Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Great Moments In Movie Shelves #170

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As literary-minded and bookish as Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (which came out 26 years ago today!) is - it's filled with books and letters and the reading of books and the reading of and writing of letters and it does, after all, insert an author's name right there into its title - it's kind of surprising to me that there is hardly a proper library shown in the entire gosh-darn overwrought shebang. With all of these gorgeous sets...

... you'd think they'd have given us a character 
scouring their shelves for a copy of Arabian Nights...

But then the great underlying tension of Coppola's movie is between the written word and the projected image - this is a Movie Movie, riffing on every single cinematic trick in the (dare I say it) book, and it cackles with deranged delight in the process of its own adaptation. It flaunts everything that books cannot - gorgeous actors in glorious over-the-top costumes chewing up Grand Guignol scenery. Why would we see Richard E. Grant taking boring old doctor's notes when...

... we can stare at that insanity instead? I dare you, I triple dog dare you, I "pile of rats in the shape of Gary Oldman" dare you, to pay attention the next time you watch the movie for how many times books and letters are used as transitional spaces...

... or hell, as actual landscapes...

... making the process of adaptation actual (dare I say it) text. Coppola's talking about "Making a movie out of a book" as much as he is talking about anything here, and his kitchen sink post-modernist approach offered every film-maker who came after him a road-map to excessive adaptive success. This is how you do it, folks.

There is one, count it one, library in the movie -- at the law firm where Keanu's Jonathan Harker works at the start of the film, when he's shipped off by his boss to meet with the Count...

... and get the whole sordid ordeal started. I suppose if you wanted to (and I'm saying it here, so I probably want to) you could consider this the moment that the book is taken down off of the shelf, and everything that comes after is coming from between its covers. Also, importantly, Keanu's suit in this scene really kicks ass.


Ezra Miller Ten Times

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I don't have much in the way of hopes in a high nature for this weekend's latest Potterverse installment The Crimes of Gingerbread or Gingivitis whatever the hell it's called - as long as there are many, many shots of Jude Law in his tweed trousers shot from the back I'll probably be satisfied. In all seriousness I don't remember anything about the first Fantastic Beasts movie. Not a lick, nor whit. 

But I've got my tickets for Friday night nonetheless - the things we do to to make sure we use up the money we've already spent for our movie theater subscriptions. Let's hope there's fun to be had, Jude's ass to be ogled, and Ezra here (pics via) is allowed to inject a whiff of camp to the proceedings, as is his clear wont. Hit the jump for the rest of this for him extremely tame photo-shoot...

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Sister Act (1992)

Sister Mary Patrick: I can't believe the Pope
is coming! This is better than ice cream!
Sister Mary Robert: It's better than springtime!
Sister Mary Clarence: It's better than sex!
No, I mean... I've heard.

It's possible I've seen Sister Act as many times or more than I've seen most movies, as it was one of my mother's favorite films when I was a kid and she'd slide that old-school video-cassette into the player on a weekly at least basis. So even though it's been going on three decades since then I could probably still recite entire passages from the film - a hefty chunk of my brain remembers the reworked lyrics to "I Will Follow Him" instead of my early teens, and that's just the way I prefer it. A happy 63 to Whoopi today!
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Hey Look, It's Todd Solondz

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Todd Solondz is primarily known as the writer-director of feel-good romps involving racism, homophobia and child molestation. But he's also got a couple of acting gigs on his resume! They're mostly in his own early work, but there are two movies of some renown that he has cameos in. In 1997 he was the "Man on Bus" in the above scene from James L. Brooks' classic As Good as It Gets - you figure this was after he'd directed Welcome to the Dollhouse, which was a huge art-house success, and this was moments before he dropped the megaton Happiness on the world. So he was a somebody. And I think Helen Hunt plays this moment hysterically well - Todd is set up as the weirdo, since visually... he was a weirdo. But she never acknowledges him and she's the one who invades his space, pressing further and further in as she waves goodbye to her son. That last little finger poke, where she's basically poking Todd in the ear, really makes it. I know there are people who groan about her Oscar win but I think she's fabulous in this movie. 

Todd's other acting cameo was ten years earlier in Jonathan Demme's Married to the Mob (proving that Solondz even chose his cameos wisely) -- he plays "The Zany Reporter" who gets off a question about prison food to Dean Stockwell's murderous mafioso (this is towards the end after he's been captured and put on trial for killing Michelle Pfeiffer's horn-dogging hubby played by Alec Baldwin). In case you can't make him out in that gif (he's over Matt Modine's shoulder) here's an exact look at Todd, looking totally zany:

So that's fun! In related news Welcome to the Dollhouse has finally been released on blu-ray, everybody! (Thanks to Brad for the heads-up.) Be forewarned that it's a bare-bones package, though - the disc only has the film's trailer on it. Well that and the film, and the film is plenty. Doesn't it seem absolutely perverse that there's only one film of Todd's that's gotten the Criterion treatment though? His 2010 film Life During Wartime specifically, which is an admitted masterpiece, but how do you not put Happiness on blu-ray? HOW???


Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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I am aware that these are some super goofy gifs of Gerard Butler (in the 2001 miniseries Attila) with the floating bloomers and long locks, but it's his birthday today and I feel bad for him after he lost his house in the California wildfires and I'd already posted anything worth posting on him way back in the day -- skim through our archives but like, skim hard, far, cuz it's been awhile -- so this is what we got. Anyway it introduced me to Attila's hilariously revisionist DVD cover art-work, which they clearly went back and re-worked after Gerard became a big thing in the movie 300 five years later, and that's not nothing. Hope you can eke out a good birthday at a bad time, Gerry.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Tell Me Some Stories

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I knew in my head that The Guilty -- the Danish nominee for Best Foreign Film this year -- was all set in one location starring a single actor. I knew that was its gimmick going in, and I knew it, in the theoretical abstract, while watching it. But I had to keep reminding myself of that, and if you asked me to describe images from the film now I could describe in luxurious detail many scenes set outside of that room and starring other actors - even though we only stare at the face of the actor Jakob Cedergren the entire time The Guilty gave me an entire world, a riveting action thriller, stuffed with set-pieces and gut-punches.

Cedergren plays a police officer named Asgar who's been assigned to man the emergency line of the local Copenhagen precinct - in the grand tradition of every cop movie ever it's his last night on the job, and as soon as you hear that you know shit'll go down. Sure enough a woman calls in - she can't say anything so it only takes Asgar a moment to suss out she's in the process of being kidnapped. He flips into action like a pro, and off we go along with him - slapping together the clues, the mystery, trying to rescue a disembodied voice over the phone.

And writer-director Gustav Möller appreciates those voices - he knows the importance of stories, of spinning them, of getting inside of our heads. He teases our caveman instincts to fill in the pieces expertly, wrapping us up into the drama (even making us feel culpable a time or two for bad decisions - this movie would've made Hitchcock proud) while barely working up a sweat - The Guilty goes down effortlessly even though it's a true high-wire act. All we've got is Cedergren's face to stare at, and Möller makes the most of his angles, riffing a right full symphony off that face - a turn of the cheek as impactful as a car crash.
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Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...

... investigating Agent Orange.

You may have missed this since I posted it on the Tumblr and it was over the weekend (aka when we're usually crickets and tumbleweeds) but Pornographic Cartoon Character KJ Apa  has a very fine new photo-shoot for Flaunt Magazine out now, you can see it all over here. And here's a bonus shot that I missed:


Feed Your Hunger & Feel Some Shame

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I'm not sure who I'd have him play (probably Colin Farrell's role, but Colin Farrell is really good and I love Colin, so then probably not) but the one thing missing from Steve McQueen's Widows (read my review here) was our boy Fassy. And so this week's "Beauty vs Beast" over at The Film Experience is devoted to two of Michael's three collaborations with McQueen, click on over to vote.
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Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

The Piano (1993)

Flora: Actually, to tell you the whole truth,
Mother says that most people speak rubbish,
and it's not worth it to listen.
Aunt Morag: Well, that is a strong opinion.
Flora: Aye. It's unholy.

Jane Campion's film came out 25 years ago today.
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It's Knives For Raúl

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I missed posting this news last week but was reminded that I should post this news today when I saw the above photo of Mr. Raúl Castillo and his Most Marvelous Moustache on his Instagram -- Castillo has joined the cool cast of thousands attached to Brick and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson's upcoming movie called Knives Out! (Thanks Mac) The (good) Looking star -- who's already had a stellar year thanks to the stellar film We the Animals, which he is stellar in, and which by the way is hitting home video next week! -- will co-star opposite Daniel Craig and Lakeith Stanfield and Chris Evans and Michael Shannon and Jamie Lee fuckin' Curtis, among others. We know very little about Knives Out just now, but Deadline did have this new rumor to share...

"Plot details are still under wraps on the the film. As we previously revealed the film is understood to be a modern day murder mystery in the classic whodunit style. I hear Craig’s detective character is understood to be called Benoit Blanc, which makes him sound like a Frenchman, though that is unconfirmed."
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Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, World

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Been awhile since we checked in with Brit actor Emmett Scanlan, who we first got to know thanks to the far-too-short-lived zombie drama In the Flesh (have y'all managed to seek that show out by now, by the way? It is streaming on Amazon Prime and it's so so good) -- right now he's playing the father of a trans girl on the ITV miniseries Butterfly (which is what these gifs are from) opposite our beloved Pushing Daisies star Anna Friel; he also just recently joined the cast of the second season of the Superman show Krypton on SyFy, where he's playing the bounty hunter Lobo I guess - I know he had to get jacked for it anyway. Alright happy Monday everybody, and hit the jump if you want a couple more...

Friday, November 09, 2018

Short Weight For the Weekend

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I don't know what you people plan on watching this weekend but if you're in New York or Los Angeles I recommend you find your way to Weightless with the seen-above-beauty Alessandro Nivola (see more of that shoot right here) alongside the always-welcome Julianne Nicholson -- I reviewed Weightless right here and it's fully worth your time and effort.

I haven't seen any of the weekend's other releases yet - not that gal in the spider web, not the Zombie Nazis, and not the political movie starring [NAME REDACTED BECAUSE WE DON'T SPEAK OF THAT PERSON ANYMORE] and I might not since I now have piles, literal heaps, of FYC screeners laying beside my couch and it's raining and man, I be lazy. Tis a good time to veg. Have a good one, everybody.
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Jake Gyllenhaal Thirty-Five Times

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One of my favorite (clothed) photo-shoots of Jake (specifically it's from an issue of Esquire UK in 2015) just got an extra several dozen out-takes dropped onto the internet (via) and seeing as how it's Friday and my brains are just done...

... done, done, for the week, let's just take ourselves a good few moments and stare at them. And stare at them. And stare at them some more. Eyeballs front-ward! Hit the jump for them all...

Let Him Or Her Without Sin Cast The First Stone

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They don't make 'em like Widows anymore - no... seriously. This is an adult action drama starring a massive cast of hyper talented actors shot by one of our finest artists that takes everything, from the genre aspects to the very real toll that the genre aspects take on the humans trapped inside of it, seriously - did they ever make movies like this? Sure yes back in the 1970s, but those movies didn't star women, they sure didn't star a cast mainly compromised of people of color, and Widows wows on all fronts. Technically audacious, thrilling, an emotional wringer. You'll be covered in bruises by the time this movie's done with you - your brain from being jostled around, and your fingers from digging into whoever or whatever is sitting closest by.

Viola Davis is front and center as Veronica, an unreal housewife to an elite criminal (Liam Neeson) living in a two-tone castle in the skies of Chicago - she says she's got a gig with the Teacher's Union but for all intents and purposes as this movie plays out that's just for show. Veronica's a fascinating character, never quite what she seems - since she's played by Viola Davis and is the lead we expect certain things, but Davis and director Steve McQueen seem intent on swatting away those expectations and leaving Veronica's culpability, her morality, in serious question. She is a terrifically complicated figure, and that's before she starts strutting around in power suits with a dog just this side of Blofeld's pussycat in her arms.

Nothing is simple or easy, and that's how heist thrillers oughta be - McQueen & Co dig deep into the meat of that, not just by adhering to Murphy's golden rule of eventual snafus, but by obscuring people's intentions, fogging up our mirrors in. Veronica is, for most of the movie, a woman grieving, but her reasons for being closed-off run deeper, and McQueen manages to pack a wallop or ten as he unfurls everybody's extraordinary damages.

And that extends to the supporting cast and then some, a crew of And Then Somes if ever there was - best in show is all thirty yellow-blond feet of Elizabeth Debicki, strapped into a Russian Hooker dress like a spangled explosive aimed at the further reaches of outer space, set to Boom. For those of us who've been waiting for Debicki to get to shine like we know she can (I saw her steal the stage right out from under Isabelle Huppert and Cate Blanchett once, so) this is a fine introduction to what she's capable of. She quakes under that effortlessly perfect skin of hers, injecting real danger, emotionally speaking, into every scene. 

That danger flows from every corner. You already know not to trust when Colin Farrell slips into a business suit or when Jacki Weaver teases her hair up, but it's Daniel Kaluuya in particular who rains terror down with his every terrifyingly flat glance - his sociopathic smiles stretch across the movie like a symphony of suppressed, half-swallowed shrieks, a low drumming hum of menace haunting every shadow and street. He is a chill when you're alone at night - he's a Halloween Costume come to life.

But he is, in the end, as human as anybody in this whip-smart full-throated bludgeon of old-school movie-making. There are moments in the last act where people act perhaps too dumb for their own good, but once the blood's rushed out of their heads to other places, once the blood's pooling on the floors and we're all white-knuckling it towards hellfire, who wouldn't? The final resting places where McQueen & screenwriter Gillian Flynn start to lean hard into genre convention, tossing together all of their well-structured toys into a broken heap, they feel fine after a couple days letting them rest, once you sort out it's all after all a movie, and what a movie it all is.


So Who Plays Rock Hudson?

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Love Simon director Greg Berlanti has just optioned the rights to the Rock Hudson biography titled All That Heaven Allows, and plans on directing the film. (Set this alongside the Anthony Perkins & Tab Hunter Movie, and the Scotty Bowers Movie, and that's a hell of a Mid-century Hollywood Closet-case triumvirate.) Anyway the Rock Hudson book hasn't come out yet, it comes out in a few weeks, so you can pick up your copy here and together we can figure out what's new that needed to be said that hasn't been said in all the other Rock Hudson books. Here what THR says:

"Hudson’s story has been written about before, not just by the actor himself but in books by a former lover and a former publicist, each with his own agenda. There was even a biography about his manipulative agent. Griffin’s book was praised for its balanced and thoughtful look at the man’s life."

Okay, sure, but let's not belittle the book about Hudson's agent Henry Willson, which is a helluva page-turner filled to the collarbones with queer. Anyway a Rock Hudson movie seems to me easier to get made than a Montgomery Clift one, for a lot of reasons -- Rock is better known now and, to be blunt about it, straighter seeming -- and Berlanti is enough of a name to maybe get this off the ground, so maybe this will happen, unlike all those ever delayed Monty ones. But who the hell could play Rock Hudson? Give up your suggestions in the comments! What I'm most curious about is if they're gonna feel the heat to cast an openly gay actor at this point - the drum-beat on that's gotten louder each year.


Do Dump or Marry: The Bad Beaus of Lisbeth

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Fede Alvarez (director of the great genre flick Don't Breathe as well as the better than it had any right being remake of Evil Dead) managed to gather together a stunning up-and-comer cast for today's big The Girl in the Spider's Web movie (even if we're all a little clueless as to why the original team got dumped) -- Claire Foy, Sylvia Hoeks, Vicky Krieps, and them's just the ladies; on the all-important dude side there's The Square star Claes Bang (seen above, but there's lots more here)...

... and there's Sverrir Gunadson (with more of him here) and there's Lakeith Stanfield (see plenty more here), oh and then there's the German actor Volker Bruch (you'll be able to see a lot of him below), who will be familiar to anybody who watches Tom Tykwer's series Babylon Berlin. (We are definitely a fan.)

Anyway I know that's four dudes but I leave the decision-making up to you now, feel free to double-up wherever you wish -- out of these four (meaning Sverrir & Lakeith & Volker & Claes, oh my) Which'd you Do, which'd you, Dump, and which'd you Marry? Answer that in the comments! And hit the jump for some more of Volker Bruch to maybe help you decide...