March 30, 2007

ScarJo Shops Like A Real New Yorker

The more Cinecultist reads about Scarlett Johansson, the more she seems like totally the kind of girl we could hang out with. (A friend of CC's one time unwittingly ended up at a birthday party for her and said she was very normal and friendly. Apparently though, a glowering Josh Hartnett in the corner, not so much so.) In the cover story* from this month's Vogue, ScarJo shows some of her true NY street smarts while engaging in a favorite full contact sport of locals: shopping in SoHo.

As we left, Johansson's face hardened with determination. We were almost in SoHo, and she suddenly began walking fast, intent on finding a substitute black peacoat right away. "Hard left here," she barked, and we sprinted for two blocks and entered a fashionable boutique called If. Johansson shops the way she talks, directly and forcefully, flipping through the racks of black Comme des Garçons coats like an executive secretary riffling through a Rolodex. Only one came close, and it was too big. We headed for A.P.C. and came up empty again. "I may have to go to Bloomingdale's," she said resignedly. "I once needed a raincoat that was waterproof. And when I found one at Bloomingdale's, I asked the saleslady if it was really water-resistant. She just picked up a glass of water and tossed it on the coat. I said, 'I'll take it.'"

It was dark when we left A.P.C., and for a second we were both disoriented and not sure of the way to Greene Street. The block was almost deserted, but Johansson spied a parking-lot attendant across the street and yelled at him for directions. He rather vaguely shook his left arm and said, "That way." Johansson wasn't sure he had it right. She cocked her head, put her hand on her hip, and saucily asked, "Are you lying?"

*Word to the wise, said story was written by Alessandra Stanley, one of our least favorite cultural critics from the NY Times, so we won't vouch for the accuracy of the piece. Though if anyone could vet Stanley thoroughly, it would have to be magazine fact checkers from Vogue. CC does trust in the abilities of our Condé brethren, if not in Stanley.

March 29, 2007

Even Movie Lovers Have To Eat

View up Second Ave

For ages, whenever Cinecultist walked down Houston Ave past Bowery, we'd look longingly at the "Coming Soon...Whole Foods" signs. But today on the way to a morning press screening at Film Forum, we did a little happy dance on the corner because our anticipation is finally over--the Whole Foods Bowery is now open for business! Later in the day CC and our friend (and fellow Eee Vee foodie) Adriane returned for a tour. Dear god, did you know they have a whole chilled room devoted to cheese? It's called the Fromagerie, no joke. Plus, the piles of beautiful produce, the local artisanal snacks, the counter filled with sausages and a counter of pomme frites complete with a sauces menu had CC salivating and planning summer menus galore. We're talkin' about some good eatin'. After ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the ground floor, we took a break with a coffee and CC took the above camera phone shot of the view up Second Avenue from the second floor cafe. We expect to be doing quite a bit of remote blogging from that spot.

sushi on a conveyor belt!

They also have a sushi bar in that second floor cafe, which features an adorable conveyor belt. CC may try to go next week for lunch and pretend like we're Kirsten Dunst eating with Paul Bettany in Wimbledon. Silly we know, but it is a pretty awesome space that begs for romantic movie hyperbole. CC should also probably just start automatically setting aside a sizable chunk of our meager income to WF. It ain't cheap to shop there but boy, they have a great looking selection of products.

In slightly more movie related news, if you're a fellow NY movie goer, think about donating some time as a volunteer to this year's Tribeca Film Festival. You can still sign up via their website. Friends of CC who've done it in past years say it's a blast plus it's a great way to meet other local film fans while helping out the downtown fest.

March 28, 2007

What To Do, What To Do?

Okay, so it's only Wednesday but Cinecultist is already thinking longingly of the weekend. There's something about being at mid-week that makes you itchy for a lazy Saturday at the movies, don'tcha think?

Manohla Dargis in today's NY Times reminds us that there are still some great choices coming up in the New Directors/New Films series at MoMA and Lincoln Center. [It runs through Sunday, Apr. 1.] CC joined in on drinks and general merriment at Josephina's this last Sunday night to celebrate the festival, so we'll feel extra guilty if we don't take in more of their excellent offerings.

Coming up this weekend, Cinecultist may also try to see a B Musical at Film Forum or an Edie Sedgwick movie at the Museum of the Moving Image. Singing and jazz hands or poor little It Girl—a tough choice, right?


Damn this recent gorgeous weather in New York. 70 degrees, woohoo! It makes it so difficult to focus on the real task at hand, ie. movie-watching, when all you really want to be doing is wandering around outside with an iced coffee in hand. Hopefully on Friday night it will be less lovely as CC has committed to spending three hours in doors for a sneak peak at the highly anticipated Richard Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature, Grindhouse at a neighborhood theater. Full opinions (namely if our annoyance at QT's pretensions still burns with the fires of a thousand suns) will be forthcoming, as soon as our butt regains some feeling from spending so long in a movie seat.

P.S. If you haven't checked out the movie's incredibly self-indulgent and unnecessarily complicated official website yet, please do. You can make things explode AND listen to the sound of faux old movie projectors. It's over-the-topness is both really admirable and yet frustrating. Sort of like how CC often feels about QT's movies, actually.

P.P.S. A happy birthday to the Cinecultist's sister, Laurie, today. We'll always be the Waldorf to your Statler. "It's good to be heckling, again. It's good to be doing anything again!"

March 27, 2007

Nothing Perks Up CC Like a Samantha Morton Movie


Being busy is good for the pocketbook and the emotional well-being but not for the blogging. Cinecultist has been freelancing up a storm and hardly finding time to see movies, let alone blog about them. However little works to revitalize our blogging instinct than a good movie starring Samantha Morton. Her work is like poetry. She emotes like nobody's business. Basically, we totally heart her which is why we'd taped via our DVR her new film on HBO Longford a while ago and finally found a spare moment over the weekend to watch it. Please try to make a point of seeing this movie, it has so many elements that make it really compelling programming.

The script was written by Peter Morgan, our current film writing hero and the pen behind two of the strongest films from last year's The Last King of Scotland and The Queen. This is another historical biopic, Morgan's genre of choice lately, about a controversial English friendship between Lord Frank Pakenham, the 7th Earl of Longford and condemned murderer Myra Hindley. Hindley was convicted of murdering a number of children and then burying their bodies on the Moors with her boyfriend Ian Brady during the '60s. Longford was a renowned advocate of prisoner's rights, he began visiting Hindley and crusading on her behalf for parole. However, the revelation of Hindley's intrinsic involvement in the brutal murders years after her incarceration led to Longford's public ruin.

In addition to Morton's great performance as Hindley, Jim Broadbent is also top notch as the title character. With those naive, idealistic, wide eyes behind the gold rimmed glasses and that liver-spotted bald head, he's utterly compelling. It's not often in movies that you see spirituality and faith depicted as noble causes but Longford's unshaken belief in the power of God's love to redeem even the most hardened criminal is incredibly moving.

Other notable cast members include Andy Serkis (Peter Jackson's Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies) as an intensely creepy Ian Brady, and two favorites from the recently completed series Rome, Lindsay Duncan (Servilia) plays Longford's fellow activist wife, Elizabeth and Lee Boardman (Atia's Jewish servant Timon) has a brief role as a talk show host.

P.S. Morgan's next project is an adaptation of the best-selling historical fiction book about the Henry VIII era, The Other Boleyn Girl starring Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana, as the womanizing monarch. CC, for one, can hardly wait.

March 9, 2007


The Cinecultist's current day job gig has us spending a lot of time with design happy folks and learning more than we ever thought we'd know about gardening, eco-cleaners and the like. As a result we've added one of our new co-workers' excellent blogs, Design*Sponge, to our regular round-up. Today Grace pointed us to a very cool movie-ish design site, Submarine Channel which features video clips of title sequences. Since we recently rented and enjoyed Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, a fun neo-noir from last year starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, it was fun to see their cool animated titles again. Enjoy a little harmless procrastination with the site before your weekend officially starts.

P.S. If you're thinking about a movie to see this weekend take CC's advice from Gothamist: skip gore-tastic 300 and see a weird yet wonderful Shohei Imamura out at BAM instead. Saturday is Pigs and Battleships (1961) and Sunday they'll be showing The Insect Woman (1963). Also FYI: CC has marked our calendars for next weekend's The Pornographers and The Eel on Mar. 27.

March 8, 2007

Ken Loach, Can CC Adopt You?

Ken Loach at MoMALast night at the Museum of Modern Art, Cinecultist attended a special preview screening of Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a new movie about the Irish "troubles" which won the Palm D'Or at Cannes this year. Loach was in the house to introduce the movie and answer questions following (as pictured with a MoMA staff member), as well as cast members Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney and Mairtin de Cogain. It was unassuming English and Irishmen all around, with one more self-effacing than the next. Loach in particular is totally adorable, like a sweet grandpa you want to take home for a cup of tea and then debate the history of Western philosophy.

One thing all four panelists were incredibly passionate about though was this project, which Loach described as coming together quite naturally. The struggles for Irish independence was a topic he and writer Paul Laverty had discussed for many years off and on before deciding to develop it into a screenplay about two fictional brothers caught up in the fighting. Each brother represents a point of view and as the conflicts get more heated, their impulses to do "the right thing" gets harder and harder in the face of the horrible circumstances.

Like in Loach's previous films that CC's enjoyed Bread and Roses and Sweet Sixteen, he does an amazing job of illiciting nuanced and naturalistic performances from his actors. Cillian Murphy has had good roles before, but he's particularly wonderful here as a young doctor compelled to fight for his country despite his gentle conscience. Also, CC was pleased to note that in person Murphy's modest personality doesn't contain any traces of his creepy characters from Batman Begins or Red Eye. Apparently, Cillian is a nice guy who's just a really good actor. Go fig.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley hits US theaters a week from Friday.

March 6, 2007

You Say Good-bye, CC Says Bonjour

A day for sad news and happy news amongst movie periodical fans like the Cinecultist. Hachette Filipacchi Media is shuttering the print version of Premiere magazine after their upcoming April issue. They will be continuing to run things on the web though, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile on the other side of the pond, the legendary French film periodical Cahiers du Cinema is launching an English translated monthly e-version for those of us who like French opinions but can't read actual French. You can "flip" through an English version of part of the magazine now and the rest of the newest publication will be online as of March 9. [Flip version via GreenCine Daily.]

By the way, it's kind of a fun day for the Cinecultist when Reuters references André Bazin, but maybe that's just the cinema studies geek in us rearing its snarky head.

Question for the comments: Is the film criticism from Premiere still relevant (or was it ever)? Does the thought of a more accessible Cahiers sound exciting for the history buff only?

March 2, 2007

"May I Have My Prophylactic Back, Dame Diana?"

Good news Potter fans, Daniel "I'm getting older but I totally have a sense of humor about myself" Radcliffe has officially signed on to appear in installments VI and VII of the Harry Potter films. Number V, Order of the Phoenix comes out this summer, VI begins shooting this fall and in case you haven't marked your calendars yet, volume VII of the books, The Deathly Hallows, comes out in July.

Many years ago, an impressionable young Cinecultist saw a community theater production of Equus and was mighty shocked by the nakedness and the simulated horse sex. Eeep. If Danny boy is savvy enough to involve himself in both edgy, psychological theater and something written by Ricky Gervais where he flings a condom at Dame Diana Rigg, it's pretty safe to bet he'll become more than just a former child actor. Cinecultist is looking forward to what you do next Daniel, make us proud.