Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Oscars For Everybody

Well it's my last long weekend of the summer y'all, but it's a real long one - I'm off tomorrow til Tuesday. After that it's back to the usual schedule - no more Summer Fridays, or Summer Thursdays even as has been the last few weeks surprisingly generous routine. So prepare yourselves to stop wanting more of me and being real sick of me real quick. Anyway I can't really tell you if any of the movies out this weekend are any good since I haven't seen any of them - will Oscar Isaac's Nazi-hunting bum live up to all the possibility it holds within itself for Operation Finale

Or will Oscar's former Ex-Machina and current Star Wars co-star Domhnall Gleeson get them ghosts in The Little Stranger? Who knows? But I do like the fact that these two have the big movies out this weekend - Ex Machina forever! Anyway I can say that there are several movies already in theaters worth seeing - go see Glenn Close kick ass as The Wife. Go get Crazy with those Rich Asians. Or most importantly indulge your inner beasts with year-best We the Animals. And we'll see you back here Tuesday. As a parting gift here after the jump a few bonus shots of Oscar...

The Writer of Our Discontent

The Wife is Glenn Close's final close-up in Dangerous Liaisons stretched out into a full-length film, and I say that with something approaching awe. It's a purposefully constructed showcase for that face of hers, often inscrutable until it's violently terrifyingly not - she will stop your heart dead. She plays Joan Castleman, the doting and dutiful wife of Joe Castleman who has just won the Nobel Prize in Literature. No medals for Joan though - all she gets are the crumbs in Joe's beard and a day (or maybe less) of shopping in Stockholm. Or so we'd think.

Joe's would-be biographer, played by Christian Slater with all of the expected pinch-nosed needling we expect from Christian Slater, has tagged along for the ride, and he starts asking questions the second Joan's alone. And before you know it we've seeped off into flashbacks - how did this loving couple come to be, both a "couple" and "loving," and are they really all that under there? Glenn'll let you know, don't worry. She'll do it with an exquisitely timed cheek twitch, a so brief you might've imagined it crinkle of the skin between her eyes and nose. Unmissable, from the stars.

Point being she's fierce here, her every square inch a road-map to the Who What When and How of it. It's a performance calibrated like clockwork - a gleaming Scandinavian prize of its own making. The film around her sorts itself out in quick order - she is what we're there for, and we'll march in tune. It's a pleasure, seeing her feast like this - seeing her trace the cracks across the world's surface and finally dig her paws in hard, splitting the surface. It's more satisfyingly apocalyptic than anything Thanos could conjure up, that's for sure.

Great Moments In Movie Shelves #163

I have only seen American Gigolo a couple of times in my life, but I've watched this scene way more than that - dozens and dozens of times have I beheld the wonder of Richard Gere hanging from the rafters doing his skimpy-shorted work-out routine. 

So why did I never notice he did his skimpy-shorted 
work-out routine in front of shelves until now?

Well I suppose the answer is there in the question 
- I only had eyes for the skimpy shorts, of course. 

But once I saw the shelves there was no going back. The shelves in Julian's apartment actually play an important role in the plot of the film - they have their own arc!

Perhaps not as important an arc to the film's success as the arch of Richard Gere's backside, I'll grant you that. But an arc nonetheless. 

Julian's pad (as with everything Julian touches) represents the dream of 1980 bachelor-hood. He looks GQ appointed in every outfit he wears, he's got all the gadgets, he fucks every woman in sight. (And maybe a few men it's implied, and since this was pre-AIDS that wasn't so bad). This place was the Platonic Ideal of male singledom.

The stereo system in particular is fetishized - all the better to groove to all the Blondie via Giorgio Moroder tracks. But then...

... a dame's gotta go and get in the way! Lauren Hutton's politician's wife Michelle immediately inserts herself in front of His Shit - you gotta choose, bucko. 

After Julian and Michelle sleep together the first time she's woken up to him cooing on the telephone to a client and what do you suppose they are talking about?

They're talking about his boner. But specifically they're talking about his boner in relation to his stereo system, and how he wants the woman on the phone to help him upgrade it. Subtle, it ain't. Michelle later offers to pay for his stereo herself, but he doesn't want that - he wants her to fuck (these two talking about "fucking" a whole lot, using that word - lord knows I'm as vulgar as they come but it's kind of weird and off-putting the way they do it) for himself, for pleasure, not for stereo equipment. 

There's your first mistake, buddy! later on the two argue in front of the shelves - once again he's isolated in the frame while she's inserted among them. Your shit ain't your shit no more, Jules. he tries to reclaim his space, his manhood, for a moment here...

... but she gets the better of him again.

It should be noted that the vertical blinds in this film are off the charts but nowhere are they better used than this scene, where we cut from the above shot...

... directly to a prison environment. As Debbie Harry sings in "Rapture" he's through with eating cars he's eating bars, wall to wall, door to door, hall to hall, he's gonna eat 'em all. The bars of the vertical blinds, the bars of the prison cell, and the gay bars where he talks tricks...

He's gonna eat 'em all. And they're gonna eat him up in return! (I said this movie wasn't subtle.) Cut to the next time that we see Julian with his shelves and...

... they've suddenly become a Noir-lit source of danger - they've been poisoned!!! He has just seen the character called "Blond Boy" (yes that's really the character's name in the credits) lurking outside of his apartment building - "Blond Boy" works for his enemies and has probably planted evidence in Julian's apartment that make him look guilty of a murder he didn't commit. And so Julian rips his shelves apart! The horror!

And before you know it Julian has gone and committed murder, but even worse than that (way worse) -- he finds himself trapped in a tacky queen's apartment where there are no shelves at all.

So basically the entire message of American Gigolo, if I am reading it right (and I obviously am), is "Don't let anybody else use your bookshelves, or you'll end up in prison for murder." I can dig it.

Putting the O in "Oh Shit It's Orson Welles!"

Orson Welles began filming The Other Side of the Wind in 1970. When he died in 1985 the film still wasn't done. Cut to 2018 (that's now, just in case you've been in a coma since Donald Trump was elected President, in which case I congratulate and envy you) and some folks got together and locked themselves in a room with the thousands of hours of footage Orson filmed and they assembled what's being billed as his movie, which will premiere at the Venice Film Festival this weekend. (And then it'll screen at the New York Film Festival, which I'll be covering.) And now we've got a trailer!

As you see therein the film stars John Huston as a director who returns to Hollywood after a self-imposed exile - they're calling it "a satire of the classic studio system and the New Hollywood that was shaking things up" in the 1970s, when Orson was filming this thing. Netflix owns the film (I actually don't believe any of this would have happened with their cash, so thanks Netflix) and will premiere it on their service (as well as a few theaters) on November 2nd. There are quite a few eye-popping shots in this footage seen in the trailer; if you wanna hit the jump I chose a few of my favorites and turned 'em into gifs...

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Katherine: What did Charles's cough tell you?
Alex: That he was a fool.
Katherine: He was not a fool. He was a poet.
Alex: What's the difference?

I think her daughter Isabella said it best today:
A post shared by Isabella Rossellini (@isabellarossellini) on

Riz For Lunch

If you're in a timezone other than mine here on the Eastern seaboard of the United States I suppose this won't work but for those of you who are here with me let's all go and read Riz Ahmed's cover story for the New York Times Magazine together as we nosh on whatever's at hand. Yes I mean right now, dammit. I'm hungry.

Once Upon a Twink in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino has already been shooting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for a few weeks now (we posted some shots from the set a month ago) but that hasn't stopped the casting department from slowly dropping new names on us that've been added to this thing's ridiculously sprawling cast, and this week has brought a few of the biggies. Seen above twinking like his life depends on it is Austin Butler, who was on The Carrie Diaries and will also be on Tell Me a Story, Kevin Williamson's upcoming hunk-fest that also stars James Wolk and Billy Magnussen and so forth. Austin has joined Tarantino's movie as "Tex" Watson, Charlie Manson's right-hand man, a real horror show himself. 

Tex was basically the handsome bait that Manson used to lure in the girls, from what I recall (I read Helter Skelter in high school, as one does, so it's all a little vague). Anyway I guess Austin will be hitting the Lady Clairol counter soon. But besides Tex the two most important characters in the Manson Saga whose casting had as of yet gone unaccounted for have been cast this week...

... the Polish actor and goddamned good doppleganger Rafal Zawierucha is playing Roman Polsanki, and to that I give a high-five. He looks perfect (although he'll have to share a bottle of bleaching agent with Austin, obviously). I can't speak as to Rafal's acting, all of his work looks Polish to me, but I trust Tarantino & Co. to know what they're doing at this point. I suppose that's a good rule of thumb by now. And then...

... there's our Manson himself. That's Damon Herriman, an Aussie actor who's been on a ton of TV including what I gather was an important role on Justified (a show I never watched). The funny thing is I immediately recognized him all the same, but from a really weird place - he had the small role of "Roadkill Driver" in the 2005 House of Wax remake!

That scene was so gross it's apparently burrowed its way into my head permanently. Which is a damn good connotation for me to have when it comes to Charlie Manson, at least. Anyway besides all those fine folks several other names have been dropped - Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman's daughter Maya Hawke is playing a character called "Flower Child" -- I just saw her play Jo in the PBS adaptation of Little Women opposite Julian Morris aka the reason I watched the thing...

... not realizing whose daughter she was, spending the whole thing being irritated that she had stolen Uma Thurman's voice. She sounds so much like her mother it's eerie - she and Denzel's son John David Washington should have a contest to see who sounds more like their famous parent. 

Wait, what am I talking about? I seem to have gotten off track. Right, casting. Also added to the cast -- a bunch of actresses that I don't recognize plus two I do: Lena Dunham and Rumer Willis. Dunham is playing the Manson Girl Catherine "Gypsy" Share and while they don't list who Rumer's playing I wouldn't be surprised if she's also a Manson Girl. She's got the look. Yadda yadda I am tired of talking about this movie now, hit the jump for a little more of Austin Butler if you like...

Jake Gyllenhaal Three More Times

I posted some pictures of Jake on the cover and the inside of the new issue of GQ France yesterday over on the Tumblr, I figured that'd be enough, but today a few more pictures were released and that picture of Jake smiling in a sweater is an act of visual aggression towards me -- I am going to have to call the police now.

I mean I normally would wait for this photo-shoot to arrive without the type splayed all over it (I have a real tic about type) but these pictures will not wait. They won't be ignored, Dan!!! So here they are. If we get type-less ones eventually I'll update this post. For now just focus past the type to the plentiful beauty behind.

Book Club in 250 Words or Less

Book Club (which is out on blu-ray this week!) was never really gonna be my cuppa - it's only aggression is how aggressively white-bread it is - but it sure could've, and should've, been worse than it is. I don't know if that's precisely a recommendation, but it's not not one - if you wanna see Book Club, see Book Club, it's not gonna kill you. If you wanna see Book Club you already know what you're in for, and that's exactly what it is. It's a perfectly pleasant time hanging out with four great actresses with scarcely a hint of plot around - they read some books, they club it up, the end. 

Best in show for me was Candice Bergen but I think that's because I had the least expectations aimed at her - I watch Diane Keaton now and I always feel a little sad I'm not watching the Diane Keaton of the 1970s and 80s, who pushed herself and delivered; same with Jane Fonda. They sure don't push themselves here - they wear gorgeous clothes and look refreshed from their air-conditioned trailers. But Candice Bergen at least has a character arc, an unexpected and nonlinear one at that, and she's sweet and funny and sad, and I'd have watched a movie just about her. Mary Steenburgen acquits herself well too, although her character veers into some unrealistic actions at times that felt like pre-diagrammed Funny Moments instead of Normal Human Behavior. Bergen keeps things neat.

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?

Good Morning, World

For some reason Geoff Stults keeps Instagramming his former Enlisted co-star Parker Young in various states of near to full undress lately - I say "for some reason' when what I really mean is "the reason is these are good kind and decent people, gods really, and should be worshipped as such." Also I say this has been happening "lately" but then I look back through the archives here at MNPP and I see I've been posting about this for years, since Enlisted was actually on the air for that brief period in 2014. So really nothing I say means what it says, but Parker Young is hot and naked, and I mean that much dammit. (Thx Dennis)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Boy Go Home

Sometimes you just get a gut feeling that a movie's gonna hit you hard right from the get-go and I've got the get-go gut feeling about this movie here called 1985 from director Yen Tan, which stars Cory Michael Smith (from Gotham and Carol and who was so so great in Olive Kitteridge) as a young closeted man who goes to visit his parents in small-town Texas for the holidays during that titular year. His parents are played by Michael Chiklis and Virginia Madsen, and there is a shot in the trailer of the latter in particular...

... that just makes me start to cry on the spot. Why Madsen didn't get flooded with offers after Sideways I'll never understand - damn sexist Hollywood with its space for like two middle-aged ladies at once. Anyway as you can see 1985 looks gorgeous in grainy black-and-white, like something straight out of the mid-90s New Queer Cinema Canon, and I am very very much here for it. Watch:
1985 comes out on October 26th. Of 2018.
With this & Nico 1988 & Summer 1993 & Summer of '84
there sure've been a lot of year-specific movies this year!