Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wild Hearted & Weird Topped

If you're even one percent as in love with Laura Dern as I am then I recommend you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram (if you don't already) tonight because I'm off to stare at our beloved in person for a couple of hours at The Film Society of Lincoln Center,  no doubt entirely enraptured, probably with this expression on my face the whole time:

They're feting her for her fete-worthy career, taking a look back at all she's done to amaze and astonish over the years. They actually screened a couple of her movies earlier today making it a day-long thing - damn my day job for keeping me from seeing Citizen Ruth on a big screen. Anyway stay tuned to those other places for no doubt thorough updates!

Who Wore It Best?

Some little outer space movie is out in a few theaters tonight and I have heard a couple of people mention it here and there so I figured I'd take stock of the total nobodies who are trying their hands at acting in it since they showed up in ratty tuxedos looking like hobos at its microscopic garbage party the other night, just cuz.

Screw it

I know I already posted that shot last week (along with a gif of her molesting Jake Gyllenhaal) but let's focus on the woman in the picture this time -- that is the director Floria Sigismondi, who made the kick-ass rock bio-pic The Runaways with Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart back in 2010 and since then has been doing music videos and TV (she recently directed an episode of American Gods). She was with Jake because she directed all of the New York Times' horror-themed "Great Performances" videos this year. 

Aaaanyway today her next project's been announced and it sounds promising! She's making a new movie version of Henry James' classic ghost story The Turning of the Screw, which in itself is nice (it's a classic story for a reason) but also dangerous -- it's already been turned into a great movie, The Innocents with Deborah Kerr. What pushes me from skeptically enthusiastic to full-on Yes Please is that her star will be the great Mackenzie Davis.

Mackenzie Davis who has yet to be anything less than great in anything I have ever seen her in - I did not like the Blade Runner sequel this summer but man oh man would I have watched a movie that took off with her character instead of all the dopey Ryan Gosling shit. Davis will play the Deborah Kerr role of the governess at a haunted country estate taking care of two creepy kids. 

Also starring in The Turning (which is what they're calling this movie, although I wish they'd just add the Screw part back because "The Turning" sounds like they're making a movie about making sure both sides of the toast is evenly browned) is Finn Wolfhard, an actor who is really named that, that you know from Stranger Things and It. One assumes he'll be playing the older son. It's a shame they're casting the role with a 14 year old - if they aged the kids down they could hire Timothée Chalamet as the childrens' father; we already saw him all gothed up for Floria in his "Great Performances" video last week and I'd watch a full-length movie of that!

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Mom : I know it's hard, but try to look on the bright side.
You may not be the smartest person in the world, but you're...
handsome from certain angles and you're... More importantly,
you've got dreams inside of you and dreams make you special.
And no matter what the world, um, throws at you, uh, they -
it can never take your dreams away.
Ronnie : What are you talking about, Mom?
Mom : I don't know, I'm drunk.

A very happy 66 to the great Celia Weston! (This side-note is for my boyfriend - she is from Spartanburg, South Carolina! I have been there.) I saw her waiting in line for a movie at The Quad theater a couple of months ago here in New York and I was so excited and yet even though I know her name I can never remember what I know her from - know how that one goes? She'll show up for a couple scenes in the most random of places and be reliably delightful though. Do you have a role you immediately think of when you see her?

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?


Good Morning, Scoot

I've been sitting on this one for a couple weeks but I keep forgetting - so who's watched Godless on Netflix? Any series that starts with Scoot McNairy's Butt in its first ten minutes should probably be a friend of mine but I haven't actually gotten a chance to watch it proper-like yet. The first review I saw of the show complained that for a show supposedly about a town without any men it sure does spend a ton of time with men, and so I was skeptical, but then I saw Scoot's Butt and became Less Skeptical. I will probably give it a whirl during the holidays. The show, I mean - Scoot's Butt itself will presumably remain unavailable, for the time being at least. I just like saying that. Scoot's Butt! Hit the jump for Scoot's Butt!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Great Moments in Movie Shelves #120

"We were very thorough when we 
divided the books, that I remember."

"I've been looking for this edition."

"You've lived without it for 30 years 
- I think you can manage."

"You can take it if you want, Harold.
I've mostly stopped reading fiction."

This is such a wonderful scene in The Meyerowtiz Stories, isn't it? Bless Noah Baumbach for putting some Candice Bergen into the world. The world needs more Candice Bergen.

Arnaud Valois Seven Times

Hey look I am doing a post about a gay movie not called Call Me By Your Name, do I get a cookie? (Ha ha I still managed to make this about CMBYN, joke's on you.) Thank goodness we live in a world with room for Call Me By Your Name and God's Own Country and Beach Rats and Moonlight and A Fantastic Woman and Princess Cyd and indeed also the tremendous BPM, which Arnaud here starred in, despite what the silly ol' awards nominations tell us - all of these movies still exist and are tremendous accomplishments even if they don't win awards for it. What a magical wonderful world full of great art we inhabit. Hit the jump for more Arnaud...

A Bigger Burial

On another (less interesting) movie site they would share this news with a picture of Gorgeous Movie Star Jennifer Lawrence, but we are blessedly not some other (lesser) movie site, we are MNPP, and so there is a picture of Italian Director Luca Guadagnino holding a bowl of soup. YOU ARE WELCOME. 

Luca is teaming up with JLaw to make a movie called Burial Rites, which is an adaptation of a 2013 book by Hannah Kent of the same title - anyone read it? Here what the book is about:

"A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard. Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question: How can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?"

One's first reaction is that sure sounds different from what Luca's done before - a period piece set in 19th century Iceland about execution - but that last bit, about the book really evoking a sense of time and place and especially lyricism, well then it starts to sound a lot like Luca. As for Lawrence I think she's swell and I love how she keeps pushing herself - you can't look at something like mother! and come away not seeing an actress taking risks.

Anyway Luca's got his remake of Suspiria somewhat finished at this point from what I hear, it'll presumably be out in 2018, and then he's all set to make Rio with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams (Brokeback in the house) and Benedict Cumberbatch - I haven't heard anything about when that's filming but I suppose Burial Rites will come after that.

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?

Good Morning, World

I've got a screening this morning -- no it isn't of Call Me By Your Name for a tenth time, although I wouldn't be mad if it was. But to keep you guys company until I am back in the afternoon here's a new (and exciting!) image of Timothee Chalamet playing Elio in that movie. This is one of those "funny" scenes I was telling you abut! Anyway good luck to Timmy, Michael, Armie, Esther & Amira with this morning's SAG nominations! Chalamet won the Chicago Critics Best Actor award last night - he's racked up quite the tally. Did you guys see this terrific piece specifically about the physicality of his performance? Read it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Nightmare Maker

So how many of you have seen 1947's carny noir Nightmare Alley? It stars Tyrone Power as a grifter mind-reader alongside Joan Blondell - I don't remember a ton about it save Tyrone looking good in a greasy kind of way. Well today comes news that Guillermo Del Toro wants to remake it! It's not his next project but he is lining it up for down the road - enticingly writing the script is Kim Morgan, whose site Sunset Gun here on this internet thing has been the standard for swoony online writing for well over a decade. That is a thrill! Of course one's mind turns to casting - Power was 33 when he made this movie. Who could replace him? Any ideas?

Today's Fanboy Delusion

Today I'd rather be...

... contemplating with Paul.

10 Off My Head: Siri Says 2000

Time for this week's weekly installment of "Siri Says When" wherein the voice from our telephone commands us what to do by choosing a number between 1 and 100, which we then use to select a favorite batch of films from the corresponding year. Today Siri gave us one I wasn't totally sure her software allowed for - the number 100. And so we'll be looking at The Movies of 2000. While maybe not quite as good as the year before it - 1999 is one for the record books - the year 2000 is an excellent one too. 

Lots of filmmakers that I've come to worship and adore in the 17 years since were just finding their footing - people like Michael Haneke and Darren Aronofsky and Park Chan-wook and Sofia Coppola weren't necessarily making their first films but they were making films that would come to define them or give us a good look at what they were capable of. Indeed this is another instance where the year's good enough to force my hand - we're doing a Top 10.

My 10 Favorite Movies of 2000

(dir. Mary Harron)
-- released on Aril 14th 2000 --

(dir. Peyton Reed)
-- released on August 25th 2000 --
(dir. E. Elias Merhige)
-- released on ?December 29th 2000 --

(dir. Darren Aronofsky)
-- released on December 15th 2000 --

(dir. Christopher Guest)
-- released on October 20th 2000 --

(dir. Curtis Hanson)
-- released on February 25th 2000 --

(dir. Sofia Coppola)
-- released on May 19th 2000 --

(dir. Lars von Trier)
-- released on October 6th 2000 --

(dir. Wong Kar-wai)
-- released onSeptember 29th 2000 --

(dir. Ang Lee)
-- released on December 8th 2000 --


Runners-up: Memento (dir. Nolan), Battle Royale (dir. Kinji Fukasaku), Unbreakable (dir. Shyamalan), Pitch Black (dir. Twohy), Final Destination (dir. James Wong),  The Gift (dir. Sam Raimi), Nurse Betty (dir. LaBute), JSA: Joint Security Area (dir. Park Chan-wook),  The Cell  (dir. Tarsem Singh)...

... What Lies Beneath (dir. Robert Zemeckis), Ginger Snaps (dir. John Fawcett), Sexy Beast (dir. Jonathan Glazer), You Can Count on Me (dir. Lonergan), Tigerland (dir. Schumacher), Scream 3 (dir. Craven), Chopper (dir. Andrew Dominik), Code Unknown (dir. Haneke), Before Night Falls (dir. Schnabel), Erin Brockovitch (dir. Soderbergh), Chicken Run (dir. Peter Lord)

Never seen: O Brother Where Art Thou? (dir. Coens), The Beach (dir. Danny Boyle), Chocolat (dir. Lasse Hallström), Amores Perros (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu), Billy Elliot (dir. Daldry)


What are your favorite movies of 2000?

On Oliver & Elio & Bottoms & Tops (Oh My)

I've been considering writing a few more thoughts about Call Me By Your Name that've been plunking around in my head since the last big piece I wrote over at The Film Experience, and two factors have conspired over the past few days to make it happen (it is happening right now, you see). First off there was that question at the Q&A this past weekend with Timothée Chalamet that I posted video of, the terrible one about whether he and Armie had discussed the sexual roles Elio and Oliver would take in the bedroom - which was the "top" and which was the "bottom." Here's that video:

And the second factor that's got me yapping more is this lovely review of the film by Tomas Trussow at Film inquiry; specifically this section from it, which brings up the pan out the window which I went into a detailed defense of myself in my last piece:

"When they finally consummate their relationship, Guadagnino pans to the bedroom window—but not out of prudishness. It is rather a normalizing gesture, since for time immemorial, a pan away from the lovemaking couple has been a traditional feature in cinematic romances. It is to give them their privacy, as well as to give our imaginations a stake in the process.
Here, Guadagnino seems to say, the love of two men now belongs in that tradition. Desire is not always dependent on whatever is made explicit, and here, it is enough to imagine the intensity of love that no actor—not even actors as extraordinary as Chalamet and Hammer—can reproduce as convincingly as two people so madly in love as Elio and Oliver are."

You can maybe kind of see where I'm going to go with this at this point, but I've got to give credit to my boyfriend, who made this case to me immediately after reading my piece last week, well before either of these factors came around to goose me into action today - that part of the reason for the privacy that Guadagnino extends to Oliver and Elio by panning out the window is due to the politics of gay sex and the idea of power, submission and dominance. The act of gay sex always gets complicated by who is the "top" and who is the "bottom" and what that says about who is in control at that moment, yadda yadda - it's an exhausting and stupid conversation quite frankly, and I don't blame Luca for wanting to side-step it entirely since it would only at that point in the film serve as a distraction.

Trussow's piece lays out the structure of the film nicely - how its split into thirds, with Elio coming to realize his attraction to Oliver in the first third, with Elio pursuing Oliver in the second, and with their post-consummation bliss through its end in the final act. The turning point from the second to the third act is when Elio & Oliver have sex and the camera pans out the window, and it seems to be foundational to the structure of the film that the two of them be on equal footing in our minds at that moment. The audience shouldn't be thinking about one dominating the other - that moment is about them finally being on the same page, eye to eye.

The book, of course, has time for a back and forth - the two characters trade roles in bed as Aciman lengthily details their lovemaking over the span of their final couple of weeks together. That's the benefit of writing a book, which is not the same as writing a basic three act film. And it seems to me Guadagnino made the right choice to entirely circumvent the power conversation at that moment, and focus instead on finally immediately realizing Elio and Oliver as equals, partners, joined side by side like those twin beds I wrote about in my other piece. Even if you think the conversations around passive versus active roles in gay sex are silly and unnecessary like I do there's no denying that they interject themselves into the conversation whether you want them to or not. And that's not the conversation this film needs to have to work.

Once Elio and Oliver do consummate their relationship the bottom (so to speak, hardy har) really falls out of the film time-wise and its previous languid pace is tossed out the window - you really get the sense in its last act of time escaping too quickly, of the air running out of the room. When Marzia shows up she says three days have passed since she last saw Elio and every time I watch the movie that statement surprises me - where did all that time go? And then before you know it they're on the bus to Bergamo and then they're saying goodbye. I love the Rome section of the book, where the boys meet all the hip literati and have a magical night, but cutting that lengthy section, which would've brought the film to a standstill, was imperative for the film to get across this sensation of Oliver & Elio's time together ending before its even properly begun. That's the tragedy of First Love, gone before we even realize what we had and what it was doing to us, that was Guadagnino's aim and ultimately his bullseye.