Thursday, December 30, 2004

La Lohan

I'm worried about Lindsay Lohan. I know this is completely delusional but somehow I had myself convinced a few weeks back that a Golden Globe comedy nomination would get through to her. It would shake her up --like a collective "we value you as an ACTRESS! Quit partying and try to nab some talent stretching supporting roles in more mature films" She needs to know that she got where she is on talent. She seems to be desperate to prove herself in all the wrong ways when she's already proven herself in the only way that matters for longevity in acting (actual talent)

Imagine, the Golden Globes with the power to rescue a young movie star's mental health!?! hee.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Oscar Ballots Out...

It's now crunch time for campaigners. The ballots are either en route or arriving in mailboxes -I plan to write an FYC article for the site but it will be an expansion of this idea (as per usual) THE YEAR IS 12 MONTHS LONG. Rather than tell Oscar voters how to vote, I'd just like to remind them that movies came out in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September. Not just the last three months of the year.

I think primarily of the Academy's 1000 voting actors. You don't have to vote for them but anybody that isn't willing to at least consider the stars of Eternal Sunshine, Before Sunset, Kill Bill Volume 2, The Door in the Floor, Dogville, etc... for acting prizes doesn't really have any business filling out "best of the YEAR" ballots.

You don't win the Academy Award for Best Performance of December. You supposedly win it for Best Performance of 2004.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Phantom of the Top Ten Lists...

OK. one more note on this top ten business. The BFCA, a group I am commonly known as being an un-fan of listed Phantom as one of their top ten films of the year. But you have to ask: HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

If you look at the critics lists pouring in on the geninn site (linked above) or on the site (which has at least one critic as part of the BFCA) it doesn't seem to be factoring in much at all to end of the year lists. So, how, pray tell did it make the final cut at the expense of something, like, oh say Closer or Before Sunrise or The Motorcycle Diaries...

Again. It just goes to raise your eyebrows at the possibility that the BFCA don't really like any movie as much as they like predicting Oscars and they maybe thought around the time they were voting (as many did) that it might factor into the Oscar race. So, why not vote for it? I'll tell you why not. Because if you're trying to predict the Oscars, write a prediction column. If you're giving out awards, do the right thing and say what YOU think is best. Not what you think others will think is best.

That's the only explanation I can think of as to how it could make their list when it's not making their individual lists... Or maybe someone out there has another explanation? I'd like to hear it. Because that's a cheese fest and a half of a movie and why is it on a consensus ten best list if no one loves it enough to put it on their individual list? Unless I don't understand the word consensus.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Groupthink and Top Tens

you know. Normally I wouldn't call someone to the table for this because it's rude and what have you but as I was researching my slowly growing online top ten list chart I keep referring to the far more extensive chart at and some lists really perplex me.

Take Susan Granger for instance. Her top ten list is:

The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Finding Neverland
Hotel Rwanda
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Phantom of the Opera

Can it get any more generic? It's the exact same as the [b]BFCA[/b] list with ONE exception -the absence of Sideways and inclusion of The Motorcycle Diaries. Granger is a free thinker ! (hee) Sometimes I wonder if there are too many voices out there and if the collective "best of" thing is just too disturbing. I much prefer lists that show some semblance of sanity (obviously Eternal Sunshine belongs on every list) combined with the individual's own unique aesthetic sense. If you have no opinion of your own --what's the point? For the record my own personal top ten will have some of the usual suspects. But as always, I hope to maintain my own voice.

I'm not trying to knock Susan Granger or praise myself. I'm more thinking out loud about the problem of homogeny in these things. I know why this happens. I am affected by it myself. Would I have watched Sideways a second time were it not for the abundant "best of the year" kudos which made me revisit it and boosted it from "very good" in my book to "near great" It would probably have made my top ten list either way but its placement did rise. Critical consensus does affect people for good (Sideways) and ill (Million Dollar Baby for instance. Good film...but critical consensus has it as a masterpiece and it just ain't so).

I wonder how less generic things would be if we were all required to make our top ten lists on the same day of the year? How cool would it be to have a year when all major awards nominations take place on the very same day with none influencing the next? Where would the Oscars, for instance, go without the guidance from the guilds, the Globes, and critics?

If you look at the's current top ten list you'll find the following films appearing on the most top ten lists:

01 SIDEWAYS 102 lists with 30 #1 placements
02 ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND on 91 lists with 17 #1s
07 KILL BILL, VOL.2 48/1
08 KINSEY 40/2

Half of those are also on my top ten list. shrug

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Welcome for the 11th time

OK... so, I am a scattered person. I keep changing it up. But the truth is my website is too too too big. Think Julianne Moore's coke-fueled stream of thought in BOOGIE NIGHTS "too many things. too many things"

You may have noticed that this blog died for a month or so. I just hadn't figured out how to use it in the context of my unwieldy site. So --since this blog is so convenient, try and think of this as the replacement for FILMBITCHWEEKLY which had died due to maintenance issues and those pesky weekly deadlines. This will be a quicker and easier way for those non-review, non-awards, non list, thoughts on the movies. The movies. The movies. God how I love the movies.

And who knows. For ease of use and quick tidbits rather than full essays or what have you. Perhaps you'll be able to think of it as FiLMBiTCH Daily. Okay. Not really. I'm not that masochistic.

So, I promise to post herein more regularly.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


A Haiku for Theraflu.

Theraflu loves you
it's hot goodness reduces
shivery snifflling

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Thank god my internet service is working again because a blog is not enough for an addict like myself. I need to update my site regularly. And, I'm out of the habit of posting to this blog.

the site is working again. Whew

Friday, December 17, 2004

DC...even the movie awards bow to politics

When I first heard the good news that the Washington DC Film Critics had finally given "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" the BEST PICTURE crown that it has deserved all along I wanted to cheer.

But then the rest of the list shut me up immediately. So much for discernment or a change in the precursor wave.

It's the same old same old with Jamie Foxx as best actor for his outstanding mimicry in Ray, Imelda Staunton as Vera Drake, and --wait, what's this??? JAMIE FOXX again (!!!) as supporting actor in Collateral...

pardon my french but FUCK. THAT.

I like Jamie Foxx. I loved his performance in Collateral but there is no possible reading of that film which makes him the supporting actor. The film begins and ends with him --and wow, look at that --the middle is also entirely about him. We see the story through his eyes. He's never off the screen for more than a minute or two.

It's obvious that the DC critics are just bending over and letting the studios plow them with category fraud. Which would be fine if they were, I don't know, the National Board of Review or the Golden Globes both of which are clearly, in one way or another, playing the studio's whore. But critics are, theoretically, supposed to be removed from all of that. Critics are supposed to comment on, analyze, critique, and remain objective. They aren't supposed to be PR hacks for the studios.

If 1939 were 2005 we would see "FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION... Vivien Leigh, Best Supporting Actress for Gone with the Wind" If 1991 were 2005 we's see "FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION... Geena Davis for Best Supporting Actress "Thelma & Louise" --See, how ridiculous that sounds? With the Globes I'm like "whatever. they're silly sometimes" with the BFCA I was furious. They continue to call themselves "critics choice" and are clearly not made up of critics but of various columnists, gossip columnists, junket whores, and entertainment news reporters, etc... and they went there too. And now DC critics...who to my understanding actually are critics.

Nobody has any integrity. And here's another thing. If everyone agrees why are there so many groups? If you don't have your own opinion... and you can't untangle yourself from Dreamworks campaign wishes, why are you a critic? And why do you have awards?

All that said as a reminder: I loved Jamie Foxx in Collateral. This is not about him.

People say I'm taking this too seriously but my opinion is that if it's not meant to be taken seriously we should all just watch "The People's Choice Awards" and call it a day. If they're giving awards that are called "best" and have other defining words like "original" (screenplay) or "supporting" (actor) than they ought to follow the definitions of the words. The best part I realize is subjective. But the "supporting" part is rather definitive. This is not a gray area in Collateral's case.

If the award was called "Movie Star Whose Ass We Most Want to Kiss Because He's Hot Hot Hot This Year" than by all means, shower Jamie Foxx with that prize.

I love my cat. I love my cat. I love my cat.

I'm going to keep chanting this:

I love my cat. I love my cat. I love my cat.

As many of you frequent readers know... this time of year my site gets the heaviest traffic and I post the most. But much to my dismay, just as the BFCA was announcing their awards my internet service to my home computer, which houses my website mysteriously stopped working.

Nothing. Nada.

Everything appears to be in order. The only possible explanation to the sudden collapse of any connection to my beloved internet and ability to update my site frequently are tiny bite marks to all major electrical cords in the house. These are familiar to me from six years of living with Montgomery my darling kitten.

There's no mistaking his handiwork. I shudder to think how much this will possibly cost me if the problem is on the main cable wiring as that will require someone visiting me from Time Warner etc... and rewiring.
ouch ---$$$.

I love my cat. I love my cat. I love my cat.

So, if you're wishing to see updates to my site... you'll have to pop in here for the time being to pick my brain of awards season related thoughts.

Any cat owners who would like to share hints about how to wean my baby from his favorite chew toy... please comment.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Eating My Emotions. Part 2

A follow up to yesterday's post. My coworker expressed empathy at work (she feels shitty too -it's going around) and joked "Bush can take away your civil rights. But don't let him send you to the fat farm!" We had one of those if we don't laugh we're going to cry moments.

I am happy to report that I have since put the candy down and will now resume my normal less emotional eating habits. I even turned down chocolate offered later in the day. Yay for me.

Curiousity, Fatigue, Anger, and Hope (?)

I may be a little too tired to express fury about Americans and their voting habits this morning. But mostly, at least until I'm fully awake I'm more surprised than anything. Surprised that the youth didn't seem to care. Surprised that the results were so similar to 2000 despite four years of a radical presidency. Surprised that at work yesterday I spoke to a woman who was still undecided and who claimed to like everything about Bush except the war. I had to ask her "you do realize that that's all he's running on right?"

The only thing I'm feeling more than fatigue right now is worry. Americans, or at least 50% of them, seem as shallow as the president himself. That must be why he connects despite his alarming reductivism. Everything is black and white. People are either good or evil. etc... If that's all your mind can process, you won't be able to hold on to the America that is the stuff of dreams. You won't even be able to see it slipping away from you. Take gay marriage for instance. I totally accept that some people won't like it... but again it's reductionist mindset. Oh, we hate them...therefore we must remove the chances at rights they have that would make them on equal footing with us AND we must remove the rights they've already got. Not so long ago the country seemed sorta OK with civil unions and now people are losing those rights. That's more Americans losing healthcare. That's more Americans straight and gay losing big time. That's the loss of way more than marriage rights. This will, in many states, cause all sorts of problems with wills, homeownership, adoption, hospital visitation rights. Frankly, I find it reprehensible that people, in their desire to keep marriage to themselves would decide that they should disrupt healthcare coverage for gay or unmarried straight people as well. But, again, I guess it's the black and white mentality: 'Gays are evil. Therefore I hate them. Therefore I must vote to protect myself from them by damaging the quality of their lives. I am freer now. My marriage means more to me now.' Huh? Nobody is thinking anything through. If you hate someone fine. I have hate in my too. But I don't fight against the rights of my fellow citizens. I just express dismay that so many of them are bigots. Yet, I don't want their rights taken from them. That's positively unAmerican.

Are we Americans really as stupid as we appear? That 50% of us can't see the lies, the distortions, the avoidances, and the hate selling that's been going on -towards Arabs, gays, who knows which group is to come that the Right is going to turn on -maybe the Jews? Some of them have been hoodwinked by the Pro-Israel stance of the President, forgetting entirely that he wants a theocracy in America and that eventually means 'uh-oh!' in one way or another for the Jews.

Not so long ago I thought that another four years of Bush would ensure a Democratic victory in 2008 and for years to come. Things will get so bad that Americans will have to swing back left. But--and this is where my sense of humor is failing me damnit--the past four years don't seem to have registered for most Americans despite all sorts of factual evidence thrown their way, so why would anyone change course in 2008? What would it take to break through the fog? A draft? tens of thousands rather than thousands of our armed forces dying? Some medical trauma that would expose how dangerous our health care policies are since so many people can't get it? The middle class being entirely squeezed out until their is only poor and rich. Those are the two categories that the Administration understands. The poor are there to serve them and pay taxes (hey, millions of people paying dollars here and there adds up) and do the menial tasks. The rich people --well, they just get to maintain the status quo. It might deep down pain them that America isn't in the best shape. But as long as nothing rocks their boat it's all good with them.

If you find a way to find hope in all of this please respond. But to me it feels pretty bleak. I know Kerry hasn't conceded yet. I know it's technically not over. But regardless of who is sitting in the White House in 2008 --the American people have shown (or at least half of them have shown) that torture, fraud, Orwellian lies, hatred, indiscriminate violence, tax cuts for the rich in a bad economy, the burden on their children with huge deficits, and corporate scandals are not dealbreakers for them. That's a pretty bleak realization. It really is. So, if you know where to find some hope... let me know.

I may find it on my own again. But if you find it first, let me know.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Eating My Emotions

It's election day 2004. I hope you're voting rather than reading this.
I voted at 6:30 AM and it felt great to give Bush the heave-ho and to welcome Kerry in. But I know the race is close and that there are strange citizens out there who feel the exact opposite as me (I believe they are insane but that's beside the point right now, you must admit)

So, even though I was really going to try and lose 10 lbs this month, my new goal today is to gain another 10. Today if possible. I'm eating my emotions. The election is all I can think about.

I have devoured:
one large coffee
two diet cokes
one small water
one bag of Cheddar Combos (how gross are those?)
1/2 bag of Fritos
scallop potatoes
chow mein'ish type dish

It is only 2:36 PM and who knows what else I'll be mowing down on. I am a bottomless pit of anxiety. I'm going to be sick.

Monday, October 18, 2004


I am not organized enough to be a political blogger. I have enough trouble keeping on track at work and at home to devote the necessary attention. So... I would direct you to where they have links to Gabriel Shank's "Modern Fabulosity" and Jill Cozzi's "Brilliant and Breakfast" both of which are indispensable chroniclers (currently) of the insanities going on prior to this historic election.

I say historic because either way history will be made. (Indeed. I do come from the school of redundancy school, yes.) America is at a crucial turning point and we're about to find out what we're made of. To my mind the nation tipping for Bush means we're hopeless lemmings and the corporations and billionaire power players to whom our democracy and civil rights mean nothing have won. The nation tipping towards Kerry would be indicative of a small chance at survival as a nation that believes in civil rights, the separation of church and state, and all that good stuff like common decency, being "good neighbors" to the rest of the world, etc... I never would have thought we'd get to the point where we shrug our shoulders at torture, voter registration fraud and supression, enjoy dissing and ridiculing longtime crucial allies, and go into hissy fits if someone says the word "lesbian." I never thought we'd get to the point where the FCC thinks nipples are important enough to send shockwaves through broadcasting regulations but it's not their place to prevent evil businessmen from using the airwaves for free political advertising without offering equal time.

I guess I was naive and believed that Americans cared about basic American principles like fear, diversity, and your basic garden variety of freedoms.

Either way --whichever way the vote goes. We'll only be made of the stuff, good or bad, by about 51%/49% so even if its good news it's not that encouraging or discouraging for our populace's mentality I suppose. I'm trying to look at it in such a way that I'll survive it whatever the outcome. I can't take much more of this. I want the election to be right. now.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Slam !

I am so happy that debates make it amply clear how completely fantasy-like Bush's reality is. Kerry is so good at this. Bush, contrary to popular belief, isn't terrible at these debates... he just has so little to work with since his policies are so questionable, dangerous, and irresponsible. Kerry is slamming him. And, it's been a long time coming.

I don't know if the American people will wake up in time. But it feels good tonight to see it.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Limbo Land

between movies I am.

Yesterday was my best friend's birthday and we went out for dinner and drinks and had a ball. But no movie afterwards and today my beau says not to go to the movies without him and so tomorrow, I will try to see Ü• HUCKABEES and MOTORCYCLE DIARIES both of which I've been pining away for for months.

but something is bothering me. something is very wrong with me. i am sitting at my computer doing research on possible best actress candidates for 2005. Samantha Morton? Zhang Ziyi? That's just too obsessed --Even for me. Inbetween bouts of this way-too-early internet research I am reading "The Persian Boy" by Mary Renault a novel of Alexander the Great. Which is also kind of research...but reading doesn't count as such since it's good for you and I don't do enough of it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Reality World

I've been so exhausted since Toronto that I've been staring at the TV a lot and there really is nothing on. Well, nothing if you don't love reality television. And I don't. Though I did find myself watching all of the new Real World Philadelphia episodes. I'm not sure why --lethargy? Inability to walk away from the couch?

I laughed really hard though at the preview for next week (when Coroma (name?) gets arrested or something and freaks) because I kept saying to my boyfriend during the marathon. "Wow this black guy isn't angry. Why isn't the black guy angry? Doesn't he know that's his box. 'You have to stay in your box!!!!!' You are not allowed to have your own distinct personality! " And sure enough, there he goes getting angry. Whether or not it's justified is beside the point because the point is MTV needs them all to fulfill their foreordained roles. It's the same on American Idol as "television without pity" skewers regularly for this same problem. I guess they think you can't have a season without any of the normal characters.

It's so annoying on these shows that you can see the character types coming a mile away --never any surprises because the casting directors (or the editors, I suppose its hard to say which) have no imagination and just do the same or show the same 'types' every year. (the gay guy, the angry black guy, the slut, the dumb and/or sheltered guy/girl, the party person who drinks too much...and finally, the confidante/busybody/sponge --that is an open character that's assigned to whoever has the least amount of personality --so they get one grafted on by the editors. Just watch. The person ends up only being in the storylines because they're always talking about everyone else: This time that's Melanie. Three episodes in and she still had no "hook" or story so she becomes the one in the confessional that's always advising or talking about the stories of the others)

It's one of the many reasons I haven't watched a full season since Season 1. (Though I did peak in on occassion for San Francisco, Hawaii, and New Orleans) The show is too predictable. Too forced. Too whatever. And for once wouldn't it be so awesome if they walked into their digs on the first episode and they had to live in the real world (i.e. a tiny cramped urban apartment). If MTV wanted real and non-edited drama. Imagine the turmoil if they had to share as little space as real people get in the big city.

I miss fictional TV. So, tonight I'm going to watch "Lost" because the critics seem to like it and they're calling it 'original' which is always an eyebrow raiser (and a sure sign of imminent cancellation) in this world.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Bizarro World

Someone tell me something good/happy/inspirational quickly before I lose my last shred of hope in humanity. I know it's a little drama queen-ish to say but things are seriously f***ed up in this world and i'm seriously depressed about the future.

The more I read or listen to the news the more I'm convinced that there's just no hope for humanity. People just don't get it. Or perhaps more depressingly people just don't wan't to. America has been hijacked by hilbillies like Toby Keith who have informed us that putting the boot in your face is "the American way" -(the last time I checked democracy and freedom didn't have the same definition as bullying or physical humiliation but maybe I should buy a new thesaurus (?), there's bumper stickers everywhere that just cheapen the 9/11 tragedy --you know the ones... 'We will never forget'

and I'd like to know: What does that mean? Does that mean: "We can hold a grudge better than anyone, you can bet your ass on that!"? If so, whoop de frickin' do. Congratulations. You're a highly evolved human being. Or does it mean something far more innocuous like "i feel sad and scared about this and the only way i know of dealing with it is to cheapen it and make it into a catchphrase/slogan so it feels comfortable and familiar instead of bone-chilling!"? Seriously. What does 'never forgetting' mean in this context? And why put it on your car?

War is hell. But America doesn't stand for what it used to stand for anymore if our new ideals are torture (alls fair in war) theocracy (separation of church and state? -not anymore) and the death of hard-won civil rights (also in the name of religion). 3,000 people dying is not an excuse to go to war with a country that had nothing to do with those 3,000 people dying. So we've basically taken one tragedy and just compounded it. Yay for us. This is bizarro world we're living in. And people just act like it's the most normal thing.

Why is my country losing its ideals? And ---the far more alarming question. Why is the country only 50/50 about whether this is a bad thing? Why aren't people up in arms about the loss of our freedoms and the growing theocracy of our government --when these are supposedly the very things that we're willing to wage war on other countries to prevent?

I never loved Kerry. I thought he was not the best choice in several ways but a few scared Dems in Iowa thought he was 'electable' so we're stuck with him. But even so... he is -on nearly every conceivable issue- superior to Bush ... but people don't want to see it. And what's more, Bush has masterfully kept the talk all on war where his aggression and obstinance feel like natural fits, and away from topics that would show just what a hideous failure he is as a president.

Maybe nobody knows this anymore but the President has other responsibilities besides leading wars.

I'm only in my thirties so my lifetime doesn't span that many presidents but how is it so easy for such a shitty president to get reelected? How is it OK with everyone that a president that loses this many lives, jobs, and basic civil rights seems to just march toward a second term?

When will people wake up?

And for anyone still reading, tell me something happy quick!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Emmy Done Good (?)

Every year I find some way to bitch about The Emmys which is somewhere less embarassing than the People's Choice and the Grammy's but only by so much.

Though I missed the ceremony due to the farewell concert of KIKI & HERB ("Kiki & Herb Will Die for You" at Carnegie Hall --which I wouldn't have missed for anything, even the Oscars ) I did of course check out their winners.

If they haven't made a complete turn-around and least the Television Academy shook it up a little.

David Hyde Pierce as Niles Crane -Frasier
sigh. It's not that this performance isn't great. But did he really need to win again. And maybe I shouldn't comment on this but I wonder about these really enduring performances if they're still adding significant shadings to still be deserving of the win. Take Matt leBlanc on Friends for example. That is a performance that got better as it went along. But do actors regularly get better in a role as they move through years and years of similar jokes? I would argue not usually. I mean, no offense to Sean Hayes on Will & Grace (not meaning to single him out just drawing out a name to ask) --is his "Jack" role stagnant, or does he deserve the nominations every time out? And finally, who does John McGinley have to [insert sexual verb of your choice here] in order to get a nomination for his brilliant work on Scrubs? For that matter what does anyone on Scrubs have to do?

Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti & Drea DeMatteo as Adriana LeCerva -The Sopranos
Three cheers for these wins. Emmy done right. These two actors --well, their amazing desperate duet made this season, imho.

Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes -Sex And The City
You know I'm thrilled that she finally made it. Even if this award is for the wrong season.

Allison Janney as C. J. Cregg -The West Wing...
But then... old habits die hard. zzzzzzzzzz. How is she even eligible for this lead award year after year from an ensemble show. And how the hell does she beat Edie Falco who remains a total genius of an actor on [i]The Sopranos[/i]

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw -Sex And The CityIt's about freaking time. That's all I have to say here.

Kelsey Grammar as Frasier Crane -Frasier
zzzz and we're back to their old habits die hard and I'm already totally bored of discussing this.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Winding Down (The Final Screening Days)

This will presumably be my last entry for the Toronto 2004 journey (I have a few more films to see but there's little to no chance I'll be posting on the last day when I'm packing up and heading out)

And due to continued exhaustion short comments! (my eyes feel like they might fall out of their sockets or something)

day six
I wish I had the strength to comment on yesterdays which I only gave grades to... but alas. I'm wiped out (the theme of the day seemed to be reality / memory / fiction and every possible reading thereof. At least in the Varda and Almodovar hours... I will eventually have more to say on those. You know that there's always a lot to say on the Almodovar pictures.

day seven
don't ask me what I think of this one because I don't really know... I was struggling to wake up and it was snail paced. Charming in spots --particularly in its movie-obsession sequences. We got very sad news at the screening: The director is very ill and the producer said he may only have a couple more years to live.

I thought I would like this one until about a third of the way through when I abruptly lost interest. This Greek film (mostly in English though -argh!) is based on the mail-order bride phenomenon in the early part of the last century. Despite the intriguing premise, the movie quickly devolved into something more suited to a TV soap opera. In fact, the subject matter is strong enough that a TV miniseries would probably be the way to go. No chemistry between the leads and TV level performances as well. And since the filmmaker decided that he was most interested in their romance, the lack of spark and movie-star love charisma capsizes the whole affair...

The type of film that isn't that exciting to watch but sometimes ends up nominated for a foreign language Oscar because it's reasonably well put together and it's got that whole National Geographic curio-exotic thing going for it in its portrayal of a lost time and way of life.
Q&A note: The director was very nice and the film is good enough that I hope he gets other chances behind the camera (it's pretty ambitious logistically for a first feature so kudos to him for pulling it off.)

This hasn't been released in Mexico yet but for those of you in Spanish language markets where this starts its international platform release next month: You're in for a total unique treat. Very funny. Non-derivative. Gets better as it goes (so give it time --it's the audience not the movie that has to adjust to the room). Etc... Blessedly its own little oddball thing. Can't wait to see it again.

Days Four, Five, Six

* sorry for not posting. Computer problems.

As the festival wears on my mood changes. Instead of ‘oh, god how will my eyes bear it?’... I’m like ‘more please!’ Although the eye strain is still a factor. Next time (if there be a next) I will be sure to pack eyedrops and one of those girlie facepak things to cool my eyes at night. Or a lot of cucumbers. I'd also be more careful scheduling to maximize both film viewing (by cutting down on travel) and those annoying evils: sleep and eating.

I’m so old.

day four
SUMMER STORM (Marco Kreuzpaintner)
This is basically a gay twist on the age-old genre of the teen coming-of-age summer camp film. As two boyhood friends go to a rowing competition, one of them begins to accept that his feelings for the other are both more than friendly and unrequited. The film gets bogged down in the actual rowing championship, about which we care little given the romantic entanglement drama/comedy going on amongst the entire cast. It’s title meteorological event is also over-the-top but given that this is in the teen romantic dramedy first loves genre, you can forgive it it’s emotional hysteria in the form of meteorological freak happenings. All in all it’s quite entertaining and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t get picked up for distribution since it’s sure to be successful in a limited arthouse run in the States.

Next time I attend the festival, I don’t think I’ll schedule two shorts programs. Not that these weren’t good. They were mostly. It’s just that they prevented feature viewing. However, if I ever build up the eyestrain stamina to do the five to six a day film thing that many cineastes seem capable of... I’ll keep on seeing them. I like the idea of seeing filmmakers work before they’re at feature level. Maybe it’s a fantasy that someday I can say: I saw their short debut at TIFF! I don’t know. The best in this program was Milo 55160 by David Ostry who told us in the Q & A that he’s working on expanding it into a feature. It’s quite a strong short, about a man who works in the afterlife. The production values were really well done (particularly set and costume design) and on a script level it’s just smart, funny, interesting, and even a little moving. Not sure how it would expand to feature length since it felt complete as a 20 minute film. Another reasonably fine one was Greg Atkins Build about a two male hustlers living with one drunk mother. It has a finely fleshed out mournful quality about lives growing smaller ( or at least not growing ) despite the expansion of the environment around them. It’s set in the contemporary Toronto which is--and forgive me for not knowing this already -- growing larger and more populace year by year. The one director who seems most likely to succeed however is Anthony Green whose short film Pigeon wasn’t the best in the program. But let me explain... When your student film (!)features an Oscar nominee (Michael Lerner) and production level of a studio production (a Nazi occupied France in the 40s within a student film !?!?!) well, it's safe to say that he's well connected and connections are everything.

NICELAND (Fridrik Thor Fridrickson)
I’m too tired to write much about this other than to say that it was highly charming and fable like (without being too precious or annoying) movie about a young couple in love who need to find out the purpose in life before it’s too late. Very strange but uniquely compelling with terrific set design work. I was a little disappointed that it was entirely in English however because I schedule foreign films because i like them. Although, oddly, this one has subtitles. Perhaps they were worried about the accents. The film stars Gary Lewis and Martin Compston (who you may remember made a major debut in Sweet Sixteenlast year).

day five
Araki that enfant terrible of gay cinema seems to have mellowed since the Living End and Doom Generation days. This is still not a film you can take your mother to, exactly but... despite the raunchy material (this time it’s child molestations and hustling) he seems to have developed a sense of optimism somewhere along his queer way. Where once his films were proudly nihilistic, they’re now implying that healing may take place. Hopefully he will one day meld these two and make a great film, one that’s not too cool for emotion with its punk nihilism, but doesn’t abandon it’s rebel aesthetic to do so.

P.S. (Dylan Kidd)
”Hard to categorize” usually means “very good” in my vocabulary. But this film, which is some sort of midlife crisis/coming of age/romantic comedy/divorce drama/character study didn't do it for me. I was a big fan of Roger Dodger which is why I was so looking forward to this. But for this viewer p.s. felt unfocused and strangely withholding --the reveal probably should have come a bit earlier given how odd everyone is acting. Nice performances though. It lacks the high speed bite of Kidd's previous film but the wit is still in ample evidence and the actors clearly enjoy munching on their gourmet dialogue. Topher Grace proves again (that’s twice in 2004) that America’s next romantic comedy sweetheart ought to be a man. People keep asking where the next Julia, Sandra, and Meg. That person has already arrived --the media just hasn’t noticed because he came with testicles and penis.

5 X 2 (Francois Ozon)
I nearly always dig Ozon’s structural playfulness/rigidity. In his latest feature he’s playing with time and though it’s not as rigid in setting or structure (like, say, 8 Women or Water Drops...) The confines this time are not limited to one set or a procession of musical numbers one per character. They're only as limited as five lengthy moments in time within a romantic relationship. I found the lead performance by Valerie Bruno Tedeschi to be super. In the end 5 x 2 is finely contemplative but ultimately I'm not sure it's a lot more that.

MAR ADENTRO / THE SEA INSIDE (Alejandro Amenabar)
This one is sure to be an international crowd pleaser. First and foremost it features a highly enjoyable star turn from Javier Bardem that will be mistaken as a world great performance. This is not to say that his performance isn’t notable. Bardem is tremendous as per usual. I’m merely pointing out that the the role itself of a famous paraplegic in Spain with a death wish is a showy wonder. And it requires logistically that whoever is in the bed is the sun to the film’s galaxy. Everything is about watching the lead actor shine. The film also stars a quartet of fine Spanish actresses in Bardem’s orbit --or his ‘harem’ as one of them remarks--and all of them are terrific...but it’s still Bardem’s picture all the way. And he makes the most of a plum opportunity.

Perhaps what’s most surprising about this feature is that despite the glum overall thrust of the picture, it has a sly and occassionally laugh-out-loud sense of humor. The seriously charming beating heart of Mar Adentro will win it a lot of fans, but your reaction to it may depend on your feelings about assisted suicide. It’s not one of those pictures that is terribly balanced in its treatment of a controversial subject matter. Like its fellow Oscar buzz hopeful, Kinsey, its mind is already made up from the get go. Thankfully the journey is pleasing to the eye and heart since it doesn’t particularly challenge the mind and the outcome is never in doubt. Elegantly filmed, acted, and edited, it’s a prestige picture that will garner many awards (it’s the only film I’ve attended at the festival that received what seemed to be a practically unanimous standing ovation)

day six (more later)
BAD EDUCATION (Pedro Almodovar)
NINE SONGS (Michael Winterbottom)
which part? The new part is awesome: A-
HOTEL (Jessica Hausner)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Tell Me Who I Am

I'm not sure about this whole festival experience. My head is all cluttered with film after film. (I should have done more training of triple features each sat/sun in August ;) and the opinions about the things I'm seeing keep wildly vacillating. And within the same film. Daggers moving down (though I love the first act so much), Ma Mere moving down --way down ...but for what it is it's not so bad, just really unpleasant, Clean staying about the same but not fading (which is maybe a good sign) Walk on Water -???? Kinsey --getting clearer. I reduced it to a B. I think the first third is an easy A, but as I remarked it gets more conventional as it goes along so it keeps downgrading itself. A-, B+, B, B- ... so I'm settling on a B for now. (That said the final scene is really lovely/downplayed)

The only things I'm sure about are the loves/hates. Everything in the middle is a jumble. Best so far: BROTHERS and by quite a margin. Worst so far: CREEP and by quite a margin. I will get the hang of this festival thing yet. If I do this again next year, I'll plan better schedule/theater wise... and pack better so I'm not always thirsty, hungry, whatever.

I have this morning off so I'm going to sit in a jacuzzi and get a massage and clear my head. Sorry to use you as a therapist. Moving right along...

Day Three

KINSEY (see previous post)

Though it’s not as much of a homerun as Pawloski’s first feature, the small but glorious gem, Last Resort this film is still an intriguing character study of a brother (Paddy Considine --who is great in the film) who has been ‘born again’ and his frustrated younger sister (Emily Blunt) who feels maddeningly alone in the world until she falls in love with a vacationing rich girl. Pleasingly naturalistic with some great scenes. But still in the end something about it is a little slight. Based on a novel but only very loosely.

I chose this because I thought it would be a nice break from the heavier fare (from my experience shorts tend to be one joke films or at the least lighter in spirit.) And it was but scheduling two of them for one week was probably a mistake so I’ll skip the second on Tuesday. Highlights of this collection were in ascending order: Guy Maddin’s Sissy Boy Slap Party which is silly and wonderfully edited. The editor in fact is the one we should all bow down to. It’s no masterpiece of a short like Heart of the World but it’s still pretty damn fun. Another intriguing short was titled something like "The Sadness of Joe Jangles" --the title is longer than that but the name escapes me at this writing. A very odd but impressively singular gay/western/surreal/musical/fantasia about a man who gives birth to a donkey and his partner's fury that it's not a horse. It's even weirder than it sounds. And best and funniest was Disaster, a short about a Frenchman born to American parents. Very clever and will be especially embraced by Canadians and French. It's got enough sight gags and clever spins to keep it’s running time jumping (it was the longest short in the bunch). For Francophiles it’s just too delightful.

Best of the fest so far. Susanne Bier’s brutal but compassionate drama concerns a the family of a military man (Ulrich Thomsen) whose emotional bonds are tested and all but ripped to shreds by his service in the war in Afghanistan. The film is beautifully performed (even the child actors don’t strike one false note), emotionally potent, and politically savvy enough to make the realities of war into personal tangible drama. Brothers is also gorgeously shot on DV though it often looks as rich as celluloid. Between this and demonlover I am now a firm believer in Connie Nielsen. I never thought I would say that. (Interestingly enough this is Nielsen’s first Danish feature.) I was already a believer in Ulrich Thomsen (Celebration) and Nikolaj Lie Haas (sp?) (The Idiots) who play the titular brothers.

On an Oscar side note, I must say that having now seen the picture... I am as shocked as many Danish readers of the film experience who wrote to tell me they were upset that it was not chosen to represent Denmark in this year’s Oscar race. It is artful and intelligent enough to please critics and accessible enough to have people crying in the theater ~that’s a magic Oscar combo if i’ve ever seen one. And for Michelle Pfeiffer pfans out there, pray that the early rumors are correct that Bier will be guiding Pfeiffer through her next drama Chasing Montana. Bier’s tremendous skill with actors is readily apparent in her filmography. If Bier’s talents transfer into English language intact (and without studio interference) expect that film to be a major Oscar contender whenever it’s released.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Kinsey Scale

Well, just saw KINSEY. A worthy Condon follow-up to Gods and Monsters. I would like to advise you on Oscar expectations except seeing the film doesn't clarify that as much as public reaction will. The biggest surprise I suppose is that it's hugely entertaining for a biopic. Very funny, dramatic, interesting. And somewhat inventive in its telling even though it does follow the classic biopic structure. i.e. bits of youth followed by bits of establishing romance w/ spouse followed by adult life with the major triump/setback/triumph arc that is common to these things. A lot will depend on the other films I suppose. As a film its a success. As an Oscar thing... not a slam dunk but it could happen.

It gets a lot of oomph from its unusual and rather epic (if you stop to think of it) subject. The acting is terrific all around but I'm not sure anyone within has a nomination locked up. Neeson is superb but there's heavy competition in his category. Linney seems to lack that one big scene that you know will be played as its awards show clip. That mythical scene usually lets you know if that person is surefire for a nod. This is not to negate her contribution to the film --she's wonderful as usual so it could happen. Lynn Redgrave is super also as you may have heard but despite Oscar 'Judi Dench cameo' buzz I'd be completely shocked if that talk continues. She's onscreen all of 3 minutes. Peter Sarsgaard is also good (no surprise there given his filmography) but I'd be surprised to see him anywhere near the supporting actor shortlist unless the film goes over really well with the public. We shall see.

Good show.

Days One and Two

These grades are EXTREMELY subject to change. I'm being totally sincere here when I say that watching lots of movies in a row can totally distort your usual abilities to read your own reactions... and in the festival setting I want everything to be really good considering the time and money spent.

CLEAN (Olivier Assayas)
Very low key effort from Assayas here which won Maggie Cheung (as Emily the wife of a former rock star) the best actress prize at Cannes. Early in the film the doomed rock-star husband whose fate sets the plot in motion remarks with abundant self-pity that his latest recording is "lazy, shoddy--I've done better than this." It's too harsh an assessment of Assayas' work on this film but the last part certainly applies. Maggie Cheung is blessedly not trying to win an Oscar and is fairly restrained but the film as a whole could've used a little more gas. One of the problems seems to be the screenplay which spends a lot of time with expository dialogue...that’s not entirely unusual for Assayas. He did the same thing with demonlover to an extent but the difference there was that the subject and plot was so labyrinthine that you needed it. This time we get lots of uneccessary info about a relatively simple story and characters. Things you can tell just by looking at them. What energy the film gets comes from its peripheral characters.The film perks up intermittently for its fine supporting cast. Beatrice Dalle is always watchable and is unusually warm here as an old friend of Emily's. Two other actresses unfamiliar to me also make notable appearances as fighting lovers. And there's all those great shots of international power-women charging through bustling offices talking or arguing with one another in corporate settings with glass walls everywhere. Maybe I'm making this up but that seems to something I've seen in demonlover and irma vep and the way Assayas and his DP shoot these scenes is gorgeous to me. I can't say why but i adore it.

CREEP (Christopher Smith)
Please note: I am not a fan of horror films so take this with a huge grain of salt if you are...

I went with a Franka Potente horror vehicle because I thought "why not?" The answer to that question is: totally derivative, gross more than scary --I mean I jumped several times but loud music cues will do that to me in any 'thriller', and so predictable I just couldn't bear it. Technically speaking it's no disaster of course. Good makeup effects, good sound work, creepy title sequence, etc... but I just found it boring and grisly for grisly's sake. Really really grisly. And so much for going the horror route with Franka. She was also phoning it in. If I see one more scary movie in which the hero or heroine has several opportunities to kill the killer halfway through the movie and instead drops their weapon and runs I am going to pick it back up and bludgeon the screenwriter with it. (kidding but you get my point) I mean, yes, people do crazy things when they're scared but let's say you have the guts/adrenaline/rage to take one shot at someone with the weapon they may have intended to kill you with. If you were brave/energized/mad enough to stop shaking in your booties at that moment and clobber them, wouldn't you also make sure you finished the job? Seeing as how you're already holding the weapon and you know that either you or it will be meeting a grisly end one way or the other.

MA MERE (Christophe Honore)
In the International Goddess sweepstakes of Saturday the 11th, the winner is the always riveting Isabelle Huppert. Is there another actress alive better able to capture perversity and depravation? I think not (though perhaps some will feel that that's a dubious compliment). As the titular character here, she's randy, drunk, and nihilistic... and wants to make sure her son is as well. This film is not for everyone of course ~neither was Huppert's last 'degrade me/make me bleed' film, The Piano Teacher. Enriched somewhat by a pitch black gallows humor (the ending is perfection as these things go) but still pretty tough to sit through. If I knew more about the author whose work this is based on I might have liked it more.

Maybe it’s not quite as visually ravishing as Hero but that’s kind of like bitching that not every DaVinci portrait is as mysterious as the Mona Lisa. Daggers is quite pretty enough thank you very much. It’s production is so polished and beautiful and large that it really makes you wonder how Hollywood spends $100 million on their films and they don’t look half as expensive as this. From the beginning it’s quite clear that they are very different films...even if both deal with rebel assassin alliances and their empircal enemies. Daggers in its first (indoor) act feels as joyous as a technicolor musical filling up a massive soundstage. It even has one complete music number and its first action sequence (The Echo Game) could qualify as a second despite the swordplay. I’m not going to give anything away because the development of the narrative is fun and far more accessible (if less 'where is this going next?' fascinating than Hero). But you can’t keep these martial arts rivals inside for long. The rest of the film is outdoors and you may well swoon from the beauty here too. Another marked difference betwen this and Hero is that it offers a healthy does of good humor but for me it still falls just short of Hero’s accomplishment. Close call in some ways though. Politically at least this one is far more innocuous. And its lots and lots and lots of fun to watch. Even if it does go so melodramatically baroque in the last 20 minutes that you may be tempted to hand Zhang some ritalin.

The highlight of the first two days for me. It’s not that I consider it a great film (still to fresh in the memory and too muddled up with all these other films) but that I was just totally involved with the storytelling. For frequent readers you know that plot is usually the least of my concerns but this drama about a Mossad (sp?) agent and his involvement with two German siblings whose parents may or may not be hiding an old Nazi was very interesting to me. It’s not as tightly written or concise as Fox’s last film, Yossi & Jagger. But the film seems to be in love with all of its characters, a surprisingly compassionate approach when you’re dealing with generations of hatred and political unrest. Somehow, despite frequent talk of bombings and death and an honest treatment of the difficulties of letting go and moving on, the film manages to feel appropriately sad but also truly optimistic. The optimism doesn’t even feel all that forced despite the *two years later* coda that’s a touch overemphatic about the happy ending... even if you’re glad for it all the same.

YES (Sally Potter)
Iambic Pentameter! It’s hard to summarize what Yes is about since Potter’s screenplay is an essay on a lot of things within us and on global politics. I’d be lying if I said I completely understood what she was getting at. It’s alternately annoying and really fascinating. And for once that ancient device of speaking directly to the camera seems to work wonders. Goes on too long though and Potter's messaging gets a bit messy indulgent and hard to follow. At least for me but maybe it's that after watching all of these movies already and knowing there are so many more to come... I need something easier ;)

Sunday, September 12, 2004

white rabbit

It's hard to stay on schedule at this festival. I'm always racing around. Had much fun last night chatting away with another festivalgoer... but alas-- I wake up and must be off to another film.

i don't mean to be a tease...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Exhausted Already

Day One at the festival. So far I am 0 for 2 when all is said and done. :(

After very very little sleep I made it into town, got a little confused and walked a lot of blocks out of my way. There's serious spatial relations problems on the festival map (halfway up the map is about a 10 minute walk and than the same distance again is 20 minutes once you hit the top of the map (where the main ticket office is) and then back again to stop at a different ticket offices before heading to my first film (which I barely made it to in time) Clean.

From there it was on to a British horror flick Creep and because that was across town I had to leave the Q & A with Olivier Assayas and Maggie Cheung from the first film which I did want to see. By the end of the second film (again that problem of travel and lots o walking after 3 hours of sleep the night before) I felt like my limbs had given up so it was skipping my third film (said to be snail paced and I was already nodding off) for a short disco nap.

And now I ready myself for my final flick of the day after which I'll try to post comments on the actual films rather than on the boring parts of the day (i.e. walking and queueing)

Friday, September 10, 2004

Charlotte & Vendetta

Click on the title above if you want to see a great Flash series I'm currently obsessed with... (I even bought a T-Shirt) I'm more Charlotte than Vendetta in real life -never fear. So don't be afraid to introduce yourself if you happen to be at any screenings I'm at in Toronto. You can see my schedule on this page. My face in repose might look a bit scowly but I'll smile if you approach with caution and offer your hand first for olfactory testing. No sudden movements. Don't try to pet me right away.

To see what I look like you can hit my profile or go here (me with Julianne Moore. Not the first pic, that's Todd Haynes silly) and I was going to link up to another batch but they have gone and disappeared on me. Strange.

"making fiends making fiends...Vendetta's always making fiends . Making fiends while Charlotte makes friends"

Thursday, September 09, 2004

No, No (N)Annette

Some lucky bastards are watching Annette Bening doing her thing in Being Julia right now. The festival has begun and I am not there. But if I were there sitting in the darkened theater I would no doubt be reflecting on past Annette Bening glories and how all of my "this is a movie star!" synapses sort of spontaneously combusted in my head when I first laid eyes on her in Postcards from the Edgeand The Grifters.

My favorite Bening-bejewelled movie memories:
01 That joyfully naughty twinkle in her eye in The Grifters when she comes clean to her boyfriend and tells the story of the big con.
02 "Endolphins" Postcards from the Edge (hilarious)
03 "I feel like I should have a line or something" Bugsy
04 The cruel laughter in the bathtub in Valmont
05 American Beauty
bonus memory:
I know it doesn't really apply but I always "heard" Annette Bening's voice in Michelle Pfeiffer's line delivery of "Did somebody say fish?! I haven't been fed all day" in Batman Returns--which I sort of viewed spiritually/cosmically as LaPfeiffer's thank-you-for-getting-pregnant tribute to Annette since Catwoman was originally her role. Seriously, I did.

Much To Do Before Nothing

So maybe I have OCD. maybe. Why am I testing a third time before my trip? So, I've got one more to go after this --testing on my new IBook. God I love Macintosh. It's a sickness. You can see it in people's faces in the Apple store. Nothing else will do.

I still have a lot to do before my trip so I must be off.


for anyone familiar with Toronto I ask you to drop a comment explaining places I should see. (I have been to Toronto before but not in daylight.) I obviously won't have a lot of free time but I did leave one or two nights free and I have a hour or two here and there to fill. Suggestions for restaurants, suggestions for places to get drunk (if needed), nightlife, places to kill 30-45 minutes to an hour. Must be in the downtown area near the festival though. You know how to comment...

The Seeds of Doubt

So, no sooner do I set this thing up that I read about the "unreliability" of blogger. Hmmmm.... Not what paranoid me needed to read when I'm in "testing" mode and I'm already panicked about the 63 things that I need to do before leaving for Toronto.
But what are you going to do?

These posts will get longer once I hit Toronto. Plus they'll actually be about something (bonus!!!). Provided of course that this blog-a-ma-jig works and that the new iBook works as well and that the wireless internet works for me in Canada.

To quote the King: "Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Testing 7...25...316

Just want to see if this is working. But I have too little patience for the set-up process. I like to skip right to the end. Is this why I like my films under 100 minutes?