Friday, February 29, 2008
Breaking wind inside a letterbox
Labels: Capsule reviews
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Suite: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (5:21)
Composed by Miklós Rózsa
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Nic Raine
Solo Violin: Lucie Svehlova
Labels: Music and dance
Monday, February 25, 2008
Flickhead at the Oscars!
Congratulations, Javier. But don’t buy that Porsche just yet. (Can you say ‘Timothy Hutton’?)
According to the Associated Press, polls showed that 3,896,452 American males came out of the closet after Amy Adams sang “The Happy Working Song” from Enchanted. Speaking on the grounds of anonymity, one AP source claimed, “It was as if they’d been shot right out of the gay cannon.”
Tilda: very hip, very cool
Halle Berry & Judi Dench. I don’t know who these guys are, but they were pretty funny
A combination of static cling and Frederick’s of Bedrock chic…walking slightly hunched over…hands patting down dress…naughty girl…aren’t you wearing underwear??
Ask your doctor if Cymbalta is right for you
Nice head, dude…
Labels: The Oscars
Saturday, February 23, 2008
That well-publicized smooch, according to Dan Savage, “was done because young people were already doing it…MTV was holding a mirror up to the audience.” A syndicated sex columnist, he’s among several writers and analysts interviewed in Bi the Way to focus on what we’re told is a new awareness of bisexuality.
Blockman and Decker travel the country to talk with people wafting between homo- and heterosexual relationships. There’s the teenage girl who was expelled from a Catholic high school for kissing a female classmate, and later thrown out of her house once her father got wind of it. A dancer from Brooklyn describes the downside to his situation: “Being gay in the African community is not cool—being gay is the opposite of being black.” And then there’s scene-stealing Josh, an 11-year-old whose self-styled moral and ethical code suggests a genius trapped inside a child’s body. He’s not sure whether he’s straight or gay or bi, but he’s certainly looking forward to losing his virginity.
Bi the Way asks the experts some intriguing questions—is there a difference between male and female bisexuality?; can bisexuals be monogamous?; is bisexuality determined by attraction or love or both?—but the filmmakers limit their personal profiles to members of one generation. The commenting writers, clinicians and analysts vary in age, but the ‘test case’ participants are all under 30—as are Blockman and Decker. While their individual stories are involving, they’re still the words of people groping in the formative years of growth, conflict and self-awareness. At times, it almost—and I stress the word ‘almost’—feels as if the film were handling bisexuality as an adolescent or transitory fad rather than a natural human condition.
In a chance meeting in Arizona, Blockman and Decker find their coda from a roadside philosopher drinking beer and smoking cigarettes: “Tears for Fears says it best: ‘nobody talks about the beauty of the gay.’ And you know what? There is something beautiful about the gay. Because if you take the sexual organs away, what it’s all about is what’s in the heart.” Words to live by.
(Bi the Way will be showing at the SXSW Film Festival on March 8, 11 and 13.)
Labels: Capsule reviews
Friday, February 22, 2008
The Big Dubya
(Crawford will be showing at the SXSW Film Festival on March 8, 10 and 15.)
Thursday, February 21, 2008
In France They Kiss on Main Street
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
When I’m 64
Nicole up a tree in Margot at the Wedding
What was once quirky and chancy now feels tiresome and repetitious, and the camcorder vérité of Margot at the Wedding is 90 yawning minutes of shallow, angry narcissists trying to cope in a gray world where they’ve fallen from the center of attention. The title may be in the same ballpark as Eric Rohmer’s Pauline at the Beach (or Sally Cruikshank’s Quasi at the Quackadero), but similarities end there. Nicole plays a writer we’re to assume earns a decent living, though all the characters seem to be on permanent holiday with no visible means of support. She and her sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and son (Zane Pais) have volatile relationships; her sister’s fiancé (Jack Black) has volatile relationships except with a young girl we’re told he seduced, though this viewer doubts any young girl’s attraction to his sleazy bearing and portly physique. There are more kids, there are exes, there are strange neighbors. Zane has a kind of epileptic fit and falls into a swimming pool. It goes unexplained, of course, because life is so wearying, yadda yadda yadda…And Jack cuts down a tree…Is it over? Is it over? Please wake me when it’s over…
Monday, February 18, 2008
Too much of nothing
Rachel Bilson in Jumper
Its anemic screenplay credited to no less than three writers working from an alleged novel by Steven Gould, Jumper sprints like the jumbled mind starved for Ritalin. Gruff ‘hero’ David Rice (bland, rubber-faced Hayden Christensen) leaves his broken home and alky father (cheeseball Michael Rooker) to physically jump through space portals to wherever he chooses. Assuming the screenwriters were schoolchildren whipping up playground scenarios, they forge ahead with predictable situations, from jumping into bank vaults to jumping atop the great pyramids. The three little tykes in question — David Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg — condescend to the requisite mushy love interest, a pretty young, bewildered actress named Rachel Bilson who’s given little to do other than mutter ‘what’s going on?’
What, indeed. Jumper plays its shaky hand within twenty minutes, and pads the remaining seventy with hollow, vague digressions about government conspiracies, a duplicitous absentee mom (shame shame Diane Lane), and angry Samuel Jackson who runs around in a laughable white hairpiece. David hooks up with another jumper played by Jamie Bell, whose slurred Brit inflection warrants subtitles. There’s a lot of jumping, a lot of gut crunching, a lot of noise…none of it compelling.
I’ve absolutely no quarrel with mindless action movies (Vin Diesel’s The Fast and the Furious and Ahh-nold’s Terminator 2 are among my guilty pleasures), but there are imperatives to form — tension, suspense, believability — which Jumper director Doug Liman sorely lacks. Upon leaving the theatre, Mrs. Flickhead gave her review: “That was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.” Mr. Liman’s name didn’t ring a bell at first, but looking him up afterward I realized that Mrs. Flickhead had never seen Mr. Liman’s Mr. And Mrs. Smith which is far, far worse than this latest mishegas.
The Amateurs (2005) Delayed for DVD release, this low budget affair written and directed by Michael Traeger is that rare thing, a sleepy rural ‘comedy’ with an over-the-top Jeff Bridges performance. He’s some kind of hillbilly genius out to make a porno movie in his bucolic backwater. Glenne Headly and Jeanne Tripplehorn co-star, with Ted Danson as a closeted gay (imagine his Body Heat lawyer via Nathan Lane). Dull, unfunny, uninvolving, meandering — some overzealous cinephiles may deem it an unrealized masterpiece.
Labels: Capsule reviews
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Hollywood’s Hellfire Club
Labels: Book reviews
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Nicole in The Invasion
The Invasion (2007) I’ve never read Jack Finney’s 1955 novel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, simply because the one book of his that I attempted to read — Time and Again — left a bad taste. He seemed to be a visionary author sadly handicapped when it came to characters and dialog; every sentence of Time and Again felt generic and artless, despite the color and promise of a time travel scenario.
I don’t know whether Finney had his protagonists battling giant, conspicuous seed pods in Body Snatchers or if he described their invasion as more of a virus…which is the route taken by this new (and fourth) film version. It’s an appealing situation that’s nearly impossible to screw up on the screen: seeds from space take over our bodies and minds to forge a new (and presumably inhuman) world of, well, peace and tranquility. In Finney’s time, the story was a parable of communist infiltration. Today it pinches the nerve of terrorism and biological warfare.
Nicole Kidman plays the doctor role essayed by Kevin McCarthy in the famous 1956 film. Here the character’s a psychiatrist prescribing antidepressants to make her patients behave like the calm drones threatening us from space. (One of her clients is Veronica Cartwright from the 1978 movie version.) When the aliens have nearly taken over, there’s a ceasefire in the middle east and peace treaties are signed from continent to continent. As someone who’s always been wary of emotional thinking, I have to ask: am I missing the downside to this?
These intriguing elements are soft-pedaled in Dave Kajganich’s screenplay. He doesn’t punch up the social and political ramifications. (One of my favorite lines in Phil Kaufman’s movie from the ‘70s is when Brooke Adams thinks her husband’s icy new demeanor indicates he’s become a Republican.) Instead, it digresses into an action picture with Nicole running to save her child while trying to stay awake. The action isn’t bad, and Nicole is excellent…but the overall effect seems lacking.
I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007) Filmed in 2005 and barely released, this was financed and mostly filmed in England, but it’s set in Los Angeles. With the exception of five or six of the lead actors, the cast is predominantly British, while young Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) does a brilliant job covering her Irish brogue.
Written and directed by Amy Heckerling, it’s a romantic comedy ostensibly about a forty-ish woman getting involved with a guy in his twenties. But the film is wildly disjointed and unfocused…yet as hypnotic as a train wreck.
As the older woman, Michelle Pfeiffer gets points for keeping her end up. Her co-star, Paul Rudd, is fairly engaging. But the scenario winds through a bunch of episodes with no attempt at coherency. Indeed, the whole thing feels improvised. Yet some of the comedy works, such as Ronan’s dig on Britney Spears. Given time to age, this could ripen into a trash classic.
Heckerling gives a fascinating audio commentary on the DVD. It’s apparent she’d rather be getting a root canal. But she explains a lot, such as the horrible image. It’s a digital process that allows filming without proper lighting. As a result, Michelle looks pasty and featureless. When you can make Michelle Pfeiffer look pasty and featureless, you’ve accomplished something heretofore unknown in Hollywood.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Click images to enlarge
Nude Descending a Staircase