October 31, 2006

The Beast With 40 Eyes

For a bit now we've been hearing raves about this local band, Apes and Androids so when Janelle and Jen dragged Cinecultist to their Oh My Rockness show at the Annex last night, we had high expectations. Fortunately, A&A's dramatic antics and theatrical flare didn't disappoint, and the final number completely blew us away. Passing out cardboard 3 D glasses and lowering a screen from the ceiling, the band showed Michael Jackson's Halloween short film, Thriller, then did a cover of the song and had six professional dancing zombies back them up.

Anything in 3 D is always cause for celebration but rewatching all 13 minutes of Jackson's classic, CC couldn't help but be struck by the obvious metaphors within. Poor Michael. The beast with 40 eyes is his desire lurking inside of him and even the protection of a sweet, heterosexual girlfriend in a poodle skirt isn't enough to shield him. One look from the "undead," and he instantly turns into one of them. Sure, you can make "it" dance in choreographed lines, but that still can't contain it. After all, no mere mortal can resist the power of the thriller. You dig? *Sniff,* it breaks our heart.

Okay, enough of the seasonal over-analysis. Happy Halloween, ghosts and ghoulies! Be safe out there and enjoy that candy corn.

Related: Last year, Jeff posted an mp3 of Ben Gibbard covering "Thriller" which you may enjoy if like CC you are of the mopey, melancholy musical persuasion.

Posted by karen at 9:40 AM |

October 30, 2006

Monday Linkage About The Fellas

* Caryn James hearts Leonardo DiCaprio and his goatee in Blood Diamond.

* Borat is going to be on less screens than originally projected by 20th Century Fox, but Universal Pictures is still feeling the Sacha Baron Cohen love to the tune of 42.5 million.

* Shocking: Ryan Phillippe is single again. He and Reese were one of those Hollywood couples you couldn't help but love. And this comes just when he's finally appearing in a well-reviewed film too.

* Getting to know fellow TheMovieBinger Matty's taste in burgers on A Hamburger Today.

Posted by karen at 4:02 PM |

NYT Snark and Ridley Scott

In the New York Times today, writer John Leland reports on the new Ridley Scott movie American Gangster starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington.

Unlike when say Coppola or Scorsese sat down to make a gangster movie, the genre now has a whole host of meanings and connotations for an American audience. For Scott and producer Brian Grazer, the analysis of gangsters as a type and a trope are a big part of making this movie, according to the piece. Though unfortunately this deep thinking can lead to cloudy statements difficult to parse by journalists. Evidence (complete with snarky embedded response):

"I like to think in terms of a grand generic notion of an American gangster, as opposed to the American gangster,” [Scott] said. “Because there are too many famous and infamous American gangsters over the last century. The notion of ‘American Gangster’ is almost like a new evolution of the adjustment of change. Change in this instance cost the Mafia the main precedence at the time, because they were having to buy the idea of progress in the idea of a black businessman.' (Somehow, when he talked to actors and his four camera teams, they seemed to follow him without decryption devices.)"

Oh, snap.

Posted by karen at 10:09 AM |

October 27, 2006

Phantom Clavicle Pains Induced By 'Babel'


Padding around and trying to get some work done this afternoon, Cinecultist noticed we were having this weird tinge in our left shoulder. It's not yoga strain and it's not the shoulder we use to carry around the handbag, so we weren't sure quite what was up. Until we had this odd thought: maybe it's phantom clavicle pain from watching Babel earlier this week.

All of the world-spanning characters in Babel undergo some pretty painful experiences, but CC found Cate Blanchett's circumstances (estranged marriage, cleanliness phobias, then being caught by a stray bullet while riding in a tour bus, and having her shoulder sewn up by a needle and thread) particularly affecting. It's not often that a movie will give you a physical reaction, and frankly we're not sure if we should be recommending it if it does. Babel is a film that kicks you in the gut. The characters are disconnected and not just for the obvious reasons of language barriers. While it could be argued that the ending is primarily hopeful, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's path to that conclusion isn't an easy one. Like the women's melodramas of the '50s, Babel wants you to feel the characters' pain viscerally and to have a good cry on their dime.

In the bathroom line after our screening, a few girls in front of CC had some heated things to say about the movie. A flick that inspires debate always makes us happy, so if argument and weeping are moviegoing reactions you crave, then Babel could be right up your alley. Blanchett certainly gives a good performance, as does the rest of the strong cast which includes Brad Pitt, Gael Garcia Bernal and Koji Yakusho. Actually, CC wouldn't be surprised if we hear Oscar buzz for Pitt, this is one of his best roles in ages.

If you're curious for a differing opinion, our friend The Reeler wasn't as impressed with Inarritu's attempts to emotionally affect/manipulate his audience and really ripped Babel a new one. Stu writes, "...The stultifying Babel is where cosmopolitan auteurs go to die." Ye-ouch. A harsh, but as always, a well-argued rebuttal from The Reeler.

Posted by karen at 6:39 PM |

October 14, 2006

The Cinecultist Is In Italy


Sorry folks for the awol behavior this week, the Cinecultist is out of the country. We are currently in Italy visiting our family for the next week or so. We shall return on the 24th but in the meantime, postings will be intermittent. Check out our Flickr link for a few European photos, including 4 fun filled hours in the Amsterdam airport on a layover. Wheee!

One movie point of note from our trip thus far: The Devil Wears Prada as seen on a tiny screen from the back of an airplane seat is still as entertaining as on the big screen. In fact, it may be taylor made for such a low-fi exhibition.

Pictured above: The walkway from my parents' house down to the center of town.

Posted by karen at 4:52 AM |

October 6, 2006

Wielding Our Opinion For Good, Not Evil

An events heads up for fans of new film technologies, the HDFest comes to New York tonight with screenings at the Tribeca Screening Room. As the name aptly implies, this is a film festival devoted to high definition cameras and projection which is touring a number of international spots this fall. Now in their sixth year, HDFest features independently produced comedy and sci fi shorts as well as full length features.

Cinecultist will be one of the judges tonight for the comedy selection, so if you're at the fest be sure to say hello. The schedule is 6:30 pm - 7:45 pm for the Comedy Shorts, 8:15 pm to 9:15 pm for the Sci Fi and Other Worldly Shorts and then from 9:30 pm to 11 pm, the New York premiere of John Putch's feature, Mojave Phone Booth. Tickets cost $10 for each of the short programs and $12 for the feature. They can be purchased online or at the box office.

Posted by karen at 1:08 PM |

October 5, 2006

Chris O'Donnell Inspires New Catchphrases

Is there any current TV that is more of an estrogen-minefield than Grey's Anatomy? Cinecultist felt like such a chick with a capitol C watching it night with a few glasses of red wine at a friend's. Of course, this may have also been because we were discussing how h-o-t hot Chris O'Donnell has been lately as Meredith's other suitor Finn, ie. not Dr. McDreamy. Finn's a vet, brings Meredith's depressed roommate lunch AND there's something about his wobbly, stubbled chin that's oh so appealing.

Looking over Chris's filmography, it's an intriguing waxing and waning of hotness depending on his roles, almost like a parabola of hot*. Follow along at home:

School Ties (1992) Who is that dapper young man in a blazer?
Scent of a Woman (1992) Hooo-ah hello
Circle of Friends (1995) The height of his powers, no need to say more
Mad Love (1995) Fading, as he likes crazy girls
Batman Forever (1995) Errr, he and Val Kilmer seem awful close
Batman & Robin (1997) Almost repulsive with that cod piece
The Bachelor (1999) Rock bottom, we're turned off just thinking about it
Kinsey (2004) Five years later he's a swinging sex researcher, tell us more
Grey's Anatomy (present) Now he's a sensitive puppy doctor? Bring it!

*"Parabola of Hot" is now a patent-pending catch phrase for the Cinecultist, so don't even think about adopting it as your own.

An example of What Not to Wear, circa 1997.

Posted by karen at 11:49 PM |

October 2, 2006

Hob Nobbing, Shmoozing at NYFF Opening Night Party

Every year the New York Film Festival throws a big shindig at Tavern on the Green to fête the festival and Cinecultist has always been curious to attend. So when our friend William invited CC to be his plus one at said black tie event, we hopped at the opportunity. The party included a full dinner buffet, tasty deserts and an open bar for a few random celebs, film society members, New York film types and their hangers on, like CC.

While we didn't snap a photo of gorgeous guest Helen Mirren who was holding court at the Miramax table, we did take a few others seen below.

It was 11 pm when the party kicked off, so unfortunately we only had room for dessert—that and a few generously poured glasses of white wine.

In the outside courtyard area of Tavern on the Green which abuts Central Park, they have tons of lanterns and twinkle lights strung up in the trees. CC is such a sucker for twinkle lights, they're lovely.

Our evening's invitation poses with Cinecultist's pass to the festival. (No, that's not actually a picture of us on the pass but we've still been able to get into the screenings, fortunately.)

Posted by karen at 11:07 AM |