Mad Men Before and After
Taking in the new office of the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, I thought that the fourth season of Mad Men means that the show can’t turn back the clock. The season’s sixth episode, “Waldorf Stories,” proved me wrong. It’s character instead of plot for this episode, a challenge to the actors like Christina Hendricks, Jon Hamm and January Jones to regain the glint in the eyes that the characters have had five years ago or so. The more cynical of us think that this episode is written specifically so that the Academy can see that the three deserve Emmy’s already, for Christ sakes.
Before. Don Draper circa 1959 [ETA: Christopher Rosen and S.T. Van Airsdale talked theories, and now I think it’s 1953], telling just another customer, Roger Sterling (John Slattery), what ‘we’re’ gonna do. His pitch is one of the show’s cruxes, ‘what women want,’ yet here it is about a mistress and not a mother.
After. Draper in 1965 is award-winning but more rudimentary and uninspired, trying to wing the presentation with talk of adult ‘irony.’
Before: Roger Sterling and Joan Holloway in private, treating the fur coat with more importance than the ‘genius’ who has sold it, giving each other ‘one gift at a time.’
After. Joan is Joan Harris. Appearing together in public, Joan speaks on behalf of Roger, no longer taking his shit and eventually leaving him drunk in the bar.
Before. Betty Hofstadt, cold. Her slogan represents independence and her face exudes hope. If you notice, for some reason Betty has the blonde version of Joan’s curly, longer hair. Overread that, if you like.
After, her name is Betty Draper Francis, fuming, reminding Don that ‘It IS Sunday.’ She divorced, yet ironically still dependent on her first husband.
So Stuck in the 90′s…
While ruffling through old…stuff I guess, Nathaniel R found issues of his old zine. He re-listed what he thought the greatest performances of that decade are.
Best Supporting Actor
– Joe Pesci, Goodfellas, (199o)
Hey look, it’s Joe Pesci with feelings!
– Ted Levine, Silence of the the Lambs, (1991)
You know what, this performance is a little bit campy, but scary and will offend generations to come.
– Anthony Hopkins, Dracula (1992)
Scarier here than as Hannibal Lecter.
– Leonardo di Caprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
He’s proven what he can do at such a young age.
– Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction (1994)
Put cool, hilarious and scary into one gunman.
– Vincent Cassel, La Haine (1995)
Great as the funny, deluded guy from the Paris ghetto.
– Steve Buscemi, Fargo (1996)
Makes the audience realize how crazy these kidnapping plans go.
– Timothy Spall, Secrets and Lies (1996)
This family man role puts him on different emotional fields.
– Robert Forster, Jackie Brown (1997)
You wouldn’t think of him as Pam Grier’s best leading man, but there he is.
– Brendan Fraser, Gods and Monsters (1998)
Remember when this guy did actual acting?
Best Supporting Actress
– ETA: Lorraine Bracco, Goodfellas (1990)
Can’t believe I forgot about this innocent turned crazy-emotional performance
– Jessica Lange, Cape Fear (1991)
Smoldering sexuality comes easy with this lady.
– Angela Bassett, Malcolm X (1992)
The only woman who could play Malcolm X’s wife and in one or two incidents, his formidable opponent.
– Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence (1993)
As May Archer, a woman who sounds so nice saying the most manipulative things.
– Melanie Lynskey, Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Gotta give Ms. Lynskey a hand for how brave she tackled her sexually blossoming character.
– Sharon Stone, Casino (1995)
Goes all out as Ginger, the boss’ damaged wife.
– Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard III (1995)
The best in show in a film of great women, she gives her one speaking scene as Queen Anne great complexity.
– Bridget Fonda, Jackie Brown (1997)
Exudes confidence as the surfer girl, Melanie.
– Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights (1997)
That scene outside the courthouse.
– Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Slithers his way into Clarice Starling’s sympathies, and ours too.
– Denzel Washington, Malcolm X (1992)
Great range from anger to spiritual enlightenment.
– Colm Feore, Thirty-Three Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993)
Feore helps us learn about this fascinating man.
– Bruce Willis, Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Out of the performances in this list, his is the most visceral.
– Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade (1996)
He makes interesting choices in this role.
– Samuel L. Jackson, One Eight Seven (1997)
Again, scarier than Jules when he teaches us about the ‘philanges.’
– Johnny Depp, Donnie Brasco (1997)
One of the greatest performances within the performance.
– Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski (1998)
Boring answer, but he plays a stoner awake.
– Dylan Baker, Happiness (1998)
Such a sympathetic portrayal that you won’t even believe the truth about him.
– Matt Damon, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Great as a love-to-hate shape shifter.
ETA: Italics represent Oscar winners.
- Flashback: Best of the 90s. (Pt 1) (filmexperience.blogspot.com)
Laurel Canyon, the perfect boring couple, Sam (Christian Bale) and Alex (Kate Beckinsale) talk at each other and sometimes lie to each other. Sam has to move back to the titular Laurel Canyon to practice psychiatry in a great hospital there, and Alex comes with to finish her dissertation. temporary bunking with Sam’s mother Jane (Frances McDormand) and her lover Ian (Alessandro Nivola), the environment proves to hinder work and shake up relationships.
Hey! Catherine Hardwicke and Wally Pfister helped make this movie.
It’s funny that 60% of the major players in this film are British but make for more convincing Californians than Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska. And that bale and Nivola could have changed roles but the American Nivola does fit the hairy-chested, childlike Chris Martin-eqsue role better.
Alex is such a complex character that Cholodenko has to justify the script’s choices within and around her. When she gets invited to join Jane’s group, Jane explains that she can judge Jane’s work because common sense drives popular music, thus anyone can judge it. When Sam pours his heart out to Sara, it follows with a scene when Alex misunderstands everything he’s been saying to her. A question is often followed by an answer, thankfully those answers aren’t too expository.
And oh Lord, Kate Beckinsale. I’ll always love her for her deadpan fierceness, if that exists, in The Last Days of Disco. Her MUBI profile doesn’t show how derided she is after The Aviator. As the soft-spoken Alex, her retreat with Sam lets her go through a sexual awakening at the same time as Sam, but hers is more intense, later on explaining that she’s never experienced fucking up. Within the film, she goes from routine lovemaking to romantic desire. It’s sad that they didn’t go through the full experience together. And she smokes a joint like a true beginner. I miss this girl.
Would it be fair to say that Cholodenko almost perfectly encapsulates the white experience? She doesn’t have the Holofcener/Fey guilt thing, but Cholodenko puts the straight-laced and the wild ones within the same square inch, or in this case, the same family. Most of the movie shows Sam and Jane treat each other passive aggressively until the big explosive scene in the denouement, which air some raw emotions out.
And again, time to download me some Mercury Rev.
The Kids Are All Right
The trailer for The Kids are All Right shows Manohla Dargis calling it a ‘near note-perfect portrait of a modern family,’ in a way that it shows complex implications to the words ‘biological’ and ‘parent,’ there are clashes, affairs, dinners with people who are having affairs, cathartic speeches of redemption. It’s a typical formula if not for the slow pacing, the script, tick-y acting from the major players and the hand-held cam close-ups in group scenes, all giving the impression of a balance between improvisation and direct delivery.
Basically, two teenagers from lesbian parents look for the sperm donor, and whatever ensues, ensues.
Annette Bening as Nic is the best in show without trying. I’ve only seen her in crazy parts (American Beauty, Running With Scissors). Other reviews have tried to sell her as the stable one in the relationship, and she is that. She can also be ‘not my real self,’ be acidic, be the embarrassing drunk one, be the one who has to deal with the headaches just like a parent. Her first line at the first dinner conversation about Jules’ (Julianne Moore) truck makes the audience follow her more. Her calm reaction to a shocking revelation proves that Bening’s performance becomes the greatest one within greatest performances.
I’m ambivalent about Laser (Josh Hutcherson) as a character. It was his idea to contact their sperm donor Paul (Mark Ruffalo). A little selling point for the movie and his character that he might or might not be ‘too close to his loser friend Clay,’ that subplot being really hilarious. He also doesn’t know how to talk to Paul, being directly hostile about Paul’s opinions about little things, this approach somehow different from his sister, college age Joni (Mia Wasikowska) just smiling at him. Despite of those things, I don’t feel like I got to know the guy. He must have had female friends, unless that’s what ticked off Nice and Jules. I think Laser just fades into the background after the scene with the talk.
O hai, HaySpayTu. Tanya (Yaya da Costa) is a bit Earth Mother Archetype to me, just like a grown-up version of the real Yaya da Costa we know.
And hai, Peggy’s lesbian wooer (Zosia Mamet) from “Mad Men!”
I also wanna talk about the Susan G. Cole critiques to this movie. A) Mark Ruffalo doesn’t even act like a stoner in this movie and the last time he did that was in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think he actually does his best to defend his character – a lesser actor would have just laid there and portray Paul as the dirt bag that he is on the script. B) Bisexuality exists. I’ll concede that the film uses a Degrassi: TNG storyline, and that she’s not alone in thinking that the Jules and Paul thins is BS, but a plausibly realistic one. But then I’m not a lesbian so I don’t know how strong their fortitude is against Mark Ruffalo. Mine isn’t.
Now that that’s all out, time to download the rest of the soundtrack!
Period Films: The Bank Job
Last Tuesday me and my friend Shabiki could have seen either seen The Bank Job or 500 Days of Summer. If my hipster teenage cousin knows about this choice, she’d go halfway around the world to kick my ass. We got to the place ten minutes after nine, or ten minutes after sunset in Toronto. I didn’t know that we got to the place 50 minutes after the movie started, a move that would make Woody Allen burst a blood vessel.
Martine Love, a fashion model/childhood friend/lover of working class car shop owner Terry (Jason Statham) tips him and his friends off to rob a branch of a not-so-major bank in London, the team unknowingly used as pawns to recover compromising pictures of a royal family member – the fast one. Eventually the team finds out that the safety deposit boxes in said bank have more compromising pictures and documents that corrupt politicians and business owners desperately want returned.
Watching a movie cold, if those are the proper words, means that I wouldn’t know that the events portrayed within the film really happened. In 1971. I guess the brown leather, the brown wool, the popped collars, large lapels and the turtlenecks should have tipped me off. I guess black and brown are timeless. Besides, the movie probably prioritized on letting us see Terry beat the shit out of someone, talk bad-ass, wear a suit and maybe take his shirt off if you were patient enough. Watching the first 50 minutes of the movie made me see the pastel of typical 70’s films. The infrastructure should have tipped me off too, but then I was just thinking ‘That’s just the UK being quirky.’
I hate the phrase, but for a Jason Statham movie, it’s pretty subtle. Yes, there’s a lot of sex, and the movie dangles the possibility that Terry’s kids could be harmed but thankfully they weren’t. There’s class conflict and shift in power portrayed but again it’s for the audience members who want to see it this way. There’s a brown guy in the team and multiculturalism on the most part is a footnote instead of a ‘token.’ Martine, who gets his hands dirty, isn’t fully blamed by the mostly male team members. Although the film’s depiction of black people makes me feel uncomfortable. Also, there are lots of nudity and children were watching.
Nonetheless, I kinda feel like watching The Expendables or Mesrine now.
Before Night Falls
Cut it, Javi. You’ve had bad hair for a role before.
Before Night Falls is playing at the Cinematheque at 9:30 tonight. Come because I probably on vacation and can’t.
Best Shot Redux: Bring It On
The follow-up posts are just a product of my indecisiveness. As Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) says in her pep talk, ‘we have to learn and discover new types of dance.’ Form merges with content, as one of the film’s positive points is its snapshots of greatness, alluding to art house directors. Really.
Bring It On, written and directed by Jane Campion. Posted by cheapseats and theonewithmjd.
Bring It On – Roman Orgy, written by Gore Vidal and directed by Federico Fellini. Posted by season days – el fanatico.
We’ll also look at the unsung heroes, like Torrance’s (Kirsten Dunst) love interest (Jesse Bradford). Glenn Dunks
And this guy, who’s probably a real cheerleader.
- Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Bring It On (filmexperience.blogspot.com)
Seminal Television: The Chrysanthemum and…
After Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) gets herself into a Robert Mapplethorpe kind of mess, her mother Betty née Hofstadt (January Jones) and Henry Francis decide to get her a psychiatrist. Trying the shrink, Dr. Edna, out, Betty theorizes that Sally’s bad behaviour has its roots on her father Gene’s death. Dr Edna leaves the room, revealing a doll house behind her.
Betty notices, smiles and restrains herself even in a private moment. I change my mind about Jones constantly, but her monologues never bore. Also notice how her body barely move an inch yet we feel those emotions through her face. Just like that I love her again.
And there’s some hot mess about a deal with SCDP and Honda. And Peggy rides a bike. I care too, but I don’t wanna overload you.
Best Shot: Bring it On
I was a cheerleader in my first year in University. Because of that, this movie is seminal viewing. I actually know the cheer in the beginning of the movie five years before I saw it in its entirety. I’d try to recite or cheer it but I’d just go on a loop. I was thinking about skipping this movie, featured in Nathaniel Rogers’ Best Shot series, but as a former cheerleader, that would be treasonous.
Bring it On‘s hero, Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) has a lot on her hands. Captaining a 5-time regional cheerleading champion that isn’t as united as they once were, a boyfriend in college, another love interest (Shakespearean actor Jesse Bradford), having to constantly court love interest’s sister/gymnast turned neophyte cheerleader Missy (Eliza Dushku). Knowing that her predecessor Big Red stole the earlier routines, she hires a crazy-ass choreographer to teach them a new, non-stolen routine. Or so she thought.
I had to re-watch and look within the movie to see close-ups of the hands. I don’t know why it’s the first image that comes to mind when someone discusses the movie, but there they are.
There’s Kurosawa, Bette Davis evil. But watching this and watching the Toros do the same routine made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t even listen to it. I’m one of those movie watchers that used to go to the bathroom when there’s a scene when a character gets embarrassed. That reaction, my friends, can only be caused by pure evil in cinema.
Image that are probably better than this one will be posted later today/tomorrow if no one posts them.
Best Shot Redux: Black Narcissus
Still dwelling on last week’s episode of Nathaniel Rogers’ Best Shot series, Black Narcissus. I’m not gonna say disappointed since that makes me sound like a cocky bastard, but nobody caught this?
These two shots show that Sister Clodagh’s (Deborah Kerr) not the humourless nun she’s trying to be. And this is her bonding moment with Mr. Dean (David Farrar). If only there were more coffee cups and the habit would have come off. But alas, the blossoms still win.
Before I talk about the likes and dislikes about the movie, I just wanna say that Despicable Me is in between good Avatar and headache-inducing Alice in Wonderland in the spectrum of 3D films. If there’s any part of a 3D movie when I take off my glasses and don’t see anything different from watching the movie with or without the glasses, we have a little problem. I do like he sleek designof some interior/exterior spaces of the film, however.
Here, however, is the structural conundrum about Despicable Me. The first scenes are boring. I didn’t really wanna see our anti-hero Gru (Steve Carell) freeze-ray his way into getting a latte. However, I can’t think of away to cut any of them because if I do, I won’t have enough background on the characters. Basically, Gru, a worn-down villain, adopts three girls to infiltrate another villain’s lair. These tedious introductions help make the children sympathetic and make Gru’s 180 much more surprising and delightful.
Gru’s Eastern bloc accent is stage-y yet not distracting. The children even make fun of it to show him how incompetent he is at being a villain. There are also flashbacks within the film showing Gru’s childhood when his mother (Julie Andrews) shrugs off his little achievements. Most people with terrible childhoods like Gru’s have shortsighted reasons for having or adopting kids and they treat their children as terribly as they have been treated. However, Gru turns out to become a perfect parent. Maybe it’s because Gru, like many adult protagonists in animated films, are children in adult bodies who is looking for playmates. Maybe it’s because the girls are kinda bratty and sarcastic and they’re not the kind of children you lie to or mess with.
Nonetheless, it’s also very funny. It takes a while for the movie to bring on the laughs, but it’s worth the wait. This movie also has the greatest Godfather parody scene in recent memory, and there are funnier parts of the film than that.
Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) has this doll-shaped, pristine face that makes her look like a model for a Renaissance painting – she’s not in the cover of the September issue of W for nothing. Yet she evokes a working class toughness through her looks and performance. The latter can also be said the population of this heroine’s small town setting in the Ozarks, most of whom like hey could be related to Charles Manson, most of whom are distantly related to Ree.
I haven’t seen everything under the American Neo Realist canon – does The Wrestler count? Nonetheless, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone shows what we can expect from the genre – messy living spaces, our heroine Ree who has to take care of children through tough love, the heroine who knows that opportunity is difficult to reach and tries anyway. Then there’s the dangerous hurdle in front of her – having to look for her father or else she’ll lose her house. Within that major plot point comes the portrayal of an honour code in her drug-ridden community that separates her from her elders – yes, elders.
Winter’s Bone is also one of the most climactic example within a genre that chooses minimal and super subtle emotions. Don’t mistake me, there’s economical dialogue here too, but every word in the script has a kick. There are also scenes like when her own uncle Teardrop threatens her. His hand comes from nowhere and that tense moment is captured through film that I’ve probably never seen before.
Supporting cast includes Garret Dillahunt, bit player in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Dale Dickey, the hooker/Betty White’s daughter in “My Name is Earl,” in a chilling performance.
Seminal Television: Friends
So Chandler (Matthew Perry) talks about the freebie list that he and Janice have made up. Chandler gives his friends his list. Kim Basinger, Cindy Crawford, Halle Berry – she’s been around that long? – Yasmeen Bleeth and Jessica Rabbit. Remember supermodels? What used to be a ‘horny dude’s’ list in 1996 seems kinda awesome now, because what kind of guy would put Doutzen Kroes in their freebie list?
Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) – Chris O’ Donnell, John F. Kennedy Jr. – gross, because he’s dead – Daniel Day-Lewis, Sting and Parker Stevenson. Good taste. And trust me, there are girls out there who would put Daniel Day-Lewis on their freebie list today.
Ross (David Schwimmer) overthinks the exercise as usual – Uma Thurman, Winona Ryder, Elizabeth Hurley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dorothy Hamill. 60% of those people also aged like wine. Too bad he bumped Isabella Rossellini and Susan Sarandon off his list. But then, if Isabella Rossellini stayed on the list, they would have done it “Green Porno” style. And she’ll be the top.
This is kinda the reason why I miss the 90’s. Despite the terrible haircuts and boring fashion, the sex symbols were the kind of men and women you imagine to have a conversation with after coitus. Thank God we have Christina Hendricks and Anne Hathaway – I know, right? – and Olivia Munn and Penelope Cruz and Freida Pinto and Hugh Jackman and Matt Damon and Jude Law and Daniel Craig and Christian Bale.
I’ll edit this post and share my list if you share yours. I already have clues up there. But then like Monica (Courtney Cox), first the boyfriend. Then the list.
Eternal Sunshine of the…
Kate Winslet has the best hands and the best legs that the movies have had for a long time. Not in a Marlene Dietrich-Claudette Colbert sort of way. It’s more of how Kate puts her physicality to work like Buster Keaton. And yes, I just compared a girl to Buster Keaton. As much as I resent that Oscar of hers getting stolen by she-who-must-not-be-named, I understand how the Academy can overlook a performance like this. Be good next time, AMPAS.
One of the best romantic movies of our generation actually de-romanticizes Valentines Day by reminding the audience that the day is smacked within the winter time. It’s hard to really think of your loved one as ‘sexy’ under those drab bomber jackets. Then there’s the consumerism factor that the holiday brings.
Despite of that drabness, the people have character, a bit alone and looking for each other. Clementine (Kate Winslet) is the kind of girl, impulsive, as said too many times in this otherwise flawless final script. I can’t even imagine getting into a stranger’s car so easily. But as the audience knows, Clementine and Joel (Jim Carrey) aren’t strangers. Erasing each other from their memory only messes with their minds and has created a connection that they might not even have had two years ago, when they have first met.
It’s like a Bogie-Ingrid pairing. If you told anyone in 1997 that the girl from Titanic and the guy from Liar, Liar will make one of the best couple in film history, no one would believe you. This movie never ceases to surprise, despite how many times I’ve seen it.
In between watching movies from the Wright Stuff series and watching Scott Pilgrim, I watched another hipster romance movie – Marie Antoinette. Before I get to the meat of this post, I just wanna say that I have to discuss the traces of what I have read or heard about the woman whose life this movie is depicting, and how true this movie is to the life of said murdered queen – if I used the word executed it means she deserved it, which she partly didn’t. Some people believe that the dead are fair game, but then we’re talking about one of the most slandered women in history, so every time Coppola or the film trips, we deduct a point.
I remember the pre-blogging glory days of trying to defend this movie while calling out the royalists who trolled the Marie Antoinette forum on iMDb. That was where I read someone who compared the movie to a series of paintings. And probably where I read someone mistake Marie Antoinette’s (Kirsten Dunst) alleged Swedish boy toy Count Axel von Fersen (Jamie Dornan) as Napoleon. And/or make a comparison between Madame du Barry (Asia Argento) as a Disney evil queen – she did NOT look like that nor act like she was depicted in the film, by the way. There are other directors who make a collage of pop culture references in their work. Those anonymous readings, however, show that Coppola isn’t able to mold those separate images and/or incorporate them into what should be a believable and seamless biopic. I don’t fully believe that it would have been a better decision to invent her own images of these people instead recycling old/different/inaccurate ones, but I’d imagine there’s some who watched this movie who would choose the former over the latter.The movie has always felt like ‘This is what I imagine her life to be,’ which has driven a lot of history nuts crazy.
Need to remind you guys that Coppola’s direction of the character Marie Antoinette evoked Paris Hilton. And being inundated by that comparison by the media, oh my God. Which leads us to Coppola’s apparent aim of turning Marie Antoinette’s story as a satire of the nepotism – biting the hand – and decadence of the government and celebrity culture of Bush-era US. Which is great, but why can’t Marie Antoinette simply be Marie Antoinette?
What is different between 18th century Versailles and 21st century America is the treatment of children’s sexuality. Adults both blue and red-blooded obsessed over Marie Antoinette as a sexual being. It’s tragic how her mother, Maria Theresa (Marianne Faithful) has fought for and keep the crown of the Holy Roman Empire as a woman and became the most powerful woman in Europe after Catherine the Great, only for her daughter to be trampled so easily. Coppola gets it right in this movie by actually showing the ‘people of France’s’ real problem with Marie Antoinette – that it dragged on before she was able to produce an heir. And how full the operating room was when Marie gave birth to, unfortunately, Therese. Also consider the hypocrisy of spying on adolescents’ bedroom action and the Christian notion of not talking about sex and not teaching the poor couple how to have sex.
Marie eventually becomes corrupted by this oversexualized society, having knowledge of her grandfather-in-law King Louis XIV’s (Rip Torn) affair with Du Barry. Marie then derides this fake aristocrat. In Coppola’s film, she unknowingly she becomes just like Du Barry, carrying out her own affair with the Swede.
Today, a 14 year old’s responsibility is his or her homework and some household chore. Marie, turning 14 when she did, has had a quick transition between childhood and adulthood, just like that insufficient carriage ride to the French border. At least two years into adulthood in that day’s standards, she has a responsibility that reminds her that she is still a second class citizen under Salic law. No wonder, as Coppola shows in the film, Marie regresses.
Flaw – The scene when Marie walks with Austrian Ambassador Mercy (Steve Coogan) and Therese in the gardens. The Princess du Lamballe (Mary Nighy) runs to the three and informs them of the Austrian Empress’s death. How did the Austrian ambassador not know that first?
In Roger Ebert‘s review of this film, his second point called Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette as ‘pitch-perfect casting.’ It’s not Interview with a Vampire, or to compare it to the other performances that year, she’s no Penelope Cruz. It’s wonderful watching Dunst’s face react to her husband King Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) wolf down his food, or how her face reaches us through that infamous zoom out, saying a lot while standing still. Having to go across the palace to a private room where she could cry or fawn – a measured release of emotion from one place to another. Worn down after the deaths in her family. Her poised diplomatic voice as she talks to her husband’s cabinet and even to her own brother, the Holy Roman Emperor (Danny Huston). As some blog I used to read has said in defense of her performance, Dunst was obedient to Coppola’s vision.
Trailer – Fair Game
First saw in a post by Brad Brevet. Youtube version posted by Christopher Campbell. Click on either in case my embed effing troubleshoots. Valerie Plame‘s (Naomi Watts) husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) tries to reveal that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As a way to discredit and ruin him, they try to get to his wife and blow her cover as a CIA agent. Comes out November 5 in limited, and November 12 in wide release in the US. No known dates for Canada yet.
It’s strange how Summit Entertainment is the distributor both to the Twilight Saga and to ‘anti-American/anti-Republican films’ like Hurt Locker, Ghost Writer, and now this.
Naomi Watts is amazing at making an all-American girl seem fascinating and multi-layered. That scene in the car is worth the ticket price.
The second time Naomi Watts and Sean Penn – perfectly cast as Joe Wilson – playing love interests in a film, the first being 21 Grams, but her name’s the one on the marquee. But then I’m sure many of you would rather see her with Laura Harring again.
Also, o hai supporting cast – svelte Catherine Morton, angry guy in Little Children! (Noah Emmerich)
That music is too cliched.
There’s probably just as much or more Iraq/Gulf war movies set in Washington as it is in the war zones.
Doug Liman’s name also keeps popping up in the blogs just as much as the stars of the film. He’s directed two clunkers before this one, but as classy First Lady Michelle Obama said, ‘Don’t screw it up, buddy.’
Scott Pilgrim: A Bibliography
Un Chien Andalou (1927) – Starting in one place and ending in another.
Looney Tunes (1930-1969) – Pointed out by Brad Brevet. Fight captions, as well as Scott leaving through the window.
A Star is Born ’37 – Lights on a cityscape far-ish away ?
The Lady Eve (1941) – Barbara Stanwyck reveals her many – fictional – exes to her new husband on public transportation. In the original graphic novel, Ramona does this on the Yonge-Finch subway train. Ha!
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Goofball bursts through painted backdrop. Also, love triangle between histrionic and ‘intellectual.’
The Searchers (1956) – Roxy Richter is Scar and Michael Cera is John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter in the same person?
Vertigo (1958) – John’s Ferren’s thin white whirlpool. [ETA: Also, zoom in dolly out when Scott and Lucas Lee run to each other and fight.]
Pillow Talk (1959) – Split screen, especially in phone conversations.
Richard Lester‘s films (1964 – ) Jason Anderson interviewed Edgar Wright who talked about four critics who compared the movie to Lester’s films.
Eraserhead (1977) – The white screen.
Hausu (1977) – Asian schoolgirls, one of whom is named Kung Fu, and thus, kicks ass.
Star Wars (1977) – I can’t believe it took me days to realize the swords. Fucking duh!
The Last Waltz (1978) – Sex Bob Omb plays empty room. Also, Young Neil looks like a young Neil Young.
[ETA] Hair (1979) Medium (?) close-up of Knives Chau’s (Ellen Wong) image panning from right to left just like the Asian girl singing ‘Walking in Space.’
Phantom of the Paradise (1980) – Evil rock band contract deals. Final fight scene in rock venue where, SPOILER, both men technically die.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1989) – Scott apparently modeled between Ferris and the other guy.
“Seinfeld” (1990) – I didn’t know Jerry was gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Poison (1991) – A gay guy and a straight in sleeping in the same bed?
Riki-Oh (1991) – Hero fights hunks first before fighting skinny Asian dudes. What the fuck is up with that?
Dracula ’92 – Enemy evaporates at will?
The Big Lebowski (1998) Dream sequence portraying altitude and doors and love.
Rushmore (1998) – Dweeb in a love triangle between white girl and Asian.
American Beauty (1999) – But instead of roses, there’s a shower of hearts.
Fight Club (1999) – Protagonist fights many enemies and eventually has a fight with SPOILER himself.
High Fidelity (2000) – Pretentious CD store with rude customer service – the Sonic Boom people are nice, by the way – and movie about exes and the one true love.
Romeo Must Die (2000) – Guy uses girl to fight other girl, or the other way around.
ETA: Harry Potter (film series) (2001-2011) – Scott’s sister says ‘It’s been over a year since you got dumped by “she who will not be named.”‘
Gerry (2002) – Hazy desert scene. Dead white boy.
Phone Booth (2002) – By the way, there is no phone booth like that in Bloor and Bathurst.
“Arrested Development” (2003) – Apparently Michael Cera and the lesbian ex dated in a string of episodes.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) – Animation interludes depicting violent childhood. Also, fight between velvety voiced white girl and shout-y Asian. [ETA: Scott fighting Lucas Lee’s stunt doubles remind me of the Crazy 88.]
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – Pirates are in this year!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Dweeb hooks up with girl who changes her hair colour a lot.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – MegaScott kinda looks like Zombie Ed.
The Fantastic Four (2005) – Chris Evans. Good actor.
The Last Winter (2006) – CGI air animals? We’ve probably seen this before.
Superman (2006) – The unrecognizable Brandon Routh.
[ETA] Juno (2007) – Michael Cera probably loses his movie virginity for the first time here.
Let the Right One In (2008) – The snow and swings. Also, ovaries > balls.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – Jason Schwartzman kinda plays a superhero ?
Up in the Air (2009) – Anna Kendrick reuses her archetypal role as the younger but sane one.
Chloe (2010) – Movie about Toronto, awesome architecture, creepy phone calls.
Armond White is correct, okay? There are tons of movie references. If I wanna over-read these references, most of the recognizable are from movies made in the past decade, which means that these movies are worth referring to. Despite my pessimism, new movies aren’t so bad after all.
Yes, it underperformed at the box office, probably because of apprehensions, as Peter Martin points out, that the references do target the ‘video game generation.’ The first reference I pointed out is from 1927. I don’t know if that helps ‘people over 30’ to be herded into the theatres, but if I could see a relationship to pop culture before video games, hopefully someone else will.
- Michael Cera tries 2 revive his career by making a viral video with Tony Danza (hipsterrunoff.com)
Best Shot: Black Narcissus
Rewatching Black Narcissus made me remember that there are so many beautiful shots in it that I’ve ignored, making me change my mind constantly. ‘Questions’ like this must be answered honestly, deciding on the film’s best shot without rewatching.
I’ll write some more.
The blossoms, to my memory, have also had their close-ups in Broken Blossoms, The African Queen and Howards End, and to a lesser extent, The Age of Innocence and I am Love. Black Narcissus and the other movies mentioned used blossoms as a way to make protagonist/white subject position home in a place where they’re a fish out of water.
These shots, lasting a total of ten seconds, also marks the spring time, after cabin fever sets into the converted convent and everybody hates each other. Watching those blossoms makes me feel like there’s hope in the settlement, that the land has a history before the nuns came, that it’s home. It is up to debate on whose home it is, however.
Or maybe I just like blossoms. Does that make me less of a man? The answer – yes. Also, I am easily amused by colourful things.
Then, of course, Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) has to ruin everything, as she always does. Then again maybe the blossoms foreshadow Sister Ruth’s sexual awakening, or a time when she can finally act as carelessly as she wants.
Related Articles (can’t believe I forgot to put this in. Sorry, Nathaniel. :S)
- Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Black Narcissus (filmexperience.blogspot.com)
Seminal Television: The Rejected
Yes, half of the cast of Mad Men was given the red stamp last Sunday, but I wanna talk about the half-rejected. Like the brassiere ad campaign that Pete Campbell (Vincent Karthesier) has to handle, which is contentious specifically because the print makes the model look Puerto Rican. As Pete says ‘I don’t care if she looks like a Puerto Rican. Puerto Rican girls buy brassieres.’
And Sharon, the black model Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) meets in the youthquake. The girl’s parents don’t know. I’m really crossing my fingers that Peggy gets the ovaries to ask the girl to model for one of the products that SCDP work for. Don’s feeling risky this season, maybe he’ll bite too. Also double rejected in the room is Joyce, brushed aside both by Peggy and Life Magazine.
Also, the secretaries of SCDP took their powder room problems to this focus group. What went wrong here? Smaller sample size? Also reminding everyone that Peggy has been a part of focus groups like this too. When she was on the secretaries’ side of the mirror, she managed to wow Freddy. I guess girls like Peggy only come a generation. Allison’s problem is not her problem indeed.
White boys get rejected too. Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Stanton), who, despite of his great client list, rejected in SCDP ‘s inception. It’s funny seeing and listening to him being the abrasive one, since that’s pretty much Pete in 1963. Ken’s over it though, telling Pete about the ‘the worst…retards in the same room’ of McCann Erickson. In between those superlatives, he tells Pete about his mother being a nurse, Ken representing the other half of SCDP who isn’t born with a silver spoon.
Moral lessons suck, but I like Joyce, Sharon and Ken’s getting-there survival stories, becoming the unsung heroes of this episode.
- MM@M: Jean “Peggy” Seberg (filmexperience.blogspot.com)
Seminal Television: The Good News
The fourth season of Mad Men seems to concentrate more one character pointing out who’s normal and who’s not. The earlier episode, Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) laments that the Civil Rights are the beginning of a descent in America. This episode, it’s the cast donning and taking off their little veils. Joan’s (Christina Hendricks) body looks medically fine despite her past. Her coworkers and her husband still thinks she files cabinets, she still thinks he’s an incompetent doctor foolishly going to Vietnam. But she’s close the door quietly or smile, because she doesn’t like repeating herself.
Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) first wife Anna still thinks she’s healthy despite a broken leg. He and Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) see a B monster movie in a theatre where ‘hand jobs’ go on. Also, Fake Lenny Bruce makes fun of two men who apparently shouldn’t be sitting in a table together. ‘Wall Street, does it bother your parents that he’s so ugly?’ The periphery penetrating the centre. Lane Pryce responds, ‘We’re not homosexuals, we’re divorced.’ At the same time, I wondered why it would have been more shameful to be the former than the latter.
Later, Lane and Don’s whores come in. The comedian greets them with ‘They’re not queers, they’re rich.’ Gross. Lane points out how well Candace knows his kitchen. ‘She does not go to Barnard.’ Don’s joke, as well as the one by the comedian. also touches upon the good old mad Men theme that things aren’t what they seem. But that doesn’t stop other for figuring each other out.
Random Thoughts: Charlie Wilson’s War
Adapting the late award-winning CBS producer George Crile’s book, Aaron Sorkin wrote Charlie Wilson’s War and probably had a play in mind, since most of the scenes consist of place, characters and their lines electrically ricochet. There’s little visual manipulation or tricks from director Mike Nichols. He’s the best director for these kind of ‘play’ movies, winning for Tony’s and all. We’ll jump to a scene where our hero, Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) and American spy Gust Avrikotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) pay a visit to Zvi, an Israeli arms dealer.
Zvi: Afghanistan and Pakistan don’t recognize our right to exist, we just got done fighting a war against Egypt, and everyone who has ever tried to kill me or my family has been trained in Saudi Arabia!
Gust: That’s not true, Zvi. Some of them were trained by us.
A few minutes later, Charlie reveals a pending coke charge against him, And Zvi replies with ‘I love you Charlie, but you are a grown man who still hasn’t learned to look both ways before crossing the facking street!’
In many scenes of the movie, Hanks plays the straight guy and takes the back seat for Hoffman and Julia Roberts’ Joanne Herring. It’s wonderful to see Hanks as a part of an all-cast ensemble, but then again, when Julia Roberts is in the room, everyone else is a bag lady.
Speaking of her, Julia Roberts is both overrated and underrated. She dominated the box office in the 90’s yet people wanted to throw something at her when she won an Oscar against Ellen Burstyn. Charlie Wilson’s War is her second movie with Mike Nichols, the first being a happy woman with a dubious past. She’s also a mainstay in Steven Soderbergh’s movies as well as two early movies by disgraced director Joel Schumacher. Her hook up with directors isn’t as edgy as if she worked with Michael Haneke or Lars von Trier, but Nichols and Soderbergh give her great work she deserves.
Charlie Wilson’s War is a satire of Washignton’s lack of foresight, the Orwellian ‘Eurasia and Eastasia’ insanity that America has adopted, like a superpower that by its own fault has enemies and war zones change by the decade. One can see US imperialism, as shown in the film, as a parasite doing its mission in one country and leaving it devastated after the mission is accomplished.
But it’s not just the Americans who are at fault here. A young Afghan tells Charlie, ‘Don’t send us rice and bandages. Give us guns.’
It’s still fun and witty, Although a movie can never be perfect if it could be summarized in its last ten minutes.
Charlie Wilson’s War is gonna be on AMC again tonight and tomorrow afternoon. It’s a good laugh, or six.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky
While introducing Riki-Oh, the Story of Ricky, Edgar Wright reads from a list of keywords that includes the different ways Ricky could do damage to the bad guys’ bodies. Foot on leg, head bashed in, head ripped off. I know they don’t even try to make the blood look real but it was still oh-so-disgusting.
‘He does one thing in the end and we ask “Why didn’t he just do that in the first place?”‘ I guess he just had to make sure that it wasn’t an empty gesture. But yeah, there’s many ways he could have escaped the prison or at least a room where he’s in. Don’t life the damn ceiling, that guy just broke the brick wall over there! But no, he has to do it the hard way. He has to be the hero, he has to hurt himself, he has to be shirtless all the time, he has to break flutes, he gets buried alive, he has to soak himself in the rain and do karate moves for dramatic effect. I do give him props for not getting grossed out while touching maimed body parts. And his acting is more tolerable if you’re hearing the dialogue in Chinese.
When the film looks back at Ricky’s childhood, his uncle asks, ‘You are no longer a boy, do you still have your superhuman strength.’ Because his uncle knows smooth segues like that. Knowing that, we understand how he can heal quickly when he gets cuts on his face.
Also, horrendous Asian haircuts. I also don’t understand why the gang leaders need licenses to ridiculous outfits and hairdos.
All in all, ridiculousness. Not that there’s anything wrong…
After talking about spousal abuse and Ingmar Bergman, I decided to let my hair down and go watch Flash Gordon ’80 as part of Edgar Wright’s series “The Wright Stuff,” educating Toronto hipsters about movies he likes. Flash Gordon is like Barbarella with a dude and less sex and more coherent and funnier.Basically, our hero Flash and his love interest, Dale, accidentally find themselves as prisoners and rebels on the Mongo empire. There’s a scene when Flash tries to telepathically communicate with Dale, but he gets distracted.
Flash: Oh my God. This girl’s really turning me on!
Dale Arden: I didn’t quite get that. Think it again…
Oh, girl. You did not wanna know.
Or the scene when the opposite prongs of the love triangle, Dale and Princess Aura finally meet. They yell at each other about being prisoners without talking about who is imprisoning them. And of course, pillow fight!
Princess Aura: But my father has never kept a vow in his life!
Dale Arden: I can’t help that, Aura. Keeping our word is one of the things that make us… better than you.
Maybe this movie was too early for its time, with its snark and all, but at the same time the aesthetics totally belongs to the cusp of the 80’s. It also fits within the transition between New Hollywood and the 80’s in a way that this movie is where the crazy went too far. But you know, it’s a beautiful film. Queen provides the soundtrack. Timothy Dalton is in a perfect age in this movie, acting as if this movie was Shakespeare, proposing to his girlfriend Princess Aura after she gets him out of the dungeons. Max von Sydow elevates yellow face into an art form, and yes, an Asian guy just wrote that.
Feminism and Autumn Sonata
If it was only as instinctual as Helene, a disabled young woman, calling out for her mother, Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman). But Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata is about Helene’s sister Eva (Liv Ullmann), who sees an opportunity in seeing Charlotte again and she has a lot to say. What drives Bergman’s characters are emotion and memory, and therefore the possible social and political ideologies behind them get more ambiguous.
In a scene where Eva takes Charlotte to her room, we find out that she is and can be beautiful, sorrowful, vain, demanding, impatient and cruel, and she is all those things throughout the film. Eva, however, takes on her mother’s attributes in parts of the film, especially when she feels in control of the situation.
What makes the film just as ambiguous, then is how similar they are despite their different appearances and chosen paths.
I wanted to discuss its political interpretation because of a certain shocker spoiler. We can’t fully talk about artistic intentions here, but when a movie, a script or a book brings up a learned woman’s stance supporting abortion, she ends up looking like a babbling shrew. I suppose my discomfort comes from the later texts that had a less complex interpretation of the issue. In this movie, its hard to map out what it means for Eva to rid of a child under Charlotte’s orders, that Charlotte’s taking away Eva’s right to become a mother, that it is never explicitly said whether Charlotte is pro-choice, when the operation is allegedly forced, or if the child is presumable conceived out-of-wedlock.
By the end of the film, Eva’s husband seems to have questioned his unadulterated worship towards her. Watching and listening in the hall whether Eva is alone or with Charlotte, he’s the stand-in for the movie’s audience. We’re asking questions too, which is another thing I love about this movie.