Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Obligatory Happy New Year Post

Sibel Kekilli tries to stop Birol Ünel's bleeding in "Head On"

I could take this opportunity to mention that, being a consummate fuddy-duddy, I've never understood why people get so excited about ringing in the new year -- they do realize that nothing has changed and they're all still going to die, don't they? -- but instead I'll just be nice and brief and wish you all a happy New Year and remind you not to drink and drive.

Oh, and none of you plan on wearing ridiculous party hats and holding noisemakers like you're little kids at a backyard birthday party tonight, do you? You're adults now; it's time to worry a little less about being loud and having fun and a little more about nuclear proliferation and global water shortages and Israel's uncertain future.

My greatest New Year's Eve to date was spent watching Fatih Akin's "Head On," a Turkish-German movie that makes you want to kill yourself (in the best possible way, of course) for two hours. It leaves you as bruised and battered and emotionally depleted as its lonely, displaced protagonists, and when it's over you'll feel more like jamming your hands in your pockets and going for a long walk by yourself than clanging pots and pans and setting off fireworks. I wish my neighbors would watch it tonight; maybe then they wouldn't be so goddamn annoying at the stroke of midnight.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself

"Why are those young women water-skiing in tutus?"

What the hell are people supposed to do when they're on vacation? I'm several days into an almost two-week vacation and I've already run out of ideas. I decided against traveling, opting to save money instead, and the only things I told myself I had to do over the next two weeks were sleep late and re-watch the Todd Haynes film "Far From Heaven," which I loved six years ago and hadn't seen since. Now that each of those modest goals has been met (and I still love "Far From Heaven," though it doesn't knock "Safe" out of position as Haynes' masterwork), what's my next vacation-y order of business?

According to the Go-Go's, who dispense wisdom like PEZ candy (and who were, it should be noted, coked to the gills in the early '80s when they first made this suggestion), I'm supposed to water-ski while wearing a tutu and tiara. According to "Punch-Drunk Love," I'm supposed to buy copious amounts of pudding and then rendezvous with Emily Watson in Hawaii. Or I could go the "Far From Heaven" route, book a trip to sunny Miami with my doting wife (who doesn't exist, but let's not get hung up on details) and get cruised by a younger Truman Capote lookalike who will lure me out of the closet. The second option, I guess, sounds the most appealing, but what would I do with all the pudding?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mondays Are Bullshit

And so are most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, come to think of it. Thursdays are different. Thursday is the most perfect of all the days of the week because it means Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday are over, but you still have Friday and Saturday and Sunday to look forward to. What's not to like about that?

Looking forward to the weekend is, at least in my experience, sometimes better than the weekend itself. I blame this in part on The Cure, who carried on about Fridays with such unbridled enthusiasm that it makes my own Fridays seem anticlimactic in comparison, and on Jean-Luc Godard, who made me associate weekends with being captured by cannibalistic guerrillas in hippie garb. In any case, I am now plunged headlong into three days of existential despair (and high melodrama, judging from my theatrics in this post) as I wait for Thursday, the Barack Obama of weekdays, to arrive, bringing with it the hope of a weekend that will probably suck anyway.

If only I were an alcoholic or abused drugs, perhaps I'd be happier right now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

As Awards Season Begins, A Question

Tina Turner or professional bodybuilder?

How did Holly Hunter win the Best Actress Oscar over Angela Bassett in 1993? It's not that I'm surprised the Academy made the wrong decision, because the Academy makes the wrong decisions all the time. It's more that I'm surprised they'd collectively risk pissing Bassett off. Because, well, look at those arms. One shot of her in a skimpy dress in "What's Love Got to Do With It" tells the story, and the story is this: Angela Bassett is unlike Chuck Norris in that she's a gifted actor, but very much like Chuck Norris in that she could kill you with her bare hands.

(And, frankly, I wouldn't mind her killing me with her bare hands, but that's a private matter I'd rather not discuss in front of any strangers who might find this while Googling some horrible combination of either Holly Hunter or Angela Bassett and "fucking" and Chuck Norris. The Internet is full of freaks, and I'll have enough of those to contend with next week when I get together with my family for Hanukkah.)

BTW, also more deserving of the Oscar in '93 than Hunter: Stockard Channing in "Six Degrees of Separation." I'd like to throw Debra Winger's name out there for "Shadowlands" as well, but the truth is I'd only be saying that because I've been in love with Winger since I was a child whose mom watched "An Officer and a Gentleman" all the time on TV; a nomination was probably recognition enough for her work opposite Anthony Hopkins in that film. Going strictly by what they've been nominated for, Winger should have won for "Terms of Endearment" in 1983 (that year's winner, Shirley MacLaine, should've won in 1960 for "The Apartment") and Hunter for "Broadcast News" in '87.

To make all this work out somewhat evenly, that means Cher, who won for "Moonstruck" in '87, would've needed to win Best Supporting Actress four years earlier for "Silkwood." But you can't take that year's award away from Linda Hunt in "The Year of Living Dangerously," so a tie would've been necessary. Of course, this is all overlooking the fact that Cher should've been a serious contender for Best Actress in 1985, the year of "Mask," when Meryl Streep shouldn't have been nominated for "Out of Africa" and Jessica Lange should have won for "Sweet Dreams." Instead, Lange won in '94 for "Blue Sky," the year Miranda Richardson should have won for "Tom & Viv" and Linda Fiorentino should have been nominated for "The Last Seduction," which didn't happen because of cable TV and stupid eligibility rules. (Fiorentino still hasn't gotten a consolation nod, but that's what happens when you take roles in "Unforgettable" and "Men in Black.")

That was also, unless I've completely lost my mind, the year Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey deserved some kind of recognition for "Heavenly Creatures," and the year Kathleen Turner should have been nominated for "Serial Mom" just for the hell of it. And Julianne Moore, that was her "Vanya on 42nd Street" year. She gets nominated now almost every time she sneezes, so why didn't she get anything for "Vanya"? Why was Susan Sarandon nominated for "The Client" that year? Susan Sarandon should have won the Best Actress Oscar years earlier for her work in "Bull Durham," but she wasn't even nominated for that film; a dingo stole that nomination for Meryl Streep around the same time it ate her baby.

Okay, I wrote that last part just to be obnoxious. While I do think that Streep is insanely overrated (not that it stops me from liking her), I'd have let her keep that "A Cry in the Dark" nomination in 1988 and eliminated Sigourney Weaver's "Gorillas in the Mist" nod in favor of one for Sarandon. (Weaver's another one who could have taken Sarandon's "Client" spot in '94. Is there any reason she didn't nab a nomination for "Death and the Maiden"? Not that I'm convinced she deserved one, but put a Lange or a Streep in that role and you'd have total Oscar bait.) Jodie Foster didn't need the Oscar in '88 if she was going to get one in '91 as well, but then her '91 win is another one I disagree with; of the women who were nominated that year, I'd have gone with Laura Dern in "Rambling Rose," though the real best performance by an actress in a leading role in 1991 was Madonna in that silly documentary of hers, with honorable mentions going to Emmanuelle Béart in "La Belle Noiseuse" (simply for the nudity) and Theresa Russell in "Whore" for no other reason than it would've been fucking hilarious to hear an Oscar presenter say, while reading the list of nominees, "Theresa Russell - 'Whore.'"

Now that I've wasted 30 minutes writing something only I will be amused by, I'll slink back to my corner and talk to you all in another week or so...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reflections on the Death of an Old Queen

If the New York Times is going to pretend the newly dead actor Van Johnson was heterosexual, how can I believe what they write about anything else?

(As a bonus, here's a link to an old magazine cover with Johnson looking not unlike Cynthia Nixon's partner.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Strange Hair of Rod Blagojevich

Will Rod Blagojevich overact in court as much as Treat Williams did in this movie?

Disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's hair has been troubling me for years now, but I've never had a reason to post about it -- until today, when his corruption became a national news story. As a St. Louisan, I've seen Blagojevich on the local news almost nightly for many years now (once they've covered all the day's shootings in St. Louis and shown a few mugshots of the latest meth addicts to be busted for violently robbing old people or beating their kids to death, all that's really left to talk about are massive lay-offs, the Rams sucking, and the latest political intrigue in Illinois), and the only thing about him that is more eyebrow-raising than his shadiness has always been that huge helmet hair of his.

The man's style icon -- not just when it comes to his ridiculous hair, but often in matters of casual dress as well -- is Treat Williams circa Prince of the City. Think about that for a second. The governor of Illinois was modeling his image on a corrupt cop (albeit one who later turned informant) from a movie that came out in 1981 and was set in the '70s. Rod Blagojevich's hair told the story of his downfall, in a sense. Things were never going to end well for him; his destiny always involved being led off in handcuffs and having that awful coif mussed by a gruff FBI agent as he was pushed into the back of a dark sedan.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

No, No, Thanksgiving Didn't Kill Me

For no reason whatsoever, Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters dancing in The Jerk

Neither did an evil fetus, if you thought that was a possibility. I've just been busy lately, as everyone is this time of year, and unfortunately (or perhaps very fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it has kept me from posting all manner of nonsense here.

You can imagine the mental anguish this caused when, the week before last, I read that Miranda Richardson -- who still hasn't called me, I'm sad to report -- apparently expressed her desire to play a Calamity Jane type role in a Western-themed hypothetical fifth season of Blackadder. (If you guessed my response was going to involve some kind of speculation that Richardson might have sung "Secret Love" to an audience of pillows in her bedroom once or twice during her formative years, you know me all too well.) Or the way my fingers have itched to write, enthusiastically and at great length, horrible things about Mike Huckabee every time he opens his yap about "the gays" and violence and our terrible oppression of Christians and whatnot. (If you guessed my response was going to involve some kind of link to this photo of his family, you -- well, you know the rest.) It has been exasperating to me that I haven't had time for any of that.

Hopefully I'll be back to making all of you roll your eyes and murmur, "Christ, what an idiot," within the next few days. Until then, I leave you with one of the greatest clips in the history of movies. Nary a week goes by that I don't find the opportunity to work "Is this the Cocksucker residence?" or "Listen to your filthy mouth, you fucking whore!" into a conversation. Preferably with my grandma.

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