Hobo chic?


A very very long time ago, I noted sitting near Daniel Day-Lewis while at dinner, but not recognizing him because he looked remarkably like a homeless bike messenger.

It’s good to see that he’s toned down the bike messenger aspect of that.

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2007 Movies


I’m not surprised at the low number of movies released in 2007 that I saw, particularly given that I was pretty much not in the country for the first four months of the year.  What I am surprised about is, of the 15 films that I did manage to see, just how many of them were overrated blockbusters.  Oh well.  The list…

Alpha Dog:  Saw this on cable.  It was actually pretty good, if a little over the top with the crazy kids (although it was based on a true story).  Biggest surprise?  Justin Timberlake being one of the best things about the film.

Catch and Release:  Netflixed.  After Deadwood, I would watch Timothy Olyphant spend two hours reading out of the phone book.  Juliette Lewis was annoying, but otherwise, I thought this was pretty charming.

Music and Lyrics:  Saw this one on cable…last night.  Cute, contrived (of course, as all cheesy chick flicks are).  I did laugh out loud at the completely, hilariously, cheesily over the top 80’s music video that started and ended the film.  Of course, I couldn’t help but dissect the "New York realism" aspects.  Apparently Hugh Grant’s character lives 2 blocks from me (they kept showing the corner of 72nd and Broadway), but when they "go out for a snack" they end up at the City Bakery.  Which is about 50 blocks away.  Stuff like that just annoys me. It’s also geographically impossible for the view from his apartment (which they kept showing incessantly to mark time) to include the Beresford to the south.  Oh well. 

Outlaw:  They showed this on HDNet the other night, and given that it had Sean Bean in it, I couldn’t resist.  I also had to watch it twice, as I fell asleep about 10 minutes in to the first viewing.  Kind of ridiculous, kind of stupid.  I thought it was going to be a lot more "Sean Bean kicking bad-guy ass", and a lot less "we’re a bunch of men with emotional problems".

The Hoax:  The first movie I actually saw in a theater after I got home from Italy.  Very enjoyable.  Although I have finally come to the conclusion that Richard Gere doesn’t really have a whole lot of range.

Spider-man 3:  Blargh. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End:  Blaaargh.

Oceans 13:  The boy’s are back!  How is it possible that George Clooney continues to get better and better looking as he gets older?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:  At least the kids have finally learned how to really act.  Really enjoyed this one, particularly since I had just re-read the book before seeing the film. 

The Bourne Ultimatum:  By far the best "sequel" this year.  I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Superbad:  OK, this was really funny.  Painfully funny, as everyone in the theater flashed back to their own awkward high school years.

Michael Clayton:  This was filmed in my office, so even if it had been bad, I would have been one of the first people in line to see it.  Fortunately it was also really really great.

American Gangster:  Another film where the truth is crazier than any writer could invent.  At times a bit too violent just for violence’s sake, but the acting was pretty superb.

I’m Not there:  I’ve already discussed this one.

I Am Legend:  Saw this last weekend.  WHY do filmmakers insist on changing the endings to books?  It’s almost always a disappointment.  The first 2/3rds of this were really great, particularly the thought of an empty Manhattan (and particularly when seeing the film around the Holidays, when the streets here are packed to the gills with people), and then the ending was just kind of ridiculous. 

So that’s it for movies this year, unless I manage to get myself to one this afternoon, which is a distinct possibility.

As far as 2007 movies that I would have liked to see but never got around to?  the following are going in my Netflix queue right after I post this entry (some of the later stuff is still in theaters, so I may actually not be out of time on those):

Blades of Glory
Live Free or Die
28 Weeks Later
Knocked Up
In the Valley of Elah
The Kingdom
The Darjeeling Limited
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Gone Baby Gone
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
No Country for Old Men
The Golden Compass
Youth Without Youth
Charlie Wilson’s War

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I’m not where?


So, Friday night, the ‘rents and I decided to go see "I’m Not There", the new Dylan "biopic".  I knew it was going to be weird and existential – I had read the fawning New York Times Magazine cover story on it a few weeks ago, after all, but…


I guess I just didn’t get it (neither did my dad or stepmom, and my dad was actually at Newport when Dylan went electric, so…).

Don’t get me wrong – the acting was generally superb (I watched some clips of the actual Dylan at Newport this morning, and Cate Blanchett was just phenomenal).  And there were certain "moments" that were touching/funny/excellent.  But overall?  I had no idea what the fuck was going on.  And I’m fairly certain that I fell asleep through most of the Richard Gere/Billy the Kid part of the film (I only say "fairly certain" because, lacking any discernable plot or forward momentum, it’s entirely possible that I fell asleep for either 10 seconds or 20 minutes). 

Walking out, I said to my folks (my folks!) that I think I would have understood it better if we were all stoned. 

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but really, isn’t one blandly generic corporate conference room the same as the next?


So, about a year and a half ago, I noted that, while I was shipping off to Palau for two weeks, they’d be filming a movie in our conference rooms with an

[extremely attractive, academy award-winning, awesomely liberal actor/writer/director].

Not that I’m giving away who such actor was, but let’s just say that if you might just want to go see Michael Clayton when it comes out.

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The Bourne Ultimatum


Took myself to see the Bourne Ultimatum this afternoon, and it was awesome.  That’s not to say that it had much of a plot, but my heart was certainly racing the entire time.  And you just know that half the reason that they wanted to pin everything on Landy was because she was a girl in the boys clubhouse, so I was thrilled to watch her get the upper hand. 

Oh, and I constantly get Brian Cox and Albert Finney confused, so you can just imagine the somersaults my mind was doing after Finney showed up in this film, after Cox’s character had killed himself in the second one.  I was all "why doesn’t Bourne recognize the guy in the photograph?  he was in the same room with him in the last film!?"  And then I realized why it actually made sense. 

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Just under the wire.


This is going to be the first year that I can remember that I won’t be watching the Academy Awards. Not for lack of desire, mind you, but because (a) it begins at the very early hour of 2 am here, and (b) it’s being shown on Sky Italia, which is cable. I don’t have cable. So, no awards show for me. I actually find it a bit amazing given that this year, Ennio Morricone, one of the prides of Italian movie-music making is taking home an honorary award. I haven’t seen the bulk of the movies either, due to the fact that most of them have not been available in English here. But that’s not stopping me from putting in my (very) last minute predictions. I guess I’ll find out whether I’m right or not when I wake up tomorrow morning. I’m only sticking to the big awards this year. I have no interest in who wins Best Sound Mixing.

Best Picture: Babel/The Departed/Letters from Iwo Jima/Little Miss Sunshine/The Queen

I actually did see Little Miss Sunshine, and I think it was awesome. It’s also on a lot of peoples’ lists for best picture, so it may actually have a shot. But, given that the academy voted for the mishmash that was Crash last year, I’d actually put my money on Babel. Overblown, overdone, over”meaningful” film that will make the academy feel all good about themselves for their “consciousness”? yep, all there.

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond)/Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)/Peter O’Toole (Venus)/Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness)/Forest Whitaker (The Last Kind of Scotland)

Hey, I haven’t seen any of these films. Money on Whitaker, although O’Toole may be a dark horse. I frankly think that DiCaprio should have been nominated for The Departed, but since he can only get nominated once per category, I guess this was the more “leading” role. Gosling will clearly be happy just to be nominated, and while I love Smith, this is not the year for him to win.

Best Actress: Penelope Cruz (Volver)/Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal)/Helen Mirren (The Queen)/Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)/Kate Winslet (Little Children)

Is there anyone who thinks that Mirren is not going to win this one?

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine)/Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children)/Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond)/Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls)/Mark Wahlberg (The Departed)

My money’s on Murphy, but my heart is with Jackie Earle Haley. I read a profile of him about six months ago, before Little Children was released, and it’s just such a story. Adorable teen heartthrob develops a bad case of acne, gets completely rejected by Hollywood, moves to the midwest and drops out of acting completely, only to end up getting tracked down for a small part in a movie (not this movie – that was All the King’s Men), movie gets panned, but Haley gets decent reviews. Haley also ends up making an impression on co-star Winslet, who also stars in Little Children. Now the guys nominated for an Academy Award. I know that everyone focuses on Jennifer Hudson as the “comeback” or “karma” or whatever story, but this guy spent decades in the shadows. It would make me really really happy if he won.

Best Supporting Actress: Adriana Barraza (Babel)/Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal)/Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine)/Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)/Rink Kikuchi (Babel)

Of course Hudson is going to win. And good for her.

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel)/Martin Scorsese (The Departed)/Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima)/Stephen Frears (The Queen)/Paul Greengrass (United 93)

I know that everyone’s saying that this is finally Scorsese’s year, and both my money and my heart are with him, but I can’t help to think that he’s gonna get shafted again. It’s like they’re playing with fire. The presenters for this category? A first time trio of Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas, who all came up together with Scorsese in the 70s (and if you haven’t seen the documentary “Easy Riders/Raging Bulls” go rent it now. right now. I’ll wait. See?) are presenting the award together. When I heard that one, all I could think was, but what if it’s someone else? No. It’s gotta be Marty. Anything else would be too cruel.

Best Foreign Language Film: After the Wedding (Denmark)/Days of Glory (Algeria)/The Lives of Others (Germany)/Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico)/Water (Canada)

Given that Pan’s Labyrinth was getting talked about for best picture, I’m feeling pretty confident that it’ll win here.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips)/Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby)/The Departed (William Monahan)/Little Children (Todd Field and Tom Perrotta)/Notes on a Scandal (Patrick Marber)

I think Departed won’t win best picture, but it’ll win this.

Best Original Screenplay: Babel (Guillermo Arriaga)/Letters from Iwo Jima (Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis)/Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt)/Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)/The Queen (Peter Morgan)

My vote is for Little Miss Sunshine, but I think it’s got competition from Babel and Haggis. Sorry, Iwo Jima. It’s just that Haggis keeps winning this darn award.

Best Animated Feature Film: Cars/Happy Feet/Monster House

OK. First I need to go on a little rant. This is clearly not a list of the “best animated films”. This is a list of the “best animated children’s films.” Otherwise A Scanner Darkly would have at least been nominated. I mean, it’s not like they didn’t have room, what with only coming up with three freakin’ nominees!

OK. Rant over. Cars will obviously win. It’s Pixar.

Best Original Song: “I Need to Wake Up” by Melissa Etheridge (An Inconvenient Truth)/”Listen” by Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven (Dreamgirls)/”Love You I Do” by Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett (Dreamgirls)/”Our Town” by Randy Newman (Cars)/”Patience” by Henry Krieger and Willie Reale (Dreamgirls)

Dreamgirls has three of the five nominations here, making at least one of the songs a probable favorite (I’ve heard that “Listen” is at the front of the pack), but given the danger of vote splitting in that situation, you can’t count out Etheridge’s anthem.

Best Documentary Feature: Deliver Us From Evil/An Inconvenient Truth/Iraq in Fragments/Jesus Camp/My Country, My Country

I’m just hoping that when he wins, Al Gore announces that he’s going to run for President.

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I am telling you…


Zuzu over at feministe had a pretty interesting breakdown of Jennifer Holliday’s career (or lack thereof) after Dreamgirls. But watching the video put me in a slightly different frame of mind.

Dreamgirls was the very first Broadway show I ever saw – I couldn’t have been more than ten years old. After watching this video, you’ll understand why that experience made me, for life, a devoted Broadway musical fan.

Man, I really, really hope we get a non-dubbed version of the new film here in Italy.

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One of the first things I did last week when I got home was insist on going to see Casino Royale.  I’ve always been a Bond fan, and, like the typical traditionalist, have always preferred the Connery films to all that came later.  One of my best friends from high school were both fanatics, and we would spend hours at the video store debating which film to watch (she was a Moore partisan).  She actually won the “who’s a bigger Bond freak” when she got her parents to name their sailboat “Moonraker”.

So, needless to say, Bond? very high on the list of things I needed to do immediately after returning to the States.  I went with my dad, because he’s semi-retired (meaning that he works, but pretty much on his own schedule), and I was on vacation, and it was the middle of the day on Monday (let me tell you that there’s nothing more indulgent than going to see a movie in the middle of what is normally a workday).  It did get a little awkward being there with my dad once or twice (I’m particularly thinking about the extended naked torture scene), but there’s only one word to describe it…AWESOME.  There’s a time and a place for the campiness of the old films, but those sorts of things just don’t work anymore.  They hit the reset button on the series, made it dark, gritty, sexy, and I swear, I spent half the film holding my breath and the other half swooning.

I’m definitely going to see it again before I leave.

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Meaningful films


I see movies in fits and spurts. I’ll go months without going to the theater, and then, like in the past few weeks, I’ll go see a movie each weekend.

First, I went to see the new X-Men movie a few weeks ago. It was OK. Certainly nothing compared to the first two. Frankly, I came home and watched the first film again on DVD because it was so much better.

Then, two weeks ago, my brother came into town (he’s now back in Micronesia), so we went for a family movie night to see “An Inconvenient Truth“, otherwise known as the most meaningful powerpoint presentation you’ll ever see. I seriously recommend the film, regardless of your political persuasion. You can’t walk out of the theater without trying to change at least a little bit of how we live on this earth. One of the interesting things I realized, however, is that while NYC certainly has terrible air quality, those of us who live in cities already do quite a bit. I already take mass transit or walk to work. All of my appliances are new and energy efficient. My apartment is small, so I don’t need a lot of energy to cool it in the summertime.

Interesting facts – Did you know that the reason that GM and Ford can’t sell cars in China is because we don’t meet China’s emissions standards? China!

Oh, and if he did run again (which he claims he won’t), I would vote for Al Gore in a heartbeat. Dude is smart.

In other movies, on Saturday, I went to the ‘burbs to visit my best friend, and we went to see “A Prairie Home Companion” – meaningful, but in a different way. I think you actually do have to be a Garrison Keillor fan to like this film. Much of it is basically “in-jokes” from the radio show, which I certainly listen to whenever I get the chance. It was odd and quirky, and yes, Altmanesque, and damn, Meryl Streep can actually really sing. But I was doubled over laughing at certain points, and it was worth the $10.

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Trying too hard


I get a lot of junk mail. Usually 4 or 5 catalogs a day. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, as I never signed up for any of them, and they all seemed to follow me and grow in number when I moved (Seriously, now, what the hell am I going to do with a catalog for patio furniture?).

So, Friday, I’m at the mailboxes, flipping through the mail and tossing what I don’t want (we have a conveniently located recycling bin in the lobby right next to the mailboxes, which I take full advantage of), and I come across the funniest piece of junk mail I’ve gotten in quite a while. It’s from some sort of religious group, and it’s about their new “God on Film” series. Now, aside from the fact that a church would send my liberal jewish/atheist self an invitation to their seminar, they’re clearly reaching for a theme here (“reaching” being the operative word).

It starts off with what is obviously the hook:

June 4 The Da Vinci Code: the truth behind the fictiion, part 1
June 11 The Da Vinci Code: the truth behind the fiction, part 2

OK, fine, everyone and their mother is talking about the Da Vinci Code. I personally think it was a hacktastic book (perfectly fine beach reading, but, um, obviously fiction, and not particularly well written). Clearly this one makes sense. Then…

June 18 Cars: what drives my life?

June 25 Click: pausing for what matters most

July 2 Superman Returns: how to begin again

Disney movies and comic books as life lessons? Sure I get the whole superhero parable, but the “theme” for the cars discussion just cracks me up. “Hey, it’s a movie about computer animated cars! clearly we can tie this to how to live your life!” Too funny. But not as funny as the final two – here’s the first:

July 9 The Devil Wears Prada: succeeding in stressful situations

Haaa! Ha Ha Ha. Sorry, I can’t stop laughing. Because, if you don’t know, the movie is about a bitchy Anna Wintour clone and, is based on a tell-all book written by a woman who used to work for her. The movie is clearly intended to be satire. incredibly bitchy satire. Being analyzed by a church group to discuss how to succeed at work!! And then there’s this…

July 16 Pirates of the Caribbean: escaping the bonds of debt

Now I’m falling out of my chair because I can’t stop giggling. Because apparently the message you’re supposed to take from a movie about Johnny Depp dressed up in Keith Richards drag hamming it up as a pirate from a Disney ride (oh, sorry, the sequel to the movie based on the Disney ride), squaring off against Bill Nighy dressed like a giant squid, is how to pay off your credit cards. Hee heee heeee. Sorry. no, wait. heee heee ha ha ha.

OK, now I realize that these are actually timed with the movie releases, and they’re trying to imply some sort of hipness or something. But seriously. I’m still giggling. Come on! Pirates of the friggin’ Caribbean!! As a life lesson! about managing debt! What isn’t funny about that?

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