Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1999 statistics!

Here's another year of statistics, this time from 1999. One thing that jumps out at me as I look at these is just how many films I watched alone in the first couple of years of Kinetoscope [what I've dubbed my handwritten film journal, see image for sample couple of pages]. Granted, I'm not the most social of individuals, but this year was possibly the most anti-social my film-watching has been. Or, maybe it was 2001 when I lived in NYC and didn't know anyone? Watching movies has largely been a solitary activity for me over the years. I was living in Norman, Oklahoma working on finishing my degree in History/Film Studies and just preferred to be alone. And watch a lot of movies!

The highlight of 1999 was watching one last film with my grandmother Gertrude a few months before she passed away. Believe it or not, we watched Dead/Alive, the Peter Jackson gore fest that is so bloody that it's comical. Why she decided to sit down and watch that movie with me I have no idea. I can't think of that movie, or Jackson, without now thinking of my grandma.

The 2000 statistics will come in a few weeks.

Total for the year: 285

By Month

January: 26
February: 17
March: 18
April: 25
May: 31
June: 36
July: 26
August: 12
September: 20
October: 24
November: 14
December: 35

By Decade

1910-19: 4
1920-29: 9
1930-39: 15
1940-49: 12
1950-59: 12
1960-69: 10
1970-79: 16
1980-89: 39
1990-99: 162

Who I saw 'em with

55--in class at OU
35--Lillian Blevins
11--Otis Hoover
4--Scott Booker
3--Bobby Ahn, Kelly Healy, Seth Jones
2--Victoria Nguyen
1--Gertrude Blevins, Shane Davis, Melissa Wabnitz

Where I saw 'em

171--Norman, Oklahoma
91--Pryor, Oklahoma
10--Tulsa, Oklahoma
7--Dallas, texas
2--Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
1--Miami, Florida; Montreal, Canada; Treasure Cay, Bahamas

By Country

205--US and A!
4--China, Germany
2--Australia, Canada, Norway, Serbia
1--Cuba, Iran, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Vietnam, Yugoslavia

Saturday, March 26, 2011

UTW review of Just Go With It + Biutiful

I'm at least a month behind on my Urban Tulsa Weekly reviews, but that just means I've got a lot of other content to post such as the recent guest writers Stephanie and Eva. I like having too much rather than not enough. I often question myself whether I will run out of things to say about movies, but then there seems to always be something new that comes to mind. And, I could always do a monthly insult to Michael Bay if things get too dry! Go here if you want to read a couple of short reviews of the comedy Just Go With It and the Mexican drama Biutiful.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stephanie Huettner's SXSW journal [part one]

Friday, March 11

My journey with SXSW 2011 will be my first as a Video Projection Crew Chief. I have been a Film Traffic (Film Librarian) Crew Chief for the past four years and was moved over to projection this year, to my delight. While this will mean a more restrictive schedule for me during the festival with regards to what I choose to see, I will still get to see plenty and learn plenty about video projection equipment.

The first movie I see at the festival is aptly titled The First Movie. It is a Scottish film by a director from Northern Ireland, Mark Cousins. Cousins grew up during the worst days of the IRA conflicts and remembers film being a welcome escape from the chaos surrounding him. He decides to travel to a remote region of Iraq called Guptapa (which was the site of horrific chemical rain attacks in the late 1980s) to set up a pop-up free cinema and to see what kinds of movies the kids in this region would make if given the opportunity. While this premise may sound like a set-up for maudlin realizations about the nature of war and the usual waxing poetic about how children see the world, this film takes a more experimental track. Rather than editing the film like a diary of the journey, Cousins and his team choose to focus on several long sequences featuring the children playing with balloons and talking about what kind of movie they would make if they had the opportunity. The free cinema is a smashing success and one who loves film can't help but be inspired by the genuine wild enthusiasm with which the children greet films like E.T. and The Red Balloon. The films made by the kids on flip cameras are sometimes silly, as they should be, but others are very thoughtful. One child chooses to take his camera to a mosque to interview the men there. He gets an unabashed and honest interview from a man who may have been wary of talking to any outsiders. The film which is considered the “discovery” of the film is made by a boy named Muhammed, (nicknamed “Little Muhammed”). It is a 2:20 minute-long shot of a boy playing in the mud. The filmmakers choose to call it “The Boy and the Mud.” Muhammed shoots his friend playing with water passing in a small stream, pulling it on to the soil and turning it in to mud. If this description makes one shrug with apathy, the key to it is the narration which Muhammed provides. “The boy is playing with the mud. He is using the water to turn the soil in to mud, because this is all we have to play with where we are. He is giving his dreams to the water and the soil. He is giving his dreams to the mud. He would like to build a house from this mud.” Muhammed then pauses in his stream-of-consciousness poetry to direct his friend: “Keep playing with the mud. Keep playing with it and make more.” A born director. While it may not be a work of genius, it is incredibly impressive that an 8-year-old boy who has little exposure to cinema at all knows innately how to narrate and direct a film, as well as how to make adjustments to the shot. I enjoyed this film thoroughly, finding it thoughtful and beautiful. Ironically, having just praised the novice filmmaker's narration skills, I could I have used less of Cousins' constant narration in every scene. Many of the images tell the stories just fine on their own and don't need his intrusive description. Nevertheless, his true affinity for the kids comes across and one gets the sense that they are truly discovering a new part of themselves through the creation of their films.

Saturday, March 12

The next day, I saw another documentary with a far more complicated story to tell. Better This World is the story of two friends from Midland, texas who became increasingly disillusioned and angry at the state of their country and the role which it was playing in the world after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They dabble in revolutionary group meetings and are soon pulled in to a group in Austin, by a man known in the media for his activism in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. As the SXSW blurbs state: “The result: eight homemade bombs, multiple domestic terrorism charges and a high stakes entrapment defense hinging on a controversial FBI informant.” Like I said, this one is very complex and in order to get all of the details, you'd need to just watch it. It is exceptionally well made, tightly edited and incredibly informative. While it's also emotional, filmmakers Kelly Duane and Katie Galloway do not indulge in the melodrama of the situation. They succeed in making a thoughtful and provoking portrait of two young men who saw themselves as true patriots and the agents who viewed them as a threat to the country they love.

Sunday, March 13

I had a minor break on Sunday evening, and couldn't resist stopping by the Paramount (a gorgeous movie palace where the likes of Harry Houdini and Katherine Hepburn have graced the stage) to catch a few minutes of Win Win. Director Tom McCarthy was in attendance, as were Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and Alex Schaffer. McCarthy is proving himself one of the most well-rounded talents in the business. In addition to his work as an actor (remember that smarmy, lying reporter in season 5 of The Wire?), his two previous directorial efforts (The Station Agent, The Visitor) were both home runs. I only got to see the first 45 minutes of this one before jetting off to another venue, but I think it's safe to say that he has another win winner on his hands. Sorry, I had to do it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

E-mail alerts/report from SXSW

For those of you who would like an e-mail alert for new posts, I just added that feature on the right. Just enter your e-mail and you'll get a special CineRobot e-mail every time a new post is added. It will be in raw text without images, but if you click on the heading it will take you directly to the post as it appears on CineRobot.

Coming soon will be a post [or two!] from CineRobot's SXSW film festival correspondent [yes, we are trying to add field agents to the site!] Stephanie Huettner. She has been busy watching films and jotting down some opinions just for CineRobot. Be on the ready for that and get some scoops on films that haven't been released yet.

New poll question about method actors too if you haven't voted.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Poll question: who is the greatest method actor?

The new poll question concerns method acting and who is the best...your choices are Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino or Daniel Day-Lewis. Go to the home page to cast your vote.

Friday, March 18, 2011

UTW review of The Roommate

Go here if you want to read a review I did a few weeks ago for Urban Tulsa of The Roommate. If you've ever watched the early 1990s film Single White Female, well so did the creators of this made for teenagers knock-off. How they can claim this isn't a straight-up remake is beyond me because it's basically a carbon copy with terrible actresses in the lead roles. There, I've spoiled it. I didn't like this at all, but if you want to read all the levels of my disgust for The Roommate, click the link.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Michael Bay: "Transformers 2 was crap"

"We made some mistakes. The real fault with [Transformers 2] is that it ran into a mystical world. When I look back at it, that was crap. The writer's strike was coming hard and fast. It was just a terrible to do a movie where you've got to have a story in three weeks."
Those are some pearls of wisdom that the antichrist of cinema Michael Bay recently spilled to the Empire Magazine from England.  All I can think is, "Transformers 2 was crap? Uhm, thanks for admitting it, but I didn't need you to validate my opinion regarding that waste of everything that has to do with moviemaking known as Transformers 2." The shocking thing in the quote above is Bay's admittance that a film actually needs a story. What?! From what I've seen in his other films, having no story didn't seem to hinder his lust for pyrotechnics. No dialogue, story or plot to Bay just gives him a reason to shoot more guns or blow stuff up. Bay is also quoted as saying he'll "take some of the criticism." No, you'll take ALL of the criticism you talentless hack because you are Michael Bay!

Don't be fooled by this PR blitz by Bay and company trying to reassure the omni-gullible public that Transformers 3: Revenge of the Fallen is going to be anything better than part one or part two of this exorcise in vacuous filmmaking. Trust me, it's going to be more of the same from the man who thinks great cinema is watching giant metal robots based on toys smash into each other for two straight hours. His taste in what is good was stunted before he hit puberty when boys are still obsessed about explosions and the idea of fictional warring toys making a good story that deserves three, yes three films. Who knows how many of these dreadful movies he's going to unleash on the world if people keep forking over money to see them. The smirk on his face in the photo says it all: "I'm the great and 110% awesome Michael Bay. I'm stealing your money when you pay to see me blow shit up. Transformers 2 crap? Yes! But, so was every film I've ever directed and you've made me a friggin' 100 millionaire!" I'd kind of like to slap that smirk right off Bay's face.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hollywood's history in books

[After I posted a few of the "Tops" in 2010 from guests, I thought it would be fun if every so often I'd include something from readers and friends to give a perspective about some cinema related topic different from my own. The cool thing about putting a blog on the internet is that strangers may stumble across CineRobot and come back enough times to become a regular reader and contributor in the comment field. That's the route Eva has taken to be one of the first non-tops guest writers for CineRobot. Eva is from Germany, but now lives in Utah and loves movies [naturally!], books, walking everywhere and says "foreign languages are my thing." Eva's essay below concerns her love of books on Hollywood's rich history and is going to cause me to make some purchases it looks like. Enjoy and start reading about cinema.]

I fell in love with the Mutiny on the Bounty long before I fell in love with Clark Gable. As in: I could not read enough about it, both fiction and non-fiction, and to this day have a bit of an obsession about it and think it is one of the greatest and most unlikely stories in history. As a teenager living in Norway I was in contact with a Norwegian lady who had visited, and then moved to and married on, Pitcairn Island (still my number one spot to go to!). She wrote in her book that it really all got started because of her crush on Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian in the 1935 movie Mutiny on the Bounty. I definitely envied her like hell for living on Pitcairn and being married to one of the descendants of the mutineers, but I thought: “ew, Clark Gable, what’s great about him? Yuck, I hate his mustache.”

My love of movie biographies started from very un-lofty ambitions. I don’t sleep very well. One summer night about 4 years ago I could not sleep and switched on the TV very late at night, say 3am. Much like some people “stumble across” porn at that hour, I stumbled across an old Clark Gable movie and - I really don’t know why -  he suddenly had me go weak in the knees (I think those people with the porn probably don’t get weak in the knees, just horny). He had such a presence, such chemistry with this actress, and I immediately developed an enormous crush on him. I don’t know why that night I suddenly saw what I had not seen before. To this day I am always on the lookout for early '30s Clark Gable movies, young and handsome, and preferably without a mustache (there are only a couple of those movies).

So shortly thereafter I got a biography of his and then a second, by Warren G. Harris and Chrystopher J. Spicer (for Gable fans only!). And from there on that was it – I think I have only read movie biographies ever since. I used to be such a fiction reader. Will this exclusive biography reading dumb me down??  I hope not, and find that I am learning a great deal about life stories, movie history, and history in general from them. It is somewhat of an addiction – in one biography I come across the lovers/co-stars/directors etc. of the movie star in question, and then I get curious about them, and next thing I know I got three or four more books lying there. Oh well! Best to follow a healthy addiction like this one. It will either peter out, or result in some kind of expertise.

I have read so many now I hardly remember them all. I know that initially my taste was terribly “uncultured” and I read anything, poorly written or not. Sometimes I still do, we all need our junk food. There are definitely some favorites, though.

Here are some general rules (but I emphasize, they are general; there are definitely exceptions). Generally, a lot of the really big movie stars have many biographies written on them, but they are rarely good. You will be more likely to find a good biography on a somewhat lesser star. Generally, if a biography is from the 1990s or newer, they will be better than the old ones. It seems they have more of a distance, and do more thorough research. Generally, don’t get anything by Jane Ellen Wayne; it seems poorly researched, sensationalist, and has bad spelling. Generally, biographies are better than autobiographies. Generally, stay away from books that have those subtitles like “the man behind the myth,” “tormented star” or “lifting the veil….” They are usually badly written and researched, out for a quick buck, and happy to throw some as-yet-unknown dirt on a star.

The books I like best are sometimes, though not always, on people I don’t have that much of an interest in. But because of the times they lived through, or the people they interacted with, their biographies or autobiographies are extremely interesting. I have barely seen any Shirley Temple movies, yet her autobiography Child Star was very enlightening, well-written, and shed tons of light on many Hollywood figures and events. It is also refreshing in the sense that she appears very down-to-earth and neither prone to embellishing or pitying herself. Her childhood was no trauma, and neither was it perfect. Other auto-biographies I liked were Lauren Bacall’s By Myself and Then Some, and Fred Astaire’s Steps in Time. Bacall herself is interesting and writes well, and of course there a tons of interesting insights into the lives of several directors and actors, most of all Bogie, of course. Astaire’s Steps in Time is quite tame, no sensational revelations there. I think his very nature was the opposite of sensationalist, and he has that typical charming self-effacing Fred Astaire style. I haven’t yet found a good biography of Astaire’s, so I will stick to his own words. I worship anything coming from him anyway – a while after Gable, Astaire joined him in equal rank in terms of an Eva crush.

One book I got quite lost in, and that I thought was very well-written, is a biography of Mary Pickford, by Eileen Whitfield, called Mary Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. It was fascinating both regarding Pickford herself, as well as the times she lived in and shaped; the really early silent films, D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin (who instead of calling her "America’s Sweetheart" like everyone else, called her the "Bank of America’s Sweetheart"), and the goings-on at the legendary Pickfair estate (how I would have liked to be a visitor! So did Joan Crawford, but she had to wait her turn). It becomes quite clear of how much importance she was in building Hollywood.

I loved David Stenn’s Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow. It is strangely unobtainable and expensive, but luckily I managed to find it at the library of a university where I was teaching. It explored the mysterious death of her husband Paul Bern and her own unexpected death in much saner ways than had been done before. Of course these two deaths make for fascinating reading; as well as Harlow’s life – an actress who got teamed up with Gable very often and had incredible chemistry with him. Her death at a young age, and that of Irving Thalberg, majorly shocked and impacted Hollywood.

So now I have mentioned Thalberg... I am endlessly fascinated with him. He occurs in practically every biography of every movie star of the 1920s or '30s. He pops up all the time. By the time I got to an actual biography of his, by Bob Thomas, this December, I already felt like I knew him well. I liked that book, but there is also a very new Irving Thalberg biography by Mark A. Vieira that I’m keen on reading. The library here doesn’t have it and its price hasn’t sunk yet, but I’ll get it soon, ILL or otherwise.

Once Thalberg was done, of course I had to finally get to Louis B. Mayer. There is a new-ish biography, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman, that I devoured. Oh, Louis B! - part ridiculous, part scary, part scary street-smart, influential and talented. Needless to say – also offers great insights and tidbits into just about anyone he ever came in touch with!

I really liked Graham McCann’s biography on Cary Grant: Cary Grant: A Class Apart. It’s hard to get good biographies on the major stars, and this is one. I loved reading two biographies by Lee Server: Robert Mitchum: Baby I Don’t Care and Ava Garder: Love Is Nothing – both rich, long, satisfying, much-researched, with a thousand interesting tidbits. I also recommend two Garbo biographies: Garbo by Barry Paris, and Greta Garbo: A Life Apart by Karen Swenson. I much enjoyed As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin by Laurence Bergreen – a great look at Tin Pan Alley, and you can imagine how many interesting lives someone came in contact with if they turned a 101 years old!

One of the best reads was a gigantic book by David Thomson on David O. Selznick - Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick. It was the fattest book (I think over 800 pages) I had when I went on a pretty spontaneous trip to Sicily last year, and boy was I glad for it when I got stuck there for an additional week (oh, how tragic) when the Icelandic volcano exploded. Sicily had so much to offer, but my apartment was TV and internet-less (lovely!) and so in the evenings it was just me and David O. Selznick. I always enjoy Thomson’s writing – pretty much all of his books. Thomson extensively interviewed Irene Mayer Selznick in person, and he had plenty of new and interesting things to say. Of course, the making of Gone With the Wind makes up for a large part of the book (and who knew Vivien Leigh liked to play the game different-ways-to-kill-infants?) For those who like very short books, Thomson has a great little series of small books of about 100 pages each going (so far, I think, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis). Nice, chatty, unorthodox tone.

For those who don’t want to pick any specific biography (yet), I really recommend The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger. You get tons of insights into the studio system, how stars were made, and Basinger singles out many different stars to prove her examples. Finally, here you get something on lesser-known, or less “glamorous” contract players, and finally some information on fantastic people like Irene Dunne or William Powell, on whom it is harder to find good material. This book I could not put down.

I just started a biography of Gene Kelly, and have my eye on one of Louella Parsons. Can’t wait! I also don’t have a lot of people with whom to exchange information on biographies, but I do have one friend whose taste I fully trust in this, and he says he highly recommends Chaplin’s auto-biography, as well as David Niven’s The Moon’s a Balloon. So they are next on my list.

Once upon a time I was really worried I would run out of these biographies. No longer so! I realize just how much material there is, and just how little I have read. That’s a good thing – plenty left for the future. When I spent a longer time in Germany, where these types of Hollywood biographies are totally unavailable, and many simply have not been translated, I got anxiety about not getting my fill. I had a couple of hospital stays there this past year and luckily thought of buying some used biographies inexpensively, shipped from the UK. Salvation! I will never forget it – I think I ordered  9 at once, and about 8 of them arrived all on the same day! I was sitting on the carpet in my living room surrounded by the parcels, and in a state of bliss (the pain and weakness was briefly forgotten).

I am not at all an authority on this topic, and the more I get in there, the more I realize how much I don’t know. Still, I hope I threw some interesting ideas out there. I am thinking of a thousand little stories from those books as I write this. Why I am so hooked on this stuff? I am massively interested in people’s life stories, and perhaps there is also a small part in me that likes to see what messes they got themselves into (and that I’m not the only one) - and out of (a couple, of course, did not). And on some level, I am definitely in love with the glamour that surrounds old Hollywood like no glamour can do these days. I love the dashing men, the good manners, the love affairs, the clothes… I realize the innocence, images, and glamour are partly fake (they did, after all, have a little thing called WWII), but we all need our dreams, and sometimes “breathe an atmosphere that simply reeks with class.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

1998 statistics!

I thought it might be interesting to post some statistics before the existence of CineRobot. Let's start with 1998, the first year I started keeping my film journal that I dubbed Kinetoscope [pictured]. These older stats should show how consistent I've been regarding films over the past decade plus. I guess it's pretty clear, but I'll say it again--I love movies!

1998 was kind of a roller coaster year for me that saw me returning to Hungary for a month, ending a relationship, hibernating in Pryor Creek for six+ weeks watching the satellite dish like a demon and moving from Seattle back to Oklahoma to finish my BA at the University of Oklahoma. I didn't know anyone in Norman, so there were lots of loner screenings. Some of the films I saw in film classes I counted as "alone" in the stats that year though. 1998 was an anti-social year for me when I look back on it from the vantage point of 13 years. Seems like another lifetime, but yet like it was "yesterday." It's weird how memory acts sometimes. I'll post the stats for 1999 in a few weeks.

Total films seen in 1998: 262
In a theatre: 93

By Month

February: 16
March: 25
April: 15
May: 18
June: 27
July: 31
August: 23
September: 15
October: 17
November: 20
December: 40

By Decade

1930-39: 1
1940-49: 5
1950-59: 3
1960-69: 8
1970-79: 13
1980-89: 21
1990-98: 199

Who I saw 'em with

42--Laura Ballay
19--Lillian Blevins
16--Otis Hoover
5--Scott Booker, Robert Schrader
2--Angie Booker, Shane Davis
1--Brent Booker, Donnie Bostwick, Siobhan Bowers, Emily Hennigs, Joshua McNichols, John Thomas

Where I saw 'em

86--Pryor, Oklahoma
80--Seattle, Washington
48--Norman, Oklahoma
19--Tulsa, Oklahoma
11--Budapest, Hungary
8--Dallas, texas
3--On a jet
2--Santa Fe, New Mexico
1--Madison, Wisconsin; New York, New York; Springdale, Arkansas

By Country

215--US and A
4--Australia, Italy
3--Hong Kong
2--Japan, Mexico, Russia
1--Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, India, Israel, Sweden

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

New poll question and other new things

I haven't done a poll question in forever so just came up with one for fans of the Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu involving which of his four films is your favorite. If that's not a crowd-pleaser to bring back the poll question I don't know what is, ha. It's at the top of the home page if you want to vote. I've also ordered my favorites just to the right of the poll question to see where I stand--don't let me influence you as all votes are anonymous.

Also added a counter. This might be depressing if the numbers rarely change, but at least I can enjoy the flip counter as it slowly moves to a higher number.

Go vote!

The Tunnel + Smile

The Tunnel. Last week in my "February movies" post I mentioned seeing a German thriller I really liked called The Tunnel. I want to say a little bit more about it to hopefully pique some interest for people to watch. Released in 2001 and directed by Roland Suso Richter, The Tunnel is based on real events as a group of people in 1961 dig a long tunnel into East Berlin to try and lead an escape of relatives and friends. The tunnel needs to be long enough to reach past the unoccupied zone populated by soldiers, barbed wire and the concrete wall being constructed to keep German citizens separated from one another.

The Tunnel works as a thriller and suspense film, but also as a exploration of the physical and psychological damage caused by the Berlin Wall's creation in 1961. The wall, an extreme barrier that was not only a symbol of the escalating Cold War between the Soviet Union and the USA but an actual device to keep people imprisoned, is completely fascinating to me. After I watched the film, I promptly bought The Berlin Wall: A World Divided 1961-1989 by Frederick Taylor and am eager to read more on the topic.

I knew going into watching The Tunnel I'd love the premise, but I was surprised at just how suspenseful the film is. Richter gives us multiple stories to become entangled in--there's romance, secret border crossings, espionage, betrayal, loyalty and lots and lots of digging. If you like films set around the Berlin Wall or East/West Germany during the Cold War [the Lives of Others is an example of another film I love based in this setting] then this rousing film is highly, highly recommended.

Smile. It's no secret I love a sly bit of satire and this lesser known gem from 1975 and director Michael Ritchie really deserves to be discovered by more people. There's just so many films from the 1970s that have slipped into the cracks of film history that are waiting to be seen and embraced, Smile is one of them. It's a funny portrait of a group of people connected to a "Young American Miss" beauty pageant, from judges to the women competing. The pageant is small potatoes, but don't tell that to car salesman and head judge "Big" Bob Freelander, as it is the highlight of the year for him and other contestant organizers.

Big Bob is played by the great Bruce Dern and he's an actor I'll watch in pretty much anything, especially from this particular time period. Dern usually portrays villains, eccentrics and other characters that allow him to tap into this manic nervousness he's perfected, but his character in Smile is kind of the straight-man to chaotic events that befall the pageant. It's wonderful to see Dern outside his usual sphere of oddball and play a character so lost in normalcy.

Dern is just part of the pleasant ensemble cast that also includes very early appearances by Melanie Griffith, Annette O'Toole and Adam Sandler's buddy director Dennis Dugan as a pervy teenager trying to get some polaroids of the pageant contestants undressing. There's just so much charm in Ritche's film and it works as a satirical comedy and snapshot of the 1970s. Good stuff--go discover it if you don't know this one and like films from the '70s.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

UTW review of Another Year

I'm weeks behind in posting my links to the reviews I write for Urban Tulsa Weekly. I'll try to catch up. Go here if you want to read my thoughts on the Mike Leigh film Another Year. It's classic Leigh as he's tapped into the English psyche like only he can. One of my favorite character actors, Jim Broadbent, is in the cast. I love that guy.

Friday, March 04, 2011

February movies

I finally finished the Stieg Larsson trilogy with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and I'd been led to believe that the last was the weakest of the three. I beg to differ. I actually preferred part three over part two. In order here's how I'd rank the three films: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire. I also saw a really good German film from 2001 called The Tunnel that I'm going to do a short review of in the next few days. That movie was nearly three hours of awesome!

Quantum of Solace---2008---usa   **1/2
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control---1997---usa   ***
The Illusionist---2010---france   ***1/2
Blue Valentine---2010---usa   ***
Hannah and Her Sisters---1986---usa   ****
The Roommate---2011---usa   *1/2
The Last Metro---1980---france   ****
Smile---1975---usa   ***1/2
Pressure Cooker---2008---usa   ***
Just Go With It---2011---usa   **1/2
Extract---2009---usa   ***
The African Queen---1951---usa   ****
Super---2011---usa   **1/2
I Am Number Four---2011---usa   **
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest---2009---sweden   ***1/2
Amores Perros---2000---mexico   ****
Hall Pass---2011---usa   **
The Tunnel---2001---germany   ****1/2
Death Race 2000---1975---usa   ***

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Studio Tulsa interview

Go here if you want to listen to a 30 minute interview I did recently on "Studio Tulsa," a daily show that broadcasts on the local NPR station KWGS. The topic is 2010 in cinema--best, worst, missed, performances, the Oscars and my thoughts on 3D. I think radio is my medium! In a re-do life I'd love to be a DJ and play music to people. Or, I'd be up for a film, music and culture show right now, ha.