May 23, 2007

Miranda July, No Poser

Miranda July and Mike Mills' work sort of counts as a movie subject, though often it bleeds delightfully into the "weirdo art project" category, like their video for Blonde Redhead. Wonder how many people will be dancing in that herky jerky way at their McCarren Park concert on August 5? The Cinecultist might try out a few of them, if inspiration strikes. [via BrooklynVegan]

May 18, 2007

Ice Cream Melting Into Pie Shot? Only Wong Kar Wai

While the Cinecultist has been enjoying a birthday in Manhattan, Mr. A.O. "Fancy Pants" Scott has been in the South of France soaking up the sun and cinema at the Cannes Film Festival. He reports today in the Times about the scene on the Croisette and his early, albeit self-aware, opinion about the much-anticipated English language Wong Kar Wai starring Norah Jones, My Blueberry Nights. Scott declares Wong's newest is self-indulgent, but with more adjectives:

"One of the more annoying tics of the kibitzers at Cannes (including this correspondent) is the habit of rendering authoritative, often hyperbolic snap judgments before the final credits are done. Thus, while the soundtrack music from My Blueberry Nights... was still echoing in the Palais des Festivals, you could hear dyspeptic grumbling about Mr. Wong’s American venture, along with a certain amount of defensive praise. There will be plenty of time to sort it out. My initial impression is of a sweet, insubstantial movie that might have been more exciting — more meaningful — to make than it is to see."

The part that troubles CC, a fan of Wong's work but not an unequivocal one, is that the characters emoting in English seems to have rendered them more breezy and less neurotic in Scott's opinion. A breezy Wong Kar Wai character sounds like a contradiction in terms. What could our obsessive auteur be doing if he's not making every mere gesture and costume change hyperbolic? CC is increasingly skeptical but still curious about the Blueberry.

May 16, 2007

Happy Birthday to Lil' Ol' CC

I'm 23. Remember how old 23 seemed when you were little? I thought people would be traveling in air locks and I'd have five kids. Here I am, 23. Things are...They're basically the same. I think time's running out to do something bizarre. Somewhere around 23 bizarre becomes immature. I get inspiration from my boyfriend. He's a musician. His band put out an independent album last month. He's a good artist too. He's like a Renaissance man. I'm so glad he moved into my building.Bridget Fonda as Janet Livermore in Cameron Crowe's Singles.

When Bridget Fonda said those words in 1992, she was 28. When CC first heard them and fell in love with Seattle, and the idea of being young and clueless about your future in the Pacific Northwest, we were 15. Janet said she thought she was getting too old and we thought she was already really old. Twenty-three? Sheesh, that was practically ancient. Cinecultist moved to Seattle when we were 22 and brought our well-worn VHS copy of Singles with us. CC turned 23 and 24 there and thought we were getting way too old.

Boy were we deluded.

Today, CC turns 30 and we realized that it's only just beginning. Granted, all the things we thought we'd know by now, we don't. But we've been to some of the places on the list, just not all of them. In fact, the list has actually gotten longer in the interim. Another decade down, many more movies to watch and experiences to be had. Oh yeah, this big three-oh is a going to be a happy birthday indeed.

Posted by karen at 1:08 PM | birthday, Seattle, Singles | Comments (3)

May 14, 2007

The Ever Winning Keri Russell


Before the Cinecultist moved to New York for graduate school, we were kind of obsessed with Keri Russell and Felicity. Okay, not kind of, totally obsessed. Bear in mind that this was 2001 and also, we have the taste of a 14-year-old schoolgirl sometimes but Felicity represented all that was good and pure about our fantasy of moving to beautiful NYC. Now that Russell has moved on and Felicity finished, we're ready to let our curly haired actress mature from teenie bopper sensation to fully formed actress and her movie Waitress is just the ticket. Funny, melancholy and a little bit wise, Waitress isn't a far reaching movie. It makes a comfortable home in the details.

About a young Southern wife who discovers she's pregnant by her snake of a husband and who finds joy in baking elaborate pies, Waitress could be over-the-top folksy without barely trying. It's the sort of character driven small indie that littered the decaying art house movie palaces of the '90s. In fact, you may recall the writer and director Adrienne Shelly from that era acting in Hal Hartley's movies. However, Shelly's product is so insidiously charming that to do some jaded "been there, done that" number on it would be utterly heartless. This movie sweet talks you, and that's in no small part due to Russell's lovely performance. In particular her exchanges with Andy Griffith, who plays the cantankerous pie shop owner Joe, as well as her easy girlfriend-report with her fellow waitresses Cheryl Hines and Shelly, are very winning. Stylized and yet real, everything from the dialogue to the scenario and the pie baking in this movie walks that fine line.

Obviously it was a terrible thing to hear of Shelly's murder shortly before the movie's acceptance into the Sundance Film Festival and its warm reception there, but when you go to see Waitress—as you should—let that extra-textual tragedy go. Try to enjoy the quiet charms of this movie and its star on their own terms. Trust us when we say, they will be enough to win you over.

May 8, 2007

James McAvoy Slobber

Have you too been wading your way through the New York Times' Summer movie preview? Tons o' content in there, from articles about big blockbusters like Knocked Up to indie fare such as Parker Posey's Fay Grim. Cinecultist particularly enjoyed Karen Durbin's fawning over James McAvoy. Pretty boys who read obviously make her a bit weak in the knees, and really, who is the Cinecultist to judge on that front?

CC enjoyed McAvoy a ton in everything we've seen him in from The Last King of Scotland to the BBC Shakespeare update Macbeth. He has an effortless sexiness that doesn't so much make him a pin-up as an intriguing prospect. CC recently saw and enjoyed a preview of Becoming Jane, the fictionalizing of Jane Austen's life wherein McAvoy plays her love interest Tom Lefroy opposite Anne Hathaway.

Durbin does a good job picking out why McAvoy is interesting in this movie, which is essentially lit porn for those of us who can't get enough of Miss Austen.

"The payoff comes in a scene featuring the rich uncle with whom Lefroy lives in London. Played by Ian Richardson (in what turned out to be his last performance), he’s a hanging judge who reveres property and takes satisfaction in eliminating the poor, one neck at a time. Lefroy is expecting a visit from Jane. When the door knocker sounds, Mr. McAvoy expresses Lefroy’s exuberance by sliding down the banister to answer it. Whereupon Mr. Richardson, perfectly in character, looks at him as if he has suddenly become some sort of unidentifiable but repellent insect."

Durbin's right, that is a good and surprising moment. Also interesting is McAvoy's insistence in the article that even though the movie is intended for someone who say, lovingly owns the box set of Colin Firth's Pride and Prejudice, he didn't want to play it totally straight. "I didn’t like the script, I was afraid Lefroy would be too Darcy, and [director Julian Jarrold] said I could play with that image, and that interested me.” Go on McAvoy, keep it real kid.

Posted by karen at 4:49 PM | BBCAmerica, James McAvoy | Comments (2)

May 3, 2007

Some Serious Tribeca Fatigue

Holy moly, the Cinecultist is exhausted. Today was the first day in nearly a week and a half when we weren't running off to a screening for the Tribeca Film Festival. It's been a fun few weeks, especially when we were actually hanging out down in Tribeca, but now CC's ready for a break from the movies, the parties and remembering to bring our festival pass when we leave the apartment.

Here's what we saw, and a brief review:

  • Planet B-Boy - A doc about the annual break dancing competition in Germany, it's fun to see the acrobatic boogying, though it's not a strong on the history of hip hop as say Style Wars is.
  • Napoleon and Me - Is it just CC or could you also watch Monica Bellucci recite entries from the phonebook on screen? This Italian period comedy about Napoleon's exile to Elba with Daniel Auteuil as the aging dictator was cute but no revelation.
  • West 32nd - One of our favorite films from the festival, CC accosted its star John Cho at a Tribeca party to tell him so and he nicely offered to introduce us to the equally chill and friendly director Michael Kang. We interviewed him for Gothamist today and recommended the movie last week in a roundup of New York themed flicks at the fest. Hopefully it'll get picked up for distribution soon.
  • Lost in Beijing - Starring the other Tony Leung (Ka Fai, not the more famous in the US/Infernal Affairs Tony Leung Chiu Wai), this character study reminded us of a French film, but maybe because it has nudity, marital ennui, partner swapping, class divide and adultery in it.
  • Still Life - We're not (too) embarrassed to admit that CC fell asleep for about a half hour during the middle of Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke's newest. Mostly because when we woke up, CC could still follow the plot. Yeah, it moved that slowly. The cinematography of the demolished Three Gorges Dam area is totally gorgeous and the movie reminded us of Michelangelo Antonioni's Eclipse. Depending on your feelings about Antonioni, you'll see that as a recommendation or a diss.
  • Blue State - Hear our solemn vow: we will never ever ever see anything with Breckin Meyer in it again. That guy just sucks, there's no two ways about it. Cute concept (liberal guy moves to Canada after 2004 election) but Anna Paquin could do much better than slumming with the Breck.
  • The Gates - Christo and Jean-Claude are too adorable for words. While parts of this doc about the making of the 2005 art piece in Central Park does drag, the footage from the late '70s and early '80s when they first pitched the idea to the city is totally fascinating. It's so cool that the Mayles brothers have been capturing Christo and Jean-Claude's career for so long that they'd have that historical continuity. A very fitting close to the fest.
  • Purple Violets - We've long given up that Ed Burns will make an original, interesting movie but was curious to see how Selma Blair would do in a more conventional romantic comedy. We still love her, but this is not her best role, despite acting opposite the always hunky and thoughtful Patrick Wilson. One might say Burns has a rare gift for making even these two actors look bad.

It's a weird mix of movies to see we know, and bear in mind timing kept us from some screenings we intended to catch. However, Tribeca is sort of an odd, hodge podge kind of festival, so maybe our selections were fitting for the spirit of the thing.


Not Rory and Lorelei! Don't take them now, Lord.

From Variety today: 'Gilmore Girls' canceled. CW, WBTV wrap production on show