Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
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.
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
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
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
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
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 Suite101.com. 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 Suite101.com:
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!
Monday, February 18, 2008
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: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/pineappleexpress/
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
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.
"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
Marion Cotillard - Psycho