I’ve always had an interest in child stars. I’m not quite sure why anymore. It has something to do with being fascinated by Drew Barrymore as a six-year-old. I was fascinated by the fact that a person my own age was in a movie; now I think I like child actors because of my near-obsessive interest in the film industry, and I’m always interested in who is going to grow up to replace the actors who’ve become stale and boring, or had no business being in films in the first place. And I love family films, and those always require an interesting, talented young actor.
What’s really exciting is to watch a talent develop and become formidable over the years. But when it’s a girl, there’s always a certain fear that comes with it. I’m always wondering when the break is going to come in. Inevitably, an actress reaches that age where she disappears, usually with some adverse affect on their career. There aren’t enough movies about women; I don’t care what anyone says, but I don’t really see a flourishing women’s cinema. There never has been one. There are barely any women directors, and few of them have produced any works that are very good. Since white men still run the show, women’s stories are few and far between, making for a very homogenous and often boring American cinema. And the true female talents in acting are forced to linger in kids’ movies, or douse their lights to play the girlfriend in some lame comedy or the suffering wife in some shitty thriller. Too often, they disappear completely, starring in straight-to-video junk or, if they’re lucky, are able to develop a TV series that does moderately well.
Of the actresses of her generation, Christina Ricci once seemed poised to become the next Elizabeth Taylor. She languished in kiddie movies, too, but she at least proved in Addams Family Values that she had genuine comic talent. For a child, her abilities were astonishing. The only other actress of her generation who came close to her was Kirsten Dunst, who decided to waste most of her talent in typical teen comedies. And Ricci was much more beautiful. I’ll never forget that moment when Carl and I went to see The Ice Storm; Christina Ricci sat in a chair, covered by a blanket. When the blanket fell to the side and she stood up, wearing a tight sweat shirt, he and I looked at each other and mouthed: “WOW!” We both thought she was going to be something else.
Ricci developed an eating disorder, but she never lost her talent. She just somehow stopped getting interesting roles. Today, there are still very few genuinely talented actresses in their twenties. There’s Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, and of course Scarlett Johansson. And Christina Ricci, who suffered the disappointment that most women suffer when they take their careers into their own hands and start producing their own movies: no one noticed. Prozac Nation, which may be the best acting she’s ever done, sat on the shelf for four years before quietly premiering on cable. And where is she now? Making movies like Cursed, long years after everyone has stopped caring about Wes Craven, Kevin Williamson, or the guy who played Pacey.
I want Christina Ricci back. If we need to clear some room, I wouldn’t mind putting Kirsten Dunst away; we can just take her out again whenever we need her for a Spider-Man movie. What else is she good for?
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.
1. Well, Snakes on a Plane comes out next week. I think I’m going to help this film achieve real cult status by following Henry Rollins’s advice and not actually going to see it.
2. Disney is pawning off Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto on Lion’s Gate Films. See kids, Disney don’t hate Jews at all. At least, not by association.
3. Speaking of Gibson: am I just too cynical now, or does Patrick Swayze’s leaping to the defense of Mel Gibson seem like a naked, desperate bid to be cast in a movie?
4. First Nick and Jessica divorce, then Carmen and Dave, and now that self-important Blink-182 guy and his bitchy Playmate wife. Is there a curse of MTV (even though Ozzy and Sharon never broke up)? Or is it just that incredibly shallow people tend to not stay married for very long?
5. I just found out that Nicole Sherzinger, the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls who used to be in TV-manufactured group Eden’s Crush, not only sang all the lead vocals on their album, but also sang all the backing vocals on the album. So, what are the other chicks for? Except to lumber around like the world’s most famous bad trannies?
6. I just read that Caprice, the supermodel, is talking about running for governor of California. Dude, what the fuck is wrong with people in California? Can’t they just elect a real politician? Why don't they just elect SpongeBob next?
7. Is everyone going to keep blathering on about Janet Jackson posing nude? She’s covering her breasts, it’s not nude. In fact, it’s not even as sexy as her new heavily airbrushed album cover. Ooh, she’s 40 and still sexy! Who cares? I’ve read “40 and still sexy” so many times in the last decade it’s lost all meaning. Who seriously believes that women stop being sexy at 40? I mean, besides idiots.
8. Is Jessica on a date? I hope not, because I think that guy’s Brett Ratner. Adam Levine, Bam Margera, Dane Cook, Johnny Knoxville—seriously, does Jessica Simpson like guys that aren’t skeezy? Well, she needs to get out; she always looks so sad lately. Poor girl sunburned her nose, too. Well, she doesn’t have to look perfect except when she’s working.
9. Which is why I’m not giving Mariah Carey a break over how absolutely horrible she looks all of a sudden. Man, what the fuck happened? It's like a bad attempt at Klingon.
10. Speaking of Jessica, apparently even she and Ashlee are finally getting sick of their creepy father creepily telling people how great his girls’ breasts are. Some guy from MTV just told US Weekly that Joe delighted in telling stories about fitting Jessica for her first bra, and it just sort of made everyone feel sick. Jessica needs to dump the family and really get some professional class. She’s so close, they’re just holding her back now. Family’s fine, but in business, it’s better to go with professionals.
11. So, after Ashlee Simpson told Marie Claire “I want girls to look in the mirror and feel confident,” then ran straight out and had (at least) her nose reconstructed, the magazine got over a thousand complaint letters from readers. The magazine’s new editor, Joanna Coles, is quoted in the new issue (the first completely under her control) as saying: “[Ashlee] was quoting chapter and verse about how crucial it is to love yourself as you are, etc. We're dazed and confused—and disappointed—by her choice too.” Ashlee’s publicist (and whatever he makes, it ain’t enough) has now responded with the lame “I’m sorry the new editor is using Ashlee to get publicity for her magazine.” Um…wow, is that the answer you really want to go with? Wow, that’s just so very, very weak. You just can’t defend Ashlee saying something so stupid and then doing something so hypocritical can you? By the way, can Ashlee stop pretending to be the forgotten Simpson now? Because now it’s just fucking irritating.
12. Paris Hilton needed to buy the cemetery plot at Westwood Village Memorial Park next to Marilyn Monroe to bury her pet goat? Didn’t Marilyn suffer enough indignities when she was alive? And isn’t she suffering enough now by Lindsay Lohan claiming that she looks just like her? Well, here’s a picture of Paris’s droopy, hanging, ugly cottage cheese ass to make us laugh at her. Like the jowls of a bulldog, they are. Oh, and her kinkajou bit her, so that’s funny, too.
13. Tom Cruise’s spokesperson says he’s not reluctant to release pictures of Suri…he just hasn’t done it yet. Okay… The pictures are supposedly coming “very shortly.” I still say they’re auditioning kids for the role. Meanwhile, Paramount has restructured their deal with Cruise’s production company; they’re no longer willing to spend $10 million a year on him, and are lowering it to $2 million. He’s going to have to pay his own staff. Well, it’s not like anyone wants to see him in a movie anymore, anyway.
14. The week in Lohan: she wants to entertain the troops like her improbable hero Marilyn Monroe, she aspires to be a pin-up (sorry, she just isn’t sexy like that), she lies to the press about who she’s slept with (I guess for cover when they later deny it), she rambled to Perez Hilton about the paparazzi, the management of the Chateau Marmont are trying to kick her out (because they find her antics too loud and wild for the damn Chateau Marmont!), an anonymous crew member from Herbie: Fully Loaded says her antics are nothing new, and got in a fight with Paris at a club. But there was one good moment: when asked in an interview about the video of Brandon Davis and Paris Hilton making fun of her, Lindsay said she hadn’t seen it, but said of Paris: “obviously, she’s very comfortable making videos.” I hate Lindsay Lohan, but I have to say: sick burn. Sick. Burn.
15. And here’s the icing on the Lohan cake: Dina has finally stopped pretending that this whole thing isn’t about achieving fame for herself, and since Ali’s fake career is going nowhere, Dina is now shopping around a talk show. Dina says “I love to talk,” which we all knew already (just try and stop the bitch), and goes on to blather: “Lindsay’s friends call me ‘The White Oprah’ because they all come to me with their problems. I’m like the mom of these kids in the business.” Oh, puke. And Lindsay still has friend? In the business? The movie business? She’s alternately vying for a slot on The View (claiming that she’s more credible with the public because she “lives it,” whatever the fuck that means) and writing a book about how she’s ridden her daughter’s coattails to infamy. Dude, I’d pay Dina Lohan all that money just to shut her fucking mouth for a change. Anyone want to go in on a collection with me?
Via World of Wonder, an unnamed crew member from Herbie: Fully Loaded discusses her sense of professionalism: So I see that Ms. Lohan is refuting the accusations made against her. It sounds to me that her behavior is exactly the same inconsiderate shit she pulled on the Herbie production. She stayed out all night, and then the doctor announced that Ms Lohan had asthma the next day. She played the exhaustion card a couple of times. Too tired from shooting to bear another day of shooting. She calls in sick one day and we find out she is across town shooting a day with her then-boyfriend on That 70's Show. Another day she has the "doctor" call in Ms Sickie's fake ailment, because she was shooting her own music video the night before. Many mornings during the Herbie show were rescheduled according to the Puffy Face Report. The Princess was able to make the production [crew] recreate the desert race sets closer to the Four Seasons. She said she had signed on "to do a film in Los Angeles" and El Mirage was too hot and too far. She is a brat. One day she comes storming up the Team Payton driveway, followed by the producer. It seems he had to insist that Lindsey play her off-screen lines for Michael Keaton. This common courtesy she could not afford her fellow actor. Funny she seemed to have no trouble with those other off- screen lines.
So I see that Ms. Lohan is refuting the accusations made against her. It sounds to me that her behavior is exactly the same inconsiderate shit she pulled on the Herbie production. She stayed out all night, and then the doctor announced that Ms Lohan had asthma the next day. She played the exhaustion card a couple of times. Too tired from shooting to bear another day of shooting. She calls in sick one day and we find out she is across town shooting a day with her then-boyfriend on That 70's Show. Another day she has the "doctor" call in Ms Sickie's fake ailment, because she was shooting her own music video the night before. Many mornings during the Herbie show were rescheduled according to the Puffy Face Report. The Princess was able to make the production [crew] recreate the desert race sets closer to the Four Seasons. She said she had signed on "to do a film in Los Angeles" and El Mirage was too hot and too far. She is a brat. One day she comes storming up the Team Payton driveway, followed by the producer. It seems he had to insist that Lindsey play her off-screen lines for Michael Keaton. This common courtesy she could not afford her fellow actor. Funny she seemed to have no trouble with those other off- screen lines.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
“Is the City Council going to plan our menus?” – Mayor Richard M. Daley
Just months after having to endure Alderman Joe Moore’s insipid quest on foie gras, Alderman Edward M. Burke is now proposing that Chicago also ban trans-fat in major restaurants. Is this really the best way that City Council members can come up with to waste the taxpayers’ time and money? By interfering with local business practices and taking the lightly fascist step of telling people what they are and are not allowed to eat?
I wasn’t thinking much about this until I saw an editorial in my school’s newspaper, the Northern Star. Genevieve Diesing takes a tone of scolding in her piece, ridiculing the city’s indignation at being told we don’t know what’s best for ourselves. She lectures at length about heart disease, calls the people who are against the ban and pro-free will “rebellious children,” and applies that old saw “that the benefit of the greater good can be more urgent than their impulse for instant gratification.” Her entire argument is hysterical, smug, and laden with so many neo-fascist sentiments that it’s almost impossible to take seriously. I wonder why she wastes so much time on her point when, to save space, she could have simply said: “Hey, fatties, you don’t know what’s good for you, so you shouldn’t be allowed to eat anymore.” Having attended some classes with Diesing, I’d also like to point out that she’s very skinny; certainly skinny enough to come across holier-than-thou when preaching about the immorality of overeating.
She also accuses fat people of not caring whether they live or die, then says: “Those who support the use of trans-fat in major establishments not only ignorantly assume the impact of the city’s overwhelming fat-production affects only them and not the habits of younger generations, but they also contradict the fact that those who have chosen to eat foods that don’t jolt their cholesterol and slow their circulation actually enjoy the physical rewards of being healthy.” Of course, Diesing is ignorantly assuming that it is the responsibility of those who “know better” to make the decisions for us plebs, and that people are not beholden to their own decision-making capabilities. Yes, Chicago’s “overwhelming” fat production does affect everyone. Well, except for those who make, you know, a conscious decision not to eat it. Isn’t it up to each individual person to decide what they want to eat? People know that McDonald’s isn’t going to improve their health, but they still choose to eat at McDonald’s. It’s their choice. It’s also up to them to teach their children how to eat healthy. It’s not Genevieve Diesing’s choice; it’s not for her, or our career politicians, to decide what people are and aren’t allowed to eat. She also makes another ignorant assumption, which is typical of conservative bluenoses and those moralists who take it upon themselves to watch out for other people who haven’t asked for it: that everyone should be able to walk everywhere and partake of every service and always be comfortable at every moment. This is, sadly, a commonplace assumption, which has led to many unconstitutional actions (such as bans on smoking in public, another way in which the government tries to control your decisions). If Diesing “enjoys the physical benefits of being healthy” (and in that statement she makes a sweeping judgment that elevates her above all others), she is welcome to them. But it is not up to her to force others to be as healthy as she is, no matter how much she means well. She is perfectly welcome not to eat at McDonald’s or Pizza Hut or Long John Silver’s or KFC. The government shouldn’t force businesses to change their way of doing business just so some condescending moralizer can walk into a fast food joint and get a burger (which she’ll probably never do anyway). People like her already have Subway for the myth of eating healthy.
I also don’t appreciate her “the children! Someone think of the children!” argument, which is always the last resort for such idiot moral arguments. Surely you’re not going to do something that might endanger a child, right? It’s a loaded and unfair argument. And, with me, an ineffective one; I don’t care how many children die. They’re obnoxious, and they generally grow up to be obnoxious adults. Besides, I think people like Diesing are too concerned with the safety of children, and have an outrageously overinflated idea of what is and is not safe for kids. Is trans-fat good for children? Of course not. But it’s up to the parents--you know, people who actually have children--to make that decision.
She goes on to make another idiotic claim, refuting the notion that some people think we are giving up some of Chicago’s cultural heritage by giving up fatty foods (and, let’s face it, Chicago is the land of brats, Eli’s Cheesecake, and those wonderful deep dish pizzas). Diesing points out that Crisco wasn’t introduced until 1911, so it’s “hardly a staple of gastronomic authenticity.” Dude, 1911 was my great-grandparents’ day; if something survives more than four generations, it’s a part of the heritage. You know, “under God” wasn’t added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the fifties, but I’m sure your neo-con heart would break if someone were to strike it out.
After ridiculing an American citizen’s freedom of choice, she then ludicrously equates a non-healthy lifestyle with cancer, drunk driving, and (most over-the-top) terrorism. She asks us to face facts, stop being so “spineless,” and then concludes that taking responsibility “means, every once and a while, letting someone else tell us what to do.” Um…isn’t that the opposite of responsibility? Isn’t letting someone make your decisions for you, um, spineless? Apparently not in the fascist mind of Genevieve Diesing, who equates giving in with bravery, meddling with genuine concern, and fat people with terrorists.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
THE ARISTOCRATS (2005)
I’ve always been heavy into stand-up comedy, so I found this documentary interesting. It all revolves around the famous joke “The Aristocrats,” which is basically an excuse for free-form grossness of ridiculous proportions. On the one hand, the documentary deals very effectively with the development of a comedy routine, and the variations that it can be spun into by the one telling it. But what hampers the doc is the fact that the joke is just supremely unfunny. I found the best versions were the ones that were either very different (Martin Mull), who added something to the joke’s anticlimactic nature (Steven Wright, who makes the anticlimax itself the focus of the joke, Wendy Liebman), who changed the joke to make it sound funnier (one calls it “the sophisticates,” which is somehow inherently more hilarious than “the aristocrats”--probably because it sounds more smug), and George Carlin, who gets the tone of the joke exactly right. There are some other funny bits in here, too: Kevin Pollack’s surprisingly hilarious Christopher Walken impression, Gilbert Gottfried’s scientific evaluation of fisting, etc. It also helps you figure out right off which comedians just aren’t to your taste (boy, Sarah Silverman just sucks at improvising, but you always know it’s headed to either her vagina or a rape joke). *** stars.
OLIVER TWIST (2005)
I never thought I’d say this, but this is the best version of Charles Dickens I’ve ever seen. I was sitting there, waiting for the crappy voiceover narration and the slow-ass pacing, but this movie hits the ground running and keeps the momentum. Too many adaptations of Dickens are so in love with the words that they can’t get past them and into the meat of the story. Roman Polanski and Ronald Harwood only keep the dialogue that’s necessary and let the visuals and the actors tell the story. And the actors are very good, especially Leanne Rowe as a very sympathetic Nancy, Jamie Foreman as a downright scary Bill Sykes, and Ben Kingsley (channeling Geoffrey Rush) in a performance as Fagin that should be over-the-top, but somehow perfectly toes the line between too much and just enough. One of the best and most overlooked films of last year. **** stars.
INTERMEZZO: A LOVE STORY (1939)
Leslie Howard stars as a violin virtuoso who falls in love with his daughter’s piano teacher. But she’s Ingrid Bergman, so who could blame him? A nice, unexpected little movie about a painful romance, with Howard in fine form and Bergman (introduced here to America) as wonderful as ever. How ironic is it that Leslie Howard is mainly remembered for Gone with the Wind, and he’s better in every other one of his films? **** stars.
BRIDE & PREJUDICE (2004)
I think Gurinder Chadha took a step down with this one. On the other hand, this is, like, her tenth movie, and I’ve only seen two of them (including this one), so maybe I don’t have an accurate assessment of her work. Then again, she’s supposed to direct Dallas and/or I Dream of Jeannie, so maybe I do… All I know is, I thought Bend It Like Beckham was a wonderful, special movie, and I thought this one was pretty lame. Part of it is just the fact that it’s Pride & Prejudice, a story I’ve had quite more than enough of in my life (honestly, how many versions of Jane Austen’s silly fiction do we need?). The good points are these: Aishwarya Rai, who is beautiful and wonderful and talented; Anupam Kher as her father, just as excellent here as he was in Bend It Like Beckham; most of the Indian actors (especially those playing Rai’s sisters, and of those especially Peeya Rai Choudhuri, who is fucking gorgeous); seeing Indira Varma in a movie again finally--I’ve been in love with her since Kama Sutra and all the way through Rome; Alexis Bledel’s role is very small (I don’t get the point of her); it’s very pretty to look at; the music is nice; it’s highly enjoyable and cute. The bad points are as follows: Naveen Andrews continues to act as though he wishes he could clone himself and finally fuck the person he thinks is the most beautiful in the world; the general silliness of the plot; the weak center; the fact that the Elizabeth Bennett character (here called Lalita Bakshi, a lovely name) is such a bitch that I never care what happens to her. The fatal flaw in the story is the casting of Martin Henderson as Darcy; he’s a weak actor with no physical or emotional presence, and it sinks the movie’s main love story, leaving only the family dynamics to focus on (thankfully, those are entertaining). Seriously, if they wanted such a weak actor, devoid of presence and charisma and magnetism, they might as well have cast Edward Burns. These guys all look the same to me. Weren’t there any men willing to be in the movie? It’s something the movie can’t overcome. **1/2 stars.
LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972)
This is the acclaimed movie I’ve heard of my whole life? This over-indulgent, self-consciously arty, gassy, blowhard of a movie? Wow, that’s too bad. Because this movie really, really sucks. Maria Schneider is quite good, but Brando’s performance is easily one of his worst. * star.
Self-important movie written and directed by a man who purports to know how women in their forties think. Andie McDowell stars as a 40 year-old (yes, you read that right) teacher living in England who has an affair with a man in his twenties. Her friends (Imelda Staunton and Anna Chancellor) purport to know what’s better for her than she does, so they try to sabotage the situation. And then things get totally unbelievable and, frankly, stupid. There are some decent performances, particularly McDowell and the always-good Anna Chancellor (who is so underrated), though poor Imelda Staunton’s character is pushed so far into the background that she doesn’t even have a last name. But it’s all blown so far out of proportion that I couldn’t wait until it was over (and boy, does it drag!). *1/2 stars.
THE NAKED KISS (1964)
One of Samuel Fuller’s most shocking and interesting films, starring Constance Towers in an excellent performance as a hooker who tries to go straight. There’s so much more than that to the story: the way the cops and society tries to force her into a subservient position, the way she pulls herself out of it to do something meaningful…and then there’s the child molestation. Much more than any mainstream movie of the time could, Fuller’s artful B-film is able to deal sensitively (and realistically) with how small town American society deals with this particular perversion. It’s a tense film, at times almost a thriller, but it’s something roughly beautiful too. It’s hard to describe; you’ll just have to see it. And you really should. **** stars.
DETROIT ROCK CITY (1999)
Four high schoolers want to go to a KISS concert in 1978. You pretty much know what you’re getting; I mean, you’ve seen any teen comedy, right? This one’s kinda fun, better than a lot of other ones, and it has Shannon Tweed. Melanie Lynskey always makes me smile to see, and I really liked Sam Huntington, which is a surprise because I tend to despise him. Great soundtrack, as you can imagine. *** stars.
THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION (1976)
Why, why doesn’t Nicholas Meyer write more screenplays? He adapted his own Sherlock Holmes novel for the screen here, and the story is so tight, water could bounce off of it. Every single plot point ties together. Don’t see that much in Hollywood, do you? The title deals with Holmes’s predilection for a seven percent solution of cocaine in times of boredom, but it’s also a pun, a play on Conan Doyle’s story “The Final Problem.” In that famous story, Holmes begins acting strange and raving about Moriarty, the “Napoleon of Crime,” whom Holmes assures Watson is the face behind all of London’s crime. The story ends with Holmes and Moriarty going over Reichenbach Falls together, with both seemingly killed. Meyer’s story carries the fun conceit of “explaining” what really happened by showing us a Holmes dependent on cocaine, who is tricked into following Moriarty (actually his old math tutor) to Vienna, where Watson forces Holmes into a recovery treatment overseen by Sigmund Freud. And, of course, there’s a case for Holmes to solve. It sounds complicated, but it flows together so very well, in large part because of the excellent actors. Alan Arkin, who should be a much bigger star than he is, plays Freud with a slight edge of humor and weariness, giving him dignity but not making him stodgy. Robert Duvall makes some interesting choices as Watson, playing him with a thick accent and a rather dull mindset; his Watson is never boring, but sometimes comes across pedestrian. Duvall simply makes Watson’s inactive mind a part of his character, rather than playing it for laughs; instead, he plays up Watson’s loyalty and determination. Laurence Olivier makes a very welcome cameo as Moriarty, the always-wonderful Charles Gray has a small, playful role as Mycroft Holmes, and the movie also boasts Vanessa Redgrave, Samantha Eggar, Jeremy Kemp, and Joel Grey. But the best performance in the film is Nicol Williamson’s. He plays Holmes as an intense man who succumbs to boredom easily, whose quest to punish those in the world who commit injustices has become a grave mission for him. Williamson owns the role of Holmes so well and so thoroughly that it’s a great shame Universal Pictures didn’t go on to put him in Meyer’s other two Holmes novels, The Canary Trainer and The West End Horror. The only thing slowing the film down is Herbert Ross’s typical lack of directorial daring, and his penchant for overlighting and using too many filters. But it’s so well-written and well-acted that nothing could make this a less than **** star film. One of the best Holmes on film, very true to Conan Doyle's style.
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1970)
I came away from this disappointed, especially since I expect so much more from Billy Wilder, who directed some of my all-time favorite films (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, The Spirit of St. Louis, Witness for the Prosecution, The Apartment, The Fortune Cookie, and my absolute favorite comedy, One, Two, Three). At first, the comic tone of the film is fun, and there are some great gags (my favorite is the way the male members of a Russian ballet react to the news that Watson may be gay), but the mystery just isn’t very absorbing and the pacing is somewhere between reptilian and glacial. Robert Stephens is a good, breezy Holmes (I would love to see a Holmes comedy with Steve Coogan, whom Stephens kept reminding me of), and Colin Blakely is an amusingly lecherous Watson. But for me, perhaps unsurprisingly, the best performance was by Christopher Lee, who plays Mycroft Holmes as witty, urbane, and secretly dangerous. Lee is always a professional; he should have played Holmes. But in a better movie. **1/2 stars.
THE MUSIC LOVERS (1970)
Ken Russell’s film biography of Piotr Tchaikovsky is, in a word, bizarre. But then, that’s Russell’s stock-in-trade, and the film grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. Richard Chamberlain’s intense, sweaty portrayal of the great composer is note-perfect (that’s not mean to be a pun, I swear). Glenda Jackson, as the crazed fan he marries, is absolutely terrifying, especially in the scene when she attacks Tchaikovsky on a train and tries to force herself on him. And then there’s Tchaikovsky’s gay lover, who goes around making trouble out of some warped sense of vengeance. And the music! Russell and Andre Previn use Tchaikovsky’s music and allow it (and the fantasies it brings forth) to tell much of the story, using it in a way that betrays Tchaikovsky’s emotional state much more than his actions do. Russell studies not only music, but how people relate to it, what it drives people to do, and what drives some to create it. The cinematography by Douglas Slocombe is beautiful. ***1/2 stars.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I see that second-tier theme park Six Flags is in financial trouble. Yesterday I read a news story that said they were retiring some of the costumed characters, and the list was surprising. Petunia Pig, sure, but Scooby Doo? It seems like they're tucking away one of the more populer Warners-owned characters there. But there's one name I didn't notice: Speedy Gonzales. And it made me laugh to think of the reason Speedy must still be in the park. Because the thing is, the Speedy Gonzales cartoons are some of the worst Looney Tunes, mostly because they were done so late that most of the great talents of the studio were gone, and the cartoons started to get flat and repetitive (in a bad way; the Road Runner cartoons were repetitive but, while Chuck Jones was still directing them, genius). Very, very few people love Speedy Gonzales, and with the PC attacks on the Looney Tunes characters in the past 25 years or more, Speedy hasn't exactly been in the spotlight much.
But you just know that some PC asshole at the front office saw Speedy's name on a list of characters to retire, and thought: "Wait a minute, if we do that, someone will think we're anti-Latino, and since we're a Texas-based company and Mexico is one of the Six Flags, we can't afford for people to think that!" Which just amuses me, because I can see some white dude who grew up in the suburbs and went to business school thinking that Speedy Gonzales is one of the Latin icons of American cinema. Like, don't take Speedy down, because in some Mexican village there's a memorial statue of Pancho Villa, Cesar Chavez, and Speedy Gonzales, right?
That makes me giggle enough to wish I had some pot. But then, I always wish I had some pot.
"I could date someone for six months and do nothing but kiss [. . .] "I think sex is a big deal. People give it away too freely and girls just do it the first day they meet someone. I think it's something that's sacred and special and someone should deserve it. And I don't think many people do."
--Paris Hilton in British Marie Claire. She also claims to have had sex with only two people in her life. Next she'll be saying she's famous because people like her movies!
...and then let somebody videotape you, because you WILL sound like an asshole, and everyone WILL see it. Case in point, this clip of Britney Spears that's making the rounds now.
Hey, I never claimed she was smart. All I said was that she was sweet and hot. Like that weird red shrimp you get at Chinese places. And about as challenging, actually... What do you think she's on here? Something really hard.
My favorites are the people who want her to stop acting like a moron and go back to "normal." Dude, she's not acting. Have you ever seen her do an interview? She's always been flakier than Blue Ribbon Pie Crust and dumber than a box of rocks.
"You could put Christmas lights on your car and drive Britney Spears to Medieval Times and she'd think she went back in time." -- I Don't Like You in That Way
"...HUH?" -- Britney Spears
(For the record, Spawn came out in 1997. HUH?)