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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Frankie in various forms

The name Frankenstein evokes all sorts of images, for my lost lover it was the Bride - reciting every word and giving out various details, rumors and factoids the film took on a life of its the last few seconds as the Bride reacts to love - he found incredible delight and intense concentration for those last few frames. The Bride of Frankenstein was filmed in 1935 by Director James Whale, starring the elegant Elsa Lanchester (who you might most remember as a quirky guest star in various TV shows, but who's career was eclectic emphasizing her amazing talent) and Ernest Thesiger as the infamous Dr. Pretorius. Its classic, tempered and so tightly edited as not to waist your time. Beautiful in its story, sets and poignant in its use of light and framing. Certainly fun to watch but also intriguing to study. 

Recent to video stores is the latest example of the monster, Frankenweenie. Celebrating the innocence and camp of the Franken legacy, director / writer / stop motion connoisseur Tim Burton has revamped a childhood dream into a touching, humorous and thoughtful film. Not exactly a child friendly film, its dark tones blended with a sad and slow format may not be suitable for younger viewers. Those of a certain age, however, will find certain references to childhood quite touching. Using everything around the house, including Marx army figures and mom's muffin pan give a glimpse into a future filmmakers way of seeing the world.  

This writing is dedicated to that film junkie who watched the Bride beyond 100 times, who would have watched it a hundred more and who would have adored  Frankenweenie - although he certainly would have wanted the 'monster' to be a cat instead of a dog. We would have argued that point with delight. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Film Chat

          What I wanted more than anything ..was someone I could talk to about film connect on a level of knowledge and insight into the workings of passion and words expressed as movement and shadows. When I found him, it was like dreaming. It was like finding Mr. Rochester or the master of Manderley not just on the page of my imagination but in a spooky realism found only on film. Yet, here it was in real life. Moody, sullen, brilliant and charming. He kept me off balance and felt like home. All at the same time lovingly reachable and carefully distant. Wounded from experience and hopeful with good nature. 
           We talked for hours about films, television and popular culture. We filled in places of interest and levels of experience in layers like a homemade lasagna. It was the small things like holding hands in the grocery store, a child like excitement at garage sales, and the same intense study of movies that helped create our bond. Films we had seen many times before, the startling lust for a lamp, a suit coat, a movement across the room and what music added or distracted from the mood, all of which caused arguments and built a relationship. 
            I've always railed against a certain type of love story...hated with a passion,"City of Angels", "Titanic" and "The English Patient" ...and now it makes sense why they always struck me wrong, felt like bad mojo.... like these ill fated conquests ours does not have a live happily ever after ending. 
           Yes, I am lucky - to have loved so vividly, to have shared an intense almost rabid affection for stories told on the big screen, even at this late part of life I am lucky. I would not have missed it for anything....but its also sad, horrifying, frightening and still doesn't seem right. In a quick 3 years, he changed me. Changed the course of my life more than I can express in words. 
            I have tried to restart this blog, in fits and starts I've begun to watch films again. All I can do now is try - to celebrate what he brought to me by using it to enhance the chat over coffee about the thing that brought us together. 


Friday, July 20, 2012

Lonesome, desperate, Jarmusch

With a new decade of indie films, the 1980's are a beacon of flickering sadness,  misfits and demented edginess into post modernism...we no longer wanted the epic sweeping tale but the segmented selections that represented our lives...not one fluid story but small pieces that make up who we are one understands this better (or by accident) than Jim Jarmusch....

Stranger Than Paradise - (1984)- Two friends and a girl..the age old story..but told in tiny kitchen, a beach side motel - with cigarettes and stilted male style dialogue....with out growth, understanding or anything really stumble upon the scene and can't take your eyes off them. 

Dead Man - (1995) - an epic tale, with many things happening..yet Jarmusch still manages to pull it into the post-modern segmented nothing story that we love. Johnny Depp is not icon nor lovely but stiff, small and odd- surprising cameos dot the landscape and Gary Farmer steals the movie. 

Limits of Control -(2009) - If you haven't experienced a Jarmusch film, do not watch this one first....Its not his best - its not overly interesting - its not even a good film for film study - but its riveting, watchable and romantically filmed. A character unlikable and cold our assassin becomes child like and automaton - giving way to secrets, affairs and silliness. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

yeah..I hate these movies ....because they made me cry

Dear Film Nuts, 

I'm back, I'm angry, I'm hurt. I'm not going to say nice things about these movies .....mostly....cus life sucks. 

The Film Maven 

Untamed Heart -  (Director Tony Bill, 1993) - I have to admit, Christian Slater has had an interesting career for someone who can't act ....He is hammy, generally Christian in most roles and obviously trained in the soap opera world of head tilts instead of expression school of acting (ala Meg Ryan) ...but he does have a knack for picking awesome movies ..(Yes, Heathers is one of my all time favorites) that works, I'm not sure I can explain.....Marisa Tomei on the other hand, a soap opera veteran herself, is an amazing actress with some odd but not great films to her credit and some incredible films and perfect that works I'm not sure I can explain either ...but in this really bad, super sad, yes you should watch it film ....The baboon heart boy is just so stupid you want to smack him really hard before she jumps into bed with him. 

Seven Pounds - (Director Gabriele Muccino, 2008) - Will Smith has a gift, he is good looking, smart, funny, can sing and chooses movies with a charm like no other. Seven Pounds (what weighs that you might ask...and google the answer) is a film we would not choose for him, Rosario Dawson is not a woman we would cast him with, Barry Pepper is never ever in a serious role fer sure, ......and the ending is one that Hollywood should never approve of given its history in film ending switcheroos.....Every moment is somewhat riveting seek the sadness set up by mood and music ...but can't stop watching..because that great Hollywood ending is going to happen, right? (2 tissue boxes even if you already know). 

City of Angels - (Director Brad Silberling, 1998) - Speaking of Meg Ryan, she is here in this my least favorite film of all time. Okay, I exaggerate - but I do really hate this film. but not because its bad, but because it caught me up, for goodness sakes it states that Angels live at the LIBRARY and if you know my passion for the library ..well..that is just incredible screenwriting ...and then ...they mess it all up by forcing a bit of reality all over the ending. That is just so so wrong. When I sit through a movie, especially a love story I want my true hollywood ending PLEASE.Thank you. However, Dennis Franz as an that is just funny.
 (Please also note, director Brad Silberling was caught up in his own tragic real life event...his girlfriend Rebecca Schaefer, known for her role the the Pam Dawber TV show My Sister Sam, was murdered by an obsessed fan in 1989).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Movie Thoughts, odd rumbles and Where have you been? freaks ....its been an odd odd year .....Won't make you cry with details of my tragedy......but the Filmmaven will be a little macabre for a while ...bare with me ....the perky will probably return at some point lets get some sad sad movies, a mixture of salty sweet treats, a large box of tissue and find the ramblings of sweet sweet torture on film.......................(and no we haven't forgotten the coffee portion of our blog, french roast beans mixed with a touch of hazelnut and a smidgling of light so wicked) .

Crybaby - (John Waters, 1990) - Yes Johnny Depp lovers, he is the teen idol of my youth.....nothing says so like Crybaby..a John Waters nod to the sparkle on Davy Jones' tooth, the glimmer in David Cassidy's eyes...not top in the dialogue for a Water's film, but the visual elements, the surprise coyness of the direction and not to forego the lone tear drop ....makes this film a must watch for which YOU are not the one crying....

The Color Purple - (Novel by Alice Walker, Film directed by Steven Spielberg, 1985) - There are too many moments in this film that you had better keep that box of tissue close by and not watch with someone you harbor angry feelings towards cus you will want to exact revenge on someone at several parts. Whoopie Goldberg easily becomes the lovely, dim victim Celie, as does Oprah Winfrey as the has to be tough Sofia ....great elements of dramatic cinema take place between the lines...its best to watch it once for its story and again later to note some of the creative directorial choices. 

UP - (Pixar, 2009)- Many young people complain this film is too sad ...For us of a certain age, its beautiful and sweet with a few sad moments have a love for most of your life, loosing them is hard but the having is so so worth it and something we need to treasure ....but then the strange part of Carl's life begins and opens up to what his love wanted for him....a gift of adventure. Extremely well done, neatly paced and surprising through out ....Just FUN!! but keep a tissue or two in your pocket (or tucked up your sleeve). 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Challenge! ....or how much I hate lists and am inspired to make my own again

Oh, its a challenge....Total Film did a pictorial count of 50, (YES 50, isn't that ridiculous?) of the sexiest scenes in film......A list which I scoff at and must demand its repeal...first off all...50? Really? What a way to bore your audience......and secondly, ugh......Some scenes are sexually charged but have nothing to do with being SEXY......Perhaps it is all in the definition...Readers , you must realize that lists are by their nature always wrong- subjective and ever fluctuating they are only correct at the moment the type hits the screen and not a second longer. 

With that rant and a further disclaimer to please ignore all lists and a nod to the definition of SEXY not sexual, here is the Film Maven's top 15 sexiest moments on film: 

1)Kissing in the rain .....
Top spot goes to "Idlewild" starring Andre Benjamin and Paula Patton - while the entire scene is romantic and sensual, its that first hott kiss in the cold rain that is the sexiest moment...emotional and riveting...

2) Top honors for dressing for a date ....... 

Richard "American Gigolo"  shimmies to "Its Just my Imagination" by Smoky Robinson as the dresses to thrill his clients....gorgeous. 

3)Woman of a certain age..

 ...goes to Brenda Blethyn and Tcheky Karyo...he is a scary power demi god street thug and she is a housewife trying to save herself...when Tcheky backs Brenda slowly into a wall and whispers to her the charge is electric in "Saving Grace" (and yes, bonus, also starring Craigyferg)

4)Romantically sleezy with glimmers of hope..
 I can't say exactly what it is about Jared Harris, but he has a definite 'it' factor..perhaps its those amazing acting genes...and match him with the talented hyper sexuality of Asia Argento ..and "B.Monkey" a moderately strange film get a sexually charged surprisingly romantic love scene.

5) Shakespeare 

Not the best overall version of "Othello" but we are going for moments....Laurence Fishburne lights up the spot with his seduction and lust for Desdemona played by Irene Jacobs....

6) Rings 
The Postman Always Rings Twice ....this one I gotta give to Total Film and their list....Jessica Lange is smoldering in almost every scene in the 1981 version, the entire film is set on tinderbox with a match only millimeters away from the fuse.... yet, the underlying violence creates a rift for me and while in the 1946 version, Lana Turner has John Garfield thinking with his nether regions at every turn...its her mere entrance into any scene that qualifies for a place in this category. 

7) more Rings....
LOTR is not the most romantic 25 hours of film,  but ...I must give credit to "The Two Towers" as the King dreams of his Elvish love....its more 'girly' romantic but come on, you've got Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortenson in the woods dreaming of each other......its dead sexy. 

8) Amore 

"Moonstruck", a pivotal film for both Nicolas Cage and Cher, the slap heard around the world "GET OVER IT" ....the sexiest moment......Perhaps when Olympia Dukakis is tempted by John Mahoney ..but no, it must be the ranting of Johnny's brother to Johnny's Fiance about loosing his hand...its the moment she develops a lustful need to conquer him...

9) Twisted 
Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly....need I say more? "Bound" is not a good movie, buts its filled with sexy moments....(even if some of them make you giggle)

10) Heat 
William Hurt and Kim Zimmer...oops I mean Kathleen Turner... sizzle through out this film....but perhaps for a moment...its the thought process, the building of desire, the heat of Miami and not the actual contact between partners in this film that are sexy. "Body Heat

11) Breathless 

There are too many moments when Richard Gere can't help but take over the silver screen and oooozzzze beauty and sensuality, but I have to give the sexy moment in "Breathless" to the original "A bout de Souffle" with Jean-Paul Belmondo......the thumb across the lips, the lighting of her cigarette, when Jean Seberg moves helplessly around the tiny hotel room trying to escape her feelings for

12) A Susan Sarandon and James Spader moment....
tough choice here, so we'll have to have a twofer twofer........"White Palace" they are crazy weird but so hott and its the conversations before the action that qualify here as the sexy moments...

13) Susan in "Bull Durham"......or maybe its just her look during Kevin Costner's line, "Slow wet kisses that last for days"....

14) "Secretary" trying to down play his kinky desires....its awkward and strange....but when he finally gives in its sweet and sexy kink...

 15) Miranda July and John Hawkes ....hanging the bird picture in a tree in "Me and You and Everyone We know" makes him an instant sex symbol.....

 and 16 & 17 just because I can....the shower scene in 
"I, Robot" - just coming off the movie "Ali" Will Smith is in amazing, amazing form......

and Selma Hayek in "From Dusk til Dawn" ....I give this one to Total Film as well....they got it right...its weird, its scary, its really a sexy moment on film....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


End of summer brings the awareness of change. This seems to be especially poignant as it shows us the end of phases...I've been lost in a torrent of 'get things done' 'fit everything in' and 'oh my goodness, where has the time gone' when realizing all I have let slide in the past months.....oh what wonderful craziness these long sunny days hath brought........ 

In recent days, these films left me wistful and transitional.....

"A Letter to Three Wives" (1949) - Wicked is as wicked does, all three women have reason to be worried- which makes the waiting and wondering even more torturous. 

"The Third Man" (1949) - Such amazing use of space, shadow and thought....beautiful and intriguing. 

"The Heiress" (1949) - Watched this twice in the past few weeks with out really meaning to, but Monty is so sweet and edgy - the costumes are oddly fitting and become outside the characters. Is it bad to hope for a happy ending?