March 17, 2008

George Clooney Meets the Internet, Likes What He Sees

The ending to a fantastic article by A.J. Jacobs in this month's Esquire about George Clooney had Cinecultist ROFLing this afternoon.

"At this point, I make a segue that seemed relevant at the time but in retrospect was probably a very bad idea. "You know," I tell him, "I asked the guy who does the Esquire Web site* what I should show George Clooney, and he said, 'Show him 2 Girls 1 Cup.' "

"What's that?"

"It's the most disturbing video in the history of videos."

"Show it to me."

"Really? I don't know."

"I can take it," Clooney says. "I'm a grown-up. We're all grown-ups."

"It's scarring. It'll scar you forever."

"Is it long?" he asks.

"No," I tell him, "but it's so disturbing. I saw it once and can never get it out of my mind. I can't watch it again."

"I want to see it."

Well, he asked. After a bit of searching, I find the link. I click it.

After several seconds: "It's not so bad," he says.

Three seconds later: "Oh."

Another two seconds: "Oh, my GOD! Oh, my God!! Oh, my God!"

Clooney puts his hand over his mouth like he's going to throw up. He bolts from his chair and walks out of the room.

Clooney's longtime PR guy, Stan Rosenfield, wants to know what the fuss is about. Clooney tells him he just watched the most repulsive video he's ever seen. Rosenfield wants to see it.

"I want to go at least one second more than George."

"I've got to watch Stan watch it," Clooney says, recomposing himself. "It's like the rodeo -- see how long you can last."

Rosenfield lasts three full seconds before walking out.

Clooney, having regarded himself all morning, now just watches, doubled over with laughter.

* Cinecultist has hung out with said Web site guy, one Mr. Eric Gillin, and that's totally the type of thing he'd recommend.

Posted by karen at 4:06 PM | Esquire, George Clooney | Comments (1)

March 2, 2008

Another Episode of The Dakota Fanning Show

Another brilliant portrayal by Amy Poehler as the young thespian Dakota Fanning on this week's Saturday Night Live hosted by Ellen Page. The addition of the "Kids Speak" feature is really choice. Geektastic Dakota takes to the streets to ask kids the kinds of questions she wants to answer: "What's your favorite David Lynch movie?" "Did you catch Philip Glass at Carnegie Hall?" and "Is Sarkozy trampling French people's civil rights?" Ha. Poor Dakota, any little girl who has a celeb crush like Charlie Rose and plays the hurdy gurdy is so freakin' doomed. But she'd still totally be Cinecultist's friend.

December 26, 2007

CC Celeb Sights, Even In Menlo Park

Well, it's true: you can take the girl out of Manhattan, but you can't take the Gawker stalker out of the girl. Cinecultist is currently in lovely Northern California visiting our family for the holidays and went to Barone's, a favorite lunch place, for a panini and a latte on Sunday. Who should saunter up, decked out in sunglasses, heavy dark pea coat, navy knit cap, scruffy facial hair and attitude but James Franco. He seemed to be there for lunch with his extended family too (double GS points for spotting James's grandmother) and was trying to keep it mellow. CC gave him a few extra looks to cement our id, but hopefully he thought we just recognized him from high school or something.

The only problem with this thrilling sighting? Our less pop culturally literate family's luke warm response. No one really seemed to know who James Franco is, and were less than totally psyched when Cinecultist discovered via Wikipedia that he's just a year older than us and attended Palo Alto High School. James Franco is practically our peeps! We share that Menlo Park/Palo Alto/Stanford frame of reference with Daniel from Freaks and Geeks! As Bonnie Fuller says, celebrities really are like us.

June 28, 2007

Humidity Addles The Cinecultist's Celebrity Sighting Skills

Jeez, it's really been disgustingly humid here in New York over the last few days. Last night, while noshing on a chicken sandwich and a banana on a nice metal step in front of the Tribeca Issey Miyake store before a screening* and trying not to get too overheated, who should we spy walking down the street but the thinking-girl crushes John Krasinski and Will Arnett. Cinecultist looked up, made brief eye contact with the quite tall "Jim" and then quickly glanced back at our sandwich. Damn our frizzy head and slightly damp pits!

As soon as the two were out of shouting distance, CC pulled out the phone to call Jen, aka the future Mrs. Krasinski.

Jen: Hello?
CC: Guess who I just saw walking down the street in Tribeca!? Your future husband! John Krasinski! And, uh, Mr. Amy Poehler, the guy who plays Gob on Arrested Development...
J: Will Arnett?
CC: Yeah, right. Sorry, I knew that. I was just was so excited about John.
J: That's so funny you saw them together because the one time I saw John Krasinski, he was also with Will Arnett. Maybe there's some secret relationship thing going on between them...

Now, Cinecultist is hardly the kind of site to be starting a filthy rumor about John and Will becoming the next Jake Gyllenhaal/Lance Armstrong pairing, so you can disregard that last comment from Jen. For our money, we think it's either that spot—we almost smacked into Jack White of The White Stripes coming out of that Jin Deli in 2003—or that we're on a tear to systematically celeb spot the entire cast of The Office. First was Rashida Jones outside of Town Hall before the Ben Gibbard show, and now this Halpert encounter. Hopefully Mindy Kaling is next. Her Kelly Kapoor is utterly side-splitting and we probably wouldn't be too tongue-tied to tell her so.

*In case you were wondering, CC saw Sunshine, Danny Boyle's newest and it was AWESOME. In the league of Aliens, 2001 and Solaris. For serious. More of a review to come.

June 22, 2007

Claire Danes and Luke Wilson, Movie Quality Black Holes


Some of the worst movies we've seen lately have included The Wendell Baker Story (made in 2005 but only just recently released), You Kill Me (out this weekend), and Evening (on June 29). Hackneyed, tired, life-less and had the Cinecultist checking our watch about every 15 minutes. In attempts to put our finger on what sucked so hard about all three, Cinecultist has come to realize the blame should be laid at the doorsteps of Claire Danes and Luke Wilson. Are there two more affected and limp leading performers working today? Both actors had promise in the early part of their careers (see: My So Called Life/Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet and Rushmore/The Royal Tenenbaums), but then the quality of their stilted performances went seriously downhill to a level where they should practically be banished from Hollywood for crimes against the movie-going public. Alex and Emma? Mini's First Time? Brokedown Palace? Stage Beauty? And of course, their movie together, The Family Stone? Oh, the humanity!

Now if CC sees either of them in the cast line up for a new release, we just sigh a loud sigh of dejection knowing the movie will surely suck, even if it has loads of other stuff going for it. That's how strong the pull of Daines and Wilson's black hole o' talent. Light goes in there, but it never escapes. Please join Cinecultist in boycotting any of their further work in an attempts to free the silver screen from the tyrannous grip of their suckage. The world will thank you for it.

June 13, 2007

Potable Quotables Courtesy of Tina Brown

Former Vanity Fair, New Yorker and Talk editor Tina Brown is everywhere these days promoting her new book on Princess Diana, The Diana Chronicles. After reading Gawker for as long as we have, it's hard to be a New York journalist and not be a little fascinated by this seemingly bat-shit insane brilliant lady. Also, she tells a great name-dropping anecdote, and Cinecultist knows from name-dropping anecdote tellers.

In this week's profile from New York magazine which we were reading during our commute this morning:

"Last week, [Brown] lost several pounds of her “book weight” at the southwest’s Golden Door spa, where she endured bone-cracking Thai massages, early-morning hikes, and upper-thigh-reducing exercise classes. “It’s high school for power women and rich wives,” she declares. “I bonded with the V.P. of Saks and Lauren Graham from The Gilmore Girls. At lunch, Lauren used to shout, ‘This is 350 calories? There’s nothing here! I demand a recount!’ ”

Heh. Lauren's so Lorelai, even without Amy Sherman-Palladino writing dialog for her.

CC also has the VF with the Diana book excerpt in it at home, but it's still in its plastic wrapping. Frankly, the amount of hype surrounding this issue is daunting, between Brown and the Bono edit job and the Africa topic and the über celebs gracing the cover in twos. It may seem weird to be intimidated by a lil' ol' glossy mag issue but there you are.

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 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)

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.

February 14, 2007

Cate Blanchett Doesn't Give It Away

Cinecultist is a bit behind on our New Yorker reading and only just got to John Lahr's great piece in last week's issue about Cate Blanchett (unfortunately not available online now). That woman seriously rocks it on screen, and from this interview appears to be a stellar wife and mother to boot. The following description of her acting process while working on The Good German reinvigorated our interest in seeing Steven Soderbergh's poorly reviewed movie.

"...[S]he began shooting, without any rehearsal, the Monday after she'd completed Notes on a Scandal. The scene Blanchett filmed that day had Lena sitting on a bench with an American military attorney from whom she's hoping to get the papers she needs to leave Berlin. 'I thought, 'The biggest thing I'm gonna do is cross my legs,' she told me. 'I'm not gonna give anything away to this man. I knew everything that Lena was concealing. But it was, like, I'm not going to let Steven Soderbergh know. I'm going to be completely, utterly ambiguous.' She continued, 'Ambiguity is not absence. It's a wildly contradicting series of actions, emotions, and intentions. There was a line where Lena said, 'No one is all good or all bad.' And I thought that she was referring to herself. So I let a tiny little bit of her own self-hatred come through.' (Soderbergh got his shot on the first take.)"

P.S. Please follow Lahr's suggestion to watch Blanchett in Oscar and Lucinda if you've never seen it. You'll see why it was such a breakout role for her and Ralph Fiennes is great in it too.

February 6, 2007

Cinema, Theater, Politics, Philosophy and the Cultural Zeitgeist At Large!

Cat in the Hat = a metaphor for ethnic violence in Africa? This geekied out Dakota Fanning as portrayed by Amy Poehler on last weekend's Saturday Night Live would so be a FOC (friend of Cinecultist, that is).

Posted by karen at 8:40 AM | Dakota Fanning, SNL | Comments (0)

November 13, 2006, It's Better Than Ebay

Vincent Gallo, our favorite exhibitionist/hack/auteur/provocateur, has been a little under-the-radar since the release of his last movie, Brown Bunny in 2003. Shortly after that flick came out, Cinecultist attended a musical performance by Gallo at the blessedly-now-defunct Rothko on the Lower East Side and found him to be as self-aggrandizing on stage as he is on screen. And this was all before Better Than Fudge's Josh pointed us to his eponymous website the other day and Gallo's hilarious email submissions guidelines.

However, what tickled our fancy about Gallo's site is the merchandise section, particularly his Vintage Posters section. For a mere $200, plus $3 shipping and handling, you too can own a poster Vincent has owned, folded, stuck pins in and enjoyed for many years until he decided to sell it online! Not surprisingly, Gallo's collection contains posters for In the Realm of the Senses and other such X-rated classics. Sounds like could be your new holiday one-stop shopping spot.

Posted by karen at 5:20 PM |

November 7, 2006

Grassroot Graham


Cinecultist just finished watching today's episode of Gilmore Girls, and we have to comment that it's almost as though the writers got an advance copy of Virginia Heffernan's smack-down in the Times today. The banter was definitely back up a notch from previous episodes this season. As a major fan of this show since the first season, we can understand Heffernan's almost slavish devotion to Amy Sherman-Palladino's role as creator. We too have been second guessing the current producers and writers decisions at ever turn so far this season. 'Is that really what Lorelai would say? Would she really reference that particular, quite mainstream, film?' (See Lauren Graham's recent rant against Snakes on a Plane. A S-P's Lorelai probably would've dug Samuel L. Jackson and his motherfucking snakes.)

But all over-analysis aside, we do agree with Heffernan's thesis that Lauren Graham is a brilliant, brilliant performer who is underutilized in Hollywood. Good news on that horizon though: She costars with the ever side-splitting Steve Carell in Evan Almighty, the sequel of sorts to Jim Carrey's Bruce Almighty. It doesn't come out until this coming June, so for now CC will continue to weigh each new GG episode carefully, keep watching old eps in syndication, and begin a quiet but insistent grassroots campaign for Lauren Graham's big Hollywood recognition. That girl deserves a break, she works her cute butt off.

Semi-related: CC really enjoyed this interview by Terry Gross with Sherman-Palladino on Fresh Air last year.

[Pictured: Graham (at left) with GG co-star Alexis Bledel.]

Posted by karen at 9:57 PM |

November 6, 2006

Admiration and Awe For Christian Bale

christianbale.jpgLately Cinecultist has been on a bit of an inadvertent Christian Bale kick, though it's been a welcome close-up on this seriously Method thespian. It seems that with every role he takes on, Bale sinks his teeth in and refuses to let go. We can always expect scary but fascinating work from him.

Over the weekend, CC watched on DVD his particularly freaky performance in The Machinist. A Memento-esque psychological thriller directed by the always excellent Brad Anderson with Spanish funding and shot in Barcelona, this will always be known as the movie where Bale lost so much weight for the part, he looks like a concentration camp victim. It's really phenomenal he can even lift his head or move across the set, let alone give the powerful performance he delivers. After seeing the movie, CC had so many ideas swirling around in our head that we went back to reread our friend Kristi's review in Reverse Shot when the film came out. Not surprisingly, she nails the idea that the movie's structure and Bale's performance are incredibly deliberate, leading not to a surprise ending but a "shrewd" and "quiet culmination." Bale shows very realistically--in a hyper-stylized movie--how insomnia and guilt can lead a robust man into insanity.

harsh2.jpgOur other encounter with Bale recently was in his forthcoming film, Harsh Times which comes out this weekend. Again, this is a role where Bale is not playing someone glamorous or attractive, his character Jim Davis is highly flawed. A former Army Ranger back from the sands of Iraq, Jim is trying to get reestablished in Los Angeles, find a job in law enforcement and bring his Mexican girlfriend over the border. However, a familiarity with the underbelly of LA and a destructive friendship with Mike (Freddy Rodriquez from Six Feet Under) keeps leading Jim back to the wrong decisions.

Bale's character is not one we'd like to meet in a dark alley. Even his ever changing accents from homeboy patois to Army speak formality, barely mask his menace. When CC saw the nonfiction film The Ground Truth earlier this year, it was clear that life in war for the soldiers is a true hell but Bale's searing performance brings it more home than even a documentary can. He's incredibly brave to exhibit himself that nakedly on screen. Harsh Times isn't an easy movie, but it's powerfully upsetting.

All of this Bale goodness has CC thinking about trying to catch his performance in The Prestige before it leaves theaters and anticipating his part in Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan movie I'm Not There. Obviously directors like Haynes, Anderson, Christopher Nolan, David Ayer (Harsh Times as well as Training Day) know they're getting the goods when they cast Bale in their movies. Now if only the Academy would figure that out too.

Posted by karen at 5:09 PM |

October 5, 2006

Chris O'Donnell Inspires New Catchphrases

Is there any current TV that is more of an estrogen-minefield than Grey's Anatomy? Cinecultist felt like such a chick with a capitol C watching it night with a few glasses of red wine at a friend's. Of course, this may have also been because we were discussing how h-o-t hot Chris O'Donnell has been lately as Meredith's other suitor Finn, ie. not Dr. McDreamy. Finn's a vet, brings Meredith's depressed roommate lunch AND there's something about his wobbly, stubbled chin that's oh so appealing.

Looking over Chris's filmography, it's an intriguing waxing and waning of hotness depending on his roles, almost like a parabola of hot*. Follow along at home:

School Ties (1992) Who is that dapper young man in a blazer?
Scent of a Woman (1992) Hooo-ah hello
Circle of Friends (1995) The height of his powers, no need to say more
Mad Love (1995) Fading, as he likes crazy girls
Batman Forever (1995) Errr, he and Val Kilmer seem awful close
Batman & Robin (1997) Almost repulsive with that cod piece
The Bachelor (1999) Rock bottom, we're turned off just thinking about it
Kinsey (2004) Five years later he's a swinging sex researcher, tell us more
Grey's Anatomy (present) Now he's a sensitive puppy doctor? Bring it!

*"Parabola of Hot" is now a patent-pending catch phrase for the Cinecultist, so don't even think about adopting it as your own.

An example of What Not to Wear, circa 1997.

Posted by karen at 11:49 PM |

September 28, 2006

Helen Mirren, Good With Crowns

mirrenhelen.jpgCinecultist just recently finished devouring a tasty profile in this week's New Yorker about actress Helen Mirren. We were gaga for her performance in the HBO movie, Elizabeth I and now are completely over the moon for her role in Stephen Frears' The Queen, which opens the New York Film Festival this weekend and also starts in limited release. Mirren totally rocks, there's no two ways about it.

A brief story about her first professional audition, from John Lahr's New Yorker profile:

"...When Mirren auditioned for the R.S.C., in 1967, Trevor Nunn, then a director with the company, recalled, "A girl came out who appeared to be wearing a garment constructed of black string. It had more spaces between it than it covered. Conversation stopped completely. Jaws dropped. We saw from her C.V. that she'd had no professional experience. She was passionate about doing classical work. I make no bones about itI think the red blood cells and testosterone were up a considerable level. I don't think anybody contemplated for a moment that she should be told to go away and get experience somewhere else." Nunn added, "We were looking at a major leading player after she'd been with the company a couple of years.'"
Posted by karen at 11:02 AM |

August 27, 2006

The Keener, A Thinking Person's Indie Cinema Heroine

Cinecultist hearts Catherine Keener. When we got the chance to speak to her on duty at the Day Job, she couldn't have been cooler or more down to earth. We can completely understand why random young men want her to take their virginity, as she mentions in her interview in this week's New York Times magazine.

"That movie [The 40-Year-Old Virgin] has given me a new audience. The other night a group of guys who left their trash in the alley near my house got really excited when they saw me. They screamed, Will you take my virginity? Thats my new audience: a bunch of punks."

Dude, she also loves Marnie. Aka our answer to the $64,000 question "What's your favorite Hitchcock movie?"

Posted by karen at 9:31 PM |

August 1, 2006

Jackie Chan, Your Friendly Neighborhood Drunk

Jackie_Chan.jpgPoking around our usual celebrity gossip and news sites this morning, Cinecultist stumbled upon this news bit that Hong Kong action's funniest (ie. Jackie Chan) and most dour (ie. Jet Li) actors are in talks to do a project together. There's no script yet, but they expect to begin shooting in Shanghai in March or April. Quickly consulting IMDb's handy pairing function, CC realized the two haven't ever acted together in a big budget flick, which we found surprising. The Asian cinema industry is so prolific and those two are such megastars over there, it's a surprise that they've not teamed up before.

Scrolling further down the article for more news from this press conference Chan conducted, we discovered this odd quote from the Drunken Master. Apparently Mel Gibson isn't the only A Lister who gets drunk and does inappropriate things. A few months ago at a Hong Kong pop concert, a blotto Chan appeared on stage, insulted the band and then threw "coarse" insults at the audience. When asked to comment on this Stars Gone Wild incident, Chan said, "Everyone in the world has made mistakes, but it's just that we're celebrities. TV station managers, magazine editors, who doesn't drink, who doesn't get drunk?"

Indeed, Jackie. Indeed.

Posted by karen at 10:02 AM |

July 18, 2006

Our Paul Rudd Love Won't Die, Despite Obvious Abuses

ohio2.jpgAh, the things Cinecultist will submit ourselves to for the sake of actor crushes. Ever since Paul Rudd tenderly kissed Alicia Silverstone at the top of her mansion's staircase in Clueless, we've been crunching for the Rudd pretty bad. In more recent years he's eschewed his potential as a rom com leading man for quirkier, darker roles and that only makes us love him more. That's why small indie's like The Oh In Ohio, which we watched for the Movie Binge over the weekend, make us so depressed.

See, it's like this. There are movies that are good and there are movies that aren't good. And Oh is one of the later. Not that there aren't a few moments that vaguely amuse but generally, it was lame. Lame. And no amount of gazing at Rudd's crinkling eyes or contemplating how they could find a Volvo as monumentally rusted as the one Rudd's character drives could counter act the lamiosity. CC doesn't want to go to the movies just to oggle, we want stories that resonate and jokes that tickle because they're real. This wasn't one of those opportunities.

Posted by karen at 10:23 AM |

July 12, 2006

Beautifully Bald Toni Collette

collette.jpgEver since her role as the under-appreciated Muriel, Cinecultist has had a bit of a "gutsy actress" crush on Toni Collette. She has two interesting roles coming up this summer, as the wacky Mom in Little Miss Sunshine (July 26) with Steve Carrell and the creepy adoptive Mom in The Night Listener (August 4) opposite Robin Williams.

In today's Time Out New York Hot Seat, Collette answers Stephen Garrett's queries and gets into all those times she's shaved her head. Yes, plural. Our favorite quote (and mental note reminder to bring a safety razor if we ever get to meet her):

TONY: You've even shaved your head for 8 1/2 Women.
TC: I've done it five times, actually. That was the only one for a filmthe others were just a lark.
TONY: A lark?!?
TC: It feels great! It's totally low maintenance. The first time, I was drunk on tequila in Mexico. The second time was for a friend of mine who was having a fashion show in London and asked me to do it. I also shaved my head a few days after meeting my husbandI think that was just to test the relationship. ...I have a great shaped head.
Posted by karen at 2:33 PM |

July 10, 2006

She's Not Just Mrs. Kevin Bacon

KyraSedgwick.jpgCinecultist isn't afraid to admit that Kyra Sedgwick's adorable, curly-headed environmentalist in Singles was a small, supporting factor in our move to Seattle at age 22. Lately, we've been getting into (aka "obsessed with") her performance on the TNT TV program, The Closer. Apparently, so are the Emmy nominators and Virginia Heffernan for the New York Times.

Image via Portroids, a site devoted to collecting famous people poloroids.

Posted by karen at 10:05 AM |

March 27, 2006

Interior Decorator Technique or Movie Chatke?

In last week's New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten reported on a political fundraising event for senatorial candidate Sheldon Whitehouse held in director Martin Scorsese's home. The part Cinecultist loved of course, was the list of movie memorabilia in Marty and his wife Helen's house.

"...Five different posters for the Renoir film La Grande Illusion, a sixteenth-century crucifix, the Stratocaster played by Robbie Robertson in The Last Waltz, a display of Japanese dolls (a gift from Akira Kurosawa), and, in a bell jar, the pair of red ballet slippers worn by Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes, which Scorsese bought at auction in London six years ago."

CC has a few things in common with Marty in terms of our apartment's movie theme decor, though of course not nearly as freakin' cool as the actual red shoes. They are:

theapartmentposter.gif- A poster for The Apartment from the Museum of Moving Image in Queens
- A poster for Roman Holiday purchased in Rome
- A graphic print depicting a scene from Nobody Knows by Stela im Huttberg
- A Mifune action figure (ours aren't from Kurosawa himself, unfortunately)
- Postcards from How To Draw A Bunny, Morvern Callar, When Brendan Met Trudy, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Studio Ghibli in Japan, Born Into Brothels, retrospectives of Wong Kar Wai and Park Chan-Wook from BAM

That's kind of a lot of movie stuff in a small Eee Vee apartment especially if you take into account also all the movie books, vhs tapes and dvds. Of course, and we're sure Marty would agree, there's only one thing to do -- find a bigger apartment.

Posted by karen at 10:02 PM |

February 6, 2006

Separated At Birth: Indie Rock Edition

Last night Cinecultist furthered our rampant girl-crush on singer Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley by attending her solo engagement at the Angel Orensanz Foundation performance. The converted church space where she performed -- along with M. Ward and in a one song cameo Conor Oberst -- on Norfolk was totally spectacular looking inside. Though the decrepit baroqueness may have influenced our movie associative thoughts during show.

For some reason, her back up singers the Watson Twins began looking a lot like...

Watson Twins

the ghost girls from Stanley Kubrick's the Shining, though all grown up.


Considering this is one of the scariest parts of that movie for CC (after the cascading blood from the elevator) you can understand our fascination coupled with trepidation seeing them crooning on stage with Jenny.

Do you think maybe their album cover is an allusion to that famous still from the film?

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

Our other movie thought during the show: if anyone ever wanted to make another Loretta Lynn movie, they should really cast Jenny in Sissy Spacek's part. She has the look down pat, big hair and wide belts and all.


Maybe Jenny wishes she was a coal miner's daughter instead of being a San Fernando Valley stage mom's daughter. [Thanks again to Jenna for the ticket and Jen for the invite!]

Posted by karen at 5:14 PM |

January 31, 2006

He Likes Red Vines and Kevin Costner but Don't Hold It Against Him

One of the first real conversations Cinecultist had with our now former co-worker Josh Horowitz -- author, blogger and subject of today's Gothamist interview by Aaron and Lily -- it was regarding what kind of person he was. He'd just been hired to fill an editorial spot previously occupied by a music person, so we thought maybe that was his thing. Oh no, he told us, I'm a movie person. Me too! we said. So I've heard.

And thus a totally geeked out friendship was born. His new book, The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker: Twenty Conversations with the New Generation of Filmmakers looks like a fun read from when we flipped through it at the office, so be sure to check it out at your nearby book purveyor. Also, Josh's blog, is getting to be one of our must-reads if only because we no longer get a daily dose of his patent-pending movie wit at work. Sad face for CC but happy face for everyone else now getting to know Josh's work.

Posted by karen at 1:01 PM |

January 25, 2006

Some Call Us 'Star @*cker;' We Say 'If Only'

On Saturday afternoon, Cinecultist decided to eshew our previous vow to see if aqua-eyed Kate Bekinsale could make us love again in favor of Terrence Malick's The New World. However, this is not really a post about the movie, that's tk as we say in the mags business. No, this is about CC's spotting of New York actor Justin Theroux first in the lobby of the Union Square theater and then two seats down from us in the theater. This is the second time we've noticed a movie person in our screening (the first being director/actor Mike White at a West Ville screening of Merci Pour Le Chocolat) and honestly, it's kinda thrilling. As Us Weekly says, celebrities are people too and apparently they also like to get their Malick on some Saturday afternoon.

All through the film (which totally blew us away incidentally) we tried not to be too distracted by our row mate. Ordinarily CC follows strictly the New Yorker's code of no eye contact and leave them be leaves of three but we'd actually spoken with Mr. Theroux previously for the Day Job and thus convinced ourselves it'd be cool to say hi after the movie. Justin couldn't have been nicer and seemed to remember us, or is really good at pretending like he remembered. We chatted about how he's a "total Malickhead" and how great Q'orianka is in the picture and what Colin had said about her to Justin. Lovely.

Although, now that we think about it if Justin is the kinda person who Googles himself we hope blogging about this meeting and how cool he was won't completely ruin Cinecultist's chances to make Justin Theroux our friend. We totally promise not to name drop him or give out his phone number to those who only prize him for his abs*. We could catch a flick at Film Forum or something, chat about this and that. It'd be great. Honest.

Okay, we'll stop now before we skeeve out ourselves even with our silliness.

*The abs you could grate cheese on, according to one of them.

Posted by karen at 9:22 PM |

January 10, 2006

Hugh Laurie: CC Cries Uncle

cutie Hugh LaurieWhile Cinecultist was at home in the Nor Cal enjoying some rainy weather and quality time with the fam, we stumbled upon an unlikely obsession. Our parents, particularly our wonderful stepmom Debbie, is a House fanatic. One morning while eating breakfast CC sat at the table rapt as she and our Dad had an elaborate discussion of the characters on this show. We couldn't quite follow but we think it had something to do with the relationship between Hugh Laurie, who plays the cranky but brilliant doctor and Sela Ward. Anyhow, we're used to these heated and esoteric conversations at the Day Job or even over dinner with our friends but not while eating toast in Portolla Valley.

Back home in the Eee Vee and home one night this week, we caught two episodes back to back and now get the hype. Hugh Laurie is completely charming and his show is like Law and Order meets Grey's Anatomy though without Lenny Briscoe or interns hooking up in the hospital. Doing a little Googling on Mr. Laurie, who's up for a Golden Globe this coming weekend, we found out he's school chums with Emma Thompson and Stephen Frye from Oxford. Before he was pigeon-holed in American films into the fussy English dad roles, he did witty comedy like Blackadder. This made CC want to go back to re-rent Peter's Friends, a movie Thompson made with Kenneth Brannaugh that Laurie's also in, back when they were our Bragalina golden couple. It's like The Big Chill only with tea and Britishness.

Anyhow, we think we might be hooked now on Laurie's scruffy good looks and flouting of social niceties. Great. Just what we need, yet another unlikely pin-up in our pantheon of h-o-t-t hot actors.

Posted by karen at 11:44 PM |

December 11, 2005

RIP Richard Pryor


Sigh. Without him, we wouldn't know the brilliance of observational cultural humor of the kind Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle and Bernie Mac practice. Thanks Richard Pryor for making us think and laugh about the world in new ways. We'll miss you.

And if you've never seen Brewster's Millions, the 1985 film where Pryor plays a minor league baseball player who has to waste $30 million in 30 days in order to inherit $300 million, you really should rent it. It's the first movie CC remembers being allowed to watch as a kid that had swearing in it. It's hilarious.

Posted by karen at 12:26 PM |

December 6, 2005

Directors Aren't Pin Ups

Cinecultist hates to seem bitchy about it, but have you also been noticing the incredible fluctuating waist lines of the directors Jon Favreau and Peter Jackson? The sucky thing for those behind the lens is that usually you can take a photo in your anorak and baseball cap (ala Ron Howard) on the set and be done with it. Except for at the premiere. Then you've gotta be all gussied up and standing next to your svelte actors. It's enough to give us a complex just thinking about it.

Do you think perhaps the two of them are just swapping their fat in some secret auteur mind meld? Nah. Though our current theory on Jackson's recent transformation from card carrying geek boy with the looks of the Video Store clerk from the Simpsons to his current, more Hobbit-esque incarnation: the Zone. As for Favreau, as far as we're concerned eat all the cake you want dude. Go for it!
Evidence from their two recent red carpets: Favreau at left from Zathura and Jackson at right last night in New York at the King Kong premiere. He's positively mini now!

Posted by karen at 8:52 AM |

October 3, 2005

Such A Blog Stalker

In continuing celebration of Jen's birthday last week, on Saturday your Cinecultist was talked into heading west to Misshapes and brings you the following story of our shameless blog stalking. If you're not familiar, Misshapes is a new wave '80s-ish club night at Luke & Leroy, a bar in the West Village and it has developed a bit of a reputation in the ol' blogosphere what with pictures on Last Night's Party, mentions on Ultragrrrl's site and Joey's hilarious Blue States Loose Don'ts and Don'ts wrap-up.

Anyhow, Saturday is the first time we'd ever been to Misshapes because frankly the photos of the outfits kids wear to this party can be terrifying, but the music was good, despite being the soundtrack to our junior high school dances with a little Kelly Clarkson thrown in and we'd had a few drinks, so CC's enjoying ourselves. Suddenly, Lawrence lunges across the floor grabbing some guy passing by and says something about him changing his life. Looking over, we realize he has Trent from Pink Is The New Blog in his grip.

We can't recall the full extent of our blathering, mentions of how obsessed our whole Day Job office is with his writing and how fun it was to meet him. Also, how wonderful it is when people begin to pay you for writing or talking about the things you love. At this point, in our drunken and blogger stalker haze CC decided we'd bonded with Trent. Digital cameras documented the moment and now, we look like a Misshapes regular to the readers of Trent's adorable blog. Please note, when you look at said the third picture from the bottom that apparently, the "Misshapes face" is an unconscious reflex. We've not have that expression on our face before or since.

Posted by karen at 2:55 PM |

August 22, 2005

Eee Vee Celeb Sighting

After lunch on Saturday, Cinecultist was wandering around the nabe with Josh trying to ignore the growing humidity with some Sugar Sweet Sunshine banana pudding. Josh was recounting a Jude Law rant previously featured on his blog -- ie the argument that Jude should learn to Keep It In His Pants -- when we simultaneously spotted another bold-faced name, innocently enjoying Indian food for lunch. Passing actor Alan Cumming and trying not to look, CC and Joshie's conversation trailed off pretty abruptly. Then we both started giggling like little school girls.

This may seem pretty immature behavior for cool downtowners like ourselves, unless of course you've seen the commercial for Alan's new fragrance, known quite simply yet blatantly as Cumming.

If only we'd had the presence of mind to turn to the English actor, director, producer and composer and say as he does in his ad, "Well, hello."

Posted by karen at 9:02 AM |

July 12, 2005

It's Good To Be Heckling Again

muppets on movies.comAnother brick in the wall of the Cinecultist's childhood fascination with New York life: the two Muppet characters named after Manhattan hotels, Waldorf and Statler. They're so delightfully crumudgeon-y despite all of their time with a pack of misfits and weirdos like the Muppets. This is, of course, the thought one has when one is laboring under the assumption that the Muppets are, you know, real people. Anyhoo. has launched a weekly series of movie review skits featuring the balcony peanut gallery and this week's features a few yucks at the expense of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. File it under Silly Time Waster.

Posted by karen at 7:32 PM |

May 30, 2005

Asano Tadanobu: What A Man, What An Actor


(from left) from Gohatto; beauty shot of some kind; from Ichii the Killer

Really, you might think this weblog has become an Asian cinema site but it's not true. Cinecultist watches other national cinemas, why today we even watched the New York foodie documentary Eat This New York on the Sundance Channel instead of doing the huge pile of laundry we needed to attend to. (PS. Remind us never to decide to open a cafe in Williamsburg, it looks like a lot of hard, hard work.) But when it comes to films on our list of to sees, the bulk are from parts of Asia. Take for instance Taste of Tea and Cafe Lumiere, two movies we've been thinking/reading about lately and both of which star the Japanese actor Asano Tadanobu. So fascinating, so brilliant -- we're hard pressed to think of an English-speaking actor working so prolifically and also so thoughtfully.

With an Asano movie, you put it in the DVD player and you wonder, "Who will he be this time? What will he do?" You have no idea and there's something so exhilarating about that. He could be an obsessive gay samurai, or a charismatic, womanizing yakuza or a masochistic underworld kingpin. But even more than changing costume or hair color or character detail, Asano has the ability to transform on screen and yet remain completely compelling. To watch Ichii the Killer (as we did a few weeks ago) and then Last Life in the Universe (which CC saw this afternoon), you'd barely know they're the same leading actor. And the guy makes 4 or 5 films a year to boot. It seriously boggles the film-going mind.

Plus, he has this adorable and weird pop star wife, Chara who is really the cutest thing ever, despite not understanding any of the content on her website. They met on the set of Shunji Iwai's movie Picnic and... All right. Enough. You get it. We're a bit obsessed. The problem is that this world of Asian cinema is so beautiful and varied, once you learn a little bit you can't help but want to know more. And also, they're constantly making more so really there's no end to our potential consumption. It's a problem that isn't really much of a problem.

Subway Cinema will be screening Taste of Tea, directed by Katsuhito Ishii, the director Asano made Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl with, exhibition date tbd. Lumiere was at last year's NYFF but doesn't seem to have US distribution yet. Drat. An interview from a few years ago with Midnight Eye editor Tom Mes. And of course, you should buy a copy of this month's Interview magazine devoted to culture in Tokyo. There's an interview with Asano inside and we worked our ass off on it, so that's certainly worth the $3.95.

Posted by karen at 6:09 PM |

March 25, 2005

The Greatest Story Ever Told


The Cinecultist had a crazy-ass week at work. This isn't an excuse, just an explanation for why sheer fatigue kept our browser from pointing to the blank entry in the last few days. So for now, this is one of those lame place holder postings promising more movie opinions and commentary next week. Here's a little teaser of what's to come...Was the Cinecultist amazed and astounded by the new Woody Allen picture? Will the Incredibles dvd ever stop being our favoritest new digital media purchase? Are we more excited than we can even say for the release of Sin City? Tune in next week to find out!

By the way, regarding the above pictures, we realize Moses and the blissed out Bunny with colorful eggs really have nothing to do with each other or Easter but in our pop-addled mind they're some how associative. Go fig. Happy Spring-ish weekend!

Posted by karen at 3:10 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 ingnue 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! Doesnt the obits writer for the freakin' NYT know how to use Simon also starred opposite Jean Gabin (aka The Man) in Jean Renoirs commercial smash and Cahiers du Cinema fave, La Bte 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 Rosenbaums 1000 Essential Films or familiar with the collected reviews of Franois Truffaut. But a masters in cinema studies does this to you that needling feeling when you read about something film history related and youre pretty sure theres some essential factoid missing. Its 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 theres the realization you knew something that a New York Times writer plus their fact checking team didnt know. Its a heady emotion. Sure, its 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 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 |

January 26, 2005

For Your Consideration: Imelda Staunton

imeldaWith the release of the Oscar nominations yesterday (isn't Adrian Brody too cute it makes you a little ill?), Cinecultist feels compelled to begin our "rooting for the Oscar underdog" campaign. Looking at the best Actress category, we can't help but think it will be Annette versus Hilary (again). However, we loved loved loved Imelda Staunton's performance in Vera Drake. It makes us launch into hyperbolic statements like "she's a revelation!" With a Mike Leigh movie, you always know you will be seeing consumate actors in their element but still Staunton surprises with how deep she digs into this character.

Summing it up pretty well, Stephen Holden's Critic Notebook on the Oscars published today.

Posted by karen at 8:57 AM |

November 30, 2004

Twelve Days of the Cloon

george_clooney.jpgWe're not sure if you have this properly marked on your calendars or not, but just in case you weren't aware, it's only 11 more days until the release of Ocean's Twelve. For the casual Soderbergh or nouveau caper fan this is of passing interest, but if like Cinecultist's friend and colleague Ilana you pray to the altar of the Cloon, aka George Clooney, this is a red letter day indeed. Ilana's so psyched about the new movie, she has organized a small, private screening series devoted to the actor who launched a thousand Roman haircuts.

While there really isn't enough room to fit all the potentially interested attendees in her West Village studio, CC did want to post Ilana's excellent and well-researched screening schedule after the jump. Perhaps our readers may want to watch along at home, or could just use some suggestions for good eats in the Double U Vee, as Ilana programmed theme-accompanying food selections for each screening as well. Good food, some snarky commentary and the Cloon's permanent five o'clock shadow with that rakish debonair charm? We are so there.

The Cloon Calendar

Week 1: The Early Years
Monday, November, 29th

6:00P Combat High (1986)

Georges first movie well, made for TV movie. Police Academy meets Private Benjamin. A training ground for The Thin Red Line AND the second-best character name George has had. (Number One is Chic Chesbro Ill let this one be a surprise.)

Food A Salt & Battery

Tuesday, November 30th

2:30P Bodies of Evidence, Season 2 (1993)
Episodes: Shadows (1); The Formula (2); season/series finale Flesh and Blood

Airing the same year as the much renowned Body of Evidence, this was one of Georges many early attempts at TV-series stardom and his second time out as a cop. In a word, brilliant.

Food Variety of Krispy Kreme Donuts

Wednesday, December 1st

8:00P The Harvest (1993)

Credit lip-synching transvestite.

Roseanne, Season 4 (1991) Episode Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down

G.C.s last ep. On Roseanne.

Food Burritos

Thursday, December 2nd

2:00P Red Surf (1990)

Seen Point Break? Its kind of like that only with Doug Savant, Dedee Pfeiffer and Gene Simmons.

Food Lobster Rolls and Blueberry pie

The Quadrilogy (aka the best four movies of all time)
Friday, December 3rd

8:30P Oceans 11 (2001)

The best heist movie ever? Only until December 10th maybe George and Stevens (Soderbergh) second pairing a match made in heaven (minus Solaris).

Waiting for Woody (1998)

A short-film with G.C., Jennifer Aniston and Samantha Mathis; I think the director has friends.

Food Da Andrea

Saturday, December 4th

4:00P Three Kings (1999)

Possible the greatest movie ever? This was back when George was in love with Marky Mark and wanted to make every movie with him until Oceans and Matt Damon came along.

Food Wogies

Sunday, December 5th

5:00P Out of Sight (1998)

Truly, the best movie ever (and a great soundtrack). J. Lo can act!

Food Joes Pizza

Monday, December 6th

7:00P From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

Seriously, its really good.

ER, Season 1 (1994) Episode: Motherhood

Directed by Quentin Tarantino and featuring Dr. Doug with the Caesar

Food Mexicana Mama

Tuesday, December 7th


Directors Fortnight
Wednesday, December 8th

8:00P Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

Great cast, great script, great cinematography, pretty good movie.

Food Sushi

Thursday, December 9th

2:00P South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999)
South Park, Season 1 (1997) Episode: "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride"

Food Grays Papaya

Friday, December 10th

TBD Oceans 12(2005)

Posted by karen at 11:53 PM |

October 25, 2004

Val Kilmer Likes to Make Out

Perhaps a prerequisite to being in Oliver Stone's new movie, Alexander (opening Nov. 24) is that you must cra-ay-zy. Either that, or just give weirdo interviews. Cinecultist has quoted our man Colin Farrell, he of the inappropriate flirting with reporters, here before and we don't think we need to give you evidence of the lovely Angelina Jolie's loose cannon in print but did you know Val "He's still acting?" Kilmer is also in the picture?

Val baby, with a beard like classic Kris Kristofferson and wearing a bathrobe with black lace up boots (creepy old man chic?), answers Katy McColl's queries in this month's Jane magazine. There's no permalink on their flash happy site, so we'll have to direct you to the newsstands and page 87 to read the rest, but here's a choice tidbit from the non sequitur laden conversation.

Jane mag: What's the most fur you've ever donned in a single sitting?

Val baby: Fur? I wore a buffalo rug for a photo shoot in New Zealand on top of a glacier.

J: Doesn't count. What about in your private life?

V: I made out with a girl under a buffalo rug. [Reflectively] "Made out," what's the last time you heard "made out?" Made out? I haven't made out with a girl in hours.

Posted by karen at 8:28 AM |

September 29, 2004

Lessons From The Tilly

JenniferTilly.jpgReason # 5,433* why movies are so darn great the character's brazen gumption can inspire you to take charge in your own life. As you may have heard, Cinecultist is a big proponent of watching 40 odd minutes of a movie on tv we seen a bunch of times before. A couple nights ago, Sundance was airing Bound by the Wachowski brothers (of the Matrix fame) and again we were struck by how awesome Jennifer Tilly is in the first segment of the movie. She's the ultimate brazen hussy, seducing Gina Gershon in three easy steps. We should all take note of her masterful technique.

Step 1) The Tilly eyes Gina in the elevator, giving her the complete once over while her thug boyfriend (Joey "Pants" Pantoliano!) stands right there. 2) The Tilly brings over two cups of coffee, one with milk and one without to the handywoman Gina working in the apartment next door on renovations. Flirting ensues. 3) The Tilly gets her boyfriend's mobster boss to call Gina, who is also in his employ, stating that the Tilly has lost an earring down the sink drain and can Gina come over to fix it. When she does, the Tilly maneuvers her to the couch, tells her she's been thinking about her and then, (and here's the part where brazen takes on a whole new meaning) takes her hand and puts it there, to, you know, prove it to her. Wow! Brilliant! We could totally never do that, but it rocks!

Though it may seem either like a cheesy turn of phrase or entirely apt, but here is a character who is taking life by the balls. She knows what she wants and she takes it. This is no joking around. Let that be an inspiration to you on this Wednesday in September, not necessarily to start making people around you grope you, but that empowerment are just a metaphorical strategic hand movement away. Go out there and get it cinecultists. Get psyched.

*Don't ask us for the five thousand, four hundred and thirty two others, we know that you know what they are already.

Posted by karen at 8:39 AM |

September 27, 2004

Cinecultist Looses The Touch

Confession Time dear cinecultists CC did not attend any movies this weekend.

This is flabbergasting really, because we don't think we can think of when that had last happened, not spending at least part of the two days off at a movie theater. Now, this is the really embarrassing other part, but we had two different conversations this weekend with strangers wherein the person brought up a movie CINECULTIST HADN'T HEARD OF! Shocking, but true. They were by the way The Yesmen and What The Bleep Do We Know?, and of course when we got home we had to Google them, so as to eradicate the memory of the out-of-it-ness from our consciousness.

Here's our lame excuses for not attending any movies this weekend -- 1) Yom Kippur on Saturday. CC decided that the only thing that could distract us from the holy day fasting would be a Sex and the City season six part one marathon. CC hearts Steve Brady, even though he's not a movie. He's the penultimate New York geeky dream-boat. 2) Excellent weather on Sunday. The temperature was so good we just walked back and forth across the Village from brunch to home to the bookstore to the sale at the Gap on Broadway to dinner later, there was no need to really spend any time in the heat or a/c. 3) Blogger birthday parties on Friday and Sunday afternoon.

That's actually where both of the embarrassing conversation occurred, after we'd told someone who wasn't a blogger about our blog focused on movies and movie watching. This funny thing occurs we've observed when one attends parties populated by bloggers and/or the invite came via one's blogging connection, the inevitable "how do you know so and so? Oh, you have a blog? What's it called?" conversation. Now, bloggers aren't shy, for the most part. We actually tend to be a slightly narcissistic bunch. Look it, CC writes in the third person for goodness sake, we're not casting the first stone, by any means. But when it comes to saying the name of your blog to someone who quizzing you on it, the default response is always mumbling and down turned faces. Then, for yours truly, comes the need for the spelling of the url.

After all of that exchange, to then not have heard of the movie proffered by the layman as a way to bond while you both fiddle with the straws in your drink? The horror, the horror. It's all so demoralizing. Anyhow, from that unpleasant experience comes new fire and zeal for our topic, we promise. Just as soon as we finish trolling the web for CMJ tickets and reading those new books we bought on Sunday.

Posted by karen at 9:38 PM |

September 2, 2004

Colin Farrell and his Porn-tastic 'stache

You know it's September at the Cinecultist household, because our doorstopper arrived in the mail, aka the Fall issue of Vogue. And when we say doorstopper, we're being serious. This mother of a fashion mag wouldn't fit into our measly Eee Vee post box and so the good samaritan Postal Worker or neighbor brought it to our doorstep. It's about 2 inches thick this year.

The big news, if you think this sort of thing counts as news, is that the cover features models not actors or celebrities this year. However, Colin Farrell is on the cover of the men's supplement photographed by Mario Testino and sporting the most porn-tastic moustache we've seen in a long time. We searched high and low via Google for some scanned pics of this 'stache but no such luck. Instead, we offer the following quote from Vicki Woods's article where the writer is literally in heat. Enjoy.

"If you're Colin Farrell, you can do what you like, wherever you like (and, often, to whomever you like). We head for a bar in Malibu where "they let you focken smokedon't print the name." As we fight our way in, we're almost felled by a wall of noise: bagpipes. Skirling. It's Tartan Day, apparently. Some guys have their plaid shirts tied around their waists, like pretend Scotch kilts, and they're dancing Highland flings, flapping them up when they see women. Farrell (who is still barefoot) maneuvers me toward the bar, grabs a couple of stools, and hoists me up. Then he puts his face in my neck (he has to; the noise is humongous) to ask what I'm drinking, "Eviaaaan? Naw! You'll have a focken drink with me!" OK, OKCalifornia red? He's already halfway down a Coors beer. He likes noisy bars. He's Irish; he enjoys the craic, which is a very Irish word, meaning party atmosphere, buzz, alcohol-feuled fun. Does everyone know how it's pronounced, craic? (Hint: Loose the i.) Farrell tells me the story of when he first arrived from Ireland and went to a Hollywood party where someone asked him how he liked Los Angeles. "I told him the craic's great here." Angelenos are pretty polite, especially when they're talking to Hot New Talent. Farrell acts out the controlled surprise on the guy's face, followed by polite inquiry as to cultural differences: "Um, uh, so, uhwhere you come from, what is crack?" We both laugh immoderately, and I almost fall off my stool. So Farrell helpfully drags his own stool closer, slides a hard-muscled leg to either side of mine, and wedges me tight to hold me on. (Did I mention he was in pj's?) Reader, your reporter has interviewed many a screen idol in her time. But Colin Farrell is the first one who ever clamped her to a bar counter with her knees pressed cozily into her crotch."
Posted by karen at 11:40 PM |

June 29, 2004

Excuse CC While We Drool On Jake Gyllenhaal

09f.jpgIf one could break down into percentages how much time Cinecultist and Josh Cultivated Stupidity have discussed actor Jake Gyllenhaal, it would probably be a pretty scary number. Last night, CC tried to stress the importance that CS run not walk to the newsstand to pick up the July issue of Vogue magazine with Kirsten Dunst on the cover because the photographs inside of Gyllenhaal with model Daria Werbowy were amazing (insert various noises here which embarrassed even Josh). Fortunately for CS and our readers, has posted Mario Testino's lovely images in a handy dandy slide show as well as an abridged version of the accompanying feature story.

Good-night. That Jakie G is one powerful handsome young feller, shoot. CC's fascination with him, and subsequent screening of his entire oeuvre, began as one might expect, from watching Donnie Darko two summers ago on DVD. (Word to the wise, nothing clears a room faster than admiting you've watched Bubble Boy. Trust us on this one Gyllehaaliacs.) If you've been living under a rock shielding yourself from cinema news you might not be aware that the midnight screening-feuled cult movie is getting a re-release with extended footage from director Richard Kelly sometime this summer. But the pictures in Vogue capitalize on his other up coming role, as a gay cowboy in Ang Lee's 2005 film, Brokeback Mountain. Though they do not feature Heath Ledger (Gyllenhaal's co-star) or any compromising positions, the style editors do one better they imagine Gyllenhaal as a cowboy who wears Ralph Lauren and Paper Denim & Cloth jeans. For the label conscious objectifier like Cinecultist, that's almost better than some glossy Heath/Jake lip lock. Almost.

Posted by karen at 8:14 AM |

April 20, 2004

Girl Crush: Anne Hathaway

mtv.jpgCinecultist is having a bit of a Uncle Grambo moment here as we fawn over Anne Hathaway, star of the new movie Ella Enchanted. She's so preeeety. Her hair is so shiny. Her smile so blinding. It's turning CC into a bit of a blithering pre-teen fan. Evidence: while walking out of a matinee of Ella this past weekend, we caught sight of a poster for The Princess Diaries 2, the follow up to Anne's first star turn as a girl who discovers she's a princess, and exclaimed, "oh goody!" All that's left now, before CC falls into the morass of girl-dom is a renewal of our YM subscription.

In the Teen Starlet Celebrity Deathmatch in our mind between Hilary Duff-Duff and Lindsay Lohan (wherein Lindsay would kick ass), Mandy Moore would be singing the national anthem but Anne would be in charge of ringing the bell to signal the rounds. And Amanda Bynes would be the m.c., "let's get ready to rumble..." Anyhow, we're not sure where this metaphor is going exactly only to say that there's something about Anne Hathaway, like these other girls, who inspires a certain kind of fan reaction. You want to cut pictures of her out of magazines and hang them on your walls. You want to have discussions with your girlfriends about whether their love of the cute tennis player is meant to last. If they put out a vanity pop album, you'd buy it, if only for that one catchy dance single.

CC said this to our friend Lisa about Anne in Ella Enchanted and she gave us a funny look, implying she never felt this way as a pre-teen girl, but we'll repeat it now because we think it's apt. You want to be her, and you want to possess her. It's simultaneous and it's not really sexual, it's just about being a certain kind of fan.

Posted by karen at 8:35 AM |

April 14, 2004

40 Minutes of Familiarity

There's little that Cinecultist likes more than switching on a movie we've seen a million times before and watching forty odd minutes of it from the middle. No need for the premise or the build up, we know that already, and certainly CC has no use for resolutions in these instances. We want sequences, great moments, quotable dialogue, or a particularly delightful reaction from a well-liked actor. CC was thinking about this yesterday evening after we got home from dinner and turned on Grosse Pointe Blank (1997).

Man oh man, Cinecultist loves this movie. We've seen it loads of times, we own a copy even, but perhaps because we've watched it so often we can just focus on impressions that delight, rather than taking in the whole. It's a different kind of viewing experience, certainly not something one could write about in an initial theatrical review. It's all about a screening on TV, in between commercial breaks, or on DVD, if you're also distracted by something else while watching, like the laundry. It's not a focused watching, except for perhaps because you know a scene you really love is coming up and you have to sit down to actually watch it.

Some impressions or thoughts while watching forty odd minutes in the middle of Grosse Pointe Blank, in no particular order

Joan Cusack can deliver a comic line like nobody's business. She has a cadence and rhythm that's top notch. Her chemistry with her brother is just phenomenal too, CC could watch them on screen together all day long. Perhaps someday, CC will teach a class on the filmography of John Cusack. At Cooper Union maybe, a seminar? We'd include a little star theory, we'd talk about his influence on our perceptions of the ideal '80s masculinity. Possible paper topic: John Cusack and Jeremy Piven's collaboration, how have their personas evolved over their 10 films together? That waitress just offered John and Dan Ackroyd the Left My Heart In San Fran-cheesy omelet. Ha. Dan Ackroyd is also totally brilliant in this, as is Alan Arkin as the therapist to John's hit-man. Much funnier shades than Melfi/Tony Soprano and certainly more interesting than the Billy Crystal/Bobby DeNiro pairing. Minnie Driver is so freaking cute. When she slaps John in the nurses station before continuing to make out with him and that airplane flying scene in the bedroom, those get CC every time. This movie has a great soundtrack except that the CD is missing the "99 Luftballoons" song.

This is the part where CC turned the channel and finished brushing our teeth but continued to hum "99 Luftballoons" for the rest of the night.

Posted by karen at 8:23 AM |

February 5, 2004

Care For Some Chicken?

Michael PittIt seems to Cinecultist that greasy-sexy young actor Michael Pitt is everywhere lately. On the cover of Time Out New York this week and thus on posters at newstand kiosks everywhere you walk in the city, in a watch campaign for the Day Job, and in the new Bernardo Bertolucci film The Dreamers where he engages in various NC-17 rated activities. CC first noticed him on Dawson's Creek as the earnest boyfriend to town slut Jen and then as Hedwig's sweet boyfriend in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and thus was shocked to see how grimy he let his looks become after these innocent roles. Doesn't he just look like (in the picture at right) that he wants you to do all kinds of dirty, unspeakable things to him?

CC used to see him around the nabe, particularly stalking across Astor Place with an emasciated surly girlfriend or sitting on the sidewalk outside of the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. We knew he was a working actor but he looked just like any other St. Marks punk. One time, CC had just finished consuming one of our culinary guilty pleasures, medium hot chicken fingers at Pluck U on Third Avenue in the East Village, and there he was eating chicken at the next table. "Perhaps this is where all the grease comes from," we thought to ourselves. He seems to be so blank, so vacuous and yet willing to do anything you might tell him to do, which seems to be why in the end Bernardo cast him over our other favorite young hunk of goodness, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Michael Pitt Quote for the Day from the TONY article, "Okay, 'An orgasm is better than a bomb' may sound like a funny statement," he says, referring to Bertolucci's official remarks after the film's rating was conferred. "But I think a lot of things can be solved by being naked, by being vulnerable and by connecting with people."

Posted by karen at 8:28 AM |

February 4, 2004

The Triumverate


After seeing In America this past weekend (a film Cinecultist will discuss further in a later post but for now: Good. Go see it.), and reveling in the beauty that is Samantha Morton on screen, CC has been thinking about about the list. This is the list we refer to as Actors We Could Watch Reading The Phonebook. Meaning that these actors bring a grace and fascination to the most banal activities on screen and whose charisma carries the audience through the quiet moments of their films. We've come to think of this list as containing three women actors, two French and one English: Morton, Virginie Ledoyen and Isabelle Huppert.

Sure all of these actors have made some lame movies, we know about how bad the Beach and Minority Report and Merci pour le chocolate can be AND YET, CC still finds these actors fascinating even in these environs of lameness. May we recommend instead of playa hating as any kind of best of list like this inspires, watching over and over their good roles such as the Single Girl, Jeanne and the Perfect Guy, 8 Women (with Ledoyen and Huppert!), Morvern Callar, Sweet and Lowdown and the Piano Teacher. There's more to these women's flick of a wrist in these performances than all of the setting gnawing of every other histronic prima dona you can name.

Runners Up and pretty damn good in their own right, if not on The List: Meryl Streep, Emily Watson.

Posted by karen at 8:32 AM |

November 17, 2003

Celebration in the Mean Streets


PCC is taking a break from her regularly scheduled programming (i.e. massive amounts of school work and very little time to post) to wish one of her most favorite directors, Martin Scorsese, a happy 61st birthday. In case you too want to take a break from your busy life and bask in the genius of Mr. Marty, here are five of his films you must see.

1. Taxi Driver- The first of the many acclaimed Scorsese-De Niro collaborations, this is a story of New York, taxis, scum and violence. Be sure to check out the eerie music from Bernard "Psycho" Hermann.

2. Italianamerican- How many famous directors can you think of that have made documentaries about their parents? This is sweet and engaging look at Italian-American life in New York City.

3. Raging Bull - It doesn't matter if you don't like boxing- this Academy Award-winning film is about a man trapped in his own private hell that just happens to be shaped like a fighting ring.

4. The Last Waltz- A concert films to end all concert films, Scorsese's portrait of The Band's final show creates an ensemble of some of the finest singers and songwriters from the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Van Morrison, as well as a performance by legendary blues singer-guitarist Muddy Waters.

5. Goodfellas- Scorsese's quasi-documentary on the rise and fall of a Mobster features knock-out performances by Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco.

Posted by jordan at 5:47 PM |

October 29, 2003

NYC Celebrity (Sorta) Sightings

Last week Cinecultist brought to you the sad tale of our B-grade and lower celebrity sighting tendencies. We put it to our faithful readers (all five of you hearty souls) to send in your own embarrassing tales. Let's just say, the cinecultists did not disappoint. Thus, we bring you this week's installment of Celeb-a-cultist judged on a scale of humiliation from "funny story you might tell while drunk" all the way up to "wouldn't confess to your religious leader of choice."

Maggi P. told CC she saw Drew and a member of the band-du-jour the Strokes. This is the kind of sighting that does not count. Send that to Choire at Gawker please, that's much too celebtastic for this forum. Catching glimpse of Tatum O'Neal, Craig Bierko and Jackie Mason are highlights of Gary P.'s life in the West Village. Gary perhaps should get out more, but not entirely cringe inducing. Casey B. tells us he saw Joe Levy from the Rolling Stones near Katz's on Houston. This gets points for being in our 'hood but then, the score goes down when it's a music person. Granted, he did recognize him from a "Behind the Music" episode, but film and television, this is where we know bad celebs from at cinecultist.

Runner up goes to Betsy B. for telling CC how she recognized this actor from the ballet opus Center Stage, Randy Pearlstein at Park in Chelsea. Only after second reading of said e-mail, did we realize she recognized an extra from Center Stage. And tried to pick him up. Unsuccessfully. Kudos, Betsy, kudos.

But the winner goes to our friend Lisa G., a newcomer to New York who while on the Upper East Side last week heard a man say into a cellphone "Hey Bill, it's Tom Arnold." And it was that Tom Arnold. She would've walked straight past him, yet he identified himself to his friend -- by first and last name. Totally D-list, totally humiliating. The trip to Aruba is yours Lisa, congrats! Direct all further Celeb-a-cultist sightings to karenATcinecultistDOTcom and we'll post them as need dictates. Happy celeb (sorta) watching!

Posted by karen at 7:45 AM |

October 21, 2003

Isn't That?

As per a conversation with Josh Cultivated Stupidity over pink drinks in Yorkville on Saturday night, we bring you a new feature to Cinecultist, sightings from the Celeb-a-cultist. Living in NYC, CC sees her fair share of familiar faces when out and about, besides our run-in with Ms. Spiers, but they're most often just barely famous. We're talking pretty seriously B-level, or even C-level celebrities. The problem is that CC watches so much television, reads so many magazines and sees so many movies that often these people look like someone who's an acquaintance. Where do we know that person from? Isn't it some syndicated television show set in the Amazon jungle and starring washed-up supermodels?

This weekend, CC almost plowed into Gloria Reuben (Jeanie Boulet from ER) while we were carrying our wash home from the laundry mat. CC has also recently seen yet another cast member of the ballet classic Center Stage, this time Sascha Radetsky walking through the West Village, though we've also seen Zoe Saldana at the Anjelika and Ethan Steifel at City Bakery. More odd sightings recently have included former supermodel turned photographer Helena Christiansen in Tribeca, as well as sighting three or four of Jesse Eisenberg in the East Village. Drea de Matteo and Jane Adams (Joy from Happiness) live near CC, so they're around drinking coffee, walking the dog and such working actress activities.

These are some pretty lackluster sightings, not even a Drew and a Stroke, but they're part of the fabric in our New York life. Have you got some Celeb-a-cultist moments? We're talking being seriously embarrassed you even saw the person, let alone recognized them. Send them in (to karenATcinecultistDOTcom) and we'll publish the saddest ones.

Posted by karen at 8:05 AM |

October 6, 2003

Mark Ruffalo Report: Nice Guy

When Cinecultist can't be out on the town, rubbing elbows with all of the celebs at the movie openings and whatnot, we have our trusty spies in there for us. One such pair of eyes reported the following tidbit on the after party for a screening of Jane Campion's newest, In The Cut: Mark Ruffalo is a really nice guy. While the rest of the A-listers like Meg ("surprisingly good in the movie AND she's a brunette") Ryan, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon sat around in their own little clique, only allowing equally prestigious guests like Campion into their circle in the corner, Mark "totally cute in person" R. hung out downstairs with the crew and various extras. And he knew their names. This is the kind of story CC likes to hear about inclusive, keeping it on the dl actors. Rock on Mark, we're happy to see you back on the silver screen (also currently appearing in My Life Without Me) after your illness.

Our friend Fiona So Much Modern Time attended the after party for the opening night of NYFF and Mystic River at Tavern on the Green where she got drunk, ate fancy food and talked to director Michael Almareyda. Check out her full hob nobbing report. Gothamist also attended opening night of the fest.

Posted by karen at 7:43 PM |

September 25, 2003

Three Names, No Waiting

sws.jpgCinecultist kinda loves it when actors have three pronounced names, it's so weirdly formal and strangely uptight. Robert Sean Leonard. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Jennifer Love Hewitt. Freddie Prinze, Junior. Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. Mary Kate Olsen. But our favorite triumvirate-named actor has to be Seann William Scott. So goofy. Sorta hunky. And everything humiliating he does in the name of slapstick in his movies, from making out with Ashton Kutcher to drinking spunk-laced beer, is more than just a little bit homosexual. He's the type of actor who seems like a Keanu (all surface) but the more you watch him, the more he appears to have unmined depths. (And we only sort of mean that to be an anal play pun.) Although, bear in mind that even with our deep and abiding love of SWS, we have no plans to see his newest movie, which according to's photo gallery was originally titled "Helldorado." Now that's a good title. 'Cause see we have this thing about not respecting actors with only one name....

The "official" Seann William Scott fan listing. A review of his new movie with the Rock, The Rundown by Michael Agger on Slate. He's also set to appear in remake of the French film, Gregoire Moulin Vs. Humanity, a romantic comedy wherein he'll steal a girl's wallet to introduce himself to her "heroically" according to Now that's a movie CC would be excited to see SWS in.

Posted by karen at 7:58 AM |

August 27, 2003

Reid 'Em and Weep

ms tara reid.jpg Speaking of My Boss's Daughter, CCC has something to admit.

We don't hate Tara Reid.

There, we said it. In fact, we kind of like her. She was the best thing about The Big Lebowski (You heard us! Bring it!), and Josie and the Pussycats was one of the better, and more clever, of the teen movies of its time. Yes, yes, we acknowledge that most of what Tara Reid has acted in is a blight to the cinema landscape, but she's managed to be in a couple of "eh" things. Cruel Intentions, for example, was another great teen movie of its time (shhh...she's only got a small role). And Dr. T & the Women by Robert Altman. And until we discovered taste, we though that Urban Legend was a pretty scary movie.

Alright, alright! She sucks, ok? Tara Reid hasn't contributed anything to the history of film. But she's kind of pretty, in a plain way. And she's been slinging dirt at Colin Farrell, with a real actual factual point. And she's got that voice! That raspy voice. That sexpot without trying, I-just-woke-up-from-a-deep-sleep-and-now-I-gotta-sing-the-blues voice! Please, someone, give her a worthy role! It's not like most actors and actresses really deserve the accolades the receive for plum roles! Just...someone...please. Please. And we still stand by what we said about The Big Crapowski and Josie and the P-cats.

Other Raspy Voiced Actresses We Like (and some we don't. guess which, it's fun!)

Shannen Doherty
Brittany Murphy
Demi Moore
Kathleen Turner
Faye Dunaway
Bette Davis
Courntey Love

Posted by josh at 2:57 PM | | Comments (3)

August 20, 2003

Maggie Cheung Goodness

maggie.jpgCinecultist can go on and on about our recent favorite Asian actresses but there's really none like Maggie Cheung. She can make us laugh. She can make us cry. And she can make it look like she could knock us out with one hand tied behind her back. This woman's a powerhouse.

If you only know her from In the Mood For Love, we implore you to check out some of her other work. Here's our top five Maggie-liscious favorite performances:

1. Center Stage (aka the Actress) [1992]-- In this wonderful self-reflexive movie, Maggie and director Stanley Kwan reconstruct scenes from the life and performances of Chinese silent film star Ruan Lingyu. Intercut with footage of the original Ruan and interviews with her contemporaries, Maggie gives a delicate performance as the melancholy diva.

2. Song of Exile [1990] -- Director Ann Hui wrote this script partially based on her own experiences returning to Taiwan after studying abroad in England. A complex look at the complicated issues of migragation between the Mainland and the islands, Maggie plays a young woman trying to reconnect with her emotionally scarred mother. The kind of movie that will make you weep and reach for the phone just to tell your own Mommy you love her before it's over.

3. Irma Vep [1996] -- Playing "herself," Maggie arrives on the tumultous set of a French film cast as Irma Vep, the leader of the crime gang the Vampires. The director (played by French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Leaud) has become obsessed with Maggie after seeing her in the Heroic Trio but everyone else in the cast and crew is a little less convinced she can do the job. Maggie wears a latex cat suit, do you need more convincing? Yeow.

4. White Snake, Green Snake [1993] -- A Tsui Hark directed film (Once Upon A Time in China) where Maggie plays one of two snake spirit sisters who transforms into a woman. Based on a reworking of a classic Chinese fable, she's the Green Snake who battles priests, seduces men and does this amazing snake walk that left CC flabbergasted.

5. Comrades, Almost A Love Story [1996] -- A bittersweet melodrama about Mainland immigrants trying to make it in the urban bustle Hong Kong, this movie is When Harry Met Sally meets Far and Away only really really good. Silly Cinecultist got so caught up in this story, we actually thought sassy Maggie might not end up with the guy in the end. Another three Kleenex box movie with Maggie's luminous face as the central attraction.

Coming soon for this beauty queen turned serious actress and international sensation, a new collaboration with Wong Kar-Wai in a sci-fi flick called 2046, a winter release of Zhang Yimou's historical drama Hero already a huge hit in Asia, and another film with former husband Olivier Assayas. All of these movies (plus many more! except Song of Exile) are available on Netflix and MoMA will be screening Irma Vep as part of the Assayas retrospective next month (Sept. 21).

Posted by karen at 11:54 PM |

August 17, 2003

Yes, We're Talkin' to You


PCC would be remiss if she didn't take the opportunity to wish one of her favorite actors of all time a happy 60th birthday. Yes, he's made some rotten films of late, but no matter how many bad mob comedies the man makes, Robert De Niro will always be Travis, Vito and Jake to PCC. In case you've missed some of the biggest films of the last three decades, here are five De Niro films you must see.


Taxi Driver (1976). Yes, the majority of people on the subway will have some idea what you're talking about if you burst out with 'you talkin' to me?'. Yes, if you've taken a film class, chances are you've seen it. But just because it's not obscure doesn't make this Scorsese-De Niro collaboration (thankfully, for those of us who are fans of both, the first of many) any less gritty, raw and ultimately powerful. As Vietnam-vet-turned-crazed-cabbie Travis Bickle, De Niro practically oozes tension and alienation. His co-stars are also phenomenal, especially 12 year old Jodie Foster as a prostitute and Harvey Keitel as her pimp.


The Deer Hunter (1978). This is truly one of the best Vietnam war films ever made. Though less than a third of the story actually takes place during the war, its portrayal of three friends (De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Savage), both before, during and after combat, is so powerful you feel as though you've been in jungle along side them. The climactic scene between De Niro and Walken (who won a much deserved Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the troubled heroin junkie Nick) in a Saigon gambling den is one of those moments when you want to both cover your eyes and watch at the same time. Also look for Meryl Streep in one her numerous Oscar-nominated roles.


Ragin Bull (1980). Usually not a fan of boxing, and especially boxing movies, PCC loved this Scorsese-De Niro film precisely because it wasn't only about boxing. Instead, it tackles larger issues - such as obsession, violence, love - all of which are intertwined in the intensely complicated Jake LaMotta. And even though PCC thought she would never utter these words, the boxing scenes were simply amazing, especially when accompanied by Pietro Mascagni's 'Intermezzo' from the opera 'Cavelleria Rusticana'.


Cape Fear (1991). Yet another Scorsese-De Niro collaboration, this one a remake of J. Lee Thompson's 1962 film of the same name starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. De Niro is at perhaps his creepy-psycho best as Max Cady, a rapist who's just been released from jail and is hellbent on wreaking havoc in the lives of his lawyer Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte, who, for once, isn't crazy!) and Sam's family (Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis). A bit gruesome for the faint of heart, it's a damn good remake and even features cameos by the original stars, Peck and Mitchum!


And finally*, Ronin (1998). Directed by the late John Frankenheimer, Ronin follows a group of freelance thieves handpicked to steal a mysterious package. The title comes from the Japanese word for samurai who have no masters. Of course, nothing goes as planned and double-crossings, elaborate car chases and hesitant new alliances ensue. Co-starring Natascha McElhone, Jean Reno and Stellan Skarsgrd, Frankenheimer's film transcends the run-of-the-mill heist movie and gives us real, developed characters to root for. De Niro plays Sam, a former CIA agent and the focus of the story. And even though PCC is biased in favor of action movies, this one actually delivers suspense, as well as amazing car chases through Paris and the French countryside.

*Since it was so hard for PCC to narrow down her favorite De Niro films down to a paltry five, she's slipping in a few last-minute recommendations, though she doesn't have time to write about each and every one. That said, go rent The Godfather: Part 2, Casino, Goodfellas, Midnight Run, Backdraft and Copland.

Posted by jordan at 2:59 PM |

August 13, 2003

Happy B-Day Hitch!

bdayhitch.jpgIf the old boy were alive today, he'd be 104. And would probably want to dish out an ass kicking to Gus Van Sant. A few Hitchcock favorites for the Cinecultist staff:

Best Film:
Notorious (PCC -- For awhile, the longest continuous kiss on film), Marnie (CC -- If you have to bite anyone, bite me Furio!)

Most Overrated:
North By Northwest (PCC), Strangers on a Train (CC)

Torn Curtain (both -- Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in a thriller together seems like a good idea...)

Most Interesting Works of Criticism on the Fat Man:
Robin Wood's Hitchcock's Films Revisited (PCC)
Tania Modleski's Women Who Knew Too Much (CC)
Francois Truffaut's Hitchcock (both)

Google's icon today when clicked on reveals an Alfred Hitchcock search. In 1999, NYU's Cinema Studies hosted a conference for Hitchcock's centenary and resulted in a collection of essays to mark the occasion.

Posted by karen at 4:41 PM |

July 29, 2003

Great White Hope

Sunday evening, consumate entertainer and the celebrity most associated with the USO show of yester-war, Bob Hope passed away in his Toluca Lake home. He was a very impressive 100 years old. Cinecultist knows he's a figure who inspires much nostalgia and reverance for movie-goers of a certain age, but when racking the brain for classic Hope movies to comment on, we could only muster up White Christmas, a sort of passible Americana infused song and dance fest. Which on further research, stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, not Hope. Okay, so we got nothing in terms of Hope memories.

hope.jpgIn search of a more expert opinion, we fired off an e-mail to the original Wilson cinecultists, Phyllis and Red (aka CC's grandparents). Phyllis responds:

We just watched a piece on Hope on PBS. We liked him best in his repartee with Crosby. He wasn't a good actor but good in Beau James and the first Road picture Road To Singapore. I listened to him every week on the radio when Grandpa was overseas for a year and 1/2, and then I'd write his jokes to My love where ever he was.

Isn't that too cute for words? CC feels all buoyed up by the thought of youthful optimism, Hope in the face of hardship and red lipstick paired with seamed stockings.

For the full NY Times coverage, including an audio slide show. TCM offers their obligatory day of Hope movies. Walter Reade has a series already planned, to commemorate Hope's century. that starts Aug. 8. A list of Hope jokes from the Washington Post suitable for sending to your love.

Or, you could rent a CC fav, the Muppet Movie which features a Hope cameo. A true legend understands its important at some point in the career to act with puppets.

Posted by karen at 10:36 AM |

July 11, 2003

It's Amazing How Far One White Tank Top Will Get You

Now, PCC wants to make it clear that once upon a time Bruce Willis, aka former Mr. Demi Moore, held the much coveted spot atop PCC's list of actors she despised. He beat out Nic Cage (with the exception of Raising Arizona), Russel '30 Odd Foot of Grunt' Crowe, Tom Selleck, Tom Arnold, Eddie Murphy, Val Kilmer, Tom Green and the newest member, Irish bad-boy wannabe Colin Farrell. Willis' reign as most-despised-actor didn't stem from a particular role, or any insulting public statement or interview PCC read. No, there was just something about Brucie that made PCC recoil.

But times have changed and PCC has decided to reevaluate Mr. Willis. What prompted this reappraisal, you might ask. Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm weather in usually mild Portland that caused PCC to rent something mindless, violent and full of dirty white tank tops. And it was with Die Hard (though not Die Hard 2, which was awful) that PCC carefully dusted off her reigning king of hated actors and moved him to a new, more positive, mental shelf. Though Brucie has not yet joined the ranks of Adrien B., Giovanni R., Daniel D.L. et al, he's slowly making his way up the ladder. For those of you not familiar with the former Mr. Moore, PCC has compiled a list of Willis' 5 best films, in chronological order.


Die Hard (1988). From the producer of the fantastic Lethal Weapon series (PCC is completey serious, she adores Weapons 1-4), Die Hard is your basic shoot-'em-up action flick that's actually suspenseful. Bruce plays NYPD cop John McClane who must save a building full of hostages from the maniacal 'European' terrorist Alan Rickman. Lots of blood, guts and Brucie running around in a dingy white tank top with C4 explosives, as well as the birthplace of the useful phrase 'yippee-ki-yay motherfucker!'


Pulp Fiction (1994) For those of you who've had your head in a hole for the past decade and missed Quentin Tarantino's follow-up to 1992's Reservoir Dogs, Bruce plays struggling pugillist Butch Coolidge who kills a man in a fixed fight and, true to his man o'action form, spends the rest of the movie trying to avoid various violent people and briefly reviving the cinematic career of the samurai sword in American film (until its triumphant return this winter with Tom C. in The Last Samurai).


Twelve Monkeys (1995). Sans hair and paired with wacko Brad Pitt, Willis is excellent in Terry 'Monty Python' Gilliam's futuristic plague thriller. The constant shifting between the 'past' and the 'present' can get a bit confusing, but if you watch carefully, everything makes a modicum of sense at the end.


The Sixth Sense (1999) Despite not being a huge fan of horror films- or Mr. Willis, for that matter- the first time she saw M. Night Shyamalan's film, PCC was actually quite impressed. If you haven't seen it (please refer to Pulp Fiction's head-in-a-hole bit), PCC won't ruin the ending for you, and will only say that Bruce gives a wonderful performance as child psychologist Malcom Crowe who finally takes Haley 'I see dead people' Osment seriously.


And finally, 2001's Bandits. Go ahead and laugh, but PCC loves this film. The cast is perfect: Bruce as a slick ladies' man/bank robber Joe Blake, Billy Bob Thorton (though is a last name really necessary here? how many other Billy Bobs do you know?) as his uber-phobic partner Terry Collins and Cate Blanchett as the woman they both love. There's enough action to satisfy Brucie's Die Hard contingent, but also lots of quirky humor, thanks in large part to the hilarious interactions between Bruce and Billy Bob. A satisfying ending, as well as being filmed in Portland, make Barry Levinson's film quite an enjoyable two hours.

Posted by jordan at 2:10 PM |

It's Amazing How Far One White Tank Top Will Get You

Now, PCC wants to make it clear that once upon a time Bruce Willis, aka former Mr. Demi Moore, held the much coveted spot atop PCC's list of actors she despised. He beat out Nic Cage (with the exception of Raising Arizona), Russel '30 Odd Foot of Grunt' Crowe, Tom Selleck, Tom Arnold, Eddie Murphy, Val Kilmer, Tom Green and the newest member, Irish bad-boy wannabe Colin Farrell. Willis' reign as most-despised-actor didn't stem from a particular role, or any insulting public statement or interview PCC read. No, there was just something about Brucie that made PCC recoil.

But times have changed and PCC has decided to reevaluate Mr. Willis. What prompted this reappraisal, you might ask. Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm weather in usually mild Portland that caused PCC to rent something mindless, violent and full of dirty white tank tops. And it was with Die Hard (though not Die Hard 2, which was awful) that PCC carefully dusted off her reigning king of hated actors and moved him to a new, more positive, mental shelf. Though Brucie has not yet joined the ranks of Adrien B., Giovanni R., Daniel D.L. et al, he's slowly making his way up the ladder. For those of you not familiar with the former Mr. Moore, PCC has compiled a list of Willis' 5 best films, in chronological order.


Die Hard (1988). From the producer of the fantastic Lethal Weapon series (PCC is completey serious, she adores Weapons 1-4), Die Hard is your basic shoot-'em-up action flick that's actually suspenseful. Bruce plays NYPD cop John McClane who must save a building full of hostages from the maniacal 'European' terrorist Alan Rickman. Lots of blood, guts and Brucie running around in a dingy white tank top with C4 explosives, as well as the birthplace of the useful phrase 'yippee-ki-yay motherfucker!'


Pulp Fiction (1994) For those of you who've had your head in a hole for the past decade and missed Quentin Tarantino's follow-up to 1992's Reservoir Dogs, Bruce plays struggling pugillist Butch Coolidge who kills a man in a fixed fight and, true to his man o'action form, spends the rest of the movie trying to avoid various violent people and briefly reviving the cinematic career of the samurai sword in American film (until its triumphant return this winter with Tom C. in The Last Samurai).


Twelve Monkeys (1995). Sans hair and paired with wacko Brad Pitt, Willis is excellent in Terry 'Monty Python' Gilliam's futuristic plague thriller. The constant shifting between the 'past' and the 'present' can get a bit confusing, but if you watch carefully, everything makes a modicum of sense at the end.


The Sixth Sense (1999) Despite not being a huge fan of horror films- or Mr. Willis, for that matter- the first time she saw M. Night Shyamalan's film, PCC was actually quite impressed. If you haven't seen it (please refer to Pulp Fiction's head-in-a-hole bit), PCC won't ruin the ending for you, and will only say that Bruce gives a wonderful performance as child psychologist Malcom Crowe who finally takes Haley 'I see dead people' Osment seriously.


And finally, 2001's Bandits. Go ahead and laugh, but PCC loves this film. The cast is perfect: Bruce as a slick ladies' man/bank robber Joe Blake, Billy Bob Thorton (though is a last name really necessary here? how many other Billy Bobs do you know?) as his uber-phobic partner Terry Collins and Cate Blanchett as the woman they both love. There's enough action to satisfy Brucie's Die Hard contingent, but also lots of quirky humor, thanks in large part to the hilarious interactions between Bruce and Billy Bob. A satisfying ending, as well as being filmed in Portland, make Barry Levinson's film quite an enjoyable two hours.

Posted by jordan at 2:10 PM |

Daddy Depp & the Good Stuff

A Question for the Ages: How come Johnny Depp can be so very great as a drunken, swashbuckling Keith Richards-esque pirate but seem so very dumb on Page Six?

"Out on the street, you never know what you're getting," Depp (right) tells next month's GQ, explaining his plans to supply his two children by singer Vanessa Paradis with quality pot untainted by PCP. "Suddenly two days later you're beating yourself in the head with a tennis racquet, wearing a towel, quoting Poe. You don't want that for your kid."

More of a review of the astonishingly excellent Pirates of the Caribbean to come.

Posted by karen at 1:22 PM |

July 8, 2003

Cinecultist Stalker

Cinecultist correspondents have been following with glee the firestorm of interest over at Gawker surrounding gawker stalker. This is a feature wherein readers (like CCC) send in strange and unusual celeb sittings and Liz Spiers publishes them. We love this because Cinecultist is particularly in tune to noticing the infamous on the streets of New York and since moving here has seens all sorts of interesting creatures in their natural habitat.

But the point that must be stressed is, the New York protocol is to not really look at the celebs too long or too obviously; we have to allow them to pretend that we haven't noticed them, so they'll continue to graze or fluff their feathers or whatnot. We preface with all this because this weekend, CC in an attempts to gawker stalk sort of ended up seeming like we were hitting on poor young Jesse Eisenberg. We'd recently watched Rodger Dodger on a recommendation from PCC, wherein Jesse plays a high school student being schooled in the ways of women and Elizabeth Berkeley by his uncle (Campbell Scott). And we must have looked a little too long at the 20 year old actor while we were walking up First Ave Sunday afternoon, because he gave us the "eyebrow raised--do I know you? should I know you? could I know you?" look. Oops.

The moral of the story: gawker stalk celebs at your own risk, they might think you're hitting on them when you are just pleased that you sort of recognize them.

Posted by karen at 7:08 PM |

June 30, 2003

Mike Macauley Conner or C.K. Dexter Haven?

kate2.jpgPerhaps one of the reasons that Cinecultist loved Katharine Hepburn is that she had the best choice ever -- Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart? If not in real life, where she actually chose Spencer Tracy, then in the magic fictional world of the Philadelphia Story. It's like trying to choose between chocolate and more chocolate, it is an impossible choice. Actually CC thinks it says a lot about a person whom they think Tracy Lord should be with in the end, the stubborn working class journalist who she sparks with or her dilettante ex-husband childhood soul mate. The familiar or the unknown, which would equal more happiness for the heiress with a heart of gold?

Hepburn's iconic performances gave us the opportunity to ponder these questions about ourselves and our life choices. She also made us laugh at her brilliantly executed pratfalls and cry with her heart-renching delivery. As a devote of the romantic comedy, in particular the screwball variety, CC's mind naturally gravitates towards her comic roles when thinking of Hepburn's career. She personified the screwball heiress, a woman too clueless for words but too charming to resist. Stanley Cavell in Pursuits of Happiness, talks about how in the case of certain actors the camera could create types from individuals, or individualities. Their "mannerisms and eccentricities so satisfied the appetitie of the movie camera" that their "distinctness was the staple of impersonators." Hepburn had a style all her own, even if her physicality could be imitated, one of independence and integrity which shone through her characters like a beautiful inner beacon. Watching her act, we couldn't help but be on her side and identifying with her at every turn. To know she is gone from us now, is to truly feel like a part of us is lost, she so captured the imagination.

Turner Classic Movies will air a tribute on July 10th of Hepburn's movies. Be sure to check out at least a few of them, they are the kind of films that enrich your whole person.

Schedule for July 10th:
6:00 AM Mary of Scotland ('36)
8:15 AM Holiday ('38)
10:00 AM Woman of the Year ('42)
12:00 PM Adam's Rib ('49)
2:00 PM Pat and Mike ('52)
4:00 PM The Lion in Winter ('68)
6:30 PM Katharine Hepburn: All About Me
8:00 PM Bringing Up Baby ('38)
10:00 PM The Philadelphia Story ('40)
12:00 AM Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? ('67)
2:00 AM Little Women ('33)
4:00 AM Undercurrent ('46)

Posted by karen at 7:24 PM |

June 29, 2003

Katie's Gone


Screen legend and sassy woman inspiration to us all, Katharine Hepburn died today at the age of 96. Check out Caryn James's lovely obit while we collect our thoughts, dry our eyes and think of the best things to say about this favorite actor. Gregory Peck and now Hepburn, it's been a sad summer for cinephiles.

Posted by karen at 10:25 PM |

June 28, 2003

Movie People Blogs

When CC attended the Ethan Hawke tribute last month, the celebrity/movie person that was the most exciting to see was Richard Linklater, the indie auteur from Texas. Two years ago, CC saw him discuss his fascinating animated feature, Waking Life at the New York Film Festival along with star/collaborator Wiley Wiggins. Wiggins is very charming, both on screen and on a panel answering sort of inane audience questions. He expresses himself very well (more so than one might expect from watching him as drunk teenager in Dazed and Confused, say.) CC discovered a link to his personal site (via and wouldn'tyouknow, Wiley has a personal blog called News of the Dead. There's photos, writing and other Wiley-related film stuff on the site.

Cinecultist finds this fascinating, the amount of stuff people will put on the web about themselves. It makes online faux-stalking so much easier. Wil Wheaton, former child star of Star Trek, also has a personal blog that's quite popular. If you know of any other celeb/quasi-celeb blogs send them along, we'd love to compile a list.

Posted by karen at 12:41 PM |

June 26, 2003

Life as a Temp


Despite PCC's feelings of revulsion for the Sprecher Sisters latest film, 13 Conversations About One Thing, PCC decided to give their first effort, Clockwatchers, a shot. The first thing that much be mentioned is the fact that this is not a comedy. Yes, there are amusing bits here and there, but nothing knee-slapping, shelve-it-in-the-comedy-section funny. It's sad, depressing even. Instead of a routine write-up on the film, PCC has decided to take this opportunity to provide readers with a must-see list for one of Australia's most talented, yet under-appreciated actresses- as well as the star of Clockwatchers- Toni Collette. Since Australia seems to be PCC's nation of film-viewing choice lately, here are 5 Toni films, both Australian and American offerings, that one should see [listed chronologically]:

Muriel's Wedding (1994). Collette plays Muriel (and sometimes Mariel), a young Australian woman stuck in the dead-end town of Porpoise Spit. A die-hard fan of ABBA, Muriel decides that the only way she'll fit in with the popular girls who routinely reject her is to get married. Family tensions and a desperate search for a husband ensue, with touching, often hilarious, consequences. Don't miss Rachel Griffiths in her film debut as Rhonda, Muriel's quadriplegic new friend.

Velvet Goldmine (1998). Though TC doesn't have a major part, she shines as Brian Slade's (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) ex-wife, Mandy. Gotta love Haynes' homage to David Bowie and Iggy Pop (and of course, who can resist J R-M and Ewan McGregor?).

The Sixth Sense (1999). Collette received her first Oscar nomination (hopefully the first of many!) for her role as the over-worked mother of that kid who saw dead people. She covered up her Aussie twang with a Philadelphia accent and held her own against Bruce Willis and little Haley Joel.


About a Boy (2002). In one of PCC's favorite films of 2002, TC plays the depressed, occasionally suicidal hippie mother of 12 year old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult). Or, in the words of Hugh Grant's Will, she's a 'barking lunatic'. Labels aside, Collette is brilliant as a mum who truly loves her son, but doesn't always understand him, or herself. [Be sure to read Nick Hornsby's book of the same name, upon with the film is based]


And finally, The Hours (2003). While she only has a supporting role, TC's Kitty Barlowe provides a crucial arena for the audience to learn more about Julianne Moore's Laura Brown (and yes, she gets to kiss JM, which prompted PCC's friend L to exclaim 'oh god, more lesbians!'). Collette is perfect as the vulnerable, yet wary woman who seeks more than friendship from Moore, but isn't quite ready for what she receives.

Posted by jordan at 7:33 PM |

June 20, 2003

Wilson Brothers

Just because we write about movies here at Cinecultist, doesn't mean we have "good" taste. That's our round about way of saying that despite the abysmal tv promos for Alex and Emma, we'll probably see it this weekend. Moviefone has a cute feature comparing the Wilson Brothers (Luke and Owen), whom we think are both adorable. If you haven't seen Bottle Rocket, we recommend it highly as they both star, it's the first Wes Anderson/Owen Wilson collaboration and it's sure to be better than both Alex & Emma and The Big Bounce (Owen's next picture with Morgan Freeman as his co-star) combined.

Posted by karen at 12:35 PM |

June 15, 2003

Three Cheers for Ms. Bellucci


In the Internet Movie Database's most recent edition of Movie, TV and Celebrity news, there was a quote from Monica Bellucci (Malena, Irreversible, The Matrix Reloaded) that PCC thinks deserves to be repeated. With all the recent publicity surrounding Renee Zellwegger's announcement of her impending weight gain for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Ms. Bellucci's comments on "childish American actresses" who are "afraid to be real women" is right on the mark. PCC finds it hard to imagine that Renee could look as good as Ms. Bellucci in the skin-tight white dress the latter wore as Persephone in The Matrix Reloaded. PCC can picture said dress falling off the skeleton that tries to pass itself off as a woman. Hooray for Monica Bellucci and her curves!

Posted by jordan at 8:16 PM |

June 13, 2003

One More Peck Masterpiece for the Record


In addition to CC's admirable list of must-see Gregory Peck films, PCC wishes to add one more, Alfred Hitchcock's 1945 film, Spellbound. Coming in a close second for PCC's favorite Hitch films of all time (trailing only the marvelous Notorious, 1946), Spellbound pairs Peck with the supremely talented Ingrid Bergman, as an amnesiac doctor/murder suspect and a frigid psychoanalyst, respectively. Though the film is a bit heavy on psychoanalysis (supposedly producer David O. Selznick wanted the film to be based on his own experiences in therapy...control issues, anyone?), the lead performances are magnificent. Only Peck could make a suspected murder look so sexy, yet vulnerable. It's no wonder that Bergman's Dr. Petersen began to thaw when Peck's John Ballantine came on the scene. In addition to the strong performances by Peck and Bergman, the film also boasts an incredible dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali. Though PCC does not yet own it (due to the steep price), the Criterion Collection reissue of Spellbound looks amazing, with special features such as an illustrated essay on the Dali dream sequence and hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos and publicity material for the film. If you don't want to shell out $40 just yet for the Criterion DVD, rent the regular one and you won't be sorry.

Posted by jordan at 12:25 AM |

June 9, 2003

To Allen, Or Not to Allen


Woody Allen is the sort of director who polarizes people -- you either love him to death, pattern your mannerisms around him and fetishize New Yawk like he does OR you think he's a dirty old man, over-rated director and generally ick. Cinecultist happens to fall into the former category but until recently, had given up on the Wood-man's current work which seemed to be mostly miss.

The man's getting up there in age, 68 this December, and frankly, its just creepy to see him paired with the young and not so young engenue's of Hollywood. Also, real fans of his films tend to just ignore his private life (sort of like Democrats who support Clinton) which seems to be the best policy in terms of appreciating his quirky sensibility. If CC does not fault Woody for some of his characters onscreen ticks, knowing they are part of the albeit flawed yet charming package, then its best to carry this attitude over into the whole view of the man.

If you're looking to get reaquainted with his pictures, might CC suggest Small Time Crooks, a relatively recent production from 2000. Woody plays a paroled bank robber who convinces his manicurist wife, played by Tracy Ullman, to open a cookie shop two doors down from a bank so he and his buddies can tunnel underneath into the vault. Of course, things go hilariously awry. Elaine May, who is one of cinema's most brilliant writers and comedians, plays his dumb cousin and the movie is worth watching for her performance alone. Tracy's also great as is Michael Rapaport, an Allen regular also in Mighty Aphrodite.

While Woody Allen may not be making the series of masterworks that he did as a younger man, its still too early to write him off as a director of merit when he can still churn out Small Time Crooks and Sweet and Lowdown.

Posted by karen at 2:31 PM |

May 29, 2003

The Grey Haired One

A viewing of the classic comedy All of Me reminded Cinecultist (and trusty roommate LS) how much we love Steve Martin. We began to play the game "Have You Seen This Steve Martin Movie?"

Some CC favorites include: L.A. Story, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

LS is partial to The Jerk and The Man With Two Brains as well as All of Me because Lily Tomlin is so delightfully queer.

Steve Martin is the kind of comedic performer who doesn't rest on his laurels, he writes books, plays and has graced such classic television programs as "the Smothers Brothers" and "Saturday Night Live". He's even been in a Muppet Movie (credited as the Insolent Waiter). This alone allows CC to pretend that Bringing Down the House didn't really exist. Up next for Steve: film versions of his novel, Shopgirl and his play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile as well as an adaptation of one of CC's favorite childhood books, Cheaper By the Dozen.

Posted by karen at 1:57 PM |

May 27, 2003

Sex On Legs


Cinecultist began her mini-DVD series on Elizabeth Taylor yesterday with the Tennessee Williams classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Prior to the Society for Cinema Studies Conference, CC had a long talk with eminent film scholar and friend, Lucas Hildebrand about his upcoming paper on the grande dame, Liz, which prompted CC to add a number of her films to the Netflix Queue.

Hildebrand told CC some pertinent things about Liz: first off, she doesn't like being called Liz. Secondly, she may be a camp icon but she really does act her little heart out. She does not mean to be arch and ironic, like say late Judy Garland, but is really just larger than life. As evidence, Hildebrand urged CC to rent Butterfield 8, which is on it's way soon. But speaking just to Elizabeth's performance and her larger-than-life persona in Cat, CC thinks she's just mahr-ve-lous.

That body, that hair, those eyes, those torpedo-shaped boobs -- she is truly sex on legs as Maggie the Cat. Her drawling accent just oozes around the room enveloping the scrumptious Paul Newman as Brick. When he barricades himself in the bathroom to escape her, but then begins caressing her nightgown hung on the door, you really have to sympathize with the poor guy. CC watched Cleopatra relatively recently as well and when Elizabeth is on screen, she's hypnotic. Previously, CC was only familiar with Elizabeth through her tabloid headlines following her marriage and divorce with that construction worker and her manic, deluded announcement at the Oscars that the winner for best picture was Gladiator. It makes one realize that certain gorgeous people should just die young, so we don't have to watch them deteriorate. Luminous, crazy Elizabeth Taylor is one of them. Sad, but true.

Posted by karen at 1:46 PM |