Halloween Post: Let Me In
In Let Me In, director Matt Reeves blatantly uses the original Swedish Let The Right One In as a starting point, but Rear Window references come within this film as well. The first references is Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) spying on his neighbors in his apartment complex with a telescope. The telescope scene reminds me of how many blue irises the film features. He spies on adults more sexually capable than he is – a good-looking, moody couple and a man lifting weights in his apartment. It’s strange them when Owen notices that the new neighbor, Abby (Chloe Moretz) and her father (Richard Jenkins) have their windows boarded up. The second reference is when Abby’s father pops up from a backseat of a car, attacking a young man while the train passes by. Lights from the train or the tracks flash and the screen turns red as an old man attacks. With the exception of these red flashes, blue and white dominate the film, but even those colours come off as somehow warmer in this film than the original. We’ll have Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser to thank for all of those.
Michael Giacchino created the film’s score, but it sounds more like Hans Zimmer. Owen’s mother is barely visible in the film. I guessed Ali Larter, but I got slightly mad when I found out that she is played by the talented Cara Buono.
The film exposes the source material’s themes without spoon-feeding it to the audience. Smit-McPhee’s Owen is more sickly compared to the twinky in the original, and Moretz’ Abby is more gross yet slightly more emotional than Lina Leandersson’s Elin. The tone of their interactions are more varied and have an arc, Owen’s voice creaking a bit when he tries to talk to the new girl, both of them as awkward as kids in their situation would be. This awkwardness is heightened by Abby, of course, being a vampire. They’re more combative, both crossing the lines of their friendship, daring each other, testing each other’s humanity and compassion, finding out whether one would help the other. We’ll have Reeves and the actors to thank for that as well.
Bad Movie: Taking Lives
Despite my moods, I have to consider that Ethan Hawke is a great Broadway actor. That Angelina Jolie has knocked it out of the park at least twice. The latter, my favourite performance of hers, is in black face – and yes, I just willed this sentence to existence. That the Patton Oswalt quasi-apology for bad movies exist. The first shot I’ve seen of Taking Lives and with Jolie’s super-dark hair I thought, wait, why is Salt already on TV? My sister is a big Angelina fan for some reason, and she’ll watch any movie of hers, despite being very well aware that it’s crap.
That Gena Rowlands, who plays Mrs. Asher, is awesome, touches anything she wants and ain’t scared. And she dies. After watching KST getting killed off in a movie, there should be a law against icing great actresses.
Olivier Martinez is also in this mess, because they’re using a Frenchman to convince America that this movie’s set in Quebec.
And Kiefer Sutherland, Canadian, in pictures.
Then Costa (Hawke) befriends a random guy and kills him.
Here’s how it ends. Context – Ileana (Jolie) and Costa has sex without the former knowing that the latter is a killer. He’s pretty gross about the sex too.There’s actually decent acting going on here, Jolie’s cry groaning and Hawke’s creepy soft talk surprisingly the right notes for the scene. But they can’t save this movie at all. Ileana gets fired, moves to some winter yokel town to be alone and bear a child, then whoa, Costa’s back! Yeah, assault that pregnant woman!
Stab her in the stomach!
She stabs him in the heart, and reveals that she’s not really pregnant. I’m not an ob-gyn, but she should be swimming in blood had he put his second or third hand on her. The violence, however, is shocking and ridiculous enough to fasten my willing suspension of disbelief.
And U2’s playing, convincing me that my father is wrong and my friends are right about U2.
Three Colours – Red
Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
Black Narcissus (Michael Powell, 1947)
A Star is Born (George Cukor, 1954)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Ronald Neame, 1969)
Salo (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)
Flash Gordon (Mike Hodges, 1980)
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Tim Burton, 1985)
Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005)
Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
My first film professor taught us shot-counter shot relationships through the most complex examples – those that are found in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. This isn’t the first time Hitch made characters within the film as metaphors for the audience. However, unlike in Rear Window where there are just three or four people at the most watching Jimmy Stewart’s neighbors, it’s one or two-second shots a little crowd watching, all of them focused on different things. Until our main heckler, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) points out something urgent. Shot: explosion!
Counter shot – freeze frame of Melanie reacting ridiculously to the spreading fire.
Wait, did Tippi name her daughter after this character? Anyway, shot – another explosion!
And establishing shot, showing the audience both how small and large the damage is, and showing us the distances between the three locations where the action happens and is being watched. People in chaos running like ants. And that’s just the beginning of another attack.
I can only imagine papers written about this movie all fighting for what they think the movie’s about. The bird attacks symbolizing Cold War paranoia, the urban versus rural divide, the xenophobia engendered by those two issues – love interest Mitchell Brenner’s (Rod Taylor) sister Cathy (Nancy Cartwright) judging her brother’s clients as hoods, even if their mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy) corrects her to no avail. Or the birds as a comment on Native versus white occupation, nature against man or expressing how crappy it is to meet in-laws. Melanie is the stand-in for the audience but she comes of as a bit distant so some of the audience can relate more to the townspeople who alienate her. As one of the misinformed visitors say, she might be the cause of all this, the birds following her around and attacking her. And as a big city girl, she goes places alone, and every ten or fifteen minutes of the film she gets attacked.
The film’s first scene alludes to a court date, which leads to socialite Melanie’s history of pranks and Roman exhibitionism. Her face is small, child-like and elegant, but unlike most of Hitch’s earlier heroines, she isn’t one bit innocent. Her deeper voice is more flirtatious than Hitch’s women before her. Instead of feigning innocence, she tries to she the audience that those reckless days are behind her. That’s why the recycled Edith Head outfits and aging chignon are trying to convey. Those qualities convince Mitch, although creating quick banter between them, he keeps reminding her of her past, that she stalked him all the way to his small town, Bodega Bay and won’t let her hear the end of it. She does have to face a hurdle, Lydia which reminds her of issues with her own mother.
Lydia despite of what she reads in the gossip columns, also reluctantly gives Melanie the stamp of approval. The film introduces Lydia as an older woman with piercing, accusing eyes. Anne also gives Melanie fair warning about how Lydia may take her and Mitch apart the same way Mitch and Anne’s relationship ended because of Lydia. Thankfully however, Tandy lucked out on becoming the nicest, most three-dimensional older woman, her age group otherwise demonized in other Hitchcock films (the second nicest, most three-dimensional old woman in Hitch’s films is Anthony Perkins). Lydia is specifically distresses seeing another farmer’s corpse, attacked by birds. She gets to air out her anxieties, her fear that comes with a loss of physical and emotional strength. She questions her own mothering abilities, she’s afraid of being abandoned, ambivalent towards Melanie that she reveals to the latter’s face. She creepily calls Mitch ‘dear’ then later calls him inadequate compared to his father, Frank.
I’ll go back to Hedren’s acting. She can convey the darker, sexier side of later Hitchcock heroines while being caring towards the Brenners but sometimes she loses that spark. Some of the attack scenes also show her weak spots – she flirts seconds after being attacked by a gull, taking away from the believability of the scene. In other scenes, she positions her head, lips and every limb in its exact, photogenic place, not letting go of a performed beauty even in moments of terror. I’m not sure whether to blame her or to blame Hitchcock whose relationship to actors and coaching them aren’t known as the best.
My second complaint would be the special effects, but I think some of you will defend that as ‘painterly.’ Yes, I was actually terrified when the birds started coming in from the fireplace. And yes, I know that Hitch and his crew used as many live birds as possible during production. As the ornithologist in the restaurant says, it’s a war against the temperamental birds, the film this about whether the birds do or don’t mark their territory against man.
Rest my little ones, rest.
This post is part of Nathaniel R’s Hit Me With Your Best shot series.
If this movie was any more of a hit in its first run, Robert Mitchum wouldn’t have been allowed to sing at the old school roasts.
And…snark over. Film historians ETA including Ebert laud Charles Laughton’s only film and masterpiece The Night of the Hunter for its excellent cinematography and that goes well with the film’s pacing. There’s a lot of tense moments within the film, but the children cross the river to safety like, pardon the biblical reference, the Hebrew across the Nile. The children find a barn to sleep in, and for the first time, they and the audience can breathe and be tranquil. Despite the darkness of the barn we see twilight transform into night into daybreak.
Oh come on, man!
As the boy says with contempt, ‘Don’t he ever sleep.’ Hey, Mitchum, leave those kids alone!
That shot of his silhouette lets the kids know that they’re in trouble, that Mitchum’s character is evil at its most relentless, that there;’s little salvation for these young ones at all. The shot’s picture plane also consists of a foreground (the barn), a middle ground (the treetops) and a background (the plain). It makes me wonder how big a studio Laughton have had to work around with to create this shot, what kind of camera tricks he may have used to convey such dimensionality.
Also, a friend of mine has a fatwa on Lillian Gish for acting in D.W. Griffith’s racist pictures. To me, this movie and her awesomeness atones for her past sins.
Three Colours – White
Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon, 1959)
8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1974)
Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987)
Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)
The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)
Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)
Charlie Wilson’s War (Mike Nichols, 2007)
Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)
Three Colours – Blue
I couldn’t hold out on this series any longer. I should have done this at July 14, but I don’t think Kieszlowski released his Trilogy movies at that date neither. I chose the screen caps for the colours, but I hope national allegory and emancipation are captured in these images as well.
Fantasia (James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, 1940)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
Age of Consent (Michael Powell, 1969)
The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1975)
Hausu (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)
The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)
The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)
Mulholland Drive (David Lynch,
Ballast (Lance Hammer, 2008)
15 Directors Meme
Ruth from FlixChatter responded to being tagged to do a 15 Directors Meme post she did two-ish weeks ago, and I did some proud begging for her to tag me because I like talking about my favourite directors. Or I think I did – it was hard going past 12. I changed the list compared to my pre-list on her comments section. And it took me a while to respond.
What I look for in a director’s work is beautiful cinematography, theatre-like scripts or energy, decent representation of strong female characters. Lastly, a sense of humour, preferably dark, like coffee I would only drink if I was lazy. List.
- Stanley Kubrick (Full Metal Jacket)
- Charles Laughton (The Night of the Hunter)
- Christopher Nolan (Inception)
- Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill Vol. II)
- Woody Allen (Sleeper, Another Woman)
- Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line ’98)
- Elia Kazan (East of Eden)
- Mike Nichols (The Graduate)
- Michael Haneke (Code Inconnu)
- Jane Campion (Bright Star)
- George Cukor (A Star is Born ’54)
- Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien)
- Sidney Lumet (Serpico)
- Lars von Trier (Dogville)
- Fritz Laing (Fury)
And now I have to tag ETA: six bloggers who have lives.
Jose, who talks about classics with wicked witches and fugly whores.
Simon, who reminds us that David Bowie played Andy Warhol in a movie.
Andy, who’s going to see Ellen Ripley cut a bitch.
Nick and Nathaniel. One’s very chipper and the other’s a quipper. Both are getting me really excited for the Oscars.
Farran, who reminded me that my birthday was also Constance Bennett Day.
For some reason, I think I know who they’re gonna pick, but I know they have the ability to surprise me and their own readers. 🙂
Trailer: Rabbit Hole
Never noticed this shot before. I also just noticed how it’s always in darkly lit places where Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) meditate on their loss. I don’t know how I notice stuff in two minutes’ footage instead of two hours of a complete film. Don’t know if that’s a good sign or not.
ETA: I also noticed how Jason (Miles Teller) has this confidence within him. The scene shown in the trailer is one of the later ones, which contrasts from his earlier scenes where he’s the archetypal awkward teenager. It’s as if Jason grows up as the movie progresses.
Brad Brevet posted the trailer on his website yesterday. And I don’t care if it breaks my rules of rewatching films, but I will watch this movie again. December 17, guys. ETA: trailer from MovieReel
And to tell me how to dress for my party is Karen (Amanda Seyfried).
‘On Wednesdays, we wear pink!’
‘Like, if I was wearing sweatpants right now, I’d be sitting with the art freaks.’ Of course, Karen, I never wear sweatpants outside the house. I have dignity.
But seriously, I say those lines ALL. THE TIME.
Seminal Television: The Office
The woman from ‘Community’ (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) have a failure to communicate. I just wish I’ve seen the Rich Sommer episodes though, but then I’ll just go cheat on Youtube for that.
This is the first episode of ‘The Office’ I’ve seen when it first aired. Also, this. That hand above belongs to Inglorious Basterd BJ Novak.
And Happy Birthday, John Krasinski!
Ali – Fear Eats the Soul
‘I pass by here every evening and hear the foreign music.’ These words are from an old, unassuming Emmi (Brigitte Mira) tells a hostile, word-down Brigitte Bardot copycat of a barmaid inthe first scene of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali – Fear Eats the Soul. These first words set the film portraying Berlin as a city at odds with each other. Berlin has traces of multiculturalism, a pan-Islamic enclave in the city attracting Emmi, a Polish man’s widow. Emmi, a cleaning lady, dances with Ali, a 35ish Moroccan man who’s just as lonely in a big city as he is.
Then there’s the Berlin and Germany that works against this multiculturalism, that coincides with its reputation. The Hitler references aren’t here for nothing. As Emmi and Ali’s romance blossom, gossipy neighbors, coworkers, family members and others around them talk about the couple negatively. These characters also don’t shy away from using their races and non-Germanness against them. The other cleaning ladies talk about other women who have been in relationships like hers, giving the audience an impression that this is more prevalent and apparently, looked down upon. Emmi’s daughter Krista (Irm Hermann) calls her a pig, a slur she also fittingly calls her own lazy husband, Eugen (Fassbinder). It’s also jarring to watch these people call a 60-year-old woman a whore. The racist characters can also be harsher version of the audience, making the latter wonder about their own reactions and possible objections to the couple being together. Yes, they marry for the wrong reasons and their relationship is based on completing each other instead of complementing each other, but I can only imagine other couples getting married the same way or worse.
Fassbinder visual style has been described as opulent, reflecting the multicultural subject matter of this film as well as the colour choices seen in his ouevre. The camera angles in this film also interest me. Emmi and Ali’s first dance looks like it’s shot from the back of a chair. The gossipy neighbour’s head maliciously popping out of her window. Sometimes scenes between the couple are shot while slightly obscured by a corner of a hallway, or from far away. Or stairway railings between Emmi or Ali or Emmi’s eldest son and the camera. Sometimes the main characters are seen through mirrors instead of directly by the camera. It’s as if, like the neighbor, we’re watching this story unfold, peeping at the characters intimate revelations.
There’s also this ‘Twilight Zone’ effect when the other characters decide, with a few words, to accept this unlikely couple. I also felt said effect when no one apologizes for their past actions except for Emmi’s eldest. Perhaps I’m overreading, but the change is all the more jarring since it seems like these other characters will do the same routine to another couple. Nonetheless, the pain they have caused, as well as other emotions within the couple, help cause a strain in the relationship. Ali realizes that this marriage didn’t make him less lonely nor objectified, Emmi slightly adapts the racist attitudes of her peers and treats her trophy husband as a body instead of a living soul. They work through their problems, Ali remembering his devotion for her, she realizes she hasn’t been a saint all the time. They go through more hurdles, reminding them that the happiness, although impossible through separation, is still difficult to achieve in a loving partnership.
There’s a hazy feeling in the air in some parts of the film, like in the opening and closing scenes that occur at night. However, that haze is more present in the afternoon when Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) follows a suspiciously young Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak) out to a local, San Francisco churchyard cemetery. He walks carefully. He’s straining his eyes while paying close attention to her, his expressions somehow externalizing her cold fascination with a certain large gravestone. He sees her from afar, framed by wildflowers or in between trees or a grotto. The closer she gets, the more he’s inclined to hide himself. He wonders what she’s really like, the line between his duty to watch her for her husband and his fascination of her become blurry.
Here in Vertigo, Madeleine walks into the old Mc.Kit.Trick Hotel, opens the blinds and appears in a second-floor window, takes off her jacket, keeping a mannered elegance with those movements. Scottie follows in, asks the hotel manager about the woman on the second floor. Alas, Madeleine has momentarily disappeared. The woman becomes a ghost.
Director Alfred Hitchcock has 33 variations of the woman relatively going through the same things. Inhabiting someone else’s house and having to deal with its ghosts and history much connected to her own. She confronts questions about who she is and trying to grow up despite that history that hinders her. Madeleine is apparently possessed by a woman in her family tree, Carlotta Valdez – her ghost-like walks around the city hit important landmarks in Carlotta’s life. There’s a self-awareness and guilt within her psyche that haunts her. Scottie ends up lusting for Madeleine and her story, her dark American past. After rescuing Madeleine, she tells him about her nightmares instead of telling them to her husband.
Then there are characters like Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) who find it funny. At first.
I’m still not exactly 100% sold at Novak’s performance, but that one dancer-like foot out Scottie’s bedroom, elegance and a double-performance nailed a minute or two after gaining consciousness…
This movie owes Black Narcissus a lot, with its red filters and red dissolves and fear of heights.
Oh, and Judy Barton (Novak again), you are the best part of this movie, with you eyebrows and sass and masochistic guilt. Are your eyes really blue or green?
The man knows exactly what he wants, which one of my professors find really, really strange. He’s a San Francisco man, after all. I followed fashion between 2005 and last year and I can’t remember details within a dress if my life depended on it. Well, the man is an ex-cop, who for some reason remembers square necklines but can’t figure out that a suicide can’t have a Christian burial.
I apologize if this post slightly veers away from an erudite interpretation of the film. However, this movie, intentionally or not, is a warning to young girls out there – if a man wants to change your hair, it’s the first sign of control and abuse.
Is Hitchcock or San Francisco to be blamed for the hotel names with puns?
‘I wanna stop being haunted.’
The flamenco-like musical score by Bernard Hermann pauses, Scottie calls her Madeleine, telling her that he’s in on her prank. The movie ends with one of the most real, well-acted uncomfortable scenes I’ve seen ever. I’ve always thought of Stewart as malleable into any type of man from all-American to creepy, and here he lets it all out. I can only imagine how Hitch and the two actors choreographed this, as Scottie confronts her with one emotional accusation after another, his body pressing into hers, his hand on her neck.Sometimes their faces are obscured.
Then he pushes her higher. The music begins again, like a bumblebee this time.
Vertigo’s screening at the Bell Lightbox tonight at 8:45. Lastly, AFP reported yesterday that Kim Novak has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Get well soon, Ms. Novak.
- Kim Novak surfaces to retrace past in boxed set (sfgate.com)
- Actress Kim Novak undergoing breast cancer treatment (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
I first heard about Ingmar Bergman‘s Persona in David Scott Diffrient’s essay about the shock cut, a technique mostly used in horror films. I assumed he was just talking about one of the film’s opening images – a hand pinned down by a large nail. Persona isn’t a horror film per se, but with that image of the hand comes more jarring images in its opening sequence – a phallus, an androgynous child lying down in a gurney, that child slowly coming back to life.
Sven Nyqvist’s cinematography, Bergman’s camera and editing throughout the film somehow evokes the horror psyche whole giving their audience one of the best shot films ever made. Its minimalist hospital walls where nurse Sister Alma (Bibi Andersson) meets her patient, actress Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann), thin bare trees standing on beaches where she chases Elisabet, close-ups that would change angles for every accusation she airs towards Elisabet. Amazing.
The second thing I heard about Persona before watching it Sarah Boslaugh’s write-up of Andersson, including the latter in an essential performance list. We’ll go back to the child in the gurney who wakes up and reaches for a blurry picture of Elisabet, and in a way that’s what Andersson as Alma is trying to do. Like most of Bergman’s finer works, one person reaching for another seems like an impossible journey.
It’s a misguided way for Alma to think that her catharsis might break Elisabet’s silence, but instead she just ends up doing everything for Elisabet. She finds herself wanting to become what Elisabet has been before her silence. Andersson does great work, carrying the film, going through every imaginable emotion with both vulnerability and control, amazingly handling Bergman’s analytical script. Ullmann as Elisabet only blurts a few words when Alma tries to burn her face. Yes, Andersson’s the prettier one, but Ullmann’s her stoic reactions are captivating and her internal struggles are so enigmatic that the latter can almost steal the show by just being there.
Some images in the film include a close-up of a face, half Elisabet and half Anna, or of Elisabet holding Alma, both facing the camera as if it’s a mirror, both ethereal beauties, she becoming the sister and doppelgänger that Alma has always wanted. Looking at them, it’s easy to assume their closeness, or that they’re the same person all along.
Jack Goes Boating
For the most part, the characters of Jack Goes Boating are passive to each other and to the events that happen to them. Our titular limo driver Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also directs) gets set up with mortuary secretary Connie (Amy Ryan) because his best friend Clyde (John Ortiz) is married to her co-worker Lucy. Jack’s first date with Connie happens in Clyde and Lucy’s shabby apartment, where she talks about being sexually harassed while her father’s in a coma. Her sexual misadventures are exposed to Jack just as she is aware of his inexperience. Jack misses a chance to get an application for a job at the MTA. This baby step towards a better job and life feels unambitious but nonetheless realistic. For some reason, after these short introductions out of the way, the first act of the film doesn’t feel neither like an introduction nor a build-up. It’s one awkward situation piled on top of another.
The final act of the film shows its off-Broadway roots, that everything else before it is just fluff, yet what we see is also an intense payoff. Clyde reveals secrets, which makes the other characters open up. Again, Jack uses Clyde and Lucy’s apartment, show off his newly acquired culinary skills, but instead people and things get smashed because of hashish. We see Jack’s compromises in becoming the perfect person and mate for Connie. Connie, in watching Clyde and Lucy’s relationship crumble, doesn’t have a eureka moment but does something with her life to survive and be sane, as if by common sense. Clyde realises his altruism goes hand in hand with being life support for other people instead of being a man of his own, which doesn’t seem like a consequence but simply a terrible fate for a man. Jack Goes Boating is not the most original tragedy, but its downward spiral is very effective.
I just tried to do…
…the Nina (Natalie Portman) stretch. Not gonna happen. If there’s any reason for Portman to win an Oscar, it’s this.
[ETA on January 2011. The image above was one of the ‘linkouts’ of the day. I remember reading from the American Cinematographer how Libatique there were a lot of mirror shots, and that digital cameras hide themselves well, post or without post. I keep changing my mind about this movie, the technical aspects of it make me appreciate it more. Where’s the camera? p.s. I’m not really looking for the camera.]
Welcome to family friendly Ojai, California, where the sun always shines on the auburn hair of a snarky girl named Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) who everyone suddenly thinks is a trollope. Director Will Gluck and screenwriter Bert V. Royal know that Easy A is telling a story told before, and with sharper scripts. The film is full of references of cellphone culture and slightly grainy webcams and grainier clips of John Hughes films and a homosexual rendering of Huckleberry Finn’s interracial friendship. Speaking of old, hallowed American narratives, Olive is our Hester Prynne, a fictional character whose archaic treatment disgusts her English teacher (Thomas Haden Church) but we and the teenagers know that a woman’s purity – or appearance of purity – is still placed on high regard.
This film has the best gags I’ve seen in a while, like one involving a Natasha Bedingfield song and another one about Olive adopted brother. However, it’s crueller than your average teen flick. Stone’s husky voice still sounds more mature, which slightly takes off the willing suspension of disbelief. And I spent the first act of the film wishing I saw her with her parents (Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) simply because her comic chemistry with them is that good. Stone also has believable rapport with supporting characters like her enemy Marianne (Amanda Bynes) who surprises us with her vulnerability, Brandon (Dan Byrd) who’s confused about his sexuality, a guidance counselor who doesn’t listen to her (Lisa Kudrow) and Woodchuck Todd (Penn Badgely) who balances good looks with wearing goofy costumes. A silver lining on being ostracized is an assumed altruism that she adapts like Hester and that the other characters secretly relate to her when they’re down.
Despite a few hurdles, Stone owns this movie. Her world is one with bullying, obsession on teenage sexuality and where teenagers can frighteningly perform that sexuality as Olive does because of peer pressure. Olive tells her webcam viewers that books and movies can’t put across ‘how shitty it feels to be an outcast.’ Yet she makes us know how it feels. The film doesn’t judge her. Yes, I can’t help but feel slightly old while watching the movie, but for the first time in a while, I watched a teen movie that has enough spark and humour and didn’t make me feel like a parent.
- Marshall Fine: HuffPost Review: Easy A (huffingtonpost.com)
Seminal Television: Tomorrowland
Don (Jon Hamm) has a meeting with the American Cancer Society, telling them that teenagers aren’t as a hard sell to tobacco companies as the committee assumes. To combat that appeals, he proposes that the ads should portray ‘ or mothers and daughters or fathers and sons and that cigarettes are between them.’ My layman’s interpretation of his pitch is that it might show that the children might think that they’re better than their parents, or they must change and deviate from their parents habits. That cigarettes aren’t as rebellious as tobacco companies make them. I know some commenters from other websites think that Don can’t relate to the baby boom generation. I’m not sure if that’s true.
Others are afraid that Joyce (Zosia Mamet) might become predatory, but her taking on the mother hen role makes me love her more.
I’m sorry, Henry, but if you were so against it, why not write a recommendation letter for Carla yourself? Grow some balls.
Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks) share work gossip and talk about how boys are actually shallower than girls.
I never imagined Faye (Cara Buono) as this season’s Allison, crying at the finale and all.
Betty (January Jones) fixes her face, beautifying herself even if no one’s gonna see her. After the unforgivable, destructive encounters with Glen, Carla and Henry when Don walks in unexpectedly. They still know so much about each. She’s still mostly thorough, he still knows where the whiskey is hidden. She knows both about Bethany van Nuys – strange for her to remember that name – and the secretary (Jessica Pare). She admits to her frustration about attaining perfection and keeping up with change, and is possibly jealous that Don might have finally attained that said perfection. Ironically, he’s the only person she can have a decent conversation with and it took a divorce to get to that stage. She hands him the keys, finally saying goodbye despite that look in her eyes that wants to touch him once last time. There’s a vehement disappointment that the Internet collectively had for this finale – even if this episode is a failure, it’s not a spectacular failure, this bittersweet farewell made me love this episode.
- Mad Men’s 12 Most Memorable Moments (thedailybeast.com)
- Mad Men – Season 4 Yearbook (seriousfilm.blogspot.com)
The first shot reminds me of the first shot in Mulholland Drive, which is funny since there’s sexuality, fear, mortality, cynicism and a bit of humour in that movie and here in Fantasia. My friends first saw this when they were four and I saw this last week. I can only imagine a few kids getting confused with what they see here. Well, I am more susceptible to trauma and have a dirtier mind now than I did when I was a kid.
I thought that the faeries dancing to “The Nutcracker Suite” were the most famous images in this movie, but apparently it’s the warlock horror narrative in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – I swear I’ve never seen that one before and it’s a nail-biter. Henry Allen writes about how Fantasia in 1940 preceded and is the polar opposite to the weary American attitude towards science and high culture. I do think that “Apprentice” shows how innovation can go too far and have the destructive result that its inventor didn’t want. There is also a more popular segment with dancing hippos that I didn’t care so much about.
I also encountered the music here in other sources – Beethoven’s Pastoral in some compilation CD. Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” in high school and Schubert’s “Ave Maria” when I was going through a soprano phase when I was in high school. Just so we’re clear, Alex North and everyone else after him owes Stravinsky a royalty cheque. Watching “Printemps” with dinosaurs was a weird concept to me, especially since I’m more familiar with that ballet’s later movements. To me, that final music’s always been about violence surrounded by beauty, and Walt Disney and his interns made it look like apocalypse. Well, what do I know? Other choreographers like Nijinsky/Dominique Brun and Pina Bausch have more violent interpretations of the music. And again, the fear that what happened to the dinosaurs will happen to us. And the wind instruments in the later movements do remind me of arid landscapes. And I’ve always heard “Ave Maria” sung by either a boy/woman in German, not English. I also imagined it to me like a little voice trying to climb into a space above, preferably a church, which I guess mostly matches Disney’s visuals. But I couldn’t say that what I saw didn’t dazzle me. The animators went all out and an extra mile, animating images they’ll never show elsewhere. And I kinda wanna know what they would have done if they did “Swan Lake.”
Seminal Television: CSI
‘Anyway we had a good time in those days, you know. You could walk down the streets in this town, 15-20 years ago. With 50,000 bucks stacked on the top of your head – in SINGLES! And nobody would bother you. Except this guy.’
I know, worst late tribute ever. Also, my co-worker saw him at the airport. She’s a big fan, but he says, jovially comforting ‘I’m just a regular person.’ Awesome guy. RIP.
Seminal Television: Live Show!
Spot the difference. “30 Rock” made things different last night by having their show live, and they were so nice they did it twice! I do, however, have doubts on how this episode, having two versions, is gonna play out in eligibility the Emmy’s/Globes/SAGs/whatevers. I don’t know how that works. Rest assured, this episode is Jane Krakowski‘s shining moment, one of many.
Oh, also, this is the first time Judah Friedlander, Kevin Brown and Grizz Chapman performed live, although I don’t remember Grizz having any lines, as usual. Otherwise, everyone else in the cast had stage experience – Matt Damon appeared on the West End – and although the first scenes of the east coast episode felt awkward, they eventually got the hang of it. All of the helped create an episode that still fits with the rest of the “30 Rock” canon.
Anyway, differences. ETA: although Vulture did it better.
For the East Coast, a book drops. For the west, the book is placed at the other end of the basket and Jack (Alec Baldwin) doesn’t pick it up.
Unfortunately only White Abed can pull off Slumdog Millionaire jokes, so they changed it to Alladin. Oh, also, Danny Boyle’s cinematic opulence in Slumdog Millionaire will be showing at the Bell Lightbox this Sunday at noon.
Krakowski sings in the East Coast version while Cheyenne Jackson sings for Glendale, Vegas, Portland. And no, I’m not gonna say something that gonna make me sound like Ramin Setoodeh.
Tracy Morgan screws up the set up for Dot Com’s (Brown) Angels in America joke. No one cares about this mishap, not even I.
The camera switch from Liz (Tina Fey) to Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) is a half-second late. I’m serious.
‘Choke a cop with your panties.’ In the East coast version, instead of ‘cop’ I distinctly heard ‘cock.’
In the West coast version, the songs were more rape-y. Also, I just realized that the sketch-oriented episode was what Fey wanted to show to have become. How things would have turned out.
East: Men need alcohol. It’s the first thing every civilization makes along with weapons, and shelters to enjoy prostitutes. West: It gives us the ability to hit on women. And later, when we’re married, to tune them out. Also, when Baldwin delivered the ‘penis was smaller’ line, the camera was closer to his face.
Male model actually kisses female model in East coast version.
East: “Thanks for an idea that started as a pitch for a horror movie and grew into a charitable institution…” West: “I’m so tired. Oh, God. Please take off your rings.”
East: all scream “Spit it out!” West: Jack screams “Spit it out before I drink you!”
East: Are we still on the air? West: You’re watching The Office right now!
- Live, Twice, From New York, It’s ’30 Rock’ (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
Scenes: The 40 Year Old…
I wanna start this post with a little farewell.
Aquaman, with gloves on. I’ll send you on a farm, with lots of land so you and other Aquamen can run around. Play in the aquafields.
For some reason, I thought of that line as Steve Carrell making fun of his character, Andy.
And before I start talking about the scene, I just wanna air our a ‘style guide’ item. Do not call a woman or a female character shrill even if. Ever. It’s like calling a black person or character articulate.
But here I am sort of breaking my rules by talking about a scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin, where we’re a few generations after free love but we still have problems. Fine, the scene isn’t directed in a way that I would think a well-directed scene would be. How did Trish (Catherine Keener) even find out that her daughter Marla (Kat Dennings) wants to have sex? How are they still yelling at each other in between Andy’s bike ride to her house? How near does she live from the store? However, this is a comedy, and I don’t know the rules for that yet. And you know what, I like Catherine Keener here. She bellows at her daughter, believably softens a little to Andy and to figure out what Marla is saying and gradually brings her volume back up for Marla. Watching them go at each other makes my throat hurt.
I love the exchange here.”Oh, mistake. Okay, so I was a mistake then?” “Oh, you’re not a mistake. Your sister was the mistake!” Or “Oh my God, are you kidding? We never have sex! Do we ever have sex?” “No we don’t.” “Ah-ha!” “What?! You do, you’re such a liar! Why are you lying to me! Why?” And Marla says something about boyfriend and go. They realistically show their emotions on top of their lines. Some fights don’t have high and low volume times, they’re just fights. And one of the greatest ones I’ve seen under 90 seconds.
She shows she has a life outside and before her boyfriend. It’s arguable that she is or isn’t a perfect mother but she’s protective and has good intentions. Trish is comfortable enough to introduce Andy to her ‘real family,’ opening up to her flaws. She asks “Oh God, you wanna run away, don’t you?” and like a gentleman, Andy doesn’t. Because Andy has his own flaws and secrets too.
- Interview: Steve Carrell (guardian.co.uk)
Did you know that Kristin Scott Thomas is in this movie? You’d almost forget because they kill her off at the first twenty-five minutes. Killing off Emilio Estevez is fine, but killing off KST is unforgivable. As Nathaniel R wrote, she has to put up with so much shit. With all due respect, she can serve this movie better than Emmanuelle Beart can.
Director Brian de Palma long takes, putting us inside Ethan’s (Tom Cruise) POV during a mission. He also likes canted angles. He uses it when Ethan when his team dies in Prague and contacts someone higher up at the IMF (not the real IMF). This guy here is accusing Ethan of supplying money from the IMF to add to the bank account that his father’s illness would have bankrupted. Ethan knows nothing about this money. He’s also accusing him of betraying the agency for a certain Max. Who the h is this Max?
You know what, Cruise is a pretty good-looking guy. I don’t know why I never got it, except for the fact that he oversells half of all the scenes that he’s in. And when stuff explodes, his arms flail. If I ever saw flailing arms on an actor, I would never consider casting him in any action film. Which is probably why I’m not a casting director.
This is obviously the best installment on the Mission Impossible series, having the class, panache, clean finish, glamour and sex while the others are too focused on the action-y, physical aspect of the action film. But yes, I am still looking forward to the new sequel because of Jeremy Renner, who’ll at least bring the sex part into the equation.
Singin’ in the Dark!
Hey, it’s Lucy from “The Office UK“/”Studio 60″/”Ugly Betty.”I don’t know which one of those shows that she had a character named Lucy but I’m gonna call her Lucy anyway. And a guy who plays Poppy’s (Sally Hawkins) brother-in-law in Happy Go Lucky. I swear casts in British films are so incestuous, although they never mix the ‘rich’ ones with the ‘poor’ ones. The one on the middle is Simon Pegg and the one who’s back is facing the audience is a zombie.
His name is Eddie…Paulson? Fact! The first time I saw this film was at Daylight Savings Time at Much More Music. Technically the movie went on for an hour. I also can’t remember how it ends. I’ve always been afraid to watch the movie on the big screen because apparently if you mess up the words, you get stripped in front of everyone. Anyway, Meat Loaf is telling off that boy something fierce. Also, why does every ‘bad’ movie between 1967 to 1980 need a muscle-y blonde man bimbo? That rule still exists today, a muscle-y blonde man bimbo appears as a character in Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats.
Was Alfred Molina ever this skinny? Is my question too generous? Although I’ve only seen it enough to get the gist of it, I have the DVD here and my rusty French translates the title to Nights of the Devil or Diabolical Nights or something.
Ohh, Gaad! Anyway, I’ve always thought of Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) as Quentin Tarantino‘s on-screen double. Also, Coconut is so the best song in this movie.
Note to Americans: only the gay Canadians have the ‘beady little eyes.’ And fine, it’s funny hearing Anne Murray being called a bitch.
If I was a Congressman, I’d make America F**k Yeah the national anthem. Although best part of this film involves its parody of Susan Sarandon. And I usually hate homophobia in film, but seeing Tim Robbins and Sean Penn be called F.A.G.’s seemed really funny. Well, mostly because I hate Sean Penn.
After the Team America clip, we have this, and for a split second the curtains and the wallpaper made me think of the balcony space in ‘The Muppets.’ But no, this is a real person from Blue Velvet‘s wacky world. There’s always interludes of 1960’s American songs, and we thank David Lynch for seeing something dark in that decade. Speaking of the 60’s, I wonder what would happen if David Lynch directed an episode of “Mad Men.” Oh wait, that already happened.
Sookie! When I yelled that at the screen, the hipsters in front of me laughed. Funny thing is I don’t even watch “True Blood.” And again, I didn’t even know she was in this movie, especially since I loved Anna Paquin as a child. I previously blogged about how I hate Kate Hudson, but I kinda like her again here. Here her face still looks like that of an awkward teenager’s, and it’s still mesmerizing to watch her sing. I declare an Almost Famous curse, because the cast members except Billy Crudup ended up doing bad movies. Well, Paquin did have 25th Hour, and she’s better than doppelgänger Claire Danes can aspire to be.
I’m so ashamed to not know the lyrics to this song, because my dad is like the biggest Tears for Fears fan and I listened to this stuff in high school. My dad thinks the members of Tears for Fears met in a mental ward. Anyway, my favourite movie in high school, and one that needs revisiting stat! Also, when Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Gretchen (Jena Malone) kiss. Joy Division has never been better used in a soundtrack.
Joseph Gordon Levitt for mayor! Although Joe Levitt would sound like he’s running in the South.
Dance, white boy, dance!
‘Singin’ in the Dark’ programmer Shawn Hitchins says that this is what it’s gonna be like if Rob Ford gets elected for mayor. Best film criticism I’ve heard all year.
Courtney Love auditioned for the role of Nancy in… Sid and Nancy, but the casting agents considered her too young and it went to Chloe Webb. Love thanks the gods for not giving her the role because British TV called Chloe Webb ugly. I agree. And was Gary Oldman ever that young?
And we end this ding along with blasphemy. This is both optimistic and cynical. The Eric Idle character tries to comfort us, but they all end up alone and deserted, no one venerating them for their deaths. Yet.
Multitude of thanks to Hitchins for giving me the list of movies he chose for his sing along “Singin’ in the Dark” as part of this year’s Nuit Blanche, which is like the only event in my calendar. Photos courtesy of Universal (Shaun of the Dead, Blues Brothers) 20th Century Fox (Rocky Horror Picture Show), Alliance Atlantis (Boogie Nights) Miramax (Reservoir Dogs), Paramount (South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut), Pandora Films (Donnie Darko), MGM (Blue Velvet, Sid and Nancy), Fox Searchlight (500 Days of Summer) Warner Brothers’ Pictures (A Clockwork Orange), HandMade Films (Life of Brian).