Monday, December 22, 2008

Top "Ten" (UPDATED, with asides)*

1. The House Bunny (They let girls be funneeee!!!!)

2. Happy Go Lucky (Sally Hawkins portrays a character whose manic joy is a conscious choice -- look at that scene with the schizophrenic when he says, "You know?" and she says, "I know." I'm telling you, that girl's been through some shit, you can see it all there under the surface)

3. Wendy and Lucy (I never wanted to take care of a fictional character as badly as I wanted to take care of Wendy)

4. The Flight of the Red Balloon (alchemy -- I don't know how this director made me feel the things I felt watching this movie; it can only be magic)

5. A Christmas Tale (Oh, I just want to live in that big house with Catherine Deneuve!)

6. Wall-E (the first forty minutes are divine)

7. La France (the last scene made me realize that WWI really was the war to end all wars -- nothing was ever the same again, not for nation states, not for this couple, not for anybody ... oh, and I liked the songs)
8. My Winnipeg (hilarious and nostalgic and wonderful -- I'll never forget the interlude about tearing down the hockey stadium and I don't even like hockey ... also, Ledge Man? Awesome)
9. Headless Woman (A disturbing psychological mystery with a specific sense of place, and utter fragmentation)

10. Stepbrothers/Gran Torino (Richard Jenkins and Clint Eastwood duke it out for my favorite male perfs this year -- funny and bitter and who knew Jenkins could improv like that?)

Bonus Round:
11. Sparrow (That umbrella sequence? My stars!)
12. Be Kind Rewind (Made me feel more in love with the cinema, know what I mean? I just left the theatre happy!)
13. The Romance of Astree and Celadon (a visual petit-four)

14. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Honorable Mentions:
13. Still Life
14. Silent Light
15. Ballast
(The last three all gorgeous films, but I tend to go for belly laughs, sweetness, whimsy and froth, so maybe these were a bit austere for me, though they're still undeniably great)

Still Want to See:
Duchess of Langeais
Man On Wire
Rachel Getting Married
You The Living
The Class
Of Time and The City

Overrated, I Think:
Reprise (what am I missing? Maybe I spent too much time ogling the cute blonde boy and not enough time paying attention to the movie)
Dark Knight (good but not that freaking great)
Let The Right One In (not that I didn't like it, but ...)
The Last Mistress (ARGH!)
Synecdoche, NY (blah blah blah ... and visually ugly)
Paranoid Park (meh)

*Please note: all lists are unranked.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I think I know who the dead weight is here

Rob and I are co-authoring our first article ... RIGHT NOW!

It goes a little something like this:

A: What do you mean by this sentence?
R: I mean what it says.


A: Is there another word for "thing"?
R: (silence -- he's checking the fantasy football index)
A: I can't DO THIS!
R: What?
A: When this is over, can we never do this again?
R: Yes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Time Enough At Last

When I was laid off earlier this month I spent the first few weeks in a state of euphoria. No more data entry! No more purchase orders or FedEx PODs or invoices colored that particularly appalling shade of pink. No longer would I spend forty hours a week staring blankly at my computer, scrolling aimlessly through Excel files and seeing nothing. Imagine not having blurry bloodshot eyes, not being so drained and blank and uniquely and utterly exhausted at the end of the day by a job so mind-numbing you could perform a lobotomy on me and I wouldn't feel it. I was thrilled. I would, at last, do what I've always wanted to do. I would write.

I felt like a horse released from a tiny paddock, overjoyed at last to be stretching my muscles. There would be no more imagining what I could do if I only had the time to really, really work at it. This was it. Time enough to do all the reading and writing and research I needed. Time enough at last! Of course, anyone who's seen the Twilight Zone remembers this episode in which poor Harold Bemis wants nothing more than to be left alone to read and then ends up stranded in front of a library filled with all the books in the world and no reading glasses. Maybe this is the time when, at last, I realize I'm a talentless wench with delusions of grandeur who can't write worth a damn. Perhaps this will be the time when I confirm what I have long suspected: that I am, in fact, silly and ridiculous. Maybe I'm less a caged mustang than a fattened veal calf who, once freed from the stall, will do no more than graze aimlessly and be really boring. (And possibly collapse. Don't veal-calves have muscle-tone issues after all that immobility?)

I left work early today, and found myself on a subway car occupied by at least two people who appeared to be schizophrenic and I thought, "This is it for me now. Riding public transit with crazy people. Is this what the future holds? Is this an omen?" Well, here's what I could figure out from what I could hear (it wasn't easy to write down because schizophrenics talk really, really fast):

Schizo One: The medicine man scares away evil spirits.

Schizo Two: And god created all of us and on the sixth day he rested.

Schizo One: Beyond the infrastructure, beyond the sales tax. 100 million jobs, that's all we got. And then we got taxable deductions. Before 1991 ... sold the nation. Columbus, tribal era, medicine man, after Helen Keller, the Nazis, and electrical wire. You got demon eyes. You male or female? Night and day. Josef Mengele. 1992. People want the truth. Electrical charges. Look at telephones, cell phones, ten years ago and today.

Schizo Two: Are you Catholic?

Schizo One: Stay out of my bedroom, tell me the truth. Criminal record. What's your report card? We're already at one percent violence. A soul receptor like a satellite dish or an antenna. Spinning out like molten lava, a volcano. Control time and manage time. Nutrition and exercise. Also, versatile time, like a roller coaster.

Schizo Two: You better get out of town.

And it continued in that vein. This was certainly a confused and jumbled prophecy. I wasn't sure I should set any store by it until I got off the train and staggered home to find a fairly healthy tax bill in the mail. I'm pretty sure Schizo #1 predicted that.

Merry Christmas everybody. It's been a hell of a year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Contender For Best Film Still of 2008

I love how he throws away the ring and keeps the box.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fan Friday Worth A Thousand Words

Anna Faris, when will you star in my madcap Mabel Normand comedy? When!?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Calling all history buffs

I'm spending a lot of time today researching women's undergarments from 1917, mainly because I need to know:

a) How hard would it be to get dressed in the morning? Would corsetry have been impractical for a woman who lived alone?
b) How common was it for women to live alone anyway?

I doing this because both these things bear on my screenplay (I'm in the throes of revision at the moment). Even though I'm OK with my story being historically anachronistic on some levels, I still like to imagine my characters' daily lives from the moment they get up in the morning to the moment they go to sleep at night. Plus, if one of my gals is wearing the Spirella Corset (above), she's going to have a lot of trouble running for the streetcar. I need to know these things.

Now I can't stop thinking about people in my favorite old-timey books, and wondering how they got dressed in the morning. How did Caroline Ingalls do it? Also, what about the New York City tenement women with five kids and nary a husband in sight? Who laced them up in the early mornings by lamplight as they readied themselves for a long day at the shirtwaist factory?

Anyway, if any of my readers has any insight into either a) corsetry for singles and b) the incidence of single, apartment-dwelling women circe 1917, drop me a line, would you? In the meantime, I go to the Google button on my internet machine.

Update: Speaking of digging through old stuff, The Nitrate Film Interest Group of the Association of Moving Image Archivists has a Flickr photostream of unidentified film stills; if you think you have what it takes, head on over here and help ID them.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Everybody loves ...

Everybody loves Murnau, Borzage and Fox. I'll have to get these discs individually through Netflix (if that's even possible) due to the steep price tag of the box set, but I look forward to catching up on my movie watching in the cold, dark days ahead. (I do *not* look forward to canceling TCM, but as a lady of reduced circumstances, I must bear it cheerfully.) Lots of stills and a very thorough review to whet your appetite here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Delightful Headline of the Day

"Toothy Sawfish Doomed by Own Design"

via Discovery

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What might have been

Well, I just had my New York City Teaching Fellows interview ... not sure how it went, honestly, but I generally do poorly in interviews (no time to show off my unique brand of irreverent wit, I guess) so I'm a little nervous about the whole venture. Also, they only hire about 10% of applicants so, meh, the odds ain't good anyway. The fact that I have the distinct impression the interviewer was laughing at me? Well, that might be paranoia. But I didn't have an answer for the question about what I did the last time there was a decision made in the workplace I didn't like. I just went blank -- I was like, "Decision? Me? You must be thinking of someone else. I just enter data."