One of the more anticipated DVD releases is out now in stores, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Eternal Sunshine is the sort of movie that even while Cinecultist was watching it in the theater, we were imagining it in our DVD collection already. We imagine it will only ripen with further viewings. You can read our original ecstatic review here.
If you're a regular reader of Lindsayism.com, like Cinecultist is, you may recall that she loved the movie so much last March, that she said she was going to be Clementine for Halloween. Personally, having met Lindsay a bunch of times now, we think she would be a rockin' Clementine, she has all of the quirky, bubbly, goofy prereqs. And like CC, she also has much younger siblings, so the thought of planning the Halloween costume in March isn't really as bizarre as it sounds.
However, we probably wouldn't have remembered that off the cuff statement if she hadn't blogged just this week, that now she plans to be Joel Gion for Halloween, after having seen the docu DIG! about indie rock band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. How's that going to work exactly? Blue or orange wig, zipped up hoodie and glued on brillo pad sideburns? (We think Gion's the one with the 'burns, as we haven't seen the blogosphere's favorite movie yet, but we hear they're into the facial hair.) Now that's an outfit we have to see.
Any movie or movie character inspired Halloween costumes for you? Leave them in the comments. (Don't worry, we can talk without reproach about Halloween now, as tomorrow is October. Crazy, no? Where did the summer go?)
Reason # 5,433* why movies are so darn great — the character's brazen gumption can inspire you to take charge in your own life. As you may have heard, Cinecultist is a big proponent of watching 40 odd minutes of a movie on tv we seen a bunch of times before. A couple nights ago, Sundance was airing Bound by the Wachowski brothers (of the Matrix fame) and again we were struck by how awesome Jennifer Tilly is in the first segment of the movie. She's the ultimate brazen hussy, seducing Gina Gershon in three easy steps. We should all take note of her masterful technique.
Step 1) The Tilly eyes Gina in the elevator, giving her the complete once over while her thug boyfriend (Joey "Pants" Pantoliano!) stands right there. 2) The Tilly brings over two cups of coffee, one with milk and one without to the handywoman Gina working in the apartment next door on renovations. Flirting ensues. 3) The Tilly gets her boyfriend's mobster boss to call Gina, who is also in his employ, stating that the Tilly has lost an earring down the sink drain and can Gina come over to fix it. When she does, the Tilly maneuvers her to the couch, tells her she's been thinking about her and then, (and here's the part where brazen takes on a whole new meaning) takes her hand and puts it there, to, you know, prove it to her. Wow! Brilliant! We could totally never do that, but it rocks!
Though it may seem either like a cheesy turn of phrase or entirely apt, but here is a character who is taking life by the balls. She knows what she wants and she takes it. This is no joking around. Let that be an inspiration to you on this Wednesday in September, not necessarily to start making people around you grope you, but that empowerment are just a metaphorical strategic hand movement away. Go out there and get it cinecultists. Get psyched.
*Don't ask us for the five thousand, four hundred and thirty two others, we know that you know what they are already.
When a moviegoer becomes obsessive about a certain genre — like Cinecultist's need to see all things billed as a romantic comedy — the psychologist within would like to reason that has to do with a cinema primal moment, a perfect film scenario that no other can ever compete with, though we constantly search for its equal. Though it'd be tough to pick out what that moment was exactly for CC, we'd hanker it probably involved Hugh Grant somehow. Now we have another paradigm of the stuffy Englishman longing to be cool and in his bumbling being all the more charming in Paul Bettany.
Paul Bettany should be the new Hugh Grant. He's foppish and awkward and self-deprecating. He rocks this Chris Martin of Coldplay look with the distressed jeans, pale button down shirt, dark blazer with trainers ensemble like nobody's business. His accent makes one want to take one's clothes off in the movie theater. He's that good.
Bettany is in Wimbledon with Kirsten Dunst, a rom com about a lackluster tennis player about to retire who has a wild card at Wimbledon and with the help of a whirlwind romance goes all the way to win the cup. CC first noticed Bettany when he was the naked Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight's Tale because a turn as a literary forefather while wearing no clothing is certain to get our notice. You may also remember him from his work as the second fiddle to Russell Crowe in both A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander. CC's wanted to see him as a lead for ages and now we get all we could want in his rom coming around with Dunst, wooing her over fish and chips takeaway and day trips down to the cliffs of Dover.
Our only complaint about the set up? Dunst, god love her, looks like she's about twelve while Bettany seems to be not a day under 35. It reads a tad inappropriate is all. [Actual birth dates, Bettany on May 27, 1971 and Dunst's April 30, 1982. Thanks Imdb!] She's still very likable and all as the hard ass tennis player, she just seems a bit too young, especially in the final denouement. By the way, one of the best small performances in the picture is delivered by John McEnroe as himself, a Wimbledon commentator along with Chris Evert at the final match. McEnroe has such presence, we don't think he could do Death of a Salesman or anything, but he's certainly natural in front of the camera.
Confession Time dear cinecultists — CC did not attend any movies this weekend.
This is flabbergasting really, because we don't think we can think of when that had last happened, not spending at least part of the two days off at a movie theater. Now, this is the really embarrassing other part, but we had two different conversations this weekend with strangers wherein the person brought up a movie CINECULTIST HADN'T HEARD OF! Shocking, but true. They were by the way The Yesmen and What The Bleep Do We Know?, and of course when we got home we had to Google them, so as to eradicate the memory of the out-of-it-ness from our consciousness.
Here's our lame excuses for not attending any movies this weekend -- 1) Yom Kippur on Saturday. CC decided that the only thing that could distract us from the holy day fasting would be a Sex and the City season six part one marathon. CC hearts Steve Brady, even though he's not a movie. He's the penultimate New York geeky dream-boat. 2) Excellent weather on Sunday. The temperature was so good we just walked back and forth across the Village from brunch to home to the bookstore to the sale at the Gap on Broadway to dinner later, there was no need to really spend any time in the heat or a/c. 3) Blogger birthday parties on Friday and Sunday afternoon.
That's actually where both of the embarrassing conversation occurred, after we'd told someone who wasn't a blogger about our blog focused on movies and movie watching. This funny thing occurs we've observed when one attends parties populated by bloggers and/or the invite came via one's blogging connection, the inevitable "how do you know so and so? Oh, you have a blog? What's it called?" conversation. Now, bloggers aren't shy, for the most part. We actually tend to be a slightly narcissistic bunch. Look it, CC writes in the third person for goodness sake, we're not casting the first stone, by any means. But when it comes to saying the name of your blog to someone who quizzing you on it, the default response is always mumbling and down turned faces. Then, for yours truly, comes the need for the spelling of the url.
After all of that exchange, to then not have heard of the movie proffered by the layman as a way to bond while you both fiddle with the straws in your drink? The horror, the horror. It's all so demoralizing. Anyhow, from that unpleasant experience comes new fire and zeal for our topic, we promise. Just as soon as we finish trolling the web for CMJ tickets and reading those new books we bought on Sunday.
Apparently, there's a big fray brewing between Mandy Moore and Katie Holms with your poor Cinecultist caught in the middle. Pish posh, we jest — it's only between their competing projects, teen rom coms about the fictional president's fictional daughter. Mandy's, Chasing Liberty, came out last winter and we dared to call it the Best Movie of the Year. Now Katie's, First Daughter, is set to hit the theaters this weekend. In anticipation, we bring you the above picture to oggle of Holmes and hunky Marc Blucas who was Riley Finn from "Buffy" and in I Capture the Castle, one of our top 10 from last year.
That's all really. CC just think they're both so preeety.
We begin with suprising news that Napoleon Dynamite was ranked #8 in the US box office last weekend. This is pretty incredible, seeing as the tiny offbeat comedy has been out for FIFTEEN WEEKS. Even more astounding is the fact that it is actually up in ranking from last week, where it was nestled at #10. While this little indie has made significantly less revenue in total than, say, #49's Garfield the Movie, Seattle Maggie is tickled pink to see the cinematic underdog hanging in there. Check it out at your local theater and see if Tina the Llama renders you speechless with laughter, as evidenced here by Boyfriend Todd.
Next week, we look forward to sampling some fine films at the 2004 Northwest Asian American Film Festival, which is being held right here in Seattle's International District, Sept. 30th to Oct. 3rd. In particular, we are yearning to catch our darling Sandra Oh in Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity, marking her second collaboration with Double Happiness director Mina Shum, who is scheduled to attend the event. Also perking our interest is the collection of short films Focus On: Food, which will feature such varied topics as Sour Death Ball facial contortions, Asian doughnut shop owners in Texas and a how-to on the fine art of kimchee creation (Smell-O-Vision not included). We will be the ones in the front row, popping the Tums.
Finally, we end on a totally random and unfounded rumor that nonetheless had us squirming with excitement: that John Cusack was considering being in a live-action movie version of the excellent series Cowboy Bebop. While Seattle Maggie generally agrees with all die-hard anime fans that truly good anime should be left alone, we can't help but be a little drooly over the completely perfect casting choice of Mr. Cusack as the ironic, laconic and sardonic intergalactic bounty hunter Spike Spiegel. Picture it as a sort of Grosse Pointe Blank in space. Yes, we know we are completely and pathetically ridiculous. Catch episodes of Cowboy Bebop on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on Saturday nights and see if you don't agree with us in theory, if not in practice.
Chris Rock. To a lesser extent, Wanda Sykes. Margaret Cho. David Cross. Bernie Mac. These are comedians for whom Cinecultist will follow to any number of stupid features in the theaters if they're in them. [In case you didn't know, Pootie Tang is a movie that just gets weirder and better on each subsequent viewing. The train of thought goes like this: Bernie Mac -> Head of State -> Chris Rock -> Pootie Tang -> On TV again this past weekend. ]
Needless to say, CC went to see Mr 3000 at the 3rd Avenue theater on Sunday afternoon purely because Bernie Mac was in it. Other actors may do a scene, but Bernie Mac, now he bernie macs it. He has a grin like a Cheshire cat and a weird sex appeal that makes his banter with Angela Bassett, who plays his love interest in the movie, actually believable.
Now it's important to understand that CC isn't saying Mr 3000 is not a formulaic three act Hollywood sports movie. That's exactly what it is. The trailer spells it out for you, the plot follows all the road marks like it's the President of AAA. However! Bernie Mac has charm. Bernie Mac has verve. Bernie Mac has this smile, that lets you in on the joke and makes it actually okay to yuk it up at the corny gags. That's some serious star quality if we ever saw some.
The character motivation is also straight out of a bad Syd Field Screenwriter's book. However, Bernie Mac actually turns it into something that you don't want to hurt yourself while watching. He plays Mr 3000, Stan Ross, a former major league baseball player who upon hitting 3000 base hits in his career, quits the Milwaukee Brewer's mid season with the assumption that he'd be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame asap. Now, nine years later it comes out that three of the hits don't count and thus, Stan Ross returns to the majors to regain his title. See, his character is a Bad, Selfish Man who only thinks about himself, and Bernie Mac is pretty convincing as the cock of the walk pro athlete. In fact he's doing this shtick so well in the first 20 minutes, CC wondered if he could turn it around to make him likable at the end, when he has the inevitable change of heart. But he does. Bernie Mac's Mr 2999 at the end of the movie is a pretty good guy, with a bit of an edge still on him and though the closing shots are treacly, we actually kept down the bile.
Sure, it seems weird to recommend a movie by saying, "the ending didn't make me throw up into my popcorn tub!" but that's what we're saying. Formulaic isn't all bad, when you've got a charmer above the title like Bernie Mac.
When you put passive aggressive questions out into the blog ether, answers will come back to you, we've found. Even if Cinecultist hadn't received a friendly and informative e-mail from Remy Stern regarding the A Dirty Shame blog last week, we still could have caught this article on Reuter's this weekend and found all of our questions answered.
The big answer to our query of what is the point of a production company sponsored blog? Access baby, access. Promised content includes interviews, factoids on the stars and insider information on the set plus coverage of the premieres and information about fetishes, since this is Waters' topic-A for this new picture after all. All that content sounds much more exhaustive than the usual flash heavy, sonic-overloading promotional website and well worth a click through. So there you are. Cinecultist asked. Cinecultist is convinced. Our work here is done.
Ever have that sinking feeling that the hype has taken you hostage? Perhaps that's why Cinecultist finds ourselves all skittish about the opening tonight of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. [Word to the wise, the official site has four separate audio tracks and you have to mute them all, individually, so as to not hear the soundtrack feed. Are these promotional websites getting totally ridiculous or is it just us?]
First off that Gene Shalit quote, featured prominently in the TV spots and in a pop up ad for the website, is unnecessarily hostile and almost threatening. "If you don't like this film, you just don't like the movies." Insert your own bass line here. We hate to discredit someone's critical opinion based on fashion alone, but have you seen this dude's facial hair lately? Scary. (This is an old image of him from his radio days, but we swear he still looks like this.) Why would you ever say something so categorical as this about a movie? Are we being completely contrary or does this make you want to just totally hate it too, merely to thumb your nose at them?
To be honest, CC's a little Sky Captain-ed out already and it's not even into the first weekend yet. All the ads and talk and hype, it's pretty tiring. And we usually live for this sort of thing, too. A few weeks ago, CC was in the Union Square Starbucks having a tasty little Frappuccino and stumbled upon a marketing survey in progress for the movie. A young girl with a laptop was accosting people while they enjoyed their corporation-approved coffees, showing them clips from the movie and asking them their opinions. People love offering their opinions about movies to authoritative strangers, no joke.
First the survey seemed to determine how entertainment savvy the participant was, asking them if they recognized the names of various actors like Jude Law or William H. Macy. Then they watched clips from the flick all huddled around the laptop and said what they thought happened in them. The girl asked CC if we wanted to participate, but we begged off saying we wrote about film. These PR people never want a film scholar or critic's opinions when polling the masses, it seems to skew the results or something. Though we guess that does seem a bit counterintuitive, since asking us these questions would illicit a hyper informed response. Anyhoo, after determining that CC was no movie layman she moved on, and we enjoyed our sugary coffee drink in peace.
The moral of the story? Come the weekend, Cinecultist will probably just go to see Wimbledon instead.
That's happy new year to those of you not Members of the Tribe. In honor of, perhaps you might sport a t-shirt like this one at left for sale on the Heeb magazine web store?
What kind of year will 5765 be? And, more importantly What Would Barbra Do with it?
Schedule more duets with Louis Armstrong while wearing tons of fake curls. Stop asking Papa if he can hear you, he's not deaf after all, just in the next room. Cut back on the manicures and blow outs, it's good to just let it all go natural once in a while. Practice being ironic about our persona in the mirror to prep for the Meet the Fockers press junket this fall. "People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world..."
As the uses and legitimacies of blogging evolve on this here interweb (bloggers at National Conventions, blogs for magazines, press releases to bloggers, oh my!) Cinecultist has noticed a new trend relating to movies and the web — the movie tie-in blog.
It made perfect sense for something like Spike Jonze's Adaptation to have a blog because it's so meta and cutting edge. And it was written by Jason Kottke, so you can see the connection. Similar reasoning for documentaries or documentarians with blogs like Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, as the movie is also confessional and a little bit obsessive in its cataloguing tendency just like the website. Then Zach Braff had one for Garden State. Fine. Cool. Promotional tool, we get it. Yes, you're so very indie Mr. Braff, you and your gravel jokes on Scrubs last night.
So this is a long sort of way to segue into the e-mail we received from Remy Stern regarding the new tie-in between Gawker Media, the Defamer and John Waters's new movie A Dirty Shame. Lord knows we're big ol' fans of New Yorkish and the "evil" empire being spawned by Mr. Denton but CC doesn't exactly get the connection here. Is there enough Dirty Shame "news" to fill up the postings? Will we see some John Waters action there, as he is the man of a thousand bizarre quotes? (Have you ever seen a John Waters promotional blurb quote, on the back of a book say or in the window of that shop in Chelsea? They're always the weirdest juxtapositions but strangely right on.) A new John Waters movie is signs for eager anticipation but a whole blog?
So we're torn. Cinecultist wanted to offer the link because we like Remy and appreciated the heads up e-mail, but we're hoping to get some more insight into the efficacy of this venture. Will keep you posted on whatever feedback we get. Or if you have some ideas, shoot them over to karen AT cinecultist DOT com.
*If you know, funds were unlimited and/or we were able to convince ourselves that it counted as "research."
- Slacker (1991, dir. Richard Linklater) Because as Wiley points out, who wants a special edition DVD without Rick's commentary on it? Thus, we're boycotting lesser product in favor of Rick endorsed discs like this one.
- Martin Scorsese Collection: After Hours, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Goodfellas, Mean Streets, Who's That Knocking At My Door? Gotta love the Marty.
- The Leopard (1963, dir. Luchino Visconti) Maybe if we can put it on pause and get up to make ourselves a cup of coffee or something, CC will do better through the entire ball sequence.
- The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection: Strangers On A Train Two Disc Edition, North by Northwest, Dial M for Murder, Foreign Correspondent, Suspicion, the Wrong Man, Stage Fright, I Confess, Mr. and Mrs. Smith If only we could remove Mr. and Mrs. Smith from the box set, leave it aside like old cheese. Worst Romantic Comedy ever. Seriously.
- Clerks (1994, dir. Kevin Smith) A three disc, 10th anniversary edition might make us forgive for the indignity of watching Jersey Girl in the theaters. Maybe.
Grand total (without taxes and with the Amazon.com discount off the list price) = $201.80
We all know that curiosity killed the cat, but Seattle Maggie could not resist temptation. It had been taunting us from its shelf at Video Vertigo for a long time now, the lurid image of a woman in black vinyl gloves coyly wielding a wicked syringe. Yes, it was Takashi Miike's infamous Audition, a film that reaped as many accolades from film reviewers as dire warnings about gruesome made flesh on screen. We had been been tempted by this film ever since its US debut at the 2000 SIFF, where the tantalizing rumor was that some unfortunate festival goer had stumbled from this screening into the theater lobby and either puked, fainted, or both. We wondered what could be so bad as to inspire public regurgitation and/or swooning, then immediately wondered if we really, truly wanted to know.
Seattle Maggie is into the horror genre, but we do not have a taste for gore. The most disturbing thing we had seen to date was an accidental screening of Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, which included illegal kidney transplants, graphic scalpel stabbings and a horrifically explicit electrocution torture scene - we say accidental because we were lulled by the beautiful but emotionally-wrenching Joint Security Area the year before and had expected something along those lines. We still can't get some of the images out of our head, and we weren't sure we wanted yet more disturbing cinematic experiences crowding out more useful bits of our brain, such as the quadratic equation, or our social security number, or Hamlet's soliloquy.
We turned to the experts for help. Rob, the nice chap behind the counter at Video Vertigo, had these words of wisdom for us: "If you don't watch the last ten minutes, it's just like a John Hughes movie." Huh. Intriguing. And still the question remained: what on earth could possibly be that awful? With our finger poised and ready on the stop button, we ventured forth into Audition.
Well, as it turns out, Rob was right. Audition is the story of an middle-aged Japanese widower who decides to remarry after seven years of mourning. In order to find the perfect mate, he holds a phony audition for a fake movie, giving him the chance to screen many young and beautiful women. An ex-ballerina with a shy smile catches his fancy, and he decides she is the one for him. They bond quietly over dinners, drawn to each other by past disappointments and tragedies. During a romantic weekend getaway, the widower decides to propose...and this is where John Hughes goes out the window and into a giant threshing machine. We won't ruin the shockfest ending for those of you with a taste for the macabre, but we can say it was brutal, sickening, and strangely compelling. Let's just say that once the piano wire came out, we had to resort to the fast forward button for a bit. And while we did manage to keep a hold on the contents of our stomachs, we admit that the bowl of chili we were going to have for dinner no longer had a lot of appeal. Audition packs a punch that some may not be able to handle, but Seattle Maggie squeaked through, peeking through our fingers, and now we know what all the fuss is about. At least we have a newfound appreciation of our feet - Trust us, after this, you will too.
Cinecultist sacrificed our Sunday afternoon to Turner Classic Movies, inadvertantly. We really intended to get out of the house before 6 pm, honest. It's just that Audrey Hepburn and Peter Fonda in King Vidor's War and Peace was on Turner Classic movies. And you may not know, that can take up a good 3 plus hours of your day if you're not careful.
CC read Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation of Anna Karenina two winter's ago and we've been eagerly anticipating their translation ofWar and Peace because they made Anna so accessible despite it's heft. We always wanted to be the kind of girl who loved Russian literature, it goes with the perfect ringlets and carrying off peasant skirts* with distressed velvet blazers while drinking strong tea fantasy that we sometimes wish we could indulge in. (See, look at us go, even without realizing it. Tolstoy almost begs to be referred to as "that author's work we read two winters ago. How pretentious. Blech.)
*Anyone with even a little bit of an ass know that peasants skirts are a bad, bad idea. Hence the fantasy.
TCM offers these lovely little factoids before the film that for the trivia minded are like delightful snacks. For instance, did you know that Henry Fonda wanted to play his part of Pierre in glasses, because he thought it made him look more intellectual, but producer Dino Di Laurentiis didn't approve? Hence, when Dino's on set, no glasses but when he's isn't there they are, all silver and twinkling. This amused CC to no end because poor Henry doesn't realize that he exudes dorky in his acting style so naturally, making his character a specky is entirely unnecessary. As the actor who brought us geeky snake doctor Hopsy from The Lady Eve and the squarest cowboy ever, Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine, he really doesn't need any props to achieve this affect.
Do we also need to mention that Audrey Hepburn is spritely and the most charming as young Natasha? We didn't think so either. Oh, and there's a Nino Rota score. Throw in a few ball scenes and some battle scenes and my friends, you have a Historical Epic like only the '50s can do it.
It's a good thing to find geeky friends. At least for the Cinecultist anyhow, because occasionally lovely e-mails come down the pike — such as the one from Jonathan Wells, the RESFEST festival director, a week or so ago offering to put us on the list plus a guest for the festival's opening night at the TriBeCa Performing Arts Center — and then one must find someone who wants to come along. That's where Matty aka Capn Design comes in. He likes movies. He brings leftover cupcakes. And he gets super excited about the demonstration of a Canon XL2 as we wander around the promotions booths before the screening begins. This is the kind of plus one who really appreciates a digital media festival.
Turns out we weren't the only bloggers invited to attend, those Low Culture guys, JP and Matt plus the lovely Chloe were also there. We had a bit of a "who has the free swag connections" off, and though CC had a festival program and JP did not, that's only because they were sitting on the check in table. As for the shorts, Program #1 of a series of three plus music videos, political shorts and a retrospective to director Jonathan Glazer that are playing all this weekend, they were all of pretty high quality. Some more artsy for artsy sake than would be our taste, but all quite entertaining.
The whole audience was invited to cast a ballot for our favorite at the end of the program, so Cinecultist did have to choose one we liked the most of the 10 shown. Though it was a tough decision between Jason Wishnow's Oedipus (animated Greek fable using vegetables to play the various roles) and Talmage Cooley's Pol Pot's Birthday, we went with the depiction of the Khmer Rouge throwing an office party for their despot. Not to give too much away but Pol gets a golden retriever puppy and he forces his petrified retinue to eat some very grey cake. Then, they sing "Happy Birthday."
Tickets for individual events cost $9 and they run through this Sunday, Sept. 12 at 199 Chambers Street. CC's going to catch the Videos That Rock program, and there's also a VJ Event/Closing Night Party w/EBN & Hexstatic at the Canal Room that sounds fun. You'll also be able to purchase DVDs of the programs on the RES magazine site we imagine, as they've made past years available. The festival continues its tour across the country through the Fall, more info is available at their website, resfest.com.
* * * *
Director Fritz Donnelly is a born salesman. That's evident even without seeing the charming footage of him working a card table in SoHo last year selling his DVDs to the passerby. He put 24 of his shorts onto a disc, had them nicely packaged and sold them on the street and via his website To The Hills like some neo door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. In his tiny sublet studio space nearly under the BQE in Williamsburg on Friday night, we watched some footage from that disc plus some new shorts not yet released. Fritz is the kind of artist who doesn't seem to censor himself, what appears on the screen comes across as a direct connection to his brain. Thus his desperate shut-in characters, influences from bloody video games, manic indie rocker videos and mechanized '80s cartoons all seem to go together, beneath the wacky umbrella "things from Fritz's brain."
Though we don't plan to take up permanent residence there, anywhere populated by Fritz-isms sure can be a fun place to visit. Plus, with attendance comes cheap cold English beer and the suggestion of a spaghetti dinner extended to the 25 or so viewing attendees camped out on the folding chairs or squatting on the floor, so you know he's extremely hospitable, if nothing else.
The moral of these two evenings? Ah, it's good to be on The List. Cinecultist likes it there.
Mmmm, yummy. Gael García Bernal is on the cover of this week's Time Out New York. So tromping around the city this week in the torrential rain, Cinecultist gets the pleasure of gazing on his lovely face from every newstand kiosk.
There's two Gael movies coming up that we're anxiously anticipating — The Motorcycle Diaries on Sept. 24 about the journey of a young Che Guevara through South America with his childhood friend and Pedro Almodóvar's newest, La Mala Educación. The latter is the centerpiece for the New York Film Festival in early October and will be released wide on Nov. 19.
Following is a quote from Gael in David Fear's profile which seems to be Gael's running press theme: you didn't know it, but Lady Bunny lives inside us all.
"Yeah, before shooting started, several of us hit the town one night totally done up as women — the heair, the makeup, the high heels, everything!...Being in drag is really liberating, actually. There's a sense of performance and fun to it that forces a person to let go of the tight-assedness or bullshit machismo they might carry around in their daily lives. It puts you in touch with the inner drag queen that everybody has but never gets let out."
Seattle Maggie would like to apologize for dropping off the face of the planet for a few weeks - although, embraced in the chilly darkness of Carlsbad Caverns some 750 feet below the New Mexican surface, watching with a mixture of amusement and horror as a bored kid tried to climb his mom out of sheer brattiness, it seems we literally had. This is not a comment on the state of the caverns, which can only be described by the mumbled phrase that kept coming to our lips, something like "wowlookitthatwow!" We don't blame the kid for being bored, but we do blame him very much for attempting to scale his exhausted parent in public. Mom, Dad, if your dear little one ever gets that gleam in his eye and starts fingering his grappling gear, it's time to call it a day. Take our word for it.
In movie news, we did not actually get any cinematic screen time in with all the road tripping around the great state of New Mexico. However, the plane ride did give us the opportunity to catch up on our magazines, and we are please to tell everyone to run out and get yourself a copy of the September issue of Gourmet. The theme for this month's issue is Food & Movies, two of our favorite subjects, and we happily immersed ourselves in pretty pictures of elaborate foodstuffs to block out the fact that our plane was jittering like a college student high on a four shot espresso buzz.
Some highlights of the issue include an interesting article on set catering, a fancy sloppy-joe movie night meal (is that an oxymoron?) and some recipes inspired by movies - we particularly craved the recipe for timballo, which is a slightly less grand version of the drool-inducing timpano from Big Night - at 30,000 feet, we even considered attempting this one ourselves before realizing that anything that required being cooked in a water bath could probably spell doom for our mailbox-sized oven. Ah well.
Also amusing (but less movie-related) was the Letters page, in which a healthy debate still rages about the controversial "Cupcake Cake" that was featured on the cover back in January - we think it looks both fun and tasty, but apparently many readers took offense to the fact that it was not "gourmet" enough to be featured on the cover on a magazine professing to be just that. An opposing party immediately raised its collective hackles and told them to lighten up.
If this keeps up, a major offensive will certainly whip up over this month's recipe for a movie snack entitled "Salami Crisps" which is...well...salami baked in an oven until crispy. Seattle Maggie is not sure how "gourmet" it is, but it does sound like something you could use to reward your pet for relieving itself in the appropriate square of newspaper. At any rate, choose your side wisely, for it may come down to a final battle of ganache versus devil's food any day now. Whip up some of the easy crunchable snacks from the back page, sit back and watch the fireworks - or a favorite DVD will do. By the way, who knew there were so many different tools for the sole purpose of slicing off the tops of eggs?
Something to consider during a quiet moment in your day: It takes 72 years to form a stalactite the size of the tip of your pinkie. That's all the time you get - a tiny nub no bigger than a marshmallow in your breakfast cereal. Seattle Maggie thinks we all deserve an extra helping of dessert tonight.
While at the movies over the weekend, as it happens sometimes, Cinecultist saw previews for things that looked better than what we were actually at the theater to see. What tingled our toes the most was the preview for David O. Russell's newest feature, I HEART Huckabees, whose trailer is on view here. Distributed by Fox Searchlight and in wide release October 1, Cinecultist is hard pressed to figure out what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks this movie is about exactly. No official site launched yet, just an adorable but incomprehensible trailer, so we quote for you the plot summary according to IMDB:
Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman), head of the Open Spaces Coalition, has been experiencing an alarming series of coincidences the meaning of which escapes him. With the help of two Existential Detectives, Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), Albert examines his life, his relationships, and his conflict with Brad Stand (Jude Law), an executive climbing the corporate ladder at Huckabees, a popular chain of retail superstores. When Brad also hires the detectives, they dig deep into his seemingly perfect life and his relationship with his spokesmodel girlfriend, the voice of Huckabees, Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts). Albert pairs up with rebel firefighter Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg) to take matters into their own hands under the guidance of the Jaffes' nemesis, the French radical Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert).
Well, that cleared it all up for us. But no matter because it has Isabelle Huppert, of the actresses CC could watch read the phonebook, and if we're not mistaken she's shown in bed with our celebrity husband, Jason Schwartzman. (We froze frame the trailer -- it's there.)
Our love affair with Jason began after seeing the trailer for Rushmore and continued through the joyous consuming of that flick. We even fantasized about the family barbecues and mentally promised never to make bad Ah-drienne jokes about his more or oggle any of the Coppola cousins, if only Jason would be ours. However, things ended on a sour note after Slacker. We dumped him hard after that, with no remorse. But now he's back, worming his way back into our heart, looking all goofy and hot. Is it the longish hair or the subtle shaping to the brows, or a new contour to the face? We're not sure but Cinecultist might be ready for a reconciliation. Our celebrity husband even has good taste in actual girlfriends, as he used to date Selma Blair and is now linked with Zooey Deschanel.
More googling also reveals a strange, and surely narrative driven, "corporate" website for Huckabees, a retailer that sounds kind of like Target. Be sure to click through to advertisements for extra bizarre spots featuring Naomi in brief clothing cheering for low prices.
Cinecultist's friend Ilana has a few directors, nay auteurs, that she considers in the "pantheon." Alfred Hitchcock. Jean Renoir. Jean Vigo. Michael Bay. (And you thought our taste was ecclectic!) Of course, there is also on that list, Lukas Moodysson, the Swedish director whose heart-wrenching film Lilya 4-Ever was on Cinecultist's top ten from last year.
His 2000 feature, Together has sat in our Netflix to be released queue for ages but while at Mondo Kim's on Saturday, we discovered it's already available on DVD. It didn't take much to convince Ilana to add it to her already impressive collection, as he is in the pantheon, and then loan it to us straight away. Lordy, it's good to have cinecultist friends who are so easy to influence for our self-serving purposes.
The collective house in Stockholm 1975 called Tillsammans, meaning "together," seems like the kind of place the girl from I Am Curious: Yellow would have lived in a few years later when she wanted to raise a family. The residents have all of that youthful intensity and idealism still but with a touch more pragmatism and compromise. In fact, the dramatic arc in the film follows how the partipants must learn to compromise to live as a group and if they can't, they either leave or are kicked out. Without wanting to give away too much of the plot intricacies, ie who sleeps with whom, because the discovery of the story as it unfolds is one of this movie's great charms, we'll just say it ends of a very upbeat note. That's quite a change from Lilya which is equally as powerful but more of a movie to slit your wrists to, rather than something which reinvigorates your belief in human being's ability to connect.
Like the ABBA song which plays over the credits, Together wants to send out an SOS, telling the audience we need each other in order to go on. Maybe Cinecultist isn't such a cynic afterall, if that sentiment delivered with so little guile is enough to keep us smiling long after the credits finish rolling.
Frankly, watching Wicker Park — the final installment in our summer long quest to see total crap on our Friday afternoons free [sigh, Labor Day approacheth] — was a tad disappointing. Kind of like going to a party with the express purpose of getting off with a certain someone and discovering that he stayed home with the flu. It wasn't Josh Hartnett that Cinecultist was there to see, but rather one of our not-so-secret boyfriends Ben Gibbard.
See Ben wasn't to be in the movie, but one of his songs, a cover of the Phil Collins classic "Against All Odds" recorded with his side project, the Postal Service, was supposedly on the soundtrack. Alas, it is on the album but not in the film. Cinecultist thought we'd be
making out rockin' out to Ben but all we got was Chris Martin. Sure, Gwynnie likes him but he's not our melancholy, melon-headed emo boy toy.
Instead we were forced to pull out the iPod and listen to the track at unnatural decibels all the way home. On single track repeat. (Thanks Scott!) Sorry 'bout that eardrums. What was it about Wicker Park that inspired such obsessive behavior? Fittingly, it's a movie about obsession, though a particular kind, one tinged with the anonymity of modern urban life and flavored by an interest in indie rock. It takes that fantasy of seeing someone on the street whom you fancy and who you play a little flirty flirt with as you go on your way, but expands it way out of proportion. We'll call it the F train syndrome. This movie takes that idle thought — maybe I'll follow that Hottie McHotHotHot, we'll meet, fall in luv and then live happily ever after! — and turns it into a full-blown, European art house-esque convoluted drama. He watches her, she loves him but that one also loves him and did we mention his friend's involved too?
Mostly CC found ourselves rooting for the underdog, the brunette chick played by Australian actress Rose Byrne. [Why's it the brunette who never gets the guy and is always portrayed as kinda psycho? Just askin'.] She's not all thriller, menacing stalker ready to kill him if she can't have him as implied by the perplexing trailer, but rather a shy girl who sees Josh Hartnett and doesn't have the guts to talk to him. Why are her obsessive following and voyeuristic tendencies not rewarded but Josh's are? Would it be too simplistic to see that the reason is because voyeurism in a guy is manly but in a girl is reereeree (insert miming of knife wielding)? It just seems a bit unfair.
We still find the behavior unsettling all around, this fascination with looking at rather than engaging with. The most romantic moment of the movie is meant to be when Josh's character Matt finally finds his Lisa, rushes to her side, and then stares at the back of her head. Until she realizes he's there and turns around of course, but that is a full minute or so later. It's the unreturned gaze that lingers and that means something. That smacks of a kind of cultishness that even the Cinecultist can't get behind.
You know it's September at the Cinecultist household, because our doorstopper arrived in the mail, aka the Fall issue of Vogue. And when we say doorstopper, we're being serious. This mother of a fashion mag wouldn't fit into our measly Eee Vee post box and so the good samaritan Postal Worker or neighbor brought it to our doorstep. It's about 2 inches thick this year.
The big news, if you think this sort of thing counts as news, is that the cover features models not actors or celebrities this year. However, Colin Farrell is on the cover of the men's supplement photographed by Mario Testino and sporting the most porn-tastic moustache we've seen in a long time. We searched high and low via Google for some scanned pics of this 'stache but no such luck. Instead, we offer the following quote from Vicki Woods's article where the writer is literally in heat. Enjoy.
"If you're Colin Farrell, you can do what you like, wherever you like (and, often, to whomever you like). We head for a bar in Malibu where "they let you focken smoke—don't print the name." As we fight our way in, we're almost felled by a wall of noise: bagpipes. Skirling. It's Tartan Day, apparently. Some guys have their plaid shirts tied around their waists, like pretend Scotch kilts, and they're dancing Highland flings, flapping them up when they see women. Farrell (who is still barefoot) maneuvers me toward the bar, grabs a couple of stools, and hoists me up. Then he puts his face in my neck (he has to; the noise is humongous) to ask what I'm drinking, "Eviaaaan? Naw! You'll have a focken drink with me!" OK, OK—California red? He's already halfway down a Coors beer. He likes noisy bars. He's Irish; he enjoys the craic, which is a very Irish word, meaning party atmosphere, buzz, alcohol-feuled fun. Does everyone know how it's pronounced, craic? (Hint: Loose the i.) Farrell tells me the story of when he first arrived from Ireland and went to a Hollywood party where someone asked him how he liked Los Angeles. "I told him the craic's great here." Angelenos are pretty polite, especially when they're talking to Hot New Talent. Farrell acts out the controlled surprise on the guy's face, followed by polite inquiry as to cultural differences: "Um, uh, so, uh—where you come from, what is crack?" We both laugh immoderately, and I almost fall off my stool. So Farrell helpfully drags his own stool closer, slides a hard-muscled leg to either side of mine, and wedges me tight to hold me on. (Did I mention he was in pj's?) Reader, your reporter has interviewed many a screen idol in her time. But Colin Farrell is the first one who ever clamped her to a bar counter with her knees pressed cozily into her crotch."
We're back kids from our Albuquerque adventure and rest assured, Cinecultist felt no need to pick up any souvenirs of the turquoise, Native American chic or hammered silver varieties. We are a Manhattanite, and thus snear at such things. Something we learned: if it says "Old Town" on the map, it actually means "Tchatchke Town." FYI.
Seeing that we are the Cinecultist as well as an adopted New Yawker, and since we had an extra day of just hanging out in ABQ after the wedding on Saturday, we thought we'd go to the movies. But looking for a movie theater when you haven't rented a car proved trickier than you'd think. Sample conversation: CC: "So is there a movie theater in downtown?" Local w/Mullet & High-waisted jeans [seriously]: "Downtown? You don't want to go downtown." Apparently, downtown ABQ is scarier than all of the greater New York area and we were advised to avoid it. Instead, we took the hotel shuttle down to the Nob Hill area, which is around the university and has little shops and such.
Therein we found the Guild theater which was screening Godzilla this week. Coming up to the ticket window, the man behind the counter yelled, "Are you hear to see Gaud-zee-ya?" Thinking he was mispronouncing Takashi Miike's movie Gozu that the Guild also had a poster up for, we shook our squemish head. Turns out, he was just mimicing the Japanese pronounciation of Godzilla. And he did this schtick with every single ticket window patron. It was adorable. Also, we have to admit that paying $5 for a matinee is such a refreshing thing. Indie screening spaces make CC feel all sunny inside and there's something even more wonderful about them in the sticks. That's real cinecultists at work, fighting the good fight, making 1950s anti-atomic war monster movies available for their community. As we walked out, another guy, perhaps the owner, asked each viewer if they enjoyed the show in the most boisterous voice. Asking CC how we'd heard about the movie, we said we'd were in from out of town and was looking for a movie. "Wow, the marquee hard at work!" He exclaimed, delighted we'd stopped by.
Across Central Avenue from the Guild sits the Alphaville Video, an indie video store Cinecultist browsed in while digesting the chicken salad from the Flying Star Cafe before the movie started. Going into indie video stores as good as the Alphaville makes CC think we should get into this racket, if only to sit around watching good movies all afternoon for pay. A real collector's selection with an amazing array of foreign language and Gay & Lesbian films, Alphaville also seems to be hard at work bringing le cinema to ABQ. The clerk behind the counter had on Werner Hertzog's My Best Fiend. Is that too deliciously geeky for words, or what? We were actually sorry we couldn't sign up for a membership right then and there, as CC saw quite a few things we thought we might borrow.
All in all, it was a lovely, relaxing day. It may seem a bit odd to fly thousands of miles to do the very thing we might do if we were at home with a day off (lunch, shop browsing, movie, coffee) but we feel that there's hope for the hinterlands if Cinecultist can do this so easily outside of the Eee Vee. We're a snob, if you hadn't noticed, and though we made it a priority to try New Mexico's green and red chile while there, Cinecultist still needs to go to the movies while on vacation.
By the by, Film Forum is doing a Gaud-zee-ya series, "They Came From Toho: Godzilla and the Kaiju Eiga" right now, running through September 9. Gawd, it's so self-indulgent but here's more pictures from the trip.