life without movies is not worth living

Related to this post, here are the DVDs I elected to keep with me in Louisiana, putting the others I own in storage:

  • The 4th and 5th seasons of Northern Exposure. I have the first 3, but these 2 are the peak of the show, IMO. Although I know people who claimed the character of Mike Monroe was the shark-jump moment, I don’t agree with that. He was only a single-season character; Joel going native was clearly the shark jump.
  • Both seasons of Pushing Daisies. Sigh.
  • All 3 seasons of Dexter; the 4th season will no doubt eventually join it.
  • Lawrence of Arabia, tied with
  • The Fall, for Favorite Movie Ever.
  • Firefly & Serenity. Gorram it.
  • Aeon Flux. The complete animated series (including the Liquid Television shorts), not the terrible movie that was sort of based on it.
  • The 1st season of Fringe; ditto for the 2nd when it comes out.
  • The 1st season of True Blood, ditto as above.
  • Twin Peaks, the Definitive Gold Box Edition. It came with extras and postcards and an ad for David Lynch’s coffee, which I am scared to drink.
  • All the Harry Potter movies to date, except the first 2, when Dan Rad was too young for even a pervert like me to leer at.
  • All the Hayao Miyazake films I own: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. I haven’t even seen Ponyo, Y/N?
  • The most recent Star Trek movie. GEEK.

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.)

sweeneytodd4

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.

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.