Monday, March 31, 2008

Pirates 12, Braves 11 (12 innings)

Is this how it's going to be? After Tom Glavine - in his return to Atlanta - pitches 5 not-sharp-but-OK innings and leaves with a 4-2 lead, the bullpen collectively collapses and gives up 7 runs to the Pirates. Thanks to 4 walks and a misplayed fly ball the Braves rally for 5 in the 9th to tie only to lose in 12 on a 3-run homer by Xavier Nady. In the bottom of the 12th the Braves almost come back again and end up losing by one. I always felt our inability to have starters go deep into the game hurt us last season, and tonight was more of the same. (3 errors and a couple of wild pitches didn't help) Yunel Escobar looked good at short though he made an error, and our new CF Mark Kotsay threw out a man at the plate.

L - Boyer (0-1)
Braves HR - McCann (1), Francoeur (1)

Blueberry potluck

Greencine has links to a number of reviews and miscellany related to My Blueberry Nights, NP's latest film.

Jules Dassin

Director Jules Dassin, whose career enjoyed a long post-blacklist second act in Europe, has died at age 96. (NY Times)

The Persuader

Who can convince Hillary to drop out? Also, the scoop about Edwards refusal to endorse either candidate...(I'll bet some people wish he was still in the race) (NY Magazine)

House In Order

How close did REM come to breaking up? (NY Times)

After the tour that followed “Around the Sun” the band members gathered to determine their future. “I said, ‘Guys, I’m too old to spend nine months doing something I don’t want to do, making work I’m not proud of,’ ” Mr. Buck said. “We should try something different, or else you can do it without me.”

Mr. Stipe said: “It was a very important moment for us. We decided to do something that was really raw, immediate, unrehearsed — basically, gut and instinctual. And we chose the most obvious thing, which is to write really fast songs and record them in a really fast way.”

This is what we call...

...the new Muppet Movie. Writer Jason Segel talks Kermit. (Coming Soon)

Green again

David Gordon Green on not repeating oneself and his love of Steven Seagal. (Philadelphia Weekly)

But is he at all worried that such a straightforward tale might be taken as something of a sell–out? ”That’s the trick if you want to make movies consistently,” Green explains. ”I mean it’s easy to go make something crazy and hope somebody sees it. It’s difficult to do that time and time again. For me personally, I have no interest in just regurgitating the same influences and stories and landscapes.”

Perry problem

Has Tyler Perry's success hurt the chances of other African-American filmmakers? (LA Times)

Sunday, March 30, 2008


And she had loved movies, once upon a time, not even a decade ago, when it was unthinkable not to be in line at the multiplex every weekend, when it was urgent and essential to see movies the very night they opened. In college, she had once driven to a Philadelphia art house, distance of more than a hundred miles, to see - well, what was it that she had driven almost two hours to see? A German film, possibly Herzog, maybe Wenders. "The American Friend"? "Aguirre, The Wrath of God"? That was it - "Aguirre," a film in which a character clutched something secret and vital in his hand, yet died without ever revealing what it was. Tess had left the theater almost in a swoon, so dazed and rapt by Herzog's images she forgot to get a cheese steak on her way out of town. - Laura Lippman, Another Thing To Fall

Not my favorite Lippman - the villains are a little too thinly drawn. Still enjoyable and colored by Lippman's love for Baltimore and for TV production; her husband David Simon is the creator and executive producer of The Wire.

Nationals 3, Braves 2

Opening night at the new Nationals' stadium. President Bush throws out first ball to a mixed reception. I was a little worried about Tim Hudson at first but after a shaky first inning (including a throwing error) he settles down and pitches well, as does ex-Brave Odalis Perez against us. We tie the game in the 9th on a wild pitch but Moylan gives up game winning homer with 2-out in 9th - great memories for wash. fans. More bullpen woes for us? It's a one game series, we play Pirates tomorrow. Hudson had hard luck last year, he always seemed to pitch well but get no decisions.

L-Moylan, 0-1
Braves HR - C. Jones (1) - 1st at new park

Trailers Galore

At South Dakota Dark, Todd watches and comments on a season's worth of trailers. We both are fans of Kristen Bell, whose Forgetting Sarah Marshall is eagerly awaited.


This Variety article details various projects affected by Anthony Minghella's death, but more importantly details the high esteem in which he was held by his peers.

When Anthony Minghella died March 18, more than a dozen projects -- in film, TV, theater and opera -- were left in limbo.
But the ripple effect goes well beyond those comparative few. Minghella served as a mentor-consultant-friend to many projects he wasn't officially tied to. Colleagues and friends agree they cannot recall another contemporary artist who cut such a wide swath through so many sectors of pop culture and who was as generous in helping associates.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Fun

Pavement - "Range Life"

"25% of Anti-Obama Dems..."

Troubling news. (Huffington Post)

Unfair and biased?

The future of Fox News? (Time)

What about Scully's kid?

Chris Carter & Co. on the past and future of The X-Files...(Hollywood Reporter)

The second "X-Files" movie was delayed due to Carter's 2005 lawsuit against 20th Century Fox Television claiming the studio short-changed him on syndication fees. Carter says the moment the lawsuit settled out of court, Fox was ready to do the movie.

The film has wrapped shooting and is currently scheduled for release on July 25. The trailer (shown twice for an enthusiastic Paley crowd) features lots of snow, running, a large syringe and a helicopter.

Most everything else is pretty hush-hush, including the title.

"I know what I want it to be, but Fox has ideas of their own," Carter says. "I know what it should be."

The Visitor

The terrific character actor Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under, North Country) is getting a well-deserved leading role in The Visitor. Here's a look....(MTV Movies Blog)

R.E.M. ...

..plays a cover song. (Stereogum)

"Women's Basketball!"

A UConn women's basketball blogger runs into apathy:

Upon my entry into the arena, a security guard says, "Are you ready for the big night? Women's college basketball!"

Clearly tongue in cheek, my new acquinatance doesn't share the same passion for the game as most everyone in the building tonight. I'd like to have thought it to be an isolated case, but then another security person said something about Eliott Spitzer in a non relating news manner that was far from clear to me. Maybe it's best that way.

But the final disservice is when the two televisions in the media work areas and neither is tuned to sports. There was a replay of this morning's Red Sox-A's game from Tokyo. Why not watch that? What was on TV numero uno? MTV.

And the second?

How about the Food Network's Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. The guy watching the show was probably not looking for ways to make his next gathering one with a beautiful floral theme, complete with napkins turned into a mix of carnations and birds.

This is what should be a great has turned into for the disinterested. Sorry there aren't any dunks -- unless Maya Moore surprises us tonight -- but this is worth watching. Far more worthy than a lesson in how to match your plates and cups.

(UConn Women's Basketball)

The next big thing

Actor Thomas Sangster (Love, Actually, Nanny McPhee, Tristan and Isolde) has been chosen to play Tintin in the trilogy coming from Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. From what I can remember Sangster has been a rather unactory child actor, very natural and usually conveying a high amount of seriousness. (Guardian)

Mr. Thompson goes back to Hollywood

Fred Thompson signs with agent, plans return to acting. (E! Online)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My sister will like this

A (mixed) review of The Cool School, a documentary about the 1960s L.A. modern art scene. (Slant)

Samantha Power...

...writer and ex-Obama adviser, goes off on Hillary. (Huffington Post)

Box Set Bliss

An Austin blogger learns to love Willie Nelson (and puts in a late word for Band of Horses). (House Next Door)

Richard Widmark

Actor Richard Widmark (star of Kiss of Death, Judgment at Nuremberg, Cheyenne Autumn) has died at age 93. (NY Times)

At the beginning of World War II, Mr. Widmark tried to enlist in the army but was turned down three times because of a perforated eardrum. So he turned, in 1943, to Broadway. In his first stage role, he played an Army lieutenant in F. Hugh Herbert’s “Kiss and Tell,” directed by George Abbott. Appearing in the controversial play “Trio,” which was closed by the License Commissioner after 67 performances because it touched on lesbianism, he received glowing reviews as a college student who fights to free the girl he loves from the domination of an older woman.

After a successful, 10-year career as a radio actor, he tried the movies with “Kiss of Death,” which was being filmed in New York. Older than most new recruits, he was, to his surprise, summoned to Hollywood after the movie was released. “I’m probably the only actor who gave up a swimming pool to go out to Hollywood,” Mr. Widmark told The New Yorker in 1961

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Are there hugging rules too, Paul?"

The last "Sophie" episode of HBO's In Treatment has just concluded, so it's time to say goodbye to Mia Wasikowska. The young Australian actress was not only the show's most appealing character, but also gave the best performance on TV so far this year.

In Treatment is insanely watchable; who doesn't love hearing about the hidden neuroses and melodrama of other people's lives? At the same time, I think the show has been somewhat overrated. I've never been in therapy but I suspect (as others have pointed out) that each session is much more awkward than what In Treatment depicts. Every 50-minute hour doesn't have the arc of a well-constructed one-act play. But hey, it's TV. A bigger problem for me is that the patients (with one exception) exist only to draw out the issues of Paul, the moody therapist played by Gabriel Byrne.

In the very first episode Paul is confronted with Laura (Melissa George), a crying young woman who announces she has just gotten engaged, describes a sexual encounter with a stranger in a nightclub, and tells Paul she's in love with him. Paul (we find out later) has feelings for Laura, although they may be merely a function of his stagnant relationship with his wife Kate (Michelle Forbes, very good). Laura is the main topic at Paul's weekly sessions with HIS therapist/rival Gina (Dianne Wiest). Things get complicated when Laura meets and beds another patient - fighter pilot Alex (Blair Underwood). Alex's backstory is loaded: he was responsible for the deaths of innocent children during a bombing run in Iraq, he's unhappy in his marriage, and he may be gay. Underwood strips away his usual glossy sheen and does great work here, but there's not enough time to unravel all this and Alex's plot ends abruptly when he dies in an (apparent) accident during a training mission. Alex's final episode (after the funeral) is devoted to a bravura performance by Glynn Turman as Alex's bitter and angry father; but this strand of the show seemed merely to inflame Paul's jealousy. Alex made progress, but seemed to regress in his last session and we never found out why.

Don't get me started on the terminally boring Jake and Amy (Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz), who come to Paul while deciding to abort the pregnancy they've been waiting years for (huh?). After Amy has a miscarriage in the second episode their sessions turn into a by-the-numbers workout of infidelity and bitterness. I'd prefer to remember Sophie, the only one of Paul's patients who brings him out of himself and lets the audience know he's really capable of helping another person.

Sophie enters with casts on both arms, the result of an accident that some believe was a suicide attempt. She's a gymnast in training for the Olympics and doesn't warm up to Paul right away; the first session is devoted to Sophie seeking an evaluation from Paul for a lawsuit against an insurance company. (Though even then she's crying out for help; she wants Paul to ask "shrink-like questions") It isn't until Paul unravels Sophie's inappropriate relationship with her coach and her anger at her absent father (who appears tonight played by Peter Horton) that Wasikowska's raw performance really gets going. Sophie is a mass of self-loathing and guilt for things that aren't her fault; and while I think trying to come up with adjectives to describe great acting Wasikowska's work here is entirely alive and real, and ultimately heartbreaking. I won't give tonight's episode away for those who haven't seen it, but it delivers the long anticipated confrontation with Sophie's father and an inconclusive but optimistic resolution. I'll give Sophie the highest compliment one can pay to a character on an ensemble show - she (and Mia Wasikowska) deserves a show of her own.

How will history...

...judge Ron Paul? (Daily Dish)

At its very best, Iraq, it is now more than apparent, is a decades-long, bankrupting, utopian liberal attempt to build a democratic culture where no such culture has ever existed; and at worst, it is a corrupting, demoralizing cancer on America's reputation and power in the world. At home, the long term fiscal situation is at a crisis-level, with Republicans adding $32 trillion to future unfunded liabilities by the federal government in seven years, and with a commitment not to raise any more revenue for the indefinite future. Neither Obama nor Clinton has any plan to tackle this debt or to restrain entitlement spending in any serious way. Millions of private individuals have taken out idiotic mortgage loans on houses they cannot afford and should never have been reckless enough to buy. The dollar is headed into the toilet as much of the US economy is leveraged on the bona fides of a still-authoritarian regime that is currently brutally suppressing human rights in Tibet and across its territory.

For all his quirks, and for all his unseemly past associations, Ron Paul had some serious view about the gravity of the situation and a philosophy that was once called conservative and is now smeared as nuts. History will be far kinder to him that today's chattering classes

Where's Rory when you need her?

I missed the premiere of the Amy Sherman-Palladino sitcom The Return of Jezebel James...apparently I didn't miss much. (About Last Night)

May the re-cut Force...

The Weinstein Co.'s treatment of the Star Wars-themed comedy Fanboys seems unnecessarily harsh...could the first director's cut have been that bad? Read about it here....(Cinematical)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bonnie talk

An interview with Oscar winner Estelle Parsons on the occasion of the Bonnie & Clyde commemorative DVD. (Cinematical)

Well did you ever... off the adhesive strip on a Netflix envelope while opening the envelope, thereby rendering the whole thing useless? Did you? Don't be ashamed. This will however delay my viewing of the first season of Damages.

Going off on...

...Lou Dobbs. (Parabasis)

How is it okay for a host of a show to say this about Barack Obama accepting Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement?:

Tonight, Senator [Barack] Obama wins the endorsement of the nation's only Hispanic governor, Bill Richardson. Is Obama pandering to ethnocentric special interests again?

Excuse me for a moment if I wax vitriolic. Bill Richardson is a prominent Democratic Governor, a former congressman, a former Ambassador to the United Nations and the former US Secretary of Energy. He was chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was chairman of the Democrat Governors Association for two years. He has been a negotiator who negotiated the release of American prisoners and hostages in North Korea, Iraq and Cuba.

Sounds like...

Getting the accents right in John Adams...

Monday, March 24, 2008


If you've been checking out this blog for some time you may recall I used to write almost as much about Maggie Gyllenhaal as I do about Natalie Portman now. Gyllenhaal has been too busy with motherhood to do too many films recently, but as this interview reminds us she's opposite Christian Bale in this summer's The Dark Knight. (Superhero Hype)

This writer's book

A review of Our Story Begins, a "new and selected" story collection from Tobias Wolff. If you haven't read Wolff's This Boy's Life or Old School, get busy. (Slate)

The flood never stops

Sure, there's always a new movie to go see...but how does one decide whether to watch something new or catch up with that stack of Netflix on your coffee table? I try to do it systematically and have made efforts to catch up on a lot of Bergman and Preminger, but a friend just gave me a list of films that I need to see so I'll be working my way through that as well (watch this space). Here's another blogger's take on the embarassment of riches.....(Girish)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Z and Him

I'll be writing more about Zooey Deschanel's new collaboration with M Ward, but she hasn't given up her day job. Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have agreed to star in a new romantic comedy called 500 Days of Summer. (Cinematical)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just as I was starting to like...

...the "netroots" for their support of Obama - Daily Kos takes off after a Democratic Florida Congresswoman for refusing to endorse Dems who are running against GOP incumbents in her state. It never occurs to the liberal blogging community that people actually have to govern, and that actively campaigning against soemone in your neighboring district (who let's face it is probably going to win) might not set the best mood for getting anything done.

Another voice for....

Novelist/travel writer Jonathan Raban on Obama. (London Review of Books)

The light in Obama’s rhetoric – the chants of ‘Yes, we can’ or his woo-woo line, lifted from Maria Shriver’s endorsement speech, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for’ – is in direct proportion to the darkness, and he paints a blacker picture of America than any Democratic presidential candidate in living memory has dared to do. He courts his listeners, not as legions of the blissful, but as legions of the alienated, adrift in a country no longer recognisable as their own, and challenges them to emulate slaves in their struggle for emancipation, impoverished European immigrants seeking a new life on a far continent, and soldiers of the ‘greatest generation’ who volunteered to fight Fascism and Nazism.

'70s redux

How post-9/11 politics has taken Hollywood back to the 1970s. (Atlantic)

Tears of the Sun was a relatively modest film, budgeted in the tens rather than the hundreds of millions, but it was significant even so for being precisely the sort of movie 9/11 was supposed to spawn: righteously patriotic, confident in American might, and freighted with old-fashioned archetypes, with the rugged Willis saving the helpless Africans (and the lissome Monica Bellucci) from a horde of machete-wielding savages. It represented the kind of culture-industry sea change anticipated by the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter’s famous remark that 9/11 had slain irony. It seemed to vindicate the conservative columnist Peggy Noonan’s prediction that the attacks would resurrect the spirit of John Wayne. And it was the sort of movie the left-wing critic Susan Faludi presumably had in mind when she lamented, in her recent book, The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America, that “the cultural troika of media, entertainment and advertising declared the post-9/11 age an era of … redomesticated femininity, and reconstituted Cold War manhood.”

Coming to my Netflix queue

An entertaining takedown of Richard Kelly's Southland Tales, out now on DVD. (Waggish)


Is Eastwood's mysterious Gran Torino the next Dirty Harry film? (Cinematical)

In threes

British actor Paul Scofield, an Oscar winner for A Man For All Seasons and memorable in Robert Redford's Quiz Show, has died at age 86. Scofield also played the King of France in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V. (NY Times)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Criterion #400 - Stranger than Paradise

When I made my first solo trip to New York a few years ago for a grad school interview, I felt the typical first-time rush at the crowded streets and cultural panoply. I was considering moving to the city with a then-girlfriend, and while if we had I probably would have found a circle of friends fairly quickly I could see how someone could live among all those people and feel very, very alone.

I remembered that feeling while watching the Criterion DVD of Jim Jarmusch's 1984 Stranger than Paradise. The New York that Jarmusch came up in is a memory now, but the wide and empty streets that the characters wander give the film a tinge of sadness that I don't know if I've ever seen before in a New York-set indie film like this one. The lack of extras or establishing shots was of course a choice born at least in part out of economic necessity, but I can't help wonder if on some level Jarmusch is saying that this is a version of hipster life in the city you haven't seen before.

The plot, such as it is, is really just an excuse to get characters together. We never learn exactly what Willie (John Lurie) does, but he seems to get his income from betting on horses and cheating at cards. Willie's good-natured buddy Eddie (Richard Edson, the original drummer for Sonic Youth) is happy enough to go along with Willie on most things, and the two guys don't know what to do when Willie's Hungarian cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) shows up. Eva is on her way to stay with an aunt in Cleveland, but her plans are delayed and she's forced to stay in New York for ten days.

The inarticulate Willie, who doesn't even want Eva there at first, slowly warms to her as the two watch movies and smoke. Eva returns the friendship to a degree, but hilariously ditches a dress Willie buys her in a trash can after she leaves. After a year, Willie and Eddie visit Eva in Cleveland at the home of Willie's Aunt Lotte (Cecillia Stark). The three then head for Florida where Willie and Eddie's gambling puts a crimp in their vacation.

But the story is secondary in this mini-epic of American dislocation. Despite the gorgeous B&W cinematography of Tom DiCillo all of Stranger than Paradise feels empty and blasted out. There's nothing going on downtown in the city, Cleveland lies in the shadow of mammoth industrial parks, and we get the Florida of cheap motels and ramshackle gift shops. (Travis McGee would have taken one look at Jarmusch's vision of Florida and gone to to the bar) Is this what it was like to live in early-'80s America? (I was 11 in 1984) No wonder people started listening to Husker Du. Each scene is rendered in a single shot, usually with a static camera, followed by a blackout. Again, economics play a part here. But whether Jarmsuch meant it or not, the jerky structure feels like what a hip New Yorker must have made of Reagan's America. Willie's life consists of gambling and sitting around; life in the provinces bounces from hot dog stand to movies to dog track.

Stranger than Paradise ends with a bit of farce, as Eva falls into some money and ponders returning to Hungary. Jarmusch will never make a sequel to this film, but I do wonder what becomes of Willie, Eva, and Eddie as they wander through America's early-'80s morning.

Docu drama

The winners of the first Cinema Eye Honors for Documentary Filmmaking. (IFC)

Baseball boycott?

UPDATE- The situation has been resolved.

Strange baseball news...Boston Red Sox players are at this moment deciding whether to play their last spring training game and have threatened to not to make their trip to Japan for regular season opener versus Oakland if coaches are not paid a promised bonus. ESPN reports Oakland is considering similar action. (Washington Post)

What you missed

David Simon on The Wire's newspaper storyline. (Huffington Post)

It's admittedly easy enough, if you are writing a fictional television show, to sit in a diner booth or on a bar stool with a police lieutenant or an assistant principal, an assistant state's attorney or a political functionary and have them tell you the good dirt, knowing as they do that fiction is a safe abstraction. Fiction makes everyone comfortable and talkative; journalism -- good, probing journalism -- is a much harder, much more rigorous task. It is time-consuming, expensive, deliberate and demanding.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Star Child

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke dies at age 90...(NY Times)

An appreciation of....

...Anthony Minghella (Parabasis)

When internet journalist Jeff Wells expressed certain reservations about Cold Mountain to the director, Minghella asked if he would like to sit and talk about it. They did, and, according to Wells, "I was amazed and delighted by this, and pretty much fell in love with him at the moment." It was a sentiment apparently shared by many. Minghella had a lot of work ahead of him, after the transitional Breaking and Entering. It felt as though he had to make it, had to unclog himself, had to play out his fixations somehow. His next film, undoubtedly, would have been no small thing.

Good words about...

..the Egyptians-in-Israel movie The Band's Visit. (About Last Night)

Did you ever wish....

...there was a blog that evaluated Granola Bars? Now there is....(this comes from my friend Rob, who has provided invaluable tech support whenever I've needed it)

We're sorry, but...

The "Hasidic Jew" caught in photos with NP on the set of a new movie is actually a Hasidic Jew who has been forced to give up his role for religious reasons. (Cinematical - terrible post title, photo by Alexei Hay)

New Times Scandal?

Questions about the journalistic practices of Deborah Solomon, who writes the Q&A column in the NYT Sunday Magazine. (NY Press)

But after conversations with two prominent Solomon Q-and-A subjects—Ira Glass, the popular host of NPR’s “This American Life,” and Amy Dickinson, the nationally-syndicated advice columnist who replaced Ann Landers in 2003—the story became more complicated. Both Glass and Dickinson, without any prompting and in significant detail, told me that in the published versions of their interviews, Solomon had made up questions, after the fact, to match answers that, at least in one instance, she had taken out of their original context.


Michael Stipe comes out...(Stereogum)

A foot in two camps...

Great post by Andrew Sullivan on Obama's identity issues....(Daily Dish)

On the day that...

...Obama challenges America to move beyond racial stereotypes, a great appreciation of the optimistic and inclusive Dave Chappelle's Block Party. (No Trivia)

Bad News

Director Anthony Minghella has died at age 54. Minghella won an Oscar for The English Patient and had just directed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. (NY Times)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Adaptation alert

Rights to Richard Price's novel Lush Life snapped up...(Variety)


...gets Wright right. (David Kuo)

All of a sudden the blogs are silent. Those blogs that have been humming and screaming all day long about the terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad things that Rev. Jeremiah Wright has said are quiet. Why? Sen. Obama has silenced them with a response to the situation that is nuanced, elegant, and above all honest.

Hey, look!

Remember when I said I wanted to write more about music? Look what I'm doing over here....

The GOP has a problem...

...recruiting Congressional candidates. (Wash. Post)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How it reads

Novelist Richard Russo on Spitzer (Washington Post):

Back when I was teaching fiction writing, I used to pitch my students, especially the beginners, on complexity. They seemed to think that readers would be attracted to their characters' virtue and would recognize shared humanity in their strength and courage; I argued -- perversely they thought -- that unrelenting virtue is not just unrealistic but uninteresting.

For the obsessive in you...

A link to Nicholson Baker's Wikipedia activity. (The Millions)

Nada Surf... at SXSW. (Indie Ear)

Sunday Music: Brad Mehldau

Brad Mehldau covers Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover."


Notes from an NYU conference on film criticism. This is just one of several posts at same blog. (Shooting Down Picture)

Snow Angels...

...from page to screen. (Bookforum)

DAVID GORDON GREEN’S haunting and melancholy drama Snow Angels stands alongside his earlier George Washington (2000) and All the Real Girls (2003) as yet another of the young director’s very personal, uniquely big-hearted portraits of typical American communities. So it comes as something of a surprise not only that Snow Angels is based on Stewart O’Nan’s 1994 novel but that it didn’t even originate as a film for Green to direct.

Out in Omaha...

...a nonprofit, art-house theater rises. (NY Times)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Godard's Masculin Feminin + rainy Saturday afternoon....

...equals nap. I'll try again tomorrow.

From the same blog....

...a Bob Mould live review...

Last night I caught Bob Mould's packed show at Irving Plaza on his tour to support his new album, District Line. I've seen Bob perform at least six or seven times over the last few years, and last night's show might have been the best yet. The audience was super responsive, calling Bob back for two multi-song encores. A mini-mosh pit even broke out during the end, causing a scuffle with security and prompting Bob to comment, "You can slam dance all you want, just don't knock over the furniture."

Campaign videos...

Andrew Sullivan finds this homemade pro-Hillary video funny...but it may be a little less scary than Obama's celeb-laden "Yes We Can." (Joe My God)

A 4 1/2 star review...

..of REM's new Accelerate. (Spin)

"Municipal cuteness"

Joe Queenan, Lars and the Real Girl, and unsympathetic protagonists.....(Guardian)

Lars And The Real Girl joins a number of other recent films in the category of motion pictures where the director doesn't know that his protagonist is unsympathetic. The Prestige, though entertaining, suffered from obliviousness to the fact that after Christian Bale killed Hugh Jackman's wife after being specifically warned to get the rope knots right before submerging her in the water tank, he was not going to make a very sympathetic protagonist, no matter how nasty his nemesis became.

So what if you can catch the knuckleball?

Doug Mirabelli, it was nice to know you....(Bats)

10,000 B.C., more or less

Anachronisms in Emmerich's latest opus....(Chicago Reader)

I'm good friends with Wim Wenders, but it doesn't mean I have to like his movies. —Roland Emmerich in a March 7 Guardian interview

So are we still friends, Roland, or is 10,000 B.C. the deal breaker? Not that it's any worse than the rest of the schlock he's cranked out: a little of this, a little of that, a whole lotta going through the motions—to get the job done, get the damn thing marketed, brute commercial savvy being the first item of business. Which is pretty much what's expected in any case—plus: what can be more delightful than toting up anachronisms, playing the village literalist to 10,000 B.C.'s stupid historical uncle. Whoa, mammoths in the desert! Like, who the hell cares?

Hillary supporters....

...look at yourselves.(Huffington Post)

NP in NY

NP on set of anthology film New York, I Love You, a film in the style of Paris je t'aime.(Couldn't they have called it I Love New York?) (Just Jared)

Friday, March 14, 2008

The secrets behind...

...the new The Incredible Hulk trailer. (Empire)

The two pandas

My review of last night's Lost:

After last week's episode full of Ben vs. Locke games and a healthy dose of "What are those guys on the freighter up to, anyway?", it was refreshing to spend some time with Sun (Yunjin Kim) and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) Kwon last night. Characters like the Kwons, Claire, Sawyer, and Rose and Bernard aren't directly involved with the mystique surrounding the island and what's going on with the Others. They're just trying to survive, and it's a relief to remember that there are characters going through things much more elemental than the show's more science fictionish storylines.
(Link Daily Blog)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hulu is here

On Hulu, the new site from NBC and Fox, it's possible to embed one particular scene from the library of TV shows and movies into your blog. Please enjoy Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany in a scene from Master and Commander:

and how about the already-classic Alec Baldwin from 30 Rock (not for work):

UPDATE - The 30 Rock scene goes on longer than I meant it to. I'm still learning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The future of...

...the Ron Paul movement. (Reason)

I heard the idea of a Ron Paul RNC chairmanship tossed around by Paulites in New Hampshire, and I heard it afterward. They know it’s a pipe dream, but they’re starting to ask: How might an activist libertarian splinter movement influence a larger and more moribund Republican organization?

To the bookshelf

A post-Wire reading list, heavy on Simon, Pelecanos, and Price. I can vouch for most of these personally. (House Next Door)

The other KB

Forgetting Sarah Marshall, starring the soon to be frequently pictured here Kristen Bell, is another Judd Apatow-produced winner. (Cinematical)


David Gordon Green's Snow Angels was the second biggest art-house release last week. What was first? (Indiewire)

Monday, March 10, 2008


Well-said thoughts on NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer (Parabasis)

And so we get to the monumental stupidity of a politician whose reputation that has been built around ethics crusading, and who has busted prostitution rings, visiting a prostitute while in the middle of a protracted fight against a (most likely highly corrupt) arch nemesis that Spitzer was losing to. When he was but a seat or so away from taking the state senate. Stupid. Just watch the Spice channel. Arg.

Just because we needed a picture...

Amy Adams makes Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day worth seeing...(NY Times)


The differences between the Israeli and American versions of In Treatment. (The Medium)

Tune in, don't drop out...

James Wolcott is tired of anti-Hillary emoting....

SXSW swings

A (disappointing?) doc about bisexuality at SXSW....(IFC)

Why there won't be...

...another vote in Florida. (The New Republic)

Sunday, March 09, 2008


...where it's at musically. Surprise! (NY Times)

SHOUTS of “Brooklyn!” cut through the applause at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Valentine’s Day for the sold-out homecoming show of Yeasayer and MGMT, two of the borough’s reigning new buzz bands. And as Yeasayer rang out the last chords of “2080,” an echoey, disorienting song about environmental apocalypse, its singer, Chris Keating, made an announcement.

“We’re going to play that on TV tomorrow,” he said with pride and disbelief, as the band members traded shrugs. “Yeah, TV,” he added. “Seriously. Conan O’Brien, tomorrow night.”

The crowd roared its approval. “Brooklyn!”

Sunday Music: Chris Thile

...a performance of Radiohead's "Morning Bell" from 2006.


New interviews with NP from Elle and Marie Claire. (photo by Carter Smith)

Would you rather.....

...I put my political stuff up on a separate site?

Get the picture?

A comic-strip review of the new American Music Club CD.....(Merge)

I'm going to download...

...rare Superchunk tracks from the new Merge Records online store. (Pitchfork)

Let's sort out...

...what's fact and what's fiction in The Bank Job. (Chicago Reader)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Under the microscope...

Hillary Clinton's foreign policy "experience." (Chicago Tribune)

"She was never asked to do the heavy lifting" when meeting with foreign leaders, said Susan Rice, who was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration and is now advising Obama. "She wasn't asked to move the mountain or deliver a harsh message or a veiled threat. It was all gentle prodding or constructive reinforcement. And it would not have been appropriate for her to do the heavy lifting."

Samantha Morton... make directorial debut. (Cinematical)

It's always good... see Camilla Belle, but I don't think I'll be seeing 10,000 B.C. after this review. Note the commenter who sticks up for the film....(House Next Door)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I just saw I'm Not There...

...and feel like I've been to grad school. More later.

Parting shot

David Simon and fellow Wire writers put theory into practice. (Time)

If some few episodes of a television entertainment have caused others to reflect on the war zones we have created in our cities and the human beings stranded there, we ask that those people might also consider their conscience. And when the lawyers or the judge or your fellow jurors seek explanation, think for a moment on Bubbles or Bodie or Wallace. And remember that the lives being held in the balance aren't fictional.


A link to a new trailer for Angelina Jolie's Wanted.....(Cinematical)

Finally, good TV news...

NBC partners with DirectTV, brings back Friday Night Lights for Season 3. (Deadline Hollywood)

Do we really need...

...a "fictionalized" (read: made up) account of Heath Ledger's last days in the new issue of Esquire? Look at the above picture before you answer. (NY Times)

After Heath Ledger was found dead in his SoHo apartment on Jan. 22, David Granger, the editor in chief of Esquire magazine, dispatched a writer named Lisa Taddeo to report on the actor’s final days.

Her article, published in the April issue, which will be on newstands next week, finds Mr. Ledger eating Moroccan food with Jack Nicholson in London, returning to New York and partying at the downtown nightspot Beatrice Inn, eating steak and eggs at a cafe in Little Italy and wolfing down a banana-nut muffin as his last morsel of food.

None of this is exactly true.

Is either Democratic candidate....

...really ready for the "3.00 AM phone call?" (The Caucus)

By the way, though this isn't by any means a political blog I do want to say that I'm supporting Obama and that will of course influence the content here. I was initially for Edwards (and voted for him in the SC primary), but after he withdrew I decided to switch to Obama. It wasn't an easy or automatic decision. Like many I'm uncomfortable with the tone the Clintons have injected into the campaign and I just think Hillary is trapped in an outdated, us-or-them, confrontational style of politics we had best move beyond.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Preminger Fest: Bunny Lake is Missing

I recently bought a biography of Otto Preminger at a book sale but decided to put a few of the man's films on my Netflix queue before reading. I finally got around to watching the first one, 1965's Bunny Lake is Missing. I've never heard of Carol Lynley, who plays the lead, but Kate Bosworth would be a fine physical matchup for a remake. (IMDB reports Joe Carnahan is remaking the film and that Reese Witherspoon has recently left the project)

Ann Lake (Lynley) has recently moved to London with her 4 year old daughter Bunny, and the two have taken a flat with Ann's journalist brother (Keir Dullea). When Ann goes to pick Bunny up after the first day at her chaotic and cramped school, no one seems to have heard of the child. There's a wonderful air of passive malevolence at the school, where a batty old woman (Martita Hunt) lives in the attic and records childrens' nightmares. Does Bunny really exist? That's the question asked by Superintendent Newhouse (an unfussy Laurence Olivier) when the police arrive to take over the case.

Any remake would have to tighten up the ending, which spends far too long on some psychosexual dysfunction that probably seemed shocking back in '65. But despite some logical leaps (Ann escapes much too easily from a hospital in one scene) Preminger's control of mood and information is masterful, and the big reveal at the end is genuinely disturbing. I could have done without Noel Coward's two scenes as a leering landlord, but I'm glad I made Bunny Lake my first Preminger DVD. With any luck his more prestigious and better known films will be just as good.

Yes, he's... of my favorites. David Gordon Green in conversation. (IFC)

Q: I hesitate to use the word "departure," but "Snow Angels" feels different from your first three films. You adapted "Snow Angels" as a work-for-hire years ago, so I'm curious if I'm left with this impression because you hadn't originally intended to direct it, or that it's more plot-driven. Maybe it's because there aren't as many impressionistic visual digressions?

A: To me, you can say "departure." I wanted to do something different, something that wasn't in the South. The book gave me discipline as a writer, and not intending to direct it myself, I was wearing a different hat as I was writing it. I couldn't lean on the kind of vague, impressionistic writing style that I had previously. I had to illustrate with words, conceive in my own head, and flesh out the character and story arcs in a way that I had never fully realized before. For this movie, having that discipline brought a different type of engineering to it. When the opportunity to direct came up, I took one step back to a place where I had more of a personalized ownership of the story. I enjoyed the more conventional storytelling structure, so that I could focus all of my attention and ambition toward the emotional risks of the movie.

A great summary...

...of Obama and Clinton's respective "moral claims" to the nomination. (The American Scene)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I just found out...

...The Breeders have a new album (Mountain Battles) out next month. (Pitchfork)

Nicholson Baker

The Times on how novelist Nicholson Baker turned his eye to WWII for a new nonfiction book called Human Smoke. If you've read Baker's fiction (The Mezzanine, A Box of Matches) then you'll agree this subject seems utterly bizarre....I can't wait to read it.

Arcade Fire... Obama, cover Bowie. (Stereogum)

Monday, March 03, 2008


...Henry Fonda have played James Stewart's role in Vertigo? (Believer)

Shelby Lynne...

...stands up for vinyl. (Huffington Post)

I was born in '68. Mama and Daddy had albums. I grew up listening to their vinyl. I have discovered that having a vinyl collection is so much cooler than having an iPod. Now, I have an iPod and I admit they are genius especially for travel and convenience. But they aren't really any fun. I don't call up my friends and say "Hey why don't y'all come over and bring your computers and let's have a party"? Hell no! I say bring pot, wine and vinyl.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Come back, Marketa Irglova!

A plea for Oscar acceptance speeches....(LA Weekly)

Every Oscars telecast wages a time battle between clip reels and acceptance speeches, and lately the awardees — often nervous people, most of them not performers, caught in a life-changing moment in which they have to cobble together words of gratitude and fight off the fear they'll forget someone — have been on the losing end of the fight for precious airtime.


Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum retires, with video. (Scanners)

Sunday Music (almost): Erykah Badu

Those corporate you-know-whats have disabled the embedding function for her new video "Honey," so make do with this NY Times profile of Erykah Badu.

Who reads....

....Maxim for the CD reviews? (Indie Ear)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

Although it's much more enjoyable in a fun, pulpy way than Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, all in all The Other Boleyn Girl is a disappointment. It's a costume drama with a flat script in which we're told (again and again) how little women and their sexuality matters in the world of court politics. It came as quite a surprise to notice that Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) was responsible for adapting Philippa Gregory's novel for the screen.

If you're reading this then I'll assume you've already seen the movie or are at least familiar with the plot, so I'll just hit a few positives and negatives. I was happy to see Kristin Scott Thomas as the mother of Anne and Mary Boleyn. Scott Thomas's Lady Elizabeth is the one character who protests the way women are used as bargaining chips, she gets a fine moment of husband-slapping rage after things have come undone for the family. I looked at her credits after seeing the film and Kristin Scott Thomas seems to be doing a lot of European films now, which I think is too bad because she's much more interesting than many more famous actresses. Here's hoping for a career revival. In a far less sympathetic role, Mark Rylance is equally good as the girls' weak father Thomas.

Director Justin Chadwick provides little visual detail or flair to enliven what's really a series of confrontations in dull rooms. But that's not the biggest problem. Eric Bana, so soulful in Munich, is an absolute flop as Henry. I think the characterization Bana and Chadwick we're going for was of a man so caught up in his own desires he can't function, but what comes across is much flatter. There's not much going on behind his eyes; he just looks bored, which doesn't help the sexual tension.

As for Ms. Portman, her performance as Anne doesn't come into its own until the second half of the film. Anne has returned from exile in France to "entertain" the King while sister Mary is pregnant. (I haven't liked Johansson in other period roles, but she's quite touching here) Anne has the throne on her mind and begins to play Henry hot and cold, encouraging him to divorce Queen Catherine (Ana Torrent) and break with the Catholic Church. Some of Portman's best moments are her most desperate, after Anne has miscarried and contemplates incest with her brother (Jim Sturgess) to prevent the King from finding out. (This is apparently the most historically questionable part of Gregory's novel) By the time Anne is put on trial, Portman has a couple of scenes of high bitchiness that are carried off well. It's a treat to see NP play a different kind of character, but I wish she'd made a better choice of projects.