Saturday, August 28, 2010

I like most of the movies that I make the effort to go see.

But every once in a while I absolutely love one of them.

It's been a while though. I can't really say when was the last time I left a theater totally and completely elated, ecstatic, and just plain head over heels in love. You know what I mean, though? That feeling you get when the credits start to roll: when your heart is so full it almost hurts and your mind is racing in that active, happy, elated way.

Well, that happened to me today after seeing "Get Low."

Get Low is incredible. It's funny and smart and authentic. The scenery, staging, and costumes feel completely organic to the point that you do NOT feel like you are even watching a movie.

And the acting!!!!!

Enough simply cannot ever be said about Robert Duvall. He has been and probably always will be one of my favorite actors. And this may be on my list of the top two or three favorite roles he has ever played. I rarely use this word because it gets over used and devalued, but in this case, it completely applies: He is incandescent.

And Bill Murray is, as always, wonderful. And Lucas Black!!! Why, why, why is Lucas Black not in more movies?!! He holds his own against Murray and Duvall like he has been acting with men of their caliber talent for ages. Such, such a surprising performance.

But the thing I loved most about Get Low is its heart. It's HUGE. But not in the cheap, manipulative, Nicholas Sparks kind of way. You won't cry when you think you will and you will cry when you least expect to, but you'll be laughing through the whole movie as well.

Which is why I want to say "thank-you Chris Provenzano" (man who wrote this screenplay). Thank-you for being thoughtful and brave and honest. Even though this is your first movie, I expect to see you on the shortlist for the Oscars in January. You deserve to be.

No really, if my gushing hasn't convinced you to go see this movie, maybe this will.
Duvall is picky. Obviously. He doesn't do anything but the best.
And do you know about Bill Murray?

Bill Murray does not have a proper agent. Bill Murray is not a client at CAA or any other Hollywood talent firm. Bill Murray does not live in LA, go to auditions, or take production/script meetings.

Apparently, the way it works goes like this. There are about two or three people in Hollywood that know the 1-800 phone number that will put you in touch with Murray's automated voice answering service. If you get the phone number, you can pitch your idea to Murray's voicemail. If he's interested, he'll tell those two or three guys to get the script for him. If he reads it and he likes it, he'll call you and set up a meeting.

No. I'm not shitting you.

Bill Murray is THE pickiest bitch. But don't let this pretentiousness turn you off. Murray is actually anything but a snob. He regularly mixes and mingles with everyday folk. It's Hollywood that he despises.

You've seen this video right? Murray, a huge music fan, goes to the music festival SXSW every year. This year, he got invited to a "music showcase house party" at the festival. One of the groups offered him the task of playing the tambourine. Which he did. Until the cops showed up and tried to shut it down. Bill let the kids try and defend their right to congregate and make music until, finally, he decided to step in and have a word with the officers (who didn't know he was there). He talked them into letting the band finish the set. Weird? Yes. A little creepy? Absolutely. But also Amazing.

For more insight into what a wack-a-doo Murray really is, read the recent piece on him in GQ. It is worth your five me. I especially like his response when the interviewer questions him about the widespread rumor that he will go up behind random people in New York, cover their eyes with his hands, say "guess who?" and when they turn around and see him, he will simply smile, shake their hand, and say "you know no one will ever believe you."

Anyway, the point is Duvall and Murray only do the best projects. And Get Low is one of the best. It's at 96% among Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes and is playing at the Chelsea now.
Please do your heart a favor and go see it.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Being ahead of the curve is everything...

so I'm going to do you a favor and put you there.

Get ready for a big, big movie in March that has the potential to be hugely controversial.

It's Zack Snyder's newest. And it's called "Sucker Punch!"

For those of you who don't know, Snyder is the director behind the film adaptations of "300" and "Watchmen." Let's start there.

"300" and "Watchmen" are both graphic novels. The latter is arguably the best graphic novel made so far. The former was a ground breaker in terms of art design and style.
I've never read "300" but I've read "Watchmen" several times. And, Allan Moore (the author of Watchmen) was right: Watchmen CAN'T be made into a movie. It's just not possible (for reasons that are too many to go into right now). How do I know? I saw the film version. And it was a failure. It did not even remotely scratch the surface of everything that happens in the graphic novel.

But here's the thing: The movie does at least honestly try. It's beautiful. It's sincere. It's just totally mis-guided. Listen: when the author of the comic book tells you flat out that he created something that isn't supposed to (and truly truly can't) translate to any other medium, you should believe him. Unfortunately, Snyder didn't.

But that doesn't mean that Snyder can't make a film. Because, at least visually, he CAN.

When it comes to visuals, Zack Snyder is one of the best. He is a master of IMAGE. Every frame of "300" is a great tribute to the comic book art on which it is based. The guy knows how to translate a painting. does all this relate to "Sucker Punch!"?

Well, we all know Snyder can do visuals. But "Sucker Punch!" is his chance to show he can do story.

Because Sucker Punch is an original work. It's not based on anything. It is the brain-child of Snyder and his writing partner. They spent five years tinkering with and writing the script. In fact, Snyder says that he signed on to do Watchmen just so he could have the Hollywood credit and financial success to get Sucker Punch made.

Which means Sucker Punch is a passion project. And, passion projects usually turn out to be one of two things.....1.)masterpieces....or.....2.)not.

And, in my opinion, Sucker Punch will sink or swim based on this one issue: Its treatment of its female characters.

Because the deal with Sucker Punch's an all female cast. Literally. Sure there are a few supporting characters who are men, but it's a movie about girls. And I mean "girls" in the most literal sense of the word.

Here's the premise: Sucker Punch is about a teenage girl living in the 1950's who is sent by her step-father to rot in a mental institution. After being admitted to the mental institution, her resistance to treatment lands her in trouble. Her punishment is to be labotomized.

So far, so good. I'm on board for personal reasons alone.

As she encounters the real life horrors of the institution, she and her fellow inmates deal with the problems they face by projecting them via. several levels of metaphorical/dream-like/altered states of consciousness.

Again, so far so good.

BUT....I also have a HUGE concern. These girls are being sexualized. BIG TIME. I mean, 10 seconds into the trailer, and you are dealing with the fetishization of the histrionic female. And this is normally NOT GOOD.

But, I do wonder.

I wonder if I'm not giving Zack Snyder enough credit. Because you have to know that he KNOWS what it looks like to have a bunch of barely pubescent girls running around in mid-drifts shooting things. Not to mention (SPOILER ALERT!) one of the aforementioned "levels of consciousness" that the girls "visit" is a brothel where they are all prisoners.

I know, I know. It could be really bad. But, then again, maybe it IS a sucker punch of a movie. I mean, the tag-line for the film is "You Will Be Un-Prepared."

I hope so. I hope this film is a pleasant surprise in favor of fifth wave feminism discourse. I hope that male audiences are sucker punched into re-evaluating their relationship to female heroines. Please Zack Snyder. Let it be so.

As a final note, I would like to add that my optimism is the result of four additional factors: 1.) His wife is the producer for this movie 2.) Snyder has not and will not tell anyone anything about the ending except he "doesn't know how he convinced the movie studio to make it." and 3.) he had to FIGHT to get a movie made that only features women and 4.) the star is Emily don't know her by name for a reason. She's a smart smart actress who only does good projects. And the other marquee names are equally respectable: Abbie Cornish, Jenna Malone, and Carla Gugino

While I'm in no way confident, I am hopeful that Sucker Punch will be a fun, visually great movie that is also solid in it's story and it's politics. It's a long shot, but here's to hoping.

Watch the trailer and let me know what you think.

While we're talking about psychological dramas.....

we might as well talk about Darren Aronofsky's new film "Black Swan."

If you know Aronofsky, you know that Black Swan will not end well. Aronofsky only does dark and depressing (he's the man behind "The Wrestler" and the absolutely devastating drug-noir film "Requiem For A Dream").

But now he's trying his hand at sci-fi/horror with Natalie Portman at the helm.

My opinion? It has the potential to be great. But more likely, based on the last 30 seconds of the trailer, it has the potential to be terribly predictable and trite. Here's hoping for the former.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Two posts in a week...

Has to be a record for me. But, in a way, it's making up for lost time. Looking at the archives, monthly blogging has been light as of late.

It's also been remiss in its fashion output.

So here's what I've been thinking sartorially about lately.

The 90's

If you are an avid Vogue or fashion blog reader, you'll remember that moment about 2 years ago where flannel and acid wash made a brief reappearance only to be overshadowed by the re-re-re-emergence of 80's influenced/Proenza Schouler type clothing.

But damn. For a minute there, things could have gotten really interesting.

Maybe it's just this summer and where I'm at and what I've been watching. Because the re-runs of Daria, My So Called Life, Clueless, etc. have made me long for the return of 90's influenced style.

Midwaist jeans, the chunk-stack heel (Candie's anyone?!!), and floral print dresses (and yes, even flared leg light wash denim).

I am light wash's biggest fan.

Can you imagine the way these things could be incorporated now? A dash of Seattle grunge? Combat boots and mini-skirts? Even, dare we(?) hemp necklaces incorporated with more modern elements? Yes!

In my humble opinion, it's time for the 1960's/70's Annie Hall gamine look to be filed away for later use. I'm tired of the Williamsburg American Apparel "Vintage" Queen. Call me sentimental, but I'm ready to pair my high waisted shorts with a baby doll graphic T.

Which leads to my final thought of the day. Fashion is in a transition period. It's so fluid and un-fixed right now that practically anything goes. So....what do YOU think should go?
In other words, where is fashion headed? And, should it be headed there?


Remember 90's movies/TV?

And the music?!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I got through it.

But I'm not going to lie, finishing Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go was tough. But I had to read it. Because I really really really want to see the movie. And I learned my lesson with Atonement.

Do you remember Atonement? Did you see it? Did you read it? Because I saw it. And I LOVED it.

But, within the first two minutes of the movie, I was tempted to bolt from the theater and waste my $8.50. I was sitting there, totally sucked in, knowing I would love the movie, but equally certain that I would have loved the book more. And I was right. Because, even though the book was good when I read it much much later...there wasn't any mystery. I already knew what would happen. So I couldn't get swallowed up by the words. And believe me, you want to be swallowed by Atonement.

Damn. That scene with her in the dress in the driveway. Everytime. I will cry everytime.

And Keira Knightley can look forward to repeat reactions when Never Let Me Go hits theaters this Fall. It will be horrible. It will be beautiful.

Look. I'm a crier. I cry all the time. But I am NOT a public crier. You have to be in my inner sanctum to see me even tear up. I don't let that shit out in public. Because, when I cry, it is NOT cute or endearing. Waaaayyy too messy. But I'm telling you. I was sitting with Sleight at a restaurant, outside, eating, with people, and I was reading Never Let Me Go. And I had to get up and go to the bathroom to 'gather'. Then, later, after I had just finished the book, I had to go for a run. Because you can't cry while running; it's physically impossible. And that's the only way I could stop.

You throw in that kind of a story with Keira Knightley AND Carrie Mulligan (the amazing! actress from An Education) playing the characters and well...the Oscar nominations are already ready.


But on a happier note, in Lisa Cholodenko's new movie, the kids really are all right.

The Kids Are Alright

It was great. It was so lovable and real and smart.

A LOT of critics are loving this movie right now. It's already being touted as the "sleeper" hit of the summer. They are saying it's a triumph in it's ability to make you forget that the characters are (gasp!) gay. They're saying it's a work which captures a political/social moment in American history. And, you can say later that I told you so, Annette Benning and Julianne Moore will get Oscar nominations. Bet it.

But, if you want my condensed review of The Kids Are Alright, I would say this is the most striking feature: the film is made by what the character's DON'T say. Sure, there is talking and the dialogue is so organic and real and funny and snappy. But, the true genius of the film is what isn't being said on camera. It's all the little things left unsaid, the moments of silence, the spots where someone should speak up/jump in with "the right thing" but don't...these are the moments that convey the messages of the movie. And this isn't unintentional brilliance. A good writer knows what to write, but he/she also knows when (really) it's already there...beneath the obvious maybe, but present nonetheless. And this is, of course, helped by actors who know their shit.

Which leads me to this: Annette Benning is flawless. Her time has come. She HAS to at least get nominated for this. HAS to. If she doesn't get put on the voting ballot, I will be tempted to hunt down Sandra Bullock and her "nicey-nice" ass, forcibly take her undeserved trophy, and walk it to Benning's front door 'Hit Girl' style.

Which leads me to today's last bit: If you didn't just get the Hit Girl reference, you can fix your stupidity by going and renting Kick Ass. It's out on DVD now. Get it. You will love it. Or be punished.