Friday, January 19, 2018

Eight Hours Do Make a Weekend

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Even though you'd be hard-pressed to believe it if you only listened to me (oh my god I wouldn't wish such a fate on anybody - that's what it's like inside my brain! What a nightmare for you) there are other movies out this weekend in wide release besides Call Me By Your Name - hell there's another maybe masterpiece out this weekend. It is called Mister Phantom Thread, just Phantom to its friends, and I reviewed it right here. So you should make a double-feature of it! I even sort of connected the movies earlier today when I talked about CMBYN some, so they might work that way. 

I'd say to you that that's a lot of movie to take in but my plans this weekend include sitting inside of MoMA for eight plus hours of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's recently remastered 1972 television series called Eight Hours Don't Make a Day, so I win. Wish me luck with all that winning (I will probably need it)... but mostly just hit the comments and tell me what you thought of Call Me By Your Name now that it's finally in proper wide release. Bye!


Call Me By Your What Now?

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"Call me by your name and I'll call you by mine..."

It's the title of the book, it's the title of the movie. It's the sweet mid-coital nothing that Oliver (Armie Hammer) whispers into Elio (Timothée Chalamet)'s ear. But it's not nothing, and lots of people don't see it as nothing - specifically I mean it seems to drive a lot of people batty. I've seen it come up on Twitter, in reviews of the film, and I have heard it in person from friends who didn't like the movie. "What the hell is that about?" "Who would say such a thing?" So on. 

I have some ideas. (I know. You're shocked. Me with ideas about Call Me By Your Name? What is the world coming to, et cetera.) I also want to hear your ideas because my ideas are mostly just bumbling around not entirely formed - if author André Aciman has been asked about this or talked about it at length I haven't read it and I would like to, so somebody forward me that link if you've got it! - but let's just try to sort my ideas out.

First things first, Oliver is a major book nerd, in case you didn't notice.  They both are. CMBYN is a story about scholars - Elio lies around in the rain contemplating 16th century French romance novels written in German and when he brings it up to Oliver, Oliver's all, "Yeah, I know exactly the one you're talking about." As much as I project myself into the film while watching of the film I've never been, not even when I was a lazy English Major in college reading Rimbaud on the Quad, as impressive as these two are. But I know the type, and I was a bit of the type, and this is just the sort of thing these book nerds would get off on. 

It's poetical, a romantic flourish - a sublimation of one's self into the form of one's beloved. They're young - I know some people have trouble since Armie was 30ish when they filmed the movie but Oliver is only supposed to be 24, and Armie's performance gets giddier and more youthful the more he hangs out with Elio, and this seems like something he's either done before or always wanted to do. He's giddy, enamored - he bounces around once they consummate their thing. This has the feel of that youthful sort - set them alongside the tumble of names in Wuthering Heights, all Heathcliffs and Catherines falling forever through the ages. 

Do you think that Oliver got this idea from a former lover? Do we think that Oliver has had former male lovers? I can't remember if that's made explicit in the book or not, but the film doesn't hint either way. It seems possible to me - it's a game he tried before and enjoyed. We know so little of the Oliver outside of this summer in Italy; who knows? It's not the sort of thing he would do with the wife-to-be waiting at home though - that'd be like Ennis always flipping Alma over in bed. It reads as specifically Gay to me - the centuries of male-male romance propped up as some kind of divine  romantic narcissism, the mirrored images in love with one another, falling into your own reflection and drowning. 

I do think it's telling, in this respect, how very different physically that Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet are; telling at least with respect to Luca Guadagnino's intentions - I believe in the book they're written to look more alike than they end up looking in the movie? Anyway the actual physical - the six foot five muscular blonde versus the six foot slight brunette - is  made less important through this choice than the intellectual, the emotional, the spiritual aspect of this intimacy these two are bridging at this moment. Them looking like Gay Twins would be a distraction from that; it would put an emphasis on the Physical - we'd think they were only obsessed with one another because of how outwardly alike they were. Instead we can sense that it's something more, some exchange, right off the bat. As Elio's father says, "Because it was him, because it was me."

And that's what "Call me by your name and I'll call me by yours" as pillow talk comes down to mean for me - it's the secret shared language between two specific different people who've erased the outward and are now speaking to one another, and only one another. The reversing of names allows for all of the film's ideas about identity to mix up with this but ultimately what it's about is the same thing that I argued Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread to be about - it's about two people finding a way to speak to one another that seems crazy and weird to the outside world but which makes perfect and complete sense to the two people intimately involved with the speaking.

It's Twin Language gobbledegook as far as it concerns us outsiders - what matters is that they get it. What matters is that Elio can cut Oliver short on that fateful phone call at the end of the film by summoning it out of the ether - you can see it on Timothée's face at that moment as Oliver talks about his father sending him to a correctional facility. This is not the conversation I wish to be having right now, his face reads. And so he summons their secret code. Elio, Elio, Elio, Elio. And Oliver stops. He breathes in. He groans (and I do mean groans - Armie really delivers it) his own name out, Olivvvvver, as if they are in each other's arms again. he remembers everything, he says. And Elio smiles. The bridge they built to one another remains. They still have their secret place.

As it was, as it shall always be. Think back to the opening scene of the film - think of the very first words that Oliver and Elio say to one another. Oliver has just arrived. Elio comes downstairs to meet him. He walks into the library and his father introduces them waving his hand back and forth between the two of them. ""Elio, Oliver. Oliver, Elio." Already it's begun, the overlapping of names. Oliver smiles, reaches out to shake Elio's hand, and says his very American, "How ya doing?"

And as they shake hands Elio says back, "Nice to meet you. Elio." Clearly he's repeating his own name by way of introduction, but I think it'd be unwise to think this interaction meaningless or a mistake at this point - Elio looked Oliver in the eyes, shook his hand, and called him by his name. And that was just the beginning.
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And here are links to my previous big pieces on the film:

My initial reaction to the movie from the NYFF right here
Day After list of thoughts just starting to form right here
My great big piece on the film's sex and voyeurism right here
Little love letter to Amira Casar (+ assorted thoughts) right here
Or click here for ALL of our exhaustingly extensive coverage


Quote of the Day

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I don't know if y'all saw the pictures (I posted one on Twitter but weirdly never posted one here, so there one is above) of Timothée hanging out with Ansel Elgort at a basketball game recently but it turns out they went to LaGuardia Performing Arts High School together (Ansel was one year above Timmy) and had some teachers in common - well Vanity Fair went and talked to their shared Drama teacher, a man named Harry Shifman (side-note: Hey Journalists why haven't you found his "Statistics" teacher Ms. Lawton???) and he tells some great stories about the two of them so the whole thing's worth reading but I liked what he had to say about seeing Call Me By Your Name the most so here's that:

"I thought, my god, that’s pure Timmy. He brought himself to that role, and revealed all the many sides of himself. It was very courageous that he could do that. I was gloriously delighted. I was moved. I was just sobbing in that last shot... You could see how active his mind is. He really goes to those places, even when he doesn’t express exactly where he is, because he has a marvelous ability to play opposite to what he’s experiencing. So you see this inner dynamic pull between what he’s feeling and what he’s willing to reveal that he’s feeling, which, of course, just provokes that emotion in the audience. That’s very sophisticated."
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Which is Hotter?

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With a name like Guy Madison you already can tell sight unseen  that you're in for one of the tip-top beefcake actors of the 1950s (Rock Hudson Much) and sure enough Guy Madison delivers. But since doing a great big gratuitous post on Guy one year ago today (he was born on this day in the year 1922) I have actually gotten around to actually seeing an actual movie that Guy starred in! You know, as opposed to just staring at pictures of him holding a bow and arrow while half-naked, I mean...


... of which there are surprisingly lots! Somebody's fetish was fêted that day. So anyway the movie I saw Guy act in was called The Beast of Hollow Mountain and I know, I know, you're already sold on wanting to see it thanks to that title.

But like the human rights campaign told us, it gets better! The titular beast is a claymation dinosaur terrorizing a western town, and the claymation is so lousy that it no doubt gave Ray Harryhausen the shits when he saw it. And it is absolutely a delight for that. Oh and Guy swans around...
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... looking like that. Not to be missed! In all seriousness it's the perfect movie for a Saturday morning, I do recommend it if you've got the slightest bit of nostalgia for this kind of cheese. Or beef (of the cake sort). Beef and cheese, y'all! One big juicy burger of fun.


bike trails

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Marnie (1964)

LiLil: How do you take your tea, Miss Taylor?
Marnie: Usually with a cup of hot water and a tea bag.

I haven't watched Marnie in at least a dozen years but I'll be damned if I can't anyway hear that line above delivered by Tippi Hedren via her eloquent bird-song voice in my head - nobody but nobody (well maybe Grace Kelly, always Grace) could pack so much haughty glamour into the words "tea bag" but her. A happy 88th birthday to Tippi today! We're so lucky to still have her!
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Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, Call Me By Your Name Day

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There are maybe a dozen shots I could list off the top of my head in Call Me By Your Name that I could call (thank you Charlie Kaufman) a synecdoche of it - meaning shots that in miniature represent the whole shebang. I already did it with one on Twitter a couple of weeks ago right here. And this shot of Timothée would be another, and maybe the funniest of the bunch - a young man lounging around nothing to do but to fiddle with his newfound manhood... here represented by the hair under his arm, but just a second later represented by... 

... well, you know. YOU KNOW WHAT THINGS. (And yes Timothée and I do in fact have the same allergy, thanks for asking.) Anyway I can't really make the joke that "Every day is Call Me By Your Name Day here on the blog!" anymore because the posting has totally calmed down a lot about the movie, but seeing as how the movie is finally in wide release across the States as of today i figured I should maybe call today Call Me By Your Name Day. So happy Call Me By Your Name Day!
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Yes indeed I saw the film a thirteenth time last night, and I think I will have a couple new-ish things to say about it this afternoon if I can get around to it, so stay tuned. Although if you're smart you're already at your local cinema watching the first showing of the movie, and you're planning on sitting through every screening all day, because that's what I wish I was doing. But anyway stay tuned for that, and more probably, or whatever, we'll see.
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Today's Mood

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I've got a check-up with the dentist this afternoon, so that's it for today I'm afraid. No... you're not hearing me -- I mean that I am afraid I am going to die. That this is it!!! God, I hate the dentist. Wish my teeth, coated in chocolate and negative thoughts, luck.
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Wu Raider

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There is a whole lotta CG sturm und drang in in the new trailer for the Tomb Raider reboot starring Mrs. Michael Fassbender but none of it comes close to making my ass find a seat opening weekend as much as the two shots of her co-star Daniel Wu in a tank top do. (See plenty more of Mr. Wu right here.)

Giving Lara Croft a scorching hot man to bump ugly bon mots with was a blessed part of the Angelina Jolie Experience as well - Daniel Craig & Gerard Butler sauntered around being objectified in the original duology, and the movies (generally terrible movies) were just the slightest bit better for it. Glad to see they're sticking true to that much, at least! Watch:
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Tomb Raider is out on March 16th.
What do you think? Yay? Nay? Wu Too?
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Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...

... getting the rub-down from Luke Evans.

Luke posted this video of him getting handsy with his Alienist co-star Daniel Brühl earlier today, and I have to say I do like these two's interplay. (See also here.) The Alienist premieres next week and I've already seen the first two episodes and I will say more on them shortly (aka not now, but shortly) but you should set your DVRs. Or watch it live? Do people still watch things live? Anyway it premieres Monday night on TNT. Oh and if you need one more reason to watch I learned something that ought to push it right over the edge...
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The Moment I Fell For... Andrea Riseborough

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Looking back now I see that I make no mention of Andrea Riseborough's small role in Mark Romanek's 2010 film Never Let Me Go (weird that this is the second time this movie has come up this week; I guess it's due for a re-watch) in my review of that movie, but I vividly remember her and Domhnall Gleeson striking me - these are gonna be somebodies, I thought. Riseborough had already been in Mike Leigh's Happy Go Lucky at that point, although I don't remember that film well enough to remember her in it. 

Anyway the next year Riseborough became somebody, to me anyway, in the most unlikely of places - she gave a tremendous performance as Wallis Simpson in Madonna's awful 2011 film W.E., making that morally dubious film impossible to entirely ignore as much as one might want to. And from there on every movie she appeared in was made better by her presence, and I'd go out of my way to see things for her. 

It's easy to pretend that Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion is entirely an Andrea Riseborough Film, even with Tom Cruise there running and screaming and running and screaming - by this time I was already regularly singling her out for boundless praise in my reviews - and she might have been the single thing in Birdman I wanted more of. 

But by this time last year when she was popping out of all of two minutes of Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals, the single most joyous and boisterous thing in that dour but beautiful movie,  I was past being ready for more - I was angry. Give this woman her damned due already, Hollywood!

This past year might have been the one where that feeling of Not Enough finally got felt by enough people, I think. Her performance as Billie Jean King's hairdresser turned lovah in Battle of the Sexes was another classic from her, full of all the life and vigor that those of us who've been paying attention expect from her on screen. The romance that she and Emma Stone captured made that movie work - their every scene together was sexy and memorable...

... and once again Riseborough seemed, even to a person who's been paying attention all this time, like a totally different person. I don't know how she does it, but she surprises me every damn time. I finally got to see her in person at a Q&A for Battle of the Sexes this past year and she even surprised me in person, as herself.
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I still have no idea who this woman is after all of these years, and I cherish that. I think Battle of the Sexes might represent a turning point in her career, but then just a couple of weeks ago we got a reminder of what Andrea's capable of, of the U-turns that she still manages effortlessly, with her absolutely brutal performance in the new Black Mirror episode called "Crocodile," which is the sort of thing that makes people cross the street when they recognize the person they'd seen doing those things she does in this.

I won't go into specifics of the John Hillcoat directed episode because I know some of you have maybe not seen it yet but it's an exceedingly dark hour of TV, maybe even excessively dark, although the fact that it's female-led gives me pause on that charge because we don't usually get to see a woman behave THIS badly and Riseborough's typically go-for-broke and that is a gift, a gift to savor.

Anyway I bring all of this up because Variety put an interview with the actress up yesterday wherein they discuss the FOUR films she's premiering at Sundance this month. Here's Variety on them:

"There’s “The Death of Stalin,” a savage political satire from “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci, in which Riseborough plays Josef Stalin’s daughter. Then she stars opposite Nicolas Cage in “Mandy,” a gonzo thriller that combines romance, carnage, and supernatural creatures. Riseborough also appears in “Burden,” a drama about a man’s break with the Ku Klux Klan that also stars Forest Whitaker and Garrett Hedlund. Lastly, she headlines and co-produces “Nancy,” the story of a disturbed woman who becomes convinced she’s an elderly couple’s long-lost child."

(Sidenote: I posted a picture of Hedlund in Burden on the Tumblr earlier this week.) You can read the entire chat here. I hope one or all of these movies are good great movies and I look forward to them but no matter what I'm about 99% sure that Andrea Riseborough will be great and totally captivating in every one. It's what she does.

What's your favorite performance of hers so far?
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Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Holiday (1938)


Johnny: When I find myself in a position like this,
I ask myself what would General Motors do?
And then I do the opposite!

Archibald Alexander Leach was born on this day 114 years ago in Bristol of England, and 28 years after that he became Cary Grant, working actor, with the sex comedy This is the Night - a film that really only seems to be remembered for marking the debut of one Mr. Cary Grant. 

Later that same year (we're talking 1932 at this point) he'd star in more memorable pictures - there's the submarine thriller Devil and the Deep, which starred Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, and Talullah Bankhead... and yes Talullah Bankhead worms her way onto a submarine and it is just exactly what you think that would be like, aka awesome.

bike trail guide

PS I've posted about Devil and the Deep before (how could I have not, with that cast) -- read that here. Anyway we're not here to talk about Gary & Tallulah, although it sure is hard to not talk about Gary & Tallulah, we're here to talk about Cary!

Charles is fine with that. Super fine. So anyway besides Devil and the Deep Cary also starred - in this his first year making movies! - in Josef Von Sternberg's film Blonde Venus opposite Marlene Dietrich, although much moreso - he's the proper leading man this time around. Cary was tops from the get-go really, is my point.

And yes Blonde Venus is the movie where a blonde-afro'd Marlene does a, um, let's say "racially charged" strip-tease out of a gorilla costume while surrounded by black dancers done up as "ooga-booga" jungle people. It's one of the most striking sequences ever put on film though, I really recommend you watch it if you never have:
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I suppose Von Sternberg & Dietrich felt they needed to one up her infamous song and dance numbers in The Blue Angel and then the one in Morocco where she wore a tuxedo and kissed a woman - I can't imagine what Marlene Dietrich seemed like to the folks of 1932. Can you imagine? A space alien. She must have felt like their Tilda, I guess.  Anyway... right, Cary, we are here to talk about Cary. I keep forgetting! How does one forget Cary Grant???

I quoted Holiday up top, which I just re-watched for the dozenth time over the New Years break - it's a New Years movie and one of the greatest ever made if you don't know; I can't recommend it highly enough. I can't really say it's my favorite Cary Grant movie because he made all of those movies with Hitchcock but it's definitely my favorite Katharine Hepburn film - she's stunning and dreamy and funny and perfection in it. Wait... am I talking about Hepburn now? What is wrong with me??? CARY EFFING GRANT...

... is in the house. Point being earlier this week we posted our weekly "Beauty vs Beast" series at The Film Experience and asked you to choose your favorite Male Star of Alfred Hitchcock, between Cary and Jimmy Stewart, and you should go vote on that for a first or a fifteenth time. Cary is actually in the lead right now, although to be honest my vote would go for... you know what? Nevermind. It's Cary's birthday. I'm just gonna shut up. Love you, Cary!


Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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It's only appropriate that I appropriate (ha see what I did there) a phrase from Field of Dreams here on Kevin Costner's birthday - if you build it, they will come, and if Miguel Angel Silvestre posts a shirtless picture of himself on Instagram, I will post it here in turn. Tit for, uh, tit I guess? Thanks, Miguel! And happy birthday in heaven*, Kevin Costner!

*Kevin Costner is not dead as of this writing.
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