you seen the trailer for W. yet? Yeah it does come off as an extended SNL skit with big name actors, but I admit it did make me smile. However, that's just an aside.

What I really wanted to talk about is an interesting article (with accompanying slide-show) on today about the evolution of the Hollywood fight. This is spurred by the fact that some critics called the fights in The Dark Knight rather incomprendable. Personally I didn't find them to be that problematic, but the shaky-cam crazy nature of modern fight scenes has never bothered me too much.

But how about you? Fight scenes are a staple of the action genre. Do you like where they're going? Does the hectic nature of the camera help enforce the dizziness of the fight or does it just make you dizzy?

And for fun, I pose this question to you: What is your favorite fight scene? After much thought I've posted mine below.

Tuesday Top Ten Requests

Working for the man --no time to write. What topics would you like to see covered in future episodes of Tuesday Top Ten?

Mitchum @ the Beach

Robert Mitchum @ Cannes in 1954. He was 36 going on 37.

I always think of him as an old man... even when I think of him in his early movies. Strange. Mitchum was busy busy busy in the 1950s. He had headlined two motion pictures released earlier that year (River of No Return with Marilyn Monroe and She Couldn't Say No with Jean Simmons) and he had one more coming in the winter (Track of the Cat with Teresa Wright). The following year would bring the world his (arguably) greatest triumph, the utterly brilliant thriller The Night of the Hunter though he's maybe better remembered for being the original Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962). If you haven't seen either, do so.

While I was looking up Mitchum info to go with this image -- I never thought of Mitchum as a dancer so it prompted incongruous delight -- I learned that his grandson is a popular model named Kian (pictured left) whose favorite Mitchum film is also Night of... I love this quote from the prettyboy:
He died when I was 13, so I remember him as the big scary guy in the corner with this incredible voice that I didn't want to get near. But now that I'm older I can appreciate where it all came from.
I'm not related but I relate. As a kid I didn't like Mitchum. I had only really seen him in the television miniseries The Winds of War and I didn't 'get' him. I didn't understand his style of acting and he freaked me out: too detached, stiffly masculine, gruff, sinister (?) ...not any of the things I responded to in male leads. In the 80s when I fell in love with movies I was all about William Hurt, Harrison Ford and --when it came to old movies on TV --Gene Kelly and James Dean. Here's a couple more 50s images for you...

In the first image Simone Sylva surprises Mitchum in Cannes with her ample bust (what is it with Cannes & boobs? Please to explain... anyone) and in the second, also taken in 1954 though I'm not sure where, Mitchum sits with Night of the Hunter author Davis Grubb.

time capsule: In May 1954 France was ending its long complicated involvement with Vietnam (glossily movie-documented in the 30s set Indochine with Catherine Deneuve and The Quiet American with Michael Caine which takes place in 1952) after losing the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Over in America the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their decision in Brown vs. Board of Education famously ruling for integration, important 'wind beneath my wings' groundwork for the huge civil rights movement of the '60s. In US movie theaters Indiscretion of an American Wife (starring Montgomery Clift), Johnny Guitar, Hitchcock's Dial "M" for Murder, the smash hit Three Coins in the Fountain (eventually a Best Picture nominee --my review) were all opening. The less famous, still underappreciated ensemble business drama Executive Suite also opened in May. I love that one.

I Just Called To Say 'I Link You'

Rug Rats Blog-a-Thon several blogs talking about child actors
<--- Over Thinking It Hit songs from obscure movies.
Valley Dreamin' sees Interiors (and other movies). Would that more filmgoers were this mature about films that challenge them
He Shot Cyrus "guys I'd go gay for"
Correct Opinion things we learned from Comic Con
Cinema Styles says something I always wanted to say (and have albeit in different genre context) about comic book films ...and says so beautifully
Crumb by Crumb, known Streep fanatic, ranks the songs in Mamma Mia!

Chicks on Fire does some thinking about early Portman and Kidman characters
Smackdown 1949
Inside the Gold on the casting of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

Monday, July 28, 2008

"I'd go anywhere with you"

"You can't smoke grass in school!"


Jeanne Moreau in Bay of Angels

monday monologue

My friend Vern, alarmed at the absence of Jeanne Moreau from that favorite actresses list I concocted, quickly brought over a sizeable stack of Jeanne Moreau DVDs to brainwash me with. Does his wife know about this zealous obsession? He carried them over with a herniated disc. This is devotion to an actress!

Jeanne Moreau & Claude Mann in Bay of Angels (1963)

The first one we watched together was Jacques Demy's gambling romance Bay of Angels (1963). My only previous Demy experience was his 1964 musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourgh which sits comfortably among my favorite films of all time. Bay tells the story of a naive young Jean (Claude Mann) who goes gambling one day on a whim. He wins big and drops everything to vacation with his newfound riches. Jean soon meets Jackie (Moreau) a platinum blonde casino hopper and the two have a rollercoaster adventure filled with cash, casinos and hotels. They win and lose... and win and lose some more.

After one particularly big win, Jackie cajoles Jean into providing her with a magnificent suite and he questions her expensive taste and obsession with riches. Her response:
No. I don't like money. You see what I do with it when I have it. If I loved money I wouldn't squander it. Gambling attracts me by its stupid mixture of luxury and poverty.

And also the mystery of numbers... chance. I often wondered whether God ruled over numbers.

The first time I entered a casino I felt as if it was a church. I had the same emotion. Don't laugh. Try to understand. I tell you gambling has become my religion. Money means nothing to me. Nor this robe, this room. Nothing. I knew you wouldn't understand.

One chip is enough to make me happy.

One chip. That's both cold, chilling even, in its naked honesty and a charismatic deceit. Jackie isn't happy or free, despite her defensive mode about her rootless lifestyle. As a big fan of the 'women who lie to themselves' subgenre of movies, I found this Demy film a pretty thrilling sit. Jeanne Moreau has great facility for portraying enigmas (most famously in Jules & Jim, 1962) and she sure can seize hold of the camera while doing so. Jackie lives by and recognizes only her addiction but she's a nightmare of denials, and a mercurial creature of whim.

Add this one to your rental queues (netflix / greencine / blockbuster). At 79 minutes it offers a big return on investment. Would that more modern filmmakers would train their lens so tightly on characters and events in miniature and see what miracles can arise.

Don't Tell Me...'re not joining the 'Musical of the Month' club -- Aug 6th (and every 6th thereafter) right here @ The Film Experience and @ participating singing & dancing blogs. Even Madonna is excited to talk Doris Day in Calamity Jane.

Don't tell me to blog
---Tell me "Jane"'s not a dog
------Other blogs better show
----------Nathaniel said so, mmm-mm

I've been super pleased with the participation and the enthusiasm this season (easily the most successful TFE summer yet) and given that... I feel more excited about the upcoming Oscar season than I usually do. Unfortunately my funds have run dry so I return to corporate America today for at least a few weeks. I won't have as much time to write while I earn dollars doing less interesting work, so JA (My New Plaid Pants), Jonathan (Cinema Styles) and Robert (Country Fair and Circus) and have agreed to pitch in when inspiration hits them. Enjoy their upcoming posts in addition to mine. If you love TFE to stay as content filled and busy as it's been all summer (when I've devoted most of my time to it) please consider a small donation.

money = time ...and all that jazz. xoxo. Peace out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Never on a Sunday

Do you get melancholy on Sunday nights? I sure do. How do you spend Sunday nights? Overshare in the comments.

Naked Gold Man: Dark Knight for Best Picture?

naked gold man: on Sunday's we talk about the upcoming Oscar race.

Oscar honoring superheroes? It's not as far fetched as it sounds.

When the initial awards buzz for The Dark Knight started it was entirely focused around the collective desire to memorialize Heath Ledger. Now, with the film becoming an indisputable phenomenon at the box office can the Best Picture shortlist be far behind? Assuming that the latest Batman film can or will be nominated for the movie industry's top honor might sound like fanboy raving but remember: I'm not a fanboy and I haven't been raving. I am however an Oscarologist. And I think it could and very well might happen. Here's why...

Box Office + Raves
Oscar catches a lot of flak each year for preferring serious drama (not usually associated with a pot of gold at the multiplex) over audience approved fare like action films. Ignore for a moment all those pieces speculating that Oscar will be looking for more popular films to reverse their ratings decline... there's no precedent for a sudden shift in AMPAS taste in order to cater to the public. Why would they start now? No, consider this possibility in terms of previous bonafide genre sensations: E.T., The Exorcist, Jaws, The Silence of the Lambs, The Lord of the Rings and The Sixth Sense are just a few examples of films that weren't traditional fare that were nevertheless nominated for the top prize on a wave of critical adulation, public love, and zeitgeist hysteria. The Dark Knight fits neatly into that line up in terms of perceived quality, box office gold, and right film/right time impact. One could argue that Spider-Man or Spider-Man 2 had all these things as well but what Spidey's films didn't have was an overlay of the violently somber. Spider-Man played like most adult conceptions of comic books play: bright, colorful, funny, sincerely old fashioned and eye-popping. Batman's pretenses to grandeur, its masculinity and violence, the dramatic heft --these are a lot closer to what Oscar likes to honor once you extract the rubber and capes.

The best precedents might actually be closer to Beauty & the Beast or Chicago. Both were films from genres that hadn't been seriously considered for some time or ever (in the former's case) but both followed up other sensations that had built up critical respect and public interest.

The Little Mermaid
prepared the water for Beauty and the Beast's nominations, restoring luster to a genre that was previously dismissed as for children only. And the one-two-three punch of risky auteurial chutzpah that was Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Moulin Rouge! (2000-2001) paved the way for the more mainstream friendly Chicago (2002) to actually win the top prize. Suddenly musicals were artistically serious and hot again. Chicago was a vessel through which AMPAS could nod their heads and tap their feet: yes, musicals are worthy of praise and statues (again).

Nolan + Their Favorite Hero
Unlike many other celebrated youngish directors, the Academy has actually been paying attention to Chris Nolan's output. From Memento to Prestige to Batman Begins, they've thrown his films a nomination here or there. And they've always liked Batman more than other caped crusaders. Even the first Joel Schumacher effort Batman Forever was awarded with three nominations. It's still hard to imagine quite how that one happened.

All of this is not to say that the Picture shortlist will be an easy get for Warner Bros and DC. Oscars are never easy gets. You have to work for them and you have to work smarter and harder than your competition. It's a race with numerous wild cards and variables. The Joker would probably love its potential for chaos.

Potential Roadblocks
  • Backlash. Excessively praised and hyped films always generate them. There's plenty of time for a real Bat Backlash (there's also plenty of time for a backlash to the backlash to arrive to cancel it out. It's early) and the er... drooling of fanboys (it's as if the motion picture never existed before July 18th) might make all the relatively sane and well documented praise seem guilty by association in the minds of more traditional voters.
  • Heath Only. There will certainly be some voters who feel that honoring the late great young actor is enough attention for the film itself.
  • Franchise Fatigue. Even though Oscar has been known to honor unbaity phenoms, they're not into honoring sequels unless they've honored predecessors. I suspect this will be the toughest obstacle for the campaign. This is the 6th live action Batman feature in the past 20 years. How will they make it seem like the only one?
  • Traditional Goodies. The Fall is hardly ever lacking in traditionally Oscarable flicks. They'll have to pale next to this Batman vs. Joker hit.
  • WALL•E. The Dark Knight wasn't the first pre-Fall entry to ignite "could it happen?" Best Pic buzz. Pixar's latest raising of the bar has gone quiet in this week of Batmania but that doesn't mean that cute little trash collector can't still inspire the 6000+ AMPAS members. If there's two non-traditional triumphs in the actual awards race come December, both from the summer, things will get more complicated for both once precursor season kicks in. This shouldn't be the case of course (release dates shouldn't matter) but it is since the critics organizations and awards bodies are all human and are easily swayed by whatever they've just seen.
I'll be updating my Oscar Predictions on August 1st and I'm considering placing The Dark Knight among the predicted five. How many nominations do you think it's capable of?

NOTE: This article --very old -- is still getting traffic, please hit a label below for newer posts on these very subjects. Thanks

Kelly @ the Beach

Kelly Lynch sprawled out on the sand for a photoshoot back in 1989. She was 30 years old.

Does anyone else remember her? 1989 was an important year in her career. She was getting attention for her sparkplug part in Drugstore Cowboy (a fine rental choice if you haven't seen it). Gus Van Sant handed her the funniest line in the movie, delivered to her always high boyfriend Matt Dillon
You never fuck me and I always have to drive.
Like many young actresses A list opportunities didn't really pan out (the competition is insane. Not for the faint of heart these acting careers) but in the right roles she was a keeper. I loved her butch lesbian in Three of Hearts, too.

Time capsule: While Kelly was stretched on the beach, The Little Mermaid was beaching herself and restoring Disney to its former animated hit-machine glory (retrospective). Tim Burton's Batman was the toast of mainstream moviegoers and an archeologist named Indiana Jones was also back in theaters ... again. Franchises made up nearly the entire top ten of 1989. The past nineteen years have noticeably altered many Hollywood careers but they haven't altered moviegoing tastes much. It's still Indy, Batman, franchises and animated films that pack movie houses.

The only thing you'd never see today: Driving Miss Daisy was in that year's top ten grossers. Oscar bait and/or period films rarely rock the multiplex anymore. The audience for them apparently never leaves their TV sets now. I hate to sound supportive of something like Miss Daisy (yeesh, someone hand me some soap. I feel dirty) but here's to variety. It would help the cinema a lot if audiences still wanted a little bit o' that and a little bit o' this on their movie menu. Man cannot live on superheroes and franchises alone. Man will try. Man will eventually get hungry for something else. Maybe in nineteen more years. Here's to 2027!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Coming Soon liveblogs Terminator: Salvation panel @ Comic Con
<-- Golden Fiddle Aaron Eckhart fun facts and scans
Odd bit here. Sports pundit wants The Dark Knight's Aaron Eckhart campaigned for an Oscar and not Heath Ledger.
Just Jared Is Rosie getting a primetime variety show? Television hasn't had a true hit variety show in way too long. If all things are cyclical it's time for those to be popular again.
Anne Thompson more on True Blood the new HBO vampire series
Twitch it's official: Darren Aronofsky doing a Robocop picture. How very odd. Is there a part for Ellen Burstyn?
NY Post Hollywood beauties Tyrone Power and Robert Taylor on DVD

today's must read
Electronic Cerebectomy "Get F***ing Over It" I seriously love it when smart people get impatient with the world's stupidity. I love it love it love it. Everyone should let one of these loose now and again.

Kudrow Goes Kabluey

On a whim a couple of days back, I accompanied Rob to see Kabluey. It was remarkably easy to relate to the sad sack awkward main character who couldn't quite get his crap together because that very day I had stupidly fumbled an opportunity to see Vicky Christina Barcelona (you know that hurt me in my tender places) and Hamlet 2 also slipped through the cracks. I'm so disorganized!

Anyway, Kabluey is a no-budget indie about a war bride (Lisa Kudrow) whose husband has been in Iraq for way too long. She can't manage single motherhood and two unruly boys. Her estranged brother- in-law (writer/director Scott Pendregrast) shows up to help. Only he isn't much help. There's some inspired slapstick (involving the job he gets as a giant blue corporate mascot) a 'where ya been?' cameo (Teri Garr) and a dependably wicked supporting spin from Christine Taylor (aka "Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!" and Mrs. Ben Stiller). Though Kabluey is almost relentlessly downbeat at its core there's quite a few laughs to be had within the miserabilism.

Kabluey B: It might be hard to catch in theaters due to the very limited release but worth a rental once it arrives on DVD

Here's the trailer below and I've paired it with the classic "Smelly Cat" from Friends just for fun.

Which brings us to Lisa Kudrow. Her film career has been ...odd. Everyone loved her on Friends as ditzy bohemian Phoebe. Yet towards its last seasons Phoebe got much bitchier and less loveable and Kudrow's post Friends career characters have had a startling underlay of anger to them. I'm not talking about the enjoyable vicious comic diva but rather the unhappy woman variety of bitchery.

Now some actors naturally project different persona and read different from small to large screen but I think it's worth noting. But I can't think of an actress who reads more intriguingly disagreeable than Kudrow apart from maybe Anne Heche at her prime. This isn't to say that Kudrow isn't a valuable screen actor. I haven't seen her recent cancelled television series The Comeback but she was absolutely terrific as the bitter sister-in-law in The Opposite of Sex (1998, robbed of an Oscar nomination). She did fairly complex engaging work as the bitter stepsister in Happy Endings holding her own in scenes opposite a never-better Maggie Gyllenhaal (which is saying a lot). And here again she does good work as a bitter sister-in-law.

But all this bitterness and sisterhood. What is going on here?

Helen @ the Beach

Happy birthday to Oscar winning sexpot Dame Helen Mirren who turns 63 today. Here she is vacationing in Italy... (wait for it)... last week !


Damn woman! Put some clothes back on. You're making the rest of the world feel all mortal, flabby and hideous. Yes, even the thirtysomethings. Helen is shielding her eyes because the heavens just parted so the angels could gawk at her. For what it's worth the man wearing the clashing t-shirt --I guess she doesn't dress him-- is her husband, director Taylor Hackford (Ray, The Devil's Advocate) more commonly referred to by his alternate title "Luckiest Man Alive".

Time capsule (last week... er)
While paparazzi were losing their shit over Helen at the beach, the masses were losing their shit over The Dark Knight @ the multiplexes, Whedonites were losing their shit over Dr. Horrible (including yours truly) @ the internets, John McCain was losing his shit @ war planning (not that it wasn't already lost) and hopefully he will still be losing losing losing come November's general election. How shitty would 4 more years of this nightmare be?

Like this post? Take a look at other recent highlights