Friday, February 29, 2008

Lilo Is No Monroe

I originally wrote this article about Lindsay Lohan posing nude and recreating Marilyn Monroe's final photo shoot on February 19th for another of my writing receptacles. I was furious about it. I still am. But I thought I turned it into an admittedly angry, yet reasonably restrained and informational editorial piece. After about a week, it was deemed "overboard" and a "diatribe," and it was removed.

If I had wanted to write a diatribe about Lindsay Lohan, I would have done it here, where I can express myself more candidly, and I would have ranted and raved until my fingers cramped up from typing. I could still do that, but I won't. I won't upload any of Lohan's photos from the shoot or any other pictures of her. Nudity isn't really allowed on here anyway, but if it was, I still wouldn't. I refuse to have her face, or any other part of her, on my blog. I'm just including the article, exactly as I originally published it:

Title: Lindsay Lohan Bares All

Subtitle: Struggling Starlet Tries to Channel Marilyn Monroe

Summary: For their 2008 spring fashion salute, New York Magazine features Lindsay Lohan, nude or close to it, recreating Marilyn Monroe's last and most famous photo shoot.

"Lindsay Lohan's career has been kaput lately. She's been in and out of rehab and has one of the worst reputations in Hollywood. Her life is a never-ending string of bad decisions. Her latest error was deciding to play dress-up (or dress-down, more accurately) as Marilyn Monroe for New York Magazine. As if Monroe's memory hasn't been dragged through the mud enough over the years, now Lindsay Lohan turns something beautiful into a shameless publicity stunt.

It's blatantly insulting to Marilyn Monroe and her leagues of fans (the true fans that empathize with her tragic life and love her for more than her pretty face) that Lohan had the nerve to do this shoot. Monroe had more class, beauty, and grace in one strand of her glistening blonde hair than Lohan could ever hope to have. After all her social gaffs and drug issues, does Lohan really think this, simultaneously posing nude and brazenly comparing herself to one of the biggest pop culture icons in history, would bring her respect? Is this seriously the next best move for her? The magazine calls her "The Modern-Day Marilyn." What a sick joke. Even more outrageous is the fact that the same photographer, Bert Stern, took the Lohan gig.

Lohan doesn't hold a candle to Monroe's fresh, natural loveliness. Monroe was well into her 30s when these photos were taken, but she looks younger than Lohan does in the same shots. Lohan appears ravaged by her life of poisonous partying. It's a travesty that these pictures exist, but all effrontery and insults aside, the photos just seem sad and desperate. Some people call them empowering, but they just come off trashy and self-absorbed.

"The Last Sitting," as it has since been called, was Monroe's last photo shoot before she died, and it was a doozy. There are over two thousand pictures that capture her as a human being and display all the intricacies of her personality, raw and real, that most people never cared that she had. The photographs radiate with her ethereal beauty.

There's something very eerie about Lohan miming these particular photographs. The similarities between Lohan and Monroe are striking: deeply troubled personal lives, drug problems, and both victims of a parasitic media watching every move and waiting for them to fail or screw up, or even to die. Obviously, Monroe's story is much more complicated. Still, Lindsay Lohan should be pitied, not ridiculed. The way things are going with her life at the moment, though, here's hoping this photo shoot isn't foreshadowing the horrible fate that befell Marilyn Monroe."

Diatribe? You decide.

Driving Mr. Gondry

I saw Be Kind Rewind three days before it was released at an advance screening that I arrived ridiculously early for, and I planned on posting this before it came out and being some sort of pioneer. Alas, it didn't happen, and I'm rather embarrassed that it took me so long to write my review. I think some part of me was putting it off. I really liked Be Kind Rewind, but I wanted desperately, with every fiber of my being, to love it. I didn't love it, and I think I've subconsciously been avoiding writing about it. So, here's my catharsis.

I know that having high expectations is really dangerous and even stupid, but I love films so much and get so excited that expectations come with the territory. I'm not ashamed of it either. I'd rather have high expectations than none at all. I'm a glass half-full kind of gal. But, I also know that sometimes it sets me up for disappointment. Then again, I'm pretty discerning when I watch films, so in spite of expectations, I still try to be as objective as possible. I'm always honest with my reaction, too. Just because I love a director, I won't say that I love his or her film unless I really do, and if I don't like it or even hate it, I'll admit that, however begrudgingly. It might make me expect more of a filmmaker, or it might make me give a film another shot if I don't like it as much as I hoped or thought I would (like There Will Be Blood), but I never lie about my opinion just to coincide with expectations. If a film's not great, it's not great. Expectations don't have much to do with that. That's the case with Be Kind Rewind. Sure, I expect more of Michel Gondry. Is that unfair? I don't think so. He's a genius. Genius begets genius, right? I also admire him so much that I'll give the film another chance. Maybe I'll like it more, maybe I won't, but I'm willing to stick with it because of my respect, passion and yes, even expectations. Ladies and gentlemen, my inner monologue.

That being said, on to the film! Writer/director Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind is really, really good, falling just short of greatness. It's funny, sweet, and surprisingly serious. This movie had such a good marketing campaign that it actually worked to its disadvantage. Rule number one: don't show all the best bits and the funniest moments in the trailer! Seriously, don't do that. The impact gets diminished. Also, it was marketed as a really playful romp, but that's not accurate. The tone is much more serious overall and often almost melancholy, and I just think people expected (there's that word again!) something else when they walked into the theater. I certainly did. I was taken aback by the somberness of it at times. Not that somber is bad, it's just not how it was packaged. Also, you're just sitting there waiting for them to make their "sweded" movies (cute term, Gondry). When they do, it's wonderful, even if most of it was in the trailer, but then the rest of the time noticeably lags. Those home movies are the moments when the film really comes alive.

For anyone who doesn't know, Be Kind Rewind is about an archaic, family-operated video store, competing with the chain behemoths and losing. The store is owned and run by Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover). Jerry (Jack Black) and Mos Def (Mike) are best friends and the store's only two employees. Actually, I'm not sure if Jerry is an actual employee or if he just loiters a lot. Anyway, Jerry gets preposterously (yet believably, because that's Jerry) electrocuted one night. He is now magnetized, so when Mr. Fletcher goes away, warning Mike to keep Jerry out (hmm, I guess he must not be an employee...?), Jerry of course enters the store and destroys all the tapes due to the magnetization. A loyal customer (one of the only), and Mr. Fletcher's apparent love interest (which never really goes anywhere), played by Mia Farrow comes in demanding Ghostbusters. When they say it's unavailable, she threatens to tell Mr. Fletcher unless they come up with it. Mike is terrified, because he's like Mr. Fletcher's son and doesn't want to let him down. So, they take the erased tapes and start remaking all the movies themselves, guerrilla-style.

The film is set in Passaic, New Jersey. Some of it was even shot there. The Passaic of the movie is a very old, dilapidated melting pot full of history. I don't know anything about Passaic, so I wouldn't dream of saying anything bad about it, but I'm not sure how much of what's seen is real or how much is really great production design. Whatever the case, the Passaic of the film looks like a place that time has forgotten. It's very run down, but it has a ton of character. The town's claim to fame (in the movie) is that it's the birthplace of jazz legend Fats Waller. The townspeople cherish that story and its accompanying notoriety. It connects them as a community. One of my problems with Be Kind Rewind is that Fats Waller is too prominent in the story, although I get the metaphorical and symbolic reasoning for it. It's not really that it's Fats Waller specifically; it could be anyone, because it's a representation of the spirit of the people. Still, I was sometimes annoyed by the constant Waller references.

Character development is another issue. Mike and Mr. Fletcher are given depth, but I feel like they only ever play one note, even if that note sounds pretty darn good. Jerry is just a nutcase who IS only one note, although he is very sweet at times and is genuinely moved by the reaction to the sweded movies. Melonie Diaz plays Alma, a girl they randomly get to help them with their movies when Jerry won't kiss a man. Alma is so hurriedly thrown into the story that we never learn much about her. They're great, interesting characters, but something's lacking. At end of the day, they seem like archetypes, not like fleshed-out human beings. I also think some of that stems from plot problems rather than character development. There are a lot of loose ends and plot holes, so they feel like incomplete people. And it's not just an open ending thing, where we're not supposed to know how it ends. It's a flaw of the script. There's some weird love triangle thing happening with Jerry, Mike, and Alma, and like I already said, I have no idea what's up with Mia Farrow's character and Mr. Fletcher. The plot seems very rushed, but the film often lags. It's very odd.

Gondry never quite decides on a tone. That threw me off a lot. One minute, it's light-hearted frivolity, and the next, it's grave melodrama. It shifted too much. Be Kind Rewind is so reminiscent of his music videos, in a good way because his spirit and creativity are always there, but also in a bad way, because the film sometimes seems like a haphazard series of vignettes, or it might have been better served by a shorter format. The film has a great message, and Gondry had such sincere, beautiful intentions, but his approach is a bit too heavy-handed at the end. There have been lots of comparisons to Frank Capra and Preston Sturges (thanks to Roeper for the rare Sturges shout-out!), although I think it's overall more Capra-esque. The comparisons stem from the film's feel-goodery (not a bad thing), which some people find corny, hence the term "Capracorn." Well, I think this ending might have even made Capra cringe. It's too precious for its own good.

Wow, I know this all sounds super-negative, but I really like Be Kind Rewind a lot. Those are my problems with it, but it has so many good points. It's a clever premise, for starters, and it's so relevant in a time when technology is obsolete the second it hits the stores. The sweded movies are genius. The Ghostbusters one is amazing, and so is the Driving Miss Daisy remake. I love Mike's reluctance to do it because of the racist aspects, and the result is sheer comic brilliance. Even though I've never seen Rush Hour 2 (I think it's interesting he chose the sequel), I loved that one, too. I can rest easily at night knowing I never have to see it now. What a load off my mind. The cinematography is quite astounding, especially in their movies and in the final big movie they make. How they make it look old-timey is so Gondry, and so wonderful. I think the script is pretty great, especially considering his issues with English. This is such a huge improvement over The Science of Sleep. He's finding his voice, and I'm willing to be patient. It's a great ride.

The acting is fantastic. Jack Black has rarely been better, which might not be saying a lot, but he can be terrific in the right role, and this is that role. He proves just how funny he is with smart material. Randomly, who else is sick of being chastised by Kung Fu Panda before every movie? Sorry, I had to bring it up. Mos Def is a phenomenal actor. He's really charming and a totally compelling leading man. I loved him in Be Kind Rewind. Danny Glover has sort of gotten to the Morgan Freeman plateau of his career, where he always plays the wise sage, although to be fair, Glover is more varied than Freeman. Morgan Freeman, for once, give someone bad advice! Please! Still, Glover's great at it, like Freeman is, and he brings a lot of heart to his role as Mr. Fletcher. Mia Farrow is adorable and nutty, and Melonie Diaz is awesome, even though her character is pretty pitiful. She's very talented and will be a big star. Here's a line from Roger Ebert's review: "Co-starring as their female leads in these movies is the fetching Alma (Melonie Diaz), who has the sexiest smile since Rosario Dawson." Oh, Ebert, you sly boots.

Ebert also talks a lot about the film's whimsy. Above his byline, he gives its definition: "Whimsy (n.): Playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor." He elaborates, wittily as usual, in his intro: "Michel Gondry's 'Be Kind Rewind' is whimsy with a capital W. No, it's WHIMSY in all caps. Make that all-caps italic boldface. Oh, never mind. I'm getting too whimsical. Maybe Gondry does, too. You'll have to decide for yourself. This is a movie that takes place in no possible world, which may be a shame, if not for the movie, then for possible worlds." I know I don't ever include parts of other reviews in my writing, but I thought this was worth including. I actually avoid reviews until after I've written my own, but the beginning of this one caught my attention, and I was alerted to the Melonie Diaz line. So, technically, I haven't read more than a paragraph. Still, about the whimsy, I totally get his point. It's true. The whimsy feels too forced at times. But the whimsy is what I love so much about Gondry. If only more filmmakers were whimsical.

That's what Be Kind Rewind is about - losing the magic and the whimsy of filmmaking. This film celebrates what filmmaking is supposed to be. It strips away all the big-budget trappings and focuses on movies with, as Mia Farrow's character salutes, "heart and soul." Be Kind Rewind is idealistic, to be sure, but there's nothing wrong with that. People are too pessimistic nowadays. I love, love, love the film's message. All students starting out in film school should be required to watch it. First, it would show them that they can make creative, inspired movies for less than nothing. And second, it would knock a few of them, the people who come in thinking they know everything (if you've been in film school, you know people like this), down off their high horses. The film captures the essence, spirit, and purity of filmmaking.

I love the choice of VHS as a primary, essential focus of Be Kind Rewind. I remember the transition to DVDs, and now that I've collected so many, I'm terrified of Blu-Ray creeping its way in, soon inevitably rendering DVDs obsolete, just like VHS. Oh, sure, you can cling to your DVD player, and they'll continue making players, but less and less. People probably didn't think Beta would ever become extinct. Be Kind Rewind makes all of the technological fuss seem so foolish, and it is. What does it matter when it comes to making films? You can have all the money and special effects in the world and still make garbage.

Be Kind Rewind's Passaic is straight out of a Capra or Sturges movie. It's much more Capra in the sense that the ending is a deliberate homage to one of his movies (I won't say which one, although someone else probably will), and it's all about the community. The film has a very wonderful, old-fashioned sensibility, which also makes it feel like Capra or Sturges. I love Frank Capra, and I positively worship Preston Sturges, but I won't pretend that Capra isn't sometimes sentimental to a fault. His idealism is too heavy-handed at times, like Be Kind Rewind, hence his own adjective. I know Sturges was more cynical, and it shows in his work, but he had a right to be cynical. It was an awful time. He had a more satirical approach to filmmaking, but he was also hopeful, insightful, and a humanist at heart, just like Capra.

Sullivan's Travels, one of Sturges' many masterpieces, is a direct influence on Gondry and Be Kind Rewind. It's about a filmmaker fed up with big budgets and guys in suits telling him what to do and all the claustrophobia of success and fame. He has everything, but he feels hollow. So, to research his next film, John Sullivan sets out on a mythic journey, with nothing but the clothes on his back. Sturges and Capra both believed in the power of cinema to move people and affect change. In Sullivan's Travels, Sturges addresses it directly in his poignant way. John Sullivan concludes about movies: "There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan." What a beautiful sentiment. Gondry echoes it faithfully.

The same can be said about movies in general. It's all some people have, and we shouldn't take them for granted. Cinema is the universal thread that connects us all. In spite of its shortcomings, Be Kind Rewind, filtered through the consistent genius of Michel Gondry, reminds us of the power of film and its ability to provoke thought or change, raise spirits, trigger laughter and tears, and transform and inspire people. Maybe a movie just makes you giggle. Or, maybe it only elicits a smile. Isn't that something special? As Preston Sturges-as-John Sullivan says, "It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan."

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

From One Director to Another, With Love

Ed Wood is Tim Burton's best film. There's no question about it. What a miraculous piece of filmmaking! I saw it once before, a long time ago, and I loved it then, but I felt like I HAD to see it again after subjecting myself to Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space. I obviously caught more of the jokes this time around, and I appreciate Ed Wood more than ever for recreating this crazy universe that "the worst director of all time" inhabited. I'm not sure I disagree with that label, either. He sure had more heart and passion than most of the mediocre hacks today, even though it didn't get him very far. Ed Wood was happy, and that's wonderful. I completely respect and admire him as a person.

Johnny Depp is terrifically cast as Ed Wood. Depp truly is a chameleon. He doesn't look exactly like Wood, but it's close enough, and his acting, spunk, and non-stop energy more than make up the difference. In a way, I think it's sort of a thankless role, because Martin Landau steals the film as Bela Lugosi. Depp really should be applauded, though. He makes what he's doing look so effortless that you sometimes forget he's doing anything at all. I don't think it's his best work, but he's still fantastic, and he does everything he's required to do. He brings nuance to the role, although it's not always easy to discern (there were times when he got on my nerves, I admit), but I think the thing about Ed Wood is - he didn't have a whole lot of nuance. He loved wearing women's clothes, making movies, and life in general. He wasn't a complicated guy.

Depp captures him just right, even though it's not the showiest performance, and he's asked to carry a lot of the movie, which he does admirably. Sarah Jessica Parker proves just what a great actress she is as his girlfriend, Dolores. She's radiant. It takes really great acting to act badly, and when she's in his movies (the faux-movies recreated in Ed Wood), she's abominable. There's a great exchange between Dolores and Loretta (Martin Landau's daughter Juliet, of cult Buffy fame) playing a scene from one of Wood's movies. It's so awkward and stiff, and the way they deliver the lines, especially Parker's last seemingly throwaway ones ("Oh, I get it. See you tomorrow."), are priceless. It's so mechanical and awful and sounds exactly like how people talk in Wood's real movies. The cast really did their research.

Even some of the acting (in "real life," not just in the films) seems like it's deliberately supposed to be bad like in one of Wood's masterpieces, if that makes sense. The actors are so mannered and often robotic in their movements, facial expressions, and speech that it has to be intentional. The whole film seems like it's done in the spirit of a Wood movie. Lisa Marie (uncanny!) as Vampira, Jeffrey Jones as Criswell, Patricia Arquette as Kathy, George "The Animal" Steele (hilarious!), and Bill Murray (brilliant!) as...wait for it...Bunny Breckinridge ("What about glitter? When I was a headliner in Paris, audiences always liked it when I sparkled.") are the rest of the astounding actors who comprise the rest of Wood's motley crew (At one point, Dolores assesses: "Well, I see the usual cast of fags, losers, and drug addicts are here."). I feel like I'm IN an Ed Wood movie now with all those exclamation points. He's infectious, I guess. Like the bubonic plague. But a happy bubonic plague.

Martin Landau's performance as Bela Lugosi is one of the best performances I've ever seen on film, and one of my personal favorites. First of all, the make-up department deserves a standing ovation for making him look exactly like Lugosi. And then Landau soars from there. The speech and the mannerisms are perfect. He's almost more Lugosi than Lugosi was. It's way more than just a good impersonation, even though I bet no one has done Lugosi better. Landau brings such depth and humanity to Lugosi, who at this point in his life was totally obscure and forgotten ("But now - no one gives two fucks for Bela!"), lonely, almost broke, desperately clinging to Dracula, and subsisting on heroin. It seems like Lugosi was never able to shake Dracula. He lived his life as Dracula, which is really sad. His relationship with Ed Wood is so touching, because you see just how much Bela needs a friend. Landau, when he does Bela's scenes (especially in Glen or Glenda), is spot-on, but he adds the emotion and subtlety that Lugosi probably couldn't because of his state of mind. Landau's performance is truly a force of nature. He's heartbreaking and hilarious, and his Bela is the heart of the film, way more than Ed Wood. I'm so glad Landau won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He totally deserved it. What a genius.

Ed Wood is an extraordinary aesthetic achievement. Under Tim Burton's confident, inspired direction, the film just shines. The black and white cinematography by Stefan Czapsky is so crisp and beautiful that it dazzles the eyes. It's phenomenal. Howard Shore's score is amazing, Colleen Atwood's costumes are remarkable (she recreates the movies and the period), Chris Lebenzon's editing is seamless when the mood requires and loud when it needs to be, the production design by Tom Duffield (along with Okowita's art direction and Cricket Rowland's set decoration) completely capture Ed Wood's world, particularly the sets of the movies, and the script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski is flawless. Burton's vision is truly one of a kind. What's really mind-blowing is how Burton shoots the film almost in the style of a Wood movie (of course, Wood never had this kind of cinematography). The music swells really ridiculously during dramatic moments to make it extra cheesy, there are lots of silly superimpositions, and often the editing consists of lame wipes and other hackneyed (all on purpose) transitions. It's really, really cool. No one else could have made this movie. Burton's commitment and passion to the project is inspiring.

I should wrap this up before I run out of adjectives. It's obvious that Tim Burton has deep respect and affection for Ed Wood. He doesn't ridicule him. Instead, he celebrates his spirit, and that's a beautiful thing. It doesn't make Ed Wood any more talented (he was an atrocious filmmaker), but it definitely gives me more appreciation for everything that Ed Wood went through. People kept knocking him down, and he refused to stay there. He was always optimistic. He made compromises and did whatever he had to do to make his movies. Ed Wood just loved movies, and isn't that what matters? He was like a way less-talented Michel Gondry, just a big kid playing around and loving every single moment.

There's also an exceptional cameo by Vincent D'Onofrio as Orson Welles, Ed Wood's idol. His Welles is so accurate and amazing that it's unreal. They have this exchange when they meet:

Ed Wood: Do you know that I've even had producers re-cut my movies?
Orson Welles: I hate when that happens.
Ed Wood: And they always want to cast their buddies. It doesn't even matter if they're right for the part.
Orson Welles: Tell me about it. I'm supposed to do a thriller for Universal. They want Charlton Heston as a Mexican.

Okay, I really just included that part because I love the whole "Charlton Heston as a Mexican" thing. He's talking about Touch of Evil, and it's just hilarious, because Heston is AWFUL in it. He's the least convincing Mexican ever. Picture Moses as a Mexican. Doesn't work, right?

But I did have a reason for bringing up Orson Welles in Ed Wood. He tells Ed, "Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?" That really sums up his life, work, and this film honoring his memory beautifully. Ed Wood was doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Leave The Women Alone!

I've heard for a long time that there were plans to do a remake of George Cukor's brilliant 1939 film (oh, that magical year) The Women. The rumors really annoyed me, but now that it's actually happening and will be released later this year, I'm downright furious. First of all, I hate when anyone messes with a classic. Whether you agree with the film or not from a feminist perspective (I'll get to that later), it's a wonderful film. It's witty and hilarious with fantastic performances. So, the film surrounds a bunch of catty high society women and their shenanigans. The cast is all women, down to the animals. There's not one man in it. That's pretty remarkable in itself. Here are my thoughts on the original (and only, as far as I'm concerned) from when I first watched it on October 19, 2005 (I watched it in a life-altering class, so it's chronicled because we kept a journal):

"Wow. Where do I begin about The Women? I have never seen another film like this, so completely dedicated to women, without a man in sight. This film just blew my mind. There have been so many times at Columbia where I have seen really amazing films that completely validate my coming to film school. They make me feel like I made the right choice with my life. And this film is one of them. I think it is quite shocking for its time, and it amazes me how much it got away with as far as the Production Code. I mean, it really pushes it, and I wonder how that could happen. Maybe the idiot male censors figured a bunch of women could not possibly be talking about anything substantial. They probably thought, “Oh, those silly women, with their silly clothes and their silly problems!” What suckers. Anyway, I am exhausted from listening to them for over two hours, but I loved every second of it. I also am so impressed with the unparalleled ensemble cast. There are just so many strong, talented women in it. Also, the women who wrote this are unbelievable. This film is one of the smartest, funniest, most biting social commentaries ever written. I have a whole new respect for George Cukor after seeing this. Surely, no other director could have made this film, especially no male, and probably most would not have wanted to. He really does have a knack for working for with actors, especially women. His camera style is not as flashy as other directors, but who cares when he can encourage such incredible performances and get Rosalind Russell to throw dishes around? It seems like the set was a very warm and nurturing place.

As far as the character of Mary (Norma Shearer), I do not think she sells out. Even though Steven really does seem pathetic, she loves him and forgives him, and I think that makes her strong. People do make mistakes, and he has certainly done his penance. If she wants him, even after everything, she should have him. After all, she is a human being, and the heart wants what it wants. And I think this time around, she will have the control in the relationship. Maybe it would have been more satisfying if she had told him to go to hell, but still, there are so many other strong women in the film, it hardly matters. Also, there are so many different types of women in this film, so it makes it really easy to relate to. Everyone knows someone who is like at least one of those women. Joan Fontaine is adorable as the sweet Peggy, and Mary Boland is a riot as Flora. While Norma Shearer is very good, Joan Crawford (Crystal Allen) and Rosalind Russell (Sylvia Fowler) steal the film. Crawford is perfect as the delicious bitch you love to hate, and her scene in the bathtub is incredible. It is easy to see why this made her a star again. Crawford is fantastic, but I have to say that Rosalind Russell was my favorite part of the film. She is such a firecracker! I have only seen her in His Girl Friday before (one of my favorites), and I loved her in it, but she is so great in The Women. She is so beautiful and unique-looking, but I love how she just immersed herself in her character and went for the whole ugly, awkward look in this film, glasses askew and all. Sylvia is certainly not a glamorous character. But she breathes such life into the film, and the scene where she throws the plates is one of the funniest I have ever seen in any movie, and Russell does it so brilliantly. I am so grateful that we watched this film, and I want to show it to everyone I know."

(Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Rosalind Russell - Keep in mind that Crawford and Shearer hate each other in the film and loathed each other even more in real life. I think some of that comes across in this picture, which I find fascinating. It's also just a beautiful shot.)

Aww, memories...that brings me back. Since then, George Cukor has become one of my favorite directors, Rosalind Russell has become one of my favorite actresses, and Norma Shearer has become incredibly grating. Alas, I love the film more than ever. George Cukor would never make an anti-women film. Never. The Women is pro-feminist all the way. Yes, these women are bitchy, catty, and quite awful people, but it's done in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. The original play was written by the incomparable Clare Boothe Luce (an uber-feminist), who wanted to expose the vanity of (some) high society wives. They're exposed for what they are. The movie follows suit, because it isn't saying that all women are like that, just the ones in this warped universe. It's telling women NOT to be like these people. You have to go deeper, because it's a satirical look at the society of the time and women's roles and the unreasonable expectations placed upon them.

The Women basically takes all of the stereotypes and nonsense about women only being superficial and weak and throws it in your face by amplifying it to such a ridiculous level that no one could possibly believe that Cukor and company don't 100% support women's rights. This film is their revenge, for all the times they were slighted in Hollywood. Also, these are strong characters, even if they have questionable motives and reputations. The Women undermines the male superstructure of the time by pumping it so full of estrogen that it would make a misogynist whimper out of fear of the wrath of women united (despite the fights, they're a community). And did I mention there are NO men in it? No matter how much they talk about men, you never see one penis (not like you would have seen it back then, but you get it). That's empowering! This is in no way anti-feminist. It's a satire. Lighten up!

That being said, the remake is an atrocity. I don't think it's going to be tongue-in-cheek at all. I have a horrible suspicion that it's going to lose all insightful commentary and nuance and just be a glorified bitch-fest with none of the intelligent bite of the original. The poster even mimics the one for 27 Dresses, so how promising does that look for feminism? Here's just some of the line-up: Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Carrie Fisher, Annete Bening, Debra Messing, Candice Bergen, Debi Mazar, Cloris Leachman, and Bette Midler. Those are some stellar actresses, but it's just going to be a wreck. Don't mess with the women of 1939. Ryan is playing the Shearer role (which is okay, because I think Ryan is annoying, too), Bening is playing Russell's role (What????? How outrageously awful!), and Mendes is Joan Crawford (please, honey, you wish). What's with the hourglass-shaped torso on the poster and drawing the boobs with lipstick? Gag. Very classy. And then if you read down, it gets all sappy and sentimental. The great thing about the original is that, with the exception of Mary, no one gets particularly sentimental. They bond, you know it, and no one has to weep to get the point across. This remake is going to turn into a Hallmark movie. It's an abomination.

Find the original and watch it. You can get it on Netflix or even buy it cheap on Amazon or just check for it on TCM. It's pretty easy to find, because it's a cinematic gem. And my final bit of advice? Run, don't walk, from the remake. The remake is a bitch slap to the face of the original.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

De Palma Goes To War and Majorly Bombs

I admit that I only watched 15 minutes of Brian De Palma's Redacted with my full attention, eyes and ears. Now, my poor companion is watching it about 15 feet away, so only my ears are being subjected to the torture of this movie within a movie within a movie within a... ugh, you get the point. The premise is intriguing, I'll give De Palma that. Too bad he screwed it up.

American soldiers in Iraq record mini-movies of their daily lives there. I have a hard time believing every soldier would have a mini-DV cam, but whatever, I'll look past that. Instead of sticking just to the American POV, the film jumps around from one vantage point to another (the Vantage Point in theaters is undoubtedly infinitely better, even though I've heard it's awful). There's someone speaking French for some reason recording stuff about soldiers and checkpoints, there's webcams and video blogs, surveillance cameras (doesn't everyone have perfectly blocked conversations right in front of surveillance cameras all the time?), news footage, and the list goes on. What's unfortunate is that none of the new perspectives bring any more insight than the previous one. There's nothing insightful about this movie.

As I type, the grating dialogue is making my skin crawl. The script tries so hard to sound spontaneous that it comes off as even more painfully scripted. It's annoyingly self-conscious and pretentious. And beyond that, Redacted is totally unbelievable. Who records every second of the day? It's all too neat and convenient, despite efforts to make it seem haphazard, random, and revelatory. The only thing the film reveals is that the filmmaking itself is haphazard and messy, not the war.

Brian De Palma is best advised to stick to doing stuff he knows - ripping off other people's work and making inferior rehashes - rather than trying to do something new and profound. Nice try on Iraq. I applaud his effort and what (I think) he has to say, but he's in way over his head. He should leave serious topics to the real filmmakers.

Rating (of what I saw and heard): 1/2* (out of 5) - It only gets half a star at all for ambition and effort, even though De Palma was horribly misguided and the film fails miserably.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Delusions of Grandeur: Clooney Edition

The headline of one of IMDB's big stories du jour reads:

Clooney: "I'm the Hillary Clinton of the Oscars"

And why, pray tell, is that, Mr. Clooney? Here's the full story to explain his reasoning:

"George Clooney has compared his battle for the Best Actor Oscar at the forthcoming Academy Awards to the U.S. presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Clooney is convinced he would be a sure winner if fellow actor Daniel Day-Lewis wasn't in the running for the prize. And he likened their situation to that of Democrat candidates Clinton and Obama - insisting the former first lady would be on a definite course to win the 2008 election if her opponent wasn't Obama. He tells U.S. magazine Time, "For me, it's like being Hillary Clinton. If it weren't for Barack Obama, it would have been a very good year. I thought Daniel Day-Lewis had the best performance of the year." Clooney is nominated for the coveted prize at Sunday's awards for his role in Michael Clayton, while Day-Lewis has been tipped to take the prize after his acclaimed performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood."

Ugh. "Clooney is convinced he would be a sure winner if fellow actor Daniel Day-Lewis wasn't in the running for the prize"? Oh really, is he? Maybe that's true, since Hollywood is under his smarmy spell. He doesn't even deserve to be nominated, but as it stands, he certainly wouldn't be the deserving runner-up. That would be Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah. Clooney wouldn't even be third! Johnny Depp is next in line for Sweeney Todd. Then, it's a toss-up between Viggo Mortensen and Clooney. Personally, I found Mortensen to be a more compelling leading man. So, in my estimation, Clooney would be dead last. And let's not forget the more worthy people that should be in his place, like ridiculously snubbed Emile Hirsch. What an arrogant assessment on his part.

Oh, George Clooney is so political and liberal and great that he even brings up politics in his boasting, as his gaggles of swooning, google-eyed fans would say with a "My hero"-inspired sigh. Please. It couldn't be any more self-important to compare himself and this Oscar race to the biggest presidential election in history. I love his throwaway compliment to Day-Lewis, too. How gracious of him. He should be grateful to even be in the same category as Daniel Day-Lewis.

And you know he's saying this with his usual cocky smugness, so it passes for a joke. But behind every smug remark or joke lies truth. Why else would he even mention it? He's pissed! He seriously believes this nonsense spewing from his mouth. It's totally tasteless, and he has no class at all. Should we feel sorry for him that Day-Lewis gave one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema? Cry me a freaking river. He's lucky that his stupid movie got so many nominations in the first place. All of them, except for Tom Wilkinson's Best Supporting Actor nod, were stolen from more deserving candidates. Yes, even Tilda Swinton, who I completely love and admire, but she's done much better work elsewhere. Jennifer Garner belongs in that category over her by a long shot. Ruby Dee is another story, but I'm just comparing Swinton to Garner.

Anyway, the nominations for Michael Clayton are totally unfounded. He said, in his dumb analogy, that if not for Obama, "it would have been a very good year." How could he not consider getting that many nominations for Michael Clayton having "a very good year"? Ohhhh, I get it...he meant it would have been a very good year for HIM if he could have won the Oscar he believed would have been his had Daniel Day-Lewis not ruined his plan by being such a genius. He shouldn't even be nominated!! He should be thrilled that he was. Nice work, Mr. Ungrateful. Woe is George Clooney. How selfish and conceited can a person possibly be? Way to be a team player, too. Shouldn't he focus on being happy that the project he was a part of got recognition (no matter how unjustly)? Doesn't that alone make it a very good year? It's not only your movie, you know. Other people were actually involved, George, in case you forgot or didn't notice. How about showing some appreciation and gratitude? Was it a good year for them, or doesn't it matter? He thinks Michael Clayton belongs to him, and people seem to agree. It's Clooney this and Clooney that, all the time. No one ever talks about anything or anyone else in relation to Michael Clayton (poor, brilliant Tom Wilkinson - I hope he was nominated genuinely, as he should have been, and not by mere association with Clooney).

The movie only got the nominations because Hollywood is enamored with him. For what reason, I don't know. He's not that good-looking (gasp, I said it), and he's not that talented. Oh yeah, when he pulls himself away from the lovefests at his mirror, he does humanitarian work. Well, la-di-da, kudos to you, Clooney. Big deal. When you make $20 million a picture, you better damn well be giving some of it to charity. Something feels so self-congratulatory about even his seemingly selfless deeds. If Clooney wasn't in Michael Clayton, no one in the world at large would care one iota about it. He should be on his knees thanking Shiva just for the critical and popular attention and praise heaped upon this hackneyed, below-average, no-thrills-attached thriller. That it got Oscar nominations is a crime.

His comments about the Best Actor race are some of the most offensive and outrageous things I've ever heard (or read, actually - if I heard it, I'd probably be ripping up the furniture). I really didn't like Michael Clayton, and I wouldn't be petty enough to change my rating because of him, but his taint is strong, and I downright resent the film and him now. I'm so sick of his ego. I wish someone would wipe that smug smirk off of his face once and for all.

To go for more authenticity, his big line in Michael Clayton should be, "Does it look like I'm self-aggrandizing?" That's rhetorical, of course, because the answer is a resounding "YES!" The only person who loves George Clooney more than the rest of the world is George Clooney. What a pompous ass.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Hear Shiva, The God of Death is an Excellent Writer

I plan on writing my full review later on Suite101 (please look for it!), but something's really bothering me, so I just have to ask something...

Am I the only person in the world who isn't in love with Michael Clayton? I feel really alone in this opinion. I just finished watching it, and I don't get it. What's with the glowing critical praise and overwhelming audience appeal? What's the big deal? What's so revolutionary? It's not terrible, but it's certainly not great either. I was thinking for awhile that it was just a good, average, okay movie. But the more I think about it, I don't believe that. It's below average, bad even. I disliked it quite a bit, and I'm so irritated about all the Oscar nominations it stole from better films.

Thank Shiva, The God of Death for Tom Wilkinson. What a miraculous performance. I've always loved him, since I first saw him in The Full Monty, and I think he just keeps getting better and better. You put him next to George Clooney and it's like watching Orson Welles act opposite Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy. Okay, that might be a little mean, because Clooney does a really good job, but the talent level gap between them is astronomical.

Maybe Tony Gilroy should have let Shiva, The God of Death take a crack at Michael Clayton. It probably would have been more entertaining.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Shamless Self-Promotion

Hello, wonderful readers! I just want to thank everyone who's been reading my blog or just read it once or even just accidentally stumbled onto it and hurriedly left. Nothing makes me happier than pouring out my passion for cinema through writing and having people respond to it.

I love this blog. As you can tell, I've been working ceaselessly at keeping it constantly updated and honing my craft. However, I have recently started working as a Contributing Writer on I just wanted to explain why I might not be posting on here as often as I have been, although I still plan on writing probably two or three entries a week minimum. I just want people to know that I have not abandoned my blog, nor would I ever. I'm just dividing more of my writing between here and there, and I'm sure it'll have to be subdivided further when I get solid work in the future.

I hope you'll follow me and my writing, wherever it takes me. Please keep visiting here, because I guarantee this site will be maintained with painstaking regularity and heart. Nothing is really changing - I'm still writing as much, but I'm now publishing somewhere else, too.

So, time for the plug. Please check out my work at

There you can find my profile and links to all my articles. I'm pretty proud of what I'm doing there, just as I am about this blog, so I hope you'll take a look at it.

Thanks for listening, and thanks for reading!

The Science of Putting People to Sleep

Why, oh why, Michel Gondry? The Science of Sleep is such a horrible mess of a film. Released post-Eternal Sunshine, Gondry takes on writing duties in addition to directing and flounders without his wingman, Charlie Kaufman. The writing isn't bad. In fact, if you look at it from the perspective of his not-so-hot English, it's quite good. I'm so irritated that I don't even really want to think about this film very much, nor do I want to write my usual novel of a review. It's like Gondry forgot he was making a movie for an audience. He's so totally trapped in his own head. It's a very self-absorbed film. Not conceited, mind you, because I think Michel Gondry is one of the sweetest and least arrogant people in the business. It's like people told him, "Okay, go do whatever you want." And he was like "Yippee!" and went totally nuts. He's a big kid with a coloring book. He not only colors outside of the lines; he colors outside of the whole damn book, the house, and the neighborhood. Creativity is great, but in this film, it all means nothing.

I was left feeling aggravated, bored, and emotionally hollow. Yes, the visuals are great, often spectacular. Some of the images are inspired and fantastically brilliant. If you don't know what it's about, the main character, Stéphane (Gael Garcia Bernal), is an artist who is really messed up in the head, has all sorts of neuroses, and constantly blurs the line between reality and dreams. Some of the dream sequences are amazing. Gondry utilizes clay and stop-motion animation to great effect. It feels like the film is a string of his music videos. Segments would work on their own, and the trailer is one of the best I've ever seen. But put together, it makes no sense and gets annoying. Gondry is trying too hard to be kooky and weird. But to what end? To no end in this case. I know, I know, a failure by a great director is still more interesting than an okay film by a bad director...blah, blah, blah. I believe that, but there were still moments when I was feeling tortured by the sheer agony of the pointlessness. There's virtually none of the authenticity that I love so much about him usually.

Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Stéphanie (how cute, right? Stéphane and Stéphanie...gag), the object of Stéphane's desire. Their relationship is never fleshed out and there's no believability to it, despite the best efforts of Gainsbourg (good, but not great - better in I'm Not There) and Bernal. I tell ya, Gael Garcia Bernal is a trooper. He acts the hell out of this void of a role. It's a really great performance, but I almost feel sorry for him, jumping through Gondry's pointless hoops. Bernal tries so, so hard, and it's really admirable. But nothing could ultimately save the film.

It's visually interesting at times, occasionally there's some clever or funny dialogue, and the performances, by Bernal in particular and some of the supporting cast, are entertaining, though set against an overpoweringly muddled landscape. To be honest, what kept me most engaged was watching Gael Garcia Bernal. I have a massive crush on him and think he's ridiculously hot. He's totally adorable in this film, and I found myself thinking about how cute he was every couple minutes, because there was nothing else to think about. So, at least I had good eye candy.

I'm actually seeing Be Kind Rewind later today, about 24 hours after watching The Science of Sleep. With Be Kind Rewind, it seems like Gondry has found his voice again. It looks pure, joyous, people-friendly, and brilliant. I think it'll be a triumphant return to form. And I can't wait for Be Kind Rewind to erase my memories of The Science of Sleep. Except for the ones of Gael Garcia Bernal being so irresistibly cute. Leave me those, please.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake of Comedy

I thought the sneak peak for Pineapple Express on the Superbad DVD looked AWFUL. It was so long and boring, and it made me have no desire to see it.

But how could I possibly doubt the genius of Judd Apatow and everything he stands for, comedy-wise? I've seen the Red Band trailer, and I'm convinced. It looks hilarious, but judge for yourself. I had the YouTube video posted on here, but it's been removed by Apatow and Co. (Co. meaning the studio), which I think is rather silly. Still, if you want to see it, go here:

You'll have to jump through a couple small hoops, like entering your name, birthday, and zip code, but it's worth it.

I predict this will be a smart stoner comedy with a heart. It actually looks kind of sweet. In fact, the best friends played by Seth Rogen and James Franco (finally acting for a change!) are totally Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in Superbad. I really do love Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. I think that has brains and a heart, too. And I'm looking forward to their new movie with its totally non-PC premise, justifiably scathing criticism of stereotypes perpetuated by Americans, and just America bashing in general. But I have a feeling that the Apatow-produced stoner movie will be better. The man's pretty infallible right now.

Pineapple Express is co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who co-wrote Superbad), with Judd Apatow pitching in on story development, and it's directed by, of all people, indie darling David Gordon Green. He's brilliant, but this is so far from what he usually does that it's practically in Antarctica. So bizarre, and totally intriguing.

I thought this looked terrible at first, but I'm a believer now. With all the people involved, it's a sure-fire recipe for success.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

There Will Be Beauty

Daniel Day-Lewis is not only one of the greatest actors of all time and definitely the best of this generation, but he's also one of the world's most compassionate and beautiful human beings. As if his massive talent wasn't enough to make me love him, he's so humble and gracious and classy. And he gives the most wonderful acceptance speeches. I'm mesmerized every time he speaks.

But what I'm particularly touched by lately is his reaction to Heath Ledger's death. Daniel Day-Lewis is such a sensitive person. I think you need to be in order to be the kind of dedicated method actor he is. He feels things more deeply than most people. I like to think that I do, too. I'm still in mourning over Heath Ledger and can't bring myself to write my tribute and deal with the closure.

Daniel Day-Lewis hardly ever does interviews, but he appeared on Oprah for her post-nomination special featuring some of the nominees. His was the first interview. He talked very modestly and eloquently about his performance in There Will Be Blood, and also very gratefully about Paul Thomas Anderson and the public's reaction to the film. It's a nine minute interview, and he was noticeably melancholy and distracted for the first half. He wasn't rude at all. He was totally polite and great, but you could tell something was bothering him. At around the five and a half minute point, he interrupted the interview to acknowledge how deeply upset he was about Heath Ledger's death. He paused, got really flustered, rubbed his forehead, and looked down, his face a map of his pain, and he apologized to Oprah because there was something he wanted to say.

I actually taped the interview off my TV with my video camera and uploaded it, but I admit that I'm very fearful of Oprah and her copyright infringement police, so I'm not going to post it. These photos are screenshots from it, though. I believe they show a very poignant progression of his feelings.

So, instead, here's what he said, word for word, stuttering and all, just to convey how emotional and choked up he was:

"I'm sorry, Oprah. Something, I hope you don't mind, if I-if I-if I speak about this, but there's something I - I feel very unsettled, um, at the moment, and I suppose it's cause I only just saw the news about Heath Ledger's death. And um, it just seems - it seems somehow strange to be talking about anything else. Uh, not that there's anything to say, really, except to express one's regret and-and to - and to say from the bottom of one's heart, um, to-to-to his family and to his friends that I'm-I'm sorry for their trouble. I didn't know him. Uh, I have an impression, a strong impression, I would have liked him very much as a man if I-if I had. I'd already marveled at some of his work and had looked forward so much to seeing the work that he would do in the future, so..."

At this point, Day-Lewis got really choked up - you could hear it in his voice and he trailed off, nodding and licking his lips nervously, face twitching with grief, and looked down. There were tears in his eyes. It's so incredibly moving.

Oprah is an automoton who could care less about Heath Ledger, and she thanked Day-Lewis awkwardly for saying that and callously mentioned something about waiting for the autopsy results.

Day-Lewis continued: "Thank you, Oprah. I do pray to God that-that they allow his-his family, particularly, and his friends to-to grieve in the way that they need to, uh, in the weeks and-and months to come because this is something they're going to be living with, obviously, for the rest of their life."

Oprah's response: "Yeah."

Then, she decided the time for expressing human emotions was over, and after her profound "yeah," she said: "So let me ask one final question about, uh, uh, about the Oscar." Nice segway, Oprah. Smooth. Daniel Day-Lewis stumbling over his words? The result of him overflowing with sadness, emotion, respect, and compassion. Oprah stumbling over her words? The result of ignorance. They may have copyright laws in place prohibiting people posting videos of her show, but they can't do anything about my first amendment-protected free speech on here and my opinion of her. I think she's a conceited, self-aggrandizing, mindless idiot. Copyright that.

Daniel Day-Lewis' appearance on Oprah was one of the most moving things I've ever seen. I didn't think he could be any more amazing than that. I was wrong. Here's a video I can
post. It's Daniel Day-Lewis, almost a week later, still visibly shaken and saddened (you can see it when they cut away to him after his clip), dedicating his SAG award to Heath Ledger.

This is such a beautiful speech that it makes me want to weep. I was definitely misty-eyed during it. I was astounded by his selflessness and sincerity. Simply amazing and so powerful.

And he had had this to say to the media after the SAG awards:

I love this man. I don't think people come any better than Daniel Day-Lewis. None of this is for attention or to gain popularity or for any selfish reasons. He's totally genuine. That's something you don't see every day, especially not in Hollywood. Daniel Day-Lewis said everything about Heath Ledger that I've felt for weeks and didn't know how to say. That's why I'm particularly touched by his actions. He is the embodiment of class and grace. In fact, he's my hero. What a great man.

Daniel Day-Lewis has a heart as big as his talent.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Toothed Vagina Has Landed

March 28, 2008.
Music Box Theatre.
(or experience the wrath of vagina dentata)

Just be there. Please. Go see it.

(Star Jess Weixler and writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein)

Hitchcock Heaven

Okay, this is seriously the most awesome thing ever. Vanity Fair did this brilliant photo spread honoring Alfred Hitchcock for their March 2008 issue. I'm a Hitchcock freak. I'm crazy obsessed. In a healthy way, of course. So, they have modern actors recreating moments from classic Hitchcock films. It's so cool! A lot of these actors had a blow-up year in 2007. There's lots of award winners and nominees and people at the top of their game, and a couple vets. And these are seriously amazing pictures. They're so intricate and expressive and totally capture the spirit of Hitchcock. They would even set up a shoot like it WAS a Hitchcock film, being all Hitchcock-style obsessive and getting every last detail right (they got the same company to replicate Cary Grant's suit in North by Northwest for Seth Rogen, for instance). I've included all the pictures, and I'll list the who and what of each one. After all the pictures, I'll make some brief comments about my favorites and not-so-favorites. So, enjoy! Did I mention how super-mega-ultra fantastically, wonderfully, monumentally cool I think this project is? It's Hitchcock bliss.

Charlize Theron - Dial M for Murder

Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem - Rear Window

Naomi Watts - Marnie

Keira Knightley and Jennifer Jason Leigh - Rebecca

Emile Hirsch and James McAvoy - Strangers on a Train

Renée Zellweger - Vertigo

Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey, Jr. - To Catch a Thief

Tang Wei, Josh Brolin, Casey Affleck, Eva Marie Saint, Ben Foster,
Omar Metwally, Julie Christie - Lifeboat

Jodie Foster - The Birds

Seth Rogen - North by Northwest

Marion Cotillard - Psycho

So, pretty impressive, right? I love it!

There's a making-of video on this page that's really cool and artistic and aesthetically interesting in itself. And it's amazing to see them in action on these sets.

Okay, so here's my recap. I think Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, and Gwyneth Paltrow all do a great Grace Kelly (Theron does it best, though). I LOVE that Javier Bardem is playing Jimmy Stewart's character in Rear Window. It's the total opposite of No Country for Old Men. It's genius casting. Naomi Watts is exquisite in this shot. And she looks exactly like Tippi Hedren. The Rebecca shot is good - Knightley might be playing it a little too strong, and Leigh might be playing it a little too weird (portraying Judith Anderson is a tall, weird order, though), but it works. The To Catch a Thief shot is gorgeous with all the fireworks in the back and everything. It totally gets the mood right, and Paltrow is great, but could Robert Downey, Jr. be any more boring? What an insult to Cary Grant. The Lifeboat shot is cool - I like the hodgepodge, as well as the fact that Brolin, Affleck, and Foster were all cowboys this past year. Jodie Foster sucks. That's my least favorite. What the hell is she doing? She's a disgrace to The Birds.

These last four are my favorites. Renée Zellweger totally captures whatever the hell Kim Novak is doing at the end of Vertigo. Actually, she brings more to this photo than Novak brought to, well, any film. Zellweger's depiction is perfect, and she got so into it. Seth Rogen works it as Cary Grant in the North by Northwest shot. I'm surprised. It's so against type that it makes sense for some reason, and it's excellent. Aww, Emile Hirsch and James McAvoy for the Strangers on a Train picture. They're such cuties! I want to see them do this film, and that's a high compliment, because Strangers on a Train is my favorite Hitchcock film and maybe (I'm not committing to it) my favorite film of all time. Just don't call Gus van Sant. They're totally hot, and they're two of the best young actors around, so what more could you want?

And finally, my favorite is Marion Cotillard doing Marion Crane in Psycho. Ahh! I didn't even make that connection until I typed it out! Marion and Marion! Vanity Fair, I love you. Hers is by far the most intense, and the layout of the photo is fantastic. It's like nine small frames. I can visualize Hitchcock's storyboards and hear Herrman's score looking at it. Cotillard's just phenomenal. The shower scene is so iconic and probably intimidating to a lot of actresses, but she's the one to do it. She's totally worthy. And I happen to adore her, so it's exciting to see her in anything. Also, Psycho is practically tied with Strangers on a Train in my book of Hitchcock favorites. For a long time, it was THE movie for me. So, the Marion Cotillard shot is extra special.

I want to wallpaper my room with these pictures. I wonder if that can be arranged somehow. Anyway, Hitchcock would love this photo-homage. Do you know why? So many pretty blondes. It would be like a blonde buffet for him. Somewhere, I bet he's licking his lips lasciviously. And I really mean that in the fondest way possible. I love that dirty old perv. I'm brimming with love and respect and affection for Hitchcock. Besides, he'd be the first to admit he was a dirty old perv.