July 31, 2003

Have Guns/Swords/Sticks/Magic Boxes...Will Travel

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On opening night, PCC and CC joined a theater full of videogame-worshipping males (and a few of their quasi-dates) to watch Angelina Jolie kick some serious ass in Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Now, this wasn't a series of tame, girly catfights, complete with obligatory bitch slaps and hair pulling. This was guns at sea, guns underwater, guns while on horseback, guns in every conceivable position (and a few inconcievable ones). The consensus was the Ms. Jolie could take out the entire Cinecultist staff with one swift kick.

As for the actual story, PCC is pleasantly surprised that now, almost a week later, she still remembers the 'plot', whereas the plot of the first installment is long gone. Lara (Jolie), while traipsing around Greek islands, discovers the lost temple of Alexander the Great, along with a map hidden within a strange orb/magic box, leading to Pandora's box that, when opened, will release the worst plague known to mankind. Of course, the Evil Contingent that's never far behind steals the box from our heroine, forcing Lara to travel from Greece to Hong Kong to Africa in search of it and its uber-evil new owner, Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds, who, though Irish, always seems to play some sort of villian from behind the Iron Curtain).

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PCC and CC decided that, while Tomb Raider was a throroughly enjoyable experience, they weren't sure how much they would have enjoyed it if Ms. Jolie didn't play the title role. The woman is amazing. Really. She's tough, yet incredibly sexy. For a perfect example, pay close attention to the scene on the boat when, mid-kiss and dressed only in a sarong, Lara easily flips Terry (Gerard Butler) over on his back and straddles him and handcuffs the naughty Scot to the nearby bedpost. Wow. Both critics were pleased that Lara seemed to flirt less in this film, instead using her wits to solve the puzzles. Brains AND beauty, an excellent combination for a globe-trotting archeologist.

In closing, it should be noted that both PCC and CC were pleasantly surprised to discover that, even amidst the gunfire, there were actual messages to be derived from the film. Lara's search for the box and her insistence that everything lost should be found is an interesting position to ponder, especially in the field of archeology, where those like Lara must always try to balance the desire to discover with the need to leave the past, and its inhabitants, as undisturbed as possible.

Posted by jordan at 5:54 PM |

Dentists, War and Other Things

In preparation for the weekend's releases, may Cinecultist point you to an intriguing review of Alan Rudolph's new movie The Secret Lives of Dentists, which is being touted as his best movie since the Moderns. (Huh? The Moderns? We weren't aware this was such the cinematic masterwork but whatever.) J. Hoberman reviews it and the Magdalene Sisters, a movie that got tremendous buzz at last year's NY Film Fest and much enjoyed by PCC, if we remember correctly.

Also worth a read and now online, Reverse Shot's July/August symposium issue on War films. The issue includes an essay on one of the few war films CC really likes, Three Kings (although it seems we like it much more than the writer of this piece), as well as one we find super troubling, Starship Troopers. Bugs and Barbie (aka Denise Richards), the picture gives us the creeps every time we watch it. Although, maybe that's what the director Paul Verhoeven wants.

And to balance out the thoughtful criticism with a little bold face gossip and good ol' fashion web ranting, Whatevs.org has some Gigli buzz (also to be released this weekend). Basically, the short story -- being touted as the worst movie ever. Yipee! It really does look terrible but some evil alien experiment implanted a chip in our brain forcing CC to see J.Lo films, so that even the hilarious Onion article probably will not stop us from attending. Remember, blame the J.Lo-loving aliens for our addition to the weekend grosses.

Posted by karen at 5:22 PM |

Buysexual

C3's friend Jason knows a girl whose brother went to a party at the house that Tom Cruise bought his gay lover. Speaking of gay lovers, one source tells us that Ricky Martin is a mo and another that he's into scat. And this girl we met who went to school with Jake Gyllenhaal set him up with one of her friend. A boy(!).

For a (dubiously) more reputable source of gossip, please to go here, where, as Gawker (link provider) pointed out, you can kiss the next four hours goodbye. This site is absolutely mind-numbingly fascinating, because CCC learned that all male celebrities are at least bisexual, all older women are lesbians, and any female under the age of 45 turned tricks when they were younger, most for Heidi Fleiss. And why does CCC lurve this site? Because CCC likes knowing dirty secrets. Especially those of famous people.

Back to our plebeian life.

Posted by josh at 1:33 PM |

July 30, 2003

Bug Your Co-Workers

Cinecultist lurves the Ron Livingston and his stubbly, cynical, hunky goodness. But now that he's no longer the perfect writer boyfriend on S&tC, we guess we'll just have to go back to watching Office Space over and over again. If you need a little dose of OS, or just want to remind yourself that at least your job doesn't entail looking at Lumbergh all day long, check out this soundboard certain to bug the living daylights out of your cubicle-mates. [via TMN]

Posted by karen at 11:33 AM |

July 29, 2003

They're Called 'Grosses' For A Reason

Opening weekend brouhaha and the industry buzz around tracking returns can be traced to a little picture from the summer of 1975 about a hungry fish in a coastal town. The New Yorker's James Surowiecki does a little analysis of the way this summer's blockbusters have been blowing up and then whimpering out of the theaters scant weeks later. In the shouldn't-they-alert-the-studio-heads department, the following:
"'Jaws' may have opened big because Universal marketed it well and released it widely, but it stayed big because people liked it. And controlling what people like is something that even the most clever marketer can't do."

Posted by karen at 10:21 PM |

Great White Hope

Sunday evening, consumate entertainer and the celebrity most associated with the USO show of yester-war, Bob Hope passed away in his Toluca Lake home. He was a very impressive 100 years old. Cinecultist knows he's a figure who inspires much nostalgia and reverance for movie-goers of a certain age, but when racking the brain for classic Hope movies to comment on, we could only muster up White Christmas, a sort of passible Americana infused song and dance fest. Which on further research, stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, not Hope. Okay, so we got nothing in terms of Hope memories.

hope.jpgIn search of a more expert opinion, we fired off an e-mail to the original Wilson cinecultists, Phyllis and Red (aka CC's grandparents). Phyllis responds:

We just watched a piece on Hope on PBS. We liked him best in his repartee with Crosby. He wasn't a good actor but good in Beau James and the first Road picture Road To Singapore. I listened to him every week on the radio when Grandpa was overseas for a year and 1/2, and then I'd write his jokes to My love where ever he was.

Isn't that too cute for words? CC feels all buoyed up by the thought of youthful optimism, Hope in the face of hardship and red lipstick paired with seamed stockings.

For the full NY Times coverage, including an audio slide show. TCM offers their obligatory day of Hope movies. Walter Reade has a series already planned, to commemorate Hope's century. that starts Aug. 8. A list of Hope jokes from the Washington Post suitable for sending to your love.

Or, you could rent a CC fav, the Muppet Movie which features a Hope cameo. A true legend understands its important at some point in the career to act with puppets.

Posted by karen at 10:36 AM |

July 28, 2003

The Oscar Winners Are Coming...

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For all those Nicole K. fans out there (and right here at Cinecultist), PCC felt obliged to post the link to the trailer for one Ms. Kidman's upcoming films, The Human Stain. Not only does the film feature NK, but fellow Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins and Oscar-nominess Ed Harris and Gary Sinise join the crowd. And of course the whole thing is helmed by Robert Benton, himself a three time recipient of the most golden of little gold men (Best Director 1980 (Kramer vs. Kramer), Best Original Screenplay 1980 (Kramer vs. Kramer) and Best Original Screenplay 1984 (Places in the Heart)). Can you tell that PCC is excited for September 26th to roll around?

Posted by jordan at 8:16 PM |

Life's Better on 70

When we live in Cinemascope, the world's an extreme rectangle. Much more seems to be happening around the edges and we can see all the characters enfolded into one composition, their actions and reactions visible in real time. The American Musuem of the Moving Image in Queens is showing a series of 70mm classics, Eyes Wide Open: The Evolution of Widescreen Cinema, two of which CC caught yesterday in the perfect antidote to a horribly humid Sunday, the double feature.

We headed out to Queens with the inimitable J but of course saw other New York repetory theater regulars there (some friends like W, quasi-acquaintences and even a nemesis). It's understandable because even though the movies weren't what one would think of as the "crowd pleasers" in the series (like last week's Contempt, or the up coming 400 Blows or West Side Story) they were both unusual, hard to see films. The first, a Douglas Sirk melodrama shot in black and white (hence the unusual part for that master of color) with Rock Hudson, called The Tarnished Angels, then a Japanese drama from the '60s by Nagisa Oshima, The Sun's Burial.

For an analysis, let's just say neither movie's a masterpiece and there's a reason why you've probably never heard of them. Yet both had a few really gorgeous shots, or well-executed sequences or intriguing moments with odd characters. CC would not urge you to go out and rent them, because that's the point of a 70mm festival, you should see these movies in their large format glory. Rather, the point to take, from this oddly matched double bill, is that just because a picture's not in the canon does not mean it should be forgotten. And some things just look better projected across a wide screen.

Posted by karen at 10:25 AM |

Does Johnny Have a Golden Ticket?

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IMDB reports this morning that Johnny 'Captain Jack Sparrow' Depp is now the front-runner to play Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's 2005 remake of one of PCC's favorite childhood films, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on one of PCC's favorite childhood books, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now, usually when PCC loves a particular movie (and especially when it's an excellent adaptation of a beloved book), she's in no mood to hear rumors about a remake, especially in this age of Hollywood recycling. But, since PCC's a fan of Mr. Burton's work, and, after seeing Pirates, has a newfound appreciation for Johnny, she doesn't mind the whispers of 'remake!' in the air. Of course, no one will ever replace Gene Wilder as THE Willy Wonka, but PCC gives Burton and Co. permission to come as close as possible.

Posted by jordan at 9:02 AM |

July 26, 2003

Full of High Sentence, But a Bit Obtuse

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In keeping with her newfound fascination with Australian cinema, PCC rented the little-publicized, limited release Till Human Voices Wake Us. Directed by Michael Petroni, who also wrote the screenplay for 2002's The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, the film centers around a morose psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Franks (Guy Pearce) who grudgingly returns to his childhood home in Victoria, Australia to bury his father. Along the way, he meets a mysterious woman (Helena Bonham Carter), whom he saves from drowing after she falls off a railroad bridge. Sam learns that the woman has some form of amnesia, and as he tries to decipher her identity, he must confront his own form of self-imposed amnesia about his childhood. The scenes of the adult Sam and 'Ruby' (the name the mysterious woman thinks perhaps belongs to her) are intercut with those of a teenage Sam and his childhood love, Sylvy. As Sam gets closer to discovering the truth about his mysterious patient, the audience slowly learns what happened to Sam as a child.

Now, PCC immediately gives this film points for attempting to bring one of PCC's favorite poems, T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, to the screen. The title takes it name from the last line of the poem, "till human voices wake us, and we drown". That said, the film itself is rather predictable and is too wrapped up in not bastardizing Eliot's work that it neglects to portray fully rounded characters. Pearce's Sam is so cold and withdrawn that it's wonder that the audience has any sympathy for him at all. Bonham Carter- with whom PCC is strangely fascinated, and not only because she resembles the odd lovechild of a monkey and a ferret- has a rather two-dimensional part, without much room to develop her character into anything more than a mysterious amnesiac. The scenes between the young Sam (played with exquisite hesitation by Australian newcomer Lindley Joyner, who PCC hopes to see more of in the future) and Sylvy (Brette Harmon) feel much more real and alive than the interactions of Pearce and Bonham Carter. This is not to say that Guy and Helena did a poor job in the roles; rather, the film doesn't give them any room to grow and change. If this were a silent film, it would be amazing, since the cinematography is gorgeous, with several beautiful underwater scenes and brilliant uses of washed out greens, blues and browns to represent the Australian bush.

But although the narrative felt somewhat predictable and the characters weren't fully formed, PCC can't help but applaud a film the incorporates such a difficult poem into its story, even if the final results are a bit lacking.

Posted by jordan at 5:30 PM |

July 25, 2003

Watch Out For the Dolly

Question: How can you tell it's summer in New York? Answer: You can barely walk down the street without treading through a film shoot.

In the neighborhood, CC has seen two different sets in less than 24 hours with their craft services tables, lights, cameras and loads of people milling around. Though in both instances, the people who seem to be getting the most attention, aka the actors, didn't appear to be anyone CC recognized. Leading us to believe not that we've lost the gawker stalker touch but that they're low budget indies, or take up shots or tv or something. We did stumble upon a few of the Sex and the City crews earlier this spring, including the shot from last week where Carrie takes her new boyfriend, played by Ron Livingston to Prada. CC's seen SJP so many times now, we're almost beginning to think that one can wear a dress over pants, or other such ridiculousness in fashion. Mostly the CC policy on seeing a crew filming on the street is to just walk past, bemused but not tarrying, because we know those film people are just trying to do their job. NBD (no big deal).

Our most exciting shooting sighting was sort of an after the fact realization. When CC lived in Seattle, they shot Highway in town, a road trip movie with Jared Leto set during 1994 that entailed reconstructing the inpromptu memorial for Kurt Cobain at the Seattle Center. After a city-wide open call, all the jaded Seattle kids turned up in their cast-off flannels to be extras for the day, which amused CC to no end, the thought of the hipsters doing grunge again. But we never heard anything about the movie being released in theaters. Then, last summer, on our Jake Gyllenhaal bender wherein we watched his entire filmography (oh the shame of renting Bubble Boy) we discovered he was in Highway, along with Selma Blair. Just think, we could have bumped into a pre-itboy Jake in Vivace coffee or something and never even known it. CC could have saved him from his certain (eventual) heartbreak with one wannabe cheerleader, former vampire blonde starlet. *Sigh* Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

For more NYC set stalking, check out the Mayor's Office of Film, TV & Broadcasting.

Posted by karen at 12:46 PM |

July 24, 2003

Capturing Womanhood

After the sickening thought that too many summer blockbusters had caused CC's brain to ooze out the ears, we took in the well-reviewed indie I Capture The Castle. We were pleasantly surprised that well-drawn young women characters still inhabit the silver screen and even more pleased that CC can still appreciate them, thoughtfully and with big words like effervescent (as in star, Romola Garai's irrepressible personality) and tremulous (to describe her character, Cassandra's tenderly blossoming womanhood).

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Like a good Jane Austen novel, Cassandra (coincidentally, the name of Jane's beloved sister) lives with her elder sister, Rose and their penniless but creative family in a remote castle in Southern England and spend their days rambling the picturesque country and fearing that they'll never marry. Although, instead of it being the late 18th century, the Mortmain family live in the relatively liberated 1930s where they can talk about assignations in the British museum's mummy room and how father's writing talent may be all dried up. To break the monotony, two young men, brothers (Marc Blucas of Buffy fame and Henry Thomas the ET kid all grown up), the eldest who's inherited the estate on which the Mortmain's live, arrive and the girls get caught up in finagling a proposal from the eldest, Simon (Thomas) for Rose. See, it's all very Jane.

What makes this film so lovely and engaging though, is that these characters don't really stand on the ceremony so characteristic of Austen's drawing room farces. They're real girls with fears, fantasies and dreams and as Cassandra records her thoughts in her journal, we get the honest portrayal of a young woman's emotional and sexual awakening reminiscient of Anne Frank (without the Holocaust) or Bridget Jones (without the bitter). Much of this rests on the charm of Garai, who's set to star in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights later this year with one of the hot guys from Y Tu Mama Tambien. Let's hope this is her Man In the Moon and we're witnessing the birth of a new Reese, not the beginning of a career in purely teen fare ala a Kirstin Dunst.

After the credits began to roll, and a few of the young women around me tried to dry their eyes (the end is quite moving), this crazy woman asked a person near her, "what happened at the beginning of the movie?" A bunch of us laughed, partly at the absurdity of being late to the movies and not being able to figure out the set up. But also at the way I Capture The Castle had brought us on a journey, like the best movies do, and to try to explain the beginning at the end is entirely ridiculous. Guess that lady'll just have to pay to see it again.

Posted by karen at 4:00 PM |

July 23, 2003

Nicole Kidman is a Poopy Head

nicolekidman_supergirl.jpg Oh, Nicole, Nicole, what hast thou done now? Imdb reports that Nicole Kidman may drop out of Mr. and Mrs. Smith due to scheduling conflicts.

NICOLE! WOMAN! Learn to turn down the bad movies and make sure you get the freaking plum roles! As if that weren't bad enough (ok, the movie ["the story of a bored married couple who discover they are both assassins" -- ahem] doesn't sound too great, but Brad Pitt is hot), right on it's heels comes the news that Nicole has to drop out of Lars von Trier's Manderlay because of more "scheduling conflicts". Let's pretend that all these scheduling conflicts are actually a ruse to cover the sick fact that Nicole is actually (bum bum bum) HELEN SLATER!!!!!!! Star of radio, stage, and screen, Helen is busy with post-production on Seeing Other People, which, unfortunately, does not allow her to take on projects as "Nicole Kidman". Could this be the real reason behind the "recurring knee injury" that kept her out of Panic Room (good move, Hel). Or maybe why Nicole couldn't play Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator? Seeing Other People best be a damn good movie for Helen Slater to pass up working with Martin Scorsese. Though with a plate full of movies like Birth, The Stepford Wives, and Emma's War, Helen Slater's judgment on what makes a worthwhile movie might not be trusted.

Not that CCC won't hop on that shit like white on rice.

Posted by josh at 1:10 PM |

July 22, 2003

What The Hell's Wusha?

bad boys.jpg While waiting in line for the bathroom after a screening of Bad Boys II on Saturday night, CC received a voicemail from the recently returned to Manhattan PCC that sounded something like this: "Hey, give me a call later. I'm going to see Bad Boys II tonight, but I'll be home after that." Yes, that's right. We went to see the same damn movie, on the same damn night, 40 minutes apart, in the same theater, and didn't even plan it beforehand or anything. The cinecultist mind is that much in sync. Then, we sat down on the IM to discuss our findings, hashing out the overblown length, overblown Bay ego and all those overblown explosions.

[SPOILER ALERT: If you care about not knowing plot details pre-initial viewing, save reading the conversation until after watching the movie. Although, if you're persnickety about plot in a Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay movie, we may have to bodily remove you from this site.]

Karen: so then. Bad Boys.
Jordan: Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
Karen: Go willingly. Go willingly. I like that Will Smith. Heíll always be my fresh prince. But you know I have a thing for the Black standup comedians in movies. Hence, my deep love for Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy flicks.
Jordan: I like Will, but not Chris or Eddie.
Karen: and I do sort of find Martin to be personally offensive, though I found his schtick funny in the film. Though, what the hell is Wusha?
Jordan: exactly. Something between him and Joey Pants (Pantoliano).
Karen: can we pause to exclaim over how much better any movie is if it has Joey Pants in it? Although, I was happy to see him keep his head on his body, as opposed to the last time we saw him on the Sopranos last year. When it ended up in a bowling bag.
Jordan: yes, Joey with his head is the best. The Matrix: Reloaded suffered without JP.
Karen: seriously. I thought so too.

Ilana informed me that most of the original cast returned for this sequel. Which I guess means either they really like working with (director) Michael Bay. Or they all got fatty checks.
Jordan: Iíd say the latter. From what Iíve read, Michael Bay is not the most pleasant of people. But what do I know?
Karen: well, you do read the source for this kind of info -- the news page on IMDB.
Jordan: mmmmmmhmmmmmm.The ONLY source.
Karen: so I trust you if you say folks aren't usually Michael fans
in the workplace. We can't speak to his home life or anything.
Jordan: exactly.
Karen: did you think the movie a tad long though? Do action movies need to be over 2 hours long? It seems to be quite the trend this summer.
Jordan: I think it was a bit long. I think most of the action sequences, except the massive freeway scene, which was amazing, could have been trimmed.
Karen: yeah. I think in the through the Cuban cocaine village bit they used the same through the clothesline shot over and over again. And I also found the car chase scene really superlative. Better than the much touted Matrix 2 one.
Jordan: I agree, though I think the motorcycle portion of the Matrix chase scene was excellent.
Karen: but cars flying off a big rig totally trounce some ghost guys flying into random cars. I think Iím all cgi-ed out. I need something more "real."
Jordan: yes, cars whizzing off trucks was great fun.
Karen: not that I think Bad Boys is really real. You know, but I can suspend my disbelief a little more without all the talk of The One, &c...
Jordan: it makes me never want to be on a freeway again.
Karen: that's why I left California and Washington states. That freeway traffic is brutal. Even without fireballs exploding around you. But all the action scenes really lacked any people interaction. As though, Miami doesn't actually contain people in cars on the freeway who might be hurt or something. Itís an uber-masculine world where no one pauses for the ramifications of their Schadenfreud (aka desire to blow shit up).
Jordan: I guess I wasn't bothered or put off by that. None of the Lethal Weapon films or the Die Hard series really deal with people interaction, other than the obligatory captain yelling about property damage.
Karen: they're all much more worried about being reimbursed for the damage to their cars, rather than any injured people.
Jordan: I think that's just part of the action movie genre.
Karen: perhaps. I think its very this type of action. Bruckheimerís over the top style.
Jordan: I partially disagree. I think it was happening long before JB started blowing stuff up.
Karen: example?
Jordan: Lethal Weapons 1-4. Die Hard 1-3.
Karen: I think Bruckie took something latent in the style and then amplified it to the screaming explosion extravaganza that we think of as action now.
Jordan: I think JB just has a larger budget.
Karen: itís been awhile since Iíve seen those. And I know you've been on a Bruce kick lately but I just don't think they're quite at jb's decibel level.
Jordan: regardless of my newfound appreciation for Bruce, I don't think JB should get a lot of credit for this so-called amplification of style. I really think he had a bigger budget and could therefore expand on what was already being done. I don't think there was a whole lot of creative thought behind it. And I suppose Iím an old-school action girl at heart.
Karen: I do think the dynamic between Will and Martin's characters is straight out of Lethal Weapon. One more family oriented, more feminine, more cautious. The other wild, sexy, violent. And the love that grows between them and the jokes about their relationship being "more than friends."
Jordan: Yes, I agree. Though, the fact that they are the same race puts a twist in the traditional buddy cop genre.
Karen: definitely. And they movie plays that up, especially with the KKK opening sequence.
Jordan: exactly.
Karen: generally, I'd say I was pleased with how much I enjoyed it. Bad Boys II: Fun evening at the movie. Canít think about it too much but lots of jokes and good explosions. CC likes stuff that goes boom. It is official. The summer has melted my brain
Jordan: don't worry; it will solidify with the upcoming batch of 'real' movies in the fall.
Karen: thank god.

Posted by karen at 11:34 AM |

July 21, 2003

Gossip-y Monday

After a really lovely weekend in New York, with sunny skies and not too much humidity, the only thing to soothe the tired Cinecultist soul upon returning to work this Monday is Page Six.

As the hype for Gigli intensifies, we bring you the idle contemplation that if uber-couple Jen and Ben met on the set of a film, what's to say, godforbid, they couldn't fall for another of their co-stars? Ben is currently shooting a movie with Uma Thurman (of whom the Post feels compelled to publish the worst possible picture) and Jen is in Winnipeg doing that American version of Shall We Dance, the Japanese romcom hit. So in other words, far apart = disaster for their pink-diamond filled love affair.

File under scary thought: Michael Douglas and CZJ starring in a vanity romantic comedy project. And it was to be called Monkeyface. We will tell you right now, that's perhaps the worst title for a movie we've ever heard, let alone a romcom, since Seabiscuit. And that's at least the name of a horse. Stephen Frears (of Dirty Pretty Things) will direct, but the news is Warner Bros./Franchise will no longer produce. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Isn't this a porn plot? Page Six reports that Halle Berry was shooting a naked prison shower scene with 30 other women on the set of her new movie, Gothika, the other day. To thank all the women "of all shapes and sizes" (huh? this is relevant how?), she bought them gift certificates to a day spa. For further visualization research purposes, rewatch Monsters Ball or Swordfish.

Now then, don't you feel refreshed and ready to face the day?

Posted by karen at 3:41 PM |

July 20, 2003

Once Upon A Time

Last night at a screening of Bad Boys II, Cinecultist found one of the explosion-heavy previews particularly thrilling, the one for Robert Rodriguez's newest Once Upon A Time In Mexico. With a cast filled with most of our favorite Latino actors AND Johnny Depp, it looks totally kick ass. And this was the consensus even after seeing the preview for S.W.A.T. again. In the meantime CC plans to watch El Mariachi and Desperado before Once Upon's release on September 12, to feel caught up on the saga and because there's something damn intriguing about that guitar case.

[Stay tuned for a conversation on Bad Boys II early next week, because here at Cinecultist.com, we ride together and we die together.]

Posted by karen at 3:28 PM |

July 19, 2003

Horses in my dreams

Silly us, here CCC thought Omar Sharif was dead (something we meditate on bi-monthly), when, in fact, he's starring in Seabiscuit 2: Seabiscuit's Revenge.

Posted by josh at 1:44 AM |

July 18, 2003

Neither Extraordinary, Nor Gentlemen

Cinecultist has seen some really bad movies in her day. Terrible insults to celluloid. Travesties in cinematic history. Puke on screen. Three to Tango. Resident Evil. Kalifornia (okay, so we turned that one off before watching the end, but we got the drift). Children of the Corn. After yesterday, CC has a new one to add to the pantheon, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Although to call it bad, is not really to mine the depths of the pain this movie induced in us, it is more about severe mediocrity.

We hear that LXG is a kickass comic book and let's hope that's why our friend, G, who usually has such good taste, suggested we attend. Always up for a little schlocky action amidst the a/c on a summer evening, CC agreed. But as the film wore on and on, we found ourselves bogged down in some serious plot issues and lost in holes in the characters. Here's a few questions CC contemplated during this movie:

Isn't Dorian Gray supposed to be queer? (Stuart Townsend should have been giving the look to Shane West, not Peta Wilson his "lov-ah.")
Wasn't Tom Sawyer set in pre-Civil War times? What's he doing cherubic in 1899?
Was Kenya called Kenya in 1899?
Did they have tanks then?
Or automatic machine guns?
How does Captain Nemo's giant ship fit through the canals of Venice?
Isn't Carnivale held in February, not July?
If Mina Harker's a vampire, how can she go out in the sunlight?
When stabbing her, was it really necessary to make a joke about getting to "nail her one more time"?

And the list goes on, but CC won't belabor the point that for all the fancy shooting, literary characters, growling Sean Connery who's always good for a campy laugh and whatnot, LXG is perhaps the worst thing we've seen in a long time. We never thought we'd say this but, your better bet this weekend is to go with a, *gasp* Jerry Bruckheimer produced movie like Pirates or Bad Boys II. (Excuse us while we go splash some ice water on our face to try to snap out of this.)

Posted by karen at 1:17 PM |

Reclusive Malick Contemplates Staying in Sight

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Terrence Malick, acclaimed director of the wonderful, though widely spaced apart, films Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978) and The Thin Red Line (1998) is considering helming the Benecio del Toro vehicle, Che, chronicling the life and death of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara. Originally thought to be directed by Steven Soderbergh, it seems as if Mr. S and his Section Eight Films will produce instead. PCC, for one, is excited at the possibility of not having to wait until she's 40 to see a new Malick film!

Posted by jordan at 12:14 AM |

July 17, 2003

Not Under a Tarantino Rock

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CC supposes we might have seemed as though we were trapped under something heavy by not posting yesterday about the Big Movie News: That Quentin Tarantino's new film, Kill Bill will be released in two parts according to Miramax the film's distribution company. For the record, we knew, we thought about it and frankly we couldn't give a care.

We weighed in with the twittering masses at Gothamist but as Mark on whatevs.org points out, this has to be all about the lucre. First it's the unsubstatiated reports last winter that Harvey edited Scorses's Gangs of New York to fit his tastes and now this, it must be serious Svengali time over at the house of ben Miriam & Max. But allinall, that's neither here nor there. Tarantino's film is still going to be the same revisionist low-brow Uma vehicle it always meant to be two-parter or no. CC's saw Tarantino speak two years ago at the Seattle Film Festival and while he knows his stuff when it comes to obscure B releases and many find his pictures entertaining, he still bugs. Thus, the not giving a care.

Posted by karen at 5:16 PM |

Godard Anyone?

Last night, Cinecultist dragged her tired toochas uptown for one of the Alain Delon (aka the Delon-athon) screenings at Walter Reade, Jean-Luc Godard's Nouvelle Vague. Just as we suspected, a few of our favorite pretentious film types were in the house for this 1990 feature considered one of the best unreleased gems of the '90s according to Film Comment.

People who go to see Godard films, in our experience, tend to fall into two camps: those who earnestly LOVE Godard and those who are so over Godard yet attend nonetheless. Our seat mates included one from each side of the fence, A who likes to sit deadcenter three or four rows back from the screen, so at to be close enough to practically lick the screen and O, who declared he hated it as soon as the final credit flashed across the screen.

Where exactly does CC fall on this continuum? Somewhere probably in the middle, able to appreciate JLG's deft editing of sound and image together into something entirely unique yet still walking out of the theater knowing we didn't really "get" it. Whatever it might be. Godard lives for quotation, and Nouvelle Vague is positively peppered in allusion, although there's more of a sense that a line or shot might be an allusion without really being able to pin down its source. Like reading certain modernist writers such as Borges, Godard makes you realize how little you know and how much you have to learn. As a practice, CC tends to like it when he uses this power to make us laugh (like in A Woman Is A Woman) rather than feel guilty for our decadent bourgeois ways (as in any of his Maoist pictures).

Also, in case you were wondering, old Alain Delon, age 55 in this with Harrison Ford-esque folds in his face but lithe enough for shorts on the yacht -- still totally hot.

Posted by karen at 4:29 PM |

July 15, 2003

All the Elements

Last night, Cinecultist met her two musical mad friends at the Film Forum for a Freed double feature. J had promised some tempting things to lure CC to the cinema -- technicolor, MGM, Vincente Minnelli directs, Fred Astaire dances. It all sounds like Yolanda and the Thief could be a light, magical feature and a nostalgic evening at the theater. Instead, it was seriously painful.

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When we thought about it later, really it was a case of extenuating circumstances outside of the movie's or my friends' responsibility. Smashed next to an anonymous armrest hogger on one side, forced to turn self into a human pretzel to try to find a little space, rolling the eyes at the three obnoxious girls in front of us who kept giggling and cheering at random parts ("the Babysitters' Club," JH called them), CC could not help but be a bit perturbed. Then the plot of this movie -- wherein crook Astaire travels to imaginary Latin American country and wooes a naive heiress by pretending to be an angel -- just got odder and odder. And the music sort of sucked. If a musical has no real plot but a bunch of hummable tunes, and a few choice dance numbers, CC can forgive. This thing had an extended dream ballet that wanted to be Dali surrealism meets An American in Paris inventive but instead was hackney and lame. Ooh, the heiress wears garlands that look like gold coins, we get it, 'cause she's rich. Even Freud couldn't have interpreted this one. We took off after the first movie, unable to stand it any longer.

Enough snark for one day, but don't let this review dissuade you from attending some of the other Classics of the MGM titles, or even musicals in general. Like any genre, there's a few stinkers in with the gems. Singin' in the Rain (a personal favorite) plays this weekend, Gigi runs on Sunday and we're set to try again with the musical friends at a screening of Meet Me in St. Louis next week on Thursday. That one has Judy Garland in it, guaranteed to be a winner.

Posted by karen at 9:52 PM |

Good News From the Village

Excellent news for fans of historic movie theaters like Cinecultist, the Waverly on Sixth Avenue near Bleecker is set to reopen, now as an outpost of the Independent Film Channel. This may mean some homogenization and "brand-extension" according to the Times who details the theater's history as an independent film outlet in the Village, but c'est la vie kids, it's the sign of the times. We'll just happy to see the boarded up facade removed and that syntactically irksome sign "Clo ed for Reno ation" taken down (what exactly is Reno-ation? To be made like Reno, NV? Adding second rate slot machines and third-tier dancers?).

To add CC's own personal connection to the space, we attended a screening of American Pie 2 there the night we moved into our first New York apartment with our new roommate, S. A screenwriter in the Dramatic Writing program at Tisch, S and CC hit it off like gangbusters and wandered around the new nabe, eating some Thai before stopping in for a flick. We bonded over laughing at how terrible the movie was and how much the two people behind us seemed to be actually enjoying it. A friendship based on the snarky evaluation of other's substandard taste and Asian take-out was born.

[congrats to Cinecultist.com and its contributors, this is our 101st post. Who knew we had that much to say?]

Posted by karen at 1:12 PM |

July 14, 2003

So Very Indie

Filmmaker magazine names their 25 new faces to watch in Indie Film, and surprise surprise a bunch of them are graduates of Tisch's film program. Besides the excitement of that alumni connection and the desire to memorize these faces so that when they're HUGE on the scene we can say, "oh yeah, I'd heard of that dude ages ago," we noticed a director who's film we've actually watched. We saw Steven Tsuchida's short, A Ninja Pays Half My Rent, before the screening of Infernal Affairs at the New Directors/New Films fest this year and thought it was very clever and charming. We posted the following comment on Gothamist before exploring all the links discovering that you can watch it streaming through Sundance's site. Rawk-star.

[via Gothamist]

Posted by karen at 6:17 PM |

Copyright Don't Make a Wrong

Using as a jumping off point the recent boom in comic book character movies (how many has CC seen? That's right. All of them.), The Morning News's Matthew Baldwin takes a look at the weird wacky world of copyright law. A good read and very relevant for understanding the swirlings of public domain in movie rights.

Posted by karen at 10:52 AM |

July 13, 2003

Repeat Viewings

In an article in this Sunday's Times, Emily Yoffe looks at the way young children will watch a video over and over again as a way to completely digest the plot, have satisfaction knowing the next story point and play at being the characters. Cinecultist realized we understand this desire to watch the same thing more than once all too well when we found ourselves (sort of) watching You've Got Mail and The Wedding Planner on TNT this afternoon. (See the humiliating things CC will reveal to our readers?)

Cinecultist knows there are people out there, perfectly cultured and engaging people mind you, who might only own 2 DVDs and one of them might be The Matrix. In this universe with a zillion on demand channels, Netflix and a packed cineplex, why would we want to own movies let alone watch the same ones repeatedly? Especially since we're not toddlers, unable to grasp the complexities of character or plot the first time we watch that Meg Ryan comedy. But those other responses elicited by a familiar story, the comfort of knowing what's next, laughing at familiar jokes or discovering a new aspect to a well-known character can be very soothing and pleasing even to jaded adults.

The first video tape Cinecultist bought was Cameron Crowe's Say Anything, purchased with a gift certificate the year we were 13, after having seen it in the theater with our Dad that spring. CC used to make little check marks on the back of the box to keep track of the number of times we watched it and also had quote contests with our friend, Sarah Stanek, to see who remembered the most dialogue. Thinking about it now, it's not surprising that CC needed a little comfort, a little repetition at this confusing time in our life, when we were starting to figure ourselves out. Lloyd Dobbler and his trench coat, Diane Court and her toothy grin, that Peter Gabriel track ó these things still feel familiar like sheets washed more times than you can count.

Movies can thrill and take us to new places, or they can be old friends who come out once and awhile just to hold our hand.

Posted by karen at 11:36 PM |

July 12, 2003

Not A Code Really, More Like Guidelines

Consider Cinecultist gobsmacked and bowed to the juggernaut that is the summer blockbuster. Just when we think we've got the formula sorted ("Movie based on Disneyland ride = Extreme Stinker), Johnny Depp comes along to louse it all up. Pirate cliches be damned, Pirates of the Caribbean is a really fun summer picture filled with spot-on physical humor, charming repeating gags and likeable, over-the-top characters.

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As J pointed out after the 133 minutes unspooled, this movie wants to be a lot of things for a lot of viewers. Fantasy. Action Adventure. CGI Zombie Pirates. Love Story. And while in his educated opinion he thought the film couldn't quite keep up with all of these elements, CC thought Pirates held it all together well. The film suffers from that very now delusion that it must winkwink about its genre for the story to seem fresh and while this can make the movie seem busy, it's also very funny. Can a genre movie be earnest these days? Jerry Bruckheimer tells us, hell no.

A word also about Keira Knightley versus Orlando Bloom. Keira has star quality, as evidenced by her ability to glow, tell jokes and sell that swashbuckling. She was just adorable in Bend It Like Beckham, and since then, she seems to be grown up, or maybe this is just an actress inhabiting a new role with new body language. Either way, we see good things for her in future roles. Orlando, despite his weirdo curly hair and wispy beard is a heavenly eyeful. But we haven't seen any of the verve, any of the intelligence that Depp or Knightly exude so easily. Will he be able to shed his handsomeness to do some acting that's genuine? We're not entirely sold. Yet. Until then, CC's happy to drool.

All the boffo B.O. (that's box office grosses for those not subscribing to Variety's odd little e-mail newsletter) that Pirates is sure to get this weekend is heartily deserved. Enjoy it with a side of irony and a very large Diet Coke.

Posted by karen at 6:21 PM |

July 11, 2003

It's Amazing How Far One White Tank Top Will Get You

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Now, PCC wants to make it clear that once upon a time Bruce Willis, aka former Mr. Demi Moore, held the much coveted spot atop PCC's list of actors she despised. He beat out Nic Cage (with the exception of Raising Arizona), Russel '30 Odd Foot of Grunt' Crowe, Tom Selleck, Tom Arnold, Eddie Murphy, Val Kilmer, Tom Green and the newest member, Irish bad-boy wannabe Colin Farrell. Willis' reign as most-despised-actor didn't stem from a particular role, or any insulting public statement or interview PCC read. No, there was just something about Brucie that made PCC recoil.

But times have changed and PCC has decided to reevaluate Mr. Willis. What prompted this reappraisal, you might ask. Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm weather in usually mild Portland that caused PCC to rent something mindless, violent and full of dirty white tank tops. And it was with Die Hard (though not Die Hard 2, which was awful) that PCC carefully dusted off her reigning king of hated actors and moved him to a new, more positive, mental shelf. Though Brucie has not yet joined the ranks of Adrien B., Giovanni R., Daniel D.L. et al, he's slowly making his way up the ladder. For those of you not familiar with the former Mr. Moore, PCC has compiled a list of Willis' 5 best films, in chronological order.

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Die Hard (1988). From the producer of the fantastic Lethal Weapon series (PCC is completey serious, she adores Weapons 1-4), Die Hard is your basic shoot-'em-up action flick that's actually suspenseful. Bruce plays NYPD cop John McClane who must save a building full of hostages from the maniacal 'European' terrorist Alan Rickman. Lots of blood, guts and Brucie running around in a dingy white tank top with C4 explosives, as well as the birthplace of the useful phrase 'yippee-ki-yay motherfucker!'


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Pulp Fiction (1994) For those of you who've had your head in a hole for the past decade and missed Quentin Tarantino's follow-up to 1992's Reservoir Dogs, Bruce plays struggling pugillist Butch Coolidge who kills a man in a fixed fight and, true to his man o'action form, spends the rest of the movie trying to avoid various violent people and briefly reviving the cinematic career of the samurai sword in American film (until its triumphant return this winter with Tom C. in The Last Samurai).

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Twelve Monkeys (1995). Sans hair and paired with wacko Brad Pitt, Willis is excellent in Terry 'Monty Python' Gilliam's futuristic plague thriller. The constant shifting between the 'past' and the 'present' can get a bit confusing, but if you watch carefully, everything makes a modicum of sense at the end.

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The Sixth Sense (1999) Despite not being a huge fan of horror films- or Mr. Willis, for that matter- the first time she saw M. Night Shyamalan's film, PCC was actually quite impressed. If you haven't seen it (please refer to Pulp Fiction's head-in-a-hole bit), PCC won't ruin the ending for you, and will only say that Bruce gives a wonderful performance as child psychologist Malcom Crowe who finally takes Haley 'I see dead people' Osment seriously.

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And finally, 2001's Bandits. Go ahead and laugh, but PCC loves this film. The cast is perfect: Bruce as a slick ladies' man/bank robber Joe Blake, Billy Bob Thorton (though is a last name really necessary here? how many other Billy Bobs do you know?) as his uber-phobic partner Terry Collins and Cate Blanchett as the woman they both love. There's enough action to satisfy Brucie's Die Hard contingent, but also lots of quirky humor, thanks in large part to the hilarious interactions between Bruce and Billy Bob. A satisfying ending, as well as being filmed in Portland, make Barry Levinson's film quite an enjoyable two hours.

Posted by jordan at 2:10 PM |

Daddy Depp & the Good Stuff

A Question for the Ages: How come Johnny Depp can be so very great as a drunken, swashbuckling Keith Richards-esque pirate but seem so very dumb on Page Six?

"Out on the street, you never know what you're getting," Depp (right) tells next month's GQ, explaining his plans to supply his two children by singer Vanessa Paradis with quality pot untainted by PCP. "Suddenly two days later you're beating yourself in the head with a tennis racquet, wearing a towel, quoting Poe. You don't want that for your kid."

More of a review of the astonishingly excellent Pirates of the Caribbean to come.

Posted by karen at 1:22 PM |

Forgotten Obits

Seeing as we covered the passing of Kate Hepburn and Gregory Peck, it seems sort of remiss for Cinecultist not mention the sad demise of two other moving picture institutions, Buddy Hackett and Buddy Ebsen. Fortunately, the better weekly paper in Seattle, the Stranger covered the ground for us in their usual irreverant but very smart way.

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[via The Stranger]

Posted by karen at 12:59 PM |

July 9, 2003

La BÍte dans la Belle

belledejour.jpg It was so hot and so humid Monday night that CCC, taking advantage of a roomie at work, decided to strip to his skivvies and cool down with a cold beer and an icy blonde. C3 had bought Bunuel's Belle de Jour last summer, but didn't have a enough free time to watch it (yes, yes, life is a fast moving stream of soon forgotten moments). It must be said, firstly, that CCC did not find Belle de Jour, apparently one of cinema's erotic classics, remotely erotic. Secondly, CCC is not into sado-masochism (despite a desire to read Venus in Furs), so that may be the explanation for the non-sexual feelings towards the movie.

Deneuve, however, was quite brilliant. She manages to make a slight smile into a shriek of delight. Said smile usually occurs after someone has been a little rough with our oui French maiden, but the heart's desire cannot be governed by society. Deneuve's performance, along with a recent viewing of Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now, made CCC wax nostalgic on the good ol' days of yore when real celebrities would shed their clothes and take on interesting roles that maybe, just maybe, their target demographic of 18 to 49 year-olds might find a tad bit off-putting. The only other current example that I could think of where one or more major stars engaged in a sex scene that was most clearly about more than sex was the one between Halle Berry and the BBT in Monster's Ball. A quick glance here just seems to prove C3's point (Mulholland Drive does not count, because, admit it, you had no clue who the hell Naomi Watts or Laura "Torpedo Boobs" Harring were). Of course, this breaks out a whole new woeiscinema discussion about everything that's different now. Too bad CCC is too lazy and stupid to write about it. You, however, can feel free to write in the comments on sex scenes between one or more established celebrities that you feel compares, or a movie where an established celebrity took a role like Ms. Deneuve's in Belle de Jour.

Posted by josh at 8:03 PM | | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Still A Teenage Girl Sometimes

Pop chanteuse, teeny bop actress and avowed brunette Mandy Moore is freaking everywhere these days. No matter where we turn we see her little pink mug peering out at us, probably because her new movie, How To Deal comes out on July 18. She's on the cover of Lucky this month (unusual for the magazine which usually only uses models as cover subjects not celebrities), offering makeover advice on TBS's Movie and a Makeover program, and talking about her movie on the television commericials.

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The official website has a few giggle worthy features you might want to check out on a slow afternoon. Cinecultist took the personality test and found out that she's "the Real Dealer" which means "we've got great balance... but should remember to go extreme once in a while to keep in fresh." Fascinating. We left the Relationship Report Card quiz for CCC to complete as the officially attached Cinecultist staff member. The site also loops two songs from the soundtrack that conspicuously lacks any Mandy Moore songs, but includes Liz Phair's Why Can't I, a track CC's sort of been obsessed with lately herself.

But after all this hoopla, will CC go to see this movie about a young girl who doesn't believe in love until she meets that certain guy? Still up in the air. CC consumes quite a lot of teen programming (former roommates have said too much) and in a bout of masochism over the holidays this year watched a double feature of On the Line and Crossroads. And since we're sharing here, CC likes the cross-over actresses, as evidenced by the alarming number (ie. more than zero) of J.Lo cds in her music collection. But we're not sure we hear the siren call of MM just yet, though it is true that she's a far better actor than Shane West in the weepy teen melodrama A Walk to Remember. It's petty to say this but the big deterent on How To Deal is the alarming similarity between Mandy and her co-star's hair cuts. We're all for gender bending but that's just creepy. They're like mopeing, angst-y, horny identical twins. In our universe that's an ick, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by karen at 6:42 PM |

July 8, 2003

Cinecultist Stalker

Cinecultist correspondents have been following with glee the firestorm of interest over at Gawker surrounding gawker stalker. This is a feature wherein readers (like CCC) send in strange and unusual celeb sittings and Liz Spiers publishes them. We love this because Cinecultist is particularly in tune to noticing the infamous on the streets of New York and since moving here has seens all sorts of interesting creatures in their natural habitat.

But the point that must be stressed is, the New York protocol is to not really look at the celebs too long or too obviously; we have to allow them to pretend that we haven't noticed them, so they'll continue to graze or fluff their feathers or whatnot. We preface with all this because this weekend, CC in an attempts to gawker stalk sort of ended up seeming like we were hitting on poor young Jesse Eisenberg. We'd recently watched Rodger Dodger on a recommendation from PCC, wherein Jesse plays a high school student being schooled in the ways of women and Elizabeth Berkeley by his uncle (Campbell Scott). And we must have looked a little too long at the 20 year old actor while we were walking up First Ave Sunday afternoon, because he gave us the "eyebrow raised--do I know you? should I know you? could I know you?" look. Oops.

The moral of the story: gawker stalk celebs at your own risk, they might think you're hitting on them when you are just pleased that you sort of recognize them.

Posted by karen at 7:08 PM |

Ack, It's Aki

aki.jpgBesides having perhaps the best rhyming name ever, Aki Kaurismški, the bad boy of Finnish cinema, also makes superlative pictures. BAM is doing a series on his films starting this weekend ("Kaurasmški Goes America", July 10-27) and if you've never seen at least one, Cinecultist urges you to head over to Brooklyn for a screening. Imagine the deadpan wit of Preston Sturges mixed with the social/class awareness of Ken Loach and you have a glimmer of the brilliant places that Kaurismški's films takes you.

Last fall at the New York Film Festival, CC was excited to both see Kaurismški's newest, The Man Without a Past, and to listen to him answer some pretentious New York film people's questions afterwards. Unfortunately, the director did not attend with his film, sending a letter instead which protested the US government's refusal to grant a visa to fellow director from Iran, Abbas Kiarostami. Wow, CC thought, a political activist and a great filmmaker. Later, CC heard from critic Dennis Dermondy of Paper mag that actually Kaurismški had been too drunk/hung over to get on the plane to come to New York and sent this mocking letter instead. Hilarious.

The above picture is of the director accepting an award at the San Sebastian film festival. Be sure to check out at least one film with his muse actress, Kati Outinen, she's particularly wonderful out of his cast of regulars.

Posted by karen at 6:47 PM |

July 7, 2003

What To Do On a Friday Night?

Here's what Cinecultist did this weekend: sat in the air conditioning. Some of the time it was at home, and some of that time was at the cineplex so you know it was a full three days. The recap goes a little like this:

ashes.jpgFriday CC met up with I for another one of the Heroic Grace movies at Walter Reade, this time Wong Kar-Wai's (subtitled!) Ashes of Time. This lush picture has all the markings of an epic with its large (and at times confusing) but very talented cast, a mythical story of great loves and disasterous betrayals, some fighting with swords and vast vistas to be gobbled up by the camera. Despite loving it, CC didn't really understand it mostly because old Kar-Wai refuses to present his scenes in anything resembling chronological order. Brigitte Lin is particularly wonderful as the man/woman warrior and Maggie Cheung is heart-breakingly beautiful, even though she does little beyond stare off into the sea. Watching Ashes of Time on the big screen made CC so happy for repetory festivals/revivals because the experience would not have been anywhere near the same if we'd just rented this movie. The deserts and the mountain streams need a large format.

fridaynightpstr.jpgOn Saturday, CC watched many crap movies on television (we're talking Three Musketeers with Oliver Platt, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris O'Donnell -- not pretty, folks) until we headed out to meet A and R to see Friday Night at the Quad. The Quad, though it plays the unusual arty movies, has the narrowest seats ever. And we mean ev-er. But despite the potential uncomfort, CC really loved this film. So quiet, it is practically a silent film, with an unexpected thread of whimsy, Friday Night follows a woman meeting a man during a traffic jam and going with him to a hotel room. But beyond this affair or the details of plot, Claire Denis appears to be capturing an impression or a mood that surrounds this night in Paris. It may sound high falluting or boring but every frame engages. And it's damn sexy.

After a browse through the Tompkins Square park greenmarket and a greasy brunch on Sunday, CC found herself drawn back to the art cinema this time Whale Rider. A Sundance audience fav, Niki Caro's feature follows a young Maori girl as she tries to draw her fractured tribe back together. With all the raves the movie's been getting, CC expected to lurve this movie but instead found it sort of slow and lackluster. Each individual scene and the performances have a quiet power but they don't propel the narrative forward. It lazes along rather than rushing to a destined conclusion. Though the scene with the whales did make the tiny hairs on CC's forearm stand up. Academy Awards for all those whales.

Yeah for summer days, controlled climates and the world of art cinema.

Posted by karen at 1:25 PM |

July 5, 2003

CC HEARTS Celeb Quotes

Bwah-haha. We love bitchy links about celebrities here at Cinecultist. A few good ones this week:

Choire Sicha points us to this Arnold Schwarzenegger classic.

"I play terminator, but you guys are the true terminators," Arnold told the troops on Independence Day.

Is this actually Jenny Lo's bod on the cover of the most recent Esquire? The folks at Gothamist and their readers weigh in.

Gawker reads Liz Smith for us, so we don't have to. Liz on her "Feed the Celebrites campaign" (a worthy cause that Cinecultist also works for) "Unless he is dieting for a role as a prisoner of war, or a hospital patient in bad shape, somebody - please feed Bruce Willis! He's thinner than we've ever seen him. Down to sinew and bone."

Now back to our regularly scheduled gossip-free little lives.

Posted by karen at 11:00 PM |

I'm a Slave 4 U

nicole dog changed.jpg How excited are we about Dogville? Nicole Kidman and Dogma 95 terrible Lars von Trier in a film inspired by 70's televised theatre? A supporting cast to wet one's pants over? A shut out at Cannes? Yes, yes, and yes! Glory be the light of Nicole Kidman, C3 wants to build a time machine and fly to the future, to the currently undecided release of Dogville.

The film is about a woman, Grace (Nicole), on the run from the mob. She lands in Dogville, a small town in Colorado, where she's accepted by the townsfolk at first, only to suffer horrible consequences when they betray her. Hmm..woman under duress, backstabbings, death--could this be a von Trier movie?

While CCC (and the rest of the world, nay, the universe) waits for Dogville to come out, here are some essential films to watch from the N.K. oeuvre:

Dead Calm Nicole plays Rae, a woman recovering from the death of her son by taking a boat trip with her husband, Sam Neil. They're soon caught in a web of death and lies when sexy Billy Zane comes on board. Sexily directed by Phillip Noyce, of aboriginal Rabbit-Proof Fence fame (along with some other crap no one cares about). This one launched her career. Well, not really, but we can all sexily pretend it did.

To Die For Back when Gus Van Sant was still good (or before he had to work to be good again), he made this nasty little piece of work, wherein Nicole plays Suzanne Stone Maretto (though Stone is still her professional name). Mme. Stone will do anything to rise to the top, even if it means bedding both Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix. Yowza.

The Portrait of a Lady Jane Campion's entry into the "How many Henry James novels can we make into movies?" competition (56 adaptations of various ones, says Imdb), this blue and black movie has Nicole playing Isabel Archer, an American heiress that runs into trouble, and John Malkovich, on the Continent. Slightly snoozey in CCC's opinion, it's such a beautiful looking film that micro-sleeps are an acceptable punishment for watching.

Moulin Rouge! If you haven't seen Moulin Rouge! yet, CCC may very well have to hunt you down and bitch slap you.

The Hours Nicole won by more than a nose, and proved herself a lasting actress in the almost-as-good-as-the-book adaptation of Michael Cunningham's marvelous novel. We could watch her eyebrows furrow for...hours.

Not only are those great, but C3 has high high high hopes for other upcoming Kidman releases. The Human Stain (how the hell was this adapted?), Cold Mountain (battle of the Oscar all stars!), and, ahem, Untitled Alexander the Great Project (bisexual conqueror fun for everyone). Don't let us down, Nicky. Please.

Posted by josh at 7:51 PM |

Guns, Crime and Love...Aussie-style

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Aussie director Scott Roberts' new caper film The Hard Word had several intriguing elements for PCC, the burgeoning Down Under-phile:

1. Six Feet Under's (among other admirable projects) Rachel Griffiths. The woman is amazing, playing everythng from an American housewife (The Rookie) to a British prostitute (My Son the Fanatic).
2. Guy Pearce. It is rare that PCC is able to forgive an actor for such an abysmal starring role as Guy's in The Time Machine, but Mr. Pearce has been absolved. If you haven't seen him in Memento, please stop reading and slink off to your local video store (or Netflix rental queue) and procure Christopher Nolan's amazing film.
3. The promise of an intelligent (Australian!) crime film that (hopefully) would not dissolve into a long, drawn-out shoot 'em up fiasco with elaborate, yet strangely unoriginal, car chases.

That said, Roberts' film delivers admirably. The story centers around three Australian brothers- Dale "the smart one" (Pearce), Mal(com) "the good one" (Damien Richardson) and Shane "the fuck-up" (Joel Edgerton)- all of whom happen to be bank robbers. Griffiths plays Carol, Dale's allegedly two-timing wife. We follow the boys from prison through a series of heists, ending in a surprisingly satisfying climax. The film is conscious of the fact that it needs to rise above your basic stick 'em up bank robber flick, and it does so by not only adding depth to the main characters, down to the most minute detail of the brothers' individual prison duties, but also by adding another layer of suspense in the form of a corrupt lawyer and dirty cops who are trying to cheat the boys out of the money they've stolen. There's an element of Bonnie and Clyde here in the way the brothers elicit our sympathy even as they knock off banks, horse races and airplane hangers. We root for them, not because they're noble Robin Hood-protegees, but rather because, through Roberts' skilled direction, we see them as real people, with personality quirks and tangled love lives. And how can you not root for three Australian brothers who might be more like you than you think?

Posted by jordan at 1:54 AM |

July 4, 2003

Red, White and Disappointing

Yesterday, in a burst of pre-Independence Day weekend consumerist patriotism, Cinecultist doned the pink flip flops to catch an evening screening of Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde. CC had been really looking forward to watching Ms. Woods go to Washington, partially because the sequel title is just too much fun and because we liked the fluffy escapism of the first. Sadly, though the second movie was more Sweet Home Alabama-ish than Election-esque.

The first section, where the very charming Reese Witherspoon must come upon obstacles even though she's a perfect flurry of good-natured activity, worked very hard to be clever but didn't flow together in an "organic" way. Each bit seemed merely tacked on, and not in the goofy, illogical Elle sort of way that you'd expect. CC would follow certain members of the cast through any number of bad pictures, like Jennifer Coolidge, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Reese, and even Sally Field and Regina King have had their really stellar roles. But here, no one seemed like they had enough screen time to really satisfy. All in all the attention to detail that was so delightful in the first film, down to Elle's just so hairdoes and outrageous clothes, didn't seem to be a priority this time around. There were even moments where, godforbid, the blonde looked like a wig. *Gasp*

As is our wont when we can't recommend the picture in the theaters, let us guide you instead to some older works by Reese available on DVD. Freeway, a neo-Red Ridinghood story with Keifer Sutherland is fab. Also Man in the Moon, her film debut is just so delightful as Reese discovers her hormones with the help of one of the London brothers. And you can't go wrong with Pleasantville, as Tobey Maguire and Reese get trapped in an earnest '50s TV world along with hunky-dumb Paul Walker.

Happy Fouth of July, cinecultists! May your A/C be on full blast and your hot dogs not burnt too much on the grille.

Posted by karen at 6:11 PM |

July 3, 2003

Pool Junkie

ludivine.jpg Bon jour! Allow us to introduce ourselves (my precious), we are Crizazy Cinecultist, the celebrity obsessed, hotness-seeking prong of this Cinecultist trident of power and might. CCC is here to tell you about Swimming Pool--hence our use of ye old French. The newest film from genre-hopping Gaul Francois Ozon, this film stars Charlotte Rampling as popular murder mystery authoress Sarah Morton, vacationing in France to help her relax and let the words flow. She stays at her publisher's house, a peaceful haven of quiet soon disrupted by John's daughter, the luscious Ludivine Sagnier(happy birthday, Luddy! You, too, Tom Cruise). Sagnier's Julie is the Oscar to Rampling's supposed Felix--having sex with different men at all hours, leaving wine and cheese out (the horror!), and incessantly listening to loud French techno. Just like Oscar. Lest we reveal too much, C3 shall cut this short. There's a little murder, a little dancing, and a little lesbian undertoning going on.

The clever thing about Swimming Pool is that it takes the familiar convention of making a movie about making a movie that reflects the movie being made, and spins it by making a movie about writing a book that reflects the movie being made. Also, since CCC is pathetic and thinks all movies are about voyeurism (ahem) in a Rear Window sort of way, we could see a little something something of that going on in this film.

A word about the actresses: We think we're in love with Charlotte Rampling. She has that Isabelle Huppert quality about her, a fierce intelligence and dangerous sexuality that makes it exciting to see her play someone that sneaks a few drinks and flashes her breasts to distract people.

Speaking of flashing breasts, CCC was dumbfounded by Sagnier. Girl done gone and growed up since 8 Women. The French do like their topless sunbathing, and Ms. Divine participates in that tradition with wild abandon. It's a little disconcerting, though, to see this young woman, with her golden locks and short skirts, occasionally allow glimmers of her coltish youth to shine through. Her face still has a teenaged quality about it (she's 24) that throws one off when we've been seeing her smoking and drinking and sexing it up. She does hold her own against Rampling, however, and the two actresses are entrancing in their roles.

The end of the film is a nice little mind-bender that doesn't ring too false, though CCC wonders if the puzzle it brings up can ever be completed. We will, however, be third in line for Ozon's just completed (and hopefully feature length) film, 5x2.

Posted by josh at 1:16 PM |

July 2, 2003

Girl Flies Thru Window -- In Cantonese!

Tonight Cinecultist took the long train with the sweaty rush hour hordes up to Lincoln Center's Walter Reede Theater to meet the darling W for one of the Heroic Grace movies. CC loves to watch girls kicking ass and she trusts the choices usually made by W, who's taste includes hotness like Tony Leung. Except, W forgot to mention that tonight's feature, The Six Fingered Lord of the Lute Part 1, had no English subtitles. Seeing that CC speaks no Cantonese, it was slightly difficult to follow even with a handy synopsis by Berenice Reynaud provided by the Film Society.

You know it's not going to be simple when the historian describes part of the plot as "a McGuffin" (a technique employed often by Hitchcock to throw the audience off the story). She also writes, "The protagonists are endlessly traveling, fighting their foes at crossroads, spending the night in sinisters inns, arriving uninvited at the mansion of other evil clans, jumping in the air or through windows, are ambushed, drugged, challenged to duels, and even killed." Yeah, all that good stuff is in there, in between long stretches of arguing and exposition. In Cantonese. Damn my lack of Asian languages! I did like the scene where two girls fight on a tower's overhangs, jumping through windows and attacking each other with a long chain. Ouch.

CC's set to see another film in the series, Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Time on Friday. This time with subtitles, hopefully, and a little Tony, Maggie Cheung and Brigitte Lin goodness. Will report back.

As a slightly related aside, if CC was so inclined to actually make movies with girls flying through windows instead of just critiquing them, we could use the handy DIY special effects step by step supplied by this month's the Independent. Friend to CC and small furry animals, Greg Gilpatrick breaks it down and though we still don't think we could do it but it's nice to know it's possible. Cool.

Posted by karen at 10:59 PM |

July 1, 2003

T3: Ah-nold Cubed

Tomorrow marks the return of another beloved sci-fi franchise. No, not Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or the Matrix, yes, teenage boys around the world rejoice as Terminator 3: the Rise of the Machines hits theaters. Looking at that short list, and contemplating the barrage of sequels in the theaters thus far this summer and still to come, making a new Terminator movie sounds like a good idea for the Hollywood money guys. But as A.O. Scott points out in his review today, the machinic dystopian age peddled by the T movies is sort of out moded. Been there, seen it, done it, bought the t-shirt.

T3.jpg

Back in the day (aka '98), Cinecultist studied the Terminator, a film we'd never thought twice about, in the context of a feminist film studies course, how Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger represent different gender modes. When the film came out in 1984, or even in 1991 at the sequel, the idea that a woman could be pumped up protecting her son with the help of a machine man was completely innovative and exciting. But now, to see Claire Daines running around with Nick Stahl in fear, how is that any different from the Hulk or any other movie in theaters this summer? Or even the female Terminator, a tough chick in red leather and just so hair, she's such a millenium cliche. Ho hum.

But then again, who wants to innovate when you can just add to the already bloated grosses of the previous films. From the horses mouth --
"Terminator 3" has the same combination of big explosions, blasting guns, sci fi special effects and Schwarzenegger utterances that made the first two films huge hits. "I don't think the audiences' tastes have changed that much," said Vajna. According to the Reuters story about the collaboration between the producers.

PCC likes the Stahl but CC will be avoiding this flick for fear of adding to the hearing loss already suffered from the other noisy movies we've watched lately like 2Fast and Hulk.

The official site is good for a laugh and which clicks, whizzes and generally makes all sort of futuristic noises as you search.

Posted by karen at 10:40 PM |