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Cinemalphabet: K is for The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

November 5, 2012

If you have ever wanted to spend an hour or so listening to a legendary studio head mumble about himself have I got a docufilm for you! Based on the best selling tell-all memoir of the same name, the documentary begs the question, “would shadow puppets have been more compelling?”

The irony of the film is the Robert Evans of legend would never have greenlit such a shoddy looking piece of cinema. The life of Robert Evans is big and showy and glamorous, befitting of a splashy big budget Hollywood film. You know, the kind he used to produce. Instead rubberneckers are treated to visually confusing mess, that distracts more than it aids the narrative. This is Robert Evans for corn’s sake; the story doesn’t need a lot of embellishment. I wanted to like the style of filmmaking but found it to be a tad to precious for the subject. Especially knowing what a crash and burn story being told. Having said all that I do think the film is valuable for other reasons.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I am assuming you children actually know who Robert Evans is! Well, he was lovingly sent up by his good friend Dustin Hoffman in the film WAG THE DOG and right here at the end of The Kid Stays in the Picture More importantly, Evans embodies the bubbly hot tubby goodness of 70s filmmaking and the films are some of cinema’s finest. We’re talking The Godfather, Chinatown and to a lesser degree…Love Story. The film which is part cinema history and part cautionary tale is fascinating and unflinching. There is no glossing over the reversals of fortune or the terrible events that would later define his legacy.

If you read the book, the film offers nothing new, but hearing these stories in Evans’ own words has an impact the book didn’t really have for me.


Cinemalphabet: J is for Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

November 3, 2012

Let’s get one thing out of the way: without the involvement of 70s hot Redford and my beloved Sydney Pollack, this movie was never going to happen for me. I kept shuffling it up my queue, getting so close to clicking play only to find something more pressing to do like laundry or decluttering my closet. There’s something about unflinching use of 70s Westerns as a lens to critically examine the Vietnam war that has always made me uncomfortable and perhaps that’s the point. There’s a troubling erasure of the complexities of white folk going off grid to live with Native folk. I think Jeremiah Johnson skirts the line, slipping on the wrong side in a couple of places and for me that does affect my overall experience of the film. It is a visually exciting, well crafted film, but it feels dated. Its commentary seems naive, given all we know in 2012, but ultimately because it’s Pollack and Redford it was worth at least one viewing.

Also, can we talk about that awesome beard?

Cinemalphabet: I is for Ides of March (2011)

November 1, 2012

Actor and bon vivant George Clooney seems to have a fascination with – at least as a director – with portrayals of alpha males struggling inside pressure cookers of their own creation. It’s perhaps why I found Clooney’s previous directorial efforts (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck) technically masterful, but not especially compelling cinematic flights of fancy. This isn’t to suggest he’s a bad director; he’s not. And while there’s certainly lots of depth to be found in such alpha male stories, particularly when there’s a strong script involved, it’s a cinematic subject I find dreadfully boring. Even setting the film against the backdrop of political intrigue and general fuckery didn’t really elevate the material beyond that of a decent and entertaining political thriller.

Ides of March boasts an impressive cast of character actors whose performances, especially Jeffrey Wright and Paul Giamatti, are top notch in exactly the way we expect them to be. Ryan Gosling, whose presence I normally find incredibly grating, managed to impress me by not making the obvious choices with his character. Political strategist Stephen Myers is a meaty role and Gosling’s performance is grade A perfect. Meanwhile, I’m just not sure what to think about Clooney’s performance. I can’t tell if it’s the way the character was written or portrayed that was the problem. I’m inclined to think it was both. Clooney’s character felt like a mash up of similar characters from other films. I had expected Clooney’s character, a charismatic chap running for president, to be a tad more unlikable. I wonder what that says about me?

Bright Like Neon…

October 29, 2012

In the hustle and bustle of finally selling my condo (whoo hoo) and establishing myself in my new city I managed to find a home for my first novel BRIGHT LIKE NEON. I’m excited about it every day and twice on Sundays. Currently, the rewrites are taking up about 75% of my time, which leaves little time for other things…like say blogging and tweeting about lip balm. BRIGHT LIKE NEON drops summer 2013 so stay tuned for more exciting developments here.

Farewell, Tony Scott

August 20, 2012

Tony Scott kissing the cheek of a guy named Ridley.

I have to stay true to my heart. And at my heart, I’m a Tony Scott girl. I am girl who needs a lot of spinning crane shots, cute boys being chased by veteran actors and lots of things blown to bits as plot forwarding devices.

Goodbye, Mr. Scott. Operation: Dinner Out is a go!

H:LOTS – S6E06 – “Birthday”

May 7, 2012

Written by: Julie Martin
Directed by Alison Maclean
Read more…

Cinemalphabet: H is for The Hottest State (2006)

April 26, 2012

It’s easy to toss about terms like “hipster love story” and “vanity piece” when discussing Ethan Hawke’s 2006 directorial effort. After all it’s based on novel written by Hawke and does tell the story of two very attractive people – in this case one ambiguously raced and one white – who fall for each other under the most hipsterish of circumstances. But to do so sort of misses all that is decent, sweet and surprising about this reasonably faithful adaptation of Hawke’s much maligned novel. The novel itself, is an inexplicable favorite of mine, though the same cannot be said of its filmed counterpart. The film is not terrible; it’s good, but what seemed slightly interesting in novel form doesn’t add up to much on the screen. Though it’s not for a lack of trying by the film’s capable leads, script and director. Read more…

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