Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dear Jesus, This Looks Schweet!

Prepare for what is surely a cliche by now. Ready? 3...2...1...


Seriously, though: way to sky-rocket up my anticipated list, Mr. Fox (especially with The Wolf Man out).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Untitled Nancy Meyers Project Gets Titled

Yes, it is true. Somehow, without notifying the entire world (or, at the very least, me), Nancy Meyers' latest film has gotten a title. And it looks like we'll be hearing Meryl Streep get her Golden Globe Nom for...

It's Complicated

It certainly sounds like it, too! Meryl plays Jane, a divorcee who finds herself torn between her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) and a new suitor (Steve Martin). At the same time, her children are flying the coop. Also, her ex's younger wife wants to start a family of their own. Crazy!

Nancy Meyers is, of course, an Academy Award Nominee for Best Original Screenplay (Private Benjamin), and the director of the Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want. She also wrote and directed The Parent Trap remake, Something's Gotta Give (for which Diane Keaton almost won the Best Actress Oscar), and The Holiday (for which Eli Wallach almost won the Best Supporting Actor Hollmann Award). Having never seen The Parent Trap, the woman is three-for-three with me.

SSR favorite John Krasinski also stars.

[Photo: Totally from John Krasinski Web Photo Gallery]

Monday, July 27, 2009

All This Meat, And No Public Enemies!

A quick catch-up, since I am woefully behind:

First, I saw Cheri about a week ago. While it was great fun for the most part, it was a little annoying that it took about fifteen minutes to go anywhere. After a fascinating title sequence chronicling the history of famous courtesans, the film searched in vain for the proper tone before finally settling on Light Drama. Alexandre Desplat's score was overwhelming, though typically beautiful. Michelle Pfeiffer was OK, Kathy Bates quite good, too.

Rupert Friend, however, as the titular Cheri, is best in show, nailing the bored effete manners of Colette's most famous male protagonist. Christopher Hampton's adaptation of the short work was admirable, and the delivery of important details from the literary sequel was impeccably done. Director Stephen Frears also narrates in a Stephen Fry-esque manner, and it works. Of course, costumes and production design are to die for. I give it a thumbs-up. You could do much worse.

Just as frothy, but at least consistently so, was the likable Confessions of a Shopaholic. Isla Fisher plays the lead role broadly but adorably, and who can resist the charms of a zany redhead? It's a perfect formula. Hugh Dancy is the love interest, and the two have an undeniable chemistry together. Joan Cusack and John Goodman are distracting as the parents, a shame since I adore both. Kristin Scott Thomas continues to kick ass and take names, this time with a French accent, as a kinder, European version of Streep's Prada-wearing Devil.

But I don't understand certain conflicts. Why should I root against the debt collector? He's just doing his job, and though Fisher is beautiful, she should pay what she owes. Her superior manner at the film's climax is unwarranted and annoying. The villainess of the piece is odd, too. There is no reason why she should care to sabotage Fisher's career to the extent that she does. Like, no reason is ever given. I don't understand it at all.

The use of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" is clever, and as this film is about a clotheshorse, the costumes are FAB FAB FABBITY FAB. Chalk this up as another film that makes me want to move to New York.

Moon. Wow. Moon. A one-man show of sorts starring Sam Rockwell as the lone operator of a harvesting plant located on the Moon, with just two weeks to go before the end of his three-year contract. The difficult thing is, it's impossible to talk abotu this movie without some serious spoilers. So, at the risk of sounding superficial: WOW production design, great score, please give Rockwell an award of some sort (Hollmann Awards, possibly?), Duncan Jones, you are a director not to be trifled with.

Another film that's hard to describe is The Hurt Locker. I know it works. It had me on the edge of my seat. There are some great performances, a great score (shades of Morricone), and as my only previous exposure to Kathryn Bigelow was Point Break, I was impressed with the directing. There's a lot going for it. Jeremy Renner is certainly engaging to watch, and I am so proud of myself for knowing Brian Geraghty (my favorite performance in the movie) was headed for great things. I wish I could do backflips and declare how EFFING AMAZING this movie is, but with The Hurt Locker, there's just a serene knowledge. Hyperbole can't emphasize how great this movie is. It just is. You can disagree if you want, but you'd be sorely mistaken.

As for Whatever does. I have been reading a lot of negative reviews for this movie, and I don't get them. This movie is funny. Laugh-out-loud funny. True, I am a rabid Woody Allen fan who counts The Curse of the Jade Scorpion among my favorites, but Whatever Works is a smart, sexy comedy that had the entire theater in stitches. I saw it with friends who find Woody's humor a little much, and even they were having a ball.

In true Allen fashion, it follows the love lives of friends and acquaintances over a period of two years, all centering around the May-December relationship between genius nihilist Boris Yelnikoff (Larry David) and Southern runaway Melodie St. Ann Celestine (Evan Rachel Wood). Having not seen Thirteen, I count this as Wood's best performance. She is so on fire, so alive, so sexy! The jailbait outfits they put her in certainly help, of course, but I've never seen her so unmannered, so ironically real! Larry David gives a surprisingly human performance, despite having to deliver a number of verbose monologues expounding on the hopeless evils of the human race. But the interaction between the two of them is just delightful!

Patricia Clarkson is sexy and funny as Wood's mother, a religious matriarch turned Village artiste. Of course, we are used to greatness from Patty C, but she's always a delight to watch. And again, the costumes she's in. Awesome.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bright Star Trailer

Better late than never, eh?

Looks beautiful. Looks interesting. Looks like my type of film. Hell, Thomas Sangster is in it, so I'm in!

But can we please shoot the narrator?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ten Thoughts on Marple: Murder is Easy

1. Familiar Faces

Boy, everyone was in this episode. Steve Pemberton from The League of Gentlemen, Jemma Redgrave (niece of Vanessa and Lynn), David Haig (The Thin Blue Line, Two Weeks Notice) and his Four Weddings and a Funeral costar Anna Chancellor, Benedict Cumberbatch (rapist in Atonement), Lyndsey Marshal (Poirot: Cards on the Table), Sylvia "Mrs. Richard Attenborough" Syms, Hugo Speer (SAG Ensemble Nominee for The Fully Monty), Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle) and of course Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple.

2. Va-Va-VOOM

Look, I am a red-blooded male, okay? When I see a hot chick, I react. And oshkosh b'gosh, Margo Stilley is just sexy.

3. Tip of the Hat Stephen Churchett. Although his screenplay bears as much resemblance to the original novel as I do to Angela Bassett, it was still fun and fascinating. He played fair with the clues, made the motive more believable, let murders that took place before the novel occur during the action, and once again played the coroner. Good work.

4. Wag of the Finger the last shot. I can see nothing. Why is everything so out of focus? Miss Marple reassuring Luke that he and Bridget will meet again: sweet, felt like an ending. But then that last shot of an out-of-focus Miss Marple walking off with luggage. Unimaginative.

5. Ghost Town

Apparently short on extras, the entire village is literally made up of all twelve characters we are introduced to. No one else is in church, or at the funerals. Only a few others are at the inquest. And the law is represented by one constable. Crazy.

6. Bridget's Car

It's freeking sweet.

7. Jemma Redgrave

She rocked this. The character is the caricature of the batty lady, but Jemma plays it with such a sense of fun that it feels more entertaining than contrived. And appletinis!

8. The More You Know

Apparently, there is a plant that induces abortions. I didn't know this, and I suppose it to be true since making that up would constitute not playing fair. And god forbid Stephen Churchett not play fair.

9. What a Mess

Eight victims, including two that get it off-screen. That is so many. And with only twelve people in the village, I can see where there's pressure on the young doctor and his girlfriend to get married. I like me a pile of bodies. It always makes things more interesting.

10. Ah, That's the Marple I Know and Love

So, Miss Marple gathers everyone for the solution, names whodunnit, and is about to discuss why. The suspect begs Marple not to reveal their shame. Miss Marple agrees, saying the secret being kept is shameful, and can barely be spoken aloud. Then she tells everyone in the village without batting an eye. Ruthless, cold, unfeeling Jane -- yay!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emmy Nominees

Well, it's that time of year again. The nominations for the awards body honoring television have been announced, with a few huge (I mean HUGE) surprises. First, there's a lot more than five nominees per category. Second...well, some of that's covered below.


Grey Gardens
Prayers for Bobby
Also Nom'd: Coco Chanel, Into the Storm, Taking Chance
Why It Matters: Because I actually saw Grey Gardens (twice), as it stars the beautiful Drew Barrymore. I also loved the heck out of it. I hope it wins. As for Prayers for Bobby, I never saw it, but the TV spots for it were EPIC. I love that so many ads for movies/EPIC things use the score from The Island.


Family Guy
The Office
Also Nom'd: 30 Rock, Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, How I Met Your Mother, Weeds
Why It Matters: Family Guy is the first animated show to be so honored since The Flinstones. This is history. And it is getting better, in my opinion. And I know they nominate it all the time, but I love The Office and so I'm always excited when it gets awards attention.

Big Love
Also Nom'd: Breaking Bad, Dexter, House, Lost, Mad Men
Why It Matters: Big Love and Damages are the best dramas on TV right now. Period.


Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
Also Nom'd: Christina Applegate, Toni Collette, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Mary-Louise Parker
Why It Matters: I love Sarah Silverman, and when she didn't get a nomination last year, I was quite disappointed. I consider this retribution.

Glenn Close, Damages
Also Nom'd: Sally Field, Mariska Hargitay, Holly Hunter, Elisabeth Moss, Kyra Sedgwick
Why It Matters: I flove Patty Hewes. Close is in this show.


Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Also Nom'd: Chandra Wilson, Shirley MacLaine, Sigourney Weaver
Why It Matters: Lange was the best thing about a great movie. I admit, I think she deserves to win. But Barrymore. DREW BARRYMORE. Is nominated for an award. This is the first time she's been nominated for her acting in a major awards body since the 1993 Golden Globes. This couldn't be more exciting if it tried.


Michael Emerson, Lost
William Hurt, Damages
Also Nom'd: Christian Clemenson, Aaron Paul, William Shatner, John Slattery
Why It Matters: First off, Michael Emerson remains the most consistently watchable actor on Lost. The episode where he greets the smoke monster's visions was incredible. I got choked up, I tell you what. Second, William Hurt is one of my favoritest actors. He's great on the show, too.


Kristen Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Also Nom'd: Jane Krakowski, Elizabeth Perkins, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Vanessa Williams
Why It Matters: Because dammit, Pushing Daisies must get love somewhere, and it might as well be through the Chenoweth's bubbly, pitch-perfect portrayal of Olive Snook. I just want her to win.

Pushing Daisies for Art Direction, "Mother Lover" for Song, Rachel Portman's score for Grey Gardens

No acting honors for the cast of Big Love. FOR SHAME.
John Krasinski continues to be snubbed.
Not enough hearts for Pushing Daisies.

Whip It! Trailer

This is the directorial debut of the great Drew Barrymore, starring Academy Award/Hollmann Award Nominee Ellen Page and Oscar Winner Marcia Gay Harden. Do you smell that? That's the scent of a WINNER.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cause for Delay

I will be unable to post my thoughts on last night's intriguing episode of Marple today. I am en vacances, as they say, in an area without wireless. As we speak, I am working on my grandparents' PC instead of my Macbook Pro. Gah.

Things should be returning to normal Wednesday evening. Until then, I shall listen to My Fair Lady until I can't anymore. It will be a few months, I can tell you.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Away We Go

I don't know how to properly review Away We Go. I know I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it all that much, either. There are performances that are naturalistic, and there are those that are mere caricatures. There are subtle moments that ring true, and bigger moments that are awkward and fumbling in their falsity.

Is it the screenplay? Perhaps, for while the relationship between the leads is so convincingly crafted, everything else feels like an afterthought. The director? True, though he manages to get his actors to actually make people out of characters, he seems to have little imagination everywhere else, while also allowing a great actress to turn in a grating performance. The actors? Definitely not, as they provide whatever saving grace the film has.

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph play 30-somethings with a baby on the way. This makes them question where they are in life, so they road trip to find a perfect home for themselves and their unborn baby. On their journey, they learn that everyone is in a worse/unhappier relationship than they are. This of course leads to fears on Krasinski's part, with the increasingly self-conscious Rudolph trying to calm his fears.

So, I guess I understand that this is all from their point of view, and that it's about taking control of your own life and finding your own groove to move to and yada yada. But why did it feel like the Krasinski/Rudolph method was the only way to go? Even with all their uncertainty and (gasp!) refusal to marry, the way the movie sided with them felt so...abrasive. Like, almost worryingly so.

Why does overbearing Allison Janney also have to have no filter and be a monster mother? Why am I supposed to dislike Maggie Gyllenhaal before there's any real reason to -- because she spells her name LN instead of Ellen? Why is the only "normal" marriage one fraught with depression, dissatisfaction, and miscarriages? It could be to show us that not everything works out fine, that life's not fair, yada-yada. But the execution is just so damned condescending.

It's not all bad. The actors deliver alot more than what they're given, with the exception of Jim Gaffigan and SSR favorite Allison Janney, who is EXTREMELY disappointing in an abrasively offensive role taht just doesn't know when enough's enough (GET IT? SHE'S A HORRIBLE MOTHER!!! GET IT???). Maggie Gyllenhaal actually plays the role of hippie earth-mother sincerely, and I was kind of on her side for a while. The stroller thing...kind of makes sense. It's not for me, necessarily, but I'm not going to go OH HOW BIZAAAAAAARRE WHAT AN AWFUL PARENT! (Didn't understand Krasinski's shamefaced look at the mention of him going to Burning Man, either. Is Burning Man bad? I always thought it sounded pretty neat.)

The song score is distracting, the songs themselves forgettable. It really does play like a how-to on indie dramedy. Which is a shame, because Krasinski and Rudolph actually manage to make the material work a number of times. Perhaps Sam Mendes is to blame; much of his work is cynical and detached, and I feel like a little story like this needs so much more than that. Certainly detachment is not the way to go in such a personal story like this.

See it for the actors, if you must see it at all. But I really don't think you're missing much.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cheri Avec Musique?

As of this writing, Moon, Cheri, and Whatever Works are all playing at the local art-house/indie-loving theater. I will see them within the next week or so. Whatever. Curiously enough, the one I am most eager to see is neither the interesting sci-fi pic with Kevin Spacey as a robot (oh...and Sam Rockwell? I guess?), nor is it the newest film from my favorite living director starring my favorite supporting actress.

No, I am eagerly anticipating Cheri, and for a number of reasons.

There is, of course, the potential for Michelle Pfeiffer's Oscar campaign for Best Actress. I have a personal stake in this, as I have predicted her to fill one of the five slots at the Oscar ceremonies. If this turns out to be true, and all the other predictions I made happen, than I may win stuff. And winning stuff is AWESOME.

The presence of Kathy Bates also spices things up a bit. Because she spices things up a bit. With her formidable presence and kick-assery.

Then there's the fact that I'm currently reading The Last of Cheri, the sequel to the novel...Cheri. Which I just finished (they're very short books, 120 pages each). This is getting me more excited, for I am loving Colette's style. I'm new to this world of hers -- I've never even seen Gigi -- and discovering an author that doesn't irritate me (I'm looking at you, John Carlin) is always a delight.

Finally, and this is most important, there appears to be a (completely unrelated to the movie) STAGE MUSICAL in the works! From what I can gather, it has only been seen as a kind of concert -- or showcase, as the publicity people call it. Eighteen original songs, seems to be British...a curiosity piece, for sure. Check it out on MySpace.

First Coraline, now Cheri. Coincidence? Or opportunistic lyricist/composers taking an opportunity? You know, as opportunists are wont to do?

Stage to Screen

P.S. If you have not yet checked out the awesome discussion on The Film Experience concerning dream casting August: Osage County, I highly suggest you do. Sissy Spacek, Judy Davis, and Grace Zabriskie get thrown into the mix for Violet, as well as Meryl (of course)...but for Mattie Fae!

This conversation was also had right here at the Silver Screening Room, and Nathaniel even gives a little shout-out (hee!).

Some ideas thrown out there are awesome, indeed. Kathleen Turner as Mattie Fae? Compare that to my choice of Julie Walters and you tell me what you'd rather see. I'm already regretting my not thinking of Mrs. Rabbit for that role.


I'd gladly put up a review of Public Enemies, which I've seen twice already, but I'm scheduled for a third with my grandfather this week, so I'll wait until after that. Besides, I want my review to be a review, not just me going, "GAAAAAH SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD." We'll see if it holds up for the third go-round.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ten Thoughts on Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye

A four-part series in which I take a gander at my favorite on-air program, Agatha Christie's Marple, on Masterpiece Mystery!.

1. Julia McKenzie is an OK Miss Marple

She's like a bridge between Geraldine McEwan and Joan Hickson. She's all smiles, like McEwan, but a little more discreet with her manipulations, like Hickson. The tweed suits her, I think. I do miss how McEwan always relished the murders, condemned everyone around her, and laughed when the police had no idea what she was talking about. McKenzie is a little closer to the novels, especially in this adaptation.

2. Poor Wendy Richard
This is the last production Miss Brahms filmed before she died of cancer earlier this year. And it looks like it. It's not just the frumpy makeup, either. I haven't felt this bad for someone since watching the adaptation of Murder with Mirrors with a post-stroke Bette Davis. I did notice, of course, that while everyone else gets invasive close-ups, Richard only briefly approaches the camera before turning away quickly, and all of her scenes are kept in the blurrily-lit kitchen. Truly depressing.

3. When Age Creeps Up on You

Good Lord, is that really Prunella Scales? Again, I can't tell if it's the makeup or nature, but it's jarring to find one's boyhood heroes/heroines at this state. I suppose I wouldn't be so shocked if I actually paid attention to their careers between Britcoms and Marple appearances. Interesting note: her husband, Timothy West, played the victim in the first adaptation of this episode.

4. "Bye-Bye, Blackbird"

Having seen Public Enemies a second time earlier that afternoon, I already had Diana Krall's sexy vocals in my head. To hear the same tune in a Marple film just seven hours later caught me off guard. More so since this was the face singing it. Bleh.

5. No Really: Bye-Bye, Blackbird

Lord, the pie scene was horrifying. It lasts all of two seconds, I've seen a previous version, read the book, heard the radio series--but God! How ghastly! Well-done, production team!

6. Stupid Flashbacks

As happens with whodunnits, we get flashbacks to the true events as Miss Marple gives her denouement. They're blurry. Foggy. Stupid. I can't see a bloody thing, and it looks hokey besides. And every sound gets an echo effect. I much prefer Murder She Wrote's method of a voice-over being the only soundtrack in flashbacks lit like the rest of the film.

7. Brilliant Work, Susie Parriss!

With the exceptions of the dull Lucy Cohu (Pat Fortescue) and the overbearing Ken Campbell (Crump the butler), this was one of the more perfectly cast productions in recent Marple memory. Rupert Graves and Ben Miles were perfect as the ne'erdowell and priggish brothers, respectively. Helen Baxendale's Mary Dove was suitably humorless and humorous at the same time. Liz White and Hattie Morahan turned previously dull characters into neat roles, with Morahan's performance and Elyot's screenplay maturing the young daughter Elaine from a crybaby girl to a strong, politically-active woman. Matthew Macfadyen was incredible as Inspector Neele, one of my favorite characters in all of Christiedom. And Anna Madeley's Adele Fortescue is one for the books.

8. Mm, Cake

It always took me out of the story, but all I could think whenever they showed this bit of prop-ery was, "Lord almighty, I want a piece of that." Same thought also applies to this:

9. No Miss Ramsbottom? No Problem!
How engaging was this production? So much so, in fact, that it took me a full hour into the 90-minute program to realize they had cut out my favorite character from the novel. Previously played by Fabia Drake (and by Maggie Smith in my head), I was shocked when I realized that not only was she absent, but I didn't even miss her! Strong writing indeed, Kevin Elyot! Have a cookie.

10. Alan Cumming Has Bedroom Eyes

He's the new host of Masterpiece Mystery!, inheriting duties previously executed by Diana Rigg and Vincent Price. He is a worthy heir, but he always looks like he's trying to seduce the audience. It's nerve-wracking. I'm not used to feeling indecent while watching PBS.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mrs. Slocumbe (1922 - 2009)

StinkyLulu linked to a blog that compared recent celebrity deaths to a scene in Dynasty, and so I went to see what this blog was all about, and lo and behold only THEN do I learn that the IMDb and all other American news sites have YET to actually discuss, the heartless sons of bitches.

So thank you, The Lisp, for informing me.

Mrs. Slocumbe has gone off to that great Department Store in the sky, joining Mr. Humphries, Mr. Grainger, Mr. Beverly, Young Mr. Grace, and most recently, Miss Brahms.

To Mollie Sugden, I need only say: "Dear Sexy Knickers, Thanks for the good times."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Karl Malden (1912 - 2009)

Karl Malden. When Ben told me at the office, the world froze. I could feel myself welling up. Something Farrah, Michael, and the Orange Glo guy couldn't do was get this reaction out of me. This overwhelming sadness, the knowledge that the world was now a much dimmer place.

And yet I can only think of one film that I've seen him in: his Oscar-nominated role in <span style="font-style:italic;">On the Waterfront</span>. My grandfather made me watch it once, and I am forever in his debt because of it. Malden's performance as Father Barry was incredible, captivating. Edmond O'Brien won for The Barefoot Contessa, but I just...I can't see anything being better than this:

I don't care for a world without Father Barry.

The Sunshine Land of Rudo Y Pelham 1-2-Up

A few more reviews, five sentences each. GO TIME.

Great opening sequence, if a tad manipulative. That little kid is so fucking annoying. And the characters aren't as well-drawn as in previous Pixar movies (cry me a river, Russell; bitching ain't an arc). Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer (especially) do fantastic voice work, though. Lord, that first moment with the balloons is amazing.

Not terrible. Some jokes fall flat, and this is mostly due to the filmmakers' desire to "appeal" to a more "adult" crowd with crass humor. But when it plays it straight, God is it fun. Out of the leads, Danny McBride is the most charismatic (which is whoa). Michael Giacchino's score is tops.

FREEKING AWESOME! Denzel Washington, James Gandolfini, John Travolta, John Turturro, etc., are all amazing! Edge of your seat excitement 100 percent! I got jumpy and nervous and sweaty, it was so immersive! Def buy it on DVD!

Nice little drama about soccer effecting the lives of the titular brothers. Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are as engaging as always, but it is Guillermo Francella, as their manager, who really steals the show. Great use of Cheap Trick. Carlos Cuaron proves that talent runs in the family. And those costumes!

It's interesting when a movie pulls punches and still tries too hard, but that's what this movie does. Alan Arkin is in full Little Miss Sunshine mode, while Emily Blunt tries her darndest with a sketchily-written character. Hollmann Award Winner Amy Adams is totally NOT Amy Adams, and also does her best with a role that doesn't give much. But she rocks it anyhow. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save this ultimately dull attempt at dramedy.