Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Na - No - Wri - Mo

Because I am ever so slightly a person of the, um, obsessive variety --OK, I'm off my rocker --I like to have 20 projects going at once. And every November, National Novel Writing Month tempts me with its demanding 'can you deal with me?' love. I've only signed up once, about 3 years ago, and I didn't finish the novel but I found the experience oddly rewarding.

As for my 20 simultaneous projects habit. On the bright side: It keeps me stretching creatively. On the dark side: It can function as a creative form of self sabotage.

Anyway, if you've ever wanted to write a novel, I dare you to sign up. It's a really brilliant contest. Write 50,000 words in one month and do not look at what you're writing. No second guessing. No editing. No nothing other than the writing itself. The process cuts through all the ways writers force themselves not to write and just makes them brain vomit. So what if only 5,000 words of it are beautiful when you're done. When's the last time you wrote 5,000 beautiful words o' fiction?

Who's with me? (and before you ask none of the writing will be appearing on this blog. I'm crazy but I'm not that crazy)

Happy Halloween. May I Sleep Now?

I'm exhausted. But before I climb into my coffin filled with soil from my beloved homeland (Detroit) I thought I'd leave you with a few interesting observations about the Vampire Blog-a-Thon, which I would count as a delicious pulsating success. For those who found the list of 5o+ blogs daunting (I'm nearly finished reading them but I've been ignoring all my other responsibilities --yikes) here is an easier way to attack them all: Subject matter!

1970s Stinky Lulu (Blacula) 1980s Eddie on Film (Fright Night) * novaslim (Vamp) * My New Plaid Pants (Near Dark) 1990s Low Resolution (From Dusk Till Dawn) * No More Marriages (Innocent Blood) * * zoom-in (The Addiction) *

Bram Stokers Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola)
Nicks Flick Picks * Catherine Cantieri * Cutting Room *

Celebs as Vampires
Gallery of the Absurd (Kirsten Dunst) * Pen15 Club (Hilary Duff) * All About My Movies (Angelina Jolie ) * Glitterati (Charles Shaughnessy) *

Dracula Titles (Various)
As Little As Possible (Dracula: Dead and Loving It) * Forward to Yesterday (Dracula: Pages from a Virgins Diary) * When I Look Deep... (Drácula & Dracula) Bright Lights After Dark (Dracula, Browning) * goatdog (the dwindling fortunes of Dracula) * 100 Films (Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein)

Foreign Films
Critic After Dark (two from The Philippines) * European Films (Frostbite, Sweden) *

Hammer Horror
Cinema Fromage (Dracula AD) * popbytes (Hammer series) * Certifiably Creative (Countess Dracula) * Peter Nellhaus (Brides of Dracula )

Martin (George Romero)
Silly Hats Only * Richard Gibson * Tuwa's Shanty

Miscellaneous Blood Sucking
Flickhead (favorites) * Stale Popcorn (sexiest) * Burbanked (bloodsucking screenwriters) * Pfangirl (female vampires) * Way of Words (depictions of women) * Music is My Boyfriend (vampire music) * The Horror Blog (an anti-vampire prejudice) * Bitter Cinema (movie trailers) * Agence Eureka (gallery) * Tim Lucas (favorites) * The Boob Tubers (Spike or Angel?) * Film Vituperatum (Ninjas and Vampires -oh the similarities!) * House of Sternberg (short fiction) *

Nosferatu (Herzog)
Modern Fabulousity * Culture Snob * Cinevistaramascope * Jurgen Fauth's Muckworld *

Queer Vamps
QTA (Vampyros Lesbos) * Being Boring (Interview With the Vampire) * Watts With Words (homoeroticism) *

Vampire-Free Films (through a vampiric lens)
Cinemathematics (Shadow of a Doubt) * Auteur Lust (Persona) * Film of The Year (A Fool There Was) *

Some things I found interesting about the blog-a-thon.
  • Plenty of Herzog but very little Murnau (except for a bunch of fleeting references) in regards to Nosferatu.
  • The most frequently referenced film was Interview with the Vampire but it was rarely the main course and the references weren't usually favorable.
  • Very few recent films were covered. Blade, Underworld, Van Helsing, etc... all but ignored. Is this because they all suck? (not in the good way)
  • I thought I knew my vampire films but no... so many of these I MUST see now after reading these writeups (particularly Martin)
  • Lots of films that have no vampires were namechecked. Titles as diverse as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Persona, Eraserhead, Apocalypse Now, The Green Berets, Blue Velvet, Marie Antoinette, Last Tango in Paris, and Witness popped up. But you'll have to read through the blog-a-thon to figure out why...


Monday, October 30, 2006

The Vampire Blog-a-Thon

"They Want To Suck Your Blood!" ~ A Vampire Blog-a-Thon
Scroll down for bloody good reads @
53 other vamping blogs
(click here if you to view blog-a-thon by specific film / subject)

I am a big wuss. It's true. The tiniest thing can frighten me. So I have no idea why I love vampires so much. Nor do I have an earthly clue why I had originally intended to write about Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark (1987)...

For that underseen horror film, Bigelow enlisted the cast of her then-husband James Cameron's Aliens (1986) to play a wandering group of bloodsuckers: Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein and Bill Paxton are the alien soldier/prey gone western vampire/predator. In Near Dark's most famous sequence they enter a roadhouse and massacre the patrons. It's been a good twelve years since I've seen the film but I've never been able to shake Paxton's demonic "finger lickin' gooood" glee from my memory. Just typing this makes me long for vampires on the more romantic side of the undead fence. Since the most romantic thing about Near Dark is a marriage that shares actors, I'm opting out of a repeat viewing for now. A wuss and a softie.

So when it comes to my preferences in fictional monsters, I'll admit that I'm something of a beauty fascist. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite TV series of all time, but it has one recurrent motif that makes me die a little inside. Each time vampires in the Whedon-verse reveal themselves, their pretty faces morph into hideous mugs --a little too Klingon / Lost Boys for my taste. If you're going to sink your teeth into my neck, please look pretty while doing so. Don't scrunch up your face.

Since the vampire's "blood is life" myth haunts metaphor rich neighborhoods like Sex and Death, it's no surprise that it's so flexible a fictional genre. It changes with the times. Recent years have downplayed the seductiveness and amped up the savagery of the creatures of the night. When you stop to consider vampiric activity in the Blade and Underworld series or in 80s films like The Lost Boys and Near Dark the violence has become so foregrounded that the erudite romantic vampire is now a dinosaur.

Francis Ford Coppola's divisive batty Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) did try to resurrect the old-school vampire, but I'd say the operatic romance within it is the one thing that most assuredly did not work. In the form of delicious Winona Ryder (just ignore her tone-deaf line readings), this Mina Harker could certainly drive a man to drink...her blood. But in the form of Gary Oldman, this Dracula would have a hard time inspiring recriprocal lust. If you want to ressurect the fanged hypnotic ladies man, he shouldn't have a weak chin. A great actor Oldman may well be. A great romantic leading man he simply is not.

But if we can't have the swooning albeit incongruous romanticism of bloodthirsty killers, can we at least have eroticism? Occasionally we can, yes. The legendary sapphic makeout between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger (yes, please) and Keanu Reeves's druggy romp with three nubial vamp brides (and how) in Bram Stoker's Dracula are two famous examples. But here are two more cinematic moments worth obsessing on. They're both chilling and sexually charged and, therefore, perfectly vampiric.

Nosferatu (1979)
Is any vampire uglier than Nosferatu? In Werner Herzog's expert adaptation of the silent classic, the disgusting, decayed Nosferatu leaning over the prone form of young and beautiful Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) is a forceful study in contrast. Their lone similarity is their mutually pale skin which, come to think of it, is a perfect statement itself: isn't Lucy already doomed, the moment she concocts her self-sacrifice?

Aside from a moody, well-judged cutaway to bats flying in slow motion, Herzog's camera doesn't ever look away -- for minutes on end -- from the blunt sexuality of Nosferatu's bloodlust. The creature is mesmerized by both the blood and the body. With sickeningly slow care he caresses her with his beastly clawed hands. This excruciating scene maximizes the feeling of violation, playing on the audiences fear of their own sexual vulnerability. Lucy, knowing the sun will soon rise and rid the town of this undead monster, pulls him closer as soon at a crucial moment. His violating lust will be his undoing. Her sexual martyrdom is on the disturbing level of Breaking the Waves.

Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Is any vampire prettier than Brad Pitt? This film adaptation of Anne Rice's bestseller gets a considerable boost from Pitt's potent auto-eroticism, which hit its peak with this film and Legends of the Fall (the combo of which sent him into the stratosphere). My favorite moment in the whole of the sumptuous but uneven Interview is when Louis (Pitt) is first bitten by Lestat (Tom Cruise).

Once Cruise has buried his face in Pitt's neck, turning the moviegoing audience green with envy, the movie stars lift off into the air. For a blissful moment or two each time I watch this Neil Jordan film, I believe that the director will make a convention-defying choice and leave the camera resting on the glory of Pitt's face in ecstacy, his eyes fluttering. (As it turns out, it's quite orgasmic to be bitten by a vampire. But maybe everything is sexually heightened when you look like Brad Pitt?) Sadly, Jordan succumbs to the mediocrity of traditional back and forth editing, cutting to Tom Cruise's less attractive and now bloody-toothed face. Gross.

But this is the way of all things vampire: the repellent and hypnotic in tandem.

Update: you'd like to view the blog-a-thon by film & subject click here

The Bloodsucking Blogs
Flickhead has capsules on five favored vampire flicks
Gallery of the Absurd imagines Interview with the Antoinette
House of Sternberg posts original short fiction The Starving
Certifiably Creative offers up Theater Des Vampires
No More Marriages on Pittsburgh as the star of Innocent Blood
Eddie on Film views Fright Night as the top 80s vampire flick
Forward to Yesterday gets political w/ Guy Maddin's Dracula
Silly Hats Only on George Romero's Martin
As Little As Possible loves Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Modern Fabulousity pays tribute to Klaus Kinski as Nosferatu
Low Resolution stays up late From Dusk Till Dawn
Stale Popcorn sings a love song for (sexy) vampires
goatdog on the dwindling House of Dracula at Universal
Cinemathematics on vampire imagery in Shadow of a Doubt
Burbanked Blame the screenwriter: blood sucking edition

...And Still More Undead
Richard Gibson goes contemporary: Martin and The Addiction
When I Look Deep... pits Drácula against Dracula
Pfangirl on a "bloody awesome trio" of lady bloodsuckers
QTA loves the ladies. And so do the ladies in Vampyros Lesbos
Cinema Fromage 'yeah baby, Dracula in 70s London'
zoom-in requests a DVD fix of The Addiction
Stinky Lulu loves Ketty Lester in Blacula
Way of Words on women: from victims to vampire slayers
Music is My Boyfriend offers tunes for the blog-a-thon
Pen15 Club
"When Hilary Duff attacks"
My New Plaid Pants finds Paxton ‘finger lickin’ good’ in Near Dark
Nicks Flick Picks on Coppola's Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Being Boring on the homo-cautionary Interview…
Culture Snob resurrects and old look at Nosferatu
The Horror Blog 'fesses up to some anti-vampire prejudice

The Vampires Are Everywhere!
Tuwa's Shanty on Martin & Nosferatu
Catherine Cantieri the giant sucking sound of 1992's Dracula
The Boob Tubers asks the eternal question: Spike or Angel?
novaslim says a "vuck you" to Grace Jones in Vamp
European Films on Frostbite, a Swedish horror comedy
popbytes recommends Christopher Lee in Hammer's Dracula series
Glitterati points out the most unbelievably cast vampire…ever
100 Films the monster mashup: Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
Peter Nellhaus on Brides of Dracula
Bright Lights After Dark 'Browning and the Slow Club' (Dracula)
Tim Lucas declares his half dozen favorite vampire flicks
Film Vituperatum Ninjas and Vampires --uncanny similarities!
Film of The Year 'That's Why The Lady is a Vamp'
All About My Movies Angelina Jolie IS a Vampire
Critic After Dark two vampire movies from The Philippines
Agence Eureka a vampire gallery
Cinevistaramascope finds Herzog's Nosferatu superior to Murnau's
Auteur Lust obsesses on Persona: 'The Vampire's In Us'
Bitter Cinema a treasure trove of YouTube vampire trailers
Cutting Room remembers his first time...w/ Bram Stokers Dracula
Watts With Words 'Suck Me' on homoerotic vampires
Jurgen Fauth's Muckworld a 60 second tribute to Kinski as Nosferatu

Happy Halloween! Pray for Sunrise

UPDATE: If you liked this blog-a-thon check out the two others the film experience has hosted on Michelle Pfeiffer (April 2006) and Action Heroines (June 2007)

Tags: blogging, dracula, vampire, Nosferatu, vampires, horror, film, movies, blogs, Halloween, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Are You New?

Lately a lot of viewers have been showing up from random google or image searches (I'm talking to you Channing Tatum fans) so you might not have any idea where you are. If you've arrived by accident, take a look around.

There are film reviews (like The Departed) interviews with cool blogs (The Gilded Moose!) true stories (I met Kate Winslet), Oscar Predictions (Mirren leads the pack), pointless obsessions (the casting of Sweeney Todd), silly gossip (Jared Leto is Jennifer Connelly), hero worship (Pfeiffer Forever!) and popular series ("A History Of... Scarlett Johansson"), and much much more.

Bookmark. Subscribe. Comment. Share in the obsession...

1982: Terri, Jessica, Kim, Lesley, and Glenn

It's that time again. Last Sunday in the month = A "Supporting Actress Smackdown" with StinkyLulu and posse.

This months installment is very near and dear to my heart: 1982. Why so dear? Well, it's the first year in which I noticed that these golden thingamajigs called Oscars existed. I was staring at a TV Guide in March and there was this photo of an Oscar and behind it, pics from all five best picture nominees (Gandhi, ET, Tootsie, The Verdict, and Missing) --three of which I had seen and had "feelings" about. I had to watch. The rest is history. Oscar night immediately became my favorite holiday. Here's the 'NatReel'...

That's five clippy minutes with a high-spirited crop of Oscar Contenders, three of whom are in movies I never tire of (Tootsie & Victor/Victoria) so head on over and join in the discussion over at the "Supporting Actress Smackdown"

tags: Jessica Lange, Glenn Close, Terri Garr,Oscars, Academy Awards, celebrities, movies, cinema, films

Please Standby

Blogger is f***ing with me today. Errors no matter what I attempt. Please forgive posting delays.

"It's Just a Scratch"

The Vampire Blog-a-Thon arrives tomorrow right here and at 40 other terrific blogs. Think of all the blood types! Enjoy this tiny promo to whet your appetite.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Top Ten Sneak

These are my favorite ten pictures (alpha order) of 2006 so far give or take The Last King of Scotland --I'm reassessing The Queen soon due to poor viewing conditions on my first visit)

Obviously being eternally hopeful at meeting the next Moulin Rouge!, Brokeback Mountain or A History of Violence. I hope this top ten looks different come January 1st.

Still salivating for: Babel, The Children of Men, The Curse of the Golden Flower, Dreamgirls, For Your Consideration, The Fountain, The Good German, Pan's Labyrinth, Perfume and Volver in particular though obviously the possibility of loving something I'm not expecting to is also tantalizing.

Q: What are your current favorites and what are you still desperately awaiting? Tell all in the comments.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What's That On Your Head? A Wig!

Marie-Antoinette Week
Sofia Coppola's new biopic of the queen of deficit, Marie-Antoinette, has a killer soundtrack which happened to be the top selling one this past week at iTunes. So gobble it up like a delicious pastry. The CD is loaded with great 80s tunes and other aural wonders. But sadly, no B-52s. But they're there in spirit I'm sure.

What's that on your head?
A wig
Wig. Wig. Wig.

Molly's gotta wig
Asia's gotta wig
Judy's gotta wig
Jason's gotta wig
Rip's gotta cheap toupee
Kiki's gotta big bouffant on
We all got wigs, so let's go!

To the powdered, powdered side of town
in multi colored gorgeous gowns

Beyoncé's gotta wig
Dreamgirls all got wig
Johnny had a wig
Tried to fix Storm's wig
(still looks like hell)
Travolta's gotta big bouffant on
They'll all have wigs, so...let's go!

To the powdered, powdered side of town
in multi colored gorgeous gowns

What's that on Kiki's head?

A wig

Wig. Wig. Wig.

Wig's on fire!'s on fire!'s on...fire!
It's 1775 and we've got the most wigs alive!Wig's on fire!'s on fire! Take it higher!
It's 1775 and we've got the hottest do's alive!

Kirsten Dunst, movies, wigs, film, hair, Marie Antoinette, cinema, Sofia Coppola

Links, Episode #201

Center of Gravitas on Halloween costumes falling short. hee
NewNowNext spends some time w/ Pedro & Penelope
Cinematical interviews Augusten Burroughs. The Bening tears him up inside.
Post Modern Barney delivers a fascinating post on 80s vamp film Fright Night. Consider it up a warm up for that blog-a-thon coming Monday.

and something to discuss...
Hollywood Elswhere has two mentions of the already confusing Oscar campaigns for The Departed which you can read here and here. What say ye, readers? Who is lead and who is support? Forget the often dishonest Oscar campaigns. What is the true breakdown in your view for such a highly populated picture.

Notes on Talking to Her During a Scandal

So... as you may have seen elsewhere yesterday, the Notes on a Scandal trailer is out. This sneak is of the infamous What Lies Beneath school of trailer-making *sigh* giving you beginning, middle, end --all the cliff notes you could need so you don't have to read the book. Which is good --the book, I mean, not this school of clipreels. The only reason to go see the movie now is to watch the performances ("Academy Award Winner Dench. Academy Award Winner Blanchett. Ac...and Bill Nighy") which was the primary reason to watch it anyway... so I'm not sure what the trailer gained by telling you everything that it wouldn't have gained by just setting up the story and then *boom* hyping the actors.

I love that Bill Nighy gets his name all vertical alongside the credits. Has that been done before? I can't recall. Clearly Nighy is the sort that could sail to a nomination if prominent AMPAS members realize that he's the sort they like: respected, enduring, gets featured roles but usually not this featured. I also love the poster in general even if it leans heavily on Talk to Her. That's kind of a dangerous movie to compare yourself too qualitatively speaking but the average moviegoer doesn't remember these things anyway. They don't while away their free time giving awards for "best poster".

I can't recall exactly why I originally poo-pooed the Oscar prospects of Notes. It was probably Oscar fatigue in the same way that the Eastwood/Haggis film made me tired just to think on it. Dench & Blanchett: Again? I stuck by the decision all year fully aware that I could easily be forced to reconsider. Judi Dench is always a threat (she's my #6 currently...which is probably silly. When it comes to favored performers like Dench, you're probably in or out but nowhere inbetween. Unless your name is Meryl Streep and you're starring in The Hours circa 2002 but why go there...again)

As for Cate Blanchett. I'm going to lose 97% of you at this very moment --forgive-- but I'm starting to get sick of looking at her. Can't they cast anyone else? She has appeared in 23 (!) movies, many of them high profile, since breaking through with Elizabeth 8 years ago. What this means is that for almost a decade she's been as ubiquitous as Scarlett Johansson has been this year alone.

Now obviously I do enjoy watching both of these overemployed stars [my top ten list for the decade] but when I think about how familiar their faces are and how many great actresses toil away in smaller roles or get none at all year after year it wears on my nerves. I wouldn't trade Cate for the world in her best roles BUT she's had more than her share of opportunities that other skilled actresses would've had career changing experiences with, instead of you know, merely filling up the empty months in their filming schedule.

A rule I wish Hollywood would live by:
No matter how great the star, they just aren't right for every role

I'm not asking for everyone to be Jodie Foster. God knows that 'one thriller every two years' schedule satisfies virtually no one but Jodie. But can't there be a middle ground?

Oh, and one more thing: Notes on a Scandal is a two-hander. The story is about the relationship of Sheba (Cate) and Barbara (Dench). Two women. Two leads. Like Thelma and Louise, maybe, only with underage coitus instead of road trip crime sprees and uncomfortable sapphic overtones instead of handholding girlpower. But we all know what happens in the age of Training Day, Brokeback Mountain and Collateral. Note this recent change to the official AMPAS rules, from page 97. paragraph 1,230:
Should a film have two principal roles of common genitalia, only one actor shall be eligible for placement in the lead category. The other must be demoted to the supporting category, preferrably displacing a lesser known character actor who we don't want to see on television as much.
Dench will be in the leading category. Blanchett in support.

tags: Judi Dench, movies, celebrities, Cate Blanchett, Oscars, Academy Awards, Notes on a Scandal

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Requests? I Miss Them

I assume y'all remember when I use to take requests. I'm officially restarting that weekly feature. Now I know everyone wants the basics: reviews, top 100 lists, moulin rouge recap, etc.. but what I'm looking for is requests for shorter less research-heavy demanding topics --one suggestion I loved was "the cast of Buffy in the movies" but that woulda required weeks of work. Have an easier topic? Ask for it!

previous requests: Best Child Actors (for John T) Classics I Haven't Seen (for Glenn) Favorite Animals (for Cal) Cher (for David) and The Sound of Music (for Becky) * Dolly Parton (for Dusty) *

The Bening is Not Pleased


Annette here. What with all this talk of queens, I thought I'd stop by my favorite blog. I'm Hollywood Royalty as you know. Yes...yes... I married in but once you're crowned it hardly matters. Now go and make yourself useful. Quit bothering me with your questions (I stole that line from Ms. Streep. Isn't it great?)

Normally when I visit the film experience I try to bring a little star wattage along so as to illuminate your dull civilian lives. But this time, popping in, what do I discover? "Marie f***ing Antoinette week". Kirsten Dunst staring back at me when I have a new movie out? If Nathaniel thinks he's coming over any time soon to stare dumbly at Warren, he has another thing coming.

Please understand, I have nothing for or against this Kiki person whomever she may be. Warren tells me she's never been nominated for an Academy Award and I HAVE, fans, three times. Where is my week!? (Oh and yes, Warren is quick to know trivia like that --just a little quirk he shares with Nathaniel)

Marie-Antoinette over Dierdre Burroughs? This is as bad as the time that I reached for the NY Times Magazine to stare at my gorgeous new photo shoot and found a f**ing ELEPHANT on the cover? How on earth did Dumbo get higher billing? Is Hilary Skank moonlighting as a guest editor now?


Nathaniel is on notice. I'm making some calls. It better be The Bening week when I get back.


Ms. Bening

tags: Annette Bening, movies, celebrities, Hilary Swank, Warren Beatty, Kirsten Dunst, NYT, Oscars, Academy Awards

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hump Day Hotties: Jamie Dornan & Asia Argento

It's Marie-Antoinette Week
Some people are turned off by Sofia Coppola's "history of feelings" approach to the biopic genre but I deeply dug Marie-Antoinette's exquisitely composed portraiture. (And let me just put it out there: I need non-traditional approaches if I'm gonna be asked to sit through another damn biopic. Seriously. Quit, Hollywood, quit!) Most of the feelings experienced through this new movie are not of the hot & horny variety but there are two hard-to-miss exceptions: Jamie Dornan and Asia Argento.

If Jamie, pictured above, looks a bit familiar to you it's because you've seen him mute and pretty, on Keira Knightley's arm. Jamie's taste in real life may run to the aforementioned anorexic and boobless, but in the movie he's just your garden variety Casanova. Any aristocratic female will do. And he definitely wants to get it on with one particularly booby dauphine. If Jamie looks as edible to you as he does to Marie-Antoinette and to me, eat up. Start by dining on his ass. What?! All the models are doing it (nsfw).

The other firestarter in this biopic is the infamous actress/director/provocateur Asia Argento who plays Madame du Barry. The court of Versailles views her as a cheap whore but she's the King's favorite. Asia, like Sofia, has the cinema in her blood. She's the daughter of Italian auteur Dario Argento (of Suspiria fame). But where Sofia seems altogether shy and introverted --perfectly willing to frump it up at awards shows, Asia is all about her own exhibitionism. Pose nude (nsfw). Make some movies. Piss people off. Anything to raise your temperature.

Previous HDH Entries:
James McAvoy last (randy) king of scotland * Hot on TV a countdown from "Agent Dale Cooper" to "Faith" * Channing Tatum steppin' up and out. * Hugh Jackman dancer, fighter, lover, father, actor, singer, god. * Uma Thurman from Dangerous Liaisons to now =18 years of hotness. * Cheyenne Jackson from Broadway to Hollywood. * Season One of HDH Gyllenhaal, Gong Li, Bernal, and more...

Jamie Dornan, movies, Asia Argento, film, hunk, sex, Marie Antoinette, cinema, Sofia Coppola

Day Job: Kirsten Dunst

Marie Antoinette week

Our Wednesday series 'Hump Day Hotties' (coming up later) is brought to you midweek assuming that the majority of peoples work a Monday thru Friday and need something (sex) to think about (sex) other than their boring jobs (sex) when they've still got half the week to go. But maybe HDH needs a companion series "Day Job" (?) to accept the realities of we, the unfortunate masses, who work for a living. Or maybe I'm just into restless experimentation with me blog.

Each week I'll pick an actor or actress and explore the "careers" within their filmography. This week's working girl: Marie-Antoi-- Kirsten "Kiki" Dunst.

Upcoming Career?: Word is that Kiki might play Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry in a biopic (!) Dunst can actually sing (you can hear her over the end credits of The Cat's Meow and in the high school comedy Get Over It) but it's too bad they didn't make this biopic decades ago because if there's any actress who could have perfectly mimicked Debbie Harry's wide set eyes / strong cheekbones / legendary blonde charisma whilst giving a great performance it was La Pfeiffer back in the day.

Kiki's 'Day Jobs'
Job(s) Held Prior to Acting Professionally: A child model for Ford Modelling. Then she started acting at age seven.
Number of Films: 30 (excluding voice work)
Most Frequent Onscreen Career: Due to the started as a child actor thing Kiki's mostly been unemployed onscreen or played a student (too many times to mention). Otherwise her most frequent paying gig is playing an actress (such range!) which she's done thrice: Wag the Dog, The Cats Meow, and Spider-Man 2. If you count Bring It On she's played an athlete twice --the other time in the underappreciated romcom Wimbledon.
Average Salary of a Working Actor: $23,470
Kirsten's Biggest Paycheck: (Outside of Spidey Films) $8 million for Elizabethtown.
My Favorite Career: I loved her as the office girl in Eternal Sunshine.
Latest Onscreen Profession: Queen of France (duh!)

What would you hire Kirsten Dunst to do?

Kirsten Dunst, movies, Marie Antoinette, film, acting, Debbie Harry, Blondie, biopic

A Message From Court

psssst, Kiki.
yeah, Jason?

Marie-Antoinette week at the Film Experience.
cool. I could use the love. i'm lonely here at court.

I guess this means, what? wigs, cake, shoes...

the haters can kiss my
Milena Canonero draped ass.
"let them eat blog"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lead Oscars

Best Actor
Predix are updated. We might know very little about this category at this point. Not a strong year for lead Actors. Not as empty as 2003 below the top three but maybe something like that barren year. For now I'm betting on them getting jiggy with a struggling dad, a history teacher, a scary Ugandan, and a scary gangster. And I'm assuming, like everyone else, that there's a good chance that we'll see Reese Witherspoon (last year's parallel winner) hand the Oscar to Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia himself. It's been a long long long loooooooong time in coming.

Best Actress
Predix are updated. It is with great pain that I acknowledge that Bening and Winslet are both shakier than they seemed months ago. Given that they reside just below Moore & Pfeiffer in my devotion you'll know what kind of pain I'm talking about. For now I've got The Queen, The Devil, Pedro's muse, and the C/Kate(s). We all know who Phillip Seymour Hoffman (last year's parallel winner) is handing the statue to. I hate those done deals. But I can't really argue with Helen f***ing Mirren winning an Oscar so it'll be sweet.

Goya's Trailer

I somehow missed that this had even debuted ...but I Watch Stuff has the trailer to Goya's Ghost, perhaps the most prominent of this year's crops of films everyone was talking about that didn't end up getting released. You know the type --every year has them: sought after but postponed. Sometimes they end up being major Oscar nominees the following year (think Gangs of New York and The Hours) sometimes they, um, fall far short (All the Kings Men). This one looks like the latter.

Supporting Oscars

Supporting Actor
Predix are updated. This race looks awfully clear. Even without the precursors. (although whenever we think we know it all: boom. some buzz bomb will drop.) For now I've got a politician, an addict, a german, a bevery hills cop, mr. angelina jolie and spider-man looking like completely viable shortlisters. Who will Rachel Weisz (last year's parallel winner) be handing the statue to?

Supporting Actress
Predix are updated. This category on the other hand: TOTALLY up in the air. Which makes it potentially very exciting (though certainly at this point less filled with star wattage) For now I've got a blocked writer, a dreamgirl, a spanish mama, a wildcard guess, and little miss sunshine herself (The Fannings: not pleased). Who will be lucky enough to smooch George Clooney (last year's parallel winner) in the Kodak Theater?

Thank You For Linking

ultranow is athletic. the title of this post: lol.
Revolucian remember when Babs Streisand told off that Bush-supporting heckler. It's now a dance mix! [src]
QTA on loving or hating Sofia Coppola. I'll have my own thoughts on Marie-Antoinette up as soon as I can manage but I'm having a tough week as time management goes. We shall see.
Electronic Cerebectomy on actresses and nudity. I love this post.
Artifacts Quoteable Carrie Fisher. I love her too.
Andy's Blog w/ John Benjamin Hickey, who I forgot on the NCOD list. Shame on me. Cute, talented, and stageworthy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

October Oscar Predictions

Because I'm still proud to have predicted that Flags of Our Fathers would never be the frontrunner that most every other prognosticator proclaimed it to be a year ago, I've left it at #6. This is just me being stubborn. I know this. No need to call me on it. It will most likely make it into the shortlist. But I can dream that the distance --it's still a long way until nominations if you stop to think on it-- will cool the heat generated by the lukewarm-for-raves raves as it were. If you follow me.

You see, the name critics have already rolled over and kissed Clint Eastwood's ass rather than actually doing their job. Consequently, the pre-Oscar awards bodies who get the seasonal ball rolling and who are obsessed with being seen as "predictive" of Oscar nominations, have been given something of a greenlight and will probably follow suit. Plentiful "masterpiece" comments from the blurb whores go a long way if you're already right up Oscar's alley.

It's a shame since the filmmakers in question have been amply rewarded in the past for better material.

[new predictions in all categories are in progress]

Vampires, Actresses, Hotties and You

Coming Soon: In just one week's time, October 29th, there's another "Supporting Actress Smackdown" This time for the 1982 Oscar lineup. So you've still got a bit of time to catch some of those movies you haven't seen (or haven't seen in awhile like Tootsie, Victor/Victoria, The World According to Garp and Frances) It's more fun when you play along and comment. You can see the past compilation of Smackdowns here.

The next day, on October 30th, the Vampire Blog-a-Thon flies in to terrorize and amuse. There's a legion of fine blogs signed up. Have your garlic, crucifixes and stakes ready. This time around I haven't asked any of the blogs what they're writing about so I'll be as surprised as any other reader to see which films and subgenres get written up.

I'm curious to see which films people wanna either spend their undead immortality with or drive a stake straight through, aren't you? While we're on topic, go vote on the best vampire movie poll)

Until that time there'll be more new reviews and updated Oscar Predictions. God I love October. It's when the studios finally notice the moviegoers pining for substance and toss off their faux generous "let them eat cake" moments. The cakes aren't always delicious but I'm gonna stuff my face anyway. (I'm off to see Marie-Antoinette--wish me luck)

Oh, and P.S...
I'm taking suggestions for the Blogosphere Multiplex series (our last victim was The Gilded Moose. Who should I jabber at next?) and the Hump Day Hotties Wednesday series (Channing Tatum and James McAvoy are getting lonely... this season's been spotty). Help me in the comments or shoot an e-mail if you're feeling shy.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Mystery of Link

Funny clip of an anaconda lovin' it some Ellen
I must have this Scrabble furniture
When movies are as good as Near Dark is please don't remake!
Finally the anti-Madonna adoption fervor gets a rational response.
This smart post is not about Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper

Robert Loggia on Michelle Pfeiffer

My favorite bit in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly comes in an article about the endurance of Brian dePalma's Scarface. It's a quote from oft-employed character actor Robert Loggia (Oscar nominated for 1985's The Jagged Edge). He's asked if Michelle Pfeiffer was nervous in her first true dramatic role as Elvira, working opposite himself and Al Pacino.
No. When she came down that elevator [in Elvira's first scene] in that goddamn tight dress and slinked across to us, and the way [Elvira] sniffed coke off her pinky fingernail...For Christ's sakes, Michelle owned it! They were lucky to have her; they should kiss her ass in Macy's window today!
I hear you Robert. But shouldn't we kiss Pfeiffer's ass every day?

For readers who aren't automatically drawn to violent organized crime movies (you really can't see them all) and who have somehow missed seeing the ubiquitous Scarface all these years, get on it. It's a must-see for Pfeiffer's work alone (not to mention its pop culture staying power). She is spot on as a bitter trophy wife. The performance is so sharp you'll shake your head wondering why it took another five years for Oscar to notice her.

When I hosted the Pfeiffer Blog-a-Thon back in April I was surprised to see that only one blog fixated on her Scarface elevator entrance. My New Plaid Pants described it memorably as "nothing short of a Barbie case"

2007 will finally bring an end to this nearly five year Pfeiffer drought. She'll be appearing in three comedies of the romantic ( I Could Never Be Your Woman February 14th), fantasy (Stardust, March 16th), and musical (Hairspray, July) varieties. Drink up pfans.

Tags: movies, cinema, Michelle Pfeiffer, Scarface film,

Friday, October 20, 2006

Aronofsky Not Queer For Brad Pitt

Just wanted to share this hilarious odd quote from director Darren Aronofsky in USA TODAY's Brad Pitt profile:
He's come to a place in his work where he's doing interesting stuff. He's looking great.. The pretty-boy thing wasn't my type of hetero joy. I like the wizened Brad now.
So does this mean he's now horny for Brad, gray and grizzled?

Running With Scissors

A month ago I finally got around to reading Augusten Burrough’s hit memoir Running With Scissors. Burroughs is a witty writer and the book is terribly amusing. I mean “terribly” in two senses of the word. Terribly as in the affected version of ‘very’ and ‘terribly’ as in terrible. Even if you account for writerly embellishment (which you always should) the author had what most sane people would consider a horrific adolescence: absent drunk father, crazy self-absorbed mother, predatory boyfriend, and a truly chaotic adoptive home.

I was excited for the film version. Having read it I knew it was well cast and I assumed that the film would be forced to give dramatic shape and depth to the book’s anecdotal pleasures which didn’t seem to run as deep as the material could have. What I wasn't prepared for was a faithful well acted version of the book that still disappoints.

Running With Scissors. Directed by Ryan Murphy | Starring Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, 
Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood and Joseph Cross

Top honors go, as expected, to the miraculous Annette Bening who does inspired work as Dierdre, a complete narcissist and lesbian poet. There’s a moment early in the film that completely sold me on the performance. Dierdre says something outre that’s supposed to be self-actualizing but her face is all about her eyes darting to her conversation partner. This 'journey inward' is, to a large degree, a self-delusional front for external focus. She wants to provoke. Bening makes a memorable mother from hell and she’s cast exceptionally well to amp up the drama. Here we have an actress known for her sparkling eyes and commanding voice and watching her lose both, those twinkly eyes dim and her voice slows under the weight of psychiatric medication, is troubling.

But the film keeps working against itself. Most scenes have terrific dialogue but the music is always booming, threatening to drown it out. To make it worse the song choices are overly familiar and the original scoring is oppressive. Scissors does have a consistent tone that seems perfectly sympatico with the book, but it doesn't seem to work. The great cast are, each and every one, adept at funny line readings and there they are in passages of comic lunacy lifted directly from the book. And yet, as a film this is all curiously unfunny.

I suspect that the act of seeing this terrible childhood reenacted rather than reading it (when you can pick and choose what you will and won’t picture) makes the crucial difference. I just wanted Augusten to be out from under all the crazy. I just wanted his mom to get better. I couldn’t laugh heartily at lives filled with so much mental anguish. As a drama, Running With Scissors: The Movie comes close to working. But it wants to be comic like the book to mask the pain. In its effort to have it both ways it falls on itself.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" to Compete for Oscar's Foreign Language Category

*NOTE: This page, still generating traffic, details the 2006 foreign film Oscar race. If you're looking for 2007 foreign film information, click here

Now that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the contenders for Oscar's Foreign Language Film Award I thought I'd share some quick observations about the 61 films in play --well,give or take Finland. Former Oscar nominee Aki Kaurismaki (The Man Without a Past), Finlands most famous auteur wants his new film Lights in the Duskwithdrawn. He's been known to snub the Oscars in protest of the Iraq war and, well, we are still there.

How do you say "F**k Hollywood" in Finnish?

Kazakhstan's submission will also be in the news. The Academy's press release says it's the glorious nation's first submission (though my Oscar-obsessed helpers tell me they submitted in 1992 with The Fall of Otrar) Kazakhstan has been working the media like a fame hungry whore lately: consider their hilarious feud with comedian Sacha Baron Cohan --you know, Borat. Nomads is the Kazakhstan entry and Harvey Weinstein's (speaking of Oscar whores) got it for release next year in the US. The IMDB claims that Nomads is an English language film. Since it stars Jay Hernandez (mmm) and Jason Scott Lee (*mmm--90sflashback--mmm*) neither of whom are known for their fluency in Kazakh my guess is this film gets disqualified soon.

Some other interesting tidbits:

  • Other countries actually let women direct films. Shocking, but true. Having a vagina does not disqualify you from moviemaking outside the US. Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Indonesia, Peru, and the Ukraine are all represented by auteurs of the fairer sex. Here in the US there's, like, a quota and since Sofia Coppola is pissing people off right now, they'll probably lower it next year.
  • Post-Brokeback there's still some gay action for Oscar. If they want it. But maybe they don't want it. Korea has submitted the period epic The King and the Clown a gay love triangle set in the Chosun Dynasty. The Phillipines have the babygay movie The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros. Even Egypt has gay characters in the controversial hit Yacoubian Building. If gay stories aren't to the Academy's liking, surely iconic gay filmmaker Pedro Almodovar still will be. He returns to contention with his much heralded Volver.
  • There's less World War II than usual in the Oscar choices. This category is often overflowing with it. Algeria and The Netherlands are representing but most of the countries with war or war related films are skewing more contemporary which will probably make the Academy uncomfortable. We shall see. The foreigners are mostly leaving the WW II reminiscing to Clint Eastwood this year.
  • The other most baity motif of this category the 'older person paired with cute young child or children' subgenre is still in bounteous supply. Countries that appear to be taking this well trodden path include Venezuela, Switzerland, The Ukraine, Turkey, and Greece.

If you want more (lots more), head on over to my pages on Algeria through Finland, France through Nepal and The Netherlands to Vietnam. You won't get more extensive coverage of the Foreign Language Oscar Race on any other website.

Only five of these countries will get Oscar's blessing with a nomination on January 23rd, 2007. Who will it be? Return and discuss.

Tags: foreign films, , Oscars, Academy Awards, cinema, Film, Borat, gay, WW II, Jay Hernandez,
Sofia Coppola,entertainment, Finland, Kazakhstan, Pedro Almodovar

Flags of Our Fathers

Continued from… Marty vs. Clint: Round Two

… while Marty enjoys relieved hosannas from the fanbase that wants him to do crime dramas forever, my guess is that Clint -- still coasting from the extravagant love that greeted Million Dollar Baby, won’t enjoy as much warmth for Flags of Our Fathers.

Even for moviegoers who found Baby to be wildly overpraised, it was hard to argue with its solid storytelling: tightly constructed, intimate and moving. Eastwood’s new WW II picture is more ambitious in concept and theme but shakier in execution.

The movie examines the lives of three soldiers: Doc, Chief, and Gagnon. They are played by Ryan Phillipe, Adam Beach (the film’s only hope for Oscary acting recognition) and Jesse Bradford, Our Man of Perpetual Smirk, respectively. They were captured in the photo of soldiers raising the stars and stripes atop Iwo Jima. We soon learn that this flag raising, however evocatively frozen in time, was hardly the definitive moment in reality that it came to be once the myth-making machinery was done with it. It’s interesting subject for a movie.

Unfortunately the movie doesn't sufficiently reward interest in its premise. The problems start with the shuffling of flashbacks to the war, flashbacks to the bond tour celebrating the photograph, and present day interviews with former soldiers. This three pronged stop and go often kills the dramatic momentum and plays awkwardly throughout the movie. Transitioning from flashbulbs to explosions: this is something we’ve seen a million times before. Further compounding the choppy drama are the one dimensional characterizations on display. These roles aren’t exactly complex on paper (Doc is thoughtful and quiet, Chief is drunk and angry, and Gagnon loves attention) and the performances, even the stronger ones, do little to deepen the initial impressions.


Return and comment if you're so moved

Dreamgirls Trailer

And you. And you. And you. You're gonna love me...

The Dreamgirls trailer is @ MTV. They sure do want you to think about Chicago when you watch it, don't they? Reminds of the blatant way in which the Shopgirl trailer tried to put you in that Lost in Translation state o' mind with fonts and colors. [thx, ModFab]

prev Dreamgirls post: And I Am Telling You... (I Want Credit)

Subtitled Oscars

UPDATE: I've revised the pages slightly for Oscar's foreign language film category. I'd been waiting for the press release which (as of this writing) has still not been released --very tardy for AMPAS. Nevertheless the page has been updated to reflect which films appear on their screening schedule. By my count it's 59 films competing. Cuba, Luxembourg, and Taiwan do not appear despite announcing submission. South Africa, last year's winner, not submitting. I expect official word from the Academy will arrive today or tomorrow since screenings start this weekend.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Marty vs. Clint: Round Two

Deja vu --wasn't it just two years ago when we had a Martin Scorsese movie and a Clint Eastwood picture arriving within weeks of each other, fighting it out for critical kudos and audience dollars? The big difference this time is that it's October instead of December and neither movie, due to genre in the first case and quality in the second, is as red carpet friendly.

Before I get to The Departed I feel it necessary to restate, quickly, that I am firmly pro Aviator. So, I’m not sure (entirely) what this current fuss is about --this general consensus that the acclaimed auteur has finally ‘recovered’. It’s as if he’s been dropping embarrassing stink bombs for years. I didn't like Gangs of New York (messy, overlong, hit and miss acting) but Marty made The Aviator just two years ago. That was a wonderfully glitzy, gorgeous and crackling movie with strong performances. While it may be true that this auteur’s best films are behind him, whose aren’t? –-I mean as far as iconic filmmakers of the 70s go.

I don’t love Scorsese's new pic quite as much as I loved The Aviator but that’s a taste statement rather than a qualitative one. Give me a choice between two equally well made pictures: one is about glamourous Hollywood types and the other is about foul-mouthed criminals on both sides of the law. Which one you think I’m gonna grab at lustfully?

Aside from a little late film fatigue, I was thoroughly entertained by The Departed . It's a pretty faithful redo of another good picture, Infernal Affairs but I liked it more. It was easier to follow (maybe because I’d seen the original?) and the small shifts in story made it more of an ensemble piece. And oh how they ensemble! Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio all relish the opportunity to get a little bloody for Marty. I don’t think the new film has solved the problem of this story’s lone female character (what is this psychiatrist thinking?) but Vera Farmiga works hard to make some sense of her. And here’s a neat little twist of pleasure: the film is overloaded with deadly competitive character agendas but you won’t see a more superb example of cohesive ensemble acting.

Scorsese can justifiably take another bow though we should send some credit to the screenplay which has balls of steel –I’m not sure that it’s completely graceful in its relentless forward motion but it’s easy to see why the audience gets so high on the third (fourth?) act developments. I wouldn't call it twisty exactly. After all, it’s only a shocking movie because most Hollywood storytelling is so wallflower shy. This one has personality, kick and bite. B+


thoughts on Flags of Our Fathers tomorrow...

If You're Looking for Mrs. Lovett, She's on the Casting Couch.

Pardon the indelicacy but it pays to boink the director. Helena Bonham-Carter, Tim Burton's eternal fiancee, has landed the legendary role of Mrs. Lovett in his adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. This after, apparently, lots of A list courtesy auditions for Toni Collette, Cyndi Lauper, Annette Bening, Emma Thompson, and more...

Don't misunderstand me. Helena Bonham-Carter is a fine actress. If this were The World According to Nathaniel she'd have won the Oscar in 1997 for her sensationally incisive turn in Wings of the Dove.

But Tim... Tim... Casting your girlfriend in the lead role of a difficult musical? Especially after auditioning other more consistently great actresses who have already proven they can sing superbly? It just seems so... I don't know, Hollywood producer. Not auteur like at all. Are you not taking moviemaking seriously? Couldn't Helena have played the Beggar Woman or something? That's the type of role you used to give your girlfriends: slightly backgrounded or, at most, key supporting and that was fine. A film doesn't live or die by those roles.

Now. I had heard that Stephen Sondheim had been heavily involved with the pre-production which confuses me given the casting decisions thus far. Is no one listening to him? Or am I overestimating him? They've announced four actors: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jim Broadbent. I actually like all four of those actors. But only one (Broadbent) has proven he has what it takes for a musical. You'll remember that Depp was dubbed for Crybaby, with songs that are roughly 197 times easier to sing than the ones in Sweeney Todd.

I wish them all luck. I really and truly do. I hope that the casting powers-that-be know something I don't about this cast. I want this to be great --musicals being my favorite genre and this being one of my all time favorites within it. But I have a terrible sinking feeling...

Previously in my obsession with Sweeney Todd

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Coming Soon...

The Vampire Blog-a-Thon will be sinking its fangs into the blogosphere on October 30th, less than two weeks away. You'll see links to all thirtysomething blogs that are participating. Bring your own blood. Non-vampiric items heading your way include Oscar prediction revamps, a look at the 1982 Supporting Actress race, and reviews of Flags of Our Fathers, Running With Scissors, and more.

Links, Episode #198

Fame Tracker "Laura Linney vs. Toaster Oven"
Forward to Yesterday the gargoyle thrill of Bette Davis as 'Baby Jane'
The WOW Report a ScarJo quiz.
Stale Popcorn on the movies that scare him post.
popbytes Bruce Willis gets his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Can we all agree that Demi Moore and Bruce Willis ought to teach divorce counselling to celebrities? Is this not the happiest divorce of all time?