Monday, June 30, 2008

June. It's a Wrap

Everything disappears so quickly on the internet. So here's one last moment of fond remembrance for the month that was with my ten favorite pieces... in case you missed any (or suffer from IND (Instant Nostalgia Disorder) as I do.

01 No Country For "It" Girls -A wonderful illuminating pair of movies (Wings & No Country For Old Men) to kick off the new "Best Pictures From The Outside In" series
02 June Weddings perhaps I went too conceptual but I had a ball with the fine print. Hope you enjoyed it (and threw rice)
03 Mommy Queerest Nathaniel (on loan to Pajiba) on Savage Grace
04 A Tale of Two Kingdoms (by Tim on loan from Antagony & Ecstacy) intriguing. You can fit DisneyLand in DisneyWorld's parking lot!!! Who knew?
05 First Movie Star Crush? I love these comment threads. You're on
06 actual txt message warns of M Night Shyamalan's The Happening
07 Clara Bow the hotness and unique cool of silent film stars
08 Vanity Fair Retro 2001 this time. The "Master Class"
09 Stinky's Sex & The City Rant (on loan from StinkyLulu) I still shudder thinking about something of the things I read --even from normally thoughtful critics.
10 Thoroughly Modern Hillie Just Say No! Swank in cloche hats

(probably) coming in July: eventually this stuff has to get written... Josh Brolin preps for his W. role, another Vanity Fair retro, Moulin Rouge! (2001), Julia (1977), more revisits to Oscar's Best Pictures, Maurice (1987), "____" @ the Beach, contests!, Hellboy II, Sweet Bird of Youth (1965), A Touch of Evil (1958), Oscar chatter (duh!), Batmania with Heath Ledger, Chris Nolan and Christian Bale. Plus: Meryl Streep doing ABBA tunes in Mamma Mia!

'Hump The Hostess'

from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee

George: How about 'Hump the Hostess', huh? How about that? How about Hump the Hostess? Do you wanna play that one? You wanna play Hump the Hostess, huh?
Nick: Calm down!
George: Or do you wanna wait till later to get her off into the bushes?
Honey: [completely sauced] HUMP THE HOSTESS!
Nick: Just shut up, will you?

This post has been

for hard language

Who's Your Daddy, Amanda?

Amanda Seyfried has no manners. Amanda Seyfried doesn't even say "please". Entitled much? Young Hollywood power players have no manners. It's all Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

While watching the video above I couldn't help but think through Amanda's movie dilemma. Amanda has three daddys!

Who's your daddy?

If you had that problem...

Choose carefully. These are not interchangeable men.

P.S. 1 I entered this Mamma Mia! contest last week. I've always wanted to go on a cruise. The gods of blogging should just deliver this win unto me. They should. You know I would repay them by blogging from the ocean inbetween margaritas, lame cabaret shows and shuffling. The cruise goes from London to Vicky Christina Barcelona and you know I'd find the appropriate movies to write about. Oh please deliver this win unto me. I'm saying three Hail Mary Pickfords. I'm not Catholic but that's what you do, right?

P.S. 2 Mamma Mia! opens in three weeks. I'll be on that cruise in ten if the gods of blogging are kind.

P.S. 2 No write in votes for Dominic Cooper please. Padded swim trunks aside, he's Amanda's eventual babydaddy --not the daddy.

P.S. 3 Come here more often people. Subscribe!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kissing Soldiers

Men sure were more affectionate in movies in the 1920s and 30s. Can you imagine soldiers in Jarhead or Flags of Our Fathers or Stop-Loss lip-locking?

In preparation for the next episode of the Best Picture From The Outside In series (next eppy coming your way on Wednesday) I watched All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) today. It's now the third consecutive Best Picture winner (Wings, Broadway Melody before it) with plentiful same sex affection and kissing. How very curious... and also: my how times have changed.

"pink silk bunting draped over anything that would stand still"

I'm cheating for this last episode of 'June Weddings'. This wedding was all about Easter but I couldn't not include it... could I?
____Shelby Eatenton and Jackson Latcherie were married Easter weekend, 1989 at the Chinquapin Parrish Presbyterian Church.
____The bride is the daughter of M'Lynn and Drummond Eatenton of Dogwood Lane. The bridegroom is the son of Robert and Harlene Latcherie of Frenchman's Point, LA.
____The bride was escorted by her father down a pink carpet. She wore a white silk princess cut gown trimmed with pink rosettes. She carried of bouquet of pink roses. The best man was Ross Herbert. Eight cousins to the bride and Margorie St. Moray served as bridesmaids.
____Following the wedding, a reception was held at the Eatentons. The house was decorated with every pink flower west of the Mississippi and a blood red velvet cake was served.
____The bride is currently employed as a pediatric nurse. The bridegroom is a lawyer. The couple plan to continue living in Louisiana and grow old together.
previous weddings: The Little Mermaid, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Showgirls, Far From Heaven, Spider-Man 2, West Side Story and The Incredibles

Easy Money, Wanted

Is Angelina Jolie's salary for Wanted the easiest paycheck anybody in Hollywood ever got? The actress commands $15-20 million a picture now. She spends most of Wanted's running time standing and staring at James McAvoy. Correct me if I'm wrong but he ain't hard to look at. It has to be the easiest money ever made. I mean, apart from Marlon Brando's $1 million Superman cameo 30 years ago. Or the astronomical salaries they pay A-Listers for voicework on animated films when they don't even have to come up with a new character voice.

Oscar's Past Decade in Actressing

I've been having fun compiling Oscar history pages. Eventually I hope to have one up for every decade of both Best Actress and Best Picture, two of the four most important Oscars handed out each year --the others are costume design and foreign language film. Duh!

So, here is a nostalgic look back at Oscar's Best Actress choices for the 2000 ~ 2007 years. Each contestant is ranked and graded according to me actressexual whims. (Despite my absolute love of actressing, Oscar and I rarely see eye to eye in this category) There's also two reader's polls so we can determine your favorite nominees & winners from this decade, too. You know how we do.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wanted is...

_____________ (finish the sentence or somebody's going to get hurt)

Wall•E is...

_____________________ (finish the sentence, please)

2009 Sneak: King Lear

Nobody ever listens to me about that proposed moratorium on Shakespeare (for just 10 years people --give other ancient playwrights a chance at movie & stage adaptations!) but if they're going to make another Shakespearean movie, at least it's not Hamlet. Prepping to shoot early next year is King Lear directed by Joshua Michael Stern (whose current movie is Swing Vote. Kevin Costner to Shakespeare... er, okay Hollyweird). Sir Anthony Hopkins is set to play the self-sabotaging monarch. [src]

In concept I love all-star casts but when the property involves familial casting it always freaks me out just a little. Playing Hopkins three famous daughters and thus, sisters, are Naomi Watts (Goneril), Gwyneth Paltrow (Regan) and Keira Knightley (Cordelia). It might be exciting to see Paltrow in an evil role for a change --she no longer loves her Proof daddy -- but I don't really see these three as sisters. They're about as convincing as sisters as the last trio to war with their imperious Learing father (Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Jason Leigh in A Thousand Acres)

I should keep an open mind. Maybe I'm just a little sore because if they were going to make King Lear I would've loved to have seen Sir Ian McKellen (my favorite "Sir") under that heavy crown. He's worked with this director before (on Neverwas) and he was just treading the boards a couple of years ago as Lear.

Discounting Shakespeare in Love (not a Shakespearean play, you know, but a play on Shakespeare as it were) the last time a Shakespearean feature was up for Oscar's Best Picture was 40 years ago (Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet) though Shakespearean plays did have a brief Oscar comeback in the 1980s. Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985, a King Lear adaptation) was a major event and Henry V in 1989, which established the shortlived but endearing Kenneth Branagh & Emma Thompson screen craze. Most of the time film versions of the Bard are ignored by Oscar as they often are by audiences. Perhaps they're too plentiful or there's too much competition to win "definitive" raves. Nevertheless, the allure for filmmakers and actors never goes away.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Now Playing: Cute Robots, Sexy Assassins, Vegas Hookers

all links go to trailers

Elsa and Fred a romantic comedy from Argentina featuring senior citizens. What a concept.
<--- Finding Amanda Matthew Broderick is out to rescue his neice Brittany Snow from hooking in Vegas in this addiction comedy. And that's not a photo of Penny Lane from Almost Famous. The costumer was just referencing, I suspect. I wrote about this for Tribeca but, not included in that piece, is that when I met Brittany Snow I had to ask about her work on Hairspray. She told me she thinks she creeped out Michelle Pfeiffer. She was following her around the set, studying her, trying to imitate her body language as Velma so she could make Amber Von Tussle a sycophantic daughter who didn't have her own identity. (Yes, by all accounts La Pfeiffer is easily spooked. Skittish that one...)
Full Grown Men -an indie comedy about adults who haven't quite grown up with a fun cast: Alan Cumming, Deborah Harry, Amy Sedaris, Judah Friedlander and Matt McGrath.

Gunnin' for that #1 Spot a sports documentary
---> The Last Mistress -Here's the thing. I can't really recommend this movie, which is odd and stiff but I couldn't take my eyes off of Asia Argento who plays a courtesan who loves her unfaithful young dandy lover too much... (the plot is vaguely similar to the upcoming Chéri movie with Pfeiffer in the languorous courtesan role and Rupert Friend as the young straying dandy) I'm sure others have said it but I see Asia as more of a presence than an actress. I'm not sure what she does... and I don't see "great performance" in any of it but there's life force there. That's for damn sure.
Trumbo -a documentary on blacklisted Academy Award winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Roman Holiday, The Brave One, Spartacus)

There's one for the whole family: Pixar's latest beauty Wall•E. There's one just for the adults: the gun happy action/porno Wanted (hey, it's a porno to me: Angelina and James McAvoy? bow chicka bow bow)

These two movies are hogging over 10,000 of the nation's screens (yikes) and they're both looking like real blockbusters. Expect talk of little else.

Emmy Finalists (sigh)

I'll keep this brief since this isn't The TV Experience. What can be done about the Emmy Awards? Who are the people who think Two and a Half Men is the best that the creative community in Hollywood can come up with in terms of laughs? And yet there it sits each year in the Emmy comedy zone.

Grey's Anatomy is a big hit, we can give it that. But as dramas go, it's not that well written. The lead character is tremendously annoying and whiny. The plots are repetitive. The medical stuff is lazy. I've watched enough episodes (friends love it) to know. Just one example: I sat their flabbergasted that a hospital show would pretend that a character could survive drowning and going braindead for a long stretch of time with absolutely no side effects and look not much worse for the wear and carry on long emotional conversations without even a hitch in their voice mere moments after being revived. It's a silly show. Even Katherine Heigl, willing to bite the hand that feeds her, doesn't think it's all that. And yet there it is on the shortlist for Best Drama and the challenging, emotionally potent and increasingly complex Battlestar Galactica --regularly considered by critics and TV geniuses (like Buffy's Joss Whedon) to be the very best thing on television -- isn't even considered finalist material? Nor is Brothers & Sisters. It's histrionic sure but still more entertaining than Grey's Anatomy plus it's got Sally Field doing her best work since the late 70s/early 80s. UGH.

This is why I could never write about the Emmys the way I write about the Oscars. There would be so few happy turns of events to enjoy. Here are the finalists...

Pushing Daisies: Whimsical, inventive and sweet whilst somehow avoiding
sugar coma or non-intentional repetitiveness AND it appeals to the masses!?! (wow)

Comedy Finalists: (my favorites in bold) Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Family Guy, Flight of the Conchords, The Office, Pushing Daisies YES, 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men, Ugly Betty and Weeds

Drama Finalists: (my favorites in bold) Boston Legal, Damages, Dexter, Friday Night Lights YES, Grey’s Anatomy, House, Lost, Mad Men, The Tudors and The Wire

The actual nominations are announced on July 17th. Here's how the voting works.
Are your favorites still in the running?

Inglorious Slacker: The Life and Times of Quentin Tarantino

By know you've probably heard that Quentin Tarantino has finished writing Inglorious Bastards, his WW II epic and that he's decided to make it two films, a la Kill Bill. Setting aside for a moment that it might not be a good idea to make every movie longer than it was originally intended to be (which happened with both Kill Bill and Death Proof) and ignore the question that brings up about his self-editing ability, let's talk about Tarantino's blessed career. Anne Thompson writes
Tarantino is one of most fortunate writer-directors in Hollywood. While other filmmakers white-knuckle their way from project to project, hoping to finance their fantasies and get them up on screen just the way they want them--which never happens--Tarantino can count on long-time mentor/patron Harvey Weinstein to be there for him. As soon as the director is ready, he gets a greenlight, and can move forward into production.
I take a different tack here. Isn't the struggle part of art? I love Tarantino's filmography. Every film (save Death Proof by my estimation) has been a gem. But has the coddling made him lazy? Tarantino gets a green light whenever he wants one and yet in 16 years in the business he has only made 6 features --5 if you count Kill Bill as a single film since that's what it was when he was making it -- Half of those films were in his first five years when he was establishing the reputation he still enjoys as an artist and showman. Once you add in the time it will take to actually get around to making and releasing Bastards (I'm guessing 2012 rather than the intended 2010) the lack of productivity will seem even more pronounced.

Tarantino's filmography from 1998 to 2008. That's it.

In the past 11 years he's only delivered Kill Bill and Death Proof. I'm not sure the ease with financing is helping. If he had to struggle a little more, would there be a fire lit under him? Would self editing be a honed survival skill? Would "Director" be the first job description to show up on IMDB instead of "Actor" Yes, he's acted far more often than directed. [shudder]

For comparison and conversation's sake in roughly their first 16 years as feature filmmakers these auteurs made
  • Steven Soderbergh. 15 features (+ a television series)
  • Clint Eastwood. 12 features
  • Pedro Almodóvar. 11 features
  • Woody Allen. 11 features
  • Steven Spielberg. 11 features (+ a television series)
  • Ang Lee. 10 features
  • Ridley Scott. 8 features
  • Peter Jackson. 8 features
  • Wong Kar Wai. 8 features
  • David Lynch. 6 features (+ a television series)
  • Todd Haynes. 4 features
  • Terence Malick. 2 features
Different strokes and all that but come on QT. Work faster, dammit!

2009 Sneak: The Last Station

I haven't seen these photos elsewhere unless I spaced while surfing the web... it happens. (IMDB doesn't have any photos up yet) So here's James McAvoy and Helen Mirren in The Last Station.

The film, based on the book of the same name, is about the life of famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer). Mirren plays his wife Sofya. McAvoy --much in demand, Wanted, literally -- plays Valentin Bulgakov, Tolstoy's secretary. Apparently Mirren and Plummer were replacements for Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins who bowed out or said no or something of the sort. Paul Giamatti also co-stars. The film is being directed by Michael Hoffman, whose biggest hit to date was the Pfeiffer/Clooney romantic comedy One Fine Day (1996). But since this is a period bio with a tony cast... maybe we'll see it in one Oscar race or another next year if its halfway decent? Hoffman's only Oscar film previously was the 17th century drama Restoration (1995) which won "the Moulin Rouge! Oscars" (i.e. costume design & art direction).

Helen Mirren is heading for another big year. At least three films coming our way. The other biggies are an A list ensemble crime thriller (State of Play) and one true story about a brothel in Nevada (Love Ranch) directed by her husband Taylor Hackford (Ray).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

And By Their Links Ye Shall Know Them

Daily GreenCine looks at very positive Wall•E reviews
David Poland gets philosophical on the disappointing media spin
<--- Spill has an animated Incredible Hulk review. I wanted to do animated reviews ages ago but I never learned Flash. My bad
Antagony & Ecstasy watches short films with his cat. Very scientific!
Screener Sarah Jessica Parker back to single in Manhattan for next film The Ivy Chronicles

Sunset Gun Kim Morgan reveals her favorite twisty movie endings
Silly Hats Only is very excited about Criterion's Max Ophuls triple. Me too. I haven't seen any of these and I can't wait
PopWatch and the nominees for the Final Cylon are...
Just Jared Ryan Gosling suited up for All Good Things
Perez Hilton I normally wouldn't link up on account of well --ewww! -- but it's Madonna's set list for her new tour and given the divorce news between her and Guy Ritchie I needed some happier Madge thoughts. I'm thrilled to see some of the lesser sung early tunes. Can't wait
The Big Picture Oliver Stone vs. George W Bush
i09 celebrates queer sci-fi for gay pride month

And ohmygod that was quite possibly the most random collection of links, evah.
Good night!


Vanity Fair's Hollywood ~ Episode 7 (2001)

Missed other episodes? See: 1995 , 1996, 1997, 1998 , 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 to get you caught up.

After six years of spotlighting Young Hollywood's rising or just-risens, Vanity Fair surprised ever so slightly in 2001 by going "classic" cutting the true shock of it by including a few people who, whatever the size of future achievements, had no business being called "legends" back then [Though the title of this cover was actually "Master Class" -editor] Even Nicole Kidman, entering the year that would make her one, wasn't. She was just exiting her endentured period as Mrs. Tom Cruise. The cover (shot by Annie Leibovitz as always) ably conveys wealth and class but for its desire to throw moneyed starlets on the carpet. You know they sit on thrones at home.

Nicole Kidman, almost 34, had just announced her separation from Cruise. She was about to ascend, headlining two hits (The Others and Moulin Rouge!) and soon to be named "Oscar nominee", "Entertainer of the Year" and any other title you could think of. ("Box Office Poison" was a later appellative). Over the next two years her asking price would septuple and critical acclaim was rapturous. Like all superstars she's been a target for tearing down since. Up next: reteaming with the man other than Tom Cruise who is most responsible for augmenting her celebrity, director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) for the romantic epic Australia (see previous posts)

Catherine Deneuve, at 57, proved she still had it in her to thrill sophisticated audiences and cinephiles. In 2000 alone, just before this cover, she had five movies released stateside: the masterpiece Dancer in the Dark (she should've been Oscar-nominated), the eerily beautiful and controversial Pola X, the foreign language Oscar nominee Est-Ouest, and arthouse fare Time Regained and Place Vendome. Few movie stars are or were her equal. I love that they included her.

Meryl Streep
, soon turning 52, was moments away from a golden rejuvenation of her already awesome career. Though she had never stopped working since blazing onto the screen in the late 70s, the 90s were an uneven time for her at best. When Entertainment Weekly compiled their famous 100 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in the late 90s she ranked only #37. Surely this great second wind in her career will put her in top tens from here on out in history books. In the two years that followed this particular Vanity Fair cover Adaptation, The Hours and Angels in America placed her back on top as cream of the acting crop. Then The Devil Wears Prada (2006) introduced her to a whole new generation of fans.

Gwyneth Paltrow was 28 when this cover was shot. Her placement made sense then: the future seemed bright for Hollywood's princess, still hot from Shakespeare in Love's big success at the box office and on Oscar night in early 1999. Most people believe that she'll scramble her way back to acting prominence with the right role and movie and though her fame hasn't abated at all, few would argue that she's made the right film choices since winning the Oscar (Shallow Hal opened this year and that's just one example) or has even cared that much about her stardom since.

Cate Blanchett, turning 32, was working nonstop building her reputation with 6 movies in the two years preceding this cover and 4 opening directly after. She was still a few years away from becoming an Oscar regular. Is she a legend yet? Only time will tell but given the critical hoopla that greets her every move now, chances are good.

Kate Winslet was already a household name at 25. That's what happens when you star in the biggest movie of all time. She had two Oscar nominations under her belt (a record for someone so young) ...and the rest is history and should continue to be. It's thrilling to remember that she's only 32 years old. Streep was 32 when she was filming Sophie's Choice... and that was just the beginning of Meryl's cinematic dominance. Think of how much Winslet we all have to look forward to before we die! Wheeeeeeee

Vanessa Redgrave, was 64 and after a long and storied career that had netted her 6 Oscar nominations and 1 Oscar she was still doing simply genius work (I'm not alone in considering her appearance in television's If These Walls Could Talk 2 to be one of the great performances of the Aughts). Master class indeed.

Chlöe Sevigny, at 26, was the oddest selection for the cover but it was probably a nod to the hipster scene (of which Chlöe was already an icon) or the indie film generation. With Boys Don't Cry (1999) and her Oscar nomination for supporting actress she had garnered mainstream attention and had essentially dethroned Parker Posey as Queen of Indies. Strangely, considering the timing of this cover, this was the quietest time in her film career. She did not appear in any features that opened in the US for the next two years.

Sophia Loren, one of the cinema's most legendary beauties was 66 years-old. She had been a massive star in the 50s and 60s and the first woman to ever win the Best Actress Oscar for a foreign language performance (pre-dating Marion Cotillard's win by 4 decades) She was honored at film festivals in 2001 while promoting her first film in several years Francesca and Nunziata. She has a plum supporting role in the movie adaptation of Broadway's Nine opening late next year (if all goes according to plan) which will be her first American picture since Grumpier Old Men (1995) and her first musical since Man of La Mancha (1972).

Penélope Cruz, 27, was appearing on the Hollywood cover for a second year in a row (previous post). Her inclusion was perhaps another nod to international cinema although the young starlet was spending most of her time in Hollywood pictures by this point. Her international fame skyrocketed when she replaced Kidman on Cruise's arm and onscreen (in Vanilla Sky) this very year but it wasn't until 2006 and the Spanish language hit Volver that she began to be treated with great respect (Volver posts -I love that movie). Her acting ability had been questioned numerous times prior to that Almodóvar guided breakthrough. Next up: Vicky Christina Barcelona for Woody Allen.

median age: 41 ---a bit young for a "master class" cover, don'cha think?
collective Oscar noms before this cover: 26 nominations (Streep and Redgrave responsible for the lions share) and 5 Oscar statuettes had been won by these women before this shoot took place.
collective Oscar noms after this cover: They've won 12 more nominations and 2 Oscars (Kidman & Blanchett) in the seven years since this photograph was published.
fame levels in 2008, according to famousr, from most to least: I usually include Famousr scores in these roundups but they're useless once you start getting to actual legends. The names Vanessa Redgrave and Sophia Loren will still be remembered 100 years from now. But they'd easily be considered "less" famous than Penélope Cruz from internet scoring, which tends to skew young and "right now". I don't even wanna look at it to find out.
see also: 1995 ,1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Holy Contest Winners, Batman

<-- Why is Batman so nervous about the family jewels? Maybe because he's leaving the Bat Cave and shipping off to live with three strangers. Chin up caped crusader, these blu-ray Batman: The Movie (1966) contest winners are simpatico to your needs. They even have utility belts at home.

The winners are...
Matthew in Alberta. He keeps a copy of In the Mood for Love (2001) in his utility belt. You never know when you might need a dreamy Wong Kar Wai fix, do you?
Owen in Toronto. He has 'Bat-Joel-Schumacher Repellent' in his belt. Too bad Mr. Bruce Wayne himself didn't think of that.
Josh in Kansas City, our final winner, says "I'd always have Gold Bond powder in my utility belt ... it's bound to chafe something fierce under that suit."

You guys think of everything. Batman and his boy wonder are in good hands. Enjoy your new blu-rays!

"The Spider House Rules"

This is pretty funny as mash-up trailers go.

Thanks to Matt for bringing it to my attention. He asks a pertinent question "I like Spidey, but is anyone NOT rooting for Michael Caine in that fight?" Hee. My question: Why must every trailer use the classic Requiem for the Dream score? It's as bad as Hollywood's reliance on Danny Elfman scores for trailers.

blog-a-thons ahoy!

Are you beat on blog-a-thons? I have been but the fatigue is wearing off. I'm (almost) jonesing to host one again. Shall I ... What say ye? And what topic would you love to see the dozens of bloggers cover all at once? Here are some upcoming collective celebrations hosted by other film blogs.

June 29th ~ July 3rd I Like New York in June (NYC and the Movies)
July 9th ~ 13th "All About Me" the Self-Involvement blog-a-thon (intensely personal reactions to the movies and whatnot)
July 28th Rugrats child performances in the movies
Aug 12th Nonzee Nimibutr (Thai New Wave auteur)
Aug 22nd ~ 24th "Movie About Movies"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Say What You Wanna Say

You've been keeping it in. Here's an open thread just for you. It's good to overshare!


...James McAvoy all wet.

I don't think that's asking too much. For all that I do for the movies.

"All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! All Killing!"

For the second episode of the new series Best Pictures From The Outside In, Nick, Goatdog and I took a look at a dancing sister act in New York (Broadway Melody, 1929) and those mirrored brother moles in Boston (The Departed, 2006). Though this is an absurd pairing from either end of Oscar's timeline, there are a couple of similar features. Both movies are big on technique: Broadway Melody advertised itself as "All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!" arriving as it did during the death rattle of the late silents (which were hugely superior to the early sound films); The Departed has Martin Scorsese, a showman who loves freeze frames, iris fades and any manner of cinematic tricks.

For those of you unfamiliar with Broadway Melody it's the story of The Mahoney Sisters, Hank (Oscar nominated Bessie Love) and Queenie (Anita Page), a regionally successful vaudeville act trying to make it in the Big Apple. It's very much of its time. The sisters join the "Zanfield" Revue and Queenie has to fight off the advances of movie mogul "Jacques Warriner", so I think you know already (if you know anything about showbiz history) that it was a contemporary inside-showbiz thing. It probably resonated with them back then and the idea of sound pictures was still fresh and super-exciting.

Our first Best Picture match-up (Wings and No Country) had wondrous parallels and both movies were top grade. This time out, it's a massacre. The Departed is a great movie. Broadway Melody is ... not.

Read the entire lively discussion @ Goatdog's blog

Gina Gershon on Showgirls: The Musical

With so many movies becoming stage musicals, you know Showgirls, with its obsessed fanbase and inherent theatricality, gets talked up as a prime candidate for transfer. Here's what Gina Gershon ("Cristal" herself) has to say about a Broadway musical version of her most famous role:
Originally I had an idea to do that and I was talking to a couple of people to write it with me. But it wouldn't be Showgirls as we know it. It'd be Showgirls as told by me, which really --you think Showgirls was good? You should have seen what went on behind the scenes. So, I would mix up my own weird thought patterns with what was going on with Showgirls. I haven't written it yet. I had to talk to Joe Eszterhas about it. He seemed to like it but I haven't gotten around to it and I'm not sure if I'm going to get around to it.

It's funny in my brain...
Incidentally, she doesn't list Showgirls as one of her own favorites from her filmography, though. Her top 5: The Insider, The Player, Face/Off, Bound and Prey for Rock and Roll. [source]

One can only imagine the songs they'd write for the show. The dance numbers must be transferred as is. But imagine the backstage sequences! Cristal gets all the show-stoppers: "Darlin'", "I'll Buy Her For You", the first act closer "We Take the Cash, We Cash the Check, We Show Them What They Want To See! and the second act showstopper "Too Old (For That Whorey Look)"

I Y Showgirls. Click the Showgirls label below if you used to love doggie chow!

Hump Day Hottie: Clara Bow

A week ago I posted the first episode of a new blog series Best Pictures From The Outside In (episode 2 later today). I felt a little bad that the first conversation barely mentioned Clara Bow, the "It" Girl of the late 20s and the co-star of Wings. I'm more of a Louise Brooks man myself but there's something about most big stars of the silent screens that just sparkles, that just can't be repeated.

It's easy to assume, perhaps cynically, that it's merely the unfamiliarity of their images that gives them so potent and so alien a life force on the screen: the black and white, the unnatural speed of the footage, the disintegration of the image. But I think it's more complicated than that. I think it's also the magic, as it has ever been between true stars and cameras, and the silence itself. Movies are not only projected but they invite projections. We transfer our own ideas and needs and dreams onto stars. Ever notice how well people think they know celebrities? The silence only invites more of this, more projection. We also decide, subconsciously or otherwise, what the star sounds like when they cry, when they whisper sweet nothings to their lover, and how loudly or infectiously they laugh.

Oops! It's not what the soldiers think between Clara and her man in Wings

Curious about Bow's long-forgotten prominence I read a bunch of good stuff over @ Gilda's Attic including this tidbit from the book Clara Bow, Running Wild.
Instinctively Clara had grasped the essence of stardom: individuality. The girl who had spent hours imitating Mary Pickford sensed that to be special, she must be herself, and artistic credo that Clara maintained for the rest of her career.
Hundreds of technological inventions have completely altered the movies since the talkies first disrupted the barely formed movie star hierarchy in the late twenties. But the essence of true stardom is still the same. Clara had it right.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday Top Ten: New Academy Members

for the list maker in me and the list lover in you

The Oscars used to hide their membership roster like they hide the final vote tallies. But for the past few years they've been letting us know who they've invited into their 6000 wide flock. They're trying to keep their numbers stable so we figure they're only passing out as many invites as people who die. It's too much to hope that they're jettisoning members who voted for A Beautiful Mind or Driving Miss Daisy. Of course even knowing who they've invited doesn't tell enough of the story since we don't know who is already in... and thus who is still snubbed. You can see the full list here but I'm sharing my choices for their most interesting choices.


10 David Benioff (Writer) -Mr. Amanda Peet is a perfect example to me of how hard it is to judge talent in Hollywood, film being a collaborative enterprise. Answer me this: How do you write something as nuanced, intelligent and amazing as 25th Hour and then churn out something like his desecration of The Iliad with the über dumb Troy and then do The Kite Runner? I can't figure him out. Is everyone in Hollywood this hot and cold? And if so is that why the Oscars are so uneven in their discernment capabilities?

09 Allison Janney (Actor) Everyone loves Janney and I assume this invitation is at least partially due to the afterglow of Juno (Ellen Page, curiously, was not invited though Janney, Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman all were) but she's more of a TV star than anything. I include her because I think this choice is probably representative of how incestuous the film and TV academies have really become.

08 Kimberly Peirce (Director) This was a wise choice since she'll have plenty of time to watch all the movies each year since she never makes any. I kid, I kid... But seriously the Boys Don't Cry / Stop-Loss auteur has only two film credits. How ever does she pay her rent? Untitled 3rd Kimberly Peirce Project: coming to theaters near you in 2016!

07 Jet Li (Actor) I like Jet Li well enough but this made me scratch my head a bit. That said I applaud their obvious desire to get more international and racially diverse these past few years.

06 Barry Alexander Brown (Editor) He was Oscar-nominated once nearly 30 years ago in the documentary category. Inbetween then and now he's done great editing work on films as diverse as Salaam Bombay!, Madonna's Truth or Dare and several Spike Lee films including his three best films (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and 25th Hour) . So why invite him now... and not many moons ago? Could this be a precursor to more Oscar attention for Spike Lee joints?

05 Peyton Reed (Director) I've been pulling for him ever since falling in love with Bring it On, his first picture. He hasn't made a picture as good since but I still hope he will. It's an interesting choice since he works almost exclusively in very mainstream comedies which is the last place Oscar looks for people worth nominating.

04 Dylan Tichenor (Editor) I just love him is all. You should too. He's only been the lead editor on nine films but most of them have amazing rhythms and play just ever so smoothly: Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Brokeback Mountain and The Royal Tenenbaums... What a filmography.

03 Ray Winstone (Actor) Most cinephiles will be enthused about this choice. He's made valuable contributions to ensemble films (The Departed) solid popcorn fun (Beowulf... all CGI slimmed-down) and memorable indies (Sexy Beast). Good choice Academy.

02 Jack Fisk (Art Director) Color me astonished that Mr. Sissy Spacek and favored production designer of both David Lynch and Terence Malick and the Art Director nominee that should have won last year (for There Will Be Blood) is not already a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

01 Michael Haneke (Director) I have a new obsession: trying to figure out what they were thinking when they decided to invite Michael f***ing Haneke (Caché, The Piano Teacher, Funny Games). He's a genius BUT I can't think of a working auteur more anti-Oscar than he. Can you? He likes to punish audiences rather than coddle them (a big Oscar no-no) and that's just for starters. After I get bored of this new obsession of wondering why they invited him, my next obsession will be enduring. I know myself well enough to know that I will spend hours each and every year moving forward, imagining what his Oscar ballot could possibly look like. My brain will hurt. Give 'em hell, Haneke.