Monday, July 27, 2009


I will be gone for a week. Posts during this time will be scarce (non-existent) so for that I am sorry. Wish me a pleasant journey...please. I'll have reviews and possibly a new feature making its debut when I return. Toodle-ooh!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

16 tomorrow...OH to be YOUNG again!

Fifty...I didn't think anything turning thirty...everybody said I would...Then they said I'd be crushed turning forty...but they were wrong...I didn't give it a second's thought...then they said I'd be traumatized turning fifty...and they were right...

- Another Woman (1988)

I'm thinking of taking a moment during my birthday party (yes, I'm having one) tomorrow to be a depressing bastard and say something like this.

A dramatic pause as I take a sip from my Dr. Pepper (on the rocks)...

Sixteen...I didn't think anything turning eight...everybody said I would...Then they said I'd be crushed turning ten...but they were wrong...I didn't give it a second's thought...then they said I'd be traumatized turning sixteen...and they were right...

Is it too dramatic?

Friday, July 24, 2009

I had this really strange dream last night...

"What do you want?!"

"You're Annette Bening."

"I thought so."


Sheep: A Short Poem
by Joe Shetina

Today I walked past a field of sheep
They looked through the fence
And stared
I asked, "What is your
Problem sheep?"
And one said,
"You're wearing my brother"
My eyes rested upon
The coat that I had around me
After a moment,
I said
"He's very comfortable."
And walked on.

I am a cold bastard.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lolita (1962)

US (1962): Drama/Dark Comedy
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Produced by James B. Harris
Written by Vladimir Nabokov (and an uncredited Stanley Kubrick)
From Nabokov's novel of the same name
With James Mason//Shelley Winters//Sue Lyon//and Peter Sellers

"How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?"

The poster for Lolita poses this very important question. The novel by Vladimir Nabokov is among the most controversial of the 20th Century. It's subject matter was considered taboo during the time of its publication (and remained so for years after). The story concerns a British scholar, unfortunately named Humbert Humbert, who falls in love with a twelve year old girl he affectionately calls Lolita. He goes as far as marrying her obnoxious mother to be close to her. After her mother finds his diary, which holds the secret of his love for her daughter, she is humiliated and plans to send her to a reform school. In her frenzied state, she is killed while crossing the street in front of her house. Humbert is free to have Lolita and wastes no time in dominating her completely, using sexual favors as a bargaining tool. As their relationship grows, however, it becomes clear that someone knows their secret.

The first ten minutes of this film is probably one of the greatest opening scenes ever. It begins at the end, with a determined Humbert (played by James Mason) entering the cluttered and messy home of drunkard Clare Quilty (played by the hilarious Peter Sellers). The latter fails quite comically to cheer Humbert up with a game of ping-pong. Humbert is in no playing mood; he pulls a gun on Quilty, who just about laughs in his face. Humbert hands him a paper and declares it his death sentence. In these moments, between Quilty's humorous, drunken stammering we nearly forget that James Mason is aiming a gun at him. It's openings like this that make the film experience great. The scene is overwhelming and it ends, inevitably, with Quilty's execution. The whole sequence leaves you wanting more and for the next two and a half hours, you're completely enthralled.

James Mason creates a character who is manipulative and calculating, but can still have some of our sympathy. As he tries to dominate Lolita, he also attempts to be a father to her. The dimensions of their relationship are incredibly strange and Kubrick is great at bringing this out in his actors. Lolita (played by Sue Lyon) is a child and, even though she is Humbert's lover, still behaves like a child. Mason, at times, just seems like a regular dad struggling to raise a spoiled teenager.

There is always something peculiar about Kubrick's films. This one, while keeping dramatic themes and plot points intact, is a black comedy. Peter Sellers, no matter how disgusting his character is, brings a comical tone to his scenes from his pretentious dancing to his drunken stammering in the film's opening. The way he and Mason interact gives the feeling that the two are acting in separate films. It's brilliant and incredibly unsettling.

Shelley Winters is golden as Lolita's obnoxious mother, Charlotte. She makes that pitiful character and her desperation for a man so painful to watch. Her attempt at seeming cultured and artistic come off as desperate acts to lure Mason into her web. He can't help but be appalled at the spectacle. What really sold the performance for me was the point at which she discovers his attraction to her daughter. Instead of being a mother disgusted at the man, she is angry at her daughter for stealing him away.

is a must-see. It's one of Kubrick's very best. His ability to treat the film as a comedy and a drama in the same breath creates a terrific atmosphere. Even going as far as adding a wonderful slapstick scene in a hotel room with Mason and a bellhop fussing over a cot while Sue Lyon's Lolita sleeps comfortably on the bed.

Many contemporary reviewers complained over the missing passion that is so prominent in the novel. In retrospect, Kubrick must have known that the audiences (let alone the censors) of the time would not accept such steamy scenes between Mason and his fourteen year old co-star. He bypasses this with subtle background details and shots that give off more heat than any sex scene. No Rating, 152 Minutes. A-

One Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Golden Globes were the only major awards that took notice of the superb acting and gave nominations to both Shelley Winters and Peter Sellers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Barry Lyndon (1975)

US (1975): Historical drama
Written, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick
From the novel "The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq." by William Makepeace Thackeray
With Ryan O'Neal as Barry Lyndon//Marisa Berenson as Lady Lyndon//Patrick Magee as The Chevalier//Hardy Kruger as Captain Potzdorf//Leon Vitali as Lord Bullingdon//Steven Berkoff as Lord Ludd//and Marie Kean as Barry's Mother

This three hour drama directed by Stanley Kubrick can be found on many critics' top ten list of 1975. It's the story of an Irish farm boy who makes a name for himself in high society. Kubrick decided to tell the story through a narrator, detaching us from the story completely. We are completely shut off from the characters and are forced to learn from the narrator. It's as if we are peasants receiving privileged information of the upper crust. It's clever, but it just doesn't work.

The film begins in Eighteenth Century Ireland, where young farm boy Redmond Barry is in love with his cousin. After she throws him over for a wealthy English general, Barry kills him in a duel and flees from the law. He is soon robbed and is forced to join the English Army during the Seven Years War. He soon deserts and is again forced to fight, this time for the Prussian Army. After saving the life of a captain, he is selected as a spy in the court of Chevalier de Balibari, a suspected spy himelf...and that's just the first half.

One of the most peculiar things about the film is that the actors are treated more like sets than the actual sets. We can probably gather more story from the production design than we can from the actors. They're lifeless. It gives the feeling of thumbing through a textbook on the subject or studying specimens under a microscope. This was most likely Kubrick's intention regardless of how misguided it was. The inhuman qualities of the story itself make for a painfully tedious three hours. Marisa Berenson is the only actor who manages to give a performance. The film's only bright spot as far as the cast goes.

Visually, Barry Lyndon is indeed a masterpiece. The art direction/production design is top notch. Beautifully crafted and constructed by wizards such as Ken Adam (who previously worked with Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove), the sets speak for themselves and show much more depth than anyone on screen. John Alcott's cinematography is masterful in the way it uses natural lighting to evoke the style of paintings of the period. It is clear that Kubrick is relying more on these aspects to tell the story. Of course, no costume drama would be worth while without great costumes. Ulla-Britt Soderlund and Milena Canonero won Costume Design Oscars for their work on the film.

To say that Barry Lyndon is a true masterpiece is insane, but it is far from terrible. Is it that hard to believe that Kubrick made a film that was just OKAY? Because that's what Barry Lyndon is. It's just OKAY. Indulgent and misguided, but's okay. Stanley Kubrick's career was indeed a great one, but this film stands as one of his misfires. Rated PG, 184 Minutes. C+

7 Academy Award nominations including: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Direction. Won 4 Academy Awards for: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation (Leonard Rosenman). Also won two BAFTAs.


Ryan O'Neal, you are under arrest for subjecting innocent people to the horror that is your acting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Emmys

I'm not that much of an awards whore that I follow the Emmys (which by the way, are pretty much worthless). However, I need to find out if my favorites got recognition
Out of over 2,000 categories, 30 Rock came out on top with 22 nominations. My favorite television movie of the year (possibly my only) Grey Gardens was right behind it with 17. Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange both grabbed nominations for Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. I loved both of them, but I hope Drew takes it. She really got a chance to FINALLY show her stuff. Jeanne Tripplehorn landed a nomination in the Supporting category for her small, but pivotal role as Jackie O. Tripplehorn is an uncanny match for the late first lady. Although, my favorite part of the whole film was when Drew in that damned Little Edie voice I thought no one could imitate, asked Jackie if it was true that Jack Kennedy gave her gonorrhea. I guess hearing Little Edie say something like that makes me giggle like a school-girl.

Among the ladies nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series are Tina Fey, Christina Applegate, Sarah Silverman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mary-Louise Parker and Toni Collette. I'm glad that Sarah Silverman's humor isn't too refined for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Okay, I admit it. I love Sarah Silverman.

Toni Collette gets my vote. If only for one particular episode of United States of Tara when she gives this hurt look. And it isn't just any hurt look. It nearly made me cry. Isn't this show a comedy? It's a great mixture of both, and no matter how bad Diablo Cody's movies get (let's just say Juno gets tired after the third time and Jennifer's Body doesn't look so great) we can take comfort in knowing that she's a great television writer.

T would like to give her thanks to the Academy.

Gena Rowlands is on the nominee list for a guest appearance on Monk. This is good. I love you Gena, but I don't watch Monk.

I'm really curious now about Brothers & Sisters, the show Sally Field was nominated for. I've heart good things, and not so good things, but all good about Sally Field.

Who else is miffed about True Blood? I see some serious snubbing there. Am I alone in thinking that this is one of the few great shows on television? And speaking of True Blood...what the HELL is going on with Maryann?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Whatever Happened to Barbra Joan?

Sometimes I wonder what happened to Barbra Streisand. Before the Funny Girl movie she seemed shy, sweet and really quiet. I prefer that Barbra. Not the "could jump on me and eat my face at any second" Barbra. That Barbra scares me.

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on the kissing scene in the new film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. As if I didn't want to see this film before...*half-sarcasm*
"I saw the film at the London premiere and, my God, my lips are like the lips of a horse distending independently away from my face and trying to encompass the lower half of hers, and so I apologise, Bonnie."

He has a way with words, hasn't he.

I finally saw Sally Field's Oscar winning performance in Norma Rae yesterday. One thing is for sure, if I want to see a good movie about a woman rallying against unfair or dangerous working conditions...I'll stick to Silkwood. However, I can definitely see why she won Best Actress. The role is tailor-made Oscar material, but Field does incredibly well with it. That being said, there is no way it was THE best of the entire year.

The war against beige continues. I hate beige. It's a terrible color.

So there was some buzz going around a little while ago about Julianne Moore playing Hillary Clinton. She would star opposite Dennis Quaid in the film Special Relationship about former President Clinton's relationship with Tony Blair. Peter Morgan, writer of The Queen, was said to be writing. Then, just recently I was incredibly bummed to hear that Julianne Moore and Peter Morgan (most likely) had dropped out. Replacing her will be Hope Davis, who in fact, is much closer in looks to Hillary Clinton. I haven't seen her in anything, but she was recently nominated for a Tony for "God of Carnage" so maybe this isn't SO bad. Still, Julianne as Hillary would have been a sight.

I could've put a pic of Hope Davis, but I think we all need to bask in the warmth that is Julianne today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Best Actress Series and Other Goodies

After my Ann-Margret post last week, I've decided that my first "feature" on the blog will be a review/analysis of my five favorite female (leading) performances from a certain year and also a review of the Oscar picks from that year. Keep checking for updates.

All HAIL the Best Actress of 1975

And, pretty soon here, I'm doing a series on my favorite films of all time. So watch out for that as well.

So, I'm kind of excited because the brilliant August: Osage County is going on tour. The Tony and Drama Desk Awards winner for Best Play is a three act (three hour) tale of a dysfunctional family. A full synopsis is impossible to write here for reasons of space. Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons (Best Supporting Actress of 1967 for Bonnie & Clyde) is leading the cast in a nationwide tour that begins in Denver on July 24.

Because I do not live in New York (not by choice, trust me) I was not able to see the play performed on stage. However, I have been able to read it and I absolutely love it. I only hope I get to see it when it comes to Chicago next year.

I like that Judi Dench look on her.

It's been a long time since I have seen Mary Poppins so when I listened to the soundtrack today, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the lyrics. Particularly those in "Sister Suffragette."

Though we adore men individually,
we agree that as a group they're rather stupid.

I just never thought I'd hear a lyric like that in Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins! Really? I always KNEW I liked Glynis Johns. Wonder why her and Julie Andrews are never in a scene together. I hope it's because they had blind hatred for each other. For some reason, I like the idea of a Julie Andrews/Glynis Johns cat fight.

Presenting BITCH FEST '64!!!

After last night, I'm still debating whether it was Sophie (Meryl Streep) that made me cry in Sophie's Choice or if it was the actual choice. Hmm... All I know is that I cried like a baby.

More lessons from Meryl Streep: Never let grief keep you from looking pretty.

Thank God her fashion sense changed after Kramer vs. Kramer. Beige isn't a good look for her.

What the hell was I thinking?

Beige is sooo 1960s. Just ask Geraldine Page. That's why her husband left her for Maureen Stapleton in Interiors. Take your fashion tips from Maureen Stapleton instead.

Wow, she is nuts.

CAUTION: Do not get confused with Maureen Stapleton in Reds. Only Emma Goldman has an excuse to wear something like this.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another TCM Night

Who else is tuning in for Meryl Streep night on TCM? Come on! Manhattan, Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie's Choice and The French Lieutenant's Woman are all airing tonight. I have yet to see all of Kramer vs. Kramer or The French Lieutenant's Woman yet, so thank you TCM.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 far

As far as movies go, this year has not been so good. As a jobless teen with little or no money, I can't see the films I want to very often. This year, I have seen two. Count 'em - two. Sunshine Cleaning, which was pretty cute and Up, which I was completely blown away by. I have so many to see before the year is out.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

I plan to spend my day basking in the warmth that is Julianne Moore and Reese Witherspoon (in Far from Heaven and Election respectively). Frankly, I don't find watching colorful things explode at all exciting.

If that doesn't set off fireworks I don't know what will.

I don't know, I guess I'm not that excited about the fourth anymore. The same cannot be said for Little Edie.

And remember; If you can't get a man to propose to you, you might as well be dead.

Happy fourth everyone.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And Then There Were...

Lately, things have been getting a little wild as far as celebrity deaths go. First Ed McMahon, then Farrah and Michael (on the same day no less), Billy Mays, and now (the late, great) Karl Malden. I hope this is the end.

We Could Use a Little Meryl

Don't you think Mount Rushmore is missing something?

Well, it is. It's missing Meryl Streep. Possibly, THE most influential actress of our time deserves a place on one of the nation's most beloved landmarks. I mean, okay, Washington was pretty influential. So were Jefferson and Lincoln. But could they do accents? Really, if you put them all on a stage, do you think Washington could do a Brooklyn accent like Meryl could?

So, if you were to do a Mount Rushmore for the movies, who would be on it?

My cat just sneezed in my face

She was sitting right in front of my keyboard (like she always does) and I went in for a kiss on the head. She turns her head and sneezes right in my face. When I get up to clean myself, she takes my chair. I'm trying to maneuver myself to type right now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy 93rd Olivia de Havilland

Love ya.

Olivia on What's My Line?:

and this one, with Joan...look at her face when they ask if she has a sister in show business.
Seriously, why don't you girls kiss and make up?