Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lists as Queue

I love "greatest movie" lists. Here's another one. The best thing about such movie lists is that it plans your rental queue for you if you're stumped as to what you should see next. On the other hand, there are so many... where to begin?

Some Other Lists To Choose From Sight & Sound Polls / The Cinemarati Canon / 100 Greatest Films -Tim Dirks / "The AFI 400" -on Jeeem's Cinepad /

Post links to other lists in the comments please. I'm in a listing mood.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Which 20something Actress Are You?

I actually made this one. I kept taking the quizzes so why not create...

You scored as Anna Paquin. You were precocious as a child but you managed to steer clear of the attention-whore tendencies of those with early success and fawning. Good for you: You're happy in the ensemble.

Which 20-something Actress Are You?
created with

Friday, July 29, 2005

My Weekly Panic

This is how silly I am: At some point every weekend I actually feel panicked about going to the movies. Sometimes it hits me full-tilt-boogie on Friday night. But it's usually a Saturday morning thing as I look over listings.

The panic follows this pattern.
1. the choice of which film ('which' is a minor drama / 'where' a momentary puzzle unless i'm planning on seeing multiple films in which case it becomes a minor drama)
2. guilt over not choosing movie b
3. sudden desire to return to step 1 due to the stack of Netflix titles above the TV

Silly me.

Friday CatBlogging: Depressives Unite

In keeping with the postings yesterday I think my cat is also feeling the doldrums. At least he has a good excuse: How crazy sad would you get if your entire life consisted of sleeping with occasional breaks for wandering around your home and eating?

That said he does have easy amusements like flies, crumpled up pieces of paper, pen lights, and frequent petting.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Two Posts I Like

I tried to get at my frustration with 50% of the electorate in my post about Happy Endings today. Lately with the rising tide of homophobia, hate, religious extremism I've been really angry. It aint just the Nation of Islam's right here in your own backyards --at least in a tadpole-like version, soon to be a frog. I've been angry about the future (or lack thereof). I've been thinking of scary films. I don't want to be so angry. Sometimes I worry that the modern fundamentalist extremism we see all around us is making those who are afraid of it (including myself) into alternative fundamentalists. I hate thinking in blacks and whites. It's not healthy. The world is more complicated than that.

So this post on Badtux I liked. It reminds me that there is hope for some conservatives out there. Also this old post on Joe.My.God gets at what I'm talking about, too. It's not healthy to see so much hate that your own capacity to do so just keeps on growing in response...

I promise tomorrow that my posts will be more cheerful.

Poland Predix

Interesting read as always from David Poland. But I think he's overestimating: The Producers (too funny-haha and not enough substance for the faux-gravitas of true Oscar candidates) and Vengeance the Spielberg entry. Not that it might not be the frontrunner. But it also might have significant problems... We shall see.

Happy Endings Hangover

The best scene in Happy Endings, the new Don Roos movie, has stuck with me for days now. It plays on loop in my head. So as to not throw spoilers around I'll be vague. In this scene a pregnant woman meets with a counsellor regarding a scheduled abortion. She is certain she's getting one. To both parties it begins as a formality. But the counsellor happens to be dealing with her own issues and has an uncharacteristic response to the younger woman's nonchalance. A semi-heated discussion over the upcoming abortion occurs in which both players seem shaken, annoyed, challenged, and emotionally fatigued afterwards. It's a teensy bit schematic as lynchpin scenes go but it's very well written and exquisitely performed by both actors.

You would never see this level of soul searching, uncertainty, and pain regarding ones own beliefs in a film made by those leaning to the right of the political spectrum. The nuances of thought just aren't there. It's this absolutism, this blind adherence to belief systems, that makes the conservative-minded impossible for me to trust.

But the alternative, relativism, is a double edge sword for smarter people. When you're capable of seeing things from numerous perspectives, or when you're prone to questioning your own motives and beliefs... it can cause you a lot of pain. You may end up a better and stronger person for having gone through the fire. You can make truly difficult choices without checking in with an authority figure. Unfortunately you can also end up an ineffective self-doubting wreck.

So, to me, this scene is all about how Democrats deal with their own politics and an excellent snapshot of why they're often ineffective when confronted with the unifying zeal of lock-stepping Republicans. If diversity of thought and freedom for all law-abiding citizens is your ideal... you will face many more challenges in defining and promoting your agenda than those who do not value diversity and true freedom. You're a better person but you'll have more pain in your life ;) That's just the way it is.

I love this scene.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sloppy Madonna Dissing

The article linked above which discusses Madonna's forthcoming album "Confessions on a Dance Floor" contains the following sentence:

The set will be the follow-up to 2003's critically maligned album "American Life," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, but posted the lowest sales of any Madonna album to-date

I HATE sloppy reporting. Poor sales do not equal 'critically maligned'. I personally think it's a fine record. Not that my opinion matters in such an argument. Critically divisive? That I would grant you. But 3 stars from Rolling Stone, B+ from EOnline, MetaCritic says it received "average/mixed" reviews. I've read this "critically panned" thing in more than one place now. I'm burning up. Just because something doesn't sell doesn't mean that the critics panned it. Ugh.

While it's true that the singleAmerican Life was greeted by a lot of negativity at the time of its release most of the criticisms were complete and utter misreadings of what Maddy Mo was up to on the CD. Reviews like this one (which claims its an unlistenable CD and rates it a zero (!) ) are perfect examples of how misread Madonna often is. The title song is not, if you listen closely, a celebration of Madonna's egocentricity but a discussion about celebrity and, by titular and thematic extension, American egocentrism. As is typical of Madonna she uses herself as the battering ram/joke to get the point across. Many people don't get her jokes and think her long faux-rap litany about her riches is actually a serious congratulatory reflection of what she considers to be important.

The jokes on her critics (as always). It's not a perfect song and her messages may be a little cloudy given that she does spend a lot of time vaguely soul searching in the song. But it should be clear from the way she spits out "do you think i'm satisfied?" after listing her many temporal rewards, that she's not championing her own blond ambition. She's getting at a lack of meaning or a spiritual emptiness that can greet you in a culture of greed and always wanting more, more, more.

Madonna has had to live down Material Girl her entire career. I hope her new record meets a warmer reception.

Julianne Moore - Time Traveller

To date we've seen the great Julianne Moore receive two Oscar nominations for playing 50s housewives. In Far From Heaven(for which she should have won her second or third Oscar followingSafe and Boogie Nights) she played Cathy Whitaker, trapped in social mores of the time into an unhappy marriage. It was a rather astounding recreation of Sirkian melodrama and up to the minute political resonance . In The Hours she essayed a certain bookwormish Laura Brown trapped in social mores of her time within a loveless marriage.

Next up is The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio in which she portrayed another 50s housewife in an unhappy marriage. Actually the trailerto this film leads us to believe that the third time may be the charm. What I mean is.... maybe there's a connection between marital portrayal and Oscar love. We all know that the Oscar loves longsuffering but eternally devoted spouses as evidenced by many Oscar wins and nominations. So, maybe if her onscreen marriage actually survives the film's duration than Oscar may read it as a happy ending and bestow her the Oscar as well? We shall see. Early press on this movie portrayed it as more of a comedy than the trailer suggests. But my hopes are now higher. I'm guarded still, though, considering I had trouble with the preciousness of Normal, the last effort from Prize Winner's writer/director Jane Anderson.

Next up Julianne will be leaving the 50s (Hooray). The eternally busy actress has five more films lined up. In two of them (Next, The Children of Menshe plays maternal figures in the future. Watch out Oscar, she's doubling again! two more are potentially searing dramas (Freedomland, Savage Grace) and she will make her third appearance in a Todd Haynes film as well for good measure.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Nathaniel Recommends

Today, in honor of 'six things' one of my new blog obsessions (heaven for those who live for random lists), I would like to recommend six things.

01 Me, You, and Everyone We Know.
macaroni [click]
02 Live Theater.
Recently I've attended quality memorable shows at Dixon Place and Ars Nova both of which sated my theater urge without Broadway-style wallet robbery. So take a chance on something small and cheap. If you're not in NYC, skip that touring company and support your local theater. They're out there. Even if you've never heard of them.
03 Posting Comments
Bloggers deserve feedback from their readers.
04 Turner Classic Movies
In just the past three days I've managed to catch two gems, commercial free: 1938's Jezebelwith an Oscar winning Bette Davis and The Magnificent Ambersons by the great Orson Welles.
05 Twenty-Four Hour Air Conditioning
Screw the electricity bill. Sweating is disgusting. Plus if you have pets, it's the humane thing to do.
06 Regular Flossing
Well, at least my dentist recommends that. I failed to take the recommendation seriously. Pain is my reward

Monday, July 25, 2005

Fantastic 1.5

Though there be many ways to short-hand rank a film's worthiness (10 point scale, $ticket price, thumbs, apples, whatever) the 'classic' is the four star system. Me and Math? We're not close. But I can perform simple calculations. So, since four is the magic number for the latest comic book adaptation how do we rate Fantastic Four?

+2 movies start out even-steven then prove or disprove worth
+2 points for daring to adapt tricky but fun source material
-1 exhibits almost no tonal control over material (is "bland" a tone?)
+1 potential to be a visually exciting summer blockbuster
-1 exhibits little visual excitement -where's the "gee whiz" effects?
-1 wait -isn't that the whole raison d'etre of comic book films?
=2 stars so far...but wait so much more to talk about.

+2 points for casting Chiklis & Evans
-1 The Thing's makeup. Should look like rocks. Not foam rocks.
+1 Gruffud is perfect for the Mr. Fantastic role.
-1 ...but he's not having any fun with it. Shame
-2 Invisible Girl: Spectacularly miscast.
-1 Plus an embarrasing Alba-esque performance.
-1 Oh, wait. That is Jessica Alba.
-1 Why does she always stand with face vacant/arms crossed?
+1 ohhhh...that's to emphasize the cleavage. Got it! Cleavage is good.
+1 The forcefield special effect is pretty good.
+1 so is the Human Torch effect. Even moreso
+3 Chris Evans in a towel
-1 Sloppy filmmaking. His underwear shows under it--Who wears both?
=3 stars

+1 Dr. Doom's look is perfect. cloak. mask. I got a geeky thrill.
-1 But the character is boring.
-1 In fact most of the characters and the action are boring.
-1 I wish Peyton Reed hadn't been fired. He would know how to direct this.
=1 star.

I'll give it a half point for not being downright awful as I was expecting. Aren't I sweet?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

2005 < 2004

Exactly what is going in with 2005's movies? By this time last year I had seen 50% of my Top 10 list (#1, #2, #5, #6, and #8 specifically). This year I've only seen three films I'd be comfortable putting on such a list: Me, You, and Everyone We Know, Brothers(from Denmark), and Duck Season(from Mexico) ~the last of which still doesn't have a release date so I might have only seen two. When do the A films start arriving? I grow impatient.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Q: What do Warren Beatty, Ewan MacGregor, William Hurt, Buster Keaton, Gael Garcia Bernal, Dustin Hoffman, and Jeff Bridges all have in common?

A: Me.

Read. Discuss. Tell me who I forgot. And also check out the ladies if you're a new reader and missed this post.

Happy Endings Haiku

Messy and thoughtful
Kudrow is great as if it's
Opposite redux

Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday CatBlogging: CATWOMAN

In the world of super-heroes, women often get the short end of the stick. For every Wonder Woman there are at least a dozen heroic muscle men. So, when a female character achieves major longevity, one has to bow down. While your *ahem* prone please lick the boots of Batman's vampy 'double' Selina Kyle. She demands it. Where Batman is a hero with a heart encased in darkness, his female counterpart and sparring partner in both love and war is a villain with a heart of gold. There aren't that many of them. I don't know enough about comic history to say for sure... but perhaps she was revolutionary at the time (?) A villain that just wasn't evil.

My earliest memory of Catwoman comes, not from comics, but from watching the ultra campy Batman on television in the 70s. To be honest I was as a little boy far more hooked on Batgirl. I suspect, though, that this preference was due to sheer childhood laziness or attention deficit disorder. You see, if I was not in a TV mood I would turn Batman off if the cutout Batgirl figure had not swung across the screen during the opening animated credits; that was our clue that she would be appearing in the flesh in that episode. No Batgirl in the opening credits meant no Batgirl in the next half hour. It also meant that Natty often ran outside to play. Consequently I'm sure that I missed some choice Catwoman moments.

Yet, despite my erratic viewing of Batman's three seasons I cherished any episode which did feature Catwoman, the slinkiest & kinkiest of Bruce Wayne's rogues gallery. I know that Eartha Kitt's growl justly had legions of fans but for wee little me?--I was all about Julie Newmar's purr.

Catwoman slipped from my consciousness until 1989 when Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton duked it out in Tim Burton's blockbuster revival of Batman. I loved the movie which was visually everywhere that summer... but for its entire running time I wondered when I'd get to see a modern take on my favorite female super-villain. To say that I was excited three years later when my favorite female movie star squeezed into black vinyl and learned how to crack. that. whip is an understatement. I was closer to orgasmic.

To twist a classic Pfeiffer-line from Batman Returns for my own wrap-up purposes here: 'I don't know about you kitten but (when I think of Catwoman) I feel so much yummier' .

purrrfectly pleasurable Catwoman-related links:
Catwoman Changes Her Spots ~a history of divine-feline wear.
Julie Newmar ~for your viewing pleasure. It is pleasurable.
Batman Goes Hollywood~from Comics 101's great 'histories of' series
Hell Here ~ a fansite.
Bio from the "Women of Gotham" site
Morticia's Morgue ~Batgirl & Catwoman, two of my earliest loves.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

the one about the lightbulb

you know all those jokes about "how many ___________ does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" There are endless variations of that joke. Something really simple is twisted for humor to be complicated in numerous and complex ways. I feel like my life is exactly like that lately. Nothing that is simple stays that way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Heath & Jake -Posterized

Thanks to the great blog Towleroad [here is me bowing down] for placing this online yesterday... you can see a bigger version over there. Ang Lee is a talented filmmaker but, damn, this will have to be unarguably masterful to live up to both the hype/promise/fantasy of what it could be for gay and gay friendly viewers and what it needs to be in order to win over the non-gay friendly audiences to find Oscar or financial glory.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Music Shuffle

Thought I'd try this iTunes / iPod meme. List the 25 songs your iTunes or iPod plays on shuffle no matter how incriminating. Here we go:

01 Express Yourself Madonna
so far so good. A bit overplayed but still unarguably classic Mo. Ahhhh I remember the days of dancing to this @ the Nectarine Ballroom in Ann Arbor with Maddy Mo parading around in the altogether with sweaty muscle men on the giant video screen.
02 Love Me or Leave Me Billie Holliday
03 Simple Jane Krakowski from "Nine"
This is horribly opportunistic of me but I've never been to London and I figure fare$ must be really low right now? Should I fly over and see Guys and Dolls with Ewan and Jane and report back? It's oh so tempting.
04 The Gal From Joe's Nina Simone
05 Peter Pan (Live) Patty Griffin

06 It's Not Up To You Björk
07 Remind Me Peggy Lee
08 Multitudes of Amys Stephen Sondheim from Sondheim Sings Vol 1
So, Stephen is not the greatest singer but this CD (which one lovely reader bought for me from my birthday wish list ~thank you thank you) is very cool for Sondheim fanatics.
09 Too Fat Too FitCast of The Producers
This is a novelty number from a charity CD of Broadway casts doing original and traditional Christmas songs... but the fact that this showed up at all on random play illustrates one of my frustrations with "shuffle" -Who wants Christmas songs in July? But I don't exactly want to have to upload my same Christmas music to my computer every December?
10 What You Didn't Say Mary Chapin Carpenter
so, so far... it looks like I only listen to showtunes and female singers. Um, I just might be gay.

11 3 MCs and 1 DJ The Beastie Boys
12 Osanna in Excelsis Mass in B Minor ? Chorus...
I'm not sure what this is but both the boyfriend and the best friend usurp my computer from time to time so I end up with classical stuff --another reason I hate shuffle--
13 Love Song for a Vampire Annie Lennox
14 Jennifer eURYTHMICs
Ooh, a little Annie set. I don't know if I've ever shared this throughout my time websiting & blogging but Eurythmics is pro'ly my favorite band. Jennifer is one of the greatest songs Annie & Dave ever birthed. Now normally repetitive songs wear me out but this one hypnotizes. underneath the water ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh underneath the water. I would absolutely scream with pleasure if this set off a shuffle music meme of creepy songs about women & water imagery. Maybe PJ Harvey's classic "Down by the Water" will be next? please. oh. please. I love "sets" on iTunes.
15 Truth Is... Tweaker (featuring Robert Smith)

16 There's No Business Like Show Business Harry Connick Jr.
17 Come With Me Sara Ramirez from "Spamalot!"
I really loved Monty Python and the Holy Grail when I was a teen... but I have had almost zero interest in seeing this on stage. I guess I'm sick to death of movies-to-stage transfers. There's so much great stuff that needs to go in the other direction.
18 To Have and Not to Hold Madonna
I think Ray of Light is her best CD. In my opinion the trinity isRay of Light, Like a Prayer and Music
19 My Darlin' Eileen cast of Wonderful Town
20 Acoustic Guitar Magnetic Fields
I know the hipster reign of 69 Love Songs is very 2000 --but it really is a must-have. It's aging well.

21 Billy Oddity Mojave 3
22 I Need a Man eURYTHMICs
23 Hometime Alison Moyet
Um... I'm sorta surprised to say that I've never really listened to this despite buying it some time ago. You know how that can happen when you buy someone out of habit rather than a "I must buy this CD" type of urge. But, this song is cool. Now I guess I should really listen to the CD.
24 Everything's Ruined Fountains of Wayne
25 Nadine Frank Black
there goes Nadine...
bonus track:
Everything You Can Think Tom Waits from Alice

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Adam & Steve

Saw Adam & Steve a new romantic comedy written, directed and starring Craig Chester at the Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. I am happy to report that it was delightful. I am happy to report this because I see a lot of gay-themed indies which are pretty much crap. I have also been pulling for Craig Chester ever since I saw him in Swoon many years back and since he has always been out-of-the-closet, an act of integrity that so few professional actors seem to have the personal strength to perform. I haven't read his book yet "Why the Long Face?" but I will pick it up soon.

His new comedy is light on its feet, unashamed of its silliness, and quite funny. Not all of it works but it's so sweet that you can forgive missteps. It actually pulls off the romantic part, too. This might qualify Adam & Steveas a minor indie miracle. The film also stars Parker Posey, Melinda Dillon, Sally Kirkland, Chris Kattan, Julie Haggerty, and Malcolm Gets. The production company Funny Boy Films mentioned in the intro that they are expecting it to be released in January of 2006. It's a shame you have to wait that long.

In the interest of full disclosure I should say that I have actually met Craig Chester once in real life and also Jackie Beat a few times (who has a hilarious cameo in what will surely be one of the film's two most-talked-about scenes) as both are friends with someone I once spoke with regularly. It's the one showbiz circle that I've ever had any real contact with. I also see various members of their circles at various theater events around town (Parker Posey & Alan Cumming being the celebs I've seen most in NYC) so I guess I feel kind of proprietary about all of them. Must be the convergence of my love for New Yorkers, theater, queer creative types, and Hollywood.

Just thought I'd name drop --gag-- and share.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Philly Fest

In Philly for the weekend. Hoping to catch some of the GLBT Film Festival going on here whilst visiting mis amigos. We'll see.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Thought I'd point you to the Cinematheque where there's a fun summer "top 5" list project going on. I meant to contribute but every time a list has come up I've thought of several films I haven't yet seen that I should see before voting. That Netflix queue just expands and expands. If you line up all the DVDs I shudder to think of how many miles of road they travel. It's a Sisyphian situation we cineastes find ourselves in. Especially those of us without buckets of free time.

Still if the movies go up even another quarter ($10.75 in Manhattan now -ouch) maybe I'll have to go cold turkey and just watch old movies on DVD for a year.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Breakaway

I've been watching the Tour De France every day --the boyfriend's obsession... and now, sorta mine against my will (see sidebar). And now I'm desperate to see The Triplets of Belleville again or maybe Breaking Away. Are they any other worthwhile cycling movies?

Quote of The Day

Click here to read my fav quote of the the comments portion of this blog, "Crooks and Liars"

That about sums it up given the Repugnant 'talking-point' responses to Karl Rove's crime. When will the other half of this country wake up? The clock is ticking...

For those of you who are wondering why I haven't posted any political stuff for awhile: It's because I'm so nauseated all the time by the current leaders I feel like vomiting 24/7. Trying not to think about it anymore. For those who wish I wouldn't post political things because you don't agree: Wake Up. These people are crooks and only getting more and more shameless about their crimes.

Emmy Nominations Announced

There are other sites that will have more to say about the individual races. But the only thing I really want to mention is IT'S ABOUT F**KING TIME: Scrubs one of the only truly laugh out loud funny comedies on Network television actually got nominations this time around. It's a miracle.

Also congratulations to the Academy for recognizing the strength of Showtime's Huff ---the first few episodes seemed a little rough in that slipshod 'what are we trying to do/say/be here?' way of, well, Showtime series in general. But it found its groove and it's a fine show.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Oscar MythBusting: The Contemporary Picture

Hang around any Oscar site or Oscar board and you'll hear that of the five best picture slots each year there's certain "slots" up for grab; a blockbuster slot. a comedy slot. .a contemporary or non-period film slot.... as if the Academy members have quotas to fulfill. How did this meme come into being and is it true? Let's travel back in time and look at "contemporary" nominees --meaning films about the here and now... or films about the very recent past.

In the past five years your contemporary nominees have been: Erin Brockovich, Traffic, In the Bedroom, Mystic River, Lost in Translation, Million Dollar Baby*, and Sidewaysor 28% of the best picture nominees. A little more than 1 film out of 5. But not much. So the meme appears to be true.

The contemporary nominees were: Ghost, The Prince of Tides, Silence of the Lambs*, The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, The Fugitive, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, American Beauty*, The Insider, and The Sixth Sense. That's 34% of the nominees... but there doesn't seem to be any pattern, truth be told. Some years had no modern films --1998 dominated by World War II and Queen Elizabeth comes to mind. Others were heavily weighted toward current stories, like 1996. Perhaps the reason that we think of a "slot" is that it's hard to categorize these films. What, really, do all of these films have in common? There are comedies, rebellious indies, blockbuster hits, upscale dramas, and true stories. It's all over the place.

The nominees: Ordinary People*, Atlantic City, On Golden Pond, E.T., Missing, Tootsie, The Verdict, The Big Chill, Tender Mercies, Terms of Endearment*, The Killing Fields, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Witness, Prizzi's Honor, Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadcast News, Fatal Attraction, Moonstruck, The Accidental Tourist, Rainman*, Working Girl, and Field of Dreams46% of everything nominated in the 80s, or at least 2 out of 5 of the nominees. The number keeps climbing.

Airport, Five Easy Pieces, Love Story, M*A*S*H, The French Connection, Deliverance, The Exorcist, A Touch of Class, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Nashville, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest*, All the Presidents Men, Network, Rocky*, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall*, The Goodbye Girl, The Turning Point, Coming Home, The Deer Hunter*, Heaven Can Wait, An Unmarried Woman, All That Jazz, Apocalypse Now, Breaking Away, Kramer Vs. Kramer* and Norma Rae form 62% of the nominees in the 70s --three out of five best pictures in any given year.

I don't have the strength to go back any further (must keep watching the Tour de France and then sleep!) I wonder if it cycles back to mostly period pieces again? I wonder if the ratios are reflective of the actual movie output? Are there just more period piece eye-candy movies now than there were in the 80s? The famed 'one spot of five' for contemporary pictures may be a fleeting trend. Fans of modern pictures that speak to where we are right now might rejoice.

Hump Day

What gets you through a tough week?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Six Down. Six More To Go

OK, so I'm a little backwards. I've just now written the Halfway Mark Oscar article that I shoulda written before I updated my Oscar Predix. Had I written when I shoulda written, the predix update might have been more substantial now that my head is clearer. Here you go Oscar lovers.

Pretty Lady

Happy Birthday to...

Sela Ward who turns 49 today
A few days ago, if you'll recall I raved about Sela's former television husband, that beauteous mid-level TV star Billy Campbell. He and Sela created one of my favorite couplings ever on television in Once & Again. As separate actors Sela and Billy are both fine talents. Together they were heaven . Or at least as close to celestial glory as television can get. As an actor Sela has just about everything you could ask for: charisma, beauty, a great voice, emotional expansiveness, and warmth. "Lily Manning" her character on Once & Again might have been unbearable with a lesser actor. 'Lily' was often maddeningly self-righteous or just plain old blind to what others were going through. But Sela's warmth and openness as an performer kept the character endearing and accessible. You still noticed the flaws but you could love them.

I will never know why Sela doesn't have a bigger career. Her filmography is filled with cameos and nothing roles. On television she's fared better. She has headlined two semi-successful series. She has two Emmys and a Golden Globe. But considering she's the prettiest 49-year-old on the planet, shouldn't there be another series built entirely around her. Like, right now.

Thank you. That is all.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


I got waylaid with sumthin' or other yesterday. Whammy. So sick. My head is spinning. Generally feel like doo-doo. I tried to watch TV (sickness being a natural excuse to watch lots of DVDs) but the Tour De France this morning made me even dizzier --so no TV. also can't sleep. It's boring. Just like this post.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

here ya go

It's the annual 1/2 Way Mark Predictions for all of you who are incessantly asking me: when r u updatin' ? when r u updatin' ? when r u updatin'? Now, let me nap. Thanks. Oh, and comment.

The next big race altering event? The Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Just watched this 1974 gem. At first I was like, what the hell is Scorsese doing? It seemed so all over the place and meandering but, when someone (Alice in this case) is searching for themselves that kind of happens, doesn't it? The audience has to find the film's rhythm. And not vice versa. No market testing obviously.

It's beautifully observational and authentic. The waterfight between mother and son for example. You see modern movies trying to capture this 'sweet familial love' dynamic all the time but it's always in some totally phony sequence like "let's lipsynch to oldies in our pajamas!" You know? Anyway great stuff. Gorgeous cuts, too. Love that 70s editing style --Whatever happened to Marcia Lucas anyway? She edited three crucial 70s pics and then... zip. Hollywood. I guess Marcia doesn't live there anymore.

Ubiquitous Michelle

I used to think I would love it if La Pfeiffer were everywhere I looked. This page makes me reconsider. That said ---Damn, I miss her.

Friday CatBlogging: Namesakes

I thought I'd made this clear before but readers regularly ask if my beloved cat is named after Montgomery Clift. The answer is "But of course!" Like all parents I call my child by his full name "MONTGOMERY!" if I'm trying to be stern (hard to do when your child is cute, fuzzy, and has a brain the size of a walnut) and by the shortened version "Monty" when he is behaving.

On some future Friday I will tell you Monty's origin story but let it suffice to say for now that he was immediately named after my favorite actor due to their similar brooding/troubled but charismatic persona. When I was a wee kid I used to fantasize about having three daughters and naming them Madonna, Cyndi, and Olivia. And later, when I planned on getting my first cat as an adult I thought I'd get a sleek and gorgeous female cat and name her "Pfeiffer." So any felines or children I am blessed to have are bound to end up with a pop cultural or movie connections to their monikers.

If you've never seen Montgomery Clift act, please rent some of his work THIS week and enjoy. There's lots to choose from. I suggest Red River (48), A Place in the Sun,(51) and The Misfits (61) for a crash course through his career trajectory; Hot Young Star Breakthrough, Established & Respected Actor, and Troubled/Legendary Early Demise respectively.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Translucent Skin. Perfect Bone Structure

Many readers have asked me what I do for a living. No, my enthusiasm for movie culture does not pay the bills. I work in Human Resources. I am currently looking for a new job to replace my current one. Last week I had an interview. I was extremely depressed that morning (due to events beyond my control) so as preparation for the interview I was searching wildly for something to cheer myself up with. Nothing is worse than an interviewee who is down-in-the-dumps. Coming quickly to my rescue: Memories of my friend Anna.

Anna is a former coworker and well-loved friend who makes me laugh so hard that my entire face hurts. She has made a whole performance art artform out of imitating me whilst raving like a lunatic about Julianne Moore's "translucent skin" and Pfeiffer's "bone structure." 'Translucent Skin' and Pfeifferian Cheek and Brow got me through that interview, I'll tell you that. Thinking of Anna's antics always make me smile (as do Julianne's epidermal glory and Michelle's genetic superiority, don'cha know). I didn't get the job but I didn't bomb the interview either.

This post is dedicated to my friend Anna (who doesn't know this blog exists) and to my other loved ones who continually exhibit faith in me and cheer me on: Ree, Jonny, CPK, Nick, KM, and more. I love you guys...

Billy, Duvall, & The King

Happy Birthday to...

Shelley Duvall 56 today
Crazy looking fine actress. If Shelley weren't so perfect at exhibiting sanity-lost fear in The Shining nobody would remember the character or mock her for her nutso screaming. But the truly indispensable Duvall performance is in Robert Altman's Three Women. If you haven't seen it, rectify that situation immediately. She's Oscar worthy in ways that the unimaginative Academy would never be able to pick up on, since they often base their decisions on the character being played (annoying in this case) rather than what the actor is actually doing with the role (exhibiting genius in this case).

Yul Brynner
He died 20 years ago but he will always thrill movie audiences as the King of Siam in The King and I. "Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera." I have sadly never seen him in anything else. Any suggestions?

Billy Campbell 46 today...
Billy will always be "Rick Sammler" to me since I am a diehard Once & Again loyalist. He's currently on TV in "The 4400" which seems to be about hot guys who were abducted by aliens. Er, well, that's what the print ads in the NYC subway lead me to believe it's about. But that can't be right. Gay aliens snatching them up for sex experiments? I gotta watch this show.

I first loved Billy in the mid 80s when he made his debut on Dynasty as Steven Carrington's last boyfriend. This was WAY before I realized why I was loving me some Dynasty, mind you. But every Wednesday night I was obsessively there in my living room waiting. waiting. waiting. (Much to my parents horror apparently -though my Mom eventually got hooked too on the camp melodramatics).

For a few milliseconds in the early 90s --around the time of The Rocketeer premiere it looked like Billy might become a movie star. Than he hooked up with Jennifer Connelly. It was all downhill from there. Ha ha. Seriously though, how many men dating Jennifer Connelly can claim to be prettier than she?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Box Office Blah Blah

Something I rarely do: Box Office Talk. The top films for the weekend

1. War of the Worlds $77.6 million (Total: $112)
No surprise. I'm more than a little curious to see what the drop off is next week, though. I am certainly not the only person who thought: whaaaa?

2. Batman Begins $19.3 million (Total: $154)
I know that I'm supposed to think this movie is somewhat of a disappointment but isn't it holding pretty damn well. 25% drops -- Pretty great, non?

3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith $12.7 million (Total $146)
I have to say an unpopular thing: I don't think that sex sells. I know you always here that it does. But usually when two stars are rumored to be bumpin, the box office is trainwreck like (Gigli, Proof of Life, etc...) In this case sex did sell. But really: Brad and Angelina. Who wouldn't purchase?

4. Bewitched $10.8 million (Total $40)
don't get me started. This movie should be happy with a middling take like $50 mil. Very very happy. I knew I was in trouble when the only thing I cared about was Kristen Chenowith and she was playing a nothing role...and looked enormous next to Nicole which is a weird thing to say since Kristen is a teensy woman. And I only cared about her character because I love Kristen on Broadway. Note for Chenowith fans: When she performed at her Carnegie Hall debut last year she dedicated "Popular" from Broadway's Wicked to Nicole Kidman because Nicole needed it. Funny

5. Herbie: Fully Loaded $10.5 million (Total $37)
La Lohan's appeal... is it already waning? She needs to make movies as old as she is as opposed to working the teen & family flick despite an escalatingly R-rated appeal. I hope she's good in Altman's next project.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Missy! Missy! Missy!

I am deeply ashamed. I always pick up Missy Elliott's new CDs the day they drop. Outside of maybe Björk I think she's the most inventive, funniest, most fascinating musician working. But today I was at work, stressed out of mind. It was raining. It's muggy. I forgot. Oh the shame! So The Cookbook will have to wait until tomorrow.

But while I wait I shall share my fav Missy songs for your information. In rough (and subject to change) order:

01 she's a bitch -da real world
02 all n my grill - da real world
03 i'm really hot -this is not a test
04 get ur freak on addictive
05 let me fix my weave -this is not a test
06 work it -under construction
07 pass that dutch -this is not a test
08 sock it 2 me -supa dupa fly
09 hot boyz -da real world
10 4 my people addictive
11 hit 'em wit da hee -supa dupa fly
12 izzy izzy ahh -supa dupa fly

Curiousity killed the Nat

Out of curiousity: Does anyone actually notice that the sidebars to the right change each week? Weekly obsessions, iPod, (primarily -though the linkage does see minor shifts. Or is it a useless onanistic pleasure of mine?

I know that what you're really curious about is the Oscar predix updates (1/2 way mark of the year and all). That's on its way, too.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

42nd Street Screenings

More screenings (trying to catch up)

War of the Worlds
Poor Spielberg. He just can't help himself. Despite the cheap 9/11 audience baiting tactics, I was kind of going for it in patches. Because, well, he can stage a good scene. But that ending --Oy. He really is pathetically addicted to not disturbing the audience. Even within the context of a horror movie. It's just so frustrating in its enthusiasm for pandering. [spoiler] Everything must always be "A-OK" no matter that you've witnessed 1/2 the population being exterminated*. Not even one hair on the heads of any of our heroes will be damaged. Even the teen-age son who was standing right where a massive mile long explosion happened. Wish fulfillment fantasy at its most pandering ugh. The family even looked like they'd stepped out of a catalog at the end when they came out of their brownstone. Not a hint that anything terrible had recently happened. Nice hair. Clean pressed clothes. Happiness. Happy family! Happy! Happy! Happy! Never mind about those millions of murders and the world's greatest cities being a pile of rubble. Forget it. You'll be A-OK! C-

*why is this movie PG-13? What does one have to do for an R nowadays? Seriously. I'm not much of a fan of the MPAA but this is one of their worst calls ever. People being blown to bits several times in full screen. body parts. massacres. dead bodies. destruction. mob violence. This is a hard R even. It's an easy call.

This must be as embarassing for Kidman as Laws of Attraction was for Julianne Moore. Both are super actresses. But even the greatest actors are just not suited to all genres. You can feel her effort and the calculation in every frame here which is totally NOT appropriate for light fizzy comedy. She just didn't know where the jokes were at all. I can't imagine who this movie is for really. A total mess. D

Not exactly subtle (which I'd heard) but also kinda good (which i didn't believe until I saw it because of the 'unsubtle' tag) if only because it's overemphatic, underlined thematics are graced by humanism (no villains and no heroes -hooray!) and a uniformly good cast; Terrance Howard shines brightest in my mind but for the first time I saw Sandra Bullock as an actress with real unfulfilled potential. It wasn't fulfilled here (not much to do) but she seemed to know what to do once handed something worth doing. So hopefully some interesting director will give her a real role soon. Save her from Miss Congeniality 3! B

IFC screenings

It's 3 AM so this will be über short but I figured I ought to celebrate my return to the movie theater with a screening entry.
I tried out the new IFC center -formerly the Waverly. It's a very weird space ~maze like. Very freezing. Too much light in the theaters in the form of glaring red exit signs which tint the sides of the screen red and overemphatic stair lighting which can cast a shadow on the wall of your bodily movement if you happen to be fidgety and sitting in the aisle seat. (which I am and was). But still a pretty good art house space. Between this and the Sunshine I will be amazed if the Angelica can keep its business since it has such poor space/conditions relatively speaking.

Me, You, and Everyone We Know Whimsical. Affected. Touching. Funny. Original. B+
Tropical MaladyConfusing. Hypnotic. Abstract. Frustrating. Singular. B
As always grades are subject to change --it's 3 AM. I can't be trusted.

Friday, July 01, 2005

War of the Words

As many TFE readers know. I am not particularly fond of Mr. Spielberg. So, I bow to me pal Nick today as he goes on this articulate rampage. My birthday is over... but somehow I felt this was written just for me (note: it wasn't). So, er, happy belated me.

OscarWatch tells us that everyone loves War of the Worlds but I count at least three (Nick, L'Ebert, and David Poland) who don't --and I haven't even starting reading reviews. 'Everyone' minus several critics apparently.

Friday CatBlogging: Monty's Domain

Last week I introduced you to my cat, Montgomery. Since he's so cute here's another brief meeting. Last night the attention-demands were fullblown. The meowing was done in full sentences --what was he saying? After 6 years I still can't suss it out sometimes. His food was full, the water was plentiful, the cat box clean, the petting instantaneous. The usual 'get home from work to be followed around the apartment' came with the less usual simultaneous leg hug attacks.

Monty's favorite place is the floor. Not for this feline the heights of doortops, dressers, or closet space. Monty surveys his kingdom from this expansive throne. He plops down, rolls around, and keeps his eyes super alert to everything. Maybe the floor-as-throne isn't such a bad idea after all... it does cover his entire world, after all! For shy moments his throne even comes with roofing (under the bed, table, chairs) should he so desire.