Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shout-out! Gael Garcia Bernal turns 28 today.

Bernal came in at #2 on Nat's Top 100 Actors of the Aughts countdown, and is a previous Hump Day Hottie, so I know Nat would want to spread some love for Mr. Bernal if he were here. Bernal could be seen this Fall in The Science of Sleep and Babel (but don't get me started on the latter). Anyway, he's pretty. Ogle-time!


The Chicken Of The Sea (Is Me)

JA of My New Plaid Pants here, wishing a very merry vacation to Nathaniel, along with much thanks for allowing me to spread my nonsense even further across this crazy world wide web.

Perhaps it’s just because I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth this week, but news of Shamu* trying to drown his trainer this morning is making me feel antsy. Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin gets stabbed in the heart by a stingray, there are giant jellyfish swarming off of the coast of Japan… well, is anyone else feeling a bit 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea these days?

Homer was really on to something making Odysseus & friends have to pass between Scylla and Charybdis way back when – is there anything creepier than the sensation of something slimy slithering past your foot when you’re submerged in water? And the movies have fully embraced exploiting the terror of what’s just beneath that glimmering water’s surface. From that giant squid piling onto the sub during the climactic scene of 20,000 Leagues, to its multi-million dollar CG brother, The Kraken, in this past summer’s blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, we just need to face it: the sea monster is coming to get us all.

(*Okay, it wasn’t Shamu, it was another trained killer whale, named Kasatka, but it was in "Shamu Stadium" so close enough; if Shamu's lawyers contact me I'll make the necessary changes)

Here are some highlights from the sea monster’s many cinematic appearances through the years:

1933 – King Kong – The brontosaurus attacking the raft was always my favorite scene in the original, so I was pissed it got cut from Peter Jackson’s 12-hour remake. I guess something had to go so we could get more Jack Black mugging (the scene is apparently restored in the new, 47-hour DVD director's cut, though).

1954 – 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea – From IMDb: “Peter Lorre claimed that the giant squid got the role that was usually reserved for him.”

1955 - Bride of the Monster - Bela Lugosi wrestles with a plastic octopus in a mud puddle. (ETA - thanks to Steven @ The Horror Blog for the correction here - closet Wood fan no more!)

1966 – Godzilla Versus The Sea Monster – This is the one with the giant crab, right? All those Saturday matinee viewings have blended together. Godzilla giving the water-logged smack-down to a man in a crab costume was one of the more memorable moments, though.

1975 – Jaws – The shark, nicknamed Bruce, had three sequels written into his contract, so blame him!

1977 – Orca - A terrible Jaws rip-off, sure, but I think I must’ve seen it 20 times on HBO as a kid. Meaning that a key image of my development was a dying whale aborting its enormous fetus onto the deck of a ship. Hmm.

1981 – Piranha Part Two: The Spawning – Okay, the first movie’s actually a lot of cheesy fun, and I’ve never even seen the sequel - directed by JAMES CAMERON! sort of – but come on, the piranhas can fly! I vividly remember staring at the cover art for this movie in the video store as a kid, with the piranhas flapping their little fins and attacking people on the beach, and being mesmerized. I have to see this immediately.

1989 – The Abyss – James Cameron’s triumphant return to underwater thingamajigs!

1993 – Free Willy – Not exactly a monster movie, unless you felt your tear ducts were wrongly assaulted, but I know I'm not alone in having wished that damn fish would've ended up devouring that "lovable" little boy, right?

1997 – Anaconda – Jon Voight is REGURGITATED ALIVE. For this and this reason alone, this film will always hold a dear place in my (and probably Angelina Jolie’s) heart.

1999 – Deep Blue Sea – Thomas Jane. A pair of flimsy swimming trunks. A wet suit. Movie gold, people, movie gold.

2001 – Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Hobbits flung all akimbo by the Watcher in the Water. If that sentence is nothing but gobbledygook to you, you need to step up your geek-cred, my friend.

2003 – Finding Nemo – I still have nightmares about that mommy-eating barracuda in the opening scene.

2005 - The Squid and The Whale - Oh wait, nevermind.

2006 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – The Kraken snaps ships into bits with his enormous tentacled arms… but is it capable of love?

January, 2007 – The Host – The Korean blockbuster gets released here in the States, and I’m already ready to buy my ticket. Have you seen the trailer? Jinkies!

I’m surely missing important ones here (say, Harry Hamlin in a mini-skirt, or Betty White feeding a cow to a mutant crocodile, for starters); leave your favorite sea monster moment in the comments!

The (Mostly) Unseen Contenders of '06: Dreamgirls

While Nathaniel's relaxing at an undisclosed vacation location (soaking in a warm cucumber bath at a spa somewhere, we're guessing), he's asked us to fill in. And how could we say no to such a talented, sexy, and mildly OCD blogfriend? We love him, we love this site, and we're pleased as punch to be playing in the Film Experience sandbox.

Plus: it's an exciting time for Oscar freaks like us, isn't it? With the National Board of Review merely a week away, we thought we'd highlight the major Oscar contenders that have not yet opened to the public. We begin with the 5000-pound gorilla of the season; stay tuned for daily installments where we'll distill the buzz, squeeze out the juice, mix it with vodka and serve it as an Oscartini. [Modern Fabulousity]


Release Date
: December 15th (NY/LA); December 25th (nationwide)

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some sexuality and drug content

Ten Words Or Less
: It's the Supremes, but no Diana queen heaven.

Reason For Existence: Because Hollywood owes gays an apology after screwing Brokeback Mountain last year. And nothing says you're sorry like a big Broadway musical!

Mathematical Equation: X=Mahogany + (The Color Purple - American Idol) + (Little Shop of Horrors - actual horrors) divided by 1/3 (Destiny's Child)

Take A Look: The Rockin' Trailer

Early Buzz (Good)
: "Dreamgirls is a movie that has everything: a blazing new star in Jennifer Hudson, a riveting, revitalized Eddie Murphy, a hot-lick score by Henry Krieger and the late Tom Eyen, a timely story about how music can sell its soul to greed and compromise, and a dynamo of a director and screenwriter in Bill Condon." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Early Buzz (Bad)
: "While being left breathless can be riveting in the cinematic environment, it is never as much when it comes at the expense of narrative cohesion." - Kris Tapley, In Contention

Oscar Locks: Best Film, Supporting Actor (Murphy), Supporting Actress (Hudson)

In The Running
: Director and Adapted Screenplay (Condon); Costume Design (Shared Davis)

Long Shots
: Best Song ("Listen"); Best Actor (Jamie Foxx); Best Actress (Beyonce Knowles)

Best Picture Odds
: 2-1

Why It's Essential
: Do you really want to be the only one at your office who hasn't seen it?

The Achilles Heel
: The tense-smile appearance on Oprah last week made it clear that Beyonce's not happy playing second fiddle to Hudson. Internal squabbling, if it goes public, could hurt the film's momentum. And then there's the issue of living up to expectations, which may be Dreamgirls' biggest it the Jennifer Holliday Factor.

The Verdict
: It would take a mighty big roadblock to derail at this point...but pre-emptive favorites have a way of fading at the end. Brokeback, anyone? [Modern Fabulousity]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"It's the Deep Breath Before the Plunge"

When it comes to the pre-Oscar awards season, the National Board of Review want their "first!" status back after last year's fumble. They'll kick off 'Christmas for the Studios' on December 6th with their annual spread - the - wealth gift basket. No studio should live in fear of coal in their stocking. They'll all get one or two specially wrapped gifts. 'Round about the same time (if not sooner) Peter "blurbwhore" Travers of Rolling Stone and a smattering of other long lead critics will begin announcing their "Top Ten Movies of the Year" And then --da-dum! -- on December 14th, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association throws the snowball that becomes the avalanche of Awards Season: The Golden Globe Nominations.

For three months thereafter we're buried in it.

It's an exciting, draining, maddening time of year: full of "hooray !!!"s, "ARGH"s, and "huh ?!?"s for all of us playing at home. So, before Awards Season hits I need a wee break to psyche myself up for that three month orgy of AWARDS! LISTS! OSCARS! When I come back it'll be awards season plus more of the usual and the unusual: Moulin Rouge! recap, conflicted notes on Notes on a Scandal, and more on the personal canon.

To tide you over during my break you'll be hearing from three fine bloggers: my pals Gabriel (of ModFab infamy), JA (of My New Plaid Pants obsessing) and Catherine (of I Am Screaming and Punching Myself hilarity).

I'm off for a week. Mwah.

sorry haters, got me "indie" cred now

Y'all remember the last time my post dropped. Where I been? Making movies dumbass. Got two next year. Can't stop. Still really really hot. Just came to get my props. I got a Spirit Nomination, you heard? Used to be called an "Indie" Spirit but they aint frontin' no more, they went Hollywood years ago. I'ma fight the new James Bond and that ol' crackhead from Miss Sunshine. Heh.

That big tent in February, should be hot. Jennifer Tilly owwhoo Juliette Lewis: you know all them crazy 90s bitches be there. And that John Waters dude --sick.


tags:Channing Tatum, movies, film, Spirit Awards


Give or take fears about what whimsy-loving Tim Burton is going to do to the horror/comedy/thriller/musical masterpiece that is Sweeney Todd next year, the past few years have been kind to Stephen Sondheim fanatics like myself. We've had his fun cameo in Camp, that awesome day-long 75th birthday celebration at Symphony Space, and last season brought us John Doyle's revelatory rethink of Sweeney Todd. And now... "phone rings, door chimes, here comes Company"

Company, Sondheim's brilliant exploration of marriage and commitment, was a hit in it's original run in 1970 but today it doesn't enjoy the high profile of a Sweeney Todd or an Into the Woods. But, should you find yourself in the New York area, you should see it. Whatever its flaws (and great Sondheim is, I suspect, as difficult to pull off as great Shakespeare --no production ever seems as brilliant as the piece itself) the revival of Company is a treat.

My Broadway honey Raul Esparza, miscast in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang two seasons back, has the lead role of "Bobby" and milks it, some would say drains it dry, for maximum "worship me!" applause. But it's the female supporting players who have those plum TONY nominatable showstoppers like "Getting Married Today" and "The Ladies Who Lunch"

Company opens tonight at the Ethel Barrymore theater on 47th Street here in NYC.

Day Job: Toni Collette

The intention of this series is to pick an actor or actress and explore the "careers" within their filmography. It was a whole month ago I covered Kirsten Dunst. Now, it's time for Toni! Toni! Toni!

Toni's 'Day Jobs'
Job(s) Held Prior to Acting Professionally: Anyone know? She made her first movie at 20 years of age so she must've earned a paycheck somewhere.
Number of Films: 25 (excluding TV and voice work)
Most Frequent Onscreen Career: She's logged a lot of time as wives and/or mothers... but when it comes to working girl mode there's no true dominant role. She's been a lawyer twice (Changing Lanes, In Her Shoes) and whether or not it was a "profession" of any discernable sort she's been in four films wherein music played an important role albeit in different forms: lipsynching, rock star entourage, or singing herself (Muriel's Wedding, Velvet Goldmine, Connie & Carla, Cosi). Still, for all of the musical notes swirling about, no film has yet to utilize her appropriately in this way. I've seen her on Broadway. She's a major triple threat --spirited dancing, gorgeous vocals, and --well, you know about the acting chops. (If you've never heard her sing try The Wild Party. Her big ballad is "People Like Us")
Average Salary Working Actor: $23,470 Toni's Salary: Unknown but in seven figures.
My Favorite Career: Toni's greatest lead performance is as a geologist in the underseen Japanese Story. In supporting roles, I think I got the biggest kick from watching her temp in Clockwatchers (it helped that Parker Posey and Lisa Kudrow added to the fun)
Oddest Calling: I'll have to go with the nun who is part of a makeshift harem in Peter Greenaway's 8 1/2 Women.
Latest Profession: She played a social worker in The Night Listener and though they didn't delve into her profession in Little Miss Sunshine it's cute that she absentmindedly wore her work badge for the film's opening scenes.

What would you hire Toni Collette to do?

Toni Collette, movies, film, cinema, australia

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Links, Miscellania

Ellen Burstyn One of America's greatest actors now has a website!
Fame Tracker on Ty Burrell's strange casting niche. (Incidentally I think Ty gives the best performance in Fur, albeit a low key one)
Bright Lights After Dark on Criterion's Pandora's Box DVD. (mmm, Louise)

the fountain -still gushing love AND hate
Nicks Flick Picks (very briefly) on The Fountain
ModFab likes its similarities to Solaris.
Cinephilia not so much. Arden and Bro duke it out over the movie o' the week
In Which Our Hero thinks it a train wreck

me, me, me
Lone Star Verve you've got just one or two days left to vote for my blog. Do it!
QTA relives his Thanksgiving week. And I'm like a special guest star. Awww.

kate winslet
Reuters A look at Kate Winslet's fear of playing 'a normal British woman' in The Holiday.
Hot Blog on the possibility of a Little Children "comeback" in the works
OMG Blog gawks at the nude romp of Patrick Wilson & Kate Winslet in Little Children. NSFW (duh)

Indie Spirit Nominations

Oscarwatch has them. Check it out. It's a good day for Half Nelson, Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine, and a couple that haven't gotten much ink yet elsewhere: The Dead Girl and The Painted Veil. What's most interesting this year is the lack of similarity to Oscar's presumed shortlists in the acting categories. In the past few years it seems like the ISA nominators have skewed very Oscary but not so this year. Seems like they're actually looking at smaller scale indies --good for them.

Shareeka Epps Half Nelson
Catherine O'Hara For Your Consideration
Elizabeth Reaser Sweet Land
Michelle Williams Land of Plenty
Robin Wright Penn Sorry, Haters

of these I'd say only O'Hara has any Oscar possibility (unless Epps is pushed hard for supporting and rides on the Gosling hoopla) and even O'Hara is a longshot at best, playing an Oscar-baiting actress and the desperation might hit too close to home.

Aaron Eckhart Thank You For Smoking
Ryan Gosling Half Nelson
Edward Norton The Painted Veil
Ahmad Razvi Man Push Cart
Forest Whitaker American Gun

some longshot Oscar hopefuls and Globe probables in Eckhart and Gosling. But obviously Whitaker will be competing with The Last King of Scotland rather than for American Gun.

Melonie Diaz A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Marcia Gay Harden American Gun
Mary Beth Hurt The Dead Girl
Frances McDormand Friends with Money
Amber Tamblyn Stephanie Daley

probably not an Oscar contender in the bunch but an interesting grouping.

Alan Arkin Little Miss Sunshine
Raymond J. Barry Steel City
Daniel Craig Infamous
Paul Dano Little Miss Sunshine
Channing Tatum A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

The Oscar is looking more and more like it is Arkin's to lose, isn't it? Interesting that Dano was the other pic rather than Carrel or Kinnear. I guess it's that L.I.E. indie spirit hangover.

What do you think?

The Painted Veil

OK, so here's why I apologize to Naomi Watts for ragging on her so much in the past. For threatening to take away her Mulholland Drive gold medal and give it to BFF Nicole Kidman for Moulin Rouge!, etc...

Because, for her efforts in The Painted Veil, she is back in my good graces. Naomi and I run very hot and cold, see. Hot: King Kong, Mulholland Dr, I Heart "ffffuckabees!" Cold: practically everything else 'cept maybe Tank Girl just for nostalgic 'I saw her first' reasons.

Turns out that The Painted Veil is pretty damn good. It's an adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham novel of the same name which concerns the (very) unhappy marriage of Walter Fane, a bacterialogist, and his spoiled society wife Kitty Fane in 1920s England. The miserable couple travel to China to fight the cholera epidemic. If you're thinking 'hey, that sounds like a Merchant/Ivory plot where British people are transformed by leaving their country!' you'd be exactly right. It's decidedly of that genre. But, it's also a solid involving movie that doesn't trip itself up as much as The White Countess did last year in its busy third act.

Here's hoping director John Curran stays period because this romantic drama is a far more successful and less facile than his previous exploration of marital dischord, We Dont Live Here Anymore. It helps that Watts is terrific, she makes specific choices about her character work and underplays her character arc, making Kitty's various changes of heart feel more genuine than many a movie transformation. It also helps that her co-star Edward Norton seems far more invested in his character than he has in recent films (added bonus: This is the best he's ever looked onscreen). The movie is gorgeous, too --particularly the Oscar nomination worthy costumes from Ruth Myers and the freeze frameable beauty from The Piano's cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the score by Alexandre Desplat (of Birth reknown) is the best thing about it. I'm hoping this film provides him his first Oscar nomination rather than his less impressive work in the Queen, which is more likely to corral multiple Oscar nods.

I wish that the movie didn't hedge its bets about the audience intelligence in a couple of key sequences (yes, it does employ my least favorite filmic device: the flashback to something you'll remember instantly before the flashback even begins) but overall this is a sensuous well acted success. B+

The Painted Veil opens in NYC and LA on December 20th for Oscar eligibility. The rest of you will have to wait. 

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blogosphere Multiplex: postmodern barney

I have a soft spot for superheroes. I grew up collecting comics, obsessing on the X-Men long before they were a blockbuster film franchise and eagerly awaiting the next issue of whatever I was into at the moment. I still peek over into the comic soaked portion of the blogosphere from time to time. One of my favorites is definitely Postmodern Barney. Dorian Wright, the mastermind behind "the world's smuggest comics blog!", agreed to be interviewed for this the 12th edition of the Blogosphere Multiplex Series.

10 questions with Dorian Wright of Postmodern Barney

Nathaniel:Dorian, how often do you go to the movies?

Dorian: My average these days is about two to three times a month, with frequent rental viewings at home inbetween those trips out. I would like to go more often, but all the theaters in my area are owned by the same company, so high ticket prices and a relative lack of diversity in films shown keep me home more often than I'd like.

Nathaniel: What is the biggest draw for you in making your filmgoing or rental decisions?

Dorian: There's a sort of hierarchy to films that gets my interest. First is the premise. If the idea of the film sounds cool or interesting to me it will usually get me to check it out, or at least want to know more about it. Second is the cast, if the people in the film are people who I've enjoyed in other films. And then I suppose it would be genre. I'm more inclined to go see a comedy than a drama, or a horror film than an action film, for example. And then it would be writers and directors and various other "behind the camera" people like that. But to get me to a point where I really consider seeing the film, you've got to promise me a story that's new or at least told in an interesting and entertaining way. If the story looks good, I'm often willing to overlook actors and directors whose work annoys me. Within limits, of course. I don't think I'm ever going to be willing to pay money to see Tom Hanks or Mel Gibson in something, for example.

Nathaniel: I think those two should pay us personally, given what they've put us through.

What are your favorite and least favorite superhero films and why?

Dorian: I think "favorite superhero film" is a toss up between Batman Begins and the first X-Men movie. Both "get" the genre and do it right in different ways. Though it takes a fair number of liberties with the comic book origin, Batman Begins is as faithful to the look and mood of the comic of any of the films I've seen. It hits all the right emotional notes and balances them with a good deal of action. It has its flaws, notably Katie Holmes, but the cast as a whole is superb and the end result is very satisfying.

The first X-Men, by contrast, is a bit of a mess. The plot, such as it is, really doesn't make any sense, and most of the actors are just sort of...there. But it captures the big, poppy dumb melodramatic fun of most super-hero comics. Most super-heroes are really just soap operas for teenage boys, and X-Men captures that vibe.

Worst film is, without a doubt, Daredevil. Everyone in it just seems sort of embarassed, except for Jennifer Garner, who went with the "Tee-hee! I'm an assassin! Giggle!" characterization for Elektra that was really jarring. It was just a disaster. I even like the Ang Lee Hulk movie more. That being said, I haven't seen Ghost Rider yet, and something tells me it's going to give Daredevil some competition for the title of "worst superhero film."

Nathaniel: I share the suspicion. And I also share the hatred of Daredevil. Any thought on other upcoming titles --like Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman?

Dorian: Whedon's Wonder Woman is not a film I'm especially looking forward to. I've not been impressed with his work in the past. He tries too hard to hit all the right "nerd buttons" which results in a lot of his work coming off as fan fiction, even when he's writing his own creations. Based on his past works, I have this vision of him casting Wonder Woman as this naive, perky, petitie little brunette, and that just doesn't seem right to me.

I'm also just enough of a Wonder Woman fan to be slightly put out that Whedon doesn't think any of her villains are good enough to be in the film. Granted, Wonder Woman has some cheesy villains, but if you can't think of a way to make characters like Cheetah, Circe, Paula Von Gunther or Ares work on film, maybe you shouldn't be in charge of a Wonder Woman movie.

Nathaniel: I'm afraid Marvel is going to ruin it all by their quantity versus quality approach. What's your verdict?

Dorian: I do think that Marvel is going for a little bit of a quantity over quality with their films, but that doesn't surprise me, as that's how Marvel has historically run their comics publishing division. There's never been a bandwagon or trend that they haven't jumped on and run into the ground, and the same is true of super-hero movies. They're going to ride the gravy train for as long as they can, and flood the market with as many things branded with their logo as they can manage. Part of the problem with their films, I think, is that for the most part, Marvel doesn't really have a lot of big name, headlining "star" type characters. You've got Spider-Man and the Hulk, maybe characters like Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, Captain America, and then a bunch of also rans that people kinda-sorta have heard of. So it often feels like Marvel is in a rush to get these films with their character's names on them out in the market and it ends up having a "throw everything at the wall and let's see what sticks" feel to it.

In contrast, DC has more "big name" characters, but they've been a lot more careful about licensing them out for movies and tv shows and cartoons. They also seem to take a more active role in their properties, for good or bad, than Marvel does. I think this is why, overall, DC's super-hero movies have been a bit better than Marvel's. If the Ghost Rider movie bombs, it doesn't have as big an impact on the popular conception of the character, so it doesn't matter to Marvel if the film is good or not. If the Wonder Woman movie bombs, that could potentially damage a very well known and marketable character, and so DC is going to be very careful about what goes on in the Wonder Woman movie. And that's not a worry without precedent: Doc Savage, Dick Tracy and the Shadow used to have followings, but bad movies featuring those characters pretty much killed them as licensable properties.

Nathaniel: I recently sent a movie meme out into the blogsophere and I've been loving the intriguing responses to this one particular question so I thought I'd throw it your way.

Choose a female bodyguard: Ripley from Aliens. Mystique from X-Men. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2. The Bride from Kill Bill. Mace from Strange Days.

Dorian: I'm going to have to go with Ripley. She can take out legions of nasty, acid-blooded aliens. Mystique is great for sneaking into places and not much else, Sarah needed men to come to her rescue, the Bride can beat up David Carradine and other B-Movie actors, and I never saw Strange Days. Yeah, I'm going to want the woman who committed genocide to save a little girl watching my back.

Nathaniel: Let's play a little game. Like an inkblot thing. I say the names of five actors, you say the first super power that comes to mind when I mention them: Robert Downey Jr. Scarlett Johansson. Meryl Streep. Brad Pitt. Michelle Pfeiffer.

  • Robert Downey Jr. -Drinking. Actually, that's terribly unfair, but that's what I think of when I think of Iron Man, too.
  • Scarlett Johansson -Complete invisibilty thanks to her amazing blandness.
  • Meryl Streep -Some sort of sonic death-cry.
  • Brad Pitt -He has the magical ability to make me hetero. I've just never grasped his appeal.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer -The ability to make people forget about her earlier, slightly embarrassing films.
Nathaniel: Yay, that was fun!

What (quality) comic book do you think should never be made into a movie and why?

Dorian: The one that continually gets rumored is Watchmen. It probably shouldn't ever be made into a film. It's a long story, with a lot of side-plots and rich characterization, and there's simply no way to condense the story down to a two hour runtime and have it bear any relation to the source material at all. The other serious problem is that, for the most part, it's a super-hero comic, and the general public probably isn't really ready for something that challenges their assumptions about what a super-hero film should be like.

Nathaniel: What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you at the movies?

Dorian: I once went to a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show where one guy in the audience apparently had never been clued in to what to expect, and got quite angry about people talking during the movie and standing in front of the screen. I know it sounds like some complicated prank, but no, he was genuinely upset that people were not sitting quietly in their seats and watching the movie.

But other than that, my film-going experiences have been rather prosaic. Apart from the usual hassles of cell phones and people taking little kids to R rated movies, I think the worst I've had to deal with in a theater is a broken reel.

Nathaniel: OK, final question. They make a movie of your life. What's the title? Rating? Who directs? Who plays you?

Dorian: I think I'd want to go with something both pretentious and ridiculous, just to make people feel silly when they go to buy tickets. Hark the Bird Crows at Midnight has a nice ring to it. It would have to be R, because of all the gratuitous male nudity. I think Alan Smithee is probably the only director who'd be willing to do it.

When I was a kid, I used to get the "you look just like Kiefer Sutherland" thing a lot. These days, even though I suspect I probably look more like Donald now, I'm just vain enough to think that Kiefer would still be a good choice.

Nathaniel: Thanks so much, Dorian.

Readers if you enjoyed this interview, please do go and check out postmodern barney! If you're visiting the film experience for the first time just for this, here are some earlier comic related posts if you want to stick around: Lois Lane: Lost in Translation * How Comic Book Films Will Die * A History of... Blue Freaks * Fantastic 1.5 * Catwoman * Spider-Man 2 nominations

Or check out some of the most popular posts from the past: Far From Heaven vs. Brokeback -Whose side are you on? * She's a Bitch (@ the Movies) * Vampires a blog-a-thon * Find Your Inner Kidman * Oscar Predictions -for awards enthusiasts *

Previous Interviews: The Gilded Moose * Jay Lassiter * Dylan Meconis * Martha of Cinematical * ultranow * fourfour * six things * Gallery of the Absurd * How to Learn Swedish in 1000 Difficult Lessons * Ron L'Infirmier * Thomas & Co.

Tags: movies, Marvel, Batman Begins, Ghost Rider, cinema, Daredevil, Wonder Woman, DC,film, Comic Books

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Fountain

I won't have time in the very near future to write something that would do Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain justice. So, until I can get around to that I wanted to throw up a little acknowledgement that I watched it with mouth open, eyes wide, body frozen. In short: it's a visual and meditative stunner.

Feel free to comment if you've seen the film. If you haven't seen it yet, skip the comments and reviews --you really should go in cold, without preconceived notions. This type of film, the kind wherein the artist uses their chosen art form as a mode of personal expression rather than as a way to tell entertaining stories, is nearly always divisive. You can't measure their worth by rotten tomato scores, box office numbers, or Oscar nominations. This kind of film tends to fail when faced with those collective measures of worth--they have their limitations. It comes down to this: personal expressions deserve personal responses. So experience it for yourself.

Even if you don't like it or don't get it or don't think it's much beyond pretty, you'll still have supported a strong filmmaker who really shouldn't be struggling for years in between films to raise money. In a better world, no one who makes movies as indelible as The Fountain and Requiem for a Dream should be begging for financing.

Best Actress Semi-Finalists & More...

How will I ever decide who gets nominated for the Film Bitch Awards this year, let alone wins? This'll be the seventh year and I tell you this truthfully: Doling out these prizes never gets any easier. In my world there's no done deals like Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Capote sweep or Charlize Theron's Monsterous statue hogging. It's always a heated battle for those gold medals.

(this is the first animated gif i've attempted to make so let it load. If it doesn't show this post may self-destruct!)

Stay Tuned... (have you settled on a shortlist for yourself or are you still debating their merits as well?)

And while you have talented ladies on the brain --head on over to this month's edition of "Supporting Actress Smackdown" I had to take a breather from the festivities for November, but Stinky, Nick, Tim and Newland are there to speak out on 1974's Oscar lineup.

Free Association: Cake

Today is National Cake Day and since I have a sweet tooth and I love entertainment, here are five things I think of instantly when I hear the word "cake," aside from, you know, the deliciousness.

1. "All I Do Is Dream of You" -Debbie Reynolds intro in Singin' in the Rain and her sassy sarcasm about her place of origin (i.e. the cake) Love that character. Love that movie. Love that scene. Love that ditty. Pure bliss.

2. Mary-Louise Parker. Well, she plays a pastry chef in that movie you've never seen The Five Senses and she's great in it. But you probably knew that already given that I said the words "Mary-Louise Parker" which = great. Duh.

3. "Like a Virgin" at the MTV Video Awards 1984 [video]. Madonna coming out of the top of that cake in her wedding dress and Boy Toy belt buckle. 'Will you marry me?' Tis only a defining cultural moment of my life. It's forever seared into my (then) adolescent brain. We've been married ever since. Well, figuratively ... fan-atively.

4. Clueless and the following exchange:
Murray: Your man Christian is a cake boy!
Cher, Dionne: A what?
Murray: He's a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy, know what I'm saying?
Cher: Uh-uh, no way, not even!
That whole movie is hilarious but I had never in my life heard the term "cake boy" before. Though I was certainly familiar with disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, and Streisand ticket holding (Yentl). Plus, me and Dorothy go wayyyy back.

5. "Let Them Eat Cake" in Marie Antoinette I love the way Sofia Coppola sneaks this line into her new movie, with faux horror (!) at its inaccuracy ... as if her portrait of the dauphine of France is definitive, accurate and truthful. Just one of the sneaky bits of wit that permeate that fine misunderstood film.

tags: Mary Louise Parker, Madonna, film,movies, Debbie Reynolds, cake, MTV, Marie Antoinette

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Links, Episode #212

As Little As Possible J.J. doesn't get The Queen: a funny summary for non-believers. I'm kinda agnostic myself.
Ed Gonzalez on his filmgoing relationship with Robert Altman. Beautiful.
Go Fug Yourself Jamie Lee Curtis still rocks. Now I ask you this readers: Why oh why oh why does Jamie Lee Curtis not get more props both as an actress and as a celebrity? If it were up to me she'd have at least two Oscar nominations by now.
Golden Fiddle Penelope by Pirelli; gorgeously slutty. What a difference Volver makes, right?
Lady Bunny shares Jennifer Holliday's thoughts on the film version of Dreamgirls [src]
In Contention ...and speaking of Dreamgirls

And you'll notice in the sidebar that I've been seeing some rather, um, potent movies... so much to talk about. But thoughts not fully formed yet.

The History Boys

As a devout follower of arts both theatrical and celluloid, here is one thing I know for sure: Theater to film transfers are, on the whole, preferrable to the reverse. Some of the greatest motion pictures ever made began their lives on stage: A Streetcar Named Desire, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, West Side Story to name but three that instantly spring to mind.

But, give or take the hosannas for Julie Taymor's Disney adaptation The Lion King some years ago on Broadway, the movie-to-stage transfer does not yield such bounties. Too often it's just a matter of financials, a cheap way to fill theater seats by way of name recognition and marketability. What you see on stage, however charming --The Full Monty, among others, I'm talking to you-- is often a scene by scene transfer of what you saw in the movie. There's precious little thinking about what works in one medium versus what works in another. Take the length of scenes for starters. Moviegoers are accustomed to watching hundreds of scenes back to back with the editing giving them new angles every few seconds. This speed does not work on stage. It's supremely annoying to watch a play try to keep up with a film, changing sets every few minutes or watching actors on the boards delivering only soundbite sized dialogue.

But here come The History Boys to disprove my theory. I am sad to report that it's far from sure footed it's leap across the mediums. I did not see the hot-ticket Broadway production (recently closed) so I haven't any idea if this was a case where the stage play was wildly over praised... but as a film, it's unworthy of getting excited about.

The plot is of the familiar 'teacher inspires students' variety you've seen in many movies before it: Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds, Stand and Deliver etcetera until the end of time. It's a loveable genre that tends to get away with murder --who wants to dislike any story about kids discovering the power of learning? One of the standard problems is that these stories rely on the heartstring yanking and no gray matter is required. To my way of thinking that sort of defeats the purpose of said edifying journey; Don't learn to think --just feel! Thankfully The History Boys doesn't lack for a brain. This is not the problem. It just lacks skillful execution and, maybe, the common sense it needed to be a good film.

This British prep school dramedy alters the genre formula in one obvious way: It's the entire faculty that are struggling to raise the student body game. The renegade teacher who uses nontraditional methods to inspire his students? Oh don't worry, that trademark role is still there: Richard Griffiths plays Hector, said maverick, transferring his famous Tony winning role to the screen. Not for this teacher boring rote memorization. He has his students sing show tunes, act out movie scenes, and do bawdy foreign language improv: all of which provide the film with a few endearing moments.

Yes, Hector is an inspiration as a teacher but he unfortunately also likes to handle the goods. In one of the play/movies most curious gambles, the students don't seem to mind and nearly all of the teachers or future teachers share in this particular desire or tolerate his breach of ethics. One could certainly argue that the hysteria that normally greets reminders that teachers and teenagers alike are sexual beings is willful naivety, but this screenplay stacks the deck so far in favor of Hector that at times the movie reads like an elaborate apologia to pederasty. Uncomfortable.

While Richard Griffith's performance is fine, it's easy to assume his presence was more effective onstage. The other Tony honored performers Frances de la Tour (winner), who plays a fellow teacher, and Samuel Barnett (nominee), as a gay student "Posner", achieve similar results, though I should note that Barnett is adorable delivering a superb rendition of the classic song "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered." That scene had me longing to have seen this on stage instead. Stephen Campbell Moore, who was not nominated at the Tonys, plays Hector's rival teacher Irwin and gives what feels like the most film specific performance, nuanced and hard to read outside of close ups. Only Clive Merrison as the Headmaster doesn't seem to have dialed back his performance for the new medium: he's still acting to the back row. Tis a pity that Nicholas Hytner, having directed three plays to film now (The History Boys, The Crucible, The Madness of King George), hasn't yet mastered the art of corralling his actors into a tonally cohesive unit. Awkward.

Another grating problem is the film's technical elements. The movie feels low budget and rushed: awkward editing transitions and jarring sound work are plentiful. The soundtrack in particular is a nightmare. It's as if the filmmaking team were so concerned with portraying the youthful spirit of teen-age boys or with opening up the fussiness of a stage play about history, that they overcompensated with endless (and very loud) 80s pop song scoring. Clumsy.

At its core, The History Boys has some good ideas about learning and some well written monologues but those are measures of its worth as a play, not as a film: the transfer falls flat. I'm not sure what was removed from the script (the Broadway version is an hour longer) but if the ecstatic critical and audience reaction is any correct measure of its merits, I'd wager that they removed the wrong things. Mostly, though, I suspect that this play needed more cinematically inclined minds to find its way on to a movie screen. Samuel Barnett may have a lovely singing voice but this transfer of The History Boys is out of tune.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Birthday Toulouse!

Today woulda been the 142nd birthday of the legendary French impressionist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec if he hadn't been downing all that absinthe and booze in epic proportions. Or you know, whoring it up in the syphilis plagued brothels. Anyway, I only post this because I'm feeling guilty that I still haven't finished my mammoth Moulin Rouge! piece. I promise a new installment in December. Just wanted you to know that I haven't forgotten it.

If you are cursing my name right now, all eager for the rest of that, try this Toulouse-centric Moulin Rouge! post from Andy Horbal to give you a fix. A happy coincidence: It's all about the very scene that I ended my coverage with.

And since I'm in a Bazzy mood, here are two Moulin Rouge! edits courtesy of YouTube: The "Come What May" music video and a little behind the scenes goofing from Bazmark and Fox with Ewan McGregor doing "research" and Richard Roxburgh and John Leguizamo spending time with the green fairy.

Tags: Moulin Rouge, , , Ewan McGregor, cinema, DVD, moviemusicals

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Turkey Day

I'll be back Friday or Saturday. Enjoy the following clips: "Happy Turkey Day" from Addams Family Values and Alanis Morrisette's "Thank U" I still love that song.

Also I wish to express a few quick and hearty "thank you" to the higher powers that be: Thank You for...
  • my loyal and enthusiastic readers. xoxo
  • especially those willing to donate (I got bills to pay)
  • friends, family, the boyfriend, the cat
  • the blogosphere
  • 2007 = La Pfeiffer !
  • Emily Blunt's eyeshadow in The Devil Wears Prada
  • Hollywood may yet succeed in killing them again, but the musicals are still back.
  • finding new courage for my career
  • "no no no nooooo way, i'm living without you..."
  • the beginning of the end of the current US administration
  • The imperial hauteur (and haut hotness) of Gong Li in Curse of the Golden Flower
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • the way Lola Duenas says "Raimunda!" so loudly in Volver. hee
  • Meryl Streep doing comedy and singing. It's like 1990 all over again!
  • Robert Altman getting his honorary Oscar in time. RIP
  • meeting Kate Winslet
  • a million other things I can't think of at the moment so i'll just say...
  • ...everything else. I feel blessed
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hump Day Hotties: ScarJo and the Twins

It's been 3 months since Scarlett Johansson Week here at the blog, so I figured it was time to bow down to Hollywood's hottest PYT again. If not bow down, at least --um-- lean forward. Please and thanks.

You know if they remade 9 to 5, Dabney Coleman version 2.0 would be knocking pencils off his desk for Scarlett to pick up.

I thought Scarlett's last performance (The Black Dahlia --my review) was pretty stinky but the one before that (Scoop) was lots of fun once I got acclimated to Scarjo's throaty awesome voice coming at me in stammering Woody cadence. Scoop just arrived on DVD yesterday. So snatch it up. It's got Hugh Jackman shirtless, Scarlett Johansson in a red bathing suit (and even hotter in glasses and sweaters), and Woody Allen being funny. Worth a rental.

UPDATE: Oh and it's Scarletta's b-day too. Duh, I forgot to mention.

She is a beautiful woman. In honor of Scarlett and the Twins, let's play a game of 'who goes with the cleavage?' Guess in the comments! UPDATE: Game is over!

Suggested musical accompaniment:
Bette Midler's Otto Titsling
Scissor Sisters' T**s on the Radio
A Chorus Line's Dance: Ten; Looks: Three
and my personal favorite...
Loudon Wainwright's Rufus is a T*t Man

a. Gong Li finally guessed by Agent69
b. La PFEIFFER says Nick
c. Halle Berry --trashbag kid is correct.
d. Rachel Weiz --Klemen got it.
e. Holly Hunter -goes to Marco.
f. & g. Pitt's personalized girlfight: Aniston and Jolie -agent69 guessed it.
h. Kirsten Dunst -samurai frog knows Kiki when he sees her.

Previous Hump Day Hotties: Daniel "Bond, James Bond" Craig long time fancied, pre-007 * Brad Pitt golden über hotness and exhibitionist tendencies * Qi Shu & Chen Chang 3 times is not enough * Jamie Dornan & Asia Argento burning up Versailles * James McAvoy randy king of Scotland * Naomie Harris pretty chameleon * Hot on TV from "Agent Cooper" to "Faith" * Channing Tatum steppin' up and out * Hugh Jackman dancer, mutant, god * Uma Thurman 18 years of hotness. * Cheyenne Jackson Broadway to Hollywood * Season One of HDH Gyllenhaal, Li, Bernal, etc...

tags: Scarlett Johansson, movies, cinema, boobs, babes, academy awards, celebrity, Woody Allen

For Your Consideration... Personal Ads

It's the return of "Movie Personal Ads"
First up For Your Consideration

"We've met before. Don't even pretend we didn't hook up! I love making you laugh. Please don't hold a grudge that I disappear on you for years at a time. Remember how easily we fall into each other's rhythms: me all goofy and quippy, you all giggly and surprised at my improv curve balls. I'll throw them again, promise: Jennifer Coolidge provides! If you aren't in the mood for broad shtick (cough *EugeneLevy* cough) I'll bring Catherine O'Hara along to work her insanely awesome tragicomedy magic --remember how much you loved that last time?

Yes, before you know it that old affection you felt for me will bubble right back up into your heart or your funny bone --same thing I think (?)..."


...for more on For Your Consideration's indifference, Babel's bossy loving, Casino Royale's sexual swagger, Little Children's potent overcompensation and the touchy feely goodness of Shortbus.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Return of Renée Golddiger

You can now head on over to Moviefone if you've been desperately awaiting the trailer for Miss Potter. The December release stars Emily Watson (welcome back) Ewan McGregor (*explosion of fireworks*) and um... well...other people are in it, too. Shut Up!

The thing that's so weird about this trailer is how it totally disguises the fact that this is actually a horror film. It's like that spoof trailer for The Shining that --What? Oh. Um, really? It's not a horror film? But it stars Renée Zellweger so I th-- no? Well, it's a horror to me.


On a more serious note... it looks like I wasn't wrong that Emily Watson might steal this show. Supporting Actress nomination? Harvey will have to work overtime to get this traction. They'll certainly attempt to launch with some Globe Comedy nominations. Wish them luck?

Altman Forever (1925 - 2006)

UPDATED 11/22 w/ links to other tributes

As many of you have probably already heard Robert Altman passed away at 81 years young, last night. I just heard the news and sadness is welling up in me. He is easily one of my favorite directors. You'll see at least two of his movies in my personal canon as it progresses and I was looking forward to his next project Hands on a Hardbody too.

Now of course we know that A Prairie Home Companion will forever be his last film. Since it plays like a swansong, that's a sweet parting gift from the auteur to all of us. It's so wonderful that he never stopped working. The cinema needed this man and I'll miss him as a movie fan.

How are you feeling? Tell us your favorite Robert Altman memory in the comments.

Other Altman tributes around the web:
Cinemavistaramascope * Coping Mechanisms * ...Deep In Your Eyes * Life's a Bitch * popbytes * Stale Popcorn * or hey, Greencine Daily always comes through. They have a list of tributes.

There's also an excellent article from Stephanie Zacharek at Salon and did you know that me pal Susan P of Oscarwatch fame was one of the last people to interview the great auteur? You can read that piece here.

Once More Into the Link

I have barely been on the internet these past several days and sadly, I can't do much today either. Hopefully pre-holiday I'll get some capsule reviews up. So, this morning I've quickly scoured the 'sphere to offer up some linkage to get you thru (...should you need distraction. Lord knows, I always do)

there's no people like show people
Ellen Burstyn is mixing her pills again. Here she is mouthing off about how Broadway "sucks" and TV has destroyed the movies. Hee.
Man With Towel I love that my movie meme is going to places I've never been. And this one is hilarious. But hey, nobody has tagged me to answer my own meme yet ;)
Cinematical on tentpole schedules for 2007 & 2008 (yeah)
Stranger Song "New Blue Eyes" -- on Casino Royale
pfangirl "One Sexy Mother" on 2007's most inspiring event: The Return of PFEIFFER.

"what about me?"
Vote For Me if you haven't already, please vote for the film experience at the Verve Weblog Awards. Polls close soon.

not about movies but worth a read
Artifacts on "The Christmas Rush" Sex & The City, entitlement, shopping, and more...

Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature
The films in contention for the coveted shortlist are: Iraq in Fragments, An Inconvenient Truth, My Country, My Country, The War Tapes, The Ground Truth, Deliver Us From Evil, Jesus Camp, Shut Up and Sing, The Trials of Darryl Hunt, Blindsight, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple, Sisters in Law, Storm of Emotions and An Unreasonable Man.

Yes, it's a whole lotta Iraq. The Gore film (...Truth) is excellent and unfortunately the only one I've seen. I'm too scared of Jesus Camp (personal childhood brainwashing reasons) but I do hope to see Shut Up and Sing soon. [the list I got from reel fanatic]

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monologue Monday: Thanksgiving!

Who better to kick off this short work week than Christina Ricci, who my friends and I long ago dubbed "Queen of Thanksgiving Trickery." Her career seems strangely off the track but it was delicious all throughout the 1990s, the decade in which she delivered, not one, but two eviscerating cinematic speeches skewering this week's classic American holiday.

We'll kick it off with the hilarious Addams Family Values "White Meat! And Dark Meat! Take it awaaaayyyy..."
Wait, we can not break bread with you.

You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h'ors d'ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts.

The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims ... especially Sarah Miller. And for all of these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.
~Christina Ricci as "Wednesday Addams" in Addams Family Values (1993). Screenplay by Paul Rudnick.
If that scene alone didn't earn Ricci as a Thanksgiving hall of fame, than consider its companion piece four years later in The Ice Storm in which Ms. Ricci drop kicks the festivities again:
Dear Lord, thank you for this Thanksgiving holiday. And for all the material possessions we have and enjoy. And for letting us white people kill all the Indians and steal their tribal lands. And stuff ourselves like pigs, even though children in Asia are being napalmed.
~Christina Ricci as "Wendy Hood" in The Ice Storm (1997). Written by James Schamus from the book by Rick Moody.
Jesus. Didn't Joan Allen and Kevin Kline (her screen parents) watch Addams Family Values? This is not a young woman who you trust with a family prayer at Thanksgiving.

FWIW, let me just add this: Christina Ricci deserved Oscar nominations for both of those performances, her two greatest. That's my opinion and I've stuck with it ever since I first laid eyes on both the wickedly funny former and the wicked but subtly wounded latter. Fine stuff from a gifted actor.

Tags: actors, cinema, Academy Awards, Christina Ricci, Addams Family, film, movies, film, Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ms. Foster If You're Nasty

America's favorite stealth lesbian turns 44 today. Please wish her a happy birthday or include her in your prayers, like, "Dear Lord please help Jodie out of those confined yet thrilling spaces she finds herself in --be it banks, panics rooms, serial killer basements, or airplanes. Let her breathe fresh air again!" or my personal favorite incantation "Dear Lord, can't you do anything about Flora Plum? Jesus! I mean, er... Amen!"

Jodie Foster is on my mind because I just put up a new poll on the main site. "20 Years of Best Actress" --who is your favorite winner? Jodie is one of two doubled options in the past two decades. You know who the other one is. I'd rather not say the infernal name aloud lest I inadvertently summon the demonic one. That's how it works right? Oh god... don't tell me they can appear if you just type their name, can they? s**t i'm in big trouble

Before I turn off the computer for the evening a final note of grace, three of them actually:

There, captured for all time in Vanity Fair, is the one moment in time where I actually wanted to be Jodie Foster. You can guess why. Meg Ryan is also pictured. It's her birthday today, too! She needs your prayers more... but where to begin with that one? Honestly.

previous Jodie posts Actors Stuck in Ruts Foster, Kidman, Moore, etc... * Gilded Moose Interview The Moose loves his Jodie thrillers * Say What? Brave One silly captions * A History of... Jodie Foster the secrets of Jodie's life

tags: Jodie Foster, Meg Ryan, movies, lesbian, celebrities, best actress, Oscars, Academy Awards