Oh, stars. Sometimes you are unavoidable when discussing the cinema! And there are those who walk among us and discuss them with such erudition, like Anne Helen Peterson in her recent post on Brad Pitt. An amuse:
Every time he does a film that challenges his existing image, he has another in the pipeline that reinforces it. It’s brilliant, and it’s why he’s been the biggest male star, both domestically and internationally, for more than a decade. Brad Pitt opens movies, even when Brad Pitt isn’t playing “himself.” Brad Pitt playing himself, however, as he does almost perfectly in Moneyball, can turn a film into a global (even if not domestic) blockbuster. (For those of you who disagree with me re: Moneyball, please see: hilarious eating, bonhomie, asshole-mixed-with-charisma, golden-boy past, lots of emotive staring-into-space. No womanizing, but he makes up for it with the comedic timing and ubiquitous chin-ups).
More on Brad's cinematic snack attacks from the tireless scribes at Vulture:
If you saw Moneyball this weekend, perhaps you walked out of the theater thinking, Wow, that Brad Pitt really is a charming and handsome movie star. Or maybe instead you thought, Huh, Brad Pitt eats a lot in movies. The man does not stop feeding. (Except to throw a chair across the locker room, and then: more food.) Popcorn, Twinkies, Christmas cookies, a cheeseburger — it all ends up in Brad Pitt's perfect mouth. When Terry Gross asked him about this exact phenomenon, Pitt ascribed the tic to the intensity of the real life Billy Beane, but Ocean's Eleven aficionados will remember that Brad is chowing down in almost every scene of that movie, too. In fact, he eats in a lot of his movies. And so to prove the Brad Pitt Eating in Movies Theory, Vulture put together a list of every single item of food that Pitt has ever eaten in a movie, ever.
Some more empty calories masquerading as nutrition: Just how tall is Jake Gyllenhaal? No, really. The answer? It's epic.
I’m not the sort of person who thinks much about the height of celebrities. (I’ve always assumed most famous people are about seven feet tall.) The fact that I caught myself wondering about Gyllenhaal’s height suggested there was something uncanny about it, in the way an unsettlingly warm afternoon can bend one’s conversation toward the topic of global warming.
As soon as I got home, I typed “How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal” into my web browser’s search box. The internet deposited me at CelebHeights.com, “an Entertainment site estimating the heights of famous people, including fan photos and celebrity quotations about their own height.” Bingo. Surely CelebHeights would provide the concise, definitive answer to my question!
Friends, the CelebHeights entry on Jake Gyllenhaal runs to 11 printed pages. It spans 21 months. It is the Infinite Jest of Jake Gyllenhaal–height-related discourse: a maelstrom of heated debate, contested recollections, and esoteric theories of mind-numbing potency.
The entry begins with a quote from Jake Gyllenhaal's website: “I’m happily 6 feet tall.” What would seem a benign proclamation is actually the fuse to a powder keg. Before I knew it, a message-board user had whisked me away to an exclusive party for the express purpose of witnessing Gyllenhaal’s towering ... mendacity.
The cinetrix must applaud the kids over at This Recording for starting their week-long look at the films of Roman Polanski with Frantic and Bitter Moon. Shine on, you crazy contrarian diamonds! With such a Seigner-heavy selection thus far, I expect the entry on The Ninth Gate to go up any second now.
I like watching people fall in love onscreen so much that I can suspend my disbelief in the contrived situations that occur only in the heightened world of romantic comedies. I have come to enjoy the moment when the male lead, say, slips and falls right on top of the expensive wedding cake. I actually feel robbed when the female lead’s dress doesn’t get torn open at a baseball game while the JumboTron camera is on her. I regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world operates according to different rules than my regular human world. For me, there is no difference between Ripley from “Alien” and any Katherine Heigl character. They are equally implausible. They’re all participating in a similar level of fakey razzle-dazzle, and I enjoy every second of it.
It makes sense, then, that in the romantic-comedy world there are many specimens of women who—like Vulcans or Mothra—do not exist in real life.
To wind up this star-studded melange, Cecil B. DeMented, which I only finally watched this weekend after meaning to see it ever since I first thought, hey, that Maggie Gyllenhaal -- what else has she been in? Now it's the rest of the cast that amuses, as such a letter-perfect assemblage for that moment: Jack Noseworthy? Adrien Grenier? Alicia Witt? Stephen Dorff? Michael Shannon? "Continue eating the oysters or you will be shot and killed!" Indeed!
Via the Trib: Inside the projection booth at the Music Box and behind the [platter system?] projector at the Galva Autovue outdoor theater in Western Illinois. [confidential to the Trib, why no embedding option or updated posts on the YouTube channel?]
So, yes, Nirvana's Nevermind, 20 years old as of September 24, which was also Jim Henson's birthday. Which makes this post a few days tardy. Oh, well. Whatever. It was an important album to me in college. And Henson was an important man to me from the cradle on. Plus, the cinetrix can finally watch 1991: The Year Punk Broke again and thrill anew to the spectacle of gangling Thurston Moore wandering a European city he's never been to before, confident of finding the indie record store. Flimsy excuses one and all to post the following:
Ken Cancelosi and Matt Zoller Seitz celebrate the enduring comedic partnership of Jim Henson and Frank Oz.
And longtime Boston radio fixture Oedipus has been working on an ongoing project, which includes this bad-ass Afro-Cuban cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Twenty-year-old photos of Kurt originally posted by Mary Lou Lord last week on Facebook, who wrote "Found a camera in a black cab an hour before the London show. Snap I took. I love the hands. Anyway, I have more pics coming on Sunday. A friend of mine found them. I am the most disorganized person in the world and I had lost the pics. It's nice to know someone took care of them...xo"
Movie-watching for me is frequently a solitary pursuit. [Movie-going? Somestimes, yes. Sometimes, no.] Occasionally, though, the 'Fesser will suggest we eat "like Americans" [that is, in front of the television] and asks if there's anything to watch. Last night, the answer was Bill Cunningham New York, which neither of us had seen. I'd imagine any city dwellers who have days when Manhattan feels too damn big or they feel so damn small should have this lovely portrait of a singular man tucked next to their bottled water, in case of an emergency. Expat New Englanders yearning for the soft accents that sound like childhood should also watch, if only for the pang of saudade that'll pierce them right through the heart whenever Bill says "half."
Elsewhere, that certain look of isolation:
Later, when movies took over practically every aspect of my existence, I started mentally collecting movies that had a look that made me feel good, safe, contented. It wasn’t always stark and desolate but it did always have a feeling of isolation, even if there were plenty of people around. Oddly enough, judging from the early attraction to the Road Runner’s desert locales, the westerns of John Ford didn’t give me that same sense. They certainly fulfilled all of my cinephile needs as so many of them are masterpieces but not my “certain look” needs. Perhaps there was too much energy going on within the films to get that feeling. It’s there, a little bit, in The Searchers but only in the all-too brief winter scenes. But mainly, it’s because I didn’t want the desert-sun-shining-feeling at all. I wanted the isolation, yes, but mixed in with grey clouds and damp weather. It’s just that, at seven, the Road Runner was the best I could do; it gave me the isolation but not the right weather. Which is why if I had to point to a western that gives me that feeling in spades, it’s Shane. The look of Shane relaxes me. It comforts me. It feels removed from the rest of the world and the character of Shane, himself, feels removed from the rest of the world as well. It’s as if that small settlement exists in another universe and despite all the bad things happening there, feels good. Quiet, isolated, removed.
B. Kite places Vigo's Zéro de conduite on a continuum between two terms: ludus and paidia.
An isolated child can be wheedled, goaded, or tricked into a performance—film lore is full of anecdotes of each approach. But en masse, children assume their own momentum, and far from seeking to contain this, Vigo made it the driving force of his film. In a way, the movie might be said to exist to provide a loose, unbinding frame for the cluttered and uncontrolled action of the dormitory riot. All of its branchings lead back and forth from that utopian space, and so must any discussion of it.
[W]e’re introduced to a sensibility for which all borders are porous: inside and outside, male and female, human and animal, body and world, animate and inanimate, perhaps even life and death. This is paidia in its purest form. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the school authorities are so immersed in their rule sets that they’ve come to take them for eternal verities. They are wholly creatures of limit, frozen in a set of grotesque postures. Where paidia blends, ludus sets apart...
Call the doctor:
Last weekend, the Wellcome Trust celebrated 75 years of medicine on screen by transforming the Truman Brewery into a 1980s hospital, complete with a therapy on film ward. Here, visitors were offered consultations with a "doctor" who prescribed a healthy dose of film to cure your malaise. I've long suspected the only effective treatment for the common cold is repeated doses of romcom to be applied on the sofa, but can film really make us feel better?
Finally, celebrate the cinema of seasonal affective disorder with the Style Rookie.
the telephone is always for you. That's what I named a mixtape for a pal who first took me to see Stalker at Facets a millennium ago. And it's also the flimsy excuse on which I hang what my favorite flaming fashion bloggers refer to as your daily dose of pretty.
Splendid news of two new databases, courtesy of the H-Film folks. Like, Oprah should be introducing this news at top holler.
There the Media History Digital Library, which is HUGE! How huge? Peep this collection:
1938. Vol 1 | Read | Download | IA Page
1939. Vol 2 | Read | Download | IA Page
1940-1941. Vol 3 | Read | Download |IA Page
1942-1944. Vol 4-5 | Read | Download |IA Page
1944-1946. Vol 6-7 | Read | Download |IA Page
1947-1948. Vol 8-9 | Read | Download |IA Page
1949-1950. Vol 10-11 | Read | Download |IA Page
1951-1952. Vol 12-13 | Read | Download |IA Page
1953. Vol 14 | Read | Download | IA Page
1954. Vol 15 | Read | Download | IA Page
1955. Vol 16 | Read | Download | IA Page
1956. Vol 17 | Read | Download | IA Page
1957. Vol 18 | Read | Download | IA Page
1958. Vol 19 | Read | Download | IA Page
1959-1960. Vol 20-21 | Read | Download | IA Page
1961-1962. Vol 22-23 | Read | Download | IA Page
1963-1965. Vol 24-25 | Read | Download | IA Page
1965-1966. Vol 26-27 | Read | Download | IA Page
1967. Vol 28 | Read | Download | IA Page
1968. Vol 29 | Read | Download | IA Page
1969. Vol 30 | Read | Download | IA Page
1970. Vol 31 | Read | Download |IA Page
1971-1973. Vol 32-34 | Read | Download |IA Page
Feb-Dec 1929. Vol 1 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1930. Vol 2 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1931. Vol 3 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1932. Vol 4 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1933. Vol 5 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1934. Vol 6 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1935. Vol 7 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1936. Vol 8 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1937. Vol 9 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1938. Vol 10 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1939. Vol 11 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1940. Vol 12 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan-Dec 1941. Vol 13 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1922-Dec 1922. Vol 1 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1923-Dec 1923. Vol 2 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1924-Dec 1925. Vol 3-4 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1926-Dec 1927. Vol 5-6 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1928-Dec 1929. Vol 7-8 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1930-Dec 1931. Vol 9-10 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1932-Dec 1932. Vol 11 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1933-Dec 1933. Vol 12 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1934-Dec 1934. Vol 13 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1935-Dec 1935. Vol 14 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1936-Dec 1936. Vol 15 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1937-Dec 1937. Vol 16 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1938-Dec 1938. Vol 17 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1939-Dec 1939. Vol 18 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1940-Dec 1940. Vol 19 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1941-Dec 1941. Vol 20 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1942-Dec 1942. Vol 21 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1943-Dec 1943. Vol 22 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1944-Dec 1945. Vol 23-24 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1946-Dec 1947. Vol 25-26 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1948-Dec 1949. Vol 27-28 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1951-Dec 1952. Vol 30-32 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1953-Dec 1956. Vol 33-35 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1957-Dec 1958. Vol 36-37 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1959-Dec 1960. Vol 38-39 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1961-Dec 1962. Vol 40-41 | Read | Download | IA Page
Oct 1942-Jul 1945. Vol 2-4 | Read | Download | IA Page
Oct 1945-Jul 1948. Vol 5-7 | Read | Download | IA Page
Oct 1948-Jul 1950. Vol 8-9 | Read | Download | IA Page
Oct 1950-Oct 1952. Vol 10-11 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1953-Oct 1954. Vol 12-13 | Read | Download | IA Page
Jan 1955-Oct 1957. Vol 14-16 | Read | Download | IA Page
May-Oct 1922. Vol 1 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1922-Apr 1923. Vol 2 | Read | Download | IA Page
May 1923-Oct 1923. Vol 3 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1923-Apr 1924. Vol 4 | Read | Download | IA Page
May 1924-Oct 1924. Vol 5 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1924-Apr 1925. Vol 6 | Read | Download | IA Page
May 1925-Oct 1925. Vol 7 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1925-Apr 1926. Vol 8 | Read | Download | IA Page
May 1926-Oct 1926. Vol 9 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1926-Apr 1927. Vol 10 | Read | Download | IA Page
May 1927-Oct 1927. Vol 11 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1927-Apr 1928. Vol 12 | Read | Download | IA Page
May 1928-Oct 1928. Vol 13 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1928-Apr 1929. Vol 14 | Read | Download | IA Page
May 1929-Oct 1929. Vol 15 | Read | Download | IA Page
Nov 1929-Apr 1930. Vol 16 | Read | Download | IA Page
Sep 1945-May 1946. Vol 1 | Read | Download | IA Page
Oct 1946-May 1947. Vol 2 | Read | Download | IA Page
Sep 1947-June 1948. Vol 3 | Read | Download | IA Page
Sep 1948-June 1950. Vol 4-5 | Read | Download | IA Page
Oct 1950-Apr 1952. Vol 6-7 | Read | Download | IA Page
Sep 1952-Dec 1953. Vol 7-8 | Read | Download | IA Page
CineFiles contains scanned images of reviews, press kits, festival and showcase program notes, newspaper articles, and other documents from the PFA Library's extensive collection covering world cinema, past and present. Citations are available for all documents, and page images are available for documents with copyright clearance. New titles and document images are added daily.
CineFiles currently includes documents on the films of more than 150 major international directors, materials describing silent Soviet cinema, and PFA's unique collection of exhibitor manuals, among other documents.
Here's just one example I found in the educator's portal under Bay Area avant-garde:
Guacamole - Strand, Chick - Mexico - 1976 (7 documents)
Dig in, cinephages!
So, in my more academic nerdy day-job guise, I recently pulled together a little sumthin' with smaht pals and acquaintainces about the recent plague of Bahstan movies and what that muthahfackin' accent might signify about things like class and white masculinity...
Anyhoo, that conversation was still ringing in my ears when the 'Fesser gulled me into watching sports with him over the weekend, and that ad for Madden12 came on. The one up there. And also this one, and this one, and this one. Yah gottah be muthafackin' kiddin' me, right? That couldn't possibly actually be Affleck, could it? Even though his acting/directorial forays into the wilds of Southie [and Chahhls-town] have paid off for the Cantabridgian in the past. Nah, probably Billy West [serriously, treat yahself and click through] or some other vocal talent.
Oh, no. It's Affleck, all right. I guess he needed some extra scratch with a third kiddo on the way? And how better to staht that 529 for Violet and Seraphina's younger sib than cashing in on your working-class white guy impersonation.
That sort of thing seems to be going around these days. Witness Canuck ex-Mouseketeer Ryan Gosling's mook mumble.
In honor of the grande dame of rom-com chick flicks, here's a bit of snark prompted by SJP's latest [based on Mrs. Anthony Lane's best-seller, no less]
If Stan Brakhage can create a movie literally out of dead moths, then humor can surely be extracted from the first-world problems of an investment strategist with a desire to better balance life and career. Wishful thinking.
Granted, it’s narrated by a cat named Paw-Paw who cloys with Yoda-lite musings like, “I’m cat of nobody, I’m not even cat, I’m not even I” (even more cloying: he’s voiced by July, who also plays the protagonist, Sophie). Granted, this is the kind of movie where people bond over cloud formations and say things like, “Your footsteps and your movements sound happy.” Granted, any screaming here is reserved for release and used as an impractical attempt at practical communication (Sophie unleashes to check if a stranger she’s talking to on the phone can hear her from her house). Granted that said confrontation is mostly delivered by mumble. But make no mistake that the confrontation is absolutely there. July has referred to “The Future” as her version of a horror movie, and this is true in the most fundamental, interactive way possible: It is painful to sit through.
**The Anthropologie catalogue could not resist the siren song of In the Mood for Love.
Reverse Shot has dedicated its entire 30th issue to bringing the pain. Recommended Simply the Worst entries [on the worst work in filmmakers' oeuvres] include but are by no means limited to The Ladykillers*, The Life Aquatic, Light of Day, and My Blueberry Nights.**
There are some days when the cinetrix feels like the only person on earth who still remembers the early, smarmy work of Mr. Hanks. All this Saint Tom shit makes me want to projectile vomit. The last movie of his I deigned to see in the theatre was Forrest Gump. I was on a first [and last] date with someone really keen to see it, and to my eternal chagrin, I didn't press hard enough to see The Client, our other option, instead, because, c'mon, The Client? It was meagre consolation that I did not have to pay for my ticket, given that I'll never have back the 142 minutes that Republican Party commercial for conformity and unquestioning loyalty [and against promiscuity and casual drug use--bye, bye Jenny!] took from me.
Hanks is just a self-satisfied, bloated showboater. Acting in a Coen Brothers movie doesn't give him any sort of cred, it just serves to remind the audience how much the success of any of the brothers' past pastiche souffles rose and fell on the work of the character actors that popped in and out of the ensemble--Buscemi, Goodman, Turturro, McDormand, Jon Polito.
The Ladykillers feels like a summer stock version of a Coen Brothers movie. Forget asking how well the remake stands up to the original Ealing comedy. There is no joy, no sense of getting away with anything here. Even J.K. Simmons [Garth Pancake] seems like pale simulacra of the late [and more talented] Michael Jeter. The knowing winks and nods of the past have been replaced with a heavy-lidded, flinty-eyed stare that says to the audience, even if you hate this movie, it's still gonna make shitloads of money. Suck it up, true believers.
Whit Stillman talks Damsels. [via]
Cracked speaks truth to power on cine-lady cliches with "6 Obnoxious Assumptions Hollywood Makes About Women." I know, right? Who woulda thought there'd be a Venn diagram where that august mag overlapped with Dykes to Watch Out For's Bechdel test? Anyway, one of the six:
The problem with putting a character on the screen that a normal woman can identify with means that they'll have to be Hollywood fat (average sized) and Hollywood ugly (normal looking), and people don't pay ten bucks to go to a theater and see that business.
But if you make your lady character too perfect, nobody in the audience can identify with her. You can't compromise on the looks or the weight, obviously. You can't compromise by giving her a realistic job. She can't be a jerk, or the audience won't root for her. If you're doing one of those career vs. personal life plots, then her flaw is that she loves her career too much, so you got that cut out for you. Any other plot, the only option you've got left is to make her clumsy.
That's why pretty much all romantic comedy women are clumsy. Like Jessica Alba in Good Luck Chuck, Amy Adams in Leap Year, Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality... oh hell here's a montage.
Not entirely unrelated, Thelma Adams calls bullshit on Carey Mulligan's Drive 'do:
And then enter Carey Mulligan as Irene, exsqueeze me, a Denny’s waitress with a kid. And a husband in prison. Living in a squat downtown motel suitable for Charles Bukowski. No offense to Mulligan, but she’s so miscast –so dewy not dingy. It’s a reflection of the filmmakers’ enormous blind spot that they think no one will notice, or care.
Irene’s blond highlights and bob alone would cost $500. And what’s she doing with that thug Standard (Oscar Isaac) for a husband? He’s in prison and runs with a gang. She says they met at a party, and I had to wonder where was the party? Oxbridge? When Gosling’s Driver takes her and her kid for a spin on the L.A. River, she reacts with a level of joy that borders on the autistic spectrum, as if she’s an alien experiencing her first day in a human body.
Perhaps it only goes back to what the actress Patricia Arquette said to me before her career revival on Medium: men cast women on the basis of fuckability. Mulligan is new meat.
Yowza! Speaking of fuckability, Nicholas Barker builds a case for the "romp-com":
For the past decade, most Hollywood rom-coms have been devoid of both comedy and romance. They’ve had elaborately contrived plots involving bets, tricks and lies. They’ve featured endless misunderstandings, all of which could have been cleared up if the characters had ever been honest with each other. They’ve had tearful fallings out, followed instantly by tearful reunions. Of course these films are not really about love, or even about romance. Rather, they are showcases for perfect bodies in fabulous clothes and designer apartments—the real stars of every other scene.
For a modern rom-com to be even halfway decent, it has to have some vague resemblance to reality—just one what-if away from our own lives. Watching “When Harry Met Sally”, we know that two platonic friends could fall in love. Watching “Chasing Amy”, we accept that a repressed man could be discomfited by his girlfriend’s bisexuality. Watching “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, we sympathise because, in the pre-Facebook age, a man could be smitten by a stranger at a wedding and then have no contact with her until another wedding weeks later. But no one, before or after watching “Life As We Know It”, has ever asked, “What if your best friends were killed and you were granted joint custody of their baby along with an attractive, single person you hated—oh, and you had to share an immaculately furnished mansion with them?” Rarely has a title been less appropriate.
Amen. Moving along... My pal Penny Pascal did a whole thesis on the concept of the girl crush, so I guess it's OK for me to crush out on Rookie [which is looking for a new managing editor! Holler at your girl, Tavi! I would gladly give you my copy of Sassy with Juliana Hatfield on the cover for that gig!] in public, and especially its movie and TV posts thus far.
On television, you’re supposed to keep your eyes on the heroine. She’s the one breaking rules and beating odds, the one falling in and out of love, the one with the affectations that are swallowed up and internalized by millions of enamored viewers, who tuck their hair behind their ears and bite their lips just so for years in her honor, sometimes without even knowing it. She is the twisted mirror, and you are supposed to see in her all of the things you see in yourself, or all of the things you hope are within you, somewhere under a layer of apprehension. She is supposed to be everyone. And she always has at least one great friend.
I am going to ask you a favor: will you do this for me? The next time you watch a show with a female lead, keep an eye out for her sidekicks. Watch the way she treats them, and how they treat her. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat their friends. And you can learn a lot about heroics by watching more than the heroine of the story. The best friend, the sidekick, has heart, wisdom and kindness. It is important, I think, to remember that just as much as you are the hero of your own story, you are also, at times, the supporting cast. Not that I’m telling you to take a backseat, you superstar, you: I am telling you that you have many roles in your life, and any real heroine can recognize the importance of learning how to be a good friend.
Awwww! Seriously, I love this site so far. Haters can take it elsewhere.