February 28, 2005

Oscars, The Morning After

jake_gyllenhaal130.jpeJust a little gratuitous Jake Gyllenhaal with shaved head on the red carpet picture action for all of you fans out there. CC still hearts Jake but this shaved head thing is not not working for us. Grow back those lovely locks soon, Jakie. [via Yahoo! photo galleries]

A full list of the winners, in case you needed something more official than our spotty list in our live blog of the event.

Also, Defamer live blogged the telecast from the west coast. Try not to cry from laughing while reading it, this behavior looks suspicious at work.

Regarding the Sideways win for Best Adapted Screenplay and the novelist's struggles while writing the book:

[Rex] Pickett's financial situation was so dire that he often faced eviction from his apartment as he struggled with the aftermath of the breakup of his marriage and the deaths of his mother and agent. So he decided to write a novel about himself, a failed novelist who retreats to wine.

"Miles' story really is my story," Pickett admitted recently. "At one point, the landlord was going to evict me because the rent was three weeks late, and I told him I couldn't pay it because my mother had died. He said, 'That's what you told me six months ago.' " [via Variety]

Yay for the literary underdog having his day at the Oscars!

Posted by karen at 12:18 PM |

February 27, 2005

Cinecultist Live Blogs the Oscars

Three hours is quite a long time to spend on the couch watching Hollywood's brightest parade about in their borrowed frocks. Maybe this is our cranky art house movie side talking, but every year the Academy Awards awards ceremony seems to just gets longer, more formulaic and more onanistic. Yet we still can't stop being compelled by the US Weekly-ish nature of the coverage of it. It really is a sickness.

Last year, CC chatted with fashion blogger Megastyles about the Joan and Melissa Rivers post-show coverage but this year in honor of the potential shake-ups brought on by, gasp, a black man hosting, we thought we'd live blog it. Something post-worthy could happen every few minutes during the telecast, right? If so, we'll be prepared to report. So, we're set: comfie drawstring velour pants, a 2 liter of Diet Coke for energy and plenty of pillows on the couch to cover our eyes and ears when it all gets too ass-kissing for words. Bring it on Chris Rock, Cinecultist is ready for you.

8:31 pm -- God, We Love Movies montage #1. Dustin Hoffman and classical music keeps the back patting grounded, sorta. Charlie Chaplin footage cut in with Shrek and an Eminem soundtrack, totally odd.

8:34 pm -- Chris merits a standing O. He tells them, "Sit yo asses down." Rocky V joke. Awesome monologue. So much better than Bily Crystal tap dancing or something. Pootie Tang reference, with the punch line "After seeing it, Cuba Gooding Jr. sent me a check for $80." Hope there was a bit of squirming in the audience when Chris talks about the state of black depiction in film.

8:44 pm -- Art Direction. We bet this is the beginning of The Aviator's small technical sweep. Yup, we were right. Who are these people with the cute Italian accents? They know Marty, that's all the Academy needs to know.

8:50 pm -- Best Supporting Actor presented by Renee with very dark brown ah-ctress hair. It should be Alan Alda, but it will probably be Morgan Freeman with his serious actor look. We do lurve Clive Owen though. God damn, he's hot. We were right, it's Morgan. Morgan hearts Clint Eastwood, in case you didn't know.

8:54 pm -- Robin Williams, that is the scariest color shirt we've ever seen but you still know how to do the celeb impression. Animated Feature, if the Incredibles doesn't win we're going to sic Edna on the Academy. Yay! Brad Bird is a genius! And so very affable.

9:00 pm -- Why is Cate Blanchett standing in the audience giving her little talk? This blocking is very distracting. We've already forgotten what the category is but Lemony Snicket won. Oh, Make up. Wait, now they're accepting from the audience. No waiting for them to climb the stairs? Guess that will help shave off some moments from the telecast.

9:03 pm -- Drew Barrymore, annunciate hon as you read that teleprompter. You can do it. Beyonce sings in French sporting some quite bright green eyeshadow. Almost as wrong as Robin's cerise shirt earlier.

9:11 pm -- Chris Rock does a Jay Walking thing where he talks to black people at Magic Johnson theater in LA. They love Saw and Chronicles of Riddick but they haven't seen Million Dollar Baby. They also loved White Chicks. We love the real people giving acceptance speeches. So freakin' cute.

9:13 pm -- Scarlett Johansen reports on presenting the boring categories, ie. the technical awards. Bathroom break and Diet Coke refill time!

9:15 pm -- Even hunky Pierce Brosnan and dah-ling animated Edna along side him presenting Costume award still isn't enough to interest in this category. We'll just rest our eyes for a mo. The Aviator again? That's how these kind of movies end up with video boxes that say 11 Oscar wins on them.

9:19 pm -- Tim Robbins gives the Best Supporting Actress. Cate was wonderful as Kate, but actually everyone was great in this category. We think it'll be Sophie Okenado though as a sop to Hotel Rwanda. First one we were wrong on, it was Cate. Her husband thinks its cheesy to be thanked in an acceptance speech. Wow, he looks totally regular guy in comparison to her movie star looks. Rock on regular looking dude!

9:27 pm -- Carson tribute. Sniff.

9:30 pm -- Leonardo diCaprio on Docu Feature. Could it be little Morgan Spurlock who goes home with it? It was Born Into Brothels, the other docu in this category we actually saw.

9:32 pm -- Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom on Film Editing. Kirsten, hair too blonde! Hurts our eyes! Freakin' Aviator again. Thanking Marty, again.

9:34 pm -- Mike Myers quotes Bazin and Godard and then makes a fart joke in his intro to the best song nominee from Shrek 2. Adam Durtz, dear lord what is that hairdo? You look like one of those Play-doh push ups.

9:43 pm -- Adam Sandler does a lame bit with Chris where Chris pretends to be Catherine Zeta-Jones. Don't ask, it's not worth it. Adapted Screenplay. Sideways. Sandra Oh goes nuts in her seat. Totally deserved. Cut away to Thomas Haden Church and the fakest looking smile ever.

9:46 pm -- Jake Gyllenhaal and Ziyi Zhang. Jake, what'd you do to your lovely hair? Is this supposed to be concentration camp chic? Couldn't you visual effects on a better do? Nominees standing in a line of awkwardness on stage. Why? More weirdo blocking. Spiderman 2, whatevs.

9:50 pm -- Al Pacino gives the honorary Oscar to Sidney Lumet. Pronounced "Lou-met" apparently, not "Lou-meh." Huh. Al, you are so freaking boring with your stories about Sidney. We're going to go clean our bathtub during the montage.

10:04 pm -- Emmy Rossum announce the best song nom from her film, The Phantom of the Opera the one Oscar nommed film we refused to see on Aaron's warning. More Beyonce singing this time in a more reasonable set of eye makeup and dress combo (see: 1960s). Girl has a nice set of pipes.

10:04 pm -- Chris called Jeremy Irons a "comedy superstar." Heh. Live Action short. Now onto cleaning the dishes in the sink! They're doing Animated Short too. See our readers' comments from the Gothamist post on Friday for more thoughtful commentary than we have on this category.

10:15 pm -- Kate Winslet (gorgeous!) announces Cinematography and big surprise, another cotton pickin' win for The Aviator.

10:20 pm -- PriceWaterHouse accountants joke: get it, they look like 7 ft tall black bouncers but they're supposed be accountants. Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek, looking weirdly alike with their spikey up hairdoes, give the Sound Mixing award. Hey! Something for Ray. Only vaguely exciting because it's not The Avaitor again. Now, Sound Editing. This is the battle of the goofy Latina accents at the podium. The Incredibles again. Yay, again. When is this movie coming out on DVD? We're totally buying it.

10:35 pm -- Nathalie Portman needs some tweezer action. She's announcing the Documentary Short Subject nominees and she "applaudes them." Oy, could she be any more faux serious? Go back to that Ivy League uni, you poser!

10:39 pm -- John Travolta, on comeback # 5 gazillion, announces the Best Score nominees and Finding Neverland gets one. Jan Kazcmerck has a cute Eastern European accent, and has a serious looking wife with some serious specks that he's just thanked. He's also thanked Harvey Weinstein, detente at work.

10:42 pm -- Marty baby, we love you, as does everyone else in this audience. He's giving another honorary award. Look there's some footage of film cannisters ravaged by vinegar syndrome, neat. That's super geeked out.

10:48 pm -- Yoyo Ma on the cello as we watch the movie tribute montage "In Memorium". It's such a popularity contest. Everyone claps politely for The Gipper. Elmer Bernstein gets more love. Jerry Orbach, the audience is even louder. Janet Leigh, and Christopher Reeves big favorites as was Ossie Davis. Tony Randall died? We didn't realize that. Huh. Finally, Marlon Brando gets a whole bunch of images. He must have been important or something.

Are we nearing the end here? The Diet Coke high is starting to wear off.

10:56 pm -- Sean "Don't Mention Any of His Nicknames" Combs must have more money/influence than God, he's out here announcing another song nominee, "Believe" from The Polar Express. Josh Grobin, snore, and more Beyonce now in a sparkling silver get up. Look, fake snow. And the smoke machine. It's movie magic on stage.

11:00 pm -- Prince in purple (didn't know he had an Oscar didja?) announcing the song winner in the most bored monotone ever. The Motorcycle Diaries, one of our favorites from last year won. That's nice. But now he's singing as his acceptance speech in Spanish. Deduction of cool points.

11:03 pm -- Sean Penn, out here defending Jude Law (Wha? Joke, dude. Joke.) and giving the Best Actress. We're going with Hilary Swank, though we wish it'd be Imelda Staunton. We were so right. Hilary looks regal in navy and she's such a neat woman. We love her at CC's day job. Aww, she's crying. And she thanked her publicist Troy Nankin as the music played. Adorable, she called him her best friend.

11:13 pm -- Gwyneth Paltrow looks awful purdy in peach, she's announcing best foreign language film. We're boycotting a guess in solidarity for Pedro Almodovar who was robbed. The Sea Inside, which we haven't seen. We have a Javier Bardem thing, don't ask. Oops, they put Amenabar too far back, he had to run up to the stage.

11:16 pm -- Original Screenplay should be given to Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Whoopie, and they got it. Kate Winslet is excited too, she yelped. These guys are so brilliant, we can hardly stand it. Get off the stage, so you can make more movies Charlie and Michel.

11:23 pm -- Winding down, thank god. Charlize Theron, also brunette, this is the big trend this year, on the Best Actor. Sigh, we want Don Cheadle. Could it be Jamie Foxx, the favorite for the last few months, or Clint Eastwood, who we've noted a swell of support for lately? We're guessing Clint. It's Jamie. The love held out and the standing ovation proves it. When he says in the thanks to his managers "living this African American dream," we see a raised power fist from Oprah. Tears for his grandmother who whipped him, sweet but verging into the Too Much Information category Jamie.

11:32 pm -- Julia Roberts on the best directors. We're guessing Marty. Whoa, dissed again. Clint Eastwood won for Million Dollar Baby. She got him with the lipstick. Looks, it's Clint's mom. Cute. She's 96. Clint thinks he's just a kid, in relation to Sidney Lumet who's 80. We're feeling the love for Clint here, this is nice.

11:36 pm -- Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand on the Best Picture of the Year. Our guess goes for The Aviator, since it was shut out of the majors up until now not because we particularly liked it. Wrong again, more affection for Million Dollar Baby. The producer wants a slice of lemon pie with the real filling, nice reference. They all hobble off the stage.

Say goodnight Chris. Goodnight Chris. "Goodnight Brooklyn, yo."

Nothing too shocking here sadly enough but only 11 minutes over the allotted trois heures so we should be relieved. Not bad for a night's work and with that, the Cinecultist signs off from the Eee Vee.

Posted by karen at 11:44 PM |

February 25, 2005

"Oh Matthew Modine, We Think That You Are Peachy Keen"

Gross Anatomy posterThe performance last night at Tonic by Ben Lee of the song "Matthew Modine" by the Canadian band Pony Up really made the Cinecultist giggle like a schoolgirl.

Back in the day, when we referred to Modine merely as "The Haircut," he was a part of that group of actors who could do no wrong in our 14 year old eyes. The magazine clippings were up inside the bedroom closet, that's how you knew. (This group also included Harrison Ford, Luke Perry and Christian Slater. Pump Up the Volume? Hello?)

After some poking around on the web we bring you a few of the choice lyrics below and a recording of the song from Lee's show at the Knitting Factory last June. Happy Friday and we'll see you back here on Monday for some post-Oscars analysis!

Well, it's hard to get through medical school, but you did because you fuckin' rule. You seduced a girl at the Motor Inn come on', come on', come on', come on', come on' live with us in sin.

You're a double veteran and you've been on Letterman.
At the Academy Awards you have rudely been ignored,
And your middle name is Avery
And you are an Aries
And you just turned 43
so save some birthday cake for me.

Ben Lee - "Matthew Modine"

[Thanks to Jen for the invite! CC thinks you're peachy keen too, though of course not in the same way as Matthew Modine.]

Posted by karen at 9:01 AM |

February 24, 2005

RIP: Simone Simon

simone simon

Goodnight sweet Simone Simon, dark-eyed French cinema ingénue of the late ‘30s and '40s. There was more to you than your role in The Cat People, Cinecultist knows. Paper of record, our ass! Doesn’t the obits writer for the freakin' NYT know how to use Imdb.com? Simon also starred opposite Jean Gabin (aka The Man) in Jean Renoir’s commercial smash and Cahiers du Cinema fave, La Bête Humaine, an adaptation of the Emile Zola novel.

We know its super film geeky to get upset about this sort of over sight. Really, it could happen to any writer not abreast in Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 1000 Essential Films or familiar with the collected reviews of François Truffaut. But a masters in cinema studies does this to you – that needling feeling when you read about something film history related and you’re pretty sure there’s some essential factoid missing. It’s like a mental vegetable fiber caught between two molars. A bit of poking around on the internet yields the information that was on the tip of your brain and then there’s the realization you knew something that a New York Times writer plus their fact checking team didn’t know. It’s a heady emotion. Sure, it’s a schoolyard “nyah-nyah” feeling but a powerful one nonetheless.

Anyhow, to live to be 93 like Simon did is a good ripe age, worthy of a silent film geek salute. Is that a hand on the hip, a cocked chin and two fingers or three from the forehead, do you think?

Related: Essay about Jean Renoir from Sense of Cinema, our favorite online source for in depth film crit and history. And the Literature/Film Quarterly article "Colliding with history in La Bete Humaine: Reading Renoir's Cinecriture." [link warning: heavy on the lit criticism, not for the faint of heart]

Posted by karen at 8:13 AM |

February 23, 2005

Pop A Pill At Pianos

Lindsay Robertson's Ritalin Reading Series continues tonight at Piano's on the Lower East Side, and damn it, Cinecultist is finally going to attend. It's bloggers, it's short bits read aloud, it's free -- how could we not have gone down there before? Crazy.

Anyhow, some of the most notorious online literary voices will be on stage this evening including Will Leitch, Jessica Coen, Alex Balk and our blog crush du jour, aka Bob of My Blog Is Poop. The Lionel Ritchie post? And then Scott Stereogum's pictorial response? Classique. We're going to sit real close and act like a blogging groupie. Maybe we'll even ask for a body part to be autographed. [via]

UPDATE: Three and a half glasses of wine plus listening to JP heckle various readers does not equal a very thoughtful, socially astute Cinecultist. Just in case you were wondering.

Posted by karen at 8:13 AM |

February 22, 2005

Short Student Film in Williamsburg

Sunday afternoon, post-brunch, post-Barney's Warehouse Sale Cinecultist and our buddy William ducked out of the freezing wind into the L train for Williamsburg. William in Williamsburg? Coincidence, honest.

At Galapagos on North Sixth Street, we drink a beer and cranberry seltzer respectively, while we wait for the screening to begin. Folding chairs, little glass cups filled with goldfish crackers and projected video art fill the backroom along with the cast, crew and friends of. A packed house for this premiere screening of Lutkoski Fishsticks, a short film by former NYU student Matt Lambert. The crowd whoops it up for him, as the budding auteur takes to the stage. There really is nothing like an audience filled with people pre-disposed to love your work because they're your friends or relatives.

With the sensibility of David Lynch's Eraserhead mating with Jean-Pierre's Delicatessen, Lutkoski Fishsticks tells a sweet sci-fi tinged tale of a fishsticks factory inhabited by its motley workers and an unwelcome midnight snacker. Lambert's work has a higher production value than you'd expect from a low budget short and an obvious attention to detail lends a stylized flare to the whole project. A quick google search lead to mp3s of the soundtrack by Nico Muhly (no relation to the Velvet Underground, or so we could tell).

After a beer at 5 pm, of course CC is going to be well disposed towards a fresh faced film and its enthusiastic filmmaking team. It was easy to overlook the poor quality of the digital projection and to find the non-sync sound used (ie. no real dialogue, just pantomime and a non-diegetic soundtrack) sweet. To compare Lambert's work to Jeunet and Lynch may sound like we're saying we saw a potential new genius behind the lens, and for that it is surely much too soon to judge. However, there was something there. Must we expect more from a first go and a Sunday afternoon in a hipster-y art space? Viva la short films!

A Few Short Film Venues of Note: Ocularis on Sundays at Galapagos, Nami & Johnny K's Superfilm Tuesday nights at DEKK in Tribeca and Pioneer Theater on Avenue A.

Posted by karen at 10:56 PM |

February 16, 2005

Wednesday Night Plans, A Sophie's Choice

What to do? What to do? Two activities for those below 14th Street tonight in New York:

Cleo From 5 to 7

French New Wave director Agnès Varda sits in for a Q&A following her new film, Cinévardaphoto's 6:30 pm screening at Film Forum and will introduce the movie before the 8:20 pm show. How exciting is that? She was married to and collaborated with Jacques Demy! She made Cleo From 5 to 7 (pictured) and Vagabond, two of Cinecultist's all time faves from our cinema studies schooling!


Gothamist Movable Hype 2.0 is also tonight at the Knitting Factory featuring Elkland, the Information, Other Passengers and the Cloud Room plus the dj stylings of two music bloggers CC's always trying to discretely pump for new CD recommendations when we see them, Stereogum and Coolfer. Mp3s for the bands available via the Gothamist link. This is also the two year birthday party for Gothamist complete with LES baked yummy cupcakes so it should be quite the bash.

Of course much of this social life hemming and hawwing is a bit mute because of our late night schedule at work but our dear readers should go out and enjoy themselves on the town. Just don't send us too many "wish you were here, this rocks!" text messages, it makes Cinecultist weepy.

Posted by karen at 8:59 AM |

February 15, 2005

What People Will Watch When Pickings Are Slim

On Saturday, quite a few other people had the same idea as the Cinecultist — to visit the Union Square cineplex for a movie. A whole snaking line nearly out the door and two long queues filling up the pay by credit card vestibule, plus a sold out 5:10 pm showing of Bride and Prejudice. As we stood there, still a bit shell shocked from the humanity overload in that lobby and trying to figure out what to do next, we started to eavesdrop on the animated conversation behind us. Two young men, college-aged and with the look of Dave Matthews Band fandom about them, were raving about how excited they were to see Hitch. Had we stumbled into a wormhole on Broadway and 13th Street? Two straight-seeming guys, with no girls in tow, psyched for a rom com? What kind of movie twilight zone had we entered here?

With this oddly placed recommendation in mind, we bought a ticket for the Will Smith and Eva Mendes flick, despite the misappropriation of the Master of Suspense’s nickname in the title. To our surprise, Hitch succeeds as a result of numerous small elements done deftly. A bunch of choice New York exteriors (look, Eva lives around the corner from our office!), character-driven as well as slapstick comedy and sweet little performances from unlikely pairings (ie. chubby comic Kevin James believably wooing former model Amber Valetta).

From Carla Meyer’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle which sums up well another aspect of its appeal—

Hitch' has served up a duo we didn't know we were missing: well-drawn, sharp, gorgeous characters of color in a big-budget romantic comedy. These are parts that usually go to Jim Carrey and Sandra Bullock, but this time they didn't, because Smith has enough clout to get a movie like this made. If five Oscar nominations for black actors represents a breakthrough, than so does "Hitch.'' The most satisfying part is that the movie's so good.

In summation, any movie which invents a dance move called "the Q-tip" can't be all bad.

Posted by karen at 8:54 AM |

February 13, 2005

NYC Has 'Gates' Fever

the gates, east side

Like everyone else in New York, Cinecultist has fallen for Christo and Jeanne-Claude, just in time for Valentine's Day. We <3 The Gates. As an art piece, it's such a beautiful expression of the love these two have for their adopted city. Walking through Central Park today, with seemingly every other person in town, our heart was full too. Amazing how just a little saffron fabric and weighted iron can transform our usual winter landscape into something spectacular. Unfortunately, our digital camera decided to up and die after only three pictures (the other two after the jump) which we guess means we have to go back another day too. Lucky us.

Our friend Adriane filled us up with Christo and Jeanne-Claude trivia over smoothies on Saturday. Just a few things we learned — the couple is exactly the same age, 69 and they were born on the same day! Christo in France and Jeanne-Claude in Bulgaria. Their projects are completely self funded, they pay for their construction with the proceeds from original drawings, photographs and collages derived from the projects. Everyone is paid who participates in the project, and they have their own type of groupies who travel the world to be a part of the work. As we mentioned on Friday over at Gothamist, the MoMA is showing all of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude documentaries over the next few weeks but they're also all available for rent at Kim's Video. Adriane recommends seeing the one about the wrapping of the Reichstag, a major project in the 70s.

Keith Plocek wrote about the cult of Christo last week on the Black Table. The full coverage in the New York Times. Janelle saw a few other orange things in the Park last week pre-unfurling, and Jake has some nice shots as well. Enjoy the loving and obsessive coverage via Gothamist.



Posted by karen at 11:09 PM |

February 12, 2005

Mr. Do and Mr. Don't Go To The Festival

Mr. Do & Mr. Don't

Artist and film critic M.E. Russell displays some movie etiquette with his characters Mr. Do and Mr. Don't in honor of the Portland International Film Festival starting this weekend. Click over to his blog CulturePulp, to read the entire series of strips then hang around to read his previous movie reviews published in the Oregonian and on DVD Journal.

His finely wrought characterization and gentle ribbing on our geeky subculture makes Cinecultist nostalgic for our days spent waiting in line in the alley alongside the Egyptian theater before Seattle International Film Festival screenings. Ahh, Northwest hipsters, how we miss you! You smell so much more working class than our trust fund-ish fellow residents of the Eee Vee.

[Thanks Michael for the link and the reprint permission. Just because one can control-click-save doesn't mean one should.]

Posted by karen at 2:23 PM |

February 10, 2005

For The Love Of Mike, Don't Hurt The Children

Cinecultist would like you to believe that our absence is because one can't blog from beneath the duvet, which is where we've been since watching Nobody Knows and Born Into Brothels recently. The children! The sweet, little children! So abused, so much hope dashed by this brutal world. Ok, that's it. We're going back. It's cozy under there and no will be abandoned by their selfish parents or forced into prostitution. See you in March.

Ha ha. Actually, the new Day Job sometimes makes it difficult to get around to cataloguing our viewings. Fed Ex tape recorders to A-List celebs' manager's assistants, answer the phone to discover a knighted pop legend on the other end, transcribe a brief interview wherein an awesome indie actress remembers your first name and BAM! Before you know it, the day is gone with no blogging done. Plus in this shoddy post-Oscar nom movie season, we've turned to our other love and have been on a bit of a music binge which will only be continuing this weekend. [If you care, the sched. — Ted Leo & acoustic Sufjan Stevens with the hipsterlettes* last night at Webster Hall. Swedish cutie Jens Lekman on Saturday, All Rattle and Dust on Sunday and then Kaiser Chiefs on Monday. Whew.]

But getting back to the films. We won't lie to you, these aren't really happy movies. This is cinema to slit your wrists to. But both Nobody Knows and Born Into Brothels will uplift, even as they try your faith in the goodness of humanity as only painful movies can. Despite being the documentary, and thus supposedly more "real," Brothels has a bit more hope built in as it's part of a traveling group of photographs made by the children in the film, all of which are for sale as a benefit to fund Calcutta red light district kids' educations. Nominated in the Best Documentary category for this year's Academy Awards, Brothels follows a small group of young photography students whose parents live and work in the red light district. Their teacher encourages them to capture their world even as she's teaching them to see it through the studied lens of the camera and some of their work is aesthetically breath-taking. Though of course the really compelling parts are when these charming children talk to the documentarian's camera about their heart-wrenching life experiences. Yet, these children don't seek the viewers pity, in fact the joy they find in the mundane details of their lives is utterly inspiring. The depressing part comes when we realize how quickly this joie de vivre will be snuffed by their inescapable circumstances.

Nobody Knows is a work of fiction which perhaps gives director Kore-eda Hirokazu more leeway to be emotionally brutal. Based on real-life events, the film follows four siblings abandoned by their mother in Tokyo and it won numerous prizes at last year's Cannes, including an acting award for the eldest boy. Similar to the working style of Mike Leigh, Kore-eda works without a set script during shooting and often with non or unexperienced actors who he follows with the camera relentlessly, seeking an unassuming, naturalistic performance. This movie is not for the faint of heart or those who cry when a poignant detergent commercial comes on television. The mother in this film is so childish and negligent, we wanted to leap through the screen to throttle her. This kind of parental evil reminds CC of the Flowers In The Attic books, only not gothic or incestuous. At fifteen, that kind of injustice seemed romantic but over a decade later, it just sucks out every ounce of energy we might have mustered to go to the movies in the first place. Hence, the crawl under the covers and don't come out until spring impulse we mentioned. While this movie-going experience may not be pleasurable per-se, we have to respect the filmmaker's ability to make us feel so deeply for these children. It won't be everyone's cup of tea but it's powerful nonetheless.

* Baby hipsters. Hipsters so little that when CC started being a hipster, these little ones were still slow dancing at junior high sock hops. These kids make us think we should hide the beer. They make us feel old.

Posted by karen at 11:05 PM |

February 7, 2005

Shatner -- You've Got Mail!

Remind Cinecultist not to tell our new co-workers about our blog, as then we'll have no safe place left to admit how incredibly gullible we are. Case in point: this afternoon our coworker Steve had us believing that for just $5.95 you could purchase an e-mail account on williamshatner.com. Can you picture it? Wouldn't it be geeky good fun to have yourname@williamshatner.com? Awesome. Sadly, williamshatner.com is not poised to become the next America On Hold. However, in the process CC stumbled on this website which lists "celebrity e-mails."

Heh. We could send a little electronic message to Quentin Tarantino (Q-Tarantino@usa.net) about his Uma feet fetish. A little 'sup to the Cloon (GClooney@aol.com) and little Mary Jane (kirsten@kirsten-dunst.com). Or maybe an early Valentine wish to the weasel, Pauly Shore (Pauly@paulyshore.com)? Of course, these all look like the fake-ist e-mails ever, but isn't it weird and hilarious how our celebrity driven culture creates a need for this pseudo direct contact with our worshiped icons?

This reminds CC of the time when our buddy Lou had Vin Diesel's cell phone number. Through various machinations, Lou's waitress/college student girlfriend had snagged it from some PR flunky and it was the topic of amusement for about two weeks for all of Lou's friends to call poor Vin Diesel's cell phone number, just to listen to his innocuous out going voicemail message. Sometimes they would leave him taunting messages too. Not CC of course, we're too polite for that. No, we just wanted to hear XXX ask us to leave a message after the beep. That was silly enough.

Posted by karen at 11:48 PM |

February 6, 2005

Casting Dispersions On The Fresh Prince

Will Smith poster

An East Villager with an aerosol paint can makes the obvious rhyming leap regarding Will Smith's new romantic comedy. Does this epithet refer to Mr. Smith, the movie's potential audience or the jackass who thought to besmirch the Fat Man's nickname this way?
[on Avenue A at 4th Street]

Posted by karen at 12:18 PM |

February 3, 2005

Good News But Not Enough Information

If you're the kind of person who would sign up for three magazines you don't want, plus give out e-mails of 10 people who used to be your friends, just to get a free iPod, Cinecultist has a contest for you! Via an e-mail from a friend** with a subscription this afternoon, Film Comment is giving away $200 worth of Criterion collection DVDs. We think the deadline is the 15th and we think it relates to their collecting of top 10s. We know you should send your entries to fcpoll@filmlinc.com. Beyond that...

What should be in that entry exactly? Your guess is as good as ours.* Your 10 favorite things about the FC redesign? The 10 most sell-out-ish covers with which to get some newsstand movement this year? Send a list of 10 things to that e-mail, maybe you'll win some fancy DVDs. Good luck!

* Full disclosure: We clicked around a bit on their website to find a proper link but to no avail. We could have e-mailed our buddy on the inside at FC but we were busy watching the OC. Hopefully, someone who knows what's up will set us straight via e-mail.

** More disclosure: This friend recently spent $150 via eBay on an out of print This Is Spinal Tap DVD (suggested retail value $39.95). She is officially obsessed. E-mails from her regarding Criterion DVDs should thus be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by karen at 11:19 PM |

February 2, 2005

All About The Performances

In our continuing quest to check of items from the Oscar nominations list, Cinecultist took in Ray on Monday afternoon during our much needed comp day and Being Julia last night via studio supplied VHS copy. There's mucho buzz surrounding Jamie Foxx and Annette Bening's performances what with their best actor and actress nods and after seeing both of their movies, CC can understand why. Which is not to say that either of the movies taken as a whole are really cinema destined for the canon, but if you can isolate the enjoyment of good acting by a lead performer they're surely worth your time.

The feeling which both of these actors seem to be evoking is that Peter Pan "I Can Fly" crow. Do you remember that moment from the Mary Martin play? To see the actor soar above audience, reveling in what is possible, is an inspired creative experience. Neither character will apologize for their supposed weakness (Julia's age and Ray's blindness) but rather use them for their advantage, triumphing over those who thought to stand in their way. Perhaps for fine actors like Bening and Foxx embodying other creative people is more freeing than becoming say, a serial killer or a cop. It's as though they can identify with their character's drive to bring to their audiences the very best of themselves.

In Foxx's performance, our favorite parts are when he's portraying Ray the lady's man. In the way that Foxx brings him to life, all Ray Charles ever had to do was sit at the piano and play, then all the women in the room flocked to him. According to the movie, his signature move was stroking the wrist of the women he met, so as to determine if they were attractive or not. The way Foxx executes this telling gesture is so sensual, you see him touch them and you just know that girl will be under his spell. Genius can't help but be charismatic and it's these little details in Foxx's performance which bring this point about Charles home to the audience.

As for Bening, her greatest strength is in making a character who could be pathetic or completely unsympathetic the person you can't help but root for in her machinations. Playing the aging English stage actress Julia from the Somerset Maugham novel, Bening shows only the movie's audience her softer side but to everyone else in her life, she reveals only what they want to see. Thus, when we watch her maneuver the pawns about her, she does it with grace not malice and a giddy joy that's infectious. Come uppance on screen hasn't been this sweet in a very long time. By the way, Jeremy Irons isn't half bad as Julia's producer husband, if you happen to be a Jeremy Irons fan like the Cinecultist.

Coincidentally, both of these movies are now available on DVD so really, is there any excuse for working your way through your own Oscar nominations list? If you're being obsessive and trying to see as much as you can before the February telecast like CC, that is.

Posted by karen at 11:09 PM |

February 1, 2005

DVDs You Didn't Know You Needed

Thanks so very much to Adriane and John for pointing out to Cinecultist the DVD website Super Happy Fun. Every kind of weird, unreleased, illegal dupe that you never knew you needed is on this site. Imagine Kim's Video only sketchier and virtual so there's no having to slip past those unwashed movie geeks in the aisles who've only just emerged from their home theater lairs. Eww.

Say for instance, you wondered what ever happened to that Christina Ricci movie based on crazy crazy Elizabeth Wurtzel's book, Prozac Nation. Super Happy Fun tells us, it was never released theatrically, but they've got it. Plus, they'll tell you what the quality is like and it only costs $13 bucks. Awesome! Particularly good stuff for those who crave difficult to find international cinema as the site's goal is to provide unreleased flicks to the masses.

Jonathan Rosenbaum raved about the site on CinemaScope, which is how our friends first heard about it.

Posted by karen at 11:38 PM |