what i’ve been reading & watching: with nails and sweeney todd

with-nails With Nails: The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant

I love Richard E. Grant; LA Story and Henry & June are two of my favorite movies, so this has been on my list for a while. The chapter on Hudson Hawk alone is worth the price of the book; it’s not often you get an as-it’s-happening inside look at one of the biggest Hollywood bombs of all time. Apparently, this movie was a dream of Bruce Willis’ since his bartending/struggling actor days. As I recall, recording an album was also one of his “dreams”. Someone needs to take him aside and tell him to stop having dreams.

Funniest anecdote: David Caruso had a small part in the movie, playing one of Grant’s and Sandra Bernhard’s (who is exactly how you imagine her to be IRL) characters’ flunkies. The character has no tongue, so the method-acting Caruso (Seriously: Method acting? For this piece of shit??) never spoke to anyone… until his last day of filming, when he cornered Grant in make-up and demanded to know why Grant had been “ignoring” him. Caruso, a deranged moron? Say it isn’t so!

For the most part, Grant refrains from being too acidic. Understandable: Grant isn’t retired and presumably still wants to get work. When he really wanted to unload, he mentioned no names; although if you’ve seen the movies in question, you can make an educated guess. (This book was published after Caruso’s post-NYPD Blue career had flopped and before he made his “comeback” on CSI: Asinine, so Grant probably felt okay ripping on him.) Maybe we’ll have to wait for his death to get the full-on You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again treatment. Much like the diarist whose husband he once portrayed!

Also, this book has inspired me to add Warlock to my Netflix queue, which I remember as being a campy good time and actually better than you’d expect it to be. (Although the climactic scene was a blatant rip-off of the “Try holy water, deathbreath!” line from Lost Boys.)


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

If I may quote Raineesha Williams here: White people are crazy. Mind you, I’m not saying I didn’t like it. Quite the opposite! And it’s amazing how Johnny Depp manages to still be hot with white pancake, racoon eyes, and yellow teeth. Not to mention all the throat-slashing.

It also sort of put me in the mood to make meat pies. Although hopefully not from people.

Sweeney Todd + Soylent Green = Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies are made of peeeee-puuulll!

I know I already mentioned The Fall. I just want to mention it again, because seriously DROP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING AND GO ADD IT TO YOUR NETFLIX QUEUE RIGHT NOW.


Diana F+ in Louisiana

Yesterday I got back the 120 film I shot with my Diana F+ in Louisiana over Christmas. (Yes, I’m totally lazy about mail order development.) A lot of them were underexposed, but with very minimal editing on flickr (hitting the “auto-fix” button, pretty much), I’m quite pleased with what I got. (Although I think more than ever that getting the flash was a wise investment.) Most of them have great vignetting, too.

It was sunny both days I shot these, so I’m not sure what caused the underexposure. I think maybe the film was the wrong speed; I took a grab bag of 120 with me and kind of just stuffed it into the camera without paying attention. Umm, whoops!


everybody move to las vegas or boulder!


I see our Facilities department has sucumbed to Swine Flu hysteria. Stacks of these brochures, along with jars of hand sanitizer and canisters of anti-viral wipes are on every horizontal surface in the school.

You know how many people die of plain-vanilla, non-sexy regular flu every year in this country? About 36,000.

You know how many people have died of Swine Flu thus far in this country? One. And she was a Mexican child visiting Houston.

It’s really sad that it takes an international panic to remind people to cover their fucking mouths when they cough, and wash their hands occasionally.

i always knew hipsters would kill us all one day

Patient Zero

Patient Zero

2008 was the year that hipsters went crazy for bacon, putting it in everything from chocolate to booze and practically wiping their asses with it.

In 2009, we’re all gonna die of Swine Flu*.

Coincidence? I think not! Thanks, hipsters. It’s not enough you were smug and annoying; because of your stupid ironic love for all things you — from your lofty perch atop piles of trust fund buxx — consider amusingly “common”, you’re resposible for the downfall of western civilization. Good going!

*Maybe. But then again, we didn’t all contract SARS or bird flu and get eaten by sharks just as the world ended because of a tragic lack of honey, so maybe not.

first roll of 35mm from the Diana F+

I kinda screwed up: These should have been square, with sprocket holes; but like a dummy, I took it to a drugstore lab, and of course they fucked it up. Even on the CD, they cropped the sprocket holes out and enlarged to get a rectangular format, so a lot of the tops got cut off. I figured the prints would be like that — and I really only order prints from the drugstore so I can see right away what the images look like; my main goal is getting them on CD so I can upload them to flickr. I thought they scanned the negatives to get them on the CD, so I’m kind of disgruntled that they even got that wrong.

Oh well, it’s not like I shot anything earth-shattering anyway, it was a practice roll so it’s pretty much just stuff I saw on my daily round. Lesson learned: Stick to the standard regular template, or send it out to a pro lab*.

Even still, there’s a few shots worth keeping:


bento #79: curried lamb meatballs


Kind of a smorgasbord today. The flatbread and hummus are leftovers, the olives and pepperoncini I already had on hand.

  • Curried lamb meatballs. I used Jesse’s recipe for lamb burgers (I’d link it but Pandagon seems to be down at the moment); you don’t need to change any of the ingredients for meatballs, just form them into balls slightly smaller than golf balls, and bake them at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
  • Goat cheese. The idea is to eat the meatballs and cheeseballs together.
  • Flatbread flowers with white bean hummus.
  • Pepperoncini and olives.
  • Pixie tangerine.
  • Chocolate covered caramels.

ETA: Pandagon is back up! Here is the recipe I used. I really like the use of yogurt as a binding agent instead of egg. It really gives it a different flavor.

the fall

I found out about this movie because people in the LJ film_stills community are obsessed with it and there have been three four! different entries for it since I joined. I was like huh, that looks interesting, Tarsem Singh’s movies are always really visual — HOLY SHIT LEE PACE IS IN IT. *add to queue, move to top*

Apparently, this was a “vanity project”: When Singh couldn’t get a studio to back it, he said “eff it” and made it with his own money. And who knew music video direction paid so well, because this movie does NOT look like it was made cheap. It was filmed in 20 different countries, for one thing. I just wish more people had seen it, because Lee Pace was amazing in it, and Catinca Untaru gave what is probably the finest performance by any child actor I’ve ever seen.

I don’t even know if “performance” is the right word, because I’m not sure she was really “acting” in the sense most people use the word. For one thing, she’s one of the most adorable little girls I’ve ever seen, but I think if she was “acting” that adorably, it would be saccharine and grating in very short order. From what I’ve read about the movie, her lines were very loosely scripted, and Singh just let her say whatever popped into her head, which is probably why the interaction between her and Lee Pace is so natural. Also, a lot of their scenes are of her sitting on his hospital bed with the curtains pulled around them, and apparently Singh filmed those scenes through a small hole in the curtain, so it would seem realer to her. And they even pulled that trick where she never saw Pace unless he was in bed or in a wheelchair, so she really thought he couldn’t walk. (Damn, that’s actually pretty manipulative.)

Critics seem really divided over it, they either loved it (Ebert gave it 4 out of 4), or hated it. The ones that hated it all had pretty much the same complaint: that the story-within-the-story was undeveloped and just an excuse to throw a lot of lush location shots and weird costumes together. But I think they’re missing the point, as snotty as that sounds. We’re never asked to believe this is some alternate version of reality, as in movies like The Princess Bride. The reality is always Roy and Alexandria in the hospital. He’s telling a story he’s making up as he goes to an imaginative little girl. It’s outlandish to think Singh would have set a tale in India, with a “Spanish governor” antagonist, and protagonists who are Italian, English, and Indian, and a women who goes from being a princess to a nun and back again, on accident. There are inconsistancies because Roy forgets from one day to the next what he’s said; characters change because Alexandria wants them to be different. (One of the subtle charms of the movie is the momentarily confused look all the characters get when something changes.) What we see is what she imagines: When Roy says one of the characters is an “Indian”, he clearly means Native American, because he mentions “squaws” and “wigwams”. But the Indians Alexandria knows are people from the Asian subcontinent, so we see a bearded man in a turban.

As beautiful as the story-within-the-story is, my favorite parts are the reality of Roy and Alexandria in the hospital. Both of them give truly magical performances, and they’re wonderful together. I watched it three times over the weekend; I had to send it back to Netflix today, but I’m definately going to be buying it.

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