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Monday, January 31, 2011

and the winner is......

Stunt performer Winners at the SAG Awards are from "Inception" and "True Blood". For a complete list of performers follow the link ....RIGHT HERE.......The announcements were made on the red carpet by SAG Committee Chair Jo Beth Williams (Poltergeist, Private Practice) and SAG President Ken Howard (White Shadow, Crossing Jordon). 

Congratulations to all!! 

94 year old Ernest Borgnine accepted his life time achievement award with grace. Notable in not only his long lasting career but his ease in transitioning from Television to Feature films. Truly a class act. 

Now we can all relax until next year........

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine is being awarded with a lifetime achievement this evening by the Screen Actors Guild. Not an actor that stands out over the top of some of this peers- but one that manages to hold his own with incredible performances, that couldn't have happened with any other actor. Moving easily between motion pictures and television, he is a perfect candidate for the SAG Lifetime Achievement award. Mr. Borgnine achieves what the SAG community prizes most, a quality working actor.

Congratulations Mr. Borgnine, and thank you for so many interesting characters. 

"McHale's Navy" (Television, 1962 - 66) Still playing in reruns and still funny. 

"Law & Disorder" ( 1974) - Silly, campy, sort of watchable, but who can resist the lovely Ann Wedgeworth.....

"Escape from New York" (1981) - What fun to have to mild mannered character actors play action hero (Kurt Russel)  and sidekick in a movie set some 15 years in the future, 1997 - sweet. 

"Airwolf" ( TV Film-1984, TV show -1984-86) - Not a great film or show, but fascinating again to watch a character actor and a teen hottie (Jan Michael Vincent) return to television as super action hero's. Worth watching for the action sequences.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Union Made

A 7 year contract, renewable year by year at the discretion of the boss, endless hours of work, small salary increments regardless of how much income your talent brings to the company, and a strong behavior clause - influencing not only your moral code but who, when and why to marry - an all inclusive binding contract, too good to pass up- yet, difficult to live with....These were the terms of working in a motion picture. 

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG)changed the Hollywood studio system with its onset in 1934 and continues to have influence over the treatment of workers in the film industry today. While much of this 'work' is not visible to the wider audience, the making of motion pictures is first and foremost a business.

On January 30, 2011 you can watch the SAG awards LIVE on both TBS and TNT at 8pm. Both television and motion picture categories are awarded. 

This year's Stunt Ensemble nominee's are: 

Motion Picture:
Green Zone
Robin Hood 

Television Series: 
Burn Notice 
True Blood 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Costume Design

 There are finite details that go into creating a wearable look for any film. Certain textures, colors and shapes must become lost in the landscape, across the faces, and disappear into the language. Similar to music, a costume array in any motion picture must not be seen to be noticed. Unless you are creating an over the top character, such as the Mad Hatter.....then everything I just described goes out the window....

 The Academy Nominee's 2010 for Costumer Design are: 

“Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
“I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
“The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan
“The Tempest” Sandy Powell
“True Grit” Mary Zophres 

Colleen Atwood has created for some of the most interesting films of the last 20 or so years including, "Sweeney Todd", "Memoirs of a Geisha" (academy winner) and "Big Fish" - her assignments are a nice mixture of over the top dramatic and subtle personalities. Noticeable of course is her many fantasy uniforms in collaboration with Jonathan Demme and Tim Burton- which translates to many works with Johnny Depp. With Depp, she has created looks for "Edward Scissorhands", "Ed Wood" and "The Tourist". Her nom for "Alice in Wonderland"the creations are intruiging- especially considering the many clever ways costume changes were afforded through out the film.
Antonella Cannarozzi  dresses Tilda Swinton boldly in elegant rich designs.....Sorry to say I haven't seen the previous films she has created for, although I am intrigued by her colors and lines - yet, it is difficult not to attribute much of the nom to Swinton's bearing. 

Jenny Beavan creates a modern take on period costuming - her designs are historically fitting, yet contain fabric and color choices that are most attractive to the actor. The costumes work with and for the characters, not so much blending in as complimenting with ease. Most notably in "Tea with Mussolini" and "Gosford Park" she dressed beautiful actors in to their understated characters. Nominated this year for taking the lovely Helene Bonham Carter (quirky, no?) and Colin Firth (gorgeous, yes?) to another time and place, fitting them in physical adornments allowing characters to be interesting, not costumed.

Sandy Powell, an eight time nominee and three time winner, has chosen well in costuming a variance of film styles. From period pieces to modern gangsters, Ms. Powell runs an impressive list of variety. With out having seen "The Tempest" I can only say from photographs that Shakespeare would be pleased but not surprised.....

Mary Zophres is my personal choice for this year's award. While not my favorite film, "True Grit" is....okay, Gritty. Zophres stays in the perimeter of the cowboy picture but still offers dimensions that make it a film made in 2010. I would have nominated her for "A Serious Man" but they didn't ask me....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vista was Framed by Oscar

Cinematography is a unique combination of the 
artistic and the scientific - capturing the light and 
framing the scene can make all the difference to a
scene in mood & aesthetic. The operation of the 
cinematography helps create a flow
to the entire film. As the story plays out, you
want to know with nanoseconds of information 
to the brain, where is this moment going? 

Here are the 2010 nominated cinematographers:
Who will carry home the Oscar?  

  • “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
  • “Inception” Wally Pfister
  • “The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
  • “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “True Grit” Roger Deakins
Matthew Libatique, known for work on music videos, has worked with Arononsky on "Requim for a Dream" and "The Fountain" - as "Black Swan" has gotten so much buzz and quickly reached beyond its one screen theater release- He as a very good chance of winning this one. 

Wally Pfister is also a very strong contender, considering "Inception" didn't get noticed elsewhere (that is a topic for another writing). His previous work includes, "The Dark Night" and one of my favorites, "Memento". 

Danny Cohen has had an eclectic career, I haven't seen much of his work - but I would love this win!! Beautiful work. 

Jeff Cronenweth is known for intense tight shots, I'm not a fan of the dark pulled frames- but this film needed a way to be taken seriously and his camera work offers that to what might be the winning movie (????, I know right?). His other work includes "Fight Club" and "One Hour Photo" 

Roger Deakins is a cinematographer that adapts to the work at hand. Creating a framework if you will, for the characters and the story - not the other way round. While definitely carrying a style of his own - his work with a variety of Coen Brother films shows his fluidity. 

Break a Leg to all- This is one of the tougher decisions for the academy. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hail to the Chief

In honor of President Barack Obama's 2nd State of the Union address lets visit a few political movies. 

First a set of serious films- Can Hollywood be trusted to portray a sort of truth? Second, a set of fun films- perhaps the way we really wish things could happen......

"JFK" (1991) - There seems to be a split on this one - its either totally believed and adored or blasted as nonsense and hated even as a film. Oliver Stone takes some well known celebs, places them as key characters- adding to the confusion of a conspiracy theory that has several dozen people all keeping the secret. Yet, as a film, it works well - plays to the heart strings of a time when America believed in the fairy tale. 

"Frost/Nixon" (2008) - A rare piece that seems to be incredibly close to real events - the midnight phone call placed by Nixon to Frost rivets the audience into a wow moment...There aren't any threads here that ask you to believe or trust beyond the story you are watching- just peak over the shoulder of a moment in history, both political and journalistic. 

"1776" (1972) - Dailogue taken directly from the papers and letters of the people portrayed. You can't get any closer to the truth than this..and the musical score is well worth your attention. A film in which costuming, conversation and scenery take the audience to anther time. 

Now, lets just have fun -

"DICK" (1998) - Not really a good film- a bit of nonsense, but fun!  

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) - After watching this film you would vote for Jimmy Stewart for President or just about anything he asked. Delightful beyond words. 

"Wag the Dog" (1997) - It doesn't appear the film makers were trying to tell us this is really how things happen- its on the edge of campy - but there is something .....a twinge of .....You just leave this film with a tiny bit of ...questioning...??? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

oh so Cold.....

A little coldness for a winter's day: 

Cold Relations:
"Mildred Pierce" (1945) - Wicked, wicked teenager- See what happens when a woman tries to be successful....a lesson in female independence. 

Cold Heart:
"The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946) - nothing better in cold wicked noir than Lana Tuner in white. 

Cold Tundra:
"Fargo" (1996) - OH the wintry back ground suits this story so so well. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keaton takes a Beatin

It is no surprise to residents that Michigan has become the Hollywood of the Midwest, Michigan is a haven for talent, offers gorgeous vistas of the urban as well as rural kind and often been a hiding place for a myriad of various famous folks. For Kid Rock, Madonna, Elmore Leonard and Jack White, Michigan is the birth place, but for actors, painters, and other sundry talents, Michigan is a wealth of hidden pockets in which to regroup, relax and connect to nature. There is an interesting web page offering insight to one such group, an actor's colony in Muskegon. The Actor's Colony Club where Joe Keaton, father of Buster, met with his cronies. 

As vaudeville was turning to film, little Buster was learning his craft at the feet of great talents. As I recently begun to revisit some of my favorite Silent Films (with the help of my secret consultant and unnamed source) I find a connection with Keaton - a love of Michigan summers.....

My first awareness of Buster Keaton was through shorts, shown on various television programs. But as a first true memory, it was a curiosity brought on by watching wonderful mindless romps of summer fun: 

"Beach Blanket Bingo" (1965) - Just makes me laugh thinking about it - a silly film, filled with incredible comic talent - Paul Lynde, Don Rickles, Harvey Lembeck and then that face, Buster Keaton, appears- I know him- become curious about why he is so familiar......

OH yeah, he's that guy in: 

"It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963)- So many greats in this absurd film Buster does get lost among the craziness- delightful silly fun - but keep your eye out - for his moments are what film comedy is all about. 

But that makes me interested enough to follow up by watching: 

"Sherlock, Jr." (1924) - One of his very first features- a thrill to watch (look for all those ideas stolen over time by other film makers and comics- its a tribute to his talent) And I happen to know its available at Amazon or Ebay- anywhere from 3 to 20 bucks.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Angel is the Centerfold and other truths.....

I admit, its my age. As time goes on, more and more childhood dreams reckon with reality- or a reality show - and its just not fun. Leif Garrett is on celebrity rehab, Corey Haim looses the battle, sweet little Danny Bonaduce is...well, you know,  Dana Plato is nabbed for armed robbery and has a tragic end, I could go on and on.....Now Kim Richards, the darling of 1970's television and movies  -  with various issues displayed for all to see in glaring realism (cough) on a reality show (don't get me started on those) is in rehab. Reality can bite me. 

Click those ruby slippers and take me back, back, the good ol' days when .....

"Escape to Witch Mountain" ( 1975)- Such bad acting, a so so script and well, aliens of the unbelievable kind.  Yet, a sweet, simple time when it was all good fun!  

"The Absent Minded Professor" (1961) - My brother used to tell me the same absent professor joke over and over again- its still funny. Fred MacMurray carries this type of character with ease. Great movie. 

"Now you see him, Now you Don't" (1972) - There we go, a kid star who grew up to be pretty normal (as normal goes), kept his career and (so far) hasn't done anything to gross us out!! Kurt Russell is his cute self in this adorable invisible man movie that's fun and lets you loose yourself, suspending your disbelieve for the duration!

Friday, January 21, 2011

When Bad Girls meet Bad boys ......

Honestly, I did not spurt coffee out when I saw the blip about Jesse James and Kat Von D being engaged.

- My first reaction was a gasp, then sadness.....oh what wicked webs we weave when finding someone to deceive. ..They do make a gorgeous couple. While in no way comparing that couple to these - I just thought it would be fun to explore a few great flicks to celebrate those couples that just bring out the best (for us) in each other: 

"Badlands" (1973) - I've watched this a few times and each time I can't decide if I like it.....its riveting, you can't take your eyes off them ....but its not in 'good' movie category. 

"The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" (1976) - The first movie that scared the life outta me. Spooky- leaves all the real badness to your imagination. Plus Scott Jacoby and Jodie Foster make weirdness seem normal. 

"Natural Born Killers" (1994) - I confess, for me Woody and Q are two people that can do no wrong. Again, this isn't in a 'good' movie category- but you can't take your eyes off them- the dialogue is incredible- and ......well, Jared Harris- is (Oh! I must do a blog about him). 

Yes, I left off "Bonnie and Clyde" once again - so tell me a few more .....Let's get this love train rollin'. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Critical Mass

No soothing blend of molten dark liquid, not even Paul Newman's dark roasted "Paul's Blend" can calm this rant against....

Movies I hate and what you should watch instead: 

"Breaking the Waves" (1995) - Leaving the theater, I heard several women sniffling- claiming this as an incredible romantic movie.....Then it was nominated and critics declared it "extraordinary" and "mesmerizing" - Gag me. While the acting, etc.. is superb, this film being tauted as a love story has my head spinning. Don't bother. It sucked. 

Instead watch:

"Punch Drunk Love" (2002) I do so adore Emily Watson (no, not Emma=Hermoine, she's a different actress) - EMILY Watson always gives an amazing performance- loosing herself completely in character. Getting this performance out of Adam Sandler speaks to director Paul Thomas Anderson's genius. If you want a love story about F'd up people, this is the one. 


"Titanic" (1997) - First, I struggled with the premise- Unhappy? That's okay, find a hunky working man and cheat on your finance (oops, I mean fiancĂ©e). That isn't love, that's escapism and lying. Then as the movie starts to play out, I became annoyed at the cast being used in such hammy stereotypical cheap manner. Plus there is the real story of the Titanic, with its tragedy and heroism. Sorry to those millions that loved this one, I found it grating. 

Instead watch: 

"A Night to Remember" (1958) - The Titanic story- a beautiful cast. Basically,  a decent film. 

"Lifeboat" (1944)- Incredible cast, riveting tension and tragic excitement on the water. 


"City of Angels" (1998)- oh this is one of those double edged swords. On the plus side, I love, love, love the notion that Angels live at the library (I have always thought so). Yet, I struggled a bit watching Meg Ryan do her two expressions, still kind of found it watchable.....then the ending. UGH. Really? It had to go there? 

Instead watch: 

"The Bishop's Wife" (1947) - Yeah, you can't get much better than Cary Grant as an angel. Yum. 

"A Life Less Ordinary" (1997) - Again, just yummy people playing angels. Cute. As a whole, not a great film - but really terrific performances. Fun to watch. 

"Michael" (1996) - Delicious. What else can you say about a movie that has John T cook in his boxers, dance (sigh) and smell like cookies? Dee - Lish. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ricky Gervais, and Ghosts of Hosts

For the most part, I watch the red carpet, then the opening bit and then I'm easily distracted flipping channels during commercials, phone calls, whatever book I am reading, and so on.....

At some point I remember there is an awards ceremony and will flip back to find someone in the middle of a speech- not knowing what they are accepting it for and I'm easily distracted once again. 

I remember one or two Oscar's in which I was riveted from beginning to end....I want to say Steve Martin was hosting??? Anyway- Whatever the award show - its those first few minutes that tell you if its going to be fun, not just the host, but I think the director and cameraman. Sometimes I can't stand to watch things based on the way the camera lurches in and out of shots, or heaven forbid angle in on the celebs. I really dislike those jerky angle or sweeping quick shots. Never did like roller coasters. 

This week critics are panning Ricky Gervais and the most quoted celebrity of the Golden Globes is Robert Downy Jr, stating the evening was, "Mean spirited". 

Have we met Ricky Gervais before? Anyone watched his movies? Mean spirited, yep, that kinda covers it. 

"The Office" UK Television- Available on DVD -  I've not watched much of this show - but Gervais's character is awkward, uncomfortable to watch and extremely funny. My secret source tells me this entire package is well worth watching. 

"Ghost Town" (2008) - The lovely Tea Leoni and a sharp Greg Kinnear make good contrast for the meticulous, introvert dentist played by Gervais. Funny, touching, somewhat painful - the characters unfold during the film- reaching the typical ending, but delightful to watch. 

"The Invention of Lying" (2009) - Perfectly cast. If Gervais wrote the parts for these actors - he was so on target its scary. His truth, sharp witted and dangerous - comes out in little smidges, then snowballs into huge cascades. Its obvious from this film where Gervais stands in his humor and general outlook. Frighteningly truthful- but delicious. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cafe Verona -Starbucks?

I'm usually of the train of thought that Friends don't let Friends drink starbucks....however, A gift of Cafe Verona for Christmas has me thinking, eh - isss nod so baad. Not great. But not so bad. Its got a nice dark roasted essence and a bold without bitter flavor. With my homemade (bread machine=love) slice with butter, a hot cup of dark brew....I'm so ready to talk about......

Silent movies again. 

Watching the Silent tribute from Thames again after so many years has me thinking of all the avenues of discussion regarding Silent Films. From a feminist perspective I wonder about the female stunt performers mentioned by Harvey Parry- He often filled in when they weren't available. WHO are they? Did someone double for Lillian Gish in that terrifying ice flow scene? I know Gish did a lot of her own stunts, but that piece is beyond frightening.

Recommendations for watching Silent films lends itself to a problem of theme....the onset of the drama epic says "Birth of a Nation" which leads in one direction....Then again, if its your first foray into Silents its important to do comedy and Harold Lloyd is a whole nother set of directions.....

I'm going to do a list for the novice, if you are a film freak and still new to Silent movies- this is a place to start. We also have to consider availability, so we'll see if this works: 

"Metropolis" (1927) - A major German epic - Highly recommended for its style, theme, acting and editing. An extra plus, if you loved "Inglorious Bastards" you will find this interesting. 

"Little Lord Flaunteroy" (1921) - Incredible film work- a cute story, charming all round. Mary Pickford at her best. 

Harold Lloyd - any collection you can find - with Lloyd you just start laughing, enjoying the ride- The film work is daring and enjoyable. First time, just watch and let it flow.... Then watch again, paying attention to the nuances of acting, feats of physicality and things like, pacing, editing, plot.....possible film makers should pay very close attention to Lloyd. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

I offer here a tremendous Thank you to Dr. King. A man who gave us as American's the opportunity to improve not only our country but our individual selves. The individual, something our American myth is built on, has a chance through Dr. King's teachings to become the citizenry we claim to be in this world. To honor Freedom, Liberty and the pursuit of each person regardless of color to be the best. 
To honor this legacy, do something today- NO,doing something this week that can potentially change your thinking, bring a change to someone or sends a ripple in the ocean. Volunteer, shop local, tell someone NOT to repeat that racist joke, defend a weaker/smaller/kinder person, send someone you consider evil a blessing, -Think, do, say, something out of your normal range. Visit an inner city business, offer someone your parking spot, smile at someone that normally drives you nuts. Peace be with you. 

Favorite films starring an African American Actor: 
"Idlewild" (2006) - Absolutely one of my favorite kissing in the rain scenes. Simply gorgeous. A funny, strange mixture of musical, fantasy, gangster, love story. Big Boi and Andre Benjiman are both delightful in this silly romantic romp. An incredible cast! Specially notable, Faizon Love and Macy Gray. 

I'm stuck here on the second one- because every film I can think of stars Terence Howard......
"Pride" (2007)- a lovely well done quiet film, should have gotten much more notice than it did, with some terrific performances. 
"CRASH"(2004) - Ludacris steals this film from an INCREDIBLE list of performers. Don Cheadle is brilliant, Sandra Bullock is less annoying, but Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton are heartbreakingly beautiful. Forget the over preachy message and concentrate on the acting, the story of each persons winding road is not easy to find if you are annoyed by the huggy feely premise - but look beyond that to the characterization and movement of the lives. 

Last but far from least, 

"Cabin in the Sky" (1943) - How lucky are we to have such performance on film? From Lena Horne's 'Stormy Weather' to Louis Armstrong's every moment on film....a moving, delightful set of performances. Any music, film, or history 'fan' should view this film.  

In addition, I would like to honor a few important figures in American History:

Dr. Rebecca Cole (1846-1922) 

Dr. Percy L. Julian (1899-1975) 

Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877-1963)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Parry in Peril

"A great stuntman's mind must be 14 ft ahead of his body. That's the way you stay alive, you know." 

Like a chess player, a stuntman must plan out and be thinking several spaces ahead of real time. For the movie goer this flows across the screen looking as if the moment to moment action is thoughtless nanoseconds of movement created out of necessity. No one was better at it than one of the first stuntmen, Harvey Parry. 

Born with the advent of film at the turn of the century Parry became a creator of movie magic. Try to imagine, the stunts you see in early silent pictures are not green screened, very little of it is split screen. Envision- if you can-a man pulling his body from a moving car to a moving train, with another train coming at him from the opposite direction. Its real. As real as one can be- he must before, during and after- be able to save his own life as well as create for the camera a movie star ease. 

Harvey Parry did this for 60 years. From the early days of silent movies he was a daring contributor to the magic. Seems unbelievable that he created a believable false world with real life physically extraordinary feats. 
 It all happens so fast, from frame to frame, and when done expertly shows the audience nothing. "I could have any measures, anything I wanted, except publicity." Publicity wasn't his goal. Craftsmanship - the ability to not be seen- and stay alive- was his ultimate goal. A hero, in a different sense of the idea. 

Thanks Harvey, for a legacy from the secret society of first stuntmen. Invisible, deadly, inventions of heartthumping thrills. 

 Photos and Quotes from "Hollywood" a Thames production 1980. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Its Your Birthday: A Blog dedicated to my friend Sharon, who always reminds me of birthdays and tidbits I find fascinating!

 The Fabulous (Capital F) Ms. Faye Dunaway has given some incredible performances - this is a tough cookie to narrow down to 3 top picks......oh, yes, and A Very Happy Birthday to the woman who makes me want to watch even more Joan Crawford pics....So I leave out the obvious, "Bonnie and Clyde (1967)", "Little Big Man (1970)" and "Mommie Dearest (1981)" and "Network (1976)" ......but instead suggest, 

"Don Juan DeMarco" (1995)- Which is not a great film, but holds incredible and under rated performances by three of the most noted actors in the U.S. Plus, at my age I appreciate a flick that shows imperfect elder folks being romantic. 

"Barfly" (1987)- I can't say much here, interesting, disturbing....Mickey Rourke, Francis Ford Coppola, Bukowski.....other than that, let it speak for itself. 

"Chinatown" (1974) - A busy year for Dunaway, this one also falls into that too obvious category. For film fanatics this one is a must see, must own, must study.....Not one of my favorite Jack Nicholson nor Dunaway films but I get why it would be. 

Happy Birthday LL Cool J - aka - James Todd Smith - mmmmm can I credit you with 3 good movies ? or are we just going to have to ride along on words that describe how good looking you are as you get older?

"Toys" (1992) - Such a cute film with a great cast, not a deep nor thrilling plot but oh so adorable. Gotta love Joan Cusak, Robin Wright, and watch for Debi Mazar -and a really decent Robin Williams performance. Plus I do so like Michael Gambon. 

"SWAT" (2003) - Oh there is nothing as delightfully wicked as a sweaty guy film- the intensity, the outfits, the sensitivity! Men are so emo.

"Last Holiday" (2006) - I pick this  because the occasional Queen Latifah romcom is a blessing after the endless Jennifer Aniston / Sandra Bullock brain numbing flicks we are constantly subjected to -  a familiar storyline, decent performances, with several nice shots of our birthday boy because its true that Ladies Love Cool James.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Does this outfit make me look evil?

While I wait impatiently for a copy of the new book about Edith Head, my mind wanders languidly on costumes in film.....Ladies in gorgeous pieces, like Myrna Loy as Nora Charles or La Liz in any picture.....would be too too easy. So lets talk about costume enhancing the dark side.....

"Le Grande Illusion" (1937) - Probably not his most evil of roles, Erich Von Stroheim's delightfully reflective Capt.Von Ruffenstein is outfitted as any proud man of his class and station - yet added neck brace gives a stiffness and cruelty to the character. 
This brace, plus the monacle and jaunty tilt to the hat create a stance  before any word is spoken. Costumes on this film are created by Renee Decrais.

"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) - oh you can't help but see the evil as Baby Jane attempts to hold on tightly to her babyhood. Even before she serves rat for dinner, you just know this woman has trouble in her bones. Bette carries this costuming as if its a natural thing. Equal credit in this should be given to make up and costume direction - any surprise that a Westmore was involved? Norma Koch- costumer director. 

"The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) - Admittedly the lead up to seeing Hannibal for the first time is spooky. We know he is a bad guy. But the stark reality of his jail cell and the rough hewn blankness of his wardrobe contribute heavily to the awareness of his cruelty. 
In comparison with Jodie Foster's character, her soft spoken southern accent, lady cop hair cut and her cheap but clean I-mean-business-attire, the blue prison jumper worn by Anthony Hopkins tells us all we need to know. For now. Costumer Colleen Atwood. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Single Screen Love

Lucky, lucky girl am I.Growing up around two neighborhood theaters. Today, only one still stands. The Redford Theater, run by the Motor City Organ Society, still plays films almost every weekend. There are certain films meant to be seen on a big screen. Two years ago they offered "Psycho" - although I've seen it countless times, the chance to watch it bigger than life was not to be missed. As a teenager, I knew my boyfriend was a good one when he sat through "Gone with the Wind" and the organ intermission. 

This winter season is an exceptional one. will give you all the details, but I am sharing just a couple must see films the Old Redford is showing: 

"To Kill a Mocking Bird" (1962) - An intriguing and intelligent film, like the book, does not talk down to its audience. (BONUS: Ms. Badham, the actress who plays Scout, will make an appearance at each showing)

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" (1962) - Almost a different film on screen than on Television. Doesn't matter if its Joan or Bette you love - don't miss this. 

"Three Stooges Festival" - Take the day, get lunch or dinner, stop for yummies at the Sweet Potato Sensations shop directly across from the theater and laugh your silly head off. 

There are so very few of the grand theaters left. Born in tough times, the single screen theater is a rare bird these days. The Redford is being restored to its original glory, with seats that are actually comfortable. Literally there is not a bad seat in the house. From the balcony to the first row- its a treat.   

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Flakes made of Soap

I'm ready. Let the snow fly. I've got extra coffee (3 bags as Christmas gifts, do they know me or what?), picked up a few groceries, a pile of books from the library and you know, a stack of movies to be watched. 

Films in snow, not always thought of as a good thing, reminds us too much of  the dread of winter, but these are too good to pass up: 

"Kitchen Stories" (2003) - A feat of magic how a film set in a frozen snow world with very little people can  be so delightfully fun. Nothing happens. Its wonderful. 

"Let the Right one In" (2008) - Spooky, creepy, cold, not visually pretty in anyway. Kinda gross. But what fun. Don't watch this alone, or at night, or with kids in the house. (I haven't seen the american version- but definitely watch this one first). 

"Doctor Zhivago" (1965) - Okay, not as completely snow covered as the first two, but who wouldn't love to watch Omar Shariff in that gorgeous winter hat and coat? Beautiful landscapes, tragedy, clothes to covet and the only movie mustache I ever thought of as sexy. This is another 'watchable' film- after seeing it, you are compelled every 10 years or so to see it again. (Bring tissues) 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Indulgence and Delight

Spent a lazy Sunday indulging in two of my favorite guilty pleasures- A huge Pot Roast cooking for hours and watching an entire season of sick sick television. This brings up several possible topics to chat about over coffee (can you believe it? I'm drinking Eight O'clock...its awful, but hot and coffee-like) we could go with movies that focus on cooking- I know that one is obvious, OR movies with people you randomly spot on TV OR terrific movies about music OR movies filmed in Ireland ......or.....What does any of this have to do with pot roast and sick TV?

Bonus watching cable this weekend- A "Dexter" marathon most of Sunday courtesy of Showtime on Demand- yay!! Appearing as the loving new  nanny is Maria Doyle Kennedy - Who you might remember appeared in 

"The Commitments" (1991) - a delight worth watching - light, cute, white folks doing soul and stereotyping the Irish ......whats not to love? Maria sings a nice version of "Destination Anywhere" I would consider this a watchable, one of those that gives the same pleasure seen again years later....

as for the cooking connection to limit it to just a couple of films? 

"Babettes feast" (1987) - I'm not sure how easy this will be to rent - perhaps Netflix or buy it on ebay? A gorgeous film.

"Big Night" (1996) - Don't watch this hungry - A simple, somewhat sad indulgence in food and beauty. Plus, the clothes. 

Three films - Mildly connected in my brain. 

p.s. The Pot Roast came out fantastic! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mocha Monster Double Feature

Once again the Eastern seaboard and Midwest are covered in the white stuff-and heading into single digit temperature - making everything look so pretty. Best to hide at home this Saturday afternoon and relive our favorite Monster Double Feature (which boyfriend says was really two different shows, Chiller Movies & Sir Graves Ghastly, but I'm remembering it as a double feature) - So heat up that Espresso Machine, build yourself a Double Shot Cafe Mocha with a huge bowl of kettle corn to share, invite a few friends to ski over, throw something in the slow cooker and cuddle up on the couch.

Monster Movie Double Feature 

"The Tingler" (1959) - My favorite, favorite bad creepy movie. Vincent Price is pricelessly innocent as the Doctor who can't make you scream. 
"Island of Terror" (1966) - Peter Cushing builds suspense as human bones are liquefied...


"Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman" (1958) - If only the movie were as brilliant as the poster.....still very worth watching for its camp and girl power! 
"Blood of Dracula" (1957) - The era of experimentation and female education go a little bit awry .....

But then could do: 

"King Kong" (1933) - This is the only version of King Kong worth watching- If you are in the generation only exposed to the Peter Jackson film- erase that from your mind with some meditation or brain washing similar to "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" so that you are free to appreciate an almost perfect film. No offensive to Mr. Jackson's attempt but some films should be left alone.

"Mighty Joe Young" (1949) - Should I just say, Ray Harryhausen? 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Second one for good measure.....

The discussion of late,
 are there sequels that are better than the original? 

First movie to pop up in the equation is "the Godfather"......I've often heard people say that "2" is a much better film than "one". Not that "one" isn't good, but "2" is amazingly well crafted (and "3" should never have been made, but that is another topic for later).

Since I am not a fan of these films, I find it hard to discuss on this merit, I am going to trust my consultants (yep, boyfriend and little brothers) and accept its true. 

I offer three films, better than the original in quality, storyline, editing and sensation - Hopefully, you will let me know what others I may have missed: 

"Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) - A fluid temperamental film. Intense & emotional, this film manages to be romantic in a dark and creepy way. I recommend seeing them in order- let me know what you think. 

"Godfather, part 2" (1974) - What can I say? Again, watch them in order, see if you agree. Ladies, I'm extra curious what you might think.

"Empire Strikes Back" (1980) - I'm really not sure what order to recommend watching these films - I think both generations are confused and have their own set way of watching- Depending on your age, watch them how they came out for you. But, watch carefully for things like story structure and story movement. I think you'll find that "Empire" is the better movie. In some ways, it carries the other film (ah- ha-haha, no pun intended there). 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Coffee Break

Yesterday was a an odd one, my coffee turned out awful, I tripped over the cat (she's not black, but very dark brown???), had a case of coffee/film writer's block, the library didn't have the book I wanted (the new Edith Head, omg, I can't wait) and I forgot to get gas in the car (now we have snow, so it will be fun going out today, NOT).......

Being its approaching the weekend- I'm thinking I need a coffee shop infusion. That relaxing, hang out, read a little, drink someone else's brew, and hopefully find an interesting set of musicians that will play songs I've never heard of , some I know and are always happy when other folks join in......but the dilemma becomes...which side of town to head towards?

AJ's Cafe 
240 W. Nine Mile 
Ferndale, Mi. 

Just this side of Woodward (meaning West), AJ's is one of those eclectic comfortable places that is quirky enough to keep you entertained and delighted for hours. 

Famous for the "Assembly Line" concert (, AJ's offers a terrific variation of coffee and coffee drink, with surprisingly good Hummus along with various sandwiches. I can't review much of the menu, as I don't often go there to eat. But the atmosphere and the entertainment keep me coming back. 


Plymouth Coffee Bean
884 Penniman 
Plymouth, Michigan

Way over the way, by which I mean south and west of me, is the Coffee house in a house. For real. Charming, fun, extra friendly, terrific coffee (like AJ's, the coffee is locally roasted), The Bean is a hang out for little ones and oldies. Teenagers may take over on Monday night Open Mic but we middle aged hipsters keep our own. In warm weather, the downtown festivals and double patios keep everyone milling around The Bean like bees to honey. 

In these colder months, the early Sunday morning Crepe's and late hours allow everyone to find their own perfect moments and comfy chair. Don't forget to grap a hot cup when heading to the Ice Festival Jan 21 weekend. 

For a cold Friday night, its tough choice......opposite sides of town....equally wonderful coffee shops.........oh dear, a coin it is.