Monday, August 31, 2009

August. It's a Wrap.

I do these wrap posts for me (indexing!) but I hope you find them useful yourself, should your internet have failed you for a day or five each month. You're reading EVERY WORD TYPED, right? ...Hello? Here are some highlights from the month that was.

Top 10 Pregnancies Trudy Kockenlocker, Juno, (Citizen) Ruth and more...
Cooking with Nathaniel as Katey talks Julie & Julia.
Mad Men @ the Movies a new series with 60s flair: Gidget, Exodus, movie stars
John Hughes (RIP) The Breakfast Club and other treasures
"Bye Bye Birdie" on the brain and at my fingertips

Carey Mulligan sometimes one word describes a performance
Inglourious Basterds Review Tarantino's movies are so fun to write and talk about. But I wish I could have taken this one through a few drafts
My 25 Favorite Actors (subject to change)
Come Join the Party Madonna and Movies
Kate vs. Joan Winslet risks the wrath of Crawford's ghost for Mildred Pierce

Coming in September...
Who knows? How's that for an incentive to stick around. Born salesman right here.

Eric Bana-nanza

Dave from Victim of the Time here, wondering why Eric Bana isn't a legitimate movie-star yet. I don't like to be an undue influence, but if I were in charge of Nat's Film Bitch awards for this year, Eric would be the current front-runner for the 'Body of Work' award. You'll all remember Star Trek, of course, where Bana played the main villain, the Romulan Nero, and put a lot of energy and zest into a role that wasn't given as much attention as it probably should have been. Since then, he's recently had two more roles that amply show off both his acting chops - in strikingly different ways - and his almost limitless charisma. (He also starred in the Australian film Romulus, My Father, but who knows when that'll reach my eyes...) In a coincidental move that surely inspired this post, I happened to see both of these Bana-starring films within the last week.

The Time Traveler's Wife is a disappointing adaptation of Audrey Hiffenegger's immersive, emotional novel, but you can't blame the cast (or indeed the casting director). Rachel McAdams is tender and sympathetic as Clare, perhaps missing a bit of the fierce passion and independent spirit of the book's Clare, but then the script goes for the romantic heartbreak rather than the book's mixture of romance and intellectualism. There's only so much you can fit into two hours, I suppose. But Bana is really the star here. Working within the script's slimmed down plotlines, he effortlessly conveys the bizarre difficulties and odd pleasures of the time travelling concept, instantly makes you comprehend why he loves Clare, while maintaining the book's unspoken edge that part of his love for her might be the simple need to have a purpose. Bana provides the movie with an emotional weight it would otherwise lack; the movie provides him with a chance to prove he is the romantic leading man the industry seems to be without at the moment. (Feel free to challenge me on this, but I can't think of anyone.)

But he saved the best for last. Or, for you Americans, he served up a rather lovely sandwich (choose your own filling for this metaphor), for Funny People, despite what the poster might pretend, is Bana's film. He steals it from under the noses of more seasoned film comedians (admittedly not particularly good ones) and jolts the film out of the odd, pitiable funk it's descended into. It's well-worn trivia that Bana was a stand-up comedian before he was spotted for his break-through performance in Chopper, but, despite Funny People's premise, Bana's character Clarke asks a different kind of comedic poise from Bana. Clarke is a stereotypical Australian dominant male figure with a rabid business sense and an aggression in both his humour and his temper. Bana displays impeccable comic timing in his interactions with Adam Sandler, Leslie Mann and Seth Rogen (as well as his on-screen children - their Chinese conversation provides the film's biggest laugh) as well as fine balance in keeping Clarke out of the realm of caricature. It's not a stretch to say his work here is a film-saving turn.

Bana's filmography since Chopper is a selective bunch of films, and it has to be said he's not always saved it for the best roles - Troy was a disaster (Bana emerged as the best thing in it), as were Lucky You (again, not his fault) and The Other Boleyn Girl (I don't who to blame for this), and, despite my opinion being that it wasn't half-bad, Hulk was hardly the vehicle to stardom anyone would have wanted. Maybe this terrific year will propel Bana to better things. He has the charisma, the talent, and the looks. Now he just needs to be allowed to use them more often.

Taking Giving Woodstock

It's been ages since we held a giveaway so, here you go. I have 5 packages to give away celebrating Ang Lee's latest Taking Woodstock. The gift bag includes an original motion picture soundtrack (entertaining!), a t-shirt (useful) and an um... air freshener (???) In case you're a dirty hippie, I guess.

To enter, send me an e-mail by Sept 14th with:
  1. "Woodstock" in the subject field
  2. Your full name (and a nickname if you don't like your full name used when I publish the winners)
  3. Your mailing address
  4. A sentence or two explaining what your favorite Ang Lee movie is and why. What a filmography, right? This last bit is for publication in a later reader-centered post.
Optional for fun... If you'd like to include a photo of yourself giving a peace sign, wearing tie-dye or doing any such appropriately Woodstockian thing, feel free. I'll publish them in some sort of freeloving photo collage when the winners are announced.

5 winners will be drawn randomly from entries received. One lucky winner will also win a nude mud-sliding date with Emile Hirsch. I made that last part up just to see if you were still reading. Are you? Have you seen the movie yet?

F&L #52

First and Last: the first image after the opening credits and the last shot before the final credit scroll.

Can you guess the movie?

Highlight for the answer if you're stumped: It's Ang Lee's LUST, CAUTION (2007). Aren't those images beautiful? The cinematography is by the great Rodrigo Prieto.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

MM@M: Joan Crawford, Caterpillar Woman

Mad Men at the Movies: Discussing movies referenced in the '60s set series. Previously: Gidget, The Wizard of Oz, Lady Chatterley's Lover and Natalie Wood.

1.6 "Babylon"
Don Draper relaxes in bed with his wife's book "The Best of Everything". She joins him.

Don Draper: [sarcastically] This is fascinating.
Betty Draper: It's better than the Hollywood version.
Don: Certainly dirtier.
Betty: Joan Crawford is not what she was. And honestly, I found her eyebrows completely unnerving, like a couple of caterpillar's just pasted there. Her standing next to Suzy Parker... as if they were the same species.
Don: Well, some men like eyebrows. And all men like Joan Crawford. Salvatore couldn't stop talking about her.
<--- Crawford and her offending eyebrows as a bitchy editor in The Best of Everything (1959).

Like the Gidget reference, this last line is another wink to modern audience that Salvatore, Don's co-worker, is gay. These days who loves Joan Crawford more than the gays? Of course back in the day straight men loved the larger than life actresses, too. Movie culture wasn't always so focused on the preferences of teenage boys.
Betty: To think, one of the great beauties and there she is... so old. I'd just like to disappear at that point. It makes perfect sense.
Don: [gently joking] I promise Betts, first sign of crow's feet and I'll put you on an ice flow. Or would you prefer to be my girl in the iron mask?
Betty: My mother was at least two years older than whatever Joan Crawford says she is and she was still very fetching.
Out of context this scene might read like another attack on one of Hollywood's most durable punching bags. In context it's a rather incisive peak at Betty's ample phobias and beauty fascism.

As per usual the research team on Mad Men deserve enormous kudos. This is a brilliant, but not obvious, choice of films. It allows us to see Betty's class entitlement issues all entangled with her other neurosis. Note that Betty approves of Suzy Parker, the supermodel-turned-actress who was the epitome of high end glamour when Betty herself would have been at an impressionable age. Crawford had peaked before Betty was a teenager. Though certainly glamourous, the movie star never read as "high class", often playing self-made women or social-climbing working girls. No wonder Crawford unnerves Betty. She pushes all of her buttons.

The Best of Everything opened in the fall of 1959, several months before this episode takes place. It was another in director Jean Negulesco's parade of colorful films about trios of working girls. His previous efforts included the wonderful How to Marry a Millionaire and the Best Picture nominee Three Coins in the Fountain (previous post).

further reading
a fun article on the fashions in The Best of Everything
Basket of Kisses the great Mad Men fansite

other references in this episode

Cinema: Paul Newman in the (upcoming) movie version of Exodus and a brief visual reminder of The Red Balloon. Books: The Best of Everything, The Bible, Exodus Celebrities: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Martin and Brigitte Bardot. Politics: Fidel Castro and Nikita Krushchev.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

You Must Remember This.

Jose here to commemorate Ingrid Bergman who would've turned 94 today. The Swedish acting goddess starred in dozens of films, won three Academy Awards, two Emmys and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a career that spawned over four decades.

She is best known for her iconic role in Casablanca though she wasn't Oscar nominated for it. Her history with the Academy is rather bizarre. She was nominated seven times and even if she only lost on four of those occasions, it's still fair to say she was a bit underrated by them. Hollywood neglected some of her best work. Even the actress herself thought she was overrated at one point.

When she created chaos after engaging in an extra-marital affair with Italian neorrealist master Roberto Rossellini she also delivered some of her greatest work. Obviously the film industry ignored this and only accused her of immorality. But is it right to judge her on personal matters when she was starring in films like Europa 51 and Voyage to Italy? In these films she showed great vulnerability combined with strength and that certain quality only film stars have.

Out of all the actresses of her time it was Ingrid who could dive into parts without screaming "look at me" or establishing trademarks. She could go from Hollywood fare to Italian neorrealism to theatre and even that other Swedish film god Ingmar Bergman effortlessly.

The Academy of course chose to recognize her for work she could do in her sleep -- when she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1974 she graciously accused herself of award robbery -- but despite the fact that such injustices were committed, her work will live forever. Thinking of all the characters she gave us before the time of her death, any cinema lover would think it's a shame that she didn't live forever as well.

The Men Who Stare at Links

Streep Tease An evening of famous Meryl Streep monologues performed by men this Saturday, September 5th! You Los Angelenos better be going to this. I want to hear everything. Someone buy me a ticket. And a plane ticket!
The Big Picture Matt Damon getting a lifetime achievement prize? He's 38! Does that make 40 the new 70 instead of the new 30?
The Auteurs Daily asks the question I've been asking myself silently: How is Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon German enough to be Germany's official Oscar submission this year?
Awards Daily shares the BFCA's best rated films as a preview for the Oscar race. They fail to mention that the BFCA's "scores" throughout the year don't usually end up directly correlating with their "Best Picture" field. They'll ditch high rated films if they don't think they can score big Oscar nods, just watch.

Kenneth in the (212) continues his one man crusade to remind people that Ryan O'Neal was the "Brad Pitt of the 70s"
My New Plaid Pants finally forgives David Fincher for Benjamin Button
Movie|Line on True Blood's breakout blonde, Alexander Skarsgård. Do you think the producers of Thor are regretting their casting decision these days? (I personally lost all interest in that Norse God superhero movie when they passed him by.)

And finally, our long (mostly) lost Ewan McGregor back in the lead (yay!) for a movie that probably won't suck (The Men Who Stare at Goats) with an exceptional cast (on paper). Feel free to rejoice but only parenthetically since... who knows, really?

Be excited now or sensibly wait until November 6th to do so. Your choice.

I feel it's worth noting that the movie was directed by George Clooney's extremely less famous frequent partner-in-crime and two time Oscar nominee Grant Henslov (pictured left) who writes, acts, directs and produces... and supposedly even forked over the money for Clooney's first professional headshots 27 years ago. Let's hear it for Grant and for all the talented multi-hyphenates out there that make their movie star friends look even more fantastic than they already naturally do.

Anthony Mackie is Bewitched On Stage, Bothered On Screen

If you happen to be in NY this weekend, this is your last chance to see the latest free Shakespeare in the Park production, Euripides' The Bacchae. (Common wisdom says these free shows are always sold out but I had no trouble getting in so try it, especially if it's wet outside) The greek tragedy plays like a slightly gender-fucked avant garde musical in this particular production. I had seen it once before 13 years ago and the only thing I remembered about it was the absolutely sick gory finale. It's still disgustingly bloody.

Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening) goes for a smeared lipstick rock god style Dionysys. His nonbeliever victim is none other than familiar screen actor Anthony Mackie.

One could argue that both actors are having a great summer. See also: Taking Woodstock (Groff) and The Hurt Locker (Mackie).

I know I haven't given The Hurt Locker enough play this summer at the blog. I guess I figured it would still be around and still in the discussion mix come Oscar season. At the very least, if one is feeling cynical, it'll keep popping up as a shoulda coulda woulda type film. Who knows how the larger voting bodies will respond. Time will tell but surely easier, softer and more nakedly awards-hungry pictures will challenge it for dominance within a month or two.

tick tock tick tock tick tock

The clock hands seems to be weirdly stuck when it comes to Mackie's career. The lack of media attention is bewildering. He turns 3o next month and while he can't complain about the amount of work he gets, shouldn't he be a bigger name by now? The Hurt Locker, in which he plays an increasingly bothered soldier who's worried that his commanding officer is too fond of risk-taking, is his meatiest role since the little seen gay artist film Brother to Brother (2003) but will it open the floodgates to better and/or bigger roles?

Mackie (clockwise from top left) as gay author in Brother to Brother,
bullying boxer in
Million Dollar Baby, drug dealer in Half Nelson,
exhausted soldier in The Hurt Locker and angry royal in
The Bacchae.

Reading the program notes to The Bacchae reminded me how limited the roles can be for a black actor in Hollywood. Mackie's film roles seem to break down to the physical: military men (Eagle Eye, The Hurt Locker), tough athletes (We Are Marshall, Million Dollar Baby) lowlife criminals (Half Nelson, The Man) and sexual objects (Freedomland, Brother to Brother, She Hate Me) ... but he's actually a Julliard trained actor. Come to think of it Mackie has even played against this dichotomy as "Papa Doc" in 8 Mile, wherein he was only posing as a thug. Eminem defeats him in battle merely by rapping about Doc's education and upper class privilege.

We're familiar with his face but how many moviegoers know his name?

The Hurt Locker can only help his career. He already won an Independent Spirit Nomination for it last year. But with co-star Jeremy Renner and director Kathryn Bigelow sucking up all the oxygen in Locker's Oscar-buzz room, is his breakout role still to come?

"I still prefer the exuberance of Boogie Nights..."

...over the formalism of There Will Be Blood." says Quentin Tarantino when raving about Paul Thomas Anderson's auteurial genius.

On this we can agree though we love both films passionately.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The ReBirth (?) of Nicole Kidman

I'm trying not to place 2010's Rabbit Hole, the stage to screen story of a grieving family, on a pedestal of unrealistic expectations. Acclaimed plays can make brilliant movies but there are no assurances. They can be tricky beasts to cage in two dimensions. So I'm trying to lower my expectations but Nicole Kidman is not making it easy for me.

Aaron Eckhart co-stars in Rabbit Hole"The reason why I’m in the movie is
Nicole. If she wants to work with somebody, then that’s what happens"

First she offers the directorial job to the brilliant John Cameron Mitchell who I've loved since I saw him tear it up on stage as Hedwig when I first moved to New York. Now in the NY Times she brings up Birth, one of her very best, as comparison to Rabbit Hole.
When I first responded to [Rabbit Hole], it was because I read it, and it was about grief, which fascinates me,” she said. “Loss and love seem to be themes that run through my work.” This film is about “a marriage and the way that people fuse through pain, that you can either be pulled apart or you can come together. In the same way that ‘Birth,’ a film that I did, was about loss of the loved one who’s your partner in life, this is the most profound loss, and it’s the worst place to tread. And so my nature tends to be to explore something that I’m terrified of."
I love the modesty of "a film that I did"... not "a film that I killed in. I'm sometimes a genius" which is a more accurate statement, if you ask me.

Daryl Hannah Wants You To Read...

...The Film Experience. or else.

I kid, but I always like to picture Daryl Hannah barking juvenile orders like an amazon bully post Kill Bill. (God she was great in that. Five years later and it's increasingly annoying that no real filmmakers dared pounce to provide her a worthy follow up).

So now the eternally underappreciated sexbot turned mermaid turned celebrity girlfriend turned born-again hairdresser turned environmental heroine turned whistling assassin is designing board games. This one is called "Liebrary". You make up first sentences to real books once you read their title and synopsis.

(Pictured) 'Elle Driver' promoting her board game this past Monday in NYC.

So, points for originality, Daryl! Most actresses of a certain age just start writing children's books.

Ho Hum

With a relatively empty movie weekend ahead, are you catching up on something you missed or taking a break from moviegoing [gasp]? Share your plans in the comments. I'm going to my first Jewish wedding. Will it be anything like Yentl?

Genetic Lottery Winner

Do you know who this 19 year-old (pictured left) is?

Well, he's the grandson of two Hollywood giants. I'm not sure which two exactly though the maternal line in the equation is clear. She's the one pimping posting the picture, the one they called "The Look"...
You know how to whistle play Twister, don't you Steve...?
Read my new Towleroad article to identify him. I also briefly bitch about Humpday's newly photoshopped DVD cover and Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock. (Well, not so much bitching about the latter. It has its moments)

First and Last #51

First and Last: the first image after the opening credits and the last shot before the final credit scroll.

Can you guess the movie? It's from the 80s, can't you tell?

Highlight for the answer: Dreamscape (1984) starring Dennis Quaid and Kate Capshaw. All about men invading other people's dreams. Isn't Inception going to revolve around that, too? for all first and last puzzles, click the label below.

Sophie's Link

Meryl Streep brings endless funny. Have you read "name one masterpiece of cinema that I've starred in"? Hat tip to reader Cal for alerting me. Since this article appears in The Onion, it's Meryl Streep or "Meryl Streep" but both are equally awesome. One can certainly imagine the real Streep taking these shots at her self. She's always been fond of the self-deprecating zingers that somehow pretzel themselves until they're self-aggrandazing.

Of course, next Sophie's Choice comes up. Sure. Absolutely. That makes complete sense. But have you actually watched Sophie's Choice lately? Boy, talk about a movie that has not aged well. My performance is very good. No question. Oscar-worthy even...

So now is when you have to start really digging into my filmography because you're starting to think, "Can it be true that one of this generation's greatest actresses, maybe even the greatest—a national treasure, you might say—has never been in a film as good as Network, which isn't even Faye Dunaway's best movie?"

Ha. That's so true. Faye had quite the run. But... is it true? Does Meryl really not have her very own classic? P.S. The line about The Devil Wears Prada is killer.

More Linkage
Cinema Blend Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen as bloodsuckers. I still weep that something as boring as The Twilight Saga will be "entertaining" us for years to come, but at least they're recruiting decent actors now that they won the lottery
Stareast Asia Zhang Ziyi engulfed in shoulder pads. Have you accepted that Ziyi is now more of a model than an actress. Maybe that's always how you've thought of her? You're smart
Topless Robot is Green Lantern doomed? I love Topless Robot. They're so self aware. This line from the highly speculative post is a beaut. It's a line which would never be typed on other genre loving fanboy sites but which belongs on all of them
But if I don't make wild, unfounded accusations about things I know nothing about, I feel like I'm not doing my job.
babblebook contemplates the catharsis of Inglourious Basterds. Great post
Cinephilia imagines Pitt & Jolie receiving the Inglourious call. The punchline to the scene is pretty great
Socialite's Life George Clooney breaks his hand. Damn, that man is fragile
PopCrunch Liz Taylor loves RuPaul?

Oh, Anne...
My nearly beloved Anne Heche (if only she'd get the good roles...) is back in, uh, form. Did you see her on Letterman? Now I think it's a terrible terrible terrible thing for a celebrity to diss a civilian on national television --manners, Celestia, manners!-- But that said, I like my Anne crazy, so I loved this.

Against my better judgment.

It's been ages since I've been to the popular flash site Homestar Runner for a Strong Bad e-mail but I clicked over this morning to watch a short comic bit on "indie film" vs. independent film. Back in the day --when? don't remember-- I wrote Strong Bad an e-mail asking something or other about movies but quickly realized it was a mistake and my e-mail would never be used to animate an episode because the world of Homestar Runner tends not to really deal with reality as we know it in. There's very little in the way of dated pop culture references / jokes. But, I guess Strong Bad is closer to planet Earth now that he's dissing art films and Hollywood poseurs and getting little visual digs in at Juno among other things.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Think About Movies Too Much.

I do. There's something wrong with me.

<--- I saw this headline on MSNBC today and my mind literally launched into an instant (and instantly inappropriate) interior monologue
Why would people want to watch The Abyss when they're broke? James Cameron's movies always look so expensive. But I'm glad people are rediscovering it. It's so blue and tense and claustr
A second later I realized that I was thinking about Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (what happened to her?), mice who learn to breathe in water, Michael Biehn's moustache, serpentine watery intruders and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation instead of worrying about my fellow citizens and how they're going to pay their bills.

I think about movies all the time.

If you're reading I'm just assuming you have this problem, too. We're in it together and since nothing can be done we drink them up and learn to breath them in. There is no escape from this escapism.


Mezamashii: Kinuyo Tanaka in Sandakan 8 (with Bonus Oscar Trivia!)

BeRightBack here, visiting from the Wordsmoker Collective to blither about Japanese cinema again! Today, I want to talk a bit about great Japanese actress (and first studio-backed Japanese female director!) Kinuyo Tanaka. Specifically, I want to look at her last major role, in 1974's Sandakan 8, which was in the running the following year (upon its international release) for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Sandakan 8 is an issue-driven movie dramatizing the then-little-known phenomenon of the "karayuki-san," a practice by which young girls from the countryside were sold into prostitution in foreign lands by desperately poor Japanese families. The government tacitly condoned the practice, as it was a way for Japanese "business interests" to gain a foothold in places marked for future colonization or annexation. Tanaka plays a former karayuki-san who is being courted by a young female "women's studies scholar" who is interested in her story.

Sandakan 8's strengths do not lie in its filmic qualities. The double-flashback narrative frame distances the audience in an unhelpful way, making the dramatization of the karayuki-san's exploitation seem luridly predictable rather than viscerally shocking or moving, and the script's reliance on melodramatic cliché in its narrative arc does little to detract from the grinding, Stations-of-the-Cross-esque pacing.

What makes Sandakan 8 a joy to watch even today, though, are the performances by its female leads: Komaki Kurihara's grace in the thankless role as the young, idealistic scholar; Yoko Takashi's refusal to indulge in the bathos the script urges on her as she plays the karayuki-san as a young girl; and, above all, Kinuyo Tanaka's disarming, funny, and emotionally fluid turn as the former karayuki-san confronting the loneliness and wisdom her past traumas have bequeathed her.

Tanaka makes the unusual and extremely effective decision to play her character as a woman who has been through so much that she has lost any desire to hide her feelings. As the film relentlessly shows us, she is a woman who has lost everything. Tanaka's choice conveys that this has resulted not in bitterness, but in an almost alarming openness to whatever meager joys come her way. It makes her character both childlike and wise, tragic yet joyful as she clings to the companionship the woman scholar provides. Every emotion the character experiences plays across Tanaka's face like dye dropped into clear water.

While the film is not currently available on DVD (the graininess of these screengrabs is due to the fact that the only copy I could find was transferred from a VHS tape), I did find a Youtube clip of the final scene between Tanaka and Kurihara that demonstrates better than any screengrab the quicksilver emotional beats Tanaka hits every second she's onscreen.

Tanaka won Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival that year, and, as I mentioned before, the film was also nominated for the Foreign Language Film Oscar. In a rather odd twist, the film it lost out to that year was Dersu Uzala, the submission from the Soviet Union – a film directed by Akira Kurosawa!

Does anyone recall if this has happened before or since - a film nominated by one country being beaten by a film submitted by another country that was directed by a national of the former, not the latter, country? Can this question get more convoluted?

Let's hear it for the ladies.

Robert here, remembering back when the whole 10 Best Picture nominees boondoggle was hitting someone aptly noted that if all or several of the high profile Oscar-worthy films this year directed by women make the Best Picture list, but none of their directors make that much shorter list, The Academy will have some explaining to do.

Truly 2009 is shaping up to be a great year for female directors. And while that stretches well beyond our shores to such formidable talents as Agnes Varda and Clair Denis (who I am in love with) let's look at this through the prism of the Oscars for now.

We already know from the festival circuit that Jane Campion and Lone Scherfig have Oscar-ready films poised to snag acting and tech awards. Kathryn Bigelow has directed one of the, if not the best reviewed films of the summer. And, like it or not, Mira Nair's Amelia is as Oscar-baity as they come starring one of their favorite actresses (sorry Nathaniel) in a big old biopic.

So the question I pose is this: Who makes the cut?

F&L 50

The first image after the opening titles actual title card and the last image before the credits scroll.

Can you guess the movie?

You may have loved it as a child [highlight for the answer]: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (1968) for more first and last puzzles, click the label below.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Complete the Sentence

_____________ can't _________ soon enough.

Someday Her Prince Will Succumb

Remember that awesome Disney Princes gallery? The one where the underexploited toon men were suddenly objectified? Here's what you might consider a subversive counterpart. Jeffrey Thomas has imagined Disney's heavily marketed Princesses -- not all of them actual royals but amply exploited by Disney all the same -- exploring their darkest sides.

It didn't take much twisting to make Belle fierce. She was always formidable, y'know. And then there's Alice (Don't judge! Who wouldn't go criminally insane in Wonderland?). Thomas' gallery, which Loyal K*N*G pointed me too, also includes Cinderella in a rotting pumpkin, Mulan looking fierce, Pocahontas on the hunt (clean that knife girl!) and Tarzan's Jane wearing a cheetah (no not "Cheetah" dear god, not that). See the whole thing.

By the way, if you loved that eroticized Prince gallery that I told you about early last year, you should know that artist David Kwaena has expanded the gallery. In addition to new 2D men, he's added live-action hunks like Will Turner from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Zac Efron from the High School Musical franchise and James Marsden's goofy Prince Edward from Enchanted (pictured left, but why isn't he biting his fist? Why?!? That's the best part!) Check it out.

"Your Girl is Lovely, Hubbell"

Robert Redford is in the air. He hasn't dissolved into something atmospheric (stop being so literal!) but his name keeps turning up. Last week his two early sexually fluid performances opposite Natalie Wood (This Property is Condemned and Inside Daisy Clover) were playing here in New York and next month in Brooklyn BAM Cinema hosts a retrospective. It culminates on September 13th with four films and the Sundance Kid himself in person. For whatever reason they've narrowed down the final four to Redford as romantic figure, often paired with true giants among actresses.

On the last day they're screening...
  • Out of Africa (1985) The Best Picture winning bio in which Redford can't be tamed by Meryl Streep's author/heroine but gladly offers up shampoo and stud services.
  • The Natural (1984) this prestige pic is a mythic baseball drama. Redford and cast are bathed in Caleb Deschanel lensed sunshine and the lovely ladies include then rising stars Barbara Hershey, Glenn Close (Oscar nominated here... though I'm still not sure why) and Kim Basinger.
  • The Electric Horseman (1979) Redford and Jane Fonda fall in love at the rodeo. And compete in a Best Feathered Hair competition.
  • The Way We Were (1973) in which Barba Streisand falls hard for Redford but McCarthy era Hollywood tears them apart
Here's the difficult part: You can only choose one. They screen simultaneously, somewhat staggered due to running times, and then the man himself appears to talk about his career to the moviegoing crowd. I'm tempted to go Horseman (the only one I haven't seen) but The Way We Were is easily my favorite among those films. It's so underrated and much more expansive than its veneration as Classic Chick Flick suggests. If you ask me, Barbra Streisand deserved the Oscar in 73. Her chemistry with Redford is every bit as remarkable as you've heard. No wonder Carrie Bradshaw obsessed so.

F&L 49

First and Last: the first image after the opening credits and the last shot before the final credit scroll.

Can you guess the movie? Oscar winning cinematography by Robert Krasker who went on to lens El Cid and Billy Budd, too.

[highlight for the answer]: The Third Man (1949) for more first and last puzzles, click the label below.

Which movie...

...keeps you up past your bedtime if you happen to stumble upon it on cable?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Bye Bye Birdie... guess I'll always caaaAAAaaAAare"

If you've been following my Twitter Feed you know that I've had "Bye Bye Birdie" stuck in my head. And you also know why. So, today on the subway I made this "shrill" little iPhone drawing of the one & only Ann-Margret. It doesn't look like her exactly but I was drawing from memory... and the train was moving.
Bye Bye Birdie,
It's awful hard to bear;
Bye Bye Birdie
Think I'll always care,
Guess I'll always care,
Guess I'll always care!
Can I just say that it's hard to draw with sweaty fingers on an iPhone on a subway car in August. I felt like a giant finger painting on a postage stamp sized canvas. It wasn't meant to be this way! My finger has never felt like such a lumpy graceless thing as when I've tried to learn"Brushes" for the iPhone (like presumably many other people I was roped in by that New Yorker cover made entirely on an iPhone... remember that?).

What song is stuck in your head lately?
And do you ever doodle on your electronic devices?

Where My Heart Lies: My Favorite Actors. And Yours?

instead of a tues top 10, a 25.

I did this once for the actresses but I'm always giving the ladies their due. So, here's to the silver screen men that have enriched my movie-life. I admit up front that I haven't investigated Classic Hollywood actors to the extent I've investigated their leading ladies, so this list is highly subject to change the more old movies I see in my life.

Nathaniel's 25 all time favorite leading men
In no particular order and extremely subject to change

Gene Kelly | Tony Leung Chiu-Wai |
Montgomery Clift | Jeff Bridges | Paul Newman

Jude Law | James Dean | William Holden | Gene Hackman | Rock Hudson
Jack Lemmon | Gael García Bernal | Ewan McGregor | James Stewart | Gregory Peck
Steve Martin | Marlon Brando | Jack Nicholson | Burt Lancaster | Richard Burton
Brad Pitt | Johnny Depp | Cary Grant | Warren Beatty | William Hurt

Because sometimes you just want to name names

The list is not comprehensive, not set in stone, not entirely defendable. But they're the ones I love best. The ones I somehow feel are mine. Not that you can't share them.

Post your top 20 at your personal web home -- no explanations necessary, just photos -- and I'll link up!

P.S. 1 I'm already pretty sure I forgot someone important
P.S. 2 Your lists go here... send me your links.

A Blogwork Orange
mixes icons like Bogie with modern tastes like Buscemi
Award Talk likes the formal gentlemen Ralph Fiennes, Sir Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard. and other staples like Clark Gable and Cary Grant
Encore Entertainment gives props to greats that just missed my list like Ed Harris, Albert Finney and Dustin Hoffman
Runs Like a Gay goes retro with James Mason, Spencer Tracy and Alec Guinness
All That Film classics Astaire & O'Toole /modern giants Penn & DiCaprio

Cheerful Cynicism has a quirky mix including Yul Brynner (love!), Clark Gable (I didn't use to like him... but I'm slowly converting I must say), Hugh Jackman and more...
A Cinema Neophyte mostly modern with inspired choices and good pics
Journalistic Skepticism Penn, Hanks, Brando, Stewart and Jack lead
Many Rantings of John ranks his list. Douglas places. Welles and Brando rule
For Your Speculation gives a shout out to some typically supporting guys: Delroy Lindo, Chris Cooper and Peter Sarsgaard. Well played

Theme For Great Cities Bardem, Crudup and Strathairn... oh my
City of Angels ooh, Anthony Perkins and Claude Rains. Yay.
Sorta That Guy covers his favorites: Bernal, Gosling, Franco, Cheadle
Nick's Flick Picks tiered favorites. Chaplin. Fredric March & Sean Penn
Douglas Racso a wondrously international grab bag: Coco Martin, Max von Sydow, Daniel Auteuil, Gael García Bernal, Sir Ian McKellen

Film Away recently went mad for movies: Depp, Foxx, Clooney, Pacino
Reel Artsy Joaquin, Josh, Takeshi (sigh), Tobey
Rants of a Diva did his list ages ago. What took me so long?
A Blog Next Door calls his list "hodgepodge"... Caine, Broadbent, Owen, Marsden
Ferdy on Films is magnetized by Rudolph Valentino's eyes among others: Keir Dullea, Eduardo Noriega, Charles Durning

StinkyLulu is, like me, a dedicated actressexual. But we manage to find room for a few screen gods in our devotions all the same. Can you name the actor and the role?
Situated Laundry makes a vanilla bingo board and adds stage actors. I approve
Gratia Artis Peter Lorre, Charles Laughton, Robert Mitchum
The Sheila Variations ranks them. Mickey Rourke is back on top. Stockwell, Widmark, Duvall and Cooper also place.
new BookeyWookey Oleg Menshikov, Matthieu Kassovitz and Romain Duris. Mmmm x 3
newest Goatdog Penn and Cagney reign