Sunday, June 25, 2006

The trailer for The Devil Wears Prada is awesome, and don't let anyone tell you different.

Seriously. I just read this thread on imdb (why am I reading threads on imdb? I have no idea) with a bunch of people dissing that trailer basically for being different. "What a stupid way to preview a movie," they'd say, without really backing up their claims, except with something to the effect of "it's bad cause it's not like normal trailers" and "it confused me into thinking they'd put in the wrong movie."

Jesus. The Prada trailer is brilliant in its simplicity and its hooking of the audience. Why do people feel the need to be spoonfed trailers that show you the entire film? I swear, people in this country are so put off by something out of the norm, even when the norm is tired and dumb, that they instinctively think the new, creative thing must be bad and inferior to the norm. It's infuriating... though it does explain why we re-elected GWB, and why we can't seem to accept gay marriage. Sigh.

Also, I just realized that it was probably a bad idea to post my "happy birthday to me" post over my old June 14 post, cause now it looks like my birthday was on June 14, even though it's really on the 23rd (a day after Meryl's). Oops.

And I've watched Silkwood and Plenty; the posts are coming. Really.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Guess whose birthday it is?


Yes, that's right, I lied when I said, "that's it till Silkwood." I've been busy with my screen acting class and work, and other things, and have not been in the mood to blog. At all. But I had to give a shout out to myself on my special day. Silkwood and Plenty will be up soon.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish some very happy belated birthdays to Nicole Kidman and the one and only Meryl Streep who, as most of you know, recently turned 39 and 57, respectively.

Also, since I was born at 1:09am on June 23rd, I'd say I kind of have the same birthday as Meryl, who was born on the 22nd. We were almost surely born within 24 hours of each other, give or take 34 years.

Monday, June 12, 2006

TONY awards and updates

Not much to say about the Tonys... but I wanted to mention them anyway. I was disappointed that Sweeney Todd lost for everything but best direction (and a little bit shocked that it lost best revival... what is that about?), but whatever. I guess I'm happy for John Lloyd Young, cause he went to my school and has been all over our "Alums and Friends" notices today... but I haven't seen Jersey Boys, so I can't comment on his performance. I loved the speech of the guy who won best actor in a play. So cute. And it was cool to see Ian McDarmid and Cynthia Nixon win. I also enjoyed Julia Roberts' conciliatory "you are all very talented people" bit; it seems she's learned her place in the showbiz world (i.e. movie star ONLY).

Still, I just can't seem to get into the Tonys the way I get into the oscars, even though I love live theater. I will continue to watch them, though... I am a whore like that.

In other news, I have received Email confirmation that Silkwood is on its way, so I should have access to it tomorrow (unfortunately, I inadvertently got big plot spoilers when I went looking for Karen Silkwood images to post... damn). I think I'm going to amp up my netflix subscription to 2-at-a-time for the summer, so this marathon can go more quickly.

Also, the Deer Hunter entry is revamped and completed (I rewrote the review, gave it a grade and added a new image for kicks)... so go have a look-see if you want. That's it till Silkwood. Have fun.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Streepathon Stop #2: The French Lieutenant's Woman

"I am the French lieutenant's... whore." -Sarah Woodruff

(laughs) "...they'll think I'm a whore!" -Anna

Time: 1981 (6th film)

Role: Sarah/Anna

Awards: 3rd oscar nom; LAFCA, BAFTA, and GG (drama) wins

Fun Fact #1: This was Streep's first leading role.

Fun Fact #2: In the film, Sarah (Streep's character) is an artist, and is often shown drawing portraits. Streep herself is a talented artist, having studied costume design in college.

Fun Fact #3: 1981 was the only year in history when Streep was up against Katharine Hepburn for an oscar (it was Streep's first Best Actress nomination, and Hepburn's last). Streep ultimately lost to Hepburn's performance in On Golden Pond, but would win the oscar the following year for Sophie's Choice.

The many faces of Meryl: Streep has a dual role of sorts here, playing both Sarah (left), the film's titular love interest, and Anna (right), an actress portraying Sarah.

Film Review: I found this film solid, but not spectacular. It's the kind of film where there are a lot of standout elements even though the whole isn't really a standout film (at least for me).

Streep, of course, is fabulous, playing Anna, an actress who's appearing in a film version of The French Lieutenant's Woman. In the film-within-a-film, Anna plays Sarah Woodruff, a mysterious woman who haunts the seaside waiting for her French lieutenant lover who abandoned her long ago. Sarah's beauty and mystery bewitch Charles, an English scientist recently engaged to be married to a woman of high social stature. Charles is played by an actor named Michael, who is in turn played by Jeremy Irons. The two actors, Mike and Anna, have a love affair offscreen that parallels the romance of their characters, and the film cuts back and forth (rather jarringly) between the "film" world and the "real" world.

I love the premise here, and normally I would love this type of film, but on the whole, it just seemed, well, rather boring, and lacking in energy. Everything worked fine - the sets and costumes were lovely, the music was beautiful, the leads had good chemistry, it was well-written - but for me, it lacked that extra spark of greatness. I suppose this was the fault of the director, Karel Reisz; not that he did anything wrong, per se, but the type of film he made only has so much to offer (bonus points, though, for the gloriously "meta" opening titles sequence with a tracking shot of Streep set to the brilliant, dramatic score... and for the brilliant trailer, overflowing with the best kind of lush old-school romance, and fetishistic close-ups of Streep).

The French Lieutenant's Woman reminds me of Girl with a Pearl Earring in its depiction of a mysterious and desirable woman in a repressive society, and in how both films somehow add up to less than the sum of their parts. But regardless, a good film. Recommended.

Streep Review: This was obviously Streep's first claim to fame as "the leading lady of American cinema," and it arrived just in time to start the 80's (the decade of Streep). She won the lion's share of best actress awards for 1981, even if she did lose the oscar. I personally don't feel that this is among Streep's best perfs (though it may have been her best work up to that point), but it was still a great performance (when is she NOT great?).

Some critics have charged her of overacting in this film, but I disagree. The role of Sarah demands a degree of theatricality in order to contrast with the more naturalistic role of Anna, and I think Streep juggled the two quite well. Her English accent is perfect, of course, but more importantly, she nailed the mystery of Sarah - her eyes say so much with so little - and she brought some of that mystery, subtlely, back into Anna as well. A great performance... probably the best part of the film.

Next in the marathon: Silkwood

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy Birthday, Nathaniel!

I just wanted to echo the sentiments on Glenn's blog and wish the man a very happy birthday. Glenn kinda said it all, but I just thought I should chime in with a big "ditto." I too found The Film Experience in 2001, when I was obsessed with Hedwig and Moulin Rouge and desperately needed outlets for said obsessions. I then took a break from his site (and the internet in general) for a year or so, to deal with "real life" things, but soon enough, I was back, after which I never again went away. Since then, Nathaniel has always been there as my internet gay guru and beloved friend-in-film. When Far From Heaven (the film) and The Hours (the book) opened up my soul for me, Nat was there. When I was home all through 2003 (the worst recent year for film) and had nothing to do but obsess over film, Nat was there. When Bening, Staunton and Winslet lost to Swank, Nat was there. And when Brokeback Mountain opened and was brilliant, and then became a national phenomenon and Best Picture frontrunner, and then shockingly LOST the oscar on Black Sunday, Nat was there.

Thanks, Nat. Enjoy your (37th?) birthday.

...and enjoy the $20 I sent you.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fun on Broadway: Sweeney Todd and Doubt

Last week, I visited my friend in NYC (shit, I should've tried to meet up with Nathaniel, or at least stalked him a little um, told him I was in town).

Anyway, whilst in NYC, I saw two broadway shows, the first of which was this season's revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, starring Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone Dorothy Stanley. Yes, that's right, the show I happened to see did not star Patti LuPone, it starred Dorothy Stanley. Needless to say, I was PISSED. I learned while picking up my tickets that day that on that particular day, Patti LuPone was ill and thus was not able to go onstage. Whatever. My friend and I speculated that perhaps she just wanted to take a long holiday weekend, but that is neither here nor there. The point is, I saw an "off" show, which sucks.

I guess I was expecting to love it more than I did, but I suspect a large part of why I didn't love it so much was the Mrs. Lovett stand-in. It just threw off the whole vibe of it, plus Stanley just wasn't as good. Her voice, though fine, was weak and less expressive, and her blocking was also off (or so my friend, who'd seen it before, informed me). Mostly what pissed me off was that the chemistry with Michael Cerveris was all wrong, so the switch led to my enjoying his perf less as well.

Also, I found Sondheim's score to be a bit too bouncy or fussy or fluttery or what have you... it's hard to describe, but I just had a bit of a problem with it. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful score, it's quite haunting in places, and it really transports you... but I guess I just prefer bold and sweeping to, well, "fluttery". I don't remember having this kind of problem with Sondheim's music when I saw Sunday in the Park with George here at Brown. And I certainly had no problem with his lyrics to West Side Story, which remains my favorite musical EVER. But I had a bit of a problem with this, for reasons unknown to me.

Good points: Cerveris was grandly creepy, Manuel Felciano was more fragile-ly (?) creepy, and the chamber music atmosphere felt just right. I should probably see this one again, with Patti present, but I may not be able to afford that. I REALLY wish I could've seen Angela Lansbury do it back in the day, but that, sadly, won't be happening again.

The other show I saw, the following night, with a student-rush ticket, was John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, winner of last year's Pulitzer and Tony.

This show also had new people in for the original cast (Cherry Jones, etc. have left the show by now), but at least these actors were permanent replacements, not stand-ins, and in truth, they were quite good. I loved Eileen Atkins as the lead nun/headmistress, even though I wish I could've seen Jones in the role. Atkins' little-old-lady fussiness and crotchitiness provided plentiful laughs throughout, but was offset brilliantly by her stern, authoritative power. And Ron Eldard, as much as I hated him in House of Sand and Fog, was actually quite effective here as the loving Father Flynn. It was also a treat to see my film fave Jena Malone in her Broadway debut, and the fourth wheel, Adriane Lennox, was stellar in her one and only scene.

The play is brilliantly written, and I hope to actually read it, now that I've seen it. What sounds at first like a simplistic premise gets amazingly layered, seemingly out of nowhere, and the moral ambiguities in play make for a profound speculation on the church, racism, sexism, sexuality, pedophilia, teaching styles, authority figures, changing times, and our many ways of expressing love... and that's all on top of the fun-to-follow mystery story that develops that resolves (sort of) in the space of 90 minutes. Different characters seem more trustworthy at different times, and the audience's sympathies are always in "doubt" (yup). It's an awfully fun ride, peppered with a few beautfully unforced "meta"-literary moments that I personally totally enjoyed (I love the "meta"). Highly recommended play. See it, read it, ponder it. You'll be glad you did.

Anyway, off to bed with me... or, maybe, to breakfast... my electricity is out in my apartment (I am somewhere else right now), so I'm looking to find more places to go and things to do while waiting for morning light. Wish me luck.